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Due to their opposing views of humanity, the Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Democritus are often depicted together. Even in antiquity, Heraclitus was known as ‘the weeping philosopher’, who lamented the human lot – whereas Democritus could only laugh at its absurdity. In the 17th century, the transience of man, Vanitas Mundi, was a popular theme. The two philosophers with the globe – the symbol of humanity – express a simple message: whether you laugh or cry, it makes no difference to our existence.

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