To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Chapter four focuses on Avicenna's endeavour in his famous Canon of Medicine to reassert the epistemic authority of philosophy by restoring the proper boundaries of medicine, which Galen had especially obscured through his engagements with Plato's Timaeus. I maintain that Avicenna, a student of Aristotle, formulates this polemic in response to the threat that Galen's defence of the dialogue's brain centred psycho-physiology posed to the credibility of Aristotelian cardiocentrism, which identified the heart as the source of sensation. This study examines how Avicenna appeals to the restrictive epistemic hierarchies of his intellectual milieu, which limit doctors to subjects only relevant to the production or preservation of bodily health, to delegitimize Galen's contributions to natural philosophy. The rhetorical, as opposed to normalizing, force of the disciplinary prescriptions that he levels at Galen in the Canon of Medicine will become clear from my analysis of Avicenna's discussions of the hegemonic organ and pleasure in his philosophical works, where he transgresses his own 'laws' when disputing or even adopting TImaean positions on these issues.
Reflecting on the subjects from Plato's Timaeus at the centre of the disciplinary rivalry explored in the preceding chapters, I conclude that mind-body problems -- questions treating the extent to which psychic and 'mental' processes are separable from the corporeal realm -- provoked the most debate. My contention is that Galen's interpretation of a close link between the body and soul in the dialogue allowed himself and his sympathizers to give doctors a stake in psychological knowledge and trouble the distribution of value based on the corporeal-incorporeal dichotomy, which privileged philosophers. Therefore, the restrictive disciplinary laws imposed on doctors by Avicenna and Maimonides are a strategy to reclaim philosophy's hegemony on the soul and superior epistemic standing. While my study had divided Galen's successors into supporters and opponents of his project, I maintain that each Arabic actor tries to overwrite Galen's expertise with their own. Finally, I consider how my examination of the discursive reimagining of medicine can provide a longue durée perspective on modern reconceptualizations of the field, such as disputes about the relevance of the Medical Humanities.
The third chapter focuses on the Iranian doctor Abū Bakr al-Rāzī (sometimes called the 'Arab Galen'), who was attacked by later Islamicate thinkers for his disciplinary overreach, and his bid to replace Galenism with his more theologically informed system of medicine and philosophy. In particular, it argues that al-Rāzī seeks to weaken the epistemic authority of Galenism through his critiques of Galen’s explanations of certain ideas from Plato’s Timaeus. I first consider the Middle Platonic and Neoplatonic sources on which al-Rāzī may have drawn to elaborate his 'anti-Platonism' – his Platonism in response to Galen's Platonism. Turning finally to the Doubts about Galen, I demonstrate that al-Rāzī attacks Galen on the subjects of creation, pleasure, and the soul for neglecting God's role in the cosmos in his interpretations of the Timaeus. In reformulating the boundaries of medicine to include theological knowledge, which belonged in ancient epistemological schemes to metaphysics, al-Rāzī, I conclude, promotes the doctor-metaphysician in opposition to Galen’s more limited philosopher-doctor as the most reliable investigator of the cosmos.
The introduction asserts that the different causal, spatial, and comparative relations in Plato's Timaeus generated a model of knowledge that denies a strict separation between the disciplines. I contrast the dialogue's epistemic vision with the prevailing hierarchies of knowledge developed by ancient thinkers, including Plato himself, which ranks medicine below philosophy because it is a technē ('art'), deals with the body, and its practitioners were often enslaved or freedpersons. I argue that Galen's expansive refiguring of medicine's boundaries -- his 'boundary work' -- is part of a tactic to improve his profession's credibility and his own authority. After outlining my approach to science as a discursive practice, I consider how Galen's philosophical training enabled him to exploit the epistemic possibilities of the Timaeus, which seems to recognize that knowledge can be divided and bounded differently by each knower. I conclude by proposing that Galen’s own role in interfacing Arabic readers with the dialogue called for Arabic doctors and philosophers to reevaluate their own categories and taxonomies of knowledge, which had been shaped by late-antique epistemologies.
The first chapter of this book delineates the intellectual context in which Aristotle’s ideas on the concept of lexis developed, before focusing on his own definitions of the concept. The chapter is divided into four sections. The first three deal with lexis in the works first of Plato, Isocrates and Aristotle respectively. The final section introduces the three levels into which lexis has been divided in this book.
Galen attempts to define the Timaeus as a medical resource to justify medicine’s right to comment on issues regarding the soul and the nature of life, to which philosophers had long laid claim. I call attention to Galen’s commentary On the Medical Statements in Plato’s Timaeus and the Arabo-Latin prologue to the Synopsis of Plato’s Timaeus to illustrate how his assertions that the dialogue contains ‘medical’ information allow him to draw more expansive boundaries for medicine. My analyses of On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato and The Faculties of the Soul Follow the Mixtures of the Body reveal that Galen advances more monopolistic claims on the soul for medicine by appealing to his anatomical expertise and the dialogue's link between bodily and psychic disease to show the pertinence of his medical expertise to psychological controversies and ethics. I conclude with a discussion of Galen's interpretation of the Timaeus' account of vegetative sensation, which posits a homology between plants and humans that he exploits to extend medicine's boundaries beyond the world of the body.
Chapter five concentrates on the Rabbi Moses Maimonides' reformist project to rid Galenism of its Timaean elements. As I establish, while Maimonides' affiliation with Aristotelianism put him in conflict with Galen, the Platonic lines in Galen's thought also generated problems for his own conception of Jewish belief. I show that Maimonides rejected Galen's reading of the Timaeus' cosmogony as heterodox in the Guide for the Perplexed and Medical Aphorisms because of its denial of creation ex nihilo and the omnipotence of God. Therefore, Maimonides had theological reasons for wishing to curtail Galen's philosophical reach. Giving special attention to the Medical Aphorisms, I uncover the various polemical tactics that Maimonides employs, which include giving more limited meanings to Galen's philosophically loaded terminology and mobilizing his own anatomical experience to dispute Galen's brain-centred theory of sensation, to dephilosophize Galenism and recentre it on the body.
Chapter six considers Greek and Roman conceptions of human nature. Greeks and Romans had wide-ranging views on humanity’s relation with the divine. However, in philosophical and scientific circles, it was common to find talk of humanity’s intrinsic share in the divine nature even in its natural condition. Certain groups thought of the self as a space comprising different material bodies, some nondivine and some divine. Others imagined it as a space comprising material and immaterial parts, the former being mortal and the latter having a latent share in the divine state. There was thus general agreement that, regardless of the nature of the different parts or aspects of the self, the human enjoyed some share in the divine nature. Many seem to have imagined some rulers to have had an exalted ontology. Unfortunately, the evidence is simply not conclusive. In any case, Greeks and Romans quite widely thought that the regular human self participated in the divine state.
I explore the possibility that the mark of genuine realism is not whether things remain ‘true’ in the absence of a subjective knower, but rather, a metaphysical continuity between all existences and the knowledge possessed by spirits. I argue that Western philosophical lineage, since Socrates, has called forth a metaphysical turn to the subject which is to be differentiated from the later epistemological turn to the subject, espoused by Kant, and I draw a connection between this claim and the question of dialetheism explored in the previous chapter.
Truth, I have argued, is not a matter of reference but of addition. In his early dialogue, Laches, Plato reports Socrates as saying: ‘For if we know that the truth of something would improve some other thing, and are able to make that addition, then, clearly, we must know how that about which we are advising may be best and most easily attained.’1 The improvement in this case is virtue. For Plato, this is a matter of pursuing the Good which can only be known through contemplation of truth. Eternal truth radiates forth to one as Beauty which incites one’s desire to pursue the Good as one’s true end.
The four frescoes by Raphael in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Museum visually embody close approximations of several numerical ratios that are of deep significance in the material grounding of musical harmonies in the physics of natural harmonics. Of special significance is the Pythagorean musical frequency ratio of 9:8, the (discordant) whole tone interval, which in Plato's Timaeus is called the epogdoôn (‘and an eighth’).
“A City for Pigs” portrays Plato as a systems modeler of a sustainable society. Plato’s argumentative methods, in the Republic especially, are favorably compared to techniques of computer simulation and to the heuristic objectives of game theory. Plato’s views about social cooperation in the use of common-pool resources, for example, are shown to be strikingly similar to conclusions reached via field studies by Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom in Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990). Plato’s own homology, of city and soul, provides a compelling rationale for both individual and collective action vis-à-vis the environmental and social problems we still face today.
“The Objectivity of Values” assesses Plato’s contributions to Western philosophy and culture. It posits that among the most lasting of those contributions are the idea of the world of absolute truth beyond time and chance, and the idea that unless such a world exists there is no way to answer Socrates’s questions. But then it posits that these ideas should be abandoned. Recognizing that there are no knock-down philosophical arguments against them, it resorts to the historical argument that they have done more harm than good. Finally, the paper proposes that a good alternative to those ideas may be found in John Dewey’s view that the point of Socratic questioning is not to arrive at absolute truths but to keep the conversation of humanity going.
This monograph is the first study to assess in its entirety the fourth-century CE Latin translation of and commentary on Plato's Timaeus by the otherwise unknown Calcidius. The first part examines the authorial voice of the commentator and the overall purpose of the work; the second part provides an overview of the key themes; and the third part reassesses the commentary's relation to Stoicism, Aristotle, potential sources, and the Christian tradition.
This chapter starts from the extraordinary historical circumstance that Schleiermacher and Schlegel, a theologian and classical scholar and philosopher, who both had a huge influence on the development of their disciplines and the institution of the university, shared lodgings as students. It explores their relationship, and the importance of it for their subsequent careers, and expands from this to consider how the seminary, as dominant theological educational institution, was overtaken in the university by the seminar – to explore how both educational forums show similar negotiations of the dynamic between personal, affective relationships and methodological rigour. It thus raises questions about how the public and the private, emotion and objectivity became values of scholarship between philology and theology in the university
The desire to produce theory that affects practice makes political philosophy self-reflective. What kinds of insights do political philosophers aim to communicate, and to whom? What kinds of work should we do? What can we sensibly hope to achieve? Or, in short, what sort of vocation is political philosophy? Answers vary enormously. They include one derived from Max Weber (the political philosopher as “guidance counselor”); a Platonic one (“guide to knowledge”); a Marxist one (“obstetrician of the revolution”); a Habermasian view (“conservator of the discourse”); the view of the later Rawls (“theory-providing citizen-discussant”); the realist view developed by Raymond Guess (“historically-minded Ideologiekritiker”); as well as another type of realist view according to which the political philosopher (“seeker for moral truth”) plainly searches for the moral truth in their domain. This chapter discusses the first four of these conceptions.
Discourse about justice assesses what each person’s share in the accomplishments of humanity should be. This is a sufficiently abstract characterization to accommodate differences in usage of terms such as justice, justitia, dikaiosunê, etc. Yet it is characteristically human that we construct and maintain things together. Plato’s world is limited to city-states, but Plato gives us the idea of each doing/having their own as a core idea for determining each person’s share in common accomplishments. “To each their own” reason also plays a role in the work of al-Fārābi. But the range of interpretations of that idea becomes visible through the Nazi appropriation of the slogan. Another point of orientation is Aristotle’s distinction between distributive and corrective justice. From Cicero, finally, we get the thought that reflection on each person’s share might involve reflection on concentric circles of involvement.
The extant attempts in the literature to refute the greatest difficulty argument in the Parmenides have focused on denying the parallelism between the pros relations among Forms and those among particulars. However, these attempts are unsatisfactory, for the argument can reach its conclusion that we cannot know any Forms without relying on this parallelism. I argue that a more effective strategy is to deny the more essential premise that the knowledge-object relation is a pros relation. This premise is false because pros relations require definitional and ontological codependence between the relata, and the knowledge-object relation does not satisfy this reciprocity condition.
Plato’s writings play a crucial role in bootstrapping the discourses that came to be called metaphysics, which see their task as exploring distinctions between seeming and being, reality and appearance, and what we can sense and what lies beyond our senses. Central to them is the notion of ‘theory’, which, as Andrea Nightingale has argued, Plato develops out of the social institution of theōria: a representative of the city attends a Panhellenic festival, observes what happens, and reports back on what he has seen. This model structures the story (in Republic) of the prisoner leaving the cave, ascending to the light, and reporting back to those he left behind – a structure that Lucretius reprises in the ‘theoretical’ journey of Epicurus across the universe in DRN 1. Plato’s stories are subject to a process of reception Hans Blumenberg has described as ‘re-occupation’ so as to express metaphysical positions that are at odds with Plato’s. This essay explores Lucretius’ re-occupation of a number of Platonic motifs (the cave, the pitfall of Thales in Theaetetus, the representation of Socrates as a thinking subject) to highlight the role that these motifs have played (and continue to play) in the metaphysical tradition.
The fourth chapter examines Ibn Rushd’s account of causality. It will be argued that Ibn Rushd’s theory of causality comes very close to Neo-Platonistic participatory accounts, despite his strong Aristotelian tendencies. Ibn Rushd, like Ibn Sīnā, finds the basis of causal efficacy of entities in their participation in the pure existence-act of the First. The most important implication of this understanding of causality is that despite the occasionalist critique that we do not and cannot observe a necessary connection between cause and effect, for Ibn Rushd, the moment one defines existence as pure act, it metaphysically makes more sense to accept causal efficacy of entities, for they participate in the pure existence-act of the First. The chapter also examines the differences between Ibn Sīnā and Ibn Rushd that stem from the latter’s efforts to address some of Ghazālī’s challenges. Ibn Rushd agrees with Ghazālī in that plurality can emanate from the First without emanationist intermediation and solely based on the nature-capacity-form of beings. This view establishes a closer connection between the First’s existence-act and the world than Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysics allows.