Scientific Enlightenment, Div. One
Book 2: Human Enlightenment (f the First Axial

2.B.1. A genealogy of philosophic enlightenment in classical Greece
Chapter 7: Xenophanes and Parmenides
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copyright © 2003, 2005, 2006 by Lawrence C. Chin. All rights reserved.


The key issue here is god. It has two parts: first, criticism of the traditional representation of gods, and second, a more proper (seemly) representation of god.

Xenophanes points out the improperness of the traditional representation of gods, such as found in Greek folk mythology, that gods do "everything that is a shame and reproach among [human], stealing and committing adultery and deceiving each other" (Kirk and Raven, ibid., p. 168); or that "the mortals consider that the gods are born, and that they have clothes and speech and bodies like their own" (ibid.); or that "The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair" (ibid.); Xenophanes thus shows the psychological egocentrism inherent in the ordinary representation of god:

But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the works that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves.

This is a criticism of the unseemliness [from epiprepei] of the traditional representation, which is a lesser approximation to the truth (about god) due to a lesser differentiated consciousness. Further differentiation results in truer truth. "Xenophanes must be credited with the formulation of the theory that the myth is an anthropomorphic representation of divinity, to be superseded with the advance of insight by more appropriate symbols." (Voegelin, ibid., p. 175) The pantheistic advances by the earlier Presocratics must have led Xenophanes to recognize the evolution of consciousness -- from myth to the pantheism of the Ionian "physicists." Xenophanes' articulation then was parallel to Moses' break with the Egyptian religious tradition or to the prophets' break with the "popular religion" of the people of Israel. "As soon... as... the meaning of anthropomorphism is properly restricted to the representation of gods as beings who on occasion assume human shape, and talk and act like men [hence the personalization of the transcendent as in Israel or Christianity is not necessarily anthropomorphic, although anthropomorphism is always personalization], we become aware of the fundamental theoretical problem that such partial transfer of human qualities (which does not affect the essential divinity of the gods) may have something to do with the idea which man has of himself. Is it not probable... that human qualities are transferred to gods only as long as the spheres of the divine and human are not quite clearly set off against each other? That anthropomorphism is possible only as long as the idea of man is not too clearly differentiated?" (Ibid.)

The differentiation of the human self is correlative with the differentiation of the divine. First of all, the "attribution [to gods] of conduct that is considered a 'disgrace and reproach' among men" smacks of absurdity to a man like Xenophanes who is well enough differentiated in consciousness to have become the "just" man following universal ethical principles. The gods should at least be just as ethically principled. (Ibid., p. 176; we can all recall here how people of immature moral development today think that "aliens", if coming to earth, would not harbor benevolent intentions but would reduce us to slaves or eliminate us to take over our earthly resources: projection of one's own immoral inclinations onto the Other. This reminds us of Confucius' example of "a small man using his own small heart to measure a gentleman's stomach": people who are of small heart and think only of exploitation and domination when in relation with others will presume the others to think the same.) The differentiation of the just man, occurring at multiple civilizational centers at this time, was the new man following the universal standard of justice as fairness to all (as equivalent exchange; for this, later). Correlatively the jealous and adulterous gods were an embarrassment and out of date. (C.f. also the unseemliness of the representation of God among the contemporary Protestant Christians: Introduction.)

Secondly, the differentiation of man is also the differentiation of the essence of man from his particular instances (races and ethnicities), with the resultant universal humankind. Correlatively there would be the differentiation of the essence of god from its particular instances (the black god of the Ethiopian or the red-haired god of the Thracian) to result in a more differentiated understanding of god as the universal god, a more seemly representation of divinity. Xenophanes' understanding of the universality of god further differentiates from Hesiod's just god and is precipitated by the pantheism among his Ionian predecessors. "Only when this primitive symbolization [a local people creating god in their own image] is abandoned will it be possible to recognize the 'one god who is the greatest' as a common god for all men, correlative to the identical humanity in all human beings. Behind the critique of anthropomorphism there appears the experience of divine and human universality as the motivating force. Primitive symbolizations particularize and parochialize divinity along with humanity; a universal god for all men requires a different 'type' of symbolization... The concern about seemliness, thus, reveals itself as the concern about adequate representation of a universal god." (Voegelin, ibid., p. 178) Here then is Xenophanes' more seemly representation of divinity:

eiV qeoV, en te qeoisi kai anqrowpoisi megistoV,
outi demaV qnhtoisin omoiioV oude nohma

aiei d'en tautwi mimnei kinoumenoV ouden
oude metercesqai min epiprepei allote allhi
'apaneuqe ponoio noou freni panta kradainei.

ouloV orai, ouloV de noei, ouloV de t'akouei.

One god, greatest among gods and men, in no way similar to mortals either in body or in thought.

Always it remains in the same place, moving not at all; nor is it fitting [epiprepei] for it to go to different places at different time, but without toil he shakes [kradainei: shakes, swings, vibrates] all things by the thought of its mind [noou].

All of it sees, all thinks, and all hears.

Before we proceed to an analysis of this theophany, we must first clarify here the meaning of god as mind (nous), "moving things with thoughts", and "sees and hears." It sounds like the cosmos as self-reflexive, and so reminds a bit of the modern day anthropic principle. This is probably the partial continuation of the pantheism of the Ionian predecessors. Since the universal soul is also the same as the individual human soul, and is in fact the factor of consciousness in humans, then it also acquires the flavor of a universal consciousness. The aliveness, and so consciousness, of the universal soul, as the Ionian physicists have thought, are manifested in the orderly movement of the cosmos. The nous here is thus probably also flavored by the orderliness, the principledness, and the wonder of the movement of the cosmos (cosmos in fact means "order"). The non-arbitrariness of the patterns in the movement of the cosmos, which has been exhibited by the mechanicalness of nature revealed by the Ionian physicists, therefore reflects something like "intelligence." This is probably the experiential base of Xenophanes' saying.

