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Restoring Parmenides' Poem: Essays toward a New Arrangement of the Fragments Based on a Reassessment of the Original Sources

Kurfess, Christopher J (2013) Restoring Parmenides' Poem: Essays toward a New Arrangement of the Fragments Based on a Reassessment of the Original Sources. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The history of philosophy proper, claimed Hegel, began with the poem of the Presocratic Greek philosopher Parmenides. Today, that poem is extant only in fragmentary form, the various fragments surviving as quotations, translations, or paraphrases in the works of better-preserved authors of antiquity. These range from Plato, writing within a century after Parmenides' death, to the sixth-century C.E. commentator Simplicius of Cilicia, the latest figure known to have had access to the compete poem. Since the Renaissance, students of Parmenides have relied on collections of fragments compiled by classical scholars, and since the turn of the twentieth century, Hermann Diels' Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, through a number of editions, has remained the standard collection for Presocratic material generally and for the arrangement of Parmenides' fragments in particular.
This dissertation is an extended critique of that arrangement. I argue that the reconstructions of Parmenides' poem in the last two centuries suffer from a number of mistakes. Those errors stem from a general failure to appreciate the peculiar literary character of his work as well as the mishandling, in particular instances, of the various sources that preserve what remains of his verse. By reconsidering a number of rarely questioned assumptions underlying the standard presentations and by revisiting the source material with greater care, a number of scholarly impasses that have beset the discussion of this difficult text are resolved, and the foundations for a more faithful and fuller reconstruction of Parmenides' work are established.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kurfess, Christopher J
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFloyd, Edwin Dedfloyd@pitt.eduEDFLOYD
Committee MemberSmethurst, Mae Jmsmet@pitt.eduMSMET
Committee MemberPoulakos, Johnpoulakos@pitt.eduPOULAKOS
Committee MemberMiller, Andrew Mamm2@pitt.eduAMM2
Date: 29 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 November 2012
Approval Date: 29 January 2013
Submission Date: 30 November 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 220
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Classics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Parmenides, Ancient Philosophy, Presocratic, Ancient Greek Poetry
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2013 21:03
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:07


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