51. Heraclitus of Ephesus 2

Heraclitus and his thoughts on Universal Flux would eventually lead to Hegel developing his dialectic...and Marx spinning it toward materialism.
Heraclitus

This article is a repost of Post 32. This repost was prompted by some very interesting comments and challenges left by an perceptive reader named Al. Below is one of his comments:

“Your statement, “Heraclitus did not believe in universal flux” is not accurate at all. You take away Heraclitus’s major contribution to philosophy. Precisely, Heraclitus has been characterized as the father of Dialectic – the constant undergoing change. According to it, the only permanent thing is change itself. This concept of dialectic was the basis of Hegel and Marx’s philosophies.”

– Al Amao, Ph.D

Dr. Amao is a published author with an interesting bio which I have included below as well as a link to his Amazon and personal websites.

As always, I welcome any feedback from my readers, especially disagreements, for it is through debate in philosophy that we arrive closer to the Truth. In fact, I am writing this introduction after finishing this post and I must say that I am grateful for readers like Al who take time to write and comment. In this case, his comments have prompted me to take a much deeper dive into Heraclitus and Universal Flux than I previously did.

I use a capital “T” for Truth because a premise of this blog is that there is objective truth that undergirds and permeates the universe. Not only is relativism not true, but it is untenable when put into practice as we can see from the disaster that permeates the West today.

Based on the premise that objective truth exists, it follows that disagreement and debate are mechanisms by which we attempt to move closer to that Truth. In short, this blog is about seeking the Truth and not winning an argument. This is the true spirit of philosophy.

Having said all of that, I invite any of you to weigh in on any of my posts in order to engage in lively and informative discussion. I may have guest bloggers in the future and even podcasts. Philosophy should be a community endeavor and not just a solo exercise. My vision is for this blog to become a forum where people can hash these ideas out in real time.

Please enjoy the post below and my interactions with Al’s comments. And be sure to add some of your own! I advise you to have read Al Amao’s original unedited comments, posted below the original post in the comment section. I will interact with his ideas in the addendum at the end of the post.

Here is Post 32 republished:

Heraclitus is, for me, the most difficult of the Presocratic thinkers to write about. This heavyweight of Greek philosophy had gravitas – he was a deep, complex, enigmatic figure, and a brooding thinker.

Heraclitus’ Logos – A Redefinition in Greek Philosophy

One of Heraclitus’ main accomplishments was that he redefined the concept of logos which had, prior to him, been an amorphous concept in Greek philosophy. Heraclitus’ logos would reverberate throughout Western civilization. And all of this came from a man who engaged his audience from a distance due to his critical eye toward humanity in general.1

He was, yet again, a son of the Ionian Enlightenment, having come from the famous city of Ephesus in Ionia.2 Ephesus was close to Miletus, the home of other Presocratic thinkers, namely Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. He was born around 535 BC and lived at the time of Persian domination of Ionia, yet he did not flee to the West like other Greeks in Ionia.

Heraclitus the Hermit

The Ionians gave Heraclitus the honorary title of “King of the Ionians” but he pawned that off on his brother and went to live the life of a recluse.3 He only returned to the city just before he died at the age of 60. Just as I view Pythagoras as the founder of the first proto-monastery, so I consider Heraclitus the first hermit.

In fact, in the School of Athens painting, Raphael portrays him as a melancholic philosopher sitting apart from the rest. Raphael gives Heraclitus the face and disposition of Michelangelo, who was known to suffer from depression.4

This is Heraclitus in the School of Athens painting which shows him thinking about the Logos and fire as the arche.
Heraclitus

And as a hermit, he didn’t suffer fools well, or even non-fools for that matter. He said of fools that “they are excited by every word.”5 In fact, he saw the majority of human beings as dimwitted. He stated:

“The majority of people have no understanding of the things with which they daily meet, nor, when instructed, do they have any right knowledge of them, although to themselves they seem to have.”6

And he said of great thinkers like Pythagoras that they, despite their great learning, “lacked understanding.”7 He despised Hesiod and Homer, the great Greek poets. It seems that no one could come up to his standards. He was like the father you could never please.

Heraclitus the Riddler

Heraclitus was the king of one liners, the Henny Youngman of the ancient philosophical world. Like many of the ancients, only fragments remain of his work, but Heraclitus actually wrote in fragments. For this reason, the ancients referred to him as “The Riddler” long before Batman.8 His aphorisms were more profound than many other philosophers’ treatises. And unlike a philosopher’s treatise, his aphorisms were meant to engage you and pull you into the conversation. That they did; we still talk about them today.

He is also known as a philosopher of paradoxes, and this is yet another paradox – that he who was the most aloof of the Presocratics was also the most engaging.

Heraclitus’ Top Five Fragments

Of the over 100 fragments that we have of his today, I decided to choose my top five – no easy task.9 (If your favorite is not in this list, please discuss it in the comments below.)

  1. “No man ever steps into the same river twice.”
  2. “The way up and the way down are one and the same path.”
  3. “Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.”
  4. “For Fire, everything is an exchange and Fire for everything, just as for gold, money and for money, gold.”
  5. “All things come out of one and one out of all things.”

Universal Flux

Let’s start with the first quotation about no one stepping into the same river twice. This is probably the fragment that is his most popular but also the most misunderstood. We can lay the blame for this squarely at the feet of Plato.

Plato, in Cratylus (402a), used this quote to say that Heraclitus believed that everything was constantly changing and nothing remained the same; this is the concept of universal flux.10 He thus branded Heraclitus as the philosopher of change and put him in opposition to Parmenides (whom we will study next), the philosopher of monism. Monism states that everything is a single changeless entity.

Even though this is a nice, neat characterization, it is simply not true.

Notice that Heraclitus says, “No man ever steps into the same river twice.” He does not deny that it is the same river. In fact, it is in the midst of flux that the river remains the same. Every person has waxed philosophical in this same vein when he or she has said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

To prove the point about the river being the same, he also said, “To those stepping into rivers staying the same, other and other waters flow.” So despite Plato’s interpretation, Heraclitus did not believe in universal flux. For him, the river was the river, which happened to be constantly undergoing change.

The Unity of Opposites

This brings us to his core doctrine called the Unity of Opposites.11 He stated that the same thing can, at the same time, have opposite qualities. For example, another famous saying of his is that “seawater is healthy for fish but unhealthy for people.” Seawater is both opposites at the same time – healthy and unhealthy. Another one of my favorites of his is “donkeys prefer garbage to gold.” Garbage, and likewise gold, are at the same time valuable and worthless. In modern times we say, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Since I am an avid hiker, I can relate to fragment #2 above. Every time I have hiked up the side of a mountain, I have noticed that the faces of the people ascending seemed strained, while the the ones descending were much happier. The people going down moved much faster as well. The same path yields opposite experiences and is at the same time the way up and the way down. It is just like the river analogy where Heraclitus juxtaposes the same river being composed of different waters.

So it is this tension of opposites between same and different that allows for the harmonious existence of the river and the mountain path to be possible. It allows for continuity to exist with change. If there were only sameness, then everything would be frozen in time; if there were only change, then the universe would be reduced to meaningless motion.

He is not saying that we can find paradoxical situations in life that are unusual and interesting. No, rather he is saying that the entire universe is hardwired on the principle of the unity of opposites.

The tension of opposites in the universe gives rise to perfect harmony – fragment #3 above. The unity of the universe consists in a constant strife between things. Stability arises out of discord. For Heraclitus, perpetual war characterizes the universe out of which peace arises. In summary, paradox is at the heart of the universe.

Fire as the Universal Principle

A recurring theme in my discussions so far about the Presocratic thinkers was their search for an arche or universal principle that gives rise to all things. With the exception of Anaximander, who chose infinity as the arche, all of the other Presocratics looked for the fundamental principle in a material element. And back then, the Greeks only recognized four elements: water, air, earth, and fire.

Thales, the first philosopher chose water; Anaximenes chose air; and Xenophanes chose both earth and water. I find it odd that fire was chosen last since it is the most dynamic of the elements. Nevertheless, fortunately for Heraclitus, it seems that the other Presocratic thinkers left it for him. And how appropriate, since it fits in best with his idea of transformation in the universe.

Why fire? It all had to do with a world-changing event in nearby Lydia – the issuing of coinage.12 With the issuing of coinage, there was now a universal medium of exchange by which buying and selling could occur in an equitable manner. And how did the ancients produce the coinage? Well, they brought the gold ore to the mint and smelted it with a purifying fire. When the process was finished, beautiful gold coins were the result.

Fire as Destruction and Transformation

Just as Thales witnessed the cycles of the great rivers of the Nile and Euphrates and chose water as his arche, so Heraclitus had a similar experience as he observed that transformative power of fire at the Ionian mint. Fire could be both destructive and transformative, menacing and beautiful. Fire destroyed the gold ore, only to remake it into a purified medium of exchange that fueled the daily rhythms of buying and selling the essentials and luxuries of life.

Thus fragment #4 above: “For Fire, everything is an exchange and Fire for everything, just as for gold, money and for money, gold.”

Heraclitus’s fire in the mint was for him an analog of the cosmic fire that transformed everything. The fragment can also be rendered, “Fire for everything and everything for fire.”

Fire was responsible then for the destructive and transformative power in the universe that violently wrought change, while at the same time purifying and making stability possible. It gave sense and order to the universe. When a fire burns a forest, it consumes the forest into itself, destroying and transforming it, making new life possible. Thus the cycle continues – change and continuity.

If you read the post on Anaximander, you will see that he, too had the idea of conflict at the heart of the universe. But for Anaximander, his conflict was a judicial one, the balancing of which provided a stasis by which the universe existed, whereas I see in Heraclitus a more profound and paradoxical view of conflict, one that leads ultimately to peace and harmony.

Fire in the Soul

Finally, in the end, Heraclitus was not just talking about the beauty and hidden secrets of the universe, but he was talking about the profoundness of humanity.

For Heraclitus, the soul was a form of fire that comprised the life essence of the person it animated.13 For Anaximenes, the arche had to be air, for when people stopped breathing, they died. But for Heraclitus, when a person died, their warm body became cooler because the soul-fire had departed.

Like the river that is the same river yet different every time we encounter it, so too are we as humans. We are the same person throughout our lives, yet are continually being purified and transformed by the soul-fire within and the refining fires without. We are broken by life crises, yet built up and renewed.

It’s like when you run into an old friend that you hadn’t see since high school. It is a little awkward because the last time you talked, you were both young and immature. The awkwardness comes from the fact that, even though you are the same people, because of the years that have passed, you are completely different people. And therein lay the tension – and the harmony.

I will leave you with a Heraclitus quote:

“No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river – and it is not the same man.”14

Addendum

1. I would like to start off my replies to Al by highlighting an area of new knowledge I gained by reading his comments.

“To your question why did Heraclitus choose fire as the Universal Principle? Jason R. Jorjaini, an Iranian/American philosopher has postulated the birth of philosophy took place when the Greek was under the dominion of the Persians who brought Zoroastrianism to Iona city. For the Zoroastrian religion, the undying fire is the most sacred element and origin of everything. So, it seems that Heraclitus choose Fire after the other philosophers because it was the influence of Zoroastrianism. Incidentally, Zoroastrianism n Mithraism (both Iranian religions) have been very influential to the formation Christian religion.

The above is the answer to your question regarding fragment #4: ‘For Fire, everything is an exchange and Fire for everything, just as for gold, money and for money, gold.'”

– Al Amao

I must admit that this makes more sense to me than my original statement, which was based on ideas from Eva Brann’s book The Logos of Heraclitus, that Heraclitus developed his idea of fire being the arche from observing a nearby mint. A little research indeed revealed that “fire was the most sacred element of everything in Zoroastrianism.”15 This comports more with the historical reality of the important influence of the Persians in Ionia, not to mention that it is chronologically consistent.

