The Metaphysics of Parmenides' Doxa and Its Influence




Parmenides, Presocratics, Metaphysics, Science


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.

Biografia do Autor

Daniel W. Graham, Brigham Young University

Daniel W. Graham is emeritus professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. He has written extensively on Presocratic philosophy, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and early history of science.


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