Heraclitus’ Rebuke of Polymathy

A Core Element in the Reflectiveness of His Thought

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

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.

  • Graham, D.W. 2010. The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics. Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • [Heraclitus] Kahn, C.H. 1979. The Art and Thought of Heraclitus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • [Heraclitus] Marcovich, M. 1967. Heraclitus. Merida: Los Andes University Press.

  • [Heraclitus] Robinson, T.M. 1987. Heraclitus: Fragments. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

  • Laks, A. and Most, G. (eds.). 2016. Early Greek Philosophy, Volume III: Early Ionian Thinkers. Part 2. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKirahan, R.D. 2010. Philosophy Before Socrates: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary. 2nd ed. Indiana: Hackett Publishing.

  • Barnes, J. 1979. The Presocratic Philosophers, 2 vols. London: Routledge.

  • Barnes, J. 1982. The Presocratic Philosophers. 2nd ed. 2 vols. London: Routledge.

  • Betegh, G. 2009. The Limits of the Soul: Heraclitus B 45 DK. Its Text and Interpretation. In: Hülsz Piccone, E. (ed.), Nuevos ensayos sobre Heráclito. Actas del Segundo Symposium Heracliteum. Ciudad de México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 391414.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cankaya, A. 2017. What is the Source of Knowledge in Heraclitus? In: Fantino, E., Muss, U., Schubert, C. & Sier, K. (eds.), Heraklit im Kontext. Berlin: De Gruyter, 303309.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collingwood, R.G. 1946. The Idea of History: With Lectures 1926–1928. van der Dussen, J. (ed.), 1994. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cornford, F.M. 1957. From Religion to Philosophy: A Study In The Origins of Western Speculation. New York: Harper & Brothers.

  • Curd, P.K. 1991. Knowledge and Unity in Heraclitus. The Monist 74(4), 531549.

  • Curd, P.K. 2011. New Work on the Presocratics. Journal of the History of Philosophy 49(1), 137.

  • Dilcher, R. 1995. Studies in Heraclitus. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

  • Dilcher, R. 2013. How Not to Conceive Heraclitean Harmony. In: Sider, D. & Obbink, D. (eds.), Doctrine and Doxography, Studies on Heraclitus and Pythagoras. Berlin: De Gruyter, 263280.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Finkelberg, A. 2017. Heraclitus and Thales’ Conceptual Scheme: A Historical Study. Leiden: Brill.

  • Frede, M. 1996. The Philosopher. In: Brunschwig, J. & Lloyd, G.E.R. (eds.), Porter (tr.) The Greek Pursuit of Knowledge. 2003. London: Belknap Press. (Original: Pellegrin, P., Brunschwig, J. & Lloyd, G.E.R. (eds.) 1996. Le Savoir Grec: Dictionnaire Critique. Paris: Flammarion.)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Graham, D.W. 2003. Does Nature Love to Hide? Heraclitus B123 DK. Classical Philology 98(2), 175179.

  • Graham, D.W. 2015. Heraclitus. In: Zalta, E. (ed). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Fall 2015 Edition), URL: <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/heraclitus> Accessed: 21/6/2019.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Granger, H. 2004. Heraclitus’ Quarrel with Polymathy and “Historiê”. Transactions of the American Philological Association 134(2), 235261.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. 1962. A History of Greek Philosophy. Volume 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Huffman, C.A. 2008. Heraclitus’ Critique of Pythagoras’ Enquiry in Fragment 129. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 35, 1947.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hülsz, E. 2013a. Heraclitus on Logos: Language, Rationality and the Real. In: Sider, D. & Obbink, D. (eds.), Doctrine and Doxography, Studies on Heraclitus and Pythagoras. Berlin: De Gruyter, 281302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hülsz, E. 2013b. Heraclitus on Φύσις. Epoché 17(2), 179194.

  • Hussey, E. 1972. The Presocratics. London: Duckworth.

  • Hussey, E. 1999. Heraclitus. In: A.A. Long (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, 88112. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnstone, M.A. 2014. On ‘Logos’ in Heraclitus. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 47, 129.

  • Kirk, G.S. 1954. Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Kirk, G.S., Raven, J.E. & Schofield, M. (eds. & trs.). 1983. The Presocratic Philosophers. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lesher, J.H. 1983. Heraclitus’ Epistemological Vocabulary. Hermes 111(2), 155170.

  • Lesher, J.H. 1994. The Emergence of Philosophical Interest in Cognition. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 12, 134.

  • Mackenzie, M.M. 1988. Heraclitus and the Art of Paradox. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 6, 137.

  • Moore, C. 2020. Calling Philosophers Names: On the Origin of a Discipline. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  • Most, G.W. 2016. Heraclitus Fragment B123 DK. In: Doniger, W., Galison, P. & Neiman, S. (eds.), What Reason Promises: Essays on Reason, Nature and History. Berlin: De Gruyter, 117123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mourelatos, A.P.D. 1973. Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Naive Metaphysics of Things. In: Lee, E.N., Mourelatos, A.P.D. & Rorty, R.M. (eds.), Exegesis and Argument. Phronesis, supplementary volume 1. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1648.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mourelatos, A.P.D. 2008. Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Naive Metaphysics of Things. In: The Route of Parmenides: Revised and Expanded Edition. Athens: Parmenides Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Palmer, J. 2018. Contradiction and Aporia in Early Greek Philosophy. In: Karamanolis, G. & Politis, V. (eds.), The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 928.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Politis, V. 2015. The Structure of Enquiry in Plato’s Early Dialogues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Politis, V. 2018a. Aporia and Sceptical Argument in Plato’s Early Dialogues. In: Karamanolis, G. & Politis, V. (eds.), The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 4866.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Politis, V. 2018b. Plato’s Geach Talks to Socrates: Definition by Example-and-Exemplar in the Hippias Major. Phronesis 63(3), 223228.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Prier, R.A. 1976. Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus Parmenides and Empedocles. The Hague: Mouton.

  • Pritzl, K. 1985. On the Way to Wisdom in Heraclitus. Phoenix 39(4), 303316.

  • Popper, K.R. 1958. Back to the Pre-Socratics: The Presidential Address. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series 59 (1958–1959), 124.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sedley, D. 2009. Being, not-being and Mind. In: Le Poidevin, R., Simons, P., McGonigal, A. & Cameron, R.P. (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Abingdon: Routledge, 817.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Snell, B. 1946. The Discovery of the Mind. Rosenmeyer (tr.) 1953. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University. (Original: Snell, B. 1946. Die Entdeckung des Geistes. Hamburg: Claassen & Goverts.)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stekeler-Weithofer, P. 2017. Philosophical Oracles. Tropical forms in speculative reflections from Heraclitus to Heidegger. In: Fantino, E., Muss, U., Schubert, C. & Sier, K. (eds.), Heraklit im Kontext. Berlin: De Gruyter, 507532.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thom, J.C. 2013. The Pythagorean Akousmata and Early Pythagoreanism. In: Cornelli, G., McKirahan, R. & Macris, C. (eds.), On Pythagoreanism. Berlin: De Gruyter, 77102.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tor, S. 2017. On Second Thoughts, Does Nature Like to Hide? Heraclitus B123 Reconsidered. In: Harte, V. & Woolf, R. (eds.), Rereading Ancient Philosophy: Old Chestnuts and Sacred Cows. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 831.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • von Fritz, K. 1945. ΝΟΥΣ, Noein, and Their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy (Excluding Anaxagoras): Part I. From the Beginnings to Parmenides. Classical Philology 40(4), 223242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Woleński, J. 2004. The History of Epistemology. In: Niiniluoto, I., Sintonen, M. & Woleński, J. (eds.), Handbook of Epistemology. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 354.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhmud, L. 2017. Heraclitus on Pythagoras. In: Fantino, E., Muss, U., Schubert, C. & Sier, K. (eds.), Heraklit im Kontext. Berlin: De Gruyter, 171186.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 161 161 30
Full Text Views 2 2 0
PDF Views & Downloads 0 0 0