Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism: Studies on the Ancient Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo (Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Texts and Contexts: Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition, Volume 12)

Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism: Studies on the Ancient Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo (Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Texts and Contexts: Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition, Volume 12)

Sebastian Ramon, Philipp Gertz

Language: English

Pages: 236

ISBN: 2:00276699

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The belief in the immortality of the soul has been described as one of the twin pillars of Platonism and is famously defended by Socrates in Platos Phaedo. The ancient commentaries on the dialogue by Olympiodorus and Damascius offer a unique perspective on the reception of this belief in the Platonic tradition.

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of a different relation towards genesis: those who are incurably wicked are symbolized by the rivers that turn back to Tartarus swiftly, since they are assigned to genesis, that is to say Tartarus, as punishment. Those souls, however, who have done wrong but are easy to cure of their wickedness, are not much like Tartarus. They are therefore not immediately rushed back into it, but instead remain outside genesis (i.e. Tartarus) for long lifetimes, until they finally return again to be purified of

question ‘who is the philosopher?’ with ‘the philosophical life’ of the Prolegomena; ‘the philosopher’s practice’ ( πιτ δευσις; a verbal echo of Phd. a) with ε ανασ α (presumably in the sense of Socrates’ claim that philosophy is a ‘practice of death’), an interesting correspondence between Albinus’ justification for the sequence Alcibiades-Phaedo and the critique of the Prolegomena would emerge. The third item in Albinus’ list, ‘the kind of assumption that underlies the philosopher’s

condemnation of suicide be reconciled with Socrates’ own act of drinking the fatal hemlock? What is the scope of ‘necessity’ in the clause allowing for exceptions?2 . Two Kinds of Death and Separation My main interest in this chapter is with Neoplatonic responses to the two problems I have set out. Beginning with the first, the consistency of Socrates’ position in the Phaedo, we can trace an outline solution to the problem back to Porphyry. It is this solution to the aporia how the pursuit of

opposite comes to be from its own opposite alone. For in the case of something becoming greater or smaller, the only relevant opposites are a particular class of relative properties that proceed on a gradual scale.4 If Socrates’ principle can stand, therefore, it is severely limited in its application, and of no use at all for allaying Cebes’ worry that the soul may be dispersed after death. First of all, being alive and being dead are not ordinarily used as relative properties on a gradual

surviving for a great span of time by inhering in another substrate. (Dam.II..–) According to Proclus, even if one assumes that the argument from affinity proves the soul’s greater durability, this may be accounted for by soul’s moving from a material body from which it is separable to a different body from which it is inseparable (this is the force of ν ποκειμ νω in the passage above, as used by Aristotle at Cat. a–). This last body may be more durable than the material body and may

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