A historical and implicative study of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura



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A Historical and Implicative Study of Lucretius' de Rerum Natura. Titus Lucretius Carus, whose private life has been lost to unrecorded history, but whose single gift to posterity, a philosophic poem, has preserved the challenge of an entire school of thought and a way of life, is one of the enigmas of the past. Both extravagantly praised and much maligned, his "De Rerum Natura," the most complete embodiment of Epicureanism extent, is an exposition of importance to the fields of science, psychology, religion, and ethics. A major difficulty involved in the research was encountered in the fact that, apart from a few scattered references, no insights into the personal life of Lucretius are available. In nearly every century following his death, however, outstanding literary figures have alluded to Lucretius' poem. The procedure employed in gathering background material included the study of the main school of philosophy which influenced the thought of the citizens of pre-Christian Rome. Both primary and secondary sources were used. The next step was to examine carefully Lucretius' poem to discover his exact position on the four fields mentioned above, then to trace the influence of his thoughts on the development of these fields through the twenty centuries since Lucretius' death. An exponent of hedonism and sensate materialism, Lucretius condemned religion as being responsible for much of the confusion and despair of his time. Because all reality is reducible to the quasi-deterministic motion of inanimate atoms, all ideas about divine providence, morality, and immortality of the soul, are delusion. The implications of Lucretius' poem wherein these ideas are embodied for the development of Mohammedan fatalism, the social theory of "contract," modern atomic physics, the mathematic concept of infinity, and even the prelude of Marxian Communism, are all traced as far as logic will permit. The fact that "sensate materialism" is a contradiction of terms, is also discussed, for it is at this point that the paradox of Lucretius' self-refutation becomes apparent.



Carus, Titus Lucretius, De Rerum Natura