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Title: Platonic Matters
Authors: Rosenblatt, Aviv Kalman
Advisors: Wildberg, Christian
Contributors: Classics Department
Subjects: Philosophy
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Plato’s thought begins with a sharp division between a higher and lower world. But as the lower world is by definition unintellectual, a question arises about how it can link to the higher world: Can sensible things participate in their Forms without having any receptivity to them? And wouldn’t that receptivity prove at least inchoately intellectual in some critical sense? This problem is endemic to Platonism, and felt acutely by Aristotle and Plotinus. Given that the higher principle was largely expected to be immutable, the challenge these philosophers faced was to find a way to endow the lower element with a capacity for relating to the higher element. Examining how the three thinkers address this problem can shed new light on some key aspects of their thought. Plotinian emanation can be read as the product of two Platonic approaches. Appropriating Pythagorean number theory, Plato envisaged a diminishing series of intelligible principles, ending in a final mediating figure that bridged the gap with the sensible world. Plotinian emanation systematizes this insight, also hypostasizing a mediating figure – Soul. Plotinus reserves an important role in emanation for desire and the will, which characterize the highest principle as well as the lowest, unintellectual things. The concept of desire used by Plotinus was born in Plato’s Symposium, where eros occupies an intermediate position between ugliness and beauty, lacking and having, and, as Socrates’ characteristic stance, between ignorance and wisdom. Love can thus be of the higher element, despite (or thanks to) not possessing it. Plato’s Symposium provided inspiration for Aristotle’s attempt to resolve the ontological gap through a teleological hylomorphism which binds together the two worlds. Aristotle and Plotinus’s attempts to bridge the ontological/epistemic gap attenuate the intellectual character of the higher world. Two basic elements of Platonism are thus affected: The connection between the two worlds comes to be based on desire rather than intellect; and the nature of the first principle is associated with actualization or simplicity/unity, rather than intellect.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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