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Iamblichus' Theology

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  • vaeringjar
    I may have already posted on this, but here goes again anyway. I can t find anything relevant in the old messages, at either group. To try to keep this simple
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 12, 2006
      I may have already posted on this, but here goes again anyway. I
      can't find anything relevant in the old messages, at either group.

      To try to keep this simple - which it unfortunately isn't really: we
      have the fully developed theology seen in Proclus and Damascius, but
      likely put in place by Syrianus, of the levels (not including the
      realm of the One itself) of intelligible gods, intelligible-
      intellectual gods, intellectual gods, hypercosmic, hypercosmic-
      encosmic, encosmic, and then on down lower. I believe it's Dodds in
      his edition of Proclus' ET who says depending on the focus,
      metaphysical or theological, that this hierarchy could be telescoped
      back down to four levels, leaving out the intermediate, bridging
      levels of intelligible-intellectual and hypercosmic-encosmic. But
      anyone familiar with Proclus' in Tim, PT and ET know Proclus often
      looks at the theological side of things. (I have never pursued this
      in Syrianus himself or Damascius, so I am concentrating here mostly
      on how Proclus represents all this as evidence for the later, full-
      blown system.)

      What I am struggling with is exactly how much of this did Iamblichus
      already have in place. We know from the DM and fragments of his
      Timaeus commentary he certainly had hypercosmic and encosmic levels,
      and from his other writing on the Speech of Zeus in the Timaeus that
      he clearly had also gone to the same developed intelligible,
      intelligible-intellectual, and intellectual levels. We also know from
      Sallustius that he had hypercosmic and encosmic, and - assuming
      Sallustius really is representing Iamblichus faithfully - he gives a
      breakdown of 12 gods at the encosmic level, in groups of 4, including
      Zeus, Poseidon and Hephaistus as demiurgic.

      But what is curious is that I cannot find anything anywhere to shed
      any light on exactly which gods Iamblichus set at the hypercosmic
      level. We already appear to have from him two Zeus's - one as the
      demiurge at the intellectual level (and Hermias criticizes Iamblichus
      for associating this Zeus with the hegemonic Zeus of the Phaedrus,
      but - maddeningly - does not give any more information about
      Iamblichus' hierarchy), and the one at the encosmic level described
      by Sallustius. It does appear that the hypercosmic-encosmic level
      give in Proclus corresponds, for what it's worth, to Iamblichus'
      encosmic level given by Sallust (yet no ancient source actually
      points this out explicitly, as far as I know - it's just a modern
      inference gained by comparing the two levels, god by god, to see that
      they are equivalent), but this still leaves a rather gaping hole at
      what would be Iamblichus' hypercosmic level.

      Is it safe, though, I wonder, to assume that Iamblichus also had
      reduplicated the Olympians in some fashion at the hypercosmic level
      as Proclus (or rather Syrianus?) had, which in Proclus includes the
      highest triad being Zeus, Pluto, and Poseidon (as opposed to Zeus,
      Poseidon and Hephaistos at the next lower hypercosmic-encosmic
      level)? I can find no evidence that Iamblichus did actually formulate
      the hypercosmic level this way, in fact as I said nothing at all
      anywhere about how he saw it. Implicit in all this is that
      hypercosmic level is absolutely distinct from the the next level up,
      the noetic-noeric realm with its intelligible, intelligible-
      intellectual, and intellectual levels, in Iamblichus, just as it
      clearly is in Proclus.

      But it seems to me there is already a point of interest with Hermias'
      criticism, in that, if the representation of Sallustius is correct,
      and there is an Iamblichean encosmic Zeus, that there is more
      confirmation in addition to the evidence of Sallustius that
      Iamblichus indeed already had posited two different Zeus' - one as
      the higher demiurge, at the intellectual level, and the encosmic one.
      It's the higher one that Hermias complains that Iamblichus associated
      with the Zeus of the Phaedrus. I guess we can infer from this that
      Iamblichus had a choice then of at least two "Zeuses" (yikes!) from
      which to choose one to associate with the Zeus of the Phaedrus - else
      why criticize him for making the wrong association? Unless Hermias
      merely meant that Iamblichus' demiurgic Zeus just should not be
      associated with the Zeus of the Phaedrus at all. But unfortunately
      this point still doesn't help ellucidate how Iamblichus viewed the
      hypercosmic level.

      Any help and thoughts MOST gladly accepted, as usual.

      Dennis Clark
      Issaquah
    • a b
      In Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Cratylus 10.11 there’s the following sentence : Eti de kai ton onomaton exonton eidos kai hylin, kata men to eidos
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 12, 2006
        In Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Cratylus 10.11
        there’s the following sentence :

        "Eti de kai ton onomaton exonton eidos kai hylin,
        kata men to eidos mallon toy physei metechousi, kata
        de thn hylin mallon toy thesei"

        What exactly Proclus has in mind when he says that
        the names consist of form (eidos ) and matter ( hyle)
        and that “eidos” is related to “physei” and “hyle”
        is related to “thesei” ?

        Any comments or thoughts will be mostly appreciated.

        Thanks and regards,

        George


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      • vaeringjar
        ... I suspect this entry in LSJ for thesis is helpful here - arbitrary determination, esp. in dat. thesei, ta onomata mê th. genesthai Epicur.Ep. 1p.27U. ;
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 13, 2006
          --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, a b <ath98xyz@...> wrote:
          >
          > In Proclus' Commentary on Plato's Cratylus 10.11
          > there's the following sentence :
          >
          > "Eti de kai ton onomaton exonton eidos kai hylin,
          > kata men to eidos mallon toy physei metechousi, kata
          > de thn hylin mallon toy thesei"
          >
          > What exactly Proclus has in mind when he says that
          > the names consist of form (eidos ) and matter ( hyle)
          > and that "eidos" is related to "physei" and "hyle"
          > is related to "thesei" ?
          >
          > Any comments or thoughts will be mostly appreciated.
          >
          > Thanks and regards,
          >
          > George
          >
          >

          I suspect this entry in LSJ for "thesis" is helpful here -

          arbitrary determination, esp. in dat. thesei, ta onomata mê th.
          genesthai Epicur.Ep. 1p.27U. ; opp. phusei, Chrysipp.Stoic.3.76,
          Str.2.3.7, etc.; ta th. dikaia, nomima, Ph.1.50, 112; sêmainein th.
          S.E.P.2.256.

          Note the example from Epicurus also in connection with onomate, and
          the one from Chyrsippus giving "phusei" as an opposing term
          to "thesei", "naturally" as opposed to "arbitrarily". Though it's not
          clear to me what is arbitrary about matter. Though to me "thesis"
          rather implies someone intervening, and matter as a receptacle hardly
          would seem to bring to mind any kind of intervention, rather in fact
          the imposing of a form or "eidos" to me sounds more like a "thesis",
          so I don't really follow Proclus here. I would like to see more of
          the context of this passage too, but I am at work now and don't have
          access to this text.

          Does he really give "hulin" and not "hulen"? And "tou physei"
          and "tou thesei"? The articles are in the genitive here?

          Dennis Clark
          Issaquah
        • Michael Chase
          ... M.C. Proclus gives us a bit of help a little further on : ὁ δὲ Σωκράτης κατὰ τὸ τέταρ- τον σημαινόμενον λέγει
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 13, 2006
            On Oct 12, 2006, at 11:45 PM, a b wrote:

            > In Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Cratylus 10.11
            > there’s the following sentence :
            >
            > "Eti de kai ton onomaton exonton eidos kai hylin,
            > kata men to eidos mallon toy physei metechousi, kata
            > de thn hylin mallon toy thesei"
            >
            > What exactly Proclus has in mind when he says that
            > the names consist of form (eidos ) and matter ( hyle)
            > and that “eidos” is related to “physei” and “hyle”
            > is related to “thesei” ?
            >
            > Any comments or thoughts will be mostly appreciated.


            M.C. Proclus gives us a bit of help a little further on : ὁ δὲ Σωκράτης
            κατὰ τὸ τέταρ-
            τον σημαινόμενον λέγει φύσει εἶναι τὰ ὀνόματα, ὡς διανοίας
            μὲν ἐπιστήμονος ἔκγονα καὶ οὐχὶ ὀρέξεως φυσικῆς, ἀλλὰ
            ψυχῆς φανταζομένης, οἰκείως δὲ τοῖς πράγμασι τεθέντα ἐξ
            ἀρχῆς κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν· καὶ κατὰ μὲν τὸ εἶδος τὰ αὐτὰ πάντα (20)
            καὶ μίαν ἔχει δύναμιν καὶ φύσει ἐστίν, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ὕλην
            διαφέρει ἀλλήλων καὶ θέσει ἐστίν· κατὰ μὲν γὰρ τὸ εἶδος
            ἔοικε τοῖς πράγμασι, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ὕλην διαφέρει ἀλλήλων.

            Socrates says the names are by nature in the fourth sense, since they
            are the offspring of knowledgeable thought and not of natural desire,
            but of the imagining soul....and according to form, all are the same,
            and they have one power, and they are by nature, but according to
            matter they differ from one another and are by convention: for
            according to their form they resemble intelligible realities, while
            according to their matter they differ from one another.

            I think we have do here with a Platonizing interpretation of
            Aristotle's doctine in the De interp. We recall that for Arist., all
            passions of the soul are the same, and only their linguistic expression
            differs. Proclus' idea thus seems to be that in their semantic aspect
            or form, names are natural signifers of their objects (ultimately, the
            Platonic forms), while in their phonetic aspect (i.e. the fact that
            words differ from one linguistic community to another) they differ.
            There would be, then, two aspects to a name : its semantic content/form
            is by nature, while its phonetic/material aspect is conventional; Cf.
            Ammonius, In de int. 30, 2ff., 40, 20ff.

            HTH, Mike.


            I'
            Michael Chase
            (goya@...)
            CNRS UPR 76
            7, rue Guy Moquet
            Villejuif 94801
            France
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