The world of reasoning, of the mind, and the world of experience,
of the senses, as the sixth century moved into the fifth, became
separate, distinct. The most outspoken critic of Xenophanes and
Pythagoras was another Ionian, Hericlitus. Much information does
not teach wisdom, he said, else it would have taught Pythagorus,
who, from his polymathy made up an art of mischief. The
perpetual motion of Anaximenes divine fire was a description of
the source of change in the universe. Hericlitus said that
perpetual motion was the universe. The world of Anaximander was
created out of the conflict of opposites and change was derived
through strife. Hericlitus said that the universe was nothing
but conflict and strife. What was experienced was illusion.
What there is, is a constant incessant flux, a raging fire. What
is real is the logos, that which lies beneath the fire. Most of
what we know about Hericlitus comes second hand and often from
doubtful sources. However, it is not what he said specifically
that makes him important for our study of western philosophy. It
is what is implicit in his view that others could not refute.
The greatest problem with Hericlitus' ideas is that they make a
kind of diabolical sense. Remember that Anaximander's concept of
the boundless explained the perceptible by the imperceptible.
Yet, if it is not perceptible what right do we have to say it
exists. Hericlitus' statements posed the greatest challenge that
Greek philosophy had to struggle with. Consider this; If
everything we interact with is constantly changing we can never
know anything about it because once we learned anything about it,
it would change and become something else. At the same time
scientific knowledge, as conceived by the Greeks, is knowledge
that cannot be different than it is. Thus, scientific knowledge
is not possible.