Parmenide1 - Parmenides: Stage 2 After establishing his...

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Parmenides: Stage 2 After establishing his central thesis, that it is impossible to think or talk about what does not exist , Parmenides attempts to deduce from this thesis the following conclusions: 1. There is no coming into existence or ceasing to exist. 2. There is no alteration or change. 3. There is no movement. 4. There is no plurality. How did Parmenides get from his central thesis to these extraordinary conclusions? 1. Suppose you say that something, x , comes into existence. That means that you are committed to saying that there was a time when x did not exist. So you are committed to talking about what does not exist. But you can’t do that. So you can’t say (i.e., it makes no sense to say) that anything comes into existence. (Parallel argument for the impossibility of ceasing to exist.) Given that there can be no coming into existence or going out of existence, important consequences follow. Parmenides seems to have thought that it followed that there could be no difference between past , present , and future . Cf. 8 =B8: Nor was it ever nor will it be, since it is now, all together, one, continuous. . .. it must either fully be or not. Parmenides would no doubt support this inference as follows: How could the present differ from the past, or from the future? Any difference from one time to another would involve some (previous) state of affairs going out of existence, and some (new) state of affairs coming into existence to replace it. That is: if there is no generation and no destruction, then there can be no temporal differences . The world is exactly the same at one time as it is at any other time. 2. Change It is clear that without temporal differences, there can be no change. For change involves the world being different from one time to another, and such differences would involve things coming into or going out of existence. We can get some confirmation that this was Parmenides’ line of thought by looking at what his follower Melissus wrote ( 7 =B7). If something were to change or alter, what was previously the case would have to cease to be the case, and what previously was not the case would come to be the case. I.e., if the barn changes color, it (say) becomes red. I.e.,
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This note was uploaded on 11/26/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 101 taught by Professor Buechner during the Fall '06 term at Rutgers.

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Parmenide1 - Parmenides: Stage 2 After establishing his...

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