Scepticism in the Sixth Century? Damascius' Doubts and Solutions Concerning First Principles

Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (3):337-363 (1998)
Abstract
Scepticism in the Sixth Century? Damascius' Doubts and Solutions Concerning First Principles SARA RAPPE THE Doubts and Solutions Concerning First Principles, an aporetic work of the sixth century Neoplatonist Damascius, is distinguished above all by its dialectical subtlety. Although the Doubts and Solutions belongs to the commentary tradi- tion on Plato's Parmenides, its structure and method make it in many ways unique among such exegetical works. The treatise positions itself, at least in part, as a response to Proclus' metaphysical system. Thus the first principles alluded to in its title refer to a metaphysical structure consisting of five central elements, the Ineffable, the One, and the Noetic Triad, which Damascius both adumbrates in opposition to Proclus' as well as subjects to his own, internal critique. In this article, I will be asking whether or not Damascius' critique of Neoplatonic metaphysics is informed or inspired by ancient Scepticism. No doubt this question catches the reader off guard: if the last exponent of an- cient Scepticism is Sextus Empiricus, how could this sixth-century Neo- platonist Scholarch, the last officially appointed Platonic Successor, revert to a tradition that seemingly disappears for well over three centuries? ~ In what ~As is well known, Damascius modifies Proclus' own exposition of the Parmenidean hypothe- ses, positing a first principle to which he gives the title ~the Ineffable." For those interested in a..
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