In ancient times it was believed that the four elements that made up the universe were Earth, fire, air, and water. I was thinking of a universe where there are four basic elements that are similar to what we would think of as Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. What would be the implications of a world if it really was only made up of something like Earth, Fire, Air, and Water?
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I'm building a rpg world based partially on the same idea, so I gave it a lot of though. It really depend on how those elements can be manipulated and what level of civilisation your world has. If it is just scientific, then imagine a simpler model than ours, if it is really useful.
The overall situation could be quite similar to our, with everything being a mix of the elements.
On the other hand you could have everything attuned to one element in particular, with difficulties to relate to the other... or completely antagonistic to another element, if you go with the classical oppositions.
The detail would be quite different, whatever your choice : energy and matter could behave quite differently. The air we breath and through which we send radio waves to communicate would not just be a mix of gases, but a single thing. Or several huge air-being (I'll use this one, I think) waging wars as the storms rage or being tickled as you make a phone call. Or whatever. And that's just a basic component of the world... Don't explain things that don't have to be explained : you don't need to know about atoms to understand breathing.
It would not be very complex. Chemistry, and especially organic chemistry, relies on a variety of atoms with different properties and different ways of bonding. If you only had "earth" how do you form different chemicals from different ratios of those 4 things? And then make those basic chemicals stay what they are while undergoing a higher level of mixing, rather than every reaction turning into a uniform mix of the 4 primaries?
We actually do have a hierarchy in our universe: chemical elements retain their identities and the underlying protons+neutrons don't just mix together. So we consider the "elements" to be elements and don't think about the lower level when doing chemistry.
So if there were a working hierarchy where different chemicals retained their identity when doing chemistry, we would call those the elements, and the fact that they are themselves made of 4 more fundamental things would not be considered and would not be apparent at that level.