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476 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY --no matter whether or not those fourteen paragraphs were part of a regular, running commentary--was no doubt a penetrating and admiring interpreter of Plato. And, as every reader knows, particularly this dialogue poses quite a few puzzling problems. Yet, it is almost embarrassing to see that Posidonius (and also the later commentators , for that matter) obviously felt no urge to clear up some of the most bewildering riddles of Timaeus interpretation. To mention only two examples: (1) Plato's contention that earth cannot be changed into any of the three other "elements," and vice versa, because its ultimate particles have the shape of cubes, whereas fire, air and water do change into each other; and (2) the question of how Plato came to the (not very elegant) assumption that two different kinds of triangles were the primary constituents. Neither Posidonius nor any of the other commentators (nor, of course, the author of this nice little book) saw that Plato had overlooked that the cube, too, could be transformed into the other three polyhedrons. 1 Nor did they ask, let alone discover, why Plato thought triangles must be the primordial principles, and why he had to confess that "what could be the principles still prior to these (sc., triangles), God on high alone knows and of men he who may be dear to Him" (Timaeus, 53D). For he himself did not know. "He did not find out that to the Pythagoreans the ultimate element was the line and, therefore, there was no need for them to assume those awkward two triangles,z FELIX M. CLEVE New School for Social Research, New York Das Corollarium de Tempore des Simplikios und die Aporien des Aristoteles zur Zeit. By Hubert Meyer. Monographien zur Naturphilosophie, Band VIII. (Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1969. Pp. 314. Paper, no price) In recent years there has been much renewed interest in the period of Greek philosophy after Aristotle. Since ancient Greek thought has an unbroken continuity, the commentaries on Aristotle from late antiquity retain an authenticity and value for the study of Aristotle himself which have not always been sufficiently recognized. The present very extensive and learned work is a study of time, as presented by Simplicius in his commentary on Aristotle's Physics, and in the Doubts and Solutions of Simplicius' teacher, Damascius. It sheds new light not only on the Neoplatonic philosophy of time, but also on the notorious "difficulties" of Aristotle on time. This work presents a huge amount of philosophical argument, often complex and subtle. So, we must oversimplify a good deal. The delicate analyses of Damascius and Simplicius utilize materials from two different philosophies of time, Aristotle's and Plotinus'. Aristotle's view, that time is the number of motion according to before and after, bases time on the phenomenon of regular and endless physical motion. Although number, in Aristotle, is only a mathematical abstraction, and time is a number, it is not quite correct to say that time has merely mathematical being, or being only in reason. The number of time is in the phenomenon of movement, that is, time is something mathematical which is really verified in the physical world. Soul or mind 1 Cf. F. M. Cleve, The Giants of Pre-Sophistic Greek Philosophy (The Hague, 1965), 2nd ed., vol. II, pp. 468-473. 2 Ibid., cf. p. 470 f. BOOK REVIEWS 477 is needed in order to make the before-and-after of physical motion actually numbered . But the "matter" of time, the endless motion of nature (particularly the heavens), is real, not merely ideal or mathematical. The form of time is determined by the real relation of before and after. Thus time is not a mere application of ideal number, but is a real category, one of the modes of being. Time is that way of being whose being consists in becoming. The other philosophy of time which influences Damascius and Simplicius is the more "idealist" Neoplatonic one which bases time on soul. According to Plotinus, the number of motion is an applied number. Just as eternity is the life of mind (nous), so time is the life of the world-soul...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 476-478
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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