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Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought$
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R. J. Hankinson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246564.001.0001

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The Age of Synthesis

The Age of Synthesis

(p.323) X The Age of Synthesis
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

R. J. Hankinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, Hankinson discusses the origins of syncretism, or the growing convergence of Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, focusing mainly on the Old Academy Platonists Speusippus and Xenocrates, the empiricist Stoic Posidonius, the lapsed sceptic Antiochus, and the orthodox Aristotelian Alexander of Aphrodisias. Hankinson also discusses Eudorus, Philo of Larissa, and Plutarch, as well as briefly noting the influential Primer on Plato's Doctrines by Alcinous. The importance of the Old Academy is its influence upon the development of later Platonic tradition; Proclus, for instance, credits Xenocrates with a distinction between transcendent and immanent causation that became a central feature of Middle Platonism. Posidonius, a Stoic and Cicero's philosophical mentor, is important to the growing convergence of the schools because he introduced Platonism and Aristotelianism into his account of Stoicism, while Antiochus, a product of Philo of Larissa's sceptical Academy, pursued an eclectic Platonism. Alexander of Aphrodisias was the leading Peripatetic of Alexandria, around the second century ad; he revived an orthodox Aristotelianism, accepting Aristotle's four causes doctrine, and identifying Fate as an efficient cause.

Keywords:   Alcinous, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Antiochus, Middle Platonism, Old Academy, Philo of Larissa, Plutarch, Posidonius, Speusippus, Syncretism, Xenocrates

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