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"No two objects can occupy the same place at one time"
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i really need to know this quote for a class im taking at my school..if anyone out there knows. please respond to me. Thanks
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My research leads back to Zeno and the Stoics and then to Thomas Hobbes.

Is there such a law that states that “no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time?”

The Stoa: Another school founded by Zeno of Citium (not to be confused with Zeno of Elea). They met in a covered walkway (a stoa). This led to their being called stoics (leading to the present-day adjective "stoic" or "stoical"). [The stoics favored learning to accept whatever happens in life and freeing oneself of strong passions.]
In almost every particular we find a sharp contrast between the Stoic conception of ‘body’ and the Epicurean ‘atom.’ The atom is extremely small and entirely unchangeable; ‘body’ is immensely large and in a high degree plastic. Atoms alternate with void; but ‘body’ spreads continuously throughout the entire universe; it can never be torn apart of show a gap. Atoms move downwards in parallel straight lines; ‘body’ moves from the center to the circumference, and thence returns to the center. Two atoms can never occupy the same space; but ‘body’ everywhere moves through body, penetrating it and combining with it throughout its whole extent. The atom is a convenient hypotheses within the range of modern physical and chemical science; the conception of ‘body’ gains force as we enter the region of biology. For life also is a movement which proceeds from a warm center (and warmth is body rarefied), and extends towards a circumference which is in comparison gross and cold. Going further, we find that ‘body’ and its functions are so interpreted as to provide a key to the activities of the human reason and will.
~ from Roman Stoicism (Chapter 7: The Foundation of Physics)
by E. Vernon Arnold (1857 - 1926)
Now, to the Stoics nothing passes unexplained; there is a reason for everything in nature. Everything which exists is at once capable of acting and being acted upon. In everything that exists, therefore, even the smallest particle, there are these two principles. By virtue of the passive principle the thing is susceptible of motion and modification; it is matter which determines substance. The active principle makes the matter a given determinate thing, characterizing and qualifying it, whence it is termed quality. For all that is or happens there is an immediate cause or antecedent; and as cause means cause of motion, and only body can act upon body, it follows that this antecedent cause is itself as truly corporeal as the matter upon which it acts. Thus we are led to regard the active principle force as everywhere coextensive with matter, as pervading and permeating it, and together with it occupying and filling space. This is that famous doctrine of universal permeation, by which the axiom that two bodies cannot occupy the same space is practically denied.
The physical theory underlying Stoic psychology has some rather startling implications. For example, the Stoics held that active substances could pervade passive substances. Hence the soul, which is a body, is able to pervade the physical body. The soul does not pervade the body like the water in a sponge, that is, by occupying interstitial spaces; rather, the Stoics held that the corporeal pneuma occupied the exact same space as the passive matter, that is, both substances are mutually coextended [antiparektasis]. The soul permeates the body in thesame way as heat pervades the iron rod, occupying the same space but being qualitatively distinct. The Stoics called this sort of mixture crasis or total blending.
To postulate spirit or a divine being to explain events is to depend on unverifiable speculations. In this view there are rational explanations for everything, and we should stick to these rather than engage in wishful thinking. These philosophers hold with common sense realism that objects continue to exist, even if no mind is observing them, and that no two objects can occupy the same space. If a tree falls in the forest, and noone hears it, it makes a sound, and the light is still there when we close the refrigerator door. To assert that an event has no necessary cause, is to fail to provide any explanation that can be useful or illuminating. To believe in the existence of a spiritual life or a higher purpose beyond this material world, is to devalue this world and distract us with false promises from the urgent needs of suffering humanity on an endangered planet.
Once again we can trace the debate back at least to the early Greek philosophers. Thales and his successors sought to reduce the world to material elements, eventually settling on four of them: fire, earth, air and water. Empedocles described how they all interact in a perfectly determined system. It was mainly the great trio of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their followers who stood against this dominant materialist tendency, reminding them that we need to take care of our souls and respect the gods. Socrates rebuked Anaxagoras for thinking he sat in prison to endure his sentence because of the contraction and relaxation of his muscles and bones, rather than his choice, and explained why he did not fear death because there was a greater life beyond the body. Plato laid out the basic tenets of spiritualism for all time by explaining that soul must be the first cause since it has its source of movement within. Aristotle named this first cause the unmoved mover, and moderated the views of his teacher by allowing for the material as well as the final cause. But Democritus and Lucretius firmly established the opposite theory that everything is reducible to atoms in the void as ultimate constituents. The Roman Stoics upheld the spiritual view of Socrates that although the body may be in prison, in our souls we are free, while the Epicureans made materialism attractive by saying that pleasure is the only goal we can rely on.
~ from Philosophy on a Circle, by Eric Meece (E. Alan Meece)

Numerical identity and difference:
 two bodies differ "when something may be said of one of them which cannot be said of the other at the same time."
 no two bodies are numerically the same since, being two, they occupy different spaces at any single time.
~ Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Matter & Society
The nature of an accident can be explained more easily by examples than by a definition. If we think of a body occupying a particular space, i.e. being coextensive with it, this coextension is not the coextended body itself; similarly, if we think of the same body being moved, this motion is not the moved body itself; or if we think of the body not being moved, this lack of motion, or state of rest, is not the body at rest itself. What are they, then? They are the accidents of the body — but this is just what we are asking when we ask, ‘What is an accident?’; i.e., we are asking something we already understand, and are failing to ask what we ought to have asked. For who is there who does not always have the same understanding of someone who says that something is extended, or moves, or does not move? But most people want to be told that an accident is something, i.e. some part of the real world, even though in fact it is not part of it. The best way of satisfying such people as far as possible is to reply that an accident is to be defined as the mode of a body through which it is conceived; which is equivalent to saying that an accident is a capacity of a body to impress a concept of itself upon us. Even if this definition does not correspond to what was asked, it does at least correspond to what ought to have been asked. In other words, if it is asked, ‘Why does it happen that one part of a body is perceptible in one place, another in another?’, the correct answer will be, ‘Because of its extension;’ or if it is asked, ‘How is it that the whole body is continuously perceived now here, now there?’, the answer will be, ‘Because of its motion;’ or if again it is asked, ‘How is it that the same space is seen to be occupied for some time?’, the answer should be, ‘Because the body has not been moved.’ For if the question, ‘What is it?’ is asked about the name of a body, i.e. a concrete name, the appropriate reply will take the form of a definition, since the question is only about the meaning of a word. But if the question, ‘What is it?’ is asked about an abstract name, what is asked is the cause of something’s appearing in this or that mode. So, if it is asked what a solid thing is, the answer will be, ‘A solid thing is that of which a part gives way only if the whole gives way;’ but if it is asked, ‘What is solidity?’, we need to indicate the cause of the part not giving way unless the whole gives way. So we shall define an accident as a mode of conceiving a body.
~ from HOBBES ON BODY, Chapter 8: Body and Accident (extracts)
Translation © George MacDonald Ross, 1975–1999
Physics teaches us that: "Everything in the universe is in a state of vibration and that two or more things acting at different rates of vibration can occupy the same space at the same time without one conflicting with another."

Objects made of matter
 are material, tangible, corporeal, and definite
 cannot occupy the same place at the same time
 exchange energy and momentum during collisions
 are immaterial, intangible, incorporeal, and indefinite
 can occupy the same place at the same time
 pass through each other without effect
Principle of Linear Superposition
 When waves occupy the same place at the same time they interfere or superpose
 The resultant disturbance is the sum of the individual disturbances at every point in space and time


No two things can occupy the same space at the same time, except for ordinary matter that is... Last year, the Nobel Prize for physics was given to three experimenters from Bolder, Colorado who restricted the movements of rubidium atoms by confining them between opposing laser beams. The group of atoms became merged into a blob of a new type of matter where many atoms share the same space. (written October 8, 2002)

Posts: 17415 | Location: Wisconsin | Registered: 06-07-00Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Quoteland Demigod
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"No two objects can occupy the same place at one time"

...This is not a quote, but, the Pauli's Exclusion principle


A slightly differently phrased statement having a similar meaning, was found here It says:

"Only as long," said Sherez, "as no one notices there is a paradox. I think one day the artificers will prove two objects cannot occupy the same place simultaneously; but until then, who knows? Perhaps they can."
-- from As Above, As Below by John M. Ford.


much love, light and laughter,

*~Come play with my Smile children Smile feel the peace and Scatter some joy.~*
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Posts: 6232 | Location: India | Registered: 07-03-01Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe this is known as one of "Zeno's Paradoxes" or a "Motion Paradox" (or Ananya or TN could be correct also - shrug, not sure!! LOL)

"No two objects can occupy the same place at one time"

It is widely attributed to Aristotle but really originates from Zeno of Elea (490 B.C.)

Zeno of Elea was an ancient Greek (born around 490 B.C.) who lived in what is now southern Italy. He became a disciple of the philosopher Parmenides, a philosopher who went around telling people that reality was an absolute, unchanging whole, and that therefore many things we take for granted, such as motion and plurality, were simply illusions. This kind of thing must no doubt have brought on ridicule from the more common-sensical Eleatics, and so Zeno set out to defend his master’s position by inventing ingenious problems for the common-sense view. Ever since then, Zeno’s paradoxes have been debated by philosophers and mathematicians.

Zeno's writings have not survived, so his paradoxes are known to us chiefly through Aristotle's criticisms of them. Aristotle analyzed four paradoxes of motion: the Racetrack (or Dichotomy), Achilles and the Tortoise, the Arrow, and the Stadium (or Moving Rows).

Here's the full text:


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Just call me Gena
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