Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc
Raven, John Earle. 1948. Pythagoreans and Eleatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
An Account of the Interaction Between the Two Opposed Schools During the Fifth and Early Fourth Centuries B.C.
Contents: Preface VII-VIII; Part I. I. Introduction 1; II. Aristotle's evidence 9; III. Parmenides 21; IV: Pythagoreanism before Parmenides 43; V. Zeno of Elea 66; VI. Melissus 78; Part II. VII. Post-Zenonian Pythagoreanism 93; VIII. The nature of matter 101; IX. The One 112; X: The One and numbers 126; XI. Cosmology (a) Analysis 146; (b) Synthesis 164; XII: Conclusion 175; Appendix 188; Index 195-196.
"As Dr C. M. Bowra has pointed out in a paper in Classical Philology (XXXII , p. 106), 'it is clear that this Proem is intended to have the importance and seriousness of a religious revelation'. Not only the passage from darkness into light but many minor details throughout the poem suggest that Parmenides desired, particularly in the Proem, to arm himself in advance, by stressing the religious and ethical nature of his revelation, with an answer to his potential critics. There seems no reason to doubt Dr Bowra's assumption (loc. cit. p. 108) that these potential critics were 'his fellow-Pythagoreans'.
Parmenides is indeed, in Cornford's phrase, 'a curious blend of prophet and logician'. The Proem, though its details are of no importance to our present inquiry, at least serves the useful purpose of stressing the prophetic strain. The Way of Truth, on the other hand, is an entirely unprecedented exercise of the logical faculty, and as such it is usually and naturally taken to be devoid of any emotion. In its outward form it certainly is so; but it must be remembered that the concept on which Parmenides' logic is at work is that of unity, and there is no reason to suppose that the concept of unity is incapable of arousing emotion. If two of the conclusions that I have already reached are justified, that Parmenides was a dissident Pythagorean, and that in the Pythagoreanism from which he was seceding there was a fundamental dualism between the principle of unity and goodness and another and eternally opposed principle, then is it not permissible to imagine that Parmenides, swayed perhaps by a deeper respect for the good principle than his `fellow-Pythagoreans' revealed, may have been driven along the road from darkness into light by a basically religious desire to vindicate the good principle against the bad? Such a supposition would help to explain the fervour that almost succeeds in illuminating the uninspired poetry of the Proem; and the ultimate triumph of his logical faculty over his emotion should not blind us to the possibility that an emotional impulse underlay his unemotional reasoning.
But the only convincing test of such a hypothesis must obviously be sought in the poem itself. I propose to examine the Way of Truth in considerable detail, adopting for the purpose the method employed by Cornford in his chapter on the same subject. Indeed, on occasions I shall be merely paraphrasing that chapter; but a measure of such repetition is inevitable for the sake of continuity." (pp. 23-24).
"We are now at last, therefore, in a position to counter the only apparently grave objection that might be brought against the contention that Parmenides wrote his poem with an eye especially upon the Pythagoreanism from which he had seceded. If that contention is indeed true, then why is it, it might reasonably be asked, that neither of the two ways from which the goddess sees fit to debar Parmenides represents Pythagoreanism? Our examination of the purpose of the poem should by now have suggested a complete answer to such an apparently damaging objection. The first forbidden way, that it is NOT or NOTHING IS, is to this extent, as Parmenides claimed, άνόητον ανώνυμον, that at any rate nobody had attempted to tread it. It is introduced into the poem partly for the sake of logical completeness but especially because it was combined with the true way to form the way which foolish two-headed mortals tread, the way of custom. So far as we are entitled to judge, therefore, from our reading of the Way of Truth alone, the third way, namely that it is and it is not, will include any combination whatever of the true way and the way of falsehood, or in other words any known cosmology whatever. But Pythagoreanism, with its ultimate dualism and its consequent employment, not of the characteristics of Being only nor of those of Not-being only, but of the two simultaneously, is undeniably a particularly glaring example of such a combination— more glaring, indeed, than any other early system simply because, as Aristotle suggests in his own way, it admits more of those νοητά which Parmenides accepted as the only truth. It might, therefore, be not unreasonably expected, until we actually pass to it, that the Way of Seeming will at least bear a closer resemblance to the Pythagorean than to any other way. But fortunately, almost as soon as we come to the Way of Seeming, Parmenides himself gives us the explanation of why that need hot necessarily be so. The Way of Seeming presents the best cosmology that Parmenides was capable of inventing, ώς ού μή ποτέ τίξ σε βροτών γνώμη παρελάσση ; and in consequence, so far from imitating the Pythagorean cosmology, it is, at some points at least, in direct conflict with it. This part of the poem too, and for much the same reason as the earlier part, is in fact especially damaging to the Pythagorean system; for that system was undeniably more guilty than any other of confusing the illusory objects of perception with the eternally existent objects of thought. To look, in short, for an explicit representation of any known system whatever in either of the two forbidden ways is to demand that the poem should be rewritten in quite another form and with quite another object. But that is no valid argument against my contention that throughout the poem we can repeatedly detect a special (even if, as I have all along admitted, a secondary) anti-Pythagorean validity." (pp. 41-42)
Reilly, Thomas J. 1976. "Parmenides Fragment 8,4: a Correction." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 58:57.
Malcolm Schofield in Did Parmenides Discover Eternity? read in the fragment B8.4 ἐστι γὰρ οὐλομελές τε καὶ ἀτρεμὲς ἠδ' ἀτάλαντον (instead of ἀτέλεστον): an emendation proposed by M. F. Bunyeat who in an unpublished paper recommends the conjecture of G. M. Hopkins (see Notebook and Papers of Gerald Manley Hopkins, Oxford: 1937, p. 99; Reilly notes that the emendation was already proposed by Ludwig Preller in his Historia philosophiae Graecae et Romanae ex fontium locis contexta, (co-author Heinrich Ritter), Hamburg 1838 p. 92.
Reinhardt, Karl. 1974. "The Relation between the Two Parts of Parmenides’ Poem." In The Pre-Socratics. A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Mourelatos, Alexander P. D., 293-311. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Partial translation of Parmenides und die Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie, Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1916 (the following pages are translated: 18-23, 29-32, 64-71, 74-82, 88 with omissions as indicated. (Translation by Matthew E. Cosgrove with A. P. D. Mourelatos).
"Whoever takes the trouble to understand Parmenides in all his boldness as well as in his restraint, and at the same time in terms of his historical situation, must first of all realize that the one great defect from which the "Doxa" suffers in our eyes-namely, that it is unable to take hold of the knowing subject and must turn for help to the things themselves-was not very perceptible to Parmenides, and was perhaps not perceived by him at all. He understood the proposition that like can only be known by like so literally, so close to the level of visual imagery, that he could not but think that the organ of perception and its object were made up of the same constituents, and were even subject to the same forms and laws. Thought processes in the soul appeared to him not as corresponding with, but as exactly repeating the external world. What was a law for thought had to have unqualified validity for things also. If nature were shown contradicting the principle of non-contradiction itself, then nature was ipso facto false and precisely not existent: "For you could not come to know that which is not (for it is not feasible), nor could you declare it; for it is the same to think and to be" (B2.7-8, B3). Conversely, every character of the external world led directly to a conclusion concerning human knowledge.
No matter how hard one looks, one will not find the slightest hint of a separation between thinking and being (or representation and appearance) in the fragments. Parmenides begins the "Doxa" by relating (B8.53) that men have agreed to designate a twofold form with names, but he does not elaborate, as one would expect, on how they fashioned their world-picture from both forms. Instead, the object of their thought straightaway achieves an independent life: Dark and light unite and produce the world; and to our surprise a cosmogony springs from the epistemology. What had been no more than a name, a convention, an onoma, enters into physical combinations, and finally generates even man himself and his cognitive states. To our way of thinking, that is certainly hard to take. Our only recourse, if we are to grasp it, is to recite to ourselves once again the rule that was the lifeblood of Parmenidean conviction: "For it is the same to think and to be" (B3). Because this world is composed throughout of light and darkness, and is pervasively the same and then again not the same (B8.58, B6.8), because contradiction is the essence of all doxa, this entire world must be false, that is to say, subjective, or as the Greeks would have said, it can only exist nomoi, "by convention," and not physei, "in reality."
To be sure, this conclusion is not repeated in every sentence. Now and then it even seems as though the critic and nay-sayer had let himself be carried along for a while on the broad stream of human opinions; indeed, as though his critique were itself the repository of discoveries in which he took pride. For since appearance by no means lacks all reason and consistency, it can actually be explored. Yet its character as appearance does not mitigate its contradicting the highest law of thought, the sole guarantee of truth. This is said twice, briefly but sharply, at decisive points: the beginning and the end of the second part. Whether between these passages there were originally additional reminders of the same fundamental idea, we do not know. The two that we do know are sufficiently complete. As though separated from the rest by a thick tallying stroke, at the conclusion of the whole stand the words that give the sum of all that has been said (B19):
And so, according to appearances (kata doxan) these things came to be, and now are, and later than now will come to an end, having matured; and to these things did men attach a name, a mark to each." (pp. 295-297)
Rickert, Thomas. 2014. "Parmenides, Ontological Enaction, and the Prehistory of Rhetoric." Philosophy & Rhetoric no. 47:472-493.
Abstract: "The Presocratic thinker Parmenides is portrayed in philosophy and rhetoric as a philosopher of static monism anticipating reason’s triumph over myth. Such a portrayal is narrow and ill fits the evidence. Parmenides was associated with a cult of priest-healers (iatromantis) of Apollo who practiced incubation, usually in caves, in order to receive wisdom and truth. Parmenides’s famous poem “On Being” (“Peri Phuseōs”) reflects these practices. The poem directly invokes altered states of consciousness, revelations from the gods, and an underworld descent (katabasis).
Further, the poem is of strong rhetorical interest because it directly discusses rhetorical themes of persuasion, truth, and knowledge. Additionally, the poem suggests that rationality alone cannot suffice to liberate human beings from worldly illusions; rather, reason must be accompanied by a combination of divine inspiration and mêtis (cunning wisdom)."
———. 2017. "Parmenides: Philosopher, Rhetorician, Skywalker." In Logos without Rhetoric. The Arts of Language before Plato, edited by Reames, Robin, 47-62. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.
"Currently, Parmenides is peripheral at best in rhetorical studies, but I claim that he merits a significant place in rhetorical history—or, better, prehistory, since he predates the group we call the sophists, and, further, it is likely that rhētorikē is a coinage of Plato’s, and hence, not quite applicable to Parmenides.(3)" (p. 49)
"It is only recently that a different picture of Parmenides has begun to emerge that allows us to see that he does not fit the narrow frame philosophy has created for him. To see this, it is necessary to take the introductory proem seriously. While the proem has frequently been dismissed as a literary device introducing the poem’s philosophical core, a variety of evidence indicates that the proem frames all that follows, performing acts of initiation and revelation in line with other ritualistic practices in the ancient Greek world. Further,
taking the proem seriously resonates with the above evidence concerning Zeno’s death and Parmenides’ bust. In short, Parmenides should now be understood as someone with wide-ranging interests, including teachings that involve not just cosmology but theurgy, healing, life-training, and rhetoric. Our understanding of Parmenides’ use of reason should be thought within this broader scope. Instead of being a precursor to Plato’s escape from the cave of ignorance to the light of reason, on the traditional philosophical read, Parmenides is engaged in katabasis, a descent into the cave, to receive knowledge." (p. 52)
(3) Edward Schiappa (“Did Plato Coin Rhētorikē?” American Journal of Philology 111 (4): 457–470, 1990, 457; Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric. 2nd ed. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003, 40–41) argues compellingly that the term rhētorikē is Plato’s, or at the least a fourth-century and not fifth-century b.c.e. usage (although the root term, in various formulations, is older). The term “sophist” is also contested, but I cannot delve into that issue here.
Robbiano, Chiara. 2006. Becoming Being. On Parmenides' Transformative Philosophy. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.
Text and translation of the Poem, pp. 212-223.
"The aim of this study is the investigation of Parmenides' method in guiding a human being towards understanding. Parmenides' words operate as a travel guide that leads the audience on a journey that will educate them, transform them, and make them philosophically mature. I will analyse various literary, rhetorical, polemical, and argumentative features of Parmenides' Poem which, I submit, bring the audience a step further towards the kind(s) of knowledge that Parmenides has in store for them.
Many scholars have concentrated on the arguments of fragment B8,3 and on their conclusions -- that Being is without birth, undifferentiated, changeless and complete.
In general, one may be inclined to think that, once a goal has been reached, the journey that brought one there is not relevant anymore. Accordingly, the student of Parmenides' Poem may be tempted to concentrate his or her interpretative energy on Being: the goal of the journey made under the guidance of the goddess of whom the Poem tells us. The scholar who is looking for the philosophical message of the Poem may try to reduce all the questions, pieces of advice and encouragements of the speech of the goddess (B1,24 onwards) to a description of Being: the true and knowable reality.
But it may be asked whether this approach, which looks only for a description of Being in the fragments, does not neglect the complex journey that the mind has to make through myths, images, encouragements and warnings, before it will be able to grasp Being: the philosophical itinerary through which Parmenides guides his audience throughout the Poem. The question how, according to Parmenides, we can achieve insight into Being seems no less important for a better understanding of the Poem than the content of this insight. The doubt about traditional certainties, the rejection of certain mental behaviours and the process of building new perspectives significantly precede the search for the characteristics of Being.
Once we resist the temptation of detaching a description of Being from the conditions for the achievement of understanding that the goddess sets out, and from the human being who attempts to understand Being, we will become sensitive to the fact that the Poem works upon its audience and helps them to achieve understanding. I will try to analyse the progress towards understanding from the very beginning. The study of this progress, which, I believe, constitutes the main subject matter of Parmenides' Poem, will turn out to be fundamental to the study of Parmenides' philosophy.
A study of a philosopher's method will have to concentrate not only on the words and phrases that the philosopher uses to describe the right method, but also on the words and phrases that the philosopher uses in order to transform his or her audience: i.e. to persuade them to adopt a new way of looking that will change them.
This will be a systematic study of the rhetorical and linguistic features of Parmenides' Poem that hopes to shed light on his philosophy. Such a study will have to pay attention to the effect of such features on the audience who is gradually guided towards insight. Only by looking at the transformative effect of such features of our Poem on the audience will we be able to give a coherent interpretation of the fragments.
We will find their coherence by studying the goal they have in common: to help the audience to acquire insight into Being.
What happens when one's journey towards Being is accomplished? Is there room for a differentiation between oneself and one's goal in a monistic reality? In order to answer these questions, we will look at the hints the goddess gives about the effects of the journey on the way of Truth, i.e. the hints about the transformation of the knowing subject when the journey has reached its goal. We will also be able to find out more about Parmenides' monism by investigating the place of the knowing subject in a monistic reality. I will argue that there are hints throughout the Poem that it is possible for the knowing subject to leave one's status of mortal who can have only opinions, and become one with Being." (pp. 9-10, notes omitted)
———. 2011. "What is Parmenides’ Being?" In Parmenides, 'Venerable and Awesome' (Plato, Theaetetus 183e), edited by Cordero, Néstor-Luis, 231-231. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
Summary: "Nobody could know what ἐόν meant before listening to the Poem: even native speakers of Ancient Greek needed to acquire new mental categories and form this new concept, ἐόν, which is usually translated as “Being.” Throughout his Poem, Parmenides teaches his audience to form this concept. One of the means he uses are the signs (σήματα) given by the goddess to the traveler in fr. B8. I focus here on the fourth σῆμα, where Parmenides gives hints about the special relation between Being
and those who understand Being. I will show that Being is the fundamental unity of what-is (what is stable, without differences, development, needs) and what-understands. This perfect unity is what the audience is encouraged to understand. This unity is also the condition of the possibility of human understanding. Human beings can, in fact, understand this unity, directly, with an act of νοεῖν, since νοεῖν and Being are not separate but are one."
———. 2016. "Parmenides’ and Śankara’s Nondual Being without Not-being." Philosophy East and West no. 66:290-327.
"In the first section I will sketch what I call ‘the fashionable Parmenides interpretations,’ which regard being as the result of laws of logic or of predication. I will mention the common practice of scholars of trying to understand Parmenides’ meaning of ‘is’ and ‘being’ by looking for the subject of the verb ‘is,’ that is, the alleged entity or object that ‘is.’ An alternative to this practice is to try and understand both the omission of a subject of the verb ‘is’ and the journey metaphors in fragment DK B2 as suggestions that being is not a thing but rather the activity, state, or fact of being. By means of a comparison with Śaṅkara, I will use the category of nondual experience to understand being, which is not a thing. In section 2, I will present a short overview of the existing comparisons between Parmenides and Śaṅkara. I will then (section 3) look at pointers in Śaṅkara’s work that might help us grasp what is meant by nondual experience, which is knowing that is not different from being (and Self/Ātman, which is reality/Brahman), which might well be regarded as the goal that both philosophers want to help their audience reach. In section 4, I will show how both philosophers express the need on the part of human beings not only to become aware of the nondual essence of reality but also to make sense of reality by means of concepts and words that help them see order in reality. However, Parmenides and Śaṅkara regard “opinions” and “lower level of knowledge,” respectively, as only acceptable if they are not used as instruments to understand reality as it is. Both philosophers offer a method for testing what mortals (i.e., we) believe to be real.
In section 5, we will look at the first step of this method, taken by Parmenides in DK B2 and by Śaṅkara in Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya I, 1, 1.
In section 6, I will mention the second step their methods have in common: the application of a test of what, according to common sense, are the fundamental characteristics of reality: birth, movement, differentiation, development, and relations of cause and effect. I will concentrate on the passage in DK B8 where Parmenides tests the reality of birth (which does not pass the test and is proved to be unreal). We will then look (section 7) at Śaṅkara’s use of negative dialectic in Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya II, 1, 18, where he refutes the reality of two distinct entities called cause and effect." (pp. 290-291)
———. 2016. "Being is not an object: an interpretation of Parmenides’ fragment DK B2 and a reflection on assumptions." Ancient Philosophy no. 36:263-301.
"Is Parmenides' being a thing, discovered by reason and expressible in well-formed sentences? Or is it rather the same as knowing, which is the trustworthy aspect of our experience, pointed at by Parmenides by means of coherent reasoning?
In this introduction, I make explicit the main assumptions that the majority of scholars apply to the interpretation of DK B2 and of the rest of Parmenides' poem. In sections 1 and 2, I show what role these assumptions play in the interpretation of Parmenides' poem. Then, I show what other assumptions could be used to interpret Parmenides. In section 3, I argue that Parmenides' being (το έόν, εἶναι) could be something other than a special 'object'. By 'object' I mean some entity distinct from a subject observing it. I suggest what question being could be an answer to and review some answers given by philosophers of various backgrounds to that question. In section 4, I look at what being could be, by focussing on the role played by the notion of trust throughout the poem. In section 5, I analyse fragment B2 and delve into the category of experience. In the conclusion, I compare the repercussions, for the interpretation of B2 and Parmenides' philosophy at large, of applying the two different sets of assumptions" (p. 263)
Robinson, Thomas M. 1975. "Parmenides on the Ascertainment of the Real." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 4:623-633.
"In this paper I want to suggest that, while the argued philosophical distinction between logic, epistemology and ontology is one of the many achievements of Aristotle, his predecessor Parmenides was in fact already operating with a theory of knowledge and an elementary propositional logic that are of abiding philosophical interest. As part of the thesis I shall be obliged to reject a number of interpretations of particular passages in his poem, including one or two currently fashionable ones. Since so much turns on points of translation, I note for purposes of comparison what seem to be significant alternatives to my own in any particular instance." (p. 623)
———. 1979. "Parmenides on the Real in Its Totality." The Monist no. 62:54-60.
Reprinted in Thomas M. Robinson, Logos and Cosmos: Studies in Greek Philosophy, Sankt Augustin: Academa Verlag 2010, pp. 53-60.
"In the long term Parmenides’ doctrine has two further major implications for logical and linguistic theory: (a) by extrapolation it can be argued that the logic of wholes and the logic of parts are different from one another whatever the philosophical topic under discussion, and knowledge of this fact will prove to be one of the greatest safeguards against two of the commonest fallacies in philosophy, namely those of Composition and Division; and (b) “what is the case” can no more be said to have a temporal mode of existence than can “what is real”. In suggesting that genuine ascertainment is of what will later be called the eternally existent Parmenides has come to the very verge of the understanding that a true existential proposition is atemporally such. A hint of this, it seems to me, can be found at 8.34–36: the present tense of the participial phrase “the real (= apparently “the true”: see above, note 1), like the present tense used of the phrase “the real” in the sense of “the unique entity”, is the best that grammar can do to convey the notion of that which is, in Owen’s phrase ( 271), logically tenseless. It is, as need hardly be pointed out, at best a hint and very possibly not something sensed by Parmenides himself; but with such inspired gropings does serious philosophical progress begin." (p. 59 of the reprint)
note 1: “Parmenides on Ascertainment of the Real”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 4.4 (1975) 623–633.
 “Plato and Parmenides on the Timeless Present”, in The Pre-Socratics, ed. A. P. D. Mourelatos (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press, 1974) 271–292 (= The Monist 50  317–340).
———. 1989. "Heraclitus and Parmenides on What Can Be Known." Revue de Philosophie Ancienne no. 7:157-167.
Reprinted in Thomas M. Robinson, Logos and Cosmos: Studies in Greek Philosophy, Sankt Augustin: Academa Verlag 2010, pp. 32-40.
"In this paper I wish to argue that Parmenides and Heraclitus, despite significant differences in other respects, agreed on the following fundamentals:
1) Knowledge in the strictest sense is possible, but it is always of the general or universal. As a consequence the only true object of knowledge can be the real as a whole.
2) This real-as-a-whole is co-extensive with what is normally referred to as the world, in the sense of all that exists and/or all that is the case.
3) The real as a whole is eternal (Parmenides) or everlasting (Heraclitus), and unchanging; in respect of its parts it is subject to temporal process and change.
4) What the senses can tell us about the real in respect of its parts is not always reliable; but their role can still be a valuable one.
5) Reality, knowledge and a rational account (logos) go hand in hand; this is true both for our own account of the real and for the real’s account of itself.
6) The relationship between knowledge and the real, and between a number of supposedly opposing features of the real, is one of necessary interconnectedness, boldly described by both philosophers in terms of identity." (p. 32 of the reprint)
———. 2010. "Parmenides on Coming-to-Know the Real." In Logos and Cosmos, edited by Robinson, Thomas M., 61-72. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.
Originally published in Japanese in Academic Proceedings of the St. Andrew’s University Press, Osaka, 1996, pp. 27–36.
"By common consent, Parmenides is the key philosophical figure in Greece antecedent to Socrates. Yet the exact nature of his claims continues to be a matter of great dispute and puzzlement. To survey the vast literature on the matter would be the subject of a book in itself.
For the moment I shall simply offer the thoughts that I myself have had on his poem over the past two decades. Appended to the paper are set of my translations of various sections of Parmenides’ poem. These I shall examine in turn. During the examination it will become clear where I stand on what I think Parmenides is trying to say. After that I shall attempt to draw some conclusions on the effect, as I see it, of Parmenides’ thought on the development of western philosophical thinking in the realms of logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of science. (p. 61)
Roecklein, Robert J. 2011. Plato versus Parmenides. The Debate over Coming-into-Being in Greek Philosophy. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Contents: Acknowledgments IX-X; Introduction 1; 1. Parmenides' Argument 13; 2. Parmenides and the Milesian Philosophies: "Nothing Comes from Nothing" --- Physics or Logic? 37; 3. Parmenides' Influence of Empedocles and Anaxagoras 57; 4. Plato's Socrates and His Theory of Causation 83; 5. The Parmenides: Plato's Proof of Coming to Be 121; 6. The Theaetetus: Plato's Proof That the Objects of Knowledge Are Indivisible 159; Bibliography 187; Index 195-199.
"The estimation of Parmenides' argument has risen to such high levels in our scholarship, that Plato's very reputation as a thinker has begun to fade into somewhat of a derivative status. Plato, it is held by more than a few influential scholars, could not even have arrived at his theory of forms if he had not had the good fortune to be influenced by Parmenides' doctrine about motionless, eternal "Being." In the view of recent commentators, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that Parmenides is now often portrayed as the seminal thinker of classical Greek philosophy.(10) It is increasingly a standard view among commentators, that Plato's Socrates himself is overcome by the power of the Eleatic legacy, which, they say, he willingly embraces.
