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Introduction 1 Fl 500 BC in Ephesus north of Miletus in Asia Minor He was known in antiquity as the obscure And even today it is very difficult to be certain what Heraclitus was talking about As Barnes says Presocratics p 57 Heraclitus attracts exegetes as an empty jampot wasps and each new wasp discerns traces of his own favourite flavour The reason for this is Heraclituss dark and aphoristic style He loved to appear to contradict himself Some of his doctrines sound incoherent and self-contradictory even if he did not perhaps intend them that way 2 One thing seems certain Heraclitus had an extremely negative reaction to Milesian thought For the Milesians what is real is fixed and permanent change somehow had to be explained away They understood changes as alterations of some basic underlying material stuff which is in its own nature unchanging Heraclitus reversed this change is what is real Permanence is only apparent 3 Heraclitus had a very strong influence on Plato Plato interpreted Heraclitus to have believed that the material world undergoes constant change He also thought Heraclitus was approximately correct in so describing the material world Plato believed that such a world would be unknowable and was thus driven to the conclusion that the material world was in some sense unreal and that the real knowable world was immaterial The unity of opposites 1 A number of fragments suggest that Heraclitus thought that opposites are really one Main fragments RAGP numbers 50 60 67 83 86 B61 B60 B88 B67 B62 See also 70 B111 75 B84a 2 What does this mean Does Heraclitus think that hot cold that mortality immortality etc Does he think in general that each property F that has an opposite F is identical to its opposite Is the unity of opposites thesis best understood in logical symbols as F F
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