Elenchos. Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico vol:33 issue:2 pages:259-290
Iamblichus’ theory of self-motion has to be pieced together from various texts and passing remarks. Ever since Aristotle’s critique, Plato’s concept of the self-motive soul was felt to be problematic. Taking his lead from Plotinus, Iamblichus counters Aristotle’s criticism by claiming that true self-motion transcends the opposition between activity and passivity. He moreover argues that it does not involve motion that is specially extended. Hence it is non-physical. Primary self-motion is the reversion of the soul to itself, by which the soul constitutes itself, i.e. imparts life to itself. This motion is located at the level of essence or substance. The bestowal of life upon the body derives from this fundamental motion. As a result, animals are derivatively self-motive. Secondary self-motions are acts of thought in the broad sense. Contrary to the unmoved motion of intellect, the self-motion of the soul is not beyond time. This somehow fits Iamblichus’ theory of the ‘changing self’. Iamblichus anticipates much of the later Platonic accounts of self-motion.