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Heraclitus

Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse. The image depicts him as "the weeping philosopher" wringing his hands over the world and "the obscure" dressed in dark clothing, both traditional motifs.
Full name Heraclitus
Born c. 535 BCE
Ephesus
Died c. 475 BCE
Era Ancient philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Not considered to belong to any school of thought, but later subscribers to the philosophy were "Heracliteans."
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics
Notable ideas Logos, flow

Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ ἘφέσιοςHērákleitos ho Ephésios; c. 535–c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the riddling nature of his philosophy and his contempt for humankind in general, he was called "The Obscure," and the "Weeping Philosopher."

Heraclitus is famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, as stated in his famous saying, "You cannot step twice into the same river." He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that "the path up and down is one and the same," existing things being characterized by pairs of contrary properties. His cryptic utterance that "all things come to be in accordance with this Logos," (literally, "word," "reason," or "account") has been the subject of numerous interpretations.

Contents

Life

The main source for the life of Heraclitus is Diogenes Laërtius, although some have questioned the validity of his account as "a tissue of Hellenistic anecdotes, most of them obviously fabricated on the basis of statements in the preserved fragments."[1] Diogenes said that Heraclitus flourished in the 69th Olympiad,[2] 504-501 BCE. All the rest of the evidence – the people Heraclitus is said to have known, or the people who were familiar with his work – confirms the floruit. His dates of birth and death are based on a life span of 60 years, the age at which Diogenes says he died,[3] with the floruit in the middle.

Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor, birthplace of Heraclitus

Heraclitus was born to an aristocratic family in Ephesus, present-day Efes, Turkey. His father was named either Blosôn or Herakôn.[2] Diogenes says that he abdicated the kingship (basileia) in favor of his brother[4] and Strabo confirms that there was a ruling family in Ephesus descended from the Ionian founder, Androclus, which still kept the title and could sit in the chief seat at the games, as well as a few other privileges.[5] How much power the king had is another question. Ephesus had been part of the Persian Empire since 547 and was ruled by a satrap, a more distant figure, as the Great King allowed the Ionians considerable autonomy. Diogenes says that Heraclitus used to play knuckle-bones with the youths in the temple of Artemis and when asked to start making laws he refused saying that the constitution (politeia) was ponêra,[6] which can mean either that it was fundamentally wrong or that he considered it toilsome.

With regard to education, Diogenes says that Heraclitus was "wondrous" (thaumasios, which, as Plato explains in the Theaetetus and elsewhere, is the beginning of philosophy) from childhood. Diogenes relates that Sotion said he was a "hearer" of Xenophanes, which contradicts Heraclitus' statement (so says Diogenes) that he had taught himself by questioning himself. Burnet states in any case that "... Xenophanes left Ionia before Herakleitos was born."[7] Diogenes relates that as a boy Heraclitus had said he "knew nothing" but later claimed to "know everything."[8] His statement that he "heard no one" but "questioned himself," can be placed alongside his statement that "the things that can be seen, heard and learned are what I prize the most."[9]

Diogenes relates that Heraclitus had a poor opinion of human affairs.[2] He believed that Hesiod and Pythagoras lacked understanding though learned[10] and that Homer and Archilochus deserved to be beaten.[11] Laws needed to be defended as though they were city walls.[12] Timon is said to have called him a "mob-reviler." Heraclitus hated the Athenians and his fellow Ephesians, wishing the latter wealth in punishment for their wicked ways.[13] Says Diogenes: "Finally, he became a hater of his kind (misanthrope) and wandered the mountains ... making his diet of grass and herbs."

Heraclitus' life as a philosopher was interrupted by dropsy. The physicians he consulted were unable to prescribe a cure. He treated himself with a liniment of cow manure and baking in the sun, believing that this method would remove the fluid. After a day of treatment he died and was interred in the marketplace.[14]

Works

Diogenes states that his work was "a continuous treatise On Nature, but is divided into three discourses, one on the universe, another on politics, and a third on theology." Theophrastus says (in Diogenes) "... some parts of his work are half-finished, while other parts make a strange medley."[4]

Diogenes also tells us that he deposited his book as a dedication in the great temple of Artemis, the Artemisium, one of the largest temples of the 6th century BCE and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient temples were regularly used for storing treasures, and were open to private individuals under exceptional circumstances; furthermore, many subsequent philosophers in this period refer to the work. Says Kahn:[1] "Down to the time of Plutarch and Clement, if not later, the little book of Heraclitus was available in its original form to any reader who chose to seek it out." Diogenes says:[4] "the book acquired such fame that it produced partisans of his philosophy who were called Heracliteans."

As with other pre-Socratics, his writings only survive in fragments quoted by other authors.

Ancient characterizations

The obscure

At some time in antiquity he acquired this epithet denoting that his major sayings were difficult to understand. Timon of Phlius calls him "the riddler" (ainiktēs) according to Diogenes Laërtius,[4] who had just explained that Heraclitus wrote his book "rather unclearly" (asaphesteron) so that only the "capable" should attempt it. By the time of Cicero he had become "the dark" (Ancient Greek ὁ Σκοτεινόςho Skoteinós)[15] because he had spoken nimis obscurē, "too obscurely", concerning nature and had done so deliberately in order to be misunderstood. The customary English translation of ὁ Σκοτεινός follows the Latin, "the obscure."

The weeping philosopher

Diogenes Laërtius ascribes to Theophrastus the theory that Heraclitus did not complete some of his works because of melancholia.[4] Later he was referred to as the "weeping philosopher," as opposed to Democritus, who is known as the "laughing philosopher."[16] If Stobaeus[17] writes correctly, Sotion in the early 1st century AD was already combining the two in the imaginative duo of weeping and laughing philosophers: "Among the wise, instead of anger, Heraclitus was overtaken by tears, Democritus by laughter." The view is expressed by the satirist Juvenal:[18]

The first of prayers, best known at all the temples, is mostly for riches .... Seeing this then do you not commend the one sage Democritus for laughing ... and the master of the other school Heraclitus for his tears?

The motif was also adopted by Lucian of Samosata in his "Sale of Creeds," in which the duo is sold together as a complementary product in the satirical auction of philosophers. Subsequently they were considered an indispensable feature of philosophic landscapes. Montaigne proposed two archetypical views of human affairs based on them, selecting Democritus' for himself.[19] The weeping philosopher makes an appearance in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.[20] Donato Bramante painted a fresco, "Democritus and Heraclitus," in Casa Panigarola in Milan.[21]

Philosophy

Logos

"The idea that all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos"[22] and "the Logos is common,"[23] is expressed in two famous but obscure fragments:

This Logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this Logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep. (DK 22B1)

For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although the Logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding. (DK 22B2)

The meaning of Logos also is subject to interpretation: "word", "account", "plan", "formula", "measure", "proportion", "reckoning."[24] Though Heraclitus "quite deliberately plays on the various meanings of logos",[25] there is no compelling reason to suppose that he used it in a special technical sense, significantly different from the way it was used in ordinary Greek of his time.[26]

The later Stoics understood it as "the account which governs everything,"[27] and Hippolytus, in the 3rd century CE, identified it as meaning the Christian Word of God.[28]

Panta rhei, "everything flows"

Πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) "everything flows" either was not spoken by Heraclitus or did not survive as a quotation of his. This famous aphorism used to characterize Heraclitus' thought comes from Simplicius.[29] The word rhei, adopted by rhe-o-logy, is simply the Greek word for "to stream."[30]

Heraclitus by Hendrick ter Brugghen

The philosophy of Heraclitus is summed up in his cryptic utterance:[31]

ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.
Potamoisi toisin autoisin embainousin, hetera kai hetera hudata epirrei
"On those stepping into rivers the same, other and other waters flow."

The quote from Heraclitus is interpreted by Plato as:[32]

πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει
Panta chōrei kai ouden menei
"Everything changes and nothing remains still"

Instead of "flow" Plato uses chōrei, to change chōros.

The assertions of flow are coupled in many fragments with the enigmatic river image:[33]

"Ποταμοῖς τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἶμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶμεν."
"We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not."

Compare with the Latin adages Omnia mutantur and Tempora mutantur and the Japanese tale Hōjōki, which contains the same image of the changing river.

Hodos ano kato, "the way up and the way down"

In ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω[34] the structure anō katō is more accurately translated as a hyphenated word: "the upward-downward path." They go on simultaneously and instantaneously and result in "hidden harmony".[35] A way is a series of transformations: the πυρὸς τροπαὶ, "turnings of fire,"[36] first into sea, then half of sea to earth and half to rarefied air.

The transformation is a replacement of one element by another: "The death of fire is the birth of air, and the death of air is the birth of water."[37]

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.[38]

This latter phraseology is further elucidated:

All things are an interchange for fire, and fire for all things, just like goods for gold and gold for goods.[39]

Dike eris, "strife is justice"

If objects are new from moment to moment so that one can never touch the same object twice, then each object must dissolve and be generated continually momentarily and an object is a harmony between a building up and a tearing down. Heraclitus calls the oppositional processes eris, "strife", and hypothesizes that the apparently stable state, dikê, or "justice," is a harmony of it:[40]

We must know that war (polemos) is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife necessarily.

As Diogenes explains:[41]

All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things (ta hola, "the whole") flows like a stream.

In the bow metaphor Heraclitus compares the resultant to a strung bow held in shape by an equilibrium of the string tension and spring action of the bow:[42]

There is a harmony in the bending back (palintropos) as in the case of the bow and the lyre.

Hepesthai to koino, "follow the common"

People must "follow the common (hepesthai tō ksunō)"[43] and not live having "their own judgement (phonēsis)". He distinguishes between human laws and divine law (tou theiou "of God").[44]

He removes the human sense of justice from his concept of God; i.e., humanity is not the image of God: "To God all things are fair and good and just, but people hold some things wrong and some right."[45] God's custom has wisdom but human custom does not,[46] and yet both humans and God are childish: "human opinions are children's toys"[47] and "Eternity is a child moving counters in a game; the kingly power is a child's."[48]

Wisdom is "to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things",[49] which must not imply that people are or can be wise. Only Zeus is wise.[50] To some degree then Heraclitus seems to be in the mystic's position of urging people to follow God's plan without much of an idea what that may be. In fact there is a note of despair: "The fairest universe (kallistos kosmos) is but a heap of rubbish (sarma, sweepings) piled up (kechumenon, poured out) at random (eikê)."[51]

Influence

Heraclitus - detail from The School of Athens by Raphael, 1510

Plato

In Heraclitus a perceived object is a harmony between two fundamental units of change, a waxing and a waning. He typically uses the ordinary word "to become" (gignesthai or ginesthai, root sense of being born), which led to his being characterized as the philosopher of becoming rather than of being. He recognizes the changing of objects with the flow of time.

Plato argues against Heraclitus as follows:[52]

How can that be a real thing which is never in the same state? ... for at the moment that the observer approaches, then they become other ... so that you cannot get any further in knowing their nature or state .... but if that which knows and that which is known exist ever ... then I do not think they can resemble a process or flux ....

In Plato one experienced unit is a state, or object existing, which can be observed. The time parameter is set at "ever"; that is, the state is to be presumed present between observations. Change is to be deduced by comparing observations, but no matter how many of those you are able to make, you cannot get through the mysterious gap between them to account for the change that must be occurring there.

Stoics

Stoicism was a philosophical school which flourished between the 3rd century BCE and about the 3rd century CE. It began among the Greeks and became the major philosophy of the Roman Empire before declining with the rise of Christianity in the 3rd century.

Throughout their long tenure the Stoics believed that the major tenets of their philosophy derived from the thought of Heraclitus.[53] According to Long, "the importance of Heraclitus to later Stoics is evident most plainly in Marcus Aurelius."[54] Explicit connections of the earliest Stoics to Heraclitus showing how they arrived at their interpretation are missing but they can be inferred from the Stoic fragments. Long concludes to "modifications of Heraclitus."[55]

The Stoics were interested in Heraclitus' treatment of fire. In addition to seeing it as the most fundamental of the four elements and the one that is quantified and determines the quantity (logos) of the other three, he presents fire as the cosmos, which was not made by any of the gods or men, but "was and is and ever shall be ever-living fire."[56] This is the closest he comes to a substance, but it is an active one altering other things quantitatively and performing an activity Heraclitus describes as "the judging and convicting of all things."[57] It is "the thunderbolt that steers the course of all things."[58] There is no reason to interpret the judgement, which is actually "to separate" (krinein), as outside of the context of "strife is justice" (see subsection above).

The earliest surviving Stoic work, the Hymn to Zeus of Cleanthes,[59] though not explicitly referencing Heraclitus, adopts what appears to be the Heraclitean logos modified. Zeus rules the universe with law (nomos) wielding on its behalf the "forked servant", the "fire" of the "ever-living lightening." So far nothing has been said that differs from the Zeus of Homer. But then, says Cleanthes, Zeus uses the fire to "straighten out the common logos" that travels about (phoitan, "to frequent") mixing with the greater and lesser lights (heavenly bodies). This is Heraclitus' logos, but now it is confused with the "common nomos", which Zeus uses to "make the wrong (perissa, left or odd) right (artia, right or even)" and "order (kosmein) the disordered (akosma)."[60]

The Stoic modification of Heraclitus' idea of the Logos was also influential on Jewish philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria, who connected it to "Wisdom personified" as God's creative principle. Philo uses the term Logos throughout his treatises on Hebrew Scripture in a manner clearly influenced by the Stoics.

Church fathers

The church fathers were the leaders of the Christian church during its first five centuries of existence, roughly contemporaneous to Stoicism under the Roman Empire. The works of dozens of writers in hundreds of pages have survived.

All of them had something to say about the Christian form of the logos. The church found it necessary to discriminate between the Christian logos and that of Heraclitus as part of its ideological distancing from paganism. The necessity to convert by defeating paganism was of paramount importance. Hippolytus of Rome therefore identifies Heraclitus along with the other Pre-Socratics (and Academics) as sources of heresy. Church use of the methods and conclusions of ancient philosophy as such was as yet far in the future, even though many were converted philosophers.

In Refutation of All Heresies[61] Hippolytus says: "What the blasphemous folly is of Noetus, and that he devoted himself to the tenets of Heraclitus the Obscure, not to those of Christ." Hippolytus then goes on to present the inscrutable DK B67: "God (theos) is day and night, winter and summer, ... but he takes various shapes, just as fire, when it is mingled with spices, is named according to the savor of each." The fragment seems to support pantheism if taken literally.

Hippolytus condemns the obscurity of it. He cannot accuse Heraclitus of being a heretic so he says instead: "Did not (Heraclitus) the Obscure anticipate Noetus in framing a system ...?" The apparent pantheist deity of Heraclitus (if that is what DK B67 means) must be equal to the union of opposites and therefore must be corporeal and incorporeal, divine and not-divine, dead and alive, etc., and the Trinity can only be reached by some sort of illusory shape-shifting.[62]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Kahn, Charles (1979). The Art and Thought of Heraclitus: Fragments with Translation and Commentary. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–23. ISBN 0-521-28645-X. 
  2. ^ a b c Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 1
  3. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 3
  4. ^ a b c d e Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 6
  5. ^ Strabo, Chapter 1, section 3.
  6. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 2
  7. ^ Chapter 3 beginning.
  8. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 5
  9. ^ DK B55.
  10. ^ DK B40.
  11. ^ DK B42.
  12. ^ DK B44.
  13. ^ DK B125a.
  14. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 4
  15. ^ De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, Chapter 2, Section 15.
  16. ^ Seneca, Lucius Annaeus; John M. Cooper & J.F. Procopé (translators) (1995). Moral and Political Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 50 note 17. ISBN 0521348188. 
  17. ^ III.20.53
  18. ^ Satire X. Translation from Juvenal; Sidney George Owen (translator) (1903). Thirteen Satires of Juvenal. London: Methuen & Co.. pp. 61. 
  19. ^ Montaigne, Michel de. "Of Democritus and Heraclitus". The Essays of Michel de Montaigne. www.gutenberg.org. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3600. 
  20. ^ Act I Scene II Line 43.
  21. ^ Levenson, Jay, editor (1991). Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 229. ISBN 0300051670. 
  22. ^ DK B1.
  23. ^ DK B2.
  24. ^ For the etymology see Watkins, Calvert (2000). "Appendix I: Indo-European Roots: leg-". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE267.html. 
  25. ^ K.F. Johansen, "Logos" in Donald Zeyl (ed.), Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy, Greenwood Press 1997.
  26. ^ pp. 419ff. , W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, 1962.
  27. ^ DK B72, from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations iv. 46
  28. ^ DK B2, DK B50, from Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, ix. 9
  29. ^ Barnes page 65, and also Peters, Francis E. (1967). Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon. NYU Press. pp. 178. ISBN 081476552.  Simplicius' commentary on Aristotle's physica 1313.11.
  30. ^ For the etymology see Watkins, Calvert (2000). "Appendix I: Indo-European Roots: sreu". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE493.html.  In pronunciation the -ei- is a diphthong sounding like the -ei- in reindeer. The initial r is aspirated or made breathy, which indicates the dropping of the s in *sreu-.
  31. ^ DK22B12, quoted in Arius Didymus apud Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 15.20.2
  32. ^ Cratylus Paragraph 402 section a line 8.
  33. ^ DK B49a, Harris 110. Others like it are DK B12, Harris 20; DK B91, Harris 21.
  34. ^ DK B60
  35. ^ DK B54.
  36. ^ DK B31
  37. ^ DK B76.
  38. ^ DK B30.
  39. ^ DK B90
  40. ^ DK B80.
  41. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 8
  42. ^ DK B51.
  43. ^ The initial part of DK B2, often omitted because broken by a note explaining that ksunos (Ionic) is koinos (Attic).
  44. ^ DK B114.
  45. ^ DK B102.
  46. ^ DK B78.
  47. ^ DK B70.
  48. ^ DK B52.
  49. ^ DK B41.
  50. ^ DK B32.
  51. ^ DK B124.
  52. ^ Cratylus Paragraph 440 sections c-d.
  53. ^ Long, A.A. (2001). Stoic Studies. University of California Press. Chapter 2. ISBN 0520229746. 
  54. ^ Long, page 56.
  55. ^ Long, page 51.
  56. ^ DK B60.
  57. ^ DK B66.
  58. ^ DK B64.
  59. ^ Different translations of this critical piece of literature, transitional from pagan polytheism to the modern religions and philosophies, can be found at Rolleston, T.W.. "Stoic Philosophers: Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus". www.numinism.net. http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Heights/4617/stoic/zeus.html. Retrieved 2007-11-28.  Ellery, M.A.C. (1976). "Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus". Tom Sienkewicz at www.utexas.edu. http://www.utexas.edu/courses/citylife/readings/cleanthes_hymn.html. Retrieved 2007-11-28.  Translator not stated. "Hymn to Zeus". Holy, Holy, Holy at thriceholy.net: Hypatia's Bookshelf. http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Cleanthes.html. 
  60. ^ The ancient Greek can be found in Blakeney, E.H.. The Hymn of Cleanthes: Greek Text Translated into English: with Brief Introduction and Notes. The MacMillan Company.  Downloadable Google Books at [1].
  61. ^ Book IX leading sentence.
  62. ^ Hippolytus. "Refutation of All Heresies". New Advent. pp. Book IX Chapter 5. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050109.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 

Bibliography

  • Bakalis, Nikolaos (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics: Analysis and Fragments. Trafford Publishing. pp. 26–45 under Heraclitus. ISBN 1-4120-4843-5. 
  • Barnes, Jonathan (1982). The Presocratic Philosophers [Revised Edition]. London & New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 0-415-05079-0. 
  • Burnet, John (2003). Early Greek Philosophy. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-2826-1.  First published in 1892, this book has had dozens of editions and has been used as a textbook for decades. The first edition is downloadable from Google Books.
  • Davenport, Guy (translator) (1979). Herakleitos and Diogenes. Bolinas: Grey Fox Press. ISBN 0-912516-36-4.  Complete fragments of Heraclitus in English.
  • Heidegger, Martin; Fink, Eugen; Seibert (translator), Charles H. (1993). Heraclitus Seminar. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-1067-9. . Transcript of seminar in which two German philosophers analyze and discuss Heraclitus' texts.
  • Heraclitus; Haxton (translator), Brooks; Hillman (Forward), James (2001). Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus. New York: Viking (The Penguin Group, Penguin Putnam, Inc.). ISBN 0-670-89195-9. . Parallel Greek & English.
  • Laertius, Diogenes. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers in Ten Books.  Book IX, Chapter 1, Heraclitus.
  • Lavine, T.Z. (1984). From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest. New York, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. (Bantam Books). Chapter 2: Shadow and Substance; Section: Plato's Sources: The Pre-SocraticPhilosophers: Heraclitus and Parmenides. ISBN 0-553-25161-9. 
  • Pyle, C. M. (1997). 'Democritus and Heracleitus: An Excursus on the Cover of this Book,' Milan and Lombardy in the Renaissance. Essays in Cultural History. Rome, La Fenice. (Istituto di Filologia Moderna, Università di Parma: Testi e Studi, Nuova Serie: Studi 1.) (Fortuna of the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers topos)
  • Robinson, T.M. (1987). Heraclitus: Fragments: A Text and Translation with a Commentary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6913-4. 
  • Taylor, C. C. W (ed.), Routledge History of Philosophy: From the Beginning to Plato, Vol. I, pp. 80 – 117. ISBN 0-203-02721-3 Master e-book ISBN, ISBN 0-203-05752-X (Adobe eReader Format) and ISBN 0-415-06272-1 (Print Edition).
  • Wright, M.R. (1985). The Presocratics: The main Fragments in Greek with Inroduction, Commentary and Appendix Containing Text and Translation of Aristotle on the Presocratics. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press. ISBN 0-86292-079-5. 

See also

The following articles on other topics contain non-trivial information that relates to Heraclitus in some way.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.

Ηράκλειτος (Herakleitos; Heraclitus) of Ephesus (c.535 BC - 475 BC) was a Greek philosopher, known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, and for establishing the term Logos (λόγος) in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.

Sourced

Everything flows, nothing stands still.
Nothing endures but change.
  • Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει
    • Everything flows, nothing stands still.
    • Quoted by Plato in Cratylus, and by Diogenes Laërtius in Lives of the Philosophers Book IX, section 8
    • Variant translations:
      Everything flows and nothing stays.
      Everything flows and nothing abides.
      Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
      Everything flows; nothing remains.
      All is flux, nothing is stationary.
      All is flux, nothing stays still.
  • Nothing endures but change.
    • From Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius
    • Variant translations:
      There is nothing permanent except change.
      Nothing is permanent except change.
      The only constant is change.
      Change is the only constant.
      Change alone is unchanging.
  • Eternity is a child playing, playing checkers; the kingdom belongs to a child.
    • Quoted in Hippolytus, as translated in Reality‎ (1994), by Carl Avren Levenson and Jonathan Westphal, p. 10
    • Variant translations:
    • History is a child building a sand-castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man’s power in the world.
      • As quoted in Contemporary Literature in Translation‎ (1976), p. 21
    • A lifetime is a child playing, playing checkers; the kingdom belongs to a child.
      • As quoted in The Beginning of All Wisdom : Timeless Advice from the Ancient Greeks‎ (2003) by Steven Stavropoulos, p. 95
    • Time is a game played beautifully by children.
      • As quoted in Fragments (2001) translated by Brooks Haxton

On the Universe

Different sources sometimes number many of these fragments of the expressions of Heraclitus differently.
This universe, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures.
You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
It is wise to listen, not to me but to the Word, and to confess that all things are one.
Couples are wholes and not wholes, what agrees disagrees, the concordant is discordant. From all things one and from one all things.
Even sleepers are workers and collaborators on what goes on in the universe.
Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.
Character is destiny.
  • Though wisdom is common, yet the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.
    • Fragment 2; Quoted by Sextus Empiricus in Against the Mathematicians
    • Variant translation: So we must follow the common, yet the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.
  • Nature is wont to hide herself.
    • Fragment 10
  • Much learning does not teach understanding.
    • Fragment 16
  • This universe, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures.
    • Fragment 20
    • Variant translations:
      The world, an entity out of everything, was created by neither gods nor men, but was, is and will be eternally living fire, regularly becoming ignited and regularly becoming extinguished.
      This world . . . ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled and in measure going out.
  • ἓν τὸ σοφὸν μοῦνον λέγεσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλει καὶ ἐθέλει Ζηνὸς ὄνομα
    • The wise is one only. It is unwilling and willing to be called by the name of Zeus.
    • Fragment 32
  • Logos is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger.
    • Fragment 36
    • Variant translation: God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger.
  • You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
    • Fragment 41; Quoted by Plato in Cratylus
    • Variant translations:
      You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in.
      You cannot step twice into the same stream. For as you are stepping in, other waters are ever flowing on to you.
      You cannot step twice into the same river.
      You cannot step into the same river twice.
      It is impossible to step into the same river twice.
      No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.
  • It is wise to listen, not to me but to the Word, and to confess that all things are one.
    • Fragment 50
    • Variant translations:
      Listening not to me but to reason, it is wise to agree that all is one.
      Listening not to me but to the Word it is wise to agree that all things are one.
      He who hears not me but the logos will say: All is one.
    • The word translated in these quotes and many others as "The Word" or "Reason", is the greek word λόγος (Logos).
  • It would not be better if things happened to people just as they wish.
    • Fragment 52
    • Variant translation: It would not be better if things happened to men just as they wish.
  • Couples are wholes and not wholes, what agrees disagrees, the concordant is discordant. From all things one and from one all things.
    • Fragment 54
    • Variant translation: From out of all the many particulars comes oneness, and out of oneness come all the many particulars.
  • The road up and the road down is one and the same.
    • Fragment 69
    • Variant translations:
      The road up and the road down are one and the same.
      The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same.
      The way up and the way down are one and the same.
  • Man, like a light in the night, is kindled and put out.
    • Fragment 76
  • When is death not within ourselves?... Living and dead are the same, and so are awake and alseep, young and old.
    • Fragment 78
  • Corpses are more fit to be thrown out than is dung.
    • Fragment 85
  • Even sleepers are workers and collaborators on what goes on in the universe.
    • Fragment 90
  • Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.
    • Fragment 98, as translated by Philip Wheelwright
  • The people should fight for their law as if defending the city's wall.
    • Fragment 100
  • It is better to hide ignorance, but it is hard to do this when we relax over wine.
    • Fragment 108
    • Variant translation: Hide our ignorance as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it.
  • Character is destiny.
    • Fragment 121
    • Variant translations:
      Character is fate.
      Man's character is his fate.
      A man's character is his fate.
      A man's character is his guardian divinity.

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"Everything is in flux." Heraclitus


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Heraclitus
by William Johnson Cory
Information about this edition
For work by the classical author, see Fragments of Heraclitus.

THEY told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remember'd how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.

And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Alternative spellings

Etymology

From Latin Hēraclītus, from Ancient Greek Ἡράκλειτος (Hērakleitos).

Pronunciation

  • enPR: hĕr'əklīʹtəs,[1] IPA: /ˌhɛɻəˈklaɪtəs/,[2] SAMPA: /%hEr\`@"klaIt@s/
or as per the Latin or the Classical Greek

Proper noun

Singular
Heraclitus

Plural
-

Heraclitus

  1. An ancient Greek philosopher.

Derived terms

  • Heraclitean

Translations

References

  • Notes:
  1. ^ “Her·a·cli·tus” listed in the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language [4th Ed.]
  2. ^Her⋅a⋅cli⋅tus” defined by Dictionary.com Unabridged

Latin

Etymology

From Ancient Greek Ἡράκλειτος (Hērakleitos).

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Hērāclītus (genitive Hērāclētī); m, second declension

  1. An ancient Greek given name.
  2. The philosopher Heraclitus.

Simple English

Heraclitus
File:Heraclitus, Johannes
Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse. The image depicts him as "the weeping philosopher" wringing his hands over the world and "the obscure" dressed in dark clothing, both traditional motifs.
Full name Heraclitus
Era Ancient Greece
School Not considered to belong to any school of thought, but later subscribers to the philosophy were "Heracliteans."
Main interests Philosophy: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics
Notable ideas Logos, flow

Heraclitus of Ephesus [1] (ca. 535 – 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor.

Heraclitus is famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe. His famous sayings, "All is flux", and "You cannot step twice into the same river" is still remembered today.[2]

He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that "the path up and down are one and the same," existing things being characterized by pairs of contrary properties, and other explorations of the concept of dualism. His cryptic utterance that "all things come to be in accordance with this Logos," (literally, "word," "reason," or "account") has been the subject of numerous interpretations.

Diogenes states that Heraclitus' work was "a continuous treatise On Nature, but was divided into three discourses, one on the universe, another on politics, and a third on theology." Theophrastus says (in Diogenes) "... some parts of his work are half-finished, while other parts make a strange medley".[3]

Diogenes also tells us that Heraclitus deposited his book as a dedication in the great temple of Artemis, the Artemisium, one of the largest temples of the 6th century BCE and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Ancient temples were regularly used for storing treasures, and were open to private individuals under exceptional circumstances. Many subsequent philosophers in this period refer to the work.

References

  1. Ancient Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ ἘφέσιοςHērákleitos ho Ephésios, English Heraclitus the Ephesian
  2. Guthrie W.K.C. 1962. A history of Greek philosophy, vol 1, the earlier presocratics and the pythagoreans. Cambridge University Press. Chapter VII Heraclitus, p403.
  3. Laertius, Diogenes. 1925. Lives of the eminent philosophers. . Life of Heraclitus, translated by Robert Drew Hicks. ix, 6
  • Robinson T.M. 1987. Heraclitus: Fragments: a text and translation with a commentary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6913-4.
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