Heraclitus

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1. WHO WAS HERACLITUS?

Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher best known for his philosophy of the logos and ontology of becoming.

Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. This is commonly considered to be a key contribution in the development of the philosophical concept of becoming, as contrasted with “being”, and has sometimes been seen in a Dialectical relationship with Parmenides’ statement that “whatever is, is, and what is not cannot be”, the latter being understood as a key contribution in the development of the philosophical concept of being. For this reason, Parmenides and Heraclitus are commonly considered to be two of the founders of ontology.

Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides, though opinion on who was responding to whom has varied over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. Heraclitus’ position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary properties, whereby no entity may ever occupy a single state at a single time. This, along with his cryptic utterance that “all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos” (literally, “word”, “reason”, or “account”) has been the subject of numerous interpretations.

Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. Diogenes relates that as a boy Heraclitus had said he “knew nothing” but later claimed to “know everything”. 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.”

From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.

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2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF HERACLITEAN PHILOSOPHY?

The Essential Dialectic of Heraclitean Philosophy is:

{Logos ⇆ Becoming ⇅ Coincidence-of-Opposites} ↻ Character-is-Destiny

The Essential Dialectic of Heraclitean Philosophy is the Logos, Becoming, Coincidence-of-Opposites, Character-is-Destiny Dialectic because …

3. WHAT IS THE INTERMEDIARY DIALECTIC OF HERACLITEAN PHILOSOPHY?

The Intermediary Dialectic of Heraclitean Philosophy is:

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4. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF HERACLITEAN PHILOSOPHY?

The Complete Dialectic of Heraclitean Philosophy is:

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Listening not to me but to the logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one.
– Heraclitus

“Nothing is identical with itself,” said Nagarjuna. One cannot step into the same river twice said Heraclitus: “Everything is true, nothing is true: everything is both true and not true: everything is neither true nor not true. This is the teaching of the Buddha.” High is not high, low is not low. It is said in Buddhism that a tail is not a tail, that is why it is called a tail. In Zen there is a saying: Before I started practicing Zen, mountains were mountains, trees were trees. After I made some progress, mountains were no longer mountains, trees were no longer trees. but now mountains are again mountains, trees are again trees. A does not equal A, that is why it called A, and therefore it can equal A.
-Albert Low, The Iron Crow of Zen pg111