“Everything is made of fire,” claimed Heraclitus. What is fascinating about this ancient remark is how it turned out to be so improbably true. Werner Heisenberg, one of the twentieth century’s most important nuclear physicists, wrote in Physics and Philosophy that “modern physics is in some way extremely near to the doctrines of Heraclitus. If we replace the word ‘fire’ by the word ‘energy’ we can almost repeat his statements word for word from our modern point of view.” Twenty-five hundred years after Heraclitus, Heisenberg found his thinking much closer to modern physics than any philosopher who had followed him. Furthermore, Heraclitus did not try to separate himself from the natural world as philosophy has done from Socrates up to Descartes. It was Descartes, most profoundly, whose philosophy created a terrible sense of separateness between mind and body, human beings and the natural world. He destroyed the Logos, the gathering principle, by reducing the world to a set of objects that had little connection to one another.
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Notes from a Very Small Island
A practice in belonging to this world
by Erik Reece