Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wisdom of Heraclitus

I've been reading an interesting book called "Expect the Unexpected (or You Won't Find It)" by Roger Von Oech. It's subtitled "A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus. I figured I'd get a jump start on ancient philosophy before we get started in the fall. Heraclitus wrote in epigrams--terse, witty and often paradoxical sayings. He wanted his students to think, to puzzle out meaning from his phrases, to find new perspectives in dealing with problems.

Some of the more interesting and oddly familiar insights of Heraclitus (as translated by the author)

  • The cosmos speaks in patterns.
  • Expect the unexpected, or you won't find it.
  • You can't step in the same river twice.
  • The most beautiful order is a heap of sweepings piled up at random.
  • Those who approach life like a child playing a game, moving and pushing pieces, possess the power of kings.
  • The way up and the way down are one and the same.
  • The sun is new each day.
I also found this interesting passage about Thomas Edison in the section on "Expect the Unexpected..."

Inventor Thomas Edison had a simple test he used to measure the "unexpectedness quotient" of prospective employees. He would invite a candidate to lunch and serve a bowl of soup. He would then watch to see whether the person salted his soup before tasting it. If he did, he wouldn't be offered the job. Edison felt that people are more open to different possibilities if they don't salt their experience of life before tasting it.

I must remember this when I start homeschooling Sierra this September. I know Chase was a bit "salted" from my experience homeschooling Marina. Different kids need different seasonings.


ComfyDenim said...

If you expect the unexpected -- doesn't that make it - expected?

What a cool thought about seasoning. :-)

TobyBo said...

still #1141

I like the salt story, too. ComfyDenim's comment has me thinking about the old puzzle: if your prof tells you at the beginning of the course that you will have a surprise quiz and won't know what day it will be... well, obviously you can't have it on the last day of class, since you would know it has to be then... and then you also can't have it the next-to-last day, and so on back through the whole course... but the result of that string of reasoning is you can have it at any time during the course and it will be a surprise.

Not that the whole story has anything to do with anything, but I'm just saying.

Inner Elder said...

The quotes are all so deep: "You can't step in the same river twice". I can spend a day meditating on that one alone. I get to read the book next. Mom

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