Anna Marmodoro

Anna Marmodoro: "Empedocles' Dynamic, Changeless World"

Anna Marmodoro (Oxford): "Empedocles' Dynamic, Changeless World". To listen to the talk click here.

For a handout complementing Anna's talk click here


In this paper I explore the view that Empedocles’ world is both dynamic and changeless, and investigate the metaphysical account that Empedocles gives for such a world. All that happens in it, happens without there being creation or destruction of what has eternally been in it; without creation of anything new from it; and without qualitative change. How does Empedocles 'build' such a world? The place to start to address these questions is the ontological warehouse. What does Empedocles’ ontology include at the fundamental level? What accounts for what, in Empedocles’ world?

Starting with the elements, whose 'discovery' is one of Empedocles’ breakthroughs: what is their metaphysical status? I take them to be primitively qualified stuff. Is this stuff inert; or causally powerful? And if powerful, is its nature exhaustively accounted for by its powerfulness - that is, exhaustively accounted for by what it does or can do? And what are Love and Strife? Departing from the line of interpretation that takes Love and Strife to be divine agents operating on the elements, I argue Love and Strife, as well as Necessity, play in Empedocles system the role of what we nowadays call laws of nature.