Damascius' Problems and Solutions Concerning First by Sara Ahbel-Rappe

By Sara Ahbel-Rappe

Damascius was once head of the Neoplatonist academy in Athens while the Emperor Justinian close its doorways perpetually in 529. His paintings, Problems and suggestions bearing on First Principles, is the final surviving self reliant philosophical treatise from the past due Academy. Its survey of Neoplatonist metaphysics, dialogue of transcendence, and compendium of past due old theologies, make it exact between all extant works of overdue vintage philosophy. It hasn't ever ahead of been translated into English.

The difficulties and Solutions indicates a thorough?going critique of Proclean metaphysics, beginning with the primary that every one that exists proceeds from a unmarried reason, continuing to critique the Proclean triadic view of procession and throwback, and seriously undermining the prestige of highbrow reversion in setting up being because the intelligible item. Damascius investigates the inner contradictions lurking in the idea of descent as an entire, exhibiting that similarity of reason and impact is vitiated in relation to processions the place one order (e.g. mind) provides upward push to a wholly varied order (e.g. soul).

Neoplatonism as a speculative metaphysics posits the single because the unique or extopic explanans for plurality, conceived as speedy, current at hand, and consequently requiring clarification. Damascius shifts the viewpoint of his metaphysics: he struggles to create a metaphysical discourse that incorporates, insofar as language is adequate, the last word precept of truth. in any case, how coherent is a metaphysical process that bases itself at the Ineffable as a primary precept? rather than developing an aim ontology, Damascius writes ever aware of the constraints of dialectic, and of the pitfalls and snares inherent within the very constitution of metaphysical discourse.

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Extra info for Damascius' Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles (Aar Religions in Translation)

Sample text

Moreover, the PH is of a piece with late-antique hagiography, which employed stock themes and motifs to describe its subjects. As a result, it is hard to know how much of the PH involves anything like a factual description of events in Damascius’ lifetime. A similar difficulty applies to the “Lives” of Porphyry and Marinus, so no one of these texts can be a measure for the others. The PH is also a pilgrimage narrative that records a form of spiritual tourism. 36 As sightseer, observer of lands, shrines, and customs, the sage embarks on hazardous or arduous journeys to distant realms.

Isidore’s soul is the subject of the PH: “flying down from the vault of heaven, it attached itself to life on earth” (5b). Again, the same theme emerges in 5c: “I thought that he was shouting as he descended into generation, ‘I have arrived here from a better place’” (5c, Athanassiadi 1999a). The class of soul that Damascius is referring to here can be identified with that which “descends for the salvation, purification, and perfection of this realm,” discussed by Iamblichus in his De Anima (fragment 29).

As Athanassiadi suggests, it could well be that Damascius felt compelled to write this appreciation of his own teacher Isidore on receiving the diadochia, both to clarify what the function and significance of this office was for his tradition and to pay back his own debt of gratitude for the generosity of his teacher. It should be noted that Trabatonni and Combès also agree with this interpretation. Trabatonni (1985, 86–87) sees the work as a programmatic manifesto directed toward mobilizing the pagan community at Athens.

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