Divine Truth and Mortal Belief

Parmenides, Fr. D4

“Greetings! No evil fate sent you to journey
By this road—for indeed it is far off from mortal paths—
But it was Law and Justice. You need to learn everything:
Both the immovable heart of persuasive Truth
And the beliefs of mortals which have no true faith.
But you should also learn these things too: how beliefs
Must be credible because they pervade all things.”

χαῖρ’, ἐπεὶ οὔτι σε μοῖρα κακὴ προὔπεμπε νέεσθαι
τήνδ’ ὁδόν (ἦ γὰρ ἀπ’ ἀνθρώπων ἐκτὸς πάτου ἐστίν),
ἀλλὰ Θέμις τε Δίκη τε. χρεὼ δέ σε πάντα πυθέσθαι
ἠμὲν Ἀληθείης εὐπειθέος ἀτρεμὲς ἦτορ
ἠδὲ βροτῶν δόξας, ταῖς οὐκ ἔνι πίστις ἀληθής.
ἀλλ’ ἔμπης καὶ ταῦτα μαθήσεαι, ὡς τὰ δοκοῦντα
χρῆν δοκίμως εἶναι διὰ παντὸς πάντα *περῶντα.

*περῶντα also appears as περ ὄντα. This variant reading might mean something like “even when they are completely true”.

This passage with its reference to the isolated path and the distinction between mortal belief and immortal truth reminds me of Hesiod:

Theogony 26-28

“Rustic shepherds, wretched reproaches, nothing but bellies,
We know how to say many lies similar to the truth
And we know how to speak the truth when we want to.”

“ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκ’ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον,
ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα,
ἴδμεν δ’ εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.”

Odyssey 19.203

“He was like someone speaking many lies similar to the truth

ἴσκε ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγων ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα·

Elsewhere on this blog and in forthcoming work I explore this as the difference between coherence and correspondence in memory. Here it seems clearly to be on the surface a difference between mortal and divine ways of seeing. These domains do not cancel each other out….

Busto di Parmenide.jpg
Bust of Parmenides from Wikimedia Commons

On the Difference Between Power and Strength

Plato, Protagoras 350e-351b

“I do not here or anywhere else claim that the powerful are strong, but instead that the strong are powerful. For I believe that power and strength are not the same thing. One of them—power—comes from knowledge, or from madness, or anger; strength, however, comes from nature and the nourishing of the body.

So, for the first quality, daring and bravery are not the same thing. It can be the case that the brave are in fact daring, but the daring are not all brave. For boldness also comes to men from some type of skill or rage or madness, just like power, whereas bravery comes from nature and the nurturing of the mind.”

ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδαμοῦ οὐδ᾿ ἐνταῦθα ὁμολογῶ τοὺς δυνατοὺς ἰσχυροὺς εἶναι, τοὺς μέντοι ἰσχυροὺς δυνατούς· οὐ γὰρ ταὐτὸν εἶναι δύναμίν τε καὶ ἰσχύν, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν καὶ ἀπὸ ἐπιστήμης γίγνεσθαι, τὴν δύναμιν, καὶ ἀπὸ μανίας γε καὶ θυμοῦ, ἰσχὺν δὲ ἀπὸ φύσεως καὶ εὐτροφίας τῶν σωμάτων. οὕτω δὲ κἀκεῖ οὐ ταὐτὸν εἶναι θάρσος τε καὶ ἀνδρείαν· ὥστε συμβαίνει τοὺς μὲν ἀνδρείους θαρραλέους εἶναι, μὴ μέντοι τούς γε θαρραλέους ἀνδρείους πάντας· θάρσος μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἀπὸ τέχνης γίγνεται ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἀπὸ θυμοῦ γε καὶ ἀπὸ μανίας, ὥσπερ ἡ δύναμις, ἀνδρεία δὲ ἀπὸ φύσεως καὶ εὐτροφίας τῶν ψυχῶν γίγνεται.

Image result for medieval manuscript muscles
Image from Here

You’ve Heard of Zeno’s Paradox, But What about his Dilemma?

Aristotle, Physics 209a

“In addition to this, if something is one of those things that exists, where can it exist? For Zeno’s dilemma asks this kind of question: if everything which is exists in a place, then it is clear that the place is part of a place too and this problem persists endlessly.

Wait, there’s more: if every body is in a place, then the body is also in the entire place. How, then, are were to talk about things that increase and grow? For, based on what we have said, it would be necessary for the place to expand as well so that the space may be neither smaller nor greater than the thing which occupies it.

Because of these arguments we are necessarily in a state of confusion not only about what [a place] is but whether it even exists.”

Ἔτι δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς εἰ ἔστι τι τῶν ὄντων, ποῦ ἔσται; ἡ γὰρ Ζήνωνος ἀπορία ζητεῖ τινα λόγον· εἰ γὰρ πᾶν τὸ ὂν ἐν τόπῳ, δῆλον ὅτι καὶ τοῦ τόπου τόπος ἔσται, καὶ τοῦτο εἰς ἄπειρον πρόεισιν.

Ἔτι ὥσπερ ἅπαν σῶμα ἐν τόπῳ, οὕτω καὶ ἐν τόπῳ ἅπαντι σῶμα· πῶς οὖν ἐροῦμεν περὶ τῶν αὐξανομένων; ἀνάγκη γὰρ ἐκ τούτων συναύξεσθαι τὸν τόπον αὐτοῖς, εἰ μήτ᾿ ἐλάττων μήτε μείζων ὁ τόπος ἑκάστου.

Διὰ μὲν οὖν τούτων οὐ μόνον τί ἐστιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰ ἔστιν, ἀπορεῖν ἀναγκαῖον

[The paradox/dilemma thing is a bit of a misdirection: Zeno actually had multiple paradoxes]. This is funny:

Found here

Also, it has been a few months, but I find myself laughing about this every few days: