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Philoponus, in De Anima III: Quest for an Author*

  • Peter Lautner (a1)

It has been strongly disputed that Philoponus is the author of the commentary on the third book of De Anima printed in vol. xv of CAG under his name, and Stephanus of Alexandria has been taken to be its real author. The evidence for the authorship of Stephanus is as follows: (I) Codex Parisinus gr. 1914, written in the twelfth century, has an adscript by a later hand saying βιβλ⋯ον τρ⋯τον ⋯π⋯ ϕωνης στεϕ⋯νου (‘third book from the voice of Stephanus’), and the same appears in the fifteenth-century Codex Estensis iii F 8. (II) In 543.9 there is a clause saying ὡς ⋯ν τῷ περ⋯ ⋯ρμηνε⋯ας ⋯μ⋯θομεν (‘as we learnt in the De Interpretatione’), which was taken by M. Hayduck to be direct reference to Stephanus' commentary on the De Interpretatione, edited also by Hayduck in vol. xiii/3 of CAG. (III) The third book, says Hayduck, is short (brevis) and jejune (jejunus), in contrast to the verbosity of the preceding two books. (IV) The commentary on the third book of De Anima is divided into lectures (πρ⋯ξεις), but the first two books are not. (V) Some locutions are used constantly in the third book and in Stephanus' in De Interpretatione as well. (VI) In the Codex Vaticanus gr. 241 fol. 6 (fourteenth century) we are told that Stephanus also wrote a commentary on the De Anima.

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1 Mentioned in CAG xviii/3, p. v.: εἰς τ⋯ περ⋯ ψυχ⋯ς στ⋯ϕανος… (emphasized by M. Hayduck), and see Usener H., ‘De Stephano Alexandrino’, in his Kleine Schriflen. Bd. iii (Leipzig, 1914), pp. 247323, esp. p. 284.

2 In CAG XV, p. v.

3 This work was edited first by de Corte M., Le commentaire de Jean Philopon sur le Troisième Livre du ‘Traité de l'Ame’ d'Aristote (Liège, 1934), and more recently by Verbeke G., Jean Philopon. Commentaire sur le De Anima d'Aristote. Traduction de Guillaume de Moerbeke. Édition critique avec un introduction sur la psychologie de Philopon (Louvain/Paris, 1966). The text, with the emendations of F. Bossier, has been translated into English by Charlton W. in Philoponus, On Aristotle on the Intellect (London, 1991). The fragments of the Greek version of the De Intellectu have been collected and edited by van Riet S., ‘Fragments de l'original grec du “De Intellectu” de Philopon dans un compilation de Sophonias’, RPhL 63 (1967), 540.

4 In his ‘John Philoponos and Stephanus of Alexandria: Two Neoplatonist Christian Commentators on Aristotle?’, in O'Meara D. J. (ed.), Neoplatonism and Christian Thought (Albany, 1982), pp. 5466, 244–6. His other arguments which concern (1) the scale of the commentaries and (2) the organization of the material are roughly identical with IIIIV proposed by Hayduck.

5 ‘verum tamen concedo certam ex his rebus de illo scriptore coniecturam capi non posse’, CAG XV, p. v.

6 Vancourt R., Les demiers commentateurs Alexandrins d'Aristote. L'école d'Olympiodore. Étienne d'Alexandrie (Lille, 1941), p. 11; Westerink L. G., Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy (Amsterdam, 1962), pp. xxiv–xxv, newly published in Sorabji R. (ed.), Aristotle Transformed (London, 1990), pp. 325–49, esp. 340–1; Blumenthal H. J., ‘Neoplatonic Elements in the de Anima Commentaries’, Phronesis 31 (1976), 6487, esp. p. 72 n. 37, reprinted in R. Sorabji (ed.), op. cit., pp. 305–25.; Todd R. B., ‘Themistius and the Traditional Interpretation of Aristotle's Theory of Phantasia’, Acta Classica 24 (1981), 4959.; Watson G., Phantasia in Classical Thought (Galway, 1988), p. 129. Against this assumption see Bernard W., ‘Philoponus on Self-Awareness’, in Sorabji R. (ed.), Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science (London, 1986), pp. 154–64, esp. pp. 154–5 n. 3. According to Beutler R., ‘Plutarchos von Athen’, RE 21 (1951), cols. 962–75, esp. 967–8, the third book is a ‘Kollegnachschrift’ on one of Ammonius' lectures. The latest verdict is that of W. Charlton (op. cit., pp. 6–12) who definitely denies Philoponus' authorship but seems to hesitate in accepting that of Stephanus.

7 For a detailed survey see Richard M., ‘Ἀπ⋯ ϕων⋯ς’, Byzantion 20 (1950), 191–22, and, particularly on the Alexandrian commentators, Tarán L., ‘Amicus Plato sed magis arnica veritas. From Plato and Aristotle to Cervantes’, A&A 30 (1984), 93126, esp. pp. 103–5.

8 The commentators were tempted to use the words σχ⋯λιον, σχολ⋯ (σχολαις), ὑπ⋯μνημα or ⋯ν τοῖς (sc. ὑπομν⋯μασιν) εἰς … to indicate that the work referred to is a commentary. In his in De Anima I–II Philoponus uses ὑπ⋯μνημα to refer to the commentary of Alexander of Aphrodisias (21.23; 118.28); and the author of the in De Anima III uses it of the commentaries of Alexander (464.20–1) and Plutarch of Athens (531.25; 575.7); and Stephanus in his in De Interpretatione uses it to refer to Porphyry's in De Interpretatione (CAG xviii/3, 63.9–10).

9 CAG xviii/3, 8.30–9.6.

10 CAG iv/5, 2.4; 4.6–19; 9.30–10.6; 10.18; 31.3.

11 See Busse's A. supplementum praefationis to CAG iv/5, pp. xv–xviii.

12 Cf. Saffrey H. D., ‘Le chrétien Jean Philopon et la survivance de l'école d'Alexandrie au VIe siècle’, REG 67 (1954), 396410. His view is objected by Verrycken K., ‘The Development of Philoponus' Thought and its Chronology’, in Sorabji R. (ed.), Aristotle Transformed, pp. 233–75, esp. pp. 238–9.

13 E.g. 462.24–467.24; 477.21–487.7; 534.19–539.39; 543.21–547.24.

14 Compare the vast commentary of Ammonius (CAG iv/5).

15 The occurrence of λ⋯ξις (36.6; 80.17; 87.30; 227.5; 230.6, 7, 8; 296.8) and θεωρ⋯α (302.19) in the first two books may be indicative of faint traces of this division.

16 See Festugière A. J., ‘Modes de composition des Commentaires de Proclus’, MH 20 (1963), 77100, esp. pp. 7780.

17 Cf. his in De Interpretatione (CAG iv/5).

18 According to Westerink L. G., The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo (Amsterdam/Oxford/New York, 1976), i.20, ‘His extant work consists entirely of lecture notes by students’.

19 As pointed out by A. J. Festugière, op. cit., passim.

20 Westerink L. G., ‘Philosophy and Medicine in Late Aniquity’, Janus 51 (1964), 161–77, reprinted in his Texts and Studies in Neoplatonism and Byzantine Literature (Amsterdam, 1980), 8399, esp. p. 85. However he holds, it seems inconsistently, that the in De Anima III is by Stephanus (p. 88).

21 Cited by Hayduck M. in CAG xviii/3, p. v.

22 Cited by P. Wendland in his Addendamentum IV to the edition of Alexander's in De Sensu, CAG iii/1, p. xviii.

23 It has been pointed out by W. Bernard, ‘Philoponus on Self-Awareness’, in R. Sorabji (ed.), op. cit., n. 3, as well as by O. Schissel von Fleschenberg, ‘Kann die Expositio in libros de anima des S. Thomas Aquinas ein Kommentar des Johannes Philoponos zu Aristoteles' Περ⋯ ψνχ⋯ς sein?’, Byzantinisch-Neugriechische Jahrbücher 9 (1932), 104–10, esp. pp. 108–10, with reference to Grabmann M., ‘Mittelalterliche lateinische Übersetzungen von Schriften der Aristoteles-Kommentatoren Johannes Philoponos, Alexander von Aphrodisias und Themistios’, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philos.-hist. Abteilung 1929, Heft 7. Moreover, M. de Corte, in the Preface to his edition of this text, rightly maintains (pp. xi–xv) that this Latin text cannot be the translation of the in De Anima III.

24 Cf. R. Vancourt, op. cit., passim, and R. Beutler, op. cit., cols. 967–8.

25 Some striking similarities have been pointed out by R. Vancourt (op. cit., pp. 49–59), who thought that Stephanus had made use of Philoponus' commentary or that Ammonius had served as the common source for both Stephanus and Philoponus. For this assumption, see W. Charlton's remarks, op. cit., pp. 6–12. Some important doctrinal discrepancies between these two works are indicated by Blumenthal H. J., ‘John Philoponus and Stephanus of Alexandria: Two neoplatonist Christian Commentators of Aristotle?’, in O'Meara D. J. (ed.), op. cit., pp. 5466, esp. pp. 56ff., and W. Charlton, op. cit., pp. 9–12.

26 Let it suffice to mention the in De Anima III 519.8–12: ⋯ γ⋯ρ δυν⋯μει νο⋯ς π⋯ντων ἔχει τ⋯ν ν⋯ησιν [sc. ⋯ν ⋯μιν]…⋯ν εἰκ⋯νι, comparing De Intellectu 83.42–8: ‘rationes omnium insunt in anima…eikonice’.

27 For the whole account see De Intellectu 100.87–104.92 and in De Anima III 455.12–456.11; 477.21–483.11; 555.3–8, 35–9 respectively.

28 See the chronology given by Sorabji R. in Aristotle Transformed, pp. 2930.

29 Cf. K. Verrycken, art. cit. (n. 12).

30 This view was proposed by Hadot I., ‘La vie et l'œuvre de Simplicius d'après des sources grecques et arabes’, in Hadot I. (ed.), Simplicius – sa vie, son oeuvre, sa survie (Peripatoi 15) (Berlin/New York, 1987), 339, translated into English in R. Sorabji (ed.), op. cit., pp. 275–305, with reference to Tardieu M., ‘Sâbiens coraniques et “Sâbiens” de Harrân, Journal Asiatique 274 (1986), 144, and id., ‘Les calendriers en usage à Harrân d'après les sources arabes et le commentaire de Simplicius à la Physique d'Aristote’, in Hadot I. (ed.), op. cit., pp. 4057. Tardieu's assumption has been rejected by van Riet S., ‘A propos de la biographie de SimpliciusRPhL 89 (1991), 506–14. The view that Simplicius returned to Athens was revived by Cameron A., ‘The Last Days of the Academy of Athens’, PCPhS n.s. 15 (1969), 729, and criticized by Blumenthal H. J., ‘529 and its Sequel: What Happened to the Academy?’, Byzantion 48 (1978), 369–85. Previously, Tannery P., ‘Sur la période finale de la philosophie grecque’, Revue philosophique 42 (1896), 266–87 also suggested (pp. 285–6) that Simplicius, Damascius and their associates had never returned to Athens.

31 Cf. Hadot I., ‘La vie et l'œuvre de Simplicius d'après des sources grecques et arabes’, in Hadot I. (ed.), op. cit., pp. 339.

32 i.269.5, 271.3; ii.19.5, 21.3. Westerink, published as Vol. ii of The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo (Amsterdam/Oxford/New York, 1977). The editor refers to Proclus (pp. 162–3) as the possible predecessor of this theory. Missing from Proclus' text (in Parmenidem 957.28–958.11 Cousin) are (1) the term itself and (2) any hint at a separate faculty of the rational soul whose task is to be aware of perceiving, desiring and other mental activities. It might be more appropriate to point to the excerpts from Proclus' in Enneadem preserved in Psellus' Περ⋯ ⋯ρχ⋯ν κα⋯ ⋯νώσεως ψνχ⋯ς κα⋯ σώματος, published in Michael Psellus, Philosophica Minora, ii, ed. O'Meara D. J. (Leipzig, 1989), pp. 72–5. An explanation of προσεκτικ⋯ν μ⋯ρος is to be found in this commentary preserved also by Psellus in his De Omnifaria Doctrina, ed. Westerink L. G. (Nijmegen/Utrecht, 1948), ch. 63: προσοχ⋯ δ⋯ ⋯στ⋯ καθ ἣν προσ⋯χομεν τοῖς ⋯ργοῖς οἷς πρ⋯ττομεν κα⋯ τοῖς λ⋯γοις οἷς λ⋯γομεν. αὕτη γ⋯ρ ποτ⋯ μ⋯ν τ⋯ της ψμχης ἤθη ⋯νασκοπειται τ⋯να τ⋯ ⋯στιν κα⋯ π⋯ς ἔχει πρ⋯ς ἄλληλα, ποτ⋯ δ⋯ αὖ τ⋯ ζῷον θεωρεῖ τ⋯ πρ⋯ττει κα⋯ πῇ παραβα⋯νει κα⋯ τ⋯ ⋯λλε⋯πεται. Cf. Westerink L. G., ‘Excerpte aus Proklos' Enneaden-Kommentar bei Psellos’, BZ 52 (1959), 110, reprinted in his Texts and Studies…, 21–31. Psellus himself also refers to the ‘right explanation’ of this faculty in his Συλλογα⋯ δι⋯φοραι κα⋯ ποικ⋯λαι, ed. D. J. O'Meara in the edition cited above, pp. 63.5–8.

33 See Westerink L. G. (ed.), The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo, ii.89., Westerink L. G. and Combès J. (eds.), Damascius. Traité des premiers principes, i (Paris, 1986), pp. xii–xiii. In general, there was a constant exchange of students and professors between the two schools, as A. C. Lloyd has pointed out in Armstrong A. H. (ed.), Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Mediaeval Philosophy (Cambridge, 1967), p. 316.

34 158.8–34; 161.19–21; 201.31; 433.32; 482.11–13.

35 The word for ‘preexistence’ (προΰπαρξις) does not occur in the text but the phrase ἄλλος β⋯ος may allude to this, and the statement that the soul may have a certain innate knowledge (520.1–12) may bear on this theory. For the προΰπαρξις of soul in the late Alexandrian Neoplatonists, see Olympiodorus' in Phaedonem 13.7.2–3 Westerink.

36 This affinity was noticed by Evrard E., ‘Les convictions religieuses de Jean Philopon et la date de son commentaire aux MétéorologiquesBulletin de l'Académie Royale de Belgique, Classe des lettres et sciences politiques et morales, sér. 5.39 (1953), 299357, referring (p. 350) to 241.27–8; 242.16–19. For the similarities in their exegetical principles see Hadot I., ‘Les introductions aux commentaires exégétiques chez les auteurs néoplatoniciens et les auteurs Chrétiens’, in Tardieu M. (ed.), Les régles de l'interprètation (Paris, 1987), pp. 99122.

37 Philoponus had never made it up with Chalcedon and the Council of Constantinople of 553, as his theological works witness. For his theological activity cf. Chadwick H., ‘Philoponus the Christian Theologian’, in Sorabji R. (ed.), Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science, pp. 4157. Regarding Stephanus' loyalty, on the other hand, H. Usener (op. cit., pp. 257ff.) calls attention to his apologetic writings against the Muslims.

38 Cf. his in Nicom. II xviii/1.9–10: οὐδ⋯τερον δ⋯ το⋯των (sc. μον⋯ς κα⋯ δυ⋯ς) ⋯ριθμ⋯ς, ὡς πολλ⋯κις ⋯δε⋯ξαμεν, ⋯λλ ⋯ρχα⋯ ⋯ριθμ⋯ν. ⋯ δ⋯ ⋯ρχ⋯ ἕτερ⋯ν ⋯στιν, οὗ ⋯στιν ⋯ρχ⋯. Cf. also in Nicom. II i.1.30; i.2.5–6; in Nicom. I ii.5.7; iii.5.2; viii.1.1–2, 10–15; xi. 1.20–1; xvii.4.3–4; xxi.3.4–5. All references are taken from the edition of Hoche R., i (Leipzig, 18641865), ii (Berlin, 1867). It is worth mentioning that Nicomachus never explicitly states this difference. Defining number (Introductio Arithmeticae i.7.1 Hoche), he sketches out three possible definitions without explanation. For this reason the ⋯ποδ⋯δεικται in in De Anima III 457.25 cannot refer to the Introductio itself.

39 In Cat. 46.19–20: κα⋯ ⋯ μον⋯ς ⋯ρχ⋯ ⋯ριθμου, ⋯ριθμ⋯ς δ⋯ οὐδαμως.

40 Cf. the work entitled Διασ⋯ϕησις ⋯ξ οἰκε⋯ων ὑποδειγμ⋯των τ⋯ς τ⋯ν προχε⋯ρων καν⋯νων ⋯ϕ⋯δον το⋯ Θ⋯ωνος, ed. H. Usener, op. cit., pp. 295ff. Furthermore, we know the Syriac version of his De differentia, numero ac divisione in Opuscula monophysitica Ioannis Philoponi, ed. et latine interpretatus est Šanda A. (Beirut, 1930), which deals with arithmetic and theology more Pythagorico, and Christology.

41 In the Cod. Marc. gr. 335 under Stephanus' name there is a treatise entitled Περ⋯ τ⋯ς μαθηματικ⋯ς τ⋯χνης, though its subject is not arithmetical but astrological.

42 The so-called Recension IV of the in Nicom. is held by Tannery P., Mémoires scientifiques, ii (Toulouse/Paris, 1912), pp. 302–10 and Tarán L., ‘Asclepius of Tralles. Commentary to Nicomachus' Introduction to Arithmetic', TAPhS n.s. 59, part 4 (Philadelphia, 1969), p. 20, to be not by Stephanus because the θεωρ⋯α – λ⋯ξις division is missing here.

43 Ed. H. Usener, op. cit., pp. 267–332.

44 E.g. 458.25–6, cf. Philoponus, in Cat. 151.13–19; 481.27–9, cf. Ammonius, in De Int. 254.32–255.6; 571.17–18 cf. Philoponus, in Cat. 114.17–19. In 528.35 we read: ἄλλο ⋯στ⋯ τ⋯ τ⋯δε κα⋯ τ⋯ τῷδε. This philosophical distinction between nominative and dative forms of a word occurs in Philoponus, in De Anima I, 34.20–3 too.

45 CAG xviii/3, 5.13; 21.38; 66.1; 67.17.

46 This is suggested, among other passages, by the first theoria (446.5–450.34) where we are told that the sensus communis was discussed in the in De Anima I–II (446.5–447.2, esp. 446.13–15), despite the fact that it is in this book and not in the preceding ones that the problem is expounded.

47 Wolska-Conus W., ‘Stéphanos d'Athènes et Stéphanos d'Alexandrie. Essai d'identification et de biographie’, REB 47 (1989), 589.

48 According to the reservation formulated by M. Roueché (“The Definitions of Philosophy and a New Fragment of Stephanus the Philosopher”, forthcoming in JÖB), the method based on internal evidence and parallels of usage is not by any means appropriate in this matter. I am grateful to Dr Roueche for sending me a copy of this paper.

49 References are to page and line of Stephanus the Philosopher. Commentary on the Prognosticon of Hippocrates, ed. and trans. Duffy J. M., CMG xi.1.2 (Berlin, 1983).

50 Wolska-Conus, op. cit. 33–47.

51 The importance of δια⋯ρεσις for the Neoplatonists was most recently emphasized by Lloyd A. C., The Anatomy of Neoplatonism (Oxford, 1990), pp. 1117, 2833.

52 ⋯δε⋯χθη ⋯ν ⋯τεροῖς π⋯σαις ταῖς κατ⋯ μ⋯ρος αἰσθ⋯σεσι συνεργο⋯σα κα⋯ ⋯ κοιν⋯ αἴσθησις.

53 See 479.3–6. Incidentally, Philoponus represents the same view in the in De Anima II 252.25–35.

54 5.24–6.30; 37.3–4; 205.10–11. In order to emphasize Stephanus' steady adherence to this tripartite division, Wolska-Conus (op. cit., 38 n. 21) says that in the De Anima 432a–b Aristotle inclines to recognize innumerable faculties or parts of the soul. This seems to be not quite true, however, because in this passage (III 9, 432a22ff.) what Aristotle does is first to pose an aporia, and then present the theories of other philosophers on the number of the soul's parts. The clause τρ⋯πον γ⋯ρ τινα ἄπειρα ϕα⋯νεται should be read in this methodological context.

55 576.1–581.38.

56 Pagination is after Stephanus the Philosopher. Commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms, text and trans. Westerink L. G., i, CMG xi.1.3, (Berlin, 1985). The text runs as follows: τ⋯ ⋯κ το⋯ ὕπνου γιν⋯με⋯ο⋯ τῷ πα⋯τ⋯ σώματι χρ⋯σιμον. This passage has no close doctrinal affinity to the in De Anima III where (576.25–6) we are told that:… μαλλον ⋯νεργεῖ ⋯ θρεπτικ⋯ [sc. δ⋯ναμις], ⋯ν νυκτ⋯ ϕημι….

57 Cf. Wolska-Conus, op. cit., 39 n.26.

58 Incidentally, the translation of καθ ⋯ρμ⋯ν by both ‘libre choix’ and ‘libre décision’ (pp. 40–1) seems to miss the point. The ⋯ρμ⋯ (appetite or impulse) can by no means be regarded as a function of the rational soul, whereas ‘libre décision’ must be.

59 As mentioned also by Wolska-Conus, op. cit., 44 n. 56.

60 Cf. Todd R. B., ‘Philosophy and Medicine in John Philoponus' Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima’, DOP 38 (1984), 103–11, and more generally his ‘Galenic Medical Ideas in the Greek Aristotelian Commentators’, SO 52 (1977), 117–34.

61 The related literature was summarized by Temkin O., ‘Byzantine Medicine: Tradition and Empiricism’, DOP 16 (1962), 95115, esp. p. 105 n. 58.

62 Wolska-Conus, op. cit. 46 n.68, ϕλεβ⋯τομος.

63 Ib. n. 65: π⋯σα δ⋯ π⋯ψις δι⋯ θερμο⋯ – 288.26–7: τ⋯ δ⋯ τ⋯ν π⋯ψιν ⋯ργαζ⋯μενον τ⋯ θερμ⋯ν ⋯στιν; cf. 204.5; 281.26.

64 Ib. n. 62. Besides, unlike Wolska-Conus, op. cit. 46, I am tempted to think that the word χυμ⋯ς in 462.16 does not contain any reference to humoral pathology. The passage runs: νυν⋯ δ⋯ οὐ μ⋯νον ⋯ν χρώματι θεωρο⋯μεν ⋯ριθμ⋯ν, ⋯λλ⋯ κα⋯ ψ⋯ϕοις κα⋯ χυμοîς. Here χυμ⋯ς means simply ‘flavour’, alongside ψ⋯ϕος, ‘sound’, and the χρωμα, ‘colour’.

65 Ib. p. 47, cf. Philoponus' in De Anima I–II, 110.32; 203.23–4; 204.2–5; 216.2–8.

* An infant version of this paper was delivered in May 1990 at King's College London and I am indebted to Andrew Coles, Eric Lewis and, last but not least, Richard Sorabji for the improvements they suggested. The enlarged and emended version was read by Anne Sheppard, Henry Blumenthal, William Charlton, Carlos Steel and the anonymous referee, whose remarks, corrections and doubts were of greatest help to me. I am grateful to William Charlton, again, and the Editors for correcting my rough English. For all the shortcomings, of course, I remain responsible.

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