In their pioneering, masterly research and survey on Bartolomeo Fonzio’s manuscripts, published in 1974, Stefano Caroti and Stefano Zamponi informed the reader that the Ms. Ricc. 152 of the Riccardiana Library in Florence was a huge amount of notebooks with notes taken by Fonzio while attending the Studium in Florence. Among them Caroti and Zamponi called the reader’s attention to the notes Fonzio took when he went to Argyropoulos’ lessons on the Posterior Analytics. In this essay the reader finds a (...) transcription of those notes, preceded by some comments on the sources from which the outstanding commentator is likely to have drawn and which can be picked out from the fragmentary notes, that is John Philoponus and Paul of Venice. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine three significant periods of the cosmological argument which exemplify the importance of contestation: first, Plato’s and Aristotle’s formulation of it, second, Philoponus’ own reactions and influence, third, the contemporary state of such discourses. Contestation has an inestimable role in philosophical development and reflection, as will be demonstrated through the examination of such periods.
This paper lists and examines the explicit references to Aristotle’s Topics in the Greek Neoplatonic commentaries on the Categories. The references to the Topics by Porphyry, Dexippus, Ammonius, Simplicius, Olympiodorus, Philoponus and David are listed according the usual prolegomena to Aristotle’s works. In particular, the paper reconstructs David ’s original thesis about the proponents of the title Pre-Topics for the Categories and compares Ammonius’, Simplicius’ and Olympiodorus’ doxographies about the postpraedicamenta. Moreover, the study identifies two general trends. The first one (...) is that all the commentators after Proclus share the same general view about: the authenticity of the Topics, Aristotle’s writing style in them, the part of philosophy to which they belong, their purpose, their usefulness and their place in the reading order. The second one is that whereas Porphyry, Dexippus and Simplicius use the Topics as an aid to understanding the Categories, Ammonius, Olympiodorus and David do not. (shrink)
The Prior and Posterior Analytics were entitled Ta Analutika by Aristotle himself. But it is not at all clear what Aristotle had in mind in grouping these two works together and in giving them this common title. This question was discussed at length by the ancient Greek commentators on Aristotle. Two main possibilities emerged. The first is that taken by Alexander of Aphrodisias, Ammonius, and Philoponus in his commentary on APr. According to this line of thought, Aristotle has in mind (...) the analysis that shows how a complex arises out of simple entities; both Analytics show us how to subject all lines of syllogistic reasoning (including demonstration) to such analysis. According to the second approach, found in the commentary on APo., 2 attributed to Philoponus, in giving APo., 2 the title 'Analytics' Aristotle has in mind the analysis that reasons from effects to causes. Demonstrations reveal the causes of things, and APo., 2 shows how this is the case. In this paper, the two approaches are compared, and a third approach, which builds on the second, but allows 'Analytics' to have a continuity of sense in its use as a title, is proposed. (shrink)
Aristotle's Physics 1.4-9 explores a range of questions about the basic structure of reality, the nature of prime matter, the principles of change, the relation between form and matter, and the issue of whether things can come into being out of nothing, and if so, in what sense that is true. Philoponus' commentaries do not merely report and explain Aristotle and the other thinkers whom Aristotle is discussing. They are also the philosophical work of an independent thinker in the Neoplatonic (...) tradition. Philoponus has his own, occasionally idiosyncratic, views on a number of important issues, and he sometimes disagrees with other teachers whose views he has encountered perhaps in written texts and in oral delivery. A number of distinctive passages of philosophical importance occur in this part of Book 1, in which we see Philoponus at work on issues in physics and cosmology, as well as logic and metaphysics. This volume contains an English translation of Philoponus' commentary, as well as a detailed introduction, commentary notes and a bibliography. (shrink)
Aristotle's account of place in terms of an innermost limit of a containing body was to generate serious discussion and controvery among Aristotle's later commentators, especially when it was applied to the cosmos as a whole. The problem was that since there is nothing outside of the cosmos that could contain it, the cosmos apparently could not have a place according to Aristotle's definition; however, if the cosmos does not have a place, then it is not clear that it could (...) move, but it was thought to move, namely, in its daily revolution, which was viewed as a kind of natural locomotion and so required the cosmos to have a place. The study briefly outlines Aristotle's account of place and then considers its fate, particularly with respect to the cosmos and its motion, at the hands of later commentators. To this end, it begins with Theophrastus' puzzles concerning Aristotle's account of place, and how later Greek commentators, such as Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius and others, attempted to address these problems in what can only be described as ad hoc ways. It then considers Philoponus' exploitation of these problems as a means to replace Aristotle's account of place with his own account of place understood in terms of extension. The study concludes with the Arabic Neoplatonizing Aristotelian Avicenna and his novel introduction of a new category of motion, namely, motion in the category of position. Briefly, Avicenna denies that the cosmos has a place, and so claims that it moves not with respect to place, but with respect to position. (shrink)
In this, the first half of Philoponus' analysis of book one of "Aristotle's Physics", the principal themes are metaphysical. Aristotle's opening chapter in the "Physics" is an abstract reflection on methodology for the investigation of nature, 'physics'. Aristotle suggests that one must proceed from things that are familiar but vague, and derive more precise but less obvious principles to constitute genuine knowledge. His controversial claim that this is to progress from the universal to the more particular occasions extensive apologetic exegesis, (...) typical of Philoponus' meticulous and somewhat pedantic method. Philoponus explains away the apparent conflict between the 'didactic method' (unavoidable in physics) and the strict demonstrative method described in the "Analytics". After 20 pages on chapter 1, Philoponus devotes the remaining 66 pages to Aristotle's objections to two major Presocratic thinkers, Parmenides and Melissus. Aristotle included these thinkers as an aside, because they were not engaged in physics, but in questioning the very basis of physics. Philoponus investigates Aristotle's claims about the relation between a science and its axioms, explores alternative ways of formalising Aristotle's refutation of Eleatic monism and provides a sustained critique of Aristotle's analysis of the Eleatics' purported mistakes about unity and being. (shrink)
Aristotle’s On generation and corruption raises a vital question: how is mixture, or what we would now call chemical combination, possible? It also offers an outline of a solution to the problem and a set of criteria that a successful solution must meet. Understanding Aristotle’s solution and developing a viable peripatetic theory of chemical combination has been a source of controversy over the last two millennia. We describe seven criteria a peripatetic theory of mixture must satisfy: uniformity, recoverability, potentiality, equilibrium, (...) alteration, incompleteness, and the ability to distinguish mixture from generation, corruption, juxtaposition, augmentation, and alteration. After surveying the theories of Philoponus (d. 574), Avicenna(d. 1037), Averroes (d. 1198), and John M. Cooper (fl. circa2000), we argue for the merits of Richard Rufus of Cornwall’s theory. Rufus (fl. 1231–1256) was a little known scholastic philosopher who became a Franciscan theologian in 1238, after teaching Aristotelian natural philosophy as a secular master in Paris. Lecturing on Aristotle’s De generatione et corruptione, around the year 1235, he offered his students a solution to the problem of mixture that we believe satisfies Aristotle’s seven criteria. # 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
The dissertation is a case study of the thesis of the Neoplatonist commentators that Aristotle's philosophy was in basic harmony with Plato's. The cases examined are the surviving Greek commentaries on Aristotle's Categories authored by Porphyry, Dexippus, Ammonius, Simplicius, Philoponus, Olympiodorus, and David. The Categories was the traditional introduction to a systematic reading of Aristotle's works; it is also blatantly anti-Platonist: if it could be shown to be harmonious with Plato's philosophy, Aristotle's other works could more easily be accommodated. ;The (...) crucial move in the commentators' harmonization is set out in the dissertation's introductory chapter: how their determination of the intended theme of the Categories permits them to construe Aristotle's listed categories not as ontological, and so in competition with Platonist summa genera, but as semantic of the derivatively real material world. The second chapter notes that the commentators' conceptions of homonymy includes a relationship between intelligibles and sensibles according to which terms for sensibles receive their meaning because they signify that which derives both ontological determination and meaning from intelligible exemplars. It then takes up the commentators' treatment of issues of ontological dependence: how form is in matter; whether accidents are separable from one particular subject; and whether the last six categories are derivative from relationships among the first four. The third chapter shows that only Dexippus and Porphyry apud Dexippum demonstrate that the emanation of the sensible from the intelligible is parallel in Platonism and in Aristotle. Our other commentators either claim a looser parallelism between Plato and Aristotle or simply presume this parallelism. The fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters investigate how, and with what consistency, each of the commentators views each of the three categories of quantity, relatives, and quality as the building blocks of the sensible world. The fifth chapter also confirms Conti's thesis, not taken seriously since Luna's objections, that the commentators anticipate the modern notion of relation as a polyadic function. A final chapter examines the appropriateness of stopping the survey of the commentaries on the ninth chapter of a fifteen-chapter work. (shrink)
These papers, arising from a 1983 conference on one of the last and most acute Neoplatonist commentators on Aristotle, a Christian later condemned for his monophysitism and tritheism, focus on the arguments in which he objects to tenets of Aristotle's philosophy of nature, notably on the eternity of the world and the natures of place and projectile motion.
For a true Platonist the nature of the soul is, in a sense, unproblematic. So too is its status. It is an immaterial entity, with all the attributes that that entails, and it is independent of any body with which it might, from time to time, be associated. And yet this extreme dualism must be modified in some way or other, if any account is to be given of the life and activities of a man, or any other living thing, (...) at least some of which require a body for their exercise. The problems that produced are notorious. The purpose of this paper is to explore how some of them were formulated by one Platonist, John Philoponus of Alexandria, and some of the ways in which he attempted to solve them. (shrink)