Parmenides’ Understanding of Philosophy

Parmenides’ Understanding of Philosophy

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

The philosophy put forward by Parmenides is called the Elean philosophy because it was active in the region called Elea. Elean philosophy is, within a certain framework, the continuation of the Pythagorean school in Italy.

At that time, it was necessary to have a certain power to be able to do philosophy. Parmenides had this power as someone from an aristocratic family. By revealing an extremely important understanding that would completely change the subsequent orientations of philosophy, he opened a new path that would lead to the emergence of new ways of thinking.

Philosophers before Parmenides had dealt with the problem of existence. Existence is something that exists. The Eleans have already reached this point. But there were some clear points in the thinking of those before Parmenides. There were some basic views on which philosophers before Parmenides agreed. The first of these is the view that the existent cannot come into being from non-existence, existence cannot arise out of nothing, and an existing thing will never disappear. Elean philosophy also did not change this basic view. In other words, according to them, matter was eternal and eternal. Another important view of the pre-Parmenides thinkers was the argument that the origin of everything came from a single substance.

According to this view, all of the visible multitude in the universe comes from this single origin. That is to say, it happens more than once. The third general understanding of the thinkers before Parmenides was the view that there is a change in the transition to more than one (the structure we call the universe is a whole created by this multiplicity). According to this view, every being in the universe came into existence in some way from any or all of the basic elements called earth, water, air and fire. Change creates diversity, something new. This is the picture of great change in Ancient Greek thought. In this picture, change means the emergence of something that did not exist before. Of course, change also includes a process opposite to this, and so the disappearance of an existing thing can also be one of the results of this change. Eleanic philosophy was born from some contradictions in this change-based universe picture. Parmenides of Elea made a transition to what we call applied philosophy here.

The main claim of Parmenides is that if these three arguments or premises put forward by the thinkers before him are considered true at the same time, an inconsistent result will emerge. According to him, if everything is eternal, if nothing disappears from existence, if it does not come into existence out of nothing, if the thing called change is that something disappears and becomes something new, then there is no change. Because the intermediate premise here and the conclusion are inconsistent. We see that Parmenides presents a logical thinking here. Instead of starting from experiment, it acts with logic and presents an argumentative thought. thinkers before him.
refutes their views according to their own basic assumptions. From this point of view, he moves on to the second subject: If everything is “one”, how will this one multiply? According to Parmenides, it is impossible to derive “many” from “one”. At this point, it would be useful to list the main arguments of Parmenides:

a) Everything is eternal. Being out of nothing, not being out of being,

b) Everything is “one” and there is only “one”. Based on this:

c) There is no change. The “one” here is a sphere. Earth, air, water are nothing like fire.

The main problem to which Parmenides was directed was the problem of change or becoming, and Parmenides tried to show that change was impossible based on the arguments of his predecessors, which were put forward by himself. Change was expressed in Ancient Greek with the word kinesis. The word kinesis meant:

1. The displacement (movement) in space, that is, to go from one place to another.

2. Quantitative change, that is, the increase or decrease of anything.

3. Qualitative change, that is, a change in the properties of something.

4. The change of the essence of something, its transformation from one thing to another.

According to Parmenides, change and multiplicity are only illusions of the senses. According to him, it is not possible to occur more than once, and it is not possible for a change in existence.

According to Parmenides, in fact, any change or movement came from the deception of appearance. In other words, when we look at the universe, it may present an image to our senses that it is constantly changing, but this image is deceptive. Parmenides has two main arguments on this subject; a) Appearance (change) is deception. Appearance is a world created by our mind, b) Reality does not change. We grasp the truth with the mind. A wise person realizes that reality does not change, does not contain any multiplicity, and is one. The senses (aisthesis) are deception. They make things look like they don’t exist.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Course Notes (