Heracletus of Ephesus: from the flux of melacholy
to the harmony of Logos
STAVROS J. BALOYANNIS
Heraclitus is one of the great Ionian thinkers, who lived around the beginning of the fifth century BC. in Ephesus, the second great Ionian city. His style of life has had an obvious melancholic character and his death was tragic. Although he has been one of the most creative and influential pre-Socratic philosophers , his surviving work consists of more than hundred twenty fragmentary epigrammatic mentionings of him by his successors, philosophers and early Christian authors, that scholars have been able to extract them from their manuscripts. Heraclitus as an author has a distinctive and powerful style, characterized by linguistic density, resonance, metaphor, symbolism, aphorism and opacity, thus most of his fragments might be translated in many ways. Heraclitus as a philosopher presents himself as the delivered of Logos, which is accessible to thought because it is «common». Logos is a central idea of fundamental importance for the uncovering of the Being. On the human soul Heraclitus claims that one would never discover the limits of psyche, should one transverse every road. In addition he insists that psyche possesses a logos which increases itself and «a dry psyche is wiser and best». According to Heraclitus psyche, understanding the truths, has unlimited resources. Psyche itself is the source not only of life, but also of reason and rational control. Heraclitus frequently asserts the unity of opposites, thus «the road up and down is one and the same road» and «in the circumference of the circle beginning and end are the same». Sometimes Heraclitus expresses an obvious mysticism stateing that «nature loves to hide» and «an unapparent harmony is stronger than an apparent one» and even more than that «immortals are mortals, mortals are immortals, living their death, dying their life. Heraclitus claims that everything is in flux, like the constant flow of a river and he insists that «nobody can step twice into the same river». The universe is a continuous state of dynamic equilibrium, whereas at the same time «all things are one». Fire is the underlying principle of all things. The world as a whole is an everlastingly repeated sequence of cycles, each of which emerges out of fire and ends in fire. According to Heraclitus Logos-Truth-Nature-Eternity are the crucial existential principles for the Being and the «Wise is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgment, how all things are steered through all». The influence of Heraclitus' doctrines on other philosophers was extensive. Heraclitus could be characterized as the first existential philosopher, whose ideas have been revitalized in a more systematic and acceptable way in the fields of the modern existential philosophy.