Page:Early Greek philosophy by John Burnet, 3rd edition, 1920.djvu/193

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

remarkable that he avoids the term "god," which was so freely used by earlier and later thinkers. The assertion that it is amounts just to this, that the universe is a plenum; and that there is no such thing as empty space, either inside or outside the world. From this it follows that there can be no such thing as motion. Instead of endowing the One with an impulse to change, as Herakleitos had done, and thus making it capable of explaining the world, Parmenides dismissed change as an illusion. He showed once for all that if you take the One seriously you are bound to deny everything else. All previous solutions of the question, therefore, had missed the point. Anaximenes, who thought to save the unity of the primary substance by his theory of rarefaction and condensation, did not observe that, by assuming there was less of what is in one place than another, he virtually affirmed the existence of what is not (fr. 8, 45). The Pythagorean explanation implied that empty space or air existed outside the world, and that it entered into it to separate the units (§ 53) . It, too, assumes the existence of what is not. Nor is the theory of Herakleitos any more satisfactory; for it is based on the contradiction that fire both is and is not (fr. 6).

The allusion to Herakleitos in the verses last referred to has been doubted, though upon insufficient grounds. Zeller points out quite rightly that Herakleitos never says Being and not-Being are the same (the old translation of fr. 6, 8); and, were there nothing more than this, the reference might well seem doubtful. The statement, however, that, according to the view in question, "all things travel in opposite directions," can hardly be understood of anything but the "upward and downward path" of Herakleitos (§ 71). And, as we have seen, Parmenides does not attribute the view that Being and not-Being are the same to the philosopher whom he is attacking; he only says that it is and is not the same and not the same.[1] That is the natural
  1. See above, fr. 6, n. 2.