In Xenophanes' representation of the one god the memory of Conservation is more than before differentiatedly articulated. It is co-extensive with the world such as expressed by the pantheism of the Ionians, but its eternally remaining at the same "place" and eternal motionlessness come very close to Parmenides' singularity which, as we shall see, is the differentiated memory of Conservation pure and simple, independent of the second law. It is the function of the differentiation of the universal humankind under the universal one god, which is a progressive approximation toward a pure memory of Conservation. "The process in which the idea of man differentiates and correlatively with it the symbolization of transcendence... reaches its climax when the differentiation of man has advanced to the point where the nucleus of the spiritual soul, the anima animi in the Augustinian sense, is discovered. At this ineffable point of openness towards transcendent reality, at this heart of the soul where the infusion of divine grace is experienced, the divinity becomes ineffable too. The god of the mystic is nameless, beyond dogmatic symbolization." (Voegelin, ibid., p. 176) The Hellenic differentiation of the same, universal humanness (anima animi) inherent within all peoples of whatever particular, different ethnicities is very similar to the differentiation of the universal, even genderless, subject during the European Enlightenment (c.f. A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History, 11.1.B. "The Origin of Liberal Feminism in the Differentiation of Subjectivity"), just as sophism is the result of a differentiation of consciousness similar to that resulting in positivism during the Enlightenment. (For this, later.)

The deep-openness toward divine transcendence is the moment when all particularities are differentiated away, no distinctions left, it is the instance of the substratum as universal conservedness where all particulars are mere illusory aspects of this One by being conserved therein, but more so, because the One Unified is seen less in the light of its being-that-which-is-behind-its-manifestations and more as itself. This ultimate differentiation of consciousness within the functional perspective is best exemplified by the Hindu enlightenment understanding of the selves as mere aspects of the One Universal Self. This is the Eternal or Eternally Conserved behind all illusory geneses and destructions on the surface, all distinctions collapsing away as mere illusions. This is the Conserved state heightened, i.e. the (al)most distinct consciousness or memory of Conservation. It is here, we suggested, that the Mosaic God as "I AM WHO AM" belongs. Although the intuition of conservation is always immediately given to consciousness, its memory is far less distinct among the mythic religious consciousness, where the ancestral spirits are many and yet one, the cosmos multivarious and yet unified, people many and yet run through by one common ancestral substance. The fluidity and multiplicity of the mythic symbols (for even just one thing) is attestation of the less distinct memory of Conservation therein. Progressive differentiation of the essence of humanity and of the one divinity behind its particular instances will approximate toward the distinctness of the memory of Conservation.

This is when Xenophanes can look at the sky and say: the One is God (all'eiV ton olon ouranon apobleyaV to en einai fhsi to qeon; "Looking to the whole heaven he says the One to be God." Aristotle Met. A5, 986b21, Kirk and Raven, ibid., p. 171).

Xenophanes' "god is unborn, he did not come into being like the Hesiodian gods, he always stays in the same place and does not move hither and thither, and from his unmoved position he sways all things through his mind" (Voegelin, ibid., p. 180). This is recall (anamnesis) at a new level, coming close to the recall of Conservation by itself, independent of the second law. To understand the matter better, let us consider a scenario of the genesis of the Big Bang that is alternative to the early one of genesis from nothing, this time conceived by Stephen Hawking (c.f. A Brief History of Time). In this alternative model Hawking attempts to circumvent the problem of the genesis of the Big Bang altogether. He conceives that space-time may form a closed surface without boundary, somewhat like the surface of the earth. If the north pole corresponds to the singularity of the Big Bang, it does not have the problem of genesis, because it is not a beginning, but simply one point among others on the spherical surface. Hence he says: "The boundary condition [the problem of the beginning] of the universe is that it has no boundary. The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE."

Again, this alternative model and the previous model are both proposals to solve the problem of the genesis (or non-genesis) of the universe which is a problem because of the law of Conservation.

If the Hesiodian theogony, with its primary deities coming into being from nothing, corresponds to the first model of the genesis of the Big Bang from vacuum fluctuation, the progressive differentiation of the memory of Conservation toward the point of absolute singularity seems to resemble Hawking's no-boundary model. Seen in this light, the Presocratic evolution seems to correspond to the stages of the modern physicists' calculation of the Universe backward in time. Thales and Anaximenes with their locating of the substratum for the becoming of the world in one of the concrete elements would match the moment just after the Big Bang, where the various would-be subatomic particles are still unified somewhat in an unified field of energy (no "matter" yet at this time). Anaximander, with his nameless apeiron, is already at the stage of the ultimate unification field of all energy and approaches the singularity of the Big Bang. And Xanophanes even more. It is Parmenides who reaches the Big Bang itself, that singularity before its unfolding into space-time: and this singularity is Conservation by itself.


1. The Prologue: the mystic experience of salvation. The purpose of philosophy is the eternal salvation of the soul, but in the second mode. As the second mode of salvation develops in Hellas from Orphism to Pythagoreanism, the path diverges into two -- the one being Xenophane-Heraclitus-Parmenides and the other Plato. The two are different: Parmenides' approach is to reach salvation through the vision of Being-as-it-is by itself, by the path of the material conservation of things -- the path on which the Presocratics are seen treading so far -- but Plato's is to reach salvation through the vision of the source (the idea of the Good) of the laws of existence, by the path of the conservation of the showing of things.

The Prologue of Parmenides' poem tells us that what Parmenides is to recount in his poem about his vision of Being (or the Source) came to him in a mystic experience of being transported to the divine realm which he had had when he was a young man (Frag. 1):1

ippoi tai me ferousin, oson t'epi qumoV ikanoi, pempon, epei m'eV odon bhsan polufhmon agousai daimonoV, h kata pant'asth ferei eidota fwta.

thi feromhn, thi gar me polufrastoi feron ippoi arma titainousai, kourai d'odon hgemoneuon. axwn d'en cnoihisin iei suriggoV authn aiqomenoV, doioiV gar epeigeto dinwtoisin kukloiV amfoterwqen, ote spercoiato pempein HliadeV kourai, prolipousai dwmata nuktoV eiV faoV, wsamenai kratwn apo cersi kaluptraV.

enqa pulai nuktoV te kai hmatoV eisi keleuqwn, kai sfaV uperquron amfiV ecei kai lainoV oudoV. autai d'aiqeriai plhntai megaloisi quretroiV. twn de Dikh polupoinoV ecei klhidaV amoibouV.

The horses that carry me, were taking me as far as ever desire might reach to,
when they came and took me to the many-voiced way of the daimon, [the way] which carries [everywhere?] the man who knows.

This is where I was being carried, for that is where the horses of wisdom where carrying me, straining [titainousai] at the chariot, while young girls were leading the way. The axle a-blaze [aithomenos] in the axle-boxes [chnoieisin] was sending out a cry from the hollow hub of the wheel [as from a shepherd's pipe], for it was being hurtled forward by the two wheels [doiois kuklois] spinning [dinotisin] on either side of it, as the young girls, daughters of the Sun, were hastening [sperchoiato] to bring me [on my way], once they had left behind [prolipousai] the realms of night [to pass] into the light, and had flung back [osamenai] with their hands the coverings [kaluptras] from their heads.

There stand the gates to the pathways [keleuthon] of night and day. A lintel [huperthuron] and a threshold of stone [lainos oudos] hold them above and below, while the gates themselves, aetherial, are filled by great doors. Of these [two doors], Justice, who metes out many penalties [polupoinos amoibous: i.e. many-making of karmic compensations: sufferings for the bad and rewards for the good], holds the keys that fit them.

One is here clearly reminded that this is the place of the afterlife where, according to one's karma, one either enters "heaven" (the path toward day) or "hell" (the path toward night).

thn dh parfamenai kourai malakoisi logoisin peisan epifradewV, wV sfin balanwton ocha apterewV wseie pulewn apo. tai de quretrwn casm'acaneV poihsan anaptamenai, polucalkouV axonaV en surigxin amoibadon eilixasai, gomfoiV kai peronhisin arhrote. thi ra di'autewn iquV econ kourai kat'amaxiton arma kai ippouV. kai me qea profrwn upedexato, ceira de ceiri dexiterhn elen, wde d'epoV fato kai me proshuda.

w kour'aqanatoisi sunaoroV hniocoisin, ippoiV tai se ferousin ikanwn hmeteron dw, cair', epei outi se moira kakh plroupempe neesqai thnd'odon, h gar ap'anqrwpwn ektoV patou estin, alla qemiV te dikh te. crew de se panta puqesqai, hmen alhqeihV eupeiqeoV atremeV htor hde brotwn doxaV, taiV ouk eni pistiV alhqhV.

all'emphV kai tauta maqhseai, wV ta dokounta crhn dokimwV einai dia pantoV panta perwnta.

With gentle words [malakoisi logoisin] the young girls pleaded [parphamenai] with her, and cleverly persuaded [peisan epiphradeos] her to fling back [oseie] for them from the gates without delay the bolt fitted with its pins [balanoton ochea]. The [gates] swung back to reveal the yawning gap [chasm'achanes] of the [open] doors, turning round [eilixasai] in their sockets [surignxin] one after the other [amoibadon] the hingeshafts [axonas], heavy with bronze [poluchalkous], fitted with pegs and rivets [gomphois kai peroneisin]. Then there, through the gates, the young girls were holding chariots [harma] and horses, straight along the high-road [amaxiton]. And the goddess received me graciously, and took my right hand in hers. This was the word she spoke and thus did she address me:

Young man, companion [sunaoros] to the immortal charioteers [athanatoisi heniochoisin], reaching our home with the horses who carry you, welcome, since it is not at all an evil fate [moira kake] that sent you to travel this way -- for far indeed it is from [i.e. mortal] men, away from the paths [patou] they tread -- but right and justice [i.e. karmic law]. It is necessary that you hear about all things, both the quiet, still heart [atremes etor] of persuasive truth [aletheies eupeitheos] and the opinions of the mortals, in which there is no true belief.

But even so, these things too you shall learn: how it is necessary that the things that appear [the things opined: ta dokounta] would come to truly [dokimos] be, passing the whole way through all things.

This vision of the goddess' showing of the two (actually three, later on) ways (the way of the eternal truth and the way of the illusion of the world, and later, the way of the impossible, of non-Being) is a scheme of salvation: as will be seen, the goddess will show him the three paths, pointing to the one toward truth while dismissing the entirely untrue and instructing on the deceitful one so that "no knowledge of mortals may surpass his" (wV ou mh pote tiV se brotwn gnwmh parelasshi, 8 60). By thus showing of the way to the vision of Being-(the Source)-as-it-is the young man is saved, his mortality (thermodynamic finitude) negated, no longer a mortal like others: the second mode of salvation. This is why it is the immortal charioteers who carry him to the path of truth which is indeed far away from the paths the mortals tread. This is equivalent to Jesus' first mode: "I am the way, the truth, and [eternal] life; no one goes to the Father [the Source] but through me." The philosopher is saved through the acquisition (or rather anamnesis) of knowledge (episteme, gnosis) while the Christian through the graceful intervention of an Other.

Note the description of the Source which follows is the content of the divine revelation which Parmenides has had the good fortune (or karma) to receive; contrary to what many university "professors of philosophy" (especially in the English-speaking world) say, Parmenides' description of Being is not "logical argument", a set of "propositions" of "deductive reasoning", but simply the account rendered of a mystic's encounter with the divine, like the ordinary person's description of a certain thing just seen, of a person just met, of a situation one was just in -- except that this is an extra-ordinary event. (Keep in mind that the purpose -- world-historical function -- of the "department of philosophy" in universities is to destroy philosophy rather than to transmit it.)

2. The salvational vision of Being (the anamnesis of Conservation)

twi pan'onom'estai ossa brotoi kateqento, pepoiqoteV einai alhqh, gignesqai te kai ollusqai, einai te kai ouci. kai topon allassein dia te croa fanon ameibein. (Frag. 8. 38- 41)

Therefore all will be name (?) those which the mortals have posited (laid down: katethento), persuaded that they are true: coming into being and destruction, to be and not to be, changing place and changing bright surface. 2

This decries the illusory nature of the world of the "opinions of the mortals," the world of dokounta (things that "seem", that are opined) in which there is no true belief, this world of illusions and sufferings from which salvation will save us. The starting point of Parmenides' vision that shall so save is the general memory of the law of Conservation just as with other philosophers, but he attempts to carry the memory to its logical end. Ordinary people (mortals) are persuaded that birth and destruction, coming to be and being no longer, and all the other changes in nature are "real" and "true"; but the intuition of the first law tells that all births and deaths, all changes are mere illusions, since really (i.e. behind them) nothing changes, i.e. the "total" never changes, for all is conserved. Compare with Zhuangzi's same anamnesis that the production of one thing (e.g. table) means the destruction of another thing (e.g. tree), but that there is never really any destruction or construction, as the genesis and dissolution of things are merely the re-arrangement of the matter-energy of which they consist into a different form or arrangement. Such insight into conservation (such as of the "material" here) is salvational because suffering and mortality result from the attachment to, and the mistaking as "true" (i.e. final) of, the "temporary arrangement". This is the level reached, e.g. by the Neoconfucians and Zhuangzi. But Parmenides attempts to go further. Carried to its logical beginning or conclusion, "all is always conserved" naturally means that the effects of the second law -- birth and death, genesis and destruction of things -- are simply extraneous to the eternally conserved existence since they change nothing of the total picture. (This is the lesson, for example, of the birth and death of the subatomic particles like hadrons which quantum field theory is devised to describe and of which Capra is so fond in naming it "the dance": despite the coming and going of protons, etc., from or into other hadrons, no matter, the total amount of energy remains the same; hence the dance is extraneous. C.f. the review of Capra's "Tao of Physics".) It is absolute Being simply and is Conservedness pure and simple, that is, a memory of the first law without the second. This is how Parmenides arrives at his vision of "Is!" (estin) simply and purely. Such vision is salvational more in the Buddhist manner: suffering and mortality are negated in that they are revealed to be just so much illusions; only Is! (only Being itself is "true").

(Of course ordinary people also "remember" the first law and also know that nothing is really ever generated or destroyed: the laws of thermodynamics are always already intuited by consciousness. But they do not take it seriously, and do not try to differentiate the essence of this memory, i.e. do not try to carry the memory a bit further, let alone to its logical end as does Parmenides. We will return to this point later.)

But this "enlightened state of mind" of Parmenides' should be viewed against the background of the Orphic-Pythagorean salvation of the physical soul from the cycle of reincarnation (cycle of birth and death) via its purification by knowledge of the (divine) structure of reality: remember that Parmenides is continuing the tradition of the second mode of salvation started by the Pythagoreans. In this way Parmenides may be seen as reacting against Pythagoreanism (or Heraclitus) in the same way as Buddha is against the Upanishadic tradition.

The goddess then introduces the two ways first (ei d'ag'egwn erew, komisai de su muqon akousaV, aiper odoi mounai dizhsioV eisi nohsai. "Come and I'll say, and you, having heard, take [with you]3 the story, what are the only paths of search for thinking..." [Frag. 2]):

Only later does the goddess reveal the third way in between these two "necessary" (truth) and "impossible", the way of the dokounta in which we as fleshy beings are stuck.

Let's understand the conservational anamnesis behind the revelation: "The one way, that Is and that for it [Is] not to be is not [possible]." (Literally: ... that not to be is not [possible]. Frag. 2. 3) This expresses Conservation pure and simple, that the Conserved, now the substratum as the Source set by itself apart from its (extraneous) affectations and because of this setting apart, is distinctionless and therefore simply so ("Is simply!"), and that, because of Conservation, what there is must always be there and it is not possible for this not to be so. The other way, "Not Is" cannot be thought of: "The other way, that 'Not Is' and it is necessary that 'Not Is' not be, and I show you the non-knowable to be not a valid way. For Non-Being is not knowable nor possible nor pronounceable". (Frag. 2. 5 - 8.) Conservation means no distinctions, no particularities, because all is, before genesis and after destruction, conserved (and now we have just this Conservedness). Hence "Is", no predicate and no subject, because of distinctionlessness.4 Now Conservation by itself, carried to its logical beginning or logical conclusion, means:

Being is un-created (un-generated), imperishable, whole (completeness), unique, unmovable and without end.

wV agenhton eon kai anwleqron estin, oulon mounogeneV te kai atremeV hd'ateleston. (Frag. 8. 3 - 4)

The law of Conservation means that nothing can come from nothing, hence what is must have always been, eternally, hence un-generated; and similarly never perishing, because of Conservation. It is unique (mounogenes), because outside of what is there nothing is there, for nothing can come out of nothing, because of Conservation. But the distinctionlessly Conserved independent of the second law means no flow of time (no particulars to flow from place to place in time), and no extension of space (spatial extension is the condition of existence of particulars; in the negation of particulars in Conservedness no longer is there such condition of existence), hence it is nunc stans, the stand-still Now as Singularity of no-space-no-time, an eternal instant of conservation:

oude pot'hn oud'estai, epei nun estin omou pan, en, suneceV. (Frag. 8. 5 - 6)

Nor was, nor will be, but Is all of itself, one, and holding itself together [i.e. in singularity].

What is there ultimately conserved cannot have a past or future. For in distinctionlessly Conserved the flow of time itself stops. It is all-of-itself all-at-once (spatially and temporally).

Similarly its origin [gennan] cannot be sought and it cannot grow (be increased: thi poqen auxhqen, "from where and by which would it grow/ be increased?"). (Frag. 8, 6-7) Since nothing is outside of what is there conserved in the eternal instantaneous moment because the law of Conservation dictates that nothing more can come out of nothing next to everything there is which is necessarily conserved as it is, never more, never less, ungenerated and imperishable, so there is nothing other that can serve as its origin and nothing other that can be added to it (for it to grow).

outwV h pampan pelenai crewn estin h ouci (Frag. 8. 11)

So either it is necessary for it [Is] to be [pelenai] absolutely all-at-once [pampan] or not at all.

This is again a simple expression of the law of Conservation. What is must always and absolutely be and never be destroyed nor generated because of the necessity of Conservation.

oude pot'ek tou eontoV efhsei pistioV iscuV gignesqai ti par'auto. tou eineken oute genesqai out'ollusqai anhke Dikh calasasa pedhsin, all'ecei. (Frag. 8. 12-15)

Nor should the strong-hold [ischus] of trustworthiness [pistios] permit [efhsei] that out of being [eontos] anything [ti] should come into being beside it. For this reason, Justice [Dike] has allowed [aneke: let] neither generation nor destruction, [as if] loosening its shackles [pedesin], but holds fast [ecei].

That is, Conservation is always and necessarily Conservation of everything there is, because the law of Conservation dictates that everything must be conserved and neither more nor less can appear since the amount of everything is necessarily the same. Nothing more can ever come out of everything there is (and land next to everything there is) because the law of Conservation dictates that there can never be more than what is already there. And again, because of the necessity of Conservation, generation and destruction are impossible, and there is no way to violate this most fundamental law of nature: the law of Conservation.

pwV d'an epeita peloi to eon. pwV d'an ke genoito. ei gar egent'ouk est'oud'ei pote mellei esesqai. twV genesiV men apesbestai kai apustoV oleqroV. (Frag. 8. 19 -21)

How would Being (to eon) come to be (peloi: to rise, to be, to become)? How would it be generated (genoito)? For if it were generated then it is not (ouk estin); nor [is it] if it is ever at some point [in the future] to come to be (mellei esesthai). Hence genesis is extinguished and destruction unknown.

That is, because of the law of Conservation, what is there must have always been there, un-generated; and it is impossible that what is there was not there before but suddenly afterward came to be there, for nothing can come out of nothing. Similarly it is impossible that what is there is not there now but should come to be there at some point in the future. The law of Conservation dictates that what is there has always been there, un-generated, and will always be there, never to be destroyed or disappear, and that nothing more than what is there can ever have been in the past or appear in the future.

oude diaireton estin, epei pan estin omoion. (Frag. 8. 22)

It is indivisible, since it is all alike (uni-form).

That is, what is conserved there, when considered merely in the light of conservedness, has no distinctions within. Ultimately, it is, in fact, the singularity of space-time, the eternal moment before the Big Bang.

And this is the meaning of its not being un-limited. This limitedness really means the singularity of no-time and no-space and so the negation of spatiality and temporality -- and hence the description of it as a well-rounded sphere -- and this contradicts Anaximander's apeiron only because here Conservation is conceived or recalled so distinctly, by itself, not as the mere Behind behind the illusory genesis and destruction ordained by the second law of thermodynamics.

autar epei peiraV pumaton, telesmenon esti pantoqen, eukuklou sfairhV enaligkon ogkwi, messoqen isopaleV panthi. to gar oute ti meizon oute ti baioteron pelenai creon esti thi h thi. oute gar ouk eon esti, to ken pauoi min ikneisqai eiV omon. (Frag. 8. 42 - 47)

Since [it has] an extreme limit [bound: peiras], it is complete everywhere, similar to a body [ognkoi] of a well-rounded sphere, from the center the same in every direction. Necessarily [in what is conserved] neither some bigness nor some lessness is here or there. For there is no non-being which will prevent it from arriving [iknesthai] at equality [homon] with itself.

Hence the spherical description really refers to the condition of singularity. Being -- what is there, conserved -- is complete, and elsewhere Parmenides also makes the point that "wherefore it is not lawful [themis] for Being [to eon] to be incomplete." (Frag. 8. 32: ouneken ouk ateleuthton to eon qemiV einai.) Because of the law of Conservation, what is ultimately conserved must be everything there is, for everything has to be conserved in the end. Nothing can escape conservation and then come back to it; and nothing can be outside of what is all there ultimately conserved, because what is ultimately all there conserved, is everything there ever is, because Conservation is always and necessarily Conservation of everything there is. Hence it is complete.

And "remaining the same and in the same, Being lies by itself." (Frag. 8. 29: tauton t'en tautwi te menon kaq'eauto te keitai.) What is ultimately conserved is the conservation of everything there ever is, conserving it against any change -- and before the second law -- hence it is said to remain the same and in the same (place).

Parmenides' Singularity of eternal conservedness is the singularity of the Big Bang in Hawking's model. The coming-into-being of the singularity itself is no longer a sensible question, because of the no-boundary condition of the universe. The singularity of the Big Bang no longer has a beginning. The point of singularity, where all is conserved in an eternal instant -- this Conservation intuited independently of the second law is the singularity before its unfolding into the space-time of Universe, and so here there are no distinctions for one to flow to the other in space nor is there time since nothing flows (for the meaning of time is entropy increase, that is, the flowing of matter/ energy from the more to the less concentrated region). This singularity is also the monotheistic God, except that the monotheistic God is expressed only as insight ("God Is") but not articulated in Logos (in the narrow sense of logical statements), and also except that God is other-ized -- which is the chief factor in the obscuring of reality by the testamental religions. The concept of the transcendent God of the testamental religions has always been the eternal, the all-inclusive, and the ungenerable and the imperishable just as Parmenides has described in his vision of pure Being. Later Christian theologians will make quite clear the coincidence between the Being of the philosopher and the God of religion.

But carried further to the extreme, the law of Conservation would have to dictate that Being -- that is, beings' be-ing (the importance of this distinction will be realized later) -- either as the source of the Universe or as Singularity, must be non-Being. The problem is that the limitation imposed by the law of Conservation -- that nothing can come out of nothing and that therefore everything there is must have always been there: the necessary eternity of the substratum -- eventually will pass into the intuition that that "primordial everything" must have come into being from nothing. "Everything" then must be nothing. Whether in the model of the Universe as quantum fluctuation or in Hawking's model, the universe is really just nothing, its positive matter/ energy (Being) exactly canceled out by its negative energy, gravity (anti-Being). Here Hawking again:

There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle parts. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.

Now twice zero is also zero. Thus the universe can double the amount of positive matter energy and also double the negative gravitational energy without violation of the conservation of energy.

It is said that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch. (Brief History of Time, Bantam 1990, p. 129)

Therefore because of the law of Conservation, existence is possible only as an illusion. In fact nothing exists and nothing can exist, yet things exist because of the circumvention around the first law: existing as illusory, i.e. balanced out by anti-existence. In the particle world we see this all the time. A particle (e.g. electron) can pop into existence in complete vacuum only insofar as it be canceled out in charge by an anti-particle (a particle going backward in time; e.g. the positron) and if it disappear in the allotted time to return its borrowed existence. Being (in the sense of beings be-ing beings) is really non-Being. Yet there are beings but only as virtual. Hence even with Parmenides' logical arrival at singularity, one can still go further with the memory of Conservation, in fact carrying it to its logical beginning and /or conclusion: that "Not Is", "Nothing!" Buddhism then is the enlightenment tradition that has at last arrived at the truth of existence, that existence is complete illusion and that Being is really non-Being. That is, insofar as there are things even though there cannot be anything, things only "exist" in the virtual sense, i.e., "neither exist nor do not exist" or "neither that things neither exist nor that nor do they not exist", the formula adopted by the Chinese Buddhists and the Sunyavada Buddhists but also by Plato in a slightly more elaborated context. Or also "emptiness is emptiness" by the Zen (Ch'an) Buddhist. But did Parmenides really miss the insight as to the truth of existence as non-existence? (See below.)

Hence when Parmenides, under the constraint of the law of Conservation, said that it is necessary for Being to be absolutely or else not at all, in the end it turns out that the constraint is so absolute that it is really necessary for there not to be anything (that is, not to really be anything). The law of Conservation is absolute, and even if nature has always found ways to circumvent it in order to have something there, as quantum physics has shown in the phenomenon of "free lunch" (particles coming into being from out of nothing, and the universe being the ultimate free lunch), it can never be violated -- hence the free lunch of existence has to be illusory, balanced out by anti-existence. Parmenides' frequent use of such metaphors as Justice (Dike), Necessity (Anagkh), Fate (Moira), and lawfulness (themis) in constraining Being (or Conservedness of everything there is) to not differ in any way from the Singularity that it is, shows that he was aware that he was dealing with an absolute law of Nature. This law, the law of Conservation, is in fact a law of logical tautology, that what is is what is and is not what what is is not -- while the second law of thermodynamics is a law of statistical likelihood -- which, in a way, is also logic. Logic, then, which Parmenides' Logos is, is the fundamental structure of the Universe. The strange things that quantum physics has thrown up are not violations of logic but merely circumventions of logic, which actually further demonstrate the inviolability of logic by showing that the only way to get around such fundamental logic as "Nothing can come out of nothing" is to get something out of nothing and at the same time cancel it out so that it has actually never been there.

The "truth" of all traditions of human enlightenment (all philosophies and religions since mythic shamanism) -- what they are about and what they do -- can now be formulated preliminarily. Philosophies (and the Yahweh of the Israelite religiousness and Christian God in an obscure and indirect way) are attempts to recall the truth of the universe, i.e. its origin and its (non-)existence, (1) through the memory of the first law of thermodynamics, (2) with varying degrees of clarity and differentiatedness, (3) on the synchronic plane of logic, and (4) in the functional perspective of the ancient humankind. The clearer the philosophy is in its anamnesis of the law of Conservation, the more backward in time it is able to go in re-capturing the pristine state of the universe. The Ionian physicists remember the first law as the substratum behind the becoming of the cosmos, and here they correspond to the original undifferentiated or not-yet differentiated radiation-soup of the Big Bang. Anaximander has further clarified or differentiated this "original pool". Parmenides has reached the singularity of the Big Bang. The Buddhists have comprehended once and for all the essence of the universe as non-existence, of Being as non-Being. Philosophy is the recapitulation of the diachronicity of the origin of the universe on the synchronic plane of Logos: a translation of Nacheinder into Nebeneinder.

As we have said, this is a very common pattern in either thought or nature. In thought we have mentioned such example as the transformation of Linnaeus' synchronic/ logical taxonomy of organisms into an evolutionary progression. In nature we have suggested the example of the evolution of the animal body plan (Bauplan), such as the evolution from the radial symmetry of the cnidaria to the bilateral symmetry of the flatworm. In both cases such transformation is possible because nature also evolves in logical sequence, from the simple to the more complex and from the undifferentiated to the differentiated: from simple organism to complex organism; and from an undifferentiated consumption-defecation wholeness (for cnidarian's orifice at the bottom center of its radial body is at once the mouth and the anus) to a differentiation between these two functions (in flatworm the mouth is in the front and the anus in the back), and from undifferentiation of any sort of directionality (in cnidarian no part can be said to be the front and no part the back, only top or down) to the differentiation of a direction (in flatworm the head is first and the tail last, and it moves "forward", i.e. in the direction of the head). Therefore theoretical physics (as in cosmology) can be said to be the diachronization (or diachronic complexification) of philosophy, just as the testamental religions are diachronization of mythic intraworld religiosity. And just as the testamental religions are mythic intraworld religiosity carried to its utmost conclusion (in a similar way as the flatworm's linear and two-end eating and defecating system is the carrying of the compact radial eating and defecating system of the cnidaria to its logical conclusion), so theoretical physics is the final consummation of philosophy (and the transcendent God, for that matter), at least in terms of truth-value. (Physics is not yet salvational.)

The fundamental problem of the testamental religions then is this, that the other-ization of God has obscured the representation or symbolization value of God as the recapturing of the truth of the universe. The transcendent God as constituted in the Mosaic revelation is the same recall of the first law as Parmenides'. But the Israelite tradition -- which is a directly continuing evolution or differentiation (diachronization) of shamanism -- together with the very orientation of salvation proper to the Israelite-Christian religiousness (Grace given by an Other) have bound up the Mosaic intuition in the mode of the Other and in the myth of an apocalyptic eschatology. God as the personal and the Other, although an infinite and eternally stand-still singularity, becomes God the Creator at the beginning and God the Redeemer at the end instead of the absolute singularity of conservedness unfolding into the universe. Hence once the religiousness is fossilized in dogmas for easy following by un-intelligent and non-spiritual people, mysticism tends to develop within to purge God's otherness and recast God as itself the origin of the Universe rather than a mere creator outside of it. Thus is Kabbalism.5

The Israelite tradition as the diachronization of shamanism not only determines the form of the religiousness as "sacrifice" -- in this way the testamental religions remain within the bound of mythic shamanism -- and therefore produces the God incarnate suffering for the sin of humankind (Christ's crucifixion instead of the normal form of sacrifice as offering in shamanism) as the logical conclusion of the "shaman"; but also ties down the differentiation of the transcendental within the bounds of the ancestral cult -- filling the role of the Generic Ancestor with the transcendental God. This is the problem of personalization previously mentioned. And this is the first determinant of the Otherness of God. The second determinant is the orientation of salvation -- Grace given by an Other as the way to permanently negate, with the first law (Eternity), the temporal and spatial existence ordained by the second law. This second determinant -- this particular orientation of salvation proper to the testamental religions -- is probably actually itself determined by the first determinant, the personalization or otherization of the transcendental (as the memory of the first law) by the Generic Ancestor.

Hence God is mutlivariously determined. The Mosaic insight of God as the recall of the first law (which is manifested in the formula "I AM WHO AM") is distorted by personalization or otherization which has two causes. This distortion probably occurred with Moses himself, since his insight during the Thorn Bush revelation, although originating from the intuition of the substratum as the source of being, was immediately articulated in the mode of the Other, as God the Creator and Maintainer of the cosmos, i.e. in the form, although differentiatedly transcendental, of the Generic Ancestor -- this is probably because Moses simply could not have articulated his insight into the structure of the universe in terms other than those of the (differentiated) shamanistic tradition (of Abraham or Egypt) within which he grew up. This is nothing unusual, since the pantheistic Ionian philosophers themselves had their articulation of the substratum as the source of being tainted by the mythic category of immortal gods -- which came from the ancestral cult ultimately. The different strands of experiences that go to compose the Judeo-Christian God then are: (1) immediate intuition by Moses of the first law by itself (the Parmenidean type); (2) the tradition of the Generic Ancestor, which came from the memory of the first law also, but by tribal people; (3) salvation as Grace given by an Other; (4) the tradition of the creator god (in which Moses articulated his memory of the first law), which came from the tradition of ancestral spirits and so also of the Generic Ancestor; and finally, in the hands of the prophets: (5) the differentiation of God as the Redeemer, which came from eschatology, which was itself the diachronization of the periodic cosmogony of the cosmological myth -- and this came from the experience with the second law.

