Eleatic school

Eleatic school

(ēlēăt`ĭk), Greek pre-Socratic philosophical school at Elea, a Greek colony in Lucania, Italy. The group was founded in the early 5th cent. B.C. by ParmenidesParmenides
, b. c.515 B.C., Greek philosopher of Elea, leading figure of the Eleatic school. Parmenides' great contribution to philosophy was the method of reasoned proof for assertions.
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, its greatest thinker. He denied the reality of change on the ground that things either exist or do not. Hence, there are no in-between stages, as the concept of change, or "becoming," ordinarily implies. His disciples were Zeno of EleaZeno of Elea
, c.490–c.430 B.C., Greek philosopher of the Eleatic school. He undertook to support in his only known work, fragments of which are extant, the doctrine of Parmenides by demonstrating that motion and multiplicity are logically impossible.
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, who used a series of paradoxes to show the indefensibility of common-sense notions of reality, and Melissus of Samos, who systematized Eleatic views. The ultimate reality for the Eleatics was an undifferentiated "being," in contrast to the illusory testimony of the senses.


See J. E. Raven, Pythagoreans and Eleatics (1966, repr. 1981).

Eleatic School


a school of Greek philosophy of the sixth to fifth centuries B.C. Its founder was Xenophanes of Colophon, and its chief adherents were Parmenides and Zeno of Elea (a Greek colony in southern Italy that gave the school its name) and Melissus of Samos.

The Eleatic school was the first to contrast thought (and existence that is capable of being conceived) to sensory perception (and existence perceived by the senses); it pointed out the instability and transience of human sensations and of sensory existence, and it asserted the preeminence of thought as the agent of cognition. For the first time in the history of philosophy, the Eleatic school proposed the concept of the unity of being and made this the foundation of philosophical speculation. Such being is regarded by the Eleatic school as continuous, unchanging, indivisible, and equally present in each tiny element of reality, and it is held to exclude any kind of plurality or motion of things (as in the famous arguments by Zeno of Elea about the impossibility of motion). Later the concept of one unchanging being served as a source of Platonic philosophy and of Neoplatonism.


Diels, H. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, griechisch und deutsch, 9th ed., vol. 1. Edited by W. Kranz. Berlin, 1959. Pages 21,28,29, 30.


Mandes, M. I. Eleaty. Filologicheskie razyskaniia v oblasti istorii grecheskoi filosofii. Odessa, 1911.
Losev, A. F. Istoriia antichnoi estetiki (Ranniaia klassika). Moscow, 1963.
Pages 327–39. Prauss, G. Platón und der logische Eleatismus. Berlin, 1966.


References in periodicals archive ?
The Stranger's method is thus consistent with the criticism the founder of the Eleatic school made of the young Socrates in their initial conversation when he observed that Socrates paid too much attention to the opinions of human beings, especially about the noble and base.
Plato's Socrates attests to the fact of the conversation in two later (in terms of their dramatic setting) dialogues: in the Theaetetus,(10) when he recalls his youthful meeting with Parmenides, whom he found, in Homer's words, to be "venerable" and yet "terrible"; and in the Sophist,(11) when, conversing with a member of the Eleatic school, Socrates remembers the nobility or beauty of Parmenides' arguments.
This takes us back to the ancient dispute between the Eleatic school and the Pluralists.