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HUMANITIES 401 David Gallop. Parmenides of Elea: 'Fragments,' A Text and Translation University of Toronto Press. xi, 144. $20.00 This is the first volume in a projected'Phoenix Pre-Socratics' series. Aftera note on Parmenides and his high relevance for present day philosophy (pp 3-4) it gives by way of introduction in the author's own phrasing a continuous account of what the Parmenidean fragments have to say (pp 4-40). Then follow a glossary of Greek problem-laden terms (pp 41-4), a revised Greek text faced by a new English translation (pp 45-91), and the first complete (and very welcome) English version of the Diels-Kranz context materials and ancient testimonia (pp 93-123). Added are a dictionary of the authorities (pp 124-9), a selectbibliography (118 listings, all in English except for one French article and one Latin and four German items, three of which are available in English, pp 133-40), and a general index with table of the passages cited (pp 141-4). The scholarship throughout is first class. The difficult points in the fragments are carefully discussed, with succinct but conscientious coverage of the pertinent literature. Judgment on the issues is as a rule sharply focused and admirably balanced. The style is pleasant, the techniques for sayingmuch in a few words are skilful, and the attitude is unpretentious even where the work is trail-breaking. . All this gives rise to hesitation about the possibility of doing justice to the details in a short review. Yet some salient points may be noted. In general, Gallop proposes to show that for Parmenides 'the foreground of the picture is now discernible in outline, even if many details and much of the larger background remain enigmatic' (p 5). In particular, the didactic value ofthePoemisemphasizedinthe summary'the scene ofParmenides' poetic "vision" anticipates the conclusion of his philosophical argument' and 'the setting of his "revelation" neatly encapsulates its content' (p 7). For the middle section, the book recognizes that'the traditional "Being" is unsatisfactory' (p 30) when used to express the subject matter. Understood as a verbal noun, however, 'being' lets the verbal impact of einai be felt in Fr 3: 'because the same thing is there for thinking and for being' (p 57). Further, the translation of Fr 8.38-41 leaves open to the reader the possibility of taking it as an accusative and infinitive construction: 'all things that mortals have established, trusting them to be true, to come-to-be and to perish, to be and not to be, and to shift place and to exchange bright colour' (p 71). For the final section Gallop's interpretation , though cautiously worded, strongly suggests that in Parmenides 'the physical world is "wholly illusory'" (p 23). While properly distinguishing this from psychological illusion (pp 22-3), Gallop expressly means it to imply that the third section of the poem 'was totally misunderstood both by Aristotle and in later antiquity' (p 6). 402 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 Though in accord with now widely prevalentviews, this last interpretation prompts some pointed queries. With the entire third section (and not justourfew fragments) available up to the time ofSimplicius, were not the . ancients in the better position to see its meaning? Was not Parmenides himself earnest in his political activity, and serious in his use of words, images, and art? May the obvious consideration that he worked with zeal in a world of multiplicity and change, then, be lightlyset aside by Gallop's translocation (pp 27-8) of this possible defence into a Cartesian setting? Nor is attention drawn to the fact that nowhere in the fragments does Parmenides call the perceptibleworld an illusion, even though he dubbed its construction 'deceitful' (Fr 8.52; pp 23 and 25) or deceptive in occasioningthe doxastic judgmentthat things partake ofnot-being as well as of being, while as 'a man who knows' (Fr 1.3; p 49) he saw that each thing was being only. Further, does Gallop's mention that for a few commentators 'the Way of Seeming has some degree of validity' (p 37, n 62) provide sufficient 'awareness of what is at issue' (p x)? At issue here is whether perceptible...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 401-402
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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