Everything you see, smell, hear, taste or touch is not what you think. Your sense are lying to you and your a fool to believe them. This claim sounds pretty ridiculous however it’s exactly how Parmenides felt about the world. In his theory, he completely contradicts the ideas of Heraclitus by arguing that change doesn’t exist nor is it possible. His ideas originate from two possibilities; either something is or something is not. When existence is simplified down to this basic level he says that things which exist cannot change because they already exist. As for the other option, things can’t evolve from non existence because nothing can come from nothing. This leaves him with the theory that change is impossible, everything is how it was and how it will always be; and because change is impossible the changes your perceive must be false therefore your senses are wrong.

At first, this had me in a state of self questioning, trying to figure out how we could navigate a world in which the reality we perceived was indeed false. I began to then see the problem with this theory. Parmenides’s definition of change was implying a change of substance not a change which we would describe as change. For example, witnessing a seed germinate into a large tree would constitute change for a seed is not the same as a full frown tree. Yet, Parmenides would argue that the same material which the seed was made of was not changed for the tree is also made of the same material therefore there was no change. The problem is not necessarily in the theory, the problem is in the definition of the term change. By oversimplifying change, any rebuttal becomes increasingly challenging because the word covers such a wide area that most claims end up supporting the original claim. Parmenides world may not be considered reality however he hasn’t convinced me to take the blue pill just quite yet.

Advertisements