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In: Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Plato in Antiquity
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Abstract

Proclus takes the Republic’s (Book V) recommendation that there should be both male and female Guardians as a serious political proposal, but like Plato, he gives few specifics. A recurring theme in Proclus’ commentary is that political arrangements are just to the extent that they effectively mirror the providential administration of the cosmos. Thus the Myth of Er is not merely an adornment at the end of the dialogue, but contains important information about the cosmic paradigm to which the just human polis should assimilate itself. This paper will consider the role of female Guardians in Proclus’ interpretation of the Republic as a serious suggestion in political theory by looking at the cosmic paradigms for women’s administration of justice in the Myth of Er. I have argued elsewhere that Proclus hypothesises gendered souls corresponding to male and female divinities and that, moreover, the feminine is subordinate to the masculine at the level of the divine. One point to emerge from my reading of the Myth of Er is that the female Guardians are likely to be subordinated to their male counter-parts if they play a role in the ideal polis analogous to the female divinities in the Myth of Er. A second point is that there are aspects of their role that seem to resemble some features of what has come to be called ‘the ethics of care’.

In: Women and the Female in Neoplatonism
In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
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Abstract

This paper examines the role of the theme (prothesis or skopos) in Neoplatonic interpretive practice, particularly with respect to Platonic dialogues. The belief that every dialogue has a single skopos and that every aspect of the dialogue can be seen as subserving that skopos is one of the most distinctive of the Neoplatonists’ intepretive principles. 1 It is also the one that is most directly responsible for the forced and artificial character of their readings of Plato. The arguments offered in support of this principle are manifestly inadequate to justify the role that it plays. This is so even if we evaluate those arguments by the Neoplatonists’ own lights. If we want to understand how this practice seemed rational to them, we need to consider more than their texts and Plato’s. We need to consider the role that the shared act of reading a Platonic dialogue with the teacher had in transforming the souls of the students and in the self-understanding of Neoplatonic teachers. I. Hadot, among others, has argued that the continuous commentary was a kind of spiritual exercise. 2 I largely agree with her conclusion, though I believe her analysis of the sense in which these were spiritual exercises needs to be deepened. I argue that the justification for the assumption that each dialogue has a single skopos is best understood by reference to the manner in which the practice of commentary functioned within the internal economy of their schools considered as textual communities. 3

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
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Abstract

Proclus' interpretation of the Timaeus confronts the question of whether the living being that is the Platonic cosmos perceives itself. Since sense perception is a mixed blessing in the Platonic tradition, Proclus solves this problem by differentiating different gradations of perception. The cosmos has only the highest kind. This paper contrasts Proclus' account of the world's perception of itself with James Lovelock's notion that the planet Earth, or Gaia, is aware of things going on within itself. This contrast illuminates several key differences between contemporary theories of perception and the neoplatonic world view. In particular, it argues that the neoplatonists had a radically different view of these matters because they assigned the property of truth not only to representations, but to objects as well.

In: Phronesis
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus