Consider the discussion at 4.820–860 in Lucretius's On the Nature of Things. Explain the difference between things that were “invented to meet the needs of life” and things that “were created independently." In which category would Lucretius place humanity? What does this tell us about human existence and our relation to the gods?
Lucretius claims that things that “were invented to meet the needs of life” were things humans created to address a specific purpose, such as weapons for war. In contrast, things that “were created independently” refers to things like human body parts. Lucretius made the uncommon claim for the time that these independently created things did not have an initial purpose. This idea suggests that gods did not have an influence on the creation of human existence.
When Lucretius refers to things that “were created independently,” he refers to things that were created before there was any specific need for them. For example, he claims human tongues were not created with the specific intent to allow people to talk (Lucretius 830). Instead, they were created with no purpose, and their function developed as humans developed. We are able to speak because we have tongues, but tongues were not invented because of a specific need to...
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