Amongst the many hundreds of manuscripts left behind by Russian theologian Mikola Mandelstahm
are a number of thin volumes explicating the philosophy
of the Ancient Greek
. The text below follows, paginally, Mandelstahm's text on Heraclitus' fragments on flux (Mandelstahm on Heraclitus : Flux
); both texts were probably written in the 1660's. In the current text, Mandelstahm appears to have settled on a reading of Heraclitus that partially satisfies his own doubts regarding the strange Heraclitian concept of time
. In this reading of Heraclitus, Mandelstahm anticipates in many important ways the later ontological
excavations of Friedrich Nietzsche
, particularly his notion of eternal recurrence
which he must have partially derived from Heraclitus. Also, in the fourth paragraph below, Mandelstahm refers to the concept of the circle, and perhaps we can read here a prefiguration of his later concept of Dei Omnibus (God's Circularity) discussed in his rare text, the Codex Dei Omnibus
I think that I have determined the riddle, I have settled my doubts and ended my fears. Heraclitus shall sleep tonight. As will I!
is the quality of fire
such that the only ontological permanence is flux
. Heraclitus wrote, "There is exchange of all things for fire and of fire for all things, as there is of wares for gold of gold for wares" (F28). If all things become fire and fire becomes all thing, what is the mode of being of phenomenon
and fire (change) if it is not recurrence? There can be no state of rest; all things are already in the process of becoming fire, and all things that are fire are already in the process of becoming a thing. Any point in between is already a state of becoming. "Cool things become warm, the warm grows cool; the moist dries, the parched becomes moist" (F22). "Immortals become mortals, mortals become immortals; they live in each other's death and die in each other's life" (F66).
, a process, a dynamic process, an evolution of the same (though I fear this would not make any sense). Being is becoming
. Everything is always becoming something else. And in becoming something else, everything is simultaneously moving towards return to what it is presently. Everything simultaneously moves towards and away from what it is. As a cool thing becomes warm, it is only preparing to turn back again and become cool. As a mortal lives and moves towards death, they are only moving towards immortality, from whence they will once again return to mortality.
"It throws apart and then brings together again" (F31). Whatever was, comes back again. What is cast across the seas returns to that from whence it came and is then cast out to the seas once again, only to come back. There is eternal recurrence. "In the circumference of the circle the beginning and the end are common" (109). The circle
is a true symbol of beauty; always I want to be on its borders. The circle returns recurs is all things and no things, it is fixed and rested, but pure motion in its being. Is God a circle?
The beginning is the end. Everything returns to its original
position, that from which it was born, its mother figure. Its original position, though, is no position at all (in the fixed sense of the word position). It returns to what it was, only to become another one of the things that it has been. "It is one and the same thing to be living and dead, awake or asleep, young or old. The former aspect in each case becomes the latter, and the latter becomes the former, by sudden unexpected reversal" (F113).
The formula for Heraclitus' ontology is: all being is becoming
The second, and more primary, aspect of this is: eternal recurrence is the being of becoming.