Who was Heraclitus? (c.535-c.475 BCE)
He was a nobleman of Ephesus. Some say he was a hereditary king who set aside his crown to study philosophy. He was undoubtedly a sage, a mystic genius, and the first cosmologist of our philosophy. Heraclitus has fascinated thinkers from Socrates to Goethe and from Aristotle to contemporary quantum physicists. He is the greatest of the Ionian sages, a Founding Father of Western Civilization, a creator of philosophy, and a diviner of the fundamental essence of the cosmos. He is also known as the Obscure One, a reputation acquired in his own time, for a vague and riddling style that some believe he deliberately adopted to elude even the most erudite scholars. Unfortunately, what he wrote, in its original form, has been lost in antiquity.
All that remains are fragmentary references from many sources, some reliable, some unreliable, from Plato to Medieval monastic scholars. From these fragments we discover remarkable parallels between the observations of Heraclitus and modern physicists 2500 years later. God, he called the Logos, Reason, Intelligence, a Whole made up of the sum total of all opposites, constantly in motion, birthing, living, dying, and being born again. In all of these attributes of Nature, Heraclitus would include a rational consciousness and providence.
Shortly after the death of Heraclitus, another extraordinary man was born, a sculptor by trade, a man who described himself as resembling a frog, but who had been told by the Oracle at Delphi that he was the wisest of all the Greeks. That man, of course, was Socrates.