Mochus of Sidon, the Phoenician, Conceived and Wrote the Original Atomic Theory

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This article was partially, unrestrictedly and liberally adapted from "Mochus the Proto-Philosopher, Author of the Ancient Theory of Atomism" by Charles W. Lucas, Jr., Mechanicsville, MD 20659. Mr. Lucas graciously gave permission for this reproduction.

Photo Credit: Mark Rasmussen

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Who was Mochus of Sidon?

Mochus the Phoenician was a man from Sidon, Phoenicia. Nothing is known about his life, other than his having flourished before the Trojan Wars (13th century BC). Be that as it may, he was all around renowned among scholars of the ancient world for his Atomic Theory. The meaning of the name Mochus is uncertain; however, philologically the name may come from two root words. The first is "msha" in Phoenician (Msha or Mshaa3 - مشاع in Lebanese today means an unattended, uncleared land). Msha means to clear the land of produce left behind and the second is "asya" (or ashya) in Aramaic and it means the hard uneven land. (A Dictionary of Names, Dr. Anis Freyha, 1956). The little we know about his early life is that he founded a school in Beirut that lasted until the 6th century BC.

Mochus is recorded by Diogenes Laërtius, the principle biographer of Greek hypothesis, as the proto-researcher.1 Athenaeus of Egypt (second century AD) attested that he composed a work on the History of Phoenicia.2 Strabo (64 BC – 21 AD), on the expert of Posidonius (135 – 51 BC), discusses Mochus (1391 – 1271 BC) or Moschus of Sidon as the maker of the atomic theory and says that he was older than the Trojan wars (1260 to 1249 BC).3 He is furthermore mentioned by Josephus (37 – 100 AD)4, Tatian (110 – 180 AD)5, and Eusebius (263-339 AD).6 The first nuclear hypothesis of Mochus of Sidon was embraced by Leucippus (fifth century BC), a scholar who was the most diligent Greek to build upon the hypothesis of atomism.

Ralph Cudworth, a Philosopher of 1671 wrote:

"Wherefore we have made it obvious, that that exceptionally mechanical or atomical rationality, that hath been recently reestablished via Cartesius and Gassendus, with regards to the principle substance of it, was senior to Epicurus, as well as than Plato and Aristotle, nay, than Democritus and Leucippus additionally, its normally presumed dads. Also, thusly we have no motivation to dishonor the report of Posidonius the Stoic, who, as Strabo lets us know, confirmed this atomical rationality to have been ancienter than the seasons of the Trojan war, and first to have been brought into Greece out of Phoenicia. ... What's more, since it is sure from what we have appeared, that neither Epicurus nor yet Democritus was the primary creators of this physiology, this declaration of Posidonius the Stoic should in motivation to be conceded by us. Presently, what can be more likely than that this Moschus the Phoenician, that Posidonius talks about, is the specific same individual with that Moschus the physiologer, that Jamblichus specifies in the Life of Pythagoras, where he avows, that Pythagoras, living some time at Sidon in Phoenicia, spoke with the prophets that were the successors of Mochus the physiologer, and was told by them: ... 'He spoke with the prophets that were the successors of Mochus and other Phoenician clerics.'"

Note: Pythagoras was taught by the Chaldaeans and the learned men of Phoenicia and was initiated into the 'Ancient Mysteries' of the Phoenicians c. 548 BC and studied for about 3 years in the temples of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos. It seems that he also visited Italy with his father.

What was the First Atomic Theory Credited to Mochus?

Regretfully original copies of the early writings of Mochus on atomism have not survived to our modern day. As of now nothing is available in print of the original material. Regardless, the reference to Mochus and the Atomic Theory by ancient scholars and over an extended span of time is well known. His work was accessible to the ancient thinkers in a written form has to have been the case. The supposition that it was verbally transmitted is highly unlikely over the long time between the writings original composition and the their "revival" in the fifth century BC.

Ancient Atomism

Various scholars' rationale, of the ancient world, held that the universe is made of physical 'atoms', truly 'uncuttables'. This concept is effectively developed by Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. These logicians built up an efficient and far-reaching regular rationality representing the birthplaces of everything from the association of resolute bodies, as these particles — which have just a couple of natural properties like size and shape — strike against each other, bounce back and interlock in a boundless void. This atomist characteristic rationality shunned teleological* clarification and denied divine intercession or configuration. They saw each composite of atom as delivered simply by material associations of bodies, and representing the apparent properties of naturally visible bodies — as created by these same nuclear communications. Atomists planned perspectives on morals, religious philosophy, political logic and epistemology steady with this physical framework. This ground-breaking and steady realism, to some degree, changed from its unique shape by Epicurus and was viewed by Aristotle as a central contender to teleological common theory.

* Teleology or finality is a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal. It is derived from two Greek words: telos (τέλος - end, goal, purpose) and logos (λόγος - reason, explanation).

Since the Greek modifier atomos implies, truly, 'uncuttable,' the historical backdrop of antiquated atomism isn't just the historical backdrop of a hypothesis about the idea of matter, yet in addition the historical backdrop of the possibility that there are unbreakable parts in any sort of extent — geometrical expansion, time, and so on. Despite the fact that the term 'atomism' is regularly related to the frameworks of common rationality said above, researchers have additionally distinguished duties to indivisibles in various lesser-known figures. Frequently these are figured because of conundrums like those of Zeno of Elea (mid-fifth c. BC) about interminable detachability of extents. A portion of these recognizable pieces of proof of different sorts of atomism outside the primary convention is questionable and in light of slight confirmation.

Leucippus Re-Presentation of Atomism

Leucippus (fifth c. BC) is the earliest figure whose responsibility to atomism is very much verified. He is typically credited with designing atomism. As per a passing comment by the geographer Strabo, Posidonius (first c. BC Stoic scholar) detailed that old Greek atomism can be followed back to Moschus or Mochus of Sidon, who lived before the Trojan wars.

In 1877, Tannéry contended that Zeno of Elea's contentions about distinguishableness more likely than not been detailed in light of some early Pythagoreans. Tannéry's view, which was broadly acknowledged in the mid-twentieth century, depends on the claim that one of Zeno's mysteries about the likelihood of movement would best heralds well on the off chance that it was assaulting an atomist theory. In this way the Pythagoreans, who are accounted for to have discussed monads or unit numbers, more likely than not been atomists of a sort. Tannery's theory has been completely tested from that point forward: most researchers rather view atomism as one of the various positions planned in light of the contentions of Parmenides and Zeno (fifth century BC). A fourth-century Pythagorean, Ecphantus, translated the Pythagorean monads as unbreakable bodies: he is accounted for to have been thoughtful to atomism of a kind like Democritus'. Plato's exchange of the structure of solids from plane surfaces is believed to be founded on fourth-century Pythagorean hypotheses.

Greek Philosophers and Atomism

In the West, atomism was assured in the fifth century BC with Leucippus and his understudy Democritus (460-370 BC).7 Obviously, atomic speculation of Mochus influenced the Greeks. Democritus, who started from a well-off family, travelled all through that part of the world and would doubtlessly have been presenting the theory of Mochus.

The Greek atomists evaluated that nature includes two focal measures: particle and void. The word molecule or atom comes from the Greek word "atomos" (Ατόμος) which suggests uncuttable (matter). These philosophical particles were indestructible, invariable and incorporated by a void (with no particles of matter) where they collide into each others or catch together forming a gathering. Clusters of different shapes, game-plans, and positions offer to rise to the diverse detectable substances on the planet. Atomism consolidated the possibility of assurance of development. In front line tongue, that would join protection of imperativeness and power.

The Greek philosopher, Plato (427-347 BC) argued that particles subjectively crashing into various atoms in the void could never convey the perfection and essential kinds of the world. In Plato's Timaeus, (28B-29A) the character of Timeaus insisted that the universe was not endless but instead was created.8,9 The main factors in that creation was the four straightforward types: fire, water, air, and earth. Be that as it may, Plato did not view these types of matters as the most essential level of the real world, which was considerably littler and in view of numerical or geometrical developments. These straightforward bodies were geometric solids, the characteristics of which were, thusly, comprised of triangles.

Higher Criticism of Atomism Among the Ancients

At some point before 330 BC, Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) affirmed that the rudimentary types of matter, i.e. fire, air, earth, and water, were not made of individual molecules, but rather were constant courses of action of vast structures made out of particles. Aristotle thought about the presence of a void (advanced vacuum or aether or field), which was required by nuclear speculations, to abuse physical standards. This approach took a gander at issue regarding its different states, for example, strong, fluid, gas, and plasma vitality. In Aristotle's view, the change occurred by the change of matter starting with one state then onto the next. This hypothesis is called hylomorphism.

Hylomorphism is a philosophical hypothesis, created by Aristotle, which considers being as a compound of matter and form.10 Matter is that out of which a protest is made. For instance, letters are the matter of syllables. A second illustration is mud. Dirt is a matter with respect to a block, in light of the fact that a block is made of mud. Anyway, blocks are matter in respect to a blockhouse. Accordingly matter is a relative term where a protest considers the matter with respect to something different. Change is viewed as a material change in which matter experiences a difference in shape.

As indicated by Aristotle's hypothesis of discernment, we see a question by getting its frame with our sense organs. Structures incorporate complex characteristics, for example, shape, shading, surface, enhance, weight, and so on.

The Roman philosopher, Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 BC) wrote in his famous book "On the Nature of Things (60 BC) that "Nothing can be created out of nothing" (Ex Nihilo). Thus atoms must be composed of something such as electromagnetic field, the vacuum or the aether.

The False Claim that Mochus was Moses of the Old Testament

In scientific study, debate and research mixing history with religious books cannot be accepted as valid research. Many characters of the Torah/Old Testament are nothing but fiction and legend. There is no archaeological or historical record that many of the known Old Testament ever existed beginning with Adam & Eve, Abraham, Joseph, Noah, Lot, Moses, Joshia, Solomon, and David (the latter's existence is very iffy based on questionable inscription (bytdwd) which may have referred to House David or to the name of a god or meant "kettle" (dūd) or "uncle" (dōd).

Specifically, in the legend of Sargon it is written that "my mother, the high priestess, bore me in secret. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river..."
Compare this with Exodus 2:3 (NIV): "But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket, for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile."

The 17th century Cambridge Platonist Henry More (1614-1687 AD) traced the origins of ancient atomism back, via Pythagoras and Moschus, to Moses the Hebrew lawgiver.11 More had no proof or historic record to prove the relationship between a real person, Mochus who lived in Sidon and was known by the thinkers of the ancient world and Moses who has, up to our day, remained a fictional character from a religious book, the Old Testament, but unknown to scientific history, if you will, or an archaeological record that could prove his having lived. More's claim is still an unfounded claim.

With the lack of archaeological or extra-biblical historic evidence to the existence of Moses, there is no reason to believe that Mochus and Moses were the same person. Besides, the story of Moses early life is borrowed (not to say stolen) from Assyrian or Babylonian literature. See box text right.

Some details of Moses' life seem to have been lifted from earlier legends; specifically, the idea that his mother placed him in a basket and floated him down a river is reminiscent of a legend involving Sargon of Akkad. See Pritchard, J. "Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament", Page 119.

Further, there is no mention in history that Moses visited Sidon or that he was called Moses of Sidon or that he was a Phoenician, that is if he ever existed. What we are left with is a mix of science with mythology and a lie that has been propagated for around 350 years without proof. Consequently, the historic lie should not be mentioned, let alone frequently used, as if it is a fact.


    1. Diogenes Laërtius, Vitae Philosophorum, Book 3, p. 126a which calls him Ochus.
    2. Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, (translated by C. D. Yonge) Chapter 3, p. 126a, (1854).
    3. Strabo, Geography, Book 16, p. 757.
    4. Josephus, The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged translated by William Whiston (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1989) Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1 Chapter 3, p. 107.
    5. Tatian, The Oratio Chapter 40.
    6. Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, Book 10, p. 289.
    7. Aristotle, Metaphysics I, 4, 985b 10–15.
    8. Berryman, Sylvia, "Ancient Atomism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
    9. Lloyd, Geoffrey (1970). Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle. London; New York: Chatto and Windus; W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 74–77. ISBN 0-393- 00583-6.
    10. Cornford, Francis Macdonald (1957). Plato's Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato. New York: Liberal Arts Press. pp. 210–239. ISBN 0-87220-386-7.
    11. Maclaurin, Colin, An Account of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries in Four Books Third Edition, London, Book 1 Chapter 2, pp. 26-27 (1775).

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