Episode 3 – Heraclitus and the Doctrine of Flux

 

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Heraclitus, Logos and Flux: You Cannot Step Twice into the Same Stream

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When Socrates was asked what he thought of the philosophy of Heraclitus, he responded with “the part I understand is excellent, and so too is, I dare say, the part I do not understand; but it needs a Delian diver to get to the bottom of it”.

This anecdote refers to Heraclitus; an ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher who lived around 500 years BC. in the city of Ephesus. Born into a wealthy, aristocratic family, he was allegedly destined to be King of the Ionians; a role that he passed over to his brother in order to study philosophy.

He rejected the scripture and dogmatism of what had came before him to form his own unique outlook, which became incredibly influential amongst the Stoics and even years later with thinkers such as Hegel and Nietzsche.

He was known as the ‘weeping philosopher’, ‘the riddler’ and ‘the dark’ for his morose and misanthropic views. His philosophy is retained as fragments, of codified epigrams which are both contradictory yet stimulating, elusive yet simple, polyvalent yet universal.

Towards the end of his life he drew away from society to live a life of solitude but not before leaving a single papyrus scroll in the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus which had a profound effect on philosophy and consequentially the face of human history.

 

Further Reading