Proclo: Teologia de Platão I-IX

In the first place then, let us consider those, who draw down the design of this dialogue from the truth of things to a logical exercise, and see whether they can possibly accord with the writings of Plato. It is therefore evident to every one, that Parmenides proposes to himself to deliver in reality the dialectic method, and that with this view he cursorily assumes it in a similar manner in each of the things which have a real being, as, in sameness, difference, similitude, dissimilitude, motion, and permanency, etc.; exhorting at the same time, those who desire to discover the nature of each of these in an orderly method, to this exercise, as to a great contest.

He likewise asserts that it was by no means an easy undertaking to him who was so much advanced in years, assimilates himself to the Ibycean horse, and presents us with every argument to prove that this method is a serious undertaking, and not a contest consisting in mere words. How therefore, is it possible, that we can refer to empty arguments those conceptions about which the great Parmenides, evincing that they require much serious discussion, composed this discourse?

How likewise is it reasonable to suppose that an aged man would busy himself with mere verbal contests, and that he who loved to speculate the truth of things, would bestow so much study on this method – he who considered everything else, as having no real existence, and who ascended to the high watchtower of being itself? Indeed, he who admits this must suppose that Parmenides is satirized by Plato in this dialog, by thus representing him drawn down to juvenile contests, from the most intellectual visions of the soul.

But if you are willing, let us consider in addition to the above, what Parmenides promises, and on what subject engaging to speak, he entered on this discussion.

Was it not then about being according to his doctrine, and the unity of all beings, to which extending himself, his design was concealed from the vulgar, while he exhorts us to collect the multitude of beings into one undivided union?

If, therefore, this is the one being, or that which is the highest, and which is perfectly established above the reasons conversant with opinion, is it not absurd to confound dogmas about intelligibles with doxastic arguments?

For indeed, such a form of discourse is not adapted to the hypothesis about true beings, nor does the intellection of unapparent and separate causes harmonize with dialectic exercises; but these differ from each other, so far as intellect is established above opinion, as Timaeus informs us, and not Timaeus only, but likewise the daemoniacal Aristotle, who, discoursing on a power of this kind, exhorts us to make our investigations, neither about things perfectly unapparent to us, nor about such as are more known.

It is far therefore from being the case, that Parmenides, who places the science of beings above that which appears to be truth to those who rank sense before intellect, should introduce doxastic knowledge to an intellective nature, since a knowledge of this kind is dubious, various, and unstable; or that he should speculate true being with this doxastic wisdom, and inane discussion.

For a various form of knowledge does not harmonize with that which is simple, nor the multiform with the uniform, nor the doxastic with the intelligible.

But still further, nor must this be omitted, that such a mode of discourse is perfectly foreign from the discussion of Parmenides. For he discourses about all beings, and delivers the order of wholes, their progression beginning from the one, and their conversion ending in the one. But the argumentative method is very remote from scientific theory.

Does it not therefore appear, that Plato must have attributed a discordant hypothesis to Parmenides, if it be said that he merely regards an exercise through opposite arguments, and for the sake of the power employed in this exercise, he excites the whole of this evolution of reasons?

Indeed, it will be found that in all the other dialogs, Plato attributes hypotheses to each of the philosophers adapted to their peculiar tenets. Thus to Timaeus, he assigns the doctrine about nature; to Socrates, that of a republic; to the Elean guest, that about being; and to the priestess Diotima, that respecting love. Afterwards, each of the other dialogs confines itself to those arguments which are adapted to the writings of the principal person of the dialog.

But Parmenides alone will appear to us wise in his poems, and in his diligent investigation of true being, but in the Platonic scene, he will be the leader of a juvenile muse. This opinion, therefore, accuses Plato of dissimilitude of imitation, though he himself condemns the poets, for ascribing to the sons of the Gods a love of money, and a life subject to the dominion of the passions. How, therefore, can we refer a discussion of doxastic and empty arguments to the leader of the truth of beings?

