Views of Post-Parmenides Philosophers

Views of Post-Parmenides Philosophers

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

In order to make room for change again, philosophers after Parmenides preferred to understand it as the coming together and dissociation of already existing things, instead of understanding being as non-existence and non-existence as being.

In order to save the movement, they had to switch from a monist view to a pluralistic view in their understanding of existence, even within this framework. In a sense, they have multiplied existence. For example; Empedocles increased the number of the basic elements of the universe from one to four (earth, water, air and fire) and changed the definition of change. Change is the displacement or separation of these four basic elements. The four elements form combinations in different ways, but their quantities are still the same each time. As these combinations change, different objects appear. For example, a human being is an object made up of earth, air, water and fire in a certain proportion. If he dies, what disappears is the combination he created. This solution proposal of Empedocles not only provides a basic element that remains unchanged (the four elements themselves do not change, soil always remains soil, water always remains water), but also enables change and movement by combining and separating them in certain proportions. As we shall see later, Anaxagoras and Democritus also went the same way, trying to reconcile change with invariance.

The second important problem that philosophers after Parmenides tend to solve is the problem of the possibility of speaking wrong. As seen earlier, Parmenides identified reality with thought, claiming that every thought expresses the truth, that false speech can only mean talking about something that does not exist, and that it is not possible to speak falsely since something that does not exist cannot be spoken. Another expression of this result is the statement “everything I think is true”. This problem led to the emergence of the problem of meaning in Greek philosophy. The concept of existence in this premise was pierced, and the philosophy of the sophists emerged from this concept. For example, there is no such truth as the Sophist Gorgias, Parmenides said. Even if it did, we could not know it with our senses and we could not convey it.

Parmenides identifies thought and being, and says, in a sense, every thought is the thought of being, or everything I think is true. This makes the possibility of wrong thinking and speaking a major philosophical problem. This problem was tried to be solved by Plato.

Plato tried to solve the problem of wrong speech in his works called The Sophist, Theaitetus and Kratylos. According to him, to think wrong is to establish the connections between objects wrongly. Error occurs in judgment. As long as we say A is B, wrong and right appear. To misunderstand is to connect two separate concepts inappropriately. Thus, according to Plato, to think wrong is not to say something that does not exist, as in Parmenides, but to establish an inappropriate subject-predicate bond.

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” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook