Saturday, 11 April 2015

László Perendy: The Absence of Aristotle. The Stagirite as a Witness to the Mortality of the Soul

Among several philosophers (e.g. Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Plato, Zeno), also Aristotle is condemned by Tatian in his Oratio ad Graecos. The Stagirite is accused of "ignorantly setting a limit for providence and defining happiness in terms of his own pleasures" (2:1; M. Whittaker's translation). He is held responsible also for the opinion of his disciples, who "exclude providence from any part in sublunary affairs" (2:2). He is ridiculed also for the behaviour of his most famous disciple, Alexander the Great. Aristotle is included in the group of philosophers quarrelling among themselves: he "disparages the immortality of the soul" (25:2). In his Ad Autolycum Theophilus of Antioch criticizes even more philosophers, included most of those rejected by Tatian. His criticism becomes especially fervent in Book Three, which was written in the 180s, after Tatian's Oratio. Theophilus condemns ten philosophers, but he keeps silent over Aristotle. In my contribution I make an attempt to find the causes of this silence. For several reasons it can hardly be denied that Theophilus did know the main elements of the Stagirite's philosophy, and even the literary genre of his Ad Autolycum shows a lot of resemblances to Aristotle's Protrepticus. One reason for not mentioning his name can be that some of his ideas were shared by the bishop. e.g. the rejection of the unconditional immortality of the soul. Criticizing him would have been counterproductive, so he was dropped from the group of philosophers traditionally ridiculed by other apologists.

No comments:

Post a Comment