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Parmenides

The pre-Socratic philosopher sparked an intellectual revolution that still echoes today. Yet for philosophy and science to continue to progress in the 21st century, we may need to embark on an entirely new cognitive journey

By Raymond Tallis   January 2008

Alfred North Whitehead famously described the European philosophical tradition as “a series of footnotes to Plato.” Whether or not this is fair to the thinkers that followed Plato, it is a gross injustice to those that preceded him. Pre-eminent among these was Parmenides. Elizabeth Anscombe’s riposte that Plato might be regarded as “Parmenides’s footnote” is not as perverse as it seems. While Plato’s dialogues are among the supreme philosophical works of the western tradition, it was Parmenides who established the implicit framework of their debates.

Plato acknowledged that Parmenides had “magnificent depths.” But there is more to Parmenides than…

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