Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

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 and Theory of Flux

On the theory of flux, Plato wrote in Cratylus:

Heraclitus says somewhere that everything moves and nothing rests; and comparing what exists to a river, he says that you would not step in the same river twice.

18th century sculpture of Heraclitus by Marinali

Tangents and Non Sequiturs From Prudence:

While Heraclitus was theorizing more about the essence of physical things being unstable, transitory, in a constant state of flux, it seems to carry through to more gossamer elements, such as moments in time, as well. Every moment is different. Moments of the past can never be recreated again in their totality. Something, many things (everything technically), will have changed, and thus alter the total experience of the moment. New obstacles will have tumbled into our path; old ravines will have been bridged.

As such, we must temper our assumptions and not expect to be able to recreate the perfect moment or dodge the speeding train again. Instead, each recurring event will be something different, perhaps even entirely unique. Resistance to change is futile, because everything is in a constant state of flux. At most we can try to manage the change, attempt to limit or control it as best we can.

The holidays often are a time when we depend on tradition and ritual to restrict changes to our celebrations. We can get our hopes up that the best moments of the past will happen again (and that experience will allow us to avoid the worst), if we just try hard enough. So we make all the right preparations, have everything in its place, and somehow it doesn’t seem quite the same again.

That’s a moment when we can become disappointed and sulk, or we can enjoy the new energy and let each new moment surprise and thrill us. We can make it a moment that we will want to try to recreate again.


Pre-Socratic Self Quiz:

Q7. In the tradition of the earlier pre-Socratics, such as Anaximander and Anaximenes, Heraclitus believed the world was composed of one primary element? What is it?


Up Next: Even More Heraclitus!

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