Damascius and the Ineffable Thread of Reality

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Marilena Vlad Institute for South-East European Studies Bucharest Romania

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This article discusses the problem of the ineffable in Damascius’ treatises De principiis and In Parmenidem. I argue that the ineffable—which is the ultimate principle proposed by Damascius—is also the theme that underlies the whole frame of the reality, in his perspective. Each level of reality that he discusses comes into play on the background of the original attempt to suggest the ineffable principle. Each of them—One, unified, soul, material forms, matter and sensible realm—tries to approximate and suggest the previous level and thus, eventually, the ineffable itself. Consequently, each level of reality develops its own degree of ineffability, and therefore presents itself to our mind in an aporetical manner. It is impossible for our mind to reveal in an exhaustive and noncontradictory fashion even the levels closest to us. The aporiai that are specific for every part of reality are eventually consequences of the original aporia of an absolute and unique principle that governs everything.

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