previous next
[985a] [1] and that there are more bad and common things than there are good and beautiful: in view of this another thinker introduced Love and Strife1 as the respective causes of these things—because if one follows up and appreciates the statements of Empedocles with a view to his real meaning and not to his obscure language, it will be found that Love is the cause of good, and Strife of evil. Thus it would perhaps be correct to say that Empedocles in a sense spoke of evil and good as first principles, and was the first to do so—that is, if the cause of all good things is absolute good.

These thinkers then, as I say, down to the time of Empedocles, seem to have grasped two of the causes which we have defined in the Physics2: the material cause and the source of motion; but only vaguely and indefinitely. They are like untrained soldiers in a battle, who rush about and often strike good blows, but without science; in the same way these thinkers do not seem to understand their own statements, since it is clear that upon the whole they seldom or never apply them.Anaxagoras avails himself of Mind as an artificial device for producing order, and drags it in whenever he is at a loss to explain [20] some necessary result; but otherwise he makes anything rather than Mind the cause of what happens.3 Again, Empedocles does indeed use causes to a greater degree than Anaxagoras, but not sufficiently; nor does he attain to consistency in their use.At any rate Love often differentiates and Strife combines: because whenever the universe is differentiated into its elements by Strife, fire and each of the other elements are agglomerated into a unity; and whenever they are all combined together again by Love, the particles of each element are necessarily again differentiated.

Empedocles, then, differed from his predecessors in that he first introduced the division of this cause, making the source of motion not one but two contrary forces.Further, he was the first to maintain that the so-called material elements are four—not that he uses them as four, but as two only,

1 Empedocles Fr. 17, 26 (Diels); R.P. 166. Cf. Burnet, E.G.P. 108 ff.

2 Aristot. Phys. 2.3, 7.

3 Cf. Plat. Phaedo 98b, Plat. Laws 967b; also Aristot. Met. 7.5.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1924)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: