Parmenides

Life and Works

Parmenides of Elea's floruit occurred circa 475 B.C., which puts his birth around 515. Diogenes Laertius [i] says he was a student of Xenophanes. Speusippus [ii] claims he established laws for Elea, a Greek colony in southern Greece. Strabo [iii] claims that he was a Pythagorean. [iv] Plutarch claims that Parmenides “left nothing important unsaid.” [v] He wrote in dactylic hexameter a work of poetry called On Nature. Its two parts were Way of Truth and Way of Seeming consist of approximately 160 lines of perhaps 800. These lines are preserved in Sextus' and Simplicius' commentary and are believed by scholars to compose Parmenides' primary philosophical argument. Much debate surrounds the interpretation of the Way of Truth and the Way of Seeming, but one primary aim of current Parmenidean scholarship is to reconcile the two paths, a not insignificant task. The proem [vi] tells of a man who rides on a chariot to the path of the goddess where maidens convince her to open mighty doors. The goddess welcomes him and tells him that it is right he learn everything, as well as truth. She claims the opinions of mortals have no truth to them. [vii] The most important aspect of the proem for our purposes is a phrase used to describe reason: well-rounded truth. Some scholars claim that one may enter any part of Parmenides' thought and it will take them through to the whole:

It is a common origin from where I will begin; for there again I will come once more. (Fr. 5, Proclus in Parm. I, 708, 16 Cousin).

First Principles

Parmenides' may not truly have first principles; his point may be that they do not exist, but that does not mean we are to refrain from thinking about origins and a foundation of all that exists. His way of truth establishes a primary Parmenidean assertion: if something is, it has being and possesses no non-being at all:

If you come I will tell you...the only paths that exist for thinking: the one that is is and that it is not possible not to be is the way of persuasion. For it follows Truth. The other that it is not and that necessarily it is not to be, I tell you is pathless and filled with ignorance; for neither would you know the thing not being (for it is not possible) nor would you speak it. (Fr. 2 Proclus in Tim I, 345, 18 Diehl). For the same thing exists for thinking and for being. (Fr. 3)

Thus, all that is is. Another way of putting this insight is that being implies being and never non-being. Some scholars [viii] distinguish between the predicative and existential being in Parmenides. Predicative being is that something exists a specific thing, quality or state while existential being is that it is present as an existing thing, whatever that is. Parmenides seems to have existed at a time when these two were not yet differentiated, and yet he is on the path himself towards making the distinction. He appears to be saying that the only topics one is able to talk about are the things that exist, as qualities states or as things. Yet, the qualities, states or things as individual entities are not their being; that they exist is their being and there is no ontological particularity that makes the being of something a particular kind of existing thing. One is able to think only of things that are, and the non-existent cannot be apprehended by the mind, and so Parmenides is concerned about knowledge, a point of contention among scholars. It does seem that Parmenides makes no distinction between the existence that one finds in a particular thing as opposed to that thing's mere existence; again that something is present is the being of existence or existential being; that something exists as a particular thing or a particular kind of thing or process is predicate being. Herein lies much interpretive disagreement over what Parmenides is expressing as his first principles: being. One must keep in mind that Parmenides is the first genuine metaphysician because he talks about first principle as a non-spatial and non-temporal foundation. And perhaps Parmenides meant the discussion to continue. He expressed his thought in a poem after all, and poetry is interpreted variously by its very nature. Additionally, one must consider both paths of his poem. The Way of Truth is an exposition of being, the Way of Seeming one of appearance and opposites. In time, science and philosophy give up on answering the question of what being is in favor of a categorization of particulars, [ix] but Parmenides seems to talk of both. [x]

Parmenides' poem talks of being as if it is uniform to all particulars, and he concentrates on that aspect of mere existence that is uniform and vastly general rather than the particulars that are of it. Existence is and cannot not be:

It is necessary that speaking and being abide in being; it is possible to be but it is not possible for not-being to be. I call on you to reflect upon these things. I restrain you from this first path of inquiry and from the path on which knowing-nothing mortals wander, two-headed; a lack of means in their breast guides their wandering mind; they are born deaf and blind at the same time, astounded thoughtless masses, for whom being and not-being are believed to be the same and not the same thing, and for whom the way of things is backward-turning. (Fr. 6 Simplicius Phys. 117, 4).

In fact, his confusion of predicate and existential being gives rise to his monism. There is a continuous being that pervades everything. That is existence, an eternal being which is an eternal now, and this eternal being is all particular and therefore predicate being as well as a continued, present being of existence. Yet, Parmenides makes the distinction between the two when he talks about the different paths. Because existence is, it cannot have not been and because it cannot not-be it will not cease to exist:

One word of the path remains, that it is; on this path are full-many signs, that being is un-generated and non-destructible, for it is whole-limbed and unmoving and without end. It did not exist in the past nor will it be, since now it is all the same, one, continuous; for what generation will you seek of it? In what way and how increased? Not from not-being will I permit you to say nor think; for not said nor thought is it that it is not. What need would stir it to grow later or before, having begun from nothing? It is necessary that it altogether is or not. Nor at some time will strong belief say something comes to be from non-being beside it (what is). On this account Justice does not slacken its bonds to permit it to become or pass away, but she holds it fast. The judgment concerning these things is in this: it is or it is not. It has been decided , just as necessity does, to leave the one path nameless and thoughtless (for it is not a true path), and the other path to judge that it is and to decide that it is true. How would being then be destroyed? How would it come to be? For if it came to be, it is-not nor if ever it is about to be. Then coming-to-be is extinguished and destruction unknown. (Fr. 8 Simplicius Phys. 145, I).

One interpretation sees being in temporal terms: it is the ever-present now and not the past or future because only the present exists. Parmenides is talking about what is the is of what is. Existence is everywhere and nowhere less or more, and so nowhere is being different:

Nor is it divisible since it is all the same; nor is it in some way more, nor some way less, the thing that denies its holding-together, but all is filled-in with is. Its all is continuous; for being draws itself into is. (Fr. 8, 1. 22, Simplicius Phys. 145, 23).

Seemingly repetitive, Parmenides' reasoning attempts to cover all aspects of the being of existence. It is motionless:

But motionless in the limits of great bonds it is non-begun and ceaseless, since coming-to-be and destruction have been driven off; true belief repelled them. The same in the same thing it lies, remaining in itself, and in this way it stays in its own place – here. Strong necessity holds it in the bonds of limit that holds it on both sides, since it is not right that being be unlimited; for it is not lacking. The non-being-is would lack all. (Fr. 8, 1. 26, Simplicius Phys. 145, 27).

And thought is not merely intertwined with being; thought is being like any other particular is being:

It is the same thing both to think and the thing for the sake of which is the thought. For you will not find thinking without the is in which it is spoken. For there is nothing nor will there be anything along the outside of being, because Fate bound the whole to be un-moving; it will possess all the names, howsoever much mortals established, holding them to be true: to come to be and to perish, to be and not and change of place and exchange of bright color. (Fr. 8, 1. 34, Simplicius Phys. 146, 7)

Being is then a first principle of sorts for Parmenides, but it is a non-spatial and non-temporal one and it is not therefore discernible in the way earlier thinkers believed. One can see that Parmenides in some senses blends being and seeming together, yet he does talk of the structure of the world.

Causation and Cosmology

The above passage (Fr. 8,1.26, Simpicius Phys. 145) is, like almost all of Parmenides' work, variously interpreted and argued. Its end result seems to be that change and alteration along with movement are illusions in which humans are engaged. Some scholars [xi] claim Parmenides rejected Pythagorean dualism of the limit and unlimited only to accept the limit as intelligible being. He is compelled to talk about what being is, but he must do so with sensibles, or in other words with perception and specific terms. He must therefore travel his own path of seeming, though he knows it is fraught with difficulties:

