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Neoplatonism is a modern term used to designate the period of Platonic philosophy beginning with the work of Plotinus and ending with the closing of the Platonic Academy by the Emperor Justinian in 529 CE !his brand of Platonism" which is often described as #mystical# or religious in nature" de$eloped outside the mainstream of Academic Platonism !he origins of Neoplatonism can be traced back to the era of %ellenistic syncretism which spawned such mo$ements and schools of thought as &nosticism and the %ermetic tradition A ma'or factor in this syncretism" and one which had an immense influence on the de$elopment of Platonic thought" was the introduction of the Jewish (criptures into &reek intellectual circles $ia the translation known as the Septuagint !he encounter between the creation narrati$e of &enesis and the cosmology of Plato#s Timaeus set in motion a long tradition of cosmological theori)ing that finally culminated in the grand schema of Plotinus# Enneads Plotinus# two ma'or successors" Porphyry and *amblichus" each de$eloped" in their own way" certain isolated aspects of Plotinus# thought" but neither of them de$eloped a rigorous philosophy to match that of their master *t was Proclus who" shortly before the closing of the Academy" be+ueathed a systematic Platonic philosophy upon the world that in certain ways approached the sophistication of Plotinus ,inally" in the work of the so-called Pseudo-.ionysius" we find a grand synthesis of Platonic philosophy and Christian theology that was to e/ercise an immense influence on mediae$al mysticism and 0enaissance %umanism

!able of Contents 1Clicking on the links below will take you to those parts of this article2
3 4hat is Neoplatonism5 2 Plotinian Neoplatonism a Contemplation and Creation b Nature and Personality c (al$ation and the Cosmic Process i Plotinus# 6ast 4ords d !he Achie$ement of Plotinus i !he Plotinian (ynthesis 7 Porphyry and *amblichus a !he Nature of the (oul i !he 1re2turn to Astrology b !he 8uest for !ranscendence i !heurgy and the .istrust of .ialectic 9 Proclus and Pseudo-.ionysius a :eing -- :ecoming -- Being b !he &od :eyond :eing 5 Appendix: !he 0enaissance Platonists ; Sources

1. What is Neoplatonism?

!he term #Neoplatonism# is a modern construction Plotinus" who is often considered the #founder# of Neoplatonism" would not ha$e considered himself a <new< Platonist in any sense" but simply an e/positor of the doctrines of Plato !hat this re+uired him to formulate an entirely new philosophical system would not ha$e been $iewed by him as a problem" for it was" in his eyes" precisely what the Platonic doctrine re+uired *n a sense" this is true" for as early as the =ld Academy we find Plato#s successors struggling with the proper interpretation of his thought" and arri$ing at strikingly different conclusions Also" in the %ellenistic era" certain Platonic ideas were taken up by thinkers of $arious loyalties -- Jewish" &nostic" Christian -- and worked up into new forms of e/pression that $aried +uite considerably from what Plato actually wrote in his Dialogues (hould this lead us to the conclusion that these thinkers were any less #loyal# to Plato than were the members of the Academy 1in its $arious forms throughout the centuries preceding Plotinus25 No> for the multiple and often contradictory uses made of Platonic ideas is a testament to the uni$ersality of Plato#s thought -- that is" its ability to admit of a wide $ariety of interpretations and applications *n this sense" Neo-Platonism may be said to ha$e begun immediately after Plato#s death" when new approaches to his philosophy were being broached *ndeed" we already see a hint" in the doctrines of ?enocrates 1the second head of the =ld Academy2 of a type of sal$ation theory in$ol$ing the unification of the two parts of the human soul -- the <=lympian< or hea$enly" and the <!itanic< or earthly 1.illon 39@@" p 2@2 *f we accept ,rederick Copleston#s description of Neoplatonism as <the intellectualist reply to the yearning for personal sal$ation< 1Copleston 39;2" p 23;2 we can already locate the beginning of this reply as far back as the =ld Academy" and Neoplatonism would then not ha$e begun with Plotinus %owe$er" it is not clear that ?enocrates# idea of sal$ation in$ol$ed the indi$idual> it is +uite possible that he was referring to a unified human nature in an abstract sense *n any case" the early %ermetic-&nostic tradition is certainly to an e/tent Platonic" and later &nosticism and Christian Logos theology markedly so *f an intellectual reply to a general yearning for personal sal$ation is what characteri)es Neoplatonism" then the highly intellectual &nostics and Christians of the 6ate %ellenistic era must be gi$en the title of Neoplatonists %owe$er" if we are to be rigorous and define Neoplatonism as the synthesis of $arious more or less #Platonistic# ideas into a grand e/pression of Platonic philosophy" then Plotinus must be considered the founder of Neoplatonism Aet we must not forget that these Platoni)ing Christian" &nostic" Jewish" and other #pagan# thinkers pro$ided the necessary speculati$e material to make this synthesis possible
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2. Plotinian Neoplatonism
!he great third century thinker and #founder# of Neoplatonism" Plotinus" is responsible for the grand synthesis of progressi$e Christian and &nostic ideas with the traditional Platonic philosophy %e answered the challenge of accounting for the emergence of a seemingly inferior and flawed cosmos from the perfect mind of the di$inity by declaring outright that all ob'ecti$e e/istence is but the e/ternal self-e/pression of an inherently contemplati$e deity known as the =ne 1to hen2" or the &ood 1ta kalon2 Plotinus compares the e/pression of the superior godhead with the self-e/pression of the indi$idual soul" which proceeds from the perfect conception of a ,orm 1eidos2" to the always

flawed e/pression of this ,orm in the manner of a materially deri$ed #personality# that risks succumbing to the demands of di$isi$e discursi$ity" and so becomes something less than di$ine !his diminution of the di$ine essence in temporality is but a necessary moment of the complete e/pression of the =ne :y ele$ating the e/perience of the indi$idual soul to the status of an actuali)ation of a di$ine ,orm" Plotinus succeeded" also" in preser$ing" if not the autonomy" at least the dignity and ontological necessity of personality !he Cosmos" according to Plotinus" is not a created order" planned by a deity on whom we can pass the charge of begetting e$il> for the Cosmos is the self-e/pression of the (oul" which corresponds" roughly" to Philo#s logos prophorikos" the logos endiathetos of which is the *ntelligence 1nous2 0ather" the Cosmos" in Plotinian terms" is to be understood as the concrete result or #product# of the (oul#s e/perience of its own Bind 1nous2 *deally" this concrete e/pression should ser$e the (oul as a reference-point for its own selfconscious e/istence> howe$er" the (oul all too easily falls into the error of $aluing the e/pression o$er the principle 1arkh2" which is the contemplation of the di$ine ,orms !his error gi$es rise to e$il" which is the purely sub'ecti$e relation of the (oul 1now di$ided2 to the manifold and concrete forms of its e/pressi$e act 4hen the (oul" in the form of indi$idual e/istents" becomes thus preoccupied with its e/perience" Nature comes into being" and the Cosmos takes on concrete form as the locus of personality
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a Contemplation and Creation

