• Heraclitus said "You can't step into the same river twice." His follower, whose name escapes me at the moment, went further with "You can't step into the same river once." The "present" is a slippery little concept, since a snapshot is a kind of lie that we all agree to. Nothing stands still. Cue the music. "Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind I close my eyes Only for a moment, then the moment's gone All my dreams Pass before my eyes, a curiosity Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind..." problem of universals: The Greek version of the debate may have begun with Heraclitus, who said that "we never step twice into the same river." In the time it takes us to move our rear foot forward for that second step, water has continued to rush forward, the banks have shifted a bit, and the river is no longer the same. A pupil of Heraclitus, Patteios, offered a strengthened version of the dictum, observing that not even once does one step into one river. Heraclitus is often interpreted as suggesting a skeptical conclusion from this observation. Since nothing ever stays the same from moment to moment, any knowledge we may think we have is obsolete before we acquire it. He might also have been suggesting that names are an artificial way to impose stability on the flux of reality -- by calling this a "river" I pretend that it is one entity. This would make of him the first nominalist. Much in the philosophy of Plato may be understood as an answer to Heraclitus, especially to the skeptical implications of his writings. For Plato, our intellect can contemplate the same river any number of times, for river as an idea, as a form, remains always the same. There is a sharp distinction between the world of the senses and the world of the intellect: one can only have opinions about the former, but one can have knowledge, justified true belief, about the latter. For just that reason, the intelligible world is the real world, the sensible world is only provisionally real, like the shadows on the wall of a cave. It must be noted that the Platonic notion of timeless ideas, or forms, isn't confined to universals. Particular terms, too, can be understood as the name of an intelligible form. So although river is a form, Meander is also a form, and "the Meander as it was at noon last Friday" is a form. Even the concept "Heraclitean flux" is a form, and as such fluxlessly timeless! There are paradoxes aplenty here, and Plato himself explored them in a dazzlingly dialectical dialogue, Parmenides. But at least part of what Plato meant to convey is that River, as a universal, is a timeless idea in which the mutable rivers partially participate, as the material world is an imperfect mirror of the really real world. Plato, accordingly, took a realist position regarding universals. This Platonic realism, however, in denying full reality to the material world, differs sharply with modern forms of realism, which generally assert the reality of the external world and which in some versions deny the reality of ideas. Consider an oak tree. This is a member of a species, and it has much in common with all the oak trees of generations past, and all those that shall come. Its universal, its oakness, is a part of it. Accordingly, Aristotle was much more sanguine than either Heraclitus or Plato about coming to know the sensible world. A biologist can study oak trees and learn about oakness, finding the intelligible order within the sensible world. Such views made Aristotle a realist as to universals, but a new sort of realist. Some might call this view moderate realism.
  • Strictly speaking: No.
  • if your havasu and gotta pee
  • Reckon so.
  • I can step in the same river one million times, it just matters how many times I decide to step in it.
  • Of course.
  • Yes and no. You can step into the river and out and in many times. But is it the same river? Since rivers flow the water you stepped in the first time would have moved on by the time you step in it again , does that make it a new river? Maybe we need to define river before we can decide if you can step in it twice.
  • In the same river in the same spot " yes " In fact can step many times over as you please regardless of what Heraelitus said.
  • In the same river by name yes you can, but trying to step in the same water no you can't.
  • Geographically yes scientifically no
  • Not round here. If you touch the water, your feet will burn and drop off.
  • I have had the privilege of stepping within the banks if the same river at both ends. Actually at the beginning of the Rio Grande River in Colorado it was too small to step in but I did run my hands through the waters. I have also been in the Rio Grande at the mouth where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Water wise I am sure it was not the same water; river wise it was the same.
  • Yes and you can dance in it as well.

Copyright 2020, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy