« How Did Kepler discover the Ellipse? | Main | I signed an Open Letter. Maybe you should copy and send it, too. »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I just wanted to add another example (from something I'm now reading) where this contextualist assumption is doing a lot of work. In Patricia Curd's book _The Legacy of Parmenides_, certainly one of the most important pieces of Parmenides scholarship of the last few decades, she argues that Parmenides was NOT a numerical monist. ('Numerical monism' = 'There exists exactly one thing.') One of her central pieces of evidence for this thesis is that Parmenides's immediate successors (Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the atomists, and Plato) are all numerical pluralists, AND they never give arguments against numerical monism -- but presumably they would have given arguments against numerical monism, if they really thought Parmenides was arguing for numerical monism.

Curd's argument clearly relies heavily on the principle: "x's immediate audience thought x meant p" is good evidence for "x meant p". And this principle is not (I hope!) completely wrong. So what I'm now wondering is: under what circumstances is this contextualist principle a good one? Vs. when is it less reliable?

Eric Schliesser

The principle is not all wrong, of course. But like all such principles should also be used with caution. (Arguing from an absence is always tricky.) It provides some evidence, but the evidence is also indirect. (It's not like we should always expect that all temporarily nearby critics are going to be charitable and really try hard to get the opposing views right.) Moreover, the evidence easily can be incomplete--it's not like we have all the writings of most of Parmenides's critics.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


Blog powered by Typepad