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Re: [neoplatonism] Re: What's the fuss all about ?

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  • Michael Chase
    ... M.C. Far from being ignorant, it opens a huge can of worms and shows me I spoke too quickly and/or carelessly. Clearly, there is no anthropomorphic Supreme
    Message 1 of 34 , Oct 1, 2007
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      On Sep 30, 2007, at 8:58 PM, Bob Wallace wrote:

      > Dear Mike,
      >
      > You wrote:
      >
      > >
      > > The Aristotelian answer would be that the universe is such that
      > >when a thing reaches its perfection, it
      > >reproduces/engenders/creates/shares its goodness. The supreme
      > principle
      > >is perfect, therefore it reproduces/engenders/creates/shares its
      > >goodness. I'm not sure whether this is a metaphor or rather an
      > analogy.
      > >If one were to continue the chain of Why-questions and ask, Why is
      > the
      > >universe such that this is the case ? I suspect both Aristotle and
      > >Plotinus would either find the question not worth answering, or else
      > >simply point to the ultimate principle of teleology : because it is
      > >best for the universe to be full of the widest possible variety of
      > >forms. This is Lovejoy's "principle of plenitude", in IMHO it's still
      > >hard to beat his exposition (The Great Chain of Being, pp. 62ff. of
      > the
      > >1976 reprinting).
      >
      > Here is a probably ignorant question: Where does Aristotle say that
      > the supreme principle reproduces/engenders/creates/shares its
      > goodness? Are we supposed to infer this from the fact that he says
      > God is alive?

      M.C. Far from being ignorant, it opens a huge can of worms and shows me
      I spoke too quickly and/or carelessly.

      Clearly, there is no anthropomorphic Supreme Deity in Aristotle who
      might be ascribed intentions such as "sharing goodness" : I simply [?]
      meant that Plotinus took over Aristotle's biologically-based scheme
      (that which is perfect/fully developed reproduces) and applied it,
      mutatis mutandis, to his own First Principle.

      Aristotle was no creationist, of course, and the closest one comes to
      the idea of a Supreme Being in his thought is that of the Unmoved
      Mover. But what precisely the Unmoved Mover *does* has never been fully
      clear, even after more than 2000 years. Current scholarship (Kahn,
      Broadie, Berti, Bradshaw) has tended to attribute to it final and
      perhaps even efficient causality; others disagree (Natali).


      >
      > (In Plato, I take it, the supreme citation is Timaeus 29e: "being
      > free of jealousy, [the demiurge] wanted everything to become as much
      > like himself as was possible." What you've been discussing is, in
      > effect, why would the demiurge want this?

      M.C. I guess so. In the part of my message that the internet *daimones*
      refused to transmit, I argued that this is one of the main Platonic
      arguments for creation. It works by reductio : if the Demiurge did not
      create, it would be becuase he is jealous. But he is not jealous.
      Therefore he creates (in a non-temporal sense, of course).
      >
      > There's also the very positively tinged discussion of "birth in
      > beauty," in the Symposium, culminating in the possibility of "giving
      > birth to true virtue" (212a). [Are there other passages in Plato that
      > I should be thinking of?])

      M.C. You're absolutely right that the ancestors of what I've called
      the "Aristotelian" conception are already present in nuce in Plato. The
      Symposium is indeed the key dialogue here, but see also, for instance,
      Phaedrus 251a, Theaetetus 150b, Timaeus 91a.


      >
      > It's been a long time since I looked at Lovejoy. I'll do so as soon
      > as I can. If you can clarify the Aristotle question in the meantime,
      > I'd appreciate it.

      M.C. Not sure the above will do the trick, but it's the best I can do
      before breakfast.

      Best, Mike.


      >
      Michael Chase
      (goya@...)
      CNRS UPR 76
      7, rue Guy Moquet
      Villejuif 94801
      France
    • vaeringjar
      ... idea ... and ... or ... but ... defined ... finite ... A most interesting argument that I had never heard before, but then I know almost nothing, I am sad
      Message 34 of 34 , Oct 7, 2007
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        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Bob Wallace <philosop@...> wrote:
        >
        > felt like doing. What's wrong with this notion? It's the idea that
        > something could _be_ "God," could be perfect and self-sufficient,
        > without being in relation to an actual finite world. Why is this
        idea
        > mistaken? It's mistaken because perfection and self-sufficiency are
        > contrast terms. They're the "opposite" of imperfect and
        > un-self-sufficient. So that the being that's described as perfect
        and
        > self-sufficient, gets its definition from its relation to what is
        > imperfect and un-self-sufficient. But that means that through his
        or
        > her very _definition_, the conventional "God" depends upon a
        > relationship to what's imperfect and non-self-sufficient. And that
        > means that the conventional "God" simply isn't self-sufficient! The
        > conventional "God" fails to be what he or she is supposed to be.
        >
        > What's to be done about this? We need to conceive of God, Hegel
        > suggests, not through a contrast which makes God fail to be God,
        but
        > through an Identity. God will be the finite world's self-overcoming
        > (self-transcendence). Understood in this way, God will not be
        defined
        > by his or her relation to what he or she _isn't_; instead, God will
        > be defined by what he or she _is_, namely, the finite world
        > (surpassing itself). So this God will escape the the conventional
        > "God"'s fate of being rendered non-self-sufficient by its own
        > definition. But this God will also escape the finite world's
        > imperfection and non-self-sufficiency, because this God is the
        finite
        > world's self-_surpassing_ (self-transcendence): its passage into
        > infiniteness. So in both respects, God will be perfect and
        > self-sufficient, after all. This is the "true infinity."

        A most interesting argument that I had never heard before, but then I
        know almost nothing, I am sad to say, about Hegel, though there a
        number of books upstairs that would perhaps help remedy that if I
        ever get to them.

        This locks creator with created and vice-versa rather tightly
        together, doesn't it? Rather as does the argument about dynamis or
        potential that I was probably not all that lucidly trying to make
        here lately.

        Thanks for sharing this - I need to consider it more.

        Dennis Clark
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