In The Neoplatonic Socrates, leading scholars in classics and philosophy address this gap by examining Neoplatonic attitudes toward the Socratic method, Socratic love, Socrates's divine mission and moral example, and the much-debated issue of moral rectitude. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Socrates for the majority of Neoplatonists, a point that has often been questioned owing to the comparative neglect of surviving commentaries on the Alcibiades, Gorgias, Phaedo, and Phaedrus, in favor of dialogues dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues. Supplemented with (...) a contextualizing introduction and a substantial appendix detailing where evidence for Socrates can be found in the extant literature, The Neoplatonic Socrates makes a clear case for the significant place Socrates held in the education and philosophy of late antiquity. (shrink)
The publication of a new text on ancient philosophy tends to be an exciting event, but there can be years between discovery and availability. This is an extreme case. Raymond Klibansky discovered the text in 1949 and transcribed it, making it available to friends who were under an obligation not to anticipate his publication of it—which failed to happen. It contains summaries, of very different lengths, of the doctrinal content of thirteen Platonic dialogues. I saw the transcription of this so-called (...) Epitome, or Compendiosa Expositio as it may be more accurately called, in 1998, and have done so subsequently. Yet, without much indication of date, its use would be limited. Found in an Apuleius manuscript, it... (shrink)
In this international and interdisciplinary collection of critical essays, distinguished contributors examine a crucial premise of traditional readings of Plato's dialogues: that Plato's own doctrines and arguments can be read off the statements made in the dialogues by Socrates and other leading characters. The authors argue in general and with reference to specific dialogues, that no character should be taken to be Plato's mouthpiece. This is essential reading for students and scholars of Plato.
In the first half of the first century BC the Academy of Athens broke up in disarray. From the wreckage of the semi-sceptical school there arose the new dogmatic philosophy of Antiochus, synthesised from Stoicism and Platonism, and the hardline Pyrrhonist scepticism of Aenesidemus. With his extensive knowledge of the ways in which Plato was read and invoked as an authority in late antiquity Dr Tarrant builds a most impressive reconstruction of Philo of Larissa's brand of Platonism and of its (...) arrival in Middle Platonism, particularly that of Plutarch, long after the Academy's institutional demise. Particularly valuable is his exploitation for this purpose of a text barely discussed since its publication 80 years ago - a commentary on Plato's Theaetetus whose unidentified author Dr Tarrant has cogently argued to be a follower of Philo, perhaps Eudorus of Alexandra. Among many other achievements, Dr Tarrant throws much light on the relation of Aenesideman scepticism to the Academy. (shrink)
La tradition herméneutique concernant les Catégories d’Aristote remonte à Eudore et à ses contemporains du premier siècle av. J.-C. Pour interpréter ce texte difficile, il faut que les disciples de Platon considèrent quelques problèmes nouveaux de la dialectique. Les critiques d’Eudore manifestent le désir d’un ordre rigoureux, et elles posent des questions auxquelles la tradition herméneutique, culminant dans le magnifique commentaire de Simplicius, tentera de répondre. Le projet critique d’Eudore ne nous permet pas de parler d’un «ennemi d’Aristote», ni de (...) «polémique», mais on y voit bien pourquoi il préférait être reconnu comme un «académicien» plutôt qu’un péripatéticien. (shrink)
The study of the dialectic between philosophy and religion in antiquity informs us about how religion was conceived and how philosophers contributed to the development of religious thinking. We review the philosophy and religion dialectic from the end of the sixth century BCE to the second century CE, focusing more on theology, mythology, and personal religious experience, than on cult practices of polis and oikos. In general, philosophers accepted that conventional religion had an essential place in Greek culture. Competition arose (...) rather where concepts and assumptions underlying religious practice appeared to conflict with reason. Such competition has been viewed in terms of antagonism between philosophy and religion. In this chapter, we stress the interrelation of philosophy and religion, paying special attention to how some philosophers incorporated religious thought into their own views. In the case of Plato, this inevitably also includes the incorporation of religious practice and experience. We begin by reviewing the supposed opposition between philosophy and religion, in order to put into question the very distinction it presupposes. This is followed by more detailed case studies that show philosophy and religion in closer proximity. We focus on Xenophanes, Plato, and later Platonism, on the grounds that these reveal the most pertinent interactions between religious culture and philosophical thinking. (shrink)
Readers of the early dialogues of Plato may soon feel that his Socrates proceeds methodically towards the ultimate embarrassment of his verbal wrestling-partners. Several recurrent tactics are easily identified, giving credence to claims that Socrates has a method. As Aristotle saw, he demanded universal definitions and he employed epagōgē. He elicited from an interlocutor whose belief he would question certain other beliefs, seemingly more fundamental, entailing the contradiction of the original belief. He flattered, hassled, cajoled, and criticized. He employed his (...) own recurrent themes, presented in a positive light, so as to undermine others. More fundamentally, he pursued philosophy neither in solitary meditation, nor out among the masses, but on a one-to-one basis,following an argument through with one individual at a time, as if the nature of philosophy demanded that it be practiced dialogically. (shrink)
Julius Tomin has recently questioned the new orthodoxy, stemming from Burnyeat's impressive article, that Socratic midwifery is not genuinely Socratic. I understand that many will feel the need to question Burnyeat's position, but I am unhappy that Aristophanes' comedy has once again been thought to give support to the view that Socrates had been known as an intellectual midwife. Thus my response will concentrate on our understanding of Clouds, and in particular on the key passage at 135ff.
This detailed commentary of Gellius' accounts of his teacher Taurus reconstructs the picture of this Middle Platonic philosopher as teacher and man and conveys interesting insights into the practice of philosophical teaching in the second century A.D. A collection of all testimonies and fragments of Taurus is added.
This paper is about an aspect of philosophic life, showing, in the case of one Platonic dialogue in particular, that the texts that later Platonists employed in a quasi-scriptural capacity could influence their lives in important ways. The Cratylus was seen as addressing the question of how names could be regarded as 'correct', raising the role of the name-giver to the level of the law-giver. It begins with the question of how a personal name could be correct. The ancient text (...) that offers us most evidence of the philosophic manipulation of proper names is Porphyry's Life of Plotinus, which makes it quite clear that the revision of individuals' names, and in particular the giving of a Greek name to those of non-Greek origins, had become a regular practice. The name, it seems, was intended to capture something of the actual nature of the individual in question. There is evidence that the practice goes back to the age of Lucian, and specifically to the circle of Numenius, whose own name is also that of a bird. His religious dialogue Hoopoe suggests that there was something special in bird-names; Lucian's Gallus reincarnates Pythagoras as a bird, while his Death of Peregrinus has the eponymous sham philosopher ultimately adopting a bird-name too. Curiously, the final name that Porphyry bears also closely recalls the name of a bird. This may be explained as the apt naming of one who rose to the highest philosophic vision in accordance with the 'flight of the mind' passage in Plato's Phaedrus. (shrink)