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Alexandre de Afrodísias / Alexandre d’Aphrodise / Alexander of Aphrodisias / Alejandro de Afrodisias




Alexander, by contrast, the Aristotelian chair-holder in Athens, provides the most systematic development of Aristotelianism, written around 200 AD so as to bring the system up to date in relation to contemporary opponents. Substantial portions of the two lost commentaries by Alexander, on Aristotle  ’s Physics and On Generation and Corruption, have recently been discovered, one in Greek and one in medieval Arabic, and translations will appear in the series Ancient Commentators on Aristotle  . A newly found inscription by Alexander honouring his father confirms that he held the official chair as Aristotelian successor in Athens.

To the Stoics, Alexander sometimes responded with outright opposition, e.g. over the right form of logical syllogism, but sometimes by implying that Aristotle   already knew what the Stoics were saying. For example, the anti-Platonic distinction of mere appearance from actual belief is presented by Aristotle   in terms of belief’s involving conviction based on reasons. But Alexander instead borrows the Stoic account of belief based on the idea that reason assents to appearance.

Alexander attacks the Platonist belief in the reality of universal Forms, and his downgrading of universals, which goes well beyond Aristotle  , proved surprisingly influential with Neoplatonists at one level, even while they defended the reality of Forms at another. Another opponent of Alexander, who leaned in the direction of Platonism, was the eclectic philosopher-doctor Galen   with whom Alexander disagreed on dynamics and on time.

Occasionally, Alexander defends Aristotelianism by criticising Aristotle  ’s argument as fallacious, if necessary.

Alexander, and the treatise Mantissa, much of which may be by Alexander, had a considerable influence on the founder of Neoplatonism, Plotinus  . It fitted Plotinus  ’ views that Alexander interpreted the active intellect which Aristotle   located in humans as being God resident within us. The Mantissa distinguishes the way in which the ordinary human intellect and the simple divine intellect are self-aware. Plotinus   echoes Alexander’s account of human self-intellection, but reserves total simplicity for a divinity higher than the divine Intellect, namely the One. [SorabjiPC3  :6]