From Chapter VIII., The Younger Eleatics
170. Opposition to Anaxagoras
Melissos has been unduly depreciated owing to the criticisms of Aristotle; but these, we have seen, are
based mainly on a somewhat pedantic objection to the false conversion in the early part of the
argument. Melissos knew nothing about the rules of conversion; and he could easily have made his
reasoning formally correct without modifying his system. His greatness consisted in this, that not only
was he the real systematiser of Eleaticism, but he was also able to see, before the pluralists saw it
themselves, the only way in which the theory that things are a many could be consistently worked out.68
It is significant that Polybos, the nephew of Hippokrates, reproaches those "sophists" who taught there
was only one primary substance with " putting the doctrine of Melissos on its feet."69
68. Bäumker, op. cit. p. 58, n. 3: "That Melissos was a weakling is a fable convenue that people repeat after Aristotle, who was unable to appreciate the Eleatics in general, and in particular misunderstood Melissos not inconsiderably."
69. Περὶ φύσιος ἀνθρώπου, C. 1. ἀλλ' ἔμοιγε δοκέουσιν οἱ τοιοῦτοι ἄνθρωποι αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοὺς καταβάλλειν ἐν τοῖσιν ὀνόμασι τῶν λόγων αὐτῶν ὑπὸ ἀσυνεσίης, τὸν δὲ Μελίσσου λόγον ὀρθοῦν. The metaphors are taken from wrestling, and were current at this date (cf. the καταβάλλοντες of Protagoras). Plato implies a more generous appreciation of Melissos than Aristotle's. In Theaet. 180 e 2, he refers to the Eleatics as Μέλισσοί τε καὶ Παρμενίδαι, and in 183 e 4 he almost apologises for giving the pre-eminence to Parmenides.
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