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EMPEDOKLES

The fifth century brought out other philosophers who attempted to explain this very strange Eleatic world. Each accepted the Eleatic one, but attempted to explain it in terms of the sensual world. Empedokles, for example, took a step beyond all others. He announced that he was a god. In an attempt to answer the problems inherent in Parmenides view of reality, he announced that he would reveal as much truth as the divine law would permit ordinary creatures to hear. There are "four roots" of all things he said, Zeus, Hera, Aidonis, and Nestis. In response to Parmenedes' impossibility of the many, he stated that the many are six: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Love and Strife. All six make up all that we find in the world. The supreme god, the One of Parmenedes is only a sacred and unutterable mind. It is most perfect when it is completely integrated under the influence of love. During the cosmic period when the power of love is growing there is a good deal of free play in nature. Love is a supreme power that makes for perfection. Strife, on the other hand, makes for imperfection. During cosmic periods when love is in control the one emerges from the many. Love as expressed by Greek philosophers is the most fundamental formative force. Remember that both Hericlitus and Anaximander used the concept of conflict and strife as the engine of change in the world. But both are destructive in their actions. Love is the power that compels the initiation of a creative or constructive act. Nothing begins without a desire and love is the foundation of desire. During cosmic periods when strife is under control the many are produced out of the one. Strife is the source of evil. Hericlitus and the Milesians made use of the concept of strife as the primary cause of eternal motion, but to all early philosophers, change is the ultimate source of evil and strife is the ultimate source of change. Empedokles was the first to introduce love as the opposite of strife and the source of the emergence of perfection in the world.

Empedokles is well known for his developments in medicine. In this form he is considered to have made a contribution to science. However, we must remember that, as basically a pythagorean, his approach to medicine was more religious than scientific.

This would be a good time to review the developments of these first centuries of Western civilization from our three perspectives, science, religion, and philosophy. The gods of Homer and Hesiod represented the powers of the universe in terms that could be communicated by poetic genius to the people of the period. The Milesians turned from poetic expression to develop explanations that could base their authority on human reason rather than poetic imagination. Out of this came the concept of an underlying substrata out of which the world we know emerged. As Thales said, this world was filled with gods. Gods, remember, have always represented the powers of the universe

This description was hylozoistic, meaning all of the forces for the generation and emergence of the world existed within the world itself, actually within the substratum. By the time of Anaximenes this had evolved to what Hack called a "cosmogenetic god", or the supreme cause of the universe. Anaximenes' air, when it was most finely dispersed was "aither", or divine fire. As such it was boundless, as his master had taught. It was also the source of eternal motion, a fact brought out by Hericltus who made it the universe.

The Orphic Pythagorus recognized the authority of mathematics in the relations of the world. He made the divine fire of Anaximenes the number one, that which contains all of the opposites, the odd and the even. Xenophanes distilled the ideas further into the One God, who was boundless, and pure causation.

Parmenides showed that the application of pure reason to these basic premises led to the inevitable conclusion that all that falls under being could not be many, and it could not change. Empedokles' most important contributions to philosophy were first, the idea that what is, that is whatever we recognize as existing in the world, must be simply mixtures of the basic elements, earth, water, fire, and air. This is a major change in concepts because all before him had taught that these were not separate elements but were just elementary conditions of the underlying substrata. And second the idea that love is the source of all perfection in the universe.