SORABJI, Richard. The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200-600 AD: A Sourcebook. Vol. 3: Logic and Metaphysics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005.
On the standard view, Plotinus’ disciple and editor, Porphyry, rescued Aristotle and made him central to the Western curriculum once and for all, with the Categories as the first work in the curriculum. In the seventeenth century, Jesuits still chose the Categories as the first work to be translated into Chinese, as being the basis of all (...)
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PORFÍRIO, ΠΟΡΦΎΡΙΟΣ, PORPHYRIOS (234-305? dC)
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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]