< Pythagoras Facts
Arrested Development as Self-Referential Metaphor >

More Amazing Pre-Socratic Philosophy: Brendan praised my Sept. 12 entries from previous years, placing me under pressure, but really I got nothing. I can however posit a hypothesis that Heraclitus was the first crackpot philosopher. The Pythagoreans pioneered the proud hacker/crackpot tradition of trying to reduce everything to a single concept, but they chose "number", a concept which has meaning even if you don't accept the philosophy. Aristotle liked number okay, but didn't like the Pythagoreans, and he pointed out the many foibles that result when you say that all is number. It looks like Heraclitus saw this coming and avoided it by explaining everything in terms of a really vague concept: the logos, which in this context seems to mean "system of physics".

My first reaction is to mock Heraclitus for saying that if you just figure out how the universe works you'll see how the universe works; but one thing this book has taught me is that these ideas had to be invented, and it looks like Heraclitus might have invented the idea that there is such a system. Plus he has this to say about phase two of philosophy: "Let us not make random conjectures about the greatest matters."


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