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Ancient Philosophy


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Parmenides, Venerable and Awesome: Proceedings of the International Symposium by Nestor-Luis Cordero (Parmenides Publishing) Despite Parmenides' tremendous importance during his own lifetime and his perennial influence on philosophical thought ever since, the great Eleatic - born circa 515 BCE and described by Plato as "Venerable and Awesome" (Theaetetus, 183e) - had never been the subject of an international conference until 2007, when some of the world's most eminent specialists on Parmenides' philosophy convened for a multinational and multilingual Symposium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This present volume offers a collection of the papers (translated, where applicable) presented at the conference, each advancing the respective scholar's current state of research on Parmenides and his Poem, "On Nature", often with far-reaching and sometimes controversial results. The topics discussed include the challenge of translation, the Poem's poetic form, its logical structure, the sequence of the fragments, the interpretation of "Aletheia" and "Doxa", what Parmenides meant by "mortals" the Poem's "physics" (especially Parmenidean astronomy), the various senses of Being and the role of thought, as well as Plato's relationship to Parmenides. In their different ways each contribution conveys a deep appreciation for the revolutionary nature of Parmenides' philosophy, and the collection as a whole bears witness to the fact that the study of Parmenides continues to yield rich and prolific scholarship - perhaps today more so than ever. This book is intended for scholars and non-specialists alike, and will be of particular relevance to students of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Classical Studies, as well as philosophy and literature more generally. It includes contributors such as: Scott Austin; Jean Bollack; Giovanni Casertano; Barbara Cassin; Giovanni Cerri; Nestor-Luis Cordero; Lambros Couloubaritsis; Patricia Curd; Jean Frere; Arnold Hermann; Charles H Kahn; Alexander P D Mourelatos; Massimo Pulpito; Chiara Robbiano; Fernando Santoro; Jose Trindade Santos; Jose Dueso Solana; and, Panagiotis Thanassas.

Parmenides, Venerable and Awesome discusses all aspects of Parmenides' Poem, "On Nature", including the challenge of translation, the Poem’s poetic form, its logical structure, the sequence of the fragments, the interpretation of “Aletheia” and “Doxa,” what Parmenides meant by “mortals,” the Poem’s “physics” (especially Parmenidean astronomy), the various senses of Being and the role of thought, as well as Plato’s relationship to Parmenides. In their different ways each contribution conveys a deep appreciation for the revolutionary nature of Parmenides’ philosophy, and the collection as a whole bears witness to the fact that the study of Parmenides continues to yield rich and prolific scholarship—perhaps today more so than ever.

This book is intended for scholars and non-specialists alike, and will be of particular relevance to students of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Classical Studies, as well as philosophy and literature more generally.

Excerpt: Although Parmenides probably wrote as early as the beginning of the 5th century BCE, his work was still in circulation some eleven centuries later, even if it was considered "a rarity" by then according to Simplicius (6th century AD).' Since then, the text of Parmenides, like most of the treatises written in ancient times, has been on the list of works irredeemably lost. For several centuries, the only access to Parmenides' philosophy lay in the rare references to his work preserved in those of other philosophers or ancient authors, references that were sometimes accompanied by textual quotations (which lets us assume that these authors had a copy of the original text of Parmenides' Poem at hand).

The practice was eventually abandoned when, by the end of the 16th century, philologists like Henri Estienne and Julius Caesar Scaliger began to reconstruct the lost text through a meticulous search and compilation of the quotations spread throughout classical treatises. This process arguably culminated in 1835, when Simon Karsten succeeded in gathering nineteen passages (one of them in Latin) from the lost original to publish the most complete reconstruction. We now call this set of 152 verses "Parmenides' Poem." Thanks to the efforts of these scholars, researchers now have an approximate (given its fragmentary nature) but faithful (given its literal character backed-up by the work of philologists and codicologists) version of the original poem.

Since then, we've been able to confirm that the adjectives "venerable and awesome," used by Plato (Theaetetus, 183e) to describe Parmenides' personality, were fully justified. "Venerable," without doubt, since the four or five pages that constitute the "complete work" of Parmenides today are a relic that inspires great respect and admiration, but also "awesome," because any conscientious researcher must approach the fragments with precaution and astuteness, keeping in mind the force and the power of those pieces of the text that will most likely never be known in their integrity.

Thousands of works have been dedicated to the study of the Poem since the publication of Henri Estienne's Poesis Philosophica in 1573. From a formal point of view, significant progress has been made in "cleansing" the text of impurities and erroneous readings by the original sources, errors which were passed down and repeated until the arrival of Hermann Diels's version in 1897, which has been considered "orthodox" ever since. However, even Diels' cleverness did not prevent him from introducing new anomalies to the misreadings transmitted by tradition.2

Some questions certainly remain concerning the formal structure of the text, such as what position certain "fragments" may have occupied in the original. The present arrangement, which arbitrarily establishes fragment 19 as the end of the Poem, may not correspond with the original. As the purification of the text continues, studies about the ideas conveyed by Parmenides find increasingly strong and clear grounds. Proof of this lies in the remarkably high level of discourse reached by Parmenidean studies over the last few years. Some`titles may have escaped us, but there have been at least thirteen books on Parmenides published between 2005 and 2008.3 In addition, beginning in 2004, an annual philosophical conference has been held in Ascea-Velia, where Parmenides holds a privileged place.4 Moreover, since 2000, a prestigious publishing house (which is honoring us with the publication of these Proceedings) has been dedicating its efforts to the dissemination of classical thought by invoking the great Elean: Parmenides Publishing.

Worldwide interest in Parmenidean studies has also touched the austral end of the Southern hemisphere, and in November 2007, the "{Centro de Estudios de Filosofia Antigua" (CEFA) of the National University of San Martin (Buenos Aires, Argentina), decided to dedicate an International Symposium to the philosophy of Parmenides. Invited to participate in the event were those main scholars who had published at least one book on Parmenides.5 Sixteen authors confirmed their participation (two who were unable to attend nevertheless sent their contributions).

Part I of the present volume gathers together the set of papers presented at the Symposium, whose topics were divided up based on the "traditional" structure of the Poem: one section dedicated to the exposition of the way of truth, and the other to the description of the "opinions (8ó ca) of mortals." This

rigorous partition was nevertheless an object of criticism and the source of much debate as to its meaning. Panagiotis Thanassas, for instance, discusses the dual structure of the Poem and its impact on the traditional perception of Parmenides as a rigorous "monist." Jean Bollack found that the most satisfactory solution to explaining the two parts of the Poem lies in considering the whole and to show that one part, the definition of Being, actually refers to the other as the projection of an organization of the world, and that both terms correspond perfectly to each other.

Other papers went deeply into the part of the Poem concerning the "opinions of mortals." Jean Frère proposed to restrict the "mortals" to just certain people who were part of particular philosophical schools, specifically the Pythagoreans. But most presentations examined the value of "Parmenidean Physics" as shown in this part of the poem. Giovanni Casertano discussed the special status of Parmenides in the history of scientific thought, while Massimo Pulpito proposed to limit correct physical theories to certain passages of the Poem, which would be a development of the formula "r& ." Alexander P. D. Mourelatos, on his part, was interested in some astronomical theories that he considers to be "breakthroughs." More radically, my own paper read all fragments referring to the physics as part of the speech on truth, because, given the not-true and deceptive character that Parmenides attributes to dios, "Parmenidean physics" cannot belong to the "opinions of mortals." This proposition therefore suggests a new rearrangement of the fragments.

The section of the Poem concerning the fact of being and its characteristics was the subject of Robbiano's, Solana Dueso's, Santoro's, and Austin's papers. Chiara Robbiano, answering the question "What is Parmenides' Being?" found that Being is the fundamental unity of what-is and what-understands, the unity that is also the condition for the possibility of human understanding. José Solana Dueso analyzed the relationship between logic and ontology, and proposed different arguments for a primarily logical and only secondarily ontological interpretation of the physis of Parmenides (fr. 2—fr. 8.50). Fernando Santoro found in the "ontos" of fragment 8 a genealogy of the idea of ontological categories. And Scott Austin affirmed that Parmenides' absolute monism puts existence and essence into an absolutely monistic Being as it joins levels in an ontological hierarchy that other philosophers were later to separate.

Two further contributions dealt an analysis of the notion of "thought." For José Trindade Santos the identity of thought and Being dominates Parmenides' argument in the Way of Truth and persists in later relevant conceptions as Platonic and Aristotelian "active intellect." Patricia Curd on her part analyzed the relation between thought and body, as suggested by fragment 16, and saw that the mortal's error is to mistake the passive experiences of sense perception for genuine thought about what-is, and hence fail to understand the true nature of what-is.

Arnold Hermann was interested in Parmenides' heritage in Plato's Parmenides, and considers that the so-called "parricide" of the Sophist is only an heir. Finally, Barbara Cassin asked the question that every scholar silently asks himself: Is it possible to translate Parmenides? The eventual conclusion is that "Parmenides is lost in translation."

The organizers of the meeting, which was open to the public, offered eight young and high-level Argentine researchers (graduate students, professors, or advanced students) the opportunity to present a short paper in front of the prestigious assembly of foreign authors. The exchange of ideas between them and their "teachers" was a very enriching experience. These eight papers are included in Part II of the present volume.

The International Symposium's success would have been impossible without the support of two prestigious institutions: Parmenides Publishing (United States), and the HYELE Institute for Comparative Studies (Switzerland), an institution whose name alludes to the polis of Parmenides. The CEFA is greatly and deeply thankful to both institutions for their support. —Néstor-Luis Cordero

Parmenides, Plato and Mortal Philosophy: Return from Transcendence by Vishwa Adluri (Continuum)

Reviewed byRichard Polt, Xavier University for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Parmenides has survived the "parricide" committed against him in Plato's Sophist and in every philosophy of plurality and becoming. Despite the brevity of the fragments of his poem, supposedly titled On Nature (Peri Phuseos), and the apparent simplicity of its central thought -- "being is" -- Parmenides continues to nourish speculation, historical research, and philological debate. We now even have Parmenides Publishing, which has printed or reprinted over half a dozen studies of the pre-Socratic to date. The series Continuum Studies in Ancient Philosophy currently includes no fewer than three books on the topic: Raymond Tallis' The Enduring Significance of Parmenides, Lisa Atwood Wilkinson's Parmenides and To Eon, and Vishwa Adluri's Parmenides, Plato, and Mortal Philosophy. Adluri's work stands out for the radicality of its argument, the subtlety of its interdisciplinary interpretations, and the forthright passion that motivates it.

Adluri's radical reading denies that Parmenides is the enemy of plurality and becoming. How can this be, if the poem bluntly argues that, since "being is," becoming is unthinkable and being is eternally one -- pastless, futureless, and featureless? The answer begins in plain sight, on the surface of the poem, but this surface has been ignored all too often by readers who assume they already know what Parmenides stands for.  Parmenides does not in fact say "being is." The phrase (with its sundry tortured variations) is uttered by an unnamed goddess who addresses the poem's narrator. The poem begins in the first person, describing the narrator's (Parmenides'?) passionate journey ("as far as thumos might reach," fragment 1, line 1) to the gates of the divine domain. The goddess then welcomes the voyager and presents two accounts: an account of the "truth" (monistic being) and an account of mortal opinions about the mutable cosmos. The usual assumption is that the first-person proem is window dressing: like the dactylic hexameter, it is a remnant of or concession to the prephilosophical, mythmaking culture from which Parmenides is emerging. The goddess' first account is assumed to be Parmenides' own theory. Her second account is then problematic: if there is nothing but being, how can there "be" a plurality of phenomena, opinions (whether true or untrue), and opiners? Parmenides the monist turns out to be an extreme dualist, due to his uncompromising split between reality and appearance. Our task is then to construct a logical solution to this split -- if not within Parmenides' theory itself, then in our own physical or metaphysical theories.

In contrast, Adluri proposes that Parmenides' theme is precisely the conflict between the constructs of logical theories and the lived reality of our changing world. The youth (kouros) who narrates the poem strives to escape this world; he is presented with a vision of a timeless reality; but the goddess' second speech directs him to "return from transcendence" to the changing cosmos. Parmenides does not resolve the contradiction between being and becoming, but presents the tension between the two, a tension that must be narrated rather than summed up in an atemporal theory. Thus, "Parmenides' genius consists not in launching a method of logical argument, but in documenting a basic experience of life" (38). The poetic form of Parmenides' writing is not window dressing at all, but is essential to the mythic mediation between eternity and temporality; myth recounts the journey that is mortal existence (7, 11, 18-19, 29-31, 39-40). (For another recent appreciation of the mythopoetic character of Parmenides' thought see Wilkinson, Parmenides and To Eon.)

Adluri's passionate concern is the tragedy of this journey: the world that the kouros desires in vain to escape is not merely a world in motion, but a world that moves us emotionally -- the realm of "hateful birth" (12.4) and fateful perishing (19.2). The goddess is immortal, not in the superficial sense that the day of her demise will never arrive, but because she transcends temporality itself; we mortals, however, who can at best glimpse such a state through the exercise of our reason, must fail to transcend time and death. We seek "metaphysics" to save us from our finitude, but we inevitably remain subject to "physics" -- the realm of generation and decay. It is not that Adluri denies all eternal truth: phusis includes stable and knowable dimensions. But when we embrace atemporal laws as a substitute for or distraction from our mortal finitude, they become deeply deceptive (2, 16-17, 79). Adluri thus suggests an ethics of "mortal rectitude" that would avoid the illusory comforts of metaphysics (20, 41, 172). At his most defiant, he rejects monism in general, including monotheism (2-3); however, no such rejection can be final if "we are as metaphysical as we are mortal" (6).

Finitude concerns each of us personally, and Adluri is candid about his personal stake in his investigation: he studied with Reiner Schürmann at the end of Schürmann's life, and witnessed the vitality ebb away from this unusually gifted teacher (3-5). Schürmann's reflections on natality, mortality, and the individual whose singularity escapes metaphysical structures were borne out in his own existence and his own undoing. Much as Plato bears witness to the life and death of Socrates, Adluri pays tribute to his teacher implicitly and explicitly throughout this book that is, in a sense, Schürmann's "biography" (4). Parmenides, Adluri admits, allows him to express his own and Schürmann's philosophy -- which is not to imply that he has not learned from the pre-Socratic (34).

Adluri's interpretation of Parmenides thus has a confessed point of view, but it is by no means a mechanical imposition of Schürmann's concepts on the ancient text. Adluri works with the literary, religious, and linguistic dimensions of Parmenides' words, showing a fine attention to detail. His interpretive skill is on display not only in the body of the book, but also in the appendix (137-156), which presents a new translation of Peri Phuseos with helpful notes.

Adluri's work deserves a place on the reading list of every student of pre-Socratic thought, but one could not consider it the definitive work on Parmenides. He does not pretend to an exhaustive account of the literature, and his direct analysis of the goddess' speech on being is surprisingly concise (72-77). Adluri relies on the reader's familiarity with established analyses of the text and rarely rehearses these discussions in detail. Sometimes his readings are tenuous. For instance, he makes a good case that in early Greek, thumos, unlike psyche, indicates an aspect of human life that has to expire at death (21-28); but is it fair to conclude from the use of thumos in the first line of Parmenides' poem that the mortal condition is front and center in the philosopher's concerns (54-55)? Adluri rightly observes that the goddess presents a speech that is directed at an individual and attempts to persuade him; but can we conclude that Parmenides is a deeply dialogical thinker (64, 76) when, in the surviving fragments, the kouros never utters a word in response to the goddess?

Adluri's discussion of non-contradiction could also be developed more carefully. He claims that "'at the same time' is the tacit and forgotten basis of the principle of non-contradiction, a basis that is taken for granted, as if the principle existed outside of time" (72). This may be true of the goddess' speech, but certainly not of Plato (Republic 436b), Aristotle (Metaphysics IV), and many later logicians. In any case, Adluri has raised the crucial question of whether Parmenides' goddess correctly derives timelessness from the principle of non-contradiction or surreptitiously presupposes time in this principle itself; but the question calls for a more thorough investigation.

There is also a difficulty in interpreting the goddess as "the arch-critic of metaphysics" (84) in her second, cosmological account. In Adluri's usage, "metaphysics" refers to any attempt to make logical sense of becoming in terms of stable structures (16-17). So "metaphysics" includes theoretical physics -- such as the cosmological fragments of Peri Phuseos, which seem to present patterns and explanations, not singularities. The "return from transcendence" has to be read between the lines or inferred from facts such as the very existence of the poem that recounts the journey (51).

Adluri's reading of Parmenides is the heart of this book, but it also contains an excellent interpretation of Plato's Phaedrus that brings out its thematic parallels to Parmenidean thought. Adluri does not, as one might expect, concentrate on the noetic vision of eternal being described at Phaedrus 247c-e. Instead, he considers the entire dialogue in terms of its treatment of mortal individuals, who can be loved and who die. The Platonic question, according to Adluri, is "what does it mean to be a finite, singular, ephemeral mortal whose mortality cannot be preserved, but whose logoi can be?" (99). Against Derrida's well-known critique of Plato's supposed privileging of speech over writing, Adluri argues that the Phaedrus problematizes language as a whole, both written and spoken, due to its tendency to abstract from singularity. Socrates and Plato try to develop a mode of discourse that is directed at individuals in their finitude. The central issue in the dialogue, then, is not writing as a pharmakon (remedy/poison), but Socrates himself as a pharmakos or sacrificial victim (113-114).

Adluri's rich account of the Phaedrus adds persuasiveness and resonance to his necessarily somewhat speculative approach to the fragments of Parmenides. We might adduce two more Platonic texts that support Adluri's position. Plato's Parmenides represents the old pre-Socratic as a master of dialectic, and not as its slave: we must, he says, play the "laborious game" (137b) of taking logos as far as it can go; after this exercise useful for youths (135d), we can think properly. Plato seems to tell us that Parmenides, unlike the hyperrationalist goddess of his poem, is a mortal thinker who has tested the limits of abstract ratiocination. As for Socrates' concern with singular mortals, consider the kind of knowledge that he represents himself as seeking, first and foremost, in the dialogue on the nature of knowledge.  He wants to know which Athenian youths are most promising (Theaetetus 143d). When, later in this dialogue, he caricatures the "philosopher" as one who overlooks individuals for the sake of Man (174b), he is not describing Socratic philosophy at all, but the disengaged theorizing of his interlocutor, the geometer and astronomer Theodorus. Adluri is quite right to find a "return from transcendence" in Plato, and in the light of the Greek theme of knowing oneself by knowing one's limits, his reading of Parmenides becomes compelling.

Adluri concludes with a criticism of Heidegger, whose revolutionary retrieval of the pre-Socratics lies in the background of many of Adluri's interpretations (see especially Heidegger's 1942-43 lecture course on Parmenides). Adluri argues that Heidegger subscribes to a Lutheran program of salvation in history that distracts him from singular mortality, and that his analyses of being-toward-death in Being and Time are formalistic (129-133).

OOn the whole, Adluri's work is a stimulating return to early Greek thought from a contemporary but not merely contemporary perspective, grounded not only in the realities posited by philosophy, but in the reality lived by existing philosophers. Adluri's further research extends beyond Greek thought to Sanskrit epic. We can look forward to more of his provocative studies of ancient texts informed by vivid existential concerns.

Excerpt: Philosophical writing can be a form of idolatry. Not all forms of writing are, of course, and I do not believe that writing itself is to be blamed. But hardly had Reiner passed away, when his "philosophy"—that is, his bibliography, not his biography—supplanted him as a cheap idol (Greek eidolon) would. In one seminar, I was amazed to hear this ultimate condemnation of him:`"a nice guy, but influenced by an errant philosophy." Though bibliographically defensible (its opposite can also be proven by more careful readers; facts can be used in any way), biographically this is wrong on three counts. Reiner was not a "nice" guy. He was mercilessly intolerant of pretension and just about as polite as Socrates. In terms of "influence," his philosophical praxis consisted solely of the discovery of cracks in all foundations. Reiner was less susceptible to fashionable philosophies than Socrates was to Alkibiades. The term anarchy, which had many levels of meanings for him except the most obvious one, also means the susceptibility of all "influences" to critical questioning. Finally, errant philosophy is a sword that cuts both ways: as soon as a philosophy becomes conspicuously errant, such as Heidegger's is alleged to be, it begins to teach even greater and subtler philosophical lessons.

Biographically, Reiner taught me the difference between particularity and singularity. In his writing, he clarifies the difference as follows: "death as mine temporalizes phenomena because it is absolutely singular. But the singular cannot be treated as the determinate negation of the universal; the contrary opposite of the universal is the particular. It takes a neglect of the persistent tie between time and the singular, a tie signified to me by my death, to append these conflicting strategies to the list, long since Antiquity, of terms that are mutually exclusive within a genus and jointly exhaustive of it.

For Reiner, interested in the public sphere, the singular was a tool to demonstrate the illegitimacy of univocally binding "phantasms," such as totalitarianism. For me, interested in Reiner, the singular was happily the object of love, tragically the object of death, and ultimately, the face and fate of all phusis. Knowing Reiner in his last days was nothing more and nothing less than what walking with Socrates must have been for Phaedrus. In one way or another, all shadows of the immortals that covered up the mortal singular—be it the city, hyperurania, philosophical or erotic genera—fell away from my eyes like scales falling off the eyes of a blind man. No more generalizing philosophy for me in the style of Lysias! Like Parmenides (I argue), no matter how seductive the realm of eternal, simple being may be, we must return to our pluralistic mortal cosmos, where singulars are possible. In this work, which is a continuation of the journey I began with Reiner, I extend his notion of mortality to redefine (if definition is even possible in the realm of singulars) human beings and phusis in terms of mortal temporality.

Once I displaced eternal Forms by mortal finitude and embraced mortal fate instead of the seductions of epistemology (which natural science pursues more fruitfully than philosophy), I found my concerns resonating with the voices of the pre-Socratics. Their suspicion of knowledge for its own sake and their awareness of mortal finitude endeared them to me. I have learned many things from Heidegger, but I differ from him significantly, especially in his approach to the pre-Socratics. I find that his Parmenides lectures chart an altogether different landscape than the one in which I am journeying. Whereas his paradigmatic description of temporality is historical (Seinsgeschichte), I champion the individual life-span. Man, in general, does not appear to me in Geschichte, or in its narrative; the opposite is more convincing to me. For me, there is no "history of being," there is no "history" at all; there is only the life-story of the singular. Nor does metaphysics satisfy me. Metaphysics has no history and is insufficiently heedful of time. The various forms of evasion of temporality and erasure of the singular all set themselves up beyond man in the same way: through a forgetting of mortal time. Thus the end of metaphysics for me is not an event in the history of being; it is the loss of relevance and dignity of these interpretations, inadequately respectful of time as they are, in the hour of death of a loved one. The end of metaphysics is a function of the end of a singular life-span. The beginning, which invokes the pre-Socratics, becomes in a certain sense no beginning at all, but an enduring in this end, an enduring that is, ultimately, not possible. We are as metaphysical as we are mortal. I will demonstrate that the very faculty that impels us to seek nutrition and guides our growth also gives birth to metaphysics (I call this faculty of the soul thumos). Thus the task of enduring at the end is practically a returning to the beginning again and again, an endless homecoming.

Thus Socrates returns from the vision of the forms to hemlock, and the youth in Parmenides' poem returns, I argue, to the mortal cosmos, and my philosophical journey leads away from metaphysics to live and die among mortals—without succumbing to philosophy's bibliographic temptation.

This work reflects my interest in making mortal individuality significant to philosophy. To do this, I engage in a dialogue with the founding fathers of Western metaphysics: Plato and Parmenides. Were they exclusively concerned with immortal forms and eternal being? Does mortality, as a painful but real condition, not play a crucial role in their philosophy? I think it does. Parmenides gives us not one, but two logoi. One is the goddess' famous argument for eternal being. But her second account, the mortal doxa, retains mortality as an irreducible reality. Plato also retains mortality, in an even more powerful form: the individual mortal, Socrates, remains incarnate and in dialogue with immortal Forms.

I frame the issue of mortality and immortality in temporal terms, arguing for a tragic return to a philosophy of mortality.

In Chapter 1, I show the centrality of time to philosophy. Rather than engage in a "philosophy of time," I shift the focus from general arguments to concrete individuality. To do this, I reinterpret individuality, extending from birth to death, as the primary mode for understanding temporality. Analysis proceeds not through abstract argumentation, but through paving attention to various expressions of individual being in the philosophical texts under consideration: thumos or the mortal soul, and journey. I contrast individuality and its mortal temporality to the accounts of time traditionally given in metaphysics. Indeed, I interpret traditional metaphysical denials of time as an attempt to deny painful mortal temporality.

Chapter 2 introduces Parmenides and his work. In his philosophical poem, we find the clearest articulation of mortality and immortality, and their irreducible opposition. Previous scholarship has ignored those portions of the poem that complicate the traditional obsession with his argument for eternal being: I briefly discuss these interpretations and their limitations and point out the complex multiplicity of Parmenides' poem taken as a whole.

The following three chapters deal with each of the three parts of Parmenides' poem: the proem (his journey to the realm of the goddess); the goddess' speech on eternal being, its unity and immutability; and finally her returning him (in speech) to the world of the mortals, a cosmological description we may not overlook.

Chapter 3 focuses on the proem in which Parmenides recounts his protagonist's journey to the goddess. His text introduces two crucial themes, those of thumos and journey. Thumos (or, as I call it, the "mortal soul") propels the youth on his journey from mortality to an immortal realm. Thumos embodies both mortality, since it is rooted in phusis (marked by individual birth and death), and the painful awareness of its own finitude, which it manifests as a desire to transcend its own mortality. The motif of journey best maps the trajectory of mortal individuality. Journey is not a metaphor, but a mode of being in phusis and thus a primary mode for philosophy as well. To paraphrase John Dewey's words (pertaining to education): journey is not a metaphor for life; instead "journey" is life itself.

I attempt to subvert the dominant hegemonic paradigm of eternal being in Chapter 4. Here I discuss the goddess' speech on aletheia or true being. I expose its dependence on multiplicity, contradiction, and duplication—features she suppresses through logical argumentation. Her monologue on true being only works at the level of abstract reasoning or logos, because logos by its nature is unable to express the temporality of phusis coming-to-be and passing-away."

Chapter 5 deals with the Eleatic's breathtaking cosmology, which returns the mortal youth's attention in the poem to his proper topos: the cosmos of becoming and change. Here it becomes clear that the journey Parmenides undertakes is a "round-trip" to the goddess' metaphysical realm. Scholars have previously read the contradiction of the goddess' two speeches as denying phenomenal reality (something unthinkable to a pre-Socratic) ,12 but I argue that it is meant to draw limits to the logos she unfolds in her ontological demonstration.

From Parmenides, I turn to Plato in Chapter 6, and read his Phaedrus with these themes in view. The Phaedrus is Plato's most Parmenidean work. Many commentators readily grant that the two thinkers share the theme of immortal being. But I suggest another, deeper connection between the two thinkers, one that I call the mortal journey. Plato and Parmenides engage in dialogue with each other not only about issues of epistemology, but also-about other crucial issues: mortality, living in the physical world of change, and the longings of the soul (whether thumos or psukhe). Such a reading of Plato relates him back to the pre-Socratics as well as to our contemporary existential concerns.

I focus on Plato's obsession with individuality, pluri-vocality, and his juxtaposition of a living mortal individual, Socrates, with the generality of logos (writing). These themes, often ignored in favor of an epistemology of Forms, become crucial in his dialogue the Phaedrus. Along the way, my discussion offers a critique of Derrida's influential theory of the pharmakon.

In the Conclusion, I return to Heidegger's influential thesis of the "end of metaphysics" and argue that the tragic reading of Parmenides presented here points a way beyond Heidegger's thought. I underscore the theological resonances of Heidegger's philosophy and argue that Heidegger fails to understand the tragic wisdom of the Greeks." The retrieval of singularity in Reiner Schürmann's thought enables a return to the Greeks, in which the fate of the mortal singular once again becomes a powerful tool for deconstructing metaphysics. The need to return to Parmenides is thus implicitly bound up with the need to rethink our own present "post-metaphysical" anti-tragic age.

The Appendix presents a new, complete translation of the surviving fragments of Parmenides' poem, "On Nature," with some notes on reading it." I comment on particular readings of the Greek text and offer my interpretations of them. I pay close attention to the nuances of Parmenides' brilliant poetic language. For practical reasons, not all of these remarks have been fully developed in the thematic accounts in the preceding chapters. Therefore these textual notes are an integral part of my reading of Parmenides and should not be overlooked as mere technical addenda.

I hope that this book with its title Return from Transcendence will be the first stage in a larger project where transcendence is rethought beyond metaphysics. I will address this in a separate work. Ever since Socrates defined human mortality as the single preoccupation of philosophers, philosophy has had a unique and original relationship to death. In the modern period, Nietzsche gives the question of mortality new urgency through proclaiming the death of god." Heidegger defines human being in terms of its unique relationship to death: only humans are capable of death as death.' Despite his questionable political entanglement, Heidegger's philosophy decisively shaped twentieth-century philosophy. His student Hannah Arendt made the question of "singularity," that is, of the unique trajectory between birth and death each one of us is, central to philosophy. Reiner Schürmann applied the concept of singularity as an ethical and political force in his work Broken Hegemonies.' I would like this book to be read as a philosophical engagement with this tradition.

Once one rejects the thesis of time as finite or as jeweilig, it seems one must necessarily also lose the emphasis upon individuality. Indeed, it seems as though Heidegger is correct when he, following Kierkegaard, suggests it is only through the experience of oneself as radically jeweilig and finite and thus in need of salvation that true individuality becomes possible. But, as I have argued in the better part of this work, this is not so. Indeed, I have attempted to show how richly aware ancient thinkers such as Parmenides and Plato were of the need to preserve mortal singularity and that they were more sensitive to the complex issues at stake in articulating individuality than we moderns are. For us, the question of this radical individuality becomes merely a question of persona—it is either the subject within or the identity without.

I would therefore like to close this concluding section by opposing "deconstruction" as a methodological response to the problem of individuality with "initiation" as a model for preserving singularity. In singularity, I not only find a more radical deconstruction of metaphysics qua metaphysics, but also a deconstruction that is truer to the mortal condition.

Recent researches by Burkert and Kingsley have shown that the initiatory model pervasively structures ancient thought. In fact, Burkert has argued that Parmenides' poem can only be understood when one sees the journey as replicating a katabasis. Further, Burkert argues for a "religious" experience at the heart of Parmenides' poem, an experience at once deceptively close and utterly distant from the theologia cruets of Heidegger. Parmenides and Plato explicate the ultimate concern of mortals by using the language of mysteries at the core of their philosophical experience. I believe that the initiatory model better preserves the aspects of individuality than Heidegger's theologically motivated valorization of Jeweiligkeit. But more than that, I would like to claim that the ancient analysis—what I have referred to here as the "crossing of mortals and immortals"—provides us a better avenue for thinking about a possible non-metaphysical transcendence.

In contrast, Heidegger's Seinsgeschichte leaves us with only two possibilities:

  1. An inauthentic "metaphysical" transcendence (exemplified by the Platonic Forms, Christian heaven, etc.).
  2. The rejection of every form of transcendence in favor of the experience of "lived temporality," which Heidegger considers characteristic of Early Christianity and finds exemplified in Scotus.

Thus beyond Heidegger and his emphasis on facticity and rejection of metaphysics, Parmenides' thought remains curiously ahead of us. Heidegger's deconstruction of metaphysics is useful in recovering the theologia crucis, but Plato and Parmenides have a different approach to questions of ultimate concern. They begin with the mortal condition and not with textuality, as I showed in my Phaedrus commentary. Thus, the focus is not on deconstructing a tradition, but on making the ultimate concern of the philosophical adept—whether the kouros or Phaedrus—primary. Here, both Plato and Parmenides give an answer that deserves a genuine philosophical explication. My analysis has taken the form of a "return" from the transcendence of metaphysics, texts, and traditions. But, from this 'purified' state, is another form of transcendence possible for the mortal singular? But that is a subject for another work: here, I end the "purification" portion of Parmenides, that is, our traditional reception. A philosophical investigation whereby Parmenides provides a positive response to the ultimate concerns of the mortal reader constitutes the next step.

Plato's Parmenides and Its' Heritage: History and Interpretation from the Old Academy to Later Platonism and Gnosticism /a> by John D. Turner and Kevin Corrigan (Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplements, 2: Brill Academic) Paper
Plato's Parmenides and Its' Heritage: Its Reception in Neoplatonic, Jewish, and Christian Texts by John D. Turner and Kevin Corrigan (Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplements, 3: Brill Academic) Paper

'Plato’s Parmenides and Its Heritage' presents in two volumes ground-breaking results in the history of interpretation of Plato’s Parmenides, the culmination of six years of international collaboration by the SBL Annual Meeting seminar, “Rethinking Plato’s Parmenides and Its Platonic, Gnostic and Patristic Reception” (2001–2007).

The theme of Volume 1 is the dissolution of firm boundaries for thinking about the tradition of Parmenides interpretation from the Old Academy through Middle Platonism and Gnosticism. The volume suggests a radically different interpretation of the history of thought from Plato to Proclus than is customary by arguing against Proclus’s generally accepted view that there was no metaphysical interpretation of the Parmenides before Plotinus in the third century C.E. Instead, this volume traces such metaphysical interpretations, first, to Speusippus and the early Platonic Academy; second, to the Platonism of the first and second centuries C.E. in figures like Moderatus and Numenius; third, to the emergence of an exegetical tradition that read Aristotle’s categories in relation to the Parmenides; and, fourth, to important Middle Platonic figures and texts. The contributors to Volume 1 are Kevin Corrigan, Gerald Bechtle, Luc Brisson, John Dillon, Thomas Szlezák, Zlatko Pleše, Noel Hubler, John D. Turner, Johanna Brankaer, Volker Henning Drecoll, and Alain Lernould.

Volume 2 examines and establishes for the first time evidence for a significant knowledge of the Parmenides in Philo, Clement, and patristic sources. It offers an extensive and balanced analysis of the case for and against the various possible attributions of date and authorship of the Anonymous Commentary in relation to Gnosticism, Middle Platonism, and Neoplatonism and argues that on balance the case for a pre-Plotinian authorship is warranted. It also undertakes for the first time in this form an examination of the Parmenides in relation to Jewish and Christian thought, moving from Philo and Clement through Origen and the Cappadocians to Pseudo-Dionysius. The contributors to Volume 2 are Matthias Vorwerk, Kevin Corrigan, Luc Brisson, Volker Henning Drecoll, Tuomas Rasimus, John F. Finamore, John M. Dillon, Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Gerald Bechtle, David T. Runia, Mark Edwards, Jean Reynard, and Andrew Radde-Gallwitz.

Excerpt: These two volumes collect the work of twenty-two scholars from ten different countries presented in a seminar, "Rethinking Plato's Parmenides and Its Platonic, Gnostic and Patristic Reception," that was held during six annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature from 2001 to 2006 and that has broken new ground on several fronts in the history of interpretation of Plato's Parmenides. There was also a special conference, "Mittelplatonisches im nachplotinischen Diskurs bis Augustin and Proklos," held at the end of July, 2007 in Tubingen, Germany, organized and hosted by Volker Drecoll, whose results were published in the Zeitschrift fur Antikes Christentum (ZAC) 12, 2008. Four of those papers have been included in vol. 2 of this collection by kind permission of the editors and publisher (Walter de Gruyter) of ZAC.

Two of the most impressive features of this extended enterprise have been the excellent, free spirit of international collaborative scholarship, still quite rare in the Humanities, and the dedicated commitment of our small community to sustain the project over what has effectively been a six-year period. Since not only Plato's Parmenides itself but also the various traditions or instances of its interpretation are difficult and highly complex, we provide here a detailed survey of the contents of the two volumes so as to make this collaborative, interdisciplinary work as accessible as possible to students and scholars in many fields.

The overall theme of vol. 1 is the dissolution of traditionally rather firm boundaries for thinking about the tradition of Parmenides interpretation from the Old Academy up to and including the beginnings of what has become known as Neoplatonism. The volume suggests a radically different interpretation of the history of thought from Plato to Proclus than is customary by arguing against Proclus's generally accepted view that there was no metaphysical interpretation of the Parmenides before Plotinus in the third century C.E. Instead, this volume traces such metaphysical interpretations, first, to Speusippus and the early Platonic Academy; second, to the Platonism of the first and second centuries C.E. in figures like Moderatus and Numenius, who began to uncover various metaphysical realities in the "hypotheses" of the second part of the Parmenides; third, to the emergence of an exegetical tradition that read Aristotle's categories in relation to the Parmenides; and fourth, to important Middle Platonic fialogues, but also the product of a long philosophical tradition that started right after Plato's death and went through a stage (the period of Middle Platonism that extends from 80 BC to 220 AD) in which elements of Platonic philosophy were already combined in a variety of ways with aspects of Aristotelianism and Stoicism." But it is from around 200 AD, that the 'new world' resulting from the dynamic interaction between these strands begins to emerge, and takes shape over the next three centuries.'

A few names and rphyry's testimony in Simplicius) has undergone interpolation with a much later Neoplatonic set of ideas; and 4) it also shows that, despite the undoubted importance of Plotinus, the traditional view of Plotinus as the "father" of Neoplatonism and "originator" of the doctrine of the three "Ones," should be seriously rethought on the basis that not only Plotinus, but also Gnostic and Platonic thinkers that preceded him, seem to be the joint inheritors of a tradition that may well go back to the early Academy.

Volume 1 focuses on the earlier period from Plato and the Old Academy up to Middle Platonism and Gnosticism, with a critical eye upon direct or indirect testimonies from the later Neoplatonists and others, Volume 2 first examines the Neoplatonic tradition itself from Plotinus to Damascius and then takes a broader comparative view of the reception of the Parmenides by such important figures as Philo, Clement, and certain other Patristic authors up to Pseudo-Dionysius.



Kevin Corrigan sets the scene by problematizing the place of the Parmenides in Plato's writings and by providing an overview of some of the major interpretations ranging from the time of Proclus's Commentary on the Parmenides to contemporary scholarship. Corrigan suggests that, despite Proclus's apparent view that there were no metaphysical interpretations before Plotinus, the intrinsically thought-provoking nature even of an aporetic dialogue such as the Parmenides (when put beside its earlier counterpart dialogue of ideas, the Symposium) makes it unlikely that such metaphysical interpretations arose only in late antiquity, especially when one considers hints of such interpretations in earlier authors: in the "episodic" system of Speusippus, in Moderatus, Eudorus, and Nicomachus of Gerasa, in the apparently pre-Plotinian Sethian Platonizing Gnostic texts, and in Middle Platonic thought in general, especially the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides, attributed to Porphyry by Pierre Hadot, but possibly composed even earlier than Plotinus.

There then follow three different perspectives on Speusippus. Gerald Bechtle asks what "points of contact" between Plato's Parmenides and Speusippus's metaphysical system might have meant, especially since such points of contact do not necessarily imply a paraphrase or a definite system of principles in either Plato or Speusippus, and since such contact may have been bidirectional, as has been proposed by Andreas Graeser, who has hypothesized that Plato wrote the Parmenides as a reaction against Speusippus's theory of principles. Bechtle then undertakes a brief reconstruction of Speusippus's doctrine of principles (the One and Multiplicity) on the basis of both Aristotelian material and later Platonist texts. He argues that the tenet of the One as smallest principle does not necessitate a view of the One as deficient negativity or as (Neoplatonic) transcendent non-being or beyond-being, but it should rather be interpreted in a neutral way according to which the One is not any determinate being in the stereometric, planimetric, linear, or mathematical dimensions deduced from it. He concludes that there are clear links between Speusippus's metaphysics and the Parmenides. First, the dichotomic method of the second part of the Parmenides and Speusippus's equally exhaustive diairetic semantics are conducted exactly on the same logical principles. Second, the first and third Parmenidean deductions (about the one in relation to itself and the others in relation to the one, on the hypothesis that the one exists) and Speusippus's views on the relation between the one and the many are genuinely comparable and concern exactly the same topic, namely, they explore possibilities of how to conceive and render functional the principles necessary to explain how all of reality comes about.

Luc Brisson tackles the question from a different perspective. He starts with a fragment attributed to Speusippus in the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides. By means of a critical analysis of texts in Damascius, Proclus, Iamblichus, Porphyry (as attested in Cyril of Alexandria), and Plotinus that seem to refer to it, Brisson, following Carlos Steel, argues that this fragment does not go back to the historical Speusippus, but instead derives from a Neopythagorean apocryphon that reveals a Neopythagorizing interpretation of the Parmenides proposed in the first two centuries C.E. that is used by the Neoplatonists (perhaps Amelius or Porphyry) to interpret the first series of deductions of the second part of the Parmenides. We are therefore deprived of what looked at first sight to be quasi-direct access to Speusippus himself even though tantalizingly closer to relatively early Parmenides-interpretation, albeit through the lens of Neoplatonic spectacles.

Finally, John Dillon argues that an ontological interpretation of Plato's argument in the second hypothesis (about the generation of number at Parm. 142d-144a, and especially 143c-144a) may have been behind Speusippus's theory about the way the universe is generated from a radically unitary and simple first principle, and that this theory has actually left traces in Plotinus's doctrine of numbers in 5.6 [34]. This view seems, on the one hand, to contradict the consensus (based on Proclus) that earlier generations of Platonists took the Parmenides simply as a logical exercise, but, on the other hand, to render Moderatus's derivation of a system of hypostases from the first three hypotheses of the Parmenides more comprehensible.

What ultimately interests Plotinus is an insight derived from Speusippus, namely, that the first product of the union of the primal One and Multiplicity is not the Forms, but Number. Being is prior to Number (as against Speusippus), but Number is prior to beings or the multiplicity of the Forms (as Speusippus asserted). Plotinus finds room for forms as well as numbers, whereas Speusippus wanted to relegate forms to the level of the World Soul. However, if we are prepared to suppose that Speusippus assigned an ontological value to the first two hypotheses, then we may well go further (on the understanding that we cannot know definitively whether or not this was actually the case) and suggest that, since Speusippus seems to have posited a five-level universe, he probably took the first five hypotheses as representing levels of reality, while the last four hypotheses simply reinforced—in negative terms—the necessity of there being a One. Hence the matching of the first five hypotheses with levels of reality is an entirely plausible interpretation as early as Speusippus, Plato's own nephew.

The three following contributions that make up the first major section of vol. 1 broaden the focus so that we can see some of the deep complexities of interpretation involved in our assessment of the historical period between the times of Speusippus and Moderatus.

Thomas Szlezák explores the question of the indefinite dyad in Sextus Empiricus's report at Math. 10.248-283, setting forth initially good reasons for considering this report to be a Neopythagorean version of an older report on Plato's famous lecture, "On the Good?' How does this relate to the interpretation of the Parmenides that we find in Simplicius's quotation from Porphyry's testimony on Moderatus's thought, which looks like a Neopythagorean anticipation of the Neoplatonic hierarchy of hypostases? In the Sextus passage, the monad and indefinite dyad are said to be the highest principles of all things (numbers, lines, surfaces, geometrical bodies, the four elements, and the cosmos). But the indefiniteness of the dyad is neither explained nor really employed in the generation of numbers and things, suggesting that we have a doxographical report that was not really understood philosophically. By contrast, Plato's Parmenides is philosophically thorough, but the indefinite dyad is never mentioned; yet in a thinker such as Plato, who does not care about terms so much as about what is really at stake, the intended point—that the cooperation of two components is necessary for anything to come into being—may nevertheless be legitimately recognized in the Parmenides.

In the history of scholarly criticism, hypotheses 4 and 7 have been related to the indefinite dyad (of the Unwritten Teachings), ontologically in 4 and epistemologically in 7. But hypothesis 3 is more revealing, since the nature of the "other than the one" reveals itself as unlimitedness, and in hypothesis 2 the doubling of the existent one has also been seen as referring to the indefinite dyad; the resultant doubling of every "part" yields an indefinite multiplicity (143a2) applicable to both intelligible and sensible realms, as Aristotle attests. And even in the first hypothesis, to deny the dissimilarity of the one would be akin to distinguishing between first and second principles. So the Parmenides shows us how we are to think of the initially puzzling idea of an indefinite dyad, but we need other dialogues such as the Republic and Timaeus to arrive at the concept. Sextus's report is Platonic and must be very old because of its explicit use of the term "indefinite dyad" and it is certainly complementary to the Parmenides. So this provides a necessary caution that the whole of Plato's philosophy cannot legitimately be deduced from a single dialogue, especially if that dialogue does not provide the key to its own decryption.

Very much in tune with Szlezák's view but in a different key, Zlatko Plese gives a powerful sense of the different options available for Plato-interpretation in the first and second centuries C.E. from Plutarch's dialogue The E at Delphi, in which Ammonius, Plutarch's teacher, is given a major role in praise of the highest God. Is Ammonius a character expressing Plutarch's own views, or is he a historical personality reflecting the monistic tendencies of Alexandrian Platonism, such as the derivational monism and the one beyond being of Eudorus? Mtge rejects both of these possibilities as unwarranted by the text and argues instead that Ammonius's speech is a sophisticated treatment of Platonic dichotomies (Being/Becoming, thought/sense-perception, eternity/time) from the Timaeus, Sophist, Philebus, Cratylus, and Republic, within which earlier compatible Pre-Socratic theories are integrated and strong resemblances to the Parmenides can be detected (e.g., Ammonius's abrupt introduction of "otherness" in the light of Parmenides 143a4-b8 and in the very setting of Plutarch's dialogue, with its equation of Parmenides with Ammonius and Socrates with Plutarch). Ammonius's views are not out of step with those of Plutarch. The history of Platonism is marked by its cleavage into two different traditions: one dogmatic, reaching back to the Old Academy, and the other skeptical, initiated by Arcesilaus. What we find in Ammonius's speech is Plutarch's passionate homage to the continuing unity of those traditions and their common opposition to empiricism.

To conclude the first section of vol. 1, Noel Hubler casts serious doubt upon E. R. Dodds' famous claim that the first-century Neopythagorean philosopher, Moderatus, had anticipated Plotinus's supposedly unique theory of hypostases by developing a theory of emanation through a series of three Ones. Hubler argues that, in basing his`claim upon a single passage in the sixth-century commentator, Simplicius, Dodds failed to take into account Simplicius's own stated preference to supplement, clarify, or apply descriptions designed to deny the application of physical attributes to the intelligible realm of Neoplatonic metaphysics. In his analysis of Simplicius's text, Hubler argues that Simplicius's Neoplatonist summary and Porphyry's own apparent version of Moderatus cited by Simplicius recount two different theories, Porphyry's version being consistent with other testimony he provides about Moderatus and with what we know from other sources about the Neopythagoreanism of Moderatus's time. In sum, a textual source long thought to be definitive for our reconstruction of the history of thought turns out to be a figment of Simplicius's Neoplatonic imagination.

We may add, however, that the problem of the origin of the supposed Neoplatonic hypostases very much remains at issue, for Plotinus himself makes no claim to originality for his thought and asserts that his only innovation was the theory of the undescended soul (5.1 [101, a theory rejected by Iamblichus and the later Neoplatonists anyway). So if not Plotinus, and if not Moderatus or other Neopythagoreans of the first century, then where did the theory of three Ones become mapped onto, or out of, the first three hypotheses of the Parmenides?


The second major section of vol. 1 brings us into direct contact with one of the major revolutions in recent times in our ways of analyzing and categorizing ancient thought. Scholars have typically tried to separate Platonism from Gnosticism just as they have also tried to distinguish rational philosophy from irrational religion. The picture that has recently emerged and that will appear clearly to the reader of both volumes is much more complex, for with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts, and especially, for our purposes, the Sethian Gnostic "Platonizing" texts (Three Steles of Seth, Allogenes, Zostrianosl and Marsanes), we are in the presence of a highly sophisticated religious, soteriological Platonism with complex triadic and even enneadic structures, a "Platonic" competitor of early Christianity with equally strong Jewish roots that antedates not only Iamblichus and Proclus but also Plotinus and Porphyry. In this "Gnostic" Platonism, as in other strands of a very complex overall Platonic tradition, religion and philosophy are interwoven. Moreover, as we shall see below, there are no hermetic seals to compartmentalize strands of this complex tradition that we have hitherto regarded as separate. These different texts reflect upon, and speak sometimes to one another in unexpected ways.

In the first presentation of the second section of vol. 1, John Turner argues that with the Platonizing Sethian treatises we are at the cusp of a shift from what is known as Middle Platonism, for which the principal Platonic dialogue of reference is the Tim aeus , towards the Neoplatonism of later times, for which the Parmenides and Symposium (and the three kings of Plato's Second Letter) assume I greater importance. This shift can be seen already during the first and second centuries in Platonists like Moderatus and Numenius who were attracted by the Neopythagorean doctrines of Eudorus and Thrasyllus, aspects of which probably go back to Speusippus. As a result, various expositions and lemmatic commentaries like the Turin Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides began to uncover the various metaphysical realities in the hypotheses of the second part of the Parmenides. In the case of the Sethian treatises, the Unknowable One, clearly beyond being, is described in negative terms derived from the first hypothesis, from which the Barbelo Aeon emanates as a divine Intellect in a sequence of Existence, Vitality/Life, and Mentality/Intellect roughly parallel to the unfolding of the second One from the first One of the Anonymous Commentary. In addition, the negative theologies of these texts in relation to the Unknowable One (variously characterized in different Sethian texts) are based upon common sources, probably Middle Platonic epitomes of or commentaries on the Parmenides, one of which is shared by Allogenes and the Apocryphon of John, and another by Zostrianos and Marius Victorinus (first detected by Michel Tardieu and Pierre Hadot in 1996), thus providing incontestable proof of a pre-Plotinian theological interpretation of the Parmenides' first hypothesis and suggesting an interpretation of the second hypothesis as the emergence of a second from a first One.

All of this suggests that expositions or commentaries on the Parmenides were available in the late-second or third centuries; that they were used by the authors of Zostrianos and Allogenes, works known to Plotinus and Porphyry; that they were Middle Platonic works; and that in this milieu the Anonymous Commentary may well be pre-Plotinian (as Bechtle and Corrigan have suggested), especially since the Anonymous Commentary appears to depend, in part, not only upon the apparently late second-century Chaldean Oracles but also upon the source common to both Victorinus and Zostrianos.

This web of intertextual affiliations, therefore, provides an entirely new view of the history of thought, compelling the modification of Willy Theiler's longstanding hypothesis, namely, that every Neoplatonic, non-Plotinian doctrine simultaneously in Augustine and in a late Neoplatonist author must come from Porphyry. The Trinitarian theology of Marius Victorinus may come via Porphyry, but it is based not exclusively in Neoplatonism but in Middle Platonic thought such as that of the Platonizing Sethian treatises.

There follow two presentations that take a more cautious approach to some elements in this overall picture. Johanna Brankaer argues by means of a comparative analysis of the Sethian Platonizing texts that, while oneness is certainly applied to the supreme entities, there is no developed henology such as we find in Plotinus. The articulation of the one and the many is common to both the Parmenides and Sethian speculation, but oneness is often connected to Being rather than to a One "beyond being:' What we see in the Gnostic texts, therefore, is a sophisticated adaptation that recalls Platonic and Neoplatonic texts, but is really transformed to the different purpose of a soteriological system.

Volker Drecoll next undertakes to analyze one of the common sources mentioned by Turner above, namely, the source common to Zostrianos and Victorinus (on the assumption that this must have been a Greek text) and argues, on the basis of comparison between the two texts, that there is a surprisingly small list of common expressions and even that these might simply reflect common currency of the day. He therefore suggests that the Tardieu-Hadot hypothesis should be reconsidered in the light of other possible hypotheses: 1) Abramowski's hypothesis that behind the parallel sections there was a common source produced by a crypto-Gnostic Nicene circle at Rome that Victorinus used without knowing its Barbelo-Gnostic origin. Drecoll rejects this, however—on the grounds that we have virtually no evidence for such a circle—in favor of the easier hypothesis, namely 2) that Victorinus read Gnostic texts but was perfectly capable of rejecting Gnosticism, and so presented us with a patchwork of different sources, including Gnostic sources, just as Plotinus read Zostrianos without becoming a Gnostic. But 3) did Victorinus use the Greek Zostrianos or a text dependent on it, perhaps a Neoplatonic text with the Gnostic myths and images expurgated or a Coptic version that could have changed the Greek source? Drecoll concludes therefore that we know too little to assume an unknown common source (though it certainly looks like a plausible solution) or to use this assumption to infer a pre-Plotinian date for the Anonymous Commentary. There may have been a common source, but we cannot exclude other possible alternatives.

In the following presentations, we now move to detailed comparative analyses of some of the major texts in question, most of them definitely Middle Platonic, but at least one—the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenideswhose attribution oscillates back and forth, as it were, between Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism according to the eye of the beholder. First, John Turner and Luc Brisson undertake comparative analyses of the Chaldean Oracles, Gnostic texts ,and the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides. Turner highlights some striking structural similarities in these texts on several different levels: First, the six-level system of the Chaldean Oracles is similar to the schemes of Sethian texts. Second, the enneadic structure that Hadot discerns (on the basis of John Lydus) in Porphyry's interpretation of the Oracles is strongly reflected not only in Allogenes' portrayal of the Invisible Spirit's Triple Power, namely infinitival Existence, indeterminate Vitality, and determinate Mentality, as an enneadic sequence of three emanative phases in which each term of the triad sequentially predominates and contains the other two within each phase of its unfolding. Third, there are striking structural and functional resemblances between the Chaldean Hecate and the Sethian triple-powered One and also between the Sethian Aeon of Barbelo and the three phases of Hecate's existence as prefiguration, source, and place of the instantiation of ideal multiplicity. Turner concludes, therefore, first, that the Sethian authors seem familiar with Neopythagorean arithmological speculation, with the Being-Life-Mind triad perhaps derived from Plato's Sophist, and with the implied metaphysics of the Oracles and, second, that the Being-LifeMind triad, despite differences in nomenclature, functions in very much the same emanational context in the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides as in the Sethian texts, with the major difference that the Sethians (except for the Three Steles of Seth) locate the triad at the level of the first One and see it as the origin rather than the result of the emanative process.

What was therefore thought to be much later in the history of thought, namely, the theory of emanation, and the development of progressive enneadic structures comprising triads, turns out to be earlier, at least as early as the late-second or early-third century. This provides a very different view of the development of Platonism in a more amorphous and cosmopolitan environment.

Luc Brisson undertakes a similar comparative study on the basis of folios 9 and 10 of the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides (in relation to the first hypothesis) which he argues reveal a Neoplatonist critique of the Chaldean positive claim that we can know God. Since God is not an object, only in unknowing does the soul experience something of God. Unlike the Gnostics, we cannot claim to know either God or the mode of procession. Such a critique (undertaken in part via a critique of the Stoic criterion of truth) might be taken as evidence of a pre-Plotinian date for the Commentary, but Brisson holds to a post-Plotinian authorship since this critique implies that the One of the first hypothesis is beyond being and because it presupposes knowledge of 6.1 [101.8. Brisson draws two conclusions: First, he locates the shared source of Victorinus and Zostrianos in the Chaldean Oracles' description of the Father (frg. 3, 4, 7), which in turn had been influenced by Plato's description of the One in the first hypothesis of the Parmenides (142a). Second, he proposes that an earlier commentary on the Parmenides must have existed at the end of the second century, one that turned the first God into an Intellect—that is, determinate Being that was somehow assimilated to the first One of the Parmenides—and claimed that God could be known, if only indirectly. For the possibility of this knowledge, the authority of the Oracles was invoked. This positive commentary was cited by Zostrianos, criticized by the Anonymous Commentary and available, directly or indirectly, to Marius Victorinus.

Gerald Bechtle opens up a different avenue of inquiry: the relation of Plato's Parmenides and Aristotle's Categories. Starting from Hadot's monumental work, Porphyre et Victorinus (1968), and his collection of Porphyrian texts in Victorinus in vol. 2, Bechtle focuses upon group IV of those texts and particularly Hadot's insight in pinpointing a relation between the extant fragments of the Parmenides Commentary and the exegetical tradition regarding Aristotle's`Categories. He poses the broader questions, where do the surviving bits of the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides fit into the Categories-related tradition? and can the latter cast significant chronological light upon the former? But he focuses here upon the well-established intertwinement of the two exegetical traditions by the end of the second century C.E., so standard in fact as to be mentioned casually in Alcinous's Handbook. Is there evidence, then, for the metaphysical relevance of the categories before Plotinus? The already established metaphysical discussion of Aristotle's categories in Plotinus and Lucius and Nicostratus is confirmed by Simplicius and Porphyry, as well as by Plotinus himself. Indeed, nine of Aristotle's categories can be found in some form in Plato's Parmenides, and the five greatest genera of the Sophist even more so. Bechtle then goes on to uncover a tradition of reading Aristotle's categories into the Parmenides in different ways on the part of Clement, Alcinous, Atticus, and Proclus, a tendency, he notes, that goes back to Nicomachus of Gerasa. This is an important project that is part of the unfinished work of the Parmenides seminar that needs to be extended to a study of the Stoic categories (as Bechtle has outlined elsewhere) and of Porphyry's Isagoge as well as its appropriation by Patristic authors, particularly the Cappadocians.

The question of the date of the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides has been much debated, with Bechtle arguing for Middle Platonic authorship, Corrigan attributing it to a member of the school of Numenius (perhaps Cronius) and Brisson suggesting at one point that it may have been authored by Numenius himself. On the other side, there are many advocates of the Hadot thesis (that it is by Porphyry), among them Dillon and, for the most part, Brisson. Volume 1 ends on a slightly agnostic note, but one that tends to favor authorship either contemporary with or after Plotinus.

Alain Lernould focuses on the tension implicit in the Anonymous Commentary to preserve the One's transcendence and yet to make it an entity that knows and that is not nothing. In particular, he examines fragments 1 (folios I-II), 2 (folios III-IV), and 4 (folios IX-X together with the major contemporary translations). He concludes, against the views of Bechtle, Corrigan, and Turner, that the Commentary must be after Plotinus (since, for example, in fragment 1, philosophical prayer, as an ascent of the mind to God conditioning the possibility of scientific discourse about God, is a specific feature of post-Plotinian Platonism). It is instead closer to Damascius than to Proclus, for the author suggests, not that we should rely on our concepts before negating them, but that we should not rely on our concepts at all, no matter how elevated, since these necessarily relate to what is immediately after the One, that is, the Chaldean triad of Father, Power, Intellect—a position closer to that of Damascius.

Volume 1 concludes on a historical knife edge, as Luc Brisson continues what has become his own extended commentary on the Anonymous Commentary with an analysis of folios XI-XIV in terms of Numenius's First and Second Gods and the second hypothesis of Plato's Parmenides. The anonymous commentator distinguishes two moments in Intellect, the first a state of absolute simplicity in which it seems to be blended with the One itself and the second a state in which it emerges from itself to return to itself fully as Intellect. This is a view that recalls that of Numenius, which Plotinus once appeared to accept (3.9 [13].1.15-18), but later in his treatise against the Gnostics (2.9 [33]) rejects. While Brisson does not take this as evidence for Porphyry's authorship of the commentary, he sees the commentator trying to account for the procession of Intellect from the first One into the second, yet remaining in its cause; he thus aligns himself with Plotinus in the process.


Volume 2 is divided into two sections: first, Parmenides interpretation from Plotinus to Damascius and, second, the hidden influence of the Parmenides in Philo, Origen, Clement, and later Patristic thought.


Matthias Vorwerk opens the volume with an overview of the scholarly state of the question on the origin of the Plotinian One from Dodds (1928) to Charrue (1978). He argues that in the crucial and only text (5.1 [101.8) where Plotinus introduces, as a correction to Parmenides himself, the differentiation of three degrees of unity from Plato's Parmenides that corresponds to his own three hypostases, he mentions the Parmenides only last in a series of Platonic texts and does not present it as the key text for his three hypostases. In fact, 5.1 [10].8 shows instead that Plotinus developed his system of hypostases or "natures" from a series of other Platonic texts (Letters 2.312e and 6.323d; Timaeus 35a-b, 41d; Republic 509b), showing considerable skill in interpreting them as complementary, that is, by subordinating Demiurge and Paradigm to the Good in tune with most Middle Platonic philosophers. Why, then, was Plotinus reluctant about the Parmenides? This is probably because the first three hypotheses cannot be interpreted systematically to correspond exactly with the three hypostases. They are introduced therefore to provide additional support for his interpretation and also because they provide a powerful conceptual source for thinking about the one and the many.

On the basis of Proclus's Commentary on the Parmenides, Kevin Corrigan gives an overview of the interpretations of all (whether 8, 9, or 10) of the hypotheses of the second part by Amelius, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Theodorus of Asine, Plutarch of Athens, Syrianus, and Proclus, and then provides a reconstruction of what Plotinus's position might have been despite the absence of direct evidence that Plotinus held an interpretation of any hypothesis beyond the first three. By means of small linguistic hints scattered throughout the Enneads and of comparison between Amelius and Porphyry, Corrigan argues that while Plotinus clearly did not care to make any systematic correspondences between hypotheses and their supposed subjects, he probably held an 8-9 hypothesis view, in between the positions of Amelius and Porphyry, but perhaps more complex. That is, like Proclus, he would not have needed to take hypotheses 6-8 or 9 to refer to actual realities, since what appears to be at issue in them are the negative discourses of quantity, matter, and so on. He concludes by pointing out in comparison with Plotinus and Porphyry that Hegel's later treatments of this topic in different works allow for both a metaphysical interpretation and a logical schema of possibility: thus the negative hypotheses constitute vanishing fields of discourse in which self-identity is dissolved. In this respect, Plotinus, Proclus, and Hegel seem to bear comparison.

Luc Brisson next broadens the focus to give us an unusual look at the human circle of Plotinus's intimates and associates, the roots of this circle in Middle Platonism, and its later opposition to Iamblichean theurgy through the figure of Porphyry. The evidence tends to show, he argues, that Longinus and Origen the Platonist (who had studied with Plotinus under Ammonius) defended an ontological or "being" interpretation of the second part of the Parmenides. If the Firmus mentioned in the Life of Isidore is Castricius Firmus, this means that some in Plotinus's own school were opposed to his new transcendent interpretation of the first hypothesis. In 5.1 [10].8, for instance, Plotinus relies no longer on the Timaeus but finds the principles of his exegesis in the Parmenides. The six fragments of the Anonymous Commentary reflect a similar historical situation, namely, they are in between Numenius (and Neopythagorean inspiration) and Theodore of Asine who reuses the Commentary's doctrines. The author could well be Porphyry or Amelius. But Iamblichus rejects its audacious affirmation of the absolute transcendence of the first One coupled with the immanence of relative things preeminently in the first. In his promotion of theurgy, Iamblichus subsequently elevated the entire hierarchy of gods by one rank and broke the limits of the Parmenides because his ineffable One beyond the One fell outside Plato's hypotheses and therefore outside the text of Plato. Armed with his edition of Plotinus's works in his final years, Porphyry was therefore led to oppose the spirit of Greek rationalism to lamblichus's break with that spirit.

This is a plausible picture, but is it right? Vorwerk would not agree with its analysis of 5.1 [10].8, and there is much evidence in pre-Plotinian periods for a One that is beyond being in some sense or other, as we have seen.

Tuomas Rasimus provides a groundbreaking alternative view by arguing against Hadot's attribution to Porphyry of 89 fragments of clearly Platonic technical metaphysics found in Victorinus' trinitarian treatises and in the six fragments of the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides (taking full account of the earlier work of Bechtle, Corrigan, and Turner) and by suggesting instead something that has hitherto been unthinkable, namely, that the authorship of the latter is more likely to have been Sethian Gnostic. Many of the ideas contained in the fragments of the Anonymous Commentary are better attested in Sethian texts than in the undisputed Porphyrian material and many of the supposed Porphyrian features (e.g., intelligible triad identified with the highest One; distinction between infinitival and substantive being; juxtaposition of paronyms, etc.) are already found in pre-Plotinian Gnostic sources, that is, in the Apocryphon of John and the possibly common, likely Gnostic, source behind Zostrianos and Victorinus. Some evidence even suggests that Porphyry cannot be the author of the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides. Indeed, as Serge Cazelais (2005) has shown, the expression which occurs three times in the Commentary and six times in the undisputed Porphyrian evidence—and which Hadot took to be a veritable signature of Porphyry—occurs at least eighty times in the writings of Origen of Alexandria. The Platonizing Sethian treatises show a good doctrinal match with the fragments of the Commentary. The Apocryphon of John shows similarities with the Chaldean Oracles and even betrays signs of the use of Stoic physics in the service of Platonic metaphysics similar to that Hadot has claimed for Porphyry.

At the very least, then, we have to reassess Hadot's theory and the role of the Sethian Gnostics in the development of Neoplatonism, since the evidence shows that it was the Sethian Gnostics rather than Porphyry who were the innovators.

Is such a thesis really defensible? Certainly, the preponderance of evidence supports it. Furthermore, if it is possible for Victorinus or Plotinus to read Gnostic texts and not become Gnostics, then it is even more plausible for a Gnostic of considerable sophistication, and perhaps with intimate knowledge of a school such as that of Plotinus, to write a commentary for a different "Platonic" audience on a work of crucial importance to both groups. If Mozart could write the Magic Flute, then a Sethian Gnostic could have written a lemmatic commentary on the Parmenides.

So also Volker Drecoll takes up the question of Hadot's attribution of these eighty-nine fragments in Victorinus to Porphry and provides a detailed analysis of Victorinus's use of sources in the Ad Candidum, Adversus Arium 1B, 3, and 4. He concludes that there is no evidence for a single source and therefore no warrant for supposing that Victorinus at every point must be dependent on Porphyry. Drecoll and Rasimus together therefore indicate the need for a complete rethinking of these issues (and see Edwards below).

But we leave the Anonymous Commentary still poised between Hadot's thesis and its revision, a fitting way of representing the state of the question in contemporary scholarship, for Luc Brisson goes on to unpack vestiges of a logical interpretation in folios 7-8 of the Commentary that he interprets (within the historical schema of Proclus's Commentary) as a training for dialectic by means of a logical exercise that must be seen, in the manner of Aristotle's Sophistical Refutations, as an exercise for escaping sophism. From Iamblichus on, this interpretation was opposed by what became in Proclus the dominant interpretation of the Parmenides as a treatise on theology. In Brisson's view, to write such a commentary as the Anonymous Commentary is impossible without a library, senior philosophers, and a deeper commitment to a theological reading; this is impossible outside a scholarly context similar to that of the school of Plotinus.

The concluding papers of section 1 of vol. 1 concern some of the fascinating developments in later Neoplatonism: in Iamblichus, Syrianus, Damascius, and Simplicius, with the presence of Proclus, of course, everywhere.

John Finamore reconstructs from fragments of Iamblichus in Damascius and Proclus Iamblichus's unique interpretation of the Parmenides' third hypothesis as concerning not souls, but superior classes of beings (angels, daemons, and heroes). He interprets this as resulting from lamblichus's interpretation of elements in the Phaedrus myth and of Diotima-Socrates' representation of daemons as two-way messengers between heaven and earth in the Symposium; and he argues that it reflects Iamblichus's peculiar view that there is a class of purified souls that can descend and yet remain unharmed. This interpretation, rejected by the later Neoplatonists, nonetheless allowed Iamblichus both to follow Plato (perhaps disastrously in the view of Porphyry and others, as Brisson argued above in The Reception of the Parmenides before Proclus") and to create a working doctrine of theurgy in which each class of soul played a different role.

John Dillon explores the startling exegesis of the Parmenides' second hypothesis by Syrianus, Proclus's teacher, and his insight that each of the fourteen distinct propositions constituting this hypothesis corresponds to a separate level of entity within the intelligible world: three triads of intelligible gods, three triads of intelligible-intellective gods, an intellectual hebdomad (two triads and a seventh entity, the "membrane"). If we count each triad as a single unit, this results in nine units. Syrianus therefore adds another five: hypercosmic gods; hypercosmic-encosmic gods; encosmic gods; universal souls; superior classes of beings (angels, daemons and heroes, not—like Iamblichus—to be ascribed to the third hypothesis). This gives a total of fourteen to correspond to the fourteen propositions of the second hypothesis. What possible justification could Syrianus have found in the text? In a fascinating analysis, Dillon articulates a plausible justification for the entire structure that reveals a blueprint for the structure of both the intelligible and sensible universes.

Sarah Abel-Rappe then goes on to show how Damascius's treatment of the third hypothesis correlates with the way the Neoplatonists see the soul and its multiple configurations as the foundation of a "way of seeming" that is the ultimate subject of Damascius's Commentary on the Parmenides. If soul is the entry to non-being and the last four hypotheses are way-stations on the path to complete unreality, then the entry into the dimensions of soul begins in the third hypothesis. Unlike lamblichus, for whom the soul's helplessness necessitates divine assistance, the soul is instead a self-mover that is nonetheless capable of altering the quality of its essence and so of its very identity by the focus of its attention and its capacity to experience time in different ways (instant-time and now-time). On the one hand, the individual soul is a modality of intelligible seeing. On the other hand, it is the gateway to Plato's own "way of seeming."

Finally, to conclude section 1 of vol. 2, Gerald Bechtle explores what it means to metaphysicize the Aristotelian categories. If the categories link language and reality and if they imply not only the ten most general classes of being but also the movement from the physical to the metaphysical (a movement unsupported by Aristotle's Categories on its own), then their application to divine things is understandable. Moreover, in the tradition of Categories exegesis, this application paved the way for their application to properly Christian theological entities (praedicatio in divinis), not simply in Boethius but even earlier with the Cappadocians (as Radde-Gallwitz's Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity [Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming] also makes clear). What does this metaphysicizing in Simplicius mean? Simplicius chooses to comment on the Categories and not the Parmenides, thereby reversing an entire Platonic tradition. So Bechtle examines the only two passages where Simplicius refers to the Parmenides and shows that while Simplicius himself does not refer the categories to anything other than sensibles as they are signified by words, nonetheless, in relation to his source, probably Iamblichus, he sees the One of the Parmenides, running through the different hypotheses/hypostases, as everywhere expressive of the community and continuity of the categories, whether applying to all of them vertically or only to one horizontally. Simplicius, by means of Iamblichus, therefore, reinvigorates a pre-Plotinian tradition that goes back at least as far as Alcinous.


In the papers of section 2 of vol. 2, on the Parmenides in relation to Jewish and Christian thought, we move from Philo and Clement through Origen and the Cappadocians to Pseudo-Dionysius, an examination, as far as we know, never before undertaken in this form.

David Runia points out that Philo never mentions Plato's Parmenides and that the Timaeus trumps any possible influence from the Parmenides we might try to find in Philo. Whittaker and Dillon suppose the influence of the first hypothesis at work in Eudoran, Philonic, Clementine, and Hermetic texts, but it is difficult to confirm this in Philo's well-known negative theology and also in what may appear to be the dialectical categories of the Parmenides (e.g., whole-part, limit-unlimited, etc.) in Philo's doctrine of creation. Clement of Alexandria, however, is different, despite the absence of explicit references to the Parmenides (except implicitly in Stromateis 5.112.2). In two passages (Stromateis 5.81-82 and 4.156) he uses the dialectical argumentation of the first hypothesis to develop a negative theology of absolute transcendence and of both the first and second hypotheses to develop a positive theology focused on the Son. Thus, the problem of the one and many is given a new theological solution that does not involve a hierarchy of gods.

Mark Edwards, in a groundbreaking work very much in tune with that of Tuomas Rasimus above, examines two topics: the use of a formula and the provenance of the Anonymous Commentary which uses the phrase. In the case of the formula, only Philo and Origen juxtapose the terms, but Christians could make use of privative terms without being driven to the antinomian logic of the Parmenides. In the case of the latter, however, if we cannot accept that the Being-Life-Mind triad antedated orthodox Platonism, but must have been an invention of Porphyry somehow intuited from the Chaldean Oracles and Plato's Sophist, then the Zostrianos we possess must be a secondarily doctored text. On the other hand, if reflections on the first and second hypotheses can be found in Allogenes, then perhaps such reflection is more Christian than Platonist. Is there any trace of Christianity then in the Anonymous Commentary? The formula found in Origen and Philo appears only in the Anonymous Commentary and in no other pagan text—a little like the "god over all" formula that is more characteristic of Origen than of Porphyry. So the author of the Commentary was perhaps a Christian or someone who occupied an intellectual hinterland, unknown to Irenaeus, of free trade between paganism and Christianity. If we cannot accept that a Christian of the second century might comment on Plato, then we should read the puzzling version of a passage from the Republic in the Nag Hammadi collection (NHC VI,5) that no one quite knows how to classify.

Edwards's second contribution poses the broader question what "dependence" really means when we uncritically call someone like Origen a "Platonist" and he rejects many facile characterizations or caricatures of what such dependence might mean, making us more aware that apparent similarity of phrase, doctrine, text, or even quotation is no guarantee that we do not actually encounter radical difference. We include this essay in this volume as a necessary corrective to seeing Platonism or even anti-Platonism everywhere or to characterizing thinkers like Philo and Origen as Platonists and then, as is often the case, reducing unique forms of thought to adjectival denominationalisms. Even in cases where we can detect traces of the use of or meditations upon Platonic dialogues such as the Parmenides or Timaeus, these may be in the service of an entirely different universe of reference.

Jean Reynard then gives us a fascinating tour of the possible presence or significant lack of the Parmenides in Gregory of Nyssa and his older brother, Basil of Caesarea. We can suppose direct or indirect influence of the Parmenides in Gregory's discussions of participation, virtue, unity of God yet plurality of hypostases, Christology, Gregory's peculiar theory of humanity and individual human beings, negative theology, and view of motion. But we cannot say for certain whether or not this is the case. Basil seems more promising because of his early connection with Eustathius of Cappadocia, a pupil of lamblichus, and because of his youthful, disputed work De`Spiritu, which shares strong links with Plotinus. But why is there such complete silence about the Parmenides? Reynard argues cogently that this was not because Basil and Gregory did not have the dialogue in their manuals, but because Iamblichus's Neoplatonic interpretation influenced and shaped Neo-Arianism, Aetius and Eunomius in particular, and so lamblichean Neoplatonism represented a hard-line form of Neoplatonism that had to be rejected.

Kevin Corrigan takes up the same issues in a different key and argues that the shadow of the Neoplatonic hypostases and the hypotheses of the Parmenides (as explicitly connected by Plotinus in Enn. 5.1 1101.8—a work certainly read by Basil and Gregory of Nyssa) can be seen generally in Basil's De Spiritu Sancto, more prominently in Athanasius's Adv. At 1.18, and conspicuously in Gregory Nazianzus's Third Theological Oration, where we can clearly detect a complex meditation upon the second hypothesis of the Parmenides partly through the lens of language from Resp. 8.545c-d and the dispute of the one with itself. The Trinity, Gregory argues, cannot be split from itself or become perfect by addition. It is perfect already by virtue of something like the Plotinian principle of synneusis. Thus Athanasius and the Cappadocians are concerned 1) to distance themselves from the Neoplatonic hypostases in the concrete knowledge that they are derived, in part, from Plato's Parmenides; 2) to show that the Trinity cannot be conceived as functioning like some second hypothesis either by addition or by being qualitatively or quantitatively cut up into plurality; and, 3) to indicate (especially in the case of Gregory of Nyssa) that while the overall Neoplatonic worldview obviously has to be rejected, there is nonetheless a triadic causal procession of sameness and otherness in Plotinus and Porphyry that results in the hypostases or individual persons, as it were, being substantially included in divine substance rather than being severally distributed into a hierarchy of different substances. Corrigan therefore concludes that the fourth-century Fathers were well aware of the second part of the Parmenides and that, in fact, this text was an indispensable backdrop, however indirect, for the formulation of Trinitarian theology in this century.

The strength and persistence of this hidden tradition of Parmenides interpretation is taken up by Andrew Radde-Gallwitz in the closing contribution of vol. 2 on Pseudo-Dionysius (or Denys the Areopagite) and the problem of contradiction, a problem also to be found in the Buddhist tradition as Radde-Gallwitz illustrates in his epigraph, a tetralemma from the third century C.E. philosopher Nagarjuna, which seems, like the language of Denys about God, to undermine the laws of non-contradiction and excluded middle. As we have seen in the earlier Patristic tradition, the Parmenides' first hypothesis leads to negative, the second to positive, theology. Denys, of course, cannot divide levels of Divinity like the pagan Neoplatonists and so must apply the two hypotheses to one God, but in what sense? To different aspects or moments of God (abiding and procession) to avoid contradiction, that is, a causal interpretation? Or to God in the sense that such language is not subject to either law, that is, a transcendent interpretation? Both solutions have been adopted by modern scholarship, but which is right?

If the causal interpretation is right, does such language name intrinsic properties or not? Proclus says they do not; they only name the relation of other things to God. But Denys appears to hold that they do name intrinsic properties or a diversity unified in God that he illustrates by means of a sun image (Republic 7) similar to Socrates' day analogy in the Parmenides, which seems a red herring since it explains only the simultaneous participation of many things in Being, not a diversity of unified divine properties. Denys, however, seems to mean that God contains causes that appear merely relative. But how, since he also denies every predicate he affirms of God? Radde-Gallwitz's solution is that the causal interpretation, instead of contradicting the transcendent interpretation, actually implies it. The laws of non-contradiction and excluded middle do not apply in theology. So we have in Denys a kind of ouroboric maneuver by which positive and negative theologies live only by ending in their own destruction.


In conclusion, then, let us briefly sum up some of the major results of these two volumes:

1) The preponderance of evidence overthrows the standard view, proposed originally by Proclus, that there was no metaphysical interpretation of the second part of the Parmenides before Origen the Platonist. It is more reasonable to discern such an interpretation going back to Speusippus, Plato's nephew and heir, approximately five hundred years and more before Origen.

2) At some time before the end of the first century C.E., someone in the Platonic-Neopythagorean tradition also came to the conclusion that Plato was presenting in the Parmenides a blueprint for the structure of reality. Even if we cannot be certain that Simplicius's account of Porphyry's report of the doctrine of Moderatus on the three ones is not simply Simplicius's interpolation of his own Neoplatonic views, nonetheless, the notion of a one in some sense or other beyond being must be pre-Plotinian since it goes back 1) to Sextus Empiricus's very old, Platonic account of Plato's last lecture, 2) to Speusippus's view of the one as the smallest principle beyond being from which all the dimensions of beings can be deduced, 3) to Alexandrian Platonism, especially Eudorus, and 3) to the Unknowable One of the Sethian treatises—not to mention 4) to Plato's dialogues themselves, including both the letters associated with his name and the early accounts of the unwritten teachings.

3) The evidence suggests that expositions or commentaries on the Parmenides were available in the late-second or third centuries, that they were used by the authors of the Sethian treatises, Zostrianos, and Allogenes, works known to Plotinus and Porphyry, and that they were generally Middle Platonic works.

4) In the case of the Sethian treatises, the Unknowable One, clearly beyond being, is described in negative terms derived from the first hypothesis, from which the Barbelo Aeon emanates as an Intellect in a sequence of phases designated as Existence, Life, and Intellect in a way roughly parallel to the unfolding of the second One from the first One of the Anonymous Commentary. In addition, the negative theologies of these texts in relation to the Unknowable One are based upon common sources, probably Middle Platonic epitomes of or commentaries on the Parmenides, one of which is shared by Allogenes and the Apocryphon of John, and another by Zostrianos and Marius Victorinus, thus providing incontestable proof of a pre-Plotinian theological interpretation of the Parmenides's first hypothesis and perhaps even an interpretation of the second hypothesis as the emergence of a second from a first One.

5) Analysis of Victorinus's use of sources shows that Victorinus does not use a single source, whether derived from Porphyry, as Pierre Hadot supposes, or from someone else.

6) Contemporary scholarship on the Anonymous Commentary remains divided as to its date and authorship, as the reader will see throughout. Luc Brisson argues powerfully and consistently for a Plotinian or post-Plotinian author, Amelius or Porphyry. Gerald Bechtle, Kevin Corrigan, and John Turner have argued (elsewhere) for Middle Platonic authorship. A serious alternative has been proposed for the first time in vol. 2 on the basis of what seems to be the best interpretation of the strongest evidence. Tuomas Rasimus proposes a Sethian Gnostic and Mark Edwards a Christian author (in what almost amounts to the same thing). Before now such views were virtually unthinkable, but, we suggest, this will be a benchmark for future scholarship and the case of note either to reject or to explore further.

7) Indeed, the Being-Life-Mind triad, one of the most characteristically Platonic-Neoplatonic triads in the history of thought, and a triad partly derived from Plato's Sophist and the Chaldean Oracles, was most probably developed in large measure by Sethian Gnostic thinkers.

8) Despite the undoubted importance of Plotinus, the traditional view of Plotinus as the "father" of Neoplatonism and the "originator" of the doctrine of the three "Ones:' should be seriously rethought on the basis that both Gnostics and Platonists seem to be the joint inheritors of a tradition that may well go back to the early Academy.

9) Parmenides interpretation and the Categories exegetical tradition are in important ways intertwined and Gerald Bechtle has uncovered a tradition of reading Aristotle's categories into the Parmenides, in different ways, in Clement, Alcinous, Atticus, and Proclus, a tendency that goes back to Nicomachus of Gerasa and assumes a different nuance later in Simplicius. This interwoven tradition is of major importance for the development of Christian thought.

10) The shadow of Parmenides interpretation looms large over the early Christian developments of both negative and positive theologies and plays a crucial, if often unspoken role, in the later need to combat hard-line Iamblichean Neoplatonism, reflected in Neo-Arianism, as well as in the development and formulation of Athanasian-Cappadocian Trinitarian theology, where it proves to be decisive. The Parmenides emerges from the shadow with new heuristic clarity in Pseudo-Dionysius's rethinking of cataphatic and apophatic theology.

John D. Turner and Kevin Corrigan Lincoln and Atlanta, June 2009