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The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought [Paperback]

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Item description for The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought by Patricia Curd...

Parmenides of Elea was the most important and influential philosopher before Plato. He rejected as impossible the scientific inquiry practiced by the earlier Presocratic philosophers and held that generation, destruction, and change are unreal and that only one thing exists. In this book, Patricia Curd argues that Parmenides sought to reform rather than to reject scientific inquiry, and she offers a more coherent account of his influence on later philosophers.

The Legacy of Parmenides examines Parmenides' arguments, considering his connection to earlier Greek thought and how his account of what-is could have served as a model for later philosophers. Curd also explores the theories of his successors, including the Pluralists (Anaxagoras and Empedocles), the Atomists (Leucippus and Democritus), the later Eleatics (Zeno and Melissus), and the later Presocratics (Philolaus of Croton and Diogenes of Apollonia). She concludes with a discussion of the importance of Parmenides' work to Plato's Theory of Forms. The Legacy of Parmenides challenges traditional views of early Greek philosophy and provides new insights into the work of Parmenides.

The Legacy of Parmenides represents a milestone . . . of Parmenides' interpretation. It is full of ideas and tells a coherent story about Parmenides and early Greek thought.”--Alexander Nehamas, Princeton University

"Professor Curd offers a genuinely original and possibly correct interpretation of the core thesis of the poem of Parmenides in a field so well worked over that saying something both new and true is profoundly difficult, this is a notable achievement." --Thomas M. Robinson, University of Toronto

"This will be a substantial book in the story of early Greek philosophy, and future writers on the tradition from Thales through Plato will not be able to ignore it without missing an important interpretive alternative. It will be of value to students of Presocratic philosophy or the Greek tradition, as well as to students of the scientific revolution, cosmology, the origins of logic, or comparative mysticism." --Scott W. Austin, Texas A&M University

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Item Specifications...

Pages   309
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 15, 2004
Publisher   Parmenides Publishing
ISBN  1930972156  
ISBN13  9781930972155  

Availability  0 units.

More About Patricia Curd

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Patricia Curd is Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University.

Patricia Curd was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Purdue University.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Philosophy > History & Surveys
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Greek & Roman

Reviews - What do customers think about The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought?

Fantastic book - does not rate a one review  Jan 2, 2006
This book doesn't rate a one. For contrast, do check out the highly positive review on Bryn Mawr's site

I can't really add anything better to their review, but I'll identify a few points that grabbed my attention. Of especial interest is Chapter five dealing with Leucippus and Democritus - the framework of atomism as a response to, yet working within the Eleatic tradition. Books covering Democritean atomism are thin on the ground and this chapter is a welcome treat.

There is also a good deal of discussion of Eleatic influence on Plato, the author going so far as to identify him as the last of the Presocratics. This is a very well researched book, covering a broad sweep of study in a remarkably thorough and systematic way. Highly recommended reading.
One step forward, two steps back  May 21, 2001
The biggest virtue of this book is that the author sees a major problem with the standard interpretation of Parmenides and his influence. Its biggest defect is that she ignores all the OTHER major problems with that interpretation.

The standard interpretation says that Parmenides was brilliant, he believed that only one thing existed, he had an enormous influence on his successors, and his philosophy received its first genuine refutation in Plato's Sophist. The problem that Professor Curd finds is that none of his successors ever produced any arguments against the second claim. They simply assumed that there was more than one thing, even though they seemed to accept other things that Parmenides had argued for. She then concludes that Parmenides did NOT believe that only one thing existed; instead, he believed that whatever exists can have only one nature. Yet, is it really likely that this is all that Parmenides believed? The author mentions the passage at Parmenides 128c-d where Zeno talked about how Parmenides had been ridiculed by others, but seems unconcerned by it, yet is it really likely that believing that everything has one nature would have elicited ridicule? Moreover, she seems unaware of the Commentary by Proclus, where he tells what these people said: "if being is one, then Parmenides and Zeno do not both exist at the same time" (619). Naturally, we don't know if Proclus was right about this, but Prof. Curd seems totally unaware of it. The reasonable conclusion is that Parmenides believed that only one thing existed. By going against this, Prof. Curd has taken us two steps backwards, even though she has taken us a step forward by pointing out a major flaw in the standard interpretation.

The big question for those who accept either the standard interpretation or Prof. Curd's revision of it is: Did Parmenides have an enormous influence on his successors? To see that he did not, it is sufficient to mention just a single name: Cratylus. Cratylus was a Heraclitean and paid no attention whatsoever to the strictures developed by Parmenides. People who accept the standard interpretation almost never say anything about Cratylus, for obvious reasons. Prof. Curd herself mentions him just once, in a footnote. But not talking about Cratylus will hardly make him go away.

In addition, here are just a few of the facts about the standard interpretation that I find troubling: Protagoras is said to have written a book refuting Parmenides, Plato hardly mentioned Parmenides in his early and middle periods, Aristotle did not record that Plato was influenced by Parmenides, Plato seems to have a refutation of Parmenides at Euthydemus 286a-d (which is long before the refutation in the Sophist), and finally, the movement begun by Parmenides DIED with Melissus. Why? Why would a viable and powerful philosophical movement just die?

I invite Prof. Curd or anyone else to give a convincing explanation of these points.


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