In October of 2007, the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (Argentina) hosted an International Symposium on the philosophy of Parmenides to celebrate the creation of the University’s new Center for the Study of Ancient Philosophy. The event—co-organized by the HYELE Institute for Comparative Studies (Switzerland) and Parmenides Publishing—brought together scholars from around the world to present their latest work and participate in discussion. These Proceedings present the collected papers that were given—all fully translated into English—and edited by Néstor-Luis Cordero.
During the two years leading up to the International Symposium, no fewer than seven books on Parmenides were published. This revival and resurgence of interest in Parmenides and the critical reviews of traditional interpretations of his poem made this the perfect time for a global conference dedicated to the renowned figure known as the true father of philosophy.
The Symposium on Parmenides united the world's foremost Parmenidean scholars, with many participants having written one, if not several books on Parmenides. The proceedings volume therefore represents the most cutting-edge and in-depth scholarship on Parmenides available today, and will be a great and timely enrichment to the field of Presocratic Philosophy.
How was the universe created, and what is our place within it? These are the questions at the heart of Plotinus’ Against the Gnostics. For the Gnostics, the universe came into being as a result of the soul’s fall from intelligible reality—it is the evil outcome of a botched creation. Plotinus challenges this, and insists that the soul’s creation of the world is the necessary consequence of its contemplation of the ideal forms. While the Gnostics claim to despise the visible universe, Plotinus argues that such contempt displays their ignorance of the higher realities of which the cosmos is a beautiful image.
Against the Gnostics is a polemical text. It aims to show the superiority of Plotinus’ philosophy over that of his Gnostic rivals, and poses unique challenges: Plotinus nowhere identifies his opponents by name, he does not set out their doctrines in any great detail, and his arguments are frequently elliptical. The detailed commentary provides a guide through these difficulties, making Plotinus’ meandering train of thought in this important treatise accessible to the reader.
Marquez shows how this impasse is the key to understanding the ambiguous reevaluation of the rule of law that is the most striking feature of the political philosophy of the Statesman. The law appears here as a mere approximation of the expertise of the inevitably absent statesman, dim images and static snapshots of the clear and dynamic expertise required to steer the ship of state across the storms of the political world. Yet such laws, even when they are not created by genuine statesmen, can often provide the city with a limited form of cognitive capital that enables it to preserve itself in the long run, so long as citizens, and especially leaders, retain a “philosophical” attitude towards them. It is only when rulers know that they do not know better than the laws what is just or good (and yet want to know what is just and good) that the city can be preserved. The dialogue is thus, in a sense, the vindication of the philosopher-king in the absence of genuine political knowledge.
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