The paper examines in some detail Ficino’s relation to the concept of λόγοι σπερματικοί, literally ‘seminal reasons’, discussed in his Ancient and Christian sources. The concept was used metaphysically to indicate the links between species in matter and ideas in mind but its connotations made it useful for embryological discussion. Ficino supposes that the World Soul producing specific forms and powers of lower things makes them through her own seminal reasons, which remain in touchwith celestial and supercelestial entities. It is probably Plotinus who legitimates Ficino’s use of the concept of seminal reasons, although historically, it is a concept of Stoicism. Employing ‘seeds’ as a metaphor for ideas, Plotinus strongly criticizes the Stoic concept of seminal reasons, according to which seminal formative principles are corporeal and immanent to the things. Ficino’s use of embryological metaphors and direct analogies between the action of generating force in the human body and inthe ‘body’ of the world serves to explain how a purely intelligible essence (the World Soul) produces material things. However, Plotinus, in contrast to Ficino, never gives such detailed attention to the discussion of the purely material conditions of conception, such as the combination of moisture and heat. Peripathetic natural philosophyand the natural philosophy of Proclus provide a more adequate background for the medical and astrological reasoning in some parts of Ficino’s De vita. In the paper, I arguethat the ‘seminal reasons’ as metaphysical intermediaries should be related to other well-known metaphysical intermediaries in Ficino’s philosophy (spiritus, vis, virtus).
Gregory of Nyssa in his Against Eunomius cites a fragment of Eunomius’ Apology on Apology, where Eunomius speaks of “greater and lesser” activities, claiming that the works of the Son and the Holy Spirit are inferior to those of the Father, while the works of the Spirit are inferior to those of the Son. However, discussing this quotation, Gregory misinterprets Eunomius’ own words. He reads Eunomius as if he applied the principle of “the more and the less” not to the activities but to the substances of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. I argue that this is not what Eunomius actually wrote. Appealing to testimonies from the Thesaurus by Cyril of Alexandria, I show that the two opponents (Gregory of Nyssa and Eunomius) used the same Aristotelian position, which prohibits the application of the principle of “the more and the less” to the category of substance, in order to argue against each other.
The article examines the origin of the philosophical myth of the cave cited in Cicero’s dialogue De natura deorum (2.95–96) and attempts to interpret this text. Cicero argues that the author of the myth is Aristotle, but does not mention the title of the work containing it. It is generally believed that the myth of the cave was articulated in Aristotle’s lost dialogue Περὶ φιλοσοφίας, but the absence of any hints at the image of the cave, both in Aristotle’s own surviving texts and in those of his commentators, raises questions about the appropriate attribution of this fragment. Regardless of the way that these issues are to be resolved, the very content of the fragment deserves attention, since it reflects in nuce the Platonic and Aristotelian doctrine of knowledge, world and divinity refracted through the optics of Cicero’s eclecticism. This article attempts to show 1) that there are a number of correspondences (semantic and factual) between some texts of Corpus Aristotelicum and this fragment, which allow us to accept the hypothesis of the Aristotelian “cave myth” as plausible, 2) that a number of details in the Aristotelian myth deliberately follow in the footsteps of the Platonic myth of the cave — which serves a polemical purpose, which, in turn, supports 3) that the Aristotelian myth is a reflection of his teachings during the Academia period.
The Platonic interpretation of the Metamorphoses and of the tale of Cupid and Psyche has a long tradition. Indeed, the speaking names of the characters and distinctive plots of both the novel and the tale may prompt one to “expose” a Platonic inspiration of the author. But we try to demonstrate that Platonic allusions in Apuleius do not intend to “mask” a presentation of the established Platonic teachings. Apuleius treats Platonic samples as a ground to plant his own crops. His novel affirms the novelty of its own. A tower at the entrance to the robbers’ cave which penetrates into the tale narrated inside the cave by the hag acts as a living creature. This image may serve as a key to reveal a new, more than just referential function of the images derived from Plato. Apuleius presents a non-Platonic vision of the art: the fictional narrative per se proves to be a way to the beauty and the divine.
The question of the “beginnings” of philosophy in Greece is inseparable from that of the nature of philosophy itself and its relation to wisdom, science, and even religion. When it comes to the so-called “Presocratics”, a clear demarcation of these notions is not possible. M.M. Sassi depicts the multidimensional process of knowledge differentiation, doing justice to its complexity and non-linear character. However, the reviewer believes that this task is somewhat hindered by the author’s reliance on Aristotle’s doxography. For instance, although the reviewer agrees with Sassi’s construal of Metaph. Α.3, 984a1-3, it is argued that this passage is not a sufficient ground for naming Thales “the father of philosophy” alongside Aristotle. Of course, whether we do so or not depends on whether we decide to apply the anachronistic term “philosophy” to the early Greek thinkers, which many scholars now believe we are justified in doing. It is argued, however, that such a move inevitably leads to an aprioristic definition of philosophy in terms of either “rationalism” or “naturalism” (or both). Within such a perspective, other aspects of the early Greek thought, even if expertly and benevolently presented by Sassi in connection with Parmenides and Empedocles, turn out to be philosophically irrelevant.
The article raises the question of the relation of the receptacle to time in the Timaeus. If eternity is the essential characteristic of the forms, and time — of the world, then what is the temporal status of the receptacle? On the one hand, it exists before the creation of the cosmos, i.e., out of time. On the other hand, it is opposite to the model, i.e., cannot be eternal. In this case, Plato’s philosophy leaves room for something other, third, besides eternity and time. It is argued, that Plato’s discussion of a strange instantaneousness (τὸ ἐξαίφνης) in the Parmenides can shed light on this third temporal status. In the article, first, I criticize the possibility of describing the receptacle in terms of eternity (at least in the same sense as the eternity of the forms is understood). Second, I consider the semantics of the word ἐξαίφνης in various dialogues of Plato and analyze the role of the concept τὸ ἐξαίφνης in the Parmenides. Third, I give reasons why it is possible to use the Parmenides’ argument about instantaneousness in the discussion of the receptacle in the Timaeus. Finally, I explain the role of the instantaneousness of the receptacle in the system of the Timaeus.
In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Wittgenstein wrote that the sense of the world must lie outside the world. This metaposition has called Wittgenstein’s Platonism, which postulated transcendent view. Basis for the rapprochement of Plato and Wittgenstein attitudes are: problem of generality, hierarchical ontology and the notion of ‘logical form’. Platonism has been considered as a sign of earlier Wittgenstein, but now many scholars insist on Platonism as characteristic of Wittgenstein’s thought in general, that provokes heated disputes.
Rhetoric is one of the key themes of Plato’s Phaedrus. In the second part of the dialogue Socrates refers to rhetoric as psychagogy (soul-leading). The notion of psychagogia initially designated the process of conjuring souls from the Underworld to the world of the living. Outside the magical context psychagogy could refer to a set of poetical and rhetorical devices necessary for persuading an audience. This paper deals with a number of texts exemplifying various aspects of psychagogy in antiquity: psychagogy as a necromantic ritual in tragedy; the description of the power of logos in ritual terms by Gorgias in the Encomium of Helen; rhetorical psychagogy in Isocrates and Aristotle; psychagogy in the Timaeus and the Laws; the image of Socrates as psychagogos (soul-leader) in Aristophanes’ Birds. This analysis yields a nuanced understanding of the term in Plato’s Phaedrus, and enables us to provide an interpretion of the whole dialogue as an example of psychagogy. By transposing the notion of psychagogy from the ritual realm to the philosophical, Plato reestablishes its meaning as the practice of soul-leading in the soul’s ascent to truth.
