Parmenides' Impossibilties

Parmenides' Impossibilties
No one likes a know it all, even if the know it all claims to know nothing. For those who wonder if Socrates ever loses an argument Plato wrote the Parmenides. In this dialogue the young Socrates crosses words with the eleatic philosopher and his student Zeno. It is also in this dialogue that Plato thrashes his theory of forms. He points out several short comings of his theory in this dialogue, I call them Parmenides’ impossibilities. One of the most pressing is that the absolute ideas and this world of concrete things is separate and therefore unknown to each other.

This difficulty arises due to the inability of a limited mind to encompass an absolute. If one cannot partake in absolute knowledge then one can not form an idea of absolute beauty or any other absolute. This also means that these absolutes will be related to one another but not to beauty or knowledge in our perspectives. How can this argument be refuted? There is only one way I can think of and this involves an expanded conceptualization of the mind.

In the collective unconscious of Jung there is room for an absolute. These are what the archetypes are. They are concepts that are transpersonal and extra temporal. If this isn’t absolute one may be at a loss to define absolute. This means that one is in contact with the absolute but only a realized portion of it. This portion cannot be thought of as a part, this is one of Parmenides impossibilities, because a whole with parts isn’t one but many and the forms are to be one. So it can be said that humans can both possess absolutes and experience them in diluted ways by expanding the conscious mind into the unconscious.

This leaves us with the infinite regress of forms that Parmenides points out to Socrates. This is produced by the process of the creation of new incarnations of old ideas. For instance if one sees two great, large, things one has an idea of greatness that they share. However if one adds a third object,and so on, one creates a new idea of great each time. This gives birth to the regress ad infinitum that makes logicians skins crawl. Yet if there were an overarching idea that encompassed all this new ideas it would put an end to this great to infinity. In order to do this, this summa informatio must be inherently mutable. An example of this type of idea can be found in the Vedantic Brahma. It is the One. It includes all things that were, are and are to be. Therefore it would include all the greats one could create and cap the stem of regress.

While Parmenides points out the holes in the theory of forms this doesn’t sound its dirge. This grand theory makes its appearance in many places. From the mystical alchemists of the middle ages, their succeeder Carl Jung to Phenomenology the forms are alive and well.


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