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José Edgar González-Varela

Abstract

In the first argument of Metaphysics Μ.2 against the Platonist introduction of separate mathematical objects, Aristotle purports to show that positing separate geometrical objects to explain geometrical facts generates an ‘absurd accumulation’ of geometrical objects. Interpretations of the argument have varied widely. I distinguish between two types of interpretation, corrective and non-corrective interpretations. Here I defend a new, and more systematic, non-corrective interpretation that takes the argument as a serious and very interesting challenge to the Platonist.

D.A. Vasilakis

Abstract

This article deals with the complex relation between providence and descent in Neoplatonism, with particular reference to Proclus and especially his Commentary on the First Alcibiades. At least according to this work, descent is only a species of providence, because there can be providence without any descent. Whereas the gods (for instance the Henads) provide for our cosmos without descending to it, a large group of souls provide for our cosmos by descending to it. The former kind of providence is better than the latter, even if it is necessary that souls descend in order to give existence to the beautiful cosmos. The following study deals with providence as descent, looking at it from two angles. In the first section I show that Proclus designates this form of providence in two rather surprising ways. One term he uses for it, which will be well known to readers of Plotinus, is τόλµα (audacity)—this despite the word’s negative connotations due to its Neopythagorean and Gnostic origin. A second name for descended providence is ἐπιστροφή (‘reversion’ or better ‘turning one’s attention’). Again, this may be surprising, since we usually expect this term to express the ‘turning back’ of a lower effect to its cause. In Proclus, the word ἐπιστροφή too can have negative connotations, but he also uses it in a positive way when applying it to providence. In the second part of the paper, I explain how Socrates’ providence for Alcibiades (as seen in the Alcibiades I) can be undefiled (i.e. unmixed), even if Socrates necessarily descends as he offers providential guidance. Proclus’ comparison of Socrates with Hercules, who went to the Underworld in order to save Theseus, serves as a positive illustration of Socrates’ divinelike providence, and marks the deficiency of Socrates (or Hercules as a ‘semi-god’) compared to the transcendent and undefiled providence of Neoplatonic divinities.

Alex Long

Hendrik Lorenz and Benjamin Morison

Abstract

Aristotle takes practical wisdom and arts or crafts to be forms of knowledge which, we argue, can usefully be thought of as ‘empiricist’. This empiricism has two key features: knowledge does not rest on grasping unobservable natures or essences; and knowledge does not rest on grasping logical relations that hold among propositions. Instead, knowledge rests on observation, memory, experience and everyday uses of reason. While Aristotle’s conception of theoretical knowledge does require grasping unobservable essences and logical relations that hold among suitable propositions, his conception of practical and productive knowledge avoids such requirements and is consistent with empiricism.

David Bronstein and Whitney Schwab

Abstract

Plato in the Meno is standardly interpreted as committed to condition innatism: human beings are born with latent innate states of knowledge. Against this view, Gail Fine has argued for prenatalism: human souls possess knowledge in a disembodied state but lose it upon being embodied. We argue against both views and in favor of content innatism: human beings are born with innate cognitive contents that can be, but do not exist innately in the soul as, the contents of states of knowledge. Content innatism has strong textual support and constitutes a philosophically interesting theory.

Mark Sentesy

Abstract

This paper clarifies the way Aristotle uses generation (γένεσις) to establish the priority of activity (ἐνέργεια) in time and in being. It opens by examining the concept of genetic priority. The argument for priority in beinghood has two parts. The first part is a synthetic argument that accomplishment (τέλος) is the primary kind of source (ἀρχή), an argument based on the structure of generation. The second part engages three critical objections to the claim that activity could be an accomplishment: (i) activity appears to lack its own structure; (ii) activity is different in kind from the object it accomplishes; and (iii) activity is external to its accomplishment. Aristotle responds to these objections by analyzing the structure of generation. In the course of the argument, Aristotle establishes that beinghood and form are activity.