Sunday, April 18, 2010

Parmenides : The Way of Truth

This is just one of those philosophies from the ancient Greek that I find myself interested in. Having learned about Parmenides fallacy in P3, I searched and found a little more information about him in Wikipedia. Find this work of his particularly interesting. Here it goes...

The Way of Truth discusses that which is real, which contrasts in some way with the argument of the Way of Opinion, which discusses that which is illusory. Under the Way of Truth, Parmenides stated that there are two ways of inquiry: that it is, that it is not. He said that the latter argument is never feasible because nothing can not be:
For never shall this prevail, that things that are not are. (B 7.1)
Since existence is an immediately intuited fact, non-existence is the wrong path because a thing cannot disappear, just as something cannot originate from nothing. In such mystical experience (unio mystica), however, the distinction between subject and object disappears along with the distinctions between objects, in addition to the fact that if nothing cannot be, it cannot be the object of thought either:
Thinking and the thought that it is are the same; for you will not find thought apart from what is, in relation to which it is uttered. (B 8.34-36)

For thought and being are the same. (B 3)

It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not. (B 6.1-2)

Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts; they are carried along deaf and blind alike, dazed, beasts without judgment, convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same, and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one. (B 6.5-9)
Thus, he concluded that "Is" could not have "come into being" because "nothing comes from nothing". Existence is necessarily eternal. That which truly is [x], has always been [x], and was never becoming [x]; that which is becoming [x] was never nothing (Not-[x]), but will never actually be.

Moreover he argued that movement was impossible because it requires moving into "the void", and Parmenides identified "the void" with nothing, and therefore (by definition) it does not exist. That which does exist is The Parmenidean One, which is timeless, uniform, and unchanging:
How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown. (B 8.20-22)

Nor was [it] once, nor will [it] be, since [it] is, now, all together, / One, continuous; for what coming-to-be of it will you seek? / In what way, whence, did [it] grow? Neither from what-is-not shall I allow / You to say or think; for it is not to be said or thought / That [it] is not. And what need could have impelled it to grow / Later or sooner, if it began from nothing? Thus [it] must either be completely or not at all. (B 8.5-11)

[What exists] is now, all at once, one and continuous... Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike; nor is there any more or less of it in one place which might prevent it from holding together, but all is full of what is. (B 8.5-6, 8.22-24)

And it is all one to me / Where I am to begin; for I shall return there again. (B 5)