The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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The general position of Empedocles in the matter of consciousness may be described as a rigorous panpsychism. In this view there is really no such thing as inanimate nature. It is the physis or composition of our body which accounts for, if it is not identical with, our psychic character and thought. At the same time, he distinguishes the wandering daimon from the four physical elements. The realm from which he has been banished can only be that of Love. Far from contradicting the physical poem, the doctrine of reincarnation and release constitutes its logical sequel, the coping-stone which completes the edifice of Empedocles' natural philosophy.


Charles H. Kahn presented “Panpsychism and Immortality in Empedocles” to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Cincinnati in 1958. A much revised version was published as “Religion and Natural Philosophy in Empedocles’ Doctrine of the Soul” in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 42.1 (1960) 3-35, and reprinted in John P. Anton & George Kustas, eds. 1971. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy vol. 1, SUNY, 3-38, with additional material.

Charles Kahn is Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His page is: