Expanding on what Heraclitus means by “Strife is Justice”.
Heraclitus is called the obscure for a reason, for his principles on how nature works are riddles. Heraclitus is worth studying because his principles are based on observation on how nature works. These principles are observable and testable in nature. How nature behaves and works is what Heraclitus means as the Common. The choice then for humanity is that we either work with nature by following its rules, or working against nature, suffering and going extinct. Humanity is on the edge, the choice is stark, play by natures rules or die.
Nature is mindless, it cares nothing for if we live or die; or if we accept its rules or we fight them. We came into being from nature, we depend on nature, our separation from nature is the cause of our sickness and potential doom. It is possible that Hurricane Sandy was a result of human climate change; but if there was any doubts who ruled this planet, man or nature, when one of the most advanced cities in the world, New York, was shut down, it proved to be nature.
All objects in the universe move under their own agency; when two objects share the same space they conflict with each other. As a result of this conflict there is destruction. Because of these constant collisions between objects we see motion, change and evolution. If an insect attacks a plant, eventually that plant will evolve a defence against the insect. If I run a fast race, my muscle cells suffer some destruction, then they are rebuilt so that I become stronger for the next time I race. Strife is behind all motion, all change and all evolution. Without strife, nothing will exist, since everything stops moving. Strife is the difference between a body that is alive or dead. For us to live strife must be present. Justice as Heraclitus uses it is about becoming, I become through strife.
Hurricanes are a part of nature, they form and operate according to specific natural laws, the Common. Hurricanes for millions of years have been ripping their way through the Eastern USA. When Hurricane Sandy visited New York the city and hurricane shared the same space, and then conflicted. Nature is the ultimate law, Heraclitus’ Common, so hurricanes are only doing what they have always been doing; but it was the opinion of humanity to build a city that was poorly designed to deal with hurricanes that ended up in the path of Sandy. The continued suffering of humanity in New York is not the fault of nature, or of Sandy, but of the stupidity of the planners and decision makers behind the emergency efforts.
When Heraclitus says “Follow the Common” he means that we follow the laws of nature. All objects are in motion and colliding in conflict, thus in nature there is randomness and strife going on constantly. Rather than build cities and emergency systems that are designed to cope with hurricanes humanity had the opinion they knew better, and that is why there is more suffering than there should have been in New York.
By following the Common as Heraclitus says we build into our actions and choices considerations based on the patterns in nature, so we accept we will come up against strife and randomness, despite our best made plans. By doing this rather than following ignorant opinion that we know best we create systems that are flexible enough to handle random strife, we also no longer waste resources in being shocked about strife in nature.