Empedocles and Elea School RelationshipJune 26, 2021
Empedocles (490 – 430 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher.
Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus are naturalists, just like the philosophers of the Miletus School. However, they did not hesitate to deal with religious issues. Empedocles is a transitional philosopher, especially among these scholars. Empedocles, like the Eleans, lived on the southern coast of Sicily in one of the Greek colonies in southern Italy. As the head of the Democratic Party, he played an important role in the political life of his country. He is a physician.
In one of his two poetic works that have reached us, we can see him as a philosopher close to Pythagoras. In this work he knows his previous life, as seen in Pythagoras; birds, fish, etc. He claims that he remembers it. Again, like Pythagoras, he recommends getting rid of the body, which is a prison for the soul, and lists what needs to be done for this. Like Pythagoras, he has had an attempt at restructuring in religion. He is also against meat-eating and bloody victims.
Religious organizers were not given much importance in Greece at that time. As a matter of fact, it is not even known where they died. His followers believe that they were taken to heaven by God. This belief also applies to Empedocles. Those who oppose Empedocles argue that he was thrown into the “Etna” volcano just for the sake of gaining fame. It is wrong to see Empedocles as merely a religious organizer, a prophet. Because he is also a naturalist. Indeed, we know that he was the founder of a medical school in Sicily and had his own views on nature.
These three philosophers are naturalists, but they are also under the influence of the Elea School. On the assumption that this is so and that all three philosophers share the same view, there is no abstract formation in the universe. In the essence of the universe, there is an element that does not change, remains constant, and has no beginning and no end. This is the view of the Eleans. But after this view, these three thinkers differ from the Eleans. According to them: There is no abstract becoming, no abstract change in the universe, but there is a movement. In other words, there are many elements in the universe that have not changed since its beginning and will never change. These elements move, and during their movement they either combine with each other or separate from each other. That’s why we; We make the mistake of thinking that some things are disappearing, some things are happening. These situations are not real. However, the elements that have no beginning and no end are real. The destruction of an object means that it breaks into infinitely small pieces, dispersing into invisible dust particles. Its occurrence is when these infinitesimal parts combine to form a tangible entity. What are these elements that make up the unification of the universe? Or what are they? At this point, one of the three philosophers has different views from the others.
Empedocles deals with the views put forward by the philosophers before him in this direction. The main elements put forward in the previous period are: Water, air, fire, and their relations with the earth were investigated. Empedocles adds the main element of “earth” to these. Thus, the number of main elements in it reaches four: water, air, fire, earth. These four elements are present from the very beginning. They neither change nor disappear. So it has no beginning and no end. Their quantities, numbers and quantities in the universe always remain the same. Everything consists of certain combinations of these four elements. For instance, the essence of flesh and bone, which is the solid aspect of man’s creation, is soil. The liquid part of man is blood. For this reason, there is water in the composition of man. Then, air is added to the composition of the human being through respiration. Finally, the heat found in the human body confirms the presence of fire in its composition. The medical hypothesis of Empedocles is also based on this thought. Disease is the decrease or increase of one of these four elements in the body.
According to Empedocles, the entire universe consists of the union and separation of these four elements. However, Empedocles raises a very new question: What are the reasons and forces that enable these four elements to unite and separate? Thales, one of the previous philosophers, only researched which main element was and was content to say that it was “water”. Likewise, according to Anaximenes, the main element is “air”.
Anaximenes argues that other things are formed by the compression and relaxation of air. However, he investigated and investigated the cause that was effective in the formation of matter. Empedocles, on the other hand, first investigates the main element and determines the reason for this in four elements. Also investigate the cause of the formation of the universe and tries to explain it by the compression and relaxation of the four elements. Empedocles dealt with a subject that had never been covered before: the reason for this formation in the universe and what the forces are. In response, Empedocles introduces two new concepts, love (sympathy) and hate (antipathy) into his explanation. Love unites the elements, hate separates them.
Empedocles is a versatile personality. On the one hand, he is a religious innovator like Pythagoras and Xenophanes, believes in transmigration, on the other hand, he is with nature.