Phronesis 53 (4-5):406-432 (2008)

Abstract
Porphyry's account of the nature of seeds can shed light on some less appreciated details of Neoplatonic psychology, in particular on the interaction between individual souls. The process of producing the seed and the conception of the seed offer a physical instantiation of procession and reversion, activities that are central to Neoplatonic metaphysics. In an act analogous to procession, the seed is produced by the father's nature, and as such it is ontologically inferior to the father's nature. Thus, the seed does not strictly speaking contain a full-fledged vegetative soul. Rather, it acquires its vegetative soul only while it is being actualized by an actual vegetative soul. This actualization takes place primarily at conception, where the seed as it were reverts back and becomes obedient to the mother's nature, but continues through the period of gestation. In this way, Porphyry can account both for maternal resemblance and for ideoplasty. He uses the Stoic language of complete blending to describe the mother's relation to the seed and embryo, and this reveals that he thinks of individuals as having their own unique individual natures (as opposed to sharing in a single universal nature). In the course of developing this theory, Porphyry makes significant revisions to his philosophical predecessors' views in both embryology and botany. He revises Aristotle's verdict on the relative importance of the female in generation as well as Theophrastus' explanation of the biological mechanics of grafting. Although Plotinus nowhere addresses embryology in the same detail as Porphyry does, we can conclude from his remarks on seeds and plants that his own views were similar to those of his student.
Keywords SEEDS   PLOTINUS   EMBRYOLOGY   NEOPLATONISM   PSYCHOLOGY   PORPHYRY
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/156852808x338346
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,043
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Commentary on Plato's Timaeus.A. Taylor - 1929 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 36 (2):14-14.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Teratology in Neoplatonism.James Wilberding - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (5):1021-1042.
Proclus on Plato's Timaeus 89e3–90c7.Rüdiger Arnzen - 2013 - Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 23 (1):1-45.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
60 ( #188,122 of 2,498,570 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #426,098 of 2,498,570 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes