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 panta rei


Panta rei
everything is changing!
 Heraclitus
Heraclitus


Heraclitus was born somewhere between 535 and 540 B.C. in Ephesos, and died 475 B.C. Very little of his work has been preserved - what is left are dozens of quotes, or rather fragments of text that have been quoted by others.

The River

Heraclitus' philosophy can be captured in just two words: "panta rei", literally everything flows, meaning that everything is constantly changing, from the smallest grain of sand to the stars in the sky. Thus, every object ultimately is a figment of one's imagination. Only change itself is real, constant and eternal flux, like the continuous flow of the river which always renews itself.

 those rivers one steps into are not the same. 
 other and yet other waters keep flowing on.

those rivers one steps into are not the same. other and yet other waters keep flowing on.


 into the same rivers we step and yet we do not step, 
 we exist and at the same time we do not exist
into the same rivers we step and yet we do not step, we exist and at the same time we do not exist


 after all, one does not step into the same river twice.  
 waters disperse and come together again ... 
 they keep flowing on and flowing away
after all, one does not step into the same river twice. waters disperse and come together again ... they keep flowing on and flowing away


 in the end, there is only flux, everything gives way
in the end, there is only flux, everything gives way


  everything is in flux and nothing abides 
 everything flows and nothing stays fixed 
 everything is constantly changing and 
 nothing stays the same
everything is in flux and nothing abides
everything flows and nothing stays fixed
everything is constantly changing and nothing stays the same

Science and the Universe

Heraclitus was a contemporary of Pythagoras, Lao-tzu, Confucius, and Siddhartha, the Buddha; some say that the term "philosophy", love of wisdom, was first introduced by Pythagoras, who lived from approximately 580 BCE to 500 BCE. Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, argued numbers to constitute the true nature of things and all relations to be numerical. Pythagoras is often regarded as the founder of modern mathematics and geometry. The Pythagorean Theorem states that in a right-angled triangle, the square of the hypothenuse (opposite side) is always equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. The Pythagoreans also argued that earth was a sphere revolving around the sun in a predictable way.

Heraclitus rejects suggestions that there were universal laws governing nature. Heraclitus rejects all such laws as artificial - static perversions of reality. Also, Heraclitus does not accept an origin of the universe.

 much learning does not teach understanding, otherwise it 
 would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hecataeus.

much learning does not teach understanding, otherwise it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hecataeus.


 when awake, people think there is one, common kosmos 
 when awake, they see things that die - 
 they are creative only in their sleep
when awake, people think there is one, common kosmos
when awake, they see things that die - they are creative only in their sleep


 but there is no kosmos, as everyone seems to believe; 
 no such thing was created by either gods or people - 
 instead, there is, was and always will be eternal fire, 
 raising as well as quenching expectations of order
but there is no kosmos, as everyone seems to believe; no such thing was created by either gods or people - instead, there is, was and always will be eternal fire, raising as well as quenching expectations of order


 there is exchange of all things for fire and of fire for all things, 
 as there is of wares for gold and of gold for wares
there is exchange of all things for fire and of fire for all things, as there is of wares for gold and of gold for wares

An early version of Einstein's e = mc2, as some say? Would Heraclitus have accepted any constant, other than change itself? Light travelling at a constant speed, while nothing can travel faster? Wouldn't Heraclitus have felt more comfortable with the randomness of quantum mechanics?

 the fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random

the fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random

Is the political system moulding scientists, making them prone to believe in an origin of the universe, indeed that there was something called "universe" in the first place? Are scientists supporting the system that feeds them, and that inserts bias and indoctrination into their views?

Politics

How does politics influence science, or health care, or education? Are professional qualifications an indication of bias towards a specific political system? Scientists are typically paid by government either directly or indirectly, such as through universities and defense industry laboratories. The secrecy of the military and the bureaucracy of government combine into a military-industrial complex that defies accountibility. Add the call by universities for independence from whatever party is in government, and how much accountibility is there in this system? Similarly, aren't medical, legal and educational professionals - all so heavily dependent on government funding and regulations - inclined to support a political framework that lets them spend huge amounts of taxpayers' money without much accountibility?

 Doctors cut, burn, and torture the sick, and then demand 
 of them an undeserved fee for such services.

Doctors cut, burn, and torture the sick, and then demand of them an undeserved fee for such services.

Indeed, the cure may be worse than the disease! So, why should one be privileged to practice as a doctor, while someone is prohibited to do so? This old question remains as valid today, as it was in Heraclitus' time. Just look at the story of the life of Patch Adams!

 Ephesians might as well hang themselves, every man of them, and leave their city to be governed by youngsters, for they have banished Hermadorus, the finest man among them, who said: 'No one of us should claim privilege over the rest; if there should be such a one, let him go and live else-where'

Ephesians might as well hang themselves, every man of them, and leave their city to be governed by youngsters, for they have banished Hermadorus, the finest man among them, who said: "No one of us should claim privilege over the rest; if there should be such a one, let him go and live else-where"

Hesiod distinguished good and evil days, not 
 knowing that every day is like every other

Hesiod distinguished good and evil days, not knowing that every day is like every other

Conclusion

Indeed, why should we be prohibited from, say, working on a Sunday? Even if this was just an arbitrary choice, what is the basis for prohibition?

Do universities, and the political system that supports them, produce professionals who are prone to support arbitrary regulation concealed as religious or scientific dogma, for the sake of privilege for some in areas like medicine, law, accountancy and education, without much accountibility?

Many philosophies and belief systems are based on the idea of a universe with a single point of origin that is governed by universal laws, resulting in privilege for those with "competence" in these laws. Heraclitus rejected any such idea.

Heraclitus was once asked to write a constitution for Ephesus, but he refused. The Persian King Darius once invited Heraclitus to his court to explain his ideas. Heraclitus declined. When people wondered why he spent time playing knuckle bones with children, he replied "Why should you be astonished, you rascals? Isn't it better to do this than to take part in your civil life?"

Heraclitus rejected the views of many of his contemporaries, such as Pythagoras. Similarly, the Sophists later rejected the views of their contemporaries, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotales. The controversy about the politics of science goes on today, with the Optionality Network keeping alight the flame of liberty that already sparkled so brightly back in ancient times.

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References

Quotations
Reference
"Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed."

"One cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others go ever flowing on."

"Eyes are more exact witnesses than ears."

"Much learning does not teach understanding, otherwise it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hecataeus."

"This universe, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be, an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures."

"There is exchange of all things for fire and of fire for all things, as there is of wares for gold and of gold for wares."

"The fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random."

 
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