Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 18, 2017

Empedocles’ Sphairos

Vojtěch Hladký
From the journal Rhizomata

Abstract:

The aim of this article is to reopen the rather neglected issue of the nature and internal structure of the Sphairos as it appears in Empedocles’ account of the cycle of the cosmos. The Sphairos is generally understood as a result of the mixing of the four elements, or ‘roots’ at the moment of the greatest dominance of Love. Based on an analysis of preserved fragments and testimonies, the article argues that the Sphairos is not an amorphous mixture. On a contrary, it has a complex and structured form with clearly differentiated parts. Moreover, Empedocles’ description of the process of mixing of the basic elements and a gradual emergence of ever more complex things and organisms seems to support this interpretation. The process of unification of the elements should culminate at the moment of the strongest influence of Love with in the emergence of a huge, internally differentiated, complex, and thinking ‘superorganism’. This superorganism is then identical with the whole of the cosmos and all lower, simpler organisms which had emerged in the prior phases of the zoogony are contained in it.

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Published Online: 2017-7-18
Published in Print: 2017-7-26

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