Heracleitus Fragment 72 Essay, Research Paper
It is difficult for one to understand the direction of Heracleitus? fragments without looking at the fragments together as a whole. Thus, in drawing upon his fragment numbered 72, which states, ?The gathering (Logos): though men associate with it most closely, yet they are separated from it, and those things which they encounter daily seem to them strange,? one must refer to several other fragments before its meaning can be clear.
In an Ionian vein, Heracleitus assigns transformations of matter, or basic elements, to illustrate the soul and Logos. He identified fire as the principle element of nature and creation, and assigned it to both the soul and the Logos. As for the Logos, that which gathers the universe, he states, ?The thunderbolt (i.e. Fire) steers the universe,? (Fragment 64) and ?This ordered universe, which is the same for all, was not created by any one of the gods or of mankind, but it was ever and is and shall be ever-living Fire, kindled in measure and quenched in measure? (Fragment 30). In several fragments he also ties this into the soul, stating that moisture and wetness will destroy a soul in Fragments 12 and 36 and asserting that a ?dry soul is the wisest and best? in Fragment 118.
From this, it becomes easier to draw the connection between the Logos and soul, and to understand why, in Fragment 72, Heracleitus begins by stating, ?The gathering: though men associate with it most closely?? Man is closely associated with this gathering, or Logos, because he shares a common element with it, and is tied to it at all times by containing this Logos within himself, which can be seen through Fragment 115: ?The soul has its own gathering (Logos), which increases itself.? Essentially, this gathering and man are One, existing within one another.
Yet, often man is not aware of his connection to the Logos. Heracleitus explains that man often walks around in waking as if he is asleep, in a state of unawareness. ?As for mankind, they are unaware of what they are doing after they wake, just as they forget about what they did while asleep? (Fragment 1). Instead, man carries out his existence aware only of himself, ignoring his deeper relation and Oneness with the Logos. ?But although the Logos is universal, the majority live as if they had understanding peculiar to themselves? (Fragment 2).
This lack of understanding leads to a confusion on the part of man, ?and those things which they encounter daily seem to them strange? (Fragment 72). Absorbed in himself, immersed in this waking dream-state, man fails to grasp the connection between opposites and the harmony of the universe. Instead, man fancies himself separate from all other things, failing to see how, like the joints mentioned in Fragment 10, he exists as a separate being and yet one connected to the Logos at the same time. ?Not understanding, although they have heard, they are like the deaf. The proverb bears witness to them: ?Present yet absent?? (Fragment 34). Man cannot, essentially, sever this connection to the Logos, that which he is unalterably linked with, although he may never gain conscious awareness of the connection itself. Things will continue to seem strange to him, and he will remain ?present yet absent? in his daily activities.