%earkening back" whether consciously or not" to the doctrine of (peusippus 1Plato#s successor in the Academy2 that the =ne is utterly transcendent and <beyond being"< and that the .yad is the true first principle 1.illon 39@@" p 322" Plotinus declares that the =ne is <alone with itself< and ineffable 1cf Enneads C* 9 ; and C 2 32 !he =ne does not act to produce a cosmos or a spiritual order" but simply generates from itself" effortlessly" a power 1dunamis2 which is at once the *ntellect 1nous2 and the ob'ect of contemplation 1theria2 of this *ntellect 4hile Plotinus suggests that the =ne subsists by thinking itself as itself" the *ntellect subsists through thinking itself as other" and therefore becomes di$ided within itselfD this act of di$ision within the *ntellect is the production of :eing" which is the $ery principle of e/pression or discursi$ity 1Ennead C 3 @2 ,or this reason" the *ntellect stands as Plotinus# sole ,irst Principle At this point" the thinking or contemplation of the *ntellect is di$ided up and ordered into thoughts" each of them subsisting in and for themsel$es" as autonomous reflections of the dunamis of the =ne !hese are the ,orms 1eid2" and out of their inert unity there arises the (oul" whose task it is to think these ,orms discursi$ely and creati$ely" and to thereby produce or create a concrete" li$ing e/pression of the di$ine *ntellect !his acti$ity of the (oul results in the production of numerous indi$idual soulsD li$ing actuali)ations of the possibilities inherent in the ,orms 4hereas the *ntellect became di$ided within itself through contemplation" the (oul becomes di$ided outside of itself" through action 1which is still contemplation" according to Plotinus" albeit the lowest type> cf Ennead *** E 92" and this di$ision constitutes the Cosmos" which is the e/pressi$e or creati$e act of the (oul" also referred to as Nature 4hen the indi$idual soul reflects upon Nature as its own act" this soul is capable of attaining insight 1gnsis2 into the essence of *ntellect> howe$er" when the soul $iews nature as something ob'ecti$e and e/ternal --

that is" as something to be e/perienced or undergone" while forgetting that the soul itself is the creator of this Nature -- e$il and suffering ensue 6et us now e/amine the manner in which Plotinus e/plains Nature as the locus of personality
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b Nature and Personality

Contemplation" at the le$el of the (oul" is for Plotinus a two-way street !he (oul both contemplates" passi$ely" the *ntellect" and reflects upon its own contemplati$e act by producing Nature and the Cosmos !he indi$idual souls that become immersed in Nature" as moments of the (oul#s eternal act" will" ideally" gain a complete knowledge of the (oul in its unity" and e$en of the *ntellect" by reflecting upon the concrete results of the (oul#s act -- that is" upon the e/ternali)ed" sensible entities that comprise the physical Cosmos !his reflection" if carried by the indi$idual soul with a memory of its pro$enance always in the foreground" will lead to a 'ust go$erning of the physical Cosmos" which will make of it a perfect material image of the *ntellectual Cosmos" i e " the realm of the ,orms 1cf Enneads *C 7 @ and *C E ;2 %owe$er" things don#t always turn out so well" for indi$idual souls often <go lower than is needful in order to light the lower regions" but it is not good for them to go so far< 1Ennead *C 7 3@" tr =#:rien 39;92 ,or when the soul e/tends itself e$er farther into the indeterminacy of materiality" it gradually loses memory of its di$ine origin" and comes to identify itself more and more with its surroundings -- that is to sayD the soul identifies itself with the results of the (oul#s act" and forgets that it is" as part of this (oul" itself an agent of the act !his is tantamount to a relin+uishing" by the soul" of its di$ine nature 4hen the soul has thus abandoned itself" it begins to accrue many alien encrustations" if you will" that make of it something less than di$ine !hese encrustations are the #accidents# 1in the Aristotelian sense2 of personality And yet the soul is ne$er completely lost" for" as Plotinus insists" the soul need simply <think upon essential being< in order to return to itself" and continue to e/ist authentically as a go$ernor of the Cosmos 1Ennead *C E 9-;2 !he memory of the personality that this wandering soul possessed must be forgotten in order for it to return completely to its di$ine nature> for if it were remembered" we would ha$e to say" contradictorily" that the soul holds a memory of what occurred during its state of forgetfulnessF (o in a sense" Plotinus holds that indi$idual personalities are not maintained at the le$el of (oul %owe$er" if we understand personality as more than 'ust a particular attitude attached to a concrete mode of e/istence" and rather $iew it as the sum total of e/periences reflected upon in intellect" then souls most certainly retain their personalities" e$en at the highest le$el" for they persist as thoughts within the di$ine Bind 1cp Ennead *C E 52 !he personality that one ac+uires in action 1the lowest type of contemplation2 is indeed forgotten and dissol$ed" but the #personality# or persistence in intellect that one achie$es through $irtuous acts most definitely endures 1Ennead *C 7 722
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c (al$ation and the Cosmic Process

Plotinus" like his older contemporary" the Christian philosopher =rigen of Ale/andria" $iews the descent of the soul into the material realm as a necessary moment in the unfolding of the di$ine *ntellect" or &od ,or this reason" the descent itself is not an e$il" for it is a reflection of &od#s essence :oth =rigen and Plotinus place the blame for e/periencing this descent as an e$il s+uarely upon the indi$idual soul =f course" these thinkers held" respecti$ely" +uite different $iews as to why and how the soul e/periences the descent as an e$il> but they held one thing in commonD that the rational soul will naturally choose the &ood" and that any failure to do so is the result of forgetfulness or ac+uired ignorance :ut whence this failure5 =rigen ga$e what" to Plotinus# mind" must ha$e been a +uite unsatisfactory answerD that souls pre-e/isted as spiritual beings" and when they desired to create or #beget# independently of &od" they all fell into error" and languished there until the coming of 6ogos *ncarnate !his $iew has more than a little &nostic fla$or to it" which would ha$e sat ill with Plotinus" who was a great opponent of &nosticism !he fall of the soul Plotinus refers" +uite simply" to the tension between pure contemplation and di$isi$e action -- a tension that constitutes the natural mode of e/istence of the soul 1cf Ennead *C E ;-@2 Plotinus tells us that a thought is only completed or fully comprehended after it has been e/pressed" for only then can the thought be said to ha$e passed from potentiality to actuality 1Ennead *C 7 7G2 !he +uestion of whether Plotinus places more $alue on the potential or the actual is really of no conse+uence" for in the Plotinian plrma e$ery potentiality generates an acti$ity" and e$ery acti$ity becomes itself a potential for new acti$ity 1cf Ennead *** E E2> and since the =ne" which is the goal or ob'ect of desire of all e/istents" is neither potentiality nor actuality" but <beyond being< 1epekeina ousias2" it is impossible to say whether the stri$ing of e/istents" in Plotinus# schema" will result in full and complete actuali)ation" or in a repose of potentiality that will make them like their source <6ikeness to &od as far as possible"< for Plotinus" is really likeness to oneself -- authentic existence Plotinus lea$es it up to the indi$idual to determine what this means

i Plotinus# 6ast 4ords

*n his biography of Plotinus" Porphyry records the last words of his teacher to his students as followsD <(tri$e to bring back the god in yoursel$es to the &od in the All< 1Porphyry" Li e o !lotinus 2" my translation2 After uttering these words" Plotinus" one of the greatest philosophers the world has e$er known" passed away !he simplicity of this final statement seems to be at odds with the intellectual rigors of Plotinus# treatises" which challenge -- and more often than not $an+uish -- 'ust about e$ery prominent philosophical $iew of the era :ut this is only if we take this remark in a mystical or ecstatic religious sense Plotinus demanded the utmost le$el of intellectual clarity in dealing with the problem of humankind#s relation to the highest principle of e/istence (tri$ing for or desiring sal$ation was not" for Plotinus" an e/cuse for simply abandoning oneself to faith or prayer or unreflecti$e religious rituals> rather" sal$ation was to be achie$ed through the practice of philosophical in$estigation" of dialectic !he fact that Plotinus" at the end of his life" had arri$ed at this $ery simple formulation" ser$es to show that his dialectical +uest was successful *n his last treatise" <=n the Primal &ood< 1Ennead * @2" Plotinus is able to assert" in the same breath" that both life and death are good %e says this because life is the moment in which the soul e/presses itself and re$els in the autonomy of the creati$e act %owe$er" this life" since it is characteri)ed by action" e$entually leads to e/haustion" and the desire" not for autonomous action" but for reposeful contemplation -- of a fulfillment that is purely intellectual and eternal .eath is the

relief of this e/haustion" and the return to a state of contemplati$e repose *s this return to the *ntellect a return to potentiality5 *t is hard to say Perhaps it is a synthesis of potentiality and actualityD the moment at which the soul is both one and many" both human and di$ine !his would constitute Plotinian sal$ation -- the fulfillment of the e/hortation of the dying sage
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d !he Achie$ement of Plotinus

*n the last analysis" what stands as the most important and impressi$e accomplishment of Plotinus is the manner in which he synthesi)ed the pure" #semi-mythical# e/pression of Plato with the logical rigors of the Peripatetic and (toic schools" yet without losing sight of philosophy#s most important taskD of rendering the human e/perience in intelligible and analy)able terms !hat Plotinus# thought had to take the #detour# through such wildly mystical and speculati$e paths as &nosticism and Christian sal$ation theology is only proof of his clear-sightedness" thoroughness" and admirable humanism ,or all of his dialectical difficulties and perambulations" Plotinus# sole concern is with the well-being 1eudaimonia2 of the human soul !his is" of course" to be understood as an intellectual" as opposed to a merely physical or e$en emotional well-being" for Plotinus was not concerned with the temporary or the temporal !he stri$ing of the human mind for a mode of e/istence more suited to its intuited potential than the ephemeral possibilities of this material realm" while admittedly a stri$ing born of temporality" is nonetheless directed toward atemporal and di$ine perfection !his is a stri$ing or desire rendered all the more poignant and worthy of philosophy precisely because it is born in the depths of e/istential angst" and not in the primiti$e ecstasies of unreflecti$e ritual As the last true representati$e of the &reek philosophical spirit" Plotinus is Apollonian" not .ionysian %is concern is with the intellectual beautification of the human soul" and for this reason his notion of sal$ation does not" like =rigen#s" imply an eternal state of ob'ecti$e contemplation of the di$inity -- for Plotinus" the separation between human and god breaks down" so that when the perfected soul contemplates itself" it is also contemplating the (upreme

i !he Plotinian (ynthesis

Plotinus was faced with the task of defending the true Platonic philosophy" as he understood it" against the inroads being made" in his time" most of all by &nostics" but also by orthodo/ Christianity *nstead of launching an all-out attack on these new ideas" Plotinus took what was best from them" in his eyes" and brought these ideas into concert with his own brand of Platonism ,or this reason" we are sometimes surprised to see Plotinus" in one treatise" speaking of the cosmos as a realm of forgetfulness and error" while in another" speaking of the cosmos as the most perfect e/pression of the godhead =nce we reali)e the e/tent to which certain &nostic sects went in order to brand this world as a product of an e$il and malignant .emiurge" to whom we owe absolutely no allegiance" it becomes clear that Plotinus was simply trying to temper the e/treme form of an idea which he himself shared" though in a less radical sense !he feeling of being thrown into a hostile and alien world is a philosophically $alid position from which to begin a criti+ue and in$estigation of human e/istence> indeed" modern e/istentialist philosophers ha$e often started from this same

premise %owe$er" Plotinus reali)ed that it is not the nature of the human soul to simply escape from a realm of acti$e engagement with e/ternal reality 1the cosmos2 to a passi$e receptance of di$ine form 1within the plrma2 !he (oul" as Plotinus understands it" is an essentially creati$e being" and one which understands e/istence on its own terms =ne of the beauties of Plotinus# system is that e$erything he says concerning the nature of the Cosmos 1spiritual and physical2 can e+ually be held of the (oul Now while it would be false to charge Plotinus with solipsism 1or e$en narcissism" as one prominent commentator has done> cf Julia Hriste$a in %adot 3997" p 332" it would be correct to say that the entire Cosmos is an analogue of the e/perience of the (oul" which results in the attainment of full self-consciousness !he form of Plotinus# system is the $ery form by which the (oul naturally comes to know itself in relation to its acts> and the e/pression of the (oul will always" therefore" be a philosophical e/pression 4hen we speak of the Plotinian synthesis" then" what we are speaking of is a natural dialectic of the (oul" which takes its own e/pressions into account" no matter how faulty or incomplete they may appear in retrospect" and wea$es them into a cosmic tapestry of noetic images
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3. Porphyry and Iamblichus

!orphyry o Tyre 1ca 277-7G5 CE2 is the most famous pupil of Plotinus *n addition to writing an introductory summary of his master#s theories 1the treatise entitled Launching"!oints to the #ealm o $ind2" Porphyry also composed the famous %sagoge" an introduction to the &ategories of Aristotle" which came to e/ercise an immense influence on Bediae$al (cholasticism !he e/tent of Porphyry#s in$estigati$e interests e/ceeded that of his teacher" and his so-called <scientific< works" which sur$i$e to this day" include a treatise on music 1'n !rosody2" and two studies of the astronomical and astrological theories of Claudius Ptolemy 1ca @G-39G CE2" 'n the (armonics" and an %ntroduction to The Astronomy o !tolemy %e wrote biographies of Pythagoras and Plotinus" and edited and compiled the latter#s essays into si/ books" each containing nine treatises" gi$ing them the title Enneads Inlike Plotinus" Porphyry was interested primarily in the practical aspect of sal$ific stri$ing" and the manner in which the soul could most effecti$ely bring about its transference to e$er higher realms of e/istence !his led Porphyry to de$elop a doctrine of ascent to the *ntellect by way of the e/ercise of $irtue 1aret2 in the form of #good works# !his doctrine may owe its genesis to Porphyry#s supposed early adherence to Christianity" as attested by the historian (ocrates" and suggested by (t Augustine 1cf Copleston 39;2" p 23E2 *f Porphyry had" at some point" been a Christian" this would account for his belief in the soul#s ob'ecti$e relation to the di$ine Bind -- an idea shared by =rigen" whom Porphyry knew as a youth 1cf Eusebius" The (istory o the &hurch" p 3952 -- and would e/plain his +uite un-Plotinian belief in a gradual progress toward perfection" as opposed to the #instant sal$ation# proposed by Plotinus 1cf Ennead *C E 92 %am)lichus o Apamea 1d ca 77G CE2 was a student of Porphyry %e departed from his teacher on more than a few points" most notably in his insistence on demoting Plotinus# =ne 1which Porphyry left unscathed" as it were2 to the le$el of kosmos notos" which according to *amblichus generates the intellectual realm 1kosmos noros2 *n this regard" *amblichus can be said to ha$e either se$erely

misunderstood" or neglected to e$en attempt to understand" Plotinus on the important doctrine of contemplation 1see abo$e2 !his $iew led *amblichus to posit a (upreme =ne e$en higher than the =ne of Plotinus" which generates the *ntellectual Cosmos" and yet remains beyond all predication and determinacy *amblichus also made a tripartite di$ision of (oul" positing a cosmic or All-(oul" and two lesser souls" corresponding to the rational and irrational faculties" respecti$ely !his somewhat gratuitous skewing of the Plotinian noetic realm also led *amblichus to posit an array of intermediate spiritual beings between the lower souls and the intelligible realm -- daemons" the souls of heroes" and angels of all sorts :y placing so much distance between the earthly soul and the intelligible realm" *amblichus made it difficult for the would-be philosopher to gain an intuiti$e knowledge of the higher (oul" although he insisted that e$eryone possesses such knowledge" coupled with an innate desire for the &ood *n place of the $i$id dialectic of Plotinus" *amblichus established the practice of theurgy 1theourgia2" which he insists does not draw the gods down to man" but rather renders humankind" <who through generation are born sub'ect to passion" pure and unchangeable< 1'n the $ysteries * 32 92> in ,owden 39E;" p 3772 4hereas <likeness to &od< had meant" for Plotinus" a recollection and perfection of one#s own di$ine nature 1which is" in the last analysis" identical to nous> cf Ennead *** 92" for *amblichus the relation of humankind to the di$ine is one of subordinate to superior" and so the pagan religious piety that Plotinus had scorned -- <6et the gods come to me" and not * to them"< he had once said 1cf Porphyry" Li e o !lotinus 3G2 -returns to philosophy with a $engeance *amblichus is best known for his lengthy treatise 'n the $ysteries 6ike Porphyry" he also wrote a biography of Pythagoras
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a !he Nature of the (oul

*n his introduction to the philosophy of Plotinus" entitled Launching"!oints to the #ealm o $ind" Porphyry remarks that the inclination of the incorporeal (oul toward corporeality <constitutes a second nature Jthe irrational soulK" which unites with the body< 1Launching"!oints 3E J3K2 !his remark is supposedly a commentary on Ennead *C 2" where Plotinus discusses the relation of the indi$idual soul to the All-(oul 4hile it is true that Plotinus often speaks of the indi$idual soul as being independent of the highest (oul" he does this for illustrati$e purposes" in order to show how far into forgetfulness the soul that has become enamored of its act may fall Aet Plotinus insists time and again that the indi$idual soul and the All-(oul are one 1cf esp Ennead *C 32" and that Nature is the (oul#s e/pressi$e act 1see abo$e2 *rrationality does not constitute" for Plotinus" a <second nature"< but is merely a flawed e/ercise of rationality -- that is" doxa untempered by epistm -- on the part of the indi$idual soul ,urthermore" the indi$idual soul" which comes to unite with corporeality" go$erns and controls the body" making possible discursi$e knowledge as well as sense-perception Incontrolled pathos is what Plotinus calls irrationality> the soul brings aisthsis 1percepti$e 'udgment2 to corporeality" and so pre$ents it from sinking into irrational passi$ity (o what led Porphyry to make such an interpretati$e error" if error it was5 *t is +uite possible that Porphyry had arri$ed at his own conclusions about the (oul" and tried to s+uare his own theory with what Plotinus actually taught =ne clue to the reason for the #misunderstanding# may possibly lie in Porphyry#s early in$ol$ement with Christianity 4hile Porphyry himself ne$er

tells us that he had been a Christian" Augustine speaks of him as if he were an apostate" and the historian (ocrates states outright that Porphyry had once been of the Christian faith" telling us that he left the fold in disgust after being assaulted by a rowdy band of Christians in Caesarea 1Copleston 39;2" p 23E2 *n any case" it is certain that he was ac+uainted with Plotinus# older contemporary" the Christian =rigen" and that he had been e/posed to Christian doctrine *ndeed" his own spirited attack on Christianity 1<,ifteen Arguments Against the Christians"< now preser$ed only in fragments2 shows him to ha$e possessed a wide knowledge of %oly (cripture" remarkable for a #pagan# philosopher of that era Porphyry#s e/posure to Christian doctrine" then" would ha$e left him with a $iew of sal$ation +uite different from that of Plotinus" who seems ne$er to ha$e paid Christianity much mind !he best e$idence we ha$e for this e/planation is Porphyry#s own theory of sal$ation -- and it is remarkably similar to what we find in =rigenF Porphyry#s sal$ation theory is dependent" like =rigen#s" on a notion of the soul#s ob'ecti$e relation to &od" and its conse+uent stri$ing" not to actuali)e its own di$ine potentiality" but to attain a le$el of $irtue that makes it capable of partaking fully of the di$ine essence !his is accomplished through the e/ercise of $irtue" which sets the soul on a gradual course of progress toward the highest &ood :eginning with simple #practical $irtues# 1politikai artai2 the soul gradually rises to higher le$els" e$entually attaining what Porphyry calls the paradeigmatikai artai or #e/emplary $irtues# which make of the soul a li$ing e/pression of the di$ine Bind 1cf Porphyry" Letter to $arcella 292 Note that Porphyry stops the soul#s ascent at nous" and presumably holds that the #sa$ed# soul will eternally contemplate the infinite power of the =ne *f Porphyry#s concern had been with the preser$ation of personality" then this e/planation makes some sense %owe$er" it is more likely that the true reason for Porphyry#s re'ection of the radically #hubristic# theory 1at least to pietistic pagans2 of the nature of the indi$idual soul held by Plotinus was a result of his intention to restore dignity to the traditional religion of the &reeks 1which had come under attack not only by Plotinus" but by Christians as well2 E$idence of such a program resides in Porphyry#s allegorical interpretations of %omer and traditional cultic practice" as well as his possibly apologetic work on !hilosophy rom 'racles 1now lost2 Compared to Plotinus" then" Porphyry was +uite the conser$ati$e" concerned as he was with maintaining the ancient $iew of humankind#s relati$ely humble position in the cosmic hierarchy" o$er against Plotinus# $iew that the soul is a god" owing little more than a passing nod to its #noble brethren# in the hea$ens

i !he 1re2turn to Astrology

=ne of the results of Porphyry#s conser$ati$e position toward traditional religious practice and belief was the #return# to the doctrine that the stars and planets are capable of affecting and ordering human life Plotinus argued that since the indi$idual soul is one with the All-(oul" it is in essence a co-creator of the Cosmos" and therefore not really sub'ect to the laws go$erning the Cosmos -- for the soul is the source and agent of those lawsF !herefore" a belief in astrology was" for Plotinus" absurd" since if the soul turned to beings dependent upon its own law -- i e " the stars and planets -in order to know itself" then it would only end up knowing aspects of its own act" and would ne$er return to itself in full self-consciousness ,urthermore" as we ha$e seen" Plotinian sal$ation was instantly a$ailable to the soul" if only it would turn its mind to <essential being< 1see abo$e2> because of this" Plotinus saw no reason to bring the stars and planets into the picture ,or Porphyry" howe$er" who belie$ed that the soul must gradually work toward sal$ation" a knowledge of the

operations of the hea$enly bodies and their relation to humankind would ha$e been an important tool in gaining e$er higher le$els of $irtue *n fact" Porphyry seems to ha$e held the $iew that the soul recei$es certain <powers< from each of the planets -- right 'udgment from (aturn" proper e/ercise of the will from Jupiter" impulse from Bars" opinion and imagination from the (un" and 1what else52 sensuous desire from Cenus> from the Boon the soul recei$es the power of physical production 1cf %egel" p 97G2 -- and that these powers enable to the soul to know things both earthly and hea$enly !his theoretical knowledge of the powers of the planets" then" would ha$e made the more practical knowledge of astrology +uite useful and meaningful for an indi$idual soul seeking to know itself as such !he usefulness of astrology for Porphyry" in this regard" probably resided in its ability to permit an indi$idual" through an analysis of his birth chart" to know which planet -- and therefore which <power< -- e/ercised the dominant influence on his life *n keeping with the ancient &reek doctrine of the <golden mean"< the task of the indi$idual would then be to work to bring to the fore those other <powers< -- each present to a lesser degree in the soul" but still acti$e -- and thereby achie$e a balance or sphrosun that would render the soul more capable of sharing in the di$ine Bind !he art of astrology" it must be remembered" was in wide practice in the %ellenistic world" and Plotinus# re'ection of it was an e/ception that was by no means the rule Plotinus# $iews on astrology apparently found few adherents" e$en among Platonists" for we see not only Porphyry" but also 1to an e/tent2 *amblichus and e$en Proclus declaring its $alue -- the latter being responsible for a paraphrase of Claudius Ptolemy#s astrological compendium known as the Tetra)i)los or sometimes simply as The Astronomy *n addition to penning a commentary on Ptolemy#s tome" Porphyry also wrote his own %ntroduction to Astronomy 1by which is apparently meant <Astrology"< the modern distinction not holding in %ellenistic times2 Infortunately" this work no longer sur$i$es intact 1,or more on this topic" see %ellenistic Astrology 2
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b !he 8uest for !ranscendence

!he philosophy of Plotinus was highly discursi$e" meaning that it operated on the assumption that the highest meaning" the most profound truth 1e$en a so-called mystical truth2 is translatable" necessarily" into language> and furthermore" that any and e$ery e/perience only attains its full $alue as meaning when it has reached e/pression in the form of language !his idea" of course" placed the =ne always beyond the discursi$e understanding of the human soul" since the =ne was proclaimed" by Plotinus" to be not only beyond discursi$e knowledge" but also the $ery source and possi)ility of such knowledge According to Plotinus" then" any time the indi$idual soul e/presses a certain truth in language" this $ery act is representati$e of the power of the =ne !his notion of the simultaneous intimate pro/imity of the =ne to the soul" and" parado/ically" its e/treme transcendence and ineffability" is possible only within the confines of a purely sub'ecti$e and introspecti$e philosophy like that of Plotinus> and since such a philosophy" by its $ery nature" cannot appeal to common" e/ternal perceptions" it is destined to remain the sole pro$enance of the sensiti$e and enlightened few Porphyry did not want to admit this" and so he found himself seeking" as (t Augustine tells us" <a uni$ersal way 1uni*ersalem *iam2 for the liberation of the soul< 1&ity o +od 3G 72" in ,owden"

p 3722" belie$ing" as he did" that no such way had yet been disco$ered by or within philosophy !his did not imply" for Porphyry" a wholesale re'ection of the Plotinian dialectic in fa$or of a more esoteric process of sal$ation> but it did lead Porphyry 1see abo$e2 to look to astrology as a means of orienting the soul toward its place in the cosmos" and thereby allowing it to achie$e the desired sal$ation in the most efficacious manner possible *amblichus" on the other hand" re'ected e$en Porphyry#s approach" in fa$or of a path toward the di$inity that is more worthy of priests 1hieratikoi2 than philosophers> for *amblichus belie$ed that not only the =ne" but all the gods and demi-gods" e/ceed and transcend the indi$idual soul" making it necessary for the soul seeking sal$ation to call upon the superior beings to aid it in its progress !his is accomplished" *amblichus tells us" by <the perfecti$e operation of unspeakable acts 1erga2 correctly performed acts which are beyond all understanding 1huper pasan nosin2< and which are <intelligible only to the gods< 1'n the $ysteries ** 33 9;-@" in ,owden" p 3722 !hese ritualistic acts" and the #logic# underlying them" *amblichus terms <theurgy< 1theourgia2 !hese theurgic acts are necessary" for *amblichus" because he is con$inced that philosophy" which is based solely upon thought 1ennoia2 -- and thought" we must remember" is always an accomplishment of the indi$idual mind" and hence discursi$e -- is unable to reach that which is )eyond thought !he practice of theurgy" then" becomes a way for the soul to e/perience the presence of the di$inity" instead of merely thinking or conceptuali)ing the godhead Porphyry took issue with this $iew" in his Letter to Ane)o" which is really a criticism of the ideas of his pupil" *amblichus" where he stated that" since theurgy is a physical process" it cannot possibly translate into a spiritual effect *amblichus# 'n the $ysteries was written as a reply to Porphyry#s criticisms" but the defense of the pupil did not succeed in $an+uishing the persistent attacks of the master 4hile both Porphyry and *amblichus recogni)ed" to a lesser and greater e/tent" respecti$ely" the limitations of the Plotinian dialectic" Porphyry held firm to the idea that since the di$inity is immaterial it can only be grasped in a noetic fashion -- i e " discursi$ely 1and e$en astrology" in spite of its mediati$e capacity" is still an intellectual e/ercise" open to dialectic and narrati)ation2> *amblichus" adhering roughly to the same $iew" ne$ertheless argued that the human soul must not think god on its own terms" but must allow itself to be transformed by the penetrating essence of god" of which the soul partakes through rituals intended to transform the particulari)ed" fragmented soul into a being that is <pure and unchangeable< 1cf 'n the $ysteries * 32 92> ,owden" p 3772

i !heurgy and the .istrust of .ialectic

According to the schema of Plotinian dialectic" the #stance# of the indi$idual soul is the sole source of truth certainty" being a 'udging faculty dependent always upon the higher (oul ,rom the perspecti$e of one who belie$es that the soul is immersed in Nature" instead of recogni)ing" as Plotinus did" the soul#s status as an intimate go$ernor of Nature 1which is the (oul#s own act2" dialectic may $ery well appear as a solipsistic 1and therefore faulty2 attempt on the part of an indi$idual mind to know its reality by imposing conceptual structures and strictures upon the phenomena that constitute this reality *amblichus belie$ed that since e$ery indi$idual soul is immersed in the #bodily element"# no soul is capable of understanding the di$ine nature through the pure e/ercise of human reason -- for reason itself" at the le$el of the human soul-body composite" is tainted by the changeable nature of matter" and therefore incapable of rising to that perfect knowledge that is beyond all change 1cp Plato" !haedrus 29@e2 .ialectic" then" as the soul#s

attempt to know reality" is seen by *amblichus as an attempt by an already fallen being to lead itself up out of the $ery locus of its own forgetfulness Now *amblichus does not completely re'ect dialectical reason> he simply re+uests that it be tempered by an appeal to intermediate di$inities" who will aid the fallen soul in its ascent back towards the (upreme &ood !he practice of ritualistic theurgy is the medium by which the fallen soul ascends to a point at which it becomes capable of engaging in a meaningful dialectic with the di$inity !his dependence upon higher powers ne$ertheless negates the soul#s own innate ability to think itself as god" and so we may say that *amblichus# ideas represent a decisi$e break with the philosophy of Plotinus
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4. Proclus and Pseudo-Dionysius

!roclus 193G-9E5 CE2 is" ne/t to Plotinus" the most accomplished and rigorous of the Neoplatonists :orn in Constantinople" he studied philosophy in Athens" and through diligent effort rose to the rank of head teacher or #scholarch# of that great school *n addition to his accomplishments in philosophy" Proclus was also a religious uni$ersalist" who had himself initiated into all the mystery religions being practiced during his time !his was doubtless due to the influence of *amblichus" whom Proclus held in high esteem 1cf Proclus" Theology o !lato ***> in %egel" p 9722 !he philosophical e/pression of Proclus is more precise and logically ordered than that of Plotinus *ndeed" Proclus posits the *ntellect 1nous2 as the culmination of the producti$e act 1paragein2 of the =ne> this is in opposition to Plotinus" who described the *ntellect as proceeding directly from the =ne" thereby placing Bind before !hought" and so making thought the process by which the *ntellect becomes alienated from itself" thus re+uiring the sal$ific act in order to attain the fulfillment of :eing" which is" for Plotinus" the return of *ntellect to itself Proclus understands the mo$ement of e/istence as a tripartite progression beginning with an abstract unity" passing into a multiplicity that is identified with 6ife" and returning again to a unity that is no longer merely abstract" but now actuali)ed as an eternal manifestation of the godhead 4hat constituted" for Plotinus" the sal$ific drama of human e/istence is" for Proclus" simply the logical" natural order of things %owe$er" by thus remo$ing the yearning for sal$ation from human e/istence" as something to be accomplished" positi$ely" Proclus is ignoring or o$erly intellectuali)ing" if you will" an e/istential aspect of human e/istence that is as real as it is powerful Plotinus recogni)ed the importance of the sal$ific dri$e for the reali)ation of true philosophy" making philosophy a means to an end> Proclus utili)es philosophy" rather" more in the manner of a useful" descripti$e language by which a thinker may describe the essential realities of a merely contingent e/istence *n this sense" Proclus is more faithful to the #letter# of Plato#s Dialogues> but for this same reason he fails to rise to the #spirit# of the Platonic philosophy Proclus# ma'or works include commentaries on Plato#s Timaeus" #epu)lic" !armenides" Alci)iades %" and the &ratylus %e also wrote treatises on the Theology o !lato" 'n !ro*idence" and 'n the Su)sistence o E*il %is most important work is undoubtedly the Elements o Theology" which contains the clearest e/position of his ideas
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a :eing -- :ecoming -- Being

4e found" in Plotinus" an e/planation and e/pression of a cosmos that in$ol$ed a gradual de$elopment from all but static unity toward e$entual alienation -- a moment at which the acti$e soul must make the profound decision to renounce autonomous e/istence and re-merge with the source of all :eing" or else remain fore$er in the darkness of forgetfulness and error (al$ation" for Plotinus" was relati$ely easy to accomplish" but ne$er guaranteed ,or Proclus" on the other hand" the arkh or #ruling beginning# of all 6ife is the #=ne-in-itself# 1to auto hen2" or that which is responsible for the ordering of all e/istents" insofar as e/istence is" in the last analysis" the so$ereign act or e/pression of this primordial unity or monad !he e/pression of this =ne is perfectly balanced" being a trinity containing" as distinct e/pressions" each moment of selfreali)ation of this =ne> and each of these moments" according to Proclus" ha$e the structure of yet another trinity !he first trinity corresponds to the limit" which is the guide and reference-point of all further manifestations> the second to the unlimited" which is also 6ife or the producti$e power 1dunamis2> and the third" finally" to the #mi/ture# 1mikton, diakosmos2" which is the self-reflecti$e moment o return during which the soul reali)es itself as a thinking -- i e " li*ing -- entity !hought is" therefore" the culmination of 6ife and the fulfillment of :eing !hought is also the reason 1logos2 that binds these triadic unities together in a grand harmonious plrma" if you will :eing" for Proclus" is that di$ine self-presence" <shut up without de$elopment and maintained in strict isolation< 1%egel" p 99;2 which is the ob'ect of 6ife#s thinking> this #ob'ect# gi$es rise to that thinking which leads" e$entually" to understanding 1nous2" which is the thought of being" and appears 1ekphans-" always" as #being#s begetter# 4hen the circle is completed" and reflected upon" logically" we are met with the following onto-cosmological schemaD thought 1notos" also known as #:eing#2 gi$ing rise to its <negati$e< which is thinking 1%egel" p 7972 and the thought #it is# 1notos kai noros2" produces its own precise reflection -- #pure thinking# -- and this reflection is the $ery manifestation 1phanersis2 of the deity within the fluctuating arena of indi$idual souls :eing is eternal and static precisely because it always returns to itself as Being> and #:ecoming#is the conceptual term for this process" which in$ol$es the cyclical play between that which is and is not" at any gi$en time <J!Khe thought of e$ery man is identical with the e/istence of e$ery man" and each is both the thought and the e/istence< 1Proclus" !latonic Theology *** " in %egel" p 9992 !he autonomous dri$e toward dissolution" which is so germane to the soul as such" is wiped away by Proclus" for his dialectic is impeccably clean %owe$er" he does not account for the yearning for the infinite 1as does Plotinus2 and the conse+uent e/istential desire for producti$e power falls on its face before the supreme god of autonomous creation -- which draws all e/istents into its prime$al web of dissolution
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b !he &od :eyond :eing

Cery little is known about the life of the so-called Pseudo-.ionysius ,or many centuries" the writings of this mystical philosopher were belie$ed to ha$e been from the pen of none other .ionysius" the disciple of (t Paul 6ater scholarship has shed considerable doubt on this claim" and most modern scholars belie$e this author to ha$e been acti$e during the late fifth century CE

*ndeed" the earliest reference to the .ionysian Corpus that we possess is from 577 CE !here is no mention of this author#s work before this date Careful study of the Pseudo-.ionysian writings has unco$ered many parallels between the theurgical doctrines of *amblichus" and the triadic metaphysical schema of Proclus Aet what we witness in these writings is the attempt by a thinker who is at once religiously sensiti$e and philosophically engaged to bring the highly de$eloped Platonism of his time into line with a Christian theological tradition that was apparently persisting on the fringes of orthodo/y !o this e/tent" we may refer to the Pseudo-.ionysius as a #decadent"# for he 1or she52 was writing at a time when the heyday of Platonism had attained the status of a palaios logos 1#ancient teaching#2 to be" not merely commented upon" but sa*ored as an aesthetic monument to an era already long past *t is important to note" in this regard" that the writings of Pseudo-.ionysius do not contain any theoretical arguments or dialectical moments" but simply many subtle $ariations on the apophaticLkataphatic theology for which our writer is renowned *ndeed" he writes as if his readers already kno." and are merely in need of clarification %is message is +uite simple" and is manifestly distilled from the often cumbersome doctrines of earlier thinkers 1especially *amblichus and Proclus2 Pseudo-.ionysius professes a &od who is beyond all distinctions" and who e$en transcends the means utili)ed by human beings to reach %im ,or Pseudo-.ionysius" the %oly !rinity 1which is probably analogous to Proclus# highest trinity" see abo$e2 ser$es as a <guide< to the human being who seeks not only to know but to unite .ith <him who is beyond all being and knowledge< 1Pseudo-.ionysius" The $ystical Theology 99@A-3GGGA" tr C 6uibheid 39E@2 *n the e/pression of the Pseudo-.ionysius the yearning for the infinite reaches a poetical form that at once fulfills and e/ceeds philosophy
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5. Appendix: !he "enaissance Platonists

After the closing of the Neoplatonic Academy in Athens by the Emperor Justinian in 529 CE" Platonism ceased to be a li$ing philosophy .ue to the efforts of the Christian philosopher Boethius 19EG-525 CE2" who translated Porphyry#s %sagoge" and composed numerous original works as well" the Biddle Ages recei$ed a faint glimmer of the ancient glories of the Platonic philosophy (t Augustine" also" was responsible for imparting a sense of Neoplatonic doctrine to the 6atin 4est" but this was by way of commentary and criti+ue" and not in any way a systematic e/position of the philosophy &enerally speaking" it is safe to say that the European Biddle Ages remained in the grip of Aristotelianism until the early 0enaissance" when certain brilliant *talian thinkers began to redisco$er" translate" and e/pound upon the original te/ts of Platonism Chief among these thinkers were $arsilio /icino 13977-39922 and !ico della $irandola 139;7-39992 ,icino produced fine 6atin translations of Plato#s Dialogues" the Enneads of Plotinus" and numerous works by Porphyry" *amblichus" Proclus" Pseudo-.ionysius" and many others *n addition to his scholarly ability" ,icino was also a fine commentator and philosopher in his own right %is brilliant essay on /i*e 0uestions &oncerning The $ind is a concise summary of general Neoplatonic doctrine" based upon ,icino#s own $iew that the lot of the human soul is to in+uire into its own nature" and that since this in+uiry causes the human soul to e/perience misery" the soul must do e$erything it can to transcend the physical body and li$e a life worthy of the blessed angels 1cf Cassirer" et al 1ed2 399E" p 233-

2322 &io$anni Pico" the Count of Birandola" was a colorful figure who li$ed a short life" fraught with strife %e roused the ire of the papacy by composing a $oluminous work defending ninehundred theses drawn from his $ast reading of the Ancients> thirteen of these theses were deemed heretical by the papacy" and yet Pico refused to change or withdraw a single one 6ike his friend ,icino" Pico was a de$otee of ancient wisdom" drawing not only upon the Platonic canon" but also upon the Pre-(ocratic literature and the %ermetic Corpus" especially the !oimandres Pico#s most famous work is the 'ration on the Dignity o $an" in which he elo+uently states his learned $iew that humankind was created by &od <as a creature of indeterminate nature"< possessed of the uni+ue ability to ascend or descend on the scale of :eing through the autonomous e/ercise of free will 1'ration 7" in Cassirer" et al 1ed2 399E" p 2292 Pico#s $iew of free will was +uite different from that e/pressed by Plotinus" and indeed most other Neoplatonists" and it came as no surprise when Pico composed a treatise 'n Being and the 'ne which ended on Aristotelian terms" declaring the =ne to be coincident with or persisting amidst :eing -- a wholly un-Platonic doctrine 4ith ,icino" then" we may say that Platonism achie$ed a brief moment of archaic glory" while with Pico" it was plunged once again into the +uagmire of self-referential empiricism
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#. Sources
Cassirer" Ernst> Hristeller" Paul =skar> 0andall" John %erman Jr 1editors2 The #enaissance !hilosophy o $an 1Ini$ersity of Chicago Press 399E2 Cooper" John B 1ed 2" !lato: &omplete 1orks 1%ackett Publishing 399@2 Copleston ( J " ,rederick" A (istory o !hilosophy 1$ol *" part **2D +reece and #ome 1*mage :ooks 39;22 .illon" John 139@@2" The $iddle !latonists 1Cornell Ini$ersity Press2 Eusebius 1tr & A 4illiamson 39;52" The (istory o the &hurch 1Penguin :ooks2 ,owden" &arth" The Egyptian (ermes: A (istorical Approach To The Late !agan $ind 1Cambridge Ini$ersity Press 39E;2 %adot" Pierre 1tr B Chase2" !lotinus, or The Simplicity o 2ision 1Ini$ersity of Chicago Press 39972 %egel" &eorg 4ilhelm ,riedrich 1tr E ( %aldane and ,rances % (imson2" Lectures on the (istory o !hilosophy 1$ol **2D !lato And The !latonists 1:ison :ooks 39952 Jaeger" 4erner" Early &hristianity and +reek !aideia 1%ar$ard Ini$ersity Press 39;32

6ayton" :entley 139E@2" The +nostic Scriptures 1.oubledayD !he Anchor :ible 0eference 6ibrary2 =#:rien ( J " Elmer 139;92" The Essential !lotinus: #epresentati*e Treatises /rom The Enneads 1%ackett Publishing2 =rigen of Ale/andria" &ommentary on 3ohn" tr in The Ante"Nicene /athers" $ol ? 1Eerdmans 39@9" reprint2 =rigen of Ale/andria" 'n /irst !rinciples J.e PrincipiisK" tr in The Ante"Nicene /athers" $ol *C 1Eerdmans 39@9" reprint2 Philo of Ale/andria 1tr , % Colson and & % 4hitaker2" 'n the &reation o the 1orld J.e =pificio BundiK" in $ol 3 of !he 6oeb Classical 6ibrary edition of Philo 1%ar$ard Ini$ersity Press 39292 Plotinus 1tr A % Armstrong2" The Enneads" in se$en $olumes 16oeb Classical 6ibraryD %ar$ard Ini$ersity Press 39;;2 Porphyry 1tr H &uthrie2" Launching"!oints to the #ealm o $ind JPros ta noeta aphorismoiK 1Phanes Press 39EE2 Porphyry 1tr A Mimmern2" !orphyry4s Letter to (is 1i e $arcella &oncerning the Li e o !hilosophy and the Ascent to the +ods 1Phanes Press 39E;2 Porphyry 1tr A % Armstrong2" Li e o !lotinus JCita PlotiniK" in $olume one of the 6oeb Classical 6ibrary edition of Plotinus 1%ar$ard Ini$ersity Press 39;;2 Proclus 1tr ! !aylor2" Lost /ragments o !roclus 14i)ards :ookshelf 39EE2 Proclus 1tr ! !aylor2" Ten Dou)ts &oncerning !ro*idence" and 'n the Su)sistence o E*il 1Ares Publishers 39EG2 Pseudo-.ionysius 1tr C 6uibheid 39E@2" !seudo"Dionysius: The &omplete 1orks 1Paulist Press2

*)$ori sredn'o$eko$ne filo)ofi'e (redn'o$eko$na filo)ofi'a ra)$ila se pod utica'em hriNOanske religi'e" sa 'edne strane" i antiPke filo)ofi'e" sa druge

,ilo)ofi sredn'eg $eka mahom su bili i $isoki s$eNtenici crk$e M o$emo ih filo)ofima )ato Nto su se ba$ili filo)ofi'om" a ne )ato Nto bi oni sami sebe na'pre tako na)$ali N'iho$a gla$na briga bilo 'e ra)'aNn'a$an'e i i)lagan'e hriNOanskog uPen'a !a n'iho$a d$ostruka uloga uticala 'e na neke promene u odnosu na sliku s$eta antiPke filo)ofi'e Po :ibli'i" :og 'e st$orio s$et i Po$eka i) niPega 1 ex nihilo 2" slobodnom $ol'om =n 'e liPnost ko'a go$ori i delu'e" ali i ta'no$iti $ladalac 1<s$edrQitel'<2 s$emira Na )eml'i 'e bio n'ego$ (in - %ristos" ko'i 'e <istosuNtan< sa n'im %ristos 'e 'edan lik 'ednog 'edinog :oga ($e o$o su" pored 'oN mnogih drugih sta$o$a" elementi hriNOanske dogme ko'a ni'e smela biti do$edena u pitan'e !o ot$ara 'edan problem koga rani'e ni'e bilo u filo)ofi'i I &rPko' ni'edno uPen'e ni'e u)eto kao oba$e)no i smatralo se da 'e doka) slobode u ok$iru filo)ofi'e raspra$l'ati o s$im uPen'ima &la$ni problem sredn'e$eko$ne filo)ofi'e bio 'e kako $ero$ati u hriNOansko uPen'e" a ipak us$a'ati i ra)$i'ati filo)ofsko )nan'e ko'e moQda donosi i)a)o$e samom tom uPen'u AntiPka filo)ofi'a 'e drugi i)$or )nan'a pomoOu koga se uobliPa$a sredn'o$eko$na filo)ofi'a (tari i No$i )a$et nisu pruQali )aokruQenu i ra)$i'enu teori'u o strukturi s$eta i prirodi :oga .a bi se ra)$ila teologi'a nuQno 'e bilo nado$e)ati se na sliPna ra)matran'a antiPke filo)ofi'e =sno$u )a to pr$o 'e pruQio Plotin 12G9-2@G n e 2 Plotina bi trebalo obraditi u ok$iru )a$rNnog perioda antiPke filo)ofi'e" ali 'e on toliko uticao na hriNOanst$o da ga spomin'emo tek sada (tru'a u filo)ofi'i ko'a poPin'e sa n'im na)i$a se no$oplatoni)am Plotin 'e prih$atio Platono$ s$et ide'a" ali 'e i)nad n'ega posta$io $iNi princip - Jedno ili :oga No$ina 'e da 'e suNtina Plotino$og :oga i)nad ra)uma" Nto )naPi da treba )nati da filo)ofi'a i n'eni po'mo$i posusta'u kada treba po)iti$no odrediti Nta :og 'este =$im Plotino$im postupkom ot$ara se prostor )a ono Nto Oe se kasni'e u hriNOanst$u 'asno o)naPa$ati reP'u $era" dok kod Plotina moQemo go$oriti o posebnim stan'ima u ko'ima doQi$l'a$amo :ogaD o intuici'i i eksta)i ,ilo)ofi'a 'e ust$ari retko sklona da traQi posebna stan'a da bi se imalo neko sa)nan'e" nego po pra$ilu u)ima da ga u principu s$ako i u$ek moQe imati Plotin 'e i)gradio posebnu Nemu ko'a ob'aNn'a$a strukturu s$eta Na $rhu Neme 'e Jedno 1:og2" nesh$atl'i$o i s$eprisutno =no isi'a$a 1emanira2 i) sebe .uh 1Nus2 kao sledeOi" niQi stepen biOa I .uhu se nala)i Platono$ s$et ide'a i modeli )a s$e st$ari Jos niQe 'e s$etska duNa i po'edinaPne duNe Qi$ih biOa =ne su $e)a idealnog i materi'alnog s$eta" okrenute i prema 'ednom i prema drugom" one oQi$l'a$a'u materi'u Bateri'a 'e na'niQi stupa n' :iOa" ona 'e opo)ici'a Jednom PoNto Jedno isi'a$a i) sebe s$e ostalo" ono se moQe uporediti sa suncem" dok 'e materi'a potpuna tama Ro$ek 'e biOe na sredini o$ih s$eto$a" koga n'ego$a priroda $uPe i ka materi'alnom s$etu i ka idealnom s$etu =$a Nema bila 'e prih$atl'i$a i inspirati$na )a kasni'e hriNOanske pisce Na osno$u Plotino$ih ide'a u Atini 'e u ; $eku nastao spis kasni'e po)nat kao Pseudo.ionisi'e Aeropagita" ko'i 'e dobio o$o ime po s$om na$odnom autoru" pr$om hriNOanskom episkopu u Atini I tom spisu se 'e)ikom grPke filo)ofi'e go$orilo o

imenima boQi'im i crk$eno' i nebesko' hi'erarhi'i (pis 'e tek u 9 $eku 1E2@ n e 2 na Mapadu pre$eo 'edan irski s$eNtenik" Jo$an (kot Eriugena .al'i pute$i antiPkih uPen'a ka sredn'em $eku bili su dosta )amrNeni Negde od @ $eka n e na )apadu E$rope malo ko 'e )nao grPki !o 'e ograniPa$alo upo)na$an'e sa starim grPkim filo)ofi'ama Na latinski su rani'e bila pre$edena Aristotelo$a logiPka dela 1pre$eo ih 'e :oeti'e" 9EG-5292 i Platono$ di'alog !ima'" gde se go$orilo o :ogust$araocu ko'i st$ara s$et na osno$u ide'a =stali Aristotelo$i teksto$i su na Mapad stigli na'pre preko Arapa (pisi su rani'e bili pre$edeni na arapski i komenatrisali su ih Pu$eni arapski filo)ofi A$icena 133 $ek2 i A$eroes 132 $ek2 Hada su pre$edeni na latinski uticali su na )apadnu sholastiku" filo)ofi'u ko'a se preda$ala u crk$enim Nkolama Na'Pu$eni'i poNto$alac Aristotela bio 'e !oma Ak$inski" ko'i predsta$l'a )enit )apadne teologi'e sredn'eg $eka Hada 'e mislio na Aristotela" !oma Ak$inski 'e pisao samo ,ilo)of Ritan'e Aristotelo$ih spisa i n'iho$o komentarisan'e predsta$l'alo 'e potku sredn'o$eko$ne filo)ofi'e s$e do n'enog )a$rNetka

Plotin" grPki filo)of i) 6ikopolisa" obno$itel' 'e platoni)ma" no u n'ego$u su d'elu u )naPa'no' m'eri e$identne natruhe i aristoteli)ma" stoici)ma" Pak i mistici)ma N'ego$o uPen'e" s$o'e$remeno $eoma popularno u 0imu" gd'e 'e preda$ao filo)ofi'u" temel'i se na ide'i o 3ednom" boQanst$u ko'e $'ePno emanira" a re)ultat tog emaniran'a 'e s$e posto'eOe 3edno ni'e moguOe sa)nati" 'er 'e i)nad i i)$an spo)na'nog aparata po'edinaPnog entiteta Po'a$nost 3ednog )rcali se u duhu 1nus2" ko'i" pak" u sebi nosi misleOe i )amiNl'eno" dakle pretposta$l'enu d$o'nost

D$ela %uredi&
Hako 'e Plotin nauPa$ao ugla$nom usmeno" prisutne su d$o'be glede autentiPnosti nekih spisa ko'i mu se pripisu'u Porfiri'e 'e prikupio i i)dao trideset i Petiri n'ego$a preda$an'a i ob'a$io ih u Nest s$e)aka pod na)i$om Eneade Pro'lo 1grP 2" 1933 - 9E5 2" grPki filo)of 1no$oplatoniPar2 0odom 'e i) Honstantinopolisa" a Qi$io 'e i d'elo$ao u Ateni Podu)imao 'e studi'ska puto$an'a u daleke )eml'e Napisao 'e $iNe d'ela i) podruP'a filo)ofi'e" matematike i astronomi'e" a ba$io se i poe)i'om Po)nat 'e kao $rstan komentator Euklido$ih Elemenata