Parmenides' Way of Truth
Fragment 8 Reworded

Trying to expose the logical essentials

by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised: September 6, 2007

Based, for the most part, on the David Gallop translation found in Annas, Voices of Ancient Philosophy (Oxford University Press), pp. 230-231.

The goddess introduced in Fragment 1 is speaking. She refers to herself as "I" in line 7. She represents the standpoint of Truth itself. Other phrases or words (in the original Gallop translation) that evoke this perspective are "strength of trust" in line 12, "Justice" in line 15, "true trust" in line 29, "right" in line 33, and "Fate" in line 38. Justice and Fate are frequently deified in classical Greek culture. The connection between truth and trust is that truth connotes a kind of reliability, as in "a true friend," so that somebody who embodies it can be trusted.

1 A single route [understanding of the truth?]
2 Remains: that it is [and necessarily is]. This route supports the conclusions
3 That what is is ungenerated and that what is is imperishable;
4 For it is whole, steadfast, and complete (in itself)
Note: The Greek word rendered "complete (in itself)" connotes being "without issue" in the sense of "without progeny (or offspring)."
5 Nor was it once [i.e., in the past] nor will it be [i.e., in the future], since it is now, all together
6 One and continuous; for you cannot look for coming-to-be
7a It could not have come to be in any way and it could not have come
7b to be from another [thing or place].
7c-8a I [the goddess] shall not allow you to say or think that it came from what is not;
8b For it is not to be said or thought
9a that it is not.
9b And no cause[?] could have made it come to be
10 Later or sooner, if it began from not-being.
11 Thus it must either be completely or not at all.
12 Nor will the strength of trust [any reliable standard?] ever allow anything to come to be from
13 What is
14a Besides [in addition to] it.
Note: This seems to relate back to line 4, where the text implies that it is "without progeny."
14b Therefore coming to be [is ruled out by "Justice"]
15 And perishing [going out of being] is ruled out;
16 This is an unshakable logical result; the conclusion depends on
17 Whether to accept "it is (and cannot not be)" or "it is not (and must not be)"; but it has been decided
18 To rule out one of these options as unthinkable and indescribable (in language), for it is not a
19 True option, but to permit the other; thus [you must accept] "it is" . . .
20 What is could not be in the future; and it could not come-to-be
21 For if it came to be it is-not, and it is not if at some [future] time it is going to be
22 Thus coming to be is ruled out and perishing is not to be affirmed.
23 It is not divisible, since it all alike is;
24a There is not more of it in one place [than in another],
24b because that would mean it would not hold together.
25a There is not less of it [in one place than in another?],
25b but [because?] it is all full of what-is.
26a Therefore it is all continuous;
26b for what-is is in contact with what is.
27 Moreover, it is necessarily changeless.
28a It is without beginning and without ending,
28b since coming to be and perishing
29 Have been ruled out by the standard of rigorous thought.
30a Remaining the same
30b And in the same place
30c It lies by itself (i.e., alone)
31a And remains thus firmly in place;
31b for metaphysical necessity [?]
32 Holds it fast.
33 Therefore, it could not be incomplete;
34a For it is not lacking;
34b but if it were, it would lack everything.

35 The object of thought and the thought of the object are the same.
36 For it is impossible to find thinking without what is, on which thought depends.
37 For nothing else either is or will be
38a Apart from what is,
38b since it was just this that Fate [Truth?] determines
39 To be whole and changeless;

43 Since there is a furthest limit, it is completed
44 From every direction like the bulk [radius?] of a well-rounded sphere (See note below.)
45a Everywhere [Every point on the surface] from the centre equally matched [equally distant from the center];
45b For it must not be larger
46 Or smaller here than there;
47a For not-being does not exist,
47b but if [what is] could be stopped from reaching
48a Its like [if the radius of a well-rounded sphere could be prevented from extending as far as any other radius], then not-being would exist

Think of a sphere with a dent in its surface.
48b And what is could not be
49 More here than there, since it is all inviolably [complete in a way that cannot be disturbed?]
50 For it lies uniformly within limits, equal in all directions.

line 17: decided (it was decided in Parmenides Fragment 2, in Annas pp. 228-29)

line 44: like . . . sphere. "It" is not literally a sphere but only like a sphere in certain respects. The radii of a perfect sphere are equal and thus cannot be distinguished from each other. What-is is so unified that no parts can be distinguished within it.