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“The real nature of things is accustomed to hide itself.” Heraclitus

Heraclitus seems to imply that reality strives to veil itself. Is there a latent cruelty in reality—that it recedes from our comprehension?

Maybe we should make a distinction: there is a difference between something hiding itself, and something being visible only to those who grow capable of seeing. In Plato’s story of the cave, the higher realities are not hiding themselves; it just takes much discipline, and help, in order to discover them. And indeed, many are not willing to make the effort to do so. In that case it is more we who are the cause of the disconnect between ourselves and reality. Not reality itself.

Perhaps the effort required to come to see things as they are, is itself revelatory of the way things are. Maybe the hiddenness of the nature of things—could it be called a modest reserve?—is a kind of prod, even an invitation, to look deeper.

Aristotle seems to suggest an answer to this Heraclitan riddle. He says that to the upright character, things appear as they really are. Perhaps the real nature of things often eludes my grasp, because I have not disposed myself well, that I might see.

Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor, predated Socrates by almost a century (flourished circa 500 B.C.). His works survive only in fragments.

Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. Bacon from Acorns springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.

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