Kimhi’s Thinking and Being (Ch 3)



The final chapter of Kimhi’s text (the quietism of the stranger) turns back to the general concerns regarding the Parmendies and the two way split of thought. After the Aristotelian marathon of the previous chapter Kimhi looks at how Plato addresses the figure of Parmenides and critiques him without committing parricide. As Kimhi has it, Plato’s dialogue must critique and ultimetly clarify what the riddle of being is in order to show how the sophists abuse the notion of ‘that which is not.’ Similar to those who would rely upon the force of an assertion to carry its positivity, Kimhi argues that Plato’s correct understanding of the Parmenidean riddle shows how, in a syncategorematic manner, the negative is parasitic on the positive but that the simultaneous synthesis and separation of thinking as an act can think what is not in a manner not dependent upon assertoric (or rhetorical) force.

Kimhi analyzes analytic interpretations of Plato’s puzzle and argues that the various forms of reading reads the notion of states of affairs back onto it or, as following MacDowell, deflates the puzzle as merely a confusion between naming and saying. MacDowell assumes that Plato’s puzzle (what is and never changes and what changes but never is) arises from a lack of a notion of state affairs, of a notion of truth that is purely veridical (a notion of truth that is separable from questions of being and non-being).

Following several gestures in Wittgenstein’s notebooks Kimhi states that we (presumably in analytic philosophy) lack a notion of propositional complexity that shows how thinking depends on being. Furthermore, the problem of the unity of the proposition remains for Kimhi unsolved and largely ignored by contemporary analytic philosophy which avoids the issue by selectively updating or transforming Fregean functionalism (expanding reference or sense and so on).

For Kimhi, following Plato’s dialogues regarding the Parmenidean problem, only a combination of logical (categorematic) analysis and the two way capacity of thought (syncategorematic) can provide the solution to the problem of how to avoid the titan’s crude combination of becoming and being as well as the god’s separation of being and becoming. Kimhi’s solution (which is also thinks is Plato’s) is to adopt a form of quietism in which the unity of thinking and being is not about proper language use nor about correspondence a world understood as a state of affairs but rather an unassuming reading of the equation of thinking and being. For Kimhi an alliance between mind, logos and world is the simple understanding of language use an expressing an activity of the mind and not trying to correspond nor avoid metaphysics as a concern about speaking in the world. Ultimately for Kimhi this means that the meta- of metaphysics is not about metaphysics but speaks to the function of the syncategorematic relative to the categorematic (the act and judgment of thought in the world of which the world is).

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