One of Nietzsche’s most common criticisms of modern science is that it displays none of the esprit of its ancient counterpart. It is a business, not an adventure. It uses measuring and calculating as routine procedures, not as experimental hypotheses, let alone risky ventures. Accordingly the free spirit is replaced by the scientific worker, and the motive behind scientific research is no longer courage (as asserted by Zarathustra in one of his speeches 1 ) but its opposite – fear of the unknown and a flight towards security. The genuine materialist is by nature an iconoclast and a ‘free spirit’. Those that Nietzsche singles out by name as models for scientific research are the materialists of ancient Greece. Democritus is his most favoured example, and the subject of many notes and drafted discussions. 2 It is Democritus who stands at the other end of the scale from Plato as a representative of early philosophy. Their antagonism is the ‘battle of the giants’ described by Plato in his Sophist. Neither there nor anywhere else does Plato ever mention Democritus by name; according to one ancient tradition (which Nietzsche seems to accept) this is a sign of the same extreme hostility which led to the suppression of the writings of Democritus by his religious opponents. Yet there is one feature of Platonism which Democritean materialism shares – its scepticism concerning the senses. This is an aspect of Platonism that Nietzsche praises highly: he says that its resistance to the evidence of the senses showed it to be a ‘noble’ way of thinking. 3 But the same would apply to the statement of Democritus that the qualities of things are all due to convention, and that the only true reality is the atoms and the void within which they exist.