Epistemological Relevance of Parmenides’ Ontology

Guido Calenda


It is possible to understand Parmenides’ being as the ‘totality of what exists’. Parmenides’ insight is that being is a compact continuum (fr. 4), and he gives a logical demonstration of this insight recognizing that non-being, which only could divide being in a plurality of beings, does not exist. Therefore, knowledge of being could only be the holistic appraisal of the totality of being – a form of knowledge unconceivable for men.
Human knowledge is always articulated in concepts, images, relations…, expressed by their names. Men do not catch being itself, but, at best, some limited features of a minimal part of it, as they appear from human and personal perspectives. Thus, Parmenides’ calls mortals ‘two-headed’ who claim that their truths represent the reality of being, since their pretense would imply the existence both of being and of non-being. This epistemological conception is the only relevant result of Parmenides’ ontology. Parmenides’ epistemology solves many of the philosophical riddles of his time, it shows that the so-called Zeno’s paradoxes are sound arguments, and foreshadows the doctrines of Protagoras and Gorgias.


Being; Epistemology: God; Knowledge; Mortals; Name; Non-being, Ontology; Opinion, Rhetoric; Route; Sphere; Truth; Void.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.47661/afcl.v14i27.38779


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