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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). . 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). 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 for the time being 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” a movement.
It wouldn’t be serious, it would be Parmenidean, even worse, if Heraclitus were content to say that sooner or later everything would be transformed into something and that 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 all-alone-motionless Parmenidean ONE 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 judges, condemning the Many. Only that 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 all-alone motionless-One, “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 resigned himself to turning this eternity eternally in place. 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 are 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 the 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 adequacy, 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 being confirmed “by chance”. Tradition tells us that Cratylus already clarified the words of his master by re-saying that according to him (perhaps in and by a paraphrase) this occurs everywhere and always in the sense of each and 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]; 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 both for body and soul”. This is why Homer was wrong to extinguish “the wars 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 All and Not-all, What-is-united and What-is-disunited,! ‘Harmonious and Discordant; and all 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 said 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 contradiction, 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 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 sword ceases to be a sword 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.
Heraclitus. “Without a 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”.
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 truly one in itself, it reduces itself to one and the same Point, which is both Origin and Goal, thus being only one Principle. In this case, the so-called “path of 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 in the end, no one has moved from the point that he occupied “originally”. 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, though all of them 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 ”. We can go through them by speaking of them, just as we discursively go through the “eternal cycle”, which goes from one Chicken to the other chicken passing through its 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” each other 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 of the Circle is equivalent to their mutual annihilation and therefore to the reduction to silence of the discourse that speaks of it, i.e., by saying of the Circle that each of its points is at the same time “Start and End”. If, contrary to Parmenides, Heraclitus claims to be able to speak “endlessly” or indefinitely of the Circle in question, it is because this circle itself is supposed to be another circle at the moment when its discursive journey ends in returning to the point where it began. In other words, the “movement” is not limited to the (discursive or real) course of the Circle, but also affects the (real) circle covered (discursively and really). It is to follow this “perpetual” movement of the Circle of which we speak that we must speak “incessantly”, while maintaining that we will never be able: neither to be silent because we will have said everything about it, nor to re-say what we will have said about it because we will have nothing more to say about it.
Generally speaking, we go down and do not go down in the same rivers (49, a). In other words, the “cycle” of the World in which we live (in speaking) and the “cycles” of our own (discursive) lives are each “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” constantly, being different at each time. If therefore we speak of the water of these rivers, that is to say of what they are (including the one that we ourselves are), we can and we must speak about it and talk constantly, saying something else about them each time we talk about them (or talk about them again). But if we want to talk about them as rivers, or of the River as such, one can and must say of them everywhere and always the same thing: namely that they are Rivers which are something different at every moment.
Now, it is of the Heraclitean River that the Sage speaks, while the vulgar speak of its waters. Now, to say it is to “affirm”, in fact and for us, as already for Plato, that everything one says (or “thinks”), or can say ( or “think”), is just as temporal as what is spoken of, and therefore as everything that is or can be. It is the temporal character and this alone which is common both to all that is and to all that one says (or “thinks”) and therefore also to what one says and to what one speaks about. Now, since Parmenides, this “common”, that is to say, “the one and the same thing” which can both be and be thought (discursively, at least for Heraclitus), is nothing else for Philosophy than the Concept as such. 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, the Parmenidean Eternity, and it is not yet, as for “antithetical” Philosophy, the Eternal parathetic of a Plato, an Aristotle or a Kant, nor hence Time itself, revealed discursively by Hegel. But suppose the Concept itself can only be temporal, being other each time that it is as the Essence of objects and as when it is conceived as the Meaning of discourses. In that case, it is because there is no Concept at all: everything is in a temporary way, and all that is said about it is only valid or maintained temporarily. The only discourse which is maintained and valid everywhere and always, even “necessarily”, is the Heraclitean Discourse which says it or “affirms it”, by denying what Parmenides affirmed while speaking in order to remain silent.
Like any philosopher worthy of the name, Heraclitus was able to say: “I sought [discursively] myself [as a speaking I]” (ib., 101). But he stopped looking as soon as he found the Heraclitean River, which is supposed to never stop. Doubtless, he was not satisfied either by the fluvial river of life or by the debates in the torrent of words that he had found. It is by speaking his own at these existential, discursive debates that he believed he could obtain the soothing Satisfaction that Wisdom procures. But his Wisdom consisted in the (discursive) recognition of the alleged fact that there is no concept at all; or that there are only speeches without beginning or end, where one can say anything indefinitely without ever saying it again and contradicting everything that others say, even if one cannot say anything either that is not contradicted sooner or later unless we limit ourselves to endlessly re-saying that it is everywhere and always, that is to say, “necessarily”, thus and not otherwise.
In fact and for us, we are not contradicting ourselves by saying that there is no Concept properly speaking and that everything we say is, therefore, just as temporal or temporary as the is we are talking about when we talk like this. We would contradict ourselves by saying it only if we said that it is also possible to say something else again, without being contradicted anywhere and never. But nothing in the fragments that have come down to us authorises us to say that Heraclitus said so (while contradicting himself). It seems that, on the contrary, he was careful not to say so (precisely so as not to contradict himself).
In seeking himself, Heraclitus thought he found that “it is the same thing in us [and therefore also in him], what is alive and what is dead, what is awake and what sleeps, what is young and what is old” (ib., 88). In general, “Mortals are immortal and Immortals are mortal” (ib., 62); likewise, Youth and Old Age, Wakefulness and Sleep, even Life and Death, are “one and the same thing”, in us as elsewhere, only insofar as these things are all “temporal” in the sense of temporary. And to say it is to “affirm” that everything that one speaks of is just as “passing” or “relative”, even “puerile” or “vain”; except if one also says that everything is effectively “puerile” as long as one does not explicitly say that it is “puerile” (in which case all this puerile vanity is also perpetual or absolute Wisdom). Now, this is indeed what Heraclitus seems to be saying “in the end” by summarising or re-saying everything he said: “Time [as a whole of everything which is temporal in the meaning of temporary] is a child who plays checkers [which can be played again indefinitely by varying the game indefinitely]; the royal power [and the! entire active life] is that of a child [who plays the man of action]” (ib., 52). Generally speaking, “man is called a little child by God, just as a child is called by a man” (ib., 79). Now, God himself calls man “a child” because he compares him to the wisest man, who, compared to God, is a monkey, just as the most beautiful monkey is ugly compared to man” (ib., 83, 82).
It therefore seems (according to this fragment, moreover badly attested) that there is a divine Absolute and a divine Wisdom which escape the influence of time and which make it possible to establish a hierarchy of fixed values in the temporal order itself. “Man’s behavior (ethos) does not involve any reasonable knowledge (gnomas); but the divine has it” (ib., 78). And so it seems that Heraclitus himself contradicts everything he said. But nothing in his statements prevents us from saying that this is only a seeming contradiction.
Because “the One [-which-is-all or the All-which-is-one, which is] the only one [to be the true] Wise [or true Wisdom] does not want and wants [at the same time] to be called by the name of Zeus” (ib., 32). Which either means nothing at all, or means that even Discursive Wisdom, i.e. the uni-total Discourse of Heraclitus, which speaks of everything that is spoken of, as well as of everything that is said about it and of what it says about it, is not “necessarily” said everywhere and always (hence, re-said as it was once said) but can be contradicted by saying something else or by saying the same otherwise.
For: either the morpheme ZEUS has everywhere and always one and the same meaning, which is that of notion ONE-WHICH-IS-ALL or of the ‘equivalent’ notion ALL WHICH-IS-ONE, and then we say something else about everything we are talking about by calling this All by another name; or else any meaning can be linked to this morpheme, and it is then childish to be offended by it or even to have the slightest doubt about it. And this applies just as much to those who call “Zeus” whatever it is, as to those who would or would not be called so.
Now, what is valid for the One which is all, is also valid for all that is, All being one by the sole fact of being. This is why we can say “in particular” that “Good and Evil” are one and the same thing (cf. ib., 58). Be that as it may, if God himself is not sure of the name that should be given to him, it is because really everything is relative “in truth”; and all the questions are “word questions” which admit only temporary answers, depending on the times and places, even of!’ the indefinite history of the Society which speaks incessantly. Because, in fact, and for us, like already for Plato, the discursive identification of Evil with Good can be made only in and through a discourse that also identifies (at least implicitly) the True and the False. No doubt, in any of the fragments that have come down to us, Heraclitus does not explicitly say that the True and the False are also one, nor even that Truth (which is supposed to exclude Error) and Error (which is supposed to be the opposite of Truth) are the same (discursive) thing. But all these fragments say so implicitly because they speak either of “truths” or “errors”, which are mutually exclusive in such a way that it is impossible to suppress any of them for the sole benefit of the others, or else of Knowledge, which certainly does not exclude anything at all, but which does not explain everything only as opposites (“true” or “false”) which exclude one another
And according to Plato, all these Heraclitean implications did not wait very long to be clarified either by more or less “heraclitizing” Sophists or by more or less “Socratic” (or “megaric”) Neo-Heracliteans. However, when we explained the socio-historicist Relativism involved in the work of Heraclitus, it was in the form of Nominalism that we did so. This Nominalism is also implicit in the fragments of this work that we know. For if one can just as well say something as something else, including the opposite of what one says, it is because nothing one says is “determined” by what one is saying. Being and Discourse both constantly trans-forming themselves, but “independently” of each other. No doubt, Heraclitus tells us that everything happens in accordance with his Discourse (cf. ib., 1). But all that this Heraclitean Discourse says is that everything happens as it sees fit, having no obligation but to pass away or to be temporal, being only temporary. On the other hand, all those who say something else again, contradicting each other because each claims to be saying only one thing to the exclusion of all the others, are all sent back by Heraclitus and the Heracliteans as being below the par. In other words, everything that is said in this way is only speech or a set of words, which in fact have no meaning except that which is given to them, insofar as they have one.
Thus, the Heraclitean Antithesis of Philosophy can be summed up in a radical and universal Relativism, or if you will, “absolute” Relativism which is equivalent to philosophical Skepticism in the sense that it responds in the negative to the philosophical question of whether there is a Concept and what is the Concept which reveals itself as the meaning of the notion CONCEPT, discursively developable into the uni-total Discourse that is the System of Knowledge or the discursive Wisdom which Philosophy proper seeks. In other words!, Heraclitus is an authentic philosopher insofar as he also speaks of what he himself says, thereby speaking of the Concept itself. But he speaks of it only to deny it, saying that everything that has been said, that which is said and that which will be said, is only temporary and is renewed indefinitely. Or again, he only speaks “as a philosopher” (in the broad sense) to say that Philosophy (in the narrow sense) is impossible, since the one and unique Concept which it seeks simply does not exist.
Now, philosophers in the narrow sense, that is to say those philosophers (in the broad sense) who support the possibility of Philosophy (by definition discursive), but deny its actuality as (discursive) Wisdom, have said everywhere and always that the supporters of the philosophical Anti-thesis “contradict themselves in terms” in the very measure that they speak (just as, moreover, as the supporters of the Thesis they contradict). But in fact and for us, such an “immanent critique” or “refutation from within” of the “antithetical” Philosophy rests on a misunderstanding or a misunderstanding of the authentic philosophical Thesis and the Anti-thesis, even parmenidean and heraclitean respectively. Since the “critics” in question oppose the Thesis and the Anti-thesis without pro-posing the Syn-thesis of Philosophy (while presupposing it in fact and for us Hegelians), they constitute themselves as followers of the Para-thesis. Moreover,they all tend to misinterpret the authentic Thesis and Anti-thesis in the sense of the latter. Now, this is effectively “contradictory in terms,” if only because any given parathesis can be contradicted by the “contrary” parathesis. Thus, the parathetical “criticism” in question is “immanent” only in the sense that in believing that it “criticizes” and “refutes” the Thesis or the Anti-thesis, it does not “criticize” and does not refutes”, in fact and for us, nothing else than the Parathesis itself. As regards the Parmenidean Thesis, we have seen that it in no way contradicts itself, for the simple reason that it says nothing at all. Now, it is by no means “contradictory in terms” to say that it is better to remain silent definitively, because in the very measure that one speaks, one can never say anything anywhere that would not be contradicted somewhere sooner or later. We must now see that the heraclitean Anti-thesis is not “contradictory” either. Now, it is obvious that we are not contradicting ourselves in terms when we say, re-saying Heraclitus, that we can speak indefinitely, although in speaking we necessarily contradict (sooner or later somewhere) everything we said before. For it suffices to add that one can, after having contradicted everything – that one had said, say still something else, even if it means contradicting it in turn after having said it; etc.
