From Chapter V., Empedokles of Akragas
109. Mixture and Separation
The expression used by Empedokles to describe the movement of the elements is that they "run through each other" (fr. 17, 34.). Aristotle tells us92 that he explained mixture in general by "the symmetry of pores." And this is the true explanation of the "attraction of like for like." The "pores" of like bodies are, of course, much the same size, and these bodies can therefore mingle easily. On the other hand, a finer body will "run through" a coarse one without becoming mixed, and a coarse body will not be able to enter the pores of a finer one at all. As Aristotle says, this really implies something like the atomic theory; but there is no evidence that Empedokles himself was conscious of that. Another question raised by Aristotle is even more instructive. Are the pores, he asks, empty or full? If empty, what becomes of the denial of the void? If full, why need we assume pores at all?93 These questions Empedokles would have found it hard to answer.
90. Plato, Laws, x. 889 b. The reference is not to Empedokles exclusively, but the language shows that Plato is thinking mainly of him.
91. Arist. De gen. corr. B, 6. 334 a 1; Phys. Θ, 1. 252 a 5 (R. P. 166 k).
92. Arist. De gen. corr. A, 8. 324 b 34 (R. P. 166 h).
93. Arist. De gen. corr. A, 8. 326 b 6.
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