Living on the doorstep of Ephesus I thought I would do a little research on some of the great people who came from there and discovered that one of the world’s great philosophers, Heraclitus was born around 540 B.C into an aristocratic family from the Ionian city of Ephesus, not far from the city of Miletus where Greek philosophy first began.

His Nobel birth came with responsibilities politically and religiously, however, Heraclitus had no interest in political or religious life and handed his hereditary ruling position to his younger brother. There is not much known about his early life, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom.

He obtained the reputation as a deliberately obscure thinker and never had a good word to say about his fellow philosophers calling everyone from Homer to Xenophanes an ignoramus.  His book On Nature was supposedly composed in an intentionally obscure style so that only those who were wise would understand it, thereby protecting himself from ridicule by the common people.

Heraclitus is known for his focus on change in the universe and the saying “you cannot wet your foot twice in the same river”.  His reasoning would be that when you step into a specific bit of water in the river – then withdraw your foot and step back into the river – you would stepping in a different bit of water.  You have altered the course of the water and you have eroded the river bed, therefore, the river is always changing and it is never the same.

He spent his last years living in the mountains, eating grasses and plants.  Becoming sick with edema, he returned to the city to find a cure.  But when he approached physicians with his problem, he presented it in the form of a riddle, which they couldn’t understand. Attempting to cure himself, he covered his body with cow dung which brought on his death.

Heraclitus of Ephesus has consistently been cited as among the most brilliant, if difficult, of the Pre-Socratic philosophers, and his importance in synthesizing the human experience with the natural world continues to be recognised today.


Source:  Ege Eye

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