• The Soul and Discursive Reason in the Philosophy of Proclus

    D. Gregory MacIsaac (see profile)
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    University of Notre Dame
    Dianoia, Discursive Reason, Neoplatonism, Platonism, Proclus, Classics
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    In Proclus dianoia is the Soul's thinking activity, through which it makes itself into a divided image of Nous. Dianoia's thoughts are logoi, because in the Greek philosophical tradition, logos came to mean a division of a prior unity (ch.I). Proclus' theory of dianoia rejects induction, and is a conscious development of Plato's theory of anamnêsis, because induction is unable to yield a true universal (ch.II). The source of Soul's logoi is not a pre-natal vision of reality, but rather its ontological dependence on Nous. The Soul's ousia is a fullness of logoi which are images of the eidê in Nous. The Soul projects these multiple oudiôdeis logoi into even greater multiplicity. In so doing, Soul makes itself into the image of Nous, and the paradigm of Body. For this reason all dianoia is metaphorical, because it either understands Nous through the image which itself is, or understands Body through itself as paradigm (ch.III). Dianoia, therefore, has two parts. Dialectic is the Soul's grasp of Nous through itself as image, and mathematics is the Soul's grasp of Body through itself as paradigm (ch.IV). The Soul's attention to Body may cause it to cease its dianoetic activity, because it takes on Body's passivity. Philosophical discussion may rescue such a fallen soul, turning it back towards itself, away from the body. In Procline terms, philosophy restores the Soul's autokinêsis, or self-motion (ch.V). The particular Nous of which Soul is an image, and which dianoia divides, is the Nous which serves as a measure for Soul's dividing activity. And because Time is the measure of the Soul's motion, this particular Nous is the monad of Time (ch.VI). Dianoia has as its aim to leave behind all divided thinking, and to be content with the unity of Nous, and the simplicity of the One. This is accomplished through that in the Soul which is higher than dianoia, the nous of the Soul, and its own one (ch.VII).
    Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Notre Dame (IN), 2001
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    4 years ago
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