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The Intelligent Design of the Demiurge

On an Argument From Design in Proclus
Pieter d’Hoine
p. 63-90

Texte intégral

1The ‘argument from design’ is one of the traditional types of reasoning in natural theology used to establish the existence of a divine principle. It usually infers, from the observation of order or purposefulness in nature, the existence of an intelligent agent as the designer of such order. The inference can be drawn on the basis of an analogy between cases of natural and artificial order, or it can take the form of an inference to the best explanation. In addition, the intelligent agent implied by the argument can either be said to have simply created the current cosmos, or to guiding the universe continually as a providential guardian. Arguments of this kind have been employed in various philosophical contexts, and the divine beings they have been thought to introduce were very different from one another. It is remarkable that the same type of argument can, with only slight modification, be held to justify the acceptance of an immanent providence pervading all of reality, the existence of a transcendent Platonic demiurge, or the belief in the God of Holy Scripture.

  • 1 See e.g. Cic., De nat. deor. II 87 and 97. For an analysis and critical assessment of this and othe (...)

2In Antiquity, formal design arguments became prominent in natural theology mainly thanks to the Stoics. One of the foremost challenges raised by their materialistic account of the physical world is the problem as to how corporeal nature can appear in the organised and orderly fashion that it does. According to the Stoics, the overall order and coherence of the universe must be explained in terms of an all-pervading divine logos. In an organically conceived universe, this active principle is responsible not only for the amazing regularity of natural processes, such as the revolutions of heavenly bodies and the succession of the seasons, but also for the smooth interconnection of all cosmic events. In fact, what we call the laws of nature are the expression of this divine, providential logos. The theology of the Stoics is a natural theology, since it is an integral part of their physics, and god is, for them, the name for the providential housekeeper of the universe. It is against this background that one should understand the remarkable interest the Stoics took in design arguments. In fact, the most classical formulations of the argument known from Antiquity are to be found in writers steeped in Stoic thought, such as Cicero1. What these arguments are meant to prove is not the existence of a transcendent architect of the universe, which the Stoics deny, but the presence of intelligent, providential design in the cosmic whole and all its parts.

  • 2 See Socr. apud Xen., Mem. I, 4, 2-7. D. Sedley, « Les origines des preuves stoïciennes de l’existen (...)

3If the Stoics were the first to give the argument from design such a central place in natural theology, the history of teleological reasoning far predates them. Recent scholarship has uncovered the roots of the Stoic design arguments in the philosophical enquiries of Socrates2. Yet, to later generations of philosophers, Plato’s Timaeus has proven at least as influential, even though the dialogue contains no formal argument from design whatsoever. In a famous passage from his ‘likely account’ of the origin of the world, Timaeus provides an explanation for the order in the universe by referring to the motives that prompted the demiurge to create :

  • 3 Plat., Tim. 29d7-30a6 (transl. D.J. Zeyl).

Now why did he who framed this whole universe of becoming frame it ? Let us state the reason why : He was good, and one who is good can never become jealous of anything. And so, being free of jealousy, he wanted everything to become as much like himself as possible. In fact, man of wisdom will tell you (and you couldn’t do better than to accept their claim) that this, more than anything else, was the most preeminent reason for the origin of the world’s coming to be. The god wanted everything to be good and nothing to be bad so far as that was possible, and so he took over all that was visible – not at rest but in discordant and disorderly motion – and brought it from a state of disorder to one of order, because he believed that order was in every way better than disorder3.

4The order we observe in nature results from the intervention of an intelligent, providential demiurge who forged the best of all possible worlds by making the world as much like himself as possible. The Timaeus provides a detailed description of this process, rather than a formal inference to the existence of an intelligent creator. However, in terms of explanatory force, there is no real gap between these two approaches. Plato’s cosmological speculations greatly influenced all later versions of the argument from design, as we will see below.

  • 4 As is well known, in the Physics, Aristotle demonstrates the existence of the Prime Mover as the pr (...)
  • 5 Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072b3.

5In an entirely different spirit, Aristotle made a crucial contribution to classical teleological thought as well. His finalistic explanation of reality not only pervades his philosophy of nature, but also his metaphysics. His teleological approach culminates in the postulation of a first immaterial substance, the unmoved mover. Contrary to the Physics, where the first, immobile cause of motion is introduced by means of a cosmological argument4, the line of reasoning adopted in book Lambda of the Metaphysics leaves no room for an efficiently causative role for the prime mover. Although everything in the universe strives towards the perfection of intellect, the latter is not a cause of the former’s being. In Aristotle’s view, the intellect moves the cosmos merely as an object of desire (ὡς ἐρώμενον)5. The Stagirite fashioned this doctrine in order to preserve the immobility of the first cause. Moving the cosmos as an object of desire, the intellect is not engaged in the sublunary world. Moreover, being the highest principle of reality, it is itself the only object of its own thought, since an external object would make the intellect depend upon it, and knowledge of worldly affairs would drag it down into the realm of motion. As we will see, this doctrine elicited strong opposition from later Platonists, who saw in the premise that god is unaware of worldly affairs a serious reduction, if not a straightforward abolishment, of divine providence. In order to safeguard its providential care for the universe, they felt the need to endow the intellect, in one way or another, with causative knowledge of the natural world. However, in at least one passage, Aristotle does seem to envisage a much broader role for the intellect. After having provided an accurate account of the existence and role of the prime mover in chapters seven to nine, he proceeds in the tenth chapter of book Lambda to introduce the following problem concerning the apparent order of the universe :

  • 6 Ar., Met. XII 10, 1075a11-23 (transl. W.D. Ross).

We must consider also in which of two ways the nature of the universe contains the good and the highest good, whether as something separate and by itself, or as the order of the parts. Probably in both ways, as an army does ; for its good is found both in its order and in its leader, and more in the latter ; for he does not depend on the order but it depends on him. And all things are ordered together somehow, but not all alike – both fishes and fowls and plants ; and the world is not such that one thing has nothing to do with another, but they are connected. For all are ordered together to one end, but it is as in a house, where the freemen are least at liberty to act at random, but all things or most things are already ordained for them, while the slaves and the animals do little for the common good, and for the most part live at random ; for this is the sort of principle that constitutes the nature of each6.

  • 7 Cf. L.P. Gerson, God and Greek Philosophy, op. cit., p. 135-136.

6This comparison between the unmoved mover and the general of an army seems to explain the former as a deliberate cause of the order in the universe. Standing at the head of his troops, the general is the one who assigns all his soldiers their place and rank. The problem is, however, that such a role is hardly compatible with the function the intellect is meant to perform in book Lambda of the Metaphysics. If the unmoved mover is an intellect contemplating itself, it cannot have knowledge of its effects ; neither can it play a deliberate, active role in the organisation of the cosmos. Rather, one would expect that the various beings in the natural world have various natures (as the comparison with the household suggests), which make them organise themselves in an orderly way, encouraged by their inborn desire for the good of the whole7. Nevertheless, later thinkers will refer to precisely this passage in their attempts to assign an efficiently causal role to the unmoved mover of the Metaphysics. The operation they envisage often takes the form of a reconciliation between Aristotle’s theory of intellect and a Platonic theory of Forms ; the argument from design provides the appropriate means to accomplish this. Therefore, it should not surprise us that, centuries after Aristotle, after the Stoics had put the development of formal arguments from design on the philosophical agenda, we find the Platonists of the imperial age employing such arguments against Aristotle, in defence of their own convictions.

7One of the first philosophers known to have put a formal argument from design at the service of the Platonic theory of Forms is the second-century Middle Platonist Alcinous. In his Handbook of Platonism, Alcinous presents four succinct arguments for the existence of the Forms, the third of which is stated in the following terms :

  • 8 Alc., Didasc. 9, p. 163.40-164.2 (transl. J.M. Dillon).

Further, if the world is not such as it is by accident (ἐκ ταὐτομάτου), it has not only been generated from something (ἔκ τινός), but also by something (or someone) (ὑπό τινος) ; and not only this, but also with reference to something (πρός τι). But what could that with reference to which it is generated be other than Form ? So Forms exist8.

  • 9 Ar., Met. VII 7, 1032a12-14.
  • 10 For the expression, see Dillon, Alcinous, p. 100. For the three Platonist causal principles (materi (...)

8As with all other arguments from design, the initial premise is that the world cannot have come about simply by accident. Alcinous must have in mind a passage in Metaphysics Zeta, where Aristotle states that all things that are subject to becoming come to be either naturally, artificially, or spontaneously9. According to the Stagirite, all things are caused to come to be by something (the efficient cause), from something (the material cause) and they become something (the kind of thing they are or the formal cause). Right away, Alcinous rules out chance as a plausible factor in the constitution of the universe, slightly altering the set of causes Aristotle enumerates, in order to better serve his own metaphysical convictions. If the world cannot result from chance, the material cause (« from something ») does not provide a sufficient explanation for the present state of the universe. For that reason, Alcinous draws on two other types of causality : Aristotle’s efficient cause (« by something/someone ») and the kind of cause the Middle Platonists commonly refer to as the paradigmatic cause (« with reference to something »). Whereas Alcinous will identify the former with the demiurge of the Platonic tradition, the latter must refer to the intelligible paradigm that serves as a model for the order the demiurge introduces in the universe. What we get is a remarkably simplified and formalised version of the cosmology of the Timaeus, expressed in a terminology borrowed from a post-Aristotelian ‘metaphysics of propositions’10. Alcinous’ aim is not simply to introduce a divine, providential agent governing the universe, but rather to establish the existence of intelligible Forms that serve as paradigms in the semi-creation of the natural world.

  • 11 Proclus’ discussion runs through books III and IV of his Commentary on the Parmenides. The Neoplato (...)
  • 12 Cf. C. Steel, « Proclus et les arguments pour et contre l’hypothèse des idées », Revue de philosoph (...)
  • 13 See In Parm. III 798.19-799.16.

9The attempt to reconcile Plato’s theory of Forms with the formal arguments for the existence of god developed by the Stoics and an Aristotelian-like model of natural causation (a program which is contained in a nutshell in Alcinous’ proof), is taken up again about three centuries later by the fifth-century Neoplatonist Proclus of Lydia. In his Commentary on the Parmenides, Proclus inserted a two book long, quasi-systematic survey of Platonic Forms11, in which he discusses the aporiai concerning the Forms raised by Parmenides in the eponymous dialogue, such as the problem of the range of Forms and the doctrine of participation. Unlike Socrates and Parmenides, who simply take the existence of the Forms for granted, Proclus deems it necessary to introduce his survey with a preliminary discussion of the existence of the Forms. This is the pretext for the Athenian Neoplatonist to advance six philosophical proofs in favour of the doctrine. The foremost aim of these demonstrations is to respond to Peripatetic, and sometimes also Stoic, criticisms of the existence of separate and transcendent Forms. Indeed, many of the arguments take the form of straightforward refutations of Aristotle, often based on rather unsuspected Aristotelian principles12. With the exception of two epistemological arguments, all of Proclus’ proofs are (meta)physical, dwelling on the cosmological or biological need for eternal and transcendent Forms. The argument that is of interest here takes the uniformity and harmony of nature as its point of departure. It provides a nice example of how the ‘argument from design’, which had been very popular in a Stoic context, could be adapted to fit a distinctively (Neo)platonic framework. The importance that Proclus attaches to the argument is illustrated by the fact that his ‘concise’ (συντόμως) recapitulation of the six arguments later in the same book of his commentary13 is little more than a paraphrase (although, as we will see, not without a few clarifications and additions) of the argument we have here.

10In this paper, my aim is to provide a careful analysis of Proclus’ ‘argument from design’ (In Parm. III 790.5-791.20). Whenever necessary, I will attempt to supplement the implicit premises of the argument, drawing mainly from its immediate context in the third book of Proclus’ Commentary. It is worthwhile to note that, by drawing our attention to the mode of operation of the demiurge and to his contemplation of the Forms as a necessary step in the creation of the universe, Proclus makes his demonstration of the existence of the demiurge count, at the same time, as an argument for the existence of the Forms. Therefore, it is to be hoped that our analysis of this argument will also shed light on this remarkable defence of the Platonic Forms, on the scholastic context in which this doctrine was to function in later Antiquity, and on the problems that it was meant to solve. It is time now to turn to this argument.

The order of nature (In Parm. III 790.5-8)

11As a rule, arguments from design take a certain order or pattern in the universe as their starting point. Proclus’ argument is no exception. At the outset of his third argument for the existence of the Forms, the Athenian Neoplatonist draws the reader’s attention to various expressions of order and regularity inherent in nature :

  • 14 In Parm. III 790.5-8.

[I]f there is no cause of the universe, but all things come about spontaneously, how is it that they are all ordered with respect to one another (συντέτακται πάντα ἀλλήλοις) ? Why are the beings eternal (ἀεὶ τὰ ὄντα), and how do events in nature happen in accordance with general laws (κατὰ φύσιν), when things that arise by accident (τῶν ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου) occur only rarely14 ?

  • 15 See In Parm. III 790.14-21.
  • 16 The eternal beings (ἀεὶ τὰ ὄντα) of which Proclus speaks in l. 790.6-7 are natural species, as in t (...)
  • 17 See In Parm. III 824.3-8.
  • 18 The fact that, contrary to particular natural beings, the natural species are everlasting, is also (...)
  • 19 Cf. El. theol. § 76, p. 72.5-6 : πᾶν μὲν τὸ ἀπὸ ἀκινήτου γινόμενον αἰτίας ἀμετάβλητον ἔχει τὴν ὕπαρ (...)
  • 20 See e.g. in the first proof, In Parm. III 788.1-8 ; in the third, 790.6-8 ; in the fourth, 791.21-7 (...)
  • 21 See In Parm. III 791.21-795.6.
  • 22 See In Parm. III 824.9-24.

12The order that Proclus discovers in nature is threefold. First, in nature, all things are ordered in harmony with one another (συντέτακται). As will become clear later, the harmony that Proclus envisages concerns the reciprocal attunement of all living beings with respect to the functions they perform and the place they hold in the universe15. Secondly, natural species are eternal16. Later in book III, in a systematic survey of the range of the Forms, Proclus makes use of the same premise in order to establish the existence of the Forms of natural species17. That Forms of all natural kinds exist, is there based on the presupposition that beings that are eternal – such as natural species18 – must stem from immobile causes – such as Forms19. Even though this conclusion is not spelled out in the ‘argument from design’, the Forms of natural species are the implicit object here as well, and the same holds true for all of Proclus’ ‘(meta)physical’ arguments20. The eternality of natural species is a doctrine shared by both Platonists and Peripatetics, but one of Proclus’ central objections to Aristotle is that his theory of natural generation offers no satisfactory explanation for the stability of procreation. In his fourth proof for the existence of the Forms, for instance, Proclus tries to show how the process of natural generation that Aristotle describes in his biological works (according to which an individual natural being is simply engendered by another individual of the same species) necessarily presupposes the existence of eternal, transcendent Forms21. On the other hand, the fact that individual natural beings are mortal is, for Proclus, a sufficient reason to deny the existence of Forms of particulars22.

  • 23 See e.g. Ar., De gen. corr. II 6, 333b4-7 : τὰ γὰρ γινόμενα φύσει πάντα γίνεται ἢ ἀεὶ ἢ ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ (...)
  • 24 In Parm. III 791.21-26.

13A third and final instance of natural order lies in the fact that, in contrast to accidental events, natural processes are subject to unchangeable laws. The terminology that Proclus uses here, to distinguish between physical processes occurring in accordance with natural law and those coming about only accidentally, is clearly reminiscent of Aristotle23. The natural laws that Proclus has in mind are those governing the process of natural generation, which is again confirmed in the fourth proof, where Proclus takes the same Aristotelian distinction as a stepping stone for his entire argument24. All in all, then, if these are the instances of natural order that are to be explained in the remainder of Proclus’ argument, it can already be foreseen that this line of reasoning will lead us to a cause that is responsible for the harmony, stability, and regularity found in nature. Contrary to Plato’s theory of Forms, which is motivated primarily by epistemological concerns, Proclus’ theory of Forms has an important cosmological and biological dimension as well.

Inference to the best explanation (In Parm. III 798.19-799.3 and 790.8-14)

14If the order of nature is incontestable, the next question to tackle is how this order can best be explained. The rhetorical question at the beginning of Proclus’ argument (quoted above) implies that the phenomena to which our attention has been drawn cannot result from chance alone. In a summary of his arguments at the end of his philosophical survey of the existence of the Forms, Proclus provides explicit evidence against chance as a plausible explanation :

  • 25 In Parm. III 798.20-27.

To summarise the reasons that made them [sc. the Platonists] adopt the hypothesis of Forms, let us say that all visible things, both heavenly and sublunary, exist either by chance or by a cause (ἢ ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου ἐστὶν ἢ κατ ̓ αἰτίαν). But that it should be by chance is impossible, for in that case superior things, such as intellect and reason-principle (λόγος) and cause and the effects of cause, will be classed among the effects, and thus products will be superior to their principles. In addition, as Aristotle says, essential causes must be prior to accidental ones, for the accidental is a by-product of essential causes – so that what comes about by chance would be superior to what comes about causally, if even the most divine of the visible realities would have come about by chance25.

  • 26 Cf. El. theol. § 7, p. 8.1-2 : πᾶν τὸ παρακτικὸν ἄλλου κρεῖττόν ἐστι τῆς τοῦ παραγομένου φύσεως. Th (...)
  • 27 Cf. Ar., Met. XI 8, 1065b2-4 : ἐπεὶ δ ̓ οὐθὲν κατὰ συμβεβηκὸς πρότερον τῶν καθ ̓ αὑτό, οὐδ ̓ ἄρ ̓ α (...)

15All celestial and sublunary realities, Proclus claims, must result either from chance or from a cause. Yet, a reductio ad absurdum shows that chance cannot serve as an explanation of the natural world at all. Let us suppose for a moment that all visible realities (such as celestial bodies, human beings, animals, plants and artefacts) result from chance. This would imply an ontological priority of chance over orderly nature, since the effect must be ontologically inferior to that of which it is an effect26. Yet, in the natural world, various phenomena and processes are subject to relations of cause and effect. This is precisely what we call the order of nature. Therefore, that which results from chance – the natural world as we know it – would display features that make it ontologically prior to chance itself, for – as Aristotle says in the Metaphysics27 – accidental causes always depend upon essential ones, not vice versa. Chance must be understood as an exceptional by-product of the regular course of nature, not as that which happens for the most part. Since two terms cannot, at the same time, be both ontologically inferior and superior to one another, chance cannot be responsible for the natural world.

  • 28 In Parm. III 791.23-26.
  • 29 See In Alc. 162.19-20, where one finds the same quote, and Segonds’ note ad locum (II p. 383, n.2), (...)
  • 30 See e.g., apart from the passages quoted by Segonds (cf. previous note), Simpl., In De an. 11 318.3 (...)

16In his fourth proof for the existence of the Forms, Proclus used a similar argument against the view that the process of natural generation happens accidentally : chance occurs only rarely, while natural generation, for the most part, follows lawful patterns28. In that context, Proclus lends further credence to this view by quoting from Aristotle’s De Caelo (271a33), as he does on many other occasions29 : nature does nothing in vain. This and similar formulae are often referred to by later Neoplatonists to emphasise the teleology inherent in natural organisms or processes30.

  • 31 Cf. In Parm. III 790.8-9 : εἰ δὲ ἔστιν αἴτιον ἕν τι πάντα συντάττον...
  • 32 In Parm. III 798.27-799.3.
  • 33 See e.g. § 1 of the El. theol. : πᾶν πλῆθος μετέχει πῃ τοῦ ἑνός (p. 2, l.1). See also §§ 5 and 11.

17At any rate, chance cannot be a regulating principle in nature. As a result, natural generation requires a cause. Although Proclus, in his argument from design, simply assumes that it is one single cause that is responsible for the various expressions of natural order mentioned in (a), rather than a plurality of causes31, he does provide some evidence in favour of this claim in his summary of the arguments32.If there are causes of all beings, Proclus says, then there is either a manifold of unconnected causes, or a single, unitary cause. Yet, if the causes are manifold, the apparent unity of the universe is left unexplained. Since unity is superior to plurality, it is inconceivable that the ultimate cause of all things could not be brought back into unity. Clearly, Proclus does not deny that a manifold of causes is at work in the natural world. The point he is trying to make is that such a plurality of causes must depend upon a comprehensive, unitary cause. If that were not the case, our account of nature would be insufficient – simply because each plurality can only be understood as a differentiation of a superior unity33. The opposition is not primarily between a single cause and a manifold of causes, but rather between, on the one hand, a manifold of unrelated causes that cannot be reduced to unity and, on the other hand, a collection of causes, be them single or many, that do lead us back to one unitary cause. Since the former alternative is absurd, we should opt for the latter.

  • 34 Various points of the discussion here have already been addressed in Proclus’ first proof for the e (...)

18The next problem to be addressed is the question as to the nature of the cause responsible for the order in the universe34. The cause under scrutiny displays two important features : first, it is intelligent ; and second, it is self-conscious. Even though self-consciousness implies intelligence, only the second point is explicitly argued in the present argument. For a demonstration of the first point, we must once again refer to the ‘summary’ :

  • 35 See In Parm. III 799.3-7.

[I]f there is one cause of the unitary universe with respect to which all things are ordered, it will be absurd if this cause is without reason ; for again there will be something superior to the universal cause among its effects, viz. whatever being acts according to reason and knowledge, which will be within the all and a part of it and be the kind of thing it is from an irrational cause35.

19Inversely, the ‘summary’ does not provide an explicit argument in favour of the second point, i.e. the self-consciousness of the cause, which it simply assumes, in contrast to the main argument, where we find the following line of reasoning :

  • 36 In Parm. III 790.8-12.

And if there is a single cause that orders all things, and it does not know itself, must there not be something other prior to it which knows itself and is the cause of that thing’s being a cause ? If it does not know itself, it will be inferior to the beings in the universe that know themselves, and at the same time be superior, which is impossible36.

20What is remarkable is that the two arguments for the two complementary features are analogous. Both take the form of a reductio ad absurdum, and both are based on considerations of ontological hierarchy – as was already the case in the argument concerning causality and chance. In the summary, it is brought to our attention that some natural beings clearly exhibit rational behaviour. Since such rational beings are products of the unitary cause we have already discovered, they are ontologically inferior to it – qua products of causes and parts of wholes. Yet, since they are rational, they would also be ontologically superior to their irrational cause. If this is absurd, the cause under scrutiny must be a rational or intelligent one. For the very same reason, the cause must also be self-conscious, since some effects of the cause are endowed with self-consciousness and self-consciousness is ontologically superior to the lack of self-consciousness. This rational and self-conscious cause of all things will be an intellect.

Excursus : the process of natural generation requires an intelligent cause

  • 37 See In Parm. III 791.21-795.6.
  • 38 For the fourth argument for the existence of the Forms, see In Parm. III 791.21-795.6. The entire f (...)

21At this point in the argument, one may wonder why Proclus does not take into consideration that the regularity of natural processes could be sufficiently accounted for by natural law, i.e. by a (series of) cause(s) that operates without intelligence, but simply through blind necessity. For instance, why couldn’t the laws of natural generation suffice to explain the eternal and orderly recurrence of biological particulars ? In his fourth proof for the existence of the Forms, Proclus does address – but rejects – a similar explanation, in the context of an evaluation of Aristotelian biology37. For Proclus, true causes must transcend their effects and be immaterial. Hence nature and its laws can only be a subsidiary cause (συναίτιον), an instrument of which the truly efficient cause – the demiurge – makes use in shaping the sublunary world. By setting out from the Aristotelian explanation, Proclus makes us ascend the chain of causes in order to show how nature necessarily presupposes an intelligent, transcendent cause to account for its complexity and stability. In order to understand Proclus’ opposition to Aristotle, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at his argument38.

  • 39 Cf. In Parm. III 791.21-22 : ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἀνθρώπου γίγνεται. See Ar., Phys. II 1, 193b8, 12 ; II 2, (...)
  • 40 In Parm. III 791.27-792.3. Cf. e.g. Ar., De gen. an. I 17, 721b6 : δοκεῖ δὲ πάντα γίνεσθαι ἐκ σπέρμ (...)
  • 41 Cf. Ar., Met. VIII 4, 1044a32-37 : ὅταν δή τις ζητῇ τὸ αἴτιον, ἐπεὶ πλεοναχῶς τὰ αἴτια λέγεται, πάσ (...)
  • 42 Cf. Ascl., In Met. 89.1-9, who agrees with Aristotle that the Forms are not necessary to explain in (...)
  • 43 In Parm. III 792.5-6. Cf. e.g. De gen. an. II 1, 731b31-732a1 : ἐπεὶ γὰρ ἀδύνατος ἡ φύσις τοῦ τοιού (...)
  • 44 In Parm. III 792.6-7. Cf. Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072b35-1073a3 : τὸ γὰρ σπέρμα ἐξ ἑτέρων ἐστὶ προτέρων (...)
  • 45 In Parm. III 792.7-9. Cf. also In Parm. II 754.12-13. Again, this is a claim with at least an Arist (...)
  • 46 In Parm. III 792.9-11. For this principle, which stems from Aristotle’s Met. IX 8, 1049b4-1051a3, c (...)

22It is one of the tenets of Aristotle’s theory of natural generation that every individual is engendered by another individual of the same species : man begets man39. At this point, we should beware that this cannot happen by accident. So, the question is : what is the cause of such natural generation ? First, a Peripatetic philosopher might suggest that seed is the sort of cause we are looking for40. For Aristotle, a seed is an efficient cause of natural beings41. Proclus readily agrees that seed plays a role in natural generation, but he considers this role merely instrumental. A seed can only explain the generation of an individual natural being, not the existence of the species to which it belongs42. Unlike individuals, which come to be and pass away, natural species and genera persist through all eternity, as Aristotle himself admits43. A seed is merely the vehicle through which life passes on from one particular being to another particular being of the same species. There is no reason why a seed would render natural generation comprehensible, any more than it would an individual of the same species, for even if an individual human being develops from sperm, it is equally true that this sperm is itself produced by an individual man44. Moreover, a seed is only potentially an individual natural being45, while in the order of nature, act always takes precedence over potency and brings it to perfection46. So the question is : what brings the potency of the seed to act ?

  • 47 In his In Tim. I 12.26-28, Proclus defines the Platonic notion of φύσις in the following terms : [… (...)
  • 48 In Parm. III 792.14-15. Cf. e.g. Ar., Phys. II 1, 192b14 ; Met. V 4, 1015a15 e.a. In Met. V 4, 1014 (...)
  • 49 In Tim. I 2.15-29 : οἱ δὲ μετὰ Πλάτωνα προστάντες τῆς αἱρέσεως [sc. the Aristotelians], οὐ πάντες, (...)
  • 50 In Parm. III 792.18-19.
  • 51 In Parm. III 792.19-21. Though there are no separate Forms corresponding to the parts of animals, o (...)
  • 52 In Parm. III 792.23-24. For the doctrine that bones, flesh etc. are a kind of preformed materials o (...)
  • 53 In Parm. III 792.24-793.3.
  • 54 In Parm. III 793.6-11.
  • 55 In Parm. III 793.4 : τὴν φύσιν ... τὴν τῆς γῆς. On the role of the earth in natural generation, see (...)
  • 56 See e.g. In Parm. III 793.11-13.
  • 57 This is Proclus’ interpretation of the ‘tetras’ present in the Living Being, which comprehends the (...)
  • 58 In Parm. III 793.11-15.

23One could suggest that the (individual) nature of the organism perfects the seed. Nature is an immaterial power47 that, according to Aristotle, serves as an (internal) principle of motion (ἀρχὴ κινήσεωi) to the natural beings that are endowed with it48.As such, it may develop the potency of the seed from within. In the introduction to his Commentary on the Timaeus, Proclus regards this Aristotelian understanding of nature as insufficient. For the Neoplatonist, nature is a merely instrumental cause, since it only transmits the efficient causality of superior agents49. In Proclus’ view, the fact that individual nature brings the reason-principles of the seed to perfection, must imply that it already possesses the reason-principles in act, since in the order of nature, act has an ontological priority over potency. Although nature is exempt from reason and imagination, it is a bearer of natural reason-principles50. Yet, if the individual nature of man encompasses human reason-principles, we must suppose that the nature of other animals is to function in an analogous way. For instance, the nature of a lion must encompass the reason-principles of all the lion’s constituent parts, such as the head, the mane, the feet, the teeth, etc.51, and of the preformed materials out of which all these parts are made, such as bones and flesh52. The same holds true even for plants. Now, the apparent diversity and complexity of various life forms is such that it cannot have come about by an irrational power such as nature53. It is insufficient to say that all individual natures encompass the reason-principles assigned to them ; there must be, in addition, a universal cause comprehending the reason-principles of all individual natures, for two reasons54. First, there are the cases of generatio spontanea, which apparently violate the rule which was the starting-point of the whole argument, viz. that in nature, individuals always engender other individuals of the same species. Secondly, there is an analogous phenomenon with regard to plants : sometimes new vegetation appears without human intervention. Though these phenomena occur only rarely, they need to be accounted for all the same. The only plausible explanation is that the reason-principles of such plants and animals are to be found not only in the individual natures which are their bearers, but also in a more universal cause, comprehending all earthly forms of life. This universal cause, which is an all-encompassing ‘nature of the earth’55, can sometimes employ these reason-principles directly, without depending on an individual bearer of the same species. For instance, in putrefied dead organisms or lifeless matter, the universal cause of nature can generate forms of life of which these organisms did not yet contain the appropriate reason-principles. A notorious example of this ancient doctrine of spontaneous generation was the appearance of maggots on a corpse. Yet, if there is such a unitary cause of the animals and plants living on earth, there should be a similar universal nature for the species assigned to the other elements as well56. According to Proclus, the entire manifold of beings living on earth is mirrored in the spheres, associated with each of the other three elements : living beings exist in a ‘watery’ way in water, in an ‘airy’ way in air, and in a ‘fiery’ way in fire57. Thus, an analogous universal cause must be postulated for them. Finally, these four universal natures are together comprehended by the nature of the moon, a mysterious entity which Proclus considers to be the transcendent monad of all material living beings, presumably of the sublunary world58.

  • 59 In Parm. III 793.16 : τὴν φύσιν τοῦ παντός. The expression stems from Tim. 41e2 and 47a7. If this u (...)
  • 60 In Parm. III 793.19-21. This looks like a corollary of El. theol. § 56, p. 54.4-6 : πᾶν τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν (...)
  • 61 E.g. In Parm. III 827.22-23 ; In Crat. LIII p. 23.10-14. For the Aristotelian origin of this notion (...)
  • 62 See e.g. Ar., Phys. II 2, 194a21-22.
  • 63 In Tim. I 268.15-22 : ἔτι τοίνυν πῶς τοὺς ἐνταῦθα δημιουργοὺς ποιοῦντας ὁρῶμεν ; οὐχὶ λόγους ἔχοντα (...)
  • 64 In Parm. III 794.2-6. For the same image, see In Parm. IV 841.9-10 : ἡ φύσις ἔνδοθεν μορφοῖ τὸ σῶμα (...)
  • 65 Cf. e.g. Met. XII 3, 1070a7-8 ; De Caelo III 2, 301b17-22. I have discussed the consequences of thi (...)

24The ascent to ever more universal natural causes finally leads to the nature of the universe59. Proclus forwards two arguments in support of the thesis that this superior form of nature, even when it remains an irrational agent, must comprehend all of the efficient reason-principles and causative powers of natural beings. First, there is the ontological principle that more universal agents are, in a more preeminent way, the causes of the effects engendered by the partial causes which depend upon them60. Secondly, it is warranted by the parallelism between nature and art, according to which the latter imitates the former. One of the key elements of this parallelism is that both employ reason-principles (λόγοι) in their creative process. This is obvious in human craftsmanship, where the craftsman mentally conceives the thing he is about to make before actually starting the production of the artefact. For example, if we want to make a bed, we first need to have an idea of what a bed is supposed to be. The λόγοι by means of which the arts operate are the preconceptions or forms present in the mind of the craftsman61. Clearly, their origin differs from that of the natural reason-principles, which in fact proceed from the transcendent Forms. Nonetheless, the traditional adage that art imitates nature62 means that, if the former operates by means of reason-principles, then the latter must do so a fortiori. This argument is explicitly directed, as an argument for the existence of the Forms, against Aristotle in the Commentary on the Timaeus63. The only difference between natural and artificial production is that nature brings about from within what the craftsman imposes from outside64. This comparison presupposes an Aristotelian conception of the distinction between nature and art : whereas nature has an internal principle of movement, art is produced by an external agent65.

  • 66 In Parm. III 794.6-13. Cf. also supra, 792.18-19, and the oxymoron ἀλόγοις ... λόγοις in l. 794.18. (...)
  • 67 In Parm. III 794.12-13 : φύσις ἄλλων ἐστὶ καὶ οὐχ ἑαυτῆς. According to In Tim. I 10.31-11.9, nature (...)
  • 68 In Parm. III 794.14-15. Cf. El. theol. § 75, p. 70.28-29 : πᾶν τὸ κυρίως αἴτιον λεγόμενον ἐξῄρηται (...)

25Nature enters into sensible bodies in order to allow these inert entities somehow to participate in motion from outside of themselves. Since nature is endowed with reason-principles, yet is itself irrational, it is precisely the kind of cause bodies are in need of66. On the one hand, the reason-principles which nature bears enable bodies to fulfil the roles assigned to them ; on the other hand, nature’s irrationality retains it in its communion with the body ; nature just doesn’t know any better. Yet, its inseparability from bodies also means that nature cannot be the ultimate cause of natural beings ; nature is essentially alienated from itself insofar as it resides in something other than itself, i.e. in its effects67. Since genuine causes, however, transcend their effects68, the reason-principles must exist in a transcendent, demiurgic cause superior to nature. As we have already seen, this cause must be an intelligent and self-conscious one. In his fourth proof, Proclus establishes the rationality of this cause on the basis of its superiority to the human soul. The premise of this argument is that it proves possible for us, human beings, to attain genuine knowledge of the causes of nature. Now, if our soul (which is an entity intermediate between nature and intellect) has an understanding of the universe and its cause, this should be the case for the cause itself as well, insofar as it is – qua cause – far superior to us. Precisely because the soul is already able to revert to itself and find in itself (knowledge of) the whole universe, the ultimate cause must do so a fortiori. From the argument from design, we know that the cause of the universe is an intellect knowing itself. The next step will be for Proclus to show that this self-knowledge implies knowledge of all the Forms.

The intellect is both a final and an efficient cause (In Parm. III 790.12-791.7)

  • 69 In Parm. III 790.14.
  • 70 See fr. 15 Heinze ( = fr. 213 Isnardi Parente).
  • 71 See fr. 3 and 4 des Places. For the claim that the understanding of god as a self-thinking intellec (...)

26To take up once again the thread of the argument from design, Proclus identifies the intelligent, self-conscious and transcendent cause of nature as an intellect69. In the passage that follows, this intellect will in turn be identified with the demiurge from Plato’s Timaeus. In the Platonic tradition, the amalgamation of the demiurge with an intellect probably has its roots already in the Ancient Academy, as a fragment of Xenocrates suggests70. In Middle Platonism this demiurgic intellect was often supposed to coincide with the self-contemplating intellect that Aristotle describes in book Lambda of the Metaphysics. In Alcinous’ Handbook of Platonism (10, p. 164.27-31), for instance, the Middle Platonic god is described in much the same terms as Aristotle’s unmoved mover. Yet, we have seen that for Aristotle the intellect’s thinking has only itself as an object. Remaining steadfast, the intellect or unmoved mover is the supreme, final cause of motion, since it serves as the goal of perfection and hence as an object of desire for all lower reality. In order to reconcile the Platonic demiurge with the intellect from the Aristotelian tradition, Alcinous feels the need to extend the self-knowledge of the intellect to the knowledge of the intelligible paradigms of all beings, in the sense that the intellect’s self-knowledge somehow implies knowledge of the Forms – this is his version of the Middle Platonic doctrine that Forms are divine thoughts. The doctrine can be understood as a response to such Platonists as for instance Atticus, who strongly opposed the harmonization of Plato and Aristotle and accordingly criticized Aristotle’s self-centred intellect on the grounds that it would leave no room for divine providence71.

  • 72 Ar., Met. XII 9, 1074b15-1075a10.
  • 73 In Parm. III 790.12-14.
  • 74 See e.g. In Parm. IV 921.14-19 and 955.28-956.2. Cf. C. Steel, « La théorie des formes et la provid (...)
  • 75 For similar arguments against the Aristotelian doctrine of intellect as a merely final cause, see e (...)

27This Middle Platonic debate is at the background of Proclus’ discussion of the intelligent cause of the universe. In the passage that follows, Proclus tackles the same questions that Aristotle does in chapter nine of Metaphysics Lambda72 : what is the nature of intellect ? And what is the object of its thinking ? In line with Alcinous, Proclus argues that the intellect’s knowledge cannot be limited to itself, but must extend to the things it produces. If it belongs to the very essence of the intellect to perform a causative role with regard to the natural world, and if, moreover, the intellect is endowed with self-knowledge and thus knows its own essence, then the intellect cannot ignore that it is itself the cause of the universe73. Obviously, this is a doctrine that goes against Aristotle’s most fundamental convictions. Proclus shares Aristotle’s concern with safeguarding the immobility and nobility of intellect, yet he doubts the Stagirite’s conclusion that the elevated status of the intellect precludes it from having knowledge of its effects. Instead, Proclus deems it necessary to endow the intellect with (causal) knowledge of all things natural, in order to preserve divine providence. As Atticus had shown, an Aristotelian-like intellect that is only concerned with itself would abolish the providential role of the intelligent cause of the universe74. Proclus’ argument not only aims at establishing the existence of a divine architect of nature, but also implies that there is a providential intellect governing the universe. The strategy that Proclus adopts is to establish that, if the intellect serves as a final cause of nature, it must also be an efficient cause75.

  • 76 In Parm. III 790.15-16.
  • 77 Cf. Ar., Met. XII 10, 1075a16-19 : πάντα δὲ συντέτακταί πως, ἀλλ ̓ οὐχ ὁμοίως καὶ πλωτὰ καὶ πτηνὰ κ (...)

28That the intellect is a final cause of the cosmos has, in Proclus’ view, already been granted. The different examples of order that were the starting point of the entire argument are to be accounted for in terms of final causality. The order brought about by the intelligent cause concerns the harmony of nature, which is a complicated affair since « the universe is multifarious and not all its parts partake of the same dignity and rank »76. This is an allusion to the passage in the Metaphysics already quoted above, where Aristotle investigates whether the good of the universe (i.e. the final cause that is responsible for the fact that all beings are ordered with respect to one another), resides in a superior cause (the intellect), or within the cosmos itself77. The central claim of Proclus’ argument from design has been, up to this point, that the harmony of nature is of such a complexity that it can only be accounted for by a unique, intelligent and transcendent agent that functions as a final cause. In what follows, Proclus tries to establish that the same cause must also be held responsible for the being of natural organisms and celestial bodies. In short, it must be not only their final, but also their efficient or productive cause :

  • 78 In Parm. III 790.16-791.5.

Who is it that measures out their ranks (ὁ τὴν ἀξίαν αὐτῶν μετρῶν), if not he who established them all ? Who is it that has set each thing in its proper station (ὁ τάξας ἕκαστον...ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκείας ἕδρας), as was required – in this place the sun, in that the moon, in another the earth, and in still another the mighty heaven – if not he who produced them ? Who is it that has put all things together and brought about a single harmonious ordering of them (ὁ σύνταξας πάντα καὶ μίαν ἐξ αὐτῶν ἁρμονίαν ἀποτελέσας), if not he who gave each of them its existence and nature ? If, then, he put them all in order and determined its rank for each, he was evidently not ignorant of order and disorder in things, for otherwise his action would be that of an irrational being and not that of a divine cause, characteristic of necessity, not of intelligent forethought. And if in thinking himself he knows himself, and in knowing himself knows also the essence that he possesses – that he is an immovable cause and the goal of desire for all things – he knows also those beings for which he is an object of desire, for his being an object of desire is not accidental, but his very essence78.

  • 79 This rule is set out in El. theol. § 34, p. 36.20-22 : πᾶν τὸ κατὰ φύσιν ἐπιστρεφόμενον πρὸς ἐκεῖνο (...)
  • 80 For parallel passages, see In Parm. III 788.18-19 ; IV 842.15 ff. ; In Tim. I 267.5-12 (with Festug (...)

29The harmony of nature involves various aspects. Not only do all beings have their own rank or value for the whole, each of the celestial and sublunary realities also has a proper station or place in the cosmos. Moreover, what we call the overall harmony of the universe is the remarkable, reciprocal attunement of all beings in their relation towards one another. Insofar as rank and place are determined by the degree in which each being is able to revert upon its origin, a being is directed towards its origin as towards a final cause. This cause is the intellect. Since according to Neoplatonic metaphysics, a being can only revert to that principle from which it proceeds79, the cause upon which a being reverts must, at the same time, be the origin from which it arises. Hence, the same intelligent agent must be both a final and an efficient cause of the universe80. The intelligent design which we discover in nature is the result of a divine production.

  • 81 See esp. Tim. 47e3-48a5. It is not irrelevant that Plato in these passages calls the intelligent ca (...)
  • 82 Cf. also In Parm. III 790.15, where Proclus calls the single, intelligent cause of the universe δημ (...)
  • 83 See e.g. Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072a26-27 : κινεῖ δὲ ὧδε τὸ ὀρεκτὸν καὶ τὸ νοητόν· κινεῖ οὐ κινούμενα.
  • 84 Cf. also In Parm. IV 964.16-25.
  • 85 In Parm. III 791.4-5. Cf. Ar., Cat. 7, 8b13-15 : ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν, ὃ ἂν εἰδῇ τις τῶν πρός τι ὡρισμέν (...)
  • 86 In Parm. III 790.24-791.1.

30In claiming that the intellect exerts an efficiently causal role, Proclus clearly takes a step beyond Aristotle. The intellect can acquire its efficient role on the condition that, contrary to what Aristotle claims, it does not only contemplate itself, but also the eternal paradigms of the sublunary world. If the intelligent cause of all natural order would lack knowledge of the order it causes, it would not be an intelligent cause at all, but rather a blind necessity. Here, Proclus puts his cards on the table. The allusion is to the two causes of the physical world that are distinguished in Plato’s Timaeus81. On the one hand, there is the demiurge, who is the intelligent and providential cause of the cosmos, and on the other hand, there is the necessity of the receptacle, upon which the demiurge operates. The purpose of this comparison is to identify the intelligent cause of nature, which had previously been conceived of as an Aristotelian intellect, with the demiurge from the Platonic tradition82. This identification is taken as justifying the double role the intelligent cause has to play. Again, the transcendent cause of nature not only acts consciously, but self-consciously. As a consequence, the cause must know its own essence, i.e. it knows itself as the immobile cause (ἀκίνητον αἴτιον) of and as an object of desire (ἐφετόν) for all beings. The two characteristics mentioned here are again the main features of Aristotle’s intellect ; it is the immobile prime mover of the universe, which operates as an object of desire (and thus as a final cause)83. In the intelligent cause of nature, the demiurge of the Platonic tradition and the Aristotelian intellect merge together. The main difference between Aristotle’s theory of intellect and that of the Neoplatonists is that, according to the latter, the intellect’s thinking is not exhausted by itself, but includes knowledge of its products as well84. Since even Aristotle agrees that knowledge of one relative term also implies knowledge of its correlative85, the intellect cannot genuinely know itself to be a cause, without knowing what it is the cause of. By contemplating itself, the intellect contemplates the demiurgic causes of the world – that is, the transcendent Forms conceived of as divine thoughts – because the causation of the world belongs to the intellect essentially86. Once more we find Proclus refuting Aristotle on his own terms. It is in the contemplation of the eternal models of the world that the productive activity of the intellect will consist. Only in this way is Proclus able to maintain the immobility of the intellect.

The intellect operates by its very being (In Parm. III 791.7-16)

  • 87 Plot., Enn. VI 7 [38] 3.6-7 (transl. Armstrong).
  • 88 See Plot., Enn. VI 7 [38] 1.21-57 ; for the interpretation of this passage, see Plotin. Traité 38 ( (...)
  • 89 Plot., Enn. V 9 [5] 7.11-12 : ἕστηκεν [sc. ὁ νοῦς] ἐν αὐτῷ ὁμοῦ πάντα ὤν, οὐ νοήσας, ἱν ̓ ὑποστήσῃ (...)

31Having established that the intellect or demiurge is an efficient cause of the universe, Proclus further enquires into the way in which this cause engenders the world. In particular, what requires further explanation is the exact relation between the intellect’s contemplation and its creation of the universe. The question has important consequences for the way in which divine providence is to be understood. One could be inclined to think that the intellect contemplates the causes of the universe in order to create, just like a human craftsman first conceives of the thing he wants to produce before he actually sets himself at work. Along this line of thought, the coming to be of the universe would be the conclusion to some kind of reasoning adopted by the demiurge. In the first of his two treatises on divine providence (Enn. III 2 [47] § 1-2), Plotinus had criticized such a view. Since the intelligible world is in itself complete and perfect, Plotinus maintained, it is exempt from any deliberate desire to create whatsoever (1.40-45). Hence the world cannot be the outcome of a calculation or a deliberative intervention from the part of god. Rather, the production of the sense-world stems from a necessity that dictates that the intelligible world, since it is in plenty of perfection, must engender an inferior world (2.8-12). That is to say that the sensible world, which is an image of its intelligible model, results not from a reasoning of the creator, but from the being itself of the intellect. In Ennead VI 7 [38] § 1-3, Plotinus has applied this explanation to the creation myth of the Timaeus. Again, Plotinus strongly opposes a literal interpretation of the dialogue, according to which the demiurge would operate like a human architect who starts to build only after drawing up a plan. The creation of the universe by the demiurge is not a process that takes place in time, since the world exists from all eternity. Thus, if Plato makes use of certain terms that seem to involve the demiurge in some kind of deliberative operation (λογισμός, cf. Tim. 34a8), this must not be taken ad litteram, since « it is not possible to reason in what is always ; for to do so would belong to someone who had forgotten how it was before »87. Since god is steadfast and eternal, we must suppose that he creates the world simply by being according to his own essence and that in one single instant he comprehends the causes of all beings88. Thus, god does not contemplate the causes of the universe in order to create, but the production of the sense-world rather depends upon the essential activity of the demiurgic intellect89. This doctrine forms the background of Proclus’ discussion on the relation between the demiurge’s contemplation of the causes and his creation of the universe, which we find in the following passage.

  • 90 In Parm. III 791.7-16. For an allusion to the same problem in the ‘summary’, see In Parm. III 799.1 (...)

[I]f his knowledge of the causes of all things is not to be irrelevant, he necessarily determines the order of all things in accordance with these causes ; thus he is the unmoving cause of all things, as determining their order by his very being (αὐτῷ τῷ εἶναι). Is it because he is going to create all things that he thinks them, or does he create them all because he thinks them ? But if he thinks all things because he is going to create them, his inner activity (ἐνέργειαν) – that which is directed towards himself (τὴν πρὸς αὑτὸν στροφὴν) – will be inferior to that which goes outside himself ; it will be for the sake of something other than himself that he knows beings, that is, he will know them for the sake of something inferior to him. And if this is absurd, he is the maker of all things by his knowledge of himself90.

  • 91 For the origin of this doctrine in Plotinus, see Ch. Rutten, « La doctrine des deux actes dans la p (...)
  • 92 In Parm. III 791.9. For this type of causation, see J. Trouillard, « Agir par son être même. La cau (...)
  • 93 See In Parm. III 787.2-11.
  • 94 Cf. In Tim. I 336.1-5 : οὐ ... ταὐτὸν τὸ τῷ εἶναι ποιεῖν καὶ τὸ γινώσκειν καὶ ἐνεργεῖν διὰ γνώσεως. (...)

32Does the intellect contemplate the causes of the natural world in order to create, or does it create because it contemplates the causes of nature ? Let us first consider the consequences of both alternatives. If the intellect knows its effects only in order to create, the intellect’s most essential activity would be subordinate to the creation of lower reality. To put this in typically Neoplatonic terminology, the intellect’s inner activity and reflection would depend upon the proceeding activity (the production of lower realities), which is absurd. Proclus’ objection refers to the theory of double activity, according to which each ontological entity displays two types of activity, one of which consists in simply being in accordance with its essence, while the other activity, which without reciprocity results from the first, is a creative force directed towards the inferior91. The coming to be of reality would result from a deliberate choice, and this would conflict not only with the immobility of intellect, but also with its perfect transcendence over the natural world. This is precisely the reason why Aristotle argued that the intellect, which is the highest principle of reality, can only have itself as the object of its thinking. However, in a Neoplatonic framework, the intellect is not the capstone or ultimate principle of the world. Furthermore, in order to preserve the transcendence of intellect, the Neoplatonists developed a type of causality that does not make the cause dependent upon its effect in the way described. This type of causation is called causation ‘by one’s very being’ (αὐτῷ τῷ εἶναι)92. It implies that an ontological entity is productive merely by virtue of its being in accordance with its own essence. In his first argument for the existence of the Forms, Proclus mentions various examples of this type of causation93. Fire, for instance, heats whatever comes close to it, and this activity must result from the essential nature of the agent (i.e. being warm), because fire is in no way involved in mental processes such as choosing and reasoning and hence cannot act by deliberate choice. Also, the soul, although it does act deliberatively in cases where a cognitive operation is involved, such as artistic production94, is also causally productive through its very being, in that it generates life by its mere presence in the body which it animates. These two examples illustrate that causation by one’s very being is a process of transmission from the essential characteristics of the cause to the derivative presence of the same characteristic in the effect. This feature will be discussed in more detail later on.

  • 95 In Parm. III 786.14-20 and In Tim. I 268.6-15. It is worthwhile to note that in the Commentary on t (...)

33At any rate, causation by one’s very being is precisely the type of causation that Proclus associates with intellect. Both earlier in his Commentary on the Parmenides and in his Commentary on the Timaeus, where the doctrine takes the form of a response to Aristotle, Proclus raised the question as to whether the intelligent cause of the cosmos engenders its product by its very being or rather by deliberate choice (προαίρεσις) – clearly arguing for the former alternative95. The reason is, as we learn from the Parmenides Commentary, that causes operating through deliberate choice are mobile. The very possibility of there being a moment of reasoning or choice implies that it is not determined beforehand which of several alternatives will be actualised. Yet, the reasoning or choice itself results in the preference of one alternative over another. This means that, according to its activity (i.e. qua cause), the cause is subject to change and can therefore properly be called ‘mobile’. Now, since the intellect is, for both Proclus and Aristotle, an immobile cause, it must remain free from any deliberative operation, and therefore be productive by virtue of its own being.

  • 96 El. theol. § 174, p. 152.8-9 : πᾶς νοῦς τῷ νοεῖν ὑφίστησι τὰ μετ ̓ αὐτόν, καὶ ἡ ποίησις ἐν τῷ νοεῖν (...)

34The essential nature of the intellect consists in the act of thinking. Therefore, the being of the universe must depend upon the intellect’s self-contemplation, not as an intended goal, but rather as its necessary by-product. This is the law of creation articulated in proposition 174 of the Elements of Theology : « Every intellect gives rise to its consequents by the act of thinking : its creative activity is thinking, and its thought is creation »96. It is by exercising its most proper activity – thinking – that the intellect constitutes the world, or in other words, the outer activity of the intellect depends upon its inner activity, not vice versa. Thus for Proclus, the doctrine of causation by one’s very being provides the means to reconcile the immobile transcendence of the intellect with its role in the constitution of the universe. Since the intellect is a cause operating by its very being, the existence of the universe results from the intellect’s most intrinsic nature, i.e. its being an intellect thinking itself in all of its essential aspects. It is by contemplating its own essence that the intellect knows everything in a causal way, since it will find within itself the transcendent, intelligible models of the natural world, the so-called Forms.

The intellect engenders effects similar to itself (In Parm. III 791.16-20)

35If the intellect is, through its self-contemplation, the efficient cause of reality operating by its very being, the question is : what kind of thoughts present in the intellect necessarily imply the existence of an outer world ? Or inversely, how is the natural world causally represented in the intellect’s thinking ? The key to solving this problem is to be sought in the fact that the intellect operates by its very being.

  • 97 In Parm. III 791.16-20. In the ‘summary’, the same point is made in the following terms : λόγοις ἄρ (...)

[I]f this is true, he [sc. the demiurgic intellect] will make external things to resemble what he has in himself (τοῖς ἐν αὑτῷ τὰ ἔξω παραπλήσια ποιήσει). Such is the natural order of things : the activity that goes forth is dependent upon its inner source, the whole cosmos upon the all-complete monad of the Forms, and the parts of the universe here upon the separate monads97.

  • 98 The allusion is to Plat., Tim. 29e3 : πάντα ὅτι μάλιστα ἐβουλήθη γενέσθαι παραπλήσια ἑαυτῷ. Cf. als (...)
  • 99 El. theol. § 18, p. 20.3-4 : πᾶν τὸ τῷ εἶναι χορηγοῦν ἄλλοις αὐτὸ πρώτως ἐστὶ τοῦτο, οὗ μεταδίδωσι (...)
  • 100 See In Parm. III 787.17-788.8. Proclus’ master Syrianus uses a similar cosmological argument to pro (...)
  • 101 In Parm. III 788.2. For the expression, see also In Parm. III 800.10 ; In Tim. I 440.15 ; In Eucl. (...)
  • 102 See In Parm. III 785.4-786.12.

36Proclus’ suggestion is that the intellect makes all beings like the things that are present in itself, i.e. like the objects of its own thought. Once more Proclus alludes to the Timaeus passage quoted above98, where it is said that the demiurge renders everything as much like himself as possible. Since the demiurgic intellect is a cause operating by its very being, the constitution of the universe must be an instantiation of the rule expressed in § 18 of the Elements of Theology : « Everything which by its being bestows a character on others itself primarily possesses that character which it communicates to the recipients »99. Proclus’ first argument for the existence of the Forms draws on the consequences of this rule for the constitution of the cosmos100. The starting-point of this line of reasoning is that all causes that operate by their very being are primarily what their effects are in a derivative sense. To return to the example already mentioned, fire can only give warmth to the objects around it because it is itself warm in a more preeminent way. Since the cause of the cosmos operates by its very being, it must be primarily what the cosmos is in a derivative sense. Now, the cosmos is a plenum of all kinds of species (πλήρωμα εἰδῶν)101. Moreover, it is so in a derivative sense, because the cosmos is (as is elaborately demonstrated at the beginning of the first argument102) not self-subsistent. The obvious conclusion to be drawn here is that the cause of the cosmos is primarily a plenum of all kinds of species. These species, which pre-exist in the cause of the cosmos are, Proclus explains, the demiurgic causes of all natural beings (i.e. the Forms). Thus, the « plenum of species » present in the cause turns out to be the totality of Platonic Forms, as they are conceived of by Proclus ; that is, in their cosmological or biological sense. The eternally recurrent natural beings we find throughout the cosmos are processions from the Forms, which essentially belong to the intellect, on lower levels of reality.

  • 103 In Parm. III 791.17-18 : τῆς μὲν ἔνδον ἐνεργείας ἠρτῆσθαι τὴν ἔξω προιοῦσαν. Cf. Theol. plat. V 18, (...)
  • 104 In Parm. III 791.18-19 : [ἠρτῆσθαι…] τῆς ... παντελοῦς τῶν ἰδεῶν μονάδος τὸν ὅλον κόσμον. Expressio (...)
  • 105 In Parm. III 971.19-20 : [ἠρτῆσθαι...] τῶν ... διακεκριμένων μονάδων τὰ ἐνταῦθα μέρη τοῦ παντός. Th (...)

37In the argument from design, Proclus presents the same doctrine, but in a terminology borrowed from the theory of double activity. Since products come about through similarity to their cause, the proceeding (or « outer ») activity is a reflection of that which is present within the cause (the « inner » activity)103. This important Neoplatonic theory not only means that the world is an image of the monad containing all of the Forms (i.e. the demiurge104), but also that the parts of the universe (i.e. the natural species) resemble their distinctive monads or Forms105. As a consequence, the objects of the causative knowledge implied by the self-knowledge of the intellect are the intellective paradigms of natural beings. They are what we call the Forms of natural species.

  • 106 For a clear formulation of this doctrine, see e.g. Alc., Didasc. 9, p. 163.30 and 10, p. 164.29-30. (...)
  • 107 This confusion may arise from passages such as Tim. 29a2-b1, where it is said that the demiurge loo (...)
  • 108 Cf. M. Baltes, « Zur Philosophie des Platonikers Attikos », in : διανοήματα. Kleine Schriften zu Pl (...)

38It is fairly known that the conception of the Forms as the thoughts of a divine mind is most likely a Middle Platonic doctrine106. We have had occasion to see earlier on that at least one of the motivations behind this doctrine was the identification of the Platonic demiurge with the intellect from Aristotle’s Metaphysics. If the demiurge is an intellect contemplating the Forms, one may wonder what precise ontological relation there is between this divine craftsman and the intelligible paradigm which, according to the Timaeus, he looks at while shaping the sublunary world. The origin of this problem leads us back to the Timaeus, where the precise relation between the demiurge and the intelligible Living Being is not entirely clear107. The problem must have been heavily debated among the Platonists of later Antiquity. From a doxographical passage in Proclus’ Commentary on the Timaeus (I 322.20-24) we learn that Porphyry made the paradigm ontologically prior to the demiurge, whereas Longinus had it the other way around. Finally, Plotinus put the paradigm within the demiurge, thus adopting the view which had been dominant among the Middle Platonists108.

  • 109 The intelligible Living Being, which is the paradigm at which the demiurge looks, comprehends the t (...)
  • 110 Cf. Tim. 28a6-b1 ; 29a2-3 ; 39e7-9 ; cf. also e.g. In Tim. I 311.5-10 ; 324.16-18 ; and Theol. Plat(...)
  • 111 Cf. In Tim. I 323.20-324.14 ; In Parm. IV 899.19-20 ; 901.2-4. For the conception of Forms as thoug (...)
  • 112 See In Tim. I 323.20-22 : ὥστε καὶ πρὸ τοῦ δημιουργοῦ τὸ παράδειγμά ἐστι καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ, νοητῶς μὲν πρ (...)
  • 113 Although the soul is the first to make a temporal division between the Forms (In Parm. III 807.20-8 (...)
  • 114 See e.g. In Parm. II 764.2-3 ; III 807.20-808.1 ; IV 930.8-24.
  • 115 For the contention that the demiurge is the paradigmatic cause of the world, see e.g. Theol. plat. (...)
  • 116 The demiurge is an unparticipated intellect (νοῦς ἀμέθεκτος), whereas the lower forms are participa (...)
  • 117 For this procession of Forms on different levels of reality, see e.g. In Parm. III 795.21-796.9 ; I (...)

39Proclus, for his part, defends a variant of the line of thought attributed to Porphyry. If the demiurge is primarily an intellect, the intelligible Living Being must provide the model that the demiurge contemplates. This entails that, properly speaking, the Forms are the superior objects of the demiurge’s thought. As such, the monad that comprehends all Forms in a unity is the so-called Living Being (αὐτοζῷον), situated in the intelligible realm109, to which the demiurge looks in creating the world110. Yet, in contemplating the paradigm, the demiurge also internalises it in a certain way111. Whereas the Forms are contained in an intelligible way in the Living Being, they exist under the intellective mode in the demiurgic intellect112. Now, since the intellect is a principle of division113, the demiurge is the first to bring about formal distinctions between the different Forms, which were still unified in the intelligible paradigm. In that sense, the demiurgic intellect is the first to contain the entire realm of the Forms114. As such, it not only adopts the role of paradigmatic cause with regard to the sensible world (a role the Living Being exercised in relation to the demiurge), but can also be considered the truly efficient cause of the universe115. Proclus’ arguments for the existence of the Forms in the Commentary on the Parmenides chiefly focus on these demiurgic Forms at the intellective level. Yet, one may wonder just how these Forms proceed to the lower levels of reality in such a way as to finally inform sensible matter, since the Forms themselves remain immobile. As truly efficient causes, they operate by their very being ; as genuine paradigms, they remain themselves unparticipated. What is transmitted to the lower realms of being are not the Forms themselves, but their images or copies, which are participated in at the different stages of reality116. Copies of the Forms are present at all levels of being, but differently in each of them : in an intellective way in intellect, in a psychic way in soul, in a natural way in nature, and in a sensible way in bodies117. That is the reason why the marvellous order we discover in the universe can be the starting point for a proof of the existence of a divine demiurge contemplating the eternal paradigms of the natural world.

Conclusions

40The analysis carried out in this article leaves little doubt concerning Proclus’ fictitious addressee in his discussion of the existence of Forms ; the argument here is a quite straightforward refutation of Aristotle. What is at stake in Proclus’ argument from design is the role of intellect as an efficient cause of being and the way in which its providential governance can best be explained. This leads Proclus to reconcile two traditions that were already brought together by some of his Middle Platonic predecessors : on the one hand, the creation of the world as it is brought about by the demiurge of Plato’s Timaeus, and on the other hand, Aristotle’s view of the intellect as an immobile, final cause of motion. Proclus’ argument from design serves as a means to establish such reconciliation, insofar as it proves the existence both of a providential god and of the transcendent paradigms of the natural world, as the thoughts in the mind of the divine creator. This argument also sheds light on the particular role the Forms play among the later Platonists. In Plato’s dialogues, most of the Forms Socrates refers to are relative terms in the domain of ethics, aesthetics and mathematics. In the early and middle dialogues, the Forms are absolute standards by which one measures the ambiguous compresence of opposites in sensible objects. Only in later dialogues, such as the Timaeus, do the Forms of natural substances gain importance. That the Forms subsequently acquired an important biological dimension testifies to the overwhelming influence of this dialogue in later Antiquity. Natural species and celestial bodies are the more or less explicit object of all Proclus’ (meta)physical arguments for the existence of the Forms, and this is certainly the case for Proclus’ argument from design as well. The transition of the argument from a typically Stoic context to a distinctively Neoplatonic form must have contributed a great deal to the success of teleological proofs for the existence of God in a Christian milieu. Of course, the neoplatonic demiurge is an impersonal metaphysical agent that operates not by deliberative choice, but by its very being. Moreover, it is by no means the ultimate principle of all reality. Yet, the Neoplatonic demiurgy provided the basis for the Christian appropriation of Platonic cosmology and philosophy of nature, according to which the creation by the Christian God can be understood as the actual realisation of the paradigms that God contemplates in all eternity into the world as we know it. On the basis of this model it is possible to conclude the existence of a truly creating God from the order and harmony of nature.

I would like to thank Alexandra Michalewski and an anonymous reader for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper and Ralph Palm for his revision of my English text

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Notes

1 See e.g. Cic., De nat. deor. II 87 and 97. For an analysis and critical assessment of this and other Stoic arguments from design, see e.g. L.P. Gerson, God and Greek Philosophy. Studies in the Early History of Natural Theology, Routledge, London / New York, 1990, p. 154-167. For a general survey of Stoic theology, see K. Algra, « Stoic Theology », in The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics, ed. by B. Inwood, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, p. 153-178.

2 See Socr. apud Xen., Mem. I, 4, 2-7. D. Sedley, « Les origines des preuves stoïciennes de l’existence de dieu», Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 2005, p. 461-487 (esp. p. 462-465), makes the case that it is not Diogenes of Appolonia, but rather Socrates, who is the founding father of Stoic teleological thinking. The passage from Xenophon is referred to in e.g. Cic., De nat. deor. II 18. A revised version of this article is now available in English in D. Sedley, Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity, « Sather Classical Lectures 66 », University of California Press, Berkeley, 2007, p. 210-230.

3 Plat., Tim. 29d7-30a6 (transl. D.J. Zeyl).

4 As is well known, in the Physics, Aristotle demonstrates the existence of the Prime Mover as the primary cause of motion through the impossibility of an infinite regress to ever higher causes. For this argument, see e.g. Ar., Phys. VII 1, 242a49-55 and VIII 5, 256a4-21.

5 Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072b3.

6 Ar., Met. XII 10, 1075a11-23 (transl. W.D. Ross).

7 Cf. L.P. Gerson, God and Greek Philosophy, op. cit., p. 135-136.

8 Alc., Didasc. 9, p. 163.40-164.2 (transl. J.M. Dillon).

9 Ar., Met. VII 7, 1032a12-14.

10 For the expression, see Dillon, Alcinous, p. 100. For the three Platonist causal principles (material, paradigmatic and efficient cause) in Alcinous, see also Didasc. 9, p. 163.11 ff. and Dillon, Alcinous, p. 93-94.

11 Proclus’ discussion runs through books III and IV of his Commentary on the Parmenides. The Neoplatonic commentator divided his discussion into four problems : 1) the existence of the Forms, 2) the range of the Forms, 3) the doctrine of participation, and 4) the true nature of the Forms (for this division, see e.g. In Parm. III 784.12-20). Only the first of these problems is not explicitly tackled in the Parmenides. For the history of this set of problems, see my « Four Problems Concerning the Theory of Ideas : Proclus, Syrianus and the Ancient Commentaries on the Parmenides », in Platonic Ideas and Concept Formation in Ancient and Medieval Thought, ed. by G. Van Riel and C. Macé, with the assistance of L. Van Campe, « Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Series I 32 », Leuven University Press, Leuven, 2004, p. 9-29. All references to Proclus’ In Parmenidem are to the new edition by C. Steel et alii in the Oxford Classical Texts for books I-V (Oxford, 2007-2008) and to Cousin’s second edition (Paris, 1864) for the other books. The Oxford edition adopts the page numbers of Cousin, but the line numbers differ slightly. All translations from Proclus’ commentary are taken from Proclus. Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides, translation by G.R. Morrow and J.M. Dillon, University Press, Princeton, 1987, slightly modified whenever deemed appropriate.

12 Cf. C. Steel, « Proclus et les arguments pour et contre l’hypothèse des idées », Revue de philosophie ancienne 2, 1984, p. 3-27 (esp. p. 6).

13 See In Parm. III 798.19-799.16.

14 In Parm. III 790.5-8.

15 See In Parm. III 790.14-21.

16 The eternal beings (ἀεὶ τὰ ὄντα) of which Proclus speaks in l. 790.6-7 are natural species, as in the above quotation from Aristotle (p. 65), where πάντα refers to water animals, birds and plants (πλωτὰ καὶ πτηνὰ καὶ φυτά).

17 See In Parm. III 824.3-8.

18 The fact that, contrary to particular natural beings, the natural species are everlasting, is also claimed in e.g. In Parm. VI 1047.33-1048.1 and presupposed in III 795.15-18. In l. 795.13, Morrow-Dillon translate τὸ εἶδος αὐτὸ as « the Idea itself», but this is certainly an incorrect translation, since it is said that the entity under scrutiny itself depends upon an immobile cause, i.e. a Form. Thus, τὸ εἶδος must stand here for the ‘species’, which is indeed eternal and as such must stem from an immobile cause. For the expression τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἁπλῶς, cf. 792.5 ; and for the argument in 795.15-18, cf. 824.6-8.

19 Cf. El. theol. § 76, p. 72.5-6 : πᾶν μὲν τὸ ἀπὸ ἀκινήτου γινόμενον αἰτίας ἀμετάβλητον ἔχει τὴν ὕπαρξιν· πᾶν δὲ τὸ ἀπὸ κινουμένης, μεταβλητήν. In his commentary ad locum, Dodds refers to In Tim. I 294.12-14, where Proclus credits Aristotle with the authorship of this doctrine : see Proclus. The Elements of Theology, a revised text with translation, introduction and commentary by E.R. Dodds, Oxford : Clarendon, 2000 ( = 1963), p. 241. The reference is probably, as Dodds remarks in his appendix (p. 343), to Phys. VIII 6, 259b32-260a19 (cf. Met. XII 6, 1072a9-12), of which the conclusion sounds thus : τὰ μὲν ὑπὸ ἀκινήτου κινεῖται ἀϊδίου, διὸ ἀεὶ κινεῖται, τὰ δ ̓ὑπὸ κινουμένου καὶ μεταβάλλοντος, ὥστε καὶ αὐτὰ ἀναγκαῖον μεταβάλλειν (Phys. VIII 6, 260a15-17). The principle is also applied in Proclus’ fifth argument for the existence of the Forms : see In Parm. III 795.7-11.

20 See e.g. in the first proof, In Parm. III 788.1-8 ; in the third, 790.6-8 ; in the fourth, 791.21-792.7 ; and in the fifth, 795.13-18.

21 See In Parm. III 791.21-795.6.

22 See In Parm. III 824.9-24.

23 See e.g. Ar., De gen. corr. II 6, 333b4-7 : τὰ γὰρ γινόμενα φύσει πάντα γίνεται ἢ ἀεὶ ἢ ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ, τὰ δὲ παρὰ τὸ ἀεὶ καὶ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου καὶ ἀπὸ τύχης ; and Phys. II 5, 196b10-15.

24 In Parm. III 791.21-26.

25 In Parm. III 798.20-27.

26 Cf. El. theol. § 7, p. 8.1-2 : πᾶν τὸ παρακτικὸν ἄλλου κρεῖττόν ἐστι τῆς τοῦ παραγομένου φύσεως. This principle is central to Neoplatonic thought, as the parallels mentioned in Dodds’ commentary ad locum (p. 193-194) show.

27 Cf. Ar., Met. XI 8, 1065b2-4 : ἐπεὶ δ ̓ οὐθὲν κατὰ συμβεβηκὸς πρότερον τῶν καθ ̓ αὑτό, οὐδ ̓ ἄρ ̓ αἴτια· εἰ ἄρα τύχη ἢ τὸ αὐτόματον αἴτιον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, πρότερον νοῦς αἴτιος καὶ φύσις. Cf. Phys. II 4, 196a31-33 en Simpl., In Phys. II 4, p. 331.15-17.

28 In Parm. III 791.23-26.

29 See In Alc. 162.19-20, where one finds the same quote, and Segonds’ note ad locum (II p. 383, n.2), where eight other occurences are referred to. Cf. also P. Moraux, « Notes sur la tradition indirecte du De Caelo d’Aristote », Hermes 82, 1954, p. 145-182. For similar formulae in Aristotle, cf. De cael. II 11, 291b13, De gen. an. II 5, 741b4-5 ; De part. an. IV 13, 695b19 ; De inc. an. 12, 711a18 ; De resp. 10, 476a12-13 (cited in e.g. Procl., Inst. Phys. II 17.17).

30 See e.g., apart from the passages quoted by Segonds (cf. previous note), Simpl., In De an. 11 318.32-33 ; Elias, In Porphyri Isag. 65.19 ; Michael, In De part. an. 51.15-16 ; Michael, In De inc. an. 137.16 ff. ; etc.

31 Cf. In Parm. III 790.8-9 : εἰ δὲ ἔστιν αἴτιον ἕν τι πάντα συντάττον...

32 In Parm. III 798.27-799.3.

33 See e.g. § 1 of the El. theol. : πᾶν πλῆθος μετέχει πῃ τοῦ ἑνός (p. 2, l.1). See also §§ 5 and 11.

34 Various points of the discussion here have already been addressed in Proclus’ first proof for the existence of the Forms : see In Parm. III 786.13 ff.

35 See In Parm. III 799.3-7.

36 In Parm. III 790.8-12.

37 See In Parm. III 791.21-795.6.

38 For the fourth argument for the existence of the Forms, see In Parm. III 791.21-795.6. The entire fourth argument is presented as a rhetorical dialogue with a Peripatetic philosopher. Hence, the many allusions to and quotations from Aristotle, the large number of direct (rhetorical) questions (see e.g. 791.22-23 and 26-27 ; 792.9-10, 19-24 and 26-27 ; 793.6-11), and the various anticipations to fictitious answers advanced by an anonymous Aristotelian philosopher addressed in the second person (see e.g. 791.23 : φαίης ; 792.2 and 12 : ἐρεῖς ; 793.17-18 : ... καὶ ἀναγκάσομεν ὁμολογεῖν τὸν ἀποκρινόμενον, ὡς ...).

39 Cf. In Parm. III 791.21-22 : ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἀνθρώπου γίγνεται. See Ar., Phys. II 1, 193b8, 12 ; II 2, 194b13 ; II 7, 198a27 ; De part. an. II 1, 646a33 ; Met. VII 7, 1032a25 ; VII 7, 1033b32 ; VII 8, 1034b2 ; IX 8, 1049b25-26 ; XII 3, 1070a8 and 27‑8 ; XIV 5, 1092a16 ; Pol. I 6, 1255b1. For similar quotations by Proclus, see also In Parm. IV 884.1 and 25 ; 956.19 and De mal. subs. 60.11. That the formula must have sounded to a Neoplatonist’s ear almost like a cliché of Peripatetic philosophy is suggested by its widespread use : see, apart from the commentators on Aristotle’s Physics, e.g. Plot. Enn. II 3 [52] 12.5 ; Syr., In Met. 10.27 and 39.23 ; Dam., In Phd. I 229.6-7 ; Philop., De aet. mund. 370.28 and 449.17-18 ; Opif. 160.14.

40 In Parm. III 791.27-792.3. Cf. e.g. Ar., De gen. an. I 17, 721b6 : δοκεῖ δὲ πάντα γίνεσθαι ἐκ σπέρματος. In the context of On Generation of Animals, this sentence expresses an endoxon which is taken as the starting-point of Aristotle’s argument.

41 Cf. Ar., Met. VIII 4, 1044a32-37 : ὅταν δή τις ζητῇ τὸ αἴτιον, ἐπεὶ πλεοναχῶς τὰ αἴτια λέγεται, πάσας δεῖ λέγειν τὰς ἐνδεχομένας αἰτίας. οἷον ἀνθρώπου τίς αἰτία ὡς ὕλη- ἆρα τὰ καταμήνια- τί δ ̓ ὡς κινοῦν- ἆρα τὸ σπέρμα- τί δ ̓ ὡς τὸ εἶδος- τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι. τί δ ̓ ὡς οὗ ἕνεκα- τὸ τέλος. For the distinction between natural beings coming about by chance and those originating from seed, see e.g. Met. VII 9, 1034a33-1034b7.

42 Cf. Ascl., In Met. 89.1-9, who agrees with Aristotle that the Forms are not necessary to explain individual natural generation, yet objects that without them one cannot account for the fact that the natural species exist universally.

43 In Parm. III 792.5-6. Cf. e.g. De gen. an. II 1, 731b31-732a1 : ἐπεὶ γὰρ ἀδύνατος ἡ φύσις τοῦ τοιούτου γένους [sc. ζῴων] ἀΐδιος εἶναι, καθ ̓ ὃν ἐνδέχεται τρόπον, κατὰ τοῦτόν ἐστιν ἀΐδιον τὸ γιγνόμενον. ἀ̓ριθμῷ μὲν οὖν ἀδύνατον – ἡ γὰρ οὐσία τῶν ὄντων ἐν τῷ καθ ̓ ἕκαστον· τοιοῦτον δ ̓ εἴπερ ἦν ἀΐδιον ἂν ἦν – εἴδει δ ̓ ἐνδέχεται. διὸ γένος ἀεὶ ἀνθρώπων καὶ ζῴων καὶ φυτῶν (cf. also De an. II 4, 415b3-7).

44 In Parm. III 792.6-7. Cf. Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072b35-1073a3 : τὸ γὰρ σπέρμα ἐξ ἑτέρων ἐστὶ προτέρων τελείων, καὶ τὸ πρῶτον οὐ σπέρμα ἐστὶν ἀλλὰ τὸ τέλειον· οἷον πρότερον ἄνθρωπον ἂν φαίη τις εἶναι τοῦ σπέρματος, οὐ τὸν ἐκ τούτου γενόμενον ἀλλ ̓ ἕτερον ἐξ οὗ τὸ σπέρμα. Proclus avoids the story of what came first : the chicken or the egg, by pointing out that they both are only instruments of higher causes.

45 In Parm. III 792.7-9. Cf. also In Parm. II 754.12-13. Again, this is a claim with at least an Aristotelian ring to it : see e.g. Met. VII 9, 1034b1 : ἔχει γὰρ [τὸ σπέρμα] δυνάμει τὸ εἶδος and De part. an. I 1, 641b36-642a1 : ἔτι δὲ δυνάμει τὸ σπέρμα· δύναμις δ ̓ ὡς ἔχει πρὸς ἐντελέχειαν, ἴσμεν. But the most striking parallel once more comes from De gen. an. I 19, 726b15-18 : τὸ σπέρμα ἐστι τὸ τῆς χειρὸς ἢ τὸ τοῦ προσώπου ἢ ὅλου τοῦ ζῴου ἀδιωρίστως χεὶρ ἢ πρόσωπον ἢ ὅλον ζῷον· καὶ οἷον ἐκείνων ἕκαστον ἐνεργείᾳ τοιοῦτον τὸ σπέρμα δυνάμει.

46 In Parm. III 792.9-11. For this principle, which stems from Aristotle’s Met. IX 8, 1049b4-1051a3, cf. El. theol. § 77. As Dodds remarks in his commentary ad locum (Elements of Theology, p. 241), not only did the Neoplatonists employ this principle against the Stagirite – as is the case both here and in In Parm. V 979.2-3 – but also against the Stoics (see e.g. Plot., Enn. VI 1 [42] 26.1-11).

47 In his In Tim. I 12.26-28, Proclus defines the Platonic notion of φύσις in the following terms : […] εἴρεται τίς ἡ κατὰ Πλάτωνα φύσις, ὅτι οὐσία ἀσώματος, ἀχώριστος σωμάτων, λόγους ἔχουσα αὐτῶν, εἰς ἑαυτὴν ὁρᾶν οὐ δυναμένη.

48 In Parm. III 792.14-15. Cf. e.g. Ar., Phys. II 1, 192b14 ; Met. V 4, 1015a15 e.a. In Met. V 4, 1014b16-19 Aristotle defines nature thus : φύσις λέγεται ... ὅθεν ἡ κίνησις ἡ πρώτη ἐν ἑκάστῳ τῶν φύσει ὄντων.

49 In Tim. I 2.15-29 : οἱ δὲ μετὰ Πλάτωνα προστάντες τῆς αἱρέσεως [sc. the Aristotelians], οὐ πάντες, ἀλλ ̓ ὅσοι γε αὐτῶν ἀκριβέστεροι, καὶ τὸ εἶδος μετὰ τῆς ὕλης θεωρεῖν ἠξίωσαν τὸν φυσικόν, εἰς ὕλην καὶ εἶδος ἀνάγοντες τὰς τῶν σωμάτων ἀρχάς· καὶ γὰρ εἴ που καὶ τῆς ποιητικῆς αἰτίας διαμνημονεύουσιν, ὥσπερ ὅταν τὴν φύσιν ἀρχὴν κινήσεως λέγωσιν, ἀλλ ̓ ἀφαιροῦσιν αὐτῆς τὸ δραστήριον καὶ τὸ κυρίως ποιητικόν, λόγους ἐν αὐτῇ μὴ συγχωροῦντες εἶναι τῶν παρ ̓ αὐτῆς ποιουμένων, ἀλλὰ πολλὰ καὶ αὐτομάτως γίγνεσθαι διδόντες, πρὸς τῷ μηδὲ πάντων ἁπλῶς τῶν φυσικῶν ποιητικὴν αἰτίαν ὁμολογεῖν προυφεστάναι, μόνων δὲ τῶν ἐν γενέσει φερομένων· ἐπεὶ τῶν γε ἀϊδίων οὐδὲν ποιητικὸν εἶναί φασι διαρρήδην· ὅπου καὶ λανθάνουσιν ἢ τὸν ὅλον οὐρανὸν ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου συνιστάντες, ἢ τὸ σωματικὸν αὐτὸ ἑαυτοῦ παρακτικὸν ἀποφαινόμενοι. In the Platonic tradition, it is of course the soul that is regarded as the principle of motion : See Plat., Phdr. 245c9 and Leg. X 895a2 ff. Therefore, Proclus often speaks of the ἀρχὴ κινήσεως with this denotation : see e.g. Theol. plat. V 31, p. 115.19 ; In Parm. V 998.23 ; In Crat. CII p. 53.2 ; In Tim. III 250.12 ff. ; e.a. – in all these passages either the Phaedrus text or the extract from the Laws is explicitly quoted.

50 In Parm. III 792.18-19.

51 In Parm. III 792.19-21. Though there are no separate Forms corresponding to the parts of animals, on the level of nature, parts of natural beings do have distinct reason-principles (λόγοι). The reason-principles are processions of Forms at the ontological level of nature, where further differentiations within the Forms of each natural species occur : see e.g. In Parm. III 825.26-826.18.

52 In Parm. III 792.23-24. For the doctrine that bones, flesh etc. are a kind of preformed materials out of which sensible bodies and their parts are made, cf. Tim. 73e1 ff., where Timaeus describes how bones and flesh are fashioned out of the four elements. Cf. also Ar., De caelo III 8, 306b22-26.

53 In Parm. III 792.24-793.3.

54 In Parm. III 793.6-11.

55 In Parm. III 793.4 : τὴν φύσιν ... τὴν τῆς γῆς. On the role of the earth in natural generation, see also e.g. In Tim. II 134.9-136.29.

56 See e.g. In Parm. III 793.11-13.

57 This is Proclus’ interpretation of the ‘tetras’ present in the Living Being, which comprehends the four kinds of living beings. See e.g. In Parm. III 812.7-22, where Proclus accepts, for each of the living beings, one kind attached to each of the elements. Proclus mentions the so-called ‘tetras’ in In Parm. III 823.21 and 802.24. For his understanding of this notion, see also In Tim. III 104.27-112.19 ; Theol. plat. III 19, p. 65.20-67.19 ; III 27, p. 96.24-97.9. The theory is based on Plat., Tim. 39e7-40a2.

58 In Parm. III 793.11-15.

59 In Parm. III 793.16 : τὴν φύσιν τοῦ παντός. The expression stems from Tim. 41e2 and 47a7. If this universal nature is to be identified with the ὅλη φύσις of Theol. plat. III 2, 8.14-20, it presides not only over the sublunary beings – as the nature of the moon does – but also over the celestial natures.

60 In Parm. III 793.19-21. This looks like a corollary of El. theol. § 56, p. 54.4-6 : πᾶν τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν δευτέρων παραγόμενον καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν προτέρων καὶ αἰτιωτέρων παράγεται μειζόνως, ἀφ ̓ ὧν καὶ τὰ δεύτερα παρήγεται.

61 E.g. In Parm. III 827.22-23 ; In Crat. LIII p. 23.10-14. For the Aristotelian origin of this notion, see the following notes.

62 See e.g. Ar., Phys. II 2, 194a21-22.

63 In Tim. I 268.15-22 : ἔτι τοίνυν πῶς τοὺς ἐνταῦθα δημιουργοὺς ποιοῦντας ὁρῶμεν ; οὐχὶ λόγους ἔχοντας τῶν ἀποτελεσμάτων ; τοῦτο μὲν οὖν καὶ ὁ δαιμόνιος ̓Αριστοτέλης συνεχώρησεν· εἰ δὲ ἡ τέχνη μιμεῖται τὴν φύσιν, δεῖ πολλῷ πρότερον καὶ τὴν φύσιν ἔχειν τῶν ὑπ ̓ αὐτῆς γιγνομένων λόγους· εἰ δὲ ἡ φύσις, πόθεν αὕτη κινεῖται ζητήσομεν καὶ πόθεν τελειοῦται· ἄλογος γάρ ἐστιν. καὶ οὕτως ἀνιόντες ἐν τῷ νῷ τὰς πάντων αἰτίας θήσομεν. Cf. already Syr., In Met. 120.12-22 (cf. 8.25-33 and 149.4-8). The analogy between nature and art is of course a traditional element in the Stoic arguments from design as well : see e.g. Cic., De nat. deor. II 87.

64 In Parm. III 794.2-6. For the same image, see In Parm. IV 841.9-10 : ἡ φύσις ἔνδοθεν μορφοῖ τὸ σῶμα καὶ οὐκ ἔξωθεν ὥσπερ ἡ τέχνη ; and IV 886.23-27 : ὡς γοῦν ἡ φύσις αὕτη τῶν διοικουμένων ἀχώριστος, οὕτω δὴ καὶ οἱ λόγοι τῆς φύσεως ἀχώριστοι τῶν εἰδοποιουμένων εἰσίν· οἷον εἰ νοιήσειας αὐτὴν τὴν τέχνην μετὰ τῶν οἰκείων ὀργάνων οἷς χρῆται δῦσαν κατὰ τῶν τεχνητῶν, καὶ ἃ νῦν ἔξωθεν ποιεῖ, ταῦτα ἔνδοθεν ἀπεργαζομένην. The image is inspired by Aristotle, who in the Physics writes that if a ship maker were to enter into the wood he shapes, he would operate in the same way nature does : see Ar., Phys. II 8, 199b28-29 : εἰ ἐνῆν ἐν τῷ ξύλῳ ἡ ναυπηγική, ὁμοίως ἂν τῇ φύσει ἐποίει. This is interpreted by Simplicius, in his commentary on the Phys. (385.22-27), in the following way : τὴν δὲ ὁμοιότητα τῆς φύσεως δηλοῖ πάλιν πρὸς τὴν τέχνην διὰ τοῦ καὶ εἰ ἐνῆν ἐν τῷ ξύλῳ ἡ ναυπηγική, ὁμοίως ἂν ἐποίει ναῦν ὡς εἰ καὶ ἡ φύσις ἐποίει ναῦν, ὡς κατ ̓ οὐδὲν ἄλλο διαφερόντων τῶν φύσει ἢ τέχνῃ γινομένων ἢ κατὰ τὸ τὰ μὲν φύσει ἔνδοθεν γίνεσθαι τὰ δὲ τέχνῃ ἔξωθεν. Cf. also Dam., De princ. I p. 41.17-20.

65 Cf. e.g. Met. XII 3, 1070a7-8 ; De Caelo III 2, 301b17-22. I have discussed the consequences of this distinction for Proclus’ views on the range of Forms in my article « The Status of the Arts. Proclus’ Theory of Artefacts », Elenchos 27, 2006, 305-344 (esp. 323-328).

66 In Parm. III 794.6-13. Cf. also supra, 792.18-19, and the oxymoron ἀλόγοις ... λόγοις in l. 794.18. This expression is, to my knowledge, previously only asserted in Plotinus (cf. Enn. III 6 [26] 1.33), in reference to the soul.

67 In Parm. III 794.12-13 : φύσις ἄλλων ἐστὶ καὶ οὐχ ἑαυτῆς. According to In Tim. I 10.31-11.9, nature can be called ἄλλου because of its inseparability from the sensible bodies which it inspires. Cf. also In Parm. III 796.6-7.

68 In Parm. III 794.14-15. Cf. El. theol. § 75, p. 70.28-29 : πᾶν τὸ κυρίως αἴτιον λεγόμενον ἐξῄρηται τοῦ ἀποτελέσματος. Cf. also El. Theol. § 80.

69 In Parm. III 790.14.

70 See fr. 15 Heinze ( = fr. 213 Isnardi Parente).

71 See fr. 3 and 4 des Places. For the claim that the understanding of god as a self-thinking intellect is incompatible with divine providence, see e.g. Fr. Ferrari, « Πρόνοια platonica e νόησις νοήσεως aristotelica : Plutarco e l’impossibilità di una sintesi », in : Plutarco, Platón y Aristóteles. Actas del V Congresso Internacional del la I.P.S. (Madrid-Cuenca, 4-7 de mayo de 1999), ed. by A. Pérez Jiménez, J. García López and R.M. Aguilar, Madrid, 1999, p. 63-77 (esp. 74-76).

72 Ar., Met. XII 9, 1074b15-1075a10.

73 In Parm. III 790.12-14.

74 See e.g. In Parm. IV 921.14-19 and 955.28-956.2. Cf. C. Steel, « La théorie des formes et la providence : Proclus critique d’Aristote et des stoïciens », in Aristotelica secunda. Mélanges offerts à Christian Rutten, éd. par A. Motte et J. Denooz, Liège : CIPL, 1996, p. 241-254, (esp. p. 245-247).

75 For similar arguments against the Aristotelian doctrine of intellect as a merely final cause, see e.g. Procl., In Parm. III 788.8-19 ; IV 922.2-16 ; Syr., In Met. 117.28-32. J.J. Cleary, « Proclus’ Elaborate Defense of Platonic Ideas », in Il Parmenide di Platone e la sua traditione. Atti del III Colloquio internazionale del Centro di Ricerca sul Neoplatonismo. Università degli Studi di Catania, 31 maggio – 2 giugno 2001, a cura di M. Barbanti e F. Romano (Symbolon. Studi e testi di filosofia antica e medievale 24), CUECM, Catania, 2002, p. 341-353, regards this one of the most important features of Proclus’ arguments for the existence of Forms : see esp. p. 351-352. See also C. Steel, « Proclus et Aristote sur la causalité efficiente de l’intellect divin », in Proclus, lecteur et interprète des anciens. Actes du colloque international du CNRS (2-4 octobre 1985), publiés par J. Pépin et H.D. Saffrey, Éditions du CNRS, Paris, 1987, p. 213-225.

76 In Parm. III 790.15-16.

77 Cf. Ar., Met. XII 10, 1075a16-19 : πάντα δὲ συντέτακταί πως, ἀλλ ̓ οὐχ ὁμοίως καὶ πλωτὰ καὶ πτηνὰ καὶ φυτά […]. πρὸς μὲν γὰρ ἓν ἅπαντα συντέτακται.

78 In Parm. III 790.16-791.5.

79 This rule is set out in El. theol. § 34, p. 36.20-22 : πᾶν τὸ κατὰ φύσιν ἐπιστρεφόμενον πρὸς ἐκεῖνο ποιεῖται τὴν ἐπιστροφήν, ἀφ ̓ οὗ καὶ τὴν πρόοδον ἔσχε τῆς οἰκείας ὑποστάσεως. Already in the corollary of this proposition, Proclus applies the rule to the intellect : ἐκ δὴ τούτων φανερὸν ὅτι καὶ ὀρεκτὸν πᾶσι νοῦς, καὶ πρόεισι πάντα ἀπὸ νοῦ (38.3-4).

80 For parallel passages, see In Parm. III 788.18-19 ; IV 842.15 ff. ; In Tim. I 267.5-12 (with Festugière’s notes ad locum) ; and Syr., In Met. 117.28-32.

81 See esp. Tim. 47e3-48a5. It is not irrelevant that Plato in these passages calls the intelligent cause that bestows the order upon the universe ( = the demiurge) a νοῦς : see Plat., Tim. 47e6, 48a1.

82 Cf. also In Parm. III 790.15, where Proclus calls the single, intelligent cause of the universe δημιουργός.

83 See e.g. Ar., Met. XII 7, 1072a26-27 : κινεῖ δὲ ὧδε τὸ ὀρεκτὸν καὶ τὸ νοητόν· κινεῖ οὐ κινούμενα.

84 Cf. also In Parm. IV 964.16-25.

85 In Parm. III 791.4-5. Cf. Ar., Cat. 7, 8b13-15 : ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν, ὃ ἂν εἰδῇ τις τῶν πρός τι ὡρισμένως, κἀκεῖνο πρὸς ὃ λέγεται ὡρισμένως εἰδέναι (and Cat. 7, 8a36-37). Proclus adds that, if this is true for knowledge in general (ἐπιστήμη, cf. εἰδέναι), then it holds a fortiori for the highest form of knowledge, i.e. intuitive knowledge or νόησις, which is the type of knowledge the divine intellect may be supposed to have. For parallel passages, see e.g. In Parm. III 799.9-12.

86 In Parm. III 790.24-791.1.

87 Plot., Enn. VI 7 [38] 3.6-7 (transl. Armstrong).

88 See Plot., Enn. VI 7 [38] 1.21-57 ; for the interpretation of this passage, see Plotin. Traité 38 (VI, 7), introduction, traduction, commentaire et notes par P. Hadot, Les éditions du Cerf, Paris, 1988, p. 195-207. On the doctrine that the Forms are not merely effects of the intellect’s thinking, but are rather indentical with it, see also e.g. Enn. VI 6 [34] 6.5-19.

89 Plot., Enn. V 9 [5] 7.11-12 : ἕστηκεν [sc. ὁ νοῦς] ἐν αὐτῷ ὁμοῦ πάντα ὤν, οὐ νοήσας, ἱν ̓ ὑποστήσῃ ἕκαστα.

90 In Parm. III 791.7-16. For an allusion to the same problem in the ‘summary’, see In Parm. III 799.12-14.

91 For the origin of this doctrine in Plotinus, see Ch. Rutten, « La doctrine des deux actes dans la philosophie de Plotin », Revue philosophique de France et de l’étranger 146, 1956, p. 100-106.

92 In Parm. III 791.9. For this type of causation, see J. Trouillard, « Agir par son être même. La causalité selon Proclus », Revue des sciences religieuses 32, 1958, p. 347-357.

93 See In Parm. III 787.2-11.

94 Cf. In Tim. I 336.1-5 : οὐ ... ταὐτὸν τὸ τῷ εἶναι ποιεῖν καὶ τὸ γινώσκειν καὶ ἐνεργεῖν διὰ γνώσεως. ἐπεὶ καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ ζῆν μὲν ποιεῖ τῷ εἶναι, τεχνικῶς δὲ ποιεῖ τῷ γινώσκειν, καὶ τὸ μὲν ἔχει κατ ̓ οὐσίαν, τὸ δὲ κατ ̓ ἐνέργειαν.

95 In Parm. III 786.14-20 and In Tim. I 268.6-15. It is worthwhile to note that in the Commentary on the Timaeus, it is stated that causation by one’s very being fits all genuine causes : see e.g. In Tim. I 393.3 : αἱ ἀληθεῖς δυνάμεις αὐτῷ τῷ εἶναι ἐνεργοῦσιν.

96 El. theol. § 174, p. 152.8-9 : πᾶς νοῦς τῷ νοεῖν ὑφίστησι τὰ μετ ̓ αὐτόν, καὶ ἡ ποίησις ἐν τῷ νοεῖν, καὶ ἡ νόησις ἐν τῷ ποιεῖν (transl. Dodds mod.). See also Dodds’ commentary ad locum, p. 290-291.

97 In Parm. III 791.16-20. In the ‘summary’, the same point is made in the following terms : λόγοις ἄρα καὶ εἴδεσι καὶ εἴδεσι ἀΰλοις οἶδε τοὺς κοσμικοὺς λόγους καὶ τὰ εἴδη ἐξ ὧν τὸ πᾶν, καὶ ἔστιν ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ πᾶν ὡς ἐν αἰτίᾳ χωρὶς τῆς ὕλης (In Parm. III 799.14-16).

98 The allusion is to Plat., Tim. 29e3 : πάντα ὅτι μάλιστα ἐβουλήθη γενέσθαι παραπλήσια ἑαυτῷ. Cf. also In Parm. III 830.16 ff. The quotation can be regarded a concrete example of the principle expressed in § 29 of the El. theol. : πᾶσα πρόοδος δι ̓ ὁμοιότητος ἀποτελεῖται τῶν δευτέρων πρὸς τὰ πρῶτα.

99 El. theol. § 18, p. 20.3-4 : πᾶν τὸ τῷ εἶναι χορηγοῦν ἄλλοις αὐτὸ πρώτως ἐστὶ τοῦτο, οὗ μεταδίδωσι τοῖς χορηγουμένοις (transl. Dodds).

100 See In Parm. III 787.17-788.8. Proclus’ master Syrianus uses a similar cosmological argument to prove the existence of the Forms : cf. Syr., In Met. 109.33-37 : ὁ τὸ πᾶν ὑφιστὰς θεός ἐστι, πᾶς θεὸς αὐτῷ τῷ εἶναι ποιεῖ, πᾶς <ὁ> αὐτῷ τῷ εἶναι ποιῶν ὁμοίωμα ἑαυτοῦ ποιεῖ· ὁ τὸ πᾶν ὑφιστὰς εἰκόνα ἑαυτοῦ τὸν κόσμον ποιεῖ· εἰ τοῦτο, ἔχει ἐν ἑαυτῷ παραδειγματικῶς τὰς αἰτίας τοῦ παντός, αὗται δέ εἰσιν αἱ ἰδέαι.

101 In Parm. III 788.2. For the expression, see also In Parm. III 800.10 ; In Tim. I 440.15 ; In Eucl. 16.6 ; and El. theol. § 177 (p. 156.1 and Dodds’ commentary on p. 292-293). Not only the argumentation here, but also the parallels mentioned, show that before the cosmos, the soul and the intellect are also plena of Forms. Cf. also W. Beierwaltes, Proklos. Grundzüge seiner Metaphysik (Philosophische Abhandlungen 24), Frankfurt a.M. : Klostermann, 1979², p. 39-41.

102 See In Parm. III 785.4-786.12.

103 In Parm. III 791.17-18 : τῆς μὲν ἔνδον ἐνεργείας ἠρτῆσθαι τὴν ἔξω προιοῦσαν. Cf. Theol. plat. V 18, p. 64.11-14 : δεῖ γὰρ δὴ πανταχοῦ τὰς ἔξω προιούσας ἐνεργείας εἰκόνας εἶναι τῶν ἔνδον, ἀνελιττούσας μὲν τὸ ἀθρόον τῆς ἐκείνων ἀμερείας, πληθυούας δὲ τὸ ἡνωμένον, μεριζούσας δὲ τὸ ἀμέριστον. See also the passages and literature quoted in Westerink-Saffrey’s excellent note ad locum (n. 2 p. 181-182).

104 In Parm. III 791.18-19 : [ἠρτῆσθαι…] τῆς ... παντελοῦς τῶν ἰδεῶν μονάδος τὸν ὅλον κόσμον. Expressions like ‘monad of the Forms’ in Proclus usually denote either the intelligible Living Being of the Timaeus (αὐτοζῷον) at the level of the νοῦς νοητός, in which the τετράς of all living beings is unitarily comprehended (as e.g. in In Parm. IV 908.11-12, where the reference is to Tim. 37d3-4 ; cf. In Tim. III 102.5-17 and 106.8-10), or the manifestation of this monad at the level of the νοῦς νοερός, i.e. within the demiurge (see e.g. In Parm. II 733.22-16 and IV 887.20-21). Since the entire argument from design concerns the demiurgic intellect as a unitary cause of the universe, it must be the latter which is indicated here.

105 In Parm. III 971.19-20 : [ἠρτῆσθαι...] τῶν ... διακεκριμένων μονάδων τὰ ἐνταῦθα μέρη τοῦ παντός. The distinctive Forms are the Forms at the intellective level, to which the natural species (the μέρη τοῦ παντός) correspond.

106 For a clear formulation of this doctrine, see e.g. Alc., Didasc. 9, p. 163.30 and 10, p. 164.29-30. For other relevant texts and doxography, see H. Dörrie – baltes, Der Platonismus in der Antike. Grundlagen – System – Entwicklung, Band 5 : Die Philosophische Lehre des Platonismus : Platonische Physik (im antiken Verständnis) II, Fromann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt, 1998, p. 56-70 and 312-336. On the origins of this doctrine, which is for the first time explicitly formulated in Sen., Ep. LXV § 7 ; and Phil., Opif. 20 and perhaps in Att., fr. 9.35-40, see e.g. J. M. Dillon, The Middle Platonists, Duckworth, London, 1977, p. 95, and Fr. Ferrari, « Dottrina delle idee nel medioplatonismo», in Eidos-Idea. Platone, Aristotele e la tradizione platonica, a cura di Fr. Fronterotta e W. Leszl, « International Plato Studies 21 », Akademia Verlag, Sankt Augustin, 2005, p. 233-246 (esp. p. 240 ff.). As Proclus testifies, many variations on this doctrine have been proposed by later thinkers : see e.g. Procl., In Tim. III 103.16 ff.

107 This confusion may arise from passages such as Tim. 29a2-b1, where it is said that the demiurge looks at the eternal model in order to shape the world ; and Tim. 29e2-3, where Timaeus says that the demiurge makes everything in the cosmos like himself (παραπλήσια ἑαυτῷ), whereas in Tim. 39e3-7 the cosmos is made like the intelligible Living Being.

108 Cf. M. Baltes, « Zur Philosophie des Platonikers Attikos », in : διανοήματα. Kleine Schriften zu Platon und zum Platonismus, hrsg. von A. Hüffmeier, Stuttgart, 1999, p. 80-111 (esp. p. 84-85).

109 The intelligible Living Being, which is the paradigm at which the demiurge looks, comprehends the tetras of all living beings : cf. In Tim. III 105.20-106.4. It is identified with the third intelligible triad : cf. In Tim. I 418.30 ff. and Theol. plat. III 15, p. 52.23-54.20.

110 Cf. Tim. 28a6-b1 ; 29a2-3 ; 39e7-9 ; cf. also e.g. In Tim. I 311.5-10 ; 324.16-18 ; and Theol. Plat. V 14, p. 50.4-6.

111 Cf. In Tim. I 323.20-324.14 ; In Parm. IV 899.19-20 ; 901.2-4. For the conception of Forms as thoughts of a divine intellect, see e.g. In Parm. IV 895.2-20.

112 See In Tim. I 323.20-22 : ὥστε καὶ πρὸ τοῦ δημιουργοῦ τὸ παράδειγμά ἐστι καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ, νοητῶς μὲν πρὸ αὐτοῦ, νοερῶς δὲ ἐν αὐτῷ. Cf. Syr., In Met. 106.14-16 : πῶς οὖν κατ ̓ ἀτοὺς ὑφέστηκε τὰ εἴδη τοὺς <τῆς> ἀληθείας φιλοθεάμονας; νοητῶς μὲν καὶ τετραδικῶς ἐν τῷ αὐτοζῴῳ, νοερῶς δὲ καὶ δεκακικῶς ἐν <τῷ> δημιουργικῷ νῷ. See also In Tim. I 324.9-14 ; 431.28-433.3 ; III 103.5-7 ; Theol. plat. III 9, 35.17-18 ; III 15, 53.6-21 ; cf. Ascl., In Met. 165.35-37 and 166.29-30.

113 Although the soul is the first to make a temporal division between the Forms (In Parm. III 807.20-808.13), the intellect already distinguishes them essentially, since it is a property of intellect to divide and bring about multiplicity : see e.g. Theol. plat. V 12, p. 40.10-12 and 41.7-9. Cf. also J. Trouillard, La mystagogie de Proclos, « Collection d’études anciennes », Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1982, p. 160-162.

114 See e.g. In Parm. II 764.2-3 ; III 807.20-808.1 ; IV 930.8-24.

115 For the contention that the demiurge is the paradigmatic cause of the world, see e.g. Theol. plat. V 17. For Proclus, the Forms are essentially paradigms : see e.g. In Parm. IV 934.38-40 : ἰδέα ... παράδειγμα μόνως οὖσα καὶ ὄντως ; and Procl. apud Philop., De aet. mund. 24.4-5 : ... καὶ τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι αὐτῷ τὸ παραδείγματι εἶναι.

116 The demiurge is an unparticipated intellect (νοῦς ἀμέθεκτος), whereas the lower forms are participated in : cf. e.g. In Parm. IV 913.12-914.3 (cf. El. theol. § 160). In In Parm. II 733.24-25 the demiurge is said to be a monad encompassing all other monads.

117 For this procession of Forms on different levels of reality, see e.g. In Parm. III 795.21-796.9 ; I 627.4-15 ; IV 889.18-30 ; VI 1069.23-1070.15 ; cf. also Syr., In Met. 109.16-26 ( = Iamblichus ?), 111.27-32, 119.12-15 ( =Amelius). In In Parm. III 803.5-804.26 and IV 969.2-970.29, Proclus presents the entire series of Forms, from the intelligible to the encosmic realm. For these series, see C. Steel, « L’anagogie par les apories », in Proclus et son influence. Actes du colloque de Neuchâtel Juin 1985, éd. par G. Boss et G. Seel, Éditions du Grand Midi, Zürich, 1987, p. 101-128 (esp. p. 123-124).

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Pieter d’Hoine, « The Intelligent Design of the Demiurge », Études platoniciennes, 5 | 2008, 63-90.

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Pieter d’Hoine, « The Intelligent Design of the Demiurge », Études platoniciennes [En ligne], 5 | 2008, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2016, consulté le 16 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesplatoniciennes/842 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesplatoniciennes.842

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Pieter d’Hoine

Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO)

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