Having transitioned from things thought to things perceived, Parmenides proceeds from truth to opinion, as he says, when he states “I stop trustworthy discourse and truthful thought; learn mortal opinions of this listening to the deceiving order of my words”, he himself makes the origins of coming-to-be the primary opposition, which he calls light and darkness or fire and earth or density and rarefaction or the same and difference, saying after the above lines “for they established a naming of two known forms, of which there is no need to name only one – in which they have gone astray – they separated the bodily opposites and established signs separate from one another, to one aither's fire-flame, gentle and light, in all directions the same as itself, but not the same as the other; and that in itself is the opposite, dark-ignorant night, dense of body and weighty. I tell you the whole likely ordering, that no thought of mortals will surpass you.” (Fr. 8, 1. 50 and Fr. 8,1. 53, Simplicius Phys. 30, 14)

Parmenides rejects the typical dualistic positions of many ancient thinkers: limit and unlimited, change and stasis among other things. At the same time he believed he must take the path of sensibles, and so opposites, in order to elucidate truth. This position reveals an important part of his thought. Parmenides believed in an aspect of reality that lies outside of our perception. He is not attempting to be objective, but he rejects mere opinion and thus a form of subjectivity in favor of finding what is intellective in the universe. Here is an attempt to reach beyond the everyday and common sense into an aspect of reality that is permanent. Such permanence seems for him to lie in another realm accessible only through deduction. In other words, there is a strong mathematical element to Parmenides' thinking. He seems to be a precursor for theoretical mathematics in that he requires reason to create a system of thought where premises lead inevitably to conclusions. His poem is axiomatic in that it employs commonly accepted notions (no non-being in being) and conclusions from earlier arguments as premises in later arguments. What seems like repetition scholars interpret as thorough systematic reasoning, which was perhaps the aspect of Parmenides' thought that so impressed ancient Greek thinkers.[xii] Parmenides, though he does not employ mathematics in his poem, remains faithful to its spirit. His intellective being is rendered by deduction. He does take as his pair of opposites light and darkness, but again one must remember that Parmenides merely writes in the field of opposites in order to express something about how being manifests. He did not believe in opposites in the manner that others believed in them. They are manifestations of being that operate with and for the senses. They become and produce the appearance that things come to be and pass away; being on the one hand and opposites on the other are intertwined. Becoming is the illusion of perception. In one sense then the senses are distrustful and in another manner the senses are being, simply because they are, and Parmenides makes a distinction between predicate being and the being of existence in that predicate being is not perhaps the truest being. The being of existence is true being; the opposites that he employs, light and darkness, are likely metaphors for the revelation of a more fundamental being, manifestation and concealment of the being of existence. Predicate being is perhaps then the way of falsity that misleads while at once it has in itself truth, or being. Theophrastus gives a somewhat incomplete interpretation of Parmenides' view:

Parmenides say[s sensation] is of like by like.... Parmenides did not demarcate it completely but [said] only that, there being two elements, knowledge exists by means of their excess. If the hot or the cold take over, another thought comes to be, but a better and more pure [thought comes about] on account of the hot, not but what even that is in need of a balance; for he says as each man has a mixture in his wandering limbs so does thought come to mankind; for that very thing which thinks is the nature of the limbs for men, it is the same thing for each and all men; for the more is thought. For he says that perception and thought are the same thing; [and he says] memory and forgetfulness come to be from these things on account of their mixture; but if they are made equal by mixture, whether there will be thought or not, and what condition [would exist], he did not establish. But that he makes perception due to an opposite is clear in those passages where he says that a corpse does not perceive light and heat and sound on account of the departure of fire, but [a corpse] does perceive cold and silence and the opposites. [He says also] that all of existence has some knowledge. (Theophrastus de sensu I ff. (DK 28A 46)).

Parmenides' cosmology is composed of those opposites:

Parmenides said there were rings wound round one other, one from the rare, the other from the dense; and that there were others mixed of light and darkness between these. That thing that surrounds them all like a wall is, he says, by nature solid on which is again a fire-ring. The mid-most of all is a solid around which again is a fire-ring. The mid-most of the mixed rings is the origin and cause of movement and of coming-to-be, and he calls it the key-holding goddess who steers all, Justice and Necessity. He says the air is separated off from the earth, vaporized because of the earth's stronger compression; the sun is an out-breathing of fire, and so is the stellar-circle of milk (the Milky Way). He says the moon is mixed of both air and fire and that aither lies at the edges, surrounding all; then there is the fiery thing that we call the sky under which are the things around the earth. (Aetius II, 7, I)

Still, this order remains a world that seems a certain way. It is not as it seems, and the Parmenidean deduction is the only path that will lead one to what actually is, a more fundamental being of existence that underlies what mortals perceive as being, but which is also predicate being on some level. These positions are confusing in that Parmenides denies that opposites are fundamental principles of reality, yet he engages with them. One may interpret the range of opposites as an appearance that is a manifestation of what is fundamentally underlying existence. In that way his system is consistent. The being that is and predicate being make up his cosmology. They are a sphere:

But since a farthest limit exists, it is bound everywhere like the mass of a well-rounded sphere, in every way from the middle equal-balanced. For neither greater nor smaller is there need that it be in some way or other. For neither does not-being exist, which would stop it from coming into similarity, nor is it possible that is be more here and less there than is, since all is intact; for everywhere equal to itself, in equal parts it rests in its limits. (Fr. 8, 1. 42, Simplicius Phys. 146, 15).

This passage is variously interpreted because it seems to talk about the being of existence, true being, as well as predicate being. For some scholars it is metaphorical and for others it ought to be taken literally. [xiii] We recognize that there is an empirical element to Parmenides' thought, but that empirical element he perceives as the way of falsity. It is a necessary falsity because it is the realm in which we exist and it is what makes perception, but he seeks the reality beneath perceptions. The sphere seems to be both in some way, but it is important to note that seeking an underlying reality is consistent with all of science. One thinks of the difference between Newtonian and quantum mechanics as just one example. These systems are the same processes, but they operate in very different ways.

Argumentation

What we here present is one interpretation of Parmenides' arguments. He writes literature and logic itself is interpretive, so there are myriad interpretations of what Parmenides claims; perhaps that is one of his aims. [xiv] Parmenides' manner of reasoning is for us a kind of closed circuit, resembling axiomatic reasoning that reveals aspects of reality not immediately perceived. Our simple way of articulating his argument does not entirely suffice and so we begin with an explanation of the principle of sufficient reason, which in Anaximander's thought claims if one cannot deduce that something ought to come about at one time rather than another, then there is no reason so argue that it comes to be at any one time at all. There is inherent in Parmenides' thought the premise that either being is or being is not. These are the categories of being and they are coupled with the law of the excluded middle: either B or not B. Everything follows from these assumptions. [xv] Once Parmenides is allowed to make this assertion, he follows its necessary consequences involving space, time, [xvi] unity and other aspects of nature.

  • All things being are existing things.
  • No things not being are existing things.
  • No things not being are things being.

    -

  • All forces that break continuous being into segments of time are forces allowing being to arise from non-being.
  • No existing forces are forces allowing being to arise from non-being (No things not being are things being).
  • No existing forces are forces that break continuous being into segments of time.

    -

  • All forces needed for becoming and perishing are forces that break continuous being into segments of time.
  • No existing forces are forces that break continuous being into segments of time.
  • No existing forces are needed forces for becoming and perishing.

    -

  • All forces that divide being are needed forces for becoming and perishing.
  • No existing forces are needed forces for becoming and perishing.
  • No existing forces are forces that divide being.

    -

  • All forces that create dissimilarities of being are forces that divide being.
  • No existing forces are forces that divide being.
  • No existing forces are forces that create dissimilarities of being.

