The Parmenidean Ascent

The Parmenidean Ascent

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 163 x 244 x 30mm | 664g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0197510949
  • 9780197510940
  • 82,730

Table of contents


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
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Review quote

... literally unbelievable ... * Alexander Douglas, The Philosopher * The Parmenidean Ascent is an ode to the joy of philosophizing with the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). It is a major contribution to rationalist metaphysics and its history. But it also undermines the intellectual complacency that has seeped into analytic philosophy by using the tools familiar to analytic philosophy. It does so by revealing a feature hidden in plain sight: that much of 'core' analytic philosophy today understands itself as in the
business of meeting explanatory demands. So it is already in the ambit of the PSR, and there is no place to run. * Eric Schliesser, University of Amsterdam * The 'Parmenidean ascent' that Della Rocca spells out is radical and unorthodox. It might even come as a shock to many philosophers who consider Parmenides' extreme monism to be a position that is only of historical interest. Della Rocca defends it from a contemporary point of view, claiming that it is the position we have to embrace if we really subscribe to rationalism. But he is fully aware that most philosophers, especially those working in the analytical
tradition, will reject it. But this is exactly what makes this book so fascinating. It does not simply add some details to an ongoing debate, nor does it criticize or amend some parts of a given theory, but radically challenges the foundation of most debates in contemporary philosophy. * Dominik Perler, Humboldt University * Michael Della Rocca's work is consistently exciting, engaging, and bold. It is more than that, in fact: it is courageous...I like that even as he is offending me, he is on a genuine mission to shake things up in contemporary philosophy, to unsettle established orthodoxies and to disallow the perpetuation of "normal science," and to do all this, moreover, by bringing the history of philosophy to bear on philosophy in original ways. This is the kind of material that it
is fun to disagree with: serious, passionate, and always interesting. * Justin E.H. Smith, Universite Paris Diderot - Paris 7 *
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About Michael Della Rocca

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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