Born: 540 B.C
Died: 270 B.C
Heraclitus of Ephesus, though an Ionian, was not in the scientific tradition of the Milesians. According to Applodorus, Heraclitus, son of Blyson, flourished in the sixty-ninth Olympiad (504-501 B.C.). Beyond the fact that Heraclitus was an aristocratic citizen of Ephesus, we know nothing of his life.
His only book On Nature is said have been divided into three parts: (1)
concerning the All, (2) political, (3) theological. The prose of book was quit,
whose depth, according to Socrates, required a “Delian diver”. Even in
antiquity, he was surnamed “The Dark” or “The Obscure” and his reputation for
gloomy misanthropy gave him the title of the Weeping Philosopher.
Heraclitus took the primary substance of things to be fire and identified with the soul. According to him, the universe was a perpetual cyclic flux, nothing remain the same for any period, but everything being in a state of constant change. The universe was a perpetual conflagration in which solid earth melted to water and evaporated into air, which sublimated into flame, and then as smoke and ash was precipitated again to earth to be rekindled into fire. He wrote, “This world is an ever-living fire, with measure of it kindling, and measures going out”.
He regarded fire as the fundamental substance. Fire is the ultimate ground of the world. He sees the universe as being involved in a continual change. Everything is born by the death of something else like, flame in a fire. “Mortals are immortals, and immortals are mortals, the one living the other’s death and dying the other’s life.”
Heraclitus denied of any permanent existence in order to overcome the difficulty
of reconciliation permanent with change (or unity with many). There is no static
Being and change is the rule of universe. Nothing ever is, but everything is
becoming; all things are passing, and nothing abides. The doctrine that
everything is in a state of flux is the most famous of the opinions of
Heraclitus, and the one most emphasized by his disciples, as described in
According to Heraclitus, there is unity in the world, but it is a unity formed
by the combination of opposites. There would be no unity if there were not
opposite to combine. “All things come out of the one, and the one out of all
things.” His philosophy is the mingling of opposites. For instance, “Men would
not have known the name of justice if there were no injustice”.
Hegal, the conservative-revolutionary philosopher, adopted in his Logik all the
principles of Heraclitus and proceeds by synthesizing of opposites (or more
accurately, the identity of the opposites and the universal process.
Heraclitus ethic is a kind of asceticism, very similar to Neitzsche’s [Russell]. He regards the soul as a mixture of fire and water, the fire being noble and the water ignoble. The more (or pure) this fire, the more perfect is the soul hence, the wisest and best.
Like that of Anaximander, the conception of cosmic justices dominates the metaphysics of Heraclitus, which prevents the strife of opposites from ever issuing in the complete victory of either. “The sun will not overstep his bounds, if he does, the Erinnyes, allies of justice, will find him out.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus is one of the most energetic thinkers of ancient Greek. The proud and independent philosopher is known for his cosmology. According to him, the primitive substance of the universe is the fire. He wrote one book and it is lost. His position carries on in the short fragments quoted and accredited to him by later philosophers. Some fragments are as follows: