Helena Kurzová

Parmenides’ road through all words


Recognizing the primordial role of language and understanding in Parmenides’ thought, the author analyses some passages in Parmenides’ text which are relevant to this conception. Semantico-syntactic and rhetoric analysis of the text offers new interpretational possibilities and helps to evaluate the proposed interpretations.

For fr. B 1 l.3 the reading ἔπῃ “words, speech” is suggested instead of the widely accepted conjecture ἄστη. The immediate context as well as the whole intention of Parmenides’ poem are good compatible with this reading.

Parmenides’ statements about the necessary connection between sayng/thinking and being are analysed. Whereas in B 2, l. 7-8 and B 8, l. 8-9 this thesis is clearly expressed, the passages B 3, B 8 l.34, and B 6 l.1-2 containing syntactially ambiguous infinitives and participles are connected with interpretatiolnal problems. The thesis about the necessary connection between sayng/thinking and being is used by Parmenides as an argument for his main thesis, the exclusion of non-being which cannot be spoken or thought of. All our words and thoughts  necessarily concern the being, also false doxic speaking and thinking is related to being. Here Parmenides has primarily in view the so called thetic or with other words pre-predicative statements, in which something is posed – and it must be being – about which then false or true predications can be made in so called categorical statements, predicating about the subjects which have already been referentially identified by previous thetic statements.

As for B 8 l. 12, rhetoric principle of so called ringcomposition supports the manuscriptal reaging ἐκ μὴ ἐόντος. In connection with Parmenides’ concept of φάος καὶ νύξ “Light/Day and Night” as constitutive for human doxic world and being of equal rank (interpretation of B 8 l. 53-54 and B 9) the difference between Parmenides and Heraclit in their conception of complementary contrastives is discussed.