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Of all Plato’s dialogues, the Parmenides is notoriously the most difficult to interpret. Scholars of all periods have disagreed about its aims and subject matter. The interpretations have ranged from reading the dialogue as an introduction to the whole of Platonic metaphysics to seeing it as a collection of sophisticated tricks, or even as an elaborate joke. This work presents an illuminating new translation of the dialogue together with an extensive introduction and running commentary, giving a unified explanation of the Parmenides and integrating it firmly within the context of Plato's metaphysics and methodology.
Scolnicov shows that in the Parmenides Plato addresses the most serious challenge to his own philosophy: the monism of Parmenides and the Eleatics. In addition to providing a serious rebuttal to Parmenides, Plato here re-formulates his own theory of forms and participation, arguments that are central to the whole of Platonic thought, and provides these concepts with a rigorous logical and philosophical foundation. In Scolnicov's analysis, the Parmenides emerges as an extension of ideas from Plato's middle dialogues and as an opening to the later dialogues.
Scolnicov’s analysis is crisp and lucid, offering a persuasive approach to a complicated dialogue. This translation follows the Greek closely, and the commentary affords the Greekless reader a clear understanding of how Scolnicov’s interpretation emerges from the text. This volume will provide a valuable introduction and framework for understanding a dialogue that continues to generate lively discussion today.
Samuel Scolnicov is Associate Professor of Philosophy at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of Plato's Metaphysics of Education (1988).
“Scolnicov has succeeded in illuminating many difficulties in Parmenides. This is an indispensable work for anyone grappling with Plato’s Parmenides.”—Dirk T.d. Held New England Classical Journal
"Scolnicov’s aim is to provide a new translation of Plato’s Parmenides,
with a commentary designed to show that the arguments of the second half of the dialogue, the purpose of which has long been a matter of scholarly dispute, make sense as an attempt to establish the necessary logical and epistemological conditions for Plato’s own theory of forms and participation. In particular, Scolnicov attempts to show that the otherwise bewildering concatenation of arguments and hypotheses answers to a style of argument paralleled in other dialogues. Scolnicov also argues that the dialogue is intended as a serious rebuttal of Parmenides’ monist philosophy. Scolnicov’s thesis is thus diametrically opposed to those who think that the dialogue is intended as a successful critique of Plato’s own theory in the light of arguments adapted from Parmenides."—Denis O’Brien, author of Etudes sur Parménide; Empedocles' Cosmic Cycle: A Reconstruction from the Fragments and Secondary Sources
"Scolnicov’s introduction presents a very clear account of Parmenides’ method and the contrast that Plato’s use of hypothesis presents to it as early as the Meno.
Scolnicov then offers a clear account of Plato’s method and the way it establishes an idea of philosophical method in general: not a reasoning from first principles but a disclosing of the principles at the foundation of one’s prior convictions in order to test those principles. He subsequently takes up the principle of noncontradiction in particular before tackling the questions Parmenidean philosophy might raise about the doctrine of participation. An immensely clear and interesting introduction and way into the Parmenides.
"—Georgia Warnke, author of Justice and Interpretation: Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought