Theophrastus

Theophrastus
(371-286 BC)
Theophrastus (371-286 BC),  Aristotle's pupil and successor at the Lyceum was critical of this view because he felt fire was different from the other three elements in that it was able to generate itself and needed other matter to sustain itself.  However, the 4 element theory lasted until the 18th century.   Aristotle had rejected the atomic theory introduced in the 5th century by Democritus.  The claim that the apparent differences between substances arose from differences in the shapes and sizes of uncuttable, homogeneous "atomus" particles, while ingenious, seemed pure invention to Aristotle.  The 4 element theory lay close to human sensory experience of solids & liquids, or of hot & cold, and  wet & dry objects.  Democritus also postulated that the elements were formed as they fell through the heavenly 'void' and different elements were formed as a result of how long they fell through this void.  However this 'atomism' theory failed to distinguish between physical and mathematical division.