The Parmenidean Ascent

ISBN : 9780197510940

Michael Della Rocca
344 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Sep 2020
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For the Parmenidean monist, there are no distinctions whatsoever-indeed, distinctions are unintelligible. In The Parmenidean Ascent, Michael Della Rocca aims to revive this controversial approach on rationalist grounds. He not only defends the attribution of such an extreme monism to the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, but also embraces this extreme monism in its own right and expands these monistic results to many of the most crucial areas of philosophy, including being, action, knowledge, meaning, truth, and metaphysical explanation. On Della Rocca's account, there is no differentiated being, no differentiated action, knowledge, or meaning; rather all is being, just as all is action, all is knowledge, all is meaning. Motivating this argument is a detailed survey of the failure of leading positions (both historical and contemporary) to meet a demand for the explanation of a given phenomenon, together with a powerful, original version of a Bradleyan argument against the reality of relations. The result is a rationalist rejection of all distinctions and a skeptical denial of the intelligibility of ordinary, relational notions of being, action, knowledge, and meaning. Della Rocca then turns this analysis on the practice of philosophy itself. Followed to its conclusion, Parmenidean monism rejects any distinction between philosophy and the study of its history. Such a conclusion challenges methods popular in the practice of philosophy today, including especially the method of relying on intuitions and common sense as the basis of philosophical inquiry. The historically-minded and rationalist approach used throughout the book aims to demonstrate the ultimate bankruptcy of the prevailing methodology. It promises-on rationalist grounds-to inspire much soul-searching on the part of philosophers and to challenge the content and the methods of so much philosophy both now and in the past.


Chapter 1 The Call of Parmenides
Chapter 2 Substance: A Litany of Failure
Chapter 3 Substance: The Underlying Problem
Chapter 4 Action
Chapter 5 Knowledge
Chapter 6 Meaning
Chapter 7 Meaning, the History of Philosophy and Analytical Philosophy
Chapter 8 Metaphysical Explanation
Chapter 9 Paradox and the Joy of Self-Undermining
Chapter 10 Tamers, Deniers, and Me
Chapter 11 The Taming of Philosophy
Chapter 12 Tractatus Parmenideo-Philosophicus
Chapter 13 The Parmenidean Ascent

About the author: 

Michael Della Rocca is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, where he has taught since 1991. Della Rocca received his B.A. from Harvard and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author or editor of three books on Spinoza and of numerous articles in early modern philosophy and in contemporary metaphysics.

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