Damascius Problems and Solutions Regarding First Principles

Hardcover | October 1, 2010

bySara Ahbel-Rappe

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Damascius was head of the Neoplatonist academy in Athens when the Emperor Justinian shut its doors forever in 529. His work, Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles, is the last surviving independent philosophical treatise from the Late Academy. Its survey of Neoplatonistmetaphysics, discussion of transcendence, and compendium of late antique theologies, make it unique among all extant works of late antique philosophy. It has never before been translated into English. The Problems and Solutions exhibits a thoroughgoing critique of Proclean metaphysics, starting with the principle that all that exists proceeds from a single cause, proceeding to critique the Proclean triadic view of procession and reversion, andseverely undermining the status of intellectual reversion in establishing being as the intelligible object. Damascius investigates the internal contradictions lurking within the theory of descent as a whole, showing that similarity of effect and cause is vitiated in the case of processions where oneorder (e.g. intellect) gives rise to an entirely different order (e.g. soul). Neoplatonism as a speculative metaphysics posits the One as the exotic or extopic explanans for plurality, conceived as immediate, present to hand, and therefore requiring explanation. Damascius shifts the perspective ofhis metaphysics: he struggles to create a metaphysical discourse that accommodates, insofar as language is sufficient, the ultimate principle of reality. After all, how coherent is a metaphysical system that bases itself on the Ineffable as a first principle? Instead of creating an objectiveontology, Damascius writes ever mindful of the limitations of dialectic, and of the pitfalls and snares inherent in the very structure of metaphysical discourse.

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Damascius was head of the Neoplatonist academy in Athens when the Emperor Justinian shut its doors forever in 529. His work, Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles, is the last surviving independent philosophical treatise from the Late Academy. Its survey of Neoplatonistmetaphysics, discussion of transcendence, and compendi...

Sara Ahbel-Rappe is Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan.

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Paperback|Aug 30 2009

$26.32 online$30.70list price(save 14%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:560 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:October 1, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195150295

ISBN - 13:9780195150292

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Table of Contents

1. Forward2. Acknowledgements3. Preface4. Introduction to the life and philosophy of Damascius:A. Life of DamasciusB. Major Works5. English GlossaryTranslation of the Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles6. Index of Greek and English words7. Index locorum8. BiblilographySecondary LiteratureAncient SourcesAbbreviations