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Later in antiquity, when different phases in the history of the Academy corresponding to changes in doctrine and philosophical approach were distinguished, some people spoke of a fourth Academy of Philo and a fifth of Antiochus Sextus Empiricus [S. It is not plain, e. Polito Political instability in Athens led Philo to transfer his activities to Rome in 88 B.


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We know that Antiochus was in Alexandria the following year in the company of Lucullus, a Roman general and statesman, with whom he maintained ties for the rest of his life. He also exerted an influence on other prominent Romans. Cicero, though not a follower of his, studied with Antiochus in Athens in Varro, apart from Cicero the greatest Roman intellectual of the first century B. He wrote an epistemological work called Canonica in at least two books.

It is cited by Sextus Empiricus in his survey of views about the criterion of truth at Against the professors , i.

Middle Platonism

Tarrant, , 94—6; Sedley, He wrote a book about the gods, concerning which we know nothing more. And Cicero informs us that he wrote in many places about his view of the relation between happiness and virtue T. Antiochus regarded the criterion of truth and the goal telos , end of human life as the two most important concerns of philosophy Cicero, Acad. As we have seen, the occasion for his break from Philo was a disagreement about knowledge. After years of loyally defending the skepticism of Philo and his Academic predecessors, Antiochus came to embrace the opposing dogmatic position that knowledge is possible.

The philosophy of Antiochus David Sedley

What is more, he maintained that the original or Old Academy of Plato and his immediate followers were of the same opinion. This put him in conflict with his more immediate predecessors, some of whom had argued that Plato should also be interpreted as a skeptic Cicero, Acad. Thus, according to Antiochus, it was not he who was departing from Academic tradition, but the institution from the time of Arcesilaus to Philo that had betrayed the true Academic inheritance of the original Old Academy, which he was now restoring.

There is a further complication. The epistemology that Antiochus defended was Stoic in all essential points Brittain This was obvious to his contemporaries, some of whom charged that, far from being an Academic of any kind, he was a Stoic and belonged in the Stoa rather than in the Academy Acad. In reply, Antiochus maintained that the Old Academy, the Peripatos and the Stoa were in fundamental agreement. According to him, far from being an innovator, Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, was responsible mainly only for a new terminology and a handful of corrections to the Old Academic doctrine Cicero, Acad.

Though unconvincing to many of his contemporaries, this historical thesis explains how Antiochus could defend Stoic epistemology against the arguments made by his Academic predecessors while claiming to revive the Old Academy. Matters were likely more complicated still, and the state of the evidence leaves much room for interpretative disagreement. Some scholars have argued that his engagement with Platonism was more thoroughgoing than ancient and modern interpreters who have emphasized his debts to Stoicism tend to allow.

The tantalizing fact that Zeno studied with the Academic scholarch, Polemo, lends some plausibility to the idea that Stoicism was itself indebted to the Old Academy in certain respects. And the case has been made that Antiochus exerted an influence on, or prefigured, developments in Middle Platonism see Bonazzi Epistemology and ethics belong respectively to Logic and Ethics which, together with Physics, were the three parts of philosophy recognized in the Hellenistic era cf.

For firm evidence about Antiochean Physics we we are largely reliant on the brief exposition of the views of the Old Academics and Peripatetics by the Antiochean spokesman, Varro, in Acad. Academic skepticism arose out of the debate, initiated by Arcesilaus, about the nature and possibility of knowledge between the Academy and rival schools of philosophy, chiefly the Stoics.

Stoic epistemology attempts to show how it is possible for human beings to attain wisdom, which the Stoics take to be a condition entirely free of opinion, i. For this to be possible, they maintain, there must be a criterion of truth see Striker In their theory, it is what they called a cognitive impression that plays this part. This they define as an impression from what is, stamped and impressed in exact accordance with what is, and such as could not be from what is not cf. Annas , Frede , Sedley Cognitive impressions, then, are true impressions which are, in addition, distinguished by a special character belongs only to true impressions though not to all of them and which enables human beings to discriminate cognitive from non-cognitive impressions.

In the paradigm case, which the definition has in view, cognitive impressions are perceptual, but in a broader sense of the term, non-perceptual impressions that afford an equally secure grasp of their contents can also be called cognitive. According to the Stoics, by confining assent to cognitive impressions, it is possible to avoid error entirely. If such impressions do not exist, it follows immediately in the context of Stoic epistemology that nothing can be known.

On the basis of this result and the Stoic doctrine that the wise, i.

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These two doctrines—that nothing can be known, or a claim that implied it in the Stoic context, and that one ought to suspend judgment—make up the skeptical Academic position, in the sense of the position put forward and defended by Academics if not necessarily endorsed by them. The Stoics, followed by Antiochus in his dogmatic phase, argued that this position is self-refuting since to adopt a position is to assent to its component doctrines and assent is impossible without taking oneself to know. Even though, as previously noted, the Academics were not necessarily committed to the skeptical position, they defended the possibility of a life of committed skepticism in order to prevent the Stoics from escaping the difficulties raised for their position indirectly by means of these anti-skeptical arguments.

Arcesilaus made a start, but it was Carneades, his successor in the 2nd century B. Building on this account of probable impressions, Carneades defended two views about assent. According to one proposal, the wise person will always withhold assent, but will be able to act and inquire by following or using probable impressions in a way that does not amount to assent, and so does not involve holding opinions about anything Acad.

According to the second, the wise person will assent to what is probable and so form opinions, but provisionally and on the understanding that he may be wrong Acad.

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It is a matter of controversy whether Carneades went beyond putting these views forward for the sake of argument and actually subscribed to one of them. It appears, however, that some of his successors endorsed one or both of the skeptical doctrines. The other tendency endorsed a moderate or mitigated form of skepticism.

And this tendency took the opinion that nothing can be known to be among the impressions to which one should assent in this way. The appearance of paradox dissolves when one realizes that in accepting that one does not know anything one is not taking oneself to know this, but only opining that it is highly probable. Striker He defended the veracity of the senses. He seems to have argued that in order even to possess a concept of the truth we must indisputably apprehend some truths in a way that is possible only if there are cognitive impressions Acad. He argued that probable impressions are a wholly inadequate substitute for cognitive impressions Acad.

And he argued that, in maintaining the skeptical position, the Academics must take themselves to know at least one thing, viz. Burnyeat There is one more twist in the story, however. But he now held that the Academics from Plato to Philo himself were not united by their skepticism, as we have seen some Academics believed. In ethics he largely followed Plato, teaching that the passions are not to be eradicated but controlled Zeller, p.

During the late second century and early first century B.

This renewed interest in Pythagorean philosophy likely grew out of the desire to find harmony between the three major philosophical schools of the era. The writings compromising the Pseudo-Pythagorica , as the collection of about ninety treatises by fifty authors is often called, contain elements of Platonism, Stoicism, and Peripatetic philosophy, as well as typical Pythagorean number theory and cosmological motifs, such as the eternity of the world. There is little, in fact, to differentiate Neopythagoreanism from Middle Platonism, as one can easily find Pythagorean elements in the work of thinkers commonly designated as Platonists, and vice-versa.

Following John Dillon in his definitive study of Middle Platonism, however, I am making the distinction for the sake of scholarly rigor. Of the writings of Ocellus Lucanus second century B. Ocellus was concerned with maintaining the doctrine of the eternity of the world against the Stoic doctrine of periodic conflagration and reconstitution of the universe. Since there are only two types of generation - from a lesser to a greater state and vice-versa - Ocellus argued that it is just as absurd to state that the universe began in a lesser state and progressed to a greater, as it is to state the opposite, for both statements imply either a growth or a diminution, and since the cosmos is whole and self-contained so he insisted there is no place into which it can either grow or diminish.

Posidonius' doctrine of a void into which the cosmos periodically dissolves held no place in Ocellus' philosophy. Although positing the eternity of the cosmos, Ocellus nevertheless admitted the obvious, that generation and dissolution occurs here on earth. Like Xenocrates and other Platonists, Ocellus understood the cosmos as divided in two parts, the supra-lunar and the sub-lunar, the gods existing in the former and daemons and humans in the latter.

It is only in the sub-lunar regions, he argued, that generation and decay occurs, for it is in this region that "nonessential" beings undergo alteration according to nature. The generation that occurs in the sub-lunar realm is produced by the supra-lunar realm, the primary cause being the sun, and the secondary causes the planets.

He apparently did not believe in a transcendent realm beyond the material cosmos. Ocellus' work is one of the earliest examples of Hellenistic-era astrological doctrine. At the end of his On the Nature of the Universe he entreats prospective parents to be attentive in choosing times of conception, so that their children may be born noble and graceful; and in the fragment On Laws he declares that the active supra-lunar realm governs the passive sub-lunar realm.

In his ethical doctrine Ocellus adhered to strict Pythagorean asceticism, holding that sexual intercourse is to be reserved for reproductive purposes only, and that alchoholic beverages are to be avoided. Scholars are not certain whether the eponymous Timaeus Locrus of Plato's dialogue ever really existed. In any case, the treatise On the World and the Soul attributed to this person is an early to mid-first century B. Given the renewed interest in Pythagorean philosophy in this period, it is likely that the work was widely read.

Though containing clear Pythagorean motifs, such as a table of musical tones and their respective numbers, and a section elaborating the geometrical construction of the cosmos, the treatise is, as Thomas Tobin has demonstrated, a Middle Platonic interpretation of the highly Pythagorean-influenced Timaeus dialogue. According to "Timaeus" the universe has two causes: Mind, which governs rational beings, and Necessity, which governs bodies and all irrational beings.

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Interpreting Plato literally, "Timaeus" affirmed the temporal creation of the cosmos, and while stating that the cosmos is capable of being destroyed by the one who created it the Demiurge , he denied that it would ever actually be destroyed, since it is divine and the Demiurge, being good and divine himself, would never destroy divinity.

In what is possibly a later addition to the text, "Timaeus" assigns numerical values to the various proportions produced by the mixture of the Same and the Different these being the two opposing forces, productive of all motion, growth, and change in the cosmos, as discussed in the Timaeus dialogue. The substratum of all generated things is matter, and their reason-principle or logos is ideal-form.

According to "Timaeus," the Demiurge initiated the creation of souls, but then handed over completion of the task to Nature hypostatized in the feminine who completed their creation and introduced them into into the cosmos, some by way of the sun, others the moon, and yet more from the planets that wander according to the principle of the Different the source of the irrational part of the soul. Each soul, however, received a portion of the principle of Sameness, which became the rational part of the soul.