This recapturing of what is historical with what is logical is possible because the fundamental truth of the Universe -- the fundamental truth of existence, should we say, if we speak like traditional philosophers -- is manifested through the law of Conservation on the macroscopic level appropriate to our size, even if, because of our size, most of the structures of the Universe -- from the atomic constituents of matter to the forces, and perhaps even dark matter -- are hidden from us, except for gravity and that portion of the electromagnetic energy called light. The law of Conservation has in fact limited the possibility of the truth of the Universe to such a narrow range -- to the distinctionless and timeless "Is", and in fact to non-existence at all -- so that philosophy, as the recall of the first law, is bound to hit close to the mark. Thus it is here that we may search for the reason for the convergence, more and more recognized today, between contemporary theoretical physics and the ancient mystical philosophical insights.

Now if Parmenides has hit, in the realm of logic, on the singularity of space-time (or rather no space and no time) which is then before the unfolding from it of space-time, of becoming, what then is the relationship between this becoming (i.e. the cosmos around him) and the singularity itself? If Conservation is intuited and articulated in Logos independently of the second law, what about the second law that embodies and governs the becoming? There is no such relationship between the Conserved and the unfolding of it in time, as the latter has been cut off from the purity of the anamnesis as extraneous to it: the cosmos around is just an illusion. Looked at this way, Parmenidean Being converges with the Buddhist in implying the existence (of the cosmos) as virtual.

What is given here is the thermodynamic reading of Parmenides' most difficult text in the history of Western philosophy: Being as beings' be-ing. In traditional metaphysics Parmenides is credited with conceiving Being as such, i.e. not as beings' be-ing but as be-ing pure and simple, that is, in the "absolute sense". For this traditional metaphysical reading, c.f. "Being of the traditional metaphysics, of Heidegger's, and of the thermodynamic". There, it would be seen, the disjunction between Being (in this absolute sense) and beings is even more pronounced (beings cannot be); but just so that the traditional metaphysics in terms of Parmenides converges eventually with the thermodynamic reading of the Buddhists: Parmenides' poems do imply or converge with Buddhism. The key to such (East-West) convergence in the case of Parmenides is his disengagement of the memory of Conservation completely from the perception of the second law.

Two points are then to be made in conclusion. First, we see how Xenophanes is moving toward singularity with his god as staying always in the same place and not moving. Xenophanes' recall of the first law has not yet disengaged completely from the second law, but almost so. Singularity, where all distinctions disappear into the conservedness underneath, of course would not have movement within and change of place without -- where would the infinite singular concentration of all go, when there is nothing outside of what is there? Singularity is necessarily whole and immobile (akineto). The substratum of Anaximander, Anaximenes and Thales all "moves", i.e. in the becoming of the cosmos, because with them the first law is recalled in relation to the second law, the substratum of and for becoming: that from which all come and into which all return upon destruction. Parmenides, and Xenophanes approximating toward him, are going more into, i.e. more primordially into the memory of, "that from which and that into which" -- the un-necessary becoming according to the second law is progressively purged from the memory of the necessary Conservedness according to the first law. This difference between the two sides is reflected, when the two types of thinking (the first law in relation or not in relation to the second) are translated onto the diachronic axis, in the respective stages of the origin of the universe to which they correspond (the unification field or the singularity before that). This (the relation of the first with the second law) is in fact the essence of the difference between the immanent (such as the Ionian pantheistic physicists) and the transcendental type of philosophy (such as Parmenides and Plato -- and finally the Buddhists).

Secondly, we must come back to what we said about how Parmenides touched on the general memory of the first law and attempted to differentiate out of it its essence. As we have said, ordinary people are persuaded that birth and destruction, coming to be and being no longer, and all the other changes in nature are "real" and "true"; but the intuition of the first law tells that all births and deaths, all changes are mere illusions, since really (i.e. behind them) nothing changes, i.e. all is conserved. Carried to its logical beginning or conclusion, "all is always conserved" naturally means that there is really no change at all, no movement, no distinction of any kind, no genesis and no perishing... and so Parmenides arrives at his vision of "Is!" (estin) simply and purely, a memory of the first law without the second. But the effects of the second law are "real" in some way, although not "totally real" -- things do change, although really nothing changes at all. What is this half realness, half truth, this illusion (doxa), which, as said, has to in the end be virtual? In another way, people also always already know, even if not consciously, that nothing is ever generated or destroyed, because all is conserved in the end. They live in between the two laws of thermodynamics. This ambiguous, undecided position is what Parmenides intends to deal with when he names the doxa (illusion), in the latter part of his poems -- but in Hellas it is most elaborated upon by Plato.


1. Below the Parmenides' text is based on Parménide. Le poème: fragments by Marcel Conche. Paris, 1996; and also Etudes sur Parménide, sous la direction de Pierre Aubenque. Paris, Lib. phil. J. Vrin, 1987.

2. The full text is: oude cronoV estin h estai allo parex tou eontoV, epei to ge Moir'epedhsen oulon akinhton t'emenai. twi pan'onom'estai ossa brotoi kateqento, pepoiqoteV einai alhqh, gignesqai te kai ollusqai, einai te kai ouci. kai topon allassein dia te croa fanon ameibein. "Time neither is nor will be something other than Being, since Moira [destiny] has bound up Being so that it be whole [oulon] and unmovable [akineton]..." The beginning of the text is in controversy. C.f. Conche: "Aux pages 86.31-87.1 de son commentaire de la Physique. Simplicius citant Parménide à l'appui de son propre développement, écrit ouden gar estin, et cette leçon a été très généralement préféré au oud'ei cronoV estin de Phys., 146.9. A tort, croyons-nous." [Conche, ibid., p. 165] The preferred translation would then be "For no [other] either is or will be besides Being..." We, of course, avoid the controversy over the precise meaning of the first line concerning time.

3. For the determination of the meaning of komisai, Marcel Conche writes: "Selon Mansfeld... le sens serait: 'conserver et transmettre aux autres', ce qui renverrait à la mission d'aède [epic poet] de Parménide. [That is, Parmenides is to perform the prophetic function of the savior of humanity, thus far in Hellas performed by Homer the epic poet -- and among the Israelites by the messiah.] Mais cela va au-delà de la signification, ici, de komisai: 'emporte avec toi' (comme une chose précieuse dont il faut prendre soin)." (Ibid., p. 76) Though Conche is focusing on the literal meaning here, the overall meaning is that of Parmenides' serving as the savior, the messenger of truth in order to save. See below.

4. I have very little patience with the pigeon-hole discussion in academia as to what the subject for the "is" (estin) is here. The most obvious answer is that there is no subject, just as in Latin "pluit" ("rains") and in Greek uei mean "it rains"; there is no subject for these impersonal verbs, and the appearance of such subject as "it" in English, French (il pleut), and German (es regnet) is merely to fill space due to the differentiation occurring within these Western Indo-European languages which now require a subject for every verb, even when there is no subject. This is, for instance, Hermann Fraenkel's thesis (Dichtung und Philosophie des fruehen Griechentums, 1962). C.f. Aubenque,ibid., p. 164. But Aubenque specifically rejects this most common-sense proposal: "Comment en effet passer d'un verbe impersonnel... à l'expression construite d'un verbe et d'un sujet comme au fr. 6. 1.: eon emmenai, 'l’être est'?" (Ibid.) The two impersonal senses of esti, "is" and "there is" (il est [as in "Il est aux bois des fleurs sauvages" [Aubenque, p. 166] and il y a; es ist/es sind/es gibt) which he has identified (p. 166 - 8), however together constitute the most obvious sense of Parmenides' esti here: Parmenides wants to speak of "existence" by itself, abstracted from all things which exist, or, in the metaphysical jargon, the "be-ing" of beings, pure and simple. As we shall see, Marcel Conche, in his Heideggerian manner, translates esti by il y a, "there is". For the most straight-forward traditional metaphysical reading of Parmenides, c.f. D. Guerrière's "The Immediate Articulation of Being" in his Advanced Philosophical Orientation. Note that I specifically think that Conche's Heideggerian interpretation of Parmenides is wrong. One must try to get into Parmenides' perspective and experience his mystical experience for oneself, and forget about the logical and grammatical analysis of the words on paper, i.e. avoid "literalization". This poem is not a set of mathematical equations for the solution of a physics problem. David Sedley (at the University of Cambridge), for instance, writes: "Greek does not require that the subject always be expressed [nor do modern and classical Chinese and many other languages for that matter]: here esti, unlike English 'is', functions as a grammatically complete sentence. As for why no subject is made explicit, the safest answer is that at this stage we are still investigating the logical behaviour of the verb 'to be'. Only in the light of that investigation will we be able to answer the question what can stand as the subject for 'is'. Thus, identifying the proper subject of the verb 'to be' is the final goal of the Way of Truth, not to be prejudged at the outset." ("Parmenides and Melissus", in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, ed. A. A. Long, Cambridge University Press, 1999; p. 114) More investigation? It is through such positivistic pigeon-hole "analysis" of philosophy, especially in the English-speaking world, that ancient philosophy is effectively destroyed. It is like: when the ancients first came onto the scene, and saw rain, they uttered "pluit"; then the moderns say "it is raining" instead, but are puzzled over what exactly the "it" refers to which "is raining", or what exactly the subject is which is doing the "pluit", and spend their academic career over the logic in "it is raining" and "pluit"... Waste of time. Meanwhile the scene of raining itself is forgotten. Mind-destruction.

The artificial debate about the subject of "Is" can then serve as the vehicle for a full-blown positivistic, fundamentalist literalization, by the contemporary analytic philosophers, of the mystic experience of the ancient philosopher in a way that is repetitive of the sophists' destruction of philosophy which we'll read about in the next chapters. That is, turning the description of the eternally conserved (transcendental) material substrate (in today's jargon: energy) of which all (immanent) things are made and into which they upon their demise are "recycled" back – only to be re-arranged into the new forms of tomorrow -- into a set of logical propositions about those things themselves. S Marc Cohen's approach (U. of Washington) is the most typical: As to what the "it" in "That it is" and "that it is not" (the mistranslations) refers to, "[m]any suggestions have been made ('being,' 'what can be known,' 'whatever exists,' among others). But the most straightforward and best suggestion is that the subject is any putative object of inquiry. When you inquire into something, you must make an assumption about the object of your inquiry: either it is, or it is not." The mystical expression about the bare fact of existence that is necessarily eternally conserved is now transformed into a general formula for inquiry about a thing that is immediately seen and temporary rather than about the not-seen substratum that underlies this thing and all other things and which is permanent (today: energy). In the context of Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics which we'll see later, this is like transforming the statements about (the eternally same amount of) the Stream of energy into propositions about the (temporary) hadrons that keep "dancing" out of and back into the Stream. Since the "properties" of the substratum are nothing like those of the "things" that materialize out of it, when Cohen transforms the statements into logical propositions (premises and conclusions), although they may appear valid, they are unsound, in fact sounding ridiculous. (Parmenides' conclusion according to him: "Parmenides does not allow that you can think about what does not actually exist but could possibly exist. His argument rules out any distinction between what is and what is not but might be. Parmenides (as Ring says) collapses modal distinctions. For him: what is possible = what is actual = what is necessary. As Parmenides says (fragment 2): 'it is and cannot not be.' What is cannot possibly be otherwise. What can exist does exist, indeed must exist.") This is how the stupid modern born out of positivism (which sees only objects of fixed properties and not the underlying common material of all) can turn an ancient genius (who wishes to point to the deeper reality, the underlying material) into idiots: what we'll see again and again below.

5. Here a quick description of the Kabbalist cosmogenesis: "The crisis can be pictured as the break-through of the primordial will, but theosophic Kabbalism frequently employs the bolder metaphor of Nothing. The primary start or wrench in which the introspective God is externalized and the light that shines inwardly made visible, this revolution of perspective, transforms En-Sof, the inexpressible fullness, into nothingness. It is this mystical 'nothingness' from which all other stages of God's gradual unfolding in the Sefiroth emanate." (Gershom Sholem, quoted by Voegelin, ibid., p. 136) We want to notice here not just the unfolding of En-Sof, but also its coincidence with Parmenides' Eon -- the fullness of being -- as well as the transition of this fullness of being into nothingness, which is reminiscent of the truth of the universe that it does not really exist.

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