The Age of Synthesis

R. J. Hankinson

in Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246564
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597572 | DOI:
The Age of Synthesis

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In this chapter, Hankinson discusses the origins of syncretism, or the growing convergence of Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, focusing mainly on the Old Academy Platonists Speusippus and Xenocrates, the empiricist Stoic Posidonius, the lapsed sceptic Antiochus, and the orthodox Aristotelian Alexander of Aphrodisias. Hankinson also discusses Eudorus, Philo of Larissa, and Plutarch, as well as briefly noting the influential Primer on Plato's Doctrines by Alcinous. The importance of the Old Academy is its influence upon the development of later Platonic tradition; Proclus, for instance, credits Xenocrates with a distinction between transcendent and immanent causation that became a central feature of Middle Platonism. Posidonius, a Stoic and Cicero's philosophical mentor, is important to the growing convergence of the schools because he introduced Platonism and Aristotelianism into his account of Stoicism, while Antiochus, a product of Philo of Larissa's sceptical Academy, pursued an eclectic Platonism. Alexander of Aphrodisias was the leading Peripatetic of Alexandria, around the second century ad; he revived an orthodox Aristotelianism, accepting Aristotle's four causes doctrine, and identifying Fate as an efficient cause.

Keywords: Alcinous; Alexander of Aphrodisias; Antiochus; Middle Platonism; Old Academy; Philo of Larissa; Plutarch; Posidonius; Speusippus; Syncretism; Xenocrates

Chapter.  20873 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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