Parmenides: fragment three
Giancola, Donna M.
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The purpose of this thesis is to understand and evaluate, in the context of his monism, the meaning and implications of Fragment Three of Parmenides' poem. This fragment, itself incomplete, reads as follows: ... tò γáp αùtò voεîV εótiv tε Kαi εîvαi Which can be translated as: . . . for this is the same, to think and to be There is no disagreement that in Fragment Three Parmenides is in some way relating voεîv ("thinking") to εîvαi ("being"). The primary, but not the only problem which it poses is this: in the identification between thinking and being, are these words a mere statement that being is intelligible, or are they an assertion that Being is intelligent? Most modern commentators side with the former interpretation which accords with the view that reality/being is ultimately objective and impersonal. To maintain this position they are forced to construe the active infinitive voεîv as passive in meaning, with the further corollary that this verb-form implies mere possibility. The first proponent of this interpretation, Eduard Zeller, provided no justification for it. Post factum attempts by John Brunet and Uvo Holsher to provide the needed justification have proven to be groundless. The linguistic and literary evidence points overwhelmingly to the active meaning. Further, the prima facie interpretation of the parallel texts within the poem, as well as all the extant ancient testimonia (Clement of Alexandria, Plotinus, Proclus) support the active meaning. This thesis differs, then, from those interpretations which assume that Fragment Three distinguishes (thinking) subject from (inanimate) object; as well as from the view adopted by Heidegger that it means merely that being is the only possible object of knowledge. The conclusion of this thesis is that for Parmenides "to think" is identical with "to be" absolutely, that Being is not only one, but is alive and the center of consciousness, i.e. is Mind. Hence the fundamental question which Parmenides' poem answers is not "What is being?" but rather, "What is the way to the One-Who-Is?"
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Rights© Copyright by DONNA MARIE GIANCOLA 1993