e-book Studies on Plato, Aristotle and Proclus: The Collected Essays on Ancient Philosophy of John J. Cleary

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Tarrant, Harold, and Dirk Baltzly, eds.

Book Summary / Abstract

London: Bloomsbury Academic, Bloomsbury Collections. Accessed September 23, Email x Reading Plato in Antiquity Abstract This important collection of original essays is the first to concentrate on how the ancients responded to the challenge of reading and interpreting Plato, primarily between BC and AD Share x. Book DOI Front matter Full Text Access Contributors pp. Full Text Access Acknowledgements pp. Pedantry and Pedestrianism?

John J. Cleary (Author of 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Faustina Kowalska)

Apuleius on the Platonic Gods John F. Finamore pp. Some reflections on the Middle Platonic commentary tradition , John Dillon 3. Apuleius on the Platonic gods, John F. Finamore 4.

Platonists on the origin of evil, John Phillips 6. The doctrine of the degrees of virtues in the Neoplatonists: an analysis of Porphyry's Sentence , its antecedents, and its heritage, Luc Brisson 8.

Reading Plato in Antiquity

The mathematics of justice , Hayden W. Ausland 9. Proclus as a reader of Plato's Timaeus, John J. Cleary But as he himself notes, Frege was a Platonist. So, how are we to understand Aristotle's Platonism in mathematics over against his rejection of Form- Numbers? The crux of the problem seems to be that unlike ordinary second-order accidental attributes which are transitively predicable of their subjects, the properties of mathematical objects—both geometrical and arithmetic—are not obviously properties of bodies. This seems to give them an independence that a Platonist would gladly embrace but an anti-Platonist would abhor.

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Over against Plato's mathematization of metaphysics, the power of Aristotle's objections in books M and N of Metaphysics needs to be carefully evaluated. Cleary makes some important steps in this direction, both in his monograph and here, especially in his account of Proclus' philosophy of mathematics.


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Proclus is both a constructivist and a Platonic realist. What enables him to combine these two positions is that he sees constructivism in us as a reflection of an eternal intellect cognitively identical with all the mathematical truths there are. The last section of papers is the most disparate. I found the paper on Aristotle's division of the theoretical sciences particularly valuable.

The problem Cleary sets for himself is how Aristotle's threefold division of theoretical science—physics, mathematics, and theology—can be reconciled with Aristotle's anti-Platonic ontology. He wishes to contest the claim of Philip Merlan that the threefold division is a sort of leftover from Plato's division of ontology into Forms, mathematicals, and sensibles. Cleary acknowledges the identity of the science of theology with the science of being qua being, arguing that, nonetheless, they differ formally in their objects.

Philosophy of the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle

Theology studies substance as the primary mode of being, specifically the divine as the purest kind of substance. But this science is also the science of being qua being because this science is concerned with all being, whether pure or impure. Cleary argues that theology is ontology because the nature of being is better revealed therein.

This, though, does not it seems to me answer the next obvious question which is why the nature of being is thus better revealed.


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That is, the causality of the primary in relation to all else is crucial, although Cleary insists that this causality can only be final. The answer to this question would seem to be that this works only if the primary and unique primary referent of 'being' is the perfectly actual substance that the unmoved mover is.


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  7. So this primary referent is not a kind of substance, as Cleary has it. This would suggest, as indeed Aristotle insists, that, were the objects studied in theology not to exist, then primary philosophy would be physics.

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    That is, a science of being qua being would not be possible. As I write this, I realize yet again and even more forcefully than I did upon hearing of his death, that I will never again have the very considerable pleasure of debating these points with John Cleary.

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    His was a fully engaged mind, still available to us in this very substantial collection of papers. Post a Comment.