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Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie

Ed. by Horn, Christoph / Serck-Hanssen, Camilla

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Themistius on Concept Acquisition and Knowledge of Essences

Myrna Gabbe1


Citation Information: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. Volume 92, Issue 3, Pages 215–235, ISSN (Online) 1613-0650, ISSN (Print) 0003-9101, DOI: 10.1515/agph.2010.010, February 2011

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Published Online:


Themistius's (ca. 317–ca. 388 C.E.) paraphrase of the De Anima is an influential and important work; however, it is not now regarded as profound or original and thereby suffers from neglect. I argue that Themistius is misunderstood on the matter of Aristotle's productive and potential intellects. It is commonly held that Themistius gives to the productive intellect the role of illuminating images in order to produce universal thoughts in the potential intellect with epistemic certainty. I argue that Themistius's productive intellect does not transform images to reveal the forms contained therein, but gives to the potential intellect the ability, first, to organize our sense-experiences in the course of acquiring rudimentary universal concepts and, then, to discover the forms of things by ordinary discursive thinking.

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Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 2011, Volume 104, Number 1

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