The Fragments of Heraclitus
(A Partial Reconstruction, Based upon the Patrick translation)

Let us not conjecture at random about the greatest things. (Fr. 47) The things of which there is seeing and hearing and perception, these do I prefer. (Fr. 55) The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears. (Fr. 101)

Evil witnesses are eyes and ears for men, if they have souls that do not understand their language. (Fr. 107) Most people do not understand the things they encounter, nor do they grasp them even when they have learned about them, although they think they do. (Fr. 17) And some men are as ignorant of what they do when awake as they are forgetful of what they do when asleep. (Fr. 1) Men miss the significance of visible things (Fr. 56); they are like people of no experience. (Fr. 1)

Although intimately connected with the Logos, men keep setting themselves against it. (Fr. 72) [Consciously or unconsciously] the sleeping are co-workers and fabricators of things that happen in the world. (Fr. 75) For it is wholly destined. (Fr. 137) How can one escape that which never sets? (Fr. 16)

Men who love wisdom should acquaint themselves with a great many particulars (Fr. 35), [although] much information [by itself] does not teach one to have understanding, else it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, and again Xenophanes and Hecataeus. (Fr. 40) Those who hear and do not understand are like the deaf. Of them the proverb says: Present, they are absent. (Fr. 34) They understand neither how to speak nor how to hear. (Fr. 19) A foolish man is apt to be in a flutter at every word. (Fr. 87) The thoughtless man understands the divine voice (Logos) as little as the child understands the man. (Fr. 79)

This kosmos (the world which belongs to all) was not made, either by gods or by men, but it always was and is and shall be: an everliving fire, kindling in measures and going out in measures. (Fr. 30) Time is a child at play [creating and destroying]. (Fr. 52) The most beautiful world-order is but a sand-pile formed at random. (Fr. 124)

Listening not to me but to the Logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one. (Fr. 50) Things taken together are whole and not whole, something which is being brought together and brought apart, which is in tune and out of tune; out of all things there comes a unity, and out of a unity all things. (Fr. 10) It scatters and gathers, it comes together and flows away, approaches and departs. (Fr. 91) Fire comes upon all things, sifting and seizing them. (Fr. 66) The beginning and end are the same. (Fr. 103) The road to and from is one and the same. (Fr. 60) In change is rest. (Fr. 84) Cold becomes warm, and warm cold; wet becomes dry, and dry wet. (Fr. 126) The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony, and all things take place by strife. (Fr. 8) [It is wrong to say:] "Would that strife were ended among gods and men." For there could be no harmony without sharps and flats, nor living beings without male and female. (Fr. 53) For men to have whatever they wish, would not be well. Sickness makes health pleasant and good; hunger makes satiety pleasant and good; weariness makes rest pleasant and good. (Fr. 110 and Fr. 111) They would not know the name of Right, if its opposite did not exist. (Fr. 23) To god, all things are beautiful and good and just, but men have supposed some things to be unjust, others just. (Fr. 102) God is day/night, winter/summer, war/peace, satiety/hunger (all the opposites). (Fr. 67) All things come in their due season. (Fr. 100)

War is the father of all. (Fr. 53) The harmony of the world is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and the lyre. (Fr. 51) The hidden harmony is better than the apparent one. (Fr. 54) Nature (physis) loves to hide. (Fr. 123)

The lightning-flash steers all things. (Fr. 64) The wise is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgment, how all things are steered through all. (Fr. 41) [The wise soul] flashes through the body as the lightning through the cloud. (Fr. 63, Schleiermacher) [For him who understands the Logos] the sun is new each day. (Fr. 6) If one does not expect the unexpected, one will not find it out, since it is not to be searched out. (Fr. 18) Gold-seekers dig up much earth but find little gold. (Fr. 22) Hybris [arrogance, excess, irreverence, going too far] is more to be extinguished than a conflagration. (Fr. 43) Sun will not overstep his measures. (Fr. 94)

The law of understanding (logos) is common to all. Those who speak wisely must rely on what is common to all, as a city must rely on its law (nomos) and with much greater reliance. For all the laws of men depend on the one divine law; for it has as much power as it wishes and is sufficient for all and is still left over. (Fr. 114) It is necessary to follow the common; the many live as though they had a private understanding. (Fr. 2) The waking have one world in common, whereas each sleeper turns away to a private world of his own. (Fr. 89) Extinguishing sight, he borders upon sleep when awake. (Fr. 26) One should not act or speak as if he were asleep. (Fr. 73)

Wisdom consists in speaking and acting the truth, giving heed to the nature (physis) of things. (Fr. 112) It pertains to all men to know themselves and to be temperate. (Fr. 116) A man's character is his daimon. (Fr. 119) The limits of the soul you would not find out, though you should travel every path. (Fr. 45) Into the same river we both step and do not step. We both are and are not. (Fr. 49)

Wisdom stands apart from all else. (Fr. 108) There is only one supreme wisdom. It wills and wills not to be called by the name of Zeus. (Fr. 32) Man is not rational; there is intelligence only in what surrounds him. (Fr. 62, Wheelwright)


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This page last updated 10/14/12

Please note: These philosophical commentaries, though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L. Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text. One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission of the author.