The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment
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This unique collection of essays not only explores the complexity of ancient Greek thought, but also reveals Popper's engagement with Presocratic philosophy and the enlightenment he experienced in reading Parmenides. It includes writings on Greek science, philosophy and history, and demonstrates Popper's lifelong fascination and admiration of the Presocratic philosophers, in particular Parmenides, Xenophanes and Heraclitus.
practice of prophecy – has remained the most widespread form of superstition down to our own days. Even today, an intellectual is evaluated by his prophetic powers. I myself am still asked by every newspaper correspondent what the future will bring, although I have spent my long life in preaching (apparently in vain) against the fraudulent practice and still more fraudulent theory of historical prediction. (To the latter ideology I have given the somewhat unfortunate name of ‘historicism’.) 5
and philosophers from all over the world took part in Popper’s seminars, where everybody seemed at home as members of a large family who could criticize each others’ views without being on bad terms. And his lectures on logic and scientific method, which students of many nationalities attended, were the scene of a continuing educational process stirred by a creative and critical mind of unusual richness and rigour. Through a lecture Popper could create a thrill of suspense and revelation in his
a splendidly simple and intuitively convincing proof for it. 5 TRACES? OR EVIDENCE? My proposed solution makes use of the well-established fact that a great discovery has often blinded its author like a powerful flash of light, making him believe that it explains far more than it actually does – perhaps everything.8 Parmenides’ crucial discovery of the true explanation of the phases of the Moon was a great one. It soon led to the explanation of the eclipses, and to Aristarchus’
the text, but gives a kind of commentary to it: What is, at any one time, in the much-erring sense organs’ mixture, That seems genuine knowledge to men. For they take as the same thing Man’s intellectual mind, and his sense organs’ varying nature. ‘Thought’ they call what in this muddle prevails, in each man and all. Incidentally, this fragment is usually attributed to Part 2 of the poem. I do not deny that it may have belonged there, but I think it more probable that it belonged to an
great philosophers (as Charles Kahn rightly stresses, he claims ‘absolute certainty’ for his doctrine), adopts, perhaps unconsciously, a somewhat similar attitude. For his poem is written in two parts. In the first part, the Way of Truth (or more fully, the Way of Inquiry that Alone Leads to Truth), he discloses the revelation, received from ‘the goddess’, of the real world, the world of knowledge and truth. But this is followed by a second part, the Way of Illusion (the Doxa, or the Way of