Ancient Greek Philosopher (~ 500 B.C.)

Logos & the Dynamic Unity of Reality

'All things come out of the One and the One out of all things' (Heraclitus)All things come out of the One and the One out of all things. ... I see nothing but Becoming. Be not deceived! It is the fault of your limited outlook and not the fault of the essence of things if you believe that you see firm land anywhere in the ocean of Becoming and Passing. You need names for things, just as if they had a rigid permanence, but the very river in which you bathe a second time is no longer the same one which you entered before. (Heraclitus, 500 B.C.)

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus is one of my favourite philosophers, even though we are left with very little of his writings. His central idea is the dynamic unity of reality, 'All is Becoming', 'All is Opposites'. This understanding is similar to the teachings of Buddha (who lived around the same time as Heraclitus).
I find the unification of ancient metaphysics and philosophy with modern physics and cosmology very fascinating and inspiring. Certainly it is now clear that matter interacts with all other matter in the universe (which is why we can see all those pretty stars). Most significantly, the dynamic unity of reality can now be explained (sensibly) with the Metaphysics of Space and the Wave Structure of Matter (which provides an elegant conception of the universe, far superior in its simplicity to the current paradigm of particles and fields in space-time).

Please find below a very interesting article on Heraclitus and further quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. If you read it with the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) in mind you will find that it makes perfect sense!

Karene Howie

PS - An important (and related) quote from David Bohm

(David Bohm) 'The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion.'The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it. (David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980)

Heraclitus - The Logos

(Heraclitus) 'All things come out of the One and the One out of all things'Heraclitus, along with Parmenides, is probably the most significant philosopher of ancient Greece until Socrates and Plato; in fact, Heraclitus's philosophy is perhaps even more fundamental in the formation of the European mind than any other thinker in European history, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Why? Heraclitus, like Parmenides, postulated a model of nature and the universe which created the foundation for all other speculation on physics and metaphysics. The ideas that the universe is in constant change and that there is an underlying order or reason to this change—the Logos—form the essential foundation of the European world view. Every time you walk into a science, economics, or political science course, to some extent everything you do in that class originates with Heraclitus's speculations on change and the Logos.

Despite all this, and despite the fact that the ancient Greeks considered Heraclitus one of their principal philosophers, precious little remains of his writings. All we have are a few fragments, quoted willy-nilly in other Greek writers, that give us only a small taste of his arguments. These passages are tremendously difficult to read, not merely because they are quoted out of context, but because Heraclitus deliberately cultivated an obscure writing style—so obscure, in fact, that the Greeks nicknamed him the "Riddler."

In reading these passages, you should be able to piece together the central components of Heraclitus's thought. What, precisely, is the Logos? Can it be comprehended or defined by human beings? What does it mean to claim that the Logos consists of all the paired opposites in the universe? What is the nature of the Logos as the composite of all paired opposites? How does the Logos explain change? Finally, how would you compare Heraclitus's Logos to its later incarnations: in the Divided Line in Plato, in foundational and early Christianity? How would you relate Heraclitus's cryptic statements to those of Lao Tzu?

Translations of Heraclitus are by Richard Hooker ©1995.


(quoted in Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians )
Men have no comprehension of the Logos, as I've described it, just as much after they hear about it as they did before they heard about it. Even though all things occur according to the Logos, men seem to have no experience whatsoever, even when they experience the words and deeds which I use to explain physis, of how the Logos applies to each thing, and what it is. The rest of mankind are just as unconscious of what they do while awake as they are of what they do while they sleep.

(quoted in Hippolytus, Refutations )
Listening to the Logos rather than to me, it is wise to agree that all things are in reality one thing and one thing only.

(quoted in Aristotle, On the World )
Things which are put together [1] are both whole and not whole, brought together and taken apart, in harmony and out of harmony; one thing arises from all things, and all things arise from one thing.

(quoted in pseudo-Plutarch, Consolation to Apollo )
As a single, unified thing there exists in us both life and death, waking and sleeping, youth and old age, because the former things having changed are now the latter, and when those latter things change, they become the former.

(quoted in Hippolytus, Refutations )
They do not understand that what differs agrees with itself; it is a back-stretched connection such as the bow or the lyre. [2]

(quoted in Hippolytus, Refutations )
The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one.

(quoted in Hippolytus, Refutations )
God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, fullness and hunger; he changes the way fire does when mixed with spices and is named according to each spice. [3]


(quoted in Arius Didymus, )
On those who step in the same river, different and different waters flow . . . [4]

(quoted in Origen, Against Celsus )
It is necessary to understand that war is common, strife is customary, and all things happen because of strife and necessity.


(quoted in Diogenes Laertius, Book IX)
Wisdom is one thing: to understand with true judgment how all things are steered through all. [5]

(quoted in Stobaeus, Anthology )
It is necessary for those who speak sensibly to rely on what is common to all, just as a city must rely on its law, but even more so; all human laws are nourished by a single divine law; [6] for it rules as far as it wishes and is sufficient for all and is still left over.

Translated from the Greek by Richard Hooker ©1995

1. That is, anything that is composite, anything that has parts or constituent elements.

2. This is one of the most difficult and important fragments. In the first clause, Heraclitus talks about anything which differs (literally, anything "pulled apart"), that is, paired opposites, such as hot-cold, summer-winter, etc. These opposites, however, can also be seen as agreeing with one another (literally, "put together"); that is, these paired opposites can be viewed as one, unified whole.

The second clause explains that there is a connection between these opposites which allows you to see these opposites as a single thing, just as there is a connection between the opposite ends of a bow or lyre (that connection is the string joining the two ends) which creates a single thing (a bow or lyre) out of the two opposite ends. What does Heraclitus mean by a "back-bent" connection? In ancient Greece, both bows and lyres were made out of wood, which when strung was bent in the direction opposite to the natural bend in the wood (in the case of a bow, this made it more powerful; in the case of a lyre, it created more tension on the string). Perhaps Heraclitus means that the connection between the two opposites is not immediately evident: check out the next fragment which argues that unapparent connections are stronger than the more apparent ones.

3. Tough passage. God consists of all the opposite pairs in the universe: this is what Heraclitus means in the first clause. The second clause is a bit more difficult: a fire, when it is mixed with spices, is named after the spice since that is the smell we perceive. The fire remains unchanged; it, in fact, remains constant. What changes is our perception of the fire. This is the nature of God: he underlies all change in the universe as a single, unchanging thing, but what we perceive (like the smell of spice coming from the fire) is constantly changing.

4. This is the most famous passage in Heraclitus. This curious riddle implies two things:

i) that the world is in constant change (different and different waters flow)

ii) the world is one unified whole (the river) which is constant yet contains this perpetual change.

5. This little difficult tidbit is actually fairly easy to understand: Heraclitus is saying the real wisdom consists in understanding how the world works, how all things are governed. The world is governed, of course, by the Logos, so the only wisdom in humans is understanding the Logos.

6. The Logos.

Edited from: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GREECE/HERAC.HTM

Greek Philosophy, Greek Philosophers: All is One and Active-Flux - Heraclitus - All is Becoming - All is Opposite (500BC). Heraclitus of Ephesus
All is Becoming, All is Opposites

(~ 500 B.C.)

Further modifications of the Milesian approach were made by Heraclitus .. stating that the unity of things was to be found in their essential structure or arrangement rather than their material. This common structure or Logos, which was not superficially apparent, was chiefly embodied in a single kinetic material, fire. It was responsible both for the regularity of natural changes and for the essential connexion of opposites - Heraclitus adopted this traditional analysis of differentiation - through balanced interaction. The regularity underlying change was for Heraclitus the significant thing ... (Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy, Routledge, 1946)

The Spherical In and Out Waves explains this change and opposites.

All is Becoming

Firstly, Heraclitus denied the duality of two quite diverse worlds, into the assumption of which Anaximander had been pushed; he no longer distinguished a physical world from a metaphysical, a realm of definite qualities from a realm of indefinable indefiniteness. For this one world which was left to him - shielded all round by eternal, unwritten laws, floating up and down in the brazen beat of rhythm - shows nowhere persistence, indestructibility, a bulwark in the stream. Louder than Anaximander, Heraclitus exclaimed: 'I see nothing but Becoming. Be not deceived! It is the fault of your limited outlook and not the fault of the essence of things if you believe that you see firm land anywhere in the ocean of Becoming and Passing. You need names for things, just as if they had a rigid permanence, but the very river in which you bathe a second time is no longer the same one which you entered before. (Bertrand Russell, 1946)

This is also true, there are no continuously existing material particles, rather, the particle effect of Matter is continually appearing and disappearing as each successive In-Wave flows In and Out through its Wave-Center. Further, as Matter exists as spherical Wave Motions of Space, matter is in perpetual motion / activity / change.

Time & Becoming

On How each Spherical In-Wave (future) flows through its Wave-Center (present) and Becomes the Out-Wave (Past). See Physics: Time

(From Friedrich Nietzsche, 1890, The Greeks)
Just as Heraclitus conceived time, so also for instance did Schopenhauer, who repeatedly says of it that in it every instant exists only in so far as it has annihilated the preceding one, its father, in order to be itself effaced equally quickly; that past and future are as unreal as any dream; that the present is only the dimensionless and unstable boundary between the two; that, however, like time, so space and again like the latter, so also everything that is simultaneously in space and time, has only a relative existence, only through and for the sake of a something else, of the same kind as itself, i.e., existing only under the same limitations.

This truth is in the highest degree self-evident, accessible to everyone, and just for that very reason, abstractly and rationally, it is only attained with great difficulty. Whoever has this truth before his eyes must, however, also proceed at once to the next Heraclitean consequence and say that the whole essence of actuality is in fact activity, and that for actuality there is no other kind of existence and reality, as Schopenhauer has likewise expounded (The World as Will and Idea, Vol.1, sect.4):

Only as active does it fill space and time: its action upon the immediate object determines the perception in which alone it exists: Cause and effect thus constitute the whole nature of matter; its true being is its action. The totality of everything material is therefore very appropriately called in German Wirklichkeit [actuality]- a word which is far more expressive then Realitat [reality]. That upon which actuality acts is always matter; actuality's whole 'Being' and essence therefore consist only in the orderly change, which one part of it causes in another, and is therefore wholly relative, according to a relation which is valid only within the boundary of actuality, as in the case of time and space.

The Eternal and exclusive Becoming, the total instability of all reality and actuality, which continually works and becomes and never is, as Heraclitus teaches- is an awful and appalling conception, and its effects most nearly related to that sensation by which during an earthquake one loses confidence in the firmly grounded earth.'

The Things themselves in the permanency of which the limited intellect of man and animal believes do not 'exist' at all; they are as the fierce flashing and fiery sparkling of drawn swords, as the stars of Victory rising with a radiant resplendence in the battle of the opposite qualities.

The arena and the object of this struggle is Matter - which some natural forces alternately endeavour to disintegrate and build up again at the expense of other natural forces - as also Space and Time, the union of which through causality is this very matter.

With such discontented persons also originate the numerous complaints as to the obscurity of the Heraclitean style; probably no man has ever written clearer and more illuminatingly; of course, very abruptly, and therefore naturally obscure to the racing readers.

As man among men Heraclitus was incredible; and though he was seen paying attention to the play of noisy children, even then he was reflecting upon what never man thought of on such an occasion: the play of the great world-child, Zeus. ...'I sought and investigated myself,' he said, with a word by which one designates the investigation of an oracle; as if he and no one else were the true fulfiller and achiever of the Delphic precept: Know thyself.

That which he beheld, the doctrine of the Law in the Becoming, and of the Play in the Necessity, must henceforth be beheld eternally; he has raised the curtain of this greatest stage play. (Nietzsche, 1890, The Greeks)

On Love of Wisdom from Truth & Reality

In Eastern philosophy, the main terms used in Hinduism and Buddhism have dynamic connotations. The word Brahman is derived from the Sanskrit root 'brih' (to grow) and thus suggests a reality which is dynamic and alive. (Capra, 1972)
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All things come out of the one and the one out of all things. ... I see nothing but Becoming. Be not deceived! The very river in which you bathe a second time is no longer the same one you entered before. (Heraclitus, 500 B.C.)
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Ancient Greek Philosophy: Heraclitus on Unity
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