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Porphyry

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Porphyry of Tyre (AD c.234- c.305) was a Greek Neo platonic philosopher of the third century, who is largely remembered for editing and publishing the only works of his teacher Plotinus, the Enneads. It was his book, called the Isagoge, which became the standard text on logic throughout the Middle Ages.

 

Porphyry's WritingsPorphyry

Porphyry was born in the city of Tyre, a Phoenician city in modern-day Lebanon. He studied grammar and rhetoric in Athens under the philosopher Cassius Longinus, but moved to Rome in AD 262 in order to study under Plotinus. Very little other than these basic facts are known regarding Porphyry’s life.

Porphyry’s philosophical writings included Aids to the Study of the Intelligibles, which summarizes Neo platonic thought and the Introduction to Categories, a commentary on Categories of Aristotle. Modern scholars instead see the work as simply an introduction (Isagoge) to logic in general, describing the classification of things and breaking substance into five components:

  1. Genus
  2. Species
  3. Difference
  4. Property
  5. Accident

Porphyry and Vegetarianism

Porphyry, along with Pythagoras, was a proponent of vegetarianism, one of the most famous in the ancient world, opposing the eating of meat on philosophical and moral grounds. Many of Porphyry’s writing are also defense of the religion of paganism, or “traditional religion” as he called it, against the rising popularity of Christianity. His Philosophy from Oracles appeared shortly before programs of Christian persecution took place during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.

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Roman Philosophers - Plotinus exerted a great deal of influence on the cosmology that was adopted by Porphyry, Proclus, Dionysius the Aeropagite, and St. Augustine.