The aim of this essay is to consider the nature of the philosophical task and of the conditions of its possibility according to Parmenides and Plato. With these thinkers, the task of the philosopher necessitates a propaedeutic activity that makes the doing of philosophy possible; that is, both Parmenides and Plato identify the need for a philosophical education that would alleviate the obstacles that would make philosophy impossible to practise, ensuring and accounting for the possibility of philosophical practice. The impossibility (...) of philosophical practice concerns the philosopher’s claim and obligation to occupy a place (τόπος) from which to contemplate being. The problem becomes conspicuous, for the first time, in the first lines of the first fragment of the first text of pure ontology: in the proemium of Parmenides’ poem. I will argue that the proemium has a crucial philosophical function that binds it integrally to the argument of the poem. This function consists in the implementation of a philosophical propaedeutic that makes possible the articulation of the goddess’s critique. The need for a propaedeutic stems from the nature of the project that lies ahead, that is, the project of the youth’s education. Such education takes the form of the delimitation of the realm of the beings that νοῦς can concern itself with. (shrink)
Consciousness is connected with the fact that a subject is aware and open to the manifestation of whatever appears. Existence, by contrast, is used to express the fact that something is given in experience, is present, or is real. Usually, the two notions are taken to be somehow related. This chapter suggests that existence is at best introduced as a metaphysical (or meta-experiential) concept that inevitably escapes the domain of conscious experience. In order to illustrate this claim, two case studies (...) are considered. The first case is provided by Descartes’s famous treatment of consciousness and existence in his Meditations on First Philosophy. The second case is meant to contrast the Cartesian approach by taking the opposite route, as delineated by Emanuele Severino (1929–2020) in his ‘fundamental ontology’. (shrink)
This volume takes cue from the idea that the thought of no philosopher can be understood without considering it as the result of a constant, lively dialogue with other thinkers, both in its internal evolution as well as in its reception, re-use, and assumption as a starting point in addressing past and present philosophical problems. In doing so, it focuses on a feature that is crucially emerging in the historiography of early modern philosophy and science, namely the complexity in the (...) production of knowledge. The book explores the applicability of this approach to a long-considered armchair philosopher, namely René Descartes, who is now more and more understood as a full-blown scientist, networker, and intellectual éminence grise rather than as the mere philosopher of the cogito, as well as the originator of different ‘Cartesianisms’ which encompassed many ideas and approaches for long captured by dichotomic historiographical categories as rationalism and empiricism, or speculative and experimental philosophy. The essays gathered in the volume aim to address the ways in which Descartes’s philosophy evolved and was progressively understood by scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals from different contexts and eras, either by considering direct interlocutors of Descartes such as Isaac Beeckman and Elisabeth of Bohemia, early modern thinkers who developed upon his ideas and on particular topics as Nicolas Malebranche or Thomas Willis, those who adapted his overall methodology in developing new systems of knowledge as Johannes Clauberg and Pierre-Sylvain Régis, and contemporary thinkers from continental and analytic traditions like Emanuele Severino and Peter Strawson. (shrink)
In this the eighth volume of the Eleatica series, the mastermind behind this wonderful tradition of conferences and subsequent publications, Livio Rossetti, provides a concise introduction to his extensive work over many years on Parmenides and the Eleatic tradition. Following in the model of previous contributions to the series, we find a detailed introduction by the volume’s editors, Rossetti’s three lectures on our three Eleatics, ten thoughtful responses by the conference participants, an...
The earliest mention of Melissus of Samos by name is found in the first chapter of the Hippocratic De natura hominis. In the following note, I attempt to examine what is meant by the reference Melissus’ ‘logos’ in this work and suggest, against previous accounts, including Galen’s, that it has little to do with his commitment to monism. Rather Melissus’ logos is better understood as his referring to his strategy for demonstrating such a conclusion, especially his use of a supplemental (...) argument in his fragment B8. Polybus’ concern in this first chapter is not monism as such but the claims to knowledge monists make. Melissus is a prime example of a monist who fails to grasp what he claims to know. (shrink)
How can we think or say what is not? If we equate what-is-not with nothing, then a thought of nothing is no thought at all; if we don’t, we are condemned to admit that what-is-not is, seemingly incurring in self-refutation. In this paper, I address this paradox through the lenses of Parmenides, Plato, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein.
Diogenes subscribes to a principle that, roughly, causal interaction and change require a certain sort of uniformity among the relata. Attending to this principle can help us understand Diogenes's relationship to the superficially similar Anaximenes without insisting, as some do, that Diogenes must be consciously responding to Parmenides. Diogenes is distinctive and philosophically interesting because his principle combines two senses of ‘archê’ (principle, starting-point), namely, the idea of source or origin and that of underlying (material) principle, and gives the rudiments (...) of an argument for associating the two, by which Aristotle may have been influenced. Diogenes’s principle and its deployment in biological explanations thematized a concern that Aristotle at least partially shared, and which led him to appeal, as Diogenes is said to have done, to pneuma (breath, air). (shrink)
This book examines the birth of the scientific understanding of motion. It investigates which logical tools and methodological principles had to be in place to give a consistent account of motion, and which mathematical notions were introduced to gain control over conceptual problems of motion. It shows how the idea of motion raised two fundamental problems in the 5th and 4th century BCE: bringing together being and non-being, and bringing together time and space. The first problem leads to the exclusion (...) of motion from the realm of rational investigation in Parmenides, the second to Zeno's paradoxes of motion. Methodological and logical developments reacting to these puzzles are shown to be present implicitly in the atomists, and explicitly in Plato who also employs mathematical structures to make motion intelligible. With Aristotle we finally see the first outline of the fundamental framework with which we conceptualise motion today. (shrink)
In this book Timothy Clarke examines Aristotle's response to Eleatic monism, the theory of Parmenides of Elea and his followers that reality is 'one'. Clarke argues that Aristotle interprets the Eleatics as thoroughgoing monists, for whom the pluralistic, changing world of the senses is a mere illusion. Understood in this way, the Eleatic theory constitutes a radical challenge to the possibility of natural philosophy. Aristotle discusses the Eleatics in several works, including De Caelo, De Generatione et Corruptione, and the Metaphysics. (...) But his most extensive treatment of their monism comes at the beginning of the Physics, where he criticizes them for overlooking the fact that 'being is said in many ways' – in other words, that there are many ways of being. Through a careful analysis of this and other criticisms, Clarke explains how Aristotle's engagement with the Eleatics prepares the ground for his own theory of the principles of nature. Aristotle is commonly thought to be an unreliable interpreter of his Presocratic predecessors; in contrast, this book argues that his critique can shed valuable light on the motivation of the Eleatic theory and its influence on the later philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Melissus of Samos has long been due an uptick in scholarly attention. His plainly worded, workmanlike Ionic prose offers a welcome contrast to Parmenides’ Epic—and often deeply obscure—hexameters. Melissus, too, seems to have come to be something of a representative for Eleatic thought in antiquity and makes intriguing appearances in Plato’s Theaetetus and, particularly, in Aristotle’s dialectical accounts of his predecessors that have never quite received satisfactory treatment. Happily, th...
In this paper, I want to show that continuity is of crucial philosophical significance in Parmenides, who is the first thinker in the West to use the notion of continuity in a philosophically interesting and systematic way, and what being continuous (suneches) means for him. I look in some detail at the three passages in fragment 8 of Parmenides’ poem that are central for Parmenides’ notion of being suneches and discuss whether being suneches refers to something being temporally uninterrupted, spatially (...) connected, or ontologically holding together. An analysis of these three passages shows that suneches for Parmenides implies complete homogeneity and indivisibility. This analysis is also the basis for showing that suneches is conceptualized very differently in Parmenides’ poem and Aristotle’s Physics because of different starting points and different understandings of what we would call the principle of sufficient reason. (shrink)
The essay studies Aristotle’s critique of Parmenides in the light of the Heideggerian account of Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics as an approach to being in terms of beings. Aristotle’s critique focuses on the presuppositions of the Parmenidean thesis of the unity of being. It is argued that a close study of the presuppositions of Aristotle’s own critique reveals an important difference between the Aristotelian metaphysical framework and the Parmenidean “protometaphysical” approach. The Parmenides fragments indicate being as such in the sense of the (...) pure, undifferentiated “is there” —as the intelligible accessibility of meaningful reality to thinking, prior to its articulation into determinate beings. For Aristotle, by contrast, “being itself” has no other plausible meaning than “being-something-determinate as such”, which itself remains equivocal. In this sense, Aristotle can indeed be said to conceive being in terms of beings, as the being-ness of determinate beings. (shrink)
In the fifth century BCE, Melissus of Samos developed wildly counterintuitive claims against plurality, change, and the reliability of the senses. This book provides a reconstruction of the preserved textual evidence for his philosophy, along with an interpretation of the form and content of each of his arguments. A close examination of his thought reveals an extraordinary clarity and unity in his method and gives us a unique perspective on how philosophy developed in the fifth century, and how Melissus came (...) to be the most prominent representative of what we now call Eleaticism, the monistic philosophy inaugurated by Parmenides. The rich intellectual climate of Ionian enquiry in which Melissus worked is explored and brought to bear on central questions of the interpretation of his fragments. This volume will appeal to students and scholars of early Greek philosophy, and also those working on historical and medical texts. (shrink)
From the publisher: "Comment la technique, thème par excellence de la réflexion poétologique archaïque, devient-elle aussi le paradigme qui rend intelligible la cosmogonie dans les discours philosophiques ? C’est la question à laquelle tente de répondre ce livre à partir de textes d’Homère, Hésiode, Parménide et Empédocle.".
Parmenides and Heidegger is an essay about the dominance of being over thought in the history of Western philosophy. These two thinkers are chosen because of the extremity of their position. As shown, their view is that thought is being and no more.
In this paper, the author argues that the revelatory form Parmenides gives his poem poses considerable problems for the account of being contained therein. The poem moves through a series of problems, each building on the last: the problem of particularity, the cause of human wandering that the goddess would have us ascend beyond ; the problem of speech, whose heterogeneity evinces its tie to experience’s particularity ; the problem of justice, which motivates man’s ascent from his “insecure” place in (...) being, only ultimately to undermine it ; and finally the question of the good, the necessary consequence of man’s place in being as being out-of-place in being. What emerges is a Socratic reading of Parmenides’s poem, a view that Plato appears to have shared by using Parmenides and his Eleatic stranger to frame the bulk of Socrates’s philosophic activity. (shrink)
This commentary examines the interpretation of Parmenides developed by Rose Cherubin in her paper, “Parmenides, Liars, and Mortal Incompleteness.” First, I discuss the tensions Cherubin identifies between the definitions and presuppositions of justice, necessity, fate, and the other requisites of inquiry. Second, I critically assess Cherubin’s attribution of a sort of liar paradox to Parmenides. Finally, I argue that Cherubin’s handling of the Doxa, the section of Parmenides’ poem that deals with mortal opinion and cosmology, is unsatisfactory. I suggest that (...) her reading may contradict the text in denying that the Doxa contains truths. (shrink)
Parmenides of Elea Parmenides of Elea was a Presocratic Greek philosopher. As the first philosopher to inquire into the nature of existence itself, he is incontrovertibly credited as the “Father of Metaphysics.” As the first to employ deductive, a priori arguments to justify his claims, he competes with Aristotle … Continue reading Parmenides →.
Parmenides is one of the greatest thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. His thought has been a major point of reference for many metaphysical discussions that define the history of philosophy. Indeed there is virtually no moment in the history of metaphysics that his thought has not been influential. It is usual to contrast his philosophy of the unchanging reality of the One with Heraclitus' philosophy of change and becoming. While his counter-intuitive denial of change is questionable the philosophical (...) burden is rethink his monism by infusing change into it without prejudice to the general idea that reality is a whole in which unity and diversity are reconciled. (shrink)
From its Presocratic beginnings, Western philosophy concerned itself with a quest for unity both in terms of the systematization of knowledge and as a metaphysical search for a unity of being—two trends that can be regarded as converging and culminating in Hegel’s system of absolute idealism. Since Hegel, however, the philosophical quest for unity has become increasingly problematic. Jussi Backman returns to that question in this book, examining the place of the unity of being in the work of Heidegger. Backman (...) sketches a consistent picture of Heidegger as a thinker of unity who throughout his career in different ways attempted to come to terms with both Parmenides’s and Aristotle’s fundamental questions concerning the singularity or multiplicity of being—attempting to do so, however, in a “postmetaphysical” manner rooted in rather than above and beyond particular, situated beings. Through his analysis, Backman offers a new way of understanding the basic continuity of Heidegger’s philosophical project and the interconnectedness of such key Heideggerian concepts as ecstatic temporality, the ontological difference, the turn (Kehre), the event (Ereignis), the fourfold (Geviert), and the analysis of modern technology. (shrink)
Lähtökohtanaan Jean-Paul Vernantin ja Albrecht Dihlen historialliset teesit artikkeli tarkastelee tärkeimpien ”lakia ja järjestystä” ilmaisevien käsitteiden (nomos, dikē) roolia esisokraattisten filosofien, erityisesti Anaksimandroksen, Herakleitoksen ja Parmenideen, ajattelussa. Arkaaisessa kreikkalaisessa ajatusmaailmassa sekä luonnon että ihmisyhteisön sisäinen tasapaino ilmentää moninaisen jumalmaailman ja ihmisten välistä vuorovaikutusta. Esisokraatikot ajattelevat todellisuutta eriytyneenä ykseytenä, jonka moninaisuutta sitoo yhteen yhtenäinen perusrakenne; tämän mallin uusi filosofia jäsentää uudesta polis-ajattelusta lainattujen käsitteiden avulla. Tämä esisokraatikkojen ”poliittinen ontologia” ja toisaalta nomoksen, yhteisöllisen normiston, enenevä ymmärtäminen inhimillisenä konventiona, mahdollistaa fysiksen ja nomoksen, (...) ”luonnon” ja ”kulttuurin” välisen myöhemmän vastakkainasettelun. (shrink)
The paper outlines a tentative genealogy of the Platonic metaphysics of sight by thematizing pre-Platonic thought, particularly Heraclitus and Parmenides. By “metaphysics of sight” it understands the features of Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics expressed with the help of visual metaphors. It is argued that the Platonic metaphysics of sight can be regarded as the result of a synthesis of the Heraclitean and Parmenidean approaches. In pre-Platonic thought, the visual paradigm is still marginal. For Heraclitus, the basic structure of being is its discursive (...) articulation (logos) into conceptual pairs of binary opposites, an articulation that at the same time binds differences together into a tensional unity. The fundamental grasping of this ultimate unity-in-difference is conceived primarily through acoustic terms as a non-sensory “hearing.” For Parmenides, the ultimate unity of contraries is based on the capacity of thinking (noos) to intend anything as present; in fragment B 4, the exclusive relationship of thinking to intelligible presence is finally visualized in terms of a seeing or looking (leusso). (shrink)
This essay explicates the primary interpretative import of B1: 31-32 in Parmenides poem (On Nature)—lines which have radical implications for the overall argument, and which the traditional arrangement forces into an irreconcilable dilemma. I argue that the “negative” reading of lines 31-32 is preferable, even on the traditional arrangement. This negative reading denies that a third thing is to be taught to the reader by the goddess—a positive account of how the apparent world is to be “acceptably” understood. I then (...) suggest that a rearrangement of the fragments would make more sense overall, while further supporting the “negative” reading as more natural and coherent. In particular, the rearrangement dispels the objection that, “if mortal opinions were not true, why would Parmenides include such a lengthy false account of the apparent world--an account which explicitly denies the conclusions of the earlier section, Truth?”. (shrink)
This essay aims to analyse the Parmenides’ interpretation that Laura Gemelli Marciano offered in the Eleatica lectures. The scholar represents the Parmenidean Poem as a mystical experience where sounds, words and images communicate and produce a real approach to the divine reality at the same time. This intriguing reading, which closely follows that offered by Kingsley, understimates the problems and cognitive structures of rational thought in the poem. Thus Parmenides appears to be a shaman rather a philosopher.
The article aims to study the fragments 2 and 7 of Parmenides through Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. The study focuses on the comprehension of the Being’s investigative paths and on "the concealed sense" of the term éthos in the poem. Finally, the text is going to compare the sense of éthos established in Parmenides with the one testified by Heraclitus. The last one shows itself much more originary, as can be understood from Heidegger’s texts.
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 ; and that the key features of what-is are entailed by the theory of material monism. (shrink)
This article aims at clarifying some issues raised by a recent book of Daniel W. Graham about the Presocratic cosmology. It particularly intends to shed some light on the understanding of Anaxagoras’ universe by suggesting some reasons why, despite Graham’s opinion, it is still possible to think that the stars were flat according to him. Another goal is highlighting the importance of the comprehensive physical theory of Anaxagoras, based on a circular motion called perichoresis, which would explain diverse phenomena in (...) a consistent way by introducing simplicity in his cosmology. (shrink)
The reductio ad absurdum has been elected by Zeno as the only method permitting to descry the true reality, invisible both to the senses and to the common way of thinking. Showing some continuity with the previous philosophers, not only in the search for a procedure in order to speculation to advance, but also on the same route departing from what is nearer, more acquainted and particular (visible) toward what is less acquainted, more distant and universal (invisible), to say it (...) with aristotelic words, Zeno made use of aporetic arguments as the only possible way to catch a glimpse of the ‘domain of Being’. This, in fact, is invisible not only to our senses, but also to our ordinary reasoning. Therefore, just the ‘way of not-being’, the only one that could be walked after Parmenides, as Wolff says, allows us to have an insight of what is ‘really invisible’. So invisible that it is unreachable also to thought. (shrink)
For the Greeks, O King, who make logical demonstrations, use words emptied of power, and this very activity is what constitutes their philosophy, a mere noise of words. But we [Egyptians] do not use words [logoi] but sounds [phōnai] which are full of effects.If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.The Eleatic thinker Zeno was a friend, perhaps adopted son, and student of Parmenides. He is famous for his many paradoxes on space (...) and motion, such as Achilles and the tortoise. He was more than just an intellectual, however, having many pursuits including politics, which led to his gruesome death. Running arms to the Liparans, who were resisting the growing power of the Athenians, he .. (shrink)
Michael V. Wedin presents a rigorous reconstruction of the deductions in Parmenides' Way of Truth: the most important philosophical treatise before Plato and Aristotle. He answers criticisms which claim that Parmenides' arguments are shot through with logical fallacies, and argues against natural explanations of Parmenides in the Ionian tradition.
In this paper I shall attempt to enter part of the way into the microstructure of the account of truth in the Parmenidean fragment 8, and to reveal that account as a dialectical sequence of affirmation and denial involving various kinds of modal utterance. The sequence will then be put into parallel with the first four hypotheses of the second half of Plato’s Parmenides as well as with Zeno and some of the later tradition.
The paper studies, within the framework of Martin Heidegger's narrative of the history of metaphysics, two perspectives on the unity of being: the "protometaphysical" perspective of Parmenides, the thinker of the "first beginning" of Western philosophy, and the postmetaphysical perspective of Heidegger, situated in the ongoing transition from the Hegelian and Nietzschean end of metaphysics to a forthcoming "other beginning" of Western thought. Both perspectives involve a certain "crisis", in the literal sense of the Greek krisis, "distinction," "decision." Parmenides' goddess (...) exhorts the thinker to decide for being in the sense of pure intelligible accessibility or presence and to exclude all references to non-accessibility and non-presence. This is the foundation of the Parmenidean thesis of the unity of being. In the Heideggerian perspective, by contrast, meaningful presence is seen as constituted precisely by references to a withdrawing meaning-context, to background dimensions that in themselves are not immediately present. Since presence is constituted only in terms of non-presence, the "decision" or "crisis" between presence and non-presence is an unresolvable and irreducible feature of postmetaphysical thinking. (shrink)
Kirjoitus tarkastelee Martin Heideggerin myöhäisajattelussa esiin nousevaa olemisen ainutkertaisuuden (Einzigkeit, Einmaligkeit) teemaa ja sen edelleenkehittelyä Jean-Luc Nancyn ajattelussa. Teeman osoitetaan kytkeytyvän Heideggerin välienselvittelyyn filosofian esisokraattisen alun, erityisesti Parmenideen ajattelun kanssa. Parmenides ajattelee olemista kaikkia yksittäisiä ilmentymiään, "kuolevaisten" äärellisiä "näkemyksiä" (doksai) yhdistävänä absoluuttisen homogeenisena ja itseidenttisenä ilmeisyytenä (alētheia), todellisuuden puhtaana läsnäolona ajattelulle. Tätä vasten Heidegger ajattelee olemisen nimenomaan yksittäisten ilmentymiensä kontekstuaalisena ainutkertaisuutena, mielekkyystilanteiden ainutkertaistavana kontekstualisoitumisena. Nancy jatkaa ajatusta kuvailemalla olemista "ainutkertaiseksi-monikolliseksi" (singulier pluriel), mutta täydentää Heideggerin ajatteluun tunnetusti jäänyttä aukkoa soveltamalla ajatusta (...) yhteisön ajattelemiseen ainutkertaisuuksien yhdessäolemisena ja keskinäisyytenä. Näin avautuva "ainutkertaisuuden politiikan" teema onkin viime vuosikymmeninä noussut mannermaisen poliittisen ajattelun keskiöön. (shrink)