The Intentions and the Problem with the Tripartite Scheme

This symmetrical interpretation of Ghazzal 's spiritual career is tempting. It provides a meaningful arc to Ghazz l 's career, assigning him a forethought that seems appropriate for a scholar and mystic of his stature. It also would provide a clear hermeneutic for our reading of the Intentions of the Philosophers, whereby we could see each word of the work as an ingenious and conscious paraphrase. By this reading Ghazz l is like a great trial lawyer, cunningly undermining his opponents, the...

Porphyrys Hierarchy of Virtues

Porphyry's Sentences are a collection of forty-four loosely related philosophical discourses, mostly about neo-Platonic metaphysics and psychology. Some of the Sentences are just single propositions, while others consist of longer expositions and arguments. By far the longest of all the sentences, the thirty-second, gives an account of virtue.3 Porphyry begins his account of virtue with the familiar distinction between political and contemplative virtue. Virtues are divided into two sets, one...

Humility as a Virtue and the Crux of Magnanimity

In his paper on Anger as a Vice A Maimonidean Critique of Aristotle's Ethics, Daniel Frank argues for Maimonides' interpretation of Aristotelian Virtue in the light of the fundamental Old Testament virtue of Humility before God (Frank, 1990). He notes that Maimonides' praise of in-irascibility betokens an un-Aristotelian conception of the self and, likewise an un-Aristotelian notion of what constitutes self-esteem (Frank, 1990, 277) and Contradiction notwithstanding, Maimonides' final word on...

Notes

1 It was Bernard McGinn, in the course of our conference published as God and Creation (Burrell and McGinn 1990), who first raised this possibility with me given how long it has lingered, this exploration is dedicated in gratitude to him and his work. Most recently, Louis Dupre made a similar observation, and I realized how much the issue needed to be nuanced. 2 Norman Kretzmann's struggles with this issue (1991 1997, pp. 218-20) offer oblique testimony to Aquinas' point, while James Ross's...

Time as Nous

What is the monad of Time itself and how does it measure the circular activity of the Soul According to Proclus, it is a nous which is unfolded and unrolled by the activity of things in Time, but primarily by the dianoetic activity of the Soul. For as Nous is to the Soul, so is Eternity to Time, and inversely, so that Time is before the Soul, just as Eternity is before Nous. And Time should be participated by the Soul, and does not participate in the Soul, just as Nous does not participate in...

Williams Correction of Avicenna

The great irony of William's use of Avicenna's principle that 'nature operates in the manner of a servant' is that William so often uses this expression in his De trinitate, De universo, and De anima to correct Avicenna. His corrections cover a wide variety of topics, including the free will of rational creatures, and arguments against necessary emanation and the eternality of the world. William repeatedly uses Avicenna's nature servant principle in De universo to correct several errors in...

Evidence For a Divine Whatness

With respect to Avicenna's discussion of God's whatness, matters are seriously complicated. For in the very same chapter of the (or Liber de philosophia prima) where a divine quiddity (mahiyya) is disallowed, Avicenna suggests that we do not so much deny a quiddity to the first as identify that quiddity with anitas (ann yya whetherness), very much in the way that Aquinas would. In other words, God would have no quiddity or essence except his being (esse). As Avicenna writes, Therefore, the...

Thomas Aquinas on the Neoplatonic Hierarchy of Virtues

Like Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas directly addresses the Neoplatonic theory of a hierarchy of virtues. The theory makes an appearance in the Summa Theologiae, where Aquinas, like Bonaventure in the Collations, does not attribute the theory to Porphyry but to Macrobius.40 The fifth article of question 61 Iallae asks Are the cardinal virtues appropriately divided into political, purifying, purified, and exemplar virtues 41 After citing some Aristotelian and one Ciceronian objections that seem to...

Bonaventure on the Neoplatonic Hierarchy of Virtues

Bonaventure is among those medieval Christian philosophers who specifically address this Neoplatonic theory of a hierarchy of virtues. He discusses it at length in Collationes in Hexaemeron 6, where he attributes the theory to Plotinus, apparently on the authority of Macrobius Collation 6 ends with a long excerpt from Macrobius's Dream of Scipio.2 Bonaventure begins the sixth Collation as a discussion of the passage at Genesis 1 4 God saw the light that it was good and he divided the light from...

Conclusion Of Cardinal Virtues

In comparing Bonaventure's and Aquinas's appropriations of the Neoplatonic hierarchy of virtues, we note first that both Christian writers affirm the theory without hesitation. Even though they confront it in specifically theological contexts, both authors eagerly adopt from a pagan authority a theory bearing on the end of man. Indeed, both of them give specifically Christian emphasis to the ethical theory. Bonaventure insists that the whole of Sacred Scripture is concerned with the exemplar...

Notes on Contributors

Peter Adamson King's College London works on ancient and medieval philosophy with a focus on early Arabic Philosophy. His publications include Aristotelianism and the Soul in the Arabic Plotinus and Two Early Arabic Doxographies on the Soul al-Kindi and the Arabic Plotinus. His book on the Arabic Plotinus will appear in 2002. David B.Burrell, C.S.C. University of Notre Dame works mainly on comparative issues in philosophical theology in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His publications include...

Maimonides Aristotelianism

I offer the foregoing for purposes of a contextual introduction to the explicit subject of this chapter, Maimonides' Aristotelianism. Let me be quite clear at the outset that I think there is a good sense to be given to the designation. I think we should continue to consider Maimonides an Aristotelian, whatever else he may be 6 nevertheless it behooves us to reflect upon what precisely we mean when we so describe him. First of all, and most importantly, it is not on account of any of the...

The Structure of Subjectivity in the Boethian Itinerarium

Eriugena's Periphyseon is a cosmogony before it is, and in order that it might be, the saving itinerarium of the soul. The homo in which all is created is universal. In order to see how creative subjectivity works in the journey of an individual to salvation, and in order to establish one of the elements of our comparison, we must return to the Consolation. In Boethius philosophy is a way of life which brings repose and freedom Boethius 1973, 1.4, p. 144, lines 1-4 Quisquis composite serenus...

Anselms Quest and an Opposed Subjectivity

Anselm tells us that the Proslogion was undertaken because he wanted an argument for the existence and nature of God which conformed to the divine nature. He was dissatisfied with the form of the Monologion which he characterized as a concatenation of many arguments woven together. He wanted, instead, unum argumentum which by its own simplicity and self-sufficiency imaged the divine self-sufficient unity Anselm 1946, Prooemium, p. 93, lines 5-7 . The quest for a thinking which conforms in this...

Sarah Pessin Introduction

Avicenna is subject to a variety of well-known criticisms, perhaps most famously that he made of existence an accident.2 Rahman and others have, I think convincingly, argued that in fact, Avicenna does not literally treat existence as an accident.3 However, there seems to remain in both Avicenna and Aquinas scholarship the residual sense that even if he did not literally mean to make of existence an accident Avicenna does resort to invoking a misleading 'essence existence' image, if you will.4...

Porphyry and Learned Ignorance in AP

We have now seen the philosophical motivation for the doctrine of learned ignorance in AP. It falls into a general pattern of thought on the Adaptor's part in which he uses terms implying deprivation in order to express transcendence. Let us, then, turn to the question of the sources of the doctrine of ignorance as used by the Adaptor. I argued above that a major source for his defense of the doctrine was Aristotelian, but that Aristotle was not the entire inspiration for the passage in the...

Chapter Six Forms of Knowledge in the Arabic Plotinus

The theme of docta ignorantia, a learned ignorance or an ignorance that transcends knowledge, is a familiar one to students of Neoplatonism. It is perhaps most closely associated with the 15th century philosopher Nicholas of Cusa, but of course appears much earlier in the Neoplatonic tradition. Among these earlier appearances is the discussion of a knowledge beyond knowledge and ignorance gnosin exo gnoseos kai agnoias in a fragment of the Commentary on the Parmenides attributed to Porphyry...

Preexistence and the Aristotelian Defense of Avicennian Ontology

Without spending too much time rehearsing Rahman's defense of Avicenna against the reading of those who take Avicenna to have made of 'existence' an accident, it should be noted that it is a very Aristotelian defense of Avicenna. In brief, this defense has the effect of reducing Avicenna's claims about essences and existences to claims about Aristotelian ousiai the substantial existents of Aristotle's ontology.7 In effect, Rahman and others argue that Avicenna does not mean by 'existence' an...

Plenitude and the World of Becoming Proclus Simplicius

The question arises why this suspended, constant and eternal outflow from God or, in truth, from the One, for the God of Avicenna is the God of the Neoplatonists. The answer, in short, is Providence. The One is good by nature, and so its self-realization necessarily lies in the overflowing of being to its greatest possible extent. In Plotinus and in Neoplatonist thought ever onwards we find the idea of maximal creation revitalized the principle of Plenitude in the sense Lovejoy deemed most...

The Volume

The claim here is that we need more cross-pollination in the study of medieval thought than occurs at present and especially in the histories that do so much to establish and maintain the boundaries of the discipline. The present work is an attempt to move in this direction. As the Islamic philosophical tradition was the privileged site for the study and continuation of the Classical philosophical tradition in the Middle Ages, due attention is given to this tradition. An initial chapter on the...

James Lowry Proclus

This chapter is an examination of certain parts of the philosophy of Proclus. Its aim is to clarify in what manner Proclus is a systematic thinker. The notion of philosophical system which comes to mind from a contemporary standpoint is not the notion which Proclus had, and any interpretation of Proclus from a later standpoint is bound to fail. Proclus' notion of philosophical system, moreover, is important for the interpretation of all medieval philosophy, because the Greek Neoplatonic...

Time as a Moving Image of Eternity

In what manner is Time a moving image of Eternity Proclus tells us that Eternity measures the intelligible, as a unity, while Time measures the things which are in becoming, as numbered. Eternity is a measure in the sense that the multiplicity of intelligibles in the autozoon are all beings, and as such they are all expressions of the unity which is the One-Being. Eternity is the principle which brings them forth into a permanent existence, and leads them back beyond itself to the One-Being,...

History of Understanding The Intentions of the Philosophers

It was just before his departure from Baghdad that Ghazzali began the Intentions of the Philosophers,4 a book apparently composed at the request of his students. In it, Ghazzali provides a systematic exposition of the philosophical sciences with a distinctly Aristotelian angle. The Intentions, an expression of his two years of personal study,5 is a clear and careful work, reflecting the philosophical tradition of al-Farabi d. 339 950 and Ibn Sina Avicenna 428 1037 , whom Ghazzali considered the...