Permanent Flux It is said that every great journey begins with one step. This is not true. A more accurate saying would be, "every great journey begins with the idea of the journey", thus leading to the idea of the step, and so on. The steps will surly follow an idea, but nevertheless the ideas will always precede any action. Once one gets an idea in one's head, one must either forget it, or act on it. Such as the case with the first Philosophers, known now as the Pre-Socratics.
The Pre-Socratics, which started around 600 B. C. E. , formed ideas of a journey to enlightenment of their society. Instead of dismissing this idea, they thrived off it and took the first steps toward teaching an entirely new way of thinking. These first thinkers of philosophy, which has an appropriate meaning of the love of wisdom, wanted to know more about life, earth, the stars and most importantly, the "being" of it all.
Though not the first of the original thinkers, Heraclitus of Ephesus, was among this group of lovers of wisdom and revolutionized the world with his idea of "being" and allowed mankind to follow in his steps. The Pre-Socratics are known for creating philosophy by searching for a rational order to their world and their being. Prior to the philosophers, man simply accepted the mythological stories and supernatural concepts. The philosophers, however, approached questions to by observing their surroundings. This was the world they could touch and feel, therefore making it an ideal foundation to their quires. The first of the Pre-Socratics examined the natural world and assumed the "stuff" that made all things "be" came from the natural surroundings around them.
For example, by an early scientific and rational approach, the Pre-Socratics took the four elements of the world, as they knew them to be (water, air, earth, and fire), and studied them. Some deduced water to be the "stuff", while others looked to air, or the earth to answers their zealous questions of being. Heraclitus, on the other hand, found a unity in all the elements, and related "being" to "fire." His reference to fire, however, is purely metaphorical. While his predecessors focused on the actual elements they felt were the "stuff" that made the existence of being, Heraclitus' only focused on fire to demonstrate his metaphysical concept of constant flux.
Heraclitus is noted for saying, "there is nothing permanent except change." He elaborates on this by looking at fire, not as the "stuff", but more for fire's "being" itself. Meaning, if one observes fire, one will see the fire in constant motion. It will never look the same way twice due to its continual flux. Moreover, while studying fire, one will notice the smoke bellowing from it. The element of fire is now seen creating new "stuff." By comparing this examination to "being" one can conclude that a constant changing world is one that creates a new world, which in return will create new "stuff." This pattern continues throughout time and all existence and Heraclitus was the first to acknowledge it. What, then, is the "stuff" that makes up "being?" Heraclitus, perhaps, would say it is all from logos, a word he coined to mean anything from "word" to "story" or "account" to "proportion" or "measures." In other words, Heraclitus would say, being cannot come from one particular element, because that element is in a constant flux, therefore, like the smoke from a fire, "being" is from "being" itself.
Heraclitus goes beyond his predecessor's ideas to become the greatest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers by searching outside the basic natural elements of the world and looking into all the elements and all existence as a whole "being." It is a true look into metaphysics and not simply natural science. However, Heraclitus, along with the other Pre-Socratics, as well as modern day philosophers for that matter, do not have all the answers to existence. As with any statement in philosophy, Heraclitus's tate ment of the world is in constant change can and is disputed. The problem in his observance is, if the world is in a constant state of change, than how can one know when a being is a being. The, ironically, limiting idea of constant change, opens the door to the concept of a permanent being. All philosophers who precede him seem to question Heraclitus' concepts of constant change, just has Heraclitus questioned the ones before him.
Through these constant lines of questioning, the idea of existence and "being" has remained an open topic for thousands of years in philosophy and science, alike. In fact, the questions continue to be asked today. However, until there is a universal, permanent answer, one must look to Heraclitus and acknowledge his idea of constant change as being the root to the ever-present question. Meaning, "being" is in constant change, therefore, there will never be a true answer to the existence of "being" because it is in a constant flux and will never been seen for what it is, which is simply "being.".