Heraclitus, Fragment 91 (D 75)


[Those sleeping are laborers and coworkers with the things happening in the world.] (S 72; cp. R 72, and K 91)

This fragment is related by Marcus Aurelius, who states, “Heraclitus says, I think, that men asleep are laborers and coworkers in what takes place in the world.”  (Kahn 91)

The phrasing shows it to be a vague recollection. Some commentators argue it is a corruption of Fragment 4: “Most men do not think things in the way they encounter them, nor do they recognize what they experience, but believe their own opinions.”

This fragment in any case dovetails with the last phrase of Fragment 90: When awake, the private world of sleep still holds sway over individuals’ experience. That private world thus shapes the views and experiences of those who are awake. This means that, when awake, people still do not experience the common rational world, but experience the world tarnished by individual opinion, by imaginations and expectations that are not based in the logos.


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