The First Cause (Arche) and Change, Change Concept of Heraclitus

The First Cause (Arche) and Change, Change Concept of Heraclitus

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Heraclitus (540-480 BC), the philosopher who first discussed the phenomenon of change in the universe with a very strong emphasis, gained fame with the thesis that “everything is in flux”. However, flow and change constitute only one aspect of Heraclitus’ philosophy.

Indeed, his interest and philosophy focuses on two main perspectives: the objective and endless processes of nature on the one hand, and the beliefs and values ​​of ordinary people on the other. Accordingly, while he argues that there is a constant change and flow in that world, he also criticizes people for not being able to deal with the fact in question, theoretically and practically, with the fact that they live in a world that is always a burning and extinguishing fire, apart from the fact that they were not created by man or God.

The most important truth he put forward was the truth that “everything is one”, but this unity, difference, opposition and change aside, since the universe was in a state of dynamic equilibrium, it had to depend on change and opposition. From this point of view, Heraclitus, who attempted to find a solution to the phenomenon of unity, multiplicity and change in the universe, although accepting the unity, gave up the materialist monism of the Miletus and interpreted it as the unity of the order in which things change together, in the sense of the world being an orderly cosmos that can be discovered and understood by the human mind. claimed to be one.

At the center of Heraclitus’ views is the idea that conflict and war are the father of everything. According to him, war is the single most important condition of existence or becoming. For without this war, nothing would exist. For this reason, the birth or coming into existence of beings depends on the conflict of opposing forces that oppose each other and therefore keep each other in existence. Not only is the war of opposites a bad thing, but Heraclitus, who argues that it is a sine qua non of existence and that all beings in the universe must consist of opposing elements or forces in order to maintain their existence, he opposes the Pythagorean view of the ordered and harmonious universe. Health, peace and tranquility, taken on their own, cannot be said to be any better than their counterparts; they are good only when they are evaluated together with their opponents.

It is necessary and correct to consider together what a Pythagorean philosopher would see as good and bad; but this is not enough. For from a divine point of view all is good, right, and just. Moreover, it is all about perspective, and good and bad, according to Heraclitus, are purely relative concepts. Both hot and cold, wet and dry, are at war with each other, far from cooperating with each other, as the Pythagoreans thought. From their constant state of war, a temporary state of harmony may arise, as the causal factors are the same and equally powerful on both sides, or a disease-like disharmony may arise. Thus, if there is a truly proportional mixture, it means that the belligerent opponents have achieved a balance of power in such a way that one does not dominate the other.

It is war, the father of all things, that creates the general opposition, in which the struggle between gods and men, between free and slaves, is just an example of itself. Heraclitus draws two main conclusions from this: The first is that people must somehow come to terms with the fact that the belligerent forces are indispensable or essential to balance and order, an issue of paramount importance to the way the world is structured. In the latter case, Heraclitus carries the war from the physical world to the social world. Accordingly, social and political stability is a manifestation of opposing tensions and is based on a more or less developed balance of opposition forces. This is a truth that seemed all too true to him in his turbulent times.

In the city-state of Heraclitus’ time, he was of the opinion that internal peace was the result of the fact that the two main classes that existed, namely the lower classes and the nobility, were not strong enough to seize power. When one of these two classes became strong enough to fight purely for its own benefit and its own law, the disturbed balance of power was dissolved until the approximate equality of powers restored “peace”. Therefore, there could be no peace without war; The absence of an opposing balance of forces was bound to mean the disappearance of society in a civil war.

According to Heraclitus, who asserts not only the war but also the unity of the opposites, each of the pairs of opposites then constitutes both a unity and a multiplicity, thus the fundamental moments of formation and change in the universe. In other words, the doctrine of the unity of opposites leads directly to the doctrine of flow. Because Heraclitus, like other Greek philosophers, accepted that change is cyclical, depending on the concept of the cyclicity of time. Accordingly, change is other than one of the opposites originally existing in one and the same being.