The Ancient Commentators on Plato and Aristotle by Miira Tuominen

By Miira Tuominen

The learn of the traditional commentators has constructed significantly during the last few a long time, fueled by means of contemporary translations in their frequently daunting writings. This booklet bargains the one concise, obtainable common advent at present to be had to the writings of the past due historical commentators on Aristotle and, to a lesser volume, Plato. Miira Tuominen offers a old assessment by way of a sequence of thematic chapters on epistemology, technology and good judgment, physics, psychology, metaphysics, and ethics. particularly, she specializes in the writings of Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, Porphyry, Proclus, Philoponus, and Simplicius. till lately, the overdue old commentators were understood regularly as resources of knowledge about the masters upon whose works they remark. This publication bargains new insights into their manner of doing philosophy of their personal right.

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In that context, some cosmological issues are raised, such as whether the universe is eternal or whether it has a beginning. For the ancient commentators, the soul as the general principle of life and psychic functions such as perception and intellectual understanding was, in general, a part of nature or an important explanatory principle in nature. In our discussion of how the soul was used to explain psychic life we shall concentrate on two important functions: perception and intellectual apprehension.

The name derives from Porphyry’s organization of Plotinus’ writings into six groups, each of which contains nine treatises. To achieve the order, Porphyry had to cut some treatises into pieces. This occasionally results in an artificial order and groups of texts in the Enneads, but the general ordering principles are sufficiently clear. Group I contains writings on ethics, groups II–III on natural philosophy and cosmology, group IV concerns soul, V intellect and VI being in general and the highest principle the One.

Therefore, it could not be taken for granted that perceptions do provide us with knowledge. The debates concerning the reliability of the senses will be discussed in § “Arguments against perceptual relativism or subjectivism”, below. As to the question of how knowledge should be defined, we already mentioned Plato’s Theaetetus, the main ancient treatise on the theme. Apart from this dialogue, the question remained somewhat in the background in the ancient discussions. Aristotle does make a casual remark according to which epistēmē is always with an account (meta logou; APo.

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