The Fragments of Heraclitus



In the second week of the Fall quarter, UPR’s graduate courses are unfurling beautifully and discourse has spurred between our fantastic student body and faculty.  Cross-temporal pursuits are of plenty at UPR and it seems to be only appropriate to recommend some of the great texts being offered in our autumnal coursework.

In Richard Geldard’s course, The Birth of Consciousness in Early Greek Thought, Heraclitus‘ Fragments begins the in-depth mapping of consciousness and its origins within the Western world.  Fragments is a collection of Heraclitus’ body of work, of which only fragments unfortunately remain for us to decipher.   A postmodernist long before the term was coined, Heraclitus and his thoughts revealed within Fragments show us glimpses into the continuance of the human experience and its origins in familiar, albeit ancient, time and situation.

In Fragments Heraclitus writes:

Just as the river where I step
is not the same, and is,
so I am as I am not.

People need not act and speak
as if they were asleep.

Not to be quite such a fool
sounds good. The trick,
with so much wine
and easy company, is how.


Ephesus, Heraclitus’ home city, was an urbanized and bustling metropolis, its population spanned from the 10th Century B.C. to the 15th Century A.D.  It was a place where cultures, mythologies and beliefs were accumulated to such a point where they could be compounded and where identities could be constructed.  Much like a contemporary city such as Los Angeles, which can be perceived as a generator of modern-day pop culture (a product of appropriation and compounded identity), Ephesus faced similar postmodern and existentialist dilemmas that can give us perspective into our own times.

Dr. Geldard in his course offered this Fall, gives us an in-depth and thoughtful account of Heraclitus’ philosophy, providing for our students a perspective on the history of consciousness that is precious in the fractured histories of today.  A key to much of Western philosophical thought, from Plato to Nietzche and Heidegger, Heraclitus remains relevant today as he ever was.


Heraclitus large Check out Richard Geldard’s fantastic book on Heraclitus, which sheds light onto Heraclitus’ Fragments and continues the rumination of such a seminal philosophical text: