26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2001
Derek Jarman, the film director, used to say that in times of despair with regards to his AIDS condition he would turn to Heraclitus. This book is split into two parts. The first part lists the fragments of his prose, reading like fine Zen truths. The second section analyses each of the statements in a highly accessible way and the full context of his writings and guessed-at meanings are explained. As a way of introducing a reader to Heraclitus, I cannot imagine a better book.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2011
I have long desired to get this book by professor Kahn. I finally got over the slightly prohibitive price and purchased it.
Let me begin by saying that I don't regret paying the high price tag. Kahn's translations of the fragments are most accurate, and in the book he gives you all the linguistic tools you need to work out what you feel is the right meaning for each fragment. So, from this point of view, professor Kahn has done a magnificent job. For his scholarly work in translating the fragments he gets five stars from me. He also shows quite brilliantly which fragments are very likely to be authentic, and why. Kahn points out the fragments' 'linguistic density' and 'linguistic resonance', key conceptions he uses in explaining them. And, in the end, he offers a clear image of Heraclitus' art and though, as the title of the book indicates quite well.
But, and this is a big but, I consider professor Kahn to be utterly blind as to the real meaning of the fragments. Kahn is a scholar of the first rank, but he is fundamentally blind to the spiritual reality of Heraclitus' fragments. It is not that professor Kahn is not logically correct in his analysis, for he is very logical, but he completely misses the mark. What Heraclitus is trying to tell us comes from above and beyond logic. The fragments themselves have the purpose of taking us above and beyond the realm of logical thought, and into the higher realm of intuition. Logic, just like mathematics, has inherent limitations, and they can't be overcome through better or more logic. This is something Gödel has proven, and Einstein, his close friend, firmly believed as well. But both men, true intellectual giants of last century, believed there is a higher way, beyond logic, and above human reason. Heraclitus' fragments have the purpose of bringing us on that way. Their effect is awakening. They lead to more consciousness, not more logic.
And because I felt professor Kahn completely missed the mark with his interpretation of the meaning of the fragments I can only give his book three stars. But, having said that, for anyone who is interested in studying the fragments, and doesn't mind the high price tag, this book is the ultimate tool. For a more spiritual and better interpretation of the fragments' meaning I warmly recommend Richard Geldard's 'Remembering Heraclitus'. Geldard's book offers superb translations of the essential fragments with a far more awakened interpretation of their meaning. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to let the fragments sink into their psyche and do their work.
I hope my review helps, because I didn't actually deal all that much with the fragments themselves in it, but rather presupposed a readership who are acquainted with Heraclitus.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2010
After many years, this is still the definitive volume with the best translations and the best interpretation. (Heraclitus as a non-dualist.)
I wish he would stick to the DK numbers, though.