Empedocles and Pluralism RelationshipJune 26, 2021
Empedocles (492-432 BC), the first of the pluralist philosophers, was one of the most outstanding products of the scientist-philosopher type of Greek philosophy.
In fact, ancient sources speak of the simultaneous existence of a physician, sometimes a magician, and sometimes a resourceful and intelligent leader who brought solutions to problems that ordinary people could not solve. Indeed, it is said that he was the founder of the Italian medical school and that his school was at the same level as the Kos School represented by the famous physician Hippocrates. Empedocles, who also made important contributions to morphology and physiology, was sometimes seen as a magician due to the high level of his medicine.
While developing his metaphysics in his philosophy, Empedocles, like all natural philosophers before him, accepts that nothing can come out of nothing, that what really exists cannot eventually disappear. In other words, Empedocles at least adopts Parmenides’ thesis that existence is eternal, since it will not fall into nothingness other than coming out of nothingness. He again claims that the eternal being is in the form of matter, as in the matter metaphysics of the Ionian School philosophers. The philosopher who rejects the concept of empty space like Parmenides, therefore, while adopting the Elea view, which argues that a multiplicity cannot emerge from the initial unity, on the other hand, he rejects the view of the unity of existence and argues that change is an undeniable phenomenon. Therefore, what needs to be done in his eyes is to find a way to reconcile the obvious phenomenon of movement and change with Parmenides’ “immutability, eternal-eternity principle of being”. He tries to implement this reconciliation with the view that objects come into existence and then disappear, but that these objects are composed of eternal substances, which are themselves unchanging.
The unchangeable substances in question are four: earth, air, water and fire. Accordingly, Empedocles interpreted the principle of the immutability of the existence of the Eleans according to him, and stated that there are four elements or root-matter on the basis of everything; He argues that these four elements, which are determined as earth, air, water and fire, are unchangeable and that the formation and change in the universe consists of a mixture of these four elements. Just as air cannot become soil, soil cannot become air. In that case, the four root substances are unchanging, and with their mixtures in various proportions, they form the concrete and compound objects in the world, the sensory beings that we denote as “that one”. This is the famous four elements, which, apart from their simplicity, were very convenient to explain the great cosmic earth, sea, atmosphere and celestial fire masses (especially the sun, stars and lightning), which were later revived by Plato and Aristotle and would continue their dominance throughout the Middle Ages. is his teaching.
So what really exists in Empedocles’ metaphysics is earth, air, water and fire. While these elements constitute the category of reality, particular objects in change, which are their mixtures, form the field of appearances. Accordingly, while Empedocles, with his limited pluralism, says that there are four arkhes, substances or root substances on the basis of existence, he attaches special importance to emphasizing the simplicity of the arkhe, whether it is primitive or eternal. Indeed, earth, air, water and fire are simple elements or substances; in other words, they are the basic components that make up compound objects or substances, and where compound substances can be separated into these simple elements, they cannot be reduced to anything else. In other words, according to Empedocles, who makes a distinction between simple elements or components and composite objects, the four root substances are components into which composite objects can be divided and irreducible to anything else. They are the four basic colors on an artist’s palette that when mixed in various ways will give different colors.
Since they are uncreated and indestructible, that is, eternal, qualitatively unchanging, and completely homogeneous, the four elements can be said to correspond to a multiplied or quadrupled version of the one being of Parmenides. But although Empedocles, like the Eleans, denies the existence of empty space, he does not deduce from this that local movement or displacement is impossible. By accepting the existence of four substances instead of one, Empedocles argues that they can take the place of each other without requiring the existence of an empty space in which to move. In Empedocles, however, they acquire a new feature that does not exist in Parmenides’ metaphysics: Although they are unchanging in the sense of remaining one and the same with themselves, they exhibit a movement of displacement.
Reality is immutable; The change in appearance only occurs as a result of the arrangement and displacement of the four elements that make up the composite beings. The assertion of the existence of four separate substances instead of Parmenidean unity, however, does not solve the problem of movement or change. For, while Parmenides insisted that the existent cannot move, the hylozoism or living materialism of earlier philosophers