Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 68

His unity scarcely had expression and word in common with
the one "Being" of Parmenides, and certainly had not the same origin.

It was rather an opposite state of mind in which Parmenides found his
doctrine of "Being," On that day and in that state he examined his
two co-operating antitheses, the "Existent" and the "Non-Existent,"
the positive and the negative qualities, of which Desire and Hatred
constitute the world and the Becoming. He was suddenly caught up,
mistrusting, by the idea of negative quality, of the "Non-Existent."
For can something which does not exist be a quality? or to put the
question in a broader sense: can anything indeed which does not exist,
exist? The only form of knowledge in which we at once put unconditional
trust and the disapproval of which amounts to madness, is the tautology
A = A. But this very tautological knowledge called inexorably to him:
what does not exist, exists not! What is, is! Suddenly he feels
upon his life the load of an enormous logical sin; for had he not
always without hesitation assumed that _there were existing_ negative
qualities, in short a "Non-Existent," that therefore, to express it by
a formula, A = Not-A, which indeed could only be advanced by the most
out and out perversity of thinking. It is true, as he recollected, the
whole great mass of men judge with the same perversity; he himself
has only participated in the general crime against logic. But the
same moment which charges him with this crime surrounds him with the
light of the glory of an invention, he has found, apart from all human
illusion, a principle, the key to the world-secret, he now descends
into the abyss of things, guided by the firm and fearful hand of the
tautological truth as to "Being."

On the way thither he meets Heraclitus--an unfortunate encounter! Just
now Heraclitus' play with antinomies was bound to be very hateful to
him, who placed the utmost importance upon the severest separation of
"Being" and "Not-Being"; propositions like this: "We are and at the
same time we are not" --"'Being' and 'Not-Being' is at the same time
the same thing and again not the same thing," propositions through
which all that he had just elucidated and disentangled became again
dim and inextricable, incited him to wrath. "Away with the men," he
exclaimed, "who seem to have two heads and yet know nothing! With them
truly everything is in flux, even their thinking! They stare at things
stupidly, but they must be deaf as well as blind so to mix up the
opposites"! The want

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