Volume 19, Issue 2, Spring 2015
Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society
Jessica Elbert Decker
The Synaptic Motion of Life in Heraclitus
This paper explores Heraclitus’s linguistic method as a structural expression of his cosmological philosophy. Through an analysis of the various kinds of motion that Heraclitus describes, including the crucial motion between opposites, this essay delineates the meaning of ‘everliving fire’ as emblematic of his cosmos. The image of the synapse frames this analysis as it is simultaneously a motion and an expression uniting two poles; ‘syn’ also invokes Heraclitus’s notion of ‘shared logos’ as xynon, contrasted with human incomprehension as axynetoi. The divine principle of Zeus and his thunderbolt serve as a source of motion; these motions of fire govern not only the cosmos, but human perception and thought.