A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for November, 2003

Heraclitus First and Last

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review by Brian Charles Clark

Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
Translated by Brooks Haxton; foreword by James Hillman
Viking, 2001

HeraclitusHeraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, may have written a book that he might have called On Nature. If Heraclitus did write such a book, and if that’s what it was called, he did so while Pythagoras, Buddha, and Lao Tzu were all alive. But nobody really knows for sure—all that survives the intervening 2,500 years are fragments incorporated in the works of others. Personally, I’m not convinced that Heraclitus wrote a book—whatever it may have been called—at all. I think the old philosopher was a little like Ludwig Wittgenstein in that respect: mistrusting of the permanence of words on paper, never quite satisfied with the way things came out when he did write things down. Heraclitus seemed to have preferred conversation (when, as legend has it, he let you within a hundred feet), just like Wittgenstein, so much of whose thought was written down by his students, his listeners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

November 5th, 2003 at 12:26 pm

Posted in philosophy, reviews