Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
110. The Four Periods 112. Formation of the World by Strife

From Chapter V., Empedokles of Akragas

111. Our World the Work of Strife
That a world of perishable things (θνητά) arises both in the second and fourth period is distinctly stated by Empedokles (fr. 17), and it is inconceivable that he had not made up his mind which of these worlds is ours. Aristotle is clearly of opinion that in our world Strife is increasing. In one place, he says that Empedokles "holds that the world is in a similar condition now in the period of Strife as formerly in that of Love."95 In another, he tells us that Empedokles omits the generation of things in the period of Love, just because it is unnatural to represent this world, in which the elements are separate, as arising from things in a state of separation.96 This remark can only mean that Empedokles assumed the increase of Strife, or, in other words, that he represented the course of evolution as the disintegration of the Sphere, not as the coming together of things from a state of separation.97 That is what we should expect, if we are right in supposing that the problem he set himself to solve was the origin of this world from the Sphere of Parmenides, and it is also in harmony with the tendency of such speculations to represent the world as getting worse rather than better. We have only to consider, then, whether the details of the system bear out this general view.

Burnet's Notes


95. Arist. De gen. Corr. B, 6. 334 a 6, τὸν κόσμον ὁμοίως ἔχειν φησὶν ἐπί τε τοῦ νείκους νῦν καὶ πρότερον ἐπὶ τῆς φιλίας. Miss Millerd (Interpretation of Empedocles, p. 45) adds Theophrastos, De sensu §20, συμβαίνει δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς Φιλίας ὅλως μὴ εἶναι αἴσθησιν ἢ ἧττον διὰ τὸ συγκρίνεσθαι τότε καὶ μὴ ἀπορρεῖν Here ἐπὶ τῆς Φιλίας and τότε imply the antithesis ἐπὶ τοῦ Νείκους and νῦν.

96. Arist. De caelo, Γ, 2. 301 a 14, ἐκ διεστώτων δὲ καὶ κινουμένων οὐκ εὔλογον ποιεῖν τὴν γένεσιν. διὸ καὶ Ἐμπεδοκλῆς παραλείπει τὴν ἐπὶ τῆς φιλότητος· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἠδύνατο συστῆσαι τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐκ κεχωρισμένων μὲν κατασκευάζων, σύγκρισιν δὲ ποιῶν διὰ τὴν φιλότητα· ἐκ διακεκριμένων γὰρ συνέστηκεν ὁ κόσμος τῶν στοιχείων ("our world consists of the elements in a state of separation"), ὥστ' ἀναγκαῖον γενέσθαι ἐξ ἑνὸς καὶ συγκεκριμένου.

97. It need not mean that Empedokles said nothing about the world of Love at all; for he obviously says something of both worlds in fr. 17. It is enough to suppose that, having described both in general terms, he went on to treat the world of Strife in detail.

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