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Neoplatonism Review by: Peter Adamson Phronesis, Vol. 51, No. 4 (2006), pp.

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Book Notes*

Neoplatonism
PETER ADAMSON

I begin, fittingly, with the first treatise in the Enneads of Plotinus. A volume devoted to this treatise - one of the last Plotinus wrote, despite Porphyry's decision to use it as the opening for the Enneads - is the seventh installment in the series Les eccritsde Plotin, overseen by Pierre Hadot.' As with other volumes in the series, the author Gwenaelle Aubry provides an introduction, translationwith textual notes (but no Greek text), and a detailed commentary. In fact the commentary threatens to become a general study of the self in Plotinus, since A. brings in many passages from elsewhere in the Enneads. She is good on Plotinus' use of Plato, seeing 1.1 as responding above all to the First Alcibiades. That dialogue poses the question of discovering who "we" are: the soul, the body, a combinationof the two? For A., Plotinus' treatise falls into two halves (with the dividing point at 1.1.7.6), the first devoted to the question of soul's relation to body and the second devoted to the more general question of identifying what is "us" (he?meis). The first part moves throughvarious proposals before settling on the notion that soul is a dunamis (here better translatedas "power"than "potentiality") which is able to remain unaffectedeven as its act proceeds to the body. The "composite"or "animal" is not a mixture (krasis) of soul with body, but ratherthe result of the soul's emanated act giving form to body. With regardto the second part,A. emphasizes the dynamic characterof Plotinus' hetmeis."We" are neither the animal (that is, animated body) nor the undescended soul that engages always in to be equated with the level of intellection; nor are "we" straightforwardly discursive reasoning (dianoia). Rather, the hemeis is the subject of a choice between possible objects of identification.Because I.1 focuses on this fundamentalchoice, it is ultimatelyan ethicalwork (p. 286) - suggestingthatPorphyry did well to place it at the head of the first Ennead. The following passage summarizesmuch of A.'s interpretation: "Ultimement,le sujet plotinien apparalt comme cette liberte par laquelle la conscience se donne tel ou tel objet. Puissance de choix entre deux actualisationset deux identificationspossibles,

* Book Notes discuss books on ancient philosophy which are sent to the journal for review. I G. Aubry, Plotin:Traite 53 (1,1).Paris:Cerf, 2004. Pp. 396. E44 (pb). ISBN 2 204 07414 4. ? Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2006 Also available online - www.brill.nl/phro

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puissance d'orientation vers un devenir-animal ou un devenir-humain,il se devoile comme etant avant tout le sujet d l'ethique" (p. 308). Staying with the firstEnnead, let us turnto AlexandrineSchniewind's study of the notion of the sage (spoudaios) in Plotinus.2 The book focuses on Enneads 1.4 ("On Happiness"), and places this treatise in the context of Plotinus' ethical thought in general. S. emphasizes the idea of the sage, an ethically paradigmaticfigure whose attainmentof intellection guarantees his happiness. The connection between intellection and happiness raises familiar difficulties having to do with the relation between the higher, intellective self, and the lower, embodied self. As S. points out in her ch. 4, Plotinus emphasizes that the higher man is "other(allos)" than the lower man. On what basis can we say that these two "men" are still one and the same individual?This metaphysical question is not central to the book, but S. does discuss some related issues, for instance the question of whether the sage has any practical role to play in this world. S. argues that for Plotinus the practical role of the spoudaios lies in bringing others to virtue, in part by serving as an example. The educative role of the spoudaios is echoed in the pedagogical purpose S. detects in Enneads 1.4 itself. Plausibly, she sees the treatise (and Plotinus' writings in general) as addressing those who are not yet sages. She even suggests (ch. 2) that 1.4 is intended for three kinds of readers:those corresponding to casual "auditors"of Plotinus' teaching sessions, initiated disciples, and Plotinus' inner circle of assistants(i.e. Porphyryand Amelius). For S., the treatise addresses each group in turn, graduallyexpressing an ever more demanding ethical teaching, though she admits that of course any reader of the text would read it from beginning to end. Though the second grouping of treatises in the Enneads is perhapsthe one that receives least attentionin the scholarly literature,James Wilberding'sfine translationand commentaryon 11.I shows that there is importantphilosophical material to be found here.3The book begins with a very useful overview of issues in Greek cosmology, covering Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics as well as Plotinus. This introductionanticipates points discussed in more detail in the commentaryto the text (here we do get a Greek text, which is basically that of the most recent Henry and Schwyzer edition). As W. shows, this treatise (for which he adopts the title Peri tou Kosmou, ratherthan Peri Ouranou) is essentially a discussion of the world's eternity. But Plotinus takes it for granted that the universe has always existed, and in its currentarrangement; the only question is whether the cosmos is everlastingly numericallyidentical,

2 A. Schniewind, L'Ethique du sage chez Plotin: le paradigme du spoudaios. Paris: J. Vrin, 2003. Pp. 238. ?32 (pb). ISBN 2 7116 1616 9. 3 J. Wilberding,Plotinus' Cosmology. A Study of Ennead 11.1(40). Text, Translation and Commentary.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 269. ?60 (hb). ISBN 0 19 927726 5.

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or merely formally identical. Plotinus argues for the former, which he takes to require showing that the heavens are also everlastingly numericallyidentical. This in turn leads Plotinus to argue that the heavens do not exchange anything bodily with the sublunaryworld. One might wonder why this is necessary, given that, as W. convincingly argues, it is soul that plays the primary role in securing the identity over time of ensouled beings (it does this role all on its own in the case of humans, for example, since our bodies as such are in constant flux, according to Plotinus). The answer would seem to be that in the special case of a numerically identical everlasting body, there can be no bodily influx or efflux - in this case the special kind of body is an "auxiliary cause (sunergon)" of the everlastingness of the heavens. Plotinus however rejects Aristotle's theory of a "fifth"element, holding instead that the heavens are made of a very pure kind of fire, "corporeallight." Thus Plotinus also departs from the apparentdoctrine of the Timaeus, which is that the heavens contain all four elements; a very interesting remark in 11.1.6seems to show Plotinus actually distinguishing the view of the character Timaeus from Plato's own view. (But see W.'s note on this section for a cautionaryview, based on the fact that Plotinus reverts to seeing Timaeus as Plato's mouthpiece in 11.1.7.) W.'s treatmentof I1.1 is admirable for its scholarship and handling of a wide range of philosophical issues raised by the treatise. His commentaryis also helpful in explaining his own translationchoices (see for instance the comment ad 2.4-5, which takes us at length throughW's thought process for translatingthe passage as he does). Another highlight of recent Plotinus scholarshipis RiccardoChiaradonna's
excellent study of Enneads VI.1-3 (On the Genera of Being).4 As the subtitle

of C.'s book indicates,this studyemphasizesPlotinus'hostilitytowardsAristotle. Plotinus opens the door to the harmonizingproFor some recent interpreters ject advanced by his student, Porphyry.C. is having none of this: for him, passages in VI.1 where Plotinus seems to accept Aristotelian ideas to some extent are merely dialectical, partof an "internalcritique,"with Plotinus' own positive views put forwardonly in VI.3. C. concentratesespecially on Plotinus' criticisms of Aristotle's views on substance and motion. Plotinus rejects not only Aristotle's claim that sensible substances are "primary,"but even the claim that sensible things are properly "substances"at all. Rather they are mere bundles of qualities. Plotinus' treatmentof motion is similar (C. draws numerousparallels between Plotinus' treatmentof substance and motion; see e.g. pp. 156, 176, 205, 219). Famously, Plotinus denies Aristotle's distinction between energeia and kinesis, arguing that real kinesis transcends the bodily manifestation of activity/motion. C. emphasizes Plotinus' contrast between "walking," an immaterial activity, and "walking a certain distance"
I R. Chiaradonna, Sostanza Movimento Analogia: Plotino critico di Aristotle. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2002. Pp. 328. ?31 (pb). ISBN 88 7088 410 4.

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(badisis vs. he pose badisis), which is the physical manifestation and effect of this activity. What is distinctive about bodily "motion," for instance its incompleteness, is due solely to the material naturethat receives the effect of true motion. This latter, by contrast, is always complete, one reason Plotinus identifies it with energeia. An importantfeature of C.'s book is his contrast between Plotinus and later Neoplatonists, who do take an eirenic attitude towards Aristotle. He shows that not only Porphyry, but also lamblichus, Dexippus, and Simplicius indirectlyor directlyargueagainst Plotinus' polemics. He also shows that Plotinus frequently anticipates and rejects points made by the commentators in defense of Aristotle. For example, these commentators take the view that sensible substances are "primary"only in the sense that they are "primaryto us," whereas we have only an inadequate grasp of the intelligible, which is "primaryin itself." Plotinus rejects such an account on every level. Ontologically he argues that there is nothing "common (koinon)" between the two levels such that sensibles and intelligibles could be in a single genus of "substance."Methodologically, he argues that the Aristotelian we do not graspthe intelligible incompletelyby ascendprocedureis backwards: ing from the sensible, but ratherwe grasp the intelligible in its own right, and use it to explain what there is to be understood about sensible things. (Plotinus' belief in the undescended soul might make this epistemology more plausible, though C. does not emphasize the point.) Thus - and on this point of ChristophHorn - Plotinus anticiC. is disagreeing with the interpretation and Dexippus to exploit an "anaPorphyry pates, but rejects, the attempt by sensibles and their immaterial principles. C.'s between relationship logical" book, then, is a major contributionnot only to the study of VI.1-3, but also to the unfolding debate about the similarity between Plotinus and subsequent Neoplatonizing Aristotelians. In part because of his undoubtedrole in either initiating or taking forward the tradition of explicitly combining Neoplatonic ideas with Aristotelianism, a great deal of attentionis currentlybeing paid to Porphyry.Marco Zambon's book on Porphyryand the "middle"Platonists is more wide ranging than its title suggests.5 It is really a general survey of the middle Platonists (or, at least, Plutarch, Atticus, Numenius, Alcinous and the Chaldean Oracles) and of Porphyry, indicating where there are points of overlap and possible influence, as well as occasional explicit quotations of the former by the latter. Z. shows that there are strikingresonances between middle Platonists and Porphyry with regard to both methodology and doctrine. The most fundamental methodological points concern Porphyry's "eclecticism" and, especially, his harmonizationof Plato with Aristotle and his use of Aristotelian ideas to interpretPlato (also a feature of the Didaskalikos for instance, though
I Marco Zambon, Porphyre et le Moyen-Platonisme.Paris: J. Vrin, 2002. Pp. 400. E42 (pb). ISBN 2 7116 1534 0.

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other Platonists, like Atticus, were hostile to Aristotle). Z. suggests (p. 135) that Porphyry'sfriendliness to Aristotle is simply one example of his general openness to non-Platonic thinkers and groups, which is again a middle Platonic legacy. The main exception to his tolerance is one that proves the rule: Porphyry's hostility to Christianity,argues Z., grows out of Porphyry's basic rationalismand intellectualopen-mindedness,two featuresthat Porphyry found lacking in Christianity. (Z. compares his critique to that of Celsus, p. 239ff.). Doctrinally, there are well-known parallels between Porphyry's ideas on such matters as the "intelligible triad" and middle Platonic texts (especially Numenius and the Oracles). The parallels are even more striking if we accept the ascription of the anonymous Parmenides commentary to Porphyry,as does Z. Throughoutthe book, Z. faces the question of whether the middle Platonic thinkers influenced Porphyry simply because they were so influential on Porphyry's teacher, Plotinus. Z. admits that Plotinus was Porphyry's main inspiration and an important conduit for middle Platonic ideas. But he urges us to see Porphyry as deliberately trying to reconcile Plotinian Platonismwith other, earlier forms of Platonism- a projectbefitting Porphyry's synthesizing approachto philosophy. A second recent volume on Porphyry,by Robert M. Berchman,is devoted to Against the Christians.6This is also the first in a new series from Brill called "Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition."It is an English translation of fragments relevant to Porphyry's polemic against Christianity, with extensive introductory materials. B. particularly stresses Porphyry's unprecedentedstatus as a careful and sophisticated reader of the Bible. A good point, but I was disappointed in this study, for three reasons. First, there is no original language material, and B. seems modest about his own ability to produce new translationsof these difficult and disparate texts (see pp. ix-x: "what I have done is examine prior translationsof these fragments and followed them where appropriate"). mateSecond, the introductory rials have very little to say about Against the Christians itself, instead providing an overview of the historical context and previous authorswho discuss Christianity.While this is not unhelpful, there is too little in the way of detailed comparison to Porphyry.(The discussion of Plotinus in particularis too general. One point B. makes would be worth developing further,namely that Plotinus' attack on the Gnostics may be comparablein some respects to Porphyry's attack on the Christians.) Third, and most importantly,after rereading the relevant sections of this book, I am still not quite sure what B. believes about the Porphyriantexts referredto here as Against the Christians. He usually speaks as if it were a single discrete work, but elsewhere seems clearly to say the idea of a single work called Against the Christians is a later
6 R.M. Berchman, Porphyry Against the Christians. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2005. Pp. xvi+243. E109/$139 (hb). ISBN 90 04 14811 6.

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fiction (see especially pp. 3 and 5). This seems to be why he translatesevery passage that he thinks may be relevant to Porphyry'santi-Christianinvective, even passages that are certainly from works on other topics (e.g. B.'s fragment 2 is a reference to Porphyry's Commentaryon Oracles, and there are fragmentsfrom On Abstinence),as well as passages that may or may not have anything to do directly with Porphyry (from Macarius; see pp. 120-1). This all should have been made much clearer. In this respect, it is unfortunatethat an editing mistake has resulted in the phrase "against the Christians"apparently always appearingas if it were a title, so that we get for instance references to "imperialpogroms Against the Christians"(p. 33), and an "emperor who took action Against the Christians of Egypt" (p. 35). This adds a further dimension of unclarityto mentions of Porphyry's"writingsAgainst the ChrisI mentians," in the plural. (Does B. mean "writingsagainst the Christians"?) is the editorial of shockingly poor tion this in part because it symptomatic standardsevident in the book. There are obvious typos, grammaticalerrors, and more significant mistakes scattered liberally throughoutthe volume. It is to be hoped that this will be rectified in future offerings from this series. Finally, a major event in Porphyry studies is the publication of two volumes devoted to the Sentences. The volumes are a collective work by a large team of scholars under the editorship of Luc Brisson.7 The result is a new edition of the Sentences, both a French and an English translation, and a sprawling commentary of about 400 pages, with notes by many different hands (and occasional excurses, e.g. Jean Pepin on the term procheirisis in Sent. 16, or a text with translation for a passage in Nemesius relevant to materialby Marie-OdileGouletSent. 27). This is all prefacedby introductory Caze and Brisson himself - the introductionto Porphyry's metaphysics by G.-C. is learned and thorough,perhapsto a fault, since it includes a great deal of familiarmaterialon Plotinus,whereas B.'s introduction on physics and ethics is more focused - and a study of textual parallels by Cristina D'Ancona. She has identified,and presentedin a table, the verbaland thematicparallelsbetween the Sentences and its main source, the Enneads. Among other things, she overturns the previous judgment of Schwyzer, who held that the latest treatise used by Porphyry is Enneads 11I.7 [45]. D. finds parallels, including verbal parallels, to treatises as late as 1.7 [54] (see pp. 176-7). D. also argues that the Sentences were a significant influence on Proclus' Elements of Theology, in part because of Porphyry's habit of formulating pithy "laws" governing the Neoplatonic system (this is especially striking in the opening sections of the Sentences). These laws include the infamous "all things are in all things, but appropriately" (Sent. 10), not found in Plotinus but of course an allusion to Anaxagoras,and perhapswith a basis in the Pythagorean
L. Brisson (ed.), Porphyre: Sentences. Paris: Vrin, 2005. 2 vols, pp. 874. ?45.

ISBN2 7116 16320.

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traditionas well (see pp. 400-1). There is also a wealth of commentaryhere on such importantpassages as Porphyry's comparison of the soul to a harmony in Sent. 18, and the long discussion of the virtues in Sent. 32, which develops the theory of Enneads 1.2 (see not only the comments ad loc but the discussions in the introductorymaterialsin vol. 1). In all, this extensive study of the dense and influential Sentences is warmly to be welcomed, not least for the long-overduemoderntranslations into Frenchand English.(JohnDillon's English translationof the Sentences here is the first since that of Guthrie in 1918, and the most recent French translation,according to the overview of previous studies at pp. 285-300, was that of Leveque in 1857!) On the subject of Proclus' Elementsof Theology,two books from Academia press deal with this text and its later reception. The first, by Erwin Sonderegger, is a Germantranslation,with brief commentary,of the Elements.8 The edition is that of Dodds without the critical apparatus.In his introductionand commentary,S. advances the view that the Elementsshould not be understood in a "realist"or "theological"way - in other words, that the Elements are a formal study of the concepts of unity and being, ratherthan an attemptto jusof the tify pagan religious belief. Thus S. believes that later interpretations Elements, especially those in the Christian tradition, fundamentallymisconstrue Proclus' argument.Though S. is clearly right to stress the formal structure and approachof the Elements, I would have found this theme in his book more persuasive had he said more about the relation of the Elements to Proclus' other works and his sources. I suspect S. would be willing to develop his argument at least with respect to Plato, though - he claims that in both Plato and the Elements, the gods have a merely "metaphorical" function, and that at least for Proclus "the gods play not a theological, but a philosophical, role" (see pp. 243, 246). The second book from this press, by AndreasBachliHinz, deals with the Liber de Causis, the influentialLatin version of an Arabic translationand reworkingof the Elements.9B.-H. provides the Latin text with translation and a commentary on each chapter, as well as an article-length appendix at the end on Albert the Great's use of the de Causis. The commentary,which is based only on the Latin version, stresses aspects of the de Causis that show it diverging from Proclus. Most strikingly, the complicated hierarchyof the Elements is simplified into something closer to the system of the Enneads (also translatedinto Arabic at about the same time), and Proclus' One becomes a creating God, no longer accompanied by henads (see e.g.

uber Einheit. Grundzugeder neuplatonischen E. Sonderegger,Proklos. Grundkurs Welt. Sankt Augustin: Academia, 2004. Pp. 280. E34.50 (pb). ISBN 3 89665 270 2. 1 A. Bachli-Hinz, Monotheismus und neuplatonische Philosophie. Eine Untersuchung zumpseudo-aristotelischenLiber de causis und dessen Rezeptiondurch Albert den GroJ3en. Sankt Augustin: Academia, 2004. Pp. 214. E24.50 (pb). ISBN 3 89665 223 0.

