Item description for To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides, The Origins of Philosophy by Arnold Hermann...
This book is the scholarly & fully annotated edition of the award-winning The Illustrated To Think Like God.
To Think Like God focuses on the emergence of philosophy as a speculative science, tracing its origins to the Greek colonies of Southern Italy, from the late 6th century to mid-5th century B.C. Special attention is paid to the sage Pythagoras and his movement, the poet Xenophanes of Colophon, and the lawmaker Parmenides of Elea. In their own ways, each thinker held that true insight, whether as wisdom or certainty, belonged not to mortal human beings but to the gods.
The Pythagoreans sought to approach this otherwordly knowledge by studying numerical relationships, believing them to govern the universe, and that those who know the number of a thing know its true nature. Yet their quest was a hopeless one, bogged down by cultism, numerology, political conspiracies, bloody uprisings, and exile. Above all, number did not turn out as the most reliable of mediums; it was certainly not a key to the realm of the divine. Thus, their contributions to philosophy's inception, while much better-publicized, was not the most significant. That particular role was reserved for an unusual challenge and the elaborate reaction it provoked.
The challenge came from Xenophanes, who had argued that reliable truth was beyond mortal reach, because even if by accident a human being should state what is exactly the case, he had no way of knowing that he did, all things being susceptible to opinion.
This dilemma is sure to have bothered a legislative mind like that of Parmenides, and we find him introducing techniques for testing the veracity of statements. These methods were meant to be carried out by reasoning and argument alone, without relying in physical evidence or mortal sense-perception, which was deemed untrustworthy. Reason was that one faculty shared by gods and humans alike. In time, Parmenides' ingenious arguments have earned him the titled of the first logician and metaphysician whose influence on subsequent thinkers was immeasurable. Parmenides taught us that philosophy was not about claims but about proof, which also makes him the father of theoretical science -- which, curiously, began as a quest into the mind of God.
"Arnold Hermann makes a genuine contribution to Presocratics (Parmenides) studies. This book, which is both an introduction to Pythagoras and Parmenides and a scholarly study, will interest novices and experts alike. Hermann's multi-leveled approach and his careful analyses of alternate views make his work a useful teaching tool, while his systematic inquiry into Pythagoreanism, the poem of Parmenides, and the development of early Greek thought will well repay the attention of scholars. -- Patricia Curd, Purdue University
"To Think Like God is a highly ambitious book . . . Hermann's approach deserves to be taken seriously as an alternative to standard interpretations." -- Richard D. McKirahan, Jr., Edwin Clarence Norton Professor of Classics and Professor of Philosophy, Pomona College
"Arnold Hermann brings fresh life into the specialists' debates . . . a blow of wind that dissipates much fog." -- Walter Burkert, Professor Emeritus of Classical Philology, University of Zurich
ARNOLD HERMANN is pursuing independent research on the origins of philosophy and methods of thinking. He specialices on subjects connected with Parmenides and Plato's Parmenides.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.5" Width: 7" Height: 9.74" Weight: 0.91 lbs.
Release Date Sep 15, 2004
Publisher Parmenides Publishing
ISBN 1930972008 ISBN13 9781930972001
Reviews - What do customers think about To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides, The Origins of Philosophy?
of high quality Apr 17, 2006
Philosophy is the scientific pursuit and acquisition of knowledge; although other cultures like the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian certainly possesed a lot of knowledge the scientific approach (==philosophy) was born in archaic and classical Greece with a peak at hellenistic times before its almost total collapse during the dark ages of Europe.
The author of this remarkable (in content and aesthetics) book offers an insightful view of the way it all begun (a part of the story admittedly but very well presented and analyzed).
There were three centers of Greek philosophy and learning: Ionia, mainland Greece and southern Italy; the book concentrates on the latter. It treats Pythagoreans and Eleatics.
Why is it a very good book?
1) It offers a very critical and essential analysis of the pythagorean movement; the authors presentation is very accurate in portarying the movement as a non-philosophical movement i.e. a religious one; instead of being a philosophical school of thought the pythagoreans were (as argued plausibly by the author) much more a religious cult; so as the author concludes (but read other accounts for other points of view) they could not qualify as true philosophers (although they had a some of the required traits);
2) when it comes to Parmenides the author hits again the target; he correctly informs the reader that the Parmenidean poem is all about logic rather than physics. This is not obvious by reading the poem (since definitely refers also to physics) but the author argues persuasively; The matter is in fact settled by Plato who in his Parmenidean dialogue (second part) simply includes the most mind bending logical argumentation; if the poem of Parmenides was not about logic why did Plato does not mention in his Parmenidean dialogue physics? In fact the poem of Parmenides and Plato's dialogue are definitely on the same line of ideas and they must be read as a unity.
3) overall I think that this book captures the essence of the poem and for me was a most plausible and MODERN analysis of this great work;
why then only 4 stars?
1) Philosophy is now broken in dozens of university depts; "philosophy" as a field like maths or physics or ethics etc there is no more; therefore a book on a work conceived at times when philosophy was not just the scientific method but also a BODY of knowledge, needs to make clear to the readers (some of them very busy science professionals) WHY to read it; it is at this points that the author fails (in an ovious way); when I read a book about Parmenides I would like to know:
a) which modern scientific ideas have been invented or discussed or hinted by him together with a modern discussion of them
b) which Parmenidean ideas do NOT have a modern equivalent and why
c) which of Parmenidean answers differ from the modern and why
Overall, one needs to see the work of Parmenides in a historical context and in this way perhaps to HINT solutions to modern problems.
2) Unfortunately the author, although in many points tries to break through from the dissapointing self desctructive past approaches to these matters that alienate the modern reader from these enormous achievements of the Greek (and human in general) mind he never achieves this connection of the past with the present;
taking this into account he then must ask himself why any modern scientist would spent the time and read his work; I fully urge him in the book he says he is preparing on Parmenides dialogue to do these things;
We are leaving in not classics friendly times; but classics IS modern and people who love them ought just to present these beautifull things in the proper context they deserve; once their deep crucial connection with the modern world becomes obvious we can be optimistic about the (much deserved) survival of classical studies;
So overall, perhaps the author ought to stress more the Parmenidean contribution in a modern context; if such context does not exist I see no reason why to keep studying this incredible poem further; (of course it is possible that the author is not qualified for such an analysis in which case he could use a suitable coauthor)
Finally a work about "Parmenides" publishing; many congratulations for the quality, the effort and the name; it certainly put Las Vegas on the academic map!
2005 Writers Notes Book Award Winner May 18, 2005
Hermann illuminates lesser-known Greek figure Parmenides in this carefully constructed treatise on the early years of philosophy. Beginning with his more famous contemporary, Pythagoras, the book delves into the curious sides of Pythagoreanism, exposing the vulnerabilities of this calcula-ting thinker. Clearly, the author prefers the less exacting measures of Parmenides, who sought to include more than he eliminated. Side by side, the two philosophers make an interesting comparison, like pairing a physicist with a politician. Hermann attempts to personalize these historical figures whenever possible. Sharp illustrations bolster the narrative, carrying it beyond the dry prose often found in other texts.