BY DARRELL P. ARNOLD, PH.D.
Beginning in 2017, I blogged a commentary on the Fragments of Heraclitus, which I finished about a year later. For now, these remain in first draft form. But I believe they are useful as is.
For more convenient access, I’m making the blogs available in order here. I integrate reflections here of the main commentaries on Heraclitus, especially from Kahn and Robinson. In doing this, I reflect to some extent on how later Ancients and Medievals received his thought. I also summarize and comment on the reception of his thought by Hegel and finish by comparing Heraclitus with some other process thinkers. What I offer here is not philology so much as philosophical reflection that does still attempt to honor the text.
One of the first questions confronted in this project is what translation of the fragments to use. Another is the order in which they should be presented. I decided to mix various translations, making others available where it seems particularly helpful to do so. I began my comments using the order in Robin Waterfield’s translation in The First Philosophers, The Presocratics and the Sophists (Oxford U P, 2009). However, Waterfield only translates about half of the Fragments, so in the end I re-numbered the early comments in alignment with Kahn’s numbering in The Art and Thought of Heraclitus (Cambridge UP, 1983) and decided to continue comments following the order laid out in that translation. Kahn reconstructs the Fragments to align with the general thematic order that we know from Diogenes Laertius was employed in the Ancient and now lost book of which the Fragments were a part, Heraclitus’ On Nature. That was divided into three sections: (1) on the universe; (2) on politics (and ethics); and (3) on theology. The more specific order of those fragments within that book is not known.
In addition to following Kahn’s numbering, I do indicate the fragment numbering from various other translations, including the critical edition numbering of Diels/Kranz (DK or D, normally in the revised B sectioning), the latter which are also followed by Dennis Sweet (S), whose Heraclitus. Translation and Analysis (U P of America, 1995) I often make use of. I also provide the numberings of some of the texts of Philip Wheelwright ( W) in The Presocratics (Odyssey Press, 1966), and the recent translation by Andre Laks and Gleen W. Most (GM), available from Loeb Classical Library, Part 2, on Early Ionian Thinkers (Harvard U P, 2016). In the blog, each of those texts, including Kahn’s, is referenced with the first letter of the last name of the translator (as noted above). There are occasional omissions. I will turn to those as time permits