Heraclitus and the Birth of the Logos

This is a chapter, reproduced with kind permission, from the forthcoming work 50 Philosophy Classics, by Tom Butler-Bowdon and published by Nicholas Brealey. The book will be published on the 14th March, 2013.

In this guest piece, read about Heraclitus, the first Greek to place such attention on the idea of the Logos, or the rational underlying structure of the universe, a concept which later underpinned the practice of ancient Stoicism. Read and post your thoughts!


One of the great philosophers before Socrates and Plato, Heraclitus was the eldest son of the leading family of Ephesus, one of the main cities of the ancient Greek world and famous for its temple of Artemis.

We do not know a huge amount about Heraclitus, except that he avoided involvement in politics, was something of a loner, and, at a time when it was normal for philosophers to play a part in politics and communicate their ideas in speech, he focused on the written word. As a result, his thoughts survived him and his book of sayings became famous in the ancient world. Plato and others discussed him, but his influence was greatest among the Stoics.

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