How should I live? How can I be happy? What is happiness, really? These are perennial questions, which in recent times have become the subject of diverse kinds of academic research. Ancient philosophers placed happiness at the centre of their thought, and we can trace the topic through nearly a millennium. While the centrality of the notion of happiness in ancient ethics is well known, this book is unique in that it focuses directly on this notion, as it appears in (...) the ancient texts. Fourteen papers by an international team of scholars map the various approaches and conceptions found from the Presocratics through Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic philosophy, to the Neoplatonists and Augustine in late antiquity. They address questions raised by ancient thinkers that are still of deep concern today. (shrink)
The study of the ancient commentators has developed considerably over the past few decades, fueled by recent translations of their often daunting writings. This book offers the only concise, accessible general introduction currently available to the writings of the late ancient commentators on Aristotle and, to a lesser extent, Plato. Miira Tuominen provides a historical overview followed by a series of thematic chapters on epistemology, science and logic, physics, psychology, metaphysics, and ethics. In particular, she focuses on the writings of (...) Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, Porphyry, Proclus, Philoponus, and Simplicius. Until recently, the late ancient commentators have been understood mainly as sources of information concerning the masters upon whose works they comment. This book offers new insights into their way of doing philosophy in their own right. (shrink)
According to Alexander of Aphrodisias, our potential intellect is a purely receptive capacity. Alexander also claims that, in order for us to actualise our intellectual potentiality, the intellect needs to abstract what is intelligible from enmattered perceptible objects. Now a problem emerges: How is it possible for a purely receptive capacity to perform such an abstraction? It will be argued that even though Alexander's reaction to this question causes some tension in his theory, the philosophical motivation for it is a (...) sound one. Rather than a calculation of actualities and potentialities, the doctrine of receptivity is supposed to explain how human beings come to grasp universal aspects of reality in an accurate manner. (shrink)
New Perspectives on Aristotelianism and Its Critics traces Aristotelian influences in modern and pre-modern discourses on knowledge, rights, and the good life. The contributions offer new insights on contemporary discussions on life in its cognitive, political, and ethical dimensions.
From the first century BCE onwards, philosophers started to write commentaries on those Aristotle’s treatises that were meant for the internal use of his school. Plato’s works had been commented on already earlier, the first reported commentary originates in the 300s BCE. Commentaries are treatises that follow an object text in a more or less linear fashion. The format was not unknown before the first century BCE but new in extensive philosophical use. This review essay focuses on authors who commented (...) on Aristotle’s works. The commentaries emerged when Platonists and Aristotelians observed the need to teach the philosophy of these ancient masters to their students and to systematise their philosophy to respond to rival schools. In the late ancient schools, Plato and Aristotle were considered great thinkers, whose views needed to be studied carefully when considering any matter at hand. Many also argued that, despite the initial appearance to the contrary, there is no deep disagreement between Plato and Aristotle but, rather, a division of labour; Aristotle is dominant in natural philosophy and Plato in theology. However, this harmony thesis was not universally accepted. Despite their respect for Plato and Aristotle, the commentators were not mere followers of these authors. They developed, criticised and transformed the doctrines in significant ways, not only by suggesting different answers to the same questions but also by transforming the questions themselves. (shrink)