Becoming (philosophy)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The concept of becoming was born in eastern ancient Greece by the philosopher Heraclitus of Hephesus, who in the Sixth century BC, said that nothing in this world is constant except change or becoming. His theory stands in direct contrast to Parmenides, another Greek philosopher, but from the italic Magna Grecia, who believed that the ontic changes or "becoming" we perceive with our senses is deceptive, and that there is a pure perfect and eternal being behind nature, which is the ultimate truth. In philosophy, the word "becoming" concerns a specific ontological concept, which should not be confused with the process philosophy, which indicates a metaphysical doctrine of theology.



Although traditional belief attributes to Heraclitus (c. 535 - c. 475 BC) to be the first to speak of becoming, it goes considered that he had a strongly metaphysical vision of the concept, for he in fact is a Logos to pilot becoming, a Logos that has a divine principle that could be expressed like a God-Reason, similar to later the Stoics will assert. Shortly afterwards Leucippus of Miletus similarly spoke of becoming but as movement of atoms, creating an exclusively material reality becoming.

Nietzsche on becoming

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that Heraclitus "will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction". Nietzsche developed the vision of a chaotic world in perpetual change and becoming. The state of becoming does not produce fixed entities, such as being, subject, object, substance, thing. These false concepts are the necessary mistakes which consciousness and language employ in order to interpret the chaos of the state of becoming. The mistake of Greek philosophers was to falsify the testimony of the senses and negate the evidence of the state of becoming. By postulating being as the underlying reality of the world, they constructed a comfortable and reassuring "after-world" where the horror of the process of becoming was forgotten, and the empty abstractions of reason appeared as eternal entities.

The becoming ontology

According to tradition, Heraclitus wrote a treatise about nature named "Περὶ φύσεως" ("Perì phýseōs"), "About Nature," in which appears the famous aphorism πάντα ῥεῖ ("panta rei [os potamòs]") translated literally as "the whole flows [as a river]," or figuratively as "everything flows, nothing stands still." The concept of "becoming" in philosophy is strictly connected with two others: movement and evolution, as becoming assumes a "changing to" and a "moving toward."


Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromata, v, 105). Similar: Plutarchus (De animae procreatione, 5 p, 1014 A) concerning Heraclitus:

This universal order, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Becoming (philosophy)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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