Xenophanes of Colophon (540 BC)
He is considered to be the founder of the School of Elea, even though there are authors who doubt this. It seems he was more of a 'freelancer'. Nevertheless, some of the most important ideas of the Eleatics are present in the thoughts of Xenophanes. We will see them in later lessons. His thoughts are as follows:
- Negation of the evolution and movement of the universe.
- Eternity and union of ‘everything’ (Pantheism)
- Union between the being and thoughts.
Evidently, Xenophanes's way of thinking was completely opposite to that of Heraclitus, even if they both seek the same thing: the ‘Divine One’.
Parmenides of Elea (~ 500 BC)
He is the most important philosopher of the school of Elea. Generally, he opposes Heraclitus. In fact, it is believed that the later philosophy of Plato -in later lessons- comes from a synthesis of both thoughts: Heraclitus and Parménides.
- Rejection to sensation: unique criteria, reason.
As you can see, Parmenides starts from identical assumption theories as Heraclitus, although he later reaches different and opposing conclusions.
- Irreconcilable anti-thesis: BEING – NOT BEING
NOT BEING isn't.
As you can see, the anti-thesis of being-not being (the example of the ‘river’ by Heraclitus) is completely irreconcilable for Parmenides. In his opinion, if the famous ‘divine reason’ is in fact unique, only being can exist.
- Immutable eternity
- Unity, indivisibility, homogeneousness
- No movement
The other thinkers of the school of Elea only developed and illustrated the thought of Parmenides, without actually contributed any original thoughts. The most recognized are Zeno of Elea (464-460) and Melissus of Samos (444-441).
The first (Zeno) is interesting because he proved the impossibility of any change and movement through paradoxes or ‘aporías’, which are nothing but a series of illustrated fables. For example, ‘Achilles and the turtle’.