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Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc
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This part of the section History of Ontology includes the following pages:
The Thought of Parmenides:
Annotated bibliography of studies on Parmenides in English:
L - Mos (Current page)
Bibliographies on Parmenides in other languages:
Laks, André. 1990. "'The More' and 'The Full': on the reconstruction of Parmenides' theory of sensation in Theophrastus' De sensibus, 3-4." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy:1-18.
Already published in French as: "Parménide dans Théophraste", in "La Parola del passato. Rivista di studi antichi", 43, 1988, pp. 262-280.
"Under the aegis of this physicist, and pre-Empedoclean, Parmenides of the second part of the poem, I propose to analyse here the context of the quotation of fr. 16 DK in Theophrastus' Treatise on Sensations.(9) My aim is to show how Theophrastus, by the use which he makes of the term συμμετρία in his critical summary of Parmenides' theory of sensations, would have authorized the doxographical tradition (of which he is one of the primary sources) to rank Parmenides, no less than Empedocles and Epicurus, under the banner of a physics which respected the integrity of being, that is, in the terms of Aetius' report, of a physics of quantity and of aggregates. This demonstration analyses the way in which Theophrastus interprets fr. 16 and rereads closely the first part of Theophrastus' report, which presents itself in part as its exegesis." (p. 3-4)
(9) J. P. Hershbell, 'Parmenides' Way of Truth and B 16', Apeiron, 4 (1970), 1-23, has suggested that the fragment ought rather to belong to the first part of the poem; but it is hard to see how, if it is true that the duality of the elements, which the fragment certainly presupposes (cf. the beginning of Theophrastus' report: δυοίν οντοιν στοιχείοιν) has no place there.
Latona, Max J. 2008. "Reining in the Passions: the Allegorical Interpretation of Parmenides B Fragment 1." American Journal of Philology no. 129:199-230.
"Abstract. This article attempts to determine whether Parmenides intended the chariot imagery of his poem to be construed allegorically, as argued by Sextus Empiricus. Modern interpreters have rejected the allegorical reading, arguing that Sextus was biased by Plato, the allegory’s true author. There are, however, reasons to believe that a tradition (either native or imported) of employing the chariot image allegorically preexisted Plato and Parmenides. This article argues that Parmenides was drawing upon such a tradition and did portray mind as a charioteer upon a path of knowledge, and impulse as the horses, requiring guidance in order to reach the destination." (p. 199)
Lebedev, Andrei V. 2017. "Parmenides, ΑΝΗΡ ΠΥΘΑΓΟΡΕΙΟΣ. Monistic Idealism (Mentalism) in Archaic Greek Metaphysics." Indo-European Linguistics and Classical Philology no. 21:495-536.
Proceedings of the 21st Conference in Memory of Professor Joseph M. Tronsky.
"In our view there is only one possibility to make philosophical sense of Parmenides' poem: to take seriously the ancient tradition on his Pythagorean background and to interpret his metaphysics as monistic idealism or immaterialism. The sphere of Being described in the Aletheia is not a lump of dead matter, but the divine Sphairos of the Western Greek philosophical theology known from Xenophanes and Empedocles, conceived as pure Nous (Mind) which is the only true reality. The identity of Being and Mind is explicitly stated by Parmenides in fr. B 3, Zeller's and Burnet's interpretation is grammatically impossible and never occurred to any ancient reader. «What-is», conceived as a sphere of divine light endowed with consciousness, is also the invisible «Sun of Justice» (the Sun that «never sets»), an archaic idea known to Heraclitus and imitated by Plato in the allegory of the Sun in the Republic. Night (the symbol of body and corporeal matter) does not exist, it is an empty name resulting from a linguistic mistake of mortals who misnamed the absence of light as a separate substance. The Kouros of the Proem is not Parmenides himself, but an Apollonian image of his venerated teacher Pythagoras whose soul ascended to the celestial temple (oracle) of gods in a winged chariot and received there an oracular revelation from Aletheia herself, a great gift to humanity that liberated men from the veil of ignorance and fear of death. The first part of Parmenides' poem was not just an exercise in speculative metaphysics concerned with problems of motion and plurality, but a handbook of philosophical theology and practical psychology with ethical and political implications: the attributes of the divine absolute are paradigmatic for the personality of an ideal citizen abiding to law (Dike) and a warrior who has no fear of death and pain, since he knows that his soul is immortal and his body is just a «shadow of smoke» (σκιὰ καπνοῦ). The immobility of the divine Sphere is not a physical theory, but an image for meditation, a psychological paradigm of the ataraxia and tranquility (hesychia) of the wise who has eradicated all passions and has assimilated his psyche to god following Pythagoras’command ἕπου θεῶι." (pp. 497-498)
Lesher, James H. 1984. "Parmenides' Critique of Thinking: the poludêris elenchos of Fragment 7." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 2:1-30.
"It is reasonable to suppose that Parmenides' primary objective in writing his famous poem was to provide a correct account of what exists. Much of the long argument of Fragment 8 is aimed at establishing the attributes of 'the real' (to eon), and it is the teaching of Fragment 6 that all thinking and speaking must be about the real. Yet we should remember that the goddess who delivers Parmenides' message announces in Fragment 1 that we will learn also about 'mortal beliefs' (brotôn doxas) and `the things believed' (ta dokounta). The argument of Fragment 2 begins by listing the ways of enquiry that are 'available for thinking' (noesai). Parmenides' poem is therefore both an enquiry into being and an enquiry into thinking, and his positive theory is both about being and about thinking. In what follows, I offer an account of Parmenides' critique of human thinking, focusing on the crucial, but largely misunderstood, idea of thepoludêris elenchos mentioned briefly at the end of Fragment 7. I shall argue that in the motif of the deris Parmenides expressed a view of the human capacities for independent thinking that departed from an older and derogatory view, and that by adapting the older idea of the elenchos to a new, philosophical, use, he introduced an influential decision procedure into philosophical enquiry." (p. 1)
———. 1994. "The Significance of κατά πάντ΄ ά<σ>τη in Parmenides Fr. 1.3." Ancient Philosophy no. 14:1-20.
"Few of the problematic aspects of Parmenides' poem have proven more resistant to solution than the famous crux contained in the first sentence of his Fr. 1 (following our best MS, N= Laur. 85.19, of Sextus' adversus Mathematicos vii 111)"
"For more than fifty years, from the publication in 1912 of the third edition of DK [Diels-Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker] until 1968, it was widely supposed that N actually contained the phrase κατά πάντ΄ άστη -- 'down to, along, on, or among all cities', but A.H. Coxon disposed of that idea when he reported that DK's άστη was actually a misreading of the MS, caused perhaps by a passing glance at the αστι in the πολύφραστοι in the adjacent line. Coxon' s claim that N contained άτη and not άστη was subsequently corroborated by Tarán
1977; a photocopy of Laur. 85.19. f. 124v. clearly showing the άτη has since been published in Coxon's 1986. (pp. 1-2)
"Nevertheless, I believe, and will proceed to argue, that a good case can be made for restoring άστη by emendation as the original text of Parmenides' Fr. 1.3. The case will consist of showing how, when viewed in the larger context of early Greek poetry, κατά πάντ΄ άστη can be seen to possess an entirely natural meaning and, in concert with virtually every other feature in the opening lines of Fr. 1, contribute to a single, appropriate objective for the proem as a whole. The immediate question, then, is essentially a philological matter, but to answer it we must consider how Parmenides' views, aims, and methods might have been shaped by the artistic and intellectual traditions of his time and place." (p. 2)
———. 1994. "The Emergence of Philosophical Interest in Cognition." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 12:1-34.
See § 4: Parmenides' way of knowing, pp. 24-34.
"To the list of Parmenides' contributions to Greek philosophy we should, therefore, add what might best be described as an adaptation of a familiar 'peirastic' paradigm of knowledge for use in the context of philosophical enquiry and reflection. But, having recognized this, we might also want to view Socrates' denial of any involvement with Presocratic ideas about knowledge with some scepticism. At least when the Socrates of Plato's early dialogues sets out to discover the nature of the virtues by putting a series of rival definitions to the test-hoping to find a λόγος that will remain steadfast throughout the entire process of examination his approach represents not a repudiation of earlier views of knowledge, but rather a continuation and extension of them." (p. 34, notes omotted)
———. 2002. "Parmenidean elenchos." In Does Socrates Have a Method? Rethinking the Elenchus in Plato's Dialogues and Beyond, edited by Scott, Gary Alan, 19-35. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
This paper is a revised version of Lesher 1984.
"The present account differs from the 1984 paper in (1) omitting any discussion of the novelty of Parmenides' view of thought as subject to the control of the individual and (2) offering a different analysis of the structure of Parmenides' main argument. My view of the development of the meaning of elenchos from Homer to the fourth century and its meaning in Parmenides' poem remains unchanged. In the sixteen years since to Oxford Studies paper appeared, the has been relatively little discussion of the meaning of elenchos in Parmenides' proem (and a great deal about the Socratic elenchus), but the view of elenchos as a "test" or "examination" has been endorsed in several accounts: A. H. Coxon, The Fragments of Parmenides (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1986); David J. Furley, Cosmic Problems: Essays in Greek and Roman Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and Patricia Curd, The Legacy of Parmenides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998)." (p. 19)
"The upshot of the present analysis is that Parmenides' polude¯ris elenchos was a "controversial but forceful testing" of the possible ways of thinking and speaking about what is. By adapting the older idea of an elenchos or dokimasia of a person’s qualifications or a thing’s true nature to consider the merits of alternative conceptions of the nature of what is, Parmenides succeeded in mounting an effective presentation of his view in the face of competing accounts and a well-entrenched common sense." (p. 34)
Lewis, Frank A. 2009. "Parmenides' Modal Fallacy." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 54:1-8.
Abstract: "In his great poem, Parmenides uses an argument by elimination to select the correct "way of inquiry" from a pool of two, the ways of is and of is not, joined later by a third, "mixed" way of is and is not. Parmenides' first two ways are soon given modal upgrades - is becomes cannot not be, and is not becomes necessarily is not (B2, 3-6) - and these are no longer contradictories of one another. And is the common view right, that Parmenides rejects the "mixed" way because it is a contradiction? I argue that the modal upgrades are the product of an illicit modal shift. This same shift, built into two Exclusion Arguments, gives Parmenides a novel argument to show that the "mixed" way fails. Given the independent failure of the way of is not, Parmenides' argument by elimination is complete." (p. 1)
Lloyd, Geoffrey Ernest Richard. 1962. "Right and Left in Greek Philosophy." The Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 82:56-66.
"The purpose of this article is to consider how the symbolic associations which right and left had for the ancient Greeks influenced various theories and explanations in Greek philosophy of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. The fact that certain manifest natural oppositions (e.g. right and left, male and female, light and darkness, up and down) often acquire powerful symbolic associations, standing for religious categories such as pure and impure, blessed and accursed, is well attested by anthropologists for many present-day societies. Robert Hertz, in particular, has considered the significance of the widespread belief in the superiority of the right hand, in his essay 'La préeminence de la main droite: étude sur la polarité religieuse' [Revue Philosophique lxviii (1909), 553 ff., recently translated into English by R. and C. Needham in Death and the Right Hand (London, 1960) 89 ff.).
It is, of course, well known that the ancient Greeks shared some similar beliefs, associating right and left with lucky and unlucky, respectively, and light and darkness with safety, for example, and death. Yet the survival of certain such associations in Greek philosophy has
not, I think, received the attention it deserves. I wish to document this aspect of the use of opposites in Greek philosophy in this paper, concentrating in the main upon the most interesting pair of opposites, right and left. Before I turn to the evidence in the philosophers
themselves, two introductory notes are necessary. In the first, I shall consider briefly some of the evidence in anthropology which indicates how certain pairs of opposites are associated with, and symbolise, religious categories in many present-day societies. The second
contains a general summary of the evidence for similar associations and beliefs in prephilosophical Greek thought." (p. 56)
———. 1964. "The Hot and the Cold, the Dry and the Wet in Greek Philosophy." The Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 84:92-106.
"In a previous article ([Right and Left in Greek Philosophy] JHS lxxxii ( I 962) 56 ff.) I examined some of the theories and explanations which appear in Greek philosophy and medicine in the period down to Aristotle, in which reference is made to right and left or certain other pairs of opposites (light and darkness, male and female, up and down, front and back), and I argued that several of these theories are influenced by the symbolic associations which these opposites possessed for the ancient Greeks. In the present paper I wish to consider the use of the two pairs of opposites which are most prominent of all in early Greek speculative thought, the hot and the cold, and the dry and the wet. My discussion is divided into two parts.
In the first I shall examine the question of the origin of the use of these opposites in Greek philosophy. How far back can we trace their use in various fields of speculative thought, and what was the significance of their introduction into cosmology in particular? And then in the second part of my paper I shall consider to what extent theories based on these opposites may have been influenced by assumptions concerning the values of the opposed terms. Are these opposites, too, like right and left, or inale and female, sometimes conceived as consisting of on the one hand a positive, or superior pole, and on the other a negative, or inferior one?· How far do we find that arbitrary correlations were made between these and other pairs of terms, that is to say correlations that correspond to preconceived notions of value, rather than to any empirically verifiable data?" (p. 92)
———. 1966. Polarity and Analogy, Two Types of Argumentation in Early Greek Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press.
"The aims of this study are to describe and analyse two main types of argument and methods of explanation as they are used in early Greek thought from the earliest times down to and including Aristotle, and to consider them, in particular, in relation to the larger problem of the development of logic and scientific method in this period." (p. 1)
"In Fr. 2 Parmenides puts a choice between two alternatives as if these were the only alternatives conceivable.
But even if we disregard the vagueness or ambiguity of έστι, the ‘propositions' which Parmenides expresses are not contradictories (of which one must be true and the other false), but contraries, both of which it is possible to deny simultaneously, and it is clear that from the point of view of strict logic they are not exhaustive alternatives.
Fr. 8 throws more light on Parmenides' conception of the choice between ‘it is' and ‘it is not'. The addition of the word πάμπαν in Fr. 8 11 should be noted. What he means by the word ‘wholly' in the sentence 'thus it needs must be either that it is wholly or that it is not' becomes clear when we consider the remainder of Fr. 8 where he argues that ‘what is' is ungenerated and indestructible (vv. 6-21), immovable and unchangeable.(1) ‘What is not', conversely, is said to be inconceivable (8 f., 17, 34 ff.), and we are told that nothing can ever come to be from what is not (7 ff., 12 f.). The two alternatives between which Parmenides wishes a choice to be made might, then, be expressed, in this context, as unalterable existence on the one hand, and unalterable non-existence on the other. But if this is so, Parmenides' alternatives, stated in the form of propositions, are again a pair of contrary, not contradictory, assertions, for the contradictory of 'it exists unalterably' is 'it does not exist unalterably' and not 'it is unalterably non-existent' . By taking 'it is' and 'it is not' in this sense(2) as exhaustive alternatives in Fr. 8 11 and again in 16 (‘it is or it is not'), Parmenides forces an issue. Physical objects, subject to change, cannot be said to 'be' in the sense of 'exist unalterably' which Parmenides evidently demands: but since he allows no other alternative besides unalterable existence and unalterable non-existence, then, according to this argument, physical objects must be said not to exist at all, indeed to be quite inconceivable." (pp. 104-105)
(1) See ακίνητον at Fr. 8 26, and the denial of all sorts of change at 38 ff.
(2) Even if we take έστι in a predicative, rather than an existential, sense, Parmenides’ choice again seems to lie between a pair of contrary assertions, i.e. between 'it is wholly so-and-so' (e.g. black) and 'it is wholly not-so-and-so' (not black), rather than between contradictories ('it is wholly so-and-so' and 'it is not wholly so-and-so').
———. 1972. "Parmenides' Sexual Theories. A Reply to Mr Kember." The Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 92:178-179.
Abstract: "In an article entitled ‘Right and left in the sexual theories of Parmenides' (Journal of Hellenic Studies XCI  70–79) Mr. Owen Kember challenges my statement (Polarity and Analogy  17) that ‘Parmenides probably held that the sex of the child is determined by its place on the right or left of the mother's womb (right for males, left for females)'. In his article Kember draws attention, usefully, to the confusions and contradictions of the doxographic tradition. He has, however, in my view, misinterpreted one crucial piece of evidence. This is the testimony of Galen, who quotes Parmenides Fragment 17 (δεξιτεροῖσιν μὲν κούρους, λαιοῖσι δὲ κούρας) in the course of his commentary on [Hippocrates] Epidemics vi ch. 48. Kember notes, correctly, that the meaning of the fragment by itself is quite unclear: 'the only deduction which can be safely made from the actual fragment is that Parmenides thought right and left were somehow connected with sex, and even here we must rely on Galen's judgement that the passage did in fact refer to sex in the first place' (op. cit. 76)."
Loenen, Johannes Hubertus. 1959. Parmenides, Melissus, Gorgias. A Reinterpretation of Eleatic Philosophy. Assen: Van Gorcum.
Reprint New York: Humanities Press, 1961.
"Presents a comprehensive review of Eleatic philosophy as developed by Parmenides and Melissus, and as interpreted by Gorgias. identifies the ideas which are common in Parmenides' and Melissus' philosophical positions, as well as the themes (which are deemed substantial) that separate them. Observes that Gorgias' attack of Eleatic ideas must be understood from the point of view given to those ideas by Melissus. Speaks of Eleatic philosophy as a metaphysics of absolute reality, in which dualism (rather than monism) and epistemological rationalism are the fundamental ideas. Observes that Parmenides "must not be looked upon as the father either of materialism or of idealism, but that he may indeed be considered the first representative of dualistic metaphysics and a realistic form of epistemological realism" (p. 5)." [N.]
Reviewed by: Rosamund Kent Sprague, Classical Philology, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Oct., 1961), pp. 267-269; M. C. Scholar, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Volume 3, Number 2, October 1965, pp. 255-260; Jean Bollack, Mnemosyne, Vol. 19, 1, 1966, pp. 65-70. (in French).
Long, Anthony Arthur. 1963. "The Principles of Parmenides' Cosmogony." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 8:90-107.
Reprinted in: D. J. Furley and R. E. Allen (eds.), Studies in Presocratic Philosophy. Vol. II: The Eleatic and the Pluralists, London,: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975, pp. 82-101.
"The significance claimed by Parmenides for the cosmogony which forms the second half of his poem continues to be highly controversial. The interpretations offered by Owen and Chalmers, to name two recent criticisms, are so widely divergent that one might despair of arriving at any measure of agreement. (2) But since the significance of The Way of Truth must itself remain in some doubt until the status of the cosmogony is determined, further examinations of the evidence are justified. The purpose of this article is to discuss the passages throughout the poem which are concerned with mortal beliefs, and to suggest an interpretation of the fundamental lines 50-61 of B 8. (3) In this way the function of the cosmogony may, I believe, become clearer.
Of the solutions to the problem suggested by ancient and modern critics, four main trends can be discerned:
I. The cosmogony is not Parmenides' own but a systematized account of contemporary beliefs.
2. The cosmogony is an extension of The Way of Truth.
3. The cosmogony has relative validity as a second-best explanation of the world.
4. Parmenides claims no truth for the cosmogony.
The first view, canvassed by Zeller and modified by Burnet to a 'sketch of contemporary Pythagorean cosmology', finds few adherents among modern scholars. (4) It has never been explained, on this interpretation, why the goddess should be made to expound in detail a critique of fallacious theories. Bowra (5) has taught us to see the poem as demonstrably apocalyptic, and Parmenides needed no goddess's patronage to set forth his contemporaries' cosmological systems. Moreover, there is nothing in the later part of the poem which can be explicitly attributed to any attested philosopher. The doxographers in general, from Aristotle, assign the cosmogony to Parmenides himself.
The second and third views above have received much support. It is argued, following Aristotle, (6) that Parmenides cannot have countenanced absolute denial of phenomena. Such an explanation, however, fails entirely to account for the later activity of the Eleatics, and is quite at variance with the evidence of the poem. It belittles the achievement of Parmenides, and fails to take into account the evidence in favour of 4., even when this is equivocal. I shall argue that the cosmogony gives a totally false picture of reality; that it is the detailed exposition of the false way mentioned in The Way of Truth (B 6.4-9) and promised by the goddess in the proem (B 1. 30-32); that it takes its starting point from the premise of that false way, the admission of Not-being alongside Being, not from the introduction of two opposites, Fire and Night; and finally, that its function is entirely ancillary to the Way of Truth, in the sense of offering the exemplar, par excellence, of all erroneous systems, as a criterion for future measurement."
(2) G. E. L. Owen, 'Eleatic Questions', Classical Quarterly NS X (1960), pp. 84-102, above, pp. 48-81; W. R. Chalmers, 'Parmenides and the Beliefs of Mortals', Phronesis V (1960), pp. 5-22.
(3) All fragments of Parmenides are quoted from Diels-Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin 1951).
(4) J. Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy (London 1930), p. 185.
(5) C. M. Bowra, 'The Proem of Parmenides', Classical Philology XXXII, 2 (1937), pp. 97-112.
(6) Cf. Aristotle, Met. A5 986 b 18.
———. 1996. "Parmenides on Thinking Being." Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy no. 12:125-151.
With a commentary by Stanley Rosen, pp. 152-162.
Reprinted in: G. Reschnauer (ed.), Frügriechisches Denken, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005, pp. 227-251.
"At the end of one of his studies of Parmenides Heidegger wrote: "The dialogue with Parmenides never comes to an end, not only because so much in the preserved fragments of his 'Didactic Poem' still remains obscure, but also because what is said there continually deserves more thought."(1) Heidegger's diagnosis of the reasons for "this unending dialogue" is instructive-Parmenides' obscurity, on the one hand, and secondly, the merit of his words as a provocation of thought." (p. 125)
"In this paper I want to elucidate Parmenides' project on the assumption that we should approach him as a philosopher whose primary concern was to explore the activity of veridical thinking, and to identify its subject and object." (p. 126)
"Drawing upon his own philosophy, Heidegger offered a number of suggestions—some of them challenging, others perverse— about the way Parmenides took thinking to relate to Being. If I understand Heidegger, he tried to get inside the mind at work in Parmenides' poem, with a view to showing what it is like to think Being with Parmenides. My paper, though it is totally different from Heidegger's in method and findings, has that much in common with his.(5) I propose that Parmenides' first call on us is not to think about Being but to think about thinking Being (6). In modern jargon, Parmenides' project is a second-order inquiry. He is not purely or primarily a metaphysician. He is investigating mind, from the starting point that something is there—Being or truth—for mind to think." (p. 127)
Loux, Michael J. 1992. "Aristotle and Parmenides: An Interpretation of Physics A.8." Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy no. 8:281-319.
With a commentary by Arthur Madigan, pp. 320-326.
"Parmenides' argument for the impossibility of change so dominated Greek thinking that we can expect it to loom large in Aristotle's discussion of coming to be in Physics A, and we are not disappointed. After presenting his own analysis of coming to be in Physics A.7, Aristotle devotes all of A.8 to the argument.(1)" (p. 281)
(1) In attempting to understand Aristotle's response to the Parmenidean argument, one is struck by the fact that recent literature on A.8 seldom attempts to work through the difficult text of A.8. Those writing on the chapter typically provide inferential reconstructions of Aristotle's reply to Parmenides. As philosophically interesting as those reconstructions are, they tend to leave large chunks of the text unexplained. This paper is an attempt to identify the line of argument Aristotle actually employs in A.8. Its method is unabashedly that of extended philosophical commentary. I do not claim to have explanations of every line of the chapter, but I hope the paper goes some distance towards delineating the main contours of the argument of A.8. I make no apologies for my somewhat tedious attention to the details of Aristotle's response to Parmenides since I believe that clarity on the text of A.8 is a prerequisite to more general philosophical reflection of the sort that has typified recent literature on this chapter.
Mackenzie, Mary Margaret. 1982. "Parmenides' Dilemma." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 27:1-12.
Abstract: "Parmenides the Eleatic wrote a treatise which intrigued, puzzled and confounded the later philosophical tradition.(2) In it, he argued for a strong monism: what there is, is eternal, complete, immoveable and unvarying, one and homogeneous (DK 28B 8.3-6).(3) All the rest, the world of perceptible things, is contradictory - or an illusion.
Strong monism is frighteningly radical. So Parmenides left a series of problems in his wake, some of which have proved so recalcitrant as to be dismissed with that counsel of despair 'it's a dialectical device'.(4) This paper addresses two of those problems, and recasts the dialectical device in a mood of optimism."
(2) The secondary literature on Parmenides is extensive: cf. bibliographies in J. Barnes, The Presocratic Philosophers, Vol.1 (London: 1979) (PP) and A.P.D. Mourelatos, The Route of Parmenides (New Haven: 1970). Like many students of ancient philosophy, I have benefited most of all from the work of G.E.L. Owen; see, for example, his classic 'Eleatic Questions' (EQ) in R.E. Allen and D.J. Furley eds. Studies in Presocratic Philosophy, Vol.II (London: 1975), 48-81: or 'Plato and Parmenides on the Timeless Present' in A.P.D. Mourelatos, ed, The Presocratics (New York: 1974). 271-292.
(3) All references to H. Diels and W. Kranz, eds. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Zurich: 1968) (DK).
(4) Cf. Owen, EQ, 54.
Makin, Stephen. 2014. "Parmenides, Zeno, and Melissus." In The Routledge Companion to Ancient Philosophy, edited by Warren, James and Sheffield, Frisbee, 126-158. New York: Routledge.
Abstract: "Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus, philosophers of the fifth century BC, are often grouped together by scholars. They are sometimes referred to collectively as the Eleatics, after Elea in southern Italy, the home city of both Parmenides and Zeno (Melissus came from
the Greek island of Samos). The connection between them is generally taken to turn on an opaque set of views enunciated by the earliest of the three, Parmenides. Each of the three can be taken as representative of a distinct philosophical strategy. Parmenides was an innovator, in that he offered positive arguments for a novel and provocative set of views about the nature of reality. Zeno was a defender, in that he attacked those who thought Parmenides’ ideas sufficiently absurd that they could be rejected out of hand. Melissus developed Parmenides’ thought by arguing, often in fresh ways, for views which, while fundamentally Parmenidean, differed in some details from those originally set out by Parmenides. I will accept this framework in what follows, although this account of the relation between Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus is not universally accepted. (See Plato’s Parmenides 126b–129a for the source of the view of Zeno as a defender of Parmenides; for critical discussion see Solmsen 1971, Vlastos 1975, Barnes 1982: 234–237; on Parmenides and Melissus see Palmer 2004; for a treatment of all three see Palmer 2009: Chapter 5.)" (p. 34)
Barnes, J. (1982), The Presocratic Philosophers (revised single volume edition), London: Routledge
Solmsen, F. (1971), “The Tradition about Zeno of Elea Re-examined”, Phronesis 16: 116–141
Palmer, J. (2004), “Melissus and Parmenides”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26: 19–54
Palmer, J. (2009), Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Vlastos, G. (1975), “Plato’s Testimony Concerning Zeno of Elea”, Journal of Hellenic Studies 95: 136–163
Malcolm, John. 1991. "On Avoiding the Void." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 19:75-94.
"Several prominent scholars have maintained that a denial of empty space, or the void, is crucial to Parmenides' rejection of plurality and locomotion.' Plurality, for example, implies divisibility but there is no what is not (or void) to separate one supposed portion of what is from another. Hence what is is one. Locomotion, also, might well appear to need some (empty) room for manoeuvre, but such is precluded by the proclaimed 'fullness' of what is.
Recently, however, interpreters of Parmenides have not been convinced that an appeal to the non-existence of a void plays a role in his denial of locomotion and plurality. The void is in fact never explicitly mentioned in his poem. More importantly, to introduce the void weakens Parmenides' position, for a plenum may he regarded as permitting both locomotion and plurality -- a situation adopted by his successors Empedocles and Anaxagoras. Moreover, at B 8. 22 Parmenides asserts that there cannot be any distinctions within what is and this principle is strong enough to preclude any locomotion or plurality. This renders an appeal to the absence of the void unnecessary as well as insufficient.
Let me expand on this latter point with regard to both locomotion and plurality. In so doing I shall accept certain assumptions which shall require (and receive) subsequent identification and defence." (pp. 75-76, notes omitted)
———. 2006. "Some Cautionary Remarks on the 'Is'/'Teaches' Analogy." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 31:281-296.
"Parmenides says that ‘what is not’ cannot be thought of or expressed (fragments 2, 3, 6). Though there is no explicit filling after the forms of einai, let us not read them as ‘exists’, but let us see how far we can get without committing Parmenides to the view that we cannot think of, or refer in speech to, what does not exist.(10) If we understand an ellipsis and take the traditional alternative, the copula, Parmenides’ dictum seems obviously true. If we cannot ascribe attributes to something, we cannot conceive of it (but see n. 7 above).
By excluding not being Parmenides (fragment 8) derives an impressive(11) series of characteristics of Being. Most of these, i.e. one, unchanging, continuous, indivisible, and homogeneous, follow directly from the denial of di·erentiation. I shall urge that this key move is best read as taking being as incomplete, not as existence." (p. 284)
(7) Kahn, ‘Return’, 386, quotes Plotinus as denying being to the One. He reads this as removing all predicative being, but not existence, from that sublime entity. It is unclear tome how this interpretation harmonizes with the view, which he champions, that the ancients did not (implicitly) distinguish existence from predication.
(10) As against e.g. D. Gallop, Parmenides of Elea: Fragments (Toronto, 1984), 8.
Brown (217–18) clearly presents the paradoxical results of limiting esti to ‘exists’.
(11) For Brown, ‘startling’ (216).
Brown, L., ‘Being in the Sophist: A Syntactical Enquiry’ [‘Enquiry’], Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 4 (1986), 49–70.
‘The Verb “to be” in Greek Philosophy: Some Remarks’ [‘Verb’], in S. Everson (ed.), Language (Companions to Ancient Thought, 3; Cambridge, 1994), 212–236.
Kahn, C., ‘A Return to the Theory of the Verb be and the Concept of Being’ [‘Return’], Ancient Philosophy, 24 (2004), 381–405.
Maly, Kenneth. 1985. "Parmenides: Circle of Disclosure, Circle of Possibility." Heidegger Studies / Heidegger Studien no. 1:5-23.
"This essay attempts to present Heidegger's reading of Parmenides, focusing on the lecture course of 1942-43, the lecture The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking (1966), and the Zahringen Seminar (1973). It shows (a) Heidegger's dealing seriously with the texts of Greek philosophy, (b) his grappling with the issue of metaphysics, (c) the new possibility for philosophical thinking that his reading of the Greeks offers, and (d) his engagement in the difficult task of dismantling the history of Western thought (i.e., metaphysics) towards a new possibility for thinking. In dismantling the philosophy of Parmenides, Heidegger's work takes Parmenides' text deeper than the simplistic issue of "static being" over against "becoming"."
Manchester, Peter B. 1979. "Parmenides and the Need for Eternity." The Monist no. 62:81-106.
"Greek ontology eventually developed a notion variously described as 'timeless', 'atemporal', or 'non-durational' eternity. In Proclus and Simplicius it is already a school-commonplace, with a stable vocabulary in which aion (eternity) is sharply distinguished from what is merely aidios (everlasting, occupying all times). Plotinus had perfected this notion beforehand, believing not only that he found it in Plato, but that Plato had developed it on Parmenidean grounds.
Until the last twenty years or so historians generally shared that view, on the ground of verbal agreement among familiar texts from Parmenides, Plato and the Neoplatonists.
But the criticism which distrusts the retrojection, via verbal agreement, of later conceptions into earlier argumentation has had this whole 'tradition' under intense scrutiny lately, and it has not held up uniformly well. It is no longer always conceded that the aion of Timaeus or the aei on of more common Platonic usage are nondurational, and there is increasingly frequent unwillingness to read an argument against duration in the Parmenides of our fragments.(1)" (P. 81)
"Parmenides contrived a discourse that had a different means of surviving verbatim than that of Heraclitan epigram, but survive it has. The proposal of this paper is that its treatment of time stabilizes it, provides the 'negative feedback' that holds the text homeostatic against millennia of emenders.
