Review of Metaphysics 22 (4):725 - 734 (1969)

1. The principal question I want to raise is that of the interpretation of what you call Parmenides' "wildly paradoxical conclusions about the impossibility of plurality and change." An argument that leads to a truly paradoxical conclusion is always open to construction as a reductio ad absurdum. And the biographical tradition represents Parmenides--quite unlike Heraclitus, for instance--as a reasonable and even practically effective man, not at all a fanatic. It therefore seems natural to ask, if he maintained a paradoxical doctrine, whether it did not possess for him an interpretation that made some sense. Further, setting aside this not very weighty prima facie argument, I think the search for plausible interpretations is worthwhile in any case: for to make a rational assessment of the historical evidence one needs the widest possible survey of hypotheses to choose among; since conclusions in such matters are always uncertain, a list of possibilities may retain a kind of permanent value, as the best we can do; and readings which are even dismissed as unsound on adequate critical grounds may still be of interest, both for the understanding of historical influence--I have in mind in the present case especially Parmenides' influence on Plato--and for our own philosophical edification.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph196922490
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