Heraclitus in the Digital Age

The Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus is known especially for his statement that Πάντα ῥεῖ, that all things flow. This has been taken to indicate the ever-changing nature of reality, with the consequence that our words, necessarily static and unchanging, cannot adequately correspond to things as they really are. One of Heraclitus’s disciples, Cratylus, made the logical decision to refrain from speaking altogether, instead pointing at things with his finger.

Until now, anyone convinced by Heraclitus’s philosophy and wanting to act consistently with it, has had no choice other than that of Cratylus. Now, however, a new app has solved the problem. Heraclitus’s Finger takes a text message, e-mail, or tweet and continually transforms the text in keeping with the fluid nature of reality.

For example, a message asking your girlfriend if she’s free for a dinner date, depending on how the relationship is going, may end up saying any of the following:

  • Will you marry me?
  • You are so enormous, you make a walrus look malnourished.
  • What was your room-mate’s phone number again?

Or an e-mail to your boss telling him you want to take a personal day might, depending on what you’ve been up to, end up like one of these:

  • Dude, I am so wasted!
  • Your honor, I have the great pleasure to inform you that you will be free from my obnoxious presence on Monday.
  • Hey boss! I’ve been up all night finishing the design for that strut. You know—the one you’ve been trying to figure out for the last month. Anyway, I won’t be stopping in at the office today.

So if you are convinced by Heraclitus’s arguments, or simply want to add a bit of uncertainty to otherwise too predictable means of communication, check out Heraclitus’s Finger. You won’t regret it!

1 Comment

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  1. Exposed says:

    So that’s how you write all this silly stuff: An app like that, write something random, wait a few weeks, and there it is. Shocking, quite shocking.

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