- Question: According to tradition, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said (I paraphrase), “You can’t step into the same river twice”. His idea seemed to be that just as the water in a river is constantly changing, so our world—everything—is in constantly in flux, so that nothing persists for more than a moment: there is no stable reality. Has modern science confirmed this view? What do you think Plato would say in response?
Modern science has confirmed the fluctuation of atoms and movement on a molecular level, so that it is true; everything in our world is changing so that it is impossible to reside permanently in any exact, in the literal sense of the word, stable reality. I think Plato would agree with this statement. He would agree that the quest for knowledge, however uncomfortable, is an essential part of the human experience. The idea that our world is constantly shifting, and nothing is permanent and concrete, is one of these uncomfortable truths. A man who attempts to tell others this is sure to be met with opposition, just as in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the man who leaves the cave is faced with disbelief and even anger.
The panel raised some provocative questions on the meaning of translating– whether meaning or direct words were more important if they are mutually exclusive. I’m still unsure on what is more important; direct words carry meaning, but meaning can sometimes be better conveyed through different words. It is a question I still don’t know the answer to and would like to discuss further.