LEUCIPPUS, Greek philosopher, born at Miletus (or Elea), founder of the Atomistic theory, contemporary of Zeno, Empedocles and Anaxagoras. His fame was so completely overshadowed by that of Democritus, who subsequently developed the theory into a system, that his very existence was denied by Epicurus (Diog. Laert. x. 7), followed in modern times by E. Rohde. Epicurus, however, distinguishes Leucippus from Democritus, and Aristotle and Theophrastus expressly credit him with the invention of Atomism. There seems, therefore, no reason to doubt his existence, although nothing is known of his life, and even his birthplace is uncertain. Between Leucippus and Democritus there is an interval of at least forty years; accordingly, while the beginnings of Atomism are closely connected with the doctrines of the Eleatics, the system as developed by Democritus is conditioned by the sophistical views of his time, especially those of Protagoras. While Leucippus's notion of Being agreed generally with that of the Eleatics, he postulated its plurality (atoms) and motion, and the reality of not-Being (the void) in which his atoms moved.
See DEMOCRITUS. On the Rohde-Diels controversy as to the existence of Leucippus, see F. Lortzing in Bursian's Jahresbericht, vol. cxvi. (1904); also J. Burnet, Early Creek Philosophy (1892).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)