Heraclitus

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Heraclitus


Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse.

The image shows him as "the weeping philosopher" and "the obscure",
both traditional motifs
Full name Heraclitus
Era Ancient Greece
Main interests Philosophy: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics
Notable ideas Logos, flow
Logos, Greek spelling. Logos became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus, who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge.[1]

Heraclitus of Ephesus [2] or Herakleitos (about 535– 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He was a native of Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor.

His teaching, as we have it now, is a series of epigrams. that is, sayings and remarks, rather than systematic essays. 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.[3]

Often it is difficult to understand what he saying. He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that "the path up and down are one and the same". His utterance that "all things come to be in accordance with this Logos," (literally, "word," "reason," or "account") has been the subject of many interpretations.

  • "Good and bad are the same".[4] In many of these 'opposite ends' pairs, if the one never happened, then the other would be meaningless.

Diogenes Laërtius 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".[5]

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 later philosophers refer to the work.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (2nd ed): Heraclitus, 1999.
  2. Ancient Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ ἘφέσιοςHērákleitos ho Ephésios, English Heraclitus the Ephesian
  3. 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.
  4. Fairbanks, Arthur 1898. The first philosophers of Greece. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, London. #57, p39.
  5. 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.