At first sight, one could “object” that such an “endless” discourse can only have an “infinite” meaning which, being thereby in-definite or undefinable, is not a meaning proper at all; so that the discourse which develops indefinitely is not a discourse of truth (in truth). But looking at this “objection” more closely, we see that it refutes nothing. For the simple reason that there is nothing to ‘refute’ in the antithetical discourse in question, which is therefore ‘irrefutable’. For it suffices that the supporters of the Anti-thesis accept what is proposed to them so that what is opposed to them no longer refutes them. Indeed, their “parathetical critiques” suggest that the so-called in-finite or in-definite discourse of which they speak is in fact only a noise devoid of any kind of meaning properly speaking. Now, it seems that Heraclitus accepts it, since, for him, man is only a “little child” (cf. ib., 79) and that consequently human language is only the babbling of an infant. Moreover, at least insofar as he speaks as an authentic philosopher, Heraclitus also speaks of his own discourse when he speaks of “human discourses”. And since he says that the wisest man (i.e. the man he claims to be himself) is “an ape” (cf. ib., 23), he seems to admit that what he himself says is only a bestial howl (to speak of the Heraclitean discourses much as Plato did).
Be that as it may for Heraclitus himself, the fact is that if a Heraclitean admits that the “Discourse” in general, and therefore his in particular, is only an animal cry, or even a bird song, there is no longer any way of contradicting it, nor of “refuting” it by telling it that it contradicts itself insofar as it says what it says. For we do not contradict either an infant who gurgles or an animal which howls; and the bird in no way contradicts itself in singing. The verbal delivery of the authentic or “consequent” Heraclitean, even “radical” or really “antithetical”, is just as “irrefutable” as a howler monkey, a baby who charms or annoys, or a melodious bird.
No doubt, judging from the fragments of his work, Heraclitus himself does not seem to have gone in this “defensive” direction as far as some of his modern “successors.” But it is said that the Heraclitean Cratylus already avoided any sound “behaviour”, contenting himself with extending his index finger towards what he wanted, or at least seemed to “want” from the point of view of his observers (cf. Aristotle, Met., 1010 a, 10-14). Moreover, according to Plato (cf. Crat., 383 4 – b ), this same Cratylus affirmed that there was a “natural” link between the morphemes of words and their meaning, that is to say, a link that does not depend on human “arbitrariness”. Now, if the establishment of an indissoluble link between the meaning of a notion and one of its morphemes (real or only possible) trans-forms the latter into the morpheme of a sign (which, by definition, cannot be developed into discourse properly speaking), the trans-formation into signs of all the notions cancels the Discourse as such, since by definition, there is no discourse properly speaking except where there is an arbitrary link between two things which are irreducible to one another and of which one is then a morpheme and the other meaning in the proper sense of the word. Thus, for the Heraclitean Cratylus, the so-called “human discourse” is nothing other or more than what is, in fact and for us, for example, the “language” of the bees, where each gesture is necessarily linked to one and the same “meaning” (which, moreover, is a meaning properly so called only for and by the human observer who speaks of this so-called “language”).
No doubt we do not know if these views of Cratylus were foreseen by Heraclitus himself. However, the fragment which says that the sword (biôs) is called life (bios) but his work is death” (ib., 38) seems to plead in this direction. In any case, one would then better understand the interest that the unique Sage that is the One-which-is-all bears, according to Heraclitus (cf. ib., 32), in the name “Zeus” ( a proper name being, by definition, a degenerate notion in sign, since the meaning of the proper name cannot be dissociated from its morpheme).
שמתי זימרמן ושיחקתי שוב בלוגואים לא לי. אני לא רואה מספיק טוב היום בשביל אנגלית, אבל אם אני עובד הרבה ביום, אז עובד איתה. זה לא כל הרקליטוס, בטח לא הרקליטוס של ״הרקליטוס״, אבל זה הרקליטוס. אתה יכול להבין את זה טוב יותר על ידי הקשר של הדיסקורסים עם פרמנידס, שכן להגל הוא הפילוסוף ולמסורת הוא אנטי פילוסוף- ספקנות, והוא עצמו פילוסוף. הנה מומנט חלקי של זה:
A moment from “Hercalitus”.
To understand the discourse in its possibilities, we must anticipate the dialectic of the theoretical Discourse, that is to say, the Discourse which speaks of something (to anyone) according to the sole (alleged) “truth” of what it says. Like any discourse, the theoretical (or ‘exclusive’) discourse begins by posing itself without opposing another discourse. It is theoretical [but supposing the practical Discourse (or “elementary”) which speaks to someone with a view to the sole ‘(expected) efficiency’: it is thus a theoretical Thesis. Since this “thesis” is not opposed to anything, nothing is opposed to it (at least for it): it is therefore posed as an Axiom that, by definition, does not need “demonstration”. Such axiomatic (theoretical) discourse admits (if only implicitly) that it is enough for it to posit itself in order to impose itself (without any opposition): everything that is affirmed is being affirmed by the sole fact of being affirmed; whatever is shown (discursively) is maintained indefinitely (“eternally”) in identity with itself, without needing to be demonstrated (discursively) for that. Provided, of course, that the discourse posed does not oppose itself and does not cancel itself discursively by contradicting everything it says itself.
Let us call “true” or “truth” everything that maintains itself indefinitely in identity with itself [the Totality thus being, by definition, “true” or “truth”]. We, therefore, call “true” or “truth” the Discourse which maintains itself indefinitely in identity with itself. In other words, a Discourse is ‘true’ or ‘truth’ when it does not contradict itself and cannot be contradicted by any other discourse whatsoever (while it can be re-told indefinitely). This is the case of the uni-total Discourse that is the System of Knowledge. But the Theoretical Discourse that claims this is the case is also claiming to be this case in point of fact. An axiomatic theoretical Discourse does not contradict itself by definition. And not contradicting any other discourse, it claims that it cannot be contradicted by any. It, therefore, presents itself as a true discourse or the discourse of truth. Let us say that when any axiomatic discourse presents itself as (discursive) “Truth”, the only “criterion” of this Truth is the absence of internal contradiction.
Now, this axiomatic theoretical discourse, even if it is one in the sense of “coherent”, is in no way unique in the sense of “total”. For being purely thetic, it excludes all negation. Its “Truth” is, therefore, by definition exclusive: excluding all negation, it also excludes that which denies itself. As axiomatic Truth, the Thesis excludes its Anti-thesis as (discursive) Error, which is also supposed to be “exclusive”, since it excludes Truth. No doubt, the axiomatic Thesis claims that! The error, which is its Anti-thesis, suppresses itself because it is “contradictory in terms”. But the Anti-thesis contradicts the thesis by saying that the latter is contradictory and thereby suppresses itself, thus being an Error. In fact, neither contradicts itself, although they contradict each other (even insofar as they contradict each other mutually exclusive).
By recognising this fact itself, the axiomatic (theoretical) Discourse is transformed into a sceptical (theoretical) Discourse. First, as a formalist, this Discourse suppresses the contradiction between the Thesis and the axiomatic Antithesis by “formalising” them both, that is, by emptying them of any kind of (discursive) meaning. Second, as a relativist, he re-says one AND the other (by contradicting himself) on the pretext that neither contradicts the other. Finally, as a nihilist, the Skeptical Discourse never re-says the one, nor the other (by no longer saying anything at all), on the supposed grounds that they contradict each other. For the sceptical theoretical Discourse, there is no longer any criterion of truth since there is no longer any Truth at all: the Truth is not discursive, and the Discourse is not truth.
But the Truth denied by the sceptical Discourse continues to be taken and understood as a theoretical or exclusive Truth. There is no discursive Truth because it is supposed to exclude ‘Error without being able to do so, since!’ Error is just as discursive as Truth (Discourse cannot effectively exclude the negation of what it affirms [if this affirmation is “meaningful”]). If the theoretical Discourse wishes to maintain exclusive Truth, it must find a “criterion” other than axiomatic Truth. It finds it by transforming itself into Dogmatic Discourse. The axiomatic discourse has admitted a criterion immanent to the discourse, contenting itself with the absence of internal contradiction.
But the Skeptical Discourse has shown that this absence does not exclude the presence of an “external” contradiction: two non-contradictory or “consistent” discourses could (and should) contradict each other. The Dogmatic Discourse thus admits that the criterion of exclusive Truth must be transcendent to the Discourse as such. Whence the criterion of the adequacy between Discourse and Reality, that is to say between (the meaning of) what one says and (the essence of) what one speaks about: Truth is an adequate “discourse” and it excludes! Error as inadequate speech. Dogmatic Truth is just as discursive and exclusive as axiomatic Truth. Still, while the latter’s criterion is discursive, the criterion for that one is no longer so: it is an Experience, by definition, silent (theological, scientific or moral). For the dogmatic criterion of any discursive (exclusive) Truth is something other than a discourse, whatever it may be (Dogmatism admitting, just like Skepticism, the contradictory character of the Discourse as such or of the Discourse taken as a whole, indeed of the whole of all [meaningful] discourse).
As a theoretical or exclusive discourse, the Dogmatic Discourse speaks of everything without speaking of itself: it excludes what it says itself from what it speaks of. If it does not exclude it, if it also speaks of what it says and of the fact that it says it, it is transformed into a synthetic or philosophical Discourse. But then it can no longer admit the dogmatic criterion of Truth, nor, moreover, the axiomatic criterion. For it is not enough for a philosophical discourse to be an (exclusive) Truth: it must still say that it is, by saying that it is “adequate”, that is to say, that (the sense of) what it says “coincides” with (the essence of) what it is talking about. However, everything one says can be contradicted (without contradicting oneself). As soon as we say that what we say is an (exclusive) Truth because it is adequate, we can contradict it by saying that it is an (exclusive) Error because it is inadequate. And a new call for silent experience could only postpone the problem without ever solving it (discursively).
At first sight, the Philosophical Discourse is a return to the Skeptical Discourse. But this is not the case, for the Philosophical Discourse goes beyond the Theoretical Discourse as such. Theoretical Discourse operates “exclusively” with the notion of exclusive (discursive) Truth (of Error). The axiomatic Discourse admits an immanent (discursive) criterion of this Truth, while the dogmatic Discourse appeals to a transcendent (silent) criterion. The Skeptical Discourse does not admit the first, without appealing to the second: it thus has no criterion of the Truth and therefore no Truth at all. But the Truth is, for the sceptical Discourse, by definition exclusive, because it is itself a theoretical and therefore exclusive Discourse. The Truth is supposed to have to be exclusive (of the Error which contradicts it). And when the Discourse (as such or taken as a whole) not being able to exclude the contra-diction (between what one says and what contradicts it), it follows that Discourse cannot be “exclusively” true. The truth cannot be discursive (in the sense of exclusive Discourse). For the Skeptic, Truth and Error are supposed to be mutually exclusive, but he himself cannot exclude one or the other alone; this is why he must either re-say one AND the other (then contradicting himself) or else not re-say the one nor the other (thus saying nothing of everything).
