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*)Alki/nous), a Platonic philosopher, who probably lived under the Caesars. Nothing is known of his personal history.


Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν Πλάτωνος δογμάτων

A work entitled Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν Πλάτωνος δογμάτων, containing an analysis of the Platonic philosophy, as it was set forth by late writers, has been preserved. The treatise is written rather in the manner of Aristotle than of Plato, and the author has not hesitated to introduce any of the views of other philosophers which seemed to add to the completeness of the system. Thus the parts of the syllogism (c. 6), the doctrine of the mean and of the ἔξεις and ἐνεργεῖαι (c. 2. 8), are attributed to Plato; as well as the division of philosophy which was common to the Peripateties and Stoies. It was impossible from the writings of Plato to get a system complete in its parts, and hence the temptation of later writers, who sought for system, to join Plato and Aristotle, without perceiving the inconsistency of the union, while everything which suited their purpose was fearlessly ascribed to the founder of their own sect. In the treatise of Alcinous, however, there are still traces of the spirit of Plato, however low an idea he gives of his own philosophical talent. He held the world and its animating soul to be eternal. This soul of the universe ( ψυχὴ τοῦ κόσμου) was not created by God, but, to use the image of Alcinous, it was awakened by him as from a profound sleep, and turned towards himself, "that it might look out upon intellectual things (c. 14) and receive forms and ideas from the divine mind." It was the first of a succession of intermediate beings between God and man. The ἰδέαι proceeded immediately from the mind of God, and were the highest object of our intellect; the "form" of matter, the types of sensible things, having a real being in themselves. (c. 9.) He differed from the earlier Platonists in confining the ἰδέαι to general laws : it seemed an unworthy notion that God could conceive an ἰδέα of things artificial or unnatural, or of individuals or particulars, or of any thing relative. He seems to have aimed at harmonizing the views of Plato and Aristotle on the ἰδέαι, as he distinguished them from the εἴδη, forms of things, which he allowed were inseparable: a view which seems necessarily connected with the doctrine of the eternity and self-existence of matter. God, the first fonntain of the ἰδέαι, could not be known as he is : it is but a faint notion of him we obtain from negations and analogies his nature is equally beyond our power of expression or conception. Below him are a series of beings (δαίμονες) who superintend the production of all living things, and hold intercourse with men. The human soul passes through various transmigrations, thus connecting the series with the lower classes of being, until it is finally purified and rendered acceptable to God. It will be seen that his system was a compound of Plato and Aristotle, with some parts borrowed from the east, and perhaps derived from a study of the Pythagorean system. (Ritter, Geschichte der Philosophie, iv. p. 249.)


Alcinous first appeared in the Latin version of Pietro Balbi, which was published at Rome with Apuleius, 1469, fol. The Greek text was printed in the Aldine edition of Apuleius, 1521, 8vo. Another edition is that of Fell, Oxford, 1667. The best is by J. F. Fischer, Leipzig, 1783, 8vo.


It was translated into French by J. J. Combes-Dounous, Paris, 1800, 8vo., and into English by Stanley in his History of Philosophy.


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