But what about eternity? Not the theological eternity, connected with divine omniscience and with theodicy, but the Greek ontological notion. Eternity, the Now of the All One, is not 'non-time' but the paradigm for the timelikeness of numbered time." (pp. 99-100)
(1) W. Kneale, "Time and Eternity in Theology," Aristotelian Society, Proceedings (NS) 61 (1960-61), pp. 87-108.
Mansfeld, Jaap. 1981. "Hesiod and Parmenides in Nag Hammadi." Vigiliae Christianae no. 35:174-182.
"We have noticed that, in Plutarch, Parmenides' cosmogonic Eros plays an important part and that he also says that Parmenides spoke of a cosmogonic Aphrodite. This is Plutarch's name for the anonymous goddess who in Parmenides creates Eros (Vorsokr. Fr. 28B13, quoted Amat. 756 F29). The activities of this goddess are described in some detail in a fragment of Parmenides preserved by Simplicius only (Vorsokr. Fr. 28B12), and in a non-verbal quotation by the same Simplicius (In Phys., p. 39, 20-1, cf. Vorsokr. ad Fr. 28B13).
Surprisingly, a substantial portion of the hymnic description of Eros in NHC 11, 5, is strikingly parallel to these Parmenidean passages:
NHC II [Nag Hammadi Codex II], 5, 109, 16ff. - Parmenides B12, 1-3; 4-5." (p. 179, notes omitted)
"Yet I am not going to argue that the author of NHC 11, 5 had read Parmenides, any more than he had read Hesiod. Above, I have suggested that the person responsible for the Gnostic treatise in the form in which it has come down to us was influenced by Greek literature
comparable as to its contents to passages in Plutarch." (p. 180)
———. 1994. "The Rhetoric in the Poem of Parmenides." In Filosofia, politica, retorica. Intersezioni possibili, edited by Bertelli, Lucio and Donini, Pierluigi, 1-11. Milano: Franco Angeli.
"In the present paper, I wish to argue that Parmenides not only uses means we may call logical, but also avails himself of means we may call rhetorical. His logic is not a formal logic or logica docens, but a logica utens. In the same way, his rhetoric is not a rhetorica docens (not yet a τέχνη, as Aristotle would say) but a rhetorica utens. Aristotle, at the beginning of his Rhetoric, actually uses the concept of a rhetorica utens, for he points out that rhetoric and dialectic are very closely related and that all men, more or less, make use of both, either at random or from practice or acquired habit. It is this natural endowment which forms the basis of the art (1)." (p. 1)
"We may safely conclude that Parmenides wanted to convince his audience in every way possible not only by means of argument, but also by using every possible rhetorical effect. This explains why the concept of ‘conviction’ (and a number of words relating to this concept) occupies a key position in the poem (epanodos again); actually, the word for conviction and its relatives are even used as a means of conviction (41).
The maidens «knowingly persuade» the watcher at the Gate by using «blandishing arguments» (B1. 15-6): they know how to argue and to get their way (42). Truth is most persuasive (ευπειθεος), whereas there is no true πιστις (43) in the views of men (B1.29-30). The way of ‘what there is’ is the way of conviction (πετθους B2.4). It is the power of niorig which prevents something to come to be from what is not there (B8.12 ff.). True πιστις has driven away coming to be and passing away (B8.28-9). What mortals believe (πεποιθοτες) to be true is not so (B8.39b ff., cf. B1.30). The account of truth provided by the goddess and its comprehension is πιστος (B8.50-1).
This πιστις, one should point out, is brought about by rigorous argument; it is caused by proof. True. It does make a difference whether one is convinced by rhetorical means, or is so by logical means. But, as Aristotle says, a rhetorical proof (nioTu;) is a kind of proof, and we are most fully persuaded when we assume that something has been proved (44). Often enough, the proofs in the poem involving πιστις are addressed ad hominem, that is to say are expressed in contexts containing the personal pronouns you and me (45), or verbs in the second or first person. The goddess is addressing her one-man public; the greater part of the poem is a formal logos (in verse) pronounced by her. What we would call logical proof is her most important instrument of conviction in the Way of Truth, but it is again and again presented as precisely such an instrument. In Parmenides’ day, logica and rhetorica were still in their pre-technical stage of development and, in Aristotle’s words, existed only as interrelated natural endowments. Parmenides of course knows what he is doing. Yet I would argue that for him the difference between rhetoric and logic was not as important as it would become in later times. Today, rhetorical and informal means of argument and of bringing about conviction have again become the object of serious study. But this is not my subject.*
(1) Arist, Rhet. A 1,1354a1 ff.
(41) I have learned much from A.P.D. Mourelatos, The Route of Parmenides (New Haven and London 1970), 136 ff., but prefer an interpretation that is a bit more superficial.
(42) Cf. my paper cited above, n. 17, 274. [Cf. J. Mansfeld, "Bad World and Demiurge: A 'gnostic' Motif from Parmenides and Empedocles to Lucretius and Philo", in M. J. Vermaseren and Roel B. Broek (eds.), Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions Presented to Gilles Quispel on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, Leiden 1981, repr. as Study XIV in Id., Studies in Later Greek Philosophy and Gnosticism, CS 292, London 1989), 273 n. 29.]
(43) Although I am as a rule opposed to Wortphilologie, I wish to remined the reader of the importance of this term in Aristotle’s Rhetoric.
(44) Rhet. 1.1.1355a4-6, Since it is evident that artistic method is concerned with pisteis and since pistis is a sort of demonstration [apodeixis] (*)
(45) See above, n. 27.
(*) Translation by George A. Kennedy; Mansfeld cite the Greek text.
———. 2005. "Minima Parmenidea." Mnemosyne no. 58:554-560.
Reprinted in J. Mansfeld, Studies in Early Greek Philosophy: A Collection of Papers and One Review, Leiden: Brill 2018, pp. 177-184.
Critical and exegetical notes on on the following Fragments from Hermann Diels, Walther Kranz (eds.), Fragmente der Vorsokratiker:
1. A Handicap Fr. B1.22-3a; 2. A Subject Fr. B2 1-5; 3. A Way B6.3; 4. Changing Place and Colour B 8.38-41.
———. 2008. "A crux in Parmenides fr. B 1.3 DK." In In pursuit of "Wissenschaft". Festschrift für William M. Calder III zum 75. Geburtstag, edited by Heilen, Stephan [et al.], 299-301. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.
Jaap Mansfeld proposes to read διὰ παντός in the fragment 1.3 DK instead of πάντ' ἄστη.
———. 2015. "Parmenides from Right to Left." Études platoniciennes no. 12:1-14.
Reprinted in J. Mansfeld, Studies in Early Greek Philosophy: A Collection of Papers and One Review, Leiden: Brill 2018, pp. 185-202.
Abstract: "Parmenides devotes considerable attention to human physiology in an entirely original way, by appealing to the behaviour and effects of his two physical elements when explaining subjects such as sex differentiation in the womb, aspects of heredity, and sleep and old age. Unlike his general cosmology and account of the origin of mankind, this topos, or part of philosophy, is not anticipated in his Presocratic predecessors. What follows is that the second part of the Poem, whatever its relation to the first part may be believed to be, is meant as a serious account of the world and man from a physicist point of view."
"The first to place the relation between the two parts of the Poem explicitly on the agenda was Aristotle, who says that Parmenides on the one hand placed himself beyond physics by postulating that there is only one immobile Being — but that, on the other hand,
constrained to follow the phenomena, he introduced two physical elements, the hot and the cold or fire and earth in order to construct the world, and in this way designed a theory of nature. A remarkable divergence, but not, it appears, a fatal one. Aristotle even provides a link between the two parts of the Poem by adding that Parmenides classified the hot as Being and the cold as non-Being.(4) That this particular link is most unlikely matters much less than that he endeavoured to find one.
In the present paper I shall be concerned with a substantial part of the history of this reception, and use it to try and draw some conclusions. Though for the sake of simplicity the evidence will not always actually be discussed from right to left, a fair amount of
backshadowing underlies most of the following inquiry." (pp. 1-2)
(4) Arist. Met. Α.5 986b14–987a2 (= 28A24, in part). Cf. Phys. 1.2 184b26–185a1.
———. 2018. "Parmenides on Sense Perception in Theophrastus and Elsewhere." In Studies in Early Greek Philosophy: A Collection of Papers and One Review, 2013-217. Leiden: Brill.
