The aporetic tradition in ancient philosophy

 George Karamanolis, Vasilis Politis (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 320 p.


Ancient philosophers from an otherwise diverse range of traditions were connected by their shared use of aporia – translated as puzzlement rooted in conflicts of reasons – as a core tool in philosophical enquiry. The essays in this volume provide the first comprehensive study of aporetic methodology among numerous major figures and influential schools, including the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Academic sceptics, Pyrrhonian sceptics, Plotinus and Damascius. They explore the differences and similarities in these philosophers’ approaches to the source, structure, and aim of aporia, their views on its function and value, and ideas about the proper means of generating such a state among thinkers who were often otherwise opposed in their overall philosophical orientation. Discussing issues of method, dialectic, and knowledge, the volume will appeal to those interested in ancient philosophy and in philosophical enquiry more generally.

(Text by the editors)

Table of contents



Chapter 1 – Contradiction and Aporia in Early Greek Philosophy

Chapter 2 – Socrates and the Benefit of Puzzlement

Chapter 3 – Aporia ans Sceptical Argument in Plato’s Early Dialogues

Chapter 4 – Aporia in Plato’s Parmenides

Chapter 5 – Aporia in Plato’s Theaetetus and Sophist

Chapter 6 – Aporia and Dialectical Method in Aristotle

Chapter 7 – Aporia in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Beta

Chapter 8 – Uses of Aporiai in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals

Chapter 9 – Aporia and the New Academy

Chapter 10 – Aporetic Elements in Plutarch’s Philosophy

Chapter 11 – Aporia and Enquiry in Ancient Pyrrhonism

Chapter 12 – Aporia and Exegesis

Chapter 13 – The Aporetic Character os Plotinu’s Philosophy

Chapter 14 – Aporia and the Limits os Reason and of Language in Damascius


Index Locorum

Subject Index

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