Metaphysics and Hermeneutics in the Medieval Platonic Tradition consists of twelve essays originally published between 2006 and 2015, dealing with main trends and specific figures within the medieval Platonic tradition.
Three essays provide general surveys of the transmission of late ancient thought to the Middle Ages with emphasis on the ancient authors, the themes, and their medieval readers, respectively. The remaining essays deal especially with certain major figures in the Platonic tradition, including pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Iohannes Scottus Eriugena, and Nicholas of Cusa. The principal conceptual aim of the collection is to establish the primacy of hermeneutics within the philosophical program developed by these authors: in other words, to argue that their philosophical activity, substantially albeit not exclusively, consists of the reading and evaluation of authoritative texts. The essays also argue that the role of hermeneutics varies in the course of the tradition between being a means towards the development of metaphysical theory and being an integral component of metaphysics itself. In addition, such changes in the status and application of hermeneutics to metaphysics are shown to be accompanied by a shift from emphasizing the connection between logic and philosophy to emphasizing that between rhetoric and philosophy. The collection of essays fills in a lacuna in the history of philosophy in general between the fifth and the fifteenth centuries. It also initiates a dialogue between the metaphysical hermeneutics of medieval Platonism and certain modern theories of hermeneutics, structuralism, and deconstruction.
The book will be of special interest to students of the classical tradition in western thought, and more generally to students of medieval philosophy, theology, history, and literature.
Table of Contents
1. Ancient Philosophy becomes Medieval Philosophy
‘Ancient Philosophy becomes Medieval Philosophy,’ in The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, ed. Lloyd P. Gerson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010, pp. 894-914.
2. Philosophy and Humanism
‘Philosophy and Humanism,’ in A Companion to the Medieval World, eds. Carol Lansing and Edward D. English, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell 2009, pp. 525-543.
3. The First Principles of Latin Neoplatonism
‘The First Principles of Latin Neoplatonism: Augustine, Macrobius, Boethius,’ Vivarium 50, 2012, pp. 113-138.
4. Non-Discursive Thinking in Medieval Platonism
‘Through the Rational to the Supra-Rational. Four Criteria of Non-Discursive Thinking in Medieval Platonism,’ in Universitalità della Ragione. Pluralità delle Filosofie nel Medioevo. XII Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia Medievale, Palermo, 17-22 settembre 2007, I, ed. Alessandro Musco, Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali 2012, pp. 125-147.
5. The Pseudonymity of Dionysius the Areopagite and the Platonic Tradition
‘The Pseudonymity of Dionysius the Areopagite and the Platonic Tradition,’ in Neoplatonismo Pagano vs. Neoplatonismo Cristiano, Identità e Intersezioni. Atti del Seminario 25-26 settembre 2004, Università di Catania, eds. Maria Di Pasquale Barbanti and Concetto Martello, Catania: Cooperativa Universitaria Editrice Catanese di Magistero 2006, pp. 99-130.
6. Dionysius’ On Divine Names and Proclus’ Platonic Theology
‘Dionysius’ On Divine Names Revisited. A Structural Analysis,’ Dionysius 28, 2010, pp. 77-96.
7. Eriugena’s Fourfold Contemplation
‘Eriugena’s Fourfold Contemplation. Idealism and Arithmetic,’ in Eriugena, Berkeley and the Idealist Tradition, eds. Stephen Gersh and Dermot Moran, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press 2006, pp. 151-167.
8. Eriugena and the Order of the Primordial Causes
‘The Ordo Naturalis of Primordial Causes. Eriugena's Transformation of the Dionysian Doctrine of Divine Names,’ in Philosophie et théologie chez Jean Scot Érigène, ed. Isabelle Moulin, Paris: Vrin 2016, pp. 83-112.
9. Eriugena and Heidegger: An Encounter
‘En-Countering Periphyseon. An Essay in Reading Eriugena and Heidegger,’ in Eriugena and Creation. Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Eriugenian Studies, held in Honor of Edouard Jeauneau, Chicago 9-12 November 2011, eds. Willemien Otten and Michael I. Allen, Turnhout: Brepols 2014, pp. 559-599.
10. Nicholas of Cusa and the Historical Plato.
‘The Virtue of Absence: Nicholas of Cusa and the Historical Plato,’ in Lire les Dialogues, mais lesquels et dans quel ordre? Définitions du corpus et interprétations de Platon, eds. Anne Balansard and Isabelle Koch, Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag 2013, pp. 117-131.
11. Nicholas of Cusa’s Rewriting of the Anselmian Proslogion
‘Rewriting the Proslogion. Nicholas of Cusa’s Transformation of Anselm of Canterbury’s Proof of the Existence of God,’ Epekeina. International Journal of Ontology, History and Critics 1, 2012, pp. 79-108.
12. Nicholas of Cusa as Summation and Singularity
‘Medieval Platonic Theology. Nicholas of Cusa as Summation and Singularity,’ in The Rebirth of Platonic Theology, Proceedings of a Conference held at The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti) and the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento (Florence 26-27 April 2007), eds. James Hankins and Fabrizio Meroi, Florence: Olschki 2013, pp. 15-45.
Stephen Gersh is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame, USA.