Pre-Socratic Metaphysics of Parmenides and Heraclitus

Pre-Socratic Metaphysics of Parmenides and Heraclitus
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Phildon Huffaker – Philosophy, Santa Monica College

A printout of this assignment must be submitted BEFORE the in-class Exam

An Electronic Copy of this Assignment must be sent to the eCompanion FWA Dropbox by 10 p.m.


First, I will address my criteria for evaluation and some matters of form. I expect that you will apply these same criteria to other writing assignments assigned this semester.


  1. Strive for a clear and complete presentation of ideas (this presents more difficulty than one might think).
  2. You should rely entirely on our class characterizations of these ideas. No outside research should be
  3. done for this assignment.
  4. Do not quote the text or any outside sources. (Exceptions may be noted below in the assignment.)
  5. Organize your thoughts as clearly and thoroughly as possible before you start writing your first draft.
  6. Use normal indented paragraphs and provide relevant transitional statements.
  7. Write simply. Use simple, straightforward sentences. Avoid vague, ambiguous, or careless expressions. Do not try to sound profound.
  8. Spell correctly
  9. Observe the principles of standard grammar and composition.
  10. Use ONLY: Font type: Times New Roman, or Arial, or Calibri (do not use “Cambria”) Font Size: 12, (no smaller or different)
  11. Indent the first line of each new paragraph one half inch (1⁄2 inch).
  12. Use ‘Left” justify mode and not “Full” justify (not edge to edge) for the across the line word spacing.
  13. Limit yourself to 4 to 7 pages typed, double spaced on 81⁄2 by 11 size with all margins of 1.0 inch. If your default margins are not set to 1.0 inch (sides, top and bottom) then you must reset each to 1.0.
  14. A printed copy of this assignment must be turned in at class before the first exam begins. No late submissions will be accepted for grading. (Do not wait until the last minute to ask questions about the assignment.)
  15. For credit on this assignment (a grade other than “F”), you also must submit an electronic copy of your assignment response to the eCompanion FWA dropbox by 10 p.m. on the day of the exam. Please use the following format to NAME the electronic file you submit (from your computer): Lastname_Firstname-StudentID#-FWA.
  16. Above all—write in such a way that you show that you understand the stuff you are writing about.

After you have finished your draft, check it again sentence by sentence, and ask yourself these questions:

What is the relevance of this sentence in this passage?

Does it add anything to the paper?

Does this passage clearly express what I want to say?

Am I eliminating all possible sources of misunderstanding, such as vagueness, ambiguity, lack of clarity, etc.?

Is this a good English sentence?

Revise your draft accordingly as many times as necessary. Let these principles guide your writing on this assignment and on the subsequent one.

THE ASSIGNMENT (The content of your paper):

  1. Turn in your out of class pre-assignment task at class before starting the assignment tasks below.
  2. Present, explain and relate the metaphysical ideas of Heraclitus.
  3. Separately, present, explain and relate the metaphysical ideas of Parmenides/Zeno.
  4. Present a brief analysis to support which thinker’s overall metaphysical view, Heraclitus’s or Parmenides/Zeno’s make the most metaphysical sense to you and why.

For 2 and 3 above: Present your explication with the appropriate reasoning we have covered for each philosopher’s metaphysical set of ideas. Present each philosopher’s overall set of key concepts as they relate to that philosopher’s metaphysical views separately. That is, do not mix or intertwine your presentation of the two thinkers’ views together.

Your explication of the metaphysical ideas of each thinker (2 or 3 above) must include, but should not be limited to an explication of each of the following key concepts:

  1. Monism
  2. The Arché
  3. The one versus the many
  4. The concept of Change
  5. Present and contrast the relation between appearance and (Metaphysical) Reality
  6. The detailed arguments and reasoning used to support these ideas (especially for Parmenides/Zeno)

No outside research should be done for this assignment. You must provide pertinent philosophical reasons taken from the lecture material to support your judgments.

You may, but do not have to, use the following quotes to help you provide your explication:


“You cannot step into the same river twice.” or

“Into the same rivers we step in and we don’t step in, we are and we are not.”

“All change occurs according to certain universal principles of reason.”


“What is, is.” “What is not, is not.”

NOTE: Avoid ambiguous terms of reference. Let there be no misunderstanding as to which reconstruction you intend to refer in your explications for each philosopher.

Carefully and consistently define any concepts central to explication of each thinker’s ideas in your essay.

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