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Knowing by Likeness in Empedocles

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Contrary to the Aristotelian interpretation of Empedocles' views about cognition, according to which all cognition, like perception, is due to the compositional likeness between subject and object of cognition, this paper argues that when Empedocles says that we know one thing 'by' another (e.g. earth by earth or love by love), he is characterizing analogical reasoning, an intellectual activity quite different from perception (which is explained by the fit between effluences and pores). The paper also explores the idea that strife and love describe, in addition to physical separation and composition, the mental activities of analyzing and composing.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, University of Arizona, Social Sciences 213, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA;, Email:


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