Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 53

solving how out of the Indefinite the
Definite, out of the Eternal the Temporal, out of the Just the Unjust
could by secession ever originate, the darker the night became.----


Towards the midst of this mystic night, in which Anaximander's problem
of the Becoming was wrapped up, Heraclitus of Ephesus approached and
illuminated it by a divine flash of lightning. "I contemplate the
Becoming," he exclaimed,--"and nobody has so attentively watched this
eternal wave-surging and rhythm of things. And what do I behold?
Lawfulness, infallible certainty, ever equal paths of Justice,
condemning Erinyes behind all transgressions of the laws, the whole
world the spectacle of a governing justice and of demoniacally
omnipresent natural forces subject to justice's sway. I do not behold
the punishment of that which has become, but the justification of
Becoming. When has sacrilege, when has apostasy manifested itself in
inviolable forms, in laws esteemed sacred? Where injustice sways, there
is caprice, disorder, irregularity, contradiction; where however Law
and Zeus' daughter, Dike, rule alone, as in this world, how could the
sphere of guilt, of expiation, of judgment, and as it were the place of
execution of all condemned ones be there?"

From this intuition Heraclitus took two coherent negations, which are
put into the right light only by a comparison with the propositions of
his predecessor. Firstly, he denied the duality of two quite diverse
worlds, into the assumption of which Anaximander had been pushed; he
no longer distinguished a physical world from a metaphysical, a realm
of definite qualities from a realm of indefinable indefiniteness. Now
after this first step he could neither be kept back any longer from
a still greater audacity of denying: he denied "Being" altogether.
For this one world which was left to him,--shielded all round by
eternal, unwritten laws, flowing up and down in the brazen beat of
rhythm,--shows nowhere persistence, indestructibility, a bulwark in the
stream. Louder than Anaximander, Heraclitus exclaimed: "I see nothing
but Becoming. Be not deceived! It is the fault of your limited outlook
and not the fault of the essence of things if you believe that you see
firm land anywhere in the ocean of Becoming and Passing. You need names
for things, just as if they had a rigid permanence, but the very river
in which you bathe a second time is no longer the same one which you
entered before."

Heraclitus has as his royal property the highest power of intuitive
conception, whereas towards the other mode of conception which is
consummated by ideas and logical combinations, that is towards reason,
he shows himself cool, apathetic, even hostile, and he seems to
derive a

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