Eleatic school

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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 ?
Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought, Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Levinas locates "a multiplicity" and "a transcendence" in the paradoxical structure of this existence, which bypasses the logic of mere biology and breaks the Eleatic unity of the subject.
This not-knowing knowledge, then, is the knowledge which is just thought, that is, the pure science of reason which the Eleatics wrongly ventured to establish as total science.
The man who can be considered a formulator, as a historical figure, but even more as a protagonist of Plato's dialogue of the same name, of some key concepts of the ancient and early Christian approach to infinity, was Parmenides, a former Pythagorean who became the founder of one more philosophic school in southern Italy--the Eleatic School.
Raven, Pythagoreans and Eleatics [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1948], 75) and others.
The Zeno material is in chapter 8, "The Younger Eleatics.
39) This mathematical relationship, since it is invariable, ensures the intelligibility of things (invariability being, as for the Eleatics, a prequisite for the knowledge of things).
Yet Zuckert interprets the Parmenides as revealing that the Eleatics face even greater difficulties in attempting to account for the whole of things in terms of one intelligible unit.
the Milesians, the Eleatics and the Sophists] all wondered aloud in the village square about the ultimate constitution of the universe, about the ultimate nature of things, about the nature of concepts and about the structure of the human society.
These Aristotle quickly dismisses, with the explanation that their views are alien to natural philosophy: having apprehended that there must be something eternal and immutable if there is to be science, Aristotle explains, the Eleatics were at the same time ignorant of the existence of super-sensible entities, and therefore incorrectly ascribed to natural substances the features of eternity and immutability which instead belong to separate substances.
The argument against the Eleatics in Physics 1-8 concludes with the note that this is not the only way to solve the difficulty, but that another way is in terms of potentiality and actuality, and `this has beer, done with greater precision elsewhere ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).
Aristotle's confrontation with the Eleatics is a deconstruction of their ontology: seeking to preserve ousia as one, they do so by denying the movement of manifestation as whole that their argument presupposes.