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6280Re: [neoplatonism] A Pythagorean homily on the Posterior Analytics

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  • Goya
    Apr 22, 2014
      I suspect that al -‘adad al-mustawiy in fact renders the Greek for plane
      numbers (epipedoi arithmoi), cf. Plato Theaetetus 147dff.; Euclid VII,
      Def. 16. Yet this would make the statement that four is the first plane
      number strange, since Plato says the first plane number is three.

      Don't know whether what we have here is a "homily", but it looks like
      Nicomachean arithmetic is being used to comment on Aristotle in a very
      interesting way. The whole topic of the four questions of APO II and their
      metamorphoses in Greek, Latin, Syriac and Arabic is fascinating.

      Best, Mike

      > I have been asked by a colleague to have a look at the opening chapter of
      > Isaac Israeli’s book on fevers. The chapter deals with epistemology,
      > based mainly on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, to which specific
      > reference is made. The author is the same person about whom Alexander
      > Altmann and S.M. Stern published a book under the title “Isaac Israeli:
      > A Neoplatonic Philosopher of the Early Tenth Century”, and his
      > interpretation of some passages from Aristotle, which I can only describe
      > as odd, may come from a neoplatonic or neopythagorean tradition, which is
      > why I am posting this query.
      > Aristotle opens book II with his famous list of four inquiries that are
      > made in science. He begins with a statement that the number of inquiries
      > is equal in number to the things to be learned. It is important to
      > emphasize that Aristotle says “equal in number” (isa ton arithmon),
      > because Israeli’s disquisition is built upon “number”, more
      > specifically in his reading, “an equivalent number” (al-‘adad
      > al-mustawiy, which likely is based on some variant in the Greek or maybe
      > Syriac text), “equivalent” meaning here “square”, that is, the
      > product of two numbers which are equal to each other. This then explains
      > why there are four inquiries. Israeli then responds to a hypothetical
      > objection, that one could have said there are nine or sixteen inquiries;
      > the answer is that four is the first square number.
      > Israeli’s direct quote of Aristotle’s opening sentence is unlike any
      > of the known translations or recensions, now conveniently laid out for us
      > by Riccardo Strobino in Oriens 40 (2012), pp. 367-368 (the paper can be
      > downloaded from PhilPapers) ; only Averroes, in his middle commentary,
      > reproduces Aristotle’s arithmon (Arabic ‘adad). Is this a Pythagorean
      > homily on Aristotle? Or have I completely misunderstood?
      > Thanks in advance,
      > Tzvi

      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76
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