The Aporetic Method of Aristotle’s Metaphysics B in Damascius’ De Principiis: A Case Study of the First aporia

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences31390ViennaAustria
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Damascius has become well-known in recent scholarship for his unique, radical use of the aporetic method, both to highlight the inherent limits of human thought and to reveal crucial tensions in Neoplatonic metaphysics. Though much attention has been paid to the subjective or skeptical aspects of Damascius’ aporiai, little has been noted of the parallels between Damascius’ aporetic strategy in the De Principiis and Aristotle’s own in Metaphysics B. This article analyzes the parallel by looking at Aristotle’s aim for aporiai in Metaphysics B.1 and closely comparing, as a case study, the De Principiis’ first aporia alongside Metaphysics B’s first aporia. Despite Damascius’ aporia dealing with different principles compared to Aristotle’s, the aporetic method for both ultimately exposes the limitations of thought and, exactly in the domain of these limitations, clarifies our concepts in relating to reality and attaining determinate understanding of principles.

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