Ancient Greek History

Empedocles – Ancient Greek Philosopher from Acragas

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Like many philosophers from Ancient Greece, Empedocles wore many hats. Part of this is due to the fact that the philosophers of Ancient Greece, in general, were interested in the way the world around them functioned. This curiosity led them to pursue other disciplines, as well, in pursuit of the answers to their questions. In the case of Empedocles, he was at once a scientist and a philosopher as he sought to make sense of his world, including the heavens and the stars. Also, like most of the philosophers that came out of Ancient Greece, they sought understanding by exploring beyond the religion of the day, which were the Greek mythological tales that are told as stories today. Empedocles was no exception. Here’s more information about this philosopher:

Life of Empedocles

Empedocles was born in a part of Ancient Greece known as Sicily, which is where modern-day Sicily, a part of Italy, is today. He was born in 490 B.C. in Agrigentum, Sicily, which at the time was a colony of Ancient Greece. Although we do know that his family was considered to be of the upper class, we don’t actually know many details about them. Meto, his father, may have helped overthrow a tyrant who ruled over Agrigentum. When Empedocles become older, he also played a part in overthrowing a government – the oligarchy that was put in place some time after the tyrant was overthrown. Also during the course of his life, he befriended several well known philosophers of his time, such as Pausanias, Acron, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras. What we do know about him has been survived in his own writings and the works of other philosophers, such as Aristotle.

Philosophy of Empedocles

When examining the Ancient Greek philosophers today, we group them in two ways – those who came before Socrates, and those who came after. Empedocles is part of the pre-socratic group of philosophers and in general, his thinking falls under the pluralist school, which he is credited in creating. In Ancient Greece, pluralists such as Empedocles believed that there were four root elements – fire, water, air, and earth – that made up all life. This belief is why he is considered to be both a scientist and a philosopher. In his field of study, he used science to help him understand his philosophies of the world.

One of the interesting things about this philosopher is that he actually wrote about his viewpoints in verse form. In fact, this was a common practice with all the philosophers who came before him, but it appears as if he is the last one to have done it. His verse-based works including Purification, of which only 100 lines have survived the ages, and On Nature, where 450 lines have survived.

Empedocles was a philosopher in Ancient Greece who is considered a pluralist. In fact, he is credited as being one of the first pluralists and may have even developed this way of thinking.


Wikipedia – Ancient Greek Philosophy

Wikipedia – Empedocles

Wikipedia – Pluralism

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