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Re: [neoplatonism] ho aidios anthropos

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  • Michael Chase
    ... M.C. Offhand I would say quite simply : no. Damascius certainly believes in the exeistence of Eternal Man as a noetic paradigm; but as a Platonist he also
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 7, 2004
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      Le samedi, 6 mars 2004, à 21:31 Europe/Paris, Tzvi Langermann a écrit :

      > P. Athanassiadi, "Chaldean Oracles", in P. Athanassiaidi and M. Frede,
      > Pagan
      > Monotheism in Late Antiquity, p. 175, cites this phrase from Damascius'
      > commentary to Parmenides: ho koinos kai aidios anthropos, which is
      > translated as "archetypal and perennial man". The note ad loc.
      > suggests that
      > this sounds more like a commentary to Timaeus 27D; I assume that this
      > means
      > that Damascius would seem to be referring to a timeless archetype, the
      > model
      > of humans here on earth.
      >
      > I wonder, however, whether the phrase "ho aidios anthropos" can have
      > anything to do with the concept of primal man, which later developed
      > into
      > the Adam Qadmon of the kabbala.

      M.C. Offhand I would say quite simply : no. Damascius certainly
      believes in the exeistence of Eternal Man as a noetic paradigm; but as
      a Platonist he also believes in the existence of the Eternal Horse,
      Dog, Cat, and every other genus . The man in question is, I think, none
      other than what Aristotle frequently attacks as Plato's idea of the
      *autoanthrôpos*, an idea taken perfectly seriously by the Neoplatonists
      (cf. Damascius, In Parm. 182, 6 Ruelle)

      It can be dangerously misleading to take isolated phrases out of their
      context. When one looks at what Damascius is actually talking about at
      In Parm., p. 203, 5ff. Ruelle, we find it's pretty standard-isssue
      Neoplatonism :

      “Eti ou\n o[gdoon levgomen wJ" oJ me;n path;r ta;" koinovthta"
      uJfivsthsin tw'n
      eijdw'n, ai} ma'llon oujsivai eijsi;n h] eijkovne", kai; nohtai;
      ma'llon, h] aijsqhtai;
      ma'llon. ∆Afanh;" gou'n oJ koino;" a[nqrwpo" kai; logismw'/ lhptov":
      oiJ de; ta;
      a[toma kai; aijsqhta; dhmiourgou'sin kata; to; lovgion, kai;
      swmatoeidh' kai; kata-
      tetagmevna eij" u{lhn, a} kai; pollh;n e[cei dovkhsin th'" ajlhqeiva":
      ou[koun ta;
      10
      ajlhqh', ma'llon ga;r a[nqrwpo" oJ koino;" kai; aji?dio" h] oJ a[tomo"
      kai; fqartov".

      In the eighth place, then, we say that the Father brings the
      commonalities of the forms [i.e; the Platonic ideas - MC] into
      existence, which are substance to a greater extent than they are
      images, and more intellective than sensible. For the common man is
      invisible, and seizable by reasoning. Others create the individual and
      sensible things, according to the Oracle [a reference to the Oracula
      chaldaica - MC], which are corporiform and assigned to matter, and
      which have a strong appearance of reality ; but they are not the true
      beings, for the common and eternal man is more of a man than one who is
      individual and mortal.

      Nothing here, I would suggest, but the purest and most banal Platonism.
      >
      > Primal man seems to have been a trademark concept of the Manicheans.
      > Our
      > main source for this (as for much of Manichean doctrine) is Ibn
      > al-Nadim's
      > Fihrist; see the English translation of Bayard Dodge, p. 779ff.. The
      > Manichean heartland was Sassanian Persia; and Damascius spent time at
      > the
      > court on Ctesiphon (some three hundred years or so after Mani), where
      > he
      > engaged in philosophical discussions.(See Athanassiadi, "Chaldean
      > Oracles",
      > n. 85, pp. 170-171).
      >
      > My question is this: is there evidence that "ho aidios anthropos" is
      > indigenous to the Greek philosophical tradition, whether in Timaeus
      > commentaries or elsewhere? Or is there room to at least speculate that
      > Damascius picked up the concept from outside his tradition,
      > presumably, on
      > the basis what I have seen so far, from Manicheans?

      M.C. Like most Late Neoplatonists, especially Damascius' student
      Simplicius, Damascius will have been violently opposed to the
      Manicheans : the Neoplatonic theory of evil as a mere *parhypostasis*
      or epiphenomenon was likely designed specifically to refute them,
      already in Proclus.

      That said, there *are* traces of such ideas as the Primordial Man in
      Greek thought, but the place to look for them is not so much
      Neoplatonism as rather Orphism, the Greek Magical papryi, and
      Alchemical texts. Sarapis' Oracle to Nicocreon, transmitted by
      Macrobius (Sat. I, 20, 13-16) but which can probably be traced back to
      Porphyry, presents the god as a *makanthropos* whose body is the entire
      kosmos, and there are striking parallels to this concept in Orphic and
      magical texts.

      Best, Mike.
      >
      Michael Chase
      (goya@...)
      CNRS UPR 76/
      l'Annee Philologique
      Villejuif-Paris
      France


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    • Tzvi Langermann
      My thanks to Mike Chase. I am very much aware of the dangers of taking cittions out of context, and for that reason posted my query; and I am grateful to have
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 7, 2004
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        My thanks to Mike Chase. I am very much aware of the dangers of taking
        cittions out of context, and for that reason posted my query; and I am
        grateful to have received a quick and learned reply. I should like to
        respond briefly to two points that were raised.

        First, the Neoplatonists' opposition to the Manichees is no reason to
        exclude any borrowing. Quite the contrary: it is the rule rather than the
        exception for groups or individuals to take over (or appropriate, as we like
        to say today) new concepts from their rivals and suitably transform them.
        Thus, were the context to allow it--and I do not argue with Michael Chase's
        rejection of this possibility--one could toy with the idea that Damascius
        was trying to fit a foreign concept into his "standard-isssue
        Neoplatonism".

        Second, with regard to *makranthropos*. This term is often cited in the
        discussions on primal man, but I have a problem. Why was the adjective
        changed from a spatial to a temporal one? No one had a problem rendering
        *microcosmos* into the Arabic *'alam saghir*; so why should they render
        *makranthopos* as *insan qadim* rather than *insan kabir*? In fact, *aidios*
        was taken to mean *qadim* as it appears, most notoriously, in De coelo
        283b28. So whether or not Damascius's phrase has anything to do with it--and
        it seems not--I would like to know, for the purposes of a mini-project that
        may expand, about usages of the phrase *ho aidios anthropos*.


        Tzvi Langermann
        Dept of Arabic
        Bar Ilan University
        Ramat Gan, ISRAEL
        tel: 972-2-673-7837
        fax: 972-2-673-3480
      • Michael Chase
        Le dimanche, 7 mars 2004, à 14:05 Europe/Paris, Tzvi Langermann a écrit ... M.C. Fair enough. One *could* indeed toy with the idea *if there were any textual
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 7, 2004
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          Le dimanche, 7 mars 2004, à 14:05 Europe/Paris, Tzvi Langermann a écrit
          :

          > My thanks to Mike Chase. I am very much aware of the dangers of taking
          > cittions out of context, and for that reason posted my query; and I am
          > grateful to have received a quick and learned reply. I should like to
          > respond briefly to two points that were raised.
          >
          > First, the Neoplatonists' opposition to the Manichees is no reason to
          > exclude any borrowing. Quite the contrary: it is the rule rather than
          > the
          > exception for groups or individuals to take over (or appropriate, as
          > we like
          > to say today) new concepts from their rivals and suitably transform
          > them.
          > Thus, were the context to allow it--and I do not argue with Michael
          > Chase's
          > rejection of this possibility--one could toy with the idea that
          > Damascius
          > was trying to fit a foreign concept into his "standard-isssue
          > Neoplatonism".

          M.C. Fair enough. One *could* indeed toy with the idea *if there were
          any textual evidence for doing so*. I' m not aware that there is any,
          in this instance.
          >
          > Second, with regard to *makranthropos*. This term is often cited in the
          > discussions on primal man, but I have a problem. Why was the adjective
          > changed from a spatial to a temporal one? No one had a problem
          > rendering
          > *microcosmos* into the Arabic *'alam saghir*; so why should they render
          > *makranthopos* as *insan qadim* rather than *insan kabir*? In fact,
          > *aidios*
          > was taken to mean *qadim* as it appears, most notoriously, in De coelo
          > 283b28. So whether or not Damascius's phrase has anything to do with
          > it--and
          > it seems not--I would like to know, for the purposes of a mini-project
          > that
          > may expand, about usages of the phrase *ho aidios anthropos*.

          M.C. I personally am not aware of a single occurrence of the phrase in
          all of extant Neoplatonic literaature. It's certainlt not in the
          Damascius phrase we started out considering, where he speaks of
          *anthrôpos ho koinos kai aidios* ; i.e. eternity - or perhaps mere
          perpetuity? is merely one property among others of the Platonic form of
          man. The only passage that comes to mind is Hippolytus, Refutatio 8,
          12, 2, where, in the cosmogony of Monoimos the Arab, we read :

          ∆Wkeano;" gevnesiv" te qew'n gevnesiv" tæ ajnqrwvpwn.
          tau'ta ãou\nà a[lloi" lovgoi" metasthvsa" levgei a[nqrwpon ei\nai to;ãnÃ
          pãrw'tÃon-ão{sà ejstin ãhJà ajrch; tw'n o{lwn-ajgevnãnÃhton, a[fqarton,
          ajivdion, kai; uiJo;n ajnqrwvpou tou' proeirhmevnou genãnÃhto;n kai;
          paqhtovn,
          3 1
          ajcrovnw" genovmenon, ajboulhvtw", ajproorivstw":

          "Okeanos is the generation of the gods and of men". Changing these
          words into others, he says that the anthrôpos in question is the first
          one, who is the principle of all things : unengendered, immortal,
          eternal/perpetual (*aidios*), and the son of the aforementioned man is
          generated and passible, coming into existence intemporally,
          non-voluntarily, and without prior definition (???*aprooristôs*, not in
          LSJ). Fo sucuh, he says, is the power of that *anthrôpos*".

          Perhaps other List-members may be aware of other occurrences, but
          based on the evidence so far, I'd have to say that *ho aidios
          anthrôpos* is not even really a phrase, since it seems to be unattested.

          Best, Mike.
          >
          >
          > T
          Michael Chase
          (goya@...)
          CNRS UPR 76/
          l'Annee Philologique
          Villejuif-Paris
          France


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