Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy

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Overview

John Palmer develops and defends a modal interpretation of Parmenides, according to which he was the first philosopher to distinguish in a rigorous manner the fundamental modalities of necessary being, necessary non-being or impossibility, and non-necessary or contingent being. This book accordingly reconsiders his place in the historical development of Presocratic philosophy in light of this new interpretation. Careful treatment of Parmenides' specification of the ways of inquiry that define his metaphysical and epistemological outlook paves the way for detailed analyses of his arguments demonstrating the temporal and spatial attributes of what is and cannot not be. Since the existence of this necessary being does not preclude the existence of other entities that are but need not be, Parmenides' cosmology can straightforwardly be taken as his account of the origin and operation of the world's mutable entities. Later chapters reassess the major Presocratics' relation to Parmenides in light of the modal interpretation, focusing particularly on Zeno, Melissus, Anaxagoras, and Empedocles. In the end, Parmenides' distinction among the principal modes of being, and his arguments regarding what what must be must be like, simply in virtue of its mode of being, entitle him to be seen as the founder of metaphysics or ontology as a domain of inquiry distinct from natural philosophy and theology. An appendix presents a Greek text of the fragments of Parmenides' poem with English translation and textual notes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199567904
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/11/2010
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Palmer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Florida. He is the author of Plato's Reception of Parmenides (OUP, 1999) and of numerous articles on early Greek philosophy. He received his doctorate from Princeton University and was subsequently a research fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge. He has also been the receipient of an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship and is a fellow of the National Humanities Center.

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Table of Contents

1. Parmenides' Place in Histories of Presocratic Philosophy
2. Parmenides' Three Ways
3. The Way of the Goddess and the Way of Mortals
4. What Must Be and What Is and Is Not
5. Zeno, Melissus, and Parmenides
6. Anaxagoras and Parmenides
7. Empedocles' Element Theory and Parmenides
8. Parmenides' Place in the History of Presocratic Philosophy
Appendix: The Fragments of Parmenides' Poem
Bibliography
Index locorum
General index

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