Monday, February 21, 2022


EMPEDOCLES (Greek, c. 494-434 BCE)

Another pre-Socratic philosopher, this one from a Greek city in Sicily. He created a system of thought that was to hold sway nearly until the modern age: the idea of the four classical elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. He also suggested that there were two forces acting on these: "Strife" could separate them, and "Love" could bring them together. Aristotle later elaborated this idea, saying each element partook of two characteristics in a dyad: hot/cold and wet/dry, thus:

Fire: hot and dry
Air: hot and wet
Water: cold and wet
Earth: cold and dry
  • Empedocles also opposed killing animals for food or religious sacrifice, and believed in reincarnation--both ideas he owed to Pythagoras.
  • We have more of his writings than of any other pre-Socratic, and he may have been the last to write his works in verse.


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