Parmenides Publishing

Titles By Arnold Herman

To Think Like God

To Think Like God
Pythagoras and Parmenides
The Origins of Philosophy

(Scholarly & fully annotated edition)

394 pages, 7 illustrations
6 1/2 x 9 1/4 • Hardcover

Click here for the Illustrated edition.

This book is also available in Greek.
Arnold Hermann
is an independent researcher and philosopher. He specializes in Presocratic Philosophy, Metaphysics, and methods of thinking.

To Think Like God
(Scholarly and fully annotated edition)

TO THINK LIKE GOD focuses on the emergence of philosophy as a speculative science, tracing its origins to the Greek colonies of Southern Italy, from the late 6th century to mid-5th century B.C.E. Special attention is paid to the sage Pythagoras and his movement, the poet Xenophanes of Colophon, and the lawmaker Parmenides of Elea. In their own ways, each thinker held that true insight, whether as wisdom or certainty, belonged not to mortal human beings but to the gods.

The Pythagoreans sought to approach this otherworldly knowledge by studying numerical relationships, believing them to govern the universe, and that those who know the number of a thing know its true nature. Yet their quest was a hopeless one, bogged down by cultism, numerology, political conspiracies, bloody uprisings, and exile. Above all, number did not turn out as the most reliable of mediums; it was certainly not a key to the realm of the divine. Thus, their contributions to philosophy's inception, while much better publicized, were not the most significant. That particular role was reserved for an unusual challenge and the elaborate reaction it provoked.

The challenge came from Xenophanes, who had argued that reliable truth was beyond mortal reach, because even if by accident a human being should state what is exactly the case, he had no way of knowing that he did, all things being susceptible to opinion. This dilemma is sure to have bothered a legislative mind like that of Parmenides, and we find him introducing techniques for testing the veracity of statements. These methods were meant to be carried out by reasoning and argument alone, without relying on physical evidence or mortal sense-perception, which was deemed untrustworthy. Reason was that one faculty shared by gods and humans alike.

In time, Parmenides' ingenious arguments have earned him the title of the first logician and metaphysician whose influence on subsequent thinkers was immeasurable. Parmenides taught us that philosophy was not about claims but about proof, which also makes him the father of theoretical science—which, curiously, began as a quest into the mind of God.

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Walter Burkert

Walter Burkert

1931–March 11, 2015

Read the Greece & Rome review

Reviewed in Oct 2005.

Hermann, an independent scholar, enthusiastically presents a highly accessible yet original account of the emergence of philosophy. The main focus is on Pythagoras and Parmenides, with a chapter on Xenophanes of Colophon as a link between the two. Each thinker held the view that true insight, whether as wisdom or certainty, belonged only to gods. But while Pythagoras and his numerous followers were hopelessly mired by cultism and political upheavals (all described in minutest detail in the book), as well as by the belief that number is the key to the realm of the gods, their main shortcoming was the absence of the defining feature of philosophy: proof by thinking. That is something Parmenides introduced. He developed dependable criteria by which reason can test its assumptions, methods of proof, and methods of disproof. Overall the book is a serious alternative to current interpretations of the role of Parmenides in the inception of philosophy.

Summing Up:
Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers.

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

—S. Correa
College of Mount St. Joseph

"To Think Like God is a highly ambitious book... Hermann's approach deserves to be taken seriously as an alternative to standard interpretations."
Click here to read the full review
—Richard D. McKirahan Jr.
Pomona College

"Arnold Hermann brings fresh life into the specialists' debates... A blow of wind that dissipates much fog."
Click here to read the full review
—Walter Burkert
University of Zurich

"Arnold Hermann makes a genuine contribution to Presocratics (Parmenides) studies. This book, which is both an introduction to Pythagoras and Parmenides and a scholarly study, will interest novices and experts alike. Hermann's multi-leveled approach and his careful analyses of alternate views make his work a useful teaching tool, while his systematic inquiry into Pythagoreanism, the poem of Parmenides, and the development of early Greek thought will well repay the attention of scholars."
—Patricia Curd
Purdue University

"Arnold Hermann’s rigorous research systematizes a non-traditional vision of the still poorly known period of the birth of metaphysics, and in this sense, his interpretation of Parmenides as the authentic father of philosophy is remarkable. Hermann proves that Parmenides established the basis for all subsequent philosophical thought when he stated that we cannot understand a thing if we cannot relate it to something. Either implicitly or explicitly, this axiom is present in the ideas of all later philosophers. However, the innovative aspect of Hermann’s investigation lies in his new interpretation of the basic axiom of Parmenides. The author demonstrates clearly that nothing can be asserted without affirming the 'unity' of a thing. Moreover, this basic 'unity' is none other than the 'Naked Is' which implies that everything which must be, is."
—Néstor-Luis Cordero
Rennes University