Heraclitus’ Main Line of Thought

First of all, Heraclitus says that there is a Whole and that this Whole is common to all, just like the Speech which “relates” to it: those who go out rather wakeful have a common Cosmos (but those who sleep ‘turn each one into! what-is-his-own) (ib., 89). Now, “common people”, who have only personal opinions, spend their lives dozing (cf. ib., 1, 7-9). So, what is not common does not have any common sense either and it is not wise to talk about it, because then nothing can be said which is sensible, true or right. To be wise, to speak with reason, is to say the truth; and we can only do this by talking about this Cosmos, which is the same for all … (ib., 30, 1-2). This again is very parathetic in allure. All the more so since this Cosmos, which is the same for all, was not created by any god or by any man, but it has always been and is and will be [always]…” (ib., 30, 2-3). Only here is this here is of the is: this Cosmos has always been, is and always will be (means, of course: everywhere): “Fire is always, on-fire so to speak, which lights up with measure and goes out with measure” (ib., 30, 3 -4). Let us temporarily leave aside the “measure” and just remember that everything is fire. It is obvious that Heraclitus did not mean that all things are indeed made of flames. His “Fire” is only an image of the Whole of which he speaks: it is the morpheme of a sign, which signifies to us what this All-which-is. “All things are an exchange for Fire and Fire for all things, as are commodities for gold and gold for commodities” (ib., 90). Now, if everything is Fire and if Fire is everything, it is because everything is an uninterrupted transformation, somewhat of an incessant change and perpetual movement. For the very “essence” of Fire is “in itself” or “as such”. It wouldn’t be serious, it would be Parmenidean, even parathetic, if Heraclitus were content to say that sooner or later everything would be transformed into something and That Something is temporarily transformed into whatever one wants. Without doubt, Parmenides would not have said what Heraclitus said, namely that “God is day AND night, winter AND summer, war AND peace, plenty AND famine; but it takes various forms like Fire, when it is mixed with aromatics and named after the fragrance of each of them (ib., 67)”. But, after all, the one-all-alone-motionless Parmenidean is still called Light AND Darkness while “being” one in itself and unique in its kind. What is serious is that, in Heraclitus, the One and the is or this world of “all-becoming, is Fire and that it is only through Fire that all is one. Neither does it matter, nor is it new, that the trans-formations of Fire are revolving round the sea; and [“that half the sea is land, and half the wind is rounding about ”(ib., 31). Nor that, being all trans-formations of something other than themselves, things transform themselves into one another: fire lives the death of earth and air that of fire; water lives the death of air and earth that of water”(ib., 76). What is serious, even revolutionary, is not only that everything is transformed into Fire (the latter remaining everywhere and always what it is), but also, nay, mostly, that everything is Fire precisely because this Fire is everything being transformed. In short, the Heraclitean Fire has nothing to do with the Principles of its “predecessors ”, because this Fire, far from remaining everywhere and always identical to itself, is not what it “is ”, insofar as it is no-thing at all, or nothing but perpetually changing of matter and form. Without doubt, Heraclitus said that Fire will judge and condemn all things (ib., 66), and, moreover, it is just as the One of the Nician judges, condemning the Many. Only the Heraclitean Fire will do it not in its being identical to itself (or “motionless”), but by and in its approach to, and through, things; that is to say, its movement. Far from being the homogeneous One-all-alone motionless, “it disperses and gathers itself, it advances and withdraws (ib., 91). And to the extent that Fire is Rest, “it rests through change” (ib., 84). It is never the same anywhere and that is why it is what it is, namely Fire. Moreover, it is a fatigue to work for the same masters and to be governed by them ”(ib., 84). And even beer decomposes if it is not stirred ”(ib., 125). This is why the All-which-is-one or the One-which-is-all is, for Heraclitus, that famous Heraclitean River, which terrorized Plato (at least according to Aristotle) ​​and so many others afterwards, because he who descends in the same currents always receives another water ”(ib., 12). Terrorized or not, Plato thought he could find poles stretched out from the outside, which would allow it to immobilize itself eternally, in the Heraclitean river by way of clinging to it. As for Aristotle, he thought he had discovered permanent whirlpools in this same river and he resigned himself to turning this eternally in place, trusting in them. But judging from what we know, Heraclitus himself did not admit any eddies in his river, and it did not have any shore, according to him, where trees could grow, extending over the mountains, while their protective branches is floating in the guise of salutary poles. But then, what could be, for Heraclitus, the (true) Speech which is Knowledge or Wisdom? By definition, the Speech is not “true” or “right”, it is not Knowledge “absolute” and not “vain” Opinion, it is not the teaching of Wisdom and not the ” chatter ”of Madness”, only on condition of keeping oneself standing indefinitely as it is, that is to say as a Discourse, instead of discursively canceling itself out sooner or later, by saying everything itself. In other words, [according to the criterion of coherence] the Speech must be “in itself and unique in its kind”, and [according to the criterion of adequacyJ what it speaks of (“in truth ”) must also be. Of course, Heraclitus himself recognizes this explicitly, since he says that it “is wise” to say that “all is one”, thus re-saying (everywhere and always) a single truth, and the same saying which is also his (cf. ib., 50). But what is the One of which this speech speaks, itself supposed to be one? All is one because the One who is all is nothing other than Fire. This Fire, certainly as Sun (and Lightning) reveals itself to men (and to the Sage). We will have to understand this “word” in the sense that the Sun says to appear completely or is annihilated as soon as it ceases to “appear”. No doubt it is created “every day” to reappear. But what counts “really” for Heraclitus (at least according to Plato, which we have no reason not to follow), is not the fact that it is “a” Sun which reappears and being re-created “every day”, but the fact that it is “every day” something new. The present Sun is not only different from past and future Suns in that it is, while these are no longer or are not yet. It still differs “materially” and “formally”, that is to say, in the sense that, while being another Sun, it is another Sun just as much in its being as in its appearance (of which the Sage speaks). But to say it is to say that one of these “Suns” once destroyed, could be replaced by a “Sun” different from the other “Suns”, even to the point of being something other than a “Sun”. So that the One wouldn’t be replaced “in truth” (by another Sun), it would be necessary to say either that it is or can be “replaced” by anything, or that it is replaced by nothing (so, it is at least similar”). In other words, the Heraclitean perpetual renewal of the “Sun”, or even of the Fire, that is to say of all or of the Whole, is, in fact and for us, an “article of faith”. Now, the Sun is new every day. Of course, it is not only about the “Sun” and it is not only “every day” that this “faith” is put to the test and confirmed “by chance”. Tradition tells us that Cratylus already clarified the words of his master by re-saying according to him (perhaps in and by a paraphrase) that this occurs everywhere and always in the sense of: at every moment (cf. Arist ., Met., 101oa, 10-15). But for that to be the case, so that all of the is would differ or distinguished in the proper and strong sense of this term from all that has been or will be, it is necessary that at every moment Something is opposed to Something Else. Thus, when we want to “integrate” (depending on the time) into an extended and lasting thing any instantaneous Something, that is to say anything or everything that we want, or even the Whole as such, it will be necessary to say that this All and that everything is everywhere and always “at the same time” that something and the other thing which differs from it to the point of being contrary to it. “God [that is to say the One-who-is-all or rather the All-which-is-one] is Day AND Night, Winter AND Summer, War AND Peace,…” (ib., 67). It is, moreover, only at this price that one can speak of Something or of anything, that is to say of all or of the All. For, by pre-saying what Plato will say (cf. Théét., 176, a- 177, b), Heraclitus tells us that if there had not been something else [namely Injustice] , they [men] would not know the name of Dike [that is to say of Justice]” (ib., 23). And he says it again about everything, saying for example that it is not good for men to get [at the same time] everything they want [by being exempt from what they want. do not want]; it is Illness which makes Health pleasant [and perceptible, even denominable], Ill-goodness, Hunger-Satiety, Fatigue, Rest ”(ib., 110, 111). For, generally speaking, it is the opposite that is good for us [both for body and soul”. But there is more. Because if everything were not (per impossible) also the opposite of oneself, there would be nothing [of which one can speak and therefore, for Heraclitus, there would be nothing. Nothing at all]. This is why Homer was wrong to say: may the disagreement be extinguished between gods and men; he did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the Cosmos; for if his prayer were [impossible] answered, all things would have perished ”(ib., 12, A, 22). However, for the Speech to be wise, for Wisdom to be discursive, the speech of the Heraclitean Sage must be common to all who understand it (by hearing it or saying it again). Now for the Speech to be common to all, everything that is (and of which we speak) must also be so, and there is therefore a common in everything and in the Whole (which is, moreover, this “community״ in itself). In other words, the “thought” (discursive) of the Sage is just as “common” as the “common” world of which this Sage speaks when speaking of what everyone has “in common” (cf. ib., 12, B, 2, 30, 89 and 113). However, this Something in common, which is common to everything and to all, is for Heraclitus the opposite or the irreducible opposition, even the perpetual conflict or the tireless war of all and of everything against everything and against all, including oneself. Because “it is necessary to know that it is necessarily the War (polemos) which is what-there-is-common-to-everything and that Justice (Dike) is the Quarrel and that everything is engendered by Quarrel and Necessity ”(ib., 80). Indeed, war is the Father of all things and the King of all things: of some he makes Gods [or Non-men], others of men [or Non-gods], he makes Slaves [or of the Non-free], of some others, he makes Liberals [or the Non-slaves”(ib ., 53). In fact and for us, according to Heraclitus, everything is therefore the opposite of itself and is opposed to itself in an irreducible way. Also something cannot be one and the same only insofar as the Opposites are one and where, consequently, the opposition is bond and the conflict is harmony, the incessant War being thus a perpetual Peace. And this is what Heraclitus says, in fact: “[vulgar] men do not know [what the Sage knows, namely] that which varies [even in the strong sense, that is to say even by becoming its opposite and thus opposing oneself] is in accord with itself/oneself; there is a harmony of opposing tensions, like those of the bow and the lyre ”(ib., 51). Now, “the harmony hidden [from the vulgar, that is to say that of opposites] is better than open harmony [accessible to the eyes of all, which is that of fellow men]” (ib. , 54). As well, Heraclitus despises Hesiod, who only knew Day and Night [since he opposed them in an irreducible way, while in fact and for the Wise] they are one ”(ib., 57). For, in fact and for the Wise, just as it is for God, all things are just and good and upright, while [vulgar] men hold some things as bad and some as righteous ”(ib., 102). “And it is the same in us, what is alive [or not dead] and what is dead [or not alive], what is awake [or not asleep] and what sleeps [or is not awake ] … “(ib., 88).] Consequently, we can summarize all that Heraclitus said about everything and all, while re-saying what he said to summarize it itself: The Liaisons [or the Couples (synapsies)] are: the All and Not-all, What-is-united and What-is-disunited,! ‘Harmonious and Discordant; and all – the One and the One is being reconciled, by saying ,with Schelling, that the Absolute (Heraclitean) is the identity of identity and of Non-Identity (although it too “binds” not only what is brought together, but also what is not). And we should not note, with Plato, that the Couple is both “whole (or one) and not whole (or even fractionated and therefore separated at least as much, so to be half” or two halves “). But!!! We cannot fail to re-state what this same Plato said when speaking of Heraclitus, namely that, according to him, the Being of whom he speaks (and of which Parmenides also spoke) and this what he says is (contrary to what it was for the Eleatics) not One but Two, and that this Two is undefined since Two is everything because everything un-doubles indefinitely ”, so that everything is both itself and other – thing, that is to say everything (what it is not is really not, as opposed to other vis a vis identity). Now, saying it again after Heraclitus, Plato tells us (cf. the last two “hypotheses” of Parm., which re-saying Eudoxus and Aristotle respectively, but which are supposed to be only paraphrases, even “consequences” of the Heraclitean sayings) that, for this one, to speak could not or should not mean anything other than saying anything, saying the opposite each time. It remains to be seen whether Heraclitus had it or would have said it himself, thus pre-saying what Plato said while re-saying it and what we must re-say ourselves. Without doubt, Heraclitus does not tell us explicitly in any of the fragments that have come down to us. But this does not prevent these same fragments from re-saying for us, at least implicitly, what they had said to Plato, who read them in the whole of the Heraclitean work. Now, these fragments tell us, on the one hand, that there would be nothing and that we could not speak of anything if each thing was only something, without ever being anything else anywhere, even its own contrary, and if the Whole were not “at the same time” what it is and what it is not. In particular, one could not speak of Justice if there was no injustice or, more exactly, if Justice itself was not also ”Injustice” (cf. ib., 23) But he also tells us that “Good and Evil are all one ”(i b., 58), that Day and Night are one (cf. ib., 57), that for God all things are just, including wrongs (cf. ib. ., 102). However, the things of which the Sage speaks are for him what they are “in reality” or for God. Can he therefore speak neither of the Just nor of the Unjust, nor of the Day or of the Night, nor of anything else, since everything would be the same and would only be one? But then he could not speak at all and would have to be silent, like the Parmenidean Sage. Now, for Heraclitus, Wisdom is Speech and, what is more, it is this Speech of the Wise which directs the Whole. Because “all things happen in accordance with this Discourse” (ib., I). And “Wisdom is only one thing: to know the discursive sentences (gnomi)] which direct everything through everything” (i b., 41). Now, it is the Lightning [that is to say the Fire that is Zeus] which directs the course of all things ”(ib., 64). And the God does it by speaking, since by speaking through the mouth of the Sibyl, he says what is worth “beyond a thousand years” (ib., 92), not to say everywhere and always. This being the case, one can only “reconcile” all that Heraclitus says by saying that, for him, one can speak everywhere and always, without ever being reduced anywhere This being the case, one can only “reconcile” all that Heraclitus says by saying that, for him, one can speak everywhere and always, without ever being anywhere silenced by the fact that sooner or later we will have contradicted everything he would have said. However, moreover, we can only speak of what is contrary and therefore only by also saying the opposite of what we say. Consequently, we never contradict anything that we have said [previously] anywhere, only because we do not say it anywhere or ever again (!), having everywhere and always something new to say [and therefore never anything to say again]. In other words, the Heraclitean Wisdom is discursive only because the Heraclitean Discourse is an endless discourse, the meaning of which is just as undefined and indefinable as is the whole of which he speaks incessantly and which is incessantly contrary or opposed to what one says about it, because he is at every moment new and different, to the point of being his own opposite or contrary. If discursive Truth is the equation of what we say (or think) to what is, we must constantly add to each “finished” discourse a new and different discourse, in order to speak of the same Whole, which is itself different and new at every moment. To re-say it in a semi-modern and pseudo-language Schellingien, we can say that, for Heraclitus, the Absolute is Relativity itself or Relativity as such. Or, in simpler terms, that only change is permanent in the world where we live and about which we speak, as well as in what we say when speaking about it (as it should be). And there is nothing “contrary to dictory”, when it is said that the change is permanent or that it is the One. Because in saying it, we say (at least implicitly) that we cannot say “true” and speak “really”; that by speaking, the end ceases to be identical to itself, as at each time it is saying something other than what we have said. But if it is impossible to say everything, it is for that very reason impossible to contradict anything. In vain, through contra-diction, silence everything that has been said, there will always and everywhere be something else to say, even if it means contradicting it so as not to have to say it again and in order to be able to everywhere and always say the unspoken. If everything we are talking about is indeed (as Parmenides saw it and showed Heraclitus) its own opposite, at least “as a whole” or “in the long run”, we have to contradict (sooner or later) everything we say about it. And if one does not want to be thereby definitively reduced to Parmenidean silence, one must, following Heraclitus, start a new discourse, by saying something else about the thing about which one spoke. Now, there is only no harm in this, but it is even a necessity if this thing has “in the meantime not become of itself something else.” So for example, “the arc/sword (bios) is called Life, but its work is Death [ie Non-life]” (ib., 38). It will therefore be necessary to call it “death “, after calling it “Life”. But when we have said that it is, at the same time, Life and Non-life, or Death and Undeath, we will have nothing at all to say and we will have to be silent as long as we have nothing else to tell of it. However, if “in the meantime” the arc ceases to be an arc and becomes something else (for example a piece of broken or rotten wood), we can continue, or even start talking about it again, saying something else. Without doubt, in the circle, the Beginning [or ! Origin, even the Principle (arch)] and the End [or the Limit, even the Term or the Goal are common ”(ib., 103). But it all depends on what this Circle “is”. If it is one in itself and one of a kind, as Parmenides wanted, one certainly cannot move in or with, it. In this circle, the Beginning not only coincides with the End, but also with everything in between. And this for the simple reason that being really one in itself, it reduces itself to one and the same point, which is both Origin and End, thus being only one single Principle. In this case, the presence of a “path” apropos the so-called “Circle” only gives the illusion of a” movement “. If you think you are rising by going up your right (or left) side, you have to go down your opposite side. (left or right) and << at the end of the account we do not have moved from the point that was “originally” occupied. Thus, the discursive development of the A-side is cancelled by that of the Non-A side and is reduced “in the end” to the Silence before the “beginning”. If on the other hand, as Plato will want it, the Circles are multiple or differ from each other by the “measures” of their respective radii, but all having in common the same “rapport” between the radius and the periphery, we can run them all discursively, returning each time to the starting point and saying about each of them something other than what we say about the others, while also saying the same thing each time, namely that it is about the Circle that we say everything we have said. Likewise, as Aristotle would like it to be, it is not a matter of Circles, otherwise “identical” and “homogeneous” which differ from each other only by their radii, but of “Circles” which are different according to their ” matter ”or their more or less perfectly circular“ form ”, even by the varieties of their circumferences, we can go through them by speaking of them, just as we discursively go through the“ eternal cycle ”which goes from the Hen to the hen passing through her eggs. We will then be able to re-say indefinitely all that we have said about it once and for all. Finally, as Hegel will be the first to see, we can also indefinitely re-say everything we have said about a single Cycle that we can only go through once if the discursive End replaces its! ‘Origin which was not, but which will henceforth be so to the extent that it will be spoken of and re-spoken endlessly, now being assignable “in advance”. But none of these “Circles” is the one that Heraclitus had in mind. In his Circle, the Beginning and the End are two “opposites” which “oppose” in an “irreducible” way, as an A is opposed to its opposite, Non-A. For him, as for Parmenides, the “confusion” of the Beginning with the End in the Circle is equivalent to their mutual annihilation and therefore to the silencing of the discourse that speaks of it, by saying of the Circle that each of its points is equal to the Beginning, which is also the end and vice-versa. If unlike Parmenides, Heraclitus claims to be able to speak “endlessly” or indefinitely about the Circle in question, it is because this circle itself is supposed to be another circle at the time when its journey ends- when discursively, we are supposedly returning to the point where the journey started. In other words, the “movement” is not limited to the course (discursive or real) of the Circle, but also affects the (real) circle traversed (discursively and actually). To follow this “perpetual” movement of the Circle we are talking about is that change which we must speak “without ceasing”, while maintaining that we will never be able: neither to be silent because we will have said everything about it, nor to be silent because there is no point to re-say what we will have said about it because we will have nothing more other to say. Generally speaking, we go down and do not go down not in the same rivers (49, a). In other words, the “cycle” of the World where we live (by speaking) and the “cycles” of our own (discursive) lives are “both” the same “cycle” and a different “cycle”. A river “is” one and the same river, but what it is, that is to say, the water which constitutes it, moves “and changes” without ceasing, being other to every moment. So if we speak of the water of these rivers, that is to say of what they are (including the one that we are ourselves), we can and we must talk about it and re-talk it endlessly, saying something else about them each time we talk about them (say, water) or talk about them again. But if we want to talk about them as rivers, or of the river as such, we can and must say everywhere and always the same thing: namely that they are” Rivers, which are something else at every moment. Now, it is of the Heraclitean River that the Sage speaks, while the vulgar speak of its waters. And it is precisely this Concept which is, for Heraclitus, temporal or the Temporal which is understood as such. Thus, the Concept is no longer, for him,! ‘ Parmenidean eternity and it is not yet, for antithetic Philosophy, the Eternal parathetic of a Plato, of an Aristotle or of a Kant, nor therefore Time itself, discursively revealed by Hegel. But if the Concept itself can only be temporal, being different whenever it is as the Essence of objects and when it is conceived as the Sense of Discourses, it is because there is no Concept at all: everything is in a temporary way and everything that is said about it is only valid or maintained temporarily. The only discourse which is maintained and is valid everywhere and always is the Heraclitean Discourse which says or affirms itself, by denying what Parmenides affirmed, by speaking in order to be silent.

כתוצאה מכך, אנו יכולים לסכם את כל מה שאמר הרקליטוס על כל דבר ועניין, תוך שהוא אומר מחדש את דבריו כדי לסכם את עצמו: הקשרים [או הזוגות ] הם: הכל ולא הכל, מה-מאוחד. ומה-לא-מאוחד,! ‘הרמוניה ומחלוקת; והכל – האחד והאחד הכל, באומרו עם שלינג, שהמוחלט (הרקליטאי) הוא זהות הזהות והאי-זהות (אם כי המוחלט “מחייב” לא רק את מה שמביא יחד, אלא גם מה לא).

ואנחנו לא צריכים לציין, עם אפלטון, שהזוג הוא “שלם (או אחד) וגם לא שלם (או אפילו מפוצל ולכן מופרד לפחות באותה מידה, כך שיהיה חצי” או שני חצאים “).

איננו יכולים שלא לחזור על דבריו של אותו אפלטון כאשר דיבר על הרקליטוס, כלומר, לדבריו של האחרון, ההוויה שעליה הוא מדבר (וגם עליה מדבר פרמנידס) וזה מה שהוא אומר! לא אחד אלא שניים, וששניים אלה אינם מוגדרים שכן שניים זה הכל כי הכל מכפיל את עצמו ללא הגבלת זמן “, כך שהכל הוא גם הוא עצמו וגם דבר אחר, זאת אומרת הכל (מה שזה לא זה באמת לא, בניגוד לאחר מול זהות).

כעת, לאחר שאמר זאת שוב אחרי הרקליטוס, אומר לנו אפלטון (עיין בשתי “ההשערות” האחרונות של פרמינדס, אשר נאמרות מחדש יודוקוס ואריסטו בהתאמה, אך שאמורות להיות רק פרפרזות, אפילו “השלכות” של האימרות ההרקליטיות) שבשביל זה, לדבר לא יכול או צריך להיות פירוש אחד מלבד זה שאומר כלום, ולהגיד בכל פעם ההיפך.

נותר לראות אם הרקליטוס היה או היה אומר את זה בעצמו, ובכך אמר מראש את מה שאפלטון אמר בעודו אומר זאת ומה עלינו לומר מחדש בעצמנו. ללא ספק, הרקליטוס אינו מספר לנו זאת במפורש באף אחד מהפרגמנטים שהגיעו אלינו. אך זה לא מונע מאותם פרגמנטים לומר לנו מחדש, לפחות במשתמע, את מה שאמרו לאפלטון שקרא אותם בכל היצירה ההרקליתית.

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