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Parmenides was from the Greek city Elea, on the southern Italian coast, where he was descended from a rich, noble family. His exact dates are unsure, but they are widely accepted as being from 515-445BCE roughly. Parmenides founded the Eleatic School of Philosophy, and it is said the he also wrote the laws of the city of Elea. Parmenides later influenced other great minds, including the infamous Plato, who often spoke of him, and even wrote a dialogue, namelyParmenides, about him. His great influence on Plato, is what makes Parmenides such an important figure in recognizing the development of western philosophy.
Where Parmenides’ work is concerned, only one work is known of today – On Nature, a poem of which only 160 lines have survived.In this text Parmenides tried to distinguish between the unity of nature along with the vast variety. Parmenides was greatly influenced by Pythagoras, employing a deductive reason to uncover information about the physical world, and thus his views were quite the opposite to that of Heraclitus (see earlier post). Parmenides recognized the premise that something exists, “it is”, by the same logic it cannot also not exist, “it is not”, and thus there can be no state of non-existence without contradiction. He then noted that something cannot come from nothing, and must have always existed to some extent. Parmenides’ final conclusion was that “everything that is real must be eternal and unchanging” – ergo, it has unity and so ultimately “All is One”.