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Text #92

"Heraclitus", in Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus

Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city 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 apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the needless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.

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”[5] (see panta rhei, below). This 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.

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.” Diogenes said that Heraclitus flourished in the 69th Olympiad, 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. […]

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 [made] a strange medley.”

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; furthermore, many subsequent philosophers in this period refer to the work. Says Kahn: “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: “the book acquired such fame that it produced partisans of his philosophy who were called Heracliteans.”

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

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. According to Long, “the importance of Heraclitus to later Stoics is evident most plainly in Marcus Aurelius.” 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, which Long concludes are “modifications of Heraclitus.”

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