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A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Bodnár, István / Corcilius, Klaus / Gregoric, Pavel / Ierodiakonou, Katerina

Editorial Board: Barnes, Jonathan / Bobzien, Susanne / Burnyeat, Myles / Cooper, John M. / Dimas, Panos / Grgic, Filip / Karasmanis, Vassilis / Laks, André / Lautner, Péter / Lennox, James / Mourelatos, Alexander / Natali, Carlo / Rapp, Christof / Sedley, David / von Staden, Heinrich / Taub, Liba / Vogt, Katja

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Revelation and Reasoning in Kalliopeia’s Address to Empedocles

John Palmer
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  • Department of Philosophy, 330 Griffin-Floyd Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611–8545, USA
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Published Online: 2013-12-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rhiz-2013-0013

Abstract: The speaker who self-identifies as a god after the painter analogy in Empedocles’ On nature cannot be Empedocles himself, since other fragments make it clear that he does not regard himself as a god. This paper accordingly advances and explores the hypothesis that the speaker here is the Muse Kalliopeia, who is elsewhere invoked by Empedocles and identified for Pausanias as the source of his more than mortal understanding. This hypothesis is seen to resolve several tensions and difficulties in the fragments, particularly with respect to the otherwise contradictory attitude toward humans’ cognitive potential. It also brings into focus a number of connections between Empedocles’ On nature and its generic models in Parmenides and the Hesiodic Theogony. Recognizing that the majority of On nature’s main didactic content likely took the form of a report by Empedocles of a revelation he once received from Kalliopeia also brings into focus the identity and function of what he describes for Pausanias as her assurances. These are the appeals to things belonging to the domain of everyday experience in which her human auditor can discern the operation of the same principles operative in the larger cosmos that are only accessible by revelation. The appeal to the familiar operation of Love in his own body to engender confidence in her claim regarding Love’s operation as a principle of unification and harmony throughout the cosmos is the most important example.

: Hesiod; Parmenides; didactic poetry; Presocratic epistemology; human cognitive weakness; analogy; microcosm and macrocosm; Love

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Published Online: 2013-12-01

Published in Print: 2013-12-01

Citation Information: Rhizomata, Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 308–329, ISSN (Online) 2196-5110, ISSN (Print) 2196-5102, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rhiz-2013-0013.

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