Do Real Contradictions Belong to Heraclitus’ Conception of Change? The Anti-cognate Internal Object Gives a Sign

History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 26 (2):184-206 (2024)
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Heraclitus uses paradoxical language to present the relationship between opposites in his worldview. This mode of expression has generated much controversy. Some take the paradoxes as evidence of a contradictory identity of opposites (Barnes), while others propose a dynamic union through transformation without identity that avoids the contradiction (Graham). By examining B88 and B62, I seek to identify the stronger and weaker points of such readings. The contradictory identity reading thwarts the transformation between opposites. The dynamic reading offers a plausible alternative. However, it skips a characterization of how Heraclitus conceives of the transformation between opposites in physical terms. To fill this gap, I consider Heraclitus’ use of what I call the anti-cognate internal object in B62. I argue that ‘living the death and dying the life’ is a case of change as mixture, a popular conception among the early Presocratics. Upon closer examination, the anti-cognate internal object suggests that real contradictions belong to Heraclitus conception of change. The details reveal a philosophically compelling view.

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Celso de Oliveira Vieira
Ruhr-Universität Bochum


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