Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 07:13 am
One cannot step twice in the same river." - Heraclitus (ca. 540 - ca. 480 BCE)

Was he wrong can we step twice into the same river, as a former drug addict I think I stepped into the same river many times before I learned my lesson and avoided that particular river like the plague it really was?.

Heraclitus definitely isn't alone here. His message was that reality is constantly changing it's an ongoing process rather than a fixed and stable product. Buddhism shares a similar metaphysical view with the idea of annica, the claim that all reality is fleeting and impermanent.

In modern times Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941) described time as a process that is experienced. An hour waiting in line is different from an hour at play. Today contemporary physics lends credence to process philosophy with the realization that even apparently stable objects, like marble statues, are actually buzzing bunches of electrons and other subatomic particles deep down.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 07:46 am
@Alan McDougall,
You got the interpretation all wrong. It's not that you cannot step in the same river twice, because as long as it is River X, it is the same river. It is that the exact make up of the river is always changing and never the same, because the contents of the river are always rearranging.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 07:59 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;116264 wrote:
One cannot step twice in the same river." - Heraclitus (ca. 540 - ca. 480 BCE)

Was he wrong can we step twice into the same river, as a former drug addict I think I stepped into the same river many times before I learned my lesson and avoided that particular river like the plague it really was?.

Heraclitus definitely isn't alone here. His message was that reality is constantly changing it's an ongoing process rather than a fixed and stable product. Buddhism shares a similar metaphysical view with the idea of annica, the claim that all reality is fleeting and impermanent.

In modern times Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941) described time as a process that is experienced. An hour waiting in line is different from an hour at play. Today contemporary physics lends credence to process philosophy with the realization that even apparently stable objects, like marble statues, are actually buzzing bunches of electrons and other subatomic particles deep down.


The Nile river is a geographical entity. I can step into the Nile river at Cairo to the south, and Alexandria to the north. And, I can do that as many times as I please. But if there is a strong current in the river, then I cannot (unless I am very quick) step into the same river water twice. Heraclitus is confusing the same river (which you can step into twice or more) with the water in the river (which you cannot step into more than once unless there is no current, or the current is very turgid).

Bergson distinguished between time and duration. The time (objective) of an hour is always the same, but the duration (subjective) can be very different.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 08:14 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;116269 wrote:
You got the interpretation all wrong. It's not that you cannot step in the same river twice, because as long as it is River X, it is the same river. It is that the exact make up of the river is always changing and never the same, because the contents of the river are always rearranging.



I understand the concept with time everything changes the contents of the river changes as well, but does this follow in life, is he correct?. My battle with drug addiction was repeated exactly until I learned to keep my hypothetical foot out of the water of that particular river. I am attempting in this thread to go into real philosophy and not just pose random questions as I have done in the past.

My point being was Heraclitus correct?, maybe we can step into the same river twice? Taking my drug addition as an example I had to repeat "the exact awful lesson over and over again" the very same lesson, albeit during different time periods, going through the very same effects/affects of withdrawal until I finally learned the "river of drug addiction was a river of death for me"


Am I still wrong I value your guidance?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 08:28 am
@Alan McDougall,
Plato, Cratylus 402A:

"Heraclitus somewhere says that all things are in process and nothing stays still, and likening existing things to the stream of a river he says that you would not step twice into the same river."

(Kirk&Raven, Fragment 218)

Aristotle (Phys, 259b9):

"And some say not that some existing things are moving, and not others, but that all things are in motion all the time, but that this escapes our attention."

Kirk, Frag. 219
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 08:36 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;116281 wrote:
I understand the concept with time everything changes the contents of the river changes as well, but does this follow in life, is he correct?. My battle with drug addiction was repeated exactly until I learned to keep my hypothetical foot out of the water of that particular river. I am attempting in this thread to go into real philosophy and not just pose random questions as I have done in the past.

My point being was Heraclitus correct?, maybe we can step into the same river twice? Taking my drug addition as an example I had to repeat "the exact awful lesson over and over again" the very same lesson, albeit during different time periods, going through the very same effects/affects of withdrawal until I finally learned the "river of drug addiction was a river of death for me"


Am I still wrong I value your guidance?


Well, you didn't step into the same drug addiction. Sure, you may have been addicted to the same drug, but it happened at a different time with many different things contributing to the whole addiction. Think of it kind of like a recipe. The end product may be the same, but the contents are arranged differently.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 08:47 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;116290 wrote:
Plato, Cratylus 402A:

"Heraclitus somewhere says that all things are in process and nothing stays still, and likening existing things to the stream of a river he says that you would not step twice into the same river."

(Kirk&Raven, Fragment 218)

Aristotle (Phys, 259b9):

"And some say not that some existing things are moving, and not others, but that all things are in motion all the time, but that this escapes our attention."

Kirk, Frag. 219


I suppose that even Aristotle did not understand that the notion of motion is relative so that the very same thing can be in motion relative to X, but not relative to Y. So, to the question whether something is moving, the question in reply is, with respect to what? (Of course, in many contexts, the answer to that second question is already apparent).
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 08:55 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;116292 wrote:
Well, you didn't step into the same drug addiction. Sure, you may have been addicted to the same drug, but it happened at a different time with many different things contributing to the whole addiction. Think of it kind of like a recipe. The end product may be the same, but the contents are arranged differently.


In my case the recipe was the same namely addition to the prescription drug Rohypnol or the benzodiazapam class of drugs. Each time I tried to stop I seem to go through the very same agony. In the last case I had an epileptic episode and it is at that stage the river changed for me from a river of wrongly perceived relief into a river of potential death. Maybe in my case it was not so much as a river but a stagnant pool I kept stepping in until a serpent from its murky depth bit me as a final warning to stop
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 07:28 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;116264 wrote:
One cannot step twice in the same river." - Heraclitus (ca. 540 - ca. 480 BCE)

Was he wrong can we step twice into the same river, as a former drug addict I think I stepped into the same river many times before I learned my lesson and avoided that particular river like the plague it really was?.

Heraclitus definitely isn't alone here. His message was that reality is constantly changing it's an ongoing process rather than a fixed and stable product. Buddhism shares a similar metaphysical view with the idea of annica, the claim that all reality is fleeting and impermanent.

In modern times Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941) described time as a process that is experienced. An hour waiting in line is different from an hour at play. Today contemporary physics lends credence to process philosophy with the realization that even apparently stable objects, like marble statues, are actually buzzing bunches of electrons and other subatomic particles deep down.

All is change, all is flux, all is process. Process "becoming" is primary reality not "being". Notions of "being" changeless eternal immutable perfection have dominated Western philosophy and Western theology for centuries (since Plato).
In the East endless cycles of universes and lives have always dominated both Eastern philosophy and theology. The notion of ceaseless change as primary reality is more accepted in the East.

Process philosophy in its most formal Western presentation (A.N.Whitehead) emphasizes that reality is really composed of droplets or moments of experience not of "being"; fixed arrangements of "matter".
One moment of experience perishes and a new moment of experience is born, incorporating elements of the past and choosing from the possibilities of the future.
Reality is perpetual perishing and ceaseless rebirth or creation. The universe is born anew at each moment, engaged in a never-ending process of creative advance.

Likewise Process theology does not see "god" as eternal, immutable, impassive, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and transcendent (separated from and beyond the universe). Process theology sees god as engaged with the world, affected by and affecting the world in its process of creative advance. Ultimate value is creativity not immutable perfection.

It takes a little getting used to (especially for the western mind) but to see the world as constantly changing and creating (in some sense alive and enchanted) "becoming" is (I think) an improvement over traditional notions of eternal changeless perfection "being".

So Heraclites is right, it is "being" that is the illusion and "becoming" that is the reality. At least it is a perspective worth consideration.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 10:02 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;116264 wrote:
One cannot step twice in the same river." - Heraclitus (ca. 540 - ca. 480 BCE)

Was he wrong can we step twice into the same river, as a former drug addict I think I stepped into the same river many times before I learned my lesson and avoided that particular river like the plague it really was?.

Heraclitus definitely isn't alone here. His message was that reality is constantly changing it's an ongoing process rather than a fixed and stable product. Buddhism shares a similar metaphysical view with the idea of annica, the claim that all reality is fleeting and impermanent.

In modern times Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941) described time as a process that is experienced. An hour waiting in line is different from an hour at play. Today contemporary physics lends credence to process philosophy with the realization that even apparently stable objects, like marble statues, are actually buzzing bunches of electrons and other subatomic particles deep down.

An hour in a different line is still in a different line, talk to the person behind you, they will be different.
Just as when you were swept by your river, you moved a little further down stream each time to get you back to dry land for the finaly.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 10:57 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;116269 wrote:
You got the interpretation all wrong. It's not that you cannot step in the same river twice, because as long as it is River X, it is the same river. It is that the exact make up of the river is always changing and never the same, because the contents of the river are always rearranging.
I think you're both saying similar things, and I also believe he got the interpretation of Heraclitus right. Heraclitus emphasized flux and inconstancy as metaphysical qualities of the world, and the river was just a metaphor.

I don't think this is similar to what Buddhism has in mind, which is an outgrowth of the concept of brahman vs maya in Hinduism. In this tradition reality is all one thing, and all instances and particulars (maya) are illusions. Buddhism is quite different than Heraclitus in its conception of time and of reality -- though I do at some level see the analogy.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 09:38 pm
@Aedes,
Why shouldn't we consider quanta (moments, droplets) of experience to be primary reality?
and
Notions of continous "being" to be "illusion"?
What truly "exists" that is not constantly changing from moment to moment?
What is "time" other than "change"?
What is "reality" other than process?
"being" is a mental construct "becoming" is reality.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 10:57 am
@prothero,
Alan McDougall;116264 wrote:
One cannot step twice in the same river." - Heraclitus (ca. 540 - ca. 480 BCE)

There are three important things to note here. The first is where this quote specifically comes from, the second is the perception of Heraclitus, and the third is the context in which it is given (and the quote itself). The quote comes from a very small fragment attributed to Heraclitus in Homeric Questions (which is essentially a text discussing the origin of Homers writings and, more importantly, a defense, especially by Heraclitus, of Homer and his pseudo-sacrilegious views (perceived at the time), which is ironic given the way we look at Heraclitus now). As such, that specific quote is not especially as useful as the bow and lyre analogy conveyed by Hippolytus in Refutations of All Heresies. Interestingly enough, Heraclitus' defense of Homer is in some way a lot like Plato's defense of Socrates if you think about it. Anyway.

The perception of Heraclitus is also important, especially given the quote mentioned. How did the ancients really feel about Heraclitus? There are quite a few accounts of this in particular since what remains of Heraclitus are fragmentary and second hand. Aristotle remarked in Rhetoric Bostock)Homeric Questions) labels Heraclitus "the obscure" in much the same way Aristotle and others attributed to him the nonsensical nature of his writings. The quote in general is an elaboration of a previous point in reference to the natural world and how it is nearly impossible for us to have even a more clearer or capable perception of that world by interpreting it via symbolisms. In the direct quote of Heraclitus before the river analogy, and taken in the context previously stated, "Gods are mortal, men immortal, living in their death, dying in their life, (for) we step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and we are not." Not exactly the common way in which we quote Heraclitus. I suppose time and second hand on second hand conveyance has sharpened and dulled the actual context of the quote to the point where it is more or less meaningful. Which is wonderful to see how widely this is interpreted, even here. Could Heraclitus have hoped for such a legacy than for us to be discussing what the hell he even meant in the first place. I suppose the moral of the story is to be as vague as possible and complicate the obvious to ensure our own immortality. LOL!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 01:04 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;118988 wrote:
"Gods are mortal, men immortal, living in their death, dying in their life, (for) we step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and we are not." Not exactly the common way in which we quote Heraclitus. !


In fact, the translation you give is much better than that of the OP. It it just obvious that we can step in the same river twice, once we are in the river. But it is not at all obvious that we cannot step into the same river twice, and, in fact, it is false.

There is a clear distinction between stepping in the same river twice, and stepping into the same river twice.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 01:36 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Define the river with parameters that are repeatable and you can step in it twice, define it as a geographical or geopolitical feature and you can step in it twice. Deinfe it as fluid water constantly rearranging and you cannot step in it twice. Its a metaphor , you can do what you like with it
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 02:19 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;118998 wrote:
Define the river with parameters that are repeatable and you can step in it twice, define it as a geographical or geopolitical feature and you can step in it twice. Deinfe it as fluid water constantly rearranging and you cannot step in it twice. Its a metaphor , you can do what you like with it


Deinfe it as fluid water constantly rearranging and you cannot step in it twice.

Of course you can step in it twice. You step into it once. You lift your foot, and quickly step in it a second time. Your other foot, of course, is stationary.

What, exactly, is the metaphor? What does the "it" in the last sentence refer to?
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 04:24 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Well the history of heraclitus, the various translantions and the context of the quote are interesting
but there is a deeper question being asked by those who use the quote to open the discussion.
In the west Platos notions of eternal changless perfect forms has so dominated western philosophy and thinking that "being" materialism as primary reality is almost assumed.

The question (or the suggestion if you prefer) is that thinking about reality in terms of flux, or change or process being primary might more accurately represent the world. The world is constantly "becoming", it is flux, change, process that is primary (creativity) not being. We should speak of quantum events not quantum particles. The passage of time is marked by change. There is no static eternal changless perfect material element in the world, such notions are maya "illusion". To see the world as ceaseless change is to picture the world in living and spiritual way and I would argue more accurately represents reality as well.

Even God had to be perfect eternal, immpassive and changeless in Western theology which I would argue is a serious theological mistake.

In fact "being" so completely dominates our thinking most people are missing what is really being asked about "becoming" representing reality (the world) more accurately.
Primary reality is process "becoming" not fixed "being".
 
wayne
 
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2010 04:52 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;116292 wrote:
Well, you didn't step into the same drug addiction. Sure, you may have been addicted to the same drug, but it happened at a different time with many different things contributing to the whole addiction. Think of it kind of like a recipe. The end product may be the same, but the contents are arranged differently.


My thoughts exactly ,as an recovering addict myself I stepped onto the same river bed many times, but the experience,while similar,was never quite the same as the first experience. Therein lies some of the mechanics of the addiction process itself.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2010 06:57 am
@Alan McDougall,
I think that Heraclitus said that we cannot step twice into the same river, not in the same river. I can step twice in the same river simply by being in the river, and then taking one step, and then, while remaining in the river, taking a second step. The question is whether I can step into the river, go out, and then step into the river again. That would be stepping twice into the same river. Next, as I already pointed out, once we distinguish between the river, and the water flowing though the river, we can see that although we cannot step twice into the same water (if it is flowing quickly) we can step twice (or many times) into the same river. The river is a geographical entity. The water is not.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2010 10:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139880 wrote:
I think that Heraclitus said that we cannot step twice into the same river, not in the same river. I can step twice in the same river simply by being in the river, and then taking one step, and then, while remaining in the river, taking a second step. The question is whether I can step into the river, go out, and then step into the river again. That would be stepping twice into the same river. Next, as I already pointed out, once we distinguish between the river, and the water flowing though the river, we can see that although we cannot step twice into the same water (if it is flowing quickly) we can step twice (or many times) into the same river. The river is a geographical entity. The water is not.

Again, the water doesn't flow through the river. The flowing water is the river. The river flows through the river bed. To paraphrase Korzybski, "Bed is not the river," or as Robert Redford put it: "A river runs through it."

By the way Aristotle, in his Metaphysics (1010a), mentions Cratylus who "reproached Heraclitus for saying that you cannot step in the same river twice -- for he himself thought you could not do so even once."

:flowers:
 
 

 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 03/03/2021 at 07:50:02