On the Concept of the Human Body in Heraclitus

Shawn Loht
Delgado Community College
Explores how the fragments of Heraclitus might yield an implicit understanding of the human body in distinction to the soul. In the history of scholarship on Heraclitus, soul is a much better understood concept, whereas it is normally assumed that Heraclitus, along with other figures of early Greek thought, shows only the most limited comprehension of the human being in terms of bodily form or substance. In this work I sketch some different ways in which Heraclitus’ accounts of nature and human life can be said to exhibit a rudimentary picture of body. I suggest that Heraclitus depicts the human body as a special form of soul’s self-differentiation and logos. I attempt to consider how Heraclitus may represent an historical moment in understanding the human in terms of its physical makeup.
Keywords Heraclitus  Body  Soul  Ancient Medicine
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