Neoplatonism

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Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, founded by Plotinus and based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. Neoplatonists would have considered themselves simply Platonists, and the modern distinction is due to the perception that their philosophy contained sufficiently unique interpretations of Plato to make it substantially different from what Plato wrote and believed.[citation needed] Neoplatonism attempted to reconcile Christian doctrine with the classical philosophies of Greek and Roman society.

The Neoplatonism of Plotinus and Porphyry has been referred to as in fact being orthodox Platonic philosophy by scholars like John D. Turner. This distinction provides a contrast with later movements of Neoplatonism, such as those of Iamblichus and Proclus, which embraced magical practices or theurgy as part of the soul's development in the process of the soul's return to the Source. This could also be due to one possible motive of Plotinus, being to clarify some of the traditions in the teachings of Plato that had been misrepresented before Iamblichus (see Neoplatonism and Gnosticism).

Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius Saccas, a philosopher in Alexandria.[1] Plotinus was also influenced by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Numenius of Apamea. Plotinