Reductionism - elements Pleasant earth in her well made...

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Reductionism Empedocles’ theory is reductionistic. Such apparent stuffs as bone or blood, and such apparent entities as frogs and trees, are, according to his theory, reduced to complex combinations of elements. So although there appear to be more kinds of stuff than just the elements, they are not “real,” but only aggregates of the real entities ( E , A , F , W ): For from these [sc. the elements] come all things that were and are and will be in the future. Trees have sprouted and men and women, and beasts and birds and fishes nurtured in water, and long-lived gods highest in honors. For there are just these things [i.e., the elements] , and running through one another they come to have different appearances, for mixture changes them. ( 35 =B21) Empedocles even tries to quantify precisely the reduction of ordinary objects to compounds of
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Unformatted text preview: elements: Pleasant earth in her well made crucibles obtained two parts of bright Nestis out of the eight, and four of Hephaestus, and white bones came into being, fitted together divinely by the glues of Harmonia. ( 42 =B96) This gives us a kind of primitive chemistry with obvious Pythagorean overtones: Bone = 2 W + 4 F + 2 E We’re told there are 8 parts in all, that some of them are earth, that 2 are Nestis (water) and 4 are Hephaestus (fire). So we solve for E : E = 8 - (2 + 4) = 8 - 6 = 2 The formulas Empedocles gives (like the one above for bone) are reductionistic in character. Entities in “common sense” ontology are reduced to (complexes of) the four elements -the only genuine entities in Empedocles’ ontology....
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