Unpublished 167. The Philosophy of Proclus (typed)

[Review of The Philosophy of Proclus, by Laurence Jay Rosán. The Philosophical Review 59, No. 3 Jul. 1950]

THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROCLUS. The Final Phase of Ancient Thought. By LAURENCE JAY ROSAN, New York, “Cosmos,” 1949 Pp. x, 271. No price given.

Unfortunately allowed but a brief review, this volume is a solid contribution to scholarship. One of its welcome merits is its bibliographical material. Not only are there thirty-nine pages of conventional bibliography and indexes in fine print, but there are also three chapters of descriptive notices of all the important secondary literature, of all the works of Proclus, and a translation of Marinus’ Life of Proclus.

The main part of the volume is an exposition of Proclus’ system as a system. The author tries to show in detail how certain general principles of ontology govern the development of cosmology, theology, and ethics. It cannot be said that the author is verbose.

A complaint is voiced against the frequent disparagement of Proclus’ philosophy as logic chopping or nonsense and against the under-evaluation of his place in history where his thought permeated the Arabic and Jewish philosophies as well as both Eastern and Western Christendom. The author also stresses Proclus’ independence of Plotinus, who to him is “simply another illustrious link in the Golden Chain of the Platonic tradition,” and his closer spiritual unity with Plato. In all “Proclus had at his disposal a broader … knowledge … than had Plotinus,” and it is Proclus whose philosophy is the final phase and culmination of ancient thought.


Butler University