In fact, in Post 34, I discussed the influence of Persian ideas in Ionia. A little more research on my part would have revealed the above truth. Here is an excerpt from my post:

“When Cyrus the Persian invaded Ionia, there was a cross-pollination between East and West. The Persians brought their religion of Zoroastrianism, thus introducing monism to the Greeks. We can see this influence in the writings of Heraclitus as well as other Presocratic philosophers like Parmenides, whom we will discuss soon. These ideas will go on to have a very long shelf life in the West in both Christian and non-Christian philosophy.”

– Dr. Gaudio from Post 34, Logos and Heraclitus

To tie the two ideas together, it would seem that Heraclitus most likely acquired the idea of fire being the principle arche from the Persians, and most likely found the process of making coin at a mint to be the perfect metaphor for this. In summary, I am grateful that my knowledge has been deepened on this point.

Disagreement on Heraclitus’ Universal Flux

2. Now, concerning points of disagreement, I would like to hone in on the the main area of disagreement, which seems to be the question of whether Heraclitus did in fact believe in Universal Flux. I think this is one of the most important questions in Western civilization.

Both Al and I believe that Plato believed that Heraclitus posited the idea of constant change:

I agree with Plato characterization that Heraclitus believed that everything was constantly changing and nothing remained the same; this is the concept of universal flux. Indeed, life is an eternal state of change.

– Al Amao

But then, Al goes on to say:

“However, you seem to disagree with Plato about his characterization of Heraclitus regarding his axiom: ‘No man ever steps into the same river twice.’ The river is the same but the water is not...The river metaphorically represents the flux of change, not the water. If there is no water there is no river. One can step on the bed of the river but not in the same water. Your assertion, “It is in the midst of flux that the river remains the same.” This is an abstract statement; what is the midst of flux”?

– Al Amao

A good place to start is with my phrase, “It is in the midst of the flux that the river remains the same,” for this is at the heart of my disagreement with Plato as well as others who hold what I consider a radical, unqualified theory of flux. This is a theory of flux with no side rails.

The question really should be: Is Heraclitus advocating for a theory of flux that is ultimate, that is the governing principle of the universe, or a theory of flux that is relative to or defined by a backdrop of unity, order, and stability?

I would advocate that the former would result in a chaotic, nonsensical universe which, in essence, would be a non-universe. In this regard, I would use the term “universal flux” to mean that change is present everywhere, but not to mean change as the ultimate governing principle – “universal” with a small “u,” not a capital “U.”

So “in the midst of flux that the river remains the same” means that continual change exists against the backdrop of uniformity. To put it another way, if there were no “same” river that could undergo change, then there could be no flux of that river. Think about this paradox: Without constancy, change is impossible. There has to be something that exists that is capable of change. If a person changes, then something that is a constant – the person – is undergoing change, just like the river that is a constant is undergoing change.

We are really making the distinction between that which exists and is constant and the changes it undergoes, and the world of ideas or being and the world of sense. Now, Heraclitus does not frame his aphorisms in those terms and he does not even mention being, but nevertheless, whenever we discuss such concepts, we move into the world of the abstract. He does use something comparable to Parmenides’ Being, though, and that is the idea of the Logos, which I discuss below.

The Same River?

When we talk about the river, we are talking not just about the physical nature of the river, but the idea of that particular river. Did you know that if a particular river temporarily dries up, scientists and cartographers still consider that river as being in existence?16 In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – the river is more than the water flowing. It is the bed, the location, and even the name it is given to it. The entity or idea of the river supersedes its component parts. The idea of the river is constant despite its particular physical state.

Conversely, one can remove, say, a gallon of water from that river and plop it on someone’s dinner table, and it will just be water. Or they could dump that water into another river, and it ceases to become associated with the former. When the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi in Cairo, Illinois, in that split second, the same water becomes part of a completely different river.

It is with this in mind that Heraclitus’ statement makes perfect sense:

“To those stepping into rivers staying the same, other and other waters flow.”

– Heraclitus, Fragment 40

The result is the same whether or not we are looking at the river or the person, for both retain their basic identity – their being is unalterable. But as far as their alterable characteristics, the water is different, and the person is slightly different every time he steps in the river.

