Heraclitus

Heraclitus of Ephesus (/ˌhɛrəˈkltəs/;[1] Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, translit. Hērákleitos ho Ephésios, pronounced [hɛː.rá.kleː.tos ho e.pʰé.si.os]; "Glory of Hera" c.535 – c.475 BC,[2] fl.500 BC)[3][4] was an Ancient Greek, pre-Socratic, Ionian philosopher and a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire.

Heraclitus
Heraclitus, depicted in engraving from 1825
Bornc.535 BC
Diedc.475 BC (age c.60)
Notable work
On Nature
EraPre-Socratic philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolIonian, Ephesian School
Main interests
Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, cosmology
Notable ideas
Logos, fire is the arche, unity of opposites, "everything flows", becoming

His paradoxical philosophy and appreciation for wordplay and cryptic utterances has earned him the epithet "The Obscure" since antiquity. He wrote a single work, only fragments of which have survived, increasing the obscurity associated with him. Heraclitus has thus been the subject of numerous interpretations. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Heraclitus has been seen as a "material monist or a process philosopher; a scientific cosmologist, a metaphysician and a religious thinker; an empiricist, a rationalist, a mystic; a conventional thinker and a revolutionary; a developer of logic—one who denied the law of non-contradiction; the first genuine philosopher and an anti-intellectual obscurantist."[5]

Heraclitus was of distinguished parentage but he eschewed his privileged life for a lonely one as a philosopher. Little else is known about his early life and education; he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. He was considered a misanthrope who was subject to depression and became known as "the weeping philosopher" in contrast to the ancient philosopher Democritus, who was known as "the laughing philosopher".[6]

Heraclitus believed the world is in accordance with Logos (literally, "word", "reason", or "account") and is ultimately made of fire. He also believed in a unity of opposites and harmony in the world. He was most famous for his insistence on ever-present change—known in philosophy as "flux" or "becoming"—as the characteristic feature of the world; an idea expressed in the sayings, "No man ever steps in the same river twice", and panta rhei ("everything flows"). His use of fire may have been a metaphor for change. This changing aspect of his philosophy is contrasted with that of the ancient philosopher Parmenides, who believed in "being" and in the static nature of the universe. Both Heraclitus and Parmenides had an influence on Plato, who went on to influence all of Western philosophy.