Volume 15/16, 2017/2018
Le Principe du Bien: Platon, Aristote et leur postérité
Penser le Bien et le Mal avec Empédocle
A ready answer to the question of Empedocles’ thinking about Good and Evil is to be found in Aristotle, who provides us with this simple rule of thumb : Good is associated with Love, and Evil with Hate. Fundamentally obvious as that rule may be (it makes us think in particular of Love’s masterpiece in the cosmic cycle, the Sphairos), we need to go beyond Aristotle’s words. This article investigates several topics : fire, the sun, water, the hoard of divine thought, reincarnation, Empedoclean ethics, and, finally, the Blessed Ones. Complexity rules our quest to determine what belongs to the Good and what belongs to the Bad. There are times when Love takes advantage of Hate’s ability to cause separation. The sun, manifestation par excellence of fire, is loaded with ambivalence in Empedocles – even though the high value placed almost universally on light is a commonplace in Greek thought. Empedocles is torn between his sense of wonder at the works of Aphrodite and his pessimism on recognizing the infernal cycle in which mortals are involved.