Cleary discusses the origin, development, and use of the many senses of priority as a central thesis in Aristotle’s metaphysics. Cleary contends that one of the most revealing problems for the ambiguity of Aristotle’s relationship to Platonism is that of the ontological status of mathematical objects. In support of his claim, Cleary analyzes a curious passage from Aristotle’s _Topics, _where he appears to accept a schema of priorities that makes mathematical entities more substantial than sensible things. How does Aristotle try (...) to reconcile the ordering of things dictated by sciences like mathematics and dialectic with the ordering of sense experience upon which his own physics and metaphysics are based? To find the answer, Cleary reviews three different outlines of the many senses of priority given by Aristotle himself and found in _Categories _12-13, _Metaphysics _Delta 11, and _Metaphysics _Theta 8. Cleary suggests there is an implicit hierarchy for Aristotle that leads him to posit the Prime Mover at its apex as complete actuality and, therefore, as the focus for the concept of priority. Having reviewed Aristotle’s treatment of the many uses of priority, Cleary demonstrates how the concept is used in some typical arguments by Aristotle for his mature metaphysical positions. (shrink)
John J. Cleary was an internationally recognised authority in ancient Greek philosophy. This volume of penetrating studies of Plato, Aristotle, and Proclus, philosophy of mathematics, and ancient theories of education, display Cleary’s range of expertise and originality of approach.
This volume contains papers originally presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during 2005-6. Of the seven colloquia, two deal with topics in Neoplatonism, four are dedicated to Aristotle’s ethics and metaphysics, and one to Plato’s Republic.
MODERN ARISTOTELIAN SCHOLARSHIP is heavily indebted to the German scholars of the nineteenth century who produced the Berlin Academy editions of Aristotle's corpus and of his Greek commentators. The foundations for this massive project were laid around the middle of the century by people like Schwegler, who edited and commented on Aristotle's Metaphysics. Yet, while acknowledging our debt to such exemplary scholarship, I want to cast doubt on one of his proposed emendations to Metaphysics 6.1, which influenced later editors like (...) W. D. Ross and Werner Jaeger. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, it is argued that Poppers understanding of Platos notion of freedom is fundamentally flawed because he begins with the unexamined assumptions of modern liberalism. Subsequently, in the second section, it is shown through philological analysis that the ancient notion of freedom must be understood primarily in terms of a social and political condition that is the opposite of slavery or of living under a tyranny. Finally, the third section of the paper considers Platos (...) criticism of the demotic notion of freedom, as well as the dialectical strategy through which he subsumes it under his aristocratic ideal of freedom as rational self-control. (shrink)
I examine one aspect of the central role which mathematics plays in Proclus's ontology and epistemology, with particular reference to his Elements of Theology. I focus on his peculiar views about the ontological status of mathematical objects and the special faculties of the soul that are involved in understanding them. If they are merely abstract objects that are "stripped away" from sensible things, then they are unlikely to reorient the mind towards the intelligible realm, as envisioned by Plato in the (...) Republic. Thus, in order to defend the function of mathematics as a prodaideutic to dialectic, Proclus rejects Aristotelian abstractionism in favor of an elaborate account in terms of Nous projecting images of its Forms through the medium of the imagination. In metaphorical terms, he replaces the Aristotelian image of the soul as a blank tablet with that of a tablet that has always been inscribed and is always writing itself, while also being written on by Nous. The mediating function of mathematics for understanding the higher realities is grounded in the fact that its central principles of Limit and Unlimited have a universal provenance in Proclus's whole system of reality. (shrink)