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Two Studies in the Early Academy.

Here is a welcome reminder that not all members of the Academy were Platonists; that the Academy must have been a lively place, full of discussion and disagreement; and that Platonism itself is not monolithic. The focus is, as the title promises, doctrines maintained by two associates of the early Academy: the immanentism of Eudoxus and Speusippus's view that although The One is the first principle, it is not an existent.

The major difficulty in dealing with these issues is the paucity of evidence; the task is made more complex by the problem of reconstructing philosophical positions, and using those philosophical views to evaluate the evidence. Dancy recognizes the pitfalls of such a method and, while not minimizing the difficulties, succeeds in staking out and arguing for positions. He is concerned not only to attribute positions to Eudoxus and to Speusippus, but to show how these views grow reasonably out of concern with specific problems generated by "High Platonism." This philosophical context makes their sometimes seemingly paradoxical views less odd.

Study 1 is concerned with Eudoxus's theory of immanence. Dancy sets it in the context of the theories of Anaxagoras and of Plato's early and middle period, and contrasts it with Aristotle's "partly immanentist" theory of the Categories. Dancy argues that Aristotle takes care in Categories 2 to separate his own account of "in a subject" from Eudoxus's view. Insisting that what is in a subject cannot exist apart (Categories 1a24-25), Aristotle stresses that his immanentism does not suffer from the difficulties generated by Eudoxus's treatment of Forms as separable physical ingredients. Dancy considers Aristotle's criticisms of Eudoxus in Metaphysics 1.9, and Alexander's commentary (together with some arguments about what might have been anti-Eudoxian in the Peri Ideon).

Study 2 treats Speusippus's claim that the One is both first principle and nonexistent. The notion that "some of the things we can talk about are not existent things" (p. 63) is dubbed by Dancy "Ancient Meinongianism." Study 2 explains both how Speusippus might have come to hold such a view and why it is not an absurd view to hold. Dancy canvasses other occurrences of Ancient Meinongianism, but his primary purpose here is to motivate Speusippus's view and set it in its context. The crux of the theory is the claim that while the One is responsible for the being of everything else, it is not itself a being. Dancy's Speusippus, perhaps convinced by such arguments as the Third Man, rejects the assumption that a cause of something's being F must itself be F (the Transmission Theory), and replaces it with a "Principle of Alien Causality," which maintains that "a principle of F's is not yet F" (p. 91). This principle not only rescues Speusippus's theory from any Third Man-type attack, but begins to explain why there are beings at all. Any account of that cannot begin with something that is. The price to be paid is Meinongianism.

In the course of his two studies Dancy ranges over important issues interesting even to those not primarily concerned with Eudoxus or Speusippus, and many will find this a useful study. It is not, however, an easy book to read. In one hundred nineteen pages of text there are five hundred thirteen notes, gathered at the back of the book rather than at the foot of the page. When sentences contain as many as four notes the necessary flipping back and forth distracts from the flow of argument and discussion. The full references and full quotations of Greek texts, with literal translations are a boon. A text and English translation of Iamblichus, Universal Math 4 is an added bonus.
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Author:Curd, Patricia Kenig
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:607
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