Porphyry’s Isagoge

My original plan was to blog my way through Thomas’ De Ente et Essentia, and then return to the Compendium Theologiae. It’s clear to me, though, that I need to spend more time working with De Ente et Essentia; and as I began to read through it once more, and through my blog posts, I found Phil’s reference to a work called the Isagoge. A quick trip to Google found me both a Wikipedia entry and a copy of the work itself, which happily is in the public domain.

The Isagoge turns out to be a short work written in the third century by a Greek fellow named Porphyry as an introduction to Aristotle’s Categories. As such it was used as an introduction to Aristotelian logic by both the Arabs and the Scholastics, and would have been familiar to Thomas and his fellow friars, and in particular to those to whom De Ente et Essentia was addressed.

I’m not yet sure what form my additional work on De Ente et Essentia will take; I’m sure no one wants me to start over and blog the whole thing all over again. At the same time, I need to spend some time with it, outlining it and understanding all of the terms within it, in their various flavors, or all the time I’ve put into it will be lost. The final result might be an annotated copy of the text with outline and glossary. (If you’d be interested in such a thing, please let me know; it’s more likely to get finished in that case.)

In any event, it’s clear that this additional work is mostly going to take place off-line. It’s also clear that I would benefit from taking a glance at Porphyry, as he addresses many of the basic concepts I’ve been struggling to learn. And so, consequently, I’m going to blog my way through the Isagoge and see if I can’t fill in some holes. I plan to start on that sequence of posts tomorrow.

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