Online Lecture on «Taking Plato Seriously: Proclus as Exegete» by Lloyd Gerson

With the kind support of the A. S. Onassis Foundation (2023 grant), the research project “Between Athens & Alexandria. Platonism, 3rd-7th c. CE” (2022-2024), in collaboration with the Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, organise a lecture series on late antique Neoplatonism. The meetings take place on Zoom at 7.00 pm (Athens time). The Spring 2024 lectures focus on Neoplatonic commentaries on Plato’s dialogues, which, together with Aristotelian hypomnemata, form the main way of philosophising in Late Antiquity, and beyond. 
All welcome!

Οn Thurdsay May 30, at 19:00 (Athens time) Professor Lloyd Gerson (University of Toronto) will give a lecture on «Taking Plato Seriously: Proclus as Exegete».

It is practically a commonplace among students of ancient philosophy that Proclus’ personal philosophical works go far beyond what any reasonable interpretation of Plato would allow. And yet there is no doubt that Proclus thought that he was an accurate and assiduous exegete of Plato. Hegel, in his History of Philosophy, remarked that Proclus was a more accurate exegete of Plato than was Plotinus because Plotinus, unlike Proclus, was overly influenced by Aristotle. So, the question I ask in this paper is “can we understand how Proclus proceeds from his commentaries on the dialogues to his own constructive metaphysics.” Among scholars of Proclus, there is widespread agreement that the key to understanding Proclus’ philosophy is, indeed, to be found in his commentaries on the dialogues of Plato. Controversy arises, naturally enough, when it comes to the details of the path from the one to the other. Etienne Gilson, a shrewd student of the history of philosophy and certainly no friend of Proclus, suggested in his Being and Some Philosophers that if one embraced Plato’s philosophy as true, then one would end up with Proclean metaphysics. Gilson took Proclean metaphysics as self-evidently absurd, leading him to deny the antecedent. Nevertheless, Gilson inadvertently confirms the Hegelian point that Proclus was a highly accurate exegete of Plato coupled with the contemporary scholarly opinion that Proclus own philosophy is derived from that exegesis. So, one way of framing the issue with which I shall be concerned is whether the Platonism that we can derive from Plato himself and the Platonism of Proclus stand or fall together.

You can register in advance to our seminar meetings using the following LINK.