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pp. 73, 124, 128). It is furthermoreidentifiedwith Proclus' distinct principles of the unlimited, being, and with the source of providence. (I'm doubtful, though, whether B.-H. is right to describe this as a kind of "monism," e.g. pp. 14, 120, 178; a term also used too loosely by Sonderegger, at his p. 13.) I do not think that either of these volumes do much to push forwardthe study of the Elements or its Arabic and Latin reception,'0but they will no doubt make these texts more accessible to German-speakingreaders. The Ancient CommentatorsProject continues to produce translationsof the Greek commentaries (and related texts) at a steady clip. I have received, firstly, Philip van der Eijk's translation of the beginning of the De Anima commentarywritten by Philoponus "based on the seminars of Ammonius."" This volume is of special interest because it includes a prooemium that sets out the basics of psychology according to the Ammonian school. As one would expect, this psychological theory seeks to reconcile Aristotle with Platonism, for instance by invoking recollection to explain the possibility of grasping universals on the basis of sense-experience (p. 18). More complicated is the analysis of human cognition as falling into three types: doxa, dianoia and nous (pp. 15-17). This scheme is clearly Platonist (especially in that it distinguishes between three types of objects to go with the three types of cognition), but is presented mostly in terminology borrowed from Aristotle's theory of demonstration.In the commentaryproper,we find among other things Philoponus' attempt to explain the contents of Plato's infamous Lecture on the Good (pp. 95-101). Though the commentaryalso tries to flesh out Aristotle's remarks about Pre-Socratics starting in De Anima 1.2, Philoponus admits (p. 109) that he is hampered by not having access to the writings of these thinkers. From the same series, we now have the third and final volume translating Philoponus' commentaryon Aristotle's On Generationand Corruption.'2 (The first two were producedby C.J.F. Williams in 1999.) This commentaryis an early work by Philoponus,again based on the lectures of Ammonius. An interesting aspect of the text is that it may show several "layers" of commentary on Aristotle, for instance Ammonius building on Alexander,then being amplified or corrected by Philoponus. The translator, Inna Kupreeva, tracks the signs of this layering in the notes. Of particularphilosophical interest in this

'0 For the de Causis the pivotal study remains the collection of articles in C. D'Ancona Costa, Recherches sur le Liber de Causis (Paris: J. Vrin, 2005). D'Ancona does much more than Bachli-Hinz to place the de Causis in its proper context as an Arabic work produced in the ninth century. " P.J. van der Eijk (trans.), Philoponus. On Aristotle On the Soul 1.1-2. London: Duckworth, 2005. Pp. x+221, ?55 (hb). ISBN 0 7156 3306 6. 12 I. Kupreeva (trans.), Philoponus. On Aristotle On Coming-to-Be and Perishing 2.5-11. London: Duckworth, 2005. Pp. 226. ?55 (hb). ISBN 0 7156 3304 X.

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volume is, first, the question of the relation between the four simple elements and homoeomerous compounds (like flesh and bone) which are all made of all four elements in various proportions.Where Aristotle says that the elements are still "potentially"present in such compounds, Philoponus (p. 63) raises the possibility that the sort of potentiality in question is a "thirdtype" distinct from those we are familiar with. It is in this sense that a house is "potential"while it is actually in the process of being built. This is meant to help explain why, for instance, fire still makes a compound hot despite being only "potentially"present in the compound.'3Another section discusses the need for and identification of the efficient cause for generation and corruption. Aristotle had said that Plato failed to name such a cause; the commentators make some attempt to defend Plato (p. 78). They also add detail to Aristotle's claim that circular heavenly motion is the cause. For example, is it all heavenly motion, or just that of the planets? (See pp. 82-5.) Perhaps most interestingis the commentaryon GC 2.1 1, which deals with the modal status of generated things. Philoponus points out that coming-to-be is necessary only for things whose being is necessary. For instance the sun's being is necessary, hence its coming to be in Aries is also necessary (p. 97). In general only circularprocesses can be necessary simpliciter (as opposed to hypothetically necessary, p. 98); this includes not only heavenly motion but also the propagationof species. Regardingthis volume it should be remarkedthat the notes are not only very learnedwith regardto the Greek sources, but also bring in parallels with Arabic texts, especially works of Alexander preserved in Arabic and the commentaryof Averroes on GC. The close connections between late antique and Arabic philosophy are in fact receiving a great deal of interest at the moment; I have received numerous books whose subject matterincludes both Greek and Arabic thought.Most strikingis the fact that no fewer than threeofferingsdeal with the commentary in both Greek and Arabic, as well as Latin. The broadest approach is taken in Der Kommentarin Antike und Mittelalter, which deals with several types Two papers, by IlsetrautHadot and Cristina D'Ancona, are of commentary.'4 focused specifically on philosophical commentary. Hadot's piece surveys terrain that will be familiar to many readers, giving a useful summary of the history of the commentators;one striking emphasis is her elaboration of

1' On this see F.A.J. de Haas, "Mixturein Philoponus. An Encounterwith a Third in J.M.M.H.ThijssenandH.A.G. Braakhuis (eds.), TheCommentary Kindof Potentiality," Traditionon Aristotle's De Generatione et Corruptione:Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern (Tumhout: 1999), 21-46. 14 W. Geerlings and C. Schulze (eds.), Der Kommentarin Antike und Mittelalter, Band 1. Leiden-Boston:Brill, 2002. Pp: viii+374. E130/$176 (hb). ISBN: 90 04 12528 0. I note that a second volume of studies on commentariesin the middle ages was published in 2004.

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the idea that writing commentaries itself is a kind of "spiritual exercise." D'Ancona, meanwhile, puts forward the proposal that we should credit Syrianus with standardizingthe format of Neoplatonist commentaryfamiliar to us from the later Alexandrian school of Ammonius. Her piece is also rich in bibliographicalinformationon both Greek and Arabic commentaries.The rest of the volume may be roughly divided into historical sections. First are several papers on patristics;here I found most interestingPollmann's discussion of the Revelations commentaryof Tyconius, a thinkerso unorthodoxthat he managed to become an outcast even from the Donatist church. Next come a group of papers on late classical and medieval Latin texts, covering commentary on dramatictexts, religious commentary(I note here the suggestion, on p. 91, that allegorical strategies in Scripturalexegesis may be inspired by the Stoics), and the history of school textbooks. There is also a ratherastonishing paper about a strange text called the Cena Cypriani, which suggests that this work may be a written record of a drinking game! The third section deals with Jewish commentaries, the papers dealing respectively with parallels between Jewish and Patristic Christian commentaries, a range of commentatorson a specific passage (indeed a philosophically interestingpassage, which claims that God caused the flood because He "regretted" making man), and the traditionof pijjut, i.e. liturgical poetry. The volume is roundedoff by papers about the medical tradition, including the Arabic reception of Galen. More narrowlyconfined to philosophical and scientific commentariesis the two volume collection edited by myself, Han Baltussen and M.W.F. Stone, and dedicated to Richard Sorabji.'s The two volumes deal respectively with the Greek and Arabic traditions.Volume one starts with an overview of the commentarytradition(Fazzo) and a proposal to read a passage from Plato's Protagoras as the beginning of philosophical exegesis (Baltussen). The beginnings of commentaryare also discussed in reference to the Derveni Papyrus (Betegh), arguing that the Papyrus' handling of Orpheus is indeed a kind of commentary, modelled on the hermeneutics applied to oracles. Next are two papers on Alexander of Aphrodisias, discussing the short texts that are collectively called the Mantissa (Sharples) and the question of how organic powers produce change, especially growth, according to Alexander and Galen (Kupreeva). The remaining papers deal with the Platonist commentary tradition. Karamanolis argues that Porphyry was the first Platonist commentator on Aristotle,on the basis thatthe various treatmentsof Aristotle by "middle"Platonists were not systematic and sympathetic enough to count as commentary

'1 P. Adamson, H. Baltussen and M.W.F. Stone (eds), Philosophy, Science and Exegesis in Greek, Arabic and Latin Commentaries,in 2 vols., Supplementto the Bulletin of the Insititute of Classical Studies 83.1-2. London: Institute of Classical Studies, 2004. Vol. 1: pp. xii+280. ?60 (pb). ISBN 0 900587 94 6. Vol. 2: pp. x+198. ?40 (pb). ISBN 0 900587 95 4.

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in the strict sense, which "presupposesacceptance of the views expressed by (p. 97). Chiaradonna's the source text and implies an assertionof its authority" piece builds on the book discussed above, providing an English-language overview of some of the argumentof that book and going into furtherdetail on the topic of time. Opsomer defends Plutarch's exegesis of the Timaeus his source from HaroldChemiss' chargethatPlutarchtendentiouslymanipulated to bring Plato into line with his own doctrines. Lautner'sarticle discusses the "common sense faculty (koine aisthe'sis)"in Proclus and Ps.-Simplicius. He uncovers a surprisingdegree of disagreementbetween the two, with Proclus essentially separatingthe common sense as a sixth faculty, and Ps.-Simplicius making its functions immanent in the first-ordersenses. Middle Platonism again comes to the fore in a piece by Tarrant,who strikes a cautionarynote in pointing out that Proclus may not have known the middle Platonists directly. Proclus certainly did not expound their views for the sake of doing so - a sobering thought, given how much of our informationabout the earlier Platonists comes from Proclus. The next piece, by van den Burg, also deals with Proclus: the views on language found in Proclus' Cratylus commentary are compared with those set forth by Ammonius in his commentary on On Interpretation. Again, significant divergence of views is uncovered here. For one thing, Ammonius is much more interestedin harmonizingPlato and Aristotle than Proclus is, so he needs to bring the teaching of Aristotle into line with the position on the naturalnessof names taken in the Cratylus. Two final studies deal with later commentaries:Somfai discusses Calcidius and the use of the notion of analogia in his Timaeus commentary,and lerodiakanou discusses Byzantine Ethics commentaries, and the sense in which these commentatorstook ethics to be an "inexact science." Volume one ends with a lengthy bibliographyon the commentatorsby John Sellars, which will be a valuable resource for those interested in this body of texts. This bibliography updates the one found in the volume Aristotle Transformed,edited by Richard Sorabji, and shows how great the impact of Sorabji's Ancient CommentatorsProject has been on scholarship over the last 20 years. Volume two deals with Arabic texts. The first two articles (Strohmaierand Pormann)are about commentarieson Galen; a third (Rashed) presents some fascinating Greek and Arabic evidence concerning the problem of sunspots, which obviously pose a problem for ancient cosmology. There follow two articlesaboutAvicenna:one by myself aboutthe soul-bodyrelationin Avicenna's commentaryon the Arabic translationof Plotinus (the so-called Theology of Aristotle), and one by Gutas regardingAvicenna's glosses on the De Anima. Three papers deal with the most famous commentator to work in Arabic, namely Averroes: Harvey discusses Averroes' use of Philoponus in the Physics commentaries,Taylor explains the evolution of Averroes' theory of intellect through his various works dealing with the De Anima, and Hasse discusses the Renaissance reception of Averroes' theory of intellect. The

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collection is rounded out by a piece that should give pause to anyone working on Arabic philosophy: Wisnovsky's contributionconsists mostly of a list of commentaries written from 1100 A.D. onwards that are still extant in manuscript,each of which could turn out to be relevant for our understanding of the "post-classical" philosophical tradition. The list of commentaries (sorted by text commented upon) extends to 29 pages, suggesting that the post-classical intellectual tradition in the Islamic world has hardly begun to be explored. A final collection focuses on Neoplatonist commentatorson Aristotle, but The volume begins with an interestingconagain extends to Arabic authors.'6 trast between two scholars who are conducting a friendly debate over Plotinus' attitudetowardsAristotle, Riccardo Chiaradonnaand Frans de Haas. Chiaradonna,as we have seen, emphasizes Plotinus' critical attitude. Here he again builds on the book discussed above by providing a close reading of Enneads VI.3.9. This passage undermines Aristotle's doctrine on particulars and universals, and especially the claim that material objects (which Plotinus refers to as "so-called (legomene) substances")are primary.Plotinus even anticipates Porphyry's suggestion that particulars are primary in the sense of being "primaryto us," only to dismiss this suggestion (p. 23). By contrast,de Haas is less interestedin Plotinus' hostile attitudetowards Aristotle. He argues that in Enneads VI.1-3, Plotinus is not in fact particularlyconcerned to pass judgment on Aristotle's views or to decide whether they can be reconciled with Plato's. Rather,de Haas suggests, Plotinus is writing a treatise on being. He is happy to use Aristotle's categories as part of his own "philosopher's toolbox," without this implying that the Categories as a text constitutes a successful analysis of being. Indeed, Plotinus did not believe that the Categories was intended as a division of being into its genera, a point de Haas supports by surveying previous authors' views on the Categories.'7These two articles will perhapsbe of greater interest to those who work on Greek Neoplatonism than the remainderof the collection, but it must be said that all the papers here are of a uniformly high standard.There are offerings on the Syriac tradition (Hugonnard-Roche), an Arabic Aristotelian commentary on the Categories (Ferrari),Avicenna's use of Metaphysics IV (Bertolacci), and a survey of the reception of Metaphysics XII.7 (Martini Bonadeo). These papers are all important contributions, but I would especially single out the piece by MarwanRashed, which shows that Avicenna's celebrateddistinction between existence and essence is to some extent anticipatedby the ChristianPeripatetic
16 V. Celluprica and C. D'Ancona (eds.), Aristotele e i suoi esegeti Neoplatonici. Naples: Bibliopolis, 2004. Pp. xxi+282. E30 (pb). ISBN 88 7088 461 9. 1" Here contrast Chiaradonna, Sostanza Movimento Analogia, p. 98. Cf. further F. de Haas, "Did Plotinus and PorphyryDisagree on Aristotle's Categories?," Phronesis 46 (2001), 492-526.

