The Circle-Radii Analogy in Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius, and Its Legacy

Jonathan Greig
In later Byzantine and Latin Christian works, divine causality would be commonly described using a geometrical motif: the relation of a circle's center to the radii and circular line to describe God's causality in relation to the plurality of creation. This imagery goes back to the pagan Neoplatonists, who employ it in their framework to describe the causality of their first principle, the One, in relation to the plurality of the Forms in Intellect. Given this, early-period Neoplatonists, like
more » ... lotinus, have a rather different view of the One's causality compared to later Neoplatonists, like Proclus and Damascius: for Plotinus, the One directly produces Intellect; for later Neoplatonists, like Proclus and Damascius, the One indirectly produces Intellect through an intermediary. Given this, while the general analogy of the circle, radii, and center are the same for all of them, each figure has a different way of describing the analogy, which fits each one's view of the One's causality.This paper focuses particularly on Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius and their description of the center's relation and causality of the radii and circle, as part of the analogy to the One, in three particular passages: Plotinus' Ennead VI.8.18, Proclus' Commentary on Euclid's Elements (154–155), and Damascius' De Principiis I, 93–94. A brief survey will also be made on the sources of the metaphor in Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias, as well as the legacy of the metaphor in Augustine, Eriugena, and Ps.-Dionysius.[Presentation for the Forschungsseminar Latinistik (Prof. Dr. Therese Fuhrer), 30.05.2017]
doi:10.17605/ fatcat:nruohoq4ubbixp5ksoop2vtlfi