Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 March 2022
Numenius (second century AD), the only witty Platonist after Plato himself, memorably described Plato as ‘Moses talking Attic’. He did not mean thereby to rate Eastern wisdom more highly than Platonic philosophy, as is sometimes suggested, but to recognise in the words ‘I AM THAT I AM’, spoken to Moses by the God of the Hebrews, an anticipation, unique in Eastern lore, of the conception Numenius championed of the Platonic first principle One or Good as Being itself. This paper proposes that his further exploration of that idea shows him to have construed the Timaeus account of such being as an eternal present, or in Boethius’s words ‘the complete possession all at once of an infinite life’, not as timelessness (the Timaeus interpretation advocated by Richard Sorabji). It is argued that this was both a correct interpretation of Plato’s text, and one shared in much subsequent ancient and medieval philosophy, including Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas. From our own human perspective, a present tense without past or future connections might be considered ‘a kind of logical torso’, a defective remnant of ordinary time. For Plato that human conception of present time is itself a mere image of eternity.
To save this book 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 saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved 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.
Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.
To save 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 saving content to Dropbox.
To save 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 saving content to Google Drive.