Aristotle and Other Platonists

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"Aristotle versus Plato. For a long time that is the angle from which the tale has been told, in textbooks on the history of philosophy and to university students. Aristotle's philosophy, so the story goes, was au fond in opposition to Plato's. But it was not always thus."—from the IntroductionIn a wide-ranging book likely to cause controversy, Lloyd P. Gerson sets out the case for the "harmony" of Platonism and Aristotelianism, the standard view in late antiquity. He aims to show that the twentieth-century view that Aristotle started out as a Platonist and ended up as an anti-Platonist is seriously flawed. Gerson examines the Neoplatonic commentators on Aristotle based on their principle of harmony. In considering ancient studies of Aristotle's Categories, Physics, De Anima, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics, the author shows how the principle of harmony allows us to understand numerous texts that otherwise appear intractable. Gerson also explains how these "esoteric" treatises can be seen not to conflict with the early "exoteric" and admittedly Platonic dialogues of Aristotle. Aristotle and Other Platonists concludes with an assessment of some of the philosophical results of acknowledging harmony.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The title of this work indicates quite clearly where the author stands regarding the relationship of these two ancient philosophers: Aristotle, contrary to the usual thinking in the philosophical literature, is a Platonist. Gerson arrives at this position by examining in detail the writings of the Neoplatonists and others of the period and concluding that they were correct in assuming that there was no real conflict in the overall thinking of the two men and that, indeed, their thinking was 'harmonious.'"—Library Journal, 15 December 2004

"Gerson examines the neglected work of the classical 'harmonists,' those Neoplatonic philosophers of late antiquity who sought to reconcile the opposing doctrinal positions of Platonism and Aristotelianism. . . . Although some of the harmonists' claims are dubious, Gerson does a fine job defending the essential points of their argumentation. This is an important book that should reshape readers' understanding of the history of classical philosophy."—Choice, September 2005

"This is one of the most important and challenging books on Aristotle in recent memory. I think Lloyd Gerson is unlikely to persuade everyone of the truth of what he says. Nor perhaps will he convince anyone of the truth of all the things he says. But if this book does not succeed in disturbing some dogmatic slumbers, I will be very surprised and more than a little disappointed. I urge anyone who is feeling somewhat stifled by the status quo in Aristotle scholarship to take a good hard look at this book. Even if you disagree profoundly it will—and I think should—open your mind to some new possibilities."—Dirk Baltzly, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"The inquiry is informed throughout with unsurpassed knowledge of the Platonic and Aristotelian texts and with analytical rigor that matches the best Aristotelian scholarship. This is a compelling study that deserves immediate attention from ancient philosophers who are willing to rethink these important questions."—John Bussanich, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The paradigm of opposition between Plato and Aristotle is addressed by Gerson in his learned, fascinating, and persuasive book."—Rosamond Kent Sprague, Ancient Philosophy

"A marvelous contribution to the study of ancient philosophy."—Richard Kraut, Classical Philology

"This wide-ranging and deeply learned book casts a challengingly heterodox, and often convincing, light on every major aspect of Aristotle's thought from his metaphysics to his ethics. It deserves to be read by every student not just of Aristotle but of ancient philosophy more generally."—C. D. C. Reeve, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"I read Lloyd P. Gerson's book with absorption and with pleasure. It is an impressive, solidly argued work, based on a profound knowledge of the ancient texts. It also considers and interprets a very large number of recent studies. Gerson is well aware that he is making a very bold challenge, but he does so seriously and precisely. The subtlety and insight of his analyses are truly stimulating."—Richard Bodéüs, Professor of Philosophy, University of Montreal

"This is both a learned, philosophically acute, and readable introduction to late antique Neoplatonism and a persuasive re-reading of Aristotle. Anyone with an interest in Aristotle, Plato, the late Platonists, and their effects on later philosophy, as well as anyone with a less specialized interest in the questions these philosophers discussed, will profit from Lloyd P. Gerson's painstaking study of a properly Platonic Aristotelianism (or Aristotelian Platonism)."—Stephen Clark, University of Liverpool

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801441646
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lloyd P. Gerson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of many books, including Aristotle and Other Platonists and From Plato to Platonism, also from Cornell, and Knowing Persons: A Study in Plato, and editor of The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity.

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Table of Contents

1 What is Platonism? 24
2 The exoteric writings and the early Aristotle 47
3 The categories of reality 76
4 Nature and its principles 101
5 Psychology : souls and intellects 131
6 Aristotle's metaphysics 173
7 Aristotle and the forms 209
8 Aristotle's ethics 242
9 Aristotle : Platonist Malgre Lui? 275
App Platonists and other Aristotelians 291
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