Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

FW: BMCR 2004.06.43, Chiaradonna, Sostanza, Movimento, Analogia

Expand Messages
  • Cosmin I. Andron
    Riccardo Chiaradonna, Sostanza, Movimento, Analogia. Plotino critico di Aristotele. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2002. Pp. 328. ISBN 88-7088-410-4. EUR 31.00.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 5, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      Riccardo Chiaradonna, Sostanza, Movimento, Analogia. Plotino critico di
      Aristotele. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2002. Pp. 328. ISBN 88-7088-410-4.
      EUR 31.00.

      Reviewed by Sara Ahbel-Rappe, University of Michigan (rappe@...)
      Word count: 1971 words
      -------------------------------

      One of the principal tenets of the Ancient commentators on Aristotle
      was the doctrine that asserted the fundamental harmony of Aristotle and
      Plato. Recently Lloyd Gerson has come to the defense of this position
      as a credible reading of Aristotle's relationship to the Academy, while
      Richard Sorabji, organizer and editor in chief of the massive
      Commentators project, seems to think that on the whole the idea was
      outlandish. After all, Aristotle goes out of his way to attack Plato's
      theory of forms and the immortality of the soul, thus apparently
      denying the linchpins of Plato's philosophy in toto. But however we may
      review our readings of Classical philosophy, taking into account for
      example the implications of Metaphysics Lambda or reading our Plato in
      light of a developmentalism that sees a rejection of something like a
      theory of forms (if indeed, we are willing to recognize such in the
      first place), it is still an interesting question how this method of
      reading Aristotle through a Platonizing lens, and vice versa, began to
      evolve in the ancient world.

      Riccardo Chiaradonna's book aims to show that Plotinus is actually
      responsible for the doctrine of harmony, even though his infamously
      sprawling work, On the Genera of Being, is evidently a series of ad
      hominem attacks against Aristotle's Categories (ad hominem, in the
      sense that the treatises are designed to show that Aristotle cannot
      deliver what he offers in the Categories; he cannot account for
      everything there is in the terms of a list of ten items, the
      Categories, of being, quality, quantity, motion, place, relationship,
      time, etc.).[[1]] According to C., Plotinus' dialectical strategy
      against Aristotelian positions cleared the way for the later compromise
      that roughly saw Aristotle as yielding valid results for the sensible
      world and Platonic tradition as relevant for understanding the
      intelligible world. C. takes up several chapters of treatise VI.1, the
      first of Plotinus' three essays on the topic of the categories of
      being[[2]] and shows both the development of anti-Aristotelian
      dialectic in Plotinus' own work, as well as the way later commentators
      responded to Plotinus' attacks. This reading of Plotinus in the light
      of subsequent commentators such as Porphyry, Iamblichus, Dexippus, and
      Simplicius is perhaps the most interesting feature of the book. C. also
      emphasizes the conventionality of Plotinus' own arguments, in the sense
      that they were a new deployment of Middle Platonist treatments of
      subjects, particularly the question of what the genus represents.[[3]]
      Overall, however, the book is largely a rehearsal of a half-century of
      research into the status of Plotinus' dialectic in this treatise.

      Chapter one, Sostanza, is an extended meditation on the dialectical
      strategy of VI.1.2, where Plotinus considers the Aristotelian notions
      of the unity of substance and the priority of essence, ousia, as
      substance in the primary sense. Substance cannot be a common genus that
      extends over both intelligible and sensible being, for if so, ousia
      would be a common predicate of the two species of being, intelligible
      and sensible, and thus could not be either incorporeal or corporeal in
      itself. But it must be one or the other. Ergo substance is not a genus
      of both 'species' of being. As Lloyd showed in his terse but brilliant
      Anatomy of Neoplatonism,[[4]] Plotinus uses an argument that Aristotle
      had already used against the Platonists: it is not possible to assume
      under a common and separate genus a hierarchy whose members constitute
      a naturally prior and posterior series. Lloyd called such a series a
      P-series and this structure has already been the focus of much research
      on Plotinus' logic.[[5]]

      At any rate, C. focuses on the question of whether or not Plotinus'
      criticisms are unfair, in the sense that he apparently criticizes
      Aristotle based on the principles of a Platonic ontology. (Plotinus
      uses the arguments developed already by Middle Platonists such as
      Lucius and Nicostratus that have been transmitted in Simplicius' own
      commentary and are evidently derived from the Phaedo's two kinds of
      being at 79a6.) What does it mean to criticize Aristotle for not
      recognizing the derivative status of the sensible substance when he is
      exactly questioning this assumption?[[6]] Thus VI.2.7 has Plotinus at
      work on the constitution of the sensible essence, where he focuses on
      the same problems that Aristotle worries about in Metaphysics Zeta:
      what is substance, really? Is it form, matter or a compound or all
      three? Although in VI.1.2 Plotinus does not discuss the Aristotelian
      definition of substance as that which is not said of another and is not
      in another, it is this criterion that helps Plotinus formulate his
      radical critique of Aristotelian essentialism in light of the previous
      traditions, as C. shows. The problem is to distinguish between the way
      that essence is in matter, apparently vitiating the Aristotelian
      definition of substance as that which is not in another, and the way
      that accidents are said to be in their subjects. For Aristotle, only
      some predicates are used in the category of substance; all other
      predicates are accidents. What is the difference between these two
      kinds of predicate? According to C., it is Porphyry who rescues the
      Aristotelian distinction and supplies a vocabulary which is
      subsequently adopted by Neoplatonists working in the Categories
      tradition.

      For Porphyry, there are two senses of "subject,"
      <greek>u(pokei/menon</greek>: the first sense is matter deprived of
      quality. The second sense refers to the subject determined by a common
      quality or particular quality. In other words, there are attributes
      that complete the essence of the proper subject (the subject is already
      potentially what it will be when it acquires the essential attribute
      and so these attributes are distinct from accidents). As Porphyry
      explains in his in cat. 95, 21 (discussed by C. at 74-6),

      Essential qualities are those that are complements of substances.
      Complements are properties the loss of which destroys their subjects.
      Properties that can be gained and lost without the subject being
      destroyed would not be essential. Hence the differentia is included
      under the definition of substance, since it is a complement of
      substance, and the complements of substances are substances.


      More than this specific answer to a Plotinian objection, we find in the
      history of Categories commentaries a defense of Aristotle in which
      Porphyry's solutions become the source of subsequent replies to
      Plotinus, who applied his critique of the Aristotelian Categories
      wrongly. For Porphyry, Aristotle was not talking about the intelligible
      world but just about linguistic expressions that referred to sensible
      substances. Thus C. shows the evolution of a Neoplatonist
      interpretation of Aristotle according to which Aristotle's Categories
      and, with it, his essentialism survive, because fundamentally the
      sensible world can be described only by means of the discursive
      thinking that Aristotle's language in the Categories captures.
      Subsequently Neoplatonists accepted this metaphysical division of labor
      between Aristotelian immanent forms and Platonic transcendent forms and
      in this sense developed their doctrine of harmony. Thus, Simplicius
      writes (p. 2, 26-29), Dexippus the student of Iamblichus also gave a
      concise explanation of Aristotle's book, but he proposed mainly to
      resolve the problems (aporias) raised by Plotinus, which he put forward
      in dialogue form. Dexippus, however, added virtually nothing to the
      considerations of Porphyry and Iamblichus.[[6]]

      Chapter 2, Movimento, treats Ennead VI.1. 15-22 and VI.3.21-7. This
      discussion involves Plotinus again in the history of metaphysics,
      insofar as Aristotle attempts to define movement or change in answer to
      Eleatic puzzles and in particular to puzzles adumbrated in the third
      hypothesis of Plato's Parmenides. Aristotle defines movement as
      incompleteness in energeia, to which Plotinus responds in VI.1.16.5-9
      that, on the contrary, movement has already attained its actuality; it
      is only incomplete with respect to something else, whose existence is
      consequent upon the movement. Plotinus' strategy against Aristotle
      involves pointing out logical difficulties in claiming that the
      energeia of a movement achieves its telos instantaneously, while the
      movement itself always requires the passage of time (VI.1.16.26-28).

