Course Content (Syllabus)
The "Parmenides" is read nowadays chiefly as an aporetic and perhaps subversive dialogue, in which Plato realizes and exposes the problems that arise from his theory of Forms. The interpretation of the "Parmenides" was completely different in antiquity. Initially interpreted as a “refutative” or “logical” dialogue, that is, either as a logical exercise in which Zeno the Eleatic is refuted in his own field or as a genuine example of platonic dialectic, the "Parmenides" was seen by the Neoplatonists, starting with Plotinus, as containing in its second part (135d 6 sqq.) a theological system, which describes the different degrees of reality as they proceed from the First Principle of everything. In this respect, the interpretation of Plotinus ("Enneads", V 1, 8) was crucial; according to the Neoplatonic philosopher, the first three “hypotheses” of the second part of the dialogue (one, one-many, one and many) correspond to the three primary hypostases, that is, the One, the Intelligence and the Soul. This reading marks the shift from Medioplatonism to Neoplatonism (according to the established terminology in history of philosophy), insofar as the "Parmenides" replaces the "Timaeus" as a canonical dialogue, i.e. as the dialogue from which the interpretation of any other Platonic dialogue must begin. The postgraduate seminar, which aims at exploring this culminating moment of Hellenic philosophy (which coincides with its end), will mainly be based on select passages from the works "On Plato's theology" and "Commentary on Plato's Parmenides" by Proclus and "On the First Principles" and "Commentary on Plato's Parmenides" by Damascius. The participants in the seminar will be asked to present and discuss the arguments by which the Neoplatonic exegetes distinguish the different hypotheses in the second part of the dialogue, as well as their different interpretations of the correspondence of the hypotheses to the levels of reality.
Additional bibliography for study
John D. Turner and Kevin Corrigan (eds.), Plato's Parmenides and its Heritage, 2 vols., Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
Frédéric Fauquier, Le Parménide au miroir des platonismes: logique, ontologie, théologie, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2018.