Northwestern University

Fri 2:00 PM

Patricia Curd (Purdue): What does a Parmenidean Knower Know?

What does a Parmenidean Knower Know?

When: Friday, February 22, 2019
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM  

Where: Kresge Hall, 3438, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Andrew Hull  

Group: NU Ancient Philosophy Workshop

Category: Academic


Abstract: Recent years have seen a surge of interest in the Doxa section of Parmenides’ poem, driven, to some extent, by the attention that has been paid to the astronomical fragments, and perhaps more by the enormous range of subjects having to do with the sensible world treated in the Doxa. Why, if as much earlier 20th century scholarship held, Parmenides thinks that the content of mortal belief is untrustworthy, because not appropriately grounded in what-is, did he allot so much space to it? Recent studies suggest that Parmenides did not denigrate the views expressed in the Doxa; the most important of these are, I think, the language that he himself uses throughout the poem, especially perhaps, the the striking claim at B10.1, 4-5: “And you shall know the nature of the aether and all the signs in the aether,” followed by “you will learn the wandering works of the round-eyed moon and its nature, and you will know the heaven around them . . .” Moreover, in B16, where we are told about the physiology of mind or thinking and of that which cognizes, the bearers of mind or cognition are called “humans,” not, as so pointedly in Truth, “mortals.” This suggests that not all of the claims that appear in Doxa are meant to be false or worthless, and that humans can overcome mortal thinking and thus have some kind of knowledge (or at least some semi-stable epistemic state) about the sensible world. Yet, I remain worried about this view. Here I want to try to lay out and explain some of those worries, and point to some things that might help us out.


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