The significance of ‘physics’ in Porphyry:

Andrew Smith

in Neoplatonism and the Philosophy of Nature

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693719
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739019 | DOI:
The significance of ‘physics’ in Porphyry:

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For Porphyry, ‘physics’ is primarily conceived as a pointer to metaphysics. His assessment of its place in philosophy may be ascertained by his arrangement of Plotinus’ Enneads and his commentaries on Plato’s Timaeus and Aristotle’s Physics. Of all the subjects pertaining to ‘physics’, the nature of matter, proved central for Porphyry. Stimulated by texts in the Timaeus (for example, in interpreting the ‘traces of the elements’) and the Parmenides, Porphyry employed a diversity of arguments directed against the perceived dualism of Atticus and other earlier Platonists in which he tried to maintain matter’s absolute lack of qualities and its total dependence on the One. This is also consistent with the distinction made in the Sententiae between the relationship of matter to the individual soul and to the universal soul, as well as with his situating time on the very border of the sensible and supra-sensible universes.

Keywords: matter; dualism; the One; time; elements; Timaeus; Parmenides; Porphyry; Atticus

Chapter.  7346 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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