Love & Strife = Cosmic Cycle

Studying Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles’ (495 B.C-435 B.C) and German romantic poet Hölderlin’s (1770-1843) works, we come across vivid similarities between them in terms of trying to combine myth with Logic, pop culture with philosophy. Their philosophical claim was based on the fact that counterbalancing powers rule the world, nature and human. These powers themselves gave birth to the world; human and divine as one in one.

 

Empedocles' philosophy is best known for being the originator of the cosmogenic theory of the four Classical elements (air, earth, water, fire) often identified with the mythical names of Zeus, Hera, Nestis and Aidoneus. He also proposed powers called Love (Greek: φιλία) and Strife (Greek: νεῖκος) which would act as forces to bring about the mixture and separation of the elements. These physical speculations were part of a history of the universe which also dealt with the origin and development of life. Nothing new comes or can come into being; the only change that can occur is a change in the juxtaposition of element with element. This theory of the four elements became the standard dogma for the next two thousand years. In this cosmic cycle that Empedocles describes in his work “On Nature”, it’s either Love that dominates in one phase and Strife in another. Also, Love is often linked to Freud’s libido, whereas Strife is linked to the Freudian impulse to death.

«ἧι δὲ διαλλάσσοντα διαμπερὲς οὐδαμὰ λήγει,ταύτηι δ' αἰὲν ἔασιν ἀκίνητοι κατὰ κύκλον.»

(“And while constant alternation never stops, they always remain still in the cycle”)

 

These photo exhibits seem to represent, not only the controversies that rule the world and alternate in cycles of rhythm fighting one with another, but also the human passions, the instinctive, emotional, primitive drives in a human being (including, for example, lust, anger, aggression and jealousy). Some of them remind us of Empedocles’ Strife and some of Empedocles’ Love.

Therefore, this exhibition aims to praise ancient and modern philosophy along with the psychological norms that urge us to perceive reality, according to Plato, not via image, but via logic and soul.

Title of Exhibition: Love and Strife= Cosmic Cycle

Alternative 1: Cosmic Cycle

Alternative 2: Human Passions

 

According to the legend, Empedocles died by throwing himself into an active volcano (Mount Etna in Sicily), so that people would believe his body had vanished and he had turned into an immortal god, while according to another he threw himself into the volcano to prove to his disciples that he was immortal; he believed he would come back as a god after being consumed by the fire.

In Matthew Arnold’s poem Empedocles on Etna, a narrative of the philosopher's last hours before he jumps to his death in the crater first published in 1852,

 

Empedocles predicts:

To the elements it came from

Everything will return.

Our bodies to earth,

Our blood to water,

Heat to fire,

Breath to air.