Porphyry the Phoenician

Translation, introduction and notes by Edward W. Warren. MST 16. 1975. 65 pp. ISBN 978–0–88844–265–9 • $11.50

Porphyry’s Isagoge, or Introduction to the Categories of Aristotle, has exercised an amazing influence on the course of Western philosophy. A brief, modest work, designed to help a Roman senator grapple with Aristotle’s difficult concepts, the Isagoge became the first text that any aspiring philosopher confronted in his formal education; logic was the foundation of philosophical training and the Isagoge was the introduction to logic.

More important, perhaps, was Porphyry’s brief listing of possible philosophical attitudes toward the existence of universals. Though an introduction to logic, the Isagoge thus became important to metaphysical debates. Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance the Isagoge was commented upon and interpreted by philosophers and theologians. Only with the rise of mathematical logic has its influence waned.

Long difficult to obtain, the present version, with notes and introduction, is the first fresh English translation in over 100 years.


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