Article ID: CBB993561875

Parmenides and Empedocles on Krasis and Knowledge (2016)


Making mental phenomena to depend on certain elements or organs of the body is famously recognized as a distinctive feature of physiologia both in the so-called “autobiography” of Socrates in the Phaedo and in a further “doxographic” passage in the dialogue, where Simmias develops the argument that the soul is like “a blending and an attunement” of the bodily elements. While no earlier thinker is mentioned here, one can easily identify Parmenides and Empedocles as two of the main supporters of the notion that thought and perception depend on the various blendings of the physical constituents of the body. That they had such a view is indeed well known thanks to a few fragments, for whose discussion Aristotle’s and Theophrastus’ comments prove to be particularly helpful. What neither Plato nor Aristotle acknowledge, though, is that no such specific bearer of mental functions as psyche is needed in this kind of account. As a matter of fact, both Parmenides and Empedocles share with the epic and lyric tradition the idea of the precariousness of human knowledge, due to the constant exposure of human beings to change. Yet they “translate” the topos of human existence and thought subjected to the divine into a vision where the physical krasis of the body (not by chance, a medical notion) is all that matters.

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Authors & Contributors
Otto, K. Darcy
Inwood, Brad
Austin, Scott
Acerbi, Fabio
Sisko, John E.
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
科学史研究 Kagakusi Kenkyu (History of Science)
Ancient Philosophy
Korean Journal of Medical History
University of Toronto Press
Parmenides Publishing
Monkfish Book Publishing
University of California Press
Marquette University Press
Philosophy of science
Pre-Socratic philosophers
Form (philosophy)
Empedocles of Agrigentum
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm

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