Parmenides: the Real Being

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Parmenides: The Real Being

Parmenides, as did Heraclitus before him, wrote about a state known as "What Is." However, they differed sharply in their view of that state. Parmenides insisted that "What Is" be viewed as a constant. Heraclitus' focus was on elements transferring to and from opposites. Parmenides concentrated on a sense of "being." Heraclitus believed in a flux or "Yin and Yang" in the world that promoted harmony and stability, "What is opposed brings together, the finest harmony is composed of things at variance." (pg29, frg49) For Parmenides, "What Is" leads us to the truth about our universe, in that it is timeless, eternal, motionless, perfectly uniform, the same all throughout. "There are signs that being ungenerated, it is also imperishable." (pg38, frg8) He believed there was never any change in the universe just as Heraclitus believed it is a constantly changing circle. Parmenides' definition for "What Is" was simple. There weren't many requirements, "Whole and of a single kind and unshaken and complete." If the state of being fits his requirements then it was "What Is." However, his requirements, as simple as they are, are so broad that they exclude most, if not all, of the entire physical world. In response to Heraclitus, Parmenides argued that "What Is" could not change out of what it is; therefore, no opposite can exist. All of his descriptions of "What Is" led his contemporaries and followers to understand that "What Is" is not physical in a way that can be described. While his claims of "What Is" might suggest otherwise, it was not Parmenides' goal to throw the traditional vision of the cosmos out the window. He was merely searching for a clearer distinction between truth and appearance. Parmenides believed that "What Is" was so pure that it would hold the basis of truth for everything that has happened in the past and will happen in the future.

Even Parmenides had a difficult time devising a physical description...
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