Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parmenides' Fallacy: Query

Bust of Parmenides
Frozen in time...
(Image from Wikipedia)

I'm currently reading Philip Bobbitt's most recent tome, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Knopf, 2008), which I'll have to report on sometime, but for the moment, I simply want to call attention to a fallacy that he identifies in the following passage:
[A]s we look to the future, we must not simply ask whether our having invaded Iraq will result in our being worse off than we were before the invasion. This is Parmenides' Fallacy, which compares present states of affairs not with each other (the worlds that would be actual today if we had acted differently in the past) but with the past. For we do not have the option of holding time still. (Bobbitt, Terror and Consent, pp. 208-209)
In a footnote to this passage, Bobbitt notes:
Sometimes called the "Parmenidean Fallacy," after the Greek philosopher who held that all change was illusion. This fallacy occurs when one tries to assess a future state of affairs by measuring it against the present, as opposed to comparing it to other possible futures. (Bobbitt, Terror and Consent, p. 592, n. 55)
I should admit, first off, to having been one of those who had wanted to see the weapons' inspections continue, for I thought that we ought to be more sure of the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq before invading back in 2003. Nevertheless, based on Saddam Hussein's behavior, which seemed to be that of a man with something to hide, I actually believed that Iraq had a WMD program and expected chemical or biological weapons to be found, and I was thus surprised when no such weapons were located after the invasion.

But that's an issue for a different post. My sole reason for today's blog entry is to pose a simple question:
Who first identified this fallacy as "Parmenides' Fallacy" or as the "Parmenidean Fallacy"?
I've looked around a bit on the internet but haven't found a source identifying the origin of either "Parmenides' Fallacy" or "Parmenidean Fallacy."

Any suggestions?

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At 10:35 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

why don't you email him and ask him (Phillip Bobbitt)

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Perhaps as a last resort...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now would this be the same Parmenides who was to blame for getting me in trouble with Uncle Cran?

I somehow find it, well interesting I guess, that both my past troubles with this one and the more recent troubles with "nothing" have the same Ancient Greek guy somehow figured in. Possibly.


At 7:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I must have missed the trouble with "Uncle Cran." My uncle has his strong opinions, but like any good hillbilly -- you and I included -- he doesn't let difference of opinion stand in the way of friendship.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admittedly, I may've taken his provision of "further readings" as a ruckus. My mistake.



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