The Commentary on Plato's Parmenides by Proclus is the most important extant document on the interpretation of this enigmatic dialogue in antiquity, and has had a crucial influence on all subsequent readings. In Proclus' Commentary, the Parmenides provides the argumentative and conceptual framework for a scientific theology wherein all mythological discourse about the gods can be integrated. Its exposition was therefore the culmination of the curriculum of the Platonic school. This theological reading of the Parmenides persisted, through the medium of (...) Ficino, until the nineteenth century. Previously this important text was only accessible in the edition of V. Cousin. This new critical edition is based on an exhaustive study of both the Greek tradition and the medieval Latin translation. (shrink)
Although the treatise presented here is most interesting, it was never widely disseminated. As far as we know, it is preserved only in Latin, in one manuscript. The text poses many questions. Who produced a copy of the text? Who is the translator? Is the treatise a genuine work of Averroes? And if so, what was his intention in writing this monograph on the First Cause?
IN THE DISCUSSION on education in the Republic, Socrates lays down the principles which those who speak about the gods must follow if they want to avoid the errors of traditional mythology. The first typos of this rational theology is this: "God is the cause, not of all things, but only of the good." For "God, being good, cannot be responsible for everything happening in our life, as is commonly believed, but only for a small part. For we have a (...) far smaller share of good than of evil, and while God must be held to be the sole cause of good, we must look for some other factors than God as cause of the evil." Rightly celebrated, this passage has set the agenda for ages of reflection in Western thought on the cause of evil. In contrast to traditional mythology where the gods are seen as the origin of both good and evil--as Homer says, "Zeus has two jars standing on the floor of his palace, full of fates, good in one and evil in the other"--the divinity is now freed of all responsibility for evil. God, who is entirely good, can only be the cause of well-being. If this answer sets God free of all responsibility for evil, it seems to be at the cost of limiting God's power: for God is no longer responsible for "most things in human life," since most of them are evil. What, then, may be the cause or causes of evil? Do bad things have a cause? Or do they just happen? Plato's formulation seems to suggest that he favours a dualistic solution to the problem of evil: God is the cause of all good, but for evil we have to find other causes. What could those causes be: matter, cosmic necessity, an evil soul? Various answers of this type were developed in later Platonism and in later mythological philosophies. Without denying that Plato often uses a dualistic discourse and uses elements of it in his cosmology, I do think that Plato had something different in mind. After all, he was not primarily interested in the problem of theodicy. For in this passage of the Republic, he is not concerned with the problem of evil in the universe as a whole, which is really the theodicy question, but with evil in "human life," that is, evil insofar as human beings experience it and suffer from it: the fact that we are not at all living well but are instead miserable and unhappy. (shrink)
How can evil exist in a world governed by providence? That is the main question addressed in this chapter. To answer it, the author first sets out Proclus’ defence of providence, which combines the gods’ transcendence with their sharing goodness. The next step is to show that despite providence, evils have reality as well. There is, however, no substance or principle of evil, and only human and irrational souls and material bodies are susceptible to it. Evil’s having a ‘parhypostasis’ is (...) explained as its existing upon and alongside real existents; uncaused because a result of weakness, not power; not pure privation because parasitic on good existents, and hence a ‘subcontrary’ of the good. Finally, the author returns to the relation between providence and evil, showing that bodily evil fits the good of the universe, and that providence will punish evil souls in due course. (shrink)
Throws light on the particular renewal of the theological and philosophical tradition which Henry of Ghent brought about and elucidates various aspects of his metaphysics and epistemology ethics, and theology.
The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity comprises over forty specially comissioned essays by experts on the philosophy of the period 200-800 C.E. Designed as a successor to The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy , it takes into account some forty years of scholarship since the publication of that volume. The contributors examine philosophy as it entered literature, science and religion, and offer new and extensive assessments of philosophers who until recently have been mostly ignored. (...) The volume also includes a complete digest of all philosophical works known to have been written during this period. It will be an invaluable resource for all those interested in this rich and still emerging field. (shrink)
Ambrosianus B 165 sup., a 14th-cent. Constantinopolitan manuscript containing Proclus' In Parmenidem, was once owned by the Cardinal Bessarion, who has read, corrected and annotated the text with remarkable care. In this contribution, we provide an analysis of Bessarion's work on this manuscript, thus offering a case-study of his philological method. We also discuss some quotations from this text in Bessarion's works, which testify to the importance of his knowledge of Proclus for his own writings. In addition, Bessarion's Greek scholia (...) on books II and III of Proclus' commentary are edited here for the first time. (shrink)
The volumes of the 'Symposium Aristotelicum' have become the obligatory reference works for all studies on Aristotle. In this eighteenth volume a distinguished group of scholars offers a chapter-by-chapter study of the first book of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Book Alpha is not just a fundamental text for reconstructing the early history of Greek philosophy; it sets the agenda for Aristotle's own project of wisdom after what he had learned from his predecessors. The volume comprises eleven chapters, each dealing with a different (...) section of the text, a new edition of the Greek text, based on an exhaustive examination of the complex manuscript and indirect tradition, and an introduction which offers new insights into the relation between the two divergent traditions of the text. (shrink)
The volumes of the 'Symposium Aristotelicum' have become the obligatory reference works for all studies on Aristotle. In this eighteenth volume a distinguished group of scholars offers a chapter-by-chapter study of the first book of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Aristotle presents here his philosophical project as a search for wisdom, which is found in the knowledge of the first principles allowing us to explain whatever exists. As he shows, the earlier philosophers had been seeking such a wisdom, though they had divergent views (...) on what these first principles were. Before Aristotle sets out his own views, he offers a critical examination of his predecessors' views, ending up with a lengthy discussion of Plato's doctrine of the Forms. Book Alpha is not just a fundamental text for reconstructing the early history of Greek philosophy; it sets the agenda for Aristotle's own project of wisdom after what he had learned from his predecessors. (shrink)
Wie sich die Augen der Nachteule zum Tageslicht verhalten, so die Vernunft unserer Seele zu dem was, seiner Natur nach am offenbarsten ist. Dieser Vergleich des Aristoteles am Anfang der Metaphysik hat in der mittelalterlichen Philosophie Anlass gegeben zu verschiedenen Interpretationen. Was hier zur Diskussion steht, ist die Frage, ob dem Menschen eine Erkenntnis dessen moglich ist, was sich der sinnlichen Wahrnehmung entzieht. Kann der Geist, der mit dem Korper verbunden ist, die substantiae separatae erkennen, die ersten Ursachen dieser Welt, (...) die selbst diese physische Ordnung uberschreiten. Es ist die scholastische Version der modernen Frage nach der Moglichkeit der Metaphysik. In dieser Lectio Albertina untersucht Carlos Steel am Beispiel der Interpretation des Nachtvogel-Gleichnisses, wie unterschiedlich Thomas und Albert die Frage nach der erkenntnistheoretischen Grundlage der Metaphysik beantwortet haben. Die Differenz zwischen beide Positionen wird auch die spatere Diskussion bis in die Renaissance kennzeichen. (shrink)
The Commentary on Plato's Parmenides by Proclus is the most important extant document on the interpretation of this enigmatic dialogue, and has had a crucial influence on all subsequent readings. In Proclus' Commentary, the Parmenides provides the argumentative and conceptual framework for a scientific theology wherein all mythological discourse about the gods can be integrated. Its exposition was therefore the culmination of the curriculum of the Platonic school. This theological reading of the Parmenides persisted, through the medium of Ficino, until (...) the nineteenth century. Previously this important text was only accessible in the edition of V. Cousin. This new critical edition is based on an exhaustive study of both the Greek tradition and the medieval Latin translation. This volume contains Books IV and V. (shrink)
The centenary of the Louvain Institute of Philosophy (which was founded to contribute to a renewal of philosophy within the Christian community „by adhering as closely as possible to the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas”) is the occasion for a critical examination of the particular form of Thomism developed by Désiré Mercier, the first president of the Institute. In Mercier's view, the appeal to Thomas can not be a submission to tradition or authority. Since philosophy is always a personal, free, rational (...) investigation, the only reason for adhering to a certain doctrine, is its intrinsic philosophical value. The mean argument for preferring Thomas „in philosophicis” is the fact that he „combines observation and rational-speculation, analysis and synthesis”, whereby all empirical facts are integrated and made intelligible in a larger metaphysical frame. By so doing Thomas avoids the extremes of empiricism, which leads to materialism, and idealism, which goes hand in hand with dualistic spiritualism. One may doubt whether this is a good characteristic of the „essence of Thomism”. However, Mercier follows Thomas, not so much for any original doctrine, but because he best represents the great scholastic tradition starting from Aristotle. This tradition should not be admired as an ideal of perfection that cannot be improved upon, but should be further developed and renewed, especially by integrating the achievements of modern experimental investigations within it. (Besides the sciences, we should expect not too much from modern philosophy, except in the discussion of the „critical problem”). Mercier thus bases his philosophical option for Thomism on his judgment that it better than any other philosophy offers a metaphysical synthesis within which the investigations of the modern sciences can be integrated, while at the same time being in concordance with the Christian view on man and world. However, when one studies the Thomism as elaborated in Mercier's manuals, it turns out that his attempt at integration fails. For there is no intrinsic link between the scientific findings he considers and the philosophical theses he develops. Herein lies the inherent weakness of the neo-scholastic construction as it was advocated by Mercier. When one defends Thomism by arguing that it offers a „comprehensive synthesis of all knowledge”', and at the same time one stresses the autonomy of scientific inquiry without apologetic intentions, one can expect that as these sciences develop, there will also arise the need for new conceptual schemes and new philosophical models which better fit these new findings. At that moment Thomistic doctrine also seems to fall away as a superfluous superstructure. One can argue that Mercier too easily understood philosophy as a „natural complement” of the sciences and that for that reason he could not really succeed in renewing Thomism. Most neothomists will try to base their option for Thomas upon the originality of his metaphysics. But this search for the „essence of Thomism” is problematic. At the end of the paper it is argued that no intrinsic philosophical arguments can be given for a normative preference for Thomas. The demand to philosophize „ad mentem Thomae” only makes sense when the relation of reason to faith is considered. As É. Gilson has shown, most neothomists were reluctant to develop this argument, except in a negative way : to argue for the autonomy of their philosophical (thomistic) arguments (although they were, in fact, motivated by a religious interest). (shrink)