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Title: The ambiguity of nature : Philo of Alexandria's views on the sensible world
Author: Anderson, C. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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There is a need to establish what Philo considers the ethical status of the sensible world prior to discerning how that world may function in his understanding of the ethical life. Through close textual analysis, this study argues that Philo’s ambivalence about the ethical status of the sensible world, while on the surface contradictory, is best understood perspectivally. The ‘lower’ perspective sees the world positively, as a means of knowing and becoming like God, while the ‘higher’ perspective sees it negatively, as something that must be surpassed and displaced in order to reach perfection. If so, these dual perspectives, however, suggest that Philo ultimately holds a cosmological pessimism. Such a position would signify his departure from the main lines of Scripture and Platonism (as well as an early Christian figure like Paul of Tarsus) and verge on conceptual instability. The thesis begins with the context in Philo: the differentiation between his two commentary series and its bearing on interpretation, and his conceptualisation of Judaism and Hellenism. The core of the study is a lexical-semantic investigation of six key terms which pertain to the ethical status of the sensible world. The variation among these terms leads to a consideration of how Philo divides people into idealised types who pursue the telos differently. Finally, Philo’s divergent views are analysed perspectivally, distinguishing between higher and lower ways to regard the world, to interpret Scripture, and to relate to the world in the pursuit of the telos. The Conclusion looks at what this multiperspectivalism means for Philo’s ethical appeals to the sensible world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available