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Parmenides by Plato
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by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


The awe with which Plato regarded the character of 'the great' Parmenides
has extended to the dialogue which he calls by his name. None of the
writings of Plato have been more copiously illustrated, both in ancient and
modern times, and in none of them have the interpreters been more at
variance with one another. Nor is this surprising. For the Parmenides is
more fragmentary and isolated than any other dialogue, and the design of
the writer is not expressly stated. The date is uncertain; the relation to
the other writings of Plato is also uncertain; the connexion between the
two parts is at first sight extremely obscure; and in the latter of the two
we are left in doubt as to whether Plato is speaking his own sentiments by
the lips of Parmenides, and overthrowing him out of his own mouth, or
whether he is propounding consequences which would have been admitted by
Zeno and Parmenides themselves. The contradictions which follow from the
hypotheses of the one and many have been regarded by some as transcendental
mysteries; by others as a mere illustration, taken at random, of a new
method. They seem to have been inspired by a sort of dialectical frenzy,