Ancient Philosophy
and the Classical Tradition

A Journal of the Centre for Ancient Philosophy
and the Classical Tradition

ISSN 1995-4328 (Print) ISSN 1995-4336 (Online)


Androniki Kalogiratou
Olympic Centre of Philosophy and Culture, Athens
Language: English
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 383–400
Keywords: Human behavior, freedom, free choice and determinism, suicide, psychology
Abstract. There is a question to be answered if one is to grasp the function of suicide in the Plotinian universe and its connection to the subject matters of soul, incarnation, murder and killing living beings. How far does the body exist as a degenerative trait? Could the purpose of embodying a soul purify it and to what extent does the particular use of it by an individual soul point towards its ability to uncover hidden potentiality or simply makes it an instrument of self-destruction and self-alienation? Our view of Plotinus’ philosophy and its significance depends upon how we chose to solve this puzzle. Although Plotinus ultimately changed his attitude on suicide in Ennead 1.4.46 as compared to Ennead 1.9.16, the concept appears under three basic guises in his philosophy. One is the more traditional notion that we have today, whether given a choice to remain or to leave the body, the soul should remain? Beyond that, Plotinus enriches our view of suicide with two further notions: One is the idea of soul’s incarnation as an involuntary suicide, committed in the rush to attain matter. Finally there is the notion of suicide in the form of murder or killing a living being or plant. Killing another living being would be like attempting suicide: killing a part of the one unified, single soul to which we also partake. The difference between Plotinus and later Neoplatonists, of which Damascius was one, is that the latter won’t allow for the absolute detachment of the soul from the body, while the body is still alive. It thus becomes impossible for the soul of the prospective wise man, to venture completely into the positive nothingness of the Ineffable, because the soul is always bound to the body, and that results in its inability to escort its own self, so as to say, into that which is total nothingness and alien to the soul.

Yiorgo N. Maniatis
Hellenic Open University
Language: English
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 401–415
Keywords: Philolaus, Pythagoreanism, cosmology, universe, astronomy, astrophysics
Abstract. In this work, first, I reexamine the pyrocentric universe of the Pythagorean, Philolaus, who emphatically propounded that the center of the cosmos is neither the earth nor the sun, but a central fiery hearth that stands in the middle of the spherical universe. Second, I attempt to demonstrate the value and significance of this pyrocentric cosmic model by elaborating its novel revolutionary elements and its contribution to astronomy. Third, by underlining the diachroneity and timeliness of this cosmic model, I try to establish as to how the model served as a precursor to not only the ancient and modern heliocentric models, as widely believed, but also as much to the contemporary cosmic models and theories of astrophysics.

Dominic O’Meara
Fribourg University, Switzerland
Language: Russian
Translator: Alexey Kamenskikh
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 416–432
Keywords: Metaphysics, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Syrianus, Proclus, Damascius
Abstract. The paper discusses the development of metaphysics understood as a philosophical discipline or science. I would like to propose that the last period of Greek philosophy, that going from about the 3rd to the 6th centuries A.D., made new and interesting contributions to metaphysics as a philosophical discipline, indeed made metaphysics into a metaphysical science, while also bringing out the limits of such a science. The paper has four parts. In part I, I introduce the way in which the great Aristotelian commentator of the early 3rd century, Alexander of Aphrodisias, in interpreting Aristotle's metaphysical treatise, sought to find in it a metaphysical science. In part II of the paper, I attempt to show how the Neoplatonist philosopher of the early 5th century Syrianus, not only adopted Alexander's reading of Aristotle, but was also inspired by it in finding this same metaphysical science already in Plato. In part III of the paper, I will show how all of this resulted in a masterpiece of metaphysics, the Elements of Theology written by Syrianus' pupil Proclus. Finally, in part IV, I would like to refer to what is perhaps the last great metaphysical work of Greek philosophy, the Treatise on First Principles written by Damascius, a work in which the limits of metaphysical science are explored with extraordinary subtlety and insistence. In adapting Alexander's formalization of Aristotelian metaphysical science to Platonism, Syrianus knew that such a science was a means towards, not the equivalent of, knowledge of the transcendent. Proclus knew it too, even if his Elements of Theology, in presenting metaphysical science with such systematic beauty, could give the impression of being a definitive statement. And, lest we have any illusions about the adequacy of our metaphysical science, Damascius could cure us of these, opening our minds to what lay behind, or above, our own metaphysical efforts.

