More on "Reality"
- Just a followup on Kingsley's book - I am in the heart of his discussion of frag. 8 now, and he makes some very thoughtful observations I think about the legal nature of much of the Goddess' choice of terms in this part of the poem - just the sort of thing he is so good at, though apparently an American scholar had at least made some notice of this almost 100 years ago, and not all scholars, including Mourelatos, according to Kingsley's note, agree as to the legal nature of the choice of words here - that I can't understand since Kingsley's argument seems persuasive to me on this point and it certainly makes sense in the context of the poem too.
But then he rather disappoints me, in that same manner that causes me to shrug a bit throughout this book, when he discusses the passage on thinking equated to being and goes on a bit about the meaning of the Greek word for "in", to be specially interpreted here as "caused by" and how that special meaning is somehow key to understanding this crucial passage.
Well, ok, but here again we are missing the forest for the special trees - instead just take Parmenides at his word - if all being is one thing, then by definition thinking would simply be "in" being, wouldn't it? Or even more to the point, thinking per se actually disappears, there is no separation of subject and object any more, again by definition. (Yes, you may ask if my interpretation is true then how strictly can there even be a Goddess and a Parmenides speaking?!? Well, for whatever reason Parmenides chose to pitch all this in a poem, not a prose treatise, but he puts her poetically beyond "normal" reality in an irreal place to which he must journey, and maybe Kingsley is quite right here that the poem is some sort of representation of the result of some incubation - but Parmenides is in the poem a person like the rest of us, "normally" dwelling in the world of deception and she is trying to pull him out of that world, poetically, figuratively - but then ultimately she is an illusion too, a poetic one.) So I don't think you need search for special meanings of the word "in", though I suppose the one he points out does also fit and it's nice to know that semantic nuance, which I have to admit I did not til this morning, and again I thank him for sharing - he certainly is adept at this sort of semantic interpretation and of course quite learned, as the footnotes show.
I realize of course that this radical monism is not easy to fathom and hence oh so easy to dismiss as absurd and not likely the best interpretation of Parmenides, as it gives the lie to everything in the everyday world, but it most elegantly - well, it's the ne plus ultra in that regard - obliterates so many questions that normally occupy philosophers, yet in doing so avoids having to explain all what we think of as the "real" world, the one we at least appear (!) to inhabit! This is where the real question with Parmenides' poem seems to me to arise - how exactly did he handle all that, which from the evidence of the second part he did certainly not ignore, but at the same time clearly has the Goddess state as merely deceptive, on however grand a scale the "apate" may be. No one as far as I know has ever answered this question interpretatively - dilemma? - satisfactorily, and I think it may just be a non licet because we are missing the part of the poem really connecting the two parts. We have to allow I think that Parmenides may have explained there at least why he has the Goddess spend so much time on the world of deception. Did he actually offer something to show how it could spring from his One? Or did he just include it as a sort of grand "what-if", if this world had reality must most likely and again minimally, elegantly result from the next simplest possibility after the One, two principles only? Who knows.
Obviously my interpretation is not in favor any more, and is most like that of Guthrie, though I came to it on my own without any help from him, and so I don't agree with the logical interpretations such as Owen and Mourelatos advanced (we dwell no longer in the shadow of Waggener Hall in Austin...!), which I assume Kingsley is mostly reacting against when he complains, nor other later interpretations. Call me old fashioned and a little [sic] arrogant, but there it is.
- Out of fairness, I thought I should point out, at about page 230 in Kingsley's book, as he begins to discuss the second part of the poem, that I may have missed his point - in the sense of being frustrated with what I called his oracular style and all the indirect method of presentation.
So it dawned on me that he most likely is just representing in his work the style of Parmenides in his work - imitation in this case being more than mere flattery but using the method to explain the method, I suppose you could say. Of course there is no way of knowing for sure this is what he had in mind, but it is an attractive idea.
At any rate, he continues to make very smart observations about Parmenidies' Homeric allusory practices. That about the chariot race in the Iliad is good and especially his take on metis and ou tis in the poem being references to Odysseus in the cave of Polyphemus - the latter of which apparently no one else has noticed before, in all these years - is particularly impressive. And he is quite good on as I said before on the psychology on the receivor of the Goddess' knowledge and what it would mean to cope with it remains quite valid, I think, and probably ths strongest suit he has here. Again he emphasizes metis in this regard, and we're much on to the psychology involved.
I just still think he unfortunately missed the main message about Parmenides' radical monism and all that means, now that I have finished that part of the book on the first half of the poerm, and I certainly think, rereading parts of his earlier book on Parmenides, that he has misinterpreted Plato's view of Parmenides quite badly.