In the Dark Places of Wisdom
by Peter Kingsley
Philosophy, meaning ‘love of wisdom’, has turned into a rather sterile rational exercise during 2500 years of western thinking. We generally suppose that the foundations of western philosophy–and by extension: of scientific thinking–were laid by Plato and Aristotle. What this premise overlooks, is that these two masters of reason, whether they focus on Ideas or Experiences, stood on the shoulders of giants like Pythagoras and Parmenides, men who were shaman-mystics and mystagogues, as well as founders of scientific disciplines like geometry, arithmetic, logic and metaphysics. These were the original ‘lovers of wisdom’, who not only trusted their discerning, logical minds and sensory experience, but who also relied on divine inspiration and revelation. It was actually Pythagoras who first called himself a ‘philosopher’, and who said that “the love of wisdom is the key to nature’s secrets”.
In Peter Kingsley’s eye-opening book, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, he uncovers the mystical nature of that other philosophical giant of old, Parmenides, by researching archeological finds from the Greek colony of Velia, in Southern Italy, where Parmenides lived and worked around 500 BC. Through ancient inscriptions, Kingsley retraces some of the mystical views and practices from Parmenides’ time.
In addition, he demonstrates the decisive influence Parmenides had on Plato, who rationalized and thereby distorted his sacred wisdom-tradition, by creating a philosophy, a science, that is cut off from its shamanic-mystical roots, and that no longer relies on the richest of its sources: divine inspiration and the knowledge of the heart.