"Before the West was the West" essay below by Tadit Anderson, leading video is an interview with Peter Kingsley

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow-_G26lpOk

The above link is to an interview with Peter Kingsley who is a scholar regarding what is usually referred to as Pre Socratic philosophy. Though Kinsley emphasizes the mystical interpretation of the philosophy typical of Parmenides, there is more of a philosophic metaphysical interpretation as well which has major implications for a commons centered economics

Deep in the history of philosophy in the west there was a partitioning of the philosophical and political discourse in favor of the academy which served to train the sons of the Mycenaean nobility. To describe the discourse which preceded Plato, Aristotle and their students using the framing of Plato is very, very much like describing forward motion solely upon both the images in the review mirror, and further to accept that narrative as without self interest. It represents an early eternalization of a specific sort of culture and its values. Peter Kingsley provides a fairly good resurrection of the orientation and lineage of the "Elea-tic" approach to philosophy and political economy. Kingsley relies a bit more upon a mystical framing, than upon a framing assuming a philosophical metaphysics.
The "Parmenides Dialog" by Plato scripts the position Parmenides and Zeno. It is often described as enigmatic, and usually that adjective is applied to the contributions authored by Plato and attributed to Parmenides and Zeno. So quickly nominal scholars forget that this is a piece written and scripted by Plato. It is theater, not documentation or journalism. They also forget that theater and epic poetry preceded the formal discourse of philosophy. Plato's entire approach and objective is based upon the assumption that the true reality of some object or event is in its abstraction and essence by its form. In fact Parmenides and Zeno as representatives of the nominal "Eleatic" school of philosophy represented a paradigm of a wholly different nature. It is in contrast to the idealization of forms posited, as per Plato and sometimes described as subjective or idealistic materialism. In this context it is effectively a foregone conclusion that Parmenides's philosophy will appear enigmatic and obscure. In the scripting provided by Plato it is based upon a "straw man" type of argumentation.
In fact the entire dialogue is framed by Plato within his own frame of reference and assumptions of principles and their abstractions. Essentially the dialogue was a monologue disguised as a dialogue In a certain fashion Plato was a better playwright than he was a philosopher. To accept Plato's narrative, uncritically, particularly in describing Parmenides's sense of experience and of nature is at least naive. The term neo-Platonic is likewise abused exactly because it represents a biased projection from the relative present upon the history of philosophies. Further, the attraction to the culture of Mycenean Greece was and is due to the desire to root a relatively present day set of assumptions and values that seem to validate the present order. The comparison between Parmenides's On Nature even in its fragments to Plato's obsession with a cosmology of abstractions should result in at least the conclusion, that they were speaking from two quite different perspectives.
Since G.W.H. Hegel's philosophy of mind on its extension by the German "idealists," on to the variety of social science consistent with philology and then into psychology, socialist political economy, and then to the advent of the sociology of knowledge and verstehen sociologie (sociology as based upon understanding) of Max Weber, and then by Husserl's approach to the problems posed by The Principia Mathematica. Further this context provides for the innovations of H. Gadamer and M. Heidegger which provide further context of a discourse pertaining to a "being in the economic world," in part represented by Alfred Schutz and the political economists have a value upon the cultural basis of being in the economic world, including Abba Lerner and Adolph Lowe. Establishing these distinctions makes the structuralist presuppositions applied in the interpretation of this discourse self serving in much the same way as the "philosophic" dramatization by Plato was self serving.
The city state of Elea was part of the network of city states through the Mediterranean basin and adjoining bodies of water such as the Black Sea. Several of these city states were in Asia Minor and were involved in the trade related to the terminus there of the Silk Road. The Phoceans were also the founders of what became Marseilles, France. The Phocean city states were part of a network of ports of trade and of production scattered through the region. The location of these city states did not make them either Greek, or Italian, or French, Turkish, or African because the geographical identification of a sovereign nation was not the basis for its cultural associations and connections. Identifying Plato as a Greek or Parmenides as an Elean is a projection of a modern concept of a nation based upon geography backwards into time.
The Mycenaean culture occupied a large part of what became known as Greece, it does not make them representative of is now projected as Greek culture. Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle were however representative of Mycenaean culture. Mycenaean culture and class structure was based upon an oligarchic manoral palace structure of oligarchy. It was based upon the ownership by occupation of land and upon the periodic attacks on neighboring small city states, which produced slaves to work the land and sundry portable wealth. The Mycenaean culture also operated upon a "gifting" economy, which was effective a tribute economic culture whereby the tyrants of the manors could decide who received the goods distributed and how much. This is one important reason that the innovation of coinage was such a huge and democratic innovation. The Mycenaean culture was clearly anti-democratic because it interfered with their imagined entitlements. It is also why the Mycenaean despots considered merchant traders to be thieves.
This makes the assumption that Greece was the cradle of democracy a simply deluding modern fantasy based upon reproducing the more noxious part of the Mycenaean culture in modern times to serve anti-democratic assumptions. Athens was initially developed as a port of trade. The reforms produced as laws of reform by Solon the Great, who was most likely not a part of the Mycenaean culture, but an Ionian, was to change the Mycenaean economic conventions because of the extreme hardship that the manoral and "gifting" economy had imposed upon independent farmers and artisans. Solon intervened as the elected archon as favoring the interests of the common people(Kurke and Hudson). If anywhere this is the actual basis of the substance of Greece being interpreted as the "cradle" of democracy, and not the portion of the population that Plato or Aristotle served.
The net implication if that the political philosophy of commoning existed relatively early in the west, though it is more likely the result of the Ionian culture than the Mycenaean culture. Likewise the metaphysics of being in the world by way Parmenides, Empedocles, Zeno is significantly more coherent with the interpretive approach to social science and with economics specifically. Under this interpretation of nature and economic nature there are no idealizations of theoretical concepts or modeling as there is within neo-classical economics in the notions of the "free market," the "invisible hand" as a concept that is actually invisible, rather than intentionally made invisible by way of ideology, or that equilibrium can simply be assumed. Within an interpretive metaphysics socialization can be defined in terms of capacities rather that being measured by conformity to social norms. In a certain fashion much of the social science imposed by the positivistic paradigm presents itself as a "social Physics, though severely short on the "social" and overbearing on the sense of physics of capital-ism. The metaphysics of being in the economic world includes the capacities of commoning and of a vital communal critique.

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system