- Heraclitus Catherine Osborne No philosopher before Socrates can have had such a profound influence on so many generations of subsequent thinkers as Heraclitus. Nor can any thinker, probably in the whole history of philosophy, have inspired such a wide range of different ideas, all claiming in some way to be true to his authentic genius. Yet the sparsity of his written remains, and the richly obscure or even mystical style of his sayings, leave us with no grounds for concluding that one, rather than another of the great variety of Heracliteanisms on offer in the history of thought is more accurate than another. This fact is probably as it should be; for if I am right in the interpretation that I shall try to present in this chapter, Heraclitus’ most important observation was that the significance of things changes with the time and place and context of the observer, and of the speaker; that what is the same differs from day to day; and that what one says, and the words one says it in, will mean different and even opposed things to different people, and for different purposes. Heraclitus, the purveyor of an eternal doctrine that is both familiar to all and obscure to most, illustrates in himself the very doctrine that he tried to present: that what counts as the same and what counts as opposed is decided by a significance acquired in a social or temporal context, and is not determined absolutely by a fixed nature or material constitution in the entities we observe. PROBLEMS OF INTERPRETATION The problems of interpretation that are characteristic of pre-Socratic thinkers are all the more acute for Heraclitus. Firstly, we have little reliable evidence about his life,1 though much that is unreliable; but that scarcely seems to matter when we consider the much more severe difficulties involved in reconstructing his thought. None of his work is preserved directly in its own right, a situation that is normal for thinkers of this period. The texts that we have are collected from the quotations in later writers, some of them far removed in time from Heraclitus. Although we have more of these ‘fragments’ than we have of any of the earlier Ionian thinkers, two factors make Heraclitus’ work peculiarly difficult to reconstruct, (1) Heraclitus seems to have expressed his views in the form of short pithy sayings, largely disconnected, in prose rather than poetry.2 The disconnected brevity of the sayings may be true to the original style of his thought, or may be the effect of the extraction of memorable quotations by subsequent generations. For our purposes, what we have to work with are primarily extracts which include minimal connected argument.3 As a result it is difficult to determine how to string these ‘fragments’ together, and indeed how to decide which words are attributed to Heraclitus in the quoting authority. (2) Because Heraclitus has been a peculiarly rich source of inspiration for subsequent generations of thinkers from Plato to Heidegger, the use made of him by thinkers of Sceptic, Stoic, Christian and Platonist persuasions has coloured the resources from which we have to reconstruct his thought. This means that although we have some versions of his own words which can be culled from these later thinkers, all those versions carry with them some preoccupations and interests from the later thinkers, both in the selection of texts that are preserved and the interpretations that are put upon them in the sources we are using. Ideally, to work on Heraclitus a scholar will need to engage in detailed work on the context within which each of his sayings is preserved. None of us is in a position to read his work independently of the later thinkers who reconstructed his ideas on their own lines. This remains equally true of recent scholarship on the subject, which clearly shows that linking fragments together in support of a particular interpretation itself brings out resonances between the fragments.4 Which resonances emerge depends on which fragments we juxtapose, and each reading validates itself by constructing a sequence of texts suited to its theme.5 For our own part, the best that we can do in this chapter is to remind ourselves of the profound effect we create by placing a fragment in a particular context, and to take note wherever possible of the readings of those writers who preserve the fragments for us.6 In this chapter the footnote included each time a new fragment is introduced will provide some minimal background regarding the quoting authority, and indicate whether the context prompts a particular reading. The reader who requires a quick and superficial grasp of the interpretation I am putting forward can afford to ignore these notes, but anyone who wishes to engage critically with the views presented here may need to pursue the suggestions made in the notes. RITUAL AND THE GODS Where, if at all, do the gods need to enter into the explanation of human and natural events? What should the divine nature be taken to be? These questions can be seen to underlie many of the concerns of thinkers before Parmenides. On a conventional view, the task engaging the earliest thinkers might be seen as a rationalist project to prise away the explanation of apparently mysterious phenomena from unpredictable divine beings and to ascribe them instead to predictable physical laws and patterns of behaviour. But the philosophers still sometimes speak of their own principles and causes as divine, and this indicates that their project is not an atheist drive to exclude the gods from the picture altogether. Indeed atheism is effectively unknown in antiquity.7 The presence of the divine in the systematic explanations offered by the early thinkers should not be taken as merely a figure of speech. It suggests a revised account of the work of the gods, in which what is truly divine is a cause outside and beyond the humdrum decisions of unpredictable individuals. Hence the conventional picture of the gods in those terms is being rejected, but that is not to make the gods redundant, nor to say that the world is independent of any divine influence. Physics and theology are still closely linked, even in Xenophanes. Heraclitus’ analysis of religious practice and belief needs to be understood before we go any further. Perhaps religion is not peculiarly significant for Heraclitus, but it provides a classic illustration of his account of the complex significance of things in general.8 Several of his sayings have been routinely taken as critical of established religious rites, and of conventional ideas of what gods are. But although Heraclitus clearly has some point to make about the rites and beliefs that he mentions, careful attention to his ideas suggests that the sayings usually taken to ridicule religion are better read as observations about the significance of the religious context: although these sayings argue against simpleminded misunderstanding of conventional piety, they do not condemn such piety in itself. Instead they offer a more sophisticated theological picture, one that belongs with Heraclitus’ famous commitment to the unity of opposites.9 We may start by looking at a group of fragments concerned with conventional rituals. In fragment B5 people (‘they’) who are polluted with blood are said to purify themselves with blood.10 Heraclitus compares the procedure with using mud to wash off mud and observes (quite correctly) that in ordinary life such a procedure would be thought insane: Tainted with blood they purify themselves in a different way11 as if someone who stepped into mud were cleansed with mud. But any human who claimed that the person was doing that would be considered insane.12 This is the first part of an unusually long piece of Heraclitus’ prose. On the standard interpretation13 it is taken as a mocking reductio: what good is a purification of that sort? It can’t work any more than a mud bath! Heraclitus, like a modern logical positivist, stands for no nonsense: look at the ritual in the cold light of reason, he says, and it cannot possibly produce the results that it claims to produce. But is this right? Heraclitus says that in the ritual purification they ‘purify themselves in a different way’. The word allo_s is ambiguous: its basic meaning is ‘differently’ (the participants in the religious ritual are ‘differently purified’) but it can also mean ‘pointlessly’, and that is how it is usually taken when the saying is read as a reductio of religious practice. The ambiguity, as generally in Heraclitus, is surely not accidental.14 The comparison with washing in mud demonstrates not the absurdity of the rite but the different logic that applies in the sacred context. Ritual purification is a different kind of washing, a kind that would be nonsensical or ‘pointless’ in the secular context where it would be like bathing in mud, and the claim to have been cleansed by a human agent in that way would be insane. Hence we shall read allo_s as ‘differently’ if we see it from the religious point of view (the purification works in a different way), and as ‘pointlessly’ if we see it from the human point of view (the purification is no use at all).15 The word itself changes its significance depending on the context or viewpoint of the reader, just as the rite of purification changes its significance when viewed as a sacred rite, or as a secular attempt at hygiene. Heraclitus implies that it is not insane for god to claim to cleanse us of the taint of blood that way, though the same claim from a human would be mad. The second part of fragment B5 is about prayer. The worshippers, we are told, pray to the statues in a manner that is somehow analogous to talking to houses: And they pray to these statues, as if someone, who knew nothing of what gods or heroes are like, were to converse with the houses.16 Once again the analogy has been taken as a reductio of religious practice. Praying to statues, Heraclitus would be saying, is about as effective as talking to houses. But again it can be read another way. Notice that it is the one who does not understand the nature of gods and heroes who talks to the houses. This implies that if we understand what a god is we shall understand how the ritual of praying to statues works and why it is not a matter of talking to some old stones, whether sacred or secular. Heraclitus observes that what we do when we pray is absurd if considered from a non-religious viewpoint: someone who had no understanding of religion might try to achieve the same effect by talking to houses, and that would be to miss the point. Talking to stones makes sense if you understand about the gods, and not if you do not. Both parts of fragment B5 can thus be taken to suggest that the meaning of religious rites is given by their religious context and cannot be judged on the logic of everyday secular practices. The same actions are either sense or nonsense depending on whether they are sacred or secular. This kind of observation about the contextual dependence of significance is familiar in many other Heraclitean sayings:17 sea water is pure for fish and impure for humans;18 the road up and the road down is one and the same;19 the actions of cutting, burning and inflicting pain are good when performed in a case of surgery, and bad in a case of torture.20 In fragment B5 the one who does not understand what gods and heroes are will try to converse with stones. Conversation is, of course, part of the human way of life, and we know exactly what will be involved in making a successful job of it. One prerequisite will be that the conversation takes place with another living human person, and not a stone wall or an empty dwelling. Similarly washing is part of the human way of life, and it is essential that we wash away the dirt with something other than the very dirt we are removing. The parallels drawn in fragment B5 presuppose that the divine way of life is the same as the human way of life, and they point out that it does not make any sense when treated like that. So the theological error of one who takes the religious rite as a confused attempt to perform a simple human task is that of transferring human expectations into the divine context in which a different kind of behaviour makes sense. It is a kind of anthropomorphism. The ordinary people take the human way of life as a standard by which to judge activities that belong to religion. That may be what Heraclitus is saying when he cryptically comments, in B119, e_thos anthro_po_i daimo_n: ‘the way of life for humanity is humanity’s god’.21 In other words ordinary people fail to see that religious rituals operate in a different way from secular (human) habits and tasks, and that religious activities belong to another ethos in which those activities make sense. Failure to understand ‘what the gods and heroes are’ makes them see the religious activity as another human activity, but one that emerges as nonsense in the context of the human ethos that has become their god. There are, then, two ways of life, that of religion in which we wash off blood with blood, and that of the human in which we do not converse with stones. In fragment B78 Heraclitus observes that the human way of looking at it has no sense: The human way [e_thos] has no sense [gno_mai] but the divine way does.22 We might take this as a comment directly attached to fragment B5 in which case it concludes that washing off blood with blood does make sense so long as we recognize the divine way of life that gives it its sense; but there is no sense in the practice if it is viewed within the ethos of human activities. This leaves open the possibility that Heraclitus means that each kind of activity makes equally good sense, provided it is seen in its context, and the rationale of that ethos is respected. That position accords with Heraclitus’ idea that a unified rationale (the logos) can be seen to underlie all our shared life and language, and to be in agreement with itself even where it appears to be different.23 Less satisfactory is an alternative interpretation which would give fragment B78 general significance, as an observation that in every circumstance the practices that depend upon the human or secular way of doing things are senseless, and that sense lies only in the divine way of doing things. The divine way of doing things is the religious or sacred rationale of ritual and sacrifice, in which we wash off blood with blood. Then Heraclitus would be saying that whereas ordinary people judge on the basis of the human ethos and find the sacred rituals to be nonsense, in fact the sacred is where sense is primarily located: those rites are not pointless but significant. On that account any sense that human practices have must be parasitic or derivative from the sacred practices that belong to the divine custom or logos and are expressed in shared human customs; yet it becomes unclear then why the secular practices should develop a different way of doing things, since, as Heraclitus says in B114, all human customs are nourished by the one divine way of doing things.24 It therefore seems more appropriate to read fragment B78 with fragment B5, as saying that neither the sacred nor the secular is a privileged context: both are equally good reflections of the one underlying rationale that makes sense of all things, but an action only makes sense within its own context. What we must not do is forget the difference, and judge an action in the terms of the wrong ethos. Fragment B15 is an observation about the rites held in honour of Dionysus, a divinity associated with an exuberant style of religious experience: If it were not Dionysus for whom they held the procession and sang the hymn to the shameful parts, they would be performing the most shameless deeds…25 The festivals of Dionysus included a number of rituals that might be considered shocking. Heraclitus mentions particularly the procession of the phallus and the associated hymn, though the rest of the fragment also mentions the Dionysiac frenzy. But here it is not that such action would be shocking in a secular context but that the propriety of the actions is restricted, even within the religious sphere, to the honour of a particular deity: what is appropriate for Dionysus would not be done for Hades, god of the dead. Hence the context in which the same action is shameful or shameless is given not by whether we do it in a religious context but whether it is the right religious context. In fact, however, Heraclitus goes on to say that Hades and Dionysus are one and the same: But Hades is the same as the Dionysus for whom they rave and celebrate Lenaia.26 Now we cannot infer that one kind of rite suits one god and another another. The two gods in this case are one and the same. So is Heraclitus objecting to the variety of rituals? I think not, for elsewhere Heraclitus tells us that two things are ‘one and the same’:27 not only the road up and the road down,28 but also day and night29 and the beginning and the end of a circle.30 In none of these cases do we have to suppose that because two things are ‘one and the same’ they must demand the same response. We approach the uphill struggle differently from the same road taken as a downhill stroll, and what we do at night differs from what we do in the day, however much it simply depends on whether the sun is in our part of the sky whether the same hours are night or day.31 Heraclitus’ point is rather that, as he claims in B51,32 things can differ while agreeing with themselves: something that is fundamentally the same is viewed under different aspects (as day and night, as up or down) and consequently merits and receives different responses appropriate to each. So what are we to learn? The procession they perform for Dionysus is appropriate to Dionysus and would be inappropriate in the funerary contexts we associate with Hades.33 You cannot do for Hades what you do for Dionysus. But that need not mean that Hades and Dionysus are two different deities. One and the same god, viewed under two different aspects, may merit two wholly different kinds of rite and response and Heraclitus may be denying that the deities thus worshipped are themselves different entities, (or he may be simply observing that we can and do regard them as a unity without difficulty).34 Thus Heraclitus does not ridicule the religious practices that belong within religion and to particular deities within religion; he argues that they make sense only within their context, and that the judgement of what is or is not right depends on understanding that context. Nevertheless the tone of his sayings is mocking, particularly in its use of the third person plural: ‘they purify themselves’, ‘they pray to statues’, ‘they perform the procession’. Heraclitus does not say ‘we’ do these things. Evidently Heraclitus, as elsewhere, is claiming that the ordinary people are confused over the most obvious things, even when the evidence is before their very eyes.35 If it is ‘they’ who do these things, then Heraclitus plainly thinks that ‘they’ are in a muddle. However we need not suppose that the muddle is in the religious practices themselves. The muddle is apparently in people’s understanding of the significance of the ritual: they do not see that the rationale of the ritual is distinct and peculiar to the sacred. Someone who fails to understand what gods and heroes are fails to see that the same action is a different action, with a different kind of point, in a sacred ritual, or in the rites of one particular god. Ordinary religion may be confused, not in its recognition of the sacred as a distinctive context, for that is quite proper, but because it fails to appreciate that it is the distinction of context itself which accounts for the distinctive significance of religious rites. The failure in religion would then be the failure of its adherents to appreciate what they were actually doing;36 and that fits with Heraclitus’ view that ordinary mortals generally fail to see what they are doing in the common way they live their lives, use their language and perceive what is obvious and familiar.37 They go through life as though they were asleep.38 They engage in the religious rituals, but they fail to grasp what gives them significance.39 CUSTOM AND SHARED PRACTICE Those who speak with sense [xun noo_i legontas] ought to rely on what is common [xunos] among all things, just as a city relies on custom—and much more reliably; for all human customs are nourished by one custom, the divine one. It exercises as much power as it likes, and is sufficient for all and more besides. (B114)40 Therefore one should follow what is xunos—that is, what is common, for xunos means ‘common’—but although the logos is xunos most people live as though they had their own wisdom. (B2)41 Custom and established practice is a shared feature of the life of mortals, and with language (logos) it contains the key to understanding the rationale (logos) of everything, according to Heraclitus.42 There is no reason to suppose that customary religious practice is excluded from the shared customs to which people should owe allegiance and for which they should fight as a city fights for its defending wall.43 It seems highly unlikely that Heraclitus is suggesting any kind of rejection of the customary beliefs and practices; it is far more in keeping with his ideas to suggest that we should look at those practices in a new light and see for ourselves how they illustrate the universal principle that what is fundamentally the same acquires significance in a variety of contexts. This is perhaps one aspect of the notion that human customs, which rightly command our allegiance, are nourished by a single universal divine custom (or law, nomos):44 For all human customs are nourished by one custom, the divine one… (B114) Human practices and customs may vary from city to city, but that again will be simply a feature of the unity in diversity, the context-dependent significance of human practices. It need not mean that they do not cohere with a single underlying rationale that accounts for the significance of everything, however apparently diverse. The ‘divine custom’ here seems to be that universal rationale, and, as was suggested in the identification of Hades and Dionysus, so here too, in B114, it is said to be one.45 This point precisely coheres with the sense of B67 which claims that God is ‘day, night, winter, summer, war, peace, satiety, hunger…all the opposites…and it changes like when [something] is combined with spices and is named according to the savour of each’.46 There may be one god, but we give the one god a name according to the context we encounter it in —a context which is not in any way illusory or mistaken, but which quite properly transforms the significance we find in it and the name we consequently apply to that god. Heraclitus shares with Xenophanes an interest in the varieties of ritual representations of the gods. Perhaps he is not far from Xenophanes when he wants to say that what are named as two are ultimately just one god; but he does not think that recognizing this truth will involve rejecting the variety of religious practices, although people may sometimes mistake their significance. Thus adherence to shared practices and forms of life, whether religious, linguistic or any other kind of human custom, need not, in Heraclitus’ view, be rejected, nor need it undermine his fundamental claim that there is just one common rationale that underpins the sense of the whole system. Indeed it is by adhering to, and defending, the shared life of the religious and linguistic community that we shall avoid turning aside into a private world of our own in which nothing has any sense. ‘Heraclitus says that for those who are awake there is one common world, but among the sleepers each one turns to a private world’ (B89).47 It is clear that being awake to the significance of shared customs and practices is the same thing as being awake to Heraclitus’ own message. THE LOGOS With this logos which is for ever human people are out of touch [axunetoi] both before they hear it and once first they have heard it; for although all things take place in accordance with this logos, they are like beginners experimenting with both words and practices such as these that I am going through as I divide each thing according to nature and say how it is. But it eludes other people what they are doing when they are awake, just as it eludes them what they do when asleep. (B1)48 This important text, which stood near the beginning of Heraclitus’ work, suggests that ordinary people are unaware of what is going on, or indeed of what they are themselves doing, as though they were going through life asleep. What they are missing out on is ‘this logos’, but what exactly that might be is something of a mystery. We are told that it ‘is for ever (or always)’ and that all things take place in accordance with it; but it is also something that people hear, and yet fail to appreciate even when they have heard it. The word logos, which is etymologically linked to the word legein (to speak), can carry a range of meanings connected both with speech, rational discourse, sentence or word, and with logical reasoning, proportion, system, calculation, definition or explanation. It seems that Heraclitus has a point to make both about the rational coherence underlying our customary experiences of the world: their point or meaning, their explanation (something that is true and explanatory independently of Heraclitus’ own verbal expression of it) and about his own attempt to present that explanation as a discourse in words. It is Heraclitus’ presentation of the rationale underlying our shared world that we hear and yet fail to grasp; yet that rationale is something that we encounter in any case in all our actions and words, the actions and words that we fumble with as though we were beginners coming to a new subject. It is not really a new experience: it is the significance that has lain behind everything that has taken place so far in our lives. But we have encountered it in our sleep, so to speak, unable to take its meaning on board. The logos is the objective explanatory rationale of the world, which is presented in Heraclitus’ own logos, or discourse. It seems plain that it figures in that discourse both as the explicit subject (sometimes) of the argument and as the implicit message of it; for language and discourse is, like other shared practices, expressive of the common logos in its very structure. Thus we can ‘hear’ the logos, simply in virtue of hearing and understanding the language that Heraclitus and all the rest of us speak; though the understanding that would put us in touch with the logos is distinct from the understanding of the overt meaning of a text: Those who are out of touch [axunetoi], having heard, are just like deaf people; it is to them that the saying testifies that though present they are absent. (B34)49 Heraclitus distinguishes himself from the logos in a famous text: It is wise for those who have listened not to me but to the logos to agree that all things are one, Heraclitus says. (B50)50 The word for ‘agree’ (homologein) has often been recognized as a play on the notion of logos, together with the notion of sameness given by the root homo. One effect of understanding or hearing the logos is that wisdom follows and the hearer grants the coherence of the one universal logos. But why does hearing the logos not involve listening to Heraclitus himself? The point seems to be that we need to hear not merely what he says, but also the language in which he says it; the rational linguistic structure or form of life in which his discourse belongs, and which it implicitly expresses, can be ‘heard’ in what he says. It is that which tells us that what he says about the unity of the logos must be true. We could almost translate the text ‘If you listen to the way the language works, rather than to what I say, you will rightly acknowledge all things to be one.’51 EVERYTHING FLOWS It may be that the logos also has an explanatory role in the physical behaviour of the world. There is a long-standing tradition, from Plato onwards, that associates Heraclitus with a particular interest in change. In Plato’s Cratylus he is said to be committed to the thesis that everything flows and nothing stays still;52 in the Theaetetus he is caricatured as committed to such a radical thesis of total universal flux, that nothing whatever, neither a substance nor any of its attributes, stays stable long enough to be mentioned correctly by name, or to be said to ‘be’ rather than to ‘flow’ or ‘become’.53 In this situation truth becomes a meaningless notion and discourse is impossible. It is unlikely that the extreme flux doctrine developed in the Theaetetus is, or was even meant to be, true to Heraclitus’ own views. But this need not mean that there was nothing authentically Heraclitean behind the notion that everything flows. The most obviously relevant texts are a set known as the ‘River fragments’. These may be variants of a single Heraclitean saying or he may have said several similar things. For it is not possible to step twice into the same river, according to Heraclitus, nor twice to touch a mortal being in the same condition… (B91)54 Onto those who step into the same rivers different and different waters flow; and souls are exhaled from moistures. (B12)55 We step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and we are not. (B49a)56 The interpretations offered by those who quote the texts imply that Heraclitus was making an observation about the continuing identity of the human soul; there need not be material identity in the waters flowing down a river, yet we shall say that it is the same river. There is a sense in which we encounter the same individual twice, but if the individual is not in the same condition what is it that makes it the same person? The point may not have been linked to other change, but there is no doubt that Heraclitus also thought that other parts of nature underwent similar processes of change: Cold things warm up, the warm gets cold, the moist dries up, the parched gets damp. (B126)57 In particular he focused on some changes in which the material components did not remain: Always remember Heraclitus’ view that the death of earth is to be born as water, and the death of water to be born air, and of air fire, and the reverse. Bear in mind as well the one who has forgotten whither the road leads; and that people are at odds with the thing with which they are most constantly associating, the logos that directs all things, and the things they encounter daily seem strange to them; and we should not act and speak as if asleep…58 The first part of this extract seems to refer to processes of change in the natural world, processes in which, to Heraclitus at least, it appeared that the prior stuff was eliminated (‘died’) and a new stuff came into existence (‘was born’59); the second part again alludes to the inability of ordinary people to detect the logos in the everyday things they encounter. It seems that one aspect of the systematic and coherent logos appears in the regularity of systematic change in the natural world, even where discontinuity seems evident. This system, one and the same system of all things, no god, nor any human being made it, but it always was and is and will be an ever-living fire, catching light in measures and extinguished in measures. (B30)60 Sea is poured off and is measured out to the same proportion [logos] as it was formerly, before the birth of earth. (B31b)61 All things are in return for fire and fire for all things, like goods for gold and gold for goods. (B90)62 Two important features emerge from these texts: first, there is a logos, a measure or proportion, which is fixed and regular in the processes of natural change; and second, this measure is independent of material continuity and is based on some kind of continuity of exchange value, as in the image of the buying and selling of goods for gold. When we purchase something for money we do not retain anything of the same product that we owned before. We no longer have the gold; we have the purchased item instead. But the purchased item can then be returned, and we can get the money back. What remains through the exchange is not the material item, but the value of the goods measured by an independent standard. Thus Heraclitus can maintain that the discontinuity in the changes observed in the world is structured by a system of measured proportion, the logos that ensures that what we have after the change is, in the sense that matters, the same value: it is measured to the same logos. He can affirm that everything flows in radical change where no material substance remains, and yet there is a coherence and unity to the changing world. The suggestion that no material substance persists marks a radical break with the older Ionian tradition which sought to find unity behind the changing processes in the form of a single underlying stuff that was preserved through change, manifesting itself in different forms but essentially retaining its identity. For Anaximenes everything is a form of air, varying only in its density. For Heraclitus it does not matter if air ‘dies’ completely and fire is born from its ashes. We can still retain a sense that the world has a continuing identity, like the identity of a river whose constant flow of new water is what makes it a river. None of the fragments implies that fire persists through the changes. In B30 the fire is said to be regularly being extinguished in measures: presumably those parts are then not fire. Thus to say that the system as a whole always is a fire is only to say that all of its material serves as fuel, and some parts of it are periodically alight, not that all of it is continuously fire, even the parts currently extinguished. The role of fire is as a standard measure (as we use gold for currency) and this gives it a fundamental or basic place in Heraclitus’ system without committing him to the view that every part is always fire, just as our use of gold as a standard monetary measure means only that the paper money, the numbers on the bank statement, or the purchased goods, can all be cashed in for gold, not that they are all gold in disguise. The widespread assumption that Heraclitus believed that fire was an element or substrate of all things is, I believe, a mistaken inference from its role as the canonical measure. It is therefore important to observe that Heraclitus’ theory is not like the modern notion of ‘energy’, which corresponds much more closely with the ideas of Anaximander and Anaximenes.63 For Heraclitus the things we meet with are not manifestations of a universal stuff (energy) which we encounter in its various guises and never gets destroyed but is always ‘conserved’. For Heraclitus the important point is that the elements do get destroyed. They are not just fire in another guise. In fact it is important that they are not fire, just as it is important when I buy bread with my copper coins that I do not keep my copper coins in any form. I get a different item in return. The purchase of bread differs from the process of making bread out of flour, water and yeast, because I do not get back what I put in. What remains is not in any respect a material ingredient, or energy transmuted into another form. The only constant is the measure or value, the logos, which means that my coins could have purchased your large loaf just as well as they purchased mine; nothing in the matter paid in will determine which item is acquired, nor will I get precisely the same coins back if I return my goods. THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES In his comments on the significance of religion Heraclitus drew attention to the significance of context in accounting for the variety of practice in the sacred and secular spheres. One and the same action can be either insane or sensible, depending on where it belongs; and an action that is shameful in one context may be proper and pious for another purpose. When we say that it is one and the same action, we need not, of course, mean that it is numerically identical: the action of washing off blood with blood may occur at one time in one context and at another time in another. They are two examples of the same kind of action. But as Heraclitus observes, the two examples may carry very different significance; so we might ask whether they are the same action. In other cases, however, a single example may be perceived to have two different kinds of significance. We saw with the word allōs in B5 that an ambiguous term may mean two different things depending on the way the reader takes it: for the unbeliever it means ‘pointlessly’; for the believer it means ‘differently’. The same is true of the road uphill and the road downhill: for a traveller at the top of the hill the road is a downhill stroll; for the traveller at the bottom it is an uphill struggle: ‘The road up and down is one and the same’ (B60).64 It seems clear that Heraclitus’ interest in context-dependent significance is linked to his interest in continuity and identity through change. In both he is concerned to show that the kind of unity or identity that is determined by the logos does not depend upon material continuity, nor does opposition or diversity of significance depend upon material discontinuity. The same item, such as the road, can carry a different significance to another observer, while on the other hand a significant continuity can be preserved for two items that elicit varied responses, such as the day and the night, or sea and earth. The explanation of identity must be sought not in a material substrate, but in a more complex account of observer-related or context-dependent significance. Some of the opposites mentioned by Heraclitus are substantive nouns, such as those attached to god in fragment B67 (day, night, winter, summer, hunger, satiety); others are expressed as adjectives expressing relations or attributes or evaluations of things, such as up, down, good, bad, pure, impure, straight, crooked and the like. We might think that these were two different kinds of items, since nouns name things while adjectives say something about the properties of things, and it might be tempting to suppose that the kind of opposites that are attributes or relations or values would be more likely to be context-dependent. But it should be noticed that neither set is a set of material entities; nor are the ones identified by nouns more absolute or objective than the others: the classification of hours as day or night, or the classification of months as winter or summer, implies a certain response or attitude to the significance of those items for our own activities and for our lives.65 The connection between the two sets of opposites can be seen if we look at the notion of slave and free: War is both father and king of all, and it has revealed some to be gods, some human; it has made some slaves and some free. (B53)66 To be human is to be a slave or a free person. But which you are depends upon your status, your position in society. In this respect you are made a slave or free: it is war that makes us slaves or free. So does the term ‘slave’ identify what the individual is, or some attribute or evaluation of the person? The term can be either a noun or an adjective; it can point out a person, or it can say something about the person. But what is there to the person, other than an identity within a particular society? Where you belong and who you are seem to be defined by a range of roles that acquire their significance in your relations to others. Indeed perhaps we cannot ask who you are, or whether you are the same person, unless we have in mind some society within which your identity matters. Thus your identity is defined not by your physical constitution but by the significance of your place in society. What and who you are is context-dependent, determined by the circumstances of a human way of life, the conventions of warfare and of society. It is not a fact given independently of the value judgements of social convention, but is itself wholly bound up with those forms of significance. Hence it seems that there is no independent set of self-identical entities. Identity, similarity, difference, opposition are all determined by the significance acquired in context. The doctors, Heraclitus says, while cutting, and burning, and torturing sick people badly in every way, demand a fee from the sick, unworthy though they be of anything, engaging in the very same practice—both good things and diseases. (B58)67 In so far as we can grasp the general gist of this saying, it appears that the activities of the surgeons and doctors, carried out in the sick-room for the cure of diseases, are regarded as a benefit and merit a fee from the victim, while the same practices carried out in the torture room or in any other day-to-day context, would certainly not be worth paying for. Indeed we should disapprove all the more if the deeds were inflicted upon a weak or sickly individual. In these circumstances the surgeon’s techniques would actually produce an illness, not cure one. Thus just as ritual purification makes sense only within the ritual context, so the action of the doctor is worthy only in the sick-room. The same actions cannot be judged out of their proper context. What they are, and what they achieve, depends entirely on that acquired significance. What counts as good and worthwhile depends upon who we are: donkeys prefer rubbish to gold (B9);68 pigs wash in mud; farmyard birds wash in dust (B37);69 cows are most happy with vetch (B4).70 Something similar may lie behind the curious observation that corpses are more to be discarded than dung.71 Whether dung is worth saving depends on what you need it for; most of us have good uses for it. But we are less likely to put our dead bodies to good use, so why do we treat them with such respect? Transferred out of context the value placed on dead bodies looks inappropriate; but they do have a place in our ritual lives. We see here the same kind of analysis of ritual practice as we identified in fragment B5: an attempt to show the significance of the ritual context by pointing to the incongruity of the practice if viewed in the context of the ordinary secular or human ethos. For cases of natural change Heraclitus uses the language of living and dying to express the transformation that brings an end to one stuff and introduces another. We have seen that that must mark a total material discontinuity, with the constant factor lying in the measure of exchange governed by logos. Does the same apply in the case of the human individual? If we are right in suggesting that the important continuity is not material identity, we shall not expect Heraclitus to mention a material soul. What interests him more is the changing significance attached to an individual in the course of life and death: The same [inside] living and dead, and what is awake and what is asleep, and young and old: for those change and are these and these change again and are those. (B88)72 In these circumstances we need not expect Heraclitus to be bothered by the discontinuity evident in the death or decay of an individual body. The changing significance of life and death, for the individual concerned, is no different from the change from winter to summer, or from Hades to Dionysus: our response will be different, because we are encountering a different experience, just as adding a new spice to something makes it taste different (B67). But the significance varies with the change of context, and the discontinuity is less important than the continuing pattern ensured by the underlying logos, which is the essence of identity and continuity in a world of material flux, and contextdependent significance. Indeed if we are constantly breathing out a new soul,73 it clearly will not be the material continuity of an enduring soul that ensures our continuing identity, even within life. So it seems that what we are, if indeed we are a single individual through the changes from young to old, slave to free, and living to dead, is neither an unchanging body, nor an unchanging soul.74 Evidently we must find our identity in a pattern of changing experiences that is systematic, and ultimately secured by the unity of the logos, for which there need not be any one essential item that remains to constitute the identity. My experiences as a youngster were not your experiences, and my life is not like yours now; but my story fits together as a continuous sequence, and although my story will be different from yours, like yours it will be unbroken through to death. The sequence of that story is a sequence of changing events, but it is uninterrupted; it has no gaps; there are no absences, except in sleep and those are filled by the experiences of sleep and dreams. Thus we can envisage that story going on, still uninterrupted into death, since there is no reason to suppose that the changes will cease, just as the cosmic story of the world continues uninterrupted, even though the elements change from one to another. Hence Heraclitus can maintain that there is continuity under the systematic measured rule of the logos, even where no permanent item remains. What we eventually encounter in death will not, of course, be more of the same experiences as we encounter in life; for then it would be life, not death. Whatever the events might be, they would have a totally distinct significance for us, just as what we encounter in our sleep has a different significance for us from our waking experiences, and what we do in religious rites differs in its rationale from what belongs to secular human behaviour. What remains for humans when they die are things such as they neither hoped for nor thought of. (B27)75 We cannot imagine what it would be like to be dead, placed as we are in the context of a life in which all the thoughts and experiences have their significance defined by that life, the absence of which would be death. While life and death are contrasted in this way there is still, for Heraclitus, a fundamental connection between them. This connection is expressed in the structure of language, in the fact that the word for life (bios) is also one of the names for the bow, an instrument of death. The coherence of these opposites is thus evident in the systematic ambiguity of language, one of the shared practices that expresses the systematic logos: ‘The name of the bow is life, its function death’ (B48).76 Whether the word carries implications of life or death will be determined by its context in language, and that fact reflects the context-dependent significance of life and death as features of our human ethos. Aristotle knows of a tradition which suggests that Heraclitus denied the law of non-contradiction: It is impossible for anyone to suppose that the same thing both is and is not, as some people think Heraclitus said. For it is not necessarily the case that what someone says is what he supposes.77 In Aristotle’s view it is not possible seriously to believe in a contradiction. He does not deny that that might be the effect of something Heraclitus says, but he denies that Heraclitus could seriously have held it to be so. Subsequently Heraclitus seems to have been adopted as an authority by the Sceptic Aenesidemus, and although it is unclear exactly what Aenesidemus found in Heraclitus that led him to suggest that the Sceptical method of doubt led ultimately to Heracliteanism, it is possible that his point was that the Sceptic will ultimately need to question even the law of non-contradiction, on which all earlier doubts were founded.78 What these traditions draw on seems to be the sayings we possess that stress the importance of seeing one and the same thing under opposed descriptions. Heraclitus was indeed concerned to draw attention to the contrasting significance of words and practices, and to say that we need not then suppose that what we thus perceived as opposed was not a unity. But Aristotle was probably right that, in stressing that aspect, he did not mean to say that there was a contradiction involved; rather he wants to say that the context is sufficient to give us opposition; indeed that it is the sole source of the contrasting significance of what is in other respects one and the same.79 HARMONY AND THE RECOGNITION OF WHAT IS OBSCURE The internal relation between features of apparently opposite significance is sometimes linked to the notion of ‘agreement’ and ‘logos’: It is wise for those who have listened not to me but to the logos to agree that all things are one, Heraclitus says. (B50)80 But another way of expressing the same idea is that of a harmony, or connection among things: They do not understand how in differing it agrees with itself: a backwardturning structure like that of a bow or a lyre. (B51)81 Exactly how the structure (harmoniē) of a bow or lyre illustrates the agreement in difference has been the subject of some discussion. One possibility is the equilibrium of tension between two opposing forces, another the technique of plucking or drawing the string in such a way that it springs back to the original position. The former is a more static image: a world in which equilibrium ensures continuity without radical change; the latter is more dynamic, capturing the idea of a world engaged in reciprocal change between opposing states. Hippolytus, after quoting this passage, goes on to tell us that for Heraclitus a harmony or connection that is not apparent is more powerful than one that is apparent (B54).82 Hippolytus’ discussion is concerned with the use of sense perception and the value placed upon empirical evidence, but it seems clear that Heraclitus had some claim to make about the internal connection between things that are, at the superficial level, unconnected, or indeed opposed. Indeed his point seems to be that that is the more important relation: that what appears obvious is not always the locus of the most profound and telling connections.83 It is not always by looking at things that appear immediately promising or rich in significance that we shall discover what is really important: those who search for gold dig up a great deal of earth and discover little (B22).84 A number of other matters are said to be particularly obscure or hidden: the logos of the soul, which we have seen cannot be located in a material identity, is one of them: You would not discover the limits of soul if you traversed every path; that is how profound its logos is. (B45)85 Nature is another.86 Discovering the truth is a matter of looking for something that is not obvious or expected, where you least anticipate it: You will not discover what is unexpected unless it is expected, because it is impossible to deduce and obscure. (B18)87 This is a connection or harmony among things that are not related by empirically observed continuity of material entities, the sort of continuity that we might deduce from accumulating data and predicting similar patterns. It is a connection that is context-bound, producing a varied significance of things that is not evidently predictable but derives from an obscure relation among words and things. In these circumstances the senses are not the most obvious tools for achieving an understanding of what matters; or rather the senses alone are not adequate for the job. The testimony of the senses can be positively misleading unless we can grasp the significance of the evidence they give. This seems to be the claim expressed in the curious saying The eyes and ears of those who have foreign souls are bad witnesses for people. (B107)88 A foreign (‘barbarian’) soul is one who cannot understand the message; perhaps one who cannot grasp the logos, the lingo, in which the sense perceptions are coded. This person, as it were, hears the sounds, but misinterprets what is said, so that the witness that is given turns out to be a false testimony, leading the hearer to believe a false account rather than the true logos that is actually encoded in the message of the senses when correctly understood. The message is some kind of riddle which, in the imagery of another fragment, cannot be understood by the blind: People are taken in as regards knowledge of things that are apparent, like Homer, who was wiser than all the Greeks. For some children killing lice fooled him by saying: the ones we saw and caught, those we left behind; but the ones we neither saw nor caught, those we are taking with us. (B56)89 The language of this riddle is rich with epistemological significance. Homer, who was traditionally blind, unfamiliar with what is apparent to the senses, is also blind to the significance of the riddle, because he cannot see that it is lice that the children are busy catching. But other people are also blind to the significance of the riddle, which is that the superficial evidence, that we see and grasp, is worthless and can be discarded; while the less obvious significance, what we carry with us in the internal structure of our language, our rituals, and the shared customs that we use but do not observe, is what is worth grasping, if only we could. THE ERRORS OF OTHER PEOPLE Much of the material that we have considered so far has included disparaging remarks about the inability of ordinary mortals to comprehend what is before their eyes. In fragment B1 the word for ‘out of touch’ (axunetoi), describing those who fail to comprehend the logos, appears to pun with the texts that stress the importance of what is ‘common’ (xunos). The word also occurs in B34: Those who are out of touch [axunetoi], having heard, are just like deaf people; it is to them that the saying testifies that though present they are absent.90 What the ordinary observer is out of touch with is that which is common, on which those who speak with sense (xun noōi) rely absolutely (B114).91 As in the case of those who blindly use their eyes and fail to grasp what is really important, so those who listen but fail to hear are like the deaf. It is possible, and indeed usual, according to Heraclitus, to use the senses but to fail to make contact with what is common, to go through life asleep, and to be out of touch with what one has heard. How, then, can one improve or gain understanding? Not, it appears, by means of learning from other supposedly wise people, for it is not only Homer who fails to live up to his reputation for wisdom, but also Hesiod: Hesiod is the teacher of a great many; they understand that he knew a great many things, though he did not recognize day and night. For they are one. (B57)92 and all the other well-respected authorities: Quantity of learning does not teach sense, otherwise it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, and again Xenophanes and Hecataeus. (B40)93 Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, was the most assiduous researcher of all mankind, and by excerpting from these writings he made his own wisdom: quantity of learning, bad practice. (B129)94 A consistent theme in these criticisms of the teachers respected by most is the notion that the quantity of things known is no guarantee of wisdom. Yet Heraclitus also seems to have said that ‘philosophical men have to be researchers of a very great quantity of things’ (B35).95 If the ‘philosopher’ here is a man of true wisdom there seems to be some conflict with the claim that the quantity of things known is no guide in the attainment of sense. An alternative way of taking this last text would be to suppose that Heraclitus is scornful of ‘philosophical men’; the term ‘philosopher’, if genuinely Heraclitus’ own, makes its first known appearance here. Such people, he might be saying, must, if they are to attain that status, engage in the kind of research that brings learning but no understanding. But that is not the kind of thinker that Heraclitus himself respects. It might be thought that Heraclitus respects only his own judgement: ‘I searched myself (B101);96‘Of those whose theories I have heard, none has attained this: to recognize that the wise is distinct from all things’ (B108).97Only one thinker is mentioned with respect, and that is Bias, one of the seven sages, but since little is known of him nothing can be deduced as to the grounds on which Heraclitus observes that ‘his logos is greater than the rest’.98 What can safely be deduced? Heraclitus does not hold that research of the normal sort practised by philosophers and poets offers a way to an understanding of the significant truth. There is one truth that all but a few fail to appreciate, and that is the independence of the one thing that is wise: its detachment from the great plurality of things into which these other thinkers enquire and the knowledge of which they amass with such enthusiasm. One thing, what is wise, to understand the sense in the way in which it controls all things through all things. (B41)99 POLITICS, VIRTUE AND GLORY Diodotus…says that the treatise is not about nature but about politics and what it says concerning nature is included as illustrative examples. (Diogenes Laertius Lives IX. 15) Even if we do not subscribe to Diodotus’ extreme view, it is evident that Heraclitus expressed some opinions on political matters. Predictably something goes wrong with politics if the choice of leader lies with those who are out of touch with what matters; Heraclitus explodes about the action of his own citizens in expelling the one man who was worth having: It would be worthwhile if the Ephesians were all hanged from the young men upwards, and left the city to the boys, since they expelled Hermodorus who was the most valuable man of them all, saying: Let not one among us be the most valuable; or else let him be elsewhere and among other people. (B121)100 What does Heraclitus mean by the ‘most valuable’? The point seems to be that the citizens have rejected the person who was most effective at the job, purely out of a concern that he should not stand out from the rest of them. Heraclitus’ observation that they might as well be hanged suggests not simply that they have done wrong, but that their life will now be not worth living, and the city would be as well off in the hands of youngsters. The faintly anti-democratic sentiment of this observation accords well with Heraclitus’ general estimate of the capacity of ordinary mortals to understand what matters, and is borne out by some of his other reflections: Have they any mind or intelligence? They believe the popular singers and take the crowd as their teacher, unaware that the common people are bad and few are good. (B104)101 Nevertheless it would probably be wrong simply to infer that Heraclitus is expressing a standard prejudice against popular rule. We need first to discover what it is that makes a man ‘good’ and why the rejection of such a man from the city is a major disaster. Heraclitus’ view of who counts as good or worthy of respect is developed along the lines of his own understanding of things. It is tied up with his estimate of what gives significance to justice, and value to the things that we ordinarily find choiceworthy in life. Value and significance depend upon a context in which the good things can be recognized and appreciated: ‘It is sickness that has made health pleasant and good, hunger satisfaction, toil release’ (B111).102 We value these things precisely because they come as an exchange from another situation, and it is the context of release from something unpleasant that makes those conditions desirable and appreciated. The opposites are related in such a way that we could not have the one without the other: release would not be release from anything if there were no toil or pain to be released from. We value it in those circumstances and in no others. It seems to follow that having too much of these ‘good’ things can result in the absence of any appreciable value at all. This probably explains Heraclitus’ enthusiasm for self-restraint: ‘It is not preferable for people to get whatever they want’ (B110);103 ‘Moderation is the greatest virtue, and wisdom is speaking the truth and acting knowingly in accordance with nature’ (B112);104 ‘All people have a chance to know themselves and be moderate’ (B116).105 But the real answer is to find what has an eternal value and will never depend upon a transitory context for its appreciation. There is only one source of such value that Heraclitus recognizes, and that is the honour of virtue that achieves recognition in everlasting fame among mortals. The best choose one thing rather than everything: everflowing honour among mortals; but the common people satisfy themselves like cattle. (B29)106 Honour is the best thing to choose precisely because it escapes from the contextdependence of other values, which are desirable only by contrast with some painful alternative and are confined to the temporal life of an individual with desires. Ordinary people, as Clement observes in interpreting this saying, measure their happiness by food and sex, the values of non-human animals. But virtue achieves a different kind of reward, one that extends beyond human recognition: ‘Gods and humans honour the war-dead’ (B24).107 Thus although Heraclitus certainly does not regard the values of the multitude as worthy of pursuit, he will not easily find anyone who is qualified to rule. Aristocracy, in place of democracy, will be the rule of the ‘best’, but the best are defined by their choice of honour or virtue as the only lasting value worthy of pursuit. ‘It is customary to respect the advice of one’ (B33);108‘One is ten thousand if he is the best’ (B49).109 Honour transcends context and the limitations of a single human life. What is morally right, on the other hand, seems at first to be defined by contrast with wrongdoing; Heraclitus observes that we use the term of approval (‘right’) in a context where we imply a contrast with some alternative: They would not have known the term ‘right’, if there were no such things as these. (B23)110 ‘These’ are, we presume (following the suggestions offered by Clement when he quotes the text), examples of wrongdoing or misdeeds. But Heraclitus is not content to leave morality in the same position as the utilitarian values of health, food and rest. Mortals may in practice define their notion of what is morally right by contrasting right with wrong, but in some sense this is an error. We can notice the reference to ‘they’ again, which generally accompanies a disparaging remark on the confusion of ordinary mortals. Perhaps, then, what is morally right does have absolute value that is not dependent upon a respite from an alternative range of evils, but mortals only learn to see it as the notion abstracted from the absence of certain identifiable wrongs. Yet there would, presumably, be a meaning for the word ‘right’ even were there no wrongs in the world at all. That seems to be so for god, because there are no such things as wrong for him. ‘Everything for god is noble and good and right, but humans have taken some to be wrong and some right’ (B102).111 Indeed this fragment suggests that our perception of evils as evils is observer-related: they are evils for us; and we confine the word ‘good’ to what is good for us. But that is to make goodness a merely human value. That mortal usage of right and wrong is out of line with the absolute value perceived from the god’s eye view. So whereas it may seem to us that we could not appreciate the value of goodness in itself without the presence of evil, that is not how things appear to one who correctly perceives what the absolute value of morality is. Like honour, then, what is absolutely right escapes from the context of temporal values, and has significance independently of any human observer.112 HERACLITUS’ STYLE AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LANGUAGE Heraclitus’ message is conveyed not only by what his words say but also how they say it. To hear the logos the listener must attend to the structure of language and social practice, and not just to what Heraclitus or others may choose to say about them. Heraclitus’ own use of language seems to be consciously designed to draw attention to the features that illustrate his theme. Some of these have already emerged since they contribute to the significance of texts we have been discussing. Many others are lost in translating the texts, because they depend upon juxtaposition of opposing words in such a way as to emphasize the tension between opposites (a possibility in Greek, which is an inflected language, but less easy in English where the order of words in a sentence determines their role). It will, nevertheless, be worthwhile collecting a number that illustrate two aspects of Heraclitus’ use of word-play: (a) play on words that suggests a link between two similar words; (b) playing with the grammatical structure and syntax of a sentence, or with ambiguous words, to elicit more than one meaning from a single text. Connecting Words of Different Significance Heraclitus links the notion of what is common (xunos) with the idea of speaking with intelligence (xun noōi legontas) in fragment B114; it seems that this theme extends through a number of other texts that pick up on the same kind of language: B113, in which he suggests that thinking is common (xunon) to all; 851, in which people are said not to understand (on xuniasin); and B34 in which those who are out of touch (axunetoi) are like the deaf, to mention just a few. It is clear that what is common (xunos) is what people need to be in touch with, or to understand, if they are to be said to speak or act with intelligence. Heraclitus is clearly drawing out this point, not so much by saying so, as by using the implicit connections between words of similar form to make his message apparent. A similar sequence can be detected in the emphasis on ‘agreement’ (homologein) which resonates with the word logos. Something that differs is said to agree (homologeei) in B51, while in B50 it is wise for someone to agree (homologein) that all are one, once one has heard the logos. Again Heraclitus does not actually say what the connection between recognizing the logos and agreeing is, but the language itself reveals the connection, just as it reveals the role of logos in ensuring that what differs is systematically connected in a tense structure like the bow or lyre. In B5 the participants in the ritual purification do so because they are polluted (miainomenoi). That is what makes the ritual a sensible one to engage in. But to the uncomprehending observer they are mad (mainesthai). They appear mad because they are engaging in more of the same action that caused them to be polluted. The connection between madness and pollution that is implicit in Heraclitus’ choice of language relates to the context-dependent nature of both judgements: whether one is mad, or polluted, cannot be decided without an understanding of the context in which one’s actions are taking place. Deriving More than One Significance from One and the Same Word Language neatly illustrates Heraclitus’ claim that context determines the significance of things. The word bios is one which he explicitly comments on (B48: The name of the bow is life, its function death) but there are others where the point simply emerges from the fact that we cannot tell which way to take a word. Some of these involve taking a word in more than one sense: one example was the use of the word allōs to mean either ‘differently’ or ‘pointlessly’ in B5;113 Heraclitus also seems to pun on the word ‘shameless’ (anaidestata) in B15, taking it to mean ‘un-Hades-like’ as well.114 Similarly in B57 Hesiod is said to be the teacher ‘of many’ (pleistōn) but the context suggests that we could take this either to refer to the many subjects that he taught, or the many people who were taught by him. Both ideas are found in the context, and both ways of reading the text make good sense. Other examples depend upon a word carrying not two different senses, but playing two different roles in the syntax of the sentence. The most famous is the word ‘ever’ in fragment B1, which can be taken with ‘is’ (‘with this logos which is for ever’) or with ‘human people are out of touch’ (‘human people are for ever out of touch’). Heraclitus places the word in such a way that it works equally well with either; and there is no doubt that he believes both claims to be true. There seems every reason to suppose that he wanted one and the same word to perform two different functions, and to enter both contexts, carrying a separate though related significance to each. We can find a very similar example in the fragment on pollution discussed above. In this text (B5) the word for ‘with blood’ (haimati) is placed between ‘tainted’ and ‘they purify themselves’ in such a way that it can function equally well with either. This draws attention to the fact that the people are purified with the very same stuff that they were first polluted with. Clearly it is important to Heraclitus’ message that one and the same word belongs in both contexts: ‘Tainted with blood, they purify themselves…’ and ‘Tainted, they purify themselves with blood…’115 Words and names can be significant, and clearly for Heraclitus their significance tells us a lot about the kind of non-material connections between things that make the world a place governed by a systematic rationale. But the significance of the words may still depend upon the surrounding context, just as the names for god can change with the ritual context we encounter him in. This is why Heraclitus can say that the name Zeus is both the right name and the wrong name: ‘One, alone, the wise, likes and dislikes to be spoken of by the name of Zeus’ (B32).116 Although the meaning of this saying is obscure, it implies that the name applied to the one, or the wise, does matter (it likes or dislikes certain names, presumably because they do or do not have the right significance), but there will not be one name that is consistently right. It would be an error to suppose that the god must only be Zeus and must always go by that name. In certain circumstances that may be the wrong name. Just as in the case of Dionysus the variety of appropriate ritual did not distinguish two separate gods, so the correct use of a name other than Zeus will not tell against a single sole being, the wise. Heraclitus does not explicitly discuss how language acquires significance in context, in the way that a modern philosopher of language might be expected to. But his handling of the language, and the claims he makes about significance in the more general sphere of human practices and social custom, indicate his commitment to the idea that language does not have meaning independently of the particular context in which it is used; indeed the same words in the same context may carry a plurality of meanings when read in a number of different ways, or by different readers with different points of view. Meaning is not fixed by the individual words, but is nevertheless governed by a system or rationale which explains how it can be open to various or opposed meanings, yet not become a meaningless flux of indeterminate sense. The lord who has the oracle at Delphi neither speaks, nor conceals, but signifies. (B93)117 The ‘lord’ in question is the god Apollo; his oracle was such that the Pythia, a priestess in a state of ecstatic possession, conveyed the god’s response to the petitioner. The god did not speak directly to the applicant, nor did he keep his answer wholly to himself or deliberately mislead; but the response he gave by way of the Pythia was not always easy to interpret. It might indicate the truth, but only if you could grasp the significance. One of the stories Herodotus tells is of Croesus who consulted the Delphic Oracle for advice on whether to pursue his empire-building strategy.118 ‘If you cross the river Halys you will destroy a great empire’ was the response he got. The response is ambiguous because the meaning of ‘a great empire’ is not fixed until we find a context within which it makes unequivocal sense. The petitioner is likely to assume that the god’s response functions in the same context as the question that was asked. In a conversation, in shared human language, we should gather the sense from the context within which the words were uttered, but the god’s response comes detached from any context. Hence Croesus can disastrously misunderstand the response by taking the empire in question to be not his own but that of his opponent. Why does Heraclitus tell us about the oracle? Plainly the polysemie language of the Pythian Oracle bears some resemblance to the polysemie language of Heraclitus’ own utterances, which play upon the multiple significance available to different readers, and from different syntactical construal of the phrases. But perhaps the difficulty of interpreting the oracle without a context to fix the sense, to make it speak directly instead of hinting at a meaning that is unobtainable, also tells us something about the way in which language is itself wholly dependent upon context for its shared significance as part of what is common; and thus the oracle alerts us to the way that language functions, and hence to the sources of unity and opposition to which Heraclitus hopes to draw our attention, if we could but hear what he has to say. NOTES 1 Heraclitus belonged to the city of Ephesus during a period when it was under Persian domination. He was probably of an aristocratic family, and he is likely to have lived in the latter part of the sixth century and early part of the fifth century BC. From fr. 40 it is evident that he is working in a period after Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hecataeus. He shows no knowledge of Parmenides, but there might be grounds for thinking that Parmenides alludes to Heraclitus (compare Parmenides B6.7 with Heraclitus B51 for example). 2 This feature adds to the difficulty, since when poetry is involved the metrical constraints can sometimes provide a key to reconstructing a reliable text, or more particularly determining which words are quoted and which paraphrased. Heraclitus does have a characteristic style (see below, ‘Heraclitus’ style’) which can sometimes be recognized in dubious quotations (e.g. the habit of placing a word so that it plays more than one role in the sentence, cf. B1), and some fragments retain the Ionic dialect forms, though the absence of these need not mean that a fragment is not authentic. 3 There is one relatively lengthy passage known as fragment B1, which appears to belong to the beginning of Heraclitus’ work. This is quoted by more than one ancient author, and implies that Heraclitus’ work circulated as a written prose treatise, though it is possible that the written version was not prepared by Heraclitus himself. Diogenes Laertius, whose life of Heraclitus is extremely unreliable, reports a story that Heraclitus deposited his book in the temple of Artemis in such a way that it would be inaccessible to the general public (Diogenes Laertius [3.12], IX.6). If there is any truth in this it implies that Heraclitus had charge of the written version of his own treatise. 4 See the excursus ‘On reading Heraclitus’ in Kahn [3.7], 87–95, and Osborne [3. 31], 1–11, 23–4. 5 The standard Greek text of the fragments is that of DK [2.2]. In this collection the fragments thought to be genuine are listed in section 22B. The letter B prefixed to a fragment number indicates its presence in this collection. The order of fragments in DK is primarily determined by the alphabetical order of the quoting authorities, a procedure deliberately adopted by Diels to avoid imposing his own interpretation in assembling a sequence of texts. Robinson [3.9] retains DK’s order. Kahn [3.7] rearranges the texts, but provides concordances to enable the reader to trace a particular fragment. 6 The Penguin Classics collection Early Greek Philosophy [2.6] translated by Jonathan Barnes carefully presents the fragments with some of the necessary material from the surrounding context, sufficient, in most cases, to enable the reader to get some sense of the basis for the writer’s understanding of the text. On the absolute necessity for paying heed to this context in any serious work on Heraclitus see Osborne [3.31]. The two recent editions of Heraclitus (Kahn [3.7], Robinson [3. 9]) are both seriously inadequate, in that they provide virtually nothing of the context for the fragments. 7 Thinkers condemned or criticized for impiety are usually revising the conventional theology rather than denying any place for divine beings. Anaxagoras (apparently condemned at Athens in c.430 BC) introduced a divine ‘mind’ as the governing cause of the way the world is. Socrates was accused of introducing new gods. His divine sign was perceived as a deity exclusive to himself, and hence constituted a kind of private religion that appeared as a threat to the community in a Greek polis. 8 Religion is mentioned as the last topic in Heraclitus’ book by Diogenes Laertius [3. 12] (Lives IX.5) but it is unlikely that the edition he knew was Heraclitus’ own. I deal with it first, partly to emphasize its place in his thinking, partly because the sayings on the subject are classic examples of his style of thought, and raise important issues of a general nature. 9 See below ‘The Unity of Opposites’. 10 On the rituals for homicide involving purification with blood see Parker [3.20], app. 6, 370–4. 11 Reading allōs with the manuscript and Kahn [3.7], Robinson [3.9], Marcovich [3. 2], rather than allōi (with further blood) which was an emendation suggested by Fränkel and adopted by Kranz in DK (5th edn and later). 12 The text is preserved entire in the Theosophia, an anonymous Christian collection of pagan material from c.500 AD; it is also paraphrased in some other texts, assembled by Marcovich [3.2], 455–8. The second part (quoted below) is also recorded by Celsus (apud Origen); see n. 16. 13 Kahn [3.7], 266; Robinson [3.9], 78; Burkert [3.19], 309; Parker [3.20], 371–2, for example. 14 See below ‘Heraclitus’ style”. 15 Heraclitus seems to use the word ‘human’ to contrast with god, whose method of purifying is the sacred one. In what follows I shall sometimes use ‘religious’ or ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ which is our normal terminology for the distinction he is making, sometimes ‘divine’ and ‘human’ which is Heraclitus’ terminology, e.g. in B78 and B119. 16 This second part of B5 is quoted not only in the Theosophia (see n. 12) but also by Celsus (preserved in Origan’s Against Celsus) and is discussed at some length by Origen. Celsus takes the fragment to be a comment on the correct use of religious images and its dependence on the believer’s proper understanding of the gods. Origen responds by hijacking the fragment for his own ends. 17 See below, ‘The Unity of Opposites’. 18 B61. The text is preserved by Hippolytus of Rome [3.13], a Christian bishop of the early third century AD, in the Refutation of all Heresies IX.10. This section of the Refutation tries to demonstrate that the heretic Noetus, like Heraclitus, confuses things of opposed significance. See Osborne [3.31], ch. 4. 19 B60. The text is preserved by Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX.10. See below, ‘The Unity of Opposites’. 20 B58. The text is preserved by Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 10. 21 Preserved by Stobaeus Anthology IV.40.23, Plutarch Quaestiones Platonicae 999, and Alexander of Aphrodisias On Fate 6. The fragment is peculiarly difficult to interpret; the interpretation offered by Alexander appears to cohere with that offered here, which, however, brings out a quite different sense from that normally put upon the text by recent scholars (‘a person’s character is his fate (divinity)’, Robinson [3.9], 69), but makes the most of the typically Heraclitean style with its ambiguous placing of anthrōpōi. The alternative readings with a genitive (anthrōpou or anthrōpōn), given by Plutarch and Alexander respectively (the former adopted by Bollack-Wismann [3.5]) retain the same sense. 22 From a summary of the quotations given by Celsus from Heraclitus on the subject of the difference between divine and human wisdom, included by Origen, Against Celsus, 6.12. 23 See below ‘The Logos’. 24 See below ‘Custom and Shared Practice’. 25 Both parts of B15 (see further below) are quoted in close connection by Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus II. 34.5. 26 This quotation is listed as the second part of B15. The Lenaia was a particular festival of Dionysus associated with ritual madness on the part of women. See Seaford [3.22], 239, 322. Heraclitus uses a rare verb (‘to Lenaia-ize’) to speak of the performance of these ritual activities. 27 See below ‘The Unity of Opposites’. 28 B60; see n. 19. 29 B57, ‘Hesiod is the teacher of a great many; they understand that he knew a great many things, though he did not recognize day and night. For they are one.’ The text is preserved by Hippolytus [3.13], Refutation IX. 10 (see n. 18). 30 B103. The text is preserved by Porphyry Quaestiones Homericae ad Iliadem XIV. 200. 31 Heraclitus probably thought the earth was flat, though the evidence is unclear (Diogenes Laertius [3.12], Lives IX. 11) but he may have been aware that the length of day varies from north to south, and he recognized that the hours of day and night are not absolute but determined by the presence or absence of the sun (B99 and cf. B57). 32 See below ‘Harmony and the Recognition of What is Obscure’. 33 anaidestata, ‘un-Hades-like’ as well as ‘shameless’ if we adopt the widespread view that there is significant word-play here (Kahn [3.7], 336 n. 390 with further references). See below ‘Heraclitus’ Style’. 34 The identification of Hades and Dionysus does not seem to be a peculiar doctrine of Heraclitus, nor does it commit him to monotheism. The evidence for a cult connection between the two is quite extensive, particularly in south Italy, and the dionysiac mysteries are associated with death rituals. See Seaford [3.22], 319–26; C. Sourvinou Inwood ‘Persephone and Aphrodite at Locri: a model for personality definitions in Greek Religion’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 98 (1978): 101–21, 109, repr. in Sourvinou Inwood ‘Reading’ Greek Culture, Oxford, 1991; Rohde [3.21], 159, 184 n. 7; Marcovich [3.2], 254; J. C.Carter ‘Sanctuaries in the chora of Metaponto’, in S.E.Alcock and R.G. Osborne (eds) Placing the Gods, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994:161–98. 35 B56, B57. See below ‘The Errors of Other People’. 36 Something similar to this conclusion was suggested by Guthrie [3.24], 476 on the basis of fragment B68. 37 B71–3. See below ‘The Errors of Other People’ and ‘Custom and Shared Practice’. 38 B89. See below ‘Custom and Shared Practice’. 39 This section of the chapter is based on a paper delivered to a conference of the University of Wales Institute of Classics and Ancient History and due to appear in a forthcoming volume of proceedings. 40 The text appears in a list of sayings from Heraclitus quoted without context by John Stobaeus, Anthology III. 1.179. Stobaeus wrote in the fifth century AD. 41 The text is quoted shortly after B1, (on which see below, ‘The Logos’) by Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematicos VII. 133, who says that Heraclitus adds this claim after a few intervening things. The opening words show that it concludes an argument that established the role of what is ‘common’ in determining the correct wisdom, conceivably B114. The text I translate, the one usually adopted by editors, follows a suggestion of Bekker since what Sextus Empiricus says is slightly garbled. The explanation of the term xunos is presumably by Sextus himself (a writer in the Sceptical (Pyrrhonist) school) for the benefit of his second century AD readers. He is discussing Heraclitus’ views on the criterion of truth and knowledge. 42 See below ‘The Logos’. 43 ‘The people should fight for their custom as if for a wall.’ (B44) The text is quoted by Diogenes Laertius [3.12] (third century AD), Lives IX. 2. He offers no interpretation. The word for ‘custom’ (nomos) can refer to formal legal provisions or to local established practice. 44 See above ‘Ritual and the Gods’, The text does not supply the word nomos after ‘divine’, but it is natural to understand it from the mention of human customs. An alternative translation would be ‘all human customs are nourished by the one divine thing’. 45 The ‘divine law’ mentioned in B114 is identified with the laws of nature by some interpreters, notably Robinson [3.44], 483–4. This restricts the divine law to the laws of behaviour of physical or material bodies; it makes Heraclitus a materialist, whereas the stress on human social practices and language suggests his interests lie much more in the non-material connections between things that have no physical link. 46 The text is preserved by Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 10 (see above n. 18). The word ‘something’ is missing in the text (unless there was no word there and ‘god’ is said to change); various suggestions have been made as to what is said to change when mixed with spices, the most popular being ‘fire’ (Diels’s suggestion). The point is clear in any case: an admixture of spices will alter the effect and the name of something itself unchanged. It is probably best to avoid a term such as ‘fire’ that carries theoretical significance. 47 Reported by Plutarch (AD c.45–120) De Superstitione 166C. 48 The text is known from two relatively reliable sources: Sextus Empiricus Advenus Mathematicos VII. 132, in the same context as fr. 2 (see above), and Hippolytus of Rome [3.13] in his ch. on Noetus Refutation IX. 9. The opening sentence is also discussed for its grammatical structure (in which ‘for ever’ can be taken either with what follows or what precedes) by Aristotle Rhetoric 1407b11. Both Aristotle and Sextus say that the text occurred at the beginning of Heraclitus’ book. 49 The text is preserved by Clement of Alexandria (AD 150–215) in his Miscellanies (V. 115.3), which is a work comparing Greek thought with Christian thought. He takes this text to express the same idea as ‘he that hath ears to hear let him hear’. Nussbaum ([3.37], 12) suggests that ‘the saying’ refers to what they say: their way of talking shows that they do not understand. See below ‘The Errors of Other People’. 50 The text is preserved by Hippolytus ([3.13] Refutation IX. 9), who appears to find in it an emphasis on the unity and agreement of opposite features. Robinson ([3.44], 481–3), in a characteristically physicalist move, reads the logos here as a kind of law of nature; see also Patricia Kenig Curd ‘Knowledge and unity in Heraclitus’, Monist 74 (1991): 531–49, at pp. 532–5. 51 The fragment (B50) can also be reads as alerting us to the objective truth of Heraclitus’ claims: it is not because it is his version but because it is independently true that it leads to assent. 52 Cratylus 402a, and cf. 401d and 411b. 53 Theaetetus [3.14], 152d and 179d–180a. 54 Plutarch On the E at Delphi 392B. The text is not necessarily wholly Heraclitus’ own words. Plutarch associates the text with the issue of personal identity. 55 Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica XV. 20.2, quoting Arms Didymus, quoting Cleanthes, quoting Zeno the Stoic to compare him with Heraclitus. The passage is concerned with the origins of souls, and takes Heraclitus to be referring to a constant flowing out of the soul (breath?) like a river that is always new and never runs dry. 56 Heraclitus Homericus (first century AD), Homeric Questions 24, who implies that he takes the text to be an allegory, but does not explain in what way. 57 Tzetzes Notes on the Iliad 126H; his main observation is that Heraclitus’ remarks are obscure. 58 Marcus Aurelius Meditations IV. 46, incorporating texts known as B76, B71, B72, B73. 59 ‘Fire lives the death of earth…’ in Maximus of Tyre’s version of B76; ‘The death of fire is birth for air…’ in Plutarch’s version; ‘The death of earth is to be born as (or become) water…’ in Marcus Aurelius‘ version. 60 Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies V. 14.104. Clement is developing an account of Heraclitus’ notion that everything is periodically consumed by fire (ecpyrosis). This was a standard Stoic reading of Heraclitus, but is often disputed in recent scholarship. It has been recently reaffirmed by Kahn, see his Excursus I ([3.7], 147– 53). This fragment implies that the system functions like a bonfire, in which any pan might catch light at any time. 61 This text belongs later in the same passage of Clement Miscellanies V. 14.104.5. He takes ‘sea’ to represent creation, which is then dissolved into fire periodically according to a regular system. 62 Quoted by Plutarch On the E at Delphi 388D-E.McKirahan’s alternative translation (‘as money for gold and gold for money’, [3.11], 124) makes little sense and will not support the interpretation he offers on p. 140, since chre ata (things) can mean money in the sense of property, but not coinage. There is, therefore, no way that this fragment can be taken to imply material persistence. 63 Pace Wiggins [3.45], 16. 64 Quoted by Hippolytus [3.13], Refutation IX. 10 (see above n. 19). In Diogenes Laertius [3.12] (Lives IX 9. 8–9) the road up and down is associated with two directions of change through the elements in the cycle of natural change. 65 We think of a month as winter or summer depending on what activities we can perform or how the land yields its fruit. Thus Heraclitus need not know of the antipodes to identify summer and winter as observer-related; the first month of summer for the arable farmer may still see the sheep in winter pastures for the hillfarming shepherd. 66 Quoted by Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 9, in the same context. 67 Quoted or summarized by Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 10 (the same context). The text is somewhat uncertain. 68 Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1176a5–8. 69 Columella On Agriculture VIII. 4.4. 70 Albert the Great On Vegetables VI. 2.14 (the saying is paraphrased in Latin). 71 B96, from Plutarch Quaestiones Conviviaes 669A, and other sources. 72 [Plutarch] Consolation to Apollonius 106E, who suggests that the implication is that death is always present. The text is difficult to make sense of as it stands, and the word for ‘inside’ may be corrupt. 73 Eusebius explaining B12; see n. 55. 74 See Nussbaum ([3.37], 158–62) on the notion of immortality without any material continuity. For her the implied answer to B27 (see below) is ‘nothing’, but since no significance for us depends upon material identity I do not see the need for this conclusion. See also Hussey ([3.41], 526–7). 75 Clement Miscellanies IV. 144.3, who compares Heraclitus’ view with that expressed by Socrates in the Phaedo. 76 Quoted to illustrate the meaning of the word bios by the Etymologicum Magnum s.v. bios. 77 Aristotle Metaphysics 1005b23–6. 78 Sextus Empiricus [3.15] Outlines of Pyrrhonism I. 210–12. 79 Barnes ([3.23], 69–74)is, I think, alone among recent scholars in taking Heraclitus to be seriously guilty of contradiction. 80 See above ‘The Logos’. 81 It is not clear what ‘it’ is. The context in Hippolytus, who quotes this after B50 mentioned above, implies that the two quotations are about the same thing. The neuter (‘it differs’) in B51 suggests that the subject is not the logos or the cosmos (both masculine), but other neuter subjects are available (the wise, B32; fire, B66; ethos, B78; unnamed neuter subject, B84a). The bow and lyre can be seen to belong together as attributes of the god Apollo, whose tendency to reveal and conceal illustrates the tension of opposites inherent in language, B93 (see below). 82 Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 9; the link with the mention of harmony in B51 is made by Hippolytus who had just repeated the second part of B51. 83 Compare also B8 (reported by Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1155b4): ‘Heraclitus says that opposition is convenient and that the finest harmony derives from things that differ.’ 84 Clement Miscellanies II. 2.4.2. 85 Diogenes Laertius Lives IX. 7. 86 ‘Nature likes to hide’ (8123), recorded by Themistius Orations 5.69b who links it with the notion of a divine harmony that is not available to human knowledge. 87 Clement Miscellanies II. 4.17.8. 88 Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematicos VII. 126, who suggests that a foreign soul is one who trusts in non-rational perceptions. Modern interpretations also take ‘foreign’ as metaphorical, but vary on exactly how. The view presented here is that the soul fails to understand the message of the senses; the alternative (which coheres with the stress I have placed on language as a shared practice) is that it fails to understand the significance of its own language (not, of course, that it is literally not a Greek-speaker); see Nussbaum [3.37], 9–12. 89 Hippolytus [3.13] Refutation IX. 9. My interpretation here differs in some details from [3.31], 162–3. See also Rethy [3.36]. 90 See n. 49. 91 See above ‘Custom and Shared Practice’. 92 Hippolytus ([3.13] Refutation IX. 10), whose interest is in the unity of day and night. See further below ‘Heraclitus’ Style’. 93 Diogenes Laertius [3.12] Lives IX. 1 who quotes the saying as evidence of Heraclitus’ arrogant contempt. 94 Diogenes Laertius [3.12] Lives VIII. 6, part of his account of Pythagoras’ written work. 95 Clement Miscellanies V. 140.5. Clement takes this to be a positive assertion of the need for knowledge in the search for the good. 96 Plutarch Against Colotes 1118C, who compares the text with the Delphic maxim ‘Know thyself’. 97 Stobaeus Anthology III. 1.174. 98 B39, cited by Diogenes Laertius [3.12] in his life of Bias (Lives 1.88). ‘His logos is greater’ may mean his theory is better, his reputation is greater, or his written work is more extensive. 99 Diogenes Laertius [3.12] Lives IX. 1. The text is uncertain and extremely difficult to translate. The opening words are identical to the first words of B32 (see below ‘Heraclitus’ Style’). 100 Diogenes Laertius [3.12] Lives IX. 2. 101 Proclus Commentary on the First Alcibiades 256.1–6. Proclus comments that Timon called Heraclitus ‘reviler of the mob’. 102 Stobaeus Anthology III. 1.177. 103 Stobaeus Anthology III. 1.176. 104 Stobaeus Anthology III. 1.178. 105 Stobaeus Anthology III. 5.6. 106 Clement Miscellanies V.9.5 9.4–5, quoted after a summary of B104. 107 Clement Miscellanies IV. 4.16.1. 108 Clement Miscellanies V. 155.2. 109 Paraphrased by Theodorus Prodromos as part of a compliment to his correspondent. 110 Clement Miscellanies IV. 9.7. I do not see any reason to agree with Kahn that there is a reference to a deity (‘justice’) in this text (Kahn [3.7], 201). Nor can he be right ([3.7], 185) that the term dike has a primary connection with penal correction; it is evident that its earliest meaning is for fitting and morally upright action. Morality is what is at issue. 111 Porphyry Quaestiones Homericae ad Iliadem IV. 4. Porphyry is discussing how the gods can approve of war and battle, and affirms that god sees to it that all things are in fact in accordance with goodness and what is right. 112 It would probably be anachronistic to complain that Heraclitus’ god fails to condemn moral evil. The point is probably more concerned with the partiality of human perceptions of evil, rather than the claim that nothing is offensive to god, however bad. It also accords with the sense that there is a measured plan to the whole system, which cannot go wrong in any way that ultimately matters. 113 See above ‘Ritual and the Gods’. 114 Compare also the use of logos in B39 (see n. 98). 115 See also B119 (n. 22) and B84b: To toil for, and to be ruled by, the same people is tiresome’, or ‘It is tiresome for the same people to toil and to be ruled’. (There are other ways of reading this fragment. See Kahn [3.7], 169–70.) 116 The text is preserved by Clement of Alexandria in the same context as B34 (see n. 49) and B33 (n. 108). His interest is in links with Christian ideas, here perhaps in implied monotheism and the acceptance of names other than Zeus for the supreme divinity. 117 Known from Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 404D and Stobaeus III. 199. Plutarch compares the god’s use of the Pythia to convey the response with the sun’s use of the moon to transmit its light. 118 Herodotus I. 53. BIBLIOGRAPHY Fragments are mentioned in the text by their number in DK [2.2], vol. I, section 22; the letter B indicates the fragments listed as authentic quotations in part B of that section. Part A contains testimonia (accounts of Heraclitus’ life and doctrine from ancient authors); I have cited such texts by the authors concerned, and not according to the DK collection. Translations are my own, and differ, usually in minor ways but occasionally radically, from those found in other collections. Where the variant translation makes an important difference I have tried to indicate the reasons in the text or notes. Original Language and Bilingual Editions 3.1 DK [2.2]. 3.2 Marcovich, M. Heraclitus, editio maior, Merida, Venezuela, Los Andes University Press, 1967. Full critical Greek text with textual commentary; also includes English translation of those fragments considered genuine by Marcovich. 3.3 Wright [2.5]. 3.4 Kirk, G.S. Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1954. Greek text (selected) with commentary and English translation. Bilingual Editions with Full Philosophical Commentary 3.5 Bollack, J. and Wismann, H.Heraclite ou la séparation, Paris, Les Éditions de minuit, 1972. Greek and French. 3.6 Conche, M. Héraclite: Fragments, texte établi, traduit, commenté par M. Conche, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1986. Greek and French. 3.7 Kahn, C.H. The An and Thought of Heraclitus, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1979. Greek and English. 3.8 KRS [1.6]. Includes selected texts in Greek and English. 3.9 Robinson, T.M.Heraclitus: Fragments, a text and translation with a commentary, (Phoenix suppl. vol. 2), Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1987. Greek and English. Editions in English Only 3.10 Barnes [2.6]. English translation. 3.11 McKirahan [2.7]. English translation with commentary. Ancient Discussions 3.12 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, vol. 2 of 2 vols, with an English translation by R.D.Hicks (Loeb Classical Library), Cambridge, Mass. , Harvard University Press, 1925. 3.13 Hippolytus of Rome Refutation of All Heresies, Greek text and English translation in C.Osborne, Rethinking Early Greek Philosophy, London, Duckworth, 1987 [3.31], 3.14 Plato Theaetetus. Greek text in Plato, vol. 1 (Oxford Classical Texts). English translation by M.J.Levett, rev. M.F.Burnyeat in M.F.Burnyeat, The Theaetetus of Plato, Indianapolis, Ind., Hackett, 1990. 3.15 Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Vol. 1, Sextus Empiricus, in 4 vols, with an English translation by R.G.Bury (Loeb Classical Library), Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1933. Modern Reception 3.16 Heidegger, M.Vorträge and Aufsätze, Pfullingen, Verlag Gunther Neske, 1954. 3.17 Heidegger, M. and Fink, E. Heraclitus Seminar, trans. C.H.Seibert, Alabama, University of Alabama Press, 1979; repr. Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University Press, 1993. Bibliography 3.18 Roussos, E.N. Heraklit-bibliographie, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1971. Background 3.19 Burkert [1.43]. 3.20 Parker, R.Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1983. 3.21 Rohde, E.Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, London, Kegan Paul, 1925. 3.22 Seaford, R. Reciprocity and Ritual, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994. General Discussions of Heraclitus’ Thought 3.23 Barnes [2.8], ch. 4. 3.24 Guthrie [2.13] I, ch. 7. 3.25 Hussey [2.14], ch. 3. 3.26 Ramnoux, C., Héraclite ou l’homme entre les choses et les mots, 2nd edn., Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1968. Studies of Particular Aspects of Heraclitus’ Thought Issues of interpretation, evidence and ancient reception 3.27 Barnes, J. ‘Robinson’s Heraclitus’, Apeiron 21 (1988): 97–104. 3.28 Cherniss [2. 26]. 3.29 Mansfeld, J. Heresiography in Context: Hippolytus’ Elenchus as a Source for Greek Philosophy, Leiden, Brill, 1992. 3.30 O’Daly, G. ‘Heraklit’ in Reallexicon für Antike und Christentum, vol. XIV (1988): cols. 583–62. 3.31 Osborne, C. Rethinking Early Greek Philosophy: Hippolytus of Rome and the Presocratics, London, Duckworth, 1987. Modern reception 3.32 Stern, D.G. ‘Heraclitus and Wittgenstein’s river images: stepping twice into the same river’, Monist 74 (1991): 579–604. 3.33 Waugh, J. ‘Heraclitus the postmodern Presocratic?’, Monist 74 (1991): 605–23. Perception and knowledge 3.34 Hussey, E. ‘Epistemology and meaning in Heraclitus’, in M.Schofield and M. Nussbaum (eds) Language and Logos: Studies in Ancient Greek Philosophy Presented to G.E.L.Owen, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982: 33–59. 3.35 Lesher, T.H. ‘Heraclitus’ epistemological vocabulary’, Hermes in (1983): 155–70. 3.36 Rethy, R. ‘Heraclitus fragment 56: the deceptiveness of the apparent’, Ancient Philosophy 7 (1987): 1–7. Psychology 3.37 Nussbaum, M.C. ‘in Heraclitus’, Phronesis 17 (1972): 1–16, 153–70. 3.38 Robinson, T.M. ‘Heraclitus on soul’, Monist 69 (1986): 305–14. 3.39 Schofield, M. ‘Heraclitus’ theory of the soul and its antecedents in psychology’, in S.Everson (ed.) Companions to Ancient Thought 2: Psychology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991:13–34. Other topics 3.40 Emlyn-Jones, C.J. ‘Heraclitus and the identity of opposites’, Phronesis 21 (1976): 89–114. 3.41 Hussey, E. ‘Heraclitus on living and dying’, Monist 74 (1991): 517–30. 3.42 Mackenzie, M.M. ‘Heraclitus and the art of paradox’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 6 (1988): 1–37. 3.43 Mourelatos, A.P.D. ‘Heraclitus, Parmenides and the naive metaphysics of things’, in E.N.Lee, A.P.D.Mourelatos and R.M.Rorty (eds) Exegesis and Argument: Studies in Greek Philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos (Phronesis suppl. vol. 1), Assen, Van Gorcum, 1973:16–48. 3.44 Robinson, T.M. ‘Heraclitus and Plato on the language of the real’, Monist 74 (1991): 481–90. 3.45 Wiggins, D. ‘Heraclitus’ conceptions of flux, fire and material persistence’, in Schofield and Nussbaum (see [3.34]): 1–32).
Routledge History of Philosophy. Taylor & Francis e-Library. 2005.
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HERACLITUS° — (c. 500 B.C.E.), Greek philosopher. Philo asserts that Heraclitus stole his theory of opposites from Moses, but condemns him for not believing in a divine agency beyond the world. Heraclitean views on the constant motion of all things and on the… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
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HERACLITUS — I. HERACLITUS fil. Blysonis, an Heracionis? philosophus Ephe sius, Σκοτεινὸς cogn. h. e. tenebricosus, propterea quod de industria adeo stylum obscuraret, ut eius scripta philosophi sudantes vix intelligerent: Cic. Plutarch. Lucian. Clemens Alex … Hofmann J. Lexicon universale
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Heraclitus — /her euh kluy teuhs/, n. ( the Obscure ) c540 c470 B.C., Greek philosopher. * * * … Universalium