Wisdom Logic of Heraclitus

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Heraclitus said that wisdom discerns the Logos that directs all through all (Heraclitus 34).  Listening to the Logos, desert wisdom remembers the One in all, gathering all into remembrance of the One in everything.  Truth, a-lethia, is un-forgetting that un-conceals the Logos of glory from scattering dissipation, recollecting what unites in whole remembrance, anamnesis.  But like the Delphic Oracle, ‘Know Thyself,’ Heraclitus says wisdom does not directly assert or obscurely deny, but gives a sign.  Signs point the way; they do not describe a destination.  Heraclitus tells us the way he followed was to search within himself, which desert wisdom interpreted in Biblical terms to mean, he turned within (metanoia) to see who sees (theoria).  According to the Gospel of John, the Logos was with God in the beginning, but the desert experienced Logos as uncreated fire of saving grace, because elders knew from experience that Logos consumes confusion and division, revealing wise union and glorious communion in the saints.  The wisdom of Heraclitus was apophatic, as was the wisdom logic of the desert, because radical negation and the negation of negation burns away all that obscures or obstructs wisdom, extinguishing all that intrudes between wisdom and God.  Wisdom suspends opinion in order for the Logos to reveal truth, embracing unknowing as gathering Logos knows, preferring apophatic paradox to rational argument, dialectical antimony to simplistic opinion. Heraclitus discerned that wholeness is not whole because completeness must include incompleteness if completion is to perfect completeness.  The way up and the way down are one and the same, as Heraclitus cryptically observed, bequeathing ascent in the desert which is only completed when wise completeness descends to embrace incompleteness.   

The Logos is in tune with the logoi of beings, calling things into being, whilst being out of tune with self-interested opinions spawning opinionated extremes, just as harmony embraces discord to resolve dissonance in tensely-attuned consonance.   Expecting the unexpected, wisdom discovers it everywhere, showing that everything connected with Logos is unexpected.  Heraclitus gave logical method to the desert, not spiritual content, Christ himself being both revealed content and its revelation.  Logos as wisdom is WHAT revelation reveals and as glory is HOW it is revealed, wisdom liberating novel opinion from itself by opening up glory that opinion overlooks.  Archaic wisdom was integrated in the desert as Logos, which transcends conceptual understanding, Logos that steadily steers all through all.  The blind fail to see what they see, neglecting wisdom, whilst the deaf are unable to listen to what they hear, overlooking glory.  Seers awaken to the uncreated seer as well as to the uncreated that is seen, beholding the uncreated meaning of being, awakening insight into wisdom’s vision of glory.  The desert reveres the oracular traditions of prophecy because the Logos as prophecy names the Name which prayer invokes to awaken to the Named.  The Logos measures things against its own dynamic balance, its back-stretched, agonised harmony, its attuned capacity to hold together what would otherwise fly apart.  Wisdom cleaves to the glory (doxa) of Logos, not to current opinion, doxa, unveiling the Logos of glory which reveals all are indivisibly One.  The Logos embraces what opposes it, because as opposing co-inherence, it agrees to integrate what contradicts it.   Heraclitus pointed to the opposing tension of a bow or a lyre, indicating that the Logos holds together in critical tension what divisive opinions tear apart.  The desert listened, agreed and in Christ made this wisdom its own.

The wisdom of the Logos in the desert holds the divine and the human in Christ together in healthy tension, holding one substance and three hypostatic subsistences together in Holy Trinity.  The same wisdom logic embraced invisible realms and visible worlds together in healing tension, with tense unions holding together many other warring opposites.  These opposing tensions all call for a wisdom logic of apophatic paradox to hold them together and this is what Heraclitus called Logos and the desert adopted as its Christological wisdom logic.  His back-stretched connection became palintropic antinomy in the desert, opposites held together in critical tension as antithetical co-inherence.  A healthy balance between centrifugal and centripetal motion was a favoured metaphor for this wisdom logic.  Pulling apart, it holds together, tightening to extreme tension, it releases with enormous energy, proving that strife is wholesome in any sound ordering of things.  Great Peace is not false peace that extinguishes critical tension but true peace that embraces extreme tension without division, which is why Heraclitus said the hidden harmony is far stronger than the apparent one.  Wisdom prefers the logic of paradoxical tension to clever syntheses that dissolve tension into systematic, conceptual resolution, perhaps because fear is afraid to engage with real conflict.  Wisdom is not confused with coherent philosophical discourse in the desert, preferring raw truth to conceptual convenience and radical un-concealment to conventional compromise.  Truth burns like a cauterising flame because God is a consuming fire.  Love burns like uncreated fire because it purifies and illumines.  Logos burns as uncreated energy in act as awareness and as presence, fire of wisdom and flame of glory, unconfused with any conditioned phenomena, inseparable from uncreated grace.  Logos is beautiful and loves beauty, the beauty of glory that loves wisdom.  Wisdom is alive as the dying glory of Logos, just as Logos is alive as the dying glory of wisdom.  Their union in wisdom logic is creative, although sometimes unbearable tension that generates and regenerates wisdom.

The Presocratic roots of desert wisdom logic are wisely concealed in the aphorisms of Heraclitus, permanently informing the formal method implicit in Patristic rumination.   The Pythagorean Tetractys was implicit in desert wisdom as the mysteries of one, of two, of three and of four.  The four primordial ratios of consonance 1:1, of the octave 1:2, of the fifth 2:3 and and of the fourth 3:4, go back to the wisdom of Pythagoras.  God beyond God is the mystery of One.  God beyond God in union with God within God is the mystery of Two.  God beyond God, God within God and God beside God is the mystery of Three in One, Holy Trinity.  The four archangels, four Cherubic, Seraphic presences upholding the Throne are the mystery of four, reflected as four winds, four directions, four elements, the primordial fours of creation which are all examples of the mystery of Four.  The first three mysteries are mysteries of uncreated revelation, 1. Primordial Father; 2.  Union of the Father and the Son, 3. Tri-unity of Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  But the Four has to do with the mystery of creation, the fourfold mysteries of creation.  The content of these mysteries comes, of course, from Biblical revelation, not from Pythagorean wisdom, but the logical form of this unfolding, the implicit structural ratios of wisdom logic, lie in Pythagorean wisdom, whilst the palintonic harmony with its palintropic tension of sameness and difference lies hidden in the wisdom logic of Heraclitus.  After so many centuries of living tradition, Presocratic wisdom logic is implicit in the developed Christian Platonism of desert Hesychasm.  It is no longer explicit.  The tradition gathered what at one time was a costly difference, Athens and Jerusalem, difference held together in highly tensioned harmony, as in symphonic music or polyphony.  At each stage, difference tended towards division which might have led to explosive disintegration, with agreement tending towards confusion which might have become disastrous implosion.  Integral paradox held together what would otherwise fly apart, empowering Logos to hold together what gives fresh life to the tradition, inspiring Patristic Christian Hellenism.

Patristic wisdom logic kept old antagonisms alive in critical tension, like an agony that is suffered anew in every generation, although the wisdom logic of ‘no confusion, no division,’ helped to keep the old extremes within co-inherent Logos rather than degenerate into warring heretical extremisms which are destructive.  Wisdom logic has been called Chalcedonian by some western scholars, but it owes its wisdom to the divine-human mysteries of Christ rather than to the Definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council.  Christ is a lived union of opposites which cannot be reduced to one another, leaving the agony of their antagonism undiminished, giving Great Peace its intense insight into the oneness of incompleteness and completenes.  The paradoxes of the uncreated and the created, of the timeless and of time, of the finite and the infinite remained mutually abrasive yet gloriously at-oned.  Time affirms and denies, so as to make way for the timeless, which is both affirmed and denied.  The wisdom of completeness embraces incompleteness which it both affirms and denies.  The sacred tradition is the same yesterday, today and forever but never the same today as it was yesterday.  The wisdom logic of the desert knows that ways and means differ from age to age, whilst the meaning of Logos stays fundamentally the same.  The Logos holds divinity and humanity together, refusing to reduce the timeless to time or time to the timeless, ensuring that the wisdom logic of Christian paradox remains healthy and whole.

The wisdom of Parmenides is the wisdom of One, Hen, the Oneness of Being that alone is.’  The wisdom of Heraclitus is the wisdom of ‘One: Everything, Hen: Panta.’   For Parmenides, the timeless ISNESS of pure Being swallows everything; timeless sameness alone remains.  For Heraclitus, all things are One, because from Oneness, all things come to be and to the One they are returning.  The Logos beholds that out of all things: One, and out of One, all things.  For Heraclitus, difference matters, whereas for Parmenides, the ISNESS of pure Being excludes difference.  For Heraclitus, difference must not be confused with division, whereas for Parmenides difference is division.  Both agree that wisdom overcomes division but they disagree as to whether to listen to Being or to Logos, for Being excludes difference, whereas Logos includes difference.  The desert remained indirectly and subliminally aware of both perennial wisdom logics, but read Parmenides on Being in the light of Heraclitus on Logos, because the mysteries of Christ and Holy Trinity were mysteries not of Being annihilating difference, but of Logos, differentiating union from confusion and difference from division.  The Logos of the Fourth Gospel is the God within God of Clement, but Patristic tradition toned down the agony of Heraclitus, much as Plotinus, who often quoted Heraclitus, had done.  Hegel claimed to have absorbed Heraclitus into his dialectical Logic but rejected his logic of paradox, preferring his own dialectical sublation (aufhebung) to Heraclitus’ paradox.  Hegelian sublation absorbs both antitheses into a new rational synthesis, which amounts to a rational refusal to go on working with the Koan of contradiction.  But then, Hegel was no contemplative but a professor of philosophy and he would surely have accused Heraclitus of being an arrested dialectician.   But Heraclitus might respond that Hegel’s rational dialectic ultimately betrays wisdom by refusing to go on listening to the Logos.  The desert went on listening to Logos, because the wisdom of Heraclitus had become its own, so was no longer separately named.  Braced by the paradoxes of revelatory antinomies, the wisdom logic of Heraclitus remained hidden but catalytic at the heart of desert wisdom, which agreed with him that wisdom listens unflinchingly to the Logos.