Saturday, May 9, 2009

04 Herakleitos

Another person from those days...about 500 B.C.....Herakleitos...also an inhabitant of Asia Minor.What did he contribute to the philosophical insights of his days. The primary element: fire this time. For Thales it was water, for Anaximines it was air, Xenophanes added soil + water = mud.

A kind of developing theory of nature....chemistry......However that was not the case.
The choice of a primary element was not a scientific choice for these Greek. They just tried to understand what realy existed in the multitude of phenomena. Maybe it was induced by the never ending quest for certainty.

When opinions collide, there can emerge a better opinion. That was his idea....there was no inert mass.......there were dualities....night and day, warm and cold, happy and sad, dead and alive.
What really existed was contant change.

Just think about this statement: No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he isnt the same man.

That was his idea....reality wasnt something that just is, but something that is in a permanent process of changes. Centuries later Hegel would describe it as Thesis and Antithesis leading to a Synthesis, but 450 B.C a human mind already coined this thought.
Although these Greek philosophers tried to understand reality, tried to reduce it to the ultimate substance, they were no scientists in the way we define a scientist. .Their search for the final principal wasn't a scientific search. We should keep that in mind.They tried to understand reality, freed from the mythological explanations. The human mind wanted to be down to earth in its understanding of life.

Pythagors thought that the foundation the essence of the world was the harmony of numbers. For Herakleitos it was the LOGOS....logos a greek word, which means word, reason, rationality.....
So for Herakleitos reality was the permanent flux, but there was a rationality in it, a rationality which we as human beings should learn to understand. Understanding this Logos would help us to understand life.

These Greek philosophers werent natural scientists. In their ideas there still is an urge to find a more mystic explanation for reality. You witness here the first intellectual struggles between a religious and a materialistic interpretation of reality.
Although these Greek philosophers speculated on the ultimate substance, they were not the first natural scientists. Their questions about reality werent scientific, but ontological. They were searching for understanding the fondaments of being, ......being a human .......being, not controlled by gods but by reason and observation.

Main Resources:
Philip Stokes, Philosophy: 100 essential thinkers
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition

The Discussion
[13:11] You: Ok..Welcome all...nice to see you again....[13:11] You: let's begin..
[13:17] You: Here we witness the begining of what we arrived at now....[13:17] You: If you have any questions or remarks...plz feel free[13:18] Bookslinger Ballinger: Herman I would like to ask a question please[13:18] You: plz go ahead[13:18] Bookslinger Ballinger: You mentioned that Heraclitus had rationale in his thinking but[13:19] Bookslinger Ballinger: didn't Diogenes call him "the riddler" because he never finished his writings and rambled in his thinking?[13:19] You: that is true....he was known as the 'Obscure'
[13:20] oola Neruda: smiles
[13:20] Bookslinger Ballinger: So...where was his rational thinking?[13:20] You: thing is that he was the first one to refer to reality with the word LOGOS....reason[13:20] You: not rational thinking , I think....[13:21] Bookslinger Ballinger: OK Thanks[13:21] You: more the idea that there must be some reason, some logic, something to understand in reality[13:21] You: these people still were close to religious and mystic thinking[13:22] You: so reality couldn’t be just pure coincidence or hazard[13:23] You: I wont say that they had an animistic view of reality........but I guess.....they were ambivalent.....[13:24] You: on the one hand rational thinking about reality emerges and on the other hand their heads were still full of that mythological thinking too....[13:24] You: where they reduced this mythological thing to a more rational proportion.....[13:25] You: Like Herakleitos....not a multitude of gods....but the Logos that is the essence of reality[
