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date: 28 June 2022


, son of Bloson of Ephesus, fl. c. 500 bce


, son of Bloson of Ephesus, fl. c. 500 bce
  • Martha C. Nussbaum
  •  and Malcolm Schofield


Heraclitus (1) (fl. c. 500 bce), son of Bloson of Ephesus. Of aristocratic birth, he may have surrendered the (honorific) *kingship voluntarily to his brother. He is said to have compiled a book and deposited it in the temple of *Artemis. The plentiful surviving fragments are mostly aphorisms, typically dense and cryptic. With implicit self-description, Heraclitus writes that the Delphic god (see delphic oracle) ‘neither says nor conceals, but gives a sign’. The fragments form a cross-referring network rather than a linear argument. Interpretation is never straightforward and virtually always contestable.At the beginning of his book Heraclitus says people do not understand ‘this logos’: by *logos he certainly means his own discourse, but perhaps simultaneously (some would disagree) rational discourse and thought in general, and the connected order in things that is there to be understood. Most people, he continues, go through life like sleepers, experiencing the world with little understanding, each lost in a private vision. Waking us up to the shared public order is what the challenge of Heraclitus's sayings is designed to effect. He gives advice on what to look out for: ‘Grasping things: wholes and not wholes, convergent divergent, consonant dissonant, from all things one and from one thing all.’*Aristotle charged Heraclitus with denial of the Principle of Non-Contradiction because he asserts that opposites (the way up and the way down, day and night, mortal and immortal, etc.


  • Philosophy

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