In this paper I explore the ways in which Alexander of Aphrodisias employs and develops so-called ‘common notions’ as reliable starting points of deductive arguments. He combines contemporary developments in the Stoic and Epicurean use of common notions with Aristotelian dialectic, and axioms. This more comprehensive concept of common notions can be extracted from Alexander’s commentary on Metaphysics A 1–2. Alexander puts Aristotle’s claim that ‘all human beings by nature desire to know’ in a larger deductive framework, and adds weight to Aristotle’s use of the common understanding of the notion of ‘wisdom’. Finally I will indicate how these upgraded common notions are meant to play an important role in the general framework of metaphysics as a science.
In late antiquity, logic developed into what Ebbesen calls the LAS, the Late Ancient Standard. This paper discusses the Neoplatonic use of LAS, as informed by epistemological and metaphysical concerns. It demonstrates this through an analysis of the late ancient debate about hypothetical and categorical logic as manifest in the practice of syllogizing Platonic dialogues. After an introduction of the Middle Platonist view on Platonic syllogistic as present in Alcinous, this paper presents an overview of its application in the syllogizing practice of Proclus and others. That overview shows that the two types were considered two sides of the same coin, to be used for the appropriate occasions, and both relying on the methods of dialectic as revealing the structure of knowledge and reality. Pragmatics, dialectic, and didactic choices determine which type or combination is selected in syllogizing Plato. So even though there is no specific Neoplatonic logic, there is a specific Neoplatonic use of LAS.