Chapter

Empedocles

David Sedley

in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253643
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934368 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253643.003.0002
Empedocles

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When considering Empedocles it is critical not to assume that religion and science were regarded as mutually exclusive modes of thought. Empedocles, as a Sicilian poet, healer, and wonder-worker, described his poem On nature in two cycles, a cosmic one and a daimonic one. The cosmic cycle is one of alternating world phases, governed alternately by two divine powers called Love and Strife. Anaxagoras, like Empedocles, was working in the aftermath of Parmenides' challenge to cosmology. Parmenides had left a notorious dilemma: Are we to follow mere appearances and accept the existence of the familiar variable cosmos bounded by the spherical heaven, or are we to follow reason, according to which the sphere that constitutes reality must, in truth, be an undifferentiated and changeless one? Empedocles' solution to that dilemma is to interpret these alternatives diachronically, as each therefore capable of realization in its own turn.

Keywords: Empedocles; poet; daimonic; Parmenides; cosmos

Chapter.  20335 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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