Consider the ’elemental’ to be a semiotic category. An element is always elemental by virtue of the position it occupies in a sign system. This is a structural and relational characterization of elements. Suppose the individuation that articulates being can only ever be relative and contextual. (This does not mean unreal.)


Old French element, from Latin elementum, a word of which the etymology and primary meaning are uncertain, but which was employed as translation of Greek στοιχεῖον in the various senses < “a component unit of a series”; “a constituent part of a complex whole (hence the ‘four elements’)”; “a member of the planetary system”; “a letter of the alphabet”; “a fundamental principle of a science”. (Ef OED)

Letters in the language of Being

A further point— At certain times of year earth needs the rain For happy harvest, and both beasts and men Need nature's bounty for their lives' increase, A mutual dependence, of the sort That words need letters for

(Ch. I; ln. 819)

The same atoms Constitute ocean, sky, lands, rivers, sun, Crops, bushes, animals; these atoms mingle And move in different ways and combinations. Look–in my lines here you can see the letters Common to many of the words, but you know Perfectly well that resonance and meaning, Sense, sound, are changed by changing the arrangement. How much more true of atoms than if letters!

(Ch. I; ln. 819)



  • [carus69] Carus, The way things are : the De rerum natura of Titus Lucretius Carus, Indiana University Press (1969).