The weeping philosopher
By: Josh & Chris
“Heraclitus is remembered for
being the most famous “Greek”
philosopher until Socrates was
born 10 years later.”*
Heraclitus was born around 535 B.C.E. in Ephesus, Asia
Minor (Turkey) (he is still considered Greek…)
Not much is known about his childhood…
Although it is not known whether he was born rich, he
ultimately was or became nobility in Ephesus
Unlike most ancient Greek philosophers, he was not
associated with any particular school.
He did not think much of his contemporaries.
disliked by
He basically criticized every philosopher who had come before him.
People Heraclitus would have
disliked if he had not died in a tragic
incident (more on that later)
Heraclitus’s Philosophy
He is thought to have published one book but some of it has been lost…
All parts that are left are fragmented, many of them contradictory (3)
Possible remnants of Heraclitus’s long lost book
Doctrine of Flux and Unity of Opposites
“You cannot step twice into the same river." -Heraclitus
This, his most famous quote, illustrates one of his most
important philosophies, that every thing is
“…the fundamental character of reality is change itself”
–p 24 “From Socrates to Satire: The
Philosophic Quest”
“Sea is the purest and most polluted water: for fish drinkable
and healthy, for men undrinkable and harmful.” – Heraclitus
So things can mean opposite things at the same time…
Things are relative.
Sense Perception
So as his only book was partly destroyed (), information is
limited on his thoughts about sense perception.
Through fractured quotes it would seem that he believed that
senses were essential to understanding the world around
him. That without these, men would be blind
Basically that unlike some of his contemporaries (see next
slide), he thought that senses were to key to interpreting
the world, that reason alone was not enough to verify
Heraclitus vs. Parmenides
They were two of the most famous pre-Socratic philosophers.
•Believed that unending
change was the basis of the
The universe is defined by
permanence. Change is only an
•Opposites are relative and
change along with the rest of
the world.
How can something be and then not
•Senses trumped reason in
determining context.
Reason is the most important way to
understand the word.
Senses are unreliable.
Class Poll…. How did Heraclitus die?
A. He fell into a pit of rattlesnakes, and survived the night, but he died
when trying to get out of the pit. 
B. He died of dehydration while watching a gymnastics competition 
C. He covered himself in cow manure and went to sit in the sun for a
day, to try and cure a disease, but he ended up dying instead 
D. He was stung by a jelly-fish while skinny dipping, and drowned while
trying to swim back to shore. 
E. He was assassinated by a triangular ninja star, with an unknown
killer. It was thought to be a follower of Pythagoras, though. 
F. He invented a prehistoric car while in isolation (otherwise known as
hermitage) and went for a joy ride, but he crashed it into a mountain,
and then it rolled into the sea. 
G. He was the first and last emo(tional) Greek 
C. He covered himself in cow
manure and went to sit in the sun
for a day, to try and cure a
disease, but he ended up dying
instead 
Work Cited
1. "Heraclitus [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]." Internet Encyclopedia
of Philosophy. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <>.
2. Lavine, T. Z. From Socrates to Satire: The Philosophic Quest. New York
City: Bantam, 1984. Print.
3. Abel, Reuben. Man Is the Measure: a Cordial Invitation to the Central
Problems of Philosophy. New York: Free, 1976. Print.
4. Heraclitus (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.