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Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity$
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David Sedley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520253643

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520253643.001.0001

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(p.31) II Empedocles
Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

David Sedley

University of California Press

When considering Empedocles it is critical not to assume that religion and science were regarded as mutually exclusive modes of thought. Empedocles, as a Sicilian poet, healer, and wonder-worker, described his poem On nature in two cycles, a cosmic one and a daimonic one. The cosmic cycle is one of alternating world phases, governed alternately by two divine powers called Love and Strife. Anaxagoras, like Empedocles, was working in the aftermath of Parmenides' challenge to cosmology. Parmenides had left a notorious dilemma: Are we to follow mere appearances and accept the existence of the familiar variable cosmos bounded by the spherical heaven, or are we to follow reason, according to which the sphere that constitutes reality must, in truth, be an undifferentiated and changeless one? Empedocles' solution to that dilemma is to interpret these alternatives diachronically, as each therefore capable of realization in its own turn.

Keywords:   Empedocles, poet, daimonic, Parmenides, cosmos

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