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Greek Philosophy – Oct 1st.docx

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Queen's University
PHIL 232
Richard Greenfield

Greek Philosophy – Oct. 1 , 2013 Parmenides: Three main topics to consider during study of Parmenides:  1. Every object of inquiry must exist o Universal claim  Number of stars in the universe, whether love is true, what tomorrow’s weather will be, etc.  It’s easy in philosophy to miss the grandiose implications of these universal claims o Texts:  “For in no way may this prevail, that things that are not, are.” (Plato)  “That which is there to be spoken and thought of must be. For it is possible for it to be but not possible for nothing to be (Simplicius) o Argument in favour of this metaphysical claim  6 steps  1. One cannot study what does not exist  This argument moves from the obvious to the more obscure and shocking  Nature of existence – things can exist in different ways o Material objects and abstract objects o Unicorns and other imaginary things exist as abstract ideas o Mathematical concepts exist  2. So one can only study what must exist  Problem - there is a jump here to what MUST be  There is a jump from what is to what does not exist to what has to exist - there is no “does” exist and the necessity is not explained  3. What must exist, exists necessarily  Modality: o Concerns the way that things exist  Necessity and possibility  Contingently and absolutely o Can we attach status to the way that things exist? Do they exist because they have to (necessarily) as Parmenides thinks?  4. So what one studies exists necessarily  5. If things of type x are studied, they exist  6. If they exist, they exist necessarily o Parmenides held that being qua being must be necessary and existent (Aristotle) o Meaning of the claim:  Object of inquiry – everything would could ever try to learn about – must exist  Equivocal meaning of the word study – there are different ways in which this can be interpreted  Through our inquiry, we can bring things into existence  We are a necessary factor in bringing these things into existence – do not exist beyond us o This moves towards the theory that there is nothing that doesn’t exist  If you can think of something new but imaginary, you bring it into existence  Everything exists in indicative and modal sense – it exists necessarily  2. The properties that objects of inquiry as existent must possess o If we can think and talk about any object (O), then is axiomatic that O exists. What follows from this fact?  Milesian texts:  “Whatever was, always was and always will be. For if it came to be, it is necessary that before it came to be it was nothing. Now if it was nothing, in no way could anything come to be out of nothing.”  “Since it did not come to be, it is and always was and always will be and does not have a beginning or an end, but is unlimited. For if it had come to be it would have a beginning and an end. For whatever is not entire cannot always be” o If it is axiomatic that O exists, then the following are true:  1. O is ungenerated, which implies that…  Out of nothing, nothing comes (Ex nihilo nihil fit)  2. O is eternal, in other words…  3. O is temporally unlimited and…  4. O is spatially unlimited. Because of 3 and 4, it follows that…  5. O is unique. It seems that Melissus proceeded from 5 to
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