In recent decades, there was a surge of interest in Neoplatonic natural philosophy, in particular with regard to theoretical medicine. The principles of the Neoplatonic embryological theory were formulated in addition to the well-known embryological theories in the Corpus Hippocraticum, Galen and Aristotle. This theory is based on a number of metaphysical principles describing the triad of remaining – procession – reversion. Bearing in mind the binary nature of parental roles, this theory renders a relatively greater importance to the “mother” — as the actualizing principle for the passive nature, identified with the teleological order in the generation of the offspring’s body parts. The teleological order is the “father’s” contribution to the embryogenesis, and is transmitted along with his semen. The Neoplatonic embryological theory aims to show the commonality of metaphysical principles for the formation of creatures at different levels of the universe, from abiogenesis to intelligent creatures. At the same time, recent studies of the medical humanism of the Renaissance have shown its influence on the disciplinary field dealing with nature and man. The embryological treatise De virtute formativa by Nicolò Leoniceno is the paradigmatic work in this tradition. Leoniceno was driven by strong anti-Arabism and a steadfast love for Greek sources. The title of the treatise refers to the central concept of Galen’s embryological theory. However, Leoniceno significantly expands the discussion context and the range of texts which are relevant to embryology. By introducing a new level of work with the Greek primary sources, he abundantly quotes Simplicius and Themistius, thereby transmitting the Neoplatonic embryological theory.
In Theaetetus (145a–148a), Plato brings up Theaetetus’ retelling of a lesson by Theodorus of Cyrene, in which the latter demonstrated the incommensurability of the sides of squares containing three, five, and up to seventeen square feet with the side of one square foot. In this paper, we analyse modern scholarly attempts to reconstruct the exact content of the lesson. Our understanding of the fifth-century mathematics in general (and the early Pythagorean one in particular) may vary significantly depending on which methodology Theodorus actually used.
The publication presents a commented Russian translation of chapters 1–7, with the Proem, of the first book of the treatise De vita (1489) by Marsilio Ficino, the most prominent philosopher of Florentine Neoplatonism. The translator’s introduction supplies a brief overview of the structure, history and significance of the treatise, as well as the present state of research on Ficino’s philosophy.
The article is devoted to European metaphysics as “a sort of war about the nature of essence” (“litigation over the nature of essence”) initiated by Parmenides’ thesis about Being ("that Is" (ὅπως ἐστίν); B 2.3). However, the proto–concept of Parmenides implicitly contains three concepts: the Being (das Sein), the One and the Beings (das Seiende). Plato takes the next step in the development of metaphysics. He distinguishes in the proto–concept of Parmenides between the concepts the Being and the One: the One corresponds to the subject of proposition and the Being corresponds to the predicate proposition of Parmenides’ thesis. On this basis, Plato develops (see Plato’s second ‘hypothesis’ in dialogue "Parmenides") a special type of ontology — the predicative (attributive) ontology, or the ontology of properties.
The article examines the key ideas of Sarah Broadie’s book Nature and Divinity in Plato's Timaeus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) in the context of contemporary studies of Plato's Timaeus. Following the examination of the basic framework of the book, an analysis of Broadie’s theoretical, methodological and meta-theoretical settings is presented. The reflection on these settings, as the author shows, plays an important role for the reconstruction of the meaning and the image of the dialogue.
The article considers the anthropological ideas of Marsilio Ficino who was the most prominent representative of the Renaissance Platonism of the 15th century. The influence of the metaphysical distinction between material and intelligible levels of the universe on the description of human body is analyzed. It is shown that Ficino, using the exegetical tools available to him for the interpretation of Platonists, sought to distinguish between "subtle" and "gross" materiality. Due to a didactic orientation of Ficino’s thought, his reasoning always contains moral-theological and epistemological connotations: for instance, "gross" materiality is associated with evil, but "subtle" one, on the contrary, leads the philosopher to good and to the true knowledge of things. To prove this thesis, the medical and demonological works of Ficino are analyzed, as well as the studies of the related topics in Neoplatonism that was the most important source for the Ficino’s anthropology. An appendix gives a translation into Russian and a commentary on the fragment of the dialogue "De daemonibus" which was considered by Ficino to be a work of Michael Psellos.
In Ficino’s epistle De Platonica philosophi natura, institutione, actione, the Latin concept magnanimitas is used in paraphrases of Plato’s Republic (6, 485 sq.), which makes its equivalence to the Greek μεγαλοπρέπεια quite clear. I argue that ‘greatness of mind’ would be a more accurate translation for this concept than ‘magnanimity’. Ficino claims that the ‘greatness of mind’, along with sharp insight and tenacious memory, are innate abilities, ‘gifts of nature’ necessary for producing a man of virtues, that is, a Platonic philosopher. A further study of how Ficino presents the constitution of a soul appropriate for a philosophical life shows that by the ‘greatness of mind’ in the epistle he means not moral virtue in relation to other people but a strong focus on knowledge of the highest things. This aspiration for the highest level of knowledge is not just a trope bidding for rhetorical persuasiveness, but an expression of a spatial aspect of Platonic metaphysics, which should be taken literally: the schematization and geometrization of reality is perfectly clear, e.g., in Plato’s Timaeus. Thus, it is not surprising that Ficino emphasizes the etymology of the terms magnanimus and magnanimitas to point out that aim towards the ‘highest’ is constitutive for a Platonic philosopher. He actualizes the physical and spatial semantics of the word magnus, signifying something great in size, vast, possessing great force. I argue that, in Ficino’s philosophical language, the gap between descriptions of the material, metaphysical and ethical entities is eliminated. The paper also offers a commented Russian translation of Ficino’s epistle De Platonica philosophi natura, institutione, actione.
In this study we will question the conventional view that historical Socrates had no connection with Pythagoreanism. However, an experienced reader of Plato would notice that Socrates in Plato recites Pythagorean ideas. It has been commonly regarded as Plato’s way of expressing his own sympathies. In this paper Aristophanes’ The Clouds are considered as an independent source for establishing Socrates’ relation to Pythagoreanism. A closer reading of The Clouds alongside with the Phaedo shows that there are several intersection points between the two images of Socrates. First, Aristophanes’ mundane view of Socratics as half-dead beggars was criticized by Socrates in the Phaedo for its blindness to the philosophical understanding of death: a true philosopher may look dead to the many, yet in fact he or she is more alive than anyone. Second, Socrates and his students in The Clouds form an esoteric Pythagorean-like circle, which resembles the image of philosophy as an initiation in the Phaedo, where philosophers are called Bacchants, who enter the realm of Gods in the afterlife. Third, Socrates' natural philosophy in The Clouds is similar to that of the young Socrates in the Phaedo. On the basis of this evidence we assert that Socrates of The Clouds and of the Phaedo are in many respects the same Socrates. Since most of this evidence portrays Socrates as a Pythagorean, the acquaintance of historical Socrates with Pythagoreanism seems not completely improbable. Moreover, word by word parallels in the works of Plato and Aristophanes shows that Plato consciously refers to the image of Socrates in Aristophanes. Conclusion: while the idea of Socrates the Pythagorean did not become part of the currently accepted history of philosophy, since The Clouds were mostly interpreted as a slander of Socrates with no historical value, the sources provide an opportunity to reconsider the existing status quaestionis.
Phaedo 69bc is the only place in the dialogue where the relation of φρόνησις to ἀρετή is considered, but the exact nature of this relation has remained obscure. Some commentators find here the key to the well-known “Socratic paradox” (“virtue is knowledge”), others note that the same sentence seem to treat φρόνησις as a means to virtue. However, a close reading of the passage does not enable to extract this Socratic doctrine from the text: φρόνησις is neither identical to virtue, nor should be “exchanged” for it. However, virtue is indeed dependent on φρόνησις. In terms of the metaphor, the true ἀρετή is the exchange of X for Y itself, where X = pleasures, pains etc., and Y = φρόνησις. It is the process, not the result. Such reading removes the apparent contradiction between the economic and the religious metaphor, for the latter treats φρόνησις as καθαρμός and ἀρετή as κάθαρσις.