Mstu4016 f06 session3 wikiwork
This Week's Respondent
Ting-Fang (Annie) Cheng
20. Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stay fixed.
31. It throws apart and then brings together again; it advances and retires.
22. Cool things become warm, the warm grows cool, the moist dries, the parched becomes moist.
66. Immortals become mortals, mortals become immortals; they live in each other’s death and die in each other’s life.
98. Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.
109. In the circumference of the circle the beginning and the end are common.
Heraclitus distributes his observations of life, nature, humans, and the rotations of world like making tongue twisters, in that he presents without contexts but summarizes only in contradictions of lines and exchanges of word choices in sentences. In his simple but complex lines, readers can see how ancient people view the world and are born with their connotations in how they see thw world now.
36. The sun is new each day.
37. The sun is the breadth of a man’s foot.
38. If there were no sun, the other stars would not suffice to prevent its being night.
Although Heraclitus is keen to show a world with endless flux in examples: it is in changing that things find repose(23), and into the same river, we step and do not step (110), he steadily develops his own way of cause and effect under the guides of LOGOS (sun?) — the rules that can apply to anything. However, the essence of LOGOS (sun?) in the sense may not be the same all the time, but lives within the transformation process as he addresses in a lot of fragments. Nature loves to hide (17), and hide in transformations, because if it’s very easy to find the nature or the essence of truth, the nature/essence may not be valuable.
As the dominant LOGOS has fluid characters, humans become even more trivial living in this flickering historical period compared with the age of god and universe. Humans are insignificant so that they have to struggle to find small parts of LOGOS and nature: greater dooms win greater destinies (70); thus, they need to suffer from pains and the squeeze souls dry to be wise (46). In Heraclitus philosophy, he views history as Macro-history while he does not put human in the center of his sense of world.
BTW, I am amused by his lines about sleepers, for those are humorous. The world changing, the colorful and black-white images rotating, Heraclitus suggests one open the eyes, listen to the voices, and feel the textures of the earth. Keeping in mind to associate with the world and do not act or speak as he were asleep (14).
I was most caught up with Heraclitus's musings on the discourses that have entered his consciousness orally and visually.
To cite some fragments:
7. Of those whose discourses I have heard there is not one who attains to the realization that wisdom stands apart from all else.
If wisdom is bound up in experience and does not exist without experience, perhaps the word wisdom itself if oxymoronic and useless. Why, I wonder do we talk about this virtue--wisdom--as if it were something we could abstract from lived experience. But that is not the salient part here for a discussion of communitcation. What is salient, I believe, about the above fragment is the notion of consciouness, "of those discourses I have heard". There is an acknowledgement here that information is something we let into our beings physically, that we must sense and perceive it--hear it or see it. Sometimes I think we separate our notion knowledge from the human beings who create it, effectively decontextualizing it. I'm wondering if how wisdom and knowledge are related. Are they the same in Heraclitus's notion. I can't decide but they certainly must share some characteristics.
And more fragments:
10. To be temperate is the greatest virtue. Wisdom consists in speaking and acting the truth, giving heed to the nature of things.
11. The things of which there can be sight, hearing, and learning--these are what I especially prize.
12. Eyes are more accurate witness than ears.
13. Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having barbarian souls.
Eyes and ears, oh my! I am wondering if I make any distinction of which is more reliable or a better source of wisdom in this world where information overloads my senses, where my comprehension is shaken moment by moment with overstimulation.
1. “The sun is new each day” (fr. 36) so we never know if there will be a sun tomorrow. Is this an anticipation of the Hume’s Induction Principle? 2. It seems that the Heraclitean epistemology is deeply interwoven with his conception of the ethic. This is why the philosopher cites the oracle of Delphi implying is motto “know yourself” (Γνωθι Σεαυτόν). To know ourselves as well as to clarify our knowledge of the LOGOS should be the main concern of every man, even if sometimes it is hard: “Seekers after gold dig up much earth and find little.” (fr. 4)
The Way of Inquiry - fragment 11: Eyes are more accurate witnesses than ears.
I decided to choose this quote because my area of interest in communications and education has to do with the visual arts. Descartes said, "All the management of our lives depends on the senses, and since that of sight is the most comprehensive and the noblest of these, there is no doubt that the inventions which serve to augment its power are the most useful that there can be." What would Descartes have made of the internet or satellite visual monitors?
For all the importance of people communicating in person, communicating by written word, by smoke signals or bonfires - there's nothing as definitive as being an eyewitness to an occasion. In the Agamemnon - the final proof of Agamemnon's triumph was in his arriving home in person before the eyes of all. In our age of instant visual communication and gratification the more problematic questions arise regarding authenticity and/or manipulation of the visuals we actually see. How can we trust/use our senses to find truth and meaning in the world we find ourselves in?
9/22/06 - I wanted to add to my first entry here from something I read in "Mapping Cyberspace" by Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchen, after my initial writing last week: "...our memories are now more frequently based on recollections of photos, videos, news footage, and television images, rather than on actual experiences. This acceptance of representational media as 'truth' means that many of us are now willing to accept the copy as original(!)...This in turn undermines our ability to differentiate between genuine and fake, real and imaginary." I felt it lent still more weight to Heraclitus' claim that the "eyes are more accurate witnesses than ears."
Most of Heraclitus’ fragments strike me as the cranky musings of a curmudgeonly recluse who absolutely refuses to be pleased. He contradicts himself fairly regularly and seems overly cynical of his fellow man. Perhaps this is an early stab at satire? I just came across this great article in the New York Times and it made me think of our class so I thought I’d share it: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/magazine/17satire.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5070&en=d9df7126fe56e061&ex=1159243200&emc=eta1
In any case, I chose fragment #10: “To be temperate is the greatest virtue. Wisdom consists in speaking and acting the truth, giving heed to the nature of things.” It’s interesting that such an outspoken and opinionated man would place such high value on moderation and self-restraint.
Most people do not take heed of the things they encounter,
nor do they grasp them even when they have learned about them,
although the think they do.
What an interesting statement- especially within the context of the Greek cultural
and intellectual revolution. What a shift from the elaborate lessons found buried within
the descriptive passages of Homer and Aeschylus.
From the perspective of the originally intended audience, I wonder how this dramatic shift in teaching style was tolerated?
Where is the evidence to back up these statements? Where are the lengthy arguments indicating their weight and importance?
Also, I may be getting tangled in my thoughts -- but the actual meaning of this fragment seems ironic within the context of the
questions I am raising --no?
92. "Men are deceived in their knowledge of things that are manifest, even as Homer was who was the wisest of all the Greeks. For he was even deceived by boys killing lice when they said to him: 'What we have seen and grasped, these we leave behind; whereas what we have not seen and grasped, these we carry away.'"
93. "Homer deserves to be thrown out of the contests and flogged, and Archilochus too."
Heraclitus' style of communication is extremely declaratory. He makes statements rather than inquisitions to explore ideas. He comes off as forceful, disparaging, and authoritative. It seems that his "aristocratic pride" (65) allows him to directly question the great writers such as Homer. He challenges their pedestal and says very matter-of-factly that his own thoughts are superior. Does he in fact question their philosophies, their thinking, or is it the romanticism of their work? I wonder if Heraclitus' peers and society found him offensive to be so disrespectful to the elders of writing or if they actually respected him then. Or, did respect not come until later, when his ideas became seen through the historical lens of change and progress? Where do his fearlessness and unreserved self-projection or self-expression of even radical ideas come from? What gives him this disregard to social context? In fragment 92, he attributes human error to men (humans). Does he see himself as better than all men as he puts down the greats and asserts his own ideologies? Or is he admitting to his own mortality and thus the potential humility behind his own assertions?
57. Most people do not take heed of the things they encounter, nor do they grasp them even when they have learned about them, although they think they do.
I found this quote to be very interesting. As a teacher, I feel that I try to communicate my understanding of moral thinking through modeling and though different mediums such as simple every day interactions to finding morals in a fable. However, though I may feel as I have communicated and delivered my ideas to my students, they may not necessarily exhibit these moral lessons that I hoped to have communicated. Thus, Heraclitus' line reminds me of the importance of the receiving end of a communication, that they too must be aware and be absorbing what is being communicated. I notice this also in my personal life where my parents may continually remind me to do something or behave in some way. When these ideas are repeated to me, my response is, "I know that already," but as Heraclitus has said, I think that I had understood what I had encountered, but until I act in a way that exemplifies the fact that I had understood the lesson, the communication had only gone one way.
(Oops - Sorry, I thought I had already posted this last week.)
If all existing things were smoke, it is by smell that we would distinguish them. (7)
I was also most taken with the expressions pertaining to perception - particularly combinations of the many fragments related to the tension surrounding the way individuals perceive and interpret a world that is in a constant state of flux. As suggested in this fragment, we are tightly bound by the limits of sensory perception and individual interpretation.
Hesiod distinguishes good days and evil days, not knowing that every day is like every other. (106)
While we perceive the world through our senses and interpret what we encounter within our own individual contexts, this is only one part of the picture. When Hesiod brands a day as "lucky" or "unlucky" in Works and Days, for example, he is focused narrowly on the context of performing the everyday tasks of agrarian life. Heraclitus here suggests a broader view.
Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having barbarian souls. (107)
However, the scope of our view is limited by our own willingness and ability to see. Although we may take in the same things though senses and experience, our interpretation of what we perceive may be self-limited.