Thinking and Sense-Perception in Empedocles: Mysticism or Materialism

Classical Quarterly 16 (02):256- (1966)
There is more evidence for Empedocles than for any early Greek philosopher before Democritus, yet the details of his philosophy remain controversial and often hopelessly obscure. Jaeger called Empedocles a ‘philosophical centaur’, which aptly sums up the seeming disparity between the and the There is no agreement about the famous simile to illustrate respiration, generally known as the Clepsydra, and the stages and nature of the cosmic cycle continue to be disputed. Perhaps we can never be certain about these aspects of Empedocles' thought, for the evidence fails at every crucial point and the imaginative reconstructions which have to serve are unlikely to win universal acceptance. It may then appear hazardous to discuss the fragments concerned with thinking and sense-perception, for these too are riddled with problems. I do so prompted partly by the timely reprint of J. I. Beare's book, Greek Theories of Elementary Cognition, and also because this feature of Empedocles has been touched on by modern scholars but not studied in any detail. At the same time the significance of the is greatly affected by how we interpret the theory of sense-perception and thinking
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DOI 10.1017/S000983880002992X
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