Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Parmenides and the Truth

      Perhaps I am a little bitter in my thoughts on Parmenides, but I'll spill them all the same. He seems to me to be inaccessible compared to the other ancient philosophers we have explored, possibly simply because of his writing in poetry, but I think it goes beyond that. The limitation of poetry would not force him to be at times so repetitive and in the same breath so vague with what he means. The subjects of his thought are far removed from their descriptions and so are hard to track down, and he changes his drift seemingly mid-thought sometimes.
     All those grievances being aired, I will say that there are things I appreciate. His idea about the seeming incorruptibility of truth is interesting. He clearly has a conception of an objective truth, one that exists transcendent of the reality it dictates, that cannot be altered. This truth has no beginning or end, but simply is. Nor can it suffer any rival non-truth to rise beside it, because such a competitor would emerge from mortal conception and thus would immediately be lesser than the objective truth.     
     Parmenides' truth reminds me of the idea of a transcendent code of morals found throughout history, but takes everything one step further. Most cultures throughout time that have left enduring marks have had a relatively close scheme of morals, often believing that the existence of the code was a manifestation of some transcendent truth, be it a God, an afterlife thought, or whatever. However, I am not so sure Parmenides feels that a divine or otherworldly existence is the root of the truth he describes. No, it seems to him that the truth does not transcend in a divine manner, but rather in a metaphysical one; the truth is not God or a universal soul, but a framework upon which our perceived reality lies.


  1. I think Parmenides was very interested in the framework of our reality.

  2. Good reflections. You might also consider whether such a metaphysical framework is compatible with a transcendent God.