This study proposes that Neoplatonism, while not a modern philosophy, is philosophy in the modern sense. Lloyd analyzes the key structures that underlie the dogmas of the Neoplatonic world picture, including the concept of emanation, the return of the soul to the One, the place of mystical knowledge, epistemology, and Porphyry's theory of predication, and shows that they rest on original but intelligible concepts and arguments.
Neoplatonism is a term used to designate the form of Platonic philosophy that developed in the Roman Empire from the third to the fifth century AD and that based itself on the corpus of Plato's dialogues. Sara Rappe's challenging and innovative study is the first book to analyse Neoplatonic texts themselves using contemporary philosophy of language. It covers the whole tradition of Neoplatonic writing from Plotinus through Proclus to Damascius. Addressing the strain of mysticism in these works from a (...) fresh perspective the author shows how these texts reflect actual meditational practices, methods of concentrating the mind, and other mental disciplines that informed the tradition as a whole. In providing the broadest available survey of Neoplatonic writing the book will appeal to classical philosophers, classicists, as well as students of religious studies. (shrink)
The twentieth century discovered the concept of sacred place largely through the work of Martin Heidegger and Mircea Eliade. Their writings on sacred place respond to the modern manipulation of nature and secularization of space, and so may seem distinctively postmodern, but their work has an important and unacknowledged precedent in the Neoplatonism of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Sacred Place in Early Medieval Neoplatonism traces the appearance and development of sacred place in the writings of (...) Neoplatonists from the third to ninth centuries, and sets them in the context of present-day debates over place and the sacred. (shrink)
The Ismailis, among whom are the followers of the Aga Khan, rose to prominence during the 4th Islamic/10th Christian century. They developed a remarkably successful intellectual programme to sustain and support their political activities, promoting demands of Islamic doctrine together with the then newly imported sciences from abroad. The high watermark of this intellectual movement is best illustrated in the writings of the Ismaili theoretician Abu Ya´qub al-Sijistani. Using both published and manuscript writings of al-Sijistani that have hitherto been largely (...) hidden, forgotten or ignored, Dr Paul Walker reveals the scholar's major contribution to the development of philosophical Shiism. He analyses his role in the Ismaili mission (da'wa) of that time and critically assesses the major themes in his combination of philosophy and religious doctrine. (shrink)
This study focuses on the ancient commentaries on Plato’s Phaedo by Olympiodorus and Damascius and aims to present the relevance of their challenging and valuable readings of the dialogue to Neoplatonic ethics.
The title of my talk, “Living Neoplatonism,” is intentionally ambiguous, for it can refer, first, to Neoplatonism as a living philosophy rather than as a historical artifact embodied in the writings of Plotinus, Proclus, and the rest. And second, it can refer to the practice of living Neoplatonically as a modern way of life. But why Neoplatonism, as opposed to some other philosophy? From my perspective as a scientist I will explain why I think Neoplatonism is (...) especially suited to provide a spiritual complement to the contemporary scientific worldview, which is otherwise materialistic in orientation and ill-equipped to deal with many peoples’ spiritual concerns. (shrink)
F.W.J. Schelling, one of the essential thinkers in the development of German Idealism, formed his own thought not only in a critical dialogue with Kant's and Fichte's transcendentalism and Hegel's earlier conception of thinking, but also in an intensive discussion with Plato and Aristotle. Over and above that, Neoplatonism - especially Plotinus, Proclus and the Christian Dionysius the Areopagite - played a decisive role in Schelling's reception and transformation of ancient philosophy.Selecting the manifold aspects which could be reflected on (...) in this field, I want to make plausible as a transcendental analogy to Plotinus' concept of self-knowledge Schelling's requirement for a raising-up and transformation of the finite 'I' into the form of the Absolute, whose central features converge with the goal of the Plotinian self - transformation of thought into a timeless self-thinking and its ground.A main part of this paper discusses Schelling's and Plotinus' concept of nature as a dynamic process constituted by an immanent 'creating theoria'. Furthermore we find in Schelling's theory of the Absolute as the 'utterly One' a union of Plotinus' notion of a pure One beyond Being with that of the reflexive self-presence of nous, so that this Absolute can be understood as an All-Unity which grounds and embraces all actuality - because it is in itself the most unifying self-affirmation or self-mediation. What follows is a reflection on the anagogical function of art, especially from the viewpoint of Plotinus' non-Platonic rehabilitation of art as an imitation of nature. The last perspectives focus on Schelling's concept of matter and emanation - as different from and at the same time coherent with that of Plotinus - and on Schelling's theory of an absolute self - willing will in connection with Plotinus' Enneads VI.8, 'On free will and the will of the One' as a causa sui. (shrink)
The distinction between persons and things reflects the opposition between reason and nature that is characteristic of modern thought: persons are constituted by rationality, self-consciousness, free will, and moral agency; things are taken to be merely natural or material beings, devoid of reason and the products of entirely mechanistic forces. Persons, as ends in themselves, alone deserve moral consideration; things (including all plants and animals) deserve no moral consideration. Accordingly in much modern thought, nature, including the human body, becomes a (...) mere object to be manipulated for human use. This paper challenges this narrowly anthropocentric idea by outlining a view, grounded in classical philosophical and Christian thought, called the “analogy of personhood.” This view offers a hierarchical but non-dichotomous approach to reality that rejects any radical opposition between reason and nature. The philosophical basis of this approach is developed as found in Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus, and finally, the Christian Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius. (shrink)
The Neoplatonist philosophers who flourished between the third and sixth centuries AD had a profound influence on western philosophy, on both Christian and Islamic literature and the visual arts from the Renaissance to modern times. This extensively revised and updated second edition of Neoplatonists provides a valuable introduction to the thought of four central Neoplatonic philosophers, Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus and Iamblichus. John Gregory presents new translations of a selection of key passages from Neoplatonist writings, an introduction that puts in context (...) the writings, and an epilogue detailing the legacy and influence of Neoplatonist thought. (shrink)
The notion of 'symbol' in Eriugena's writing is far from clear. It has an ambiguous semantic connection with other terms such as 'signification', 'figure', 'allegory', 'veil', 'agalma', 'form', 'shadow', 'mystery' and so on. This paper aims to explore into the origins of such a semantic ambiguity, already present in the texts of the pseudo-Dionysian corpus which Eriugena translated and commented upon. In the probable Neoplatonic sources of this corpus, the Greek term symbolon shares some aspects of its meaning with other (...) words inherited from the ancient tradition, such as synthēma , eikōn , homoiotēs. Some of them, such as eikōn and homoiotēs, belong to the field of images and are associated with linguistic semantics in the Neoplatonic commentaries not only to Plato but also to Aristotle's logical works. Among the late ancient Neoplatonists, particular attention is paid to Proclus and to his use of the term agalma. In fact, the textual history of this word seems to be a privileged perspective from which to reconstruct the Neoplatonic semantic blending of symbol and image, as well as the main role played by linguistic issues in this conflation. (shrink)
This paper contrasts the reception of Dionysius in relation to non-Christian philosophy during the Latin Middle Ages with his reception in twentieth-centuryChristian thought. The medievals, including Eriugena, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, and many others, as a rule refuse to divide religion from philosophy and they distinguish or unite thinkers by their teaching rather than by their confessional adherence. Hence they see no need to set Dionysius in opposition to non-Christian philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Proclus, or to repudiate (...) the latter in favor of the former. By contrast, Vladimir Lossky and Jean-Luc Marion, with their shared background in Etienne Gilson, celebrate Dionysius in opposition to the non-Christian Neoplatonists, whom they polemically misrepresent as reducing God to conceptual categories. These twentieth-century figures evince a sectarian religious narrowness that blinds them to the textual and philosophical community of Dionysius with his non-Christian sources. (shrink)
These two texts are fundamental for the understanding not only of Neoplatonism but also of the conventions of biography in late antiquity. Neither has received such extensive annotation before in English, and this new commentary makes full use of recent scholarship. The long introduction is intended both as a beginner’s guide to Neoplatonism and as a survey of ancient biographical writing.
This essay attempts to provide more evidence for the notions that there actually is a Latin (as opposed to a Greek) Neoplatonic tradition in late antiquity, that this tradition includes a systematic theory of first principles, and that this tradition and theory are influential in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The method of the essay is intended to be novel in that, instead of examining authors or works in a chronological sequence and attempting to isolate doctrines in the traditional (...) manner, it proceeds by identifying certain philosophemes (a concept borrowed from structuralist and post-structuralist thought and here signifying certain minimal units from which philosophical “systems“ can be constructed), and then studying the combination and re-combination of these philosophemes consciously and unconsciously by a selection of important medieval writers. These philosophemes occur in Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram ; Augustine, De Trinitate ; Augustine, De Vera Religione ; Augustine, De Musica ; Macrobius, Commentarius in Somnium Scipionis ; and Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae . The sampling of medieval authors who use these philosophemes includes Eriugena, William of Conches, Thierry of Chartres, and Nicholas of Cusa. (shrink)
If there is one project definitive of recent Western philosophy, it may be the search for an alternative to the materialistic metaphysics that has come to prominence with the rise of science. While some insist that the end of metaphysics is the only valid alternative, others call instead for a thorough reconstruction of metaphysics. Such a reconstructed metaphysics must both accommodate the insights of modern science and account for the deeply felt sense that non-material mind or spirit is a real (...) aspect of the cosmos. (shrink)
Both Plato and Kant devote much attention and care to deliberating about their method of philosophizing. And, interestingly, both seek to expand and explain their view of philosophical method by one selfsame strategy: explaining the contrast between rational procedure in mathematics and in philosophy. Plato and Kant agree on a fundamental point of philosophical method that is at odds with the mathematico-demonstrative methodology of philosophy found in Spinoza and present in Christian Wolff. Both reject the axiomatic approach with its insistence (...) on fundamental truths postulated from the outset. Both alike insist that philosophizing—unlike mathematics—is an exercise in theorizing where the questions of basicness and foundations come into view only after the inquiry has gone on for a long, long time—and certainly not at its start. (shrink)
One of the most significant cultural achievements of Late Antiquity lies in the domains of philosophy and religion, more particularly in the establishment and development of Neoplatonism as one of the chief vehicles of thought and subsequent channel for the transmission of ancient philosophy to the medieval and renaissance worlds. Important, too, is the emergence of a distinctive Christian philosophy and theology based on a foundation of Greek pagan thought. This book provides an introduction to the main ideas of (...)Neoplatonism and some of the ways in which they influenced Christian thinkers. (shrink)
Simplicius in Cat. 12,10-13,12 presents an interesting justification for the study of Aristotle's Categories, based in Neoplatonic psychology and metaphysics. I suggest that this passage could be regarded as a testimonium to Iamblichus' reasons for endorsing Porphyry's selection of the Categories as an introductory text of Platonic philosophy. These Iamblichean arguments, richly grounded in Neoplatonic metaphysics and psychology, may have exercised an influence comparable to Porphyry's.