Saturday, August 29, 2009

Biden's Munich Speech: Obama Administration Foreign Policy Projects Weakness and Confusion

February 9, 2009
Biden's Munich Speech: Obama Administration Foreign Policy Projects Weakness and Confusion
WebMemo #2280

In a major speech at the February 7 Munich Security Conference,[1] Vice President Joe Biden outlined the Obama Administration's foreign policy vision for the first time on the world stage. It was an address designed to reach out to leaders in both Europe and the Middle East, "on behalf of a new Administration determined to set a new tone in Washington, and in America's relations around the world."

Biden's speech should be viewed as one of the weakest projections of U.S. leadership on foreign soil in recent memory. The message was confused, apologetic, over-conciliatory, and remarkably lacking in substance and detail. It was the kind of speech, heavy in platitudes and diplo-speak, that could easily have been given by a continental European bureaucrat nestled in Brussels, Paris, or Berlin. It was not the voice of the most powerful nation on earth.

The Vice President went to great lengths in his speech to avoid offending America's enemies, such as Iran and Hamas, or her strategic competitors, such as Russia. One could have been forgiven for thinking that the world was largely at peace rather than facing the threat of global terrorism or a dangerous rogue regime aggressively seeking nuclear weapons capability.

Biden's remarks touched on several key areas, from Iran to NATO reform--all of which gave major cause for concern--and left critical questions unanswered.


The Vice President confirmed the new Administration's willingness to enter into direct negotiations with the Islamist regime in Tehran.

In essence, Biden offered a quid pro quo deal with Iran--the kind the European Union has offered for several years with absolutely nothing to show for it except spectacular failure. Such a deal is based on the naïve premise that the Iranian theocracy is a normal state actor that plays by the rules of diplomacy and can be negotiated with. What was missing in Biden's remarks was any explicit statement of consequences--actions ranging from tougher economic and military sanctions or the use of force against Iran's nuclear facilities--that could be inflicted on the dictatorial government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the ruling mullahs if they do not comply. There was no appeal to European Union countries such as Germany to tighten their own sanctions on Tehran or calls for Russia and China to strengthen U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Missile Defense

The Vice President stated that the United States "will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective." However, Biden gave no pledge to press ahead with a third-site missile defense system in Eastern and Central Europe, sowing the seeds of further confusion in Poland and the Czech Republic, two key U.S. allies who have agreed to participate in the defense system by hosting missile interceptors and early warning radar. In addition, National Security Adviser James Jones confirmed in an interview with the British Observer newspaper that plans for third-site defenses had been "put on ice," a decision that, accord to according to a senior NATO official, is a clear overture to Moscow.[2]


Aside from a refusal to recognize the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, there was little evidence in Biden's speech that the Obama Administration intends to adopt a tough line toward Russian aggression in its "Near Abroad" or attempts to bully and intimidate its neighbors in the Caucasus as well as Eastern Europe. Significantly, Biden made no mention of U.S. support for Georgian and Ukrainian membership in the NATO Membership Action Plan or Russia's brutal invasion of Georgia last summer.

The willingness of the Obama team to bring Moscow into its negotiations over Third Site sets a dangerous precedent and is a clear signal that the Russians may be given a bigger say over NATO expansion plans. As Biden put it in his speech, "the last few years have seen a dangerous drift in relations between Russia and the members of our Alliance--it is time to reset the button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together." Strategically, it would be both naïve and risky for the new Administration to turn a blind eye toward an increasingly belligerent and nationalist Moscow that is actively flexing its muscles in Europe and across the globe.


While reiterating the importance of the NATO alliance and the need for its renewal in the 21st century, the Vice President supports policies that will undermine the organization and weaken American influence within it. In Munich, Biden backed the full reintegration of France into "NATO structures," and French officers are reportedly in line to take two senior alliance command positions: Allied Command Transformation and Joint Command Lisbon.[3] Biden also made it clear in his Munich address that the United States will "support the further strengthening of European defense, an increased role for the European Union in preserving peace and security, (and) a fundamentally stronger NATO-EU partnership."

These changes would give Paris (and its key ally Berlin) an extraordinary degree of power and influence within the organization, out of all proportion to its minimal military role in alliance operations. Such a move would ultimately shift power away from Washington and London and toward continental Europe, undoubtedly paving the way for the development of a Franco-German driven European Union defense identity within NATO.


Biden identified the war in Afghanistan as a top foreign policy priority for the Obama Administration, calling for close cooperation with America's allies in Europe as well as the government of Pakistan. The Vice President, however, avoided the thorny issue of many European nations' failure to pull their weight in the conflict, an oversight that projected weakness and an unwillingness to challenge European complacency and indifference.

Despite all the fashionable rhetoric in European capitals about Iraq being a distraction to the war against the Taliban, on the battlefields of Afghanistan over two-thirds of the more than 50,000 troops serving as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are from the English-speaking countries of the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia. These nations have also taken 85 percent of the casualties. Britain has more troops (8,900) in the country than all the other major European Union powers combined, many of which, like Germany, cower under dozens of "caveats" aimed at keeping their soldiers out of harm's way.

War on Terrorism

Significantly absent from the Vice President's address was any reference to the war on terrorism or the need for the United States and its allies to be prepared for a long hard battle against Islamist terrorism. Biden spoke in soft terms of "a shared struggle against extremism" and of "a small number of violent extremists [who] are beyond the call of reason," as well as the need to seek with the Muslim world "a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect." There was no indication given of the sheer scale of the global fight against al-Qaeda and its allies. Al-Qaeda is mentioned just once in Biden's speech, and only within the context of Afghanistan.

The Vice President also avoided directly mentioning terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel. There were no words of support for Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza, suggesting a significant shift away from open support for Israel by the new U.S. Administration.

Biden also chose to ignore altogether the extraordinary success of U.S. counterterrorism operations in Iraq through the surge and the huge improvement in security in the previously war-torn country that enabled the overwhelmingly peaceful Iraqi provincial elections to take place at the end of January.

A Celebration of Soft Power

Vice President Biden delivered what was in essence a quintessentially European-style speech on German soil. It was an address that tried to be all things to all people, lacking in concrete policy prescriptions and cloaked in vague statements designed to cause minimal offense in foreign capitals, including those of America's worst enemies. Biden's address was above all a celebration of "soft power," cynically re-branded by the Obama Administration as "smart power."

American leadership is not a popularity contest but the hard-nosed projection of U.S. interests. Rather than projecting strength and decisiveness internationally, the new Administration's approach to foreign policy appears muddled and incoherent. Biden's words revealed a foreign policy with a dangerously soft underbelly, one that will quickly be exploited by America's opponents on the world stage.

Washington must stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the global menace of al-Qaeda, and Russian intimidation in Europe with strength, resolve, and conviction. A foreign policy capable of meeting such challenges must include a willingness to wield maximum force where necessary, deploy a comprehensive missile shield in Europe, and increase military spending in the defense of the United States and the free world.

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

[1]Vice President Joseph R. Biden, speech at the 45th Munich Security Conference, February 7, 2009, at http://www.securityconference.d
(February 8, 2009).

[2]Ian Traynor, "Obama Administration Offers Olive Branch to Russia and Iran," The Guardian, February 7, 2009, at
(February 8, 2009).

[3]Ben Hall and James Blitz, "Command Accord Presages French Return to NATO," Financial Times, February 5, 2009, at:
(February 5, 2009).

Speaker: Biden, Joseph R.
Function: Vice President, Washington D.C.
United States of America


Speech at the 45th Munich Security Conference

How Democrats Get Rich -- Off Taxpayers

How Democrats Get Rich --
Off Taxpayers

Dear Fellow American:

There's no doubt about it: Getting rich in Barack Obama's America is tougher than ever. And with his plans for raising your taxes, staying rich is tougher still.

But that doesn't mean it can't be done. And as I see it, there are two basic ways to go about it.

The first is what I call "The Easy, Sleazy Democrat Way to Wealth." All it takes is using political power -- your own, or someone else's -- to steer private money or (even better) taxpayer dollars into your own bank account. Here are just a few tried-and-true "Sleazy Democrat" techniques for doing just that:

Run a "Government-Sponsored Enterprise" (into the ground). Say you're a longtime party hack who knows nothing about running a business, like ex-Clintonite Franklin Raines. Get appointed as CEO of Fannie Mae, the "government-sponsored" mortgage giant, where the profits are privatized and the losses are covered by taxpayers. Take tens of millions in salary and bonuses (based on phony accounting) -- and then, when you've laid the groundwork for Fannie's bankruptcy and the subprime mortgage crisis, walk away with a "golden parachute" estimated at $240 million.

Force Taxpayers to Subsidize Your Business. First, pick something that makes no real-world, economic sense, like "biofuels" or "green technology." Then, get the government to mandate and/or subsidize its use -- and if possible, to tax and regulate your competition to death. It's important, however, to mask your intentions by posing as a public-spirited crusader -- like Al Gore, whose use of this technique has already built him a fortune of more than $100 million, and who could become a billionaire from the "carbon credit" racket if a cap-and-trade bill becomes law.

Benefit from Nepotism. Not a politician? No problem -- just be related to one! Whether you're the nephew of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), getting lucrative defense contracts, or the son of Joe Biden, getting rich off Dad's name as a government lobbyist, or the wife of Barack Obama, getting a nearly 300% raise at her Chicago hospital job right after he was elected U.S. Senator -- and right before he requested a $1 million earmark for the hospital -- just remember: in the world of political influence-peddling and back-scratching, it's always "family first."

The icing on the cake of "Easy, Sleazy Democrat" wealth-building strategies like these? You get to rail against "rich Republicans" and "greedy corporate fat cats" while congratulating yourself on being a selfless public servant.

But wait a minute, you say. What if I'm not a powerful politician -- and have no connections to one?

Then, you might want to know about the other way to wealth I mentioned -- the honest, patriotic alternative to the "Easy, Sleazy Democrat Way."

I call it "The American Way to Wealth" -- and it's got two simple steps:
  1. First, work hard at your job or business, and make as much money as you can. Stay current on your bills, and pay what you "owe" in taxes -- but not a penny more.

  2. Take whatever you have left and invest it according to the advice of someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy -- not, in other words, some Wall Street drone who gets commissions off your stock trades no matter how badly they do.

Now, if you don't know someone like that -- well, fortunately, I do. His name is Nicholas Vardy, a brilliant investment adviser who, in addition to managing money for a few wealthy clients, dispenses amazingly profitable investment advice -- at a surprisingly affordable price -- to subscribers to his Global Stock Investor newsletter.

Just how good is Nick Vardy's investment advice? Well, consider this: While the major stock indexes were down as much as 20% during last year's "Black October," Nick's subscribers were actually enjoying double-digit profits. Since then, as stocks have recovered, Nick's subscribers have enjoyed market-beating profits of up to 37%.

Of course, investing in the stock market is not for everyone, but if your situation allows it and you are looking to build your wealth, he is the guy to help you do it.

How does Nick Vardy do it? Well, for one thing, he's incredibly smart and well-educated (at Stanford and Harvard, but don't hold that against him). More importantly, I think, is that, as a disciple of free-market economists like Friedrich Hayek, he understands how the economy and financial markets really work -- unlike the Wall Street imbeciles and big-government ideologues who have brought America to the brink of financial ruin.

But don't take my word for it -- check out Nick's newsletter for yourself. As I said, it's surprisingly affordable. Right now, in fact, you can get a full year of Global Stock Investor for about the cost of a mid-priced dinner for two.

And by the way, don't let that word "global" scare you. Nick is no "one world" ideologue, and he's not about investing in only foreign stocks. But he does recognize that capital has a way of following the "path of least resistance" -- and in the Age of Obama, when our government is declaring war on private enterprise even as other countries like China and India are embracing it, that means some of the best investments will indeed be found abroad.

Let's face it: For the next few years at least, the American economic system will be increasingly tilted in favor of big-government Democrats and their cronies. I'm in favor of anything that levels the playing field for the rest of us -- and Nicholas Vardy's Global Stock Investor can do just that for you. I do hope you'll give it a try -- you'll thank me later.

Click here to learn more.

Mark Levin
Mark Levin

P.S. For a limited time, you can get a full year of Nicholas Vardy's Global Stock Investor for about the cost of a mid-priced dinner for two. Of course, with all the great investment tips you'll be getting, you'll be able to afford lots of dinners -- higher-priced ones at that. (But skip the $1,500-a-plate Obama fundraisers!) Click here to learn more.

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Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps

Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps

Find out which sensitive locations are off-limits online.

IT Security Editors

Depending on which feature you use, Google Maps offers a satellite view or a street-level view of tons of locations around the world. You can look up landmarks like the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, as well as more personal places, like your ex’s house. But for all of the places that Google Maps allows you to see, there are plenty of places that are off-limits. Whether it’s due to government restrictions, personal-privacy lawsuits or mistakes, Google Maps has slapped a "Prohibited" sign on the following 51 places.

Related Articles:

Government and Military Sites

  1. The White House: Google Maps' images of the White House show a digitally erased version of the roof in order to obscure the air-defense and security assets that are in place.
  2. The U.S. Capitol: The U.S. Capitol has been fuzzy ever since Google Maps launched. Current versions of Google Maps and Google Earth show these sites uncensored, though with old pictures.
  3. Dick Cheney's House: The Vice President's digs at Number One Observatory Circle are obscured through pixelation in Google Earth and Google Maps at the behest of the U.S. government. However, high-resolution photos and aerial surveys of the property are readily available on other Web sites.
  4. Soesterberg Air Base, in the Netherlands: This Dutch air-force base and former F-15 base for the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War can't be seen via Google Maps.
  5. PAVE PAWS in Cape Cod, Mass.: PAVE PAWS is the U.S. Air Force Space Command’s radar system for missile warning and space surveillance. There are two other installations besides the one in Cape Cod.
  6. Shatt-Al-Arab Hotel in Basra, Iraq: This site was possibly censored after it was reported that terrorists who attacked the British at the hotel used aerial footage displayed by Google Earth to target their attacks.
  7. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: This Dutch city is one of the main operating bases of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, part of NATO's Joint Command Centre and one of three Joint Sub-Regional Commands of Allied Forces Northern Europe. Leeuwarden is also one of two regional headquarters of Allied Command Europe, headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
  8. Reims Air Base in France: This lone building on Reims Air Base in France is blurred out.
  9. Novi Sad: This military base in Serbia is off-limits.
  10. Kamp van Zeist: Kamp van Zeist is a former U.S. Air Force base that was temporarily declared sovereign territory of the U.K. in 2000 in order to allow the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial to take place.
  11. NATO C3 Agency: Located in Brussels, Belgium, the C3 Agency supports NATO through scientific support and funded acquisition of C4ISR (Consultation, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities.
  12. New American Embassy Location: This site is under construction.
  13. NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen : This is the site of the main operating of NATO's Airborne Early Warning Control Force's E-3A Component, which provides an early-warning radar system to enhance NATO's air- defense capabilities. The base includes 17 E-3A aircraft used for air surveillance and air-operations-communications support. Crews from 14 nations, including Spain, Turkey and the U.S., power the aircraft.
  14. Ramstein Air Base in Germany: Ramstein Air Base figures prominently in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It's the home of the 86th Airlift Wing and headquarters of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. It is also a NATO installation. Americans, Canadians, Germans, British, French and other nationalities comprise the base's population.
  15. The Royal Stables in The Hague, Netherlands: A division of the Civil Household, the Royal Stables arranges transport for the members of the Royal House and the Royal Household.
  16. Huis Ten Bosch Palace: This address is one of the four official residences of the Dutch Royal Family, also located in The Hague, Netherlands. Queen Beatrix has lived here since 1981.
  17. Political Pushback on Google Earth and Google Maps' Street View

  18. North Oaks, Minn.: In late June 2008, the St. Paul, Minn. suburb of North Oaks successfully petitioned that street images be removed from Google Maps’ Street View feature. The argument put forth collectively by North Oaks' 4,500 residents involves the fact that the town has private roads that are protected by a trespassing ordinance. Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo said that she didn't know of any other city in the country that has made a similar request.
  19. The Boring Home: Aaron and Christine Boring of Franklin Park Pa. claimed that Google Maps' Street View feature violated their privacy, devalued their property and caused them mental suffering by posting images of a private road in front of their house. The Borings said that the images of their home must have been taken from their long driveway, which is labeled "Private Road."
  20. Bahrain: In August 2006, Bahrain's Ministry of Information instructed the country's Internet exchange to block access to Google Earth servers. The ban lasted three days. Internet rumors claimed that the ban's goal was to keep poorer citizens from viewing the elaborate residences and private jets of the country's rich, in order to keep secret the inequity of wealth distribution in Bahrain. Cyberactivists circulated an email that contained a PDF file with annotated Google Earth screenshots of the supposed Bahrain sites.
  21. Europe: In May 2008, the EU's (European Union) data-protection agency railed against Google Maps' Street View feature, which shows ground-level, 360-degree views of streets in 30 U.S. cities. Officials claimed that the feature may break EU privacy laws if launched in Europe.
  22. Singapore: In April 2008, the country's government claimed that the ban stemmed from a dispute between SLA (Singapore Land Authority) and Google over copyright issues. SLA alleged that the satellite images on Google Earth are direct copies of real geographic features in Singapore and infringe upon the organization's copyrights.
  23. Sudan: The Google Earth ban in Sudan is reportedly due to U.S. export restrictions and economic-sanctions regulations. Knowledge of the ban spread after Google Earth added info about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.
  24. Iran: Late in 2007, an Iranian businessman tried to download Google Earth and got a message that said, "Thanks for your interest, but the product that you're trying to download is not available in your country."
  25. India: Google censors certain sensitive sites in India. Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam expressed concern over the availability of high-resolution pictures of sensitive locations within the country.
  26. Sydney, Australia: Much of inner Sydney still remains blurred. Google says that it removed the high-resolution photos due to a problem with one of the image providers, but Internet publications pointed to fears that the maps could be used as a terrorist tool. Some of the blocked areas include (or have included at some point) The Garden Island Naval Depot, the Lucas Heights Reactor, Parliament House and the Australian Defence Force headquarters in Canberra.
  27. Areas of Southeast Asia: Areas blurred by Google Earth include sensitive political areas like Tibet/Xinjiang Province, northern areas of Pakistan and royal palaces.
  28. Central/Eastern village of Yona, on the Pacific Island Territory of Guam: It’s unknown why this location is censored.
  29. The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands: Some sites say that the ban on this Dutch city was an apparent mistake, but it does hold relevance as an ancient city and has served as the religious center of the Netherlands since the eighth century.
  30. Fortress on Castell de Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain: This hill no longer houses a military presence, but it’s unavailable in Google Maps' high-resolution satellite images. However it did become accessible on Google Earth in April 2008.
  31. Nuclear Stations, Energy-Generation Sites and Reserves

  32. Seabrook Station: This nuclear-power station is located in New Hampshire and is one of two originally planned units.
  33. UMass Lowell Nuclear Research Reactor: This lab's primary focus is on reactor physics, operations and modeling. It houses 1 MW pool-type nuclear research reactor that has been operating since 1974.
  34. Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester, N.Y.: Indian Point Energy Center is a three-unit nuclear power plant station.
  35. Hydroelectric Dams and Supporting Waterways Near Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Niagara Falls function as a good source of hydroelectric power, which is probably why Google keeps these dams and waterways blurred.
  36. McGuire Nuclear Station: With two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors and an ability to produce 2,200 megawatts of power, McGuire Nuclear Station generates almost half of North Carolina's nuclear power.
  37. Perry Nuclear Generating Station: The San Francisco Chronicle reported in May 2007 that a spokeswoman for FirstEnergy, the electricity company that owns this Ohio nuclear plant, had no idea why the facility was blurred on Google.
  38. Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C.: Oconee Nuclear Station, which has three pressurized water reactors manufactured by The Babcock & Wilcox Company, is the second nuclear power plant in the country to have its license extended by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  39. Oil-Tank Farm in Braintree, Mass.: An oil-tank farm is a storage facility for liquid chemicals.
  40. Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant: Though closed since 1989 due to protests, this General Electric Co. nuclear boiling-water reactor in New York is still fuzzy on Google Maps.
  41. Liquid Natural Gas Terminal in Chelsea, Mass. and a Large Portion of an Industrial Port Area in Boston: Both of these areas are blurry on Google Maps.
  42. Marshall Steam Station in Terrell, N.C.: Marshall Steam Station is a four-unit, coal-fired generating facility located in Catawba County, North Carolina.

    Colleges and Research Labs

  43. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory: Lincoln Laboratory is a federally funded research-and-development center working to use advanced technology to help solve problems of national security.
  44. General Electric World Research Laboratories and General Electric Main Plant in Schenectady, N.Y.: According to General Electric's Web site, the research component boasts more than 3,000 of "the best and brightest researchers spread out at four multi-disciplinary facilities around the world."
  45. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory: This research-and-development facility supports the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, which researches, designs, constructs, operates and maintains U.S. nuclear-powered warships.
  46. Stony Brook University: Stony Brook University is blurred because it houses Brookhaven National Laboratory.
  47. Manhattanville College's Dammann and Tenney Dormitories: Manhattanville College, located in Purchase N.Y., is probably blurred because it’s near several corporate headquarters, including PepsiCo Inc., Texaco and MasterCard.
  48. Noordwijk Aan Zee: The headquarters for ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre and part of ESA (European Space Agency) are located in this Dutch community.
  49. HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) Antenna Array on the Alaska/Yukon Border: This is part of the site for HAARP, which studies ionospheric-radio science.Miscellaneous
  50. White Plains Train Station: The Wikipedia page for this New York train station states that "due to security reasons, overhead images of the station cannot be viewed in Google Maps or Google Earth."
  51. William Hurt's Home: This actor’s home outside of Paris is hazy.
  52. Playland Amusement Park in Rye, N.Y.: Google will not let you in on the fun at this amusement park, which boasts arcade games and 45 major rides.
  53. Saint Louis School in Honolulu: Only the football field, the field house, the gym and ellipse are available on Google.

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Western Philosophy
Ancient philosophy

Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse. The image depicts him as "the weeping philosopher" wringing his hands over the world and "the obscure" dressed in dark clothing, both traditional motifs.
Full name Heraclitus
Born c. 535 BCE
Died c. 475 BCE
School/tradition Not considered to belong to any school of thought, but later subscribers to the philosophy were "Heracliteans."
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics
Notable ideas Logos, flow

Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ ἘφέσιοςHērákleitos ho Ephésios; c. 535–c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the riddling nature of his philosophy and his contempt for humankind in general, he was called the "The Obscure," and the "Weeping Philosopher."

Heraclitus is famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, summarized in his famous quote, "You can not step twice into the same river." He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that "the path up and down is one and the same," existing things being characterized by pairs of contrary properties. His cryptic utterance that "all things come to be in accordance with this Logos," (literally, "word," "reason," or "account") has been the subject of numerous interpretations.



[edit] Life

The main source for the life of Heraclitus is Diogenes Laërtius, although some have questioned the validity of the anecdotes based on political or social conjecture.[1] Diogenes said that Heraclitus flourished in the 69th Olympiad,[2] 504-501 BCE. All the rest of the evidence – the people Heraclitus is said to have known, or the people who were familiar with his work – confirms the floruit. His dates of birth and death are based on a life span of 60 years, the age at which Diogenes says he died,[2] with the floruit in the middle.

Heraclitus was born to an aristocratic family in Ephesus, present-day Efes, Turkey. His father was named either Blosôn or Herakôn.[2] Diogenes says that he abdicated the kingship (basileia) in favor of his brother[2] and Strabo confirms that there was a ruling family in Ephesus descended from the Ionian founder, Androclus, which still kept the title and could sit in the chief seat at the games, as well as a few other privileges.[3] How much power the king had is another question. Ephesus had been part of the Persian Empire since 547 and was ruled by a satrap, a more distant figure, as the Great King allowed the Ionians considerable autonomy. Diogenes says that Heraclitus used to play knuckle-bones with the youths in the temple of Artemis and when asked to start making laws he refused saying that the constitution (politeia) was ponêra,[2] which can mean either that it was fundamentally wrong or that it gave him a headache.

With regard to education, Diogenes says that Heraclitus was "marvellous" (thaumasios) from childhood, which is an implication of prodigy. Diogenes relates that Sotion said he was a "hearer" of Xenophanes, which contradicts Heraclitus' statement (so says Diogenes) that he had taught himself by questioning himself. Burnet states in any case that "... Xenophanes left Ionia before Herakleitos (Greek spelling) was born."[4] Diogenes relates that as a boy Heraclitus had said he "knew nothing" but later claimed to "know everything."[2] His statement that he "heard no one" but "questioned himself," can be placed alongside his statement that "the things that can be seen, heard and learned are what I prize the most"[5]

Diogenes relates that Heraclitus had a poor opinion of human affairs.[2] He believed that Hesiod and Pythagoras lacked understanding though learned[6] and that Homer and Archilochus deserved to be beaten.[7] Laws needed to be defended as though they were city walls.[8] Timon is said to have called him a "mob-reviler." Heraclitus hated the Athenians and his fellow Ephesians, wishing the latter wealth in punishment for their wicked ways.[9] Says Diogenes: "Finally, he became a hater of his kind (misanthrope) and wandered the mountains ... making his diet of grass and herbs."

Heraclitus' life as a philosopher was interrupted by dropsy. The physicians he consulted were unable to prescribe a cure. He treated himself with a liniment of cow manure and baking in the sun, believing that this method would remove the fluid. After a day of treatment he died and was interred in the marketplace.[2]

[edit] Works

Diogenes states that his work was "a continuous treatise On Nature, but is divided into three discourses, one on the universe, another on politics, and a third on theology." Theophrastus says (in Diogenes) "... some parts of his work are half-finished, while other parts make a strange medley."[2]

Diogenes also tells us that he deposited his book as a dedication in the great temple of Artemis, the Artemisium, one of the largest temples of the 6th century BCE and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient temples were regularly used for storing treasures, and were open to private individuals under exceptional circumstances; furthermore, many subsequent philosophers in this period refer to the work. Says Kahn:[1] "Down to the time of Plutarch and Clement, if not later, the little book of Heraclitus was available in its original form to any reader who chose to seek it out." Diogenes says:[2] "the book acquired such fame that it produced partisans of his philosophy who were called Heracliteans."

As with other pre-Socratics, his writings only survive in fragments quoted by other authors.

[edit] Ancient characterizations

[edit] The obscure

At some time in antiquity he acquired this epithet denoting that his major sayings were difficult to understand. Timon of Phlius calls him "the riddler" (ainiktēs) according to Diogenes Laërtius,[2] who had just explained that Heraclitus wrote his book "rather unclearly" (asaphesteron) so that only the "capable" should attempt it. By the time of Cicero he had become "the dark" (Ancient Greek ὁ Σκοτεινόςho Skoteinós)[10] because he had spoken nimis obscurē, "too obscurely", concerning nature and had done so deliberately in order to be misunderstood. The customary English translation of ὁ Σκοτεινός follows the Latin, "the obscure."

[edit] The weeping philosopher

Diogenes Laërtius ascribes to Theophrastus the theory that Heraclitus did not complete some of his works because of melancholia.[2] Later he was referred to as the "weeping philosopher," as opposed to Democritus, who is known as the "laughing philosopher."[11] If Stobaeus[12] writes correctly, Sotion in the early 1st century AD was already combining the two in the imaginative duo of weeping and laughing philosophers: "Among the wise, instead of anger, Heraclitus was overtaken by tears, Democritus by laughter." The view is expressed by the satirist Juvenal:[13]

The first of prayers, best known at all the temples, is mostly for riches .... Seeing this then do you not commend the one sage Democritus for laughing ... and the master of the other school Heraclitus for his tears?

The motif was also adopted by Lucian of Samosata in his "Sale of Creeds," in which the duo is sold together as a complementary product in the satirical auction of philosophers. Subsequently they were considered an indispensable feature of philosophic landscapes. Montaigne proposed two archetypical views of human affairs based on them, selecting Democritus' for himself.[14] The weeping philosopher makes an appearance in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.[15] Donato Bramante painted a fresco, "Democritus and Heraclitus," in Casa Panigarola in Milan.[16]

[edit] Philosophy

[edit] Logos

"The idea that all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos"[17] and "the Logos is common,"[18] is expressed in two famous but obscure fragments:

This Logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this Logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep. (DK 22B1)

For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although the Logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding. (DK 22B2)

The meaning of Logos also is subject to interpretation: "word", "account", "plan", "formula", "measure", "proportion", "reckoning."[19] Though Heraclitus "quite deliberately plays on the various meanings of logos",[20] there is no compelling reason to suppose that he used it in a special technical sense, significantly different from the way it was used in ordinary Greek of his time.[21]

The later Stoics understood it as "the account which governs everything,"[22] and the Hippolytus, in the 3rd century, identified it as meaning the Christian Word of God.[23]

[edit] Panta rhei, "everything flows"

Πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) "everything flows" either was not spoken by Heraclitus or did not survive as a quotation of his. This famous aphorism used to characterize Heraclitus' thought comes from Simplicius.[24] The word rhei, adopted by rhe-o-logy, is simply the Greek word for "to stream."[25]

Heraclitus by Hendrick ter Brugghen

The philosophy of Heraclitus is summed up in his cryptic utterance:[26]

ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.
Potamoisi toisin autoisin embainousin, hetera kai hetera hudata epirrei
"On those stepping into rivers the same, other and other waters flow."

The quote from Heraclitus is interpreted by Plato as:[27]

πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει
Panta chōrei kai ouden menei
"Everything changes and nothing remains still"

Instead of "flow" Plato uses chōrei, to change chōros.

The assertions of flow are coupled in many fragments with the enigmatic river image:[28]

"Ποταμοῖς τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἶμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶμεν."
"We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not."

[edit] Hodos ano kato, "the way up and the way down"

In ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω[29] the structure anō katō is more accurately translated as a hyphenated word: "the upward-downward path." They go on simultaneously and instantaneously and result in "hidden harmony".[30] A way is a series of transformations: the πυρὸς τροπαὶ, "turnings of fire,"[31] first into sea, then half of sea to earth and half to rarefied air.

The transformation is a replacement of one element by another: "The death of fire is the birth of air, and the death of air is the birth of water."[32]

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.[33]

This latter phraseology is further elucidated:

All things are an interchange for fire, and fire for all things, just like goods for gold and gold for goods.[34]

[edit] Dike eris, "strife is justice"

If objects are new from moment to moment so that one can never touch the same object twice, then each object must dissolve and be generated continually momentarily and an object is a harmony between a building up and a tearing down. Heraclitus calls the oppositional processes eris, "strife", and hypothesizes that the apparently stable state, dikê, or "justice," is a harmony of it:[35]

We must know that war (polemos) is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife necessarily.

As Diogenes explains:[36]

All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things (ta hola, "the whole") flows like a stream.

In the bow metaphor Heraclitus compares the resultant to a strung bow held in shape by an equilibrium of the string tension and spring action of the bow:[37]

There is a harmony in the bending back (palintropos) as in the case of the bow and the lyre.

[edit] Hepesthai to koino, "follow the common"

People must "follow the common (hepesthai tō ksunō)"[38] and not live having "their own judgement (phonēsis)". He distinguishes between human laws and divine law (tou theiou "of God").[39]

He removes the human sense of justice from his concept of God; i.e., humanity is not the image of God: "To God all things are fair and good and just, but people hold some things wrong and some right."[40] God's custom has wisdom but human custom does not,[41] and yet both humans and God are childish: "human opinions are children's toys"[42] and "Eternity is a child moving counters in a game; the kingly power is a child's."[43]

Wisdom is "to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things",[44] which must not imply that people are or can be wise. Only Zeus is wise.[45] To some degree then Heraclitus seems to be in the mystic's position of urging people to follow God's plan without much of an idea what that may be. In fact there is a note of despair: "The fairest universe (kallistos kosmos) is but a heap of rubbish (sarma, sweepings) piled up (kechumenon, poured out) at random (eikê)."[46]

[edit] Influence

Heraclitus - detail from The School of Athens by Raphael, 1510

[edit] Plato

In Heraclitus a perceived object is a harmony between two fundamental units of change, a waxing and a waning. He typically uses the ordinary word "to become" (gignesthai or ginesthai, root sense of being born), which led to his being characterized as the philosopher of becoming rather than of being. He recognizes the changing of objects with the flow of time.

Plato argues against Heraclitus as follows:[47]

How can that be a real thing which is never in the same state? ... for at the moment that the observer approaches, then they become other ... so that you cannot get any further in knowing their nature or state .... but if that which knows and that which is known exist ever ... then I do not think they can resemble a process or flux ....

In Plato one experienced unit is a state, or object existing, which can be observed. The time parameter is set at "ever"; that is, the state is to be presumed present between observations. Change is to be deduced by comparing observations, but no matter how many of those you are able to make, you cannot get through the mysterious gap between them to account for the change that must be occurring there.

[edit] Stoics

Stoicism was a philosophical school which flourished between the 3rd century BCE and about the 3rd century CE. It began among the Greeks and became the major philosophy of the Roman Empire before declining with the rise of Christianity in the 3rd century.

Throughout their long tenure the Stoics believed that the major tenets of their philosophy derived from the thought of Heraclitus.[48] According to Long, "the importance of Heraclitus to later Stoics is evident most plainly in Marcus Aurelius."[49] Explicit connections of the earliest Stoics to Heraclitus showing how they arrived at their interpretation are missing but they can be inferred from the Stoic fragments. Long concludes to "modifications of Heraclitus."[50]

The Stoics were interested in Heraclitus' treatment of fire. In addition to seeing it as the most fundamental of the four elements and the one that is quantified and determines the quantity (logos) of the other three, he presents fire as the cosmos, which was not made by any of the gods or men, but "was and is and ever shall be ever-living fire."[51] This is the closest he comes to a substance, but it is an active one altering other things quantitatively and performing an activity Heraclitus describes as "the judging and convicting of all things."[52] It is "the thunderbolt that steers the course of all things."[53] There is no reason to interpret the judgement, which is actually "to separate" (krinein), as outside of the context of "strife is justice" (see subsection above).

The earliest surviving Stoic work, the Hymn to Zeus of Cleanthes,[54] though not explicitly referencing Heraclitus, adopts what appears to be the Heraclitean logos modified. Zeus rules the universe with law (nomos) wielding on its behalf the "forked servant", the "fire" of the "ever-living lightening." So far nothing has been said that differs from the Zeus of Homer. But then, says Cleanthes, Zeus uses the fire to "straighten out the common logos" that travels about (phoitan, "to frequent") mixing with the greater and lesser lights (heavenly bodies). This is Heraclitus' logos, but now it is confused with the "common nomos", which Zeus uses to "make the wrong (perissa, left or odd) right (artia, right or even)" and "order (kosmein) the disordered (akosma)."[55]

The Stoic modification of Heraclitus' idea of the Logos was also influential on Jewish philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria, who connected it to "Wisdom personified" as God's creative principle. Philo uses the term Logos throughout his treatises on Hebrew Scripture in a manner clearly influenced by the Stoics.

[edit] Church fathers

The church fathers were the leaders of the Christian church during its first five centuries of existence, roughly contemporaneous to Stoicism under the Roman Empire. The works of dozens of writers in hundreds of pages have survived.

All of them had something to say about the Christian form of the logos. The church found it necessary to discriminate between the Christian logos and that of Heraclitus as part of its ideological distancing from paganism. The necessity to convert by defeating paganism was of paramount importance. Hippolytus of Rome therefore identifies Heraclitus along with the other Pre-Socratics (and Academics) as sources of heresy. Church use of the methods and conclusions of ancient philosophy as such was as yet far in the future, even though many were converted philosophers.

In Refutation of All Heresies[56] Hippolytus says: "What the blasphemous folly is of Noetus, and that he devoted himself to the tenets of Heraclitus the Obscure, not to those of Christ." Hippolytus then goes on to present the inscrutable DK B67: "God (theos) is day and night, winter and summer, ... but he takes various shapes, just as fire, when it is mingled with spices, is named according to the savor of each." The fragment seems to support pantheism if taken literally.

Hippolytus condemns the obscurity of it. He cannot accuse Heraclitus of being a heretic so he says instead: "Did not (Heraclitus) the Obscure anticipate Noetus in framing a system ...?" The apparent pantheist deity of Heraclitus (if that is what DK B67 means) must be equal to the union of opposites and therefore must be corporeal and incorporeal, divine and not-divine, dead and alive, etc., and the Trinity can only be reached by some sort of illusory shape-shifting.[57]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b Kahn, Charles (1979). The Art and Thought of Heraclitus: Fragments with Translation and Commentary. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1 - 23. ISBN 0-521-28645-X.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Diogenes Laertius Book IX, Sections 1-6.
  3. ^ Strabo, Chapter 1, section 3.
  4. ^ Chapter 3 beginning.
  5. ^ DK B55.
  6. ^ DK B40.
  7. ^ DK B42.
  8. ^ DK B44.
  9. ^ DK B125a.
  10. ^ De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, Chapter 2, Section 15.
  11. ^ Seneca, Lucius Annaeus; John M. Cooper & J.F. Procopé (translators) (1995). Moral and Political Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 50 note 17. ISBN 0521348188.
  12. ^ III.20.53
  13. ^ Satire X. Translation from Juvenal; Sidney George Owen (translator) (1903). Thirteen Satires of Juvenal. London: Methuen & Co.. pp. 61.
  14. ^ Montaigne, Michel de. "Of Democritus and Heraclitus". The Essays of Michel de Montaigne.
  15. ^ Act I Scene II Line 43.
  16. ^ Levenson, Jay, editor (1991). Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 229. ISBN 0300051670.
  17. ^ DK B1.
  18. ^ DK B2.
  19. ^ For the etymology see Watkins, Calvert (2000). "Appendix I: Indo-European Roots: leg-". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.
  20. ^ K.F. Johansen, "Logos" in Donald Zeyl (ed.), Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy, Greenwood Press 1997.
  21. ^ pp. 419ff. , W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, 1962.
  22. ^ DK B72, from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations iv. 46
  23. ^ DK B2, DK B50, from Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, ix. 9
  24. ^ Barnes page 65, and also Peters, Francis E. (1967). Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon. NYU Press. pp. 178. ISBN 081476552. Simplicius' commentary on Aristotle's physica 1313.11.
  25. ^ For the etymology see Watkins, Calvert (2000). "Appendix I: Indo-European Roots: sreu". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. In pronunciation the -ei- is a diphthong sounding like the -ei- in reindeer. The initial r is aspirated or made breathy, which indicates the dropping of the s in *sreu-.
  26. ^ DK22B12, quoted in Arius Didymus apud Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 15.20.2
  27. ^ Cratylus Paragraph 402 section a line 8.
  28. ^ DK B49a, Harris 110. Others like it are DK B12, Harris 20; DK B91, Harris 21.
  29. ^ DK B60
  30. ^ DK B54.
  31. ^ DK B31
  32. ^ DK B76.
  33. ^ DK B30.
  34. ^ DK B90
  35. ^ DK B80.
  36. ^ Diogenes Laertius IX section 8.
  37. ^ DK B51.
  38. ^ The initial part of DK B2, often omitted because broken by a note explaining that ksunos (Ionic) is koinos (Attic).
  39. ^ DK B114.
  40. ^ DK B102.
  41. ^ DK B78.
  42. ^ DK B70.
  43. ^ DK B52.
  44. ^ DK B41.
  45. ^ DK B32.
  46. ^ DK B124.
  47. ^ Cratylus Paragraph 440 sections c-d.
  48. ^ Long, A.A. (2001). Stoic Studies. University of California Press. Chapter 2. ISBN 0520229746.
  49. ^ Long, page 56.
  50. ^ Long, page 51.
  51. ^ DK B60.
  52. ^ DK B66.
  53. ^ DK B64.
  54. ^ Different translations of this critical piece of literature, transitional from pagan polytheism to the modern religions and philosophies, can be found at Rolleston, T.W.. "Stoic Philosophers: Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus". Retrieved 2007-11-28. Ellery, M.A.C. (1976). "Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus". Tom Sienkewicz at Retrieved 2007-11-28. Translator not stated. "Hymn to Zeus". Holy, Holy, Holy at Hypatia's Bookshelf.
  55. ^ The ancient Greek can be found in Blakeney, E.H.. The Hymn of Cleanthes: Greek Text Translated into English: with Brief Introduction and Notes. The MacMillan Company. Downloadable Google Books at [1].
  56. ^ Book IX leading sentence.
  57. ^ Hippolytus. "Refutation of All Heresies". New Advent. pp. Book IX Chapter 5. Retrieved 2007-12-01.

[edit] Bibliography

  • Bakalis, Nikolaos (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics: Analysis and Fragments. Trafford Publishing. pp. 26–45 under Heraclitus. ISBN 1-4120-4843-5.
  • Barnes, Jonathan (1982). The Presocratic Philosophers [Revised Edition]. London & New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 0-415-05079-0.
  • Burnet, John (2003). Early Greek Philosophy. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-2826-1. First published in 1892, this book has had dozens of editions and has been used as a textbook for decades. The first edition is downloadable from Google Books.
  • Davenport, Guy (translator) (1979). Herakleitos and Diogenes. Bolinas: Grey Fox Press. ISBN 0-912516-36-4. Complete fragments of Heraclitus in English.
  • Heidegger, Martin; Fink, Eugen; Seibert (translator), Charles H. (1993). Heraclitus Seminar. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-1067-9. . Transcript of seminar in which two German philosophers analyze and discuss Heraclitus' texts.
  • Heraclitus; Haxton (translator), Brooks; Hillman (Forward), James (2001). Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus. New York: Viking (The Penguin Group, Penguin Putnam, Inc.). ISBN 0-670-89195-9. . Parallel Greek & English.
  • Laertius, Diogenes. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers in Ten Books. Book IX, Chapter 1, Heraclitus.
  • Lavine, T.Z. (1984). From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest. New York, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. (Bantam Books). Chapter 2: Shadow and Substance; Section: Plato's Sources: The Pre-SocraticPhilosophers: Heraclitus and Parmenides. ISBN 0-553-25161-9.
  • Pyle, C. M. (1997). 'Democritus and Heracleitus: An Excursus on the Cover of this Book,' Milan and Lombardy in the Renaissance. Essays in Cultural History. Rome, La Fenice. (Istituto di Filologia Moderna, Università di Parma: Testi e Studi, Nuova Serie: Studi 1.) (Fortuna of the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers topos)
  • Robinson, T.M. (1987). Heraclitus: Fragments: A Text and Translation with a Commentary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6913-4.
  • Taylor, C. C. W (ed.), Routledge History of Philosophy: From the Beginning to Plato, Vol. I, pp. 80 – 117. ISBN 0-203-02721-3 Master e-book ISBN, ISBN 0-203-05752-X (Adobe eReader Format) and ISBN 0-415-06272-1 (Print Edition).
  • Wright, M.R. (1985). The Presocratics: The main Fragments in Greek with Inroduction, Commentary and Appendix Containing Text and Translation of Aristotle on the Presocratics. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press. ISBN 0-86292-079-5.

[edit] See also

The following articles on other topics contain non-trivial information that relates to Heraclitus in some way.

[edit] External links


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