Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

Translation:
The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta

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Ancient History

|Daily Tread

Meditation on Heraclitus, Knowledge and Truth

On finding the truth of things, Heraclitus said:

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it, since it is trackless and unexplored.

Raphael's Michelangelo as Heraclitus in the School of Athens

Tangents and Non Sequiturs From Prudence:

In the macro sense, Heraclitus’ words go beyond the Boy Scout motto of “Be prepared.” They say to me, “Go seek.” I need to hear his words on the lazy days, when ennui tinges my going through the motions of daily chores and duties. If I’m in a rut, I’m merely treading over my own footsteps. What can I hope to find there, going over the same old ground? On those days especially, I need to take a chance, intentionally go in search of something new, no matter how small or insignificant, to cultivate my sense of anticipation, to create new paths and explore them.

In the micro sense, Heraclitus’ words also prod me to expand my horizons in my quest for information. If I always return to the same sources, I have limited my scope willingly, expecting them to provide me with the unexpected and defining the truth according to their views and principles–again being lazy. Instead, I need to venture into unknown and opposing realms, to make my own discoveries and verify (or adjust) my own truths.

Then I can carry these discoveries and truths back here to report on the new frontiers, paths and oddities I have found—or to simply provide material for those days when someone else feels too lazy to explore.

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Related Bonus Quote

On knowledge, Clement wrote in Miscellanies V:

For philosophical men must be versed in many things, according to Heraclitus, and it is in truth necessary to “wander in the search to be good.”

Tangents and Non Sequiturs From Prudence:

This seems to reiterate much of what the first quote said, just from a slightly different vantage point. I leave it for you to ponder, and even comment on here, if you dare.

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Pre-Socratic Self Quiz:

Q6. in his The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Diogenes Laertius writes that Heraclitus wrote a book…

And he deposited this book in the temple of Diana…having written it intentionally in an obscure style, in order that only those who were able men might comprehend it, and that it might not be exposed to ridicule at the hand of the common people.

What is the book about generally, and what are its three discourses?

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The Daily Apologia:

I am sorry once more, for abandoning the daily postings for so long. I’ve fired up the philosophical treadmill once more, and hope to get back to regular postings. Perhaps not daily, but certainly more frequently.

I also apologize for the last Daily Tread posting: Heraclitus’ Aphorism Bonanza. It was entirely incomplete, and certainly no bonanza because I’d barely begun it. Unfortunately, I must have accidentally published it instead of keeping it in draft mode. Oops. (Can you be an absent-minded philosopher?) Once I discovered my error, I thought it better to leave it than to confuse those that had already read it.

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Up Next: More Heraclitus!

If you are just joining the Daily Tread Society and would like to see where we started and where we are headed, click on the Daily Tread tab above and scroll down to our first postings.

3 comments to Meditation on Heraclitus, Knowledge and Truth

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Prudence Paine, Prudence Paine. Prudence Paine said: New Post! Meditation on Heraclitus, Knowledge and Truth http://bit.ly/hrLK1F #tcot […]

  • BoiledPnut

    Great post on seeking the unexpected. If the unexamined life is not worth living, what is living the expected?

    (Love Raphael’s painting from the Vatican)

    • Prudence

      Excellent turn of phrase, BPnut! I love it.

      I find the problem is “living the expected” is so much more comfortable, less scary. It’s difficult to keep taking risks, always staying on edge, keeping that nervous tension taut. That can be exhausting. It takes more effort.

      But we don’t realize that even in living the expected, we are still taking risks. Risking that stepping off the curb won’t find us flattened by a bus, or cutting an orange won’t slice through our hand, or walking down the stairs won’t send us tumbling to the bottom. And then we miss out on the thrill of a racing pulse as we take the first step and don’t experience the sense of victory when we succeed.

      For me, it’s trying to find that optimum balance between expected and unexpected, where in the snowy woods I can walk across the fallen log over the ravine because it was a new way to get home to the hot chocolate and cozy fire that’s awaiting me.

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