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(ĕm-pĕd′ə-klēz′) Fifth century bc.
Greek philosopher who believed that all matter is composed of elemental particles of fire, water, earth, and air.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although critics have been confused by the concept of Ananke in particular, and by its function in the Empedoclean system generally (Guthrie 162-63), an affinity between Empedoclean Ananke and Darwinian "struggle for survival" occurs easily in the imagination if not in fact.
The Empedoclean fragments also account for mutations, the "hybrid creatures of myth":
But the main thing about the Empedoclean cosmology is that it demonstrates, in pseudo-scientific fashion, not only that the "struggle nought availeth" but that the struggle is all there is; that Love's only remaining function is to ensure against complete fragmentation of all elements; that the Love-Sphere, that goal, cannot exist beyond the origins of life, since life is determined not by Love's dominance, but by the alternate power plays of Love and Strife, in the cosmos, among the "roots," between the sexes, in individual species, at different times, in different places.
Additionally, because the cosmology employs so many biological terms, the Empedoclean fragments gave Matthew Arnold's 19th-century moral question regarding the relationship of myth to science a physical metaphor to play off of, since these various Love-Strife dissolutions, unions, reunions can apply so easily to the myth/science union/dissolution taking place both in classical times and in the nineteenth century.
In fact, considering the Empedoclean cosmology, it seems possible that Arnold was aiming for more than "materialistic naturalism" in his dramatic poem, and that he was not only establishing his own modern links to the classical philosopher-scientists, but was differentiating between those in centuries B.
Such a link would no doubt be particularly embarrassing to Arnold in the post-Reform Bill decades, and could be yet another reason for the withdrawal of the poem and the construction of the 1853 Preface, since the question of what presumption is, in a civilization beginning to decide that the idea of presumption is itself presumptuous, was a crucial factor both in Empedoclean biography and in Arnold's long poem.
Here, at last, and only in myth, is the Empedoclean "Love-Sphere," illustrated by an old couple drifting about in forms which minimize their sexual differences, gliding in exile without memory, the future generation wiped out and not much left but numbness.