The Illustrated To Think Like God: Pythagoras and Parmenides, The Origins of Philosophy, by Arnold Hermann. ISBN 1930972172. Intended for general readers, The Illustrated To Think Like God explores how philosophy became a speculative science, tracing its origins to the Greek colonies of southern Italy, from the late sixth century to the mid-fifth century BCE. In this lavishly illustrated full-color work, Arnold Hermann tells the story of the sage Pythagoras, the poet Xenophanes, and the lawmaker Parmenides, describing how each in his own way believed that true insight belonged only to the gods. With a sympathetic and critical eye, Hermann investigates how the Pythagoreans tried to discover otherworldly knowledge by studying numerical relationships, believing that these govern the universe. He shows that the difficulties of their quest were further aggravated by cultism, political conspiracies, and bloody uprisings. Numbers were not the key to the divine that everyone had hoped for. The real challenge, Hermann argues, came from Xenophanes, who argued that divine or absolute truth was beyond the reach of mortals. Even if a human being should happen to state exactly what was the case, he had no reliable way of knowing that he did.
Hermann convinces readers that this dilemma certainly would have concerned a legislative mind like that of Parmenides, and he examines how Parmenides introduced techniques for testing the truth of statements. Parmenides’ unparalleled approach was not based on physical evidence of the experience of our five senses. Instead, they relied on the faculty we humans share with the gods--our ability to reason.
Handsome illustrations, created by the same designers responsible for Stephen Hawking’s Universe in a Nutshell, accompany Hermann’s text, illuminating and expanding its complex ideas. Incisive, thought-provoking, and certain to engage the intellectually curious, The Illustrated To Think Like God reveals Parmenides to be the true father of theoretical science. As the philosopher who taught us that truth is not about claims but about proof, Parmenides ironically gave birth to the discipline in the process of trying to plumb the depths of the mind of god.