1st Edition

Self-Intellection and its Epistemological Origins in Ancient Greek Thought

By Ian M. Crystal Copyright 2002

    Can the intellect or the intellectual faculty be its own object of thought, or can it not think or apprehend itself? This book explores the ancient treatments of the question of self-intellection - an important theme in ancient epistemology and of considerable interest to later philosophical thought. The manner in which the ancients dealt with the intellect apprehending itself, took them into both the metaphysical and epistemological domains with reflections on questions of thinking, identity and causality. Ian Crystal traces the origins from which the concept of self-intellection springs, by examining Plato's account of the epistemic subject and the emergence of self-intellection through the Aristotelian account, before the final part of the book explores the problem of how the intellect apprehends itself, and its resolution including Plotinus' reformulation and the dilemma raised by Sextus Empiricus. Crystal concludes that Plotinus recasts the metaphysical structures of Plato and Aristotle in such a way that he casts the concept of self-intellection in an entirely new light and offers a solution to the problem.

    Contents: Introduction; The epistemological origins: Parmenides on intellection; Plato's epistemological response to Parmenides; Plato's epistemic subject; The emergence of self-intellection: Intellection and self-intellection in the De Anima: Aristotle's epistemological response to Plato; The emergence of the problem and its resolution: Sextus Empiricus and the Stoics on the dilemma of self-intellection; Plotinus' reformulation of self-intellection: his response to Sextus Empiricus; Bibliography; Index.


    Ian M. Crystal, Louisiana State University, USA

    'Crystal's book is an important contribution to the ever-growing and increasingly sophisticated literature on cognition and philosophy of mind in antiquity. His clear and engaging style together with his marked philosophical acumen make this book a delight to read, at once thoughtful and thought provoking. It sets a high standard for future contributions to this topic.' Journal of the History of Philosophy