Parmenides attempted to distinguish between the unity of nature and its variety, insisting in the Way of Truth upon the reality of its unity, which is therefore the object of knowledge, and upon the unreality of its variety, which is therefore the object, not of knowledge, but of opinion. In the Way of Opinion he propounded a theory of the world of seeming and its development, pointing out however that, in accordance with the principles already laid down, these cosmological speculations do not pretend to anything more than mere appearance.
In the proem, Parmenides describes the journey of a young man from darkness to light.
Carried in a whirling chariot , and attended by the daughters of the Sun , the man reaches a temple sacred to an unnamed goddess variously identified by the commentators with Nature , Wisdom , or Themis , by whom the rest of the proem is spoken. He must learn all things, she tells him, both truth, which is certain, and human opinions; for, though one cannot rely on human opinions, they represent an aspect of the whole truth.
The section known as "the way of truth" discusses that which is real, which contrasts in some way with the argument of the section called "the way of opinion," which discusses that which is illusory. Under the "way of truth," Parmenides stated that there are two ways of inquiry: that it is , that it is not.
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There are extremely delicate issues here. In ancient Greek, which, like many languages in the world, does not always require the presence of a subject for a verb, "is" functions as a grammatically complete sentence. Much debate has been focused on where and what the subject is. This is, for instance, Hermann Fraenkel's thesis. Since existence is an immediately intuited fact, non-existence is the wrong path because a thing cannot disappear, just as something cannot originate from nothing.
In such mystical experience unio mystica , however, the distinction between subject and object disappears along with the distinctions between objects, in addition to the fact that if nothing cannot be, it cannot be the object of thought either:. Thus, he concluded that "Is" could not have "come into being" because " nothing comes from nothing ". Existence is necessarily eternal. That which truly is [x], has always been [x], and was never becoming [x]; that which is becoming [x] was never nothing Not-[x] , but will never actually be.
Parmenides was not struggling to formulate the conservation of mass-energy ; he was struggling with the metaphysics of change, which is still a relevant philosophical topic today. Moreover he argued that movement was impossible because it requires moving into "the void", and Parmenides identified "the void" with nothing, and therefore by definition it does not exist.
That which does exist is The Parmenidean One , which is timeless, uniform, and unchanging:. Parmenides claimed that the truth cannot be known through sensory perception. Only Logos will result in the understanding of the truth of the world. This is because the perception of things or appearances the doxa is deceptive.
Genesis-and-destruction, as Parmenides emphasizes, is illusory, because the underlying material of which a thing is made will still exist after its destruction. What exists must always exist. And we arrive at the knowledge of this underlying, static, and eternal reality aletheia through reasoning, not through sense-perception.
To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides: The Origins of Philosophy
The structure of the cosmos is a fundamental binary principle that governs the manifestations of all the particulars: "the aether fire of flame" B 8. The structure of the cosmos then generated is recollected by Aetius II, 7, 1 :. For Parmenides says that there are circular bands wound round one upon the other, one made of the rare, the other of the dense; and others between these mixed of light and darkness.
What surrounds them all is solid like a wall. Beneath it is a fiery band, and what is in the very middle of them all is solid, around which again is a fiery band. The most central of the mixed bands is for them all the origin and cause of motion and becoming, which he also calls steering goddess and keyholder and Justice and Necessity. The air has been separated off from the earth, vapourized by its more violent condensation, and the sun and the circle of the Milky Way are exhalations of fire. The moon is a mixture of both earth and fire. The aether lies around above all else, and beneath it is ranged that fiery part which we call heaven , beneath which are the regions around the earth.
The traditional interpretation of Parmenides' work is that he argued that the every-day perception of reality of the physical world as described in doxa is mistaken, and that the reality of the world is 'One Being' as described in aletheia : an unchanging, ungenerated, indestructible whole. Under the Way of Opinion , Parmenides set out a contrasting but more conventional view of the world, thereby becoming an early exponent of the duality of appearance and reality.
For him and his pupils, the phenomena of movement and change are simply appearances of a static, eternal reality. Parmenides' philosophy is presented in the form of poetry.
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The philosophy he argued was, he says, given to him by a goddess, though the "mythological" details in Parmenides' poem do not bear any close correspondence to anything known from traditional Greek mythology:. Mourelatos, Charles H. It has been claimed that previous scholars placed too little emphasis on the apocalyptic context in which Parmenides frames his revelation. As a result, traditional interpretations have put Parmenidean philosophy into a more modern, metaphysical context to which it is not necessarily well suited, which has led to misunderstanding of the true meaning and intention of Parmenides' message.
The obscurity and fragmentary state of the text, however, renders almost every claim that can be made about Parmenides extremely contentious, and the traditional interpretation has by no means been abandoned. Parmenides' considerable influence on the thinking of Plato is undeniable, and in this respect Parmenides has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy , and is often seen as its grandfather. Even Plato himself, in the Sophist , refers to the work of "our Father Parmenides" as something to be taken very seriously and treated with respect.
In the Parmenides , the Eleatic philosopher, which may well be Parmenides himself, and Socrates argue about dialectic.
http://helio.dev3.develag.com/287.php In the Theaetetus , Socrates says that Parmenides alone among the wise Protagoras , Heraclitus , Empedocles , Epicharmus , and Homer denied that everything is change and motion. Parmenides is credited with a great deal of influence as the author of an "Eleatic challenge" that determined the course of subsequent philosophers' enquiries.
For example, the ideas of Empedocles , Anaxagoras , Leucippus , and Democritus have been seen as in response to Parmenides' arguments and conclusions. Parmenides made the ontological argument against nothingness, essentially denying the possible existence of a void. According to Aristotle , this led Leucippus to propose the atomic theory , which supposes that everything in the universe is either atoms or voids, specifically to contradict Parmenides' argument.
Aristotle himself, proclaimed, in opposition to Leucippus, the dictum horror vacui or "nature abhors a vacuum". Yet their quest was a hopeless one, bogged down by cultism, numerology, political conspiracies, bloody uprisings, and exile. Above all, number did not turn out as the most reliable of mediums; it was certainly not a key to the realm of the divine. Thus, their contributions to philosophy's inception, while much better-publicized, was not the most significant.
That particular role was reserved for an unusual challenge and the elaborate reaction it provoked. The challenge came from Xenophanes, who had argued that reliable truth was beyond mortal reach, because even if by accident a human being should state what is exactly the case, he had no way of knowing that he did, all things being susceptible to opinion.
This dilemma is sure to have bothered a legislative mind like that of Parmenides, and we find him introducing techniques for testing the veracity of statements. These methods were meant to be carried out by reasoning and argument alone, without relying in physical evidence or mortal sense-perception, which was deemed untrustworthy.
Reason was that one faculty shared by gods and humans alike. In time, Parmenides' ingenious arguments have earned him the titled of the first logician and metaphysician whose influence on subsequent thinkers was immeasurable. Parmenides taught us that philosophy was not about claims but about proof, which also makes him the father of theoretical science -- which, curiously, began as a quest into the mind of God. This book, which is both an introduction to Pythagoras and Parmenides and a scholarly study, will interest novices and experts alike.
Hermann's multi-leveled approach and his careful analyses of alternate views make his work a useful teaching tool, while his systematic inquiry into Pythagoreanism, the poem of Parmenides, and the development of early Greek thought will well repay the attention of scholars. Hermann's approach deserves to be taken seriously as an alternative to standard interpretations.
McKirahan, Jr. He specialices on subjects connected with Parmenides and Plato's Parmenides. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published December 15th by Parmenides Publishing first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3.