Great work, tres intéressant. Seraphim Rose, the Orthodox monk and philosopher, wrote extensively on Chinese religion (he knew Chinese) and rendered λόγος “the way,” in much the same sense as you would have it here with Heraclitus. Chinese bibles do this as well- John 1:1 would be “In the beginning was the Way,” etc.

Expand full comment

Hi L.P., very nice post. It's interesting how Christians used "Logos" as one of the fundamental terms of the religion, yet Heraclitus also happened to be Nietsche's (who was extremely anti-Paul) favorite philosopher, and he praised him in Ecce Homo: "In [his] proximity I feel altogether warmer and better than anywhere else. The affirmation of passing away and destroying, which is the decisive feature of a Dionysian philosophy; saying Yes to opposition and war; becoming, along with a radical repudiation of the very concept of being—all this is clearly more closely related to me than anything else thought to date. The doctrine of the “eternal recurrence,” that is, of the unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of all things—this doctrine of Zarathustra might in the end have been taught already by Heraclitus."

Per the below link, the meaning of "Logos" is explored. Essentially it was “a term whose original meaning was universal law.” “Logos in Greek and Hebrew means Metaphysics, the unifying principle of the world.” It is a common term in ancient philosophy and theology “expressing an idea of immanent reason in the world, under various modifications.” Plato and Aristotle understood Logos as “a law of being and principle of logic.” Among the Stoics, the term “Logos, denoted the law of physical and spiritual worlds in so far as they merged in a pantheistic unity.” To them God was immanent in the world constituting its vitalizing force and the law guiding the universe, which they called Logos; insofar all things develop from this force, they called it spermaticos Logos.” The profound modifications of Logos by John in the Gospel are i) the Logos becomes fully personified, ii) the spiritual life resides in the Logos and is communicated to men, and iii) the idea of Logos as reason becomes subordinate to the idea of Logos as word, the expression of God’s will and power, divine energy, life, love, and light. In other words, the meaning of "Logos" was dramatically modified by the Christians from the pre-Christian era to mean something that it was not originally intended. From:


Lastly, you may like or appreciate Brett Andersen's Youtube series, which uses Heraclitus's focus on becoming instead of being and how the world is always in flux to point to certain underlying, unchanging aspects of reality: https://www.youtube.com/@BrettPAndersen/videos or his Substack https://brettandersen.substack.com/

Expand full comment

Yeah, I was tempted to go down the Nietzsche route, but resisted. I don't particularly like his take on Paul, and he probably just liked the element of strife in Heraclitus and his fragment that says death in battle is superior to death in sickness. Heraclitus and Nietzsche had some things in common for sure - both ended up sort of crazy (or completely crazy, in Nietzsche's case), both were contrarians and went against the grain... But at least in my reading, Heraclitus can only be understood in reference to a deeply religious cosmology which, as I argued, has a lot in common with Paul's, although of course it's hard to know given the fragmentary nature of what we have of Heraclitus.

As for Logos, the problem with these encyclopedic entries is that they project a lot of modern ideas (as you can see just by the jargon used), and they often tell these grand narratives ("The Greeks thought this, then the Christians thought that..."), which are sort of canonized, but the picture is usually more complex, and also more diverse. They are of course still helpful though! Plus, since I don't read ancient Greek, I must rely on some of these scholars for their exploration of these meanings, while always remaining skeptical of their anachronisms.

Expand full comment

This is usefully inspiring. What I haven't considered very often is the nature of judgement. In my youth I had a simple 'bounce test' for all items natural or manmade. Could they survive a fall, unaided, from their own height? This was an elementary lesson for shopping. Should I invest in anything sparkly yet fragile? If it cannot handle its own fall, how could it help me? Gravity, thus is the Logos, and what unseen and unrealized must be constructed by tools that will survive the process of building. To stand against gravity, an edifice must be constructed of that which also survives the constant presence of gravity. On the roof of that building in the sunlight, perhaps the sparkly may be best observed, but not without the conformity of the edifice to survive the rules of the Universe. Gravity being part of the Logos, but also the mind that perceives it and can accurately build within its presence.

Yet my consideration of the integrity of construction alone (thinking along Gall's Law) presumes no lightning. For me the lightning has always been war, and perhaps entropy, but not any cosmic intervention or anger of the gods. Yet if it is possible for men to embrace the Logos, perhaps it is our duty to its recognition to embody the lightning. This is what vexes me.

As a Stoic, my consideration of Heraclitus is very similar to your description. I look at that intersection with Christianity here: https://mdcbowen.substack.com/p/welcome-to-my-worldview/comments

Expand full comment
Aug 7, 2023Liked by L.P. Koch

Heraclitus lived in the relation of heaven to earth. Western philosophy is the record of the gradual emergence of the individual human as an interpreter of that relation. We are in the process of reversing our forgetfulness of our place in that relation. Thus our understanding of the ancients gradually becomes more authentic and appropriate. However, we will not become them. The intervening time has not been wasted.

Expand full comment

Indeed, we can't become them. As Heraclitus put it, you don't step into the same river twice.

Expand full comment

I think the logical flaw running through Western theory, is conflating the ideal with the absolute.

Knowledge is inherently subjective. An objective point of view, an omniscient omniscience, is an oxymoron.

The universal, on the other hand, is the elemental. The essence from which form rises, ideal or otherwise. The sciences look to the elements, while the arts look to the ideals.

Logically a spiritual absolute would be the essence of sentience, from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. More the light shining through and illuminating the film, than the images and narratives played out on it.

Knowledge is inherently centripetal. Signals from the noise need to coalesce and synchronize with the established model in order to make sense. Too much information and it reverts back to noise.

So we exist as these nodes of perception in the larger networks of information/noise.

When we assume the ideal to be absolute, then the framing device, point of focus, that is the locus of our perception, is viewed as universal and unquestioned, while other's frames and models must be flawed. Consequently there can be no negotiation, other than when the fighting dies down.

Even galaxies are the energy radiating out, as the structure coalesces in.

Expand full comment