Plato and Aristotle in Agreement: The Neoplatonist Commentaries on Aristotle's "Categories"

Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin (1993)

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
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