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In: Akrasia in Greek Philosophy
Author: Lloyd Gerson

Abstract

One of the major puzzling themes in the history of Platonism is how theology is integrated with philosophy. In particular, one may well wonder how Plato's superordinate first principle of all, Idea of the Good, comes to be understood by his disciples as a mind or in some way possessing personal attributes. In what sense is the Good supposed to be God? In this paper I explore some Platonic accounts of the first principle of all in order to understand where the integration of the personal into the metaphysical is organic and where it is not. I conclude that the “ontological” and the “henological” construals of the first principle of all differ in their openness to “intellectualizing” that principle.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Author: Lloyd Gerson

Abstract

The perennial problem in interpreting De Anima 3.5 has produced two drastic solutions, one ancient and one contemporary. According to the first, Aristotle in 3.5 identi fies the 'agent intellect' with the divine intellect. Thus, everything Aristotle has to say about the human intellect is contained mainly in 3.4, though Aristotle returns to its treatment in 3.6. In contrast to this ancient interpretation, a more recent view holds that the divine intellect is not the subject of 3.5 and that throughout the work Aristotle is analyzing the nature of the human intellect. But this view contends that the properties Aristotle deduces for this intellect, properties that have encouraged the view that Aristotle must be speaking about a divine intellect, are in fact to be discounted or interpreted in such a way that they do not indicate the immortality and immateriality of the human intellect. In this article I argue that close attention to the text and the sequence of argument supports the conclusion that Aristotle is speaking throughout De Anima of a uni fied human intellect, possessed of the properties Aristotle explicitly attributes to it. This intellect functions diff erently when it is and when it is not separate from the hylomorphic composite. I argue further that it is Aristotle's view that if we were not ideally or essentially intellects, we could not engage in the diverse cognitive activities of this composite.

In: Phronesis
Author: Lloyd P. Gerson

In his highly influential 1928 article ‘The Parmenides of Plato and the Origin of the Neoplatonic “One”,’ E.R. Dodds argued, inter alia, that among the so-called Neoplatonists Plotinus was the first to interpret Plato’s Parmenides in terms of the distinctive three ‘hypostases’, One, Intellect, and Soul. Dodds argued that this interpretation was embraced and extensively developed by Proclus, among others. In this paper, I argue that although Plotinus took Parmenides to contain a sort of outline of the true metaphysical principles, he understood the One of the first hypothesis of the second part of the dialogue in a way importantly different from the way that Proclus understood it. The characterization of this One, especially its identity with the Idea of the Good of Republic, has significant ramification for Plotinus’ philosophy that set it apart from Proclus’ philosophy in ways hitherto infrequently noted. The widely accepted reasons for rejecting Proclus’ interpretation do not apply to the interpretation of Plotinus. The two different interpretations help explain why Proclus’ notorious proliferation of entities in the intelligible realm is not found in Plotinus.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
In: Méthexis
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy