Plato’s Parmenides Reconsidered


This book offers a very accessible, detailed, and historically-sensitive account of Plato’s Parmenides. Against the prevailing scholarly wisdom, he illustrates conclusively that Parmenides is a satirical dialogue in which Plato attempts to expose the absurd nature of the doctrines and method of his philosophical opponents.

Parmenides is very commonly read as a turning point in Plato’s philosophical development. Most scholars assert that in Parmenides Plato seriously criticizes his theory of Forms. According to some proponents of this stance, Plato later came to view his own criticisms as altogether too damaging and thus subsequently abandoned this theory. Other proponents of the serious-self-criticism interpretation of Parmenides argue that, instead of abandoning his theory of Forms, Plato used Parmenides to lay the foundations for a new and improved theory, though there is little agreement on what this new theory entails.

Against these prevailing scholarly readings, Mehmet Tabak argues that Parmenides is in fact exclusively a satirical dialogue in which Plato attempts to expose the absurd nature of the doctrines and method of his philosophical opponents. Tabak’s accessible, historically-sensitive, detailed, and comprehensive account is the first decisive illustration of this view, which has been sporadically defended for many centuries.


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