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Can You Step into the Same River Twice?

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Can you Step into the Same River Twice? Heraclitus first used the saying "you can never step into the same river twice" in around 500 B.C. to illustrate his theory of flux and that the world was always in change, and that nothing is a constant. The saying states that although the river may always be called the same thing, and always be seen as one object by people it is in fact always changing and the water within the river is always different. Through this he attempts to explain to people how everything in the universe is changing even if we view it as a constant object. Although this theory appears to be one of constant chaos and change it is actually one of underlying unity and singularity, it simply explains that the 'knowledge' which we believe we obtain from our senses is in fact incorrect as these should lead us to believe that the river is always a different one however the truth is that it is always the same one. ...read more.


This backs up Heraclitus' theory of Flux, as it appears that anything can change because it depends upon what you relate it to. A problem with this idea of passive change is that whatever you compare it to the object in question does not change at all; only the words used to describe it and so many people would say that this couldn't be regarded as real change. The other way in which the theory of Flux works is through active change. Through active change the theory works as nothing stays exactly the same forever and so it can always be said to be slowly changing from one state to another. The problem with this line of argument is that whilst things do change from one state or form to another eventually this does not mean that they are constantly changing and so things can be exactly the same for some time. ...read more.


river changes the water within it, as is the definition of a river, and a path appears differently depending on from where one views it our mind tells us that they are the same thing and that the river is always the same river no matter what specific body of water makes it up. In conclusion if the theory of Flux is taken to be true the question of whether it is possible to step in to the same river twice comes down to what defines a river. If it is the water within it then it is impossible to step into the same river twice, but if the definition is instead the course taken by the river, its path and its history of paths, then it is possible. This agrees with the idea that true knowledge of something needs thought and reflection upon the data taken from the senses as if the senses were used directly only then the river would obviously be always changing. ...read more.

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