The most spectacular evidence of this movement in the status of Plato in our scholarship can be seen in the commentary on the dialogue Parmenides itself. A large number of scholars are now convinced that in this dialogue, Plato has commissioned the character of Parmenides to deliver a telling, if not a fatal blow against Plato's own theory of forms.(11) We will investigate this matter in some depth in chapter 5; for the moment, it must suffice to indicate the following points. In fact, it is Parmenides' argument which is put to the test in the dialogue that Plato named after the great Eleatic; so far from treating Parmenides with reverence or deference, Plato actually assigns a very humbling role to Parmenides in the dialogue named for him. The role assigned to Parmenides there is nothing other than to utter the effectual refutation of his own entire argument. In the fifth chapter, a case will be made that Plato refutes Parmenides' indictment of the reality of coming-into being, and so concludes, rather than sustains, the legacy of Parmenides' argument.
We will also be challenged, in this study, to rebut a claim that has by now been very powerfully established in the scholarly literature: this claim is that Parmenides created a philosophical interpretation of the notion of Being which even Plato's Socrates has in some measure been shaped by, or come to adopt. Plato's theory of forms, as those forms are hypothesized to be eternal and ungenerated, is linked by a number of scholars to the theory of being that Parmenides developed.
This view is confused. In the first place, the forms are originally known to human beings in those very perishable objects which the Eleatics wish to wholly exclude from all evidentiary matters concerning truth of fact. Plato's Socrates, it can be noted, arrived at his famous profession of ignorance precisely as a rhetorical method for summoning forth from interlocutors a base of knowledge which all hold in common: namely recognition of the various forms in perishable bodies.
This common intelligence on display in the ordinary individual's effortless assignment of name to object is certainly not science, in Plato's view; however, the theory of scientific definition which Plato advances does indeed depend on this recognition-knowledge as the ultimate evidence for its own investigations. The ordinary and spontaneous ability of unphilosophic human beings to assign name to object is, in Plato's view, itself evidence of a distinct intelligence operative in the ordinary opinions. One could hardly formulate a proposition more at loggerheads with the Eleatic philosophy.
That which the memory recognizes in the patterns that recur (and all of the patterns, as Plato argues throughout his work, appear innumerable times in the perishable objects), is not a knowledge that has the power of full consciousness and comprehension such as the power possessed by logos or more deliberate investigation. Yet Plato insists that these opinions are nevertheless the port from which philosophy must embark. When argument finally reaches for an intellectual comprehension in speech-as opposed to an inarticulate recognition of the individual forms-Plato's philosophy will attach a scientific hypothesis to the ordinary views. Yet this hypothesis itself, that the forms exist separately in nature for the sake of intellectual investigation, remains dependent on the common familiarity with the forms as they recur in the common objects. "And in respect of the just and the unjust, the good and the bad, and all the ideas or forms, the same statement holds, that in itself each is one, but that by virtue of their communion with actions and bodies and with one another they present themselves everywhere, each as a multiplicity of aspects" (Republic 476a). Yet it is the building block upon which Plato's entire science of definition rests, and he never fails to fight for the integrity of this recognition-knowledge in his major debates with rival philosophers such as Protagoras and Parmenides." (pp. 10-11)
(10) Charles Kahn, "Being in Parmenides and Plato," La Parola del Passato 43 (1988): "If it was the encounter with Socrates that made Plato a philosopher, it was the poem of Parmenides that made him a metaphysician. In the first place it was Parmenides' distinction between being and becoming that provided Plato with an ontological basis for his theory of forms. When he decides to submit this theory to searching criticism, he chose as critic no other than Parmenides himself' (237). Cf. Taran, Parmenides, vii; Patricia Curd, The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought (Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing, 2004), 231-32, 238.
(11) Gregory Vlastos, "The Third Man Argument in the Parmenides," Philosophical Review 63 (1954): 329, 342. Kenneth M. Sayre, Parmenides' Lesson (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996), 60, 62, 95. Robert Turnbull, The Parmenides and Plato 's Late Philosophy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 19, 23, 39. Kelsey Wood, Troubling Play: Meaning and Entity in Plato's Parmenides (Albany: SUNY, 2005), 1-2, 74, 85.
Rohatyn, Dennis Anthony. 1971. "A Note on Parmenides B 19." Apeiron.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science no. 5:20-23.
"Hershbell (1) presents compelling evidence combined with sound reasoning for his contention that Fr. 16 does not belong in 'The Way of Opinion (or Seeming)' but rather in 'The Way of Truth' portion of Parmenides' poem. With as much justice I think it is possible to reassign Fr. 19 to the first part of the poem as well. For it is here that Parmenides introduces the concept of name (onoma, B19 1.3), and utilizes it to explain mortal belief (doxa, B19 1.1) in coming-to-be and in passing-away. (2) It seems natural to place this after the concluding words of Fr. 8, 11. 60-61, in which Parmenides advises or promises a full account (3) so that no "mortal wisdom may ever outstrip" that of the reader or initiate. It is only proper to regard Parmenides' theory of names, if it is as full-blown as all that, as belonging to his metaphysical apparatus and thus as having nothin g to do, in and of itself, with the erroneous picture of the world which it is expressly designed to account for." (p. 20)
(1) J.P. Hershbell, "Parmenides' way of Truth and B16" , Apeiron 4, No. 2 (August 1970), 1-23.
(2) The source is Simplicius' commentary on Aristotle, de Caelo 558.9-11.
(3) Of "appearances", "phenomena" and "empirical data", all pace Aristotle, Metaphysica A 986b31.
Romero, Gustavo E. 2012. "Parmenides Reloaded." Foundations of Science no. 17:291-299.
Abstract: "I argue for a four dimensional, non-dynamical view of space-time, where becoming is not an intrinsic property of reality. This view has many features in common with the Parmenidean conception of the universe. I discuss some recent objections to this position and I offer a comparison of the Parmenidean space-time with an interpretation of Heraclitus’ thought that presents no major antagonism."
Rosen, Stanley. 1996. "Commentary on Long [Parmenides on Thinking Being]." Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy no. 12:152-160.
"As a result of reading Long's excellent paper and reviewing some of the scholarship, it occurs to me that Parmenides is something of a Hegelian. I do not need to emphasize that Hegel would not have approved of this assertion without elaborate qualification. But that is
not decisive. To begin with, Hegel did believe that the end is somehow contained, even prefigured within, the beginning. In this connection, the spherical character of Parmenides' being is a striking prototype of the circularity of the Hegelian concept and even of Nietzsche's eternal return of the same. And Long's excellent emphasis on the fact that Parmenides is inquiring into the thinking of being, not into being as independent of thought, is also quite Hegelian. The lynch-pin of this somewhat but not entirely playful Hegelian reading is the translation and interpretation of fragment 3 offered in various contexts by Heidegger, Couloubaritsis, Long, and myself. What is "the same" that serves as the subject of the two infinitives "to think" and "to be?" It must be the same as each yet other than either. If it is not the same as each, then obviously neither will be the same as the other. But if it is not other than each, then the two will not only be "the same" but will be one and the same or a homogeneous unit. The only remaining possibility is that the two are both same and other, or as Hegel would say, that "the same" stands here for "the identity" in the expression "the identity of identity and difference."
"I do not need to emphasize too strongly that it was not my intention to present a new and comprehensive interpretation of Parmenides in a short commentary on someone else's paper. My main purpose was to signal my partial adherence to Long's central thesis and to make one or two suggestions for strengthening it." (pp. 157-159)
Sanders, Kirk R. 2002. "Much Ado About 'Nothing': μηδέν and τò μὴ έόν in Parmenides." Apeiron.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science no. 35:87-104.
"It is, to my knowledge, a universally accepted assumption among contemporary commentators that μδεν το εν αιων, 'nothing', and 'toμ~ Mv, 'what-isnot', function as synonyms in Parmenides' poem.(1) In this paper, I focus primarily on the central role this supposed semantic equivalence plays in arguments supporting an emendation in line 12 of fragment B8.
Despite this scholarly unanimity regarding the synonymy of these two Greek terms and the popularity of the emendation, I contend that we can make the best sense of Parmenides' argument in this and the surrounding lines precisely by retaining the manuscript reading and recognizing the difference in meaning between 'nothing' and 'what-is-not'. This claim, of course, also has broader implications for the interpretation of Parmenides' poem generally." (p. 87)
Cf. Karl Reinhardt, Parmenides und die Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie (second edition) Frankfurt 1959), 39-42; Leonardo Taran, Parmenides: A Text with Translation, Commentary, and Critical Essays (Princeton 1965), 95-7; Montgomery Furth, 'Elements of Eleatic Ontology', Journal of the History of Philosophy 6 (1968), 119; A.P.D. Mourelatos, The Route of Parmenides (New Haven 1970), 100-2; G.E.L. Owen, 'Plato on Not-Being', in Gregory Vlastos, ed., Plato: A Collection of Critical Essays I, Metaphysics and Epistemology (Garden City, NY 1971), 225-6; Michael C. Stokes, One and Many in Presocratic Philosophy (Washington 1971), 131; David Furley, 'Notes on Parmenides, in E.N. Lee, A.P.D. Mourelatos, and R.M. Rorty, eds., Exegesis and Argument: Studies in Greek Philosophy Presented to Gregory Vlastos (New York 1973), 12-14; Jonathan Barnes, The Presocratic Philosophers (London 1982), 166; David Gallop, Parmenides of Elea: Fragments (Toronto 1984), 23-8; Scott Austin, Parmenides: Being, Bounds, and Logic (New Haven 1986), 97; A.H. Coxon, The Fragments of Parmenides (Assen 1986), 198-200; Richard J. Ketchum, 'Parmenides on What There Is', Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20 (1990), 171-3 and 184-6; Richard D. McKirahan, Jr., Philosophy Before Socrates (Indianapolis 1994), 167; and Patricia Curd, The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought (Princeton 1998), 76-7.
Santillana, Giorgio de. 1970. "Prologue to Parmenides." In Reflections of Men and Ideas, 82-119. Cambridge: M.I.T. University Press.
Originally published in Lectures in Memory of Louise Taft Semple, First Series 1961-1965, Princeton Princeton University Press, 1967.
"Proposes a new interpretation of Parmenides' philosophy, an interpretation which is free from the misconceptions and superimpositions of ancient commentators and modern scholars, and which avoids the error of seeing in his philosophical system an ontological or metaphysical construction, or a logico-linguistic exercise. Insists on integrating the details of Parmenides' cosmology and astronomy with the principles developed in the first section of his poem. Concludes that the originality of Parmenides' thought, as well as his most significant contribution to the development of ideas, should be recognized in the fact that he "made of geometry the core of reality in an entirely different way from his predecessors" (p. 119): Parmenidean Being reveals itself as "three-dimensional extension pure and absolute" (ibid.), which was conceived as the ultimate substratum of all things." [N.]
Santoro, Fernando. 2011. "Ta Sēmata: On a Genealogy of the Idea of Ontological Categories." In Parmenides, 'Venerable and Awesome' (Plato, Theaetetus 183e), edited by Cordero, Néstor-Luis, 233-250. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
Summary: "My hypothesis is that some figures of speech, like catalogs, present in the sapient epics of Hesiod and Homer, as well as figures emerging from a discursive field of veracity belonging to the newborn fifth century forensic rhetoric, helped build the originality of Parmenides' categorical ontological language. Especially for the characteristics of Being, presented in fragment B8 as signals: σήματα. I would also like to add to these elements of language, the early physicists' (φυσικῶν) interest in limits (περάτων). With these genealogic views, we can speculate about some important parameters of ontological categories such as subordination, attribution, and opposition."
Santos, José Gabriel Trindade. 2011. "The Role of “Thought” in the Argument of Parmenides’ Poem." In Parmenides, 'Venerable and Awesome' (Plato, Theaetetus 183e), edited by Cordero, Néstor-Luis, 251-270. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
Summary: "It is my aim in this paper to analyze the role played by “thought” in the argument of Parmenides' Poem. The relevance of the “thought” theme in Greek philosophical tradition has long been recognized. In Parmenides it implies approaching the study of reality through the experience of thought in language. As knowledge is to the known, thought is to being. Their identity dominates Parmenides' argument in the Way of Truth, persisting in later relevant conceptions as Platonic ἐπιστήμη and Aristotelian “active intellect.” "
Santos, José Gabriel Trindade. 2013. "For a non-predicative reading of « esti » in Parmenides, the Sophists and Plato." Méthexis.International Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 26:39-50.
Abstract: "The absence of grammatical subject and object in Parmenides' "it is/it is not" allows the reading of the verbal forms not as copulas but as names, with no implicit subject nor elided predicate. Once there are two only alternatives, contrary and excluding each other, sustaining that a 'no-name' does not grant knowledge implies identifying its opposite – "it is" – as the only name conducive to knowledge in itself, denouncing the 'inconceivability of a knowledge that does not know. If "it is" is the only [name] "which can be thought/known", and "what is" is the way in which 'thought/knowledge' can be accomplished, there is no need to postulate the existence of 'anything' that is, nor of anything that can be said of "what is". Being the only name which "can be thought of/known", the unifying synthesis of "knowledge, knowing and known" in one infallible cognitive state, it is unthinkable that "what is" does not exist."
Sattler, Barbara M. 2012. "Parmenides’ System: The Logical Origins of his Monism." Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy no. 26:25-90.
Abstract: "This paper aims to demonstrate that it is Parmenides‘ criteria for philosophy in conjunction with his understanding of the available logical operators and their holistic connection that lead to what we can call a logical monism—only the one Being can be conceived and hence known. Being the first to explicate criteria for philosophy, Parmenides will be shown to establish not only consistency as a criterion for philosophy, but also what I call rational admissibility, i.e., giving an account of some x that is based on rational analysis and can thus withstand rational scrutiny. As for logical operators, Parmenides employs a basic operator for connection, identity, and one for separation, negation. His negation operator, expressing an extreme negation that negates the argument completely, corresponds to his identity operator, expressing identification with no exception. But not only are these two basic operators tailored to each other, also Parmenides‘ basic notion of Being is such that it fits these operators as well as his criteria for philosophy. Accordingly, a kind of holism, a systematic character, underlies Parmenides‘ philosophy such that that any changes in one concept would necessitate changes in the others. Given the restrictions of Parmenides‘ criteria for philosophy and the logical operators available to him, what can be a possible object of philosophical investigation is nothing but something absolutely simple, the one Being as the logical content of a thought."
Schick, Thomas. 1965. "Check and Spur: Parmenides' Concept of (What) Is." Classical Journal:170-173.
"So far Parmenides has told us that (what) is not does not exist, and we cannot know it: (what) is exists; and now we seek to know its characteristics, its nature.
How is (what) is described? What can we know of it? It is generally agreed that all the predicates attributed by Parmenides to (what) is are contained in Fr. 8; but how are they contained there? Are they proved there? One opinion says "yes": "It [Fr. 8) opens (like a theorem in geometry) with an enunciation of the attributes, positive and negative, that will be proved to belong to the Real. ... These attributes are then established by a series of astonishingly brief and penetrating arguments."(16) But a heavy and well-founded "no" is sounded by Loenen. [*] He argues that de facto many of the predicates are not proved; and he thus supports one of his main theses, that a lacuna in the text contained analytic proofs of most of the predicates.
"Fr. 8 thus contains the deduction of a small number of additional attributes, viz. those which could not be arrived at by an analytical description of the idea of being."(17) This seems most plausible; and, though I am slow to accept many of Loenen's conclusions and interpretations, I use his divisions for the following description.
I identify and explain the attributes merely mentioned; I then discuss the deduced attributes and give their arguments and proofs; and finally I discuss briefly a characteristic which is not explicity mentioned in the fragment, but which must be predicated of (what) is." (pp. 171-172)
[*] J. H. M. M. Loenen, Parmenides, Melissus, Gorgias; a reinterpretation of Eleatic philosophy (Assen 1959),
(16) F. M. Cornford, "Parmenides' two ways" Classical quarterly 27 (1933) 103.
(17) 17 Loenen, p. 99.
Schofield, Malcolm. 1970. "Did Parmenides Discover Eternity?" Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie:113-135.
"Mr. J. E. Raven ascribes to Parmenides the-doctrine that 'past and future are alike meaningless, the only time is a perpetual present time'(1). And this is the orthodox view(2).
But in recent years a dissenting point of view has been expressed.
First Professor Hermann Fränkel (6), then Professor Taran (7) has maintained (I quote Taran's expression of the point):
There is nothing in the text to substantiate the claim of those who assert that Parmenides maintains that past and future cannot be predicated of Being to which only the present 'is' truly belongs. Parmenides is only denying that Being ever perished or ever will come to be(8).
The arguments adduced by Fränkel and Taran in support of this opinion have met with vigorous opposition, deservedly so for the most part(9). But I believe that their case is a stronger one than they have been able to establish, and that the majority opinion rests on
rather flimsier supports than has yet been generally appreciated.
These claims I attempt to substantiate in this paper.
The lines of Parmenides' poem which are chiefly responsible the controversy are B 8.5-6a." (pp. 113-114, a note omitted)
(1) G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge, 1960: corrected Impression of the first edition), p. 274.
(2) L. Taran, Parmenides. (Princeton, 1965), p. 175, n. 1, gives a list of some who have held this view of Parmenides. They include Diels, Calogero, Mondolfo, Cornford, Gigon, Deichgräber, Owen. One may now add the names of W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy Vol. II (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 27-31, and C. H. Kahn, in a review of Taran's book in Gnomon 40 (1968), pp, 127-129.
(6) H. Fränkel, Wege und Formen frühgriechischen Denkens, second edition (Munich, 1960), p. 191, n. 1.
(7) Taran, Parmenides, pp. 175-188.
(8) Op. cit., p. 177. Zeller, in Die Philosophie der Griechen, Vol. I, Pt. I, ed. by W. Nestle (Leipzig, 1923), pp. 689-692, seems to give the same Interpretation äs Fränkel and Taran in bis text, but in a note (p. 690, n. 1) he mentions what appears to him to be a possible ground for adopting the view which has become traditional.
(9) Fränkel's arguments have been effectively rebutted by G. E. L. Owen, The Monist 60 (1966), pp. 320-322, and Taran's by C. H. Kahn, Gnomon 40 (1968), pp. 127-129.
———. 1987. "Coxon's Parmenides." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 32:349-359.
"A.H. Coxon has a remarkable record of publications on ancient philosophy.
In CQ [=Classical Quarterly]1934 there appeared the early and much respected article "The Philosophy of Parmenides". Then in CQ 1968 came a brief note reporting Coxon's shaming discovery that the puzzling άστη usually printed in Fr. 1, 3 has no manuscript authority, coupled with a report on his re-examination of those portions of the manuscripts of Simplicius which bear on the establishment of Parmenides' text. Now in 1986 we have a full critical edition of the fragments, with introduction, translation, a much fuller selection of the ancient testimonia than in Diels-Kranz, and a commentary(1). So far as I know these are Coxon's only published writings on our subject." (p. 349)
"Perhaps the most interesting and important general conclusion Coxon draws from his study of the manuscript tradition of Parmenides is the proposition (contra Diels) that Parmenides' diction is uniformly epic and Ionic." (P. 350)
(1) A.H. Coxon: The Fragments of Parmenides, Van Gorcum: Assen/Maastricht, 1986 (Phronesis Supplementary Volume III). Pp. viii + 277.
Schürmann, Reiner. 1988. "Tragic Differing: The Law of the One and the Law of Contraries in Parmenides." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal no. 13:3-20.
"There is probably no greater beginner in the history of philosophy than Parmenides. If it is true that in their compactness beginnings already contain the essential insights that the subsequent tradition only spins out in ever new threads, then coming to terms with
Parmenides is a task that has to be undertaken ever again. Most of his sayings are hapax legomena which yield clear answers only to clearly put questions. But the questions we bring to him remain ours, dictated by the preponderances of the day.
The question I put to him concerns ultimate foundations. In a sense, it is the very issue for which he has been granted the status of fatherhood ever since antiquity. Common opinion holds that he drafted once and for all, as it were, the job description of the philosopher: namely, to secure principles—reference points on which every thinking agent can rely both in his thinking and in his acting. Husserl still echoes and accepts that assignment when he counts himself among "the functionaries of mankind". From the time Parmenides wrote that being is one, and perhaps until Wittgenstein taught that grammars are many, this public function invested in philosophers has on the whole gone unchallenged.
Their foundational expertise has made them the civil servants par excellence in as much as they felt called upon, and in many quarters still feel called upon today, to secure a ground guaranteeing knowledge its truth and life, its meaning. As professionals, philosophers must point out—not set—reliable standards. They provide evidential moorage for the sake of consoling the soul and consolidating the city: some single first law governing all regional laws, be they cognitive, practical, or even positive.
Parmenides calls that law the One (capitalized for mere conventional purposes). For an age that has grown more aware than any other of fragmentations and dispersals in the order of things, can the One as Parmenides argues it assure a non-fractured foundation? If it turned out that his originative, compact insight also contains a conceptual strategy that counters his foundational gesture from within, it might follow that in and after Parmenides philosophy has had a more humble mission to fulfill than satisfying man's quest for ultimacy. Accustomed to the Many, our century may then not amount to the mere barbarism bent on destroying the entire noble tradition devoted to the One. Philosophy may have consisted all along in the attempt to think explicitly and with some rigor about matters that everyone knows, ad though rather implicitly and poorly. And what is it that we all know firsthand, yet poorly? Of our own coming-into-being, our birth, we know only indirectly; just as we know only indirectly of our own ceasing-to-be, our death. We know, but dimly, that we stand in the double-bind of life and its contrary. The clear knowledge of that double-bind in which the law of contraries places us is tragic knowledge." (pp. 3-4)
(1) Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Philosophy, transl. David Carr (Evanston, 1970) p. 17.
———. 2003. Broken Hegemonies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Translated by Reginald Lilly from the French: Des Hégémonies brisées, Mauvenzin, Trans Europe Repress, 1996.
See Part One: In the Name of the One. The Greek Hegemonic Fantasm. I: Its Institution: The One That Holds Together (Parmenides) pp. 51-135.
"The pages that follow are meant to be read as a contribution to the age old "doctrine of principles." Philosophers have never stopped speculating about this principal Greek legacy. Today the business of principal principles seems to have been robbed of its heritage. What can be learned from its loss? May it actually represent a gain for us? These are good enough reasons to examine the operations that have been carried out on this legacy." (p. 3)
"In what way is being one? As cumulative and “re-cumulative,” as constantly recurring. The one that being is, is thinkable only as the crystallization of beings (which has nothing to do with atomism), a crystallization thought not in terms of beings, but as an occurrence, hence in terms of time. The one is what occurs through an aggregation. Beings and being are articulated in the henological difference.
How does this difference make law? Our analysis of contraries has shown that they essentially conjoin and disjoin with one another. There fore we cannot think of being as arrival without also thinking of it as leaving. There is no centripetal aggregation without a centrifugal disaggregation. To use Heideggerʼs words once again: no appropriation without expropriation.(119) In the idiom of an analytic of ultimates—no universalization without singularization. In terms of the law—no legislation with out transgression immanent within it. In one fell swoop, and necessarily, the henological difference makes the law by binding us both to the dissolution of the phenomena of the world and to their consolidation that is underway. As soon as he understands the one as a process, Parmenides has to establish both at traction and withdrawal as equally normative. This double bind is embedded in our condition as mortals. We can call it the henological differend." (P. 134)
(119 M. Heidegger, “Protocole,” [Martin Heidegger, “Protocole dʼun séminaire,” trans. Jean Lauxerois and Claude Roël, in Questions IV, Paris, 1976], p. 77.
Sedley, David. 1999. "Parmenides and Melissus." In The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, edited by Long, Anthony Arthur, 113-133. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Abstract: "Parmenides and Melissus were bracketed in antiquity as the two great exponents of the Eleatic world-view which denies change and plurality. (1) In modern times their treatment has been curiously unequal.
Too much has been written on Parmenides - albeit the greater thinker of the two - too little on Melissus. Too much has been said about Parmenides' use of the verb "be," while too little has been said about his detailed arguments for the individual characteristics of what-is. However, neither these nor other anomalies should disguise the immense wealth of scholarship that has furthered the reconstruction of their Eleaticism." (p. 113)
"How, then, does the cosmology complement the Way of Truth?
Above all by showing how to bridge the gap between truth and cosmic appearance. The entire range of cosmic phenomena can be generated by allowing the intrusion of just one additional item - by starting out with two instead of one. This makes immediate sense of the frequently noticed fact that the detailed descriptions of the cosmos mimic the language of the Way of Truth. For example, in B10 the "encircling heaven" is "bound down by Necessity to hold the limits of the stars," immediately recalling the description of what-is as held motionless by Necessity in the bonds of a limit (B8.30-31). This tends to confirm that the very same sphere is being first correctly described, then, in the cosmology, incorrectly redescribed." (p. 124)
(1) Most of the interpretations proposed in this chapter can also be found in my two articles, "Melissus" and "Parmenides," in Craig, E. General editor Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (London, 1998).
