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Sergius of Reshaina, Introduction to Aristotle and his Categories, Addressed to Philotheos: Syriac Text, with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There are two related texts extant in Syriac written by the physician and commentator Sergius of Reshaina (d. 536) about the philosophy of Aristotle. This book provides a critical edition and a facing English translation of the shorter of these texts. The edition is based on the single preserved manuscript of the text (Berlin, Petermann I 9). An introduction to Sergius’ life and works, and an analysis of the text in its intellectual context, is also provided. His writing is one of the earliest analyses on Aristotelian philosophy in the Syriac language and presents concepts that were taught at the Neoplatonist school of Ammonius Hermeiou (d. 517-526) in Alexandria.

Sergius received his philosophical and medical education in Alexandria and was active in the city of Reshaina as one of the first translators of profane Greek material into Syriac. He translated chiefly medical works by Galen, especially those that were studied in the Alexandrian school, but also the theological corpus of Pseudo-Dionysius. Sergius composed some original works on Aristotle’s philosophy as well. Through his translation work and literary activity, he paved the way for the later engagement in medicine and Aristotelian philosophy among Syriac writers. His importance and influence is acknowledged by the historical testimonies to him, as well as by the numerous ways in which his works were read and used.

The text of Sergius, edited here, treats themes that are primarily found in Aristotle’s Categories. After a preface, in which the author refutes potential criticism and justifies his writing, he begins his work with a traditional division of the philosophy into theory and practice with their respective subdivisions. He also presents the Platonist notion of universals, before introducing the ten categories of reality into which, according to him, Aristotle had arranged all existing things. However, Sergius discusses the categories of substance, quantity, quality, and relatives more extensively, since these four were considered to be the main categories. Many problems related to these categories are presented together with proposed solutions. Other topics described by Sergius are such as what is a distinctive property, the natural philosophers’ view of the four elements, the modes of opposition and its difference from contrariety, and the five kinds of priority. Moreover, Sergius provides a relatively lengthy discussion of the nature of space and whether it belongs to the category of quantity. This discussion is based on the Alexandrian commentators’ interpretations of Aristotle’s Physics rather than the Categories. In the commentary section of this edition, Sergius’ line of thought is clarified and compared to some Greek commentaries from the same tradition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Linguistics and Philology , 2015. , 302 p.
Keyword [en]
Sergius of Reshaina, Sargīs of Rēšʿaynā, Aristotle, Categories, Physics, Syriac.
National Category
Philosophy History of Ideas Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-246149OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-246149DiVA: diva2:792045
Public defence
2015-04-18, Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-03-02 Last updated: 2016-03-22

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