2015-2017: Self-Constitution and Discursive Mediation in Late Neoplatonism

Abstract

The present project is focused on the history of Greek Neoplatonism, the tradition that dominated philosophical reflection during Late Antiquity (II–VI centuries CE). The aim of this project is to trace the evolution of the theories regarding the discursive soul, focusing on the idea of self-constitution, on a time span that stretches from Plotinus to Damascius. In this way, our project engages a thorough debate related to philosophy of language, but also approaches complex questions of epistemology concerning soul, consciousness and self-knowledge. We will explore the doctrinal background of self-constitution (in the works of Plotinus and Porphyry), its emergence within the speculative horizon of philosophy (with Proclus), its evolution (in Damascius’ work) and the influence of this problem in the Christian tradition of Late Antiquity. Throughout our analysis – which joins translation and research objectives – self-constitution will be considered in strict connection with the problem of discursive mediation, to which it is essentially linked. The problematic of self-constitution is of maximal scientific relevance: we will prove that it represents the solution given by Late Neoplatonism to the question of the discursive inadequacy to superior levels of reality. Thus, self-constitution offers the theoretical ground starting from which Late Neoplatonic philosophers conceive the return of the soul towards real being and towards the unitary origin of all things.