      In his discussion of movement, Plotinus focuses on the limitations of
      Aristotle's own exploitation of the causality of his essences. For
      example in VI.3.23.5-13, Plotinus again denies that motion takes place
      between the two terminal points delineated by Aristotle, in saying that
      "walking is not in the feet but an actuality proceeding from a potency
      to encompass the feet."[[7]] Kinesis, as one of Plato's greatest kinds,
      belongs to the intelligible world, and so movement cannot be the result
      of the material components that manifest it, i.e., are moved. Instead,
      Plotinus says that movement is "form awake," stirring to life; in its
      superior form movement is the potentiality for something to come into
      being. Generally here Plotinus targets Aristotle as not providing a
      coherent account of coming into being, just as previously he did not
      provide a coherent account of being, or substance.

      C. returns in chapter three, Analogia, to consider substance again,
      this time focusing on Plotinus' extension of the concept of genus in
      6.1.3 that stems from Aristotle's notion of focal equivocity, to use
      Owen's term, or quasi-homonymous predications from one, <greek>a)f'
      e(/nos</greek>. Here he seems to be discussing the P-series with
      respect to the logic of such a series. Plotinus uses Aristotle's
      example of the Heraclidae (cf. Metaphysics1058a24): they are
      homonymously predicated because they all descend from Heracles. Just
      so, substances are called such because they derive from being in the
      intelligible sense. Consequently, sensible substances are not actually
      substances; they have no independent reality. Such a substance is
      really just a quality.

      C. then moves to the later tradition, to Porphyry and Dexippus, and
      shows how Dexippus tries to recuperate an Aristotelian sense of
      substance for the Platonist tradition. C. quotes Dexippus' refutation
      of Plotinus showing that, while Plotinus would have genuine substance
      stand at the head of a series or taxis, from which the sensible
      pseudo-substances derive, in fact, Plotinus is simply misreading
      Aristotle here. Dexippus insists that Aristotle's concern is with the
      linguistic expressions which are used for substantial predication, and
      so Plotinus' investigation concerning substances is pointless. C. also
      gives examples of how Plotinus' own quasi-genus, in which entities are
      derived from their sources seated in the intelligible world, works in
      other aspects of his philosophy, as for example in his ethics. (Here he
      makes use of Linguiti's work on Ennead I.4.[[8]])

      C. is concerned to show how Plotinus' initial criticisms of the
      Aristotelian Categories in fact inaugurated, somewhat paradoxically,
      the tradition of harmonizing Plato and Aristotle which was the hallmark
      of later Neoplatonism. Further, he begins to develop a method of
      reading treatise VI.1 in terms of the broader structure of Plotinus'
      philosophy, replacing some of the more reactionary readings that see
      VI.1 as a specious and incoherent attack on Aristotle's work. In
      pursuing these laudable goals, C. largely succeeds. On the whole,
      however, I had the feeling that C.'s book, while admirable indeed for
      its thorough scholarship and careful research into the tradition, tries
      to accomplish too much. It seems to conclude with a number of results
      concerning Plotinus' place in the tradition, his methods of dialectic,
      his use of his own predecessors, that do not, in the end, amount to a
      real advance in the scholarship. Perhaps this result is reasonable,
      given that the book represents a revised version of his doctoral
      thesis. The book makes for difficult reading because the chapters are
      extremely long (almost one hundred pages in the case of the first
      chapter) and because it is not clear why C. singles out substance,
      motion, and analogy as the central locus of Plotinus' attacks. This
      book is a good overview of work on Plotinus' logic carried out by
      Lloyd, Strange, and Gerson (as well as fine Italian scholars such as
      Linguiti, D'ancona Costa, and Parente) but leaves us hankering for more
      details about the place of Porphyry's work among later Neoplatonists,
      about the importance of Iamblichus in the transmission of the fragments
      of Porphyry's lost ad Gedalium, and about Porphyry's understanding of
      Aristotle's philosophy as a whole.

      ------------------
      Notes:


      1. Neoplatonist scholars will be aware that Strange had already shown
      that Plotinus' attacks specifically on the Aristotelian concept of
      substance deeply informed his student Porphyry's treatment of the work
      in his On the Categories and Isagogia, as C. readily acknowledges. Cf.
      Stephen Strange, Plotinus, Porphyry, and the Neoplatonic Interpretation
      of the Categories, in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Ro+mischen Welt
      II.36.2, Berlin-New York 1987, pp. 955-74.

      2. See Gerson, Plotinus, London: Routledge1994, pp. 79-96, on the
      structure of Enneads VI.1-3: VI.1 contains Plotinus' anti-Aristotelian
      and anti-Stoic dialectic; VI.2 develops Plotinus' own theory of
      categories of the intelligible universe, employing the "greatest
      genera" of Plato's Sophist, 254D-257A; and VI.3 represents Plotinus'
      own explication of the structure of sensible substance by means of his
      own revised categories.

      3. Chiaradonna studies the sources of some of Plotinus' arguments
      against the Aristotelian idea of genus and traces them back to
      Nicostratus and Lucius. A.C. Lloyd, in his seminal article of 1956,
      'Neoplatonic Logic and Aristotelian logic,' Phronesis I pp. 58-72, had
      of course already shown this continuity. But anyone who has read Lloyd
      knows that his richly suggestive remarks could at times be compressed,
      and this is one strain of Lloyd's research that Chiaradonna documents
      more fully.

      4. A. C. Lloyd, The Anatomy of Neoplatonism Oxford: Oxford University
      Press 1990, pp. 76-79. Steven Strange developed a sophisticated
      analysis of the functions that such series enjoy within the structure
      of Plotinus' own metaphysics in his University of Texas dissertation of
      1981.

      5. For my money this question has already been well addressed in
      Gerson's Plotinus, pp. 84-93. There is, according to Gerson, a real
      sense in which Plotinus is right to point out the priority of
      substance, in Aristotle's own account in Metaphysics Lamba, as pure
      actuality.

      6. Thanks to Michael Chase for pointing out this citation, which
      exactly captures the point that C. makes with regard to the influence
      of Plotinus on the tradition.

      7. Translation of Michael Wagner in "Plotinus on the nature of
      physical reality," in Gerson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to
      Plotinus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996, pp. 130-170. In
      general, it seems to me that in this section of the book C. follows
      Wagner very closely, and indeed, he himself acknowledges that Wagner's
      very astute analysis of Plotinus' criticisms of Aristotle's notion of
      coming to be is central to his own analysis.

      8. A. Linguiti, La felicita\ et il tempo: Plotino, Enneadi, I 4- I 5.
      Milan: 2000.


      -------------------------------
      The BMCR website (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/) contains a complete
      and searchable archive of BMCR reviews since our first issue in 1990.
      It also contains information about subscribing and unsubscribing from
      the service.
    • Cosmin I. Andron
      Riccardo Chiaradonna, Sostanza, Movimento, Analogia. Plotino critico di Aristotele. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2002. Pp. 328. ISBN 88-7088-410-4. EUR 31.00.
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 5, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        Riccardo Chiaradonna, Sostanza, Movimento, Analogia. Plotino critico di
        Aristotele. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2002. Pp. 328. ISBN 88-7088-410-4.
        EUR 31.00.

        Reviewed by Sara Ahbel-Rappe, University of Michigan (rappe@...)
        Word count: 1971 words
        -------------------------------

        One of the principal tenets of the Ancient commentators on Aristotle
        was the doctrine that asserted the fundamental harmony of Aristotle and
        Plato. Recently Lloyd Gerson has come to the defense of this position
        as a credible reading of Aristotle's relationship to the Academy, while
        Richard Sorabji, organizer and editor in chief of the massive
        Commentators project, seems to think that on the whole the idea was
        outlandish. After all, Aristotle goes out of his way to attack Plato's
        theory of forms and the immortality of the soul, thus apparently
        denying the linchpins of Plato's philosophy in toto. But however we may
        review our readings of Classical philosophy, taking into account for
        example the implications of Metaphysics Lambda or reading our Plato in
        light of a developmentalism that sees a rejection of something like a
        theory of forms (if indeed, we are willing to recognize such in the
        first place), it is still an interesting question how this method of
        reading Aristotle through a Platonizing lens, and vice versa, began to
        evolve in the ancient world.

        Riccardo Chiaradonna's book aims to show that Plotinus is actually
        responsible for the doctrine of harmony, even though his infamously
        sprawling work, On the Genera of Being, is evidently a series of ad
        hominem attacks against Aristotle's Categories (ad hominem, in the
        sense that the treatises are designed to show that Aristotle cannot
        deliver what he offers in the Categories; he cannot account for
        everything there is in the terms of a list of ten items, the
        Categories, of being, quality, quantity, motion, place, relationship,
        time, etc.).[[1]] According to C., Plotinus' dialectical strategy
        against Aristotelian positions cleared the way for the later compromise
        that roughly saw Aristotle as yielding valid results for the sensible
        world and Platonic tradition as relevant for understanding the
        intelligible world. C. takes up several chapters of treatise VI.1, the
        first of Plotinus' three essays on the topic of the categories of
        being[[2]] and shows both the development of anti-Aristotelian
        dialectic in Plotinus' own work, as well as the way later commentators
        responded to Plotinus' attacks. This reading of Plotinus in the light
        of subsequent commentators such as Porphyry, Iamblichus, Dexippus, and
        Simplicius is perhaps the most interesting feature of the book. C. also
        emphasizes the conventionality of Plotinus' own arguments, in the sense
        that they were a new deployment of Middle Platonist treatments of
        subjects, particularly the question of what the genus represents.[[3]]
        Overall, however, the book is largely a rehearsal of a half-century of
        research into the status of Plotinus' dialectic in this treatise.

        Chapter one, Sostanza, is an extended meditation on the dialectical
        strategy of VI.1.2, where Plotinus considers the Aristotelian notions
        of the unity of substance and the priority of essence, ousia, as
        substance in the primary sense. Substance cannot be a common genus that
        extends over both intelligible and sensible being, for if so, ousia
        would be a common predicate of the two species of being, intelligible
        and sensible, and thus could not be either incorporeal or corporeal in
        itself. But it must be one or the other. Ergo substance is not a genus
        of both 'species' of being. As Lloyd showed in his terse but brilliant
        Anatomy of Neoplatonism,[[4]] Plotinus uses an argument that Aristotle
        had already used against the Platonists: it is not possible to assume
        under a common and separate genus a hierarchy whose members constitute
        a naturally prior and posterior series. Lloyd called such a series a
        P-series and this structure has already been the focus of much research
        on Plotinus' logic.[[5]]

        At any rate, C. focuses on the question of whether or not Plotinus'
        criticisms are unfair, in the sense that he apparently criticizes
        Aristotle based on the principles of a Platonic ontology. (Plotinus
        uses the arguments developed already by Middle Platonists such as
        Lucius and Nicostratus that have been transmitted in Simplicius' own
        commentary and are evidently derived from the Phaedo's two kinds of
        being at 79a6.) What does it mean to criticize Aristotle for not
        recognizing the derivative status of the sensible substance when he is
        exactly questioning this assumption?[[6]] Thus VI.2.7 has Plotinus at
        work on the constitution of the sensible essence, where he focuses on
        the same problems that Aristotle worries about in Metaphysics Zeta:
        what is substance, really? Is it form, matter or a compound or all
        three? Although in VI.1.2 Plotinus does not discuss the Aristotelian
        definition of substance as that which is not said of another and is not
        in another, it is this criterion that helps Plotinus formulate his
        radical critique of Aristotelian essentialism in light of the previous
        traditions, as C. shows. The problem is to distinguish between the way
        that essence is in matter, apparently vitiating the Aristotelian
        definition of substance as that which is not in another, and the way
        that accidents are said to be in their subjects. For Aristotle, only
        some predicates are used in the category of substance; all other
        predicates are accidents. What is the difference between these two
        kinds of predicate? According to C., it is Porphyry who rescues the
        Aristotelian distinction and supplies a vocabulary which is
        subsequently adopted by Neoplatonists working in the Categories
        tradition.

        For Porphyry, there are two senses of "subject,"
        <greek>u(pokei/menon</greek>: the first sense is matter deprived of
        quality. The second sense refers to the subject determined by a common
        quality or particular quality. In other words, there are attributes
        that complete the essence of the proper subject (the subject is already
        potentially what it will be when it acquires the essential attribute
        and so these attributes are distinct from accidents). As Porphyry
        explains in his in cat. 95, 21 (discussed by C. at 74-6),

        Essential qualities are those that are complements of substances.
        Complements are properties the loss of which destroys their subjects.
        Properties that can be gained and lost without the subject being
        destroyed would not be essential. Hence the differentia is included
        under the definition of substance, since it is a complement of
        substance, and the complements of substances are substances.


        More than this specific answer to a Plotinian objection, we find in the
        history of Categories commentaries a defense of Aristotle in which
        Porphyry's solutions become the source of subsequent replies to
        Plotinus, who applied his critique of the Aristotelian Categories
        wrongly. For Porphyry, Aristotle was not talking about the intelligible
        world but just about linguistic expressions that referred to sensible
        substances. Thus C. shows the evolution of a Neoplatonist
        interpretation of Aristotle according to which Aristotle's Categories
        and, with it, his essentialism survive, because fundamentally the
        sensible world can be described only by means of the discursive
        thinking that Aristotle's language in the Categories captures.
        Subsequently Neoplatonists accepted this metaphysical division of labor
        between Aristotelian immanent forms and Platonic transcendent forms and
        in this sense developed their doctrine of harmony. Thus, Simplicius
        writes (p. 2, 26-29), Dexippus the student of Iamblichus also gave a
        concise explanation of Aristotle's book, but he proposed mainly to
        resolve the problems (aporias) raised by Plotinus, which he put forward
        in dialogue form. Dexippus, however, added virtually nothing to the
        considerations of Porphyry and Iamblichus.[[6]]

        Chapter 2, Movimento, treats Ennead VI.1. 15-22 and VI.3.21-7. This
        discussion involves Plotinus again in the history of metaphysics,
        insofar as Aristotle attempts to define movement or change in answer to
        Eleatic puzzles and in particular to puzzles adumbrated in the third
        hypothesis of Plato's Parmenides. Aristotle defines movement as
        incompleteness in energeia, to which Plotinus responds in VI.1.16.5-9
        that, on the contrary, movement has already attained its actuality; it
        is only incomplete with respect to something else, whose existence is
        consequent upon the movement. Plotinus' strategy against Aristotle
        involves pointing out logical difficulties in claiming that the
        energeia of a movement achieves its telos instantaneously, while the
        movement itself always requires the passage of time (VI.1.16.26-28).

        In his discussion of movement, Plotinus focuses on the limitations of
        Aristotle's own exploitation of the causality of his essences. For
        example in VI.3.23.5-13, Plotinus again denies that motion takes place
        between the two terminal points delineated by Aristotle, in saying that
        "walking is not in the feet but an actuality proceeding from a potency
        to encompass the feet."[[7]] Kinesis, as one of Plato's greatest kinds,
        belongs to the intelligible world, and so movement cannot be the result
        of the material components that manifest it, i.e., are moved. Instead,
        Plotinus says that movement is "form awake," stirring to life; in its
        superior form movement is the potentiality for something to come into
        being. Generally here Plotinus targets Aristotle as not providing a
        coherent account of coming into being, just as previously he did not
        provide a coherent account of being, or substance.

        C. returns in chapter three, Analogia, to consider substance again,
        this time focusing on Plotinus' extension of the concept of genus in
        6.1.3 that stems from Aristotle's notion of focal equivocity, to use
        Owen's term, or quasi-homonymous predications from one, <greek>a)f'
        e(/nos</greek>. Here he seems to be discussing the P-series with
        respect to the logic of such a series. Plotinus uses Aristotle's
        example of the Heraclidae (cf. Metaphysics1058a24): they are
        homonymously predicated because they all descend from Heracles. Just
        so, substances are called such because they derive from being in the
        intelligible sense. Consequently, sensible substances are not actually
        substances; they have no independent reality. Such a substance is
        really just a quality.

        C. then moves to the later tradition, to Porphyry and Dexippus, and
        shows how Dexippus tries to recuperate an Aristotelian sense of
        substance for the Platonist tradition. C. quotes Dexippus' refutation
        of Plotinus showing that, while Plotinus would have genuine substance
        stand at the head of a series or taxis, from which the sensible
        pseudo-substances derive, in fact, Plotinus is simply misreading
        Aristotle here. Dexippus insists that Aristotle's concern is with the
        linguistic expressions which are used for substantial predication, and
        so Plotinus' investigation concerning substances is pointless. C. also
        gives examples of how Plotinus' own quasi-genus, in which entities are
        derived from their sources seated in the intelligible world, works in
        other aspects of his philosophy, as for example in his ethics. (Here he
        makes use of Linguiti's work on Ennead I.4.[[8]])

        C. is concerned to show how Plotinus' initial criticisms of the
        Aristotelian Categories in fact inaugurated, somewhat paradoxically,
        the tradition of harmonizing Plato and Aristotle which was the hallmark
        of later Neoplatonism. Further, he begins to develop a method of
        reading treatise VI.1 in terms of the broader structure of Plotinus'
        philosophy, replacing some of the more reactionary readings that see
        VI.1 as a specious and incoherent attack on Aristotle's work. In
        pursuing these laudable goals, C. largely succeeds. On the whole,
        however, I had the feeling that C.'s book, while admirable indeed for
        its thorough scholarship and careful research into the tradition, tries
        to accomplish too much. It seems to conclude with a number of results
        concerning Plotinus' place in the tradition, his methods of dialectic,
        his use of his own predecessors, that do not, in the end, amount to a
        real advance in the scholarship. Perhaps this result is reasonable,
        given that the book represents a revised version of his doctoral
        thesis. The book makes for difficult reading because the chapters are
        extremely long (almost one hundred pages in the case of the first
        chapter) and because it is not clear why C. singles out substance,
        motion, and analogy as the central locus of Plotinus' attacks. This
        book is a good overview of work on Plotinus' logic carried out by
        Lloyd, Strange, and Gerson (as well as fine Italian scholars such as
        Linguiti, D'ancona Costa, and Parente) but leaves us hankering for more
        details about the place of Porphyry's work among later Neoplatonists,
        about the importance of Iamblichus in the transmission of the fragments
        of Porphyry's lost ad Gedalium, and about Porphyry's understanding of
        Aristotle's philosophy as a whole.

        ------------------
        Notes:


        1. Neoplatonist scholars will be aware that Strange had already shown
        that Plotinus' attacks specifically on the Aristotelian concept of
        substance deeply informed his student Porphyry's treatment of the work
        in his On the Categories and Isagogia, as C. readily acknowledges. Cf.
        Stephen Strange, Plotinus, Porphyry, and the Neoplatonic Interpretation
        of the Categories, in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Ro+mischen Welt
        II.36.2, Berlin-New York 1987, pp. 955-74.

        2. See Gerson, Plotinus, London: Routledge1994, pp. 79-96, on the
        structure of Enneads VI.1-3: VI.1 contains Plotinus' anti-Aristotelian
        and anti-Stoic dialectic; VI.2 develops Plotinus' own theory of
        categories of the intelligible universe, employing the "greatest
        genera" of Plato's Sophist, 254D-257A; and VI.3 represents Plotinus'
        own explication of the structure of sensible substance by means of his
        own revised categories.

        3. Chiaradonna studies the sources of some of Plotinus' arguments
        against the Aristotelian idea of genus and traces them back to
        Nicostratus and Lucius. A.C. Lloyd, in his seminal article of 1956,
        'Neoplatonic Logic and Aristotelian logic,' Phronesis I pp. 58-72, had
        of course already shown this continuity. But anyone who has read Lloyd
        knows that his richly suggestive remarks could at times be compressed,
        and this is one strain of Lloyd's research that Chiaradonna documents
        more fully.

        4. A. C. Lloyd, The Anatomy of Neoplatonism Oxford: Oxford University
        Press 1990, pp. 76-79. Steven Strange developed a sophisticated
        analysis of the functions that such series enjoy within the structure
        of Plotinus' own metaphysics in his University of Texas dissertation of
        1981.

        5. For my money this question has already been well addressed in
        Gerson's Plotinus, pp. 84-93. There is, according to Gerson, a real
        sense in which Plotinus is right to point out the priority of
        substance, in Aristotle's own account in Metaphysics Lamba, as pure
        actuality.

        6. Thanks to Michael Chase for pointing out this citation, which
        exactly captures the point that C. makes with regard to the influence
        of Plotinus on the tradition.

        7. Translation of Michael Wagner in "Plotinus on the nature of
        physical reality," in Gerson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to
        Plotinus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996, pp. 130-170. In
        general, it seems to me that in this section of the book C. follows
        Wagner very closely, and indeed, he himself acknowledges that Wagner's
        very astute analysis of Plotinus' criticisms of Aristotle's notion of
        coming to be is central to his own analysis.

        8. A. Linguiti, La felicita\ et il tempo: Plotino, Enneadi, I 4- I 5.
        Milan: 2000.


        -------------------------------
        The BMCR website (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/) contains a complete
        and searchable archive of BMCR reviews since our first issue in 1990.
        It also contains information about subscribing and unsubscribing from
        the service.
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.