The nihilism of Gorgias from the Eleatic point of view of bare identity, and the speechlessness of Cratylus from the Heraclitean ground of absolute difference, are alike disowned.
XENOPHANES of Colophon, the reputed founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, is supposed to have been born in the third or fourth decade of the 6th century B.C. An exile from his Ionian home, he resided for a time in Sicily, at Zancle and at Catana, and afterwards established himself in southern Italy, at Elea, a Phocaean colony founded in the sixty-first Olympiad (536-533).
See also Eleatic School; Cynics; Stoics; and, for the connexion between the Megarians and the Eretrians, Menedemus and Phaedo.
If then he was indifferent to the problem, he can hardly be credited with the Eleatic solution.
The result is a selflimiting dialectic. This higher dialectic is a logic. It is no accident that the first of the philosophical sophists, Gorgias, on the one hand, is Eleatic in his affinities, and on the other raises in the characteristic formula of his intellectual nihilism' issues which are as much logical and epistemological as ontological.
Between Euclides and Antisthenes the Socratic induction and universal definition were alike discredited from the point of view of the Eleatic logic. It is with the other point of doctrine that Plato comes to grips, that which allows of a certainty or knowledge consisting in an analysis of a compound into simple elements themselves not known.
Among the pre-Socratic nature-philosophers of Greece, Heraclitus and the Eleatics are the chief representatives of this polemic. The diametrical opposition of the grounds on which the veracity of the senses is impugned by the two philosophies (see Heraclitus, Parmenides, Eleatic School) was in itself suggestive of sceptical reflection.
In these main contentions the Eleatic school achieved a real advance, and paved the way to the modern conception of metaphysics.
A new departure was taken by the Eleatic Parmenides (q.v.), who, expressly noting that, when Thales and his successors attributed to the supposed element changing qualities, they became pluralists, required that the superficial variety of nature should be strictly distinguished from its fundamental unity.
If Eleatic thought stands over against Pythagorean thought as what is valid or grounded against what is ungrounded or invalid, we are embarked upon dialectic, or the debate in which thought is countered by thought.