Empedocles took an important step in the direction of modern conceptions of physical evolution by teaching that all things arise, not by transformations of some primitive form of matter, but by various combinations of a number of permanent elements.
His devotion to Epicurus seems at first sight more difficult to explain than his enthusiasm for Empedocles or Ennius.
Empedocles tries to explain the genesis of organic beings, and, according to Lange, anticipates the idea of Darwin that adaptations abound, because it is their nature to perpetuate themselves.
Foremost among these were the writings of Epicurus; but he had also an intimate knowledge of the philosophical poem of Empedocles, and at least an acquaintance with the works of Democritus, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Plato and the Stoical writers.
Most famous in connexion with this kind of poetry are Xenophanes and Parmenides, the Eleatics and Empedocles of Agrigentum.
The fragments of the poem of Empedocles show that the Roman poet regarded that work as his model.
With them came philosophical poems, such as those of Xenophanes and Empedocles; the epical history of Herodotus; the dramatic philosophy of Plato.
LEUCIPPUS, Greek philosopher, born at Miletus (or Elea), founder of the Atomistic theory, contemporary of Zeno, Empedocles and Anaxagoras.
Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle; Telesio, Bruno and Campanella; Leibnitz; the idealists, Schopenhauer and Hartmann, Fechner and Paulsen; and the materialist, Haeckel - all have agreed in according some sort of appetition to Nature.
The discovery of the regular solids is attributed to Pythagoras by Eudemus, and Empedocles is stated to have been the first who maintained that there are four elements.
He was a contemporary of Socrates and Democritus, but senior to them, and was probably somewhat junior to Empedocles, so that his birth may be placed at about 480.
On the one hand Empedocles and Anaxagoras, abandoning the pursuit of the One, gave themselves to the scientific study of the Many; on the other Zeno, abandoning the pursuit of the Many, gave himself to the dialectical study of the One.
Empedocles of Acragas is best known from the legends of his miracles and of his death in the fires of Aetna; but he was not the less philosopher, poet and physician, besides his political career.
It will be sufficient here to deal with Anaxagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia, Archelaus and Hippo, leaving Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus to special articles (q.v.).
EMPEDOCLES (c. 490-430 B.C.), Greek philosopher and statesman, was born at Agrigentum (Acragas, Girgenti) in Sicily of a distinguished family, then at the height of its glory.
His grandfather Empedocles was victorious in the Olympian chariot race in 496; in 4 70 his father Meto was largely instrumental in the overthrow of the tyrant Thrasydaeus.
Empedocles, according to one story, was one midnight, after a feast held in his honour, called away in a blaze of glory to the gods; according to another, he had only thrown himself into the crater of Etna, in the hope that men, finding no traces of his end, would suppose him translated to heaven.
There are, according to Empedocles, four ultimate elements, four primal divinities, of which are made all structures in the world - fire, air, water, earth.
The doctrine of the deceitfulness of " the undiscerning eye and the echoing ear " soon established itself, though the grounds upon which Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus maintained it were not those which were alleged by Parmenides.
Lastly, the philosophers of the second physical succession - Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus - not directly attacking the great mystery of the One and the Many, but in virtue of a scientific instinct approaching it through the investigation of phenomena, were brought by their study of sensation to perceive and to proclaim the inadequacy of the organs of sense.
Empedocles apparently regarded love (4 tX6r s) and discord (veixos) as alternately holding the empire over things, - neither, however, being ever quite absent.
Hence the precepts of morality are with Empedocles largely dietetic.
It is not easy to harmonize these quasi-scientific theories with the theory of transmigration of souls which Empedocles seems to expound.
Looking at the opposition between these and the ordinary opinions, we are not surprised that Empedocles notes the limitation and narrowness of human perceptions.
It is, in its purely physical application, a theory that he fully accepts; he holds that it was taught by Pythagoras, Empedocles, and in fact, nearly all the ancient philosophers, and was only perverted to atheism by Democritus.
The search for a deeper hidden meaning beside the literal one had been begun by Democritus, Empedocles, the Sophists.
The zodiac of Denderah; the Savoyards who carved their pine-forests into toys; the naked Derar, horsed on an idea, charging a troop of Roman cavalry; the long, austere Pythagorean lustrum of silence; Napoleon on the deck of the "Bellerophon," observing the drill of the English soldiers; the Egyptian doctrine that every man has two pairs of eyes; Empedocles and his shoe; the horizontal stratification of the earth; a soft mushroom pushing its way through the hard ground, - all these allusions and a thousand more are found in the same volume.
According to Diogenes Laertius he was " in his prime " 504-500 B.C., and would thus seem to have been born about 539 Plato indeed (Parmenides, 127 B) makes Socrates see and hear Parmenides when the latter was about sixty-five years of age, in which case he cannot have been born before 519; but in the absence of evidence that any such meeting took place this may be regarded as one of Plato's anachronisms. However this may be, Parmenides was a contemporary, probably a younger contemporary, of Heraclitus, with whom the first succession of physicists ended, while Empedocles and Anaxagoras, with whom the second succession of physicists began, were very much his juniors.
While Empedocles and Democritus are careful to emphasize their dissent from " Truth," it is obvious that " Opinion " is the basis of their cosmologies.
Thus, just as Empedocles developed Parmenides's theory of the Many to the neglect of his theory of the One, so Zeno developed the theory of the One to the neglect of the theory of the Many.