The notion of the void is of crucial importance for the development of thinking about space in ancient Greece. It captures the idea of something that is either free from body or opposed to body, and fulfils some task necessary for bodies – void separates bodies from each other, allows them to be located somewhere, accounts for them being rare in opposition to dense things, or allows for the motion of bodies. In this paper, Sattler looks at the first appearance of the idea of a void in the Pythagoreans, Melissus and the atomists, and the way in which employing it gradually established a clear difference between matter and space. She then briefly analyzes what role it plays in Plato’s account of the cosmos in his Timaeus before discussing the heavy attacks on the notion of the void that we find in Aristotle’s Physics.
NB: All Fall 2020 Classical Studies events, including the Classical Dialogues, will be held virtually through Zoom. Those interested in participating may contact Professor de Angelis via email to get a copy of the paper and the Zoom link.