Partly in preparation for an online workshop I’m leading this Saturday, I’ve been continuing to think about the ways that philosophers have conceived of, and divided, the parts of our discipline. I’ve written about this question from the perspective of the Stoics and other Hellenistic schools, and considered the ways that philosophers in India have conceived of the parts of a philosophical system (darśana).
In this post, I’ll turn to the Platonists of Alexandria, and specifically, to two texts entitled “Introduction to Philosophy.”
Continue reading “The Parts of Philosophy (in Alexandrian Platonism, and beyond)”
One of our most useful texts on Neoplatonist ethics is a commentary on the Handbook of Epictetus, written by Simplicius, one of the last Athenian Platonists, who was exiled together with Damascius and the other philosophers in 529.
Commenting on §30 of the Handbook, in which Epictetus explains how “the appropriate actions for us to do are usually measured out for us by our relations,” Simplicius offers a framework for classifying relations, and an extended discussion of friendship, as situated within that framework. It’s worth noting that Epictetus himself doesn’t mention friendship at all within §30. For Epictetus, this section deals with how to correctly apply our power of choice (prohairesis) to “natural” relations between human beings. §31 of the Handbook deals with our relations to the Gods, and only in §32 (in the context of the appropriate use of divination!) does Epictetus himself get around to mentioning friendship.
Simplicius classifies relations along three axes:
Continue reading “Choosing our Relations: Simplicius on Friendship”
After two years of reading Neoplatonic commentaries, and some of the more helpful scholarly literature, I decided last month that it was finally time to tackle Proclus’ Elements of Theology. I figure that if I study and meditate on one proposition every morning, I can work my way through the entire text by about the Summer Solstice. This is the first of an occasional series of posts, reflecting on that intellectual journey.
Continue reading “Proclus: Providence & Participation”