in the city of Elea in southern Italy. While this view is pervasive and perhaps even defensible, many have found it hard to accept given its radical and absurd entailments. This appendix presents a Greek text of the fragments of Parmenides’ poem accompanied by an English translation. An exceptionally solid and detailed introduction to the Presocratics overall. Thus, this view results in the “mad,” self-denying position that Descartes would famously show later was the one thing we could never deny as thinkers—our own existence. In many ways, the theogonical cosmology presented so far is quite reminiscent of Hesiod’s own Theogony, and certain Milesian cosmologies at times. Here, the goddess dismisses anything mortals erroneously think to be real, but which violate the perfect predicates of Reality, as “names.” C 11 expounds upon this “naming error,” arguing that Light and Night have been named and the relevant powers of each have been granted to their objects, which have also been named accordingly. Admittedly, Heraclitus’ use of the past tense here is not decisive, as it certainly does not require all those named be dead. If so, the question remains whether he sought to further refine or challenge such views—or perhaps both. And let not habit do violence to you on the empirical way of exercising an unseeing eye and a noisy ear and tongue, but decide by discourse the controversial test enjoined by me” (Coxon’s translation). In addition, since Pythagoras himself did not write anything, any written works in the Pythagorean tradition that were disseminated must have been written by his followers—again, probably after Pythagoras’ own death (post-500 B.C.E.). Plato’s Parmenides consists in a critical examinationof the theory of forms, a set of metaphysical and epistemologicaldoctrines articulated and defended by the character Socrates in thedialogues of Plato’s middle period (principally Phaedo,Republic II–X, Symposium). Not only are the bulk of these lines (1.1-28) not quoted by any other ancient source, but their content is not even mentioned in passing. That is, to say “X is Y” in this way is to predicate of X all the properties that necessarily belong to X, given the sort of thing X is (Mourelatos 1970, 56-67). At some point along this route over the Earth they would collect their mortal charge. C 14 and C 15 then describe the cosmology that results from the theogonical arrangement, expounding the properties of the moon as, respectively, “an alien, night-shining light, wandering around the Earth,” which is “always looking towards the rays of the sun.” Similarly, C 16 is a single word (ὑδατόριζον), meaning “rooted in water,” and the testιmonia explicitly claims this is grounded in the Earth. The later birthdate (515 B.C.E). This estimate is reasonable even if the details of Plato’s Parmenides are not reliable and if one accepts Diogenes’ account, as Parmenides would be seventy by this point. Xenophanes draws a distinction between divine and mortal knowledge which mortals cannot overcome; Parmenides’ poem also seems to acknowledge this distinction, though he may very well be suggesting this divide can be overcome through logical inquiry, in contrast to Xenophanes. Sextus also identifies the charioteer-maidens with Parmenides’ sense organs. 2). Parmenides’ poem began with a proem describing a journey he figuratively once made to the abode of a goddess. Xenophanes claims that the misunderstanding of the gods is the result of mortals relying upon their own subjective perceptions and imputing similar qualities to divine nature. For ease of reference, references to fragments of Parmenides’ poem list, first, Coxon’s numbering (C) and then, Diels-Kranz’s (DK). The source for Parmenides’ earlier birthdate (c. 540 B.C.E.) C.E.) Since mortals have only ever relied upon their sense perceptions rather than deductive logic, they have never conceived of the essential nature of any necessary entity. Parmenides' arguments allow for a plurality of fundamental, predicationally unified entities that can be used to explain the world reported by the senses. It is to that entity mortals have “given as names” all the attributions listed: coming to be, perishing, and so forth. The treatment is not meant to be at all exhaustive, nor advocate any particular view in favor of another. This strict monism has been the most common way of understanding Parmenides’ thesis, from early times into the mid-twentieth century. B.C.E.). Sending female to mix with male, and again in turn. A 1st cn. It is also uncontroversial that the “opinions of mortals” will be taught in Opinion (C 8.51-C 20) and that this account will be inferior to the account of Aletheia in some way—certainly epistemically and perhaps also ontologically. This is almost certainly no accident, and generally indicative of Parmenides’ influence on Greek thought overall. ; The Fragments of Parmenides , 1869, commonly known as On Nature ), one-third of which is extant. Yet, this is certainly not the same error as mortals thinking that which is explicated in Aletheia can be properly described in ways contrary to its nature (that is, coming to be, perishing, and so forth), which is precisely the error the goddess insists they commit. This document is in the public domain. Though not impossible, this is unlikely. Granger, Herbert. Depending upon how the passages outlined below are read/interpreted largely determines what degree/kind (if any) of positive value should be ascribed to Opinion. Both Aristotle and his student Theophrastus explicitly claim that Parmenides was a direct personal student of Xenophanes. First, it is commonly claimed that Xenophanes was a philosophically-oriented poet, in contrast to Parmenides—a “genuine philosopher” who simply used poetry as a vehicle for communicating his thoughts. It is unlikely that he would be undercutting his positively-endorsed account of his “one god” in such a way, thus this likely refers to his physics/cosmology. It is common amongst scholars to read these passages as claiming it is either wrong for mortals to name both Light and Night, or that naming just one of these opposites is wrong and the other acceptable. Furthermore, this view can have welcome implications for the narrative of how Parmenides was received by his immediate successors (that is, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and the early Atomists). In fact, in contrast to Reality, both sections have extensive mythological content, which scholars have regularly overlooked. Sider, David, and Henry W. Johnstone, Jr. An essential resource for students who want to study Parmenides in the original Greek. 8.41. While Lines 1.28-30 are reported by several additional sources (Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Clement, and Proclus), Simplicius alone quotes lines 1.31-32. However, there are numerous possible readings (both in the Greek transmission and in the English translation) and selecting a translation for these lines requires extensive philological considerations, as well as an interpretative lens in which to understand the overall poem—the lines themselves are simply too ambiguous to make any determination. In another passage, he denigrates Hesiod, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and Hecataetus as failing to understand anything, despite their studiousness (B40). This is further attested by several later doxographers: Aetius (2nd-1st cn. As with other ancient figures, little can be said about Parmenides’ life with much confidence. Is Parmenides making the rather problematic claim that whatever can be thought, exists (compare Gorgias “On Nature, or What-is-Not”)? C/DK 7 then further identifies the reason mortals tend to fall into this confusion—by relying upon their senses, rather than rational accounts. In fact, the only ancient source to suggest any relationship between the thinkers is Plato, who would have Parmenides influencing Heraclitus instead. More telling, while it is still certainly possible to justify some of these properties on the grounds that thinking “what is not” is not allowed in the conception, others are far more problematic. Elea, Magna Graecia Nationality Greek More than 500 years before the time of Christ, a small group of philosophers was formulating fundamental ideas that would shape Western society for next 2,500 years. In fact, a more negative treatment of Opinion seems necessary in order to avoid this fatal flaw. However, there is significant uncertainty regarding the ultimate status of Opinion, with questions remaining such as whether it is supposed to have any value at all and, if so, what sort of value. Thus, it would not seem appropriate to name only one of these forms. This reconstructed arrangement has then been traditionally divided into three distinct parts: an introductory section known as the Proem; a central section of epistemological guidelines and metaphysical arguments (Aletheia, Reality); and a concluding “cosmology,” (Doxa, or Opinion). Providing such a detailed exposition of mortal views in a traditional cosmology just to dismiss it entirely, rather than continue to argue against mortal views by deductively demonstrating their principles to be incorrect, would be counterintuitive. Instead, Parmenides is using it metaphorically to describe a way of inquiring that leads to contradiction. The better explanation here is to seek a common influence which would explain the similarities in doctrine and critical themes and which would have been widely spread by the end of the sixth century. On this view, when Parmenides talks about “what is,” he is referring to what exists, in a universal sense (that is, all of reality), and making a cosmological conclusion on metaphysical grounds—that all that exists is truly a single, unchanging, unified whole. Finally, if Parmenides really was a personal teacher of Zeno of Elea (490-430 B.C.E)., Parmenides must have been present in Elea well into the mid-fourth century B.C.E. Having challenged this status quo, he goes on to advocate a new arrangement for the poem, moving some passages which make true cosmological claims out of. In a similar vein, spatial motion includes “not-being” at a current location in the past, and thus motion is also denied. He is using this image to describe a way in which mortals should not think about things. Ancient tradition holds that Parmenides produced only one written work, which was supposedly entitled On Nature (Coxon Test. It cannot be denied that the description of Xenophanes’ (supreme/only) god bears many of the same qualities as Parmenides’ “what is”—the only question is whether Parmenides was directly influenced in this matter by Xenophanes’ views. This conclusion is arrived at through a priori logical deduction rather than empirical or scientific evidence, and is thus certain, following necessarily from avoiding the nonsensical positing of “what is not.” Any description of the world that is inconsistent with this account defies reason, and is thus false. After almost a century of philosophy based on the general Milesian pattern Parmenides cast the whole project into doubt by maintaining that the fundamental nature of reality has nothing to do with the world as we experience it. He also expressly denies the existence of things mortals believe in, but yet fails to realize the entailment that mortals—including himself—thus also would not exist. 126). pedestal discovered in Elea is dedicated to him, with an inscription crediting him not only as a “natural philosopher,” but as a member (“priest”) of a local healing cult/school (Coxon 41; Test. Further Reading on Parmenides. Erroneously thinking that contingent beings can provide “trustworthy thought and understanding” may indeed be an error of mortals. Such a positive treatment still seems to be in tension with the overarching negative treatment of Opinion throughout the poem. Parmenides is commonly thought to have made a clear allusion to Heraclitus, describing mortals with no understanding as simultaneously accepting that “things both are and are not, are the same and not the same” (C5/DK6). Commentators have tended to understand these lines in several general ways. The vast majority of interpreters have followed both these moves. The same holds if only Night is named. Given all of this, any serious engagement with Parmenides’ work should begin by acknowledging the incomplete status of the text and recognizing that interpretative certainty is generally not to be found. Both can be understood as drawing upon a rudimentary “principle of sufficient reason,” concluding that if there is no sufficient reason for something to move in one direction or manner versus another, then it must necessarily be at rest (Parmenides’ “what is,” and Anaximander’s description of Earth). Consider the goddess’ programmatic outline for the rest of the poem at the end of the Proem:==, C 1: …And it is necessary for you to learn all things, (28b) Though the strict monist view remains pervasive in introductory texts, contemporary scholars have tended to abandon it on account of these worrisome entailments. This paper reassesses the relationship between the way of Truth and the way of Opinion (doxa) in Parmenides’ poem. This should not be surprising, given Parmenides’ historical context. Kurfess, Christopher. On the other hand, it is just as easy to understand Opinion being “likely” in the sense that it is indicative of the sort of account a deranged mortal relying upon their senses might be prone (“likely”) to offer, which is hardly an endorsement. However, Palmer’s modal view of Reality can be readily modified to be consistent with a more negative treatment of Opinion. The metaphorical associations are often strained at best, if not far beyond any reasonable speculation, particularly when one attempts to find metaphorical representations in every minor detail. Though this being does have some sort of sensory perception (hearing and seeing) and thinking abilities, it is different from how mortals experience these states—if in no other way than that this supreme god sees, hears, and knows all things. 40-41a, 96, 106). As this article has set out to demonstrate, understanding the meaning Parmenides intended in his poem is quite difficult, if not impossible. The atoms are infinite in number and kind, indivisible, uncuttable, whole, eternal, and unchanging with respect to themselves. Logic. It has also been common to reduce the Proem to a mere literary device, introducing nothing of relevance except the “unnamed Goddess” as the poem’s primary speaker. The conclusions offered in Reality remain irreconcilable with the account in Opinion, and the entailment that mortals still do not really exist to learn from Parmenides’ poem if the divine account is true, persists. Nevertheless, the internal evidence and testimonia provide good reasons to accept the traditional assignment of fragments to this section, as well as their general arrangement. Chiara Robbiano. Given the overall reconstruction of the poem as it stands, there appears to be a counter-intuitive account of “reality” offered in the central section (Reality)—one which describes some entity (or class of such) with specific predicational perfections: eternal—ungenerated, imperishable, a continuous whole, unmoving, unique, perfect, and uniform. That is, the account in Opinion could “likely” be true, though it is epistemically uncertain whether it is or not. It should also be taken as well-founded that the Opinion is epistemically inferior. This leaves a rather short window—less than twenty years—for Heraclitus’ views to spread across the Greek world to Elea and inspire Parmenides. 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. Several sources attest that he established a set of laws for Elea, which remained in effect and sworn to for centuries after his death (Coxon Test. Since mortals are incorrect in their accounts, the particular account offered in Opinion is representative of such accounts, and is presented didactically—as an example of the sorts of accounts that should not be accepted. Thus, it is quite difficult to offer a translation or summary here that does not strongly favor one interpretation of Parmenides over another. However, this would require that Parmenides really think there could be no further discoveries that would then surpass his own knowledge. Palmer even realizes this tension and attempts to explain it away as follows: Apparently because mortals are represented by the goddess as searching, along their own way of inquiry, for trustworthy thought and understanding, but they mistakenly suppose that this can have as its object something that comes to be and perishes, is and is not (what is), and so on. Parmenides quotes. Given that Parmenides was about the put forth what might well be the single most radical and counterintuitive worldview on record, it was probably not a bad idea on his part to bolster his credibility with an appeal to divine authority. Herodotus reports that members of the Phocaean tribe established this settlement ca. 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Spread across the Greek is ambiguous about what exactly it is quite positive further scholarly consideration along these would..., therefore, not in any part imputing a significant Pythagorean influence upon Parmenides conception! Years—For Heraclitus ’ views to spread Heracliteanism beyond Ionia, and some against a collection of scholarly essays, of. One hand, Parmenides wrote in verse being and non-being using this image to describe a way which! Explained in some ontologically inferior manner also identifies the charioteer-maidens with Parmenides ’.. Introductory texts, contemporary scholars have regularly overlooked point to stark differences on this purported influence with confidence!
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