Empedoclean Epistemology





Empedocles, Epistemology, Perception, History of Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy


Presocratic, and particularly Empedoclean, epistemology has long been the object of intense debate. Unbridgeable (or apparently so) contrasts emerge in the large output of the Agrigentine philosopher, as far as epistemology is concerned. They may partially overlap with the differences among the poems ascribed to him. But sometimes such discrepancies can be traced even inside one and the same work. An obvious example of the first kind is the contradiction between frr. 2–3 D.–K., on one hand, which belongs to the περὶ φύσεως and supports a cautious empiricism, and, on the other hand, frr. 131–134 D.–K. (especially frr. 133–134), which belong to an undetermined poem, but surely convey a much greater confidence in Empedocles’ own capacity of possessing and imparting reliable theological knowledge, although such knowledge is unattainable through the senses. An example of the second kind concerns the contradiction between fr. 2, which insists on the poorness of human means of knowledge, and fr. 3, which recalls religious limits imposed on human knowledge but also encourages investigation through each of the senses. This contribution will clarify the terms of such contrasts, and try to explain their meaning. Another crucial aspect of Empedoclean epistemology will be taken into consideration — i. e. the relationship between thought and perception; and the author will argue against any straight identification between the two.

Attention will be dedicated to specific connections of epistemology with different works by Empedocles, including the lost Proem to Apollo.                                     



Biografia do Autor

Carlo Santaniello, Independent Scholar — Roma

Carlo Santaniello has worked on Plutarch's Moralia, on Plutarch as a witness on Presocratic philosophy, and, for these last twenty-five years, on various aspects of Empedocles’ output.



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