Monday, 14 July 2008

Tony Long about my book!

Please read, if you like, the words that prof. dr. A. A. Long wrote about my book on Parmenides in his review for the last issue of Phronesis:

"Chiara Robbiano, Becoming Being. On Parmenides’ Transformative Philosophy.10) This monograph, which began its life as a University of Leiden dissertation directed by the late C.M.J. Sicking, is a very stimulating contribution. Robbiano modestly calls her book ‘an integrated study’ of the poem’s literary and philosophical features, but what she actually offers is a full-scale paradigm shift in the interpretation of this perennially challenging and frustrating thinker. Rather than taking Parmenides’ project to be an analysis of reality that detaches the knower from the knowable, what primarily interests Robbiano is ‘the place of the knowing subject in a monistic reality’. She proposes that Parmenides offers his audience a ‘mental journey’ whereby ‘one who understands Being becomes Being’. If we initially balk at this proposal, on the ground that it is at odds with Parmenides’ metaphysical monism and denial of all becoming, Robbiano makes the fascinating suggestion that Parmenides’ monism should be interpreted perspectivally, as a way of learning to ‘see everything as unity’ and in that process becoming one with it. In this way, she is able to dissolve many of the standard paradoxes arising from metaphysical monism without losing her grip on Parmenides’ challenge to acceptance of the reality of empirical phenomena, substantive change, difference, and so forth. Among many fresh suggestions of detail, I single out Robbiano’s treatment of
Ananke and Dike which, together with Moira, she is probably right to capitalize and treat as literarily, though not ontologically, divine. The book is up to date bibliographically and very generous in its acknowledgements. She draws effectively on the recent work of Kingsley and Cerri as well as that of such classic authorities on Parmenides as Mourelatos, Mansfeld, Kahn, and Coxon. Only the most rigidly analytical readers will leave this book without having their understanding of Parmenides enhanced.11)

10) Chiara Robbiano, Becoming Being. On Parmenides’ Transformative Philosophy. International Pre-Platonic Studies vol. 5, Sankt Augustin (Akademia Verlag), 2006, pp. 240, ISBN 3-89665-383-0 €54.00.
11) In recommending this book, I should note that I am not a completely detached reviewer. I discussed Parmenides with the author before she finalised her work, and, in reference to my article, ‘Parmenides on thinking being’ (BACAP 12 (1996), 125-51), she thanks me for having influenced her approach, especially over the idea that Parmenides identifies being and thinking. However, Robbiano takes the idea much further than I did, and gives it a deeply suggestive meaning for Parmenides’ project in its entirety." (pp.296-297)

Long, A.A., 2008 "Presocratic Philosophy", Phronesis: A journal for Ancient Philosophy, Volume 53, Number 3 , pp. 290-302

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