On the one hand, one can see that it is necessary to take parts of one syllogism to create another. [xvii] Parmenides' thought is bound up within itself in the sense that one needs to understand one element in order to break into his overall argument; notice that the conclusions of each syllogism are themselves used in other syllogisms. When the premise that being does not come from non-being is accepted, all the rest follows as if in a strong edifice. Here Parmenides creates an axiomatic system that arises from a very simple, and devastating, premise. Once accomplished, entering into Parmenides' thought allows one to understand his whole system. Many scholars see the organization of Parmenides' thought as deductive and in a sense mathematical. We agree to the extent that his somewhat repetitive system coheres from one premise to another, but he is not the only nor the first thinker of the ancient world who crafted a coherent, consistent manner of reasoning. What Parmenides did was to see, through a reasoning that appears repetitive but is actually in part axiomatic, an aspect of material reality that counters ordinary experience . We will see how Euclid builds a system of geometry based upon earlier and simpler reasoning. Such systems are iron-clad in themselves, and so once one accepts the premises they must accept the conclusions. Such potent reasoning coupled with imagination is integral to scientific endeavor. Here is a major accomplishment the likes of which is a part of mathematical investigation of matter and reality.

Parmenides' argument is that nothing really comes to be or perishes, which seems untrue to ordinary perception. Thus the path of falsity. Yet, if one follows his reasoning and uses some imagination, one is able to see that quite another aspect of matter and being is a part of what we call existence. His first element seems to be being, and not simply being but a specific kind of existence: the being of existence, or existential being, is his first principle. It lies beyond coming to be and passing away, and access to it comes through logos, or reasoning, and not through experience ordinary or otherwise. His logos reveals something unexpected to common experience like Heraclitus' logos reveals something hidden and contradictory to common experience. Reasoning that appears to contradict common experience or reasoning that reveals something hidden to common experience is a fundamental part of scientific endeavor. Theoretical mathematics engages in that kind of reaching into another part of material reality that remains unseen, bizarre even. Parmenides reached not with mathematics but with broader, linguistic reason and he is in this sense at least an impressive figure in ancient inquiry and insight. One can also compare his sense of one being and monism with Heraclitus' sense of no loss of energy. Both Parmenides and Heraclitus seem to have noticed that in the interactions of objects there is some manner of constancy, like a closed system. We can think of this constancy as the preservation of energy, at least in the case of Heraclitus. Both thinkers appear to be monists [xviii] as well. Both contributed handsomely to the revelation of some aspect of reality previously unknown. All they did really was reason, and reasoning lead them to previously unacknowledged, imperceptible reality. Thus, imagination coupled with deduction was a potent combination. It remains as powerful today, of course.

  • [i] Diogenes Laertius, IX, 21-3.
  • [ii] Speus. fr. 3 Taran ap. D.L. 9.23; cf. Plu. Col. 1126A.
  • [iii] Strabo 6, p. 252 Cas. (DK 28A12). For a detailed exposition on precisely how Parmenides can derive his first principles, in the form of being and opposites, from Pythagoreanism see Francis Cornford (1922 and 1923). The idea that Parmenides was initially a Pythagorean is an attractive one that seems to be going out of style. We include it here because it has merit, though room does not permit a defense of the position.
  • [iv] On Nature was likely not the title of the work, but it is how scholars have referred to it.
  • [v] (adv. Col. 1114B). Plutarch refers to the many scientific topics in the Way of Seeming.
  • [vi] Fr. I, Sextus adv. math. VII, III and Simplicius de caelo 557, 25.
  • [vii] These initial lines in Matthew Cosgrove's words “connote an 'illuminated observer'”, 30. They “depict a journey within the world of appearance....” 30.
  • [viii] Kirk and Raven, The Presocratic Philosophers, 270-2.
  • [ix] We will see that Aristotle is the first authentic analytic philosopher who categorized not only statements in logic, but also things in the universe. He begins a process that continues in science to this day. The question of being is revisited in the twentieth century by philosophers on the continent. There are now myriad interpretations of being now discussed (predicate, existential, relational, veridical, as a copula of definitional identity are only a few). Patricia Curd takes Parmenides' being as “an informative identity claim, an assertion that, when true, reveals the nature of a thing, saying just what something is,” just as “what we know in knowing what-is is the real or genuine character of a thing.” For Mourelatos The “x” in the Parmenidean “x is F” “ranges over any and all ordinary physical objects, whereas the 'F' ranges over the physis or aleitheia ('nature', 'reality' or 'true identity') of the ordinary object at issue.” 123. S. Wheeler makes a claim for predicate being in that “if x lacks anything to be F, it lacks everything, that is, it is not F.” John Palmer claims that being and not-being for Parmenides are modalities “as ways of being or ways an entity might be rather than as logical patterns” and so thought and being a closely related. Ronald Hoy asserts that time is not real for Parmenides “because temporal becoming requires one to affirm that what is ostensibly real both is and is not.” 379. So, for Hoy the contradiction of being is the crux of the matter. Charles Kahn takes the veridical position that Parmenides is concerned with knowing how being is true more than he is concerned with the being in another sense. This position changes the conversation fundamentally. Kahn's view has the virtue of understanding the simplicity from which complexity arises in Parmenides' thought. S. Tugwell discusses the ambiguous nature of the verb “to be” in ancient Greek. Frank Lewis perhaps over-reads and thus his view becomes anachronistic, but its philosophical content remains of interest. G.E.L. Owen claims that Parmenides asserts the non-being of what is not because of a misplacement of a modal qualifier. Significantly, McKirahan elucidates how the realm of seeming and that of truth operate together in that “mortals believe, on the basis of what their senses report, that things come to be and perish. They come to be at one time and perish at a later time. Before coming to be, a thing is not (it does not exist); after it perishes, it is not (it no longer exists), and in between, it is. So mortals suppose that it both is and is not, just as they suppose that the fig (as it changes color through time) is the same and not the same. Neither case involves contradiction.”, 158. Parmenides' divine logic is responsible for drawing out the contradictions. In the least, as Stephen Makin points out, we are confronted with a thinker whose conclusions confound common sense on the topic of being. For more on the distinctions between predicate being and the being of existence (as well as the epistemological state of being), see Schlagel, Bredlow, Curd, Mourelatos, Wheeler, Palmer, Hoy, Kahn, Owen, McKirahan, Warren (who gives a good overview of the entire poem), Roochnik,
  • [x] There are scholars who claim that Parmenides does not write of nature or first principles if only because of his monism. Margaret Scharle is representative of this group when she claims that “to investigate whether being is one and motionless is not to investigate concerning nature. For just as the geometer has nothing more to say to one who denies the principles of science...so a man investigating principles cannot argue with one who denies their existence. For there is no longer a principle if there is one thing only, and one in this way. For a principle is of some thing or things.” 330. Other scholars look to reconciling the Way of Seeming with the Way of Truth. John Sisko claims that “the goddess suggests that light and night, far from being substances, are actually different phase-states of some one underlying substance.” 46. We take this view, at least in part. Like Sisko we take it that being is a cosmic arche, or fundament and Parmenides is in some sense a monist; being is in Sisko's terms a “substrate”. Light and night are forms of this fundament but have no independence from it. Reality is the being of what-is. A.H. Coxon thought that the realm of opposites is that of relativity, which has no real existence (one thinks immediately of Heraclitus). Mitchell Miller rightly claims that the “goddess does not object to the dualism as such; rather she objects to the failure of mortals to go beyond it and name a higher, unifying form” 19, namely being. The opposites may be illusory in that they do not bring one to the ultimate reality, but they are perhaps more than mere illusion in that being is somehow responsible for them; in what remains of the poem Parmenides does not explain how. For more, see Sisko, Coxon, Scharle.
  • [xi] Kirk and Raven, 270.
  • [xii] Ancient thinkers contemporary with Parmenides also used reasoning that employed earlier conclusions, but not to the extent perhaps that Parmenides did, and he let his premises lead him to whatever conclusions they did, which meant that common sense was reduced to rubble. We are unable to come to a firm conclusion about the matter given what survives, but Parmenides seems to have created a thorough system, moreso than others. Deductive in their own manner and possessing a vigorous system of their own, the Pythagoreans used math in a more imaginative manner, making points into lines and specific amounts of points into solids and specific shapes. Pythagoreans were more geometric in their enterprise.
  • [xiii] Parmenides is credited for realizing the circuit of the moon and the sun with respect to the earth, a scientific breakthrough. For more, see Mourelatos (2031) and Bertman.
  • [xiv] For example, McKirahan says of 8.34 that “several renderings...are possible; in each case the different translations reflect two different ways of interpreting the passage. The phrase esti noein can mean (a) “thinking is” (Owen, Sedley); and also (b) “is to be thought” (Mourelatos), “is there to be thought” (KRS), “is for thinking” (Curd), “is to be thought of.”, 203. We have here only one small phrase and the above interpretations direct the argument in quite different ways.
  • [xv] Lewis claims that Parmenides alters what he claims and that alteration is no longer contradictory and so not an instance of the law of the excluded middle. Wedin's Governing Deduction provides answers to scholars who find Parmenides' thought to be fallacious. Presenting a thorough introduction to the logical niceties of Parmenides' work, Schlagel points out that Parmenides is the first to draw his conclusions not from experience or sensation so much as from a more pure reason, or speculation in language analysis. He sees the emergence of pure space as a necessary outcome of Parmenides' thought, saying that “the logic of the arguments is not unlike Einsteins's who also concluded that the universe has a spherical shape and this is both finite and infinite: finite in the sense that the dimensions are not infinite, but infinite in the sense that the universe is continuous so that one could never come to its limits, there being nothing beyond it to limit it.”, 110. McKirahan takes a healthy perspective when he claims “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 followed from premises he gives.”, 193. Parmenides may have deliberately left out premises because he believed he had already related them. He did not possess the method of later mathematicians, where the argument is formally proven with explicit premises and clear relationships between them. For more on Parmenidean argumentation, see Schlagel, Kahn, Lewis, Wedin, McKirahan,
  • [xvi] For a contrary view, see Tarán.
  • [xvii] Parmenides' reasoning is complicated and sophisticated. Lack of space keeps us from evaluating his way of thinking more thoroughly. His reasoning is much more complicated and thorough than it is here represented.
  • [xviii] There are different kinds of Parmenidean monism articulated by different scholars: material, numerical and predicational. One kind of material composing reality; one thing underlying all things and oneness of each thing in its particularity is permitted to be only one thing. Aristotle claims that Parmenides must mean that “is...means exactly what is and precisely what one is.” (Phys. 186A33-34). The different types of monism sometimes coincide, but it seems necessary to determine the kind of monism in order to understand how the opposites of Parmenides' universe relate to his being. I. Crystal argues that Parmenides asserts a monistic thesis that “entails the strict identification of the epistemic subject and object” and in fact there is great debate on whether Parmenides is talking about being or about thinking-being or merely thinking. Demetris Nicolaides points out that according to modern quantum theory there is instantaneous effects on the universe no matter what distance between things. In other words, because something is measured or because it is somehow affected makes the whole universe change in some manner. Nicolaides demonstrates how modern theory supports a certain kind of Parmenidean monism, stating “the view of Being as an indivisible whole is supported by Einstein's theory of general relativity: for everything that there is, space, time, matter, and energy are no longer independent of each other (that is, they are not absolute), as was the case with Newtonian physics, but are ultimately interwoven, affecting one another constantly.”, 175 and “One of the most fascinating consequences of quantum theory is the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. According to it, there are no perfectly isolated particles (or systems). The notion of an individual particle disconnected from the rest of the universe is inaccurate. Rather, all particles in the universe are part of a unified whole. They are in constant and instant interaction, affecting and determining the behavior of each other regardless of how far apart they are.”, 176. For more on Parmenides' monism, see Graham, Coxon, Curd, Crystal, Mourelatos and Wedin. For more on thinking and being, see Crystal, Curd and Long. For a brief but stimulating overview of some modern implications of quantum theory on the notion of monism, see Nicolaides.

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