The Logos as the Transcendent, Ordering Principle of the Cosmos

Probably the main reason I think Heraclitus did not believe in Universal Flux is because that ignores completely one of his most important ideas, that of his unifying, ordering principle of the universe, the Logos. One cannot acknowledge his idea of the Logos and the same time hold that he believed in Universal Flux. Why is that?

According to Heraclitus, the Logos is the governing principle, the unifying principle of the universe. It is that which provides constancy in the midst of change and not only that, it orders the change as well. As mentioned above, when we talk about the idea of the river, we are entering the world of the abstract, similar to what would be known later as Plato’s Forms.

What we are really talking about is transcendence, a concept discovered by Heraclitus, and without which later philosophy and even Christian theology would be impossible.17 In talking about the Logos, also termed “The Wise,” Heraclitus gives the Logos the attribute of transcendence:

“The Wise is separated (kethorismenon) from everything.”

– Heraclitus, Fragment 108

Everything is in flux, but not absolutely or else there would be no river, or matter, or anything identifiable as an entity that has being. The supreme principle in Heraclitus’s cosmos is not Universal Flux, but Logos.

Eva Brann puts it succinctly:

“In conclusion, the picture of Heraclitus as the philosopher of ultimate instability, of radical immutability, is just judicious. Isn’t the Logos at once the Design of the world-order, the Stuff in which it is realized, and its speaker within the human soul? And isn’t this Logos steadfastness within itself and the firm regulator of flux?”18

– Eva Brann

The One and the Many

So the tension of the One and the Many is not so much between Heraclitus and Parmenides, for Parmenides, of course, advocated for the One in Being, but Heraclitus’ system contained both One (Logos/Fire) and Many (objects that are in constant flux). The tension between the One and the Many really is a not a tension between Parmenides and Heraclitus, but between Parmenides and the other Ionian philosophers such as Thales and Anaximander. I go into this in more detail in Post 44, “Parmenides and Being,” under the subheading entitled “The One and the Many.” The fact that Heraclitus’ system contains the One-Many tension within itself is indicated by the following fragment:

“All things come out of one and one out of all things.”

– Heraclitus, Fragment 10

Heraclitus, Hegel, and the Dialectic of Change

3. Finally, we get to what I think is Al’s most interesting objection:

“Your statement, “Heraclitus did not believe in universal flux” is not accurate at all. You take away Heraclitus’s major contribution to philosophy. Precisely, Heraclitus has been characterized as the father of Dialectic – the constant undergoing change. According to it, the only permanent thing is change itself. This concept of dialectic was the basis of Hegel and Marx’s philosophies.”

– Al Amao

As far as Heraclitus believing (or not believing) in Universal Flux, I dealt with that in point two above. Heraclitus’ idea of Universal Flux is without a doubt his most well-known contribution to philosophy and has been highly influential, as in the dialectical world of Hegel and Marx. But I think that his most important contribution has been his concept of the Logos for reasons which I have explained in my blog series on Logos. In summary, flux for Heraclitus is ubiquitous in the cosmos, but it is not the ultimate, Universal principle.

Nevertheless, I would like to explore the relationship between the Universal Flux of Heraclitus and the dialectic of Hegel in order to see whether or not Hegel’s philosophy rests in a solid foundation or not. This is important because it was Hegel’s dialectic that formed the basis for Marx’s dialectical materialism, and we all know the consequences of that.

Hegel and His Threefold Dialectic

We know that Hegel claimed to adopt all of Heraclitus’ ideas in toto. In Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy, he states the following:

“Here we see land; there is no proposition of Heraclitus which I have not adopted in my Logic.”19

– Hegel

Hegel begins his lecture referencing the Eleatics, e.g., Parmenides, whom he said posited Pure Being.20 He claims that this notion of Being is abstract, but nevertheless a starting point.

“If we put aside the Ionics, who did not understand the Absolute as Thought, and the Pythagoreans likewise, we have the pure Being of the Eleatics…the world in itself is the apparent, and pure Being alone the true.21 

– Hegel

Hegel posits a threefold dialectic. The above is his starting point, his thesis. Being is the source of all reality, but yet it is an abstract concept. It is objective reality.

The second part of his dialectic adds the element of subjective reflection. If we reflect on Being, then “being” implies that there is not non-being, or there is not nothingness.22

The quandary is that if we affirm the objective existence of Being, then the concept of non-Being suddenly appears in our minds since we cannot but think of Being without thinking of its antithesis – non-being or nothingness. Suddenly, Being goes down a black hole, so to speak, into nothingness, for if nothingness exists, then Being cannot exist. Conversely, we cannot think of non-Being without thinking of its complement, which is Being, for non-Being is non-“being.” Suddenly, Being comes hurtling back into existence.

This reality is stuck in this endless oscillation between being and non-being or nothingness. Hegel calls this second part the “immanent dialectic of the object, but falling within the contemplation of the subject.”23 For the world to make sense, there must be some way out of this. That leads us to the third part of his dialectic and Heraclitus.

Finally, according to Hegel, it is Heraclitus who rescues us from the world of abstraction and brings us to the world of the concrete through his Unity of Opposites:

“…the objectivity of Heraclitus which takes the dialectic itself as principle. The advance requisite and made by Heraclitus is the progression from Being as the first immediate thought, to the category of Becoming as the second. This is the first concrete, the Absolute, as in it the unity of opposites.”24

– Hegel

Hegel and Heraclitus

With Heraclitus, we have the transition from Being to Becoming as we go from the world of abstraction to concreteness and the Absolute. Hegel defines the Absolute as “the sum of all being, actual and potential.”25 In unique Hegel fashion, he summarizes this concept as follows:

“This universal principle is better characterized as Becoming, the truth of Being; since everything is and is not, Heraclitus hereby expressed that everything is Becoming. Not merely does origination belong to it, but passing away as well; both are not independent, but identical. It is a great advance in thought to pass from Being to Becoming, even if, as the first unity of opposite determinations, it is still abstract…. The recognition of the fact that Being and non-being are abstractions devoid of truth, that the first truth is to be found in Becoming, forms a great advance.”26

– Hegel

We must first ask if Hegel’s interpretation of Heraclitus is correct and secondly, if others have interpreted Hegel correctly. The first concern that I would raise is the order of Hegel’s thought process. I personally like his reasoning, especially the first two parts of his dialectic; the problem is in the chronology of Parmenides and Heraclitus.

Parmenides was a younger contemporary of Heraclitus, so it was Parmenides who responded to Heraclitus and not vice versa, putting Hegel’s first two aspects of his threefold dialectic out of order.27 This turns Hegel’s proposition of Being to Becoming on its head.

Secondly, according to Copleston, Reality according to Heraclitus is essentially – not accidentally – one that is composed of the One and the Many at the same time. He states:

“It is essential to the Being and existence of the One that it should be one and many at the same time; that it should be Identity in difference. Hegel’s assignment of Heraclitus’ philosophy to the category of becoming is therefore based on a misconception.”28

– Frederick Copleston

And according to Brann, there is no conflict resolution with Heraclitus. Rather, we have a perennial tension that paradoxically is also harmonious. She states:

“Heraclitus, after all, stops at unresolved difference and preserves persuasive contradiction in thought and perennial antagonism in the cosmos: no conflict-resolution, no reconciliation.”29

– Eva Brann

The main argument then rests on the fact that Heraclitus left the cosmic in perpetual tension, never moving to Hegel’s third step of “synthesis” which, I think, answers Al’s final objection:

“Your statement “The tension of opposites in the universe gives rise to perfect harmony – fragment #3. The unity of things embraces the constant strife of internal elements. Stability arises as to the solution of contradictions. For Heraclitus, “perpetual war characterizes the universe out of which peace arises.” This should be understood as the tension of opposites generates change and movement, and the synthesis or solution is another level of it.”

– Al Amao

Marx and the Dialectic of Hegel

Finally, in closing, it is interesting that the triad of words – thesis, antithesis, and synthesis – is synonymous with Hegel’s philosophy. The problem is that Hegel never used this triad of words in discussing his dialectic. He has used “antithesis” a few times in his writings, but never “synthesis.”30 This bothers some people, but it doesn’t bother me as much, for I think the concepts are there.

The question is how Marx was influenced by Hegel. This topic could obviously fill a plethora of posts. It is beyond dispute that Marx was definitely influenced by the dialectic of Hegel. The difference is that Marx jettisoned Hegel’s idealism and spirituality, and settled for an entirely materialistic dialectic approach. Marx’s incorporation of this dialectic into the formulation of his communist ideas makes him one of the most influential as well as destructive philosophers ever.

If it is true that Marx’s ideas were based on the misinterpretation by Hegel of Heraclitus, then it starkly illustrates not only that ideas matter, but that wrongly interpreted ideas can have serious consequences, which is why philosophy and the discussion thereof do indeed matter.

If you want to join the conversation, please leave your comments below. Also, don’t forget to check out the featured book below. Thank you!

Deo Gratias

Featured Book

From Amazon: “Behind the superficial obscurity of what fragments we have of Heraclitus’ thought, Professor Kahn claims that it is possible to detect a systematic view of human existence, a theory of language which sees ambiguity as a device for the expression of multiple meaning, and a vision of human life and death within the larger order of nature. The fragments are presented here in a readable order; translation and commentary aim to make accessible the power and originality of a systematic thinker and a great master of artistic prose. The commentary locates Heraclitus within the tradition of early Greek thought, but stresses the importance of his ideas for topical theories of language, literature and philosophy.”

Footnotes:

  1. Copleston, Frederick, A History of Philosophy, Book 1, Volume 1, p. 38, Image Press, Cicero, N.Y., 1981
  2. Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://iep.utm.edu/heraclit
  3. Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2021/entries/heraclitus
  4. Jones, Christopher P., “How to Read Paintings: The School of Athens by Raphael,” Feb. 12, 2020, https://christopherpjones.medium.com/how-to-read-paintings-the-school-of-athens-by-raphael-60f1ca0592c6
  5. Graham, Daniel W. “Does Nature Love to Hide? Heraclitus B123 DK.” Classical Philology, vol. 98, no. 2, 2003, pp. 175–179. JSTOR
  6. Levin, Noah, “Heraclitus (Fragments),” Sourced from NGE Far Press, Humanities LibreTexts, sourced from NGE Far Press, updated March10, 2021, https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Philosophy/Ancient_Philosophy_Reader_(Levin)/01%3A_The_Start_of_Western_Philosophy_and_the_Pre-Socratics/1.04%3A_Heraclitus_(Fragments)
  7. Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), section on ‘Knowledge,’ https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2021/entries/heraclitus;Levin, Noah, “Heraclitus (Fragments)”
  8. Chitwood, Ava. “HERACLITUS Αἰνιϰτὴς HERACLITUS AND THE RIDDLE.” Studi Classici e Orientali, vol. 43, 1995, pp. 49–62. JSTOR
  9. Levin, Noah, “Heraclitus (Fragments)”
  10. Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, section 3.1 ‘Flux” 
  11. Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, section 3
  12. Brann, Eva, The Logos of Heraclitus, pp. 58-60, Paul Day Books, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2011
  13. English, Robert B. “Heraclitus and the Soul.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, vol. 44, 1913, pp. 163–184. JSTOR
  14. Levin, Noah, “Heraclitus (Fragments)”
  15. BOYD, JAMES W., and FIROZE M. KOTWAL. “WORSHIP IN A ZOROASTRIAN FIRE TEMPLE ‘the H. B. Wadia Ātaš Bahrām.’” Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 26, no. 4, Brill, 1983, pp. 293–318,
  16. Cassella, Carly, “Over 50% of Earth’s ‘Rivers’ Actually Stand Still or Run Dry Every Year,” as published in Nature, Messager, M.L., Lehner, B., Cockburn, C. et al. Global prevalence of non-perennial rivers and streams. Nature 594, 391–397 (2021).
  17. Brann, Eva, The Logos of Heraclitus, p. 67
  18. Ibid., p. 100
  19. Hegel, Georg, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Part D, “Heraclitus”
  20. Please see my article entitled “Parmenides and Pure Being,” Post 44
  21. Hegel, Georg, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Part D
  22. I deal somewhat with this concept of Nothingness in Post 23, “Hesiod’s Theogony: From Mythology to Metaphysics.”
  23. Hegel, Georg, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Part D
  24. Ibid.
  25. Frederick Charles Copleston (1963). History of Philosophy: Fichte to Nietzsche, Paulist Press. pp. 166–180.
  26. Hegel, Georg, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Part D
  27. Copleston, Frederick, A History of Philosophy, p. 40
  28. Ibid.
  29. Brann, Eva, The Logos of Heraclitus, p. 115
  30. Benson, Peter, “Hegel and the Trinity,” Philosophy Now, Issue 42, July/August, 2003

For the bibliography associated with this post, please see Post 32.

Bio of Al Amao, Ph.D.

From Amazon: “Albert Amao Soria is a sociologist, social theorist, and cultural critic. An independent researcher, an author – a life-long student of metaphysics and philosophy, with over 30 years’ experience in comparative religion, psychology, and mysticism with emphasis on Western spiritual traditions. He considers himself as an Ageless Wisdom student. Mr. Amao is the author of several books, including, Awaken the Power Within, Healing without Medicine, and The Dawning of the Golden Age of Aquarius. Mr. Amao lectures nationwide (USA) on metaphysics, Hermetic Qabalah, and New Thought philosophy. He is the founder of the “Center 4 Spiritual Self-Awakening” and is available for lectures upon request. Mr. Amao can be contacted by email at Stgermain777@gmail.com. For further information, visit the websites: http://www.amazon.com/author/amao and www.albertamao.com

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  1. The following comments were left by Al in Post 32:

    Dear Dr. Ron Gaudio.
    You usually request comments to your posts. Here is my two cents comment on your post on Heraclitus. First of all, I would like to express my sympathy and gratefulness for sharing your knowledge and the result of your philosophical investigations.
    I agree with Plato characterization that Heraclitus believed that everything was constantly changing and nothing remained the same; this is the concept of universal flux. Indeed, life is an eternal state of change.
    However, you seem to disagree with Plato about his characterization of Heraclitus regarding his axiom: “No man ever steps into the same river twice.” The river is the same but the water is not.
    The expression, “All things come out of one and one out of all things.” Closely resemblance Parmenides’s basic idea, that everything is one. The one and the many.
    The river metaphorically represents the flux of change, not the water. If there is no water there is no river. One can step on the bed of the river but not in the same water. Your assertion, “It is in the midst of flux that the river remains the same.” This is an abstract statement; what is the midst of flux”?
    Moreover, I disagree with your statement “To prove the point about the river being the same, he also said, “To those stepping into rivers staying the same, other and other waters flow.” Based on the same idea, the person who step the first time on the river is not the same when he steps the second time, nor the river.
    Your statement, “Heraclitus did not believe in universal flux” is not accurate at all. You take away Heraclitus’s major contribution to philosophy. Precisely, Heraclitus has been characterized as the father of Dialectic – the constant undergoing change. According to it, the only permanent thing is change itself. This concept of dialectic was the basis of Hegel and Marx’s philosophies.
    Your statement “The tension of opposites in the universe gives rise to perfect harmony – fragment #3. The unity of things embraces the constant strife of internal elements. Stability arises as to the solution of contradictions. For Heraclitus, “perpetual war characterizes the universe out of which peace arises.” This should be understood as the tension of opposites generates change and movement, and the synthesis or solution is another level of it.
    You are correct in affirming that Heraclitus was born around 535 BC and lived at the time of Persian domination of Ionia.
    To your question why did Heraclitus choose fire as the Universal Principle? Jason R. Jorjaini, an Iranian/American philosopher has postulated the birth of philosophy took place when the Greek was under the dominion of the Persians who brought Zoroastrianism to Iona city. For the Zoroastrian religion, the undying fire is the most sacred element and origin of everything. So, it seems that Heraclitus choose Fire after the other philosophers because it was the influence of Zoroastrianism. Incidentally, Zoroastrianism n Mithraism (both Iranian religions) have been very influential to the formation Christian religion.
    The above is the answer to your question regarding fragment #4: “For Fire, everything is an exchange and Fire for everything, just as for gold, money and for money, gold.”

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