Notes on what I'm reading

Friday, March 22, 2013

HoPwaG: Heraclitus

Heraclitus as having many features of the pre-Socratics
  • his basic cosmological principle: fire, as the others have their candidates for basic principle;
  • continues to take change and order as his explanandum;
  • logos (word, reason, account, measure, proportion) important concept in the major surviving fragment;
  • much evidence of logos, but people mostly unaware of it;
  • "all things are one"--a monistic thought (see later, Parmenides), i.e. all of nature as a whole, comprising multiple things;
  • unity of opposites: road up is the road down; gold is worthless (donkey) and valuable (human); only not being aware of logos leads people to be limited to their own perspective, so that only think of gold as valuable;
  • e.g. of vinaigrette, needs constant stirring to stay together--something like Heraclitus' view of world, that stability consists in change;
  • HoPwaG claim: flux interpretation of Heraclitus (from Plato) wrong--i.e. idea that what H. thinks is that everything changes and nothing is the same (e.g. Cratylus' "can't step into same river once", can't name things);
  • HoPwaG claim: modified aphorism, different waters flow over someone who steps in same river--so, again, vs flux interpretation, there is the same river, but what it consists in is change;
  • the story with fire: fire as being "exchanged" for all things and vice versa; analogy with currency (same basic thought as Anaximander's all things "paying retribution", with monetary rather than legal metaphor);
  • fire as important in account of soul; the soul is fire, on death turns into water (some people more fiery, others [e.g. drunkards] moister); perhaps based on idea of live bodies as warm; perhaps idea that breathe in fire from heavens (celestial bodies fiery); leads to abstract notion of fire, and again the monistic idea of humans as continuous with cosmos;
  • political thought: should protect (obey) laws of city as walls against siege; human laws given sustenance by law of gods--suggests set of absolute laws of justice, imitated by human laws;
  • note that have very different areas of philosophical inquiry tied together: what it is to be human being connected to human conduct, tied to a cosmological story.

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