effluxes, theory of

Theory associated with Greek atomism and its revival in the corpuscularian philosophy of the 17th century as well as by non-atomists like Empedocles (5th century BC).

It holds that objects continually emit films from their surfaces, which cause them to be perceived, much as we ourselves might explain smell. Lucretius (1st century BC) also uses the theory to explain dreams and imagination, and thought in general.

T Lucretius, De Rerum Natura {On the Nature of Things), book 4

8 thoughts on “effluxes, theory of

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