Empedocles of Acragas

495-435 B.C.

Empedocles introduced new physical, chemical, and biological insights to explain the nature of the universe through interaction of two governing principles, Love and Strife, on four primary elements. Empedocles proposed that there are four universal elements; air, fire, earth, and water. He argues that the quality of matter depends exclusively on the ratio of elements.

Empedocles asserted that life was the consequence of an evolutionary process. He believed that Love agglomerated the four elements into the various bodily parts. These stray limbs rotated free until Love further unified them into bodily masses. Empedocles argued that some of these bodily forms were better suited for survival than others, resulting in the disappearance of monstrous beings and the evolution of modern life.

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    Peter L. Heineman
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