The Metaphysics of Parmenides' Doxa and Its Influence

Daniel W. Graham


A great deal of attention has been given to the metaphysics of Parmenides’ Aletheia, the “Truth” section of his poem, and relatively little to the Doxa, or “Opinion” section.  Here I address the latter.  The Doxa appears to apply principles of the Aletheia, including the notion that a subject must have an unchanging nature or essence, to the problem of cosmology.  In the Doxa, Parmenides posits two changeless beings, Light and Night, as the elements of a scientific ontology.  All things in the world are composed of Light and Night in appropriate proportions.  This is arguably the first time a theory of elements has been proposed for cosmology.  Although Parmenides seems to disavow this construction, and may propose it only as a good example of an inadequate theory, his successors took it as a model to be followed in developing a defensible cosmology.  In this way he becomes the founder of the modern scientific approach to theories of matter.


Parmenides; Presocratics; Metaphysics; Science

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