Dr. Michael Griffin (British Columbia): “Olympiodorus of Alexandria’s unique evidence for the subject (skopos) of Aristotle's Categories”


Workshop organized by subproject A04 "Processes of Creating Tradition in Late Antique and Medieval Commentaries of De interpretatione", Head: Prof. Dr. Gyburg Uhlmann

Does Aristotle’s Categories analyze words, concepts, or beings? Among the ancient Neoplatonist commentators, Olympiodorus of Alexandria (6th century CE) preserves an important doxography of ancient answers. According to Olympiodorus, (1) Porphyry contended that the Categories analyzed linguistic items, while (2) Alexander of Aphrodisias treated its objects as conceptual items, and (3) Herminus (a Peripatetic who lectured to Alexander) treated its objects as real beings (pragmata). But Olympiodorus’ doxography is unique: for example, Ammonius credits Porphyry with (2) the conceptual position, and David [Elias] reverses the names of Porphyry and Alexander. Complicating matters further, in Simplicius, Alexander criticizes and reconciles these three views, rather than adopting one of them. A different tradition in Simplicius seems unaware of this tripartition altogether. This workshop discussed the validity of Olympiodorus’ report and a possible explanation of the different doxographies.