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SIMPLICIUS OR PRISCIANUS? ON THE AUTHOR OF THE COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE'S DE ANIMA (CAG XI): A METHODOLOGICAL STUDY

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This article represents a new contribution to the author's debate with C. Steel as to the authenticity of the Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima, attributed by the manuscripts to the 6th-century A.D. Neoplatonist philosopher Simplicius. On the basis of what he claims are stylistic and doctrinal differences between the In DA and Simplicius' other commentaries, Steel has argued that the In DA cannot be by Simplicius, but is instead to be attributed to his contemporary Priscian of Lydia. In the present article, it is argued (1) that the alleged stylistic differences between the In DA and Simplicius' other commentaries can be explained by other considerations: in particular, the vocabulary and style of the Neoplatonist commentators is largely determined by the text commented upon, as well as the level of studies of the audience for whom each commentary is intended. (2) The alleged doctrinal differences between the In DA and Simplicius' other commentaries simply do not exist. Careful examination of Steel's arguments shows that they suffer from serious methodological flaws, including the failure to take into consideration Simplicius' Commentary on the Manual of Epictetus, and the ambiguity of Neoplatonic philosophical terminology. It is concluded that in the whole of Steel's argumentation, there is not one decisive argument which would allow us to conclude that the commentary on the De Anima, attributed by direct and indirect tradition to Simplicius, is inauthentic.

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