Greek European Culture


Adluri on Parmenides and the Transcendence

Parmenides, Plato and Mortal Philosophy – Return from Transcendence, belongs to a type of books that has become rare. Its author is not writing because he is ‘obliged’ by his academic position nor to make some impression in this or the other circle of intellectuals, but being interested in his subject and enjoying thinking. The book contains a translation of Parmenides with useful notes.

Adluri at AmazonAdluri meets with Parmenides at the crossroads of mortality with immortality, and it is certain that not everyone would agree even about the location of these crossroads. The author argues in favor of a view of Parmenides’ thinking, according to which the great presocratic philosopher first “presents a metaphysical realm, and then returns to the mortal universe”, in a “commitment to preserving mortal temporality and thus dignifying mortal individuality and existence”. Parmenides’ vision of immortality comes out of his dignifying not, of course, mortal but the individual existence, as is known even in the condition of suffering in mortality.

In the same context the author repeats an old error, suggesting that there exists a connexion between tyranny and monism, although history itself teaches us that there can be tyranny in dualist or even atheist cultures, while, on the other hand there can be and there has been openness in monistic cultures.

The author is linking individuality and mortality so tight (see e.g. p. 7: “individuality and its mortal temporality…”), that one is tempted to think of death as a blessing! Adluri tries to recognise in (some aspects of) the philosophical thinking a love-for-home or homesickness, when the experience of home includes that of death. But how is it possible for men to see in death their home? I can not but be surprised when I read that “Parmenides’ kouros seeks a home in the realm of being; but, crucially, he is not satisfied with this and returns, I argue, to his true home”, to the time and place of death, where he finally, I guess, finds satisfaction… This is just absurd. (Cf. the author’s reply on this remark, in the “Comments” section, right after the review.)

I sympathise with the author’s attempt to discover the fertility of a thinking that is transferred from the laws of logic to the experience of life, but this turn presupposes precisely a deep experience of life and death. It may be my fault, the responsibility of which I admit wholeheartedly if it is indeed a fault, but I can not recognise demanding thinking and a deep experience of life when death is considered the home of man, metaphorically or not. Likewise, I can not agree with the term ‘mortal philosophy’. Even ‘philosophy of death’ or ‘philosophy of mortality’ would be disputable terms, since philosophy is always about life and from and for life, inside this main focus including also a thinking about death.

In general, despite whatever one can see as a defect, Adluri’s work is thought provoking, the result of arduous study and an existential concern that is usually missing from modern schools.

1 Comment

  1. Prof. Adluri sent to Ellopos the following letter concerning the review of his book:

    Thank you for your review of my book. I appreciate that you took the time to read it carefully and engage its argument. I just wanted to clarify that it was never my intention to return to mortality for its own sake. It was for the sake of the mortal ‘other’ and, thus, for the sake of love. In an age where metaphysics, religion, and longing for immortality have become violent, someone at some point has to underscore the dignity of mortals. Overlaid over my thesis on rescuing mortality for the sake of love, however, is a reconception of the immortal. Thus, I had to first find the limits of mortal philosophy in order enable a rethinking of immortality, which is only promised but not yet carried out in this work.

    “But, from this “purified” state, is another form of transcendence possible for the mortal singular? But that is a subject for another work; here, I end the “purification” portion of Parmenides, that is, our traditional reception. A philosophical investigation whereby Parmenides provides a positive response to the ultimate concerns of the mortal reader constitutes the next step.” (p. 135)

    Mortal philosophy, anyway, is not my invention: it begins with Luther’s turn inward, Nietzsche’s declaration ‘god is dead’, and Heidegger’s interpretation of being as temporal. These aspects have to be critiqued, and I think I succeeded in showing the absurdity of such thinking, which you have correctly perceived. The reworking of a post-metaphysical philosophy, i.e., a post-Nietzschean, post-Heideggerian metaphysics, must be the next stage: thus my philosophy begins with a return to the mortal singular, but only as a critique of a certain conception of metaphysical transcendence.

    The next stage, I will fulfill in two upcoming books: 1. Greek Religion: Philosophy and Salvation (forthcoming from Walter de Gruyter), and 2. a theological commentary on Plato’s Republic, whose manuscript I am presently completing.

    Apart from the fact that your review seems to attribute the absurdity of mortal philosophy to me, I found your review splendid and nuanced. But I would like to correct your perception that I give my assent to this “post-metaphysical” critique of ancient philosophy: in fact, my work is a critique of anti- or post-metaphysical thought.

    “Heidegger’s history of being and of Western metaphysics, the problem of historicism, Nietzsche’s rejection of metaphysics, Hannah Arendt’s notion of singularity, and the relationship of philosophy to theology in the twentieth century have been implicit throughout in this work. I would like to conclude by explicitly returning to this twentieth-century state of affairs.” (p. 129)

    In this sense, my book is not only a return from a transcendence (which is now mostly sought in violence or technology) but also a return to (a real) transcendence.