Aristotle gave Heraclitus a bum rap

As for any ontological implications of my assertions about nouns and verbs, Aristotle gave Heraclitus a bum rap when he pigeonholed him as a materialist monist.  Heraclitus did not consider the world to be made of things, much less one thing. When Heraclitus used the noun “fire,” he was merely presenting “the process of change” as “more real than the material substances that undergo change.”  (Graham)  Use of the nouns “process” and “change” does not make changing into a thing, a being, any more than Heraclitus’ use of “fire.”

In fact, I am not even going as far as Heraclitus.  Whether we live in a world of constant change remains an open question.  I am not making any truth claims about the nature of reality.  (Three nouns—truth, nature, reality—putting up as many road hazards as “God” or “I.”) Talk about changing, moving, and doing does not assert that everything is nothing but changing, moving, and doing. Things are not reduced to change, and change is not reduced to material movement, whatever “material” means.  Saying that one thing is “nothing but” something else does not change what we’re doing.  We’re still using nouns without really questioning what we’re saying.  I remember being in a graduate school study group of some Marxist text.  One discussant became a bit carried away with the materialist project and said, “I’ll be so glad when we’ve explained everything in terms of atoms and electrons.”  A more dialectical participant stumped him with the question, “But won’t you still just be using words and symbols?  You can’t use the electrons and atoms themselves to explain anything.”  There will be more to say on this subject in the last presentation, “I will miss you,” when we ask whether Diogenes really refuted Zeno’s paradox by just getting up and walking from here to there.

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