§ 1. Two stories concerning Heraclitus as introduction to his word

Regarding the life of Heraclitus, which fell in the decades between 540 and 480 BCE, we know as little as we do of the lives of Anaximander and Parmenides. It would be a mistake, however, to lament this lack of biographical information: for who Parmenides and Heraclitus are is alone determined from out of what they thought, and we experience nothing of this through ‘biographies.’ Thus, the biography of a thinker can be largely correct, while the presentation of his thinking remains quite untrue. This is what happened with Nietzsche, who composed quite a lively description of the ‘character’ of Heraclitus; however, this lively description did not obviate the fact that Nietzsche’s legacy on this score was to bring into circulation the most awful misinterpretation of Heraclitus’s thinking.

The question of who Heraclitus is, provided that it is asked within the limits within which it is here able to be asked at all, finds its answer in the word that the thinker, as thinker, has said. A faint glimmer of this word conceals itself in the ‘stories’ concerning the thinker that are occasionally preserved and passed on. Such ‘stories,’ even if they are invented (indeed, precisely then), contain a truth that is more originary than the correct information determined through historiographical research. Historiographical/biographical findings always (and only) move within the medium of indifference, and serve only the satisfaction of curiosity regarding the biographical.

[6] We attend here first to two ‘stories’ concerning Heraclitus. It cannot be proven that what is therein recounted actually occurred. But the fact that these ‘stories’ are preserved shows us something of the word that this thinker spoke. Of course, we understand these ‘stories’ only from out of what Heraclitus himself thought and said. Nonetheless, they can in turn serve to make us heedful of Heraclitus’s word, albeit at some remove. These ‘stories’ should not replace the