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אפלטון, אריסטו, פילוסופיה, קוז׳יב

A NOTE ON Parmenides

Estimated reading time: 17 minute(s)

A NOTE ON Parmenides must have and perhaps hoped to fascinate, if not to captivate with the paradoxical, everyone, by asserting (if he really did) that Being is more or less “identical” to thought or, more exactly, that Thought [or: that to think, that is to say the fact, the very result of thought, even the act of thinking (of what is)] is more or less the same thing as Being [or: that to be, the fact of being, the it of the is, even of existing]. -But we must admit that we do not understand quite well the meaning of the “fragment” that has come down to us (Diels; 18, B, 5), where Parmenides is supposed to say it. -For nothing prevents us from supposing that this fragment only affirms that “one and the same thing can be conceived and can be” (trans. Burnet), which would have the disadvantage of being much less profound and with a weakening of the beta before any different attempt to stare the alpha of philosophy differently. -Indeed, it would even be less “Cartesian”. However , it might have, thus, the advantage of no longer being as “paradoxical” and alarmingly restrictive, while remaining “original”, that is to say new compared to what the “predecessors” of Parmenides said (to judge it from what we know). Anyway, until proof to the contrary, we can admit that the meaning that Parmenides himself attached to the morpheme of the fragment in question was correct. Thought = Being. -Now, it would obviously be contrary to common sense to assert that to think of gold or of health, for example, is the same thing as to have money or to be healthy. Because, obviously, you can sometimes think of tons of gold without having a penny, just as it often happens to be perfectly healthy without thinking about “health” or being healthy”. -What is rather curious (and relatively rare) is that we can think of the gold we have or the health we enjoy. What is certain and clear is that Parmenides distinguishes between Thought and Being if only to establish between them a relation of inclusion or “identity”. -It is to say that the “thoughts” existed for him in the same way as what one thinks about. Again, Parmenides speaks explicitly not only of what one speaks about, but also of what one says about it, that is to say of the speeches themselves which speak about it. In addition, he explains from the beginning of his Poem the intention (which he makes his own) of the “Goddess” to speak (to him) (so that he can say it again) about all the speeches whatever they are, including that which will henceforth be his own and which is clearly distinguished from all other discourses. Namely (at least initially) the discourses of others, that is to say those of the many. -Therefore, even before beginning the development of his own discourse [which must say (for the use of others) all that the “Goddess ii (him) had said], Parmenides pre-said (of course : after the fact) that this discourse will say (and partly re-say), all that we can say (even while contradicting oneself), while also speaking of what it says itself- even and by the very fact that he says so. In other words [by making his own the discursive intention of the Goddess], Parmenides intends (by definition” conscious and voluntary”) to speak like a philosopher. -Thus, the discourse which contains the Preamble of his Poem is indeed an actualization of the Hypothesis of Philosophy. And we can add that, for us, this text constitutes the first indisputable actualization of the Intention-to-speak “as a philosopher”. -However, the intention to speak as a philosopher is realized, by definition, in and by a discourse which develops the CONCEPT meaning of the notion Concept (whatever the morpheme of this notion). We must therefore see whether Parmenides explicitly posed the question of the Concept and whether he also answers it in any way (explicitly or implicitly). -Fortunately, the preserved fragments allow us to answer in the affirmative to this double question. If only by interpreting the fragment which “identifies” Thought and Being. -Without doubt, this fragment does not (explicitly) assert that the Thought in question is discursive nor, consequently, that the act-of-thinking is that of discourse (by discursively developing the meaning of a notion or by summarizing in and by a notion the meaning of a speech). -But neither does he deny it (at least not explicitly). In another fragment (ib., 4, 12-13), Parmenides distinguishes between the act or the fact of knowing and that of expressing it verbally. Lastly: though he denies that we can know and express Non-being or That-which-is-not, there is no doubt that he admits (on the other hand) the possibility of knowing the Being or That-which-is. -We can conclude, a contrario and by analogy, that we can also verbally express (everything) that is. The “Thought” of which the fragment in question speaks about would therefore be (everywhere and always}, or could at least be (by actually being it somewhere at a given moment), a “Dis-course”. OR: he(a)re it comes again: Parmenides could and must have surprised everyone when he said: SO WE SAID and so we tried Thought [which thinks or conceives the Concept] and! ‘Being [that is this one] are but one and the same thing [to know! ‘Eternity (or!’ One-all-alone-motionless); where the “is is the Concept itself] (cf. Diels, 18, B, 5); is also to say, to be sure: that the act-of-thinking (noeïn} and that-cause-and-in-view-of-what is thought (noema) are one-and-the-same-thing. It is a surprise, a contradiction really, for you could not find an act of-thinking without the That-which-is (éontos), where this act is expressed verbally; it is as is, as there is, and there will never be anything other than What-which-is, because Destiny (Moïra) chained it so as to be whole [(that is to say without multiple parts) or one] and immutable”. -Now, the Immutable notion is not discursive. There is therefore no sense in saying that, for Parmenides, Being “is” Thought. On the contrary, it is the so-called “Thought” (by a non-discursive definition), which is identical to That-which- is, identical even to the “objective” Eternal Being. -In other words, the Eternity (or the all-alone-still One), which the Concept is supposed to be, cannot be “at the same time” as those “deaf and dumb” objects we speak of, and as the very “being” conceived or thought in and by a notion developable in a discourse of meaning, which is something other than the essence, being corresponded to an object. -Insofar as it is, the Concept is not and cannot be thought or conceived discursively: it “is” eternally silent, just as the Eternal-Being is silent as it is “necessarily” MOTIONLESS, ALL-ALONE ONE, always having been everywhere, and always remaining everywhere.

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