Abstract: "Theophrastus' account at De sensibus 3–4 shows (1) that he did not find evidence for a detailed theory of sense perception in Parmenides and (2) that he did not include our fr. 28B7 in his overview. The tradition followed by Sextus Empiricus and Diogenes Laertius concluded from 28B7 that Parmenides rejected the evidence of the senses in favour of that of reason (logos). But logos in Parmenides means 'argument', and glôssa is not the organ of taste but of speech. If Theophrastus had interpreted the evidence of 28B7 in the manner of Sextus and Diogenes he would have been obliged to discuss Parmenides’ triad of purported senses between Plato’s two and Empedocles' five."
Martin, Stuart B. 2016. Parmenides’ Vision: A Study of Parmenides’ Poem. Lanham: University Press of America.
"Sifting through the various interpretations of Parmenides’ poem from ancient times to the present-day, one might easily get the impression that there were two philosophers who went by the name “Parmenides.” The first and much the older “Parmenides” was a religious seer warning about the danger of settling for a superficial reading of human experience. His visionary poem proclaims that Reality, although it may appear multiple, is as the mystics disclose, an all-comprehending One.1 This Parmenides is credited with insights into the nature and meaning of the universe beyond that which reason alone can discover. This view of Parmenides might well be called, the “religious-mystical” view. However, for many if not most 20th century Western scholars, Parmenides was a protomodern philosopher weighing in against the naive religiosity of his time with a series of brilliant but flawed arguments which perhaps led him to conclude that being is one, but whose method in later, more skillful hands, has come to underpin the scientific (and naturalistic) outlook of the modern world. In short, many modern philosophers relying primarily on analytical procedures would claim Parmenides for themselves. Their interpretation of Parmenides, for want of a better name, could be called the “rationalist” view. The “religious-mystical” interpretation is firmly grounded in the belief that Parmenides’ poem is precisely what it presents itself to be in its opening verses: a vision in which God appears to Parmenides and proclaims to him the way to that one-whole Truth which lies hidden behind the veil of appearances. However, the modern student of philosophy may never encounter any serious consideration of this view, for the pervasive opinion of modern specialists, usually followed uncritically by the textbook expositors, is that Parmenides is first and foremost a rationalist, and the opening scenario is merely a literary device." (p. 1)
Mason, Richard. 1988. "Parmenides and Language." Ancient Philosophy no. 8:149-166.
Abstract: "Parmenides says very little about language. Yet what he says is important, both in the interpretation of his philosophy and more widely. This paper will aim to fit together a coherent understanding and to explain why his views have a wider interest. Four themes will be considered: the nature and extent of his critique of the use of language by mortals; his alleged position as a primordial philosopher of reference; the status of the utterances he puts into the mouth of his Goddess; and his apparent identification of speaking with existing or being."
Matson, Wallace I. 1980. "Parmenides unbound." Philosophical Inquiry no. 2:345-360.
Abstract: "One may doubt whether any two scholars interpret Parmenides in exactly the same way. Nevertheless on one fundamental point they divide naturally and sharply into two camps, which I shall call the Majority and the Minority.
The Majority hold that Parmenides intended the Aletheia part of his poem to be taken as expounding the absolute truth about το εόν, in complete contrast to the Doxa part which presents an altogether untrue account of things that have no real existence. According to the Minority view, on the other hand, the Doxa was put forward as possessing some kind or degree of cognitive validity.
In this paper I shall argue in advocacy of the Minority position."
Matthen, Mohan. 1983. "Greek Ontology and the 'Is' of Truth." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 28:113-135.
Abstract: "This is an essay about the ontological presuppositions of a certain use of 'is' in Greek philosophy - I shall describe it in the first part and present a hypothesis about its semantics in the second. I believe that my study has more than esoteric interest. First, it provides an alternative semantic account of what Charles Kahn has called the 'is' of truth, thereby shedding light on a number of issues in Greek ontology, including an Eleatic paradox of change and Aristotle's response to it. Second, it finds in the semantics of Greek a basis for admitting what have been called 'non-substantial individuals' or 'immanent characters' into accounts of Greek ontology. Third, it yields an interpretation of Aristotle's talk of 'unities' which is crucial to his treatment of substance in the central books of the Metaphysics."
———. 1986. "A Note on Parmenides' Denial of Past and Future." Dialogue no. 25:553-557.
"In a recent issue of Dialogue, Leo Groarke attempts to defend the claim that Parmenides was committed to an atemporal reality.(*)
He argues like this:
(1) In the Parmenidean dictum "[It] is and cannot not be" (B2.4), "is" means "exists", and is in the present tense (536).
(2) (According to Parmenides) there is nothing that fails to exist (536).
(3) It follows from (1) and (2) that "the past is not" and "the future is not" (537).
(4) If the past and future are not, then the present is not. "All three tenses go down the drain together" (538), and so reality is atemporal." (p. 553)
"The point that I have tried to make in this short discussion note is that one cannot be careless about the ontology that one attributes to Parmenides in order to make his ban on non-existence yield other results such as the ban on change, or the abolition of time. Groarke is not the only person to have done this: there are others who have thought that an ontology of facts is adequate to explaining Parmenides' denial of change.(6) Groarke, however, is in special trouble because his account demands, and does not just permit, facts." (p. 557)
(6) For example, Montgomery Furth, "Elements of Eleatic Ontology", in Alexander P. D. Mourelatos, ed., The Pre-Socratics (New York: Anchor Press, 1974), 260.
(*) Leo Groarke, "Parmenides' Timeless Universe", Dialogue 24/3 (Autumn 1985), 535-541.
McKirahan, Richard. 2008. "Signs and Arguments in Parmenides B8." In The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy, edited by Curd, Patricia and Graham, Daniel W., 189-229. New York: Oxford University Press.
"David Sedley recently complained (1) that despite the enormous amount of work on Parmenides in the past generation, the details of Parmenides' arguments have received insufficient attention. (2) It is universally recognized that Parmenides' introduction of argument into philosophy was a move of paramount importance. It is also recognized that the arguments of fragment B8 are closely related. At the beginning of B8, Parmenides asserts that what-is (3) has several attributes; he offers a series of proofs that what-is indeed has those attributes. Some (4) hold that the proofs form a deductive chain in which the conclusion of one argument or series of arguments forms a premise of the next. Others (5) hold that the series of inferences is so tightly connected that their conclusions are logically equivalent, a feature supposedly announced in B5: "For me it is the same where I am to begin from: for that is where I will arrive back again." In act, close study of the fragments reveals that neither claim is correct. Here I offer a new translation of B8, lines 2-51, with an analysis of the arguments, their structure, their success, and their importance.(6)
I begin with a caution. Many of Parmenides' arguments are hard to make out: even on the best arrangement of the available sentences and clauses they are incomplete. Since Parmenides lived before canons of deductive inference had been formalized, he may not have thought that there is need to supply what we regard as missing premises. The interpreter's job is not to aim for formal validity, but to attempt a reconstruction of Parmenides' train of thought, showing how he might have supposed that the conclusion follows from premises he gives. This is a matter of sensitivity and sympathy as much as of logic, depending on how we understand other arguments of his as well, and requires willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt -- up to a certain point." (p. 189)
(1) Sedley, "Parmenides and Melissus," 113. Sedley's complaint applies to antiquity as well.
(2) Jonathan Barnes is a notable exception to this tendency. I am indebted to his analysis in Presocratic Philosophers, chaps. 9-11.
(3) So far as possible, I translate to eon by "what-is"; I avoid "being." The expression denotes anything that is (see note 18 here).
(4) Notably Kirk & Raven 268
(5) Owen, "Eleatic Questions."
(6) In some places my discussion depends on interpretations of B2, B6, and B7 that are not presented here for want of space. I sketch my justification for controversial views in the notes.
(18) Parmenides argues here that the second road of investigation, "is not," cannot be pursued, on the grounds that you cannot succeed in knowing or declaring what-is-not. The minimal complete thought characteristic of the first road is eon (or to eon) estin ("what-is is"), with "what-is" being a blank subject with no definite reference: anything that is, whatever it may turn out to be and however it may be appropriate to describe it or refer to it. Likewise for the second road: the blank subject of ouk estin ("is not") is to me eon (or mé eon) ("what-is-not"), and the minimal complete thought characteristic of the second road is to me eon ouk estin ("what-is-not is not"). The argument is not a refutation of "is not" as such. Nor is it a refutation of "what-is-not is not" in the sense of proving that that claim or thought is false. Instead Parmenides undermines "what-is-not is not" as a possible claim or thought. Since what-is-not cannot be known or declared, then a fortiori no claim about what-is-not can be known or declared (for instance, that it is not). Therefore, not even the theoretically minimum thought or assertion about the second road is coherent; no one can manage to think (much less know) it or declare it. On Owen's view ("Eleatic Questions"), the second road is eliminated not at 2.7-8 but at 6.1-2, which establishes the subject of "is" to be not the blank subject I am proposing but whatever can be spoken and thought of. In my view, the second part of 6.1 (esti gar einai: "for it is the case that it is," which Owen translates "for it is possible for it to be") repeats the content of the first road (2.3), while the first part of 6.2 (meden d' ouk estin: "but nothing is not," which Owen translates "but it is not possible for nothing to be") repeats the content of the second road (2.5). with the appropriate "minimal" subjects supplied. Given these premises, it follows that it is false (and therefore not right) to think that what-is-not is or that what-is is not, but true (right) to do what the first part of line 6.1 says: "it is right both to say and to think that it [namely, the subject of "is"I is what-is." The importance of 6.1-2 thus consists in the introduction of minimal subjects for "is" and "is not" together with the associated truisms that what-is is and what-is-not (namely, nothing) is not. This prepares the way for the discussion of the first road in B8, exploring the nature of what-is. (p. 222)
———. 2010. "Parmenides B8.38 and Cornford's Fragment." Ancient Philosophy no. 30:1-14.
"Having established the attributes of τό έον in a series of arguments that end at B8.33, in the following eight lines Parmenides goes on to explore implications of his earlier claim that 'you cannot know what is not ... nor can you declare it' (B2.7-8) in the light of the results obtained so far in B8.
One of the principal issues in dispute is the relation between a line quoted in two ancient sources (Plato's Theaetetus and a commentary on that work by an unknown author) and B8.38. Do those sources contain the true version of B8.38, an incorrect version of that line -- a misquotation of the true version, or an allogether different line? B8.38 is a pivotal line in the passage B8.34-41; as indicated above, I believe that it contains the end of the first part of the passage and the beginning of the second, although it is commonly understood differently." (p. 1)
Meijer, Pieter Ane. 1997. Parmenides Beyond the Gates: the Divine Revelation on Being, Thinking and the Doxa. Amsterdam: Gieben.
Contents: Part I: Being and Thinking; Chapter I. The relation of Being and Thinking 3; Chapter II. Being and temporality 15; Chapter III. Being and spatiality 29; Chapter IV. Being and Matter 44; Chapter V. Tensions of a spatial and material Being and of Thinking within the identity of Being and Thinking 47; Chapter IV. Fragment 4 of the identity of Being and Thinking 54; Appendix: Parmenides and the previous history of the concept of Being 85; Part II. Being and Logic; Chapter I. The logical circle:98; Chapter II. The subject of estin 114; Chapter III. The logical procedure again 123; Part III. Doxa and Mortals; Chapter I. Ways and 'Doxa? 144; Chapter II. Scholarly views of the 'Doxa' 166; Chapter III. The basic error of fr. 8, 53,54 190; Chapter IV. Negative qualifications of the Doxa 208; Chapter V. A plea for the existence of the Doxa 217; Part IV. A panoramic survey of results 234; Bibliography 252-257; Indices 258-274.
"Crucial will also be the discussion of the ways of inquiry Parmenides offers. Their detailed examination and delineation will appear to be of vital importance for the understanding of both Being and the Doxa. Anticipating my results, I would like to present as my view that die Doxa is not at all a way of inquiry, but that it must be seen as an optimalized description of Parmenides’ view on this world. It embeds many theorems of predecessors to give an accomplished, overall and insuperable picture of this world, which is radically separated from "the world” of Being.
In Part I of this book the problems which arise from the identification of Being and thinking are examined. In Part II it is the issue of the relation of logic and Being that comes to the fore. In Part III I attempt to catalogue and assess the scholarly explanations given of the Doxa sofar in order to clarify the problems and arrive at a view of my own. Many publications in this field are lacking in confrontation with other already existing opinions. In presenting my own views I confront the views of other scholars. Therefore, a panoramic survey of my results may facilitate the reading of this book. This is the reason why I added Part IV to provide a summary of my views and conclusions."
Miller, Fred Dycus. 1977. "Parmenides on Mortal Belief." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 15:253-265.
"I shall argue here that we, also, ought to accept Plato's judgment as to the philosophical merit of Parmenides' work. At the core of Parmenides' logic, I believe, we find neither a crude equivocation on the Greek word " to be" nor a crude confusion between meaning and reference or between meaning and truth, nor a bundle of modal fallacies. What we do discover is an important insight concerning the nature of thought and discourse, expressed in such a subtly (but disastrously) confused way that the valuable was not completely disentangled from the nonsensical until Plato wrote the Sophist.
The repudiation of the beliefs of mortals at the outset of "The Way of Seeming" is founded upon the "strife-encompassed proof" which is developed in "The Way of Truth." I will endeavor to clarify his reasoning, considering Parmenides' attack on naming and the repudiation of mortals' beliefs (Section I) and later his principle or dictum that "you cannot think or say what is not" (Section lII). In trying to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Parmenides' reasoning, I will also make use of two arguments that were intentionally directed against Eleatic teachings: Leucippus's defense of the void (Section II) and Plato's defense of falsity (Section IV)." (p. 253)
Miller, Mitchell H. 1979. "Parmenides and the Disclosure of Being." Apeiron.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science no. 13:12-35.
"The aim of this discussion is to offer an interpretation of the sense and intent of Parmenides' ἔστι. As the plethora and variety of excellent analysis attests, the problem is a perplexing one. The interpreter is faced with an intentionally fragmentary utterance - the ἔστι appears to stand alone, with its subject (and, possibly, predicate) ellipted - embedded in a collection of fragments from a lost whole poem which, in turn, is itself one of the few pieces of philosophical writing to survive from the sixth century B.C. I will argue in this essay, nonetheless, that the original context of the ton can be recovered and that, once this context is established, its sense can be fixed.
The key to my interpretation is a close reading of the proem. As it is, this passage is generally ignored in analyses of the argumentative substance of the poem." (p. 12)
"If this interpretation is correct, then Parmenides did not regard the contraries as mere illusion. 53 It is true that he does not provide any explicit ontological characterization of their secondary status or domain. That will be the work of Plato and Aristotle.
Nonetheless, in their accounts they are not overcoming a one-sided monism but, rather, completing a task for which Parmenides has established the starting-point and direction." (p. 28, note omitted)
———. 2006. "Ambiguity and Transport: Reflections on the Proem to Parmenides' Poem." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 30:1-47.
"Let me begin by distinguishing an ultimate and a proximate task for these reflections. The ultimate task, a perennial one for students of Greek philosophy, is to understand just what Parmenides lays open for thinking and speaking when, in the so-called Truth section of his poem, fragments 2 through 8. 49, he isolates the ‘is’ (έστι) that is ‘the steadfast heart of . . . truth’ (1. 29). The proximate task is to explore the context Parmenides gives us for this ultimate task, the proem’s account of the transformative journey to and through ‘the gates of the paths of Night and Day’ that brings the traveller into the presence of the truth-speaking goddess.' We modern-day philosophers have generally been reluctant to pursue this exploration too closely, not only because we are accustomed to draw a sharp distinction between poetry and philosophy, a distinction that, arguably, did not take hold in the Greek world until Aristotle, but also, more to the point at present, because Parmenides’ proem seems riddled with ambiguity. This is not wrong; indeed, as I shall try to show, its ambiguity is both more extensive and more central than has been recognized heretofore. But I shall also try to show that it is a resource, not a liability; by the close of these reflections I hope to have made compelling that and why bringing the ambiguity of the proem into good focus is key to a well-oriented turn to our ultimate task, understanding the ‘is’." (p. 1)
Minar Jr, Edwin L. 1949. "Parmenides and the World of Seeming." American Journal of Philology no. 70:41-55.
"In summary, the legislative activity of Parmenides and his association with the politically-minded Pythagoreans show him to be capable of taking interest in practical affairs. The very fact of his writing a didactic poem, the rhetorical warmth of its style, the elaboration of the second part as a socially valuable doctrine, all show that his philosophy is not alien to this interest.
And the appropriateness of his intellectual position to his position in life and the correlation of his views with those of other thinkers, opposing and agreeing, which are sometimes expressed in social terms, make it seem not unlikely that he was influenced in their formation by his reaction to the problems of the " world of seeming."
In so far as he had an immediate aim of conviction and conversion, it is questionable how successful he can have been in it.
Certainly he attracted a number of brilliant and devoted disciples, but it was naive to expect many to follow the severe, logical development of his thoughts, and a type of theory which almost everyone must regard as absurd-or to expect many to be influenced strongly by a system frankly presented as truly false and only second-best. Yet his greatness, as was said at the outset, is as a thinker, not as a statesman, and his important influence was not upon his contemporaries but upon later philosophers." (p. 55)
Mogyoródi, Emese. 2006. "Xenophanes' Epistemology and Parmenides' Quest for Knowledge." In La costruzione del discorso filosofico nell'età dei Presocratici = The construction of philosophical discourse in the age of the Presocratics, edited by Sassi, Maria Michela, 123-160. Pisa: Edizioni della Normale.
Abstract: "The purpose of this essay is to explore the role Xenophanes' theory of knowledge might have played in the formation of Parmenides' central metaphysical concerns. It provides a detailed study of Xenophanes' epistemic tenets clarified within the context of his
theology and cosmology. It argues that although Xenophanes' epistemic ideas were formulated within the intellectual historical context of traditional 'poetic pessimism', an examination of his theology and cosmology indicates that inasmuch as he radically departed from the traditional notion of the divine and the divine-human relationship, his epistemology created an ambiguous epistemic setting chat proved provoking for the new paradigm of knowledge philosophical speculation introduced in early Greece. Parmenides responded to this crisis by a metaphysical inquiry into the rationale of 'the quest' and the nature of reality in a way by which he brought about a fundamental breakthrough toward a new methodology to attain scientific certainty.
Since Xenophanes' epistemology was essentially related to his theology, Parmenides' response necessarily entailed a new conception of the divine-human relationship."
Montemayor Romo de Vivar, Carlos. 2006. Time and Necessity in Parmenides. Long Island City NY Seabum.
Morgan, Kathryn. 2000. Myth and Philosophy from Presocratics to Plato. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
On Parmenides see pp. 67-86.
"A study of the fragments of Parmenides' philosophical poem concerning the possible types of human enquiry provides an opportunity for an in-depth analysis of one suggestive use of myth in Presocratic philosophy. We have argued that Xenophanes defined his philosophical aspirations by excluding poetic/mythological practice. Herakleitos appropriated and transformed mythological elements in order to draw attention to the failings of traditional myth as an adequate system of signification. Both philosophers are concerned with the problematic relationship of language and reality. Yet in both cases poetry and mythology, although important, even crucial targets, are not structuring principles in their philosophy. When one moves to the fragments of Parmenides, one is in a different world. Although Parmenides' mythology is non-traditional, his search for knowledge is communicated to the reader through familiar motifs of quest and revelation and is attended by divine mythological beings. His wisdom is expressed in epic hexameters, which, although commonly stigmatised as clumsy and pedestrian, transport us back to the poetic and mythological realm of Homer and Hesiod. (1) What on earth was Parmenides about?
In this section, I shall characterise the ways in which Parmenides chooses to talk about his insight into the problems of being. Treatments of Parmenides sometimes imply that the mythological framework of the poem is a veneer that can be stripped away to reveal pure philosophical argument. On the contrary, mythological elements are integrated into the argument, and interpreting their status is one of the crucial philosophical problems in the poem. Separating Parmenides' mythos from logos he speaks the same tendency we saw in the interpretation of Xenophanes' literary ethics and theology: the desire to tidy up philosophy (separate mythos from logos) so that it conforms to modern perceptions of its subject matter and method. The idea that literary presentation might have philosophical import is ignored. There is, however, no dichotomy between logic on the one hand, and metaphor and myth on the other. This is to argue in terms which would have been foreign to Parmenides. Problems of mythological style and philosophical content are not only parallel, they are expressions of the same difficulty, the relationship between thought and its expression. Here Parmenides follows in the footsteps of his predecessors as he focuses on the problems of myth as a way of symbolising the difficulties inherent in all language.
Parmenides wishes to make his audience aware of the non-referentiality of what-is-not. He does this through logical argument and by developing mythological figures of presentation that transgress the conclusions of his argument. Both argument and literary presentation problematise the status of the audience; there is a paradoxical incoherence between the world in which we live and the uniqueness and homogeneity of what-is. These difficulties are mirrored in the uncertain relationship of the narrator of the poem (the kouros), Parmenides the author, and the goddess who reveals the truth. The goddess replaces the Muse, but the source of inspiration is uncertain. Let us first survey the main features of the revelation, emphasising the dose connection between thought and being, along with the key themes of narrative persuasion and conviction. We will then engage in a dose reading of the mythological framework of the proem to show how it structures and elaborates the key themes of the rest of the poem. Finally we shall consider the poem as a series of nested fictions that draw attention to problems in the relationship of language and reality, problems of which the mythological framework is paradigmatic." (pp. 67-68)
(1) Parmenides may also have included Orphic elements, which would again contribute to a sense of comfortable orientation in a tradition (Mourelatos 1970: 42). For a recent, but unconvincing, attempt to find Orphism in Parmenides, see Böhme 1986.
Morrison, J.S. 1955. "Parmenides and Er." Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 75:59-68.
Abstract: "The aim of this paper is to explore the suggestion that Parmenides's poem, or at any rate some of it, has light to throw on the difficulties of the myth of Er in the Republic. Parmenides descends to the underworld as a shaman-poet in search of knowledge, Er goes there by the fortuitous circumstance of his death-like trance; but both katabaseis share a common setting, and in both the hero is shown a glimpse of the real shape and mechanism of the universe. In the case of Parmenides the exhibit is two-fold, both 'the unshakeable heart of rounded truth' and 'the opinions of men in which there is no true belief'. Interest has been mainly concentrated on the former, metaphysical, section, from which the greater part of our fragments derive; but the latter contained, in the system of stephanai (*), an account of the appearance of the universe, which is interesting, both on its own account and in view of the light it throws on the difficulties of Er's myth. I shall consider first (I) the setting of Parmenides's poem as it appears in the opening lines, then (II) propose an interpretation of the system of stephanai, and (III) seek support for some of its main features in the general tradition of cosmological speculation from Homer downwards. Finally (IV), I shall proceed to examine the myth of Er and offer an interpretation of some of its difficulties which will take account of this body of earlier thought."
[(*) "Parmenides, on the other hand, in fact [proposes] a fabrication. He makes up something like a wreath—he calls it a stephanē-—a continuous blazing circle of light which encircles the heaven, and he calls it god." Cicero On the Nature of the Gods i, 11, 28 (Dox. 534, 14–535, 8) cited by A. H. Coxon, The Fragments of Parmenides, Revised and Expanded Edition, Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing 2009, Testimonia 54, p. 144.]
Mosimann, Robert. 2001. "Parmenides. An Ontological Interpretation." Philosophical Inquiry no. 23:87-101.
"Presocratic scholarship is a rare phenomenon and even when it occurs, often commences from misguided tenets. Anglo-American philosophy has been much preoccupied by linguistic analysis and logical concerns. Regretfully these concerns of the day have been foisted upon Parmcnides as if he too were a shadow of today's illusions in philosophy.
This paper has several objectives, however, the principal one will be to provide an Ontological interpretation of Parmenides in replacement of the Logical Ones which have come to dominate Anglo American scholarship.
The second concern of this paper will be to correctly interpret "estai" and "that which is" in Parmcnides as well as to determine the existential status of the objects of everyday experience.
Finally, we will discuss Parmenides conception of time and whether "that which is" is atemporal, eternal or neither." (p. 87)