The Origins of Reality

Heraclitus and Parmenides appeared to be on opposing sides, with one supporting change and the other opposing it. True being, according to Heraclitus, does not continue to become indefinitely, but rather takes a circular path. In doing so, he refuted the idea that change is a cycle in which being transforms into not-being, life transforms into death, and thus change becomes true and eternal. Some of Heraclitus’ beliefs on change can be described as dubious, while many of them appear to be incomprehensible and open to endless elucidation, according to Heraclitus’ argument on change. Heraclitus supports change and believes in it when he categorically says that, “Other and other waters touch those who into the same river” (Jones 17). This statement by Heraclitus justifies that the logical thought is contained in the physical and every terms, just like water, a river, and a body. Heraclitus seemingly supposed the reoccurrence of things, all including our lives as human beings.

According to Heraclitus, change and the one and the many can be illustrated using life and death, where being can be overtaken by not-being and vice versa, a superiority is subjugated by its reverse, and the universe is always an attractive field for continuous war. “War is the father and king of all things, it shows some as gods, some as men, and it takes some freemen and others slaves” (Jones 16). The belief on change by Heraclitus is illustrated using different physical terms such as when the fire dies, it changes to air, when the air dies, it is converted to water, and when water dies, and it becomes the earth. This shows that life and death have an interchanging trait between different elements (Jones 16). Heraclitus illustrates that this structure of transformation in the universe can go on both ways, and that is why he stated that “The way up and the way down are the same” (Jones 18). This makes his deepest understanding that all changes are circular. The same also is applied in the life of human beings, where he emphatically stated that the change can also take place in the lives of human beings where one changes from the living to the dead, being awake to asleep, youthful age to old age.

In contrast, Parmenides has illustrated through his works that he believes in the main truth which states that, “We cannot think nor say not-being,” thereby indicating that he discards the absolute probability of the extremely challenging opinion of not-being. Suppose someone proposes that dragons do not exist, Parmenides would either reply by stating that dragons out there, in which in that case there is the possibility of one uttering a lie, or they do not exist, and in that case, it can be said that the dragon, which resembles your thoughts, are about nothing. According to him, “What is not, is not,” which means that there is nothing hence the “nothing” cannot name “anything.” It is unfortunately that an idea or a word cannot be about the unknown since they are compared to arrows, or wasps’ stings and therefore they always have the commitment of hitting the target (Jones 21). Even though it is not prudent to say that something is not, Parmenides was far stricter, thereby stating that it is not logical to say that point A is not point B. This strict logic poses some stunning consequences though.

According to Parmenides’ argument, it can be said that change can be put at its standstill in their tracks, and at the same time the difference between two things can be erased. Parmenides believed that the logic truth about the cosmos is enduring, eternal, stationary, effortlessly uniform, similar all of the time, thereby making him allow for the development of a way of opinion called dóxa which does not only stand for view but also prestige, appearance and many other things. Parmenides was after the truth behind the appearance, and that change is simply appearance, but the truth being changeless (Jones 23). According to Parmenides, true being is anything which is changeless after the appearance of change while for Heraclitus, true being is not endlessly becoming but it is circular. Even though Heraclitus and Parmenides have different thoughts on change, both of them illustrated their ability to liberate eternal being from the flux of appearance and change. Significantly, it is important to note that both of them courageously tried to earmark becoming with the seal of change, thereby creating an intellectual approach to eliminating death.

According to Plato, there is always an absolute truth which existed, leading to the creation of reality. Even though in reality there is the existence of truth, Plato was not sure on whether or not the people could ever be able to find and detect it in reality. This can be justified when Plato categorically stated that “The reality is created in mind, we can change our reality by changing our minds.” The idea of true forms permeated much in the thoughts of Plato about the nature of reality. Plato believed that pure forms reality is the perfect idealized forms of concepts which human beings are familiar with. It can also be stated that Plato was of imagination about the existence of an ideal or perfect world, which is beyond our physical earth.

The idealness of the world according to Plato’s imagination comes in since the current world occupied by the human beings is full of unevenness, imperfections and different forms of impurities. The reality is a creation of the mind, it largely depends on the state of the mind, and it can be changed according to the present mindsets of the human beings, “Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.” The relationship between the realm of forms and our world is in existence that the relationship exposed for us the mortals of forms and helped in bringing order into the lives of human beings. Plato believed that the idea of reality was comforting since it provides us with the basics in the idea of absolute truth. Through this, it can be said that there is only one version of reality. Hence we are not subjected to the world where the multiple forms of a single event can be valid.

Plato suggested that after the human beings rose above and beyond their physical environment, they will be able to appreciate the reality of the forms which were present in their invisible world, but it is unknown whether the human beings shall postulate this reality after their death or during life. Since Plato believed in the existence of forms, he sometimes described them as being a “one over many.” When Plato’s view on the problem of on the one and the many can be determined when he emphatically said that “We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each collection of many things to which we apply the same name.” The problem is generated as soon as human beings apply a lot of hypothetical analysis on various things and hence if there is a group of things which share the same “name,” then there is a form for that particular set.

Plato did not make the relationship between the many and the one completely clear. He, therefore, resorted to using the words such as “participation” or “sharing in” to explain this relationship. Through this, it can allude that through participating in a form, is when a thing comes to be kind of the thing. From Plato’s illustrations, it can be said that tables are tables because they participate in the Form Table while beautiful things are beautiful since they participate in the Form Beauty and hence participation help in the explanation of the prediction.

Plato in one way or the other combines the opinions of both Heraclitus and Parmenides when developing his theory of Forms. Parmenides was of the opinion that reality is a single, unchanged thing, and that change is purely an illusion. This can be illustrated when he said that “All change is an illusion, only the one (identity) is” (Jones 21). On the other hand, Heraclitus was of the opinion that everything is a flux- “One cannot step into the same river twice” since it is always changing (Jones 16). This is because the river, having undergone some changes, it will form a new river, and human beings have changed; they form a new being. Heraclitus goes further to state categorically that, “Nothing is permanent except the fact of change,” which is a clear indication that change is real and identity is an illusion.

In combining these two opinions for both Heraclitus and Parmenides, Plato illustrates that the physical world is always changing, just as it was said by Heraclitus, but there is a world “above” the physical world which is of Forms that is always constant and unchanged, just like it was said by Parmenides. Plato, therefore, resolved the problem of contradicting views according to Heraclitus and Parmenides by stating clearly that there are two worlds. There is the “real” world of the Forms, which is very perfect and is not subjected to change, “Unchanging,” and the sensible world which we recognize around us, that very type of the world is the imperfect copy of the world of Forms, and it is insofar as the replica is not perfect and therefore it is completely an illusion.

The illusion of this type of world is composed of the appearance of change, together with the accustomed illusions which include the visible space shrinking with distance, in all of the three dimensions. Taking the argument of Plato to the contemporary world, there will still be the existence of two worlds; the sensible world which we see around us, the one which is known as the spherical world that act as the object of study of the empirical science, and the world of theoretical science, that physicists refer to as the world of underlying causes of the empirical phenomena and which is completely imperceptible. The empirical world can be said that it is the imperfect replica of the theoretical world, which makes it completely imperfect and so becoming illusory.

The reason is hopelessly fillable since everyone has got a different opinion on the same problem. The emergence of the contradicting opinion about change has made it impossible to solve the original problem. More specifically, it is important to note that any opinion which claims that something is an illusion requires that the fact of the illusion is clearly and completely explained. Therefore it can be said that an illusion of the passage of time is so far mysterious. Nevertheless, it is still important to note that there are still some lessons which can be learned from the arguments of Plato, Heraclitus, and Parmenides in regards to the existence of change.

It is all about the problem about how much truth exists in common sense or simply the logic argument perspective of the human beings. We are left in a situation whereby we do not have a well-worked out reasoning to believe if there is a change in the real sense or not. Heraclitus believes that there is the change that is why he stated that, “One cannot step into the same river twice” since you would have undergone some changes and so to the water in the river (Jones 16). Parmenides, on the other hand, opposes the possibility of the existence of change, since it can be stopped from taking place while at the same time the difference between two or more things can be erased. Instead of Plato offering solution to this problem, he opted to categorically show that both Heraclitus and Parmenides are correct and therefore goes ahead to show that there are two worlds just as indicated by both Heraclitus and Parmenides.

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