13:26] You: it is really facinating to see how the roots of scientific thinking grow here....
[13:26] You: and how they will be obscured by the Middle Ages[13:26] You: and then emerge again
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: give some credit to the arabs herman..
[13:27] You: oh yes.....[13:27] You: in fact they brought logic and empirism to Europe through Spain in 1100[13:28] You: Avicenna an Averoes were the great icons here[13:28] You: The Arabs preserved and translated Aristoteles for Europe
[13:28] You: an amazing fact
[13:29] You: Any questions?
[13:30] lynsey Fleury: yes, how come those facts are still that unknown in general?
[13:30] Osrum Sands: : Avicenna and Averoes ? please explain[13:30] You: sorry..two questions...[13:30] Osrum Sands: I’ll wait[13:30] You: Lynsey...what facts do you mean?[13:31] lynsey Fleury: the influence of the Arab world onto western culture longtime ago[13:31] lynsey Fleury: you hear so few about that[13:31] You: well...the influence wasnt that massive[13:32] You: fact is that they brought the greek texts of Aristotels to the attention of the Europeans[13:32] You: and mathematics[13:32] You: that was about 1100 A.D[13:33] You: but only two great philosophers are remembers, Avicenna and Averoes[13:33] lynsey Fleury: isn't maths an important basic principle for western science?[13:33] lynsey Fleury: in western science...[13:33] Osrum Sands: That answers my Q. ta![13:33] You: it definitely is....but dont forget Pythagores and Euclid 200 years later[13:34] You: the greek also were arware of the significance of math[13:34] You: For Pythogoras the world was in essence even number
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: I guess they weren't aware of fractual geometry
[13:35] You: for him it still was a more mystical approach...not yet a scientific one[13:35] You: even I am not Rodney..:-)[13:36] You: I myself am amazed of the Arab influence in the early Middle Ages....[13:36] You: It disappeared after that period...
[13:36] Rodney Handrick: Didn't they preserve the book we come to know as the Bible?
[13:37] hope63 Shepherd: no Rodney the greeks did[13:37] You: I have no idea who preserved that book, Rodney
[13:37] You: it already is amazing that so much written text is preserved from that aera
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: The environment that Heraclites existed in was devoid of the clutter of any opposing thought about 'reality' so there was more opportunity for 'original' thought than today?[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. it is a question of material....[13:38] You: Maybe Caileach[13:39] You: The Greek lived in a polytheist world....rational philosophy was a real new thing[13:39] You: questioning reality without relying on gods[13:40] You: about the preservation of the bible....[13:41] You: the Roman catholic church uses as origin a greek I recall in koine greek which goes down to hebrew text
[13:42] You: Did we leave any question unanswered? :-)
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: are we talking about the bible or the new testament..[13:43] Rodney Handrick: Not that I can see...[13:43] You: You I right...I guess it is the New testament[13:44] Cailleach Shan: Herman, do you have any idea of the average life span for people of Heraclites' time?[13:44] Osrum Sands: No but just a comment It appears that history is going in circles. That is with the information you have given today about the break from religous superstition to rational thought. Well isnt that what happened with the enlightnment ec ?[13:44] You: one at a time plz....[13:45] Osrum Sands: sorry[13:45] You: those Greek, caileach made it to about 60

[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: one last questionn. when we talked about thales i kind of asked it.. but come i withdraw may questions lol
[13:46] You: ok..:-)[13:46] You: Your remark is to the point Osrum[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: call. to my age they were mostly dead lol[13:46] Osrum Sands: ok[13:46] You: but the thing is that these greek philosphers set the beacons....[13:46] Osrum Sands: so the dark ages pushed us backwards in lots of ways[13:47] You: we will meet Plato and Aristoteles[13:47] You: no no...not at all[13:47] Osrum Sands: go on[13:47] You: they formulated the basics of Westen philosopphy....[13:48] You: and since then we are still studying the same questions [13:48] Osrum Sands: ok
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: .you mean : studiying the same question in the same way..[13:48] You: no..I dont think in the same way....
[13:49] You: what you would call progress would mean in this context ...studying the same questions from constantly new angles and viewpoint
[13:49] hope63 Shepherd: i meant. the same techniques.. basis.. dialectic.. and so on.. imagine you were a hindu. it would all be out of context..[13:51] You: I think you cant compare it with Hindu thinking....for there you still interpret the world in a theological, non materialistic way,,,which is already done before so often
[13:51] Osrum Sands: why
[13:52] You: Herkleitos was the first dialictic thinker[13:52] Osrum Sands: Is that point the key for today[13:52] You: he said...all thing s exists as one and opposing eachother...
[13:52] You: you have light and dark....warm and cold....
[13:53] You: and so on[13:53] You: and I would add one to that..[
13:53] Osrum Sands: Marx and Class struggle
[13:54] You: you can interpret reality by refering to spiritual realities like gods and you can interpret reality by refering to scientific explanations[13:54] didi Boucher: basic needs met before you even can think of thinking[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. why not spartacus osram.. he fought .. and might have had the same ideas lool[13:55] You: true Didi....but that is what we already observed in Thales....he had a good life and time to think..:-)
[13:55] Osrum Sands: Sorry Marx loved Dialictic thinking
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: Thanks for today Herman.... I must leave... Bye everyone.[13:55] Cailleach Shan is Offline
[13:55] didi Boucher: bye cailleach
[13:55] You: it was with the increase of wealth that man got time to think[13:55] You: Bye Caileach[13:56] didi Boucher: yes, i wonder: are there any african philosophers?[13:56] Osrum Sands: good old Adam Smith and excess gave us that[13:56] didi Boucher: we're not there yet, I know...[13:56] You: neither are there south american onces [13:57] You: nor Australian ones
[13:57] didi Boucher: .... never realised that... but i know very little about philosophy[13:58] You: I think there is a relation between material wealth and prosperity and the freedom to spend time on thinking , on philosophy[13:58] Osrum Sands: considered Adram Maslow and his needs thing[13:58] didi Boucher: what was the name of that sixties psychologist with his stages of wealth[13:58] didi Boucher: yes i mean him thanks osrum![13:58] Bookslinger Ballinger: Herman, I think maybe add into your mixture, basic food and shelter...
[13:59] didi Boucher: I suffer from Korsakoff light...;0
[14:01] You: I am afraid there is no hope for Hope....[14:01] You: stuck in typing..:-)[14:01] Osrum Sands: long letter coming here[14:01] You: I guess[14:01] hope63 Shepherd: now lets be honest. : is not a philosoher just because he is looking for some answers and is NOT religious.. religion and philosophy is NOT contradictory. so. just because we don'r know anything about austrailians or africans or others we should not be so " gonflé” as the french say to think philosophy is just what WE C0NSIDER IT TO BE lets be more humble before all the people in the past and present who think[14:01] You: TIme to dismiss class..:-)[14:01] Osrum Sands: thesis maybe ? ahah[14:02] You: it WAS a long letter..gimme time to read Hope[14:02] hope63 Shepherd: np. you might as well ignore it.. just came out of my bely lol[14:03] You: I understand your point of view Hope, but I have some thoughts about it.[14:03] Osrum Sands: Hope a lot of current western thinking and ways are bacicly Male dominated Euperean centered stuff ( at least I understand it to be)[14:04] You: The first way to understand reality is an animistic way...everything is invested with gods and spirits [14:04] Osrum Sands: bloody typos
[14:04] You: you see that in many cultures[14:04] Osrum Sands: Australian Aborigines[14:04] You: so in Afriaca and Asutralia you definitely will find that way of thinking about reality[14:05] You: the amzing thing is the moment man dropped that approach[14:05] You: and relied on himself for the real explanation[14:05] didi Boucher: yes, that's what distracted me[14:06] You: and just look what culture...historically spoken occured that[14:06] didi Boucher: highly developed cultures[14:06] You: The Chinese were a highly developed culture in those days....[14:07] didi Boucher: "developed" I should say[14:07] You: they had their philosphers....[14:07] You: but only on ethics[14:07] You: Confucius...[14:07] You: but that step to science as we know it...where in the world was that taken.....[14:08] Osrum Sands: the wast[14:08] didi Boucher: haha, I'll sleep on that[14:08] Osrum Sands: *west[14:08] You: ok..I'll ask you next class[14:08] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. sorry was absent.. one last question: did any of the greek philosophers you tell us about and all the others you dont tell us about make any comment on the oracle of delphi..[14:08] didi Boucher: freudian slip osrum?[14:09] Bookslinger Ballinger: Herman, I'm sorry but I must leave now...thank you for an interesting lecture[14:09] You: yes...14:09] You: it is said that the name of pythagoras was derived from the Pithia[14:10] You: Pithia in agora...the oracle in the marketplace
[14:10] You: Pythagoras was a kind of guru in his days I think
[14:11] You: Bu the oracle of Delphi in the line of mythological thinking.....[14:11] You: the world controlled by gods....the future knows by divination[14:12] You: in stead of by scientific prediction[14:12] You: as we are used to now...[14:13] Osrum Sands: Herman it would appear that in USA and the envangelic right are doing much the same . not allowing for a scientlfic answer ? any comment[14:13] oola Neruda: good observation[14:13] Osrum Sands: creation etc[14:13] You: well..[14:13] herman Bergson smiles[14:14] You: let's stick to the old greeks for the moment Osrum..:-)[14:14] Osrum Sands: ok[14:14] Osrum Sands: but you did ask
[14:14] Osrum Sands: for any where it is happening now
[14:14] Osrum Sands: I think[14:14] You: just keep the question in mind[14:14] Osrum Sands: sure
[14:15] You: Well...thank you for your attention and good discussion again..:-)
Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-10-10 02:16:24

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