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Fragments by Heraclitus


by Heraclitus

Other authors: James Hillman (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The introduction to this work is inevitably longer than the fragments themselves. What survives is a mish-mash of various interpretations and I daresay unreliable sources. What strikes me about the pre-Socratics, and Heraclitus specifically, is the melding of religion and reason in a way that the West would not mention when the modern cultural monolith seeks its origins in a part of the world where it is fine to claim mythic philosophical ancestry, yet it is despised when one's pedigree is pure. On the first page of the fragments, Heraclitus mentions the trouble with those who will not learn: "III. - ...Those who hear and do not understand are like the deaf. Of them the proverb says: "Present, they are absent,"

IV. — Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having rude souls.

V. — The majority of people have no understanding of the things with which they daily meet, nor, when instructed, do they have any right knowledge of them, although to themselves they seem to have.

VI. — They understand neither how to hear nor how to speak.

This is not entirely a Western idea, for indeed, Confucius said, “When you see that [students] do something wrong, give them sincere and friendly advice, which may guide them to the right way; if they refuse to accept your advice, then give it up”.
Reading Heraclitus leads me to Pythagoras as my next venture into pre-Socratic philosophy, and also to Hesiod's Theogony. It would seem that there is much to learn from this period of history, and how it echoes down through the ages. ( )
  madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
Sort of the Ur-book of Greek philosphy. But more than that. Maybe less. It's all the same, right? ( )
  rnsulentic | May 6, 2017 |


The living, though they yearn
for consummation of their fate,
need rest, and in their turn leave
children to fulfill their doom.


Even a soul submerged in sleep
is hard at work, and helps
make something of the world.


The waking have one world
in common. Sleepers
meanwhile turn aside, each
into a darkness of his own.


Yearning hurts,
and what release
may come of it
feels much like death.


What use are these people's wits
who let themselves be led
by speechmakers, in crowds,
without considering
how many fools and thieves
they are among, and how few
choose the good?
The best choose progress
toward one thing, a name
forever honored by the gods,
while others eat their way
toward sleep like nameless oxen.
( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
A very loose, non-literal translation (Brooks Haxton in the Penguin paperback), but interesting because it's got the Greek text on the left-hand facing pages to the English translation. A volume that could entice someone to learn ancient Greek. ( )
  CurrerBell | Dec 4, 2013 |
I found this translation of the Fragments of Heraclitus to be disappointing. When comparing Brooks Haxton's translation of various fragments to other translations, I often find Haxton's to be rather off-base. Sometimes it even seems that his translations convey the opposite meanings to that of other translations. I believe the problem lies in his desire to see similarities between Heraclitus and Lao Tzu.

While there do seem to be some surface similarities with regard to Heraclitus' ideas about flux and the logos, many of the fragments attributed to Heraclitus seem pretty far from the Tao Te Ching's philosophy. (Those fragments in which Heraclitus scowls at the behaviour of his fellow men seem to be especially at odds with the playfulness of Taoism & Haxton's poetry.)

Of course with anything like the fragments of Heraclitus, it's impossible to tell which if any were actually written by him. More so, how can anyone know with any degree of certainty what the tone of the original manuscript (if there was one) was?

Still, my favourite thing about this edition is the abundant white space, which leaves plenty of room for marginalia.
  laurenillo | Oct 8, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heraclitusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hillman, JamesForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carbone, SalvatoreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parinetto, LucianoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, T. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, T.M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Word proves those first hearing it as numb to understanding as the ones who have not heard.
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Haiku summary
The only basis
    Of "Real":  Change.  Parmenides,
    Pythagoras:  wrong!

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142437654, Paperback)

In the sixth century b.c.-twenty-five hundred years before Einstein-Heraclitus of Ephesus declared that energy is the essence of matter, that everything becomes energy in flux, in relativity. His great book, On Nature, the world's first coherent philosophical treatise and touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history-but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers, from Montaigne to Nietzsche, Heidegger to Jung. Now, acclaimed poet Brooks Haxton presents a powerful free-verse translation of all 130 surviving fragments of the teachings of Heraclitus, with the ancient Greek originals beautifully reproduced en face.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:02 -0400)

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