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Aither and the Four Roots in Empedocles

Aither and the Four Roots in Empedocles This paper surveys the meaning of aither (αἰθήρ) in Empedocles. Since Aristotle, Empedoclean aither has been generally considered synonymous with air (ἀήρ) and understood anachronistically in terms of its Aristotelian conception as hot and wet. In critiquing this interpretation, the paper first examines the meaning of “air” in Empedocles, revealing scant and insignificant use of the term. Next, the ancient controversy of Empedocles’ “four roots” is recast from the perspective that aither, rather than air, designates the fourth root. Finally, the nineteen instances of aither in Empedocles’ fragments are considered, revealing a bright and energetic root closely related to the force of life. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Research in Phenomenology Brill

Aither and the Four Roots in Empedocles

Research in Phenomenology , Volume 44 (2): 170 – Jul 31, 2014

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Topic: The Elemental
ISSN
0085-5553
eISSN
1569-1640
DOI
10.1163/15691640-12341284
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper surveys the meaning of aither (αἰθήρ) in Empedocles. Since Aristotle, Empedoclean aither has been generally considered synonymous with air (ἀήρ) and understood anachronistically in terms of its Aristotelian conception as hot and wet. In critiquing this interpretation, the paper first examines the meaning of “air” in Empedocles, revealing scant and insignificant use of the term. Next, the ancient controversy of Empedocles’ “four roots” is recast from the perspective that aither, rather than air, designates the fourth root. Finally, the nineteen instances of aither in Empedocles’ fragments are considered, revealing a bright and energetic root closely related to the force of life.

Journal

Research in PhenomenologyBrill

Published: Jul 31, 2014

Keywords: Empedocles; aither; elements; roots; air; Aristotle

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