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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 ?
A few days later, Chrysostomou met Empedocles, who said that as the size of the establishment was quite large, the amount would actually be e1/435,000.
But, upon closer examination, he adopts more than their tone; indeed, the theologians provide the framework, from which Aristotle is able to criticize the philosopher Empedocles. The theologians represent the distinction between the imperishable and the perishable as that between gods and men.
Cudworth explica que Plutarco sostiene que esta doctrina se encuentra en los persas, los caldeos, los egipcios, pero tambien en los griegos y, particularmente, en filosofos famosos como Pitagoras, Empedocles, Heraclito, Anaxagoras, Platon y Aristoteles (destacando entre todos ellos a Platon) (42).
Empedocles habla de la presencia de todos los dioses y de los daimones en la naturaleza: su existencia es casi semejante a la de los hombres.
Empedocles, inducido por su sensibilidad y su filosofia hace ya tanto tiempo a odiar la cultura, a despreciar toda ocupacion muy definida (...) y, por tanto, insatisfecho, inestable, doliente (...) Empedocles se siente particularmente hastiado (...), [de esta forma decide] abandonar la ciudad y su casa y dirigirse a una solitaria region del Etna (Holderlin, 1997, p.
La primera seccion del Fundamento para el Empedocles se construye alrededor del desarrollo de la nocion de intimidad (Innigkeit).
Encontramos en la introduccion el senalamiento del autor de que ha sido en Parmenides, Pitagoras, Empedocles y Heraclito los autores en los que se ha concentrado para presentar algunos indicios de intuiciones brunianas.
Asi que entre los presocraticos hay una postura divergente entre cardiocentrismo y encefalo-centrismo, los voceros de la primera posicion son Heraclito y Empedocles, y de la segunda Alcmeon o Diogenes de Apolonia.
Apparently, Straub and Huillet edited four versions of Holderlin's first draft of the drama The Death of Empedocles. (Two years later, they would shoot Schwarze Siinde [Black Sin, 1989] from the third draft of the poet's text.) By filming the play in the environs of Mount Etna, the filmmakers have deflected the drama from a tragedy about the persecuted and rejected prophet-philosopher to a dialectic between gorgeous, archaic language and the vibrant play of light and wind in the stunning Sicilian landscape.
Por otra parte, el principio de la entropia no lineal permite, segun Otero-Blanco, leer las novelas de Perez-Reverte a partir del racionalismo presocratico de Empedocles de Acragante.
Empedocles instala en la naturaleza dos fuerzas antagonicas amor y [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] y [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] que buscan, como en el caso de Anaximandro, estados provisionales de armonia, asi en el Fragmento 17, versos 1-20) (15).