Empedocles


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Related to Empedocles: Democritus, Anaxagoras

Empedocles

(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.

Bibliography

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

Empedocles

 

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.

WORKS

Fragments
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.

REFERENCES

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.

I. D. ROZHANSKII

Empedocles

?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 ?
95-55 BC) dealt with his sources in his refutation of the theories of matter by Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and other earlier philosophers.
The People Who Made Technology From Earliest Times to Present Day," a book written in 1979 by Anthony Feldman and Peter Ford (Aldus Books Ltd) in London, gives in chronological order scientific and technological progress, which documents names of the great inventors in chronological order like this: Empedocles (c.
It contributes to the motif of Empedocles on Aetna and to the gnomic aloofness of Heraclitus.
Proponents of female seed, such as Empedocles and the Hippocratic author of On Generation, address the problem by stating that each sex has only half the material needed to make anew individual, which must then be complemented by the contribution of the opposite sex before conception could take place.
There are long individual chapters on the contributions to the theory of elements by Empedocles and Plato, and two on Aristotle.
This would depend on how much emphasis an ancient reader put on the medium--and Aristotle, as is known, undermines the difference between the mechanics of prose and of poetry when he says that Empedocles writes in verse but is a physiologos, not a poet like Homer (Poetics 1447b18).
From 1650 onwards, painting in his own way after his return to Rome, Salvator produced a dark sequence of ferocious landscapes with storm-felled and storm-riven pines piled on crags: occasionally peopled, as when two hermits, meeting after long spells of silence, burst out into gesticulating chatter (Edinburgh, from the Mahon Collection), or an intense little Empedocles jumps into the crater of Mount Etna (private collection).
Empedocles is another ancient philosopher who attached great importance to fire in his cosmogony and he believed that each one of the four basic elements have features of eternal and unalterable being, also they are the roots of everything.
In the 1853 Preface to his Poems, Arnold explains why he has not included in the volume his one most ambitious poem, the closet drama Empedocles on Etna.
And yet even now, from the individual conscience of this or that honest philosopher (from Empedocles through Vico and Schelling to Benjamin and Deleuze) the memory of this betrayal will speak.
In the Preface to his 1853 collection, Arnold, at his most Aristotelian, explained why he omitted Empedocles on Etna, the long title poem of an earlier volume: it failed to deliver on his own philosophical demands.
We read in the Physics (198b) that Empedocles, in a view reminiscent of Darwinism, argued that the teeth and other parts of the body arose by chance and survived by happening to be organised in a fitting way.