Two treatises on memory which have come down to us from antiquity are Aristotle’s “On memory and recollection” and Plotinus’ “On perception and memory” ; the latter also wrote at length about memory in his “Problems connected with the soul”. In both authors memory is treated as a ‘modest’ faculty: both authors assume the existence of a persistent subject to whom memory belongs; and basic cognitive capacities are assumed on which memory depends. In particular, both theories use phantasia to explain (...) memory. Aristotle takes representations to be changes in concrete living things which arise from actual perception. To be connected to the original perception the representation has to be taken as a copy of the original experience ‑ this is the way Aristotle defines memory at the end of his investigation. Plotinus does not define memory: he is concerned with the question of what remembers. This is of course the soul, which goes through different stages of incarnation and disincarnation. Since the disembodied soul can remember, so he does not have Aristotle’s resources for explaining the continued presence of representations as changes in the concrete thing. Instead, he thinks that when acquiring a memory we acquire a capacity in respect of the object of the memory, namely to make it present at a later time. (shrink)
In Menciusiia6 all humans are said to have ‘a heart that does not bear the suffering of others’. I argue that this statement is illustrated, rather than proven, by the example of our reaction to a child about to fall into a well. This illustration can be located at the most basic level of ethical universals : basic ethical training; further steps in a ladder of reflection are universal reflection on ethical norms themselves, which may finally be related universally to (...) non‐ethical concerns. (shrink)
Ren in the Lunyu is often taken to be virtue; if virtue is taken to be excellence as performing a function, as Plato understands it, this is not persuasive. Nor is it easy to show how ren encompasses or implies all other virtues. Ren is furthermore ambiguous—it is used both in a wide sense and specifically as benevolence; in fact there are at least six accounts of what ren is in the Lunyu. This ambiguity cannot be made harmless by use (...) of speech act theory, since commands, for example, require satisfaction conditions for them to be comprehensible. I conclude on a skeptical note: how ren is to be understood as virtue, if at all, remains unclear. (shrink)
The volume presents essays on the philosophical explanation of the relationship between body and soul in antiquity from the Presocratics to Galen. The title of the volume alludes to a phrase found in Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, referring to aspects of living behaviour involving both body and soul, and is a commonplace in ancient philosophy, dealt with in very different ways by different authors.