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Heraclitus’ Rebuke of Polymathy

A Core Element in the Reflectiveness of His Thought

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Author: Keith Begley1
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College DublinDublinIreland
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Abstract

I offer an examination of a core element in the reflectiveness of Heraclitus’ thought, namely, his rebuke of polymathy. In doing so, I provide a response to a recent claim that Heraclitus should not be considered to be a philosopher, by attending to his paradigmatically philosophical traits. Regarding Heraclitus’ attitude to that naïve form of ‘wisdom’, i.e., polymathy, I argue that he does not advise avoiding experience of many things, rather, he advises rejecting experience of things as merely many independent things in their manifoldness, and, instead, to understand their unity and thereby to unify our knowledge of them.

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