These essays lay the groundwork for a practice of philosophical inquiry adequate to polytheistic or "Pagan" religious traditions, including in particular the non-reductive hermeneutics of myth and the theory of the polycentric divine manifold. Includes the previously published articles "The Theological Interpretation of Myth" and "Polycentric Polytheism and the Philosophy of Religion", as well as the previously unpublished essays "Neoplatonism and Polytheism" and "A Theological Exegesis of the Iliad, Book One".
Completing the systematic henadological interpretation of Proclus' Platonic Theology begun in "The Intelligible Gods in the Platonic Theology of Proclus" (Méthexis 21, 2008, pp. 131-143) and "The Second Intelligible Triad and the Intelligible-Intellective Gods" (Methexis 23, 2010, pp. 137-157), the present article concerns the conditions of the emergence of fully mediated, diacritical multiplicity out of the polycentric henadic manifold. The product of the activity of the intellective Gods (that is, the product of the intellective activity of Gods as such), in (...) resolving the contradiction between existential uniqueness and universalizable potencies in the divine natures, also grounds the human exercise of phi- losophical cognition in the founding self-analysis of divine individuals. (shrink)
Continuing the systematic henadological interpretation of Proclus' Platonic Theology begun in "The Intelligible Gods in the Platonic Theology of Proclus" (Methexis 21, 2008, pp. 131-143), the present article treats of the basic characteristics of intelligible-intellective (or noetico-noeric) multiplicity and its roots in henadic individuality. Intelligible-intellective multiplicity (the hypostasis of Life) is at once a universal organization of Being in its own right, and also transitional between the polycentric henadic manifold, in which each individual is immediately productive of absolute Being, and (...) the formal intellective organization, which is monocentrically and diacritically disposed. Intelligible-intellective multiplicity is generated from the dyadic relationship of henads to their power(s), the phase of henadic individuality expressed in the second intelligible triad, and is mediated, unlike the polycentric manifold, but not by identity and difference, like the intellective organization. Instead, the hypostasis of Life is constituted by ideal motility and spatiality, figural dispositions, and the intersubjective relations depicted in the divine symposium of Plato's Phaedrus. (shrink)
The comparison drawn by the Neoplatonist Olympiodorus between the Stoic doctrine of the reciprocal implication of the virtues and the Neoplatonic doctrine of the presence of all the gods in each helps to elucidate the latter. In particular, the idea of primary and secondary “perspectives” in each virtue, when applied to Neoplatonic theology, can clarify certain theoretical statements made by Proclus in his Cratylus commentary concerning specific patterns of inherence of deities in one another. More broadly, the “polycentric” nature of (...) Neoplatonic theology provides a theoretical articulation for henotheistic practices within polytheism without invoking evolutionist notions of “monotheistic tendencies.” The Neoplatonic distinction between the modes of unity exhibited by divine individuals (“henads”) and ontic units (“monads”), which is integral to the polycentric theology, also provides a theoretical basis for the non reductive crosscultural comparison between deities. The polycentric theology thus offers a promising foundation for a polytheistic philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This article seeks in the Platonic philosophers of late antiquity insights applicable to a new discipline, the philosophy of Pagan religion. An impor¬tant element of any such discipline would be a method of mythological hermeneutics that could be applied cross-culturally. The article draws par¬ticular elements of this method from Sallust and Olympiodorus. Sallust’s five modes of the interpretation of myth (theological, physical, psychical, material and mixed) are discussed, with one of them, the theological, singled out for its applicability to all (...) myths and because it interprets myth in reference exclusively to the nature of the Gods and their relationship to a model of the cosmos in its totality. The other modes of interpretation, while useful in particular contexts, are not uniformly applicable to all myths, interpret the myths as concerning things other than the Gods themselves, and interpret the myths with reference to particular sectors of the cosmos. Accordingly, it is from Sallust’s theological mode of interpre¬tation that the new method draws its inspiration. From Olympiodorus the method derives strategies for interpreting basic narrative attributes that myths share with all stories. Thus temporal sequence is interpreted as an ascent, from our perspective, from less perfect to more perfect manifestations of the powers of the Gods. Passivity, conflict, and transitive relations in general between the Gods are interpreted as expressing attributes of the cosmos to the constitution of which the Gods dedicate their energies, rather than as placing constraint upon the Gods themselves. The article concludes with a series of broad principles meant to guide the new method. (shrink)