Parmenides

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Parmenides Full name Era Region School Pre-Socratic philosophy Western Philosophy Eleatic school

Main interests Metaphysics, Ontology Notable ideas Determinism, Ultimate reality

Influenced by[show] Influenced[show]

Parmenides of Elea (Greek: ; fl. early 5th century BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem, On Nature, which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides describes two views of reality. In "the way of truth" (a part of the poem), he explains how reality (coined as "what-is") is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, necessary, and unchanging. In "the way of opinion," he explains the world of appearances, in which one's sensory faculties lead to conceptions which are false and deceitful. These ideas strongly influenced the whole of Western philosophy, perhaps most notably through its effect on Plato.

He was said to have been a pupil of Xenophanes.[10] [edit] On Nature Parmenides is one of the most significant of the pre-Socratic philosophers. when Socrates was a young man. however. after him. Approximately 160 lines of the poem remain today. was twenty-five years his junior. which introduced the entire work.[9] Parmenides had a large influence on Plato.[4] which. Of his life in Elea.1 Perception vs. A section known as "The Way of Truth" (aletheia ). The first hero cult of a philosopher we know of was Parmenides' dedication of a heroon to his teacher Ameinias in Elea. suggests a year of birth of c.Contents [hide] y y y y y y y 1 Life 2 On Nature o 2.[8] His most important pupil was Zeno. 515 BCE. but Plato has him visiting Athens at the age of 65. son of Diochaites. reportedly the original text had 3. Logos o 2.[6] Diogenes Laërtius also describes Parmenides as a disciple of "Ameinias.[5] and regardless of whether they actually knew each other.000 lines. according to Diogenes Laërtius. it was said that he had written the laws of the city. Parmenides. is a poem. who not only named a dialogue.[1] had been founded shortly before 535 BCE. if true.[2] His dates are uncertain. which has only survived in fragmentary form. c. but there are no obvious Pythagorean elements in his thought. and . but always spoke of him with veneration. conventionally titled On Nature. the Pythagorean".[3] which would put his year of birth near 540 BCE. He was descended from a wealthy and illustrious family. Xenophanes' philosophy is the most obvious influence on Parmenides.[11] His only known work.2 The Way of Truth  2. he flourished just before 500 BCE. that the work originally divided into three parts: y y A proem (Greek: ). and was his eromenos. It is known.3 The Way of Opinion (doxa) 3 Interpretations of Parmenides 4 Influence on the development of science 5 Notes 6 References and further reading 7 External links [edit] Life Parmenides was born in the Greek colony of Elea (now Ascea). who according to Plato.[7] Parmenides was the founder of the School of Elea. according to Herodotus. which also included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos.1 The Proem o 2. 450 BCE.2. which.

though one cannot rely on human opinions. He must learn all things. and upon the unreality of its variety. but of opinion. she tells him. Aletheia. and human opinions. which is therefore the object. by whom the rest of the proem is spoken. an estimated 90% of which has survived. The proem is a narrative sequence in which the narrator travels "beyond the beaten paths of mortal men" to receive a revelation from an unnamed goddess (generally thought to be Persephone or Dike) on the nature of reality. In the Way of Opinion he propounded a theory of the world of seeming and its development. Parmenides describes the journey of a young man from darkness to light. Parmenides attempted to distinguish between the unity of nature and its variety. Wisdom.y A section known as "The Way of Appearance/Opinion" (doxa - ). both truth. which is certain. insisting in the Way of Truth upon the reality of its unity. [edit] The Way of Truth . most of which no longer exists. for. pointing out however that. not of knowledge. which is therefore the object of knowledge. they represent an aspect of the whole truth. or Themis). [edit] The Proem In the proem. the man reaches a temple sacred to an unnamed goddess (variously identified by the commentators with Nature. and doxa. Carried in a whirling chariot. and attended by the daughters of the Sun. are then presented as the spoken revelation of the goddess without any accompanying narrative. in accordance with the principles already laid down. these cosmological speculations do not pretend to anything more than mere appearance.

5-9) Thus. Since existence is an immediately intuited fact. The section known as "the way of truth" discusses that which is real. the distinction between subject and object disappears along with the distinctions between objects. That which truly is [x]. That which does exist is The Parmenidean One.3 and 2.1) There are extremely delicate issues here. beasts without judgment. In such mystical experience (unio mystica). "is" functions as a grammatically complete sentence. and was never becoming [x]. In ancient Greek. just as something cannot originate from nothing. for instance. Moreover he argued that movement was impossible because it requires moving into "the void". The simplest explanation as to why there is no subject here is that Parmenides wishes to express the simple. in relation to which it is uttered. convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same. has always been [x]. that it is not. Hermann Fraenkel's thesis. that which is becoming [x] was never nothing (Not-[x]).1-2) Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts.5) without the "it" inserted in our English translation. (B 6. (B 3) It is necessary to speak and to think what is. they are carried along deaf and blind alike. and therefore (by definition) it does not exist.[12] He said that the latter argument is never feasible because nothing can not be: For never shall this prevail. In the original Greek the two ways are simply named "that Is" ( ) and "that Not-Is" ( ) (B 2. and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one. like many languages in the world. Under the "way of truth. he was struggling with the metaphysics of change.34-36) For thought and being are the same. for being is. for you will not find thought apart from what is. he concluded that "Is" could not have "come into being" because "nothing comes from nothing". but nothing is not. This is. which. Parmenides was not struggling to formulate the conservation of mass-energy. dazed. but will never actually be. uniform." Parmenides stated that there are two ways of inquiry: that it is.[13] Many scholars still reject this explanation and have produced more complex metaphysical explanations. which is still a relevant philosophical topic today. bare fact of existence in his mystical experience without the ordinary distinctions.Parmenides. Existence is necessarily eternal. (B 6. Detail from The School of Athens by Raphael. that things that are not are. and unchanging: . however. in addition to the fact that if nothing cannot be. (B 8. which contrasts in some way with the argument of the section called "the way of opinion. it cannot be the object of thought either: Thinking and the thought that it is are the same. and Parmenides identified "the void" with nothing. non-existence is the wrong path because a thing cannot disappear. Much debate has been focused on where and what the subject is. does not always require the presence of a subject for a verb. there is no subject for these impersonal verbs because they express the simple fact of raining without specifying what is doing the raining. just as the Latin "pluit" and the Greek huei ( "rains") mean "it rains". which is timeless." which discusses that which is illusory. (B 7.

but (you must) judge by means of the Reason (Logos) the muchcontested proof which is expounded by me. thin and clear. since it is all alike. for I shall return there again.. it is not. but all is full of what is. You must debar your thought from this way of search. and destruction unknown. that That Which Is Not exists. did [it] grow? Neither from what-is-not shall I allow / You to say or think. (namely. (B 8.56). the origin. The mortals lay down and decided well to name two forms (i. since [it] is. the necessary part of reality that is understood through reason or logos (that [it] Is) . And we arrive at the knowledge of this underlying. to rule.e. which is gentle. 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. body thick and heavy. now.2) [edit] The Way of Opinion (doxa) After the exposition of the arche . / One. as Parmenides emphasizes. nor let ordinary experience in its variety force you along this way.5-6. that of allowing) the eye. What exists must always exist. the flaming light and obscure darkness of night). for it is not to be said or thought / That [it] is not. (B 8. nor is it if ever it is going to be. Only Logos will result in the understanding of the truth of the world.e. Thus coming into being is extinguished. and eternal reality (aletheia) through reasoning. all at once. soft. out of which it is necessary not to make one. and in this they are led astray. nor will [it] be. Logos Parmenides claimed that the truth cannot be known through sensory perception. and the ear. static. mild. whence. And what need could have impelled it to grow / Later or sooner.5-11) [What exists] is now. for what coming-to-be of it will you seek? / In what way. (B 7. i. Parmenides proceeds to explain the structure of the becoming cosmos (which is an illusion. the Way of Appearance/Opinion/Seeming. nor is there any more or less of it in one place which might prevent it from holding together. can never predominate.How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being. of course) that comes from this origin. sightless as it is. For this view. 1): . not through sense-perception. full of sound. because the underlying material of which a thing is made will still exist after its destruction. and self-identical. in the next section. continuous.22-24) And it is all one to me / Where I am to begin. and the other is "ignorant night". 8. and the tongue. 7. (B 5) [edit] Perception vs.53-4) The structure of the cosmos then generated is recollected by Aetius (II. (B 8. all together. if it began from nothing? Thus [it] must either be completely or not at all. This is because the perception of things or appearances (the doxa) is deceptive.. one and continuous. is illusory.1-8. (B 8. Genesis-and-destruction.20-22) Nor was [it] once. Nor is it divisible.

(B 1. but right and justice. eternal reality. It has been claimed that previous scholars placed too little emphasis on the apocalyptic context in which Parmenides frames his revelation. Beneath it is a fiery band. renders almost every claim that can be made about Parmenides extremely contentious. The moon is a mixture of both earth and fire. The philosophy he argued was. traditional interpretations have put Parmenidean philosophy into a more modern. Charles H. For it is no evil fate that has set you to travel on this road. the phenomena of movement and change are simply appearances of a static. and in this respect Parmenides has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy. Even Plato himself. and beneath it is ranged that fiery part which we call heaven. thereby becoming an early exponent of the duality of appearance and reality. Mourelatos. in the Sophist. one made of the rare. and the traditional interpretation has by no means been abandoned. It is meet that you learn all things . Parmenides' philosophy is presented in the form of poetry.both the unshakable heart of well-rounded truth and the opinions of mortals in which there is not true belief. Under the Way of Opinion. around which again is a fiery band. refers to the work of "our Father Parmenides" as . The most central of the mixed bands is for them all the origin and cause of motion and becoming. As a result. ungenerated. The obscurity and fragmentary state of the text. and that the reality of the world is 'One Being' (as described in aletheia): an unchanging. rational logical/philosophical interpretation of Parmenides into question (Kingsley in particular stating that Parmenides practiced iatromancy). he says. Kahn. and the controversial Peter Kingsley have begun to call parts of the traditional. vapourized by its more violent condensation. which he also calls steering goddess and keyholder and Justice and Necessity. far from the beaten paths of men. which has led to misunderstanding of the true meaning and intention of Parmenides' message.24-30) It is with respect to this religious/mystical context that recent generations of scholars such as Alexander P. though the "mythological" details in Parmenides' poem do not bear any close correspondence to anything known from traditional Greek mythology: Welcome. who come attended by immortal charioteers and mares which bear you on your journey to our dwelling. Parmenides' considerable influence on the thinking of Plato is undeniable. The air has been separated off from the earth.[14] [edit] Interpretations of Parmenides 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 the sun and the circle of the Milky Way are exhalations of fire. youth. For him and his pupils. What surrounds them all is solid like a wall. metaphysical context to which it is not necessarily well suited. and is often seen as its grandfather. Parmenides set out a contrasting but more conventional view of the world. however. and others between these mixed of light and darkness.For Parmenides says that there are circular bands wound round one upon the other. the other of the dense. beneath which are the regions around the earth. The aether lies around above all else. indestructible whole. and what is in the very middle of them all is solid. given to him by a goddess.

(2007). ix. 21 ^ Diogenes Laërtius. i. Parmenides was already a very old man. present. In his critique of this idea. ^ Encyclopedia of ancient Greece By Nigel Guy Wilson Page 353 ISBN 9780415973342 8. Metaphysics. 23 ^ Plato. 183. i. Anthony..something to be taken very seriously and treated with respect. white-haired but of distinguished appearance . For example. Parmenides. In the Theaetetus. Heraclitus. 3. Theaetetus. essentially denying the possible existence of a void. comp. Sophist.. ^ Speusippus in Diogenes Laërtius. and Socrates argue about dialectic. motion would encounter no resistance. i. in opposition to Leucippus. Colot. 127A-128B ^ Aristotle. and future.[15] [edit] Influence on the development of science Parmenides made the ontological argument against nothingness. Parmenides. vii.164 ^ Diogenes Laërtius. e. 2.he was about sixty-five. ix. Diogenes Laërtius.[16] For a discussion of the scientific implications of this view see:Hyman. adv. Erwin Schrödinger identified Parmenides' monad of the "Way of Truth" as being the conscious self in "Nature and the Greeks". the dictum horror vacui or "nature abhors a vacuum". this led Leucippus to propose the atomic theory. and Homer) denied that everything is change and motion. Epicharmus. which supposes that everything in the universe is either atoms or voids. Parmenides is credited with a great deal of influence as the author of an "Eleatic challenge" that determined the course of subsequent philosophers' enquiries. 22. . 23. Karl Popper remarked to Einstein "You are Parmenides". ix. 5. Leucippus. Aristotle reasoned that in a complete vacuum. 4. According to Aristotle. something which Aristotle would not accept. In the Parmenides. 127A: "Zeno and Parmenides once came [to Athens] for the festival of the Great Panathenaea. i. the ideas of Empedocles. Socrates says that Parmenides alone among the wise (Protagoras. Anaxagoras. 111. 5." 10. Plato.20. 21 6. Clement of Alexandria. 1126AB 9. specifically to contradict Parmenides' argument. which may well be Parmenides himself. which considers existence to consist of past. Simplicius. ^ Plato.26-23. 237A 1. Sextus Empiricus. Math. Stromata.he was said to have been Parmenides' lover. Teignvalley Press. the Eleatic philosopher. "The Selfseeker". ix. adv. ^ cf. and the flow of time to be illusory. Plutarch. 301. and Democritus have been seen as in response to Parmenides' arguments and conclusions. Empedocles. Zeno was then nearly forty. Strabo. tall and pleasant to look at . proclaimed. and thus infinite speed would be possible. A shadow of Parmenides' ideas can be seen in the physical concept of Block time. Physics.[17] [edit] Notes ^ Herodotus. vi. Aristotle himself. Hippolytus. 14 7. ^ eg.

http://books.). It Is: The Thesis of Parmenides. ISBN 8420672408. Parmenides: Being. Austin. Kessinger Publishing. apek. Guthrie. B 8. (1979). Van Gorcum. ^ According to Czech philosopher Mili apek "[Parmenides'] decisive influence on the development of Western thought is probably without parallel". (1991) Parmenides of Elea ± Fragments. Patricia (2004). (1986). Cambridge University Press. 1a. Mili (1991) The New Aspects of Time. ^ Popper. Trafford Publishing. 1991. Parmenides Publishing (new edition of Coxon 1986). The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought. perceived as champion of the One against the Many. ^ Stobaeus. (2009) The Fragments of Parmenides: A Critical Text With Introduction and Translation. 127. Science and humanism. Parmenides Publishing. The Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge. Leucippus and Democritus framed their theories in terms which conceded as much as possible to his rejections of literal generation and annihilation and of division. Nature and the Greeks: and. Cambridge University Press 17.11 13. Kluwer Cordero. p. 1998): "Parmenides marks a watershed in Presocratic philosophy. 15. but it is a useful corrective to the tendency to underestimate it. ^ (Dichtung und Philosophie des fruehen Griechentums. Craig (ed. ^ Frag. ^ See e. In the next generation he remained the senior voice of Eleaticism. Empedocles. 1962) 14. ISBN 978-1-930972-03-2 Coxon. Las Vegas. Anaxagoras. The Fragments of Parmenides. ISBN 978-1-930972-15-5 (First edition Princeton University Press 1998) Gallop David. Yale University Press. H. . 145. David Sedley. Coxon A." 16. A History of Greek Philosophy: Volume 2. ISBN 978-1-930972-19-3 Bakalis Nikolaos (2005) Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments. 12. Curd. Parmenides Publishing. H. The Presocratic Philosophers (Two Volumes). quoted in W. Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. Bounds and Logic. K. C. Burnet J. That assessment may overstate Parmenides' impact and importance. p. The New Aspects of Time. [edit] References and further reading y y y y y y y y y y y Austin. while those who wished to vindicate cosmic plurality and change felt obliged to respond to his challenge. i.google. ^ Erwin Schrödinger (1954). Karl (2002).com/?id=NyCEnehPMd8C&pg=PA148&lpg=PA148&dq=popper+ei nstein+parmenides&q." in E. Jonathan (1978). "Parmenides. Scott (2007) Parmenides and the History of Dialectic: Three Essays.g. Scott (1986). ISBN 1-4120-4843-5 Barnes. Nestor-Luis (2004) By Being. pages 61-2. 2633.11. A. University of Toronto Press. Unended Quest. 22. (2003) Early Greek Philosophy. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 0300035594. the Ancient Testimonia and a Commentary. His One was defended by Zeno of Elea and Melissus.

Gilbert Ryle: ÄPlato's Parmenides³. Norman (2002). (2007) The Route of Parmenides: A Study of Word. Duckworth and Co. Second edition. Martin Suhr: Platons Kritik an den Eleaten. The World of Parmenides. Arnold (2010) Plato's Parmenides: Text. In the Dark Places of Wisdom. S. Vorschläge zur Interpretation des platonischen Dialogs ÃParmenidesµ. 303-25. (1979) A History of Greek Philosophy ± The Presocratic tradition from Parmenides to Democritus. E. Mourelatos. (1983) The Presocratic Philosophers. ISBN 978-3-7675-3080-5 Melchert. Hamburg 1969 Hans Günter Zekl: Der Parmenides. Karl R. Alexander P. Edition Ruprecht: Göttingen 2006. Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks. Parmenides (trans. Translation & Introductory Essay. Marburg/Lahn 1971. Friedrich. Image. Elwert Verlag. ISBN 978-1-930972-00-1 Hermann. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz. C. annotated bibliography . Parmenides Publishing. Cambridge University Press.y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Guthrie W. Explores the Parmenidean dialectic and its application to modern science. Parmenides Publishing. and Argument in the Fragments.. "The Selfseeker" . Heidegger. McGraw Hill. Vertumnus vol. Arnold (2005) To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides-The Origins of Philosophy. Anthony (2007). The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. ISBN 978-1-930972-71-1 Kingsley. 1939. and Schofield M. Parmenides Publishing. 1992) Hermann. ISBN 978-1-930972-11-7 (First edition Yale University Press 1970) Nietzsche. K. 129-51. S. (1998). Parmenides Publishing. Hyman. ISBN 978-1-930972-179 Hermann. Cambridge University Press. in: Mind 48. Raven J. ISBN 0-415-17301-9. Untersuchungen zum Gebrauch von und . ISBN 0-19-517510-7. N. Teignvalley Press. Extensive bibliographies are available here and here. Routledge. Kirk G. 6. Regnery Gateway ISBN 0-89526-944-9 Popper. Peter (2001).G. Indiana University Press. Arnold (2005) The Illustrated To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides-The Origins of Philosophy. D. Margarete Lünstroth: Teilhaben und Erleiden in Platons Parmenides. Martin.