from Agrigentum in Sicily in Magna Graecia. Not content to be a king - wanted to be a god. Some thought him a demigod- others a charlatan. He. travelled around Sicily and the Peloponnesus teaching and performing cures, venerated by many. In order to have a death worthy of a deity, he threw himself into Mt. Aetna - or, as another story would have it, was taken up by the gods, somewhat like Elijah.
Cosmology - two suns, one authentic sun, fire, and another reflected sun, the one we see. (It had been discovered that the moon shines by reflected light - he drew the analogy).
Night is produced by the interposition of the earth between the sun and fire (?).
Discovered the true cause of eclipses
The planets and stars are authentic, not reflected fire: the stars are fixed, the planets free-moving.
Light is something which travels very quickly.
Biological notions - the first things were trees (plants have sex)
Heat is principally male
Human beings are produced by a chance aggregation of separate components and only those properly organized survive (compare this antecedent of 19th ct. "natural selection" with Anaximander's understanding of how human beings emerged from more primitive life forms).
Transmigration of the soul - "In another time, I have been boy and girl, a shrub and a bird, and a dumb fish in the sea."
Theory of perception - relationship between sensory perception and the size of pores - hence organs for different senses vary in size.
Like things are known by like things - if I know fire, fire is found in me, etc.
The problem of the being of things: to reconcile immovable being with changable multiplicity - the four elements or roots of all things
These are opposites and contain the contrarieties of dry and damp, of cold and warm.
The roots are eternal. In contrast with Parmenide's Entity which is homogenous and unchanging, Entity for Empedocles. is a mixture. All bodies are composed through segregation of the elemental substances.
Motion is explained through the forces of love and hate. - e.g. how, deriving from the four roots, all things are engendered and perish.
Hate separates the dlfferent elements -- love tends to join them. Authentic love is the attraction of dissimilarlties.
Four periods in the motion of the World:
a) the mixed sphere - homogenous/heterogenous
b) hate gives rise to separation
c) culmination of hate - separates all things
d) philia (love) returns and tne things begin to unite again.
The cycle repeats over and over. Things united in very different ways are formed - lions with the head of an ass, etc., ( which explalns mythology, for example). Only those which have a logos, a ratio, and internal structure which permits them to continue to exist, survive and propogate
While various cycles occur in this way - the four roots remain eternal. Again, we see here the Parmenidean tension between being (the eternal roots) and the transient or non-being, the cosmos that does not really exist.
Multiplicity is introduced into the Parmenidean Entity by dividing it into four elements. But this still does not explain motion - physics remains impossible (?)
Jones' account - of a Parminidean "one" that is now many and moves seems basically correct. I would like to emphasize here two points.
1. Empedocles works with two sorts of motion - Strife and Love . Recall here the meaning of Love/Desire in Hesiod; note that eros is an important conception both mythically and philosophically - and, by way of anticipation, that eros will be a central concept in Socrates/Plato; finally, that eros means for the Greeks something considerably different from what moderns mean by "desire" or "sex." That difference is apparent first of all as Empedocles is willing to accord a kind of primal status to eros - one which, in my mind, involves more than a simple anthropomorphizing of human sexuality onto the universe.
2. I disagree with Jones' when he thinks he has spotted a contradiction between Empedocles' "mechanistic" account of the universe and an allegedly "religious" attitude as manifest in his attributing mind to the whole: "He is only a sacred and unutterable mind flashing through the whole world with rapid thoughts."
First of all, Empedocles - like Heraclitus - [Empedocles' flourit is suggested by K & R to be roughly mid-fifth century B.C. - i.e., ca. 450 B.C., which places him after Heraclitus (540/530-475)] is making explicit here the fundamental assumption of philosophy/science - that a rational order underlies or is present in the world in some way.
Moreover, the question of a "contradiction" cannot arise here - "contradiction" is a concept which seems to develop only gradually, and is formulated as a concept only with Plato and Aristotle. Rather than it being an obvious notion - a brief look at religious texts, along with poetry and philosophy of the time, suggests that people simply did not operate with this "obvious" notion. Again, I accuse Jones of reading the Presocratics through a framework which includes far too many specifically modern assumptions and demands.
Finally, that Empedocles insists that God is mind - but not body - is to insist on the philosophers' god - one already articulated by Xenophanes and Heraclitus. The groundwork is laid here for what will become explicit in Aristotle - that in our rational understanding of the universe - as also rationally ordered - we achieve god's own view of things; we become identical with god.
[on to Anaxagoras]