Classical element

four elementsclassical elementselementselementelementalfour classical elementsfive elementsearthElemental Affinitythe elements
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances.wikipedia
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Earth (classical element)

earthEarth elementclassical element
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
Earth is one of the classical elements, in some systems numbering four along with air, fire, and water.

Water (classical element)

waterwater elementelement of water
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
Water is one of the elements in ancient Greek philosophy, in the Asian Indian system Panchamahabhuta, and in the Chinese cosmological and physiological system Wu Xing.

Fire (classical element)

fireclassical element of fireelemental fire
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
Fire is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science.

Wuxing (Chinese philosophy)

Five ElementsWu XingFive Phases
The Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ), though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material.
This translation arose by false analogy with the Western system of the four elements.

Aether (classical element)

aetheretherquintessence
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void). In view of the durability of meteoric iron, metal came to be associated with the aether, which is sometimes conflated with Stoic pneuma, as both terms originally referred to air (the former being higher, brighter, more fiery or celestial and the latter being merely warmer, and thus vital or biogenetic).
However, in his Book On the Heavens he introduced a new "first" element to the system of the classical elements of Ionian philosophy.

Atomism

atomistsatomistatomistic
Some of these interpretations included atomism (the idea of very small, indivisible portions of matter), but other interpretations considered the elements to be divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature.
Atomism stands in contrast to a substance theory wherein a prime material continuum remains qualitatively invariant under division (for example, the ratio of the four classical elements would be the same in any portion of a homogeneous material).

Scientific Revolution

scientificscientific revolutionsscience
In Europe, the Ancient Greek system of Aristotle evolved slightly into the medieval system, which for the first time in Europe became subject to experimental verification in the 1600s, during the Scientific Revolution.
Boyle appealed to chemists to experiment and asserted that experiments denied the limiting of chemical elements to only the classic four: earth, fire, air, and water.

Oxygen

OO 2 molecular oxygen
Atomic theory classifies atoms into more than a hundred chemical elements such as oxygen, iron, and mercury.
Philo incorrectly surmised that parts of the air in the vessel were converted into the classical element fire and thus were able to escape through pores in the glass.

Empedocles

Empedocles of AcragasEmpedocleanLove and Strife
In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe.
Empedocles' philosophy is best known for originating the cosmogonic theory of the four classical elements.

Zoroastrianism

ZoroastrianZoroastriansZoroastrian religion
The Persian philosopher Zarathustra (600-583 BC ) — aka Zoroaster — described the four elements of earth, water, air and fire as “sacred,” i.e., “essential for the survival of all living beings and therefore should be venerated and kept free from any contamination”.
The Avesta and other texts call for the protection of water, earth, fire and air making it, in effect, an ecological religion: "It is not surprising that Mazdaism ... is called the first ecological religion. The reverence for Yazatas (divine spirits) emphasizes the preservation of nature (Avesta: Yasnas 1.19, 3.4, 16.9; Yashts 6.3–4, 10.13)."

Ayurveda

AyurvedicAyurvedic medicinePanchakarma
The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
Like the medicine of classical antiquity, Ayurveda has historically divided bodily substances into five classical elements, (Sanskrit) panchamahabhuta, viz.

Cosmology

cosmologistcosmologicalcosmologies
These different cultures and even individual philosophers had widely varying explanations concerning their attributes and how they related to observable phenomena as well as cosmology.

Akasha

AkashĀkāśaAakash
In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
It is one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five gross elements"; its main characteristic is Shabda (sound).

Platonic solid

Platonic solidsPlatonicregular polyhedra
These five elements have been associated since Plato's Timaeus with the five platonic solids.
They are named for the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who hypothesized in his dialogue, the Timaeus, that the classical elements were made of these regular solids.

History of science in classical antiquity

ancient sciencescienceGreek
The ancient Greek concept of five basic elements, these being earth (γῆ ge), water (ὕδωρ hudor), air (ἀήρ aer), fire (πῦρ pur) and aether (αἰθήρ aither), dates from pre-Socratic times and persisted throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, deeply influencing European thought and culture.
Finally, Empedocles of Acragas (490–430 BC), seems to have combined the views of his predecessors, asserting that there are four elements (Earth, Water, Air and Fire) which produce change by mixing and separating under the influence of two opposing "forces" that he called Love and Strife.

Geomancy

geomancergeomanticgeomancers
The five elements also play an important part in Chinese astrology and the Chinese form of geomancy known as Feng shui.
It could be that Isidore of Seville was listing methods of elemental scrying more than what is commonly known as geomancy.

Melancholia

melancholymelancholicblack bile
According to Galen, these elements were used by Hippocrates in describing the human body with an association with the four humours: yellow bile (fire), black bile (earth), blood (air), and phlegm (water).
In the complex elaboration of humorist theory, it was associated with the earth from the Four Elements, the season of autumn, the spleen as the originating organ and cold and dry as related qualities.

Chemical element

elementelementschemical elements
Atomic theory classifies atoms into more than a hundred chemical elements such as oxygen, iron, and mercury.
Ancient philosophy posited a set of classical elements to explain observed patterns in nature.

Timaeus (dialogue)

TimaeusTimæuscreated
These five elements have been associated since Plato's Timaeus with the five platonic solids.
Timaeus describes the substance as a lack of homogeneity or balance, in which the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) were shapeless, mixed and in constant motion.

Humorism

humorshumoursfour humours
According to Galen, these elements were used by Hippocrates in describing the human body with an association with the four humours: yellow bile (fire), black bile (earth), blood (air), and phlegm (water).
Empedocles's theory suggested that four elements: earth, fire, water, and air; earth produce the natural systems.

Anaximander

Anaximander of MiletusAnaximandrosἈναξίμανδρος
Anaximander argued that the primordial substance was not any of the known substances, but could be transformed into them, and they into each other.
Anaximander explains how the four elements of ancient physics (air, earth, water and fire) are formed, and how Earth and terrestrial beings are formed through their interactions.

Pneuma

Pneuma (ancient medicine)spiritspirit, breath
In view of the durability of meteoric iron, metal came to be associated with the aether, which is sometimes conflated with Stoic pneuma, as both terms originally referred to air (the former being higher, brighter, more fiery or celestial and the latter being merely warmer, and thus vital or biogenetic).
In Stoic philosophy, pneuma is the concept of the "breath of life," a mixture of the elements air (in motion) and fire (as warmth).

Astrology

astrologerastrologicalastrologers
The elemental processes form the basis of the calendar, astrology, medicine, psychology and are the foundation of the spiritual traditions of shamanism, tantra and Dzogchen.
It used the Egyptian concept of dividing the zodiac into thirty-six decans of ten degrees each, with an emphasis on the rising decan, and the Greek system of planetary Gods, sign rulership and four elements.

Air (classical element)

airWindAerial Calamity
Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. In Western thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles frequently occur; Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism are bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void).
Air is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and in Western alchemy.

Mahābhūta

Mahabhutaelementselement
While the classification of the material world in ancient Indian, Hellenistic Egypt, and ancient Greece into Air, Earth, Fire and Water was more philosophical, during the Islamic Golden Age medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.