Now, Philosophy renounces precisely the exclusivity of Truth (concerning Error). By admitting, with Skepticism, that there is no discursive means of excluding from Discourse, only one of the two contrary theses that it necessarily implies, Philosophy must renounce the true character of Discourse as theoretical or exclusive. Now, by thus going beyond theoretical Discourse in general, Philosophy goes beyond its sceptical modality in particular (and therefore beyond the dogmatic modality which presupposes the latter) and the axiomatic modality that pre-supposes it). However, for us and in fact, the True is discursive only as uni-total Discourse, which is the only true or true discourse (insofar as it does not contradict itself, which it does only by temporalising itself). This Discourse is no longer Philosophy but a System of Knowledge or Discursive Wisdom. Properly philosophical discourses are the constituent elements of this uni-total Discourse. If only one of them is posited “to the exclusion” of all the others, what is thus posited is contradicted by what is thereby excluded, and vice versa. We thus find exclusive “truths” and “errors” within Philosophy itself, where the dialectic of theoretical Discourse will consequently be reproduced.
It is this transposition of the theoretical dialectic into Philosophy that will allow us to better understand the triple role of Heraclitus.
Suppose that the Parmenidean Thesis is a “thesis” not philosophical or synthetic, but theoretical or exclusive, in the axiomatic fashion. The negation of this thesis would then be an equally axiomatic anti-thesis. In other words, insofar as the Parmenidean philosophical Thesis has been misinterpreted in the sense of an axiomatic Theory (moreover thetic or “positive”, even theological), the Heraclitean philosophical Anti-thesis could also be misinterpreted in the sense of an equally axiomatic Theory (moreover antithetical or “negative”, even scientific or scientistic) [which opens the way to a parathetic or neutral, even moralist axiomatic Theory]. In the Third Party of the intellectuals, the contradiction between these two opposite (axiomatic) Theories can generate a sceptical Theory (formalist, relativist or nihilistic). Given that this (theoretical) contra-diction only appears originally in and through the (misinterpreted) Heraclitean Antithesis, the Skepticism in question can claim (wrongly, moreover) to refer to Heraclitus. Now, this theoretical Skepticism can engender a dogmatic Theory (as a “parathetic compromise” between the axiomatic and sceptical Theories). Insofar as the dogmatic intellectual claims (wrongly) the Parmenidean Thesis (which he misinterprets in the sense of a thetic or theological axiomatic theory), he can count himself (wrongly) among the “Eleates”. On the contrary, if he claims to belong to the Heraclitean Anti-thesis (misinterpreted in the sense of an antithetical or scientific axiomatic Theory), he can be counted among the “Heracliteans”. [If he claims that both the Thesis and the Anti-Thesis were misinterpreted, he will be a dogmatic Moralist, who seeks a “compromise” between the pseudo-theological Eleates and the pseudo-scientific Heracliteans.
In general, the Axiomatic Theorist does not admit the “coherence” of the Discourse to be a “criterion of Truth”, while the sceptical Theorist, admitting this single criterion, denies the possibility for the Discourse to conform to it. On the other hand, the Dogmatic Theorist, while seeing in this “criterion”, the necessary condition of (exclusive) Truth, no longer considers it as a sufficient condition, but adds to it that of “adequacy” [even if it means completely abandoning the first “criterion”, if he is forced to choose between the two].
Now, If we can call “a-philosophical” the Theories (axiomatic, dogmatic and sceptical) which are chronologically prior to Philosophy, we must call “pseudo-philosophical” those which are chronologically posterior to it, insofar as these Theories are in fact and for us misinterpretations of authentically philosophical discourse, without let the theoreticians themselves realise this. If they do, they oppose their own theories to the philosophies in question, and we can then call these theories ‘anti-philosophical’. (In fact, post-philosophical axiomatic theories are generally only pseudo-philosophical, while dogmatic theories are often anti-philosophical, sceptical theories almost always being so]. סלמאת סלמאת