FunHeraclitus of Ephesus: who was he, what was his...

Heraclitus of Ephesus: who was he, what was his thought and contributions to philosophy

Little is known of the life of Heraclitus of Ephesus. The truth is that he was a philosopher who could influence Plato’s naturopathic thoughts, since he was a great interpreter of the naturopathic movements.

Originally from Ephesus, Heraclitus was born in 540 BC and is situated within pre-Socratic Greek thought. Belonging to an aristocratic family, the main source that tells us about this philosopher is found through the Greek historian Diogenes Laertius , when in his Book IX on other philosophers of Classical Greece, he speaks of Heraclitus’ thought.

Philosophical thought

Heraclitus of Ephesus focused on analyzing nature as he saw it in his day. According to his thought, the world was not made by any god or by man, for him everything was eternal fire. Through this fire, once lit, it is extinguished thanks to the opposing elements, something that the philosopher calls war against the elements.

According to Pesocratic thinking, reality undergoes continuous changes, everything flows and, as a consequence, nothing remains. It is a fairly recurrent idea in other philosophers like Plato who, through his dialogues, introduced the idea of changing and non-permanent reality.

Heraclitus of Ephesus was a controversial philosopher as described by his disputes with other philosophers. Without going any further, Aristotle accused Heraclitus of denying the principle of contradiction when the author affirmed that things “are one and the same.”

Likewise, the thoughts of the Ephesian philosopher have been the subject of many interpretations over the years. Many define him as a philosopher of processes, others as a metaphysician and a religious thinker. Someone who denied this principle of contradiction and is listed as one of the first anti-intellectual philosophers.

Known as ‘The Dark One’

This thought, as we say, led him to confront many of the leading philosophers of the time and of Classical Greece. His treatises and enigmatic expressions earned him the nickname ‘The Dark One’.

Within his thought stand out several doctrines in which he was introduced to compose his idea of the world. These doctrines were:

  • The logos: nature is governed by the Logos, something similar to speech, reason or the word in Greek.
  • Opposites: the conflict of opposites and the theory that everything has an opposite. Light-dark, hot-cold, man and woman.
  • The change: Universal flow of the human being. “War is the father of all things.”
  • Fire: the symbolic expression of Heraclitus of Ephesus to explain perpetual becoming and the struggle of opposites.
  • Cosmos: the eternal fire. The universe is finite and the world unique.

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