Wednesday, January 21, 2015


There were two Eleatic companions
Whose view led to two contradictions.
But with all said and done,
And things proved to be one,
They saved face with two timely corrections.

Note: Parmenides famously claimed that the all is one, round like a ball, and perfect.  Zeno came up with a number of arguments that purported to show that there couldn’t be many things, and thus that there had to be only one thing.  In the Sophist, Plato criticizes this Eleatic Monism, and it is clear that he is having fun at the Eleatics’ expense.  He points out, among other things, that in saying that what is is one, the Eleatics are committed to saying that there are two names, “being” and “one”, and that these names must name the same thing.  Unfortunately, it’s absurd to suppose that there are two names (and so two things) when there is only one thing.  He also points out that the Eleatics are committed to the view that the name “being” and the thing it names are the same thing (otherwise, they would be two things), and hence either to the absurd claim that “being” names nothing (because “being” is the same as Being, which doesn’t name anything) or to the equally absurd claim that “being” names a name (because it names itself).  All that I am doing in the poem is channeling Plato.   

No comments:

Post a Comment