Abstract detail

Title Parmenides as Conceptual Analyst

Parmenides tells us that thought and Being are the same thing; that it is necessary both to say and think that Being is; that Being is without beginning or end, indestructible, universal, existing alone, all together, one, and continuous; that Unbeing (or Not-Being) is impossible and that it is impossible to think or say what Unbeing is. Being is not subject to division but is all alike; nor is anything more in it, so as to prevent its cohesion, nor anything less, but all is full of Being; the all is continuous, for Being is contiguous to Being, unmoved and lying in the same state, lacking in nothing. What can Parmenides have meant by these cryptic remarks? They are, I suggest, among the first (maybe even the first) recorded efforts at conceptual analysis. They are best construed, not as proto-scientific, or even ontological, claims, but as an explication of what it is for assertions to be meaningful, to be candidates for truth. I will show how their Delphic nature disappears when interpreted along these lines. In many ways, they anticipate the kinds of things that modern philosophers like David Lewis have said about the reality of possible worlds.

Primary author
Peter Woolcock