Sunday, November 22, 2015



D. R. Khashaba


Once I asked Hermes: “Are the denizens of a grove always confined to the grove they are allotted to?” Hermes answered: “How can there be confinement in the realm of spirit? The denizens of a grove are attached to their particular grove but members of different groves freely exchange visits.” Hermes then told me of Plato’s visit to the grove of Parmenides:

Plato announced that he would visit Parmenides. Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius, both of whom had studied under him at the Academy, said they would accompany him. They crossed the portal of The One and came to where Parmenides was discoursing with a group of his companions. As they approached Parmenides said, “Welcome, Son; you have called me Father and I gladly call you Son.” – “That is an honour that fills my hear with joy.” – “But you have spun many fables around my name.” – “Yet I did not falsify your teaching when in the dialogue that I named after you I made you say that whatever we assume to be or not to be, it will seem that both the One and the Many, will be, both in relation to themselves and to each other, all things and no-thing.” – “There you are right. How could a determinate formulation of words or of thought be true to the One that is beyond all thought, nay, beyond all being?”

After a pause Parmenides resumed, “But in the dialogue named Sophist you yourself confessed you were doing violence to my thought.” Plato said, “Even there I was unfolding the insight in your dictum: tauto gar esti noein te kai einai. Whether, in one sense, we mean that to be is to be thought, or, in another sense, we mean that to be is to think, we see that the real is living, active, creative intelligence. Giordano Bruno has well said of God, ‘He is the highest point of the scale, pure act and active power, the purest light’. In contradicting your denial of all motion and all change in the One I was simply exploring the notion of the One.” – “You identified the One with the Form of the Good.” – “The Form of the Good while breeding all thought and all being is one with the One in being beyond all thought and all being.”

There was a long pause interrupted by Zeno of Elea who addressed Plato saying, “Your writing in parables misled many acute persons who should have known better.” Axiothea of Phlius said, “Yet had he not written in parables and myths, he would have been like all the others promulgating lifeless dogma and superstition. The parables and myths of Plato had the same purpose as your paradoxes, to alert all thinkers to the inherent contradictoriness in all thought.” Zeno acknowledged Axiothea’s remark with a nod then said to Plato, “It is reported that two-and-a-half millennia after our earthly existence people there are still grossly misunderstanding the poetical imaginary flights of your youthful dialogues into the regions of pure Forms. They say that you took the Forms to constitute an immaterial reality existing apart from the physical world.” Lastheneia of Mantinea said, “They also say that Plato denied the ‘reality’ of the outer world. They do not understand that Plato’s denigration of the objective world and of the human body is not a denial of the existence of the world of nature but is meant to highlight the sole reality that sustains and brings forth all objective existence which is essentially transient.” Axiothea added, “It is this misunderstanding that makes them designate Plato’s position as a dualism, overlooking that in Plato’s philosophy reality cannot be but one, that all multiplicity is relative and inherently evanescent. This brings us back to the One of Father Parmenides.”

Cairo, November 21, 2015


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