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PORFÍRIO, ΠΟΡΦΎΡΙΟΣ, PORPHYRIOS (234-305? dC)

LÉXICO DE FILOSOFIA

OBRA NA INTERNET: LIBRARY GENESIS


Plotinus  ’ pupil, editor and biographer, Porphyry, restored Aristotle   to the syllabus of Western literature once and for all. Aristotle  ’s Categories, he said, was not about things, but about words insofar as they signify things, and words get applied primarily to the sensible world, not to the world of Platonic Forms.

Porphyry wrote commentaries on many of Aristotle  ’s works and an Introduction (Isagoge) to Aristotle  . Neoplatonist commentaries, from here on, with a few exceptions, increasingly represent the lecture courses given to students.

Porphyry also wrote probing inquiries into the religions of Christianity, of his fellow-Platonists, and of the Egyptians. I shall come to his Against the Christians later. In On Abstinence from Killing Animals, he criticised his fellow-Platonists for sacrificing and eating animals. He studies in turn the nature of animals, of the gods and of humans, to show that these practices cannot be justified on any ground. I regard this as one of the most interesting philosophical works of late antiquity, and it is translated in the series Ancient Commentators on Aristotle  . In his Letter to Anebo, now fragmentary, Porphyry respectfully questions the practices of Egyptian religion. [SorabjiPC3  :7]


Porphyry wrote an Introduction (Eisagoge, sometimes written as Isagoge), also called in Latin the Five Expressions (Quinque Voces), because it discusses five key terms: genus, species, differentia, property and accident. He intended it to throw light on Aristotle  ’s categories and on definition, division and demonstration. The Isagoge itself became the subject of commentaries, and the commentators saw it as useful for the whole of philosophy. [SorabjiPC3  :31]