Parmenides

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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2008 01:02 pm
Parmenides (born circa 520 Ante Christum and died circa 450 Ante Christum of Elea is arguably the most important pre-Socratic philosopher ever to have lived...and arguably one of the most influential philosophers (pre-Socratic or not) in the entire history of Western Philosophy. He was the father both of the Eleatic philosophers and of Metaphysics/Ontology as a philosophical science.

Before I get to Parmenides' views, though, I want to talk a little bit about the philosophical "scene" he's having to deal with. On the one hand we have the physicists from Thales to Anaximines who were trying to figure out what the urstoff, the original stuff of the Cosmos is. Of course, they all disagree with other. One says it's water, the other "the apeiron (the unlimited)," and another air.

Often enough, they are using the same evidence flatly to contradict each other. For example, one used the evidence of fossils to say that the world is getting wetter. The other uses the evidence of fossils to say...you guessed it, that the world is getting dryer.

Needless to say, the contradictory opinions of the physicists tend to leave a bad taste in one's mouth.

So we have a new set of philosophers. We have Xenophanes saying that the structure of reality, though perhaps intelligible, is probably still unknowable. Then we have Heraclitus saying that reality is intelligible (through the Logos)...but the intelligibility of reality is constant flux.

Enter Parmenides and the Eleatics.

For the first time in the entire history of Western Philosophy, we have someone facing philosophy and reality almost strictly on the level of semantic meaning. In a poem which may remind anyone of Bill Clinton, we have Parmenides thinking about the word "is."

The moment you think about the words "is" and "is not," one realizes that "is not" neither is nor can spoken of, whereas "is" necessarily is, and cannot not be. In this manner, Parmenides does away entirely with change and becoming, and affirms a single proposition only: it is. Almost in anticipation of Aristotle, Parmenides affirms the existence only of a single eternal thing, entirely changeless, which has a single act of thinking, and that single act of thinking grasps only a single object- itself.

Nay, for even that thought divides the thinker from the thought in some way. Rather, and I say it again, Parmenides affirms only this: it is.

Here is a link to the poem:

Quote:

Fragment 1

1 The mares that carry me as far as my (their?) spirit might reach

2 Were conducting [me]; when leading (carrying) me they put me onto a many-voiced road

3 Of a goddess (daimōn), who through all cities bears the man of understanding.

4 On this I was carried, for on this the much-indicating mares were carrying me

5 Pulling the chariot at full stretch, and maidens led the way.

6 The axle in the wheel-boxes was sending forth the sound of a surinx (panpipe), itself

7 Burning, for it was being pressed down by its two turned

8-9 Wheels at both ends, as the Sun-maidens (Hēliades) hastened to convey me, leaving behind the houses of Night,

10 Into [the] light, having pushed the veils from their heads with their hands.

11 There are the gates of the paths of Night and Day

12 And a lintel and a threshold of stone hold them together at both sides (top and bottom),

13 Themselves being filled by vast doors;

14 Of these many-penaltied Dikē (Justice) holds the keys of exchange (alternation).

15 Her indeed the maidens blandishing with gentle words

16-17 Persuaded cleverly to push the bolted bar swiftly from the gates for them; and they of the doors,

17-19 Spreading, made a yawning gap, turning the much-bronzed posts in their sockets in turn

20 Closely fixed to them with pegs and nails. Right away straight through the gates

21 Along the carriage-road the maidens guided the chariot and mares.

22-23 And the goddess (thea) received me willingly, and took my right hand in hers, and spoke to me and addressed me thus:

24 "Young man in the company of immortal charioteers

25 And mares which carry you, arriving at our house,

26 Welcome, since in no way a bad fate (moira) has sent you forth to go

27 On this road - for truly it is far from the beaten path of humans -,

28 But rather Themis (Right) and Dikē (Justice). You must hearken to (learn) everything,

29 Both the unshaking heart of well-rounded (persuasive?) Alētheiē (Truth)

30 And the opinions of mortals, in which there is no true assurance.

31 But nevertheless you shall learn these things also, how the things that are believed (OR: the things that seem)

32 Must really be altogether [going] throughout all things (OR: Must really be accepted to be continually (continuously) pervading everything).

Fragment 2

1 Come now, I will speak, and do you carry this speech away with you once heard,

2 Just which are the only roads of inquiry (seeking) to conceive [of] (OR: for thinking; noēsai):

3 The one, how it is and how it is not not to be (OR: how it is not possible for it not to be),

4 Is the path of Peithō (Persuasion) - for Alētheiē (Truth) attends upon her;

5 The other, how it is not and how it is necessary [for it] not to be,

6 This indeed I indicate to you to be an all-not-inquirable-into straight track:

7 For neither would you know what is not (not-being) - for that is not accomplished -

8 Nor would you indicate it.

Fragment 3

1 ...for the same thing is for conceiving (awareness; noein) [of] and for being
(OR:...for the same thing is to conceive (be aware) [of] and to be)

Fragment 4

1 Nevertheless gaze steadily with noos on what is absent and on what is present;
(OR:...gaze on/ observe steadily what is absent to noos and on what is present [to noos]Wink

2 For you will not sever what is (being) from holding to what is (being),

3 Neither by scattering it altogether in every way according to an order
(OR:...in every way throughout the universe)

4 Nor by bringing it together.

Fragment 5

1 ...It is the same (common) to me

2 From what place I should begin, for to that place I shall come back again.

Fragment 6

1 It is fitting (OR: necessary) to say and noein eon (being; what is) is; for it is (for this can be; for it is) for being (OR: to be),
(OR:It is necessary/fitting to say and noein that eon is; for...)
(OR:...; for to be is,)

2 By no means is it not. These things I bid you to indicate to yourself;
(OR:Nothing is not....)

3 For from this first road of inquiry I bar you,

4 But also from the road on which mortals understanding nothing

5-6 Wander two-headed, for helplessness in their own breasts drives their wandering noos straight, and they are borne lurching along

7 Deaf and blind equally, dazed, a tribe without judgment,

8 By whom it is held that pelein (to be; to go on) and ouk einai (not to be) are the same

9 And not the same, but the path of all is back-turning.

Fragment 7

1 For never is this to be forced, that things that are not (mē eonta) are,

2 But do keep (hold back) your thought from this road of inquiry:

3 Neither allow many-experienced (much-experienced) habit to force you along this road,

4 To ply an aimless (heedless) eye and a roaring hearing (ear)

5 And tongue, but pick out (judge; distinguish; krinai) for yourself by means of reason (an account; logos) a much-contesting refutation

6 Out of what I said.

Fragment 8

1 ...One account (story; muthos) of a road yet

2 Is left: how it is. On this signs are,

3 Very many, how it is [a] being (eon) unborn and indestructible,
(OR:...,how what is (being; eon) is unborn and indestructible,)

4 Whole, unique and unmoving and complete (or: without issue, unaccompanied);

5 Neither was it ever nor will it be, since it is now all together (common),
(OR:There is not was or will be, since...)

6 One, continuous; for what parentage (birth) will you seek out for it?

7-8 How and whence grown? Nor will I allow you to say nor yet to conceive (think, take it, etc.; noein) that it was out of what is not (out of not being; ek mē eontos); for it is neither sayable (phaton) nor perceptible to noos (conceivable; noēton)

9 That (How) it (what is; eon) is = it is not. And what necessity would have started it (this; min) going
(OR:[That] it (eon) is how (in the manner of) it is not. And...)
(OR:That (How) it (eon) is is not. And...)

10 Later or sooner, beginning from nothing, to spring up?

11 Thus it is necessary either to be entirely (wholly), or not [to be].

12 Nor will strength of assurance ever allow, out of what is not (out of not being; ek mē eontos)

13 Something to come to be beside it; on account of (for the sake of) this neither coming to be

14 Nor perishing does Dikē (Justice) allow by loosening the shackles,

15 But she holds; and in this is the distinction regarding these:

16 It is or it is not; for it has in fact been decided, just as is necessary,

17 To permit that the latter road is unconceived [-of] (anoēton) and unnamed (nameless) - for not a true (genuine; real)

18 Road is it, and to permit that the former is to be and to be genuine (true).
(OR:...to grant the former to be thus: to be genuine (true).)

19 How could what is (being; to eon) perish? How could it come to be (be born)?

20 For if it came to be, it is (was) not, nor if it is ever about to come to be.

21 In this way coming to be has been extinguished and destruction is not heard of.

22 Neither is it divisible, since it is all alike (like);
(OR:..., since all is alike (like)Wink

23 Nor is it in any way more in any one place, which would keep it from holding itself together;

24 Nor is it in any way less; but all is full of what is (being; eontos).

25 Therefore all is continuous; for what is (being; eon) comes near to what is (being; eonti).
(OR:Therefore it is all continuous; for...)

26 But unmoving in limits of mighty bonds

27 It is without beginning and without cease, since coming to be and destruction

28 Wandered very far off, and (but) true assurance pushed them away.

29 Remaining the same and in the same place (way), it lies by (according to) itself

30 And thus it stands fast on the spot, for mighty Anankē (Necessity)

31 Holds it in bonds of limit, which shuts it in all around (on both sides).

32 Wherefore (Since) it is not right (lawful, meet; themis) for what is (being; to eon) to be incomplete:
(OR:Wherefore (Since) it is right (etc.; themis) for what is (to eon) to be not incomplete:)

33 For it is not lacking; if it were, it would lack everything.

34 The same thing is for conceiving (thinking, awareness, etc; noein) [of] and is wherefore (for the sake of which) there is that which is conceived (thought, etc.; noēma) [of]
(OR:...and is wherefore (for the sake of which) there is conceiving (thought, awareness, etc.; noēma)
(OR:...and is wherefore (for the sake of which) it (i.e., eon) is [a] noēma)

35 For not without that which is (being; tou eontos), on which what is expressed depends

36 Will you find conceiving (awareness, etc.; noein). For nothing either is or will be

37 Besides that which is (being; tou eontos), since Moira (Fate, Portion) bound it

38 To be whole and unmoving; with respect to this everything has been named (specified; reading onomastai )
(OR:...with respect to this it has been named (reading onomastai) all things)
(OR:...with respect to this everything will be a name (reading onoma estai))



39 As many as (As much as) mortals having laid down trusting to be true

40 To come to be (Coming to be) and to be destroyed (being destroyed), to be and not to be,

41 And to change place and to exchange bright surface colors.

42 But since a limit is outermost, it (i.e., what is) is completed (perfected),

43 From every side like the bulk of a well-rounded sphere,

44-45 In all ways equally balanced from the middle, for it is necessary that it be neither something greater nor something smaller in one way or another (in this or that);

46 Nor does what is (being; eon) not exist, which would prevent it from attaining

47-48 To the same thing; nor is what is (being; eon) such that it could be more than (of) what is (being; eon) in some way (place) and less in another, since it is all (since all is) inviolate.

49 For from all sides (in all ways) equal to itself, it proves to be uniformly within limits.

50 At this point I cease my trustworthy speech and thought to you

51-52 About (On both sides of) truth. From this point onward learn by hearing from me in addition the opinions of mortals, a deceptive order;
(OR:...From this point onward learn mortal opinions by hearing in addition from me a deceptive order;)

53 For two judgments (opinions, marks) they laid down to name (specify) appearances (forms),

54 One of which it is necessary not [to name? to lay down?] - in respect to this they have wandered (are misled) -

55 They distinguished (picked out; ekrinanto) for themselves opposites in respect to form and laid down signs for themselves

56 Separate from one another; here on the one hand [they laid down the sign] ethereal (high-up) flaming fire,

57 Being mild (A mild thing), extremely light in weight, the same as itself in every way,

58 And not the same as the other [one]. But that (the latter) one in conformity with itself

59 Oppositely [is? they laid down the sign?] obscure (unlearnable) night, a solid and weighty form.

60 I tell you about this whole fitting arrangement

61 In order that at no time may any opinion of mortals overtake (surpass) you.
Fragment 9

1 But since in fact all things have been named light and night

2 And these each according to their own powers have been given as names to these things and to those,

3 All is full of light and invisible night together

4 Both equally, since nothing has a share in neither one (OR: since neither has a share of nothing).

Fragment 10

1-3 You will know the celestial nature and all the constellations in the sky and the destructive (unseen?) deeds of the clear bright sun's torch and whence it came into being,

4 And you will learn the wandering (revolving) deeds of the round-eyed moon

5 And its nature, and also you will know whence the sky holding (embracing) on both sides (all around)

6 Came to be, and how Anankē (Necessity) leading it bound it

7 To hold in bonds of stars.

Fragment 11

1 ...how earth and sun and moon

2 And common aether and the Milky Way and furthest (eschatos, line 3) Olympus

3 And the hot force of stars were set in motion

4 To come to be.

Fragment 12

1 For the narrower [rings] are filled with unmixed fire,

2 The ones next to these are of night, and a portion of flame is discharged;

3 In the middle of these is the divinity (daimōn) who steers everything;

4 For she rules over the painful birth and mixing (mingling) of all,

5 Sending female to male to join together (in sexual intercourse) and then in turn contrariwise

6 Male to female.

Fragment 13

1 First of all the gods she devised Erōs (Love).

Fragment 14
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2008 01:11 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Quote:
1 A night-shining borrowed light wandering around the earth

Fragment 15

1 Always looking around for the rays of the sun

Fragment 15a

1 ...rooted in water

Fragment 16

1 For as on each occasion a blending (mingling) holds of much-wandering limbs,

2-3 So noos is present to humans; for the nature (form) of limbs is the same thing that thinks (apprehends; phroneei) in humans
(OR:...is the same thing that is thought (apprehended) in (of, for) humans)

4 Both for all together and individually; for the full is conceived (thought; noēma) [of].
(OR:...is what is conceived (thought) [of].)

Fragment 17

1 Boys to the right, girls to the left

Fragment 18

When woman and man [together] mix the seeds of Venus (Love), the power which forms [ bodies] (OR:the power which is formed) out of the different blood, if it maintains proper proportion, produces well-formed (well-constituted) bodies. For if the powers, when the seeds are [being] mixed, fight and do not constitute (make) a unity in the body in which the mixture has taken place, then they will terribly (cruelly) torment the nascent (growing) sex with double seed.

Fragment 19

1 In this way for you these things arose according to opinion and now are

2 And from this point onwards will be completed after they have grown up;

3 Humans having laid down a distinguishing name for each.


Enjoy, everyone! Very Happy
 
JP2U
 
Reply Tue 5 Jan, 2010 02:53 am
@Bonaventurian,
I'd be interested in hearing what anyone thinks or knows about a trail of influence that leads roughly from Parmenides and the Eleatics, through both Socrates and the Megaran school (Euclid, Diodorus, Stilpo), and on to the Stoics.

I consider myself an adherent of this broad tradition and think that a lot of philosophy that's commonly framed as a dialogue within the Academic tradition between Plato and Aristotle can be better framed as a dialogue within this parallel tradition.

I have in mind, for just one example, the whole universalia ante rem vs. universalia in rebus issue which could instead be framed as a concern about duality in general without any need to get bogged down in the details of Aristotelian and Scholastic "substance" talk.

I'm personally inclined to think that if more works of the Megaran and related schools had survived and been studied than had those of Aristotle then we'd be vastly further along in logic and perhaps even mathematics and the sciences than we are today.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Tue 5 Jan, 2010 01:59 pm
@JP2U,
JP2U;117197 wrote:
I'd be interested in hearing what anyone thinks or knows about a trail of influence that leads roughly from Parmenides and the Eleatics, through both Socrates and the Megaran school (Euclid, Diodorus, Stilpo), and on to the Stoics.
On Nature. Plato himself gives Parmenides a nod in his own work Parmenides, as well as Sophist and Politics. Aristotle goes so far as to give a nod to men like the Eleatics for maintaining themselves as the phusiologoi, those seeking to give an account of nature in Metaphysics, Book Alpha and Zeta (sub2). The list goes on. But if you want to discuss the intellectual heritage from Parmenides to the stoics (possibly even the romans), that would deserve its own thread.

JP2U;117197 wrote:
I consider myself an adherent of this broad tradition and think that a lot of philosophy that's commonly framed as a dialogue within the Academic tradition between Plato and Aristotle can be better framed as a dialogue within this parallel tradition.
JP2U;117197 wrote:
I have in mind, for just one example, the whole universalia ante rem vs. universalia in rebus issue which could instead be framed as a concern about duality in general without any need to get bogged down in the details of Aristotelian and Scholastic "substance" talk.


Sounds neat. Sans the inside latin references, Platonic Universal forms (ante rem) and Aristotelian substantial ontology (in rebus) is a huge issue to grapple with. Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book Zeta deals specifically with this issue, and is widely regarded as one of the hardest aspects of philosophy today because it's just so F'n complex. Is substance really a predicate of a perfect form or a finite reduction of substance as substance in itself sans the preciates (Aristotle's being qua being)? It's a neat method, and Aristotle really harps on Plato, especially in Zeta, books 7-9 on generation (and even deeper yet, the outer references to his earlier Categories). That said, this supposition of a duality framework sounds neat though. I would love to discuss it in a devoted thread.

JP2U;117197 wrote:
I'm personally inclined to think that if more works of the Megaran and related schools had survived and been studied than had those of Aristotle then we'd be vastly further along in logic and perhaps even mathematics and the sciences than we are today.
 
 

 
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