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author Yahya ibn 'Adi (he also provides a translationof Ibn 'Adi's fascinating and previously unstudied treatise on the types of existence). This article is requiredreading for anyone who works on Avicenna, as is the volume as a whole for anyone interestedin the full traditionof Neoplatonic commentary on Aristotle. Another collection of articles similarly traces developments from the classical Greek period through to the Arabic tradition, but focuses on alchemy Because the alchemical tradiand its relation to the philosophical tradition.'8 tion responds to philosophical ideas about matter, the first two papers here are about classical theories of matter,with Brisson discussing Plato's Timaeus and Aristotle's criticisms of that dialogue, and Gourinat arguing that the Stoics accepted something like a doctrine of prime matter, partly in response to the Timaeus. (I note however that the editor Viano, at p. 92, n. 6 of her contribution,suggests that the Stoics were not directly influential on alchemists. On the other hand, see the discussion of Stephanus' use of the Stoics at p. 118 ff.) O'Brien also discusses matter,this time in the Enneads, and provides close readings of some celebratedpassages (V.1.6.15-19 and V.1.7.4-6) in which Plotinus seems to discuss "intelligible matter."O'Brien argues that Plotinus' view here was based on a certain way of reading Sophist 258e2-3, which was influentialon later authorssuch as Simplicius. With Viano's piece we move on to the alchemists proper, and their reaction to the Timaeus. Subsequent papers discuss a textual emendation in Zosimus (Saffrey), a text called On the Divine and Sacred Art ascribed to one Stephanus,who may be identical to the Aristotelian commentator (Papathanassiou),and the longest extant Greek work on alchemy, which is anonymous but seems to date from about 1300, and which quotes Roger Bacon in Greek translation (Colinet). The volume then moves on to Arabic sources: Rudolphdiscusses several texts on which he is a leading expert: the pseudo-Ammoniancollection Opinions of the Philosophers, the Secret of Secrets and the Turba Philosophorum. Carusi,who is unusual in that her work generally focuses on Arabic alchemy, discusses an interestingtext on embryology which she ascribes to al-Majriti. The volume concludes with papers on the Brethrenof Purity (Marquet)and a philological discussion of a dialogue entitled the Book of Tetralogies, misattributedto Plato (Thillet). On the whole I was not persuadedthat alchemical texts represent an unexplored goldmine of philosophically interesting material. But it is clear from the volume that even technical and practical alchemicalworkswere deeply influencedby familiarGreekphilosophicalworks, and especially the Timaeus. of philosophy and alchemy is found One example of the interpenetration Project,EmmaGannag6's in yet anothervolume fromthe AncientCommentators
18 C. Viano (ed.), L'Alchemie et ses racines philosophiques: La tradition grecque et la tradition arabe. Paris: J. Vrin, 2005. Pp. 242. ?28 (pb). ISBN 2 7118 1754 8.

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translation of fragments of Alexander of Aphrodisias' commentary on On Generation and Corruption, discovered in the works of the alchemist Jabir This volume (which, for reasons of full disclosure, I should say ibn Hayyan.99 that I edited) is an unusual contributionto the Project,not only in that it translates from Arabic instead of Greek, but also in that the book consists of a very substantial introductionand a rathershort translatedtext. The introduction deals with the reception of Alexander in Arabic and with a wide range of philosophical issues raised by Aristotle's chemical theories. Gannage also sets out the evidence for the authenticity of the fragments translated in this volume. The glossaries will be of use to Arabists with an interest in how Greek technical terminology was handled in Arabic translation. I conclude by turningto Carl Vaught's three volume study of Augustine's Confessions, of which I have received volumes 1 and 3, covering respectively Books I-VI and X-XIII.20Vaught moves through the Confessions, emphasizing spiritualthemes, and always showing deep sympathywith Augustine.I must confess to being perplexed by some of his philosophical analysis, for example his claim that Manicheanism "bifurcatesthe universe by insisting on the validity of the law of the excluded middle" (p. 84), whereas the Neoplatonic identification of evil with non-being supposedly violates this law (vol. 1, p. 94 with p. 170, n. 24). Vaught's sympathy for Augustine may also be excessive, at times. For instance he does not take Manicheanism seriously enough; he admits that it was a "sophisticateddoctrine"for those at the time, though "absurd"to us today (vol. 1, p. 94), and suggests it only appealed to Augustine because he was an adolescent (vol. 1, p. 80). Similarly he contrasts Augustine'sthoughtto Neoplatonism,butfrequentlyto an insufficientlynuanced version of Neoplatonism. He neglects Plotinus' anticipation of Augustine's focus on the role of will in explaining evil, and the positive value put on the physical world by Plotinus (especially in his attack on the Gnostics) and his successors. Here a more sensitive view of Plotinus, and considerationof other Neoplatonic sources used by Augustine, might have yielded a more subtle understandingof what made Augustine distinctive. Volume 3, which deals in part with the difficult Books X-XI on memory and time, suffers from some of the same shortcomings as volume 1. There is frustratinglylittle context from previous authors or other works of Augustine, and like volume 1, it is marred by the use of poorly explained typographical gimmicks (see, most

'9 E. Gannag6 (trans.), Alexander of Aphrodisias. On Coming-to-Be and Perishing 2.2-5. London: Duckworth, 2005. Pp. x+162. ?55 (hb). ISBN 0 7156 3303 1. 20 C.G. Vaught, The Journey Toward God in Augustine's Confessions. Albany: SUNY Press, 2003. Pp. xi+193. $19.95 (pb). $54.50 (hb). ISBN 0 7914 5791 5; C.G. Vaught, Access to God in Augustine's Confessions. Albany: SUNY Press, 2005. Pp. xi+280. $24.95 (pb). $65 (hb). ISBN 0 7914 6409 1.

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elaborately, vol. 3, p. 18). Still, some of V.'s ideas are helpful, especially his general theme that Books X-XI are meant to allow Augustine to transcend the temporal order, so as to achieve a stability in which he can more fully grasp the divine. This is plausible, and also links these books to the earlier, autobiographicalparts of the Confessions.

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