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)
A modified version of Michael Gorman's comments on Peter King’s paper at the 2004 Henle Conference. Above all, an account of Augustine’s purposes in discussing Neoplatonism in Confessions VII, showing why Augustine does not tell us certain things we wish he would. In my commentary I will address the following topics: (i) what it means to speak of the philosophically interesting points in Augustine; (ii) whether Confessions VII is really about the Trinity; (iii) Augustine‘s intentions in Confessions VII; (iv) (...) King‘s hypostatic interpretation‖;(v) Christology. (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)
This paper is divided into three parts. In the first part, the A. describes Borges’ particular concern about medieval philosophy as a reader. In the second and larger part, she refers to medieval neoplatonism main notes and claims that the argentine writer applied echoes of those notes to the development of his own literature. In this sense, Scotus Erigena and Nicholas Cusanus’thesis are specially quoted. Lastly, the A. suggests that, in spite of the use of medieval neoplatonism in (...) his poems and essays, Borges was skeptical about it as a philosophical point of view. (shrink)
Berkeley's doctrine of archetypes explains how God perceives and can have the same ideas as finite minds. His appeal of Christian neo-Platonism opens up a way to understand how the relation of mind, ideas, and their union is modeled on the Cappadocian church fathers' account of the persons of the trinity. This way of understanding Berkeley indicates why he, in contrast to Descartes or Locke, thinks that mind (spiritual substance) and ideas (the object of mind) cannot exist or be thought (...) of apart from one another. It also hints at why Gregory of Nyssa's immaterialism sounds so much like Berkeley's. (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)
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.
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)
There has long been a debate on the possible similarity between some forms of Indian and Greek idealistic monism ( Advaita and Neoplatonism ). After a basic historical introduction to the debate, the text proposes that Paramādvaita , also known as Kashmiri Shaivism , is a more suitable comparandum for Neoplatonism than any other form of Advaita , suggested in the debate. Paramādvaita ’s dynamic view of reality summarized in the terms prakāśa-vimarśa or unmeṣa-nimeṣa , corresponds quite precisely (...) to the viewpoint of Neoplatonism , summarized in the similar bipolar terms such as prohodos-epistrophe . The context of the dynamic nature of reality doctrine is also quite similar ( svataḥsiddhatva, authypostasis ). My arguments are based on the texts of Plotinus and Proclus ( Neoplatonism ) and the texts of Abhinavagupta, Utpaladeva and Kṣemarāja ( Paramādvaita ) . Several parallel doctrines of both systems are further discussed: the doctrine of creative multilevel subjectivity , the doctrine of mutual omnipresence of all in all , the doctrine of creative multilevel speech , and some corresponding doctrines on aesthetic beauty and its important role in the Soul’s return towards its ultimate source. Some implications of the high degree of correspondence between both systems are considered at the end of the paper, for instance whether some similarities of compared systems might be explained on a structural basis, since both schools ware facing similar sceptical critique ( Mādhyamika, Hellenistic scepticism ). (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)
This essay represents part of an effort to rewrite the history metaphysics in terms of what philosophy never said, nor could say. It works from the Neoplatonic commentary tradition on Plato's Parmenides as the matrix for a distinctively apophatic thinking that takes the truth of metaphysical doctrines as something other than anything that can be logically articulated. It focuses on Damascius in the 5—6th century AD as the culmination of this tradition in the ancient world and emphasizes that Neoplatonism (...) represents the crisis of Greek metaphysics on account of the inability to give a rational account of foundations for knowing and of the ultimate principle of beings. Neoplatonism discovered how all such ultimate principles were necessarily beyond the reach of reason and speech. This apophatic insight is drawn out with the help of contemporary criticism of Neoplatonic philosophy, defining also some points of divergence. The essay then discusses the motives for thinking the unsayable in postmodern times on the basis of this parallel with Neoplatonic thought. Discourse's becoming critical of itself to the point of self-subversion animates them both. However, the tendency in postmodern thought to totally reject theology, including negative theology, is a betrayal of its own deepest motivations. This tendency is debated through an examination of the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy. While any traditional discourse can be negated, the negating and self-negating capacity of discourse itself is infinite, and this is where a perennial negative theological philosophy of the unsayable is to be located. Language, eminently the language of philosophy, as infinitely open, points in a direction which becomes equally and ineluctably theological. (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.