In order to begin discussing the Heraclitean account on reality and how it marks an advance, I will give a brief background on Heraclitus.
Heraclitus was born around 540 B.C. on the Asia Minor Coast in a country called Ephesus. Ephesus is located near Miletus, which is today called Turkey. There is not a lot known about his early life. However, it is said that he was from an aristocratic royal family and that he could have inherited a kingdom, but allowed his younger brother to take over the kingdom instead. Most philosophical historians believe that he was probably very conceited and had somewhat of a critical outlook toward the multitude (commoners) and political leaders. Thus he makes the following quotes about his position on politics 10.87(33) It is law, too, to obey the counsel of one. 10.116(121) Every grown man of the Ephesians should hang himself and leave the city to the boys; for they banished Hermodorus, the best man among them, saying “let no one of us excel, or if he does, be it elsewhere and among others.” 10.117(125a) May wealth never leave you, Ephesians, lest your wickedness be revealed. 10.118(49) One person is ten thousand to me if he is best. It is also believed that he disdained earlier philosophers such as Homer and Hesiod. 10.71 (57) Most men’s teacher is Hesiod. They are sure he knew most things- a man who could not recognize day and night; for they are one.
There are many accounts about different instances within Heraclitus’ life, some are believable and others seem unrealistic. On such story, says that he was invited to King Darius’ throne to explain his principles of thought but refused, this may not sound like a big deal, unless you know who King Darius was. Darius was a very powerful king over the kingdom of Persia. This is very important because Kin Darius is mentioned within the Old Testament of the Bible; therefore, one can’t help but to think what changes there may have been religious and historical, if this event is true and Heraclitus would have gone to see the king.
Another story says that Heraclitus was so obsessed with his principle that he withdrew himself from society and went into seclusion. He supposedly was on a diet of grass and when there started to be side effects from only eating grass, he went into cow pasture and covered with manure to dry himself out. 10.104 (77) It is death for souls to become wet. Who knows if either story is true or fiction but they do make one more interested in knowing more about Heraclitus.
There are only fragments of his work quoted by other writers, but one is able to pull a wealth of meaning from his quotes. Many modern Philosophers see Heraclitus as a riddler. He is considered by most to be the first Westerner to create a compelling philosophical system. It is said that his writings influenced the reasoning of great philosophers like Socrates, Plato, to some degree Aristotle and several modern philosophers studying the metaphysical realm. He wrote one book that became more popular in a later period of time. This book influenced so many that people became disciples of his philosophy. These people would later be known a Heracliteans.
Let’s now take a deeper look into Heraclitus, to explore and expose what he believed, why he believed it and what type of effects his beliefs had on philosophy and philosophers who came after him. The name that Heraclitus gives to his principle is flux or it could also be referred to as change. This flux contains the principle of fire and the unity of opposites, which are interconnected. He believed that identity or his idea of identity arises from flux. Another aspect of flux is that if offers stability. Heraclitus gives yet another name to flux, which is Logos. Logos is considered an acquired knowledge. In a certain way, Heraclitus tries to marry identity and change.
Most pre-Socratics before Heraclitus considered the soul to be...