Article ID: CBB494328590

Making Sense of the Soul’s Numbers. Middle Platonist Readings of Plato’s Divisio Animae (2019)


The aim of this paper is to show that a new approach to Middle Platonist technical exegesis is both necessary and profitable, for it can shed light on the deep philosophical and methodological background of Middle Platonist exegesis as a whole. Through the exegesis of Plato’s divisio animae, the Middle Platonists wanted to establish specific ways of both demonstrating and conceiving Plato’s authority also in the field of harmonics. In particular, I shall take into account Platonists such as Plutarch, Theon, Nicomachus, and Severus, in order to show that: a) the Middle Platonist exegesis of Plato’s divisio animae is chiefly based on a literalist approach to Plato’s text, which is exploited in such a way as to make good technical sense of Plato’s divisio animae; b) in this way, Middle Platonists sought to establish Plato’s authority in the field of harmonics; c) this conception of authority is however controversial, for some Platonists (e.g., Theon) regarded him as the founder of very specific technical notions, while others (such as Plutarch, Nicomachus, and Severus) considered him the first to have established the general framework of Greek harmonics.

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Authors & Contributors
Bergmans, Luc
Mueller, Ian
Koetsier, Teunis
Sayre, Kenneth
Reynolds, John Mark
Brouwer, Luitzen E. J.
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
MHNH (Revista Internacional de Investigación sobre Magia y Astrología Antiguas)
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Bollettino di Storia delle Scienze Matematiche
University Press of America
Lexington Books
University of California, Irvine
Cornell University Press
Soul (philosophy)
Harmony (music theory)
Cusanus, Nicolaus
Stifel, Michael
Early modern
14th century
4th century, B.C.

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