Fragments of the Lost Writings of Proclus
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Pages (PDF): 74
Publication Date: 1825
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Proclus (b. circa. 412 C.E., d. 485) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher. This is a short book of translations of fragments of Proclus by Thomas Taylor, the English Neoplatonist and translator of Aristotle, Plato and Orpheus.
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Aristotle objects to the very name of paradigm, asserting that it is metaphorical; and he is much more hostile to the dogma which introduces ideas, and particularly to that of animal itself, as is evident from what he says in his Metaphysics. And it appears, that this man is not so averse to any of the dogmas of Plato as he is to the hypothesis of ideas; not only in his Logical Treatises calling ideas sonorous trifles, but also in his Ethics contending against the existence of the good itself. In his Physics, likewise, he does not think it proper to refer the generations of things to ideas: for he says this in his Treatise on Generation and Corruption. And this his hostility to the doctrine of ideas is much more apparent in his Metaphysics; because the discussion there is concerning principles: for there he adduces numerous arguments against ideas, in the beginning, middle, and end of that treatise. In his Dialogues, also, he most manifestly exclaims, that he cannot assent to this dogma, though some one may think that he speaks against it for the purpose of contention.
The maker always existing, that which is generated by him likewise always exists. For either God does not always make; or, he indeed always makes, but the universe is not always generated; for, he always makes, and the universe is always generated. But if God does not always make, he will evidently be [at a certain time] an efficient in capacity, and again an efficient in energy, and he will be an imperfect Demiurgus, and indigent of time. I f, however, he always makes, but the universe is generated at a certain time, an impossibility will take place. For when that which makes is in energy, that which is generated will also be generated in energy. Both, therefore, exist always; the one being generated, and the other producing perpetually.
The world is always fabricated; and as the Demiurgus fabricated always, and still fabricates, so likewise the world is always fabricated, and now rising into existence, was generated, and, having been made, is always generated [or becoming to be]; so that the world is always fabricated. And as the Demiurgus always did fabricate, and still fabricates, so the world was always and is fabricated; and while it is becoming to be, was generated, and having been generated, is always generated.
Proclus assents to what is said by Aristotle concerning the perpetuity of the world; but he says it was not just in him to accuse Plato. For to be generated, does not signify, with Plato, the beginning of existence, but a subsistence in perpetually becoming to be. For the natures which are established above time, and which are eternal, have the whole of their essence and power, and the perfection of their energy, simultaneously present. But every thing which is in time has not its proper life collectively and at once present. For whatever is in time, though it should be extended to an infinite time, has an existence at a certain time. For that portion of being which it possesses exists in a certain time. For time is not [wholly] present at once; but is generated infinitely, and was not produced at a certain period in the past time. The universe, therefore, was thus generated, as not having a subsistence such as that of eternal beings, but as that which is generated, or becoming to be, through the whole of time, and always subsisting at a certain time, according to that part of time which is present. And again, the universe was generated, as not being the cause to itself of its existence, but deriving its subsistence from some other nature, which is the fourth signification of a generated essence; I mean that which has a cause of its generation.
But if Timæus [in Plato] calls the world a God which will be at a certain time (for perhaps this may give disturbance to some), and induce them to ask whether he gives to the world a generation in a part of time? For the once, or at a certain time, must be admitted by us to be a certain part of time. To this we reply, that every thing which is in time, whether in an infinite or in a finite time, will always exist at a certain time. For whatever portion of it may be assumed, this portion is in a certain time. For the whole of time does not subsist at once, but according to a part. If, therefore, any thing is in tine, though it should be extended to an infinite time, it has indeed an existence at a certain time. But it is generated, or becoming to be, to infinity, and is always passing froth an existence at one time to an existence at another. And it was at a certain time, and is at a certain time, and will be at a certain time. This existence too, at a certain time, is always different. The world, however, when it exists at a certain time, has a no less [continued] existence. Hence that which has its hypostasis in a part of time, at a certain time is becoming to be, and at a certain time is, and at a certain time will be. But that which exists in every time [or for ever] is indeed at a certain time, but is always generated, or becoming to be; and in perpetually becoming to be, imitates that which always is. This, therefore, alone ought to be considered, whether it is necessary to denominate a celestial body, and in a similar manner the whole world, a thing of a generated nature. But how is it possible not to assert this from the very arguments which Aristotle himself affords us? For he says that no finite body has an infinite power; and this he demonstrates in the eighth book of his Physics. If, therefore, the world is finite (for this he demonstrates), it is necessary that it should not possess an infinite power. But in the former part of this treatise we have shewn that eternity is infinite power.
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