Who is Heraclitus and what is his "logos?"
In his great painting The School of Athens which hangs in the Vatican, Raphael portrays the great thinkers and teachers of the ages talking and listening to one another. His Heraclitus, however, is a lone thinker staring downward and inward, seated apart from the other philosophers. According to Eva Brann, Heraclitus looks within: "There he finds the Logos, the order that is the cosmos, the world without, whose mouthpiece and scribe he means to be."
So the "Logos" of Heraclitus is the order of the universe, the ruling idea which holds all together. Logos, in its multiform usage, can mean collection, reason, account, argument, and ratio.
The collected work of Heraclitus comprises 131 passages. Some scholars consider these fragments or even paraphrases of or additions to what Heraclitus originally wrote. Rather than focus on these puzzles of historical scholarship, Eva Brann sets herself the task to understand the thought of Heraclitus as it is found in the passages themselves. Read her account to see why she thinks "Heraclitus was the first Westerner to ponder how thought and world come to jibe: A Logos that we can hear must be the designer—and the design—of the world."
Eva Brann has taught at St. John's College in Annapolis for more than fifty years. She is a 2005 recipient of the National Humanities Medal. Paul Dry Books has published her books Homage to Americans, Feeling Our Feelings, Open Secrets / Inward Prospects, The Music of the Republic, and Homeric Moments.