Parmenides and Heraclitus revisited. Palintropic Metaphysics, Polymathy and Multiple Experience.

Bernardo Berruecos Frank


Some scholars have supposed an influence of Heraclitus’ philosophy in Parmenides’ Poem, based on the correlations between their fragments in terms of lexicon, images, word-plays, and expression modes. This relationship has been analyzed through certain textual and historical evidences of uneven and undetermined value, and the focus of its comparison has been mainly the interpretation of both thinkers as essential parts of a tradition- the philosophical one- that was founded after their time, and that insisted in opposing them, and a prior, and shared tradition, the poetical one, that both appropriated as a means to convey a radically new message.

The comparative study of fragments 5, 6, and 7 of Parmenides’ Poem and some of Heraclitus’ fragments reveal that a great part of the criticisms the Eleatic allegedly addressed to the Ephesian are traces of poetical tradition, through whose diverse appropriation both thinkers show similar epistemological and ontological conceptions (Nehamas, 2002), among which one can recognize a relationship of tension and partial rejection of the intellectual and discursive phenomenon of ἱστορίη. By using the word παλίντροπος, Parmenides does not criticize the doctrinal nucleus of Heraclitus’ ontology nor he characterizes negatively the goddess’ forbidden path, but instead he shapes a spatial metaphor of Being, and of the method to arrive to its knowledge. At the same time, παλίντροπος operates as an image of the Poem within the poem, a sort of mirror that reflects its content and configuration.


Parmenides, Heraclitus, Ontology, Polymathy, Palintropy.

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