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  • Prolepses are one of the theories of Epicurus that have very little remaining in his extant writings. Recently I gave Plato’s Phaedo a quick read, and one thing that struck me was this passage. The context of this argument is in direct contrast to Epicurus’ universe of atoms and void, and similarly to his theory that the “soul” begins and ends at birth. Which would lead one to the conclusion that Epicurus was probably looking closely at this from time to time as he formulated his counter argume…
  • (Quote)That definitely is the pertinent question! I think you're right that there's a distinction between concepts of real world things and universal abstractions. There are a lot of details to review: when I get a chance I'd like to do a point by point comparison between this Phaedo passage and what the pertinent Epicurean sources have to say. Time to make some lists...
  • This is my take on the main points. I'm putting words in Epicurus' mouth by using my own understanding. 1A. Plato: there is knowledge before birth of equality, beauty, goodness, justice, holiness; dialectic “essences.” This is not possible without an immortal soul. 1B. Epicurus: there is no immortal soul, therefore by Plato's logic there can be no "essences." 2A. Plato: knowledge obtained before birth is forgotten at birth but still exists in the memory of the soul, therefore “learning” is prop…
  • (Quote)(Quote)These are the cites of "essence" from the Phaedo passage above.