Luc Brisson
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Language: Russian
Translator: Eugene V. Afonasin
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 433–444
Keywords: Stoicism, Platonism, first principles, soul, the doctrine of logos
Abstract. The universe is the result of a production that pertains not to craft, but to nature. This production does not involve either reasoning or concepts, but is the result of a power that acts on matter like an imprint. The Intellect transmits the intelligible forms it harbors, to the hypostasis Soul, where they become rational formulas (logoi). The hypostasis Soul then transmits these rational formulas to the world soul, which produces animate and inanimate beings, as if it had been ordered to do so. Yet since it is the lower part of the soul of the world that is responsible for these productions, its action, which depends on reasons that do not hold the first rank and are drawn from itself, manifests inferior quality, which explains imperfection and the presence of evil in the sensible universe, despite its government by Providence.

Alexey Kamenskikh
Perm State University, Russia
Language: Russian
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 445–449
Keywords: Judaism, Platonism, Gnosticism, the phenomenology of consiousness
Abstract. The article concerns the problems of “categorical interpretation” of matrimonial images of the Old Testament by Philo of Alexandria. The author proposes that Philo perceived female images as objectivated aspects of corresponding types of mind (represented by male images), draws parallels between this concept and the dialectic of emanation in Platonism, and proposes some analogies with Gnostic teaching about syzygies.

Andrey Shetnikov
ΣΙΓΜΑ. The Centre of Educational Projects, Novosibirsk, Russia
Language: Russian
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 450–465
Keywords: Arithmetic, dialectics, music, ancient science
Abstract. The paper concerns the concept of number (arithmos), important for dialectical method of later Plato. It becomes clear that the arithmos in Plato’s dialectics should be understood as a concrete operation, a sort of tekhne, such as counting, enumeration, compilation of a comprehensive and systematic list, etc., rather then the theoretical number of abstract arithmetic. The author analyses a series of grammatical, musical and rhetorical examples, supplied by Plato in the Philebus and other dialogues, and traces the usage of arithmos and similar words in the earlier tradition, particularly, in Homer, Hesiod, the classical tragedy, and Herodotus.


Andrey Shetnikov
ΣΙΓΜΑ. The Centre of Educational Projects, Novosibirsk, Russia
Language: Russian
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 466–558
Keywords: Scientific manual, Greek science, introductions, arithmetic, music, astronomy
Abstract. The introductory manual by Theon of Smyrna (ca. 70–ca. 135), a Greek mathematician, strongly influenced by the Neo-Pythagorean school of thought, is now translated into the Russian for the first time. The purpose of Theon is to provide the reader interested in Plato with necessary aids, useful for understanding scientific background of Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy. In its present form the treatise deals with arithmetic and numerology (book I, section 1), musical theory (book I, section 2), and astronomy (book II). For other Neo-Pythagorean works in a new Russian translation (esp. these by Nicomachus of Gerasa) see the previous issue of ΣΧΟΛΗ, especially dedicated to the subject.

Eugene Afonasin
Novosibirsk State University, Institute of philosophy and law, Russia
Language: Russian
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 3.2 (2009) 559–611
Keywords: Early Greek science, the philosophy of nature, the history of medicine
Abstract. The publication is dedicated to Diogenes of Apollonia, the "last Presocratic cosmologist" (fl. 440-430 B.C.E). Building upon the great edition by André Laks (1983, 22008) it contains a Russian translation and commentaries on the few extant fragments of Diogenes’ writing(s?) and more extensive ancient testimonia about his life and teachings. The main body of the publication comprises the fragments, doxographical testimonia and doubtful testimonia. The texts are arranged according to the principles proposed by A. Laks and differ from what we find in Diels-Kranz both in terms of their order and their content, with a few new pieces of evidence added and the context of the fragments and testimonia considerably expanded. The first section contains Fragments 1-12 (three more than in Diels-Kranz). Doxographical testimonia are subdivided in 1. Biographical evidence (T[estimonia] 1 a,b,c); 2. The principle (T 2-4); 3. Life and consciousness (T 5-14); 4. Semen and embryo (T 15-20); 5. The Universe (T 21-36), and Dubia (S 1-5). Variant doxographical testimonia (those by Ps.-Plutarch, Stobaeus, Ps.-Galen, etc.) are usually quoted in full and discussed at some length in the commentary. The paper contains Appendices (I. Diogenes Laertius, Vita philosophorum IX, 57; II. Simplicius on Diogenes; and III. Anatomical views of Diogenes) and Index locorum. The publication will be useful for specialists in ancient cosmology, medicine, and other areas of early philosophy and science, as well as researchers with an interest in doxography.

ΣΧΟΛΗ, Vol. 3, Issue 2, complete text

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