What is the philosophy of Parmenides


It is uncommon and immortal: "It was neither once nor will it be since it is now, at the same time whole, one, coherent." The being can neither have arisen nor exist (or perish) in a future. If something is, one can no longer say that it was or will be - "What is, is". P. justifies the first point more precisely: Being cannot come from - where from, and how should it arise? Where from can only be answered with "from the nonexistent", which is impossible. Regarding how: Everything that develops must contain a principle of this development (a "need"). But how can it contain something if it doesn't exist? It is whole, of one kind: there are only beings, no degrees, gradations or parts of these beings. If it were not a being through and through, it would not have homogeneity and would be in danger of falling apart. But being implies a homogeneous continuum. It is unshakable and perfect: “Motionless, within the limits of great fetters, it exists without beginning, without end. The same thing, remaining in the same (place), it rests in itself. Because the mighty ananke (necessity) holds it in the fetters of a border that surrounds it all around. Because (it is) right that being is not imperfect. «P. emphasizes the complete immobility of reality. Since being is a single homogeneous whole, every form of movement or change - internal as well as external - is alien to it. And he emphasizes his isolation. He places it in »peírata« (boundaries) in order to secure it against every »ápeiron« (the unlimited, imperfect). Reality cannot be imperfect - otherwise it would not be to a certain extent - which is impossible. "Since (there is) an outermost limit, it is completely the same from all sides, like the mass of a well-rounded sphere, from the center on all sides." What is cannot be more in any direction than in another . Being completely defined by its limits, beings are a self-contained whole. All of this points to the form that is fully connoted in Greek thought; P.'s reality has the shape of a sphere. He is obviously thinking of a literal and a metaphysical sense of his sphere. Being knows no time limits - it is everlasting. However, if it had no spatial boundaries, it could not exist perfectly. The idea of ​​this being is reminiscent of Einstein's curved universe: it is finite, and yet there is no "behind it". There is no emptiness. Emptiness can only be where there is no being. But where there is no being, there is nonbeing - and this does not exist: "Nothing is not." On the other hand, beings are not comprehensible with the senses; it is immutable and "timeless". These properties speak for its immateriality. The being is an object of thought, not of the senses.

This ontology is followed in the second half of the poem by the "opinions of people". P. relates a cosmogony which corrects that of the Milesians. While these derive the plurality of the world from an original unity, for P. a cosmogony that establishes plurality must necessarily begin with two causes, which to a certain extent possess the qualities of being and together contain and pervade the whole of sensual reality. The cosmos comes into being not in the disintegration of a primordial unity, but in the interaction of these two polar forces - the cosmogonic principles "light" and "night". "In the midst of these (two), however," P. sees a creative force: Aphrodite-Ananke, "the goddess who directs everything" and who keeps the celestial sphere within its limits.

The cosmogony of the second half of the poem seems to radically contradict the ontology of the first half. It is no coincidence that the question of the relationship between the two parts has become the core problem of P. research. The starting point for a solution is provided by the significant correspondences between the two halves of the poem. Thus the spherical form of beings returns in the celestial sphere of the second half, and Ananke keeps both within their limits: just as she preserves beings in the realm of truth, she maintains becoming in the world of appearance. This suggests that the vision of beings is aimed at the world. P. does not negate the world, but rather its appearance of becoming and passing away. The sensual world, in which the opposites prevail, is also reality: that which is wrongly perceived by people (as it is in its opposites). They believe in change, becoming and passing away, being and non-being, ideas that reduce beings to their (apparent) opposites, and thus admit being to one, non-being to the other ("It is day and not night"). But being knows no nothing (“Nothing is not”), rather it encloses everything: “Everything is assigned to (beings) that human beings have set: to become and to perish, to be and not to be.” The multiplicity that which people perceive as separate is canceled out in the unity of beings. So there are not two worlds, but two perceptions. The people themselves are the producers of their illusory world. By understanding the two primal energies "light" and "night" not as the two sides of the one reality, but solely as mutually exclusive and negating polarities, they develop the wrong ideas of becoming and decaying. They "name" beings in their two (apparent) opposites and thus create a new reality with these names: the duality of appearance.

But a second interpretation can be conceived that does not want to understand this reconciliation of appearance and reality and saves P. as a strict metaphysician. For the sake of the radical nature of his discovery of the intelligible, P. is a prisoner of his language. For him there is only what is and what is (non-existent) nonexistent. The world of appearances, which has no being, inevitably falls victim to the verdict of non-being. Plato, his heir, will abandon this irreconcilable antithesis and place the world of phenomena (becoming) as the third ontological category between being and non-being. P. does not see this third way. But his world of appearances is not a pure non-being. As the parallels between the two halves of the poem, but also the expression "appearance" suggest, it is to a certain extent a reflection of reality: becoming in the world of the senses is the counterpart to being of reality.