Volume 3 · Number 1 · Pages 27–29

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A Constructivist Speculation about Parmenides

Ernst von Glasersfeld

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Purpose: An attempt to interpret the fragments of Parmenides as a first suggestion of a constructivist epistemology. Today, two and a half millennia later, no one can be sure of what exactly Parmenides had in mind. Method: Reviewing the varying translations of acknowledged experts and paying attention to what Plato said in his Parmenides dialog. Findings: We cannot be certain of any interpretation, but an epistemologically unbiased review of the translations shows that Parmenides may well have believed that experience is the domain accessible to human reason and the structure of the real world lies beyond it. Implications: Forerunners of constructivist ideas may have been overlooked because the interpreters of ancient texts were stuck in dogmatic views of “being.” When studying classical texts written in languages that are no longer spoken, it is fruitful to consult many different translations.

Key words: epistemology, existence, experience, interpretation, translation


Glasersfeld E. von (2007) A constructivist speculation about parmenides. Constructivist Foundations 3(1): 27–29. http://constructivist.info/3/1/027

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