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Historical Background

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the historical background of the Questiones libri Porphirii. In a broad historical sense, there is the long tradition of commentaries on the Isagoge into which Manlevelt's text is to be placed. The Isagoge was more than one thousand years old by Manlevelt's time, and the Categories was six centuries old by Porphyry's time and therefore sixteen hundred years old by Manlevelt's time. The Prior Analytics is about inference, by way of the syllogistic method; in fact, it contains the first ever systematic exposition of a theory of correct inference itself. Pupil of the founder of Neo-Platonism Plotinus (204-270), Porphyry was honoured by Simplicius, the sixth-century commentator on Aristotle, as being the most erudite of all Neo-Platonists. Ockham, of course, is famous for Thomas Manlevelt Ockham's razor, the principle (actually deriving from Aristotle) that 'entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity'.

Keywords: Aristotle; Isagoge; Neo-Platonism Plotinus; Ockhamism; Questiones libri Porphirii; Thomas Manlevelt



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