But if it be necessary that omitting a multitude of arguments, we should make Plato himself a witness of the proposed discussion, we will cite of you please what is written in the Theaetitus and Sophista; for from these dialogs what we assert will be apparent. In the Theaetetus then Socrates being excited by a young man to a confutation of those who assert that being is immoveable, attacks among these an opinion of this kind entertained by Parmenides, and at the same time assigns the cause. “I blush,” says he, “for Parmenides, who is one of these, more than for all the rest;

for I, when very young, was conversant with him when he was very elderly, and he appeared to me to possess a certain profundity perfectly generous. I am afraid therefore, lest we do not understand what has been asserted, and much more am I fearful that we fall short of the meaning of Parmenides.”

With great propriety therefore do we assert, that the proposed discussion does not regard a logical exercise, and make this the end of the whole, but that it pertains to the science of the first principle of things.

For how could Socrates using a power of this kind, and neglecting the knowledge of things, testify that the discourse of Parmenides possessed a depth perfectly generous?

And what venerableness can there be in adopting a method which proceeds doxastically through opposite reasons, and in undertaking such an invention of arguments?

Again in the Sophista, exciting the Elean guest to a perspicuous evolution of the things proposed by him, and evincing that he was now accustomed to more profound discourses: “Inform me,” says he, “whether it is your custom to give a prolix discussion of a subject which you are able to demonstrate to anyone by interrogations; I mean such discussions as Parmenides himself formerly used, accompanied with allbeautiful reasons, and of which I was an auditor when I was very young, and he was very elderly?

What reason can then be assigned, why we should not believe Socrates, when he asserts that the arguments of Parmenides were all-beautiful, and possessed a generous profundity, and why we should degrade the discussion of Parmenides, hurl it from essence and being, and transfer it to a vulgar, trifling, and empty contest, neither considering that discourses of this kind are alone adapted to youth, nor regarding the hypothesis of being characterized by the one, nor anything else which opposes such an opinion.

But I likewise think it is proper that the authors of this hypothesis, should consider the power of dialectic, such as it is exhibited by Socrates in the Republic; – how, as he says, it surrounds all disciplines like a defensive enclosure, and elevates those that use it, to the good itself, and the first unities, purifies the eye of the soul, establishes it in true beings, and the one principle of all things, and ends at last in that which is no longer hypothetical.

For if the power of this dialectic is so great, and the end of this path is so mighty, it is not proper to confound doxastic arguments, with a method of this kind. For the former regards the opinions of men, but the latter is called garrulity by the vulgar.

And the one is perfectly destitute of disciplinative science, but the other is the defensive enclosure of such sciences, and the passage to it is through these. Again the doxastic method of reasoning has for its end the apparent, but the dialectic method endeavors to arrive at the one itself, always employing for this purpose steps of ascent, and at last, beautifully ends in the nature of the good.

By no means therefore is it fit that we should draw down to doxastic arguments, a method which is established among the most accurate sciences.

For the merely logical method which presides over the demonstrative phantasy is of a secondary nature and is alone pleased with contentious discussions; but our dialectic, for the most part, employs divisions and analyses as primary sciences, and as imitating the progression of beings from the one, and their conversion to it again.

But it likewise sometimes uses definitions and demonstrations, and prior to these the definitive method, and the dividing method prior to this. On the contrary the doxastic method is deprived of the incontrovertible reasonings of demonstration.

Is it not, therefore, necessary that these powers must be separated from each other, and that the discussion of Parmenides, which employs our dialectic, must be free from the empty variety of mere argument, and must fabricate its reasonings with a view to being itself, and not to that which is apparent?

And thus much may suffice in answer to those who reprobate our hypotheses. For if all this cannot convince them, we shall in vain endeavor to persuade them, and urge them to the speculation of things.

PROCLUS. On the Theology of Plato (complete electronic text). (Martin Euser, Ed.), [s.d.]. Disponível em: <>