The Unity and Multiplicity of the Cosmogonic Process in Empedocles’ Poem*Magomedov Gamid
Among the ancient Greek philosophers Empedocles is the one who attempted to create a complete picture of the world, taking into account the knowledge of the thinkers who preceded him. It is an entire philosophical system that explores eternal and true principles and seeks to discover the causes of the being of all things and at the same time to explain their empirical becoming. It is a theory of the cosmic cycle, an eternal alternation in which the four elements that are the roots of all things--earth, air, water and fire--interact with the opposing forces of Love and Enmity, both in macrocosmic and microcosmic perspective. Empedocles does not give preference to any of the four elements, as had been done before him, but gives each of them their proper place. He introduces acting forces, by means of which he explains the reasons for the appearance and destruction of the world, and, moreover, in his views one can see the foundations of future conceptions of an impersonal law. Because of the fragmentary nature of the poem’s text, however, it is still not easy for us to grasp Empedocles’ thought consistently. Based on his own observations and taking into account the knowledge accumulated by previous generations of scholars, the author tries to offer his own reconstruction of the cosmogonic process presented in Empedocles’ poem. The reconstruction is carried out taking into account new fragments from the Strasbourg papyrus, thanks to which we have at our disposal a rather long and coherent piece of text, which makes a significant contribution to understanding the philosopher’s thought. The emphasis of the article is on the physical exposition of the poem with the application of philological methods and the subsequent interpretation of Empedocles’ verses. The physics of unity and multiplicity within the interaction of the forces of Love and Enmity and the four roots is reconstructed. The article also considers the didactic component of the poem, showing that Empedocles does not think of himself as separate from sensual nature, and that he and his disciple Pausanias are aware of their full involvement in the universal cosmogonic process.