Heraclitus and FragmentsJune 27, 2021
The philosophical views of Heraclitus can be revealed to some extent by starting from some fragments that have survived to the present day, and the philosophical thoughts he put forward in these fragments can be divided into three main parts: 1. The understanding of knowledge and philosophy, 2. The understanding of the Universe or Nature, 3. The understanding of morality and life.
It is known that Heraclitus wrote a book called On Nature (Fairy Physeos). Unfortunately, the whole of this book has not reached us, but about a hundred sentences that are thought to belong to this book have survived in fragments. Each of these fragments is called a fragment, which means fragment in Western languages, and they are numbered in an internationally accepted method.
Although it is a great chance that these fragments have survived to the present day despite a long period of 2500 years, they are sad as they remind us that any effort to determine the philosophical views of Heraclitus will be incomplete from the very beginning. Still, these fragments tell us a lot about his philosophical views.
One of the most important formal features of these fragments is that they were written without rhyme and without measure. The most typical feature of ancient Greek philosophy, especially Pre-Socratic philosophy, was that it was based on works written in meter and rhyme. However, fragments of Heraclitus do not fit this general feature. On the other hand, these fragments are written in an enigmatic and confusing way. When evaluated carefully, it is seen that each of them is written like a puzzle whose solution is left to the reader.
This puzzle-based discourse, reminiscent of the style of oriental scriptures and even the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, later influenced many important thinkers, including modern names such as Wittgenstein. In a fragment of Heraclitus (fragments 92-93), he says of his own writing style: “The goddess in Delphi neither speaks nor hides, she just points.” When we think from this fragment, it is understood that Heraclitus preferred to show his reader instead of telling something directly, thus aiming to activate his thought with a certain impulse.
Heraclitus uses a rhymeless, unmeasured and puzzle-based style in his fragments. This brings it closer to the style of oriental scriptures.
In a fragment of Heraclitus, “The goddess in Delphi (a great oracle center in the Greek world) neither speaks nor hides, she just points”, and he wrote on this basis.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook