[Philosophy] Empedocles

Empedocles is best known for his cosmogonic theory – the origin of the cosmos or the universe – of the four classical elements – air, fire, water, and earth.

  • c. 494 BC ~ c. 434 BC (?)
  • Akragas, in Sicily

Four Elements

Empedocles tried to reconcile the paradox of changing and unchanging. The cause of disagreement is the assumption of a single root element or substance. If the world is made of a single element, the change is not possible since one cannot become another. But we must accept our senses are reliable – the world is changing.

  • Empedocles believed that there exist four basic elements or roots.
    • Air, Fir, Water, and Earth
  • Four roots never change, but things, which you sense, change through combining and separating elements.

Love and Strife

Four roots are not mingled or separated randomly. There are forces that do the action. Empedocles’s distinction between matter and force – just like modern Physics – is worth mentioning.

  • There are two forces in work.
    • Love: bind elements
    • Strife (Hate): separate elements
  • Pure domain of Love – Harmony: life is not present
  • Pure domain of Strife – Kaos: life is not present
  • Contention between Love and Strife: Presence of life

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