Parmenides: On Nature

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He was born in 540 BC in the city of Elea, Southern Italy. He became one of the important figures of Greek cosmology where his thoughts were very influential in the fields of metaphysics and epistemology. His thoughts then greatly influenced several philosophers such as Empedocles, Anaxagoras and the atomists. Parmenides founded a school in the phocaean colony of Elea in southern Italy, and the only other important members were his students Zeno and Melissus. So he is considered the founder of the Eleatic School.

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Parmenides Thoughts

Nothing can emerge from nothing. Parmenides came up with the idea that everything that exists must have always existed. Then he developed this idea further, for him there is no change that is really actual, nothing can be something different from before.

Although he realizes that nature is constantly changing, but for him it is the senses that feel that everything is constantly changing, but the mind cannot perceive this actual change. So it seems that he relies on reason to feel the real truth. For him, the human senses give inaccurate pictures of the world and are inconsistent with reason. He thought that the senses only gave humans perceptual illusions. In the end this thought became the forerunner of rationalism.


Parmenides advocated that we should follow where reason takes us, even if the results are very contrary to our habits. Parmenides concluded that all reality would appear very different to our minds. He refers to what exists in the universal sense and then makes his own original cosmological and metaphysical thoughts that all that exists in the universe is essentially singular. According to him, the world does not seem singular, caused by humans who rely too much on their senses as an excuse, even though it is all just an illusion. The diversity seen by humans is actually just an illusion, because everything has only one essence.

Epistemology and Critique of Ancient Greek Mythology

Parmenides criticized ancient Greek mythology which explains how the process of creation of the universe. For him the explanation given by ancient Greek mythology is trapped by the appearance of the senses so that it is far from the truth caused by the illusion of the senses. He also criticized ancient Greek mythology which used the belief in ‘doxa’ or opinion as an attempt to achieve knowledge. He thought that doxa was a path full of contradictions that influenced knowledge to believe in something that was not real. For him the path of truth ‘aletheia’ or reality is the best path that must be taken by humans in achieving knowledge of the truth that refers to existence in order to approach knowledge that is truly real and not illusory.

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