I think the parallel texts we have just seen from Proclus confirm the impression that all these remarks really are by Porphyry. We can add another couple of considerations to corroborate this view, concerning both vocabulary and content. As far as content is concerned, the use of lightning (Greek astrapê) as an example of instantaneous generation is hinted at by Aristotle87, but is made explicit in Porphyry's work To Gaurus, on the animation of the embryo, 11, 3. Speaking of the soul's incarnation in a human body, Porphyry writes:
“Its arrival and departure take place instantaneously, without having traveled through becoming nor having assumed extension through perishing, in the same way as a bolt of lightning does not subsist bit by bit, but it either exists or it does not, rejecting any extension of becoming and perishing (...) ensoulment takes place simultaneously throughout the substrate, as the sunrise for distributing rays from one limit of earth to the other, and to all that is seen by the sun, is timeless”.
The second indication that this passage may be authentically Porphyrian comes from the vocabulary, specifically the occurrence of the noun ousiôsis, formed from the noun ousioô “to invest with being, give substance to”. Its first attested occurence is in Origen, an older contemporary of Porphyry, who uses it eight times. Numenius uses it once, as does Plotinus, and his student Porphyry then uses it at least seven times in those works of his that happen to have been partially preserved (In Cat. p. 99, 7 ; 10 Busse ; Sentence 39, p. 47, 3 ; 41, p. 52, 8 ; 9; 14 Lamberz ; In Ptol. harm. p. 11, 33-12, 2 Düring ; In Parm., 12, 6 ; 9 Hadot). It therefore seems legitimate to describe the use of derivatives of the verb ousioô as characteristic of Porphyry.
If this notion is of instantaneous creation is indeed genuinely Porphyrian, we will have here a wonderful case of historical irony, for it will have been Porphyry, the arch-enemy of Christianity, who supplied John Philoponus with one of his key arguments in defense of the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.88 Bibliography
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1. Tables Table 1: Calvinus Taurus on the meanings of genêton
(apud Philoponum aet. mundi, p. 145, 13-147, 25 Rabe)
Meanings of genêton
1. what was not generated, but belongs to same genus as generated things
body in center of the earth (visible, but will never actually be seen)
2. what is composite by virtue of a thought experiment, even if not composite in actuality
middle note of the musical scale from the highest and the lowest, flowers, animals
3. what is always in a process of becoming
4. what derives its being from elsewhere (viz., from God)
moon derives its light from the sun (although there's never been a time when it did not do so)
Text 8e = John Philoponus, In De anima, 3, 7, p. 558, 16 ff. Hayduck
Text 8f = Aristotle, On the soul 2, 5, 417a22
Text 9 = Themistius, In Phys., 3, 1, p. 68, 30 ff. Schenkl.
Text 9b = Aristotle, Al-Ṭabī‘a, p. 171, 8-13 Badawi
Text 10 = Aristotle, Physics, 1, 3, 186a4 f.
Text 10b = Aristotle, Physics, 8, 3, 253b6-26
Text 10c = Aristotle, De sensu, 6, 446b28-447a13
Text 11 = Alexander of Aphrodisias, On form and the fact that it is the perfection and accomplishment of motion according to Aristotle, p. 289-290 Badawi
Text 12 = Proclus, On the Eternity of the World, apud Philoponus, aet. mundi., p. 55, 22 ff. Rabe
Text 13 = Philoponus, aet. mundi, 4, 4, p. 64, 22-65, 26 Rabe
Text 14 = Philoponus, In De Anima 2, 5, p. 296, 22-298, 23 Hayduck
Text 15 = Philoponus, Against Aristotle on the Eternity of the World, fr. 115 Wildberg = Simplicius, In Phys., p. 1141, 12-30
Text 16 = Philoponus, Against Aristotle on the Eternity of the World, fr. 129 Wildberg = Simplicius, In Phys., 1173, 1-13.
Text 17 : Al-Kindi, On the quantity of Aristotle's books, p. 375, 9 ff. Abū Rīda
Text 18 = Theology of Aristotle, p. 27 Badawi = p. 237 d'Ancona et al.
Text 19 = Pseudo-Farabi, Harmony of Plato and Aristotle, p. 64 Martini Bonadeo
Text 20 = Porphyry, Commentary on the Timaeus, fr. LI, p. 38, 5 ff. Sodano = Procl., In Tim., vol. 1, 395, 10 ff. Diehl.
Text 21 = Proclus, In Tim., vol. 2, p 102, 6 ff. Diehl.
Text 1: Timaeus 29D-30C (Cornford 1937, p. 33)
Let us, then, state for what reason becoming and the universe were framed by him who framed them. He was good; and in the good no jealousy in any matter can ever arise. So, being without jealousy, he desired that all things should come as near as possible to being like himself. That this is the supremely valid principle of becoming and of the order of the world, we shall most surely be right to accept from men of understanding. Desiring, then, that all things should be good and, so far as might be, nothing imperfect, the god took over all that is visible – not at rest, but in discordant and unordered motion – and brought it from disorder into order, since he judged that order was in every way the better.
Text 2: Plato, Timaeus 41a-d, translation Cornford
Be that as it may, when all the gods had come to birth – both all that revolve before our eyes and all that reveal themselves in so far as they will – the author of this universe addressed them in these words:
“Gods, of gods whereof I am the maker and of works the father, those which are my own handiwork are indissoluble, save with my consent. Now, although whatsoever bond has been fashioned may be unloosed, yet only an evil will could consent to dissolve what has been well fitted together and is in a good state : therefore, although you, having come into being, are not immortal nor indissoluble altogether, nevertheless you shall not be dissolved nor taste of death, finding my will a bond yet stronger and more sovereign than those wherewith you were bound together when you came to be”.
Text 3: Aristotle, De Caelo, I, 10, 279b12-280a23, translation Guthrie (LCL)
All thinkers agree that it [The world] has had a beginning, but some maintain that having begun it is everlasting, others that it is perishable like any other formation of nature (...) Now the view that it has had a beginning but is everlasting is an impossible one. Reason demands that we should only take for our hypotheses what we see to be generally or universally true, and this one is just the opposite, for observation shows us that everything which has a beginning also comes to an end (…)
The self-defence attempted by some of those who hold that it [sc. the world] is indestructible but generated, is untrue. They claim that what they say about the generation of the world is analogous to the diagrams drawn by mathematicians : their exposition does not mean that the world ever was generated, but is used for instructional purposes, since it makes things easier to understand just as the diagram does for those who see it in process of construction. (…)
It is now clear that the world cannot at the same time be everlasting and have had a beginning.