Parmenides of Elea

Parmenides, from The School of Athens by Raphael. Public Domain.

Change is impossible! That’s one of the things that Parmenides argued. He was a philosopher from Ancient Greater Greece. He was the first person to bring the idea of deductive reasoning to the forefront, and believed the senses can’t be trusted.

There is only one surviving (incomplete) work from him; a poem named On Nature. written in heroic hexameter (which is apparently the Grand Style of classical poetry, and used by the likes of Homer and Virgil). In the proem (that is, the introductory discourse to the actual poem), he describes meeting a goddess.

He begins by describing himself on a chariot with Sunmaidens, passing along the highway untill they come to the locked Gate of Night and Day. They convince the holder of the key to let them pass in through the gate, entering the realms of Day. The aim is to find a goddess who instructs him in the two ways, that of Truth and the deceptive way of Belief, in which is no truth at all. This supposedly indicates that Parmenides had been converted, that he had passed from error (night) to truth (day), and the Two Ways (the two parts of the poem) represent his former error and the truth which is now revealed to him.

The poem itself goes on to describe the Two Ways, and goes on to say that what is, is. What is not, is not. That is to say, that if something exists then it exists, and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t; nothing can come into existence, as something cannot come from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit). Through this idea, he argues that the world has always existed, and furthermore, that it is a sphere, and unmoving.


Sources: Philosophize This! (http://www.philosophizethis.org) | Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com) | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu)

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