, , , ,

Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared

Heraclitus (ca. 535-475 BC) of Ephesus (lat/lon 37.939 27.341) was the Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of the idea that the Universe is always the same but its details are always changing. He is the creator of the concept of dynamic equilibrium. His most famous statement is,  “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Heraclitus? Sculpture at National Museum Naples, Italy. (lat/lon 40.8535 14.2505)

Quotations derived from fragments of Heraclitus: Sources are Wikiquotes, EGS,

“The only permanent thing is that everything is changing.”

“Everything flows, nothing stands still.”

“You can not step in the same river twice because the water has changed and you too have changed.”

“The Universe is an entity out of which everything is created neither by gods nor by men, but exists of itself. It simply is and will remain as eternally vibrant energy, changing itself and becoming hot and cold in its due course.” “Man, like a light in the night, is kindled of the universe’s stuff and is in time put out.”

“He who does not expect and seek will not find out the unexpected, for the unknown is trackless and unexplored.”

“Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.”

“The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own.” We all live in one physical world, but in our dreams and our fantasy we have fewer restraints.

“The path up and the path down are one and the same path.”

“It is harder to control and subdue pleasure than anger.”

“Wine is more likely to reveal our foolishness than our wisdom.”

The collecting of many facts does not create wisdom, as the mind self-assembles the facts it receives based on its preexisting preferences and it will generate new wisdom out of new experiences. A baby’s mind has an infant wisdom that when exposed to facts generates a child’s wisdom, that in turn when exposed to facts generates the adolescent’s wisdom and so on. Every individual is exposed to a multitude of different experiences and his accumulated wisdom may grow in different ways.
Every moment of an individual’s life is a new wisdom coming into being influenced by all of those that went before. Thus, the Proverb, possibly coined by Imhotep, “First get wisdom, and then with all thy getting get understanding.” is of crucial  importance for generating a successful human being. The recommended procedure is to get your wisdom’s perceptive apparatus properly aligned with the reality you will be encountering, before you collect the factual data you will need to cope with your future needs. The computer cliche, “Garbage in, garbage out!” is a crass restatement of that ancient proverb, and thus we should be very careful not to let garbage come into our wisdom-growing cycle.

Hericlitus says, “A man’s character is his fate.” but I would add that most of a man’s character is generated by what he chooses to expose himself to, and how he chooses to respond to what happens to him, and how he chooses to generate his personal wisdom. It is the dynamic clash of forces that creates opportunities for his growth.

“The path up and down are one and the same.” There is a beginning and a end at both ends of a path; but paths have many junctions; although we may have only one beginning we may end up at an infinity of destinations. Only the paths returning to the source are limited.

“He who does not expect will not find out the unexpected, for the unknown is trackless and unexplored.” By carefully watching the ordinary we may observe the unusual and discover the extraordinary.

Choose your destination and your paths will be exposed.