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 ?
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.
In the sixth lesson of the so-called Introduction of Berlin (the first eight lessons of the Philosophy of Revelation), Schelling maintains that Socrates, developing the theme of the docta ignorantia, criticized not knowledge in general, but that kind of knowledge (namely the sophistic and the Eleatic ones) which believed to know, even though it did not know a thing.
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.
The opposition between the Eleatic, who insisted on the immovability of one changeless being, and the Ephesian, who postulated a never-ending process of change and movement, corroborated metaphorically again by their descent from opposite edges of the Greek colonial world, induces us, as it were, to see a replication of this antagonism also in their attitude to infinity.
Raven, Pythagoreans and Eleatics [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1948], 75) and others.
The presence of different philosophers in the dialogues such as Parmenides, Timaeus, the Athenian Stranger, the Eleatic Stranger, and Socrates has inevitably given rise to the problem of how to locate Plato's philosophy within these dialogues or separate it from that espoused by these major characters'.
Zuckert's approach positions Socratic philosophizing as developing in distinction from the Athenian Stranger and Parmenides and as responding to other possible philosophical approaches represented by Plato's other philosophers, Timaeus and the Eleatic Stranger.
Contrary to the Eleatics, we can say nonbeing "is" in the sense that something dunamis echein, something holds back from complete presence.
Relying on valid and logically faultless arguments, Parmenides and the Eleatics were blind to the indispensable reality of plurality, change, and movement.
In light of the inability of the Eleatics to attract a following in Athens that Plato dramatizes at the beginning of the Parmenides, we are led to ask, once again, whether their failure to attract many young Athenians was a result of the apolitical character of their doctrines, a characteristic which also prevented them from being prosecuted the way Protagoras and Socrates were.
The action with which Plato introduces the conversation thus reflects what will prove to be the central difficulty for both the Eleatics and Socrates, namely, how transitory things can be understood in terms of unchanging eternal ideas.