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Related to Empedocles: Democritus, Anaxagoras


(ĕmpĕd`əklēz), c.495–c.435 B.C., Greek philosopher, b. Acragas (present Agrigento), Sicily. Leader of the democratic faction in his native city, he was offered the crown, which he refused. A turn in political fortunes drove him and his followers into exile. Empedocles taught that everything in existence is composed of four underived and indestructible roots, material particles identified as fire, water, earth, and air. He declared the atmosphere to be a corporeal substance, not a mere void; and in the absence of the void or empty space he explained motion as the interpenetration of particles, under the alternating action of two forces, harmony and discord. Believing that motion, or change of place, is the only sort of change possible, he explained all apparent changes in quality or quantity as changes of position of the basic particles underlying the observable object. He was thereby the first to state a principle that is now central to physics.


See studies by C. E. Millerd (1980) and M. R. Wright (1981).



of Acragas (Agrigento). Born circa 490 B.C.; died circa 430. Greek philosopher, physician, and political figure; head of the democrats’ party.

Empedocles was influenced by the Pythagoreans and by Parmenides. In the poem On Nature he developed the doctrine of the four eternal and invariable elements—fire, air, water, and earth—out of which, in various proportions and combinations, all things are formed. The joining and separation of the elements are predicated on the existence of two forces, love and strife, whose alternating predominance determines the cyclicity of the world process. In the period of the supremacy of love, the elements are fused together, forming an enormous homogeneous sphere that is in a state of peace; the predominance of strife leads to the separation of the elements. The world in which we live, according to Empedocles, represents one of the intermediate stages. The description of the origin of living creatures in the period of ascendancy of love anticipates in some respects the idea of natural selection.

Empedocles devoted considerable attention to questions of anatomy and physiology, as exemplified by his description of the breathing process; his theory of “pores” and “effluences,” which was intended to explain sensations, contains the rudiments of atomistic ideas. In the poem Purifications, Empedocles expounded his religious-ethical doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration of the soul. He is considered the founder of the Sicilian medical school.


Diels, H. Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed., vol. 1. Berlin, 1951. Pages 276–375.
Ben, N. van der. The Poem of Empedocles’ Peri Physeos. Amsterdam, 1975.
In G. Zuntz, Persephone. Oxford, 1971. Pages 181–274.
In Russian translation:
In P. Tannery, Pervye shagi drevnegrecheskoi nauki. Translated by E. L. Radlov. St. Petersburg, 1902. Pages 87–105.
Lucretius. On the Nature of Things, vol. 2. Translated by G. I. Iakubanis. Leningrad, 1947. Pages 663–95.


Iakubanis. G. I. Empedokl—filosof, vrach i charodei. Kiev, 1906.
Bollack, J. Empédocle, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1965–69.
O’Brien, D. Empedocles’ Cosmic Cycle. Cambridge, 1969.



?490--430 bc, Greek philosopher and scientist, who held that the world is composed of four elements, air, fire, earth, and water, which are governed by the opposing forces of love and discord
References in periodicals archive ?
Al referirse a la figura de Empedocles, Holderlin afirma que el heroe tragico es el resultado de "gewaltige[n] Entgegensezungen von Natur und Kunst" (StA, 4,1, 154, L.
Abordamos aqui, desde una perspectiva filosofica y cientifica a Empedocles y Aristoteles como los maximos representantes griegos del cardiocentrismo.
Finally, a shot of the Italian countryside with Etna in the background (Holderlin's German providing the voice-over) yields to a (greatly truncated) scene from Black Sin, in which Huillet, sitting on a wooded hillside, performs the final chorus of the third draft of The Death of Empedocles, a hymn to a "New World," where a revolutionary savior must come to make humanity accept nature's gifts.
Sin embargo, hay dos detalles que habran de la seduccion de Empedocles, de su subyugacion si lo queremos: 1) se marca en primer lugar con el verbo del parentesis, el cual delata el paso de lo reprimido hacia el goce sin barreras y sin prejuicios: "yo no (pretendia) deseaba", y 2) el transito de la prohibicion racional hacia la excitacion sexual para que caiga y se encuentre fuera de control: "--No me obligues a la falotracion anal--le rogue con voz apagada, vanamente, en tanto mi pene, ufano, enrojecia de excitacion y brincaba".
THE LAST WORD CHRYSIPPUS, the Stoic philosopher is said to have died of laughter after watching his drunk donkey try to eat figs while philosopher Empedocles is said to have died by leaping into Mount Etna to show his followers he had become a god.
Not surprisingly, Carr discusses Arnold's "Marguerite" poems and the long poem Empedocles on Etna, along with critical essays, as she develops her arguments.
104); mas esta critica si la realiza en las dos primeras versiones de la tragedia La muerte de Empedocles, en las discusiones que sostienen los personajes Empedocles, el Renovador, y el Sacerdote--.
Any approach to this tradition would need to take full stock of the references to Epicurus (and Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus) not only in Diogenes Laertius, but also in Aristotle, Plato and Cicero, and to Epicurus and Lucretius in Seneca, Pliny the Elder and Plutarch's Moralia; it would need to be familiar with the Neoplatonists and the medieval transmission of Epicurean ideas; it would need to explore the many different ways in which ideas were exchanged between Italy and England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
2) Dentre os nomes mais evocados por Luis Cabrera de Cordoba estao escritores e filosofos gregos como Platao, Socrates, Teofrasto, Luciano, Polibio, Suidas, Empedocles, Pindaro de Beozia, Estrabao, Simonides, Alceu, Xenofonte, Filisto, Herodoto, Tucidides e Aristoteles.
Cuando el pequenisimo Fiat iguala el alto nivel de los templos, en la lejania, hacia el sur africano, se dibuja en la costa el puerto de Empedocles.
Abu MaaACAyshar espoused the Aristotelian physical universe in which the four elements that the Greek philosopher Empedocles posited (all matter is composed of earth, air, fire and water, and that all change is caused by attraction and repulsion) were confined to the sublunar world.
Empedocles observa en los cuatro elementos el principio material de la formacion del cuerpo humano: [TEXTO IRREPRODUCIBLE EN ASCII] (fr.