- Empedocles Invents the Four Elements
Empedocles Invents the Four Elements
Pythagoras' mystical approach to mathematics had a significant impact, but it did not receive much acceptance among the bustling community of ancient Greek philosophy. During this era, most philosophers believed that there was a single fundamental origin from which everything else in the world stemmed. However, many of them argued that this origin had to be a tangible substance. For example, Thales of Miletus claimed that water was the source, while Heraclitus believed it was fire. Each philosopher held their own unique perspective.
Empedocles was a Greek philosopher who was born in Akragas, a city in Sicily. He was involved in the politics of his hometown and was eventually exiled to Greece. It is believed that he committed s**cide by jumping into the crater of Vesuvius, a volcano. Despite his busy life, he managed to write two lengthy poems - Purifications, which focused on religion, and On Nature, the first expression of the theory of the four elements. Empedocles aimed to merge various beliefs into a lasting synthesis.
Empedocles believed that the world's vast array of diversity indicated that there could not be a single origin for everything. He proposed that the combination and separation of four fundamental substances - fire, air, water, and earth - accounted for all things. This idea is still relevant today as modern scientists classify the world into solids, liquids, gases, and energy, which essentially follows Empedocles's original categorization using different terminology.
Empedocles's theory of the four elements found a lasting home in Western Occultism. The division of the world into fiery, airy, watery, and earthly things proved to be incredibly useful for mages, diviners, and other occult practitioners. As a result, the four elements became the most influential set of symbols in occult theory and practice.
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