Sider, David. 1979. "Confirmation of Two "Conjectures" in the Presocratics: Parmenides B 12 and Anaxagoras B 15." Phoenix.Journal of the Classical Association of Canada no. 33:67-69.
"In each of the two passages discussed below, the indisputably correct reading is given by Diels as editorial conjecture, when in fact for each there is manuscript authority." (p. 33)
[The text of Parmenides is B12.4]
———. 1985. "Textual Notes on Parmenides' Poem." Hermes.Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie no. 113:362-366.
Philological remarks on the following fragments: 1,10, 1,24, 1,30, 2,3f; 6,4f; 6,5-6; 8,1, 8,28, 8,38, 12,2, 12,3.
Siegel, Rudolph E. 1962. "Parmenides and the Void. Some Comments on the Paper of Thomas S. Knight " Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 22:264-266.
"In his paper, T. S. Knight came to the conclusion that Parmenides did not simply deny the existence of a void, a physical vacuum, but also questioned the existence, the reality of the sensible world.
It might be open for discussion if the poem of Parmenides can be considered as a treatise on such highly abstract thinking as discussed by T. S. Knight.(1) One may rather assume, as others have done, that Parmenides and other pre-Socratic philosophers expressed with the Greek word 'To Hen,' the 'one,' a more concrete astronomical idea, the cosmos. In a paper on 'The Paradoxes of Zeno' (2) I tried to explain that the word 'one' might express: the mathematical point, the atom, and even the cosmos.
Its respective meaning should be taken from the entire context."
(1) Thomas S. Knight, "Parmenides and the Void," Philosophy and Phenormenological Research, Vol. XIX, No. 4 (June 1959), pp. 524-528.
(2) Rudolph E. Siegel, "The Paradoxes of Zeno; Some Similarities to Modern Thought," Janus, XLVIII 1-2, 1959, pp. 24-47.
Sisko, John E. 2014. "Anaxagoras and Empedocles in the shadow of Elea." In The Routledge Companion to Ancient Philosophy, edited by Warren, James and Sheffield, Frisbee, 49-64. New York: Routledge.
"If Anaxagoras and Empedocles advance their theories in response to Parmenides, then it is quite unlikely that they consider Parmenides to be a predicational monist.
Whether Parmenides is a numerical monist or a generous monist, his alleged monad is motionless and phenomenally homogeneous. Also, on either interpretation, it is reasonable to consider Parmenides’ monad both to be either a finite sphere or an infinitely extended expanse and to be either predicationally simple or predicationally saturated.
In light of their shared supposition that the cosmos develops from Parmenides’ monad, it is unlikely that Anaxagoras and Empedocles consider Parmenides to be a generous monist.
It is not implausible to suppose that Anaxagoras and Empedocles consider Parmenides to be a numerical monist.
Thus, it is possible that Anaxagoras and Empedocles consider Parmenides to be a numerical monist, concerning the initial state of the universe, and a numerical pluralist, concerning subsequent states. This interpretation constitutes a fourth alternative for assessing Parmenides’ philosophy. Nevertheless, the interpretation does not appear to be consistent with specific claims offered in the Way of Truth (as those claims are commonly understood). So, it remains credible to affirm that Parmenides is a numerical monist and both Anaxagoras and Empedocles understand him to be a numerical monist." (pp. 62-63)
Sisko, John E., and Weiss, Yale. 2015. "A Fourth Alternative in Interpreting Parmenides." Phronesis no. 60:40-59.
Abstract: "According to current interpretations of Parmenides, he either embraces a token-monism of things, or a type-monism of the nature of each kind of thing, or a generous monism, accepting a token-monism of things of a specific type, necessary being. These interpretations share a common flaw: they fail to secure commensurability between Parmenides' alētheia and doxa. We effect this by arguing that Parmenides champions a metaphysically refined form of material monism, a type-monism of things; that light and night are allomorphs of what-is (to eon); and that the key features of what-is are entailed by the theory of material monism."
Skirry, Justin. 2001. "The Numerical Monist Interpretation of Parmenides." Southern Journal of Philosophy no. 39:403-417.
Abstract: "The doctrine of numerical monism, as it is traditionally attributed to Parmenides, is the claim that there is only one thing that is genuinely or truly real - that is, is not generated, not perishable, immutable, indivisible, whole, complete, and continuous.(1) In this paper I argue that this interpretation is mistaken because it entails a claim that Parmenides does not accept, namely that Being and not-Being are both the same and not the same. This paper begins with a discussion of the central thesis of the Numerical Monist Interpretation of Parmenides (NMIP). (2) Next, I argue that any consistent version of this interpretation must also hold that Parmenides is committed to the identification of thinking with Being. In the following section, I argue that if Parmenides is committed to this identification, then he must also think that Being and not-Being are both the same and not the same. However, fragment B6 provides evidence for the claim that Parmenides would not accept this conclusion. Finally, these considerations provide the three main premises of an argument, which concludes that Parmenides does not accept numerical monism as traditionally attributed to him by commentators. We now turn to a discussion of NMIP's central thesis."
(1) Other commentators use different terms to refer to what I call "numerical monism." For example, Jonathan Barnes uses "real monism" (Jonathan Barnes, "Parmenides and the Eleatic One" Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie 61 : 1-21), and Mary Margaret MacKenzie uses the term "strong monism" (Mary Margaret MacKenzie, "Parmenides' Dilemma," Phronesis 27 : 1-12).
(2) Numerical monism is one of at least three varieties of monism found in early Greek philosophy. The other two types are material and predicational monism. The former asserts that all reality is made of the same stuff: For example, on the traditional interpretation, Anaximenes believed that all things are really air in different stages of condensation and rarefaction. Notice that material monism does not designate a number of existents. "Predicational Monism" is the term used by Patricia Curd to describe her position. According to Curd a real thing for Parmenides is a predicational unity holding only one predicate, which indicates what it is. Notice that this does not preclude the existence of a plurality of predicates (see Patricia Curd The Legacy of Parmenides (Princeton: Princeton University Press:
19980, 65-66). This paper is concerned with the attribution of numerical monism to Parmenides. Whether or not Parmenides is committed to one of these other sorts of monism is not at issue here.
Slaveva-Griffin, Svetla. 2003. "Of Gods, Philosophers, and Charioteers: Content and Form in Parmenides' Proem and Plato's Phaedrus." Transactions of the American Philological Association no. 133:227-253.
Summary: "This article examines the ways in which Parmenides and Plato avail themselves of the literary motif of the charioteer’s journey for philosophical discourse. I argue that the Phaedrus’ myth of the soul as a charioteer exemplifies Plato’s literary and philosophic appropriation of the charioteer allegory in Parmenides’ proem and of Parmenides’ concept of being, showing how the literary study of intertexts can be applied to questions of both content and form in philosophy."
"The allegory of the charioteer's journey in Parmenides’ proem and Plato’s Phaedrus deserves the attention of both philosophers and literary critics.
Regarding content, Plato bases his concept of the immortality of the soul upon Parmenides’ concept of true being: the soul is a self-moving first principle that cannot be destroyed or come into being (Phdr. 245c5–e1) and is therefore kindred to Parmenides’ ungenerated, imperishable, whole, steadfast, and complete being (B8.3–4).1 Regarding form, Plato employs the allegory of the charioteer’s journey to illustrate the immortal nature of the soul (Phdr. 246a6–b4), alluding thereby to Parmenides’ account of the chariot journey of a young philosopher beyond sense-perceptible reality to the realm of eternal existence (B1.1–5). I shall examine the close relationship between Plato’s myth of the soul as a charioteer in the Phaedrus and the charioteer’s journey in Parmenides. I shall also draw attention to the literary tradition of the theme prior to Parmenides, and particularly to its presence in Homer, in order to situate the interconnection of the two philosophical texts in the context of their generic differences and similarities. The current examination entails the study of (a) Parmenides’ adoption and adaptation of the Homeric theme of a charioteer’s journey in the allegory of a philosopher’s search for true knowledge; and (b) Plato’s literary and philosophical use of Parmenides’ allegory in the account of the immortality of the soul (Phdr. 245c5–47a2)." (p. 227)
Solana, José Dueso. 2011. "Parmenides: Logic and Ontology." In Parmenides, 'Venerable and Awesome' (Plato, Theaetetus 183e), edited by Cordero, Néstor-Luis, 271-288. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
Summary: "Many scholars (especially Calogero) affirm that in the age of Parmenides, a theoretical treatment of logic and ontology was not clearly differentiated. Accepting this thesis, valid as well for Plato and Aristotle to some extent, this paper provides arguments for a primarily logical and only secondarily ontological interpretation of the ἀλήθεια of Parmenides (fr. 2–fr. 8.50). An interpretation of this type allows us to solve the arduous problem of the relationship between both parts of the poem, the ἀλήθεια and the δόξα, in a satisfactory way. Besides the internal arguments from Parmenides' own text, there are two external references that support the proposed interpretation: firstly, some data of the philosophical-poetic context, and secondly, an insistent thesis of Aristotle according to which some Presocratic philosophers (Parmenides among them) supposed that reality is confined to sensible things."
Solmsen, Friedrich. 1977. "Light from Aristotle's Physics on the Text of Parmenides B 8 D-K." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 22:10-12.
"Students of Parmenides are familiar with a problem regarding his text and thought in the beginning of the passage where Being is elevated to an unheard-of grandeur and sublimity. Does Parmenides in B 8.6-15 disprove only genesis from not-Being or does his refutation dispose of genesis from Being as well as from not-Being?
Exegetes who consider a dilemmatic structure of the argument necessary have not failed to avail themselves of the strong support afforded them by Simplicius' comments on vv. 3-14
What seems to have gone unnoticed is that Aristotle too bears witness to the truth of their position. For although he does not name him, he must have Parmenides in mind at Physics I 8, 191 a 23-33." (pp. 10-11)
"Throughout a large part of Physics I, Parmenides' (and Melissus') position presents the great obstacle to Aristotle's efforts at treating genesis as a reality.(6) The monolithic, unchanging on deprives physics of the principles (archai) without which it cannot build. Aristotle launches attack after attack against the fortress that had so long been considered impregnable.
Having conquered it he constructs his own theory of genesis." (p. 12)
(6) See esp. I 1-3 (184 b 15 ff., 25 ff. etc.). Cf. my Aristotle's System of the Physical World (Ithaca, 1961) 74 ff.
Sorabji, Richard. 1983. Time, Creation and the Continuum: theories in antiquity and the early middle ages. London: Duckworth.
Chapter 8: Is Eternity Timelessness?; Parmenides, pp. 99-107.
"The concept of eternity appears very early in Western thought in one of the first Presocratic philosophers, Parmenides of Elea (born c. 515 B.C). It is taken up by Plato and the Platonists and this is the route by which it comes to influence Christian thought. Eternity is standardly contrasted with time and is said by the Christians I shall be discussing to be a characteristic of God. To the question raised in the chapter heading, whether eternity is timelessness, I shall answer with a qualified 'yes', after explaining what I mean. But the case will need arguing, for there are plenty of rival interpretations which have been ably supported." (pp. 98-99)
"In his poem The Way of Truth, Parmenides discusses an unspecified subject 'it'. I favour the suggestion that the subject is whatever can be spoken and thought of, or alternatively whatever we inquire into. (3) The crucial sentence for our purposes comes in fr. 8 DK, 1. 5 and the first half of 6:
Nor was it ever (pot'), nor will it be, since it now is, all together, one, continuous.
It is the denial of 'was' and 'will be' which expresses some concept of eternity - but what concept?
I shall distinguish eight main interpretations." (p. 99)
"I conclude provisionally that the 'timeless' interpretation fits Parmenides best, and I should now like to see what happened to the concept of eternity after Parmenides. To put it briefly, my suggestion will be that Plato clouded the issue by placing alongside the implications of timelessness more phrases implying everlasting duration than can conveniently be explained away. This made it necessary for Plotinus to make a decision and his decision was in favour of timelessness." (p. 108)
(3) The first is the suggestion of G.E.L. Owen, the second that of Jonathan Barnes. G.E.L. Owen, 'Eleatic questions', CQn.s.10, 1960, 84-102 (repr. in D.J. Furley and R.E. Allen, Studies in Presocratic Philosophy vol.2, London, 1975), and 'Plato and Parmenides on the timeless present', Monist 50, 1966, 317-40 (repr. in A.P.D. Mourelatos (ed.) The Pre-Socratics, Garden City N.Y., 1974 ). Jonathan Barnes, The Presocratic Philosophers, London 1979, vol. 1, 163.
Spangler, G.A. 1979. "Aristotle's Criticism of Parmenides in Physics I." Apeiron.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science no. 13:92-103.
"Aristotle's aim in the Physics is to discover those principles which make it possible to have systematic knowledge of nature. He does not say that this is his aim, however, but only implies that it is. The text of the Physics opens with the following remarks:
In all disciplines in which there is systematic knowledge of things with principles, causes, or elements, it arises from a grasp of those: we think we have knowledge of a thing when we have found its primary causes and principles, and followed it back to its elements. Clearly, then, systematic knowledge of nature must start with an attempt to settle questions about principles (184a 10-15).
These remarks put Aristotle's Physics squarely into the tradition of "natural philosophy," which is usually said to have originated with Thales. But just as one is rightly wary of saying that natural philosophy was originated by any one man, so it is incautious to suppose that one could easily label what Aristotle is doing in a work so complex as his Physics. His own words suggest that he is writing with a scientific interest at stake, but even so one must remember that the lover of truth was then little concerned with marking out territories on the intellectual landscape. In any event, Aristotle quickly moves on to a discussion of Parmenides and Melissus, a discussion which, as he says, offers scope for philosophy." (P. 92)
Sprague, Rosamond Kent. 1955. "Parmenides: A Suggested Rearrangement of Fragments in the "Way of Truth"." Classical Philology no. 50:124-126.
"The proposed alteration of Diels's ordering of the fragments of Parmenides will, I believe, eliminate from the poem two difficulties in thought which result from the present sequence.(1) The fragments with which I am concerned are the following: 6. 1-9; 7. 1-5; 8.1-2 [Greek text omitted]" (p. 123)
"My rearrangement of the fragments would be as follows: (1) I should detach the first two lines of Fragment 6, thus leaving a gap between lines 2 and 3 in the present sequence. (2) I should then place 7. 1-2 in the gap created between 6. 2 and 6. 3." (p. 124)
"The entire rearrangement may be summarized as follows: ( 1) 7. 1 follows 6. 2; (2) 7. 2 is dropped on the assumption that it is really another version of 6. 3; (3) 6. 3-9 are as before, but, with the removal of 7. 1-2, 7. 3 follows 6. 9. The rest of the ordering remains the same." (p. 125)
(1) All textual references are to Diels-Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin, 1951), Vol. I.
Stannard, Jerry. 1960. "Parmenidean Logic." The Philosophical Review no. 69:526-533.
"That Parmenides introduced a significant change in the method of Greek philosophic thinking is admitted on all hands, though there is, naturally, considerable disagreement about the nature of that change as well as its significance." (p. 526)
"I am not at all convinced that the famous dictum "It is impossible that Being and Not-Being are and are not the same" (B6 D-K) is evidence that Parmenides recognized that the formal structure of his argument was a special case of the more general principle of contradiction. Exactly what method Parmenides used in cataloguing the characteristics of Being doubtless remains a problem.
My own feeling is that he was simply and intuitively following the syntactical structure of the only language known to him. Thus I would suggest that the principal criterion followed by Parmenides in this process was essentially a negative one: avoidance of any open violation of the rules of Greek syntax.(18)" (pp. 530-531)
(18) For this reason, I am inclined to agree with von Fritz (loc. cit., ["NOYZ, NOEIN, and their Derivates in Pre-Socratic Philosophy," Classical Philology, XL, 1945] p. 241) that Parmenides' method was largely an "intuitive" one. Whether or not, in addition to this, Parmenides' exposition of the Way of Truth was akin to a religious or mystical revelation, as Bowra (op. cit. [Problems in Greek Poetry, Oxford, 1953]) convincingly argues, is a matter that does not affect the present paper.
Other Pages on Parmenides in English:
Selected and annotated Bibliography of studies on Parmenides in English:
Bibliographies on Parmenides in other languages: