What we do in life echoes in eternity, or: There is much to learn from the pre-Socratic philosophers

Héraclite by Johannes Moreelse, c. 1630 (Public Domain vie Wikimedia).


The Fragments of HeraclitusThe Fragments of Heraclitus by Heraclitus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The introduction to this work is inevitably longer than the fragments themselves. What survives is a mish-mash of various interpretations and I daresay unreliable sources. What strikes me about the pre-Socratics, and Heraclitus specifically, is the melding of religion and reason in a way that the West would not mention when the modern cultural monolith seeks its origins in a part of the world where it is fine to claim mythic philosophical ancestry, yet it is despised when one's pedigree is pure. On the first page of the fragments, Heraclitus mentions the trouble with those who will not learn:
"III. - ...Those who hear and do not understand are like the deaf. Of them the proverb says: "Present, they are absent,"

IV. — Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having rude souls.

V. — The majority of people have no understanding of the things with which they daily meet, nor, when instructed, do they have any right knowledge of them, although to themselves they seem to have.

VI. — They understand neither how to hear nor how to speak.
This is not entirely a Western idea, for indeed, Confucius said, “When you see that [students] do something wrong, give them sincere and friendly advice, which may guide them to the right way; if they refuse to accept your advice, then give it up”.

Reading Heraclitus leads me to Pythagoras as my next venture into pre-Socratic philosophy, and also to Hesiod's Theogony. It would seem that there is much to learn from this period of history, and how it echoes down through the ages. 



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