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What is

What is

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Published by Randolph Dible
The problem of the One and the Many is that of the reconciliation of the logic of Being with the logic of Becoming. These are the forms of two distinct frames of reference. Both ask the fundamental ontological question of what it is to be, rephrased as the query into what is. It is left up to a frame which encompasses them both to provide an account of the relationship between the ontologically strict notions of Being and Becoming. The ancient Presocratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus, respectively, represent these former views, and I will provide an account of how Plato’s doctrine of the forms (eide) encompasses them both. Plato’s forms are eternal, unchanging realities behind the transitory world we experience, and yet, this is the only reality there is. In Books Six and Seven of Plato’s Republic, the Platonic metaphysical framework is presented. I will draw on the fragments of Parmenides and Heraclitus from A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia edited by Patricia Curd and translated by Richard McKirahan, and the Republic of Plato, translated by Alan Bloom.
The problem of the One and the Many is that of the reconciliation of the logic of Being with the logic of Becoming. These are the forms of two distinct frames of reference. Both ask the fundamental ontological question of what it is to be, rephrased as the query into what is. It is left up to a frame which encompasses them both to provide an account of the relationship between the ontologically strict notions of Being and Becoming. The ancient Presocratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus, respectively, represent these former views, and I will provide an account of how Plato’s doctrine of the forms (eide) encompasses them both. Plato’s forms are eternal, unchanging realities behind the transitory world we experience, and yet, this is the only reality there is. In Books Six and Seven of Plato’s Republic, the Platonic metaphysical framework is presented. I will draw on the fragments of Parmenides and Heraclitus from A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia edited by Patricia Curd and translated by Richard McKirahan, and the Republic of Plato, translated by Alan Bloom.

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Published by: Randolph Dible on May 14, 2009
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What is?Randolph DibleAbstract The problem of the One and the Many is that of the reconciliation of the logicof Being with the logic of Becoming. These are the forms of two distinct frames of reference. Both ask the fundamental ontological question of what it is
to be
,rephrased as the query into what
is
. It is left up to a frame which encompassesthem both to provide an account of the relationship between the ontologically strictnotions of Being and Becoming. The ancient Presocratic philosophers Parmenidesand Heraclitus, respectively, represent these former views, and I will provide anaccount of how Plato’s doctrine of the forms (eide) encompasses them both. Plato’sforms are eternal, unchanging realities behind the transitory world we experience,and yet, this is the only reality there is. In Books Six and Seven of Plato’s
Republic
,the Platonic metaphysical framework is presented. I will draw on the fragments of Parmenides and Heraclitus from
 A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia
edited by Patricia Curd and translated by Richard McKirahan, and the
Republic
of Plato, translated by Alan Bloom.May 2009Hon. Rev. Randolph Thompson Dible II,Sentinel, TaratiWhat is?Despite the epistemological problems of translation, there are better ways of interpreting the meaning of ancient texts, but as this implies, there are multiple,different interpretations of these ancient documents. For it is understood that what
 
they document is of a significance which we call philosophical, regarding generalinquiries into a range of topics, both theoretical and practical, general and specific.Furthermore, it was only since the times of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton a merefew centuries ago that many disciplines separated, losing their bonds to oneanother, and so the intended subject matter of many ancient sayings and writingsgoes debated. Philologists study the historical evidence of the people and theirframeworks (social, economic, religious, etc.) to better decide on the meaning of ambiguous statements about matters outside the obvious context, and much of themeaning of ancient metaphysics is far from obvious. But certainly we do havemeaningful translations, and much of it can be read at face value. From this we candecide the significance we attribute to names and works such as the ones dealt withhere.Parmenides says: “the only ways of inquiry there are for thinking:the one, that it is and it is not possible for it not to be,is the path of Persuasion(for it attends upon Truth),the other, that it is not and it is necessary for it not to be,this I point out to you to be a path completely unlearnable,for neither may you know that which is not(for it is not to be accomplished)Nor may you declare it.” (Proclus,
Commentary on Plato’s Timeaus
1.345.18;lines 3-8. Simplicius,
Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics
116.28 = 28B.2; rev.Curd, A Presocratics Reader pp. 45-46)Here it is clear that Parmenides calls his path that of Persuasion (for it attendsupon Truth), and it is not possible for it not to be. For me, it is clear that he meansto take being itself seriously, and indicates that the only intelligible option is tofollow the path of non-being, which is completely unlearnable and necessary for itnot to be, an admission which for me means that it is absurd to inquire any other
 
way than into Being. Furthermore, the next fragment in A
Presocratics Reader 
hashim saying “…For the same is for thinking and for being.” (Clement,
Miscellanies
5.15.5 = 28B4; rev. Curd, A
Presocratics Reader 
pp. 46). When taken together,these fragments reveal that for Parmenides the ideal is the real and so only being isreal, and it is the ideal of all thought. More content is given from Simplicius:“There is still left a single storyOf a way, that it is. On this way there are signsExceedingly many—that being ungenerated it is also imperishable,Whole and of a single kind and unshaken and [in]complete.Nor was it ever nor will it be, since it is now, all together,One, continuous….” (Simplicius,
Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics
145.1-146.25; 39.1-9 = 28B8; rev. Curd,
 A Presocratics Reader 
, pp. 49)In other words, he says that there are exceedingly many reasons to believethat it [Being?] is necessarily present, whole, outside time (as the present is), alltogether one and continuous. Combined with the pervious excerpts of fragments,we can assume that this eternal present “it” [Being] is the very subject of thoughtand the necessary nature of reality. That it is “one, continuous” means that it is alogical radicalization of unity. In his proem about his encounter with a wise marewho tells him he must learn all things, she assures him that in the opinions of mortals (Doxa, “beliefs” or “opinions”) “there is no true reliance.” This seems toindicate that Parmenides sees a distinction between the opinions of mortals and theknowledge of reality which is the continuous, eternal, way of what necessarily is.For Heraclitus, reality isn’t Being, in the sense we receive from Parmenides,but we could call it Becoming. While Parmenides seems to distinguish the mereopinions of mortals from the true knowledge of Being he attains, Heraclitus is alsoelitist, but says there is an ever-present
logos
which supports everyday things, and

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