Being all deep and stuff: Some thoughts on Paramenides

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, May 28, 2010

Paramenides departs sharply from all previous philosophers and establishes something that is uniquely his own. He says that thinking can only take place in two ways: through Persuasion based on Truth or through another method that is completely unlearnable. Paramenides then states: “mortals, knowing nothing wander…and the path of all is backward turning” (#6, pgs. 37-38). The writings of Paramenides continue and two lessons for mortals become apparent: the unthinkable should not be considered and only what is continues and is unchanging. Considering Paramenides’ assertions in the context of what he already stated seems to put everything he asserts into question. Paramenides is a mortal; therefore, according to him he knows nothing and asserts nothing. Paramenides made a special caveat to avoid my claim by having his Truth entrusted to him by a goddess; however, gods and goddesses by their nature are unthinkable. How does Paramenides work out this contradiction? He seems only to further it by providing multiple examples of which this is only one: “But it has been decided, as is necessary, to let go the one way as unthinkable and nameless (for it is not a true way) and the other is and is real” (#8, pg. 38). In this way, since gods and goddesses seem to be unthinkable Paramenides departs from Xenophanes way of thinking. Paramenides also departs from the Greek way of thinking about the afterlife by stating:

“All mortals have established, persuaded that they are true—to come to be and to perish” (#8, pg. 39). This preconception seems to be another example of mortals’ idiocy. Paramenides continues saying: “For neither is there what is not—which would stop it from reaching its like…since it is all inviolate; for equal to itself on all sides, it meets its limits uniformly” (#8, pg. 39). Paramenides seems to be stating that death is simply a limited being finally reaching its limit. There is no afterlife, because to conceive of it would be unthinkable.

 Works Cited

Cohen, S. Marc., Patricia Curd, and C. Reeve. Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: from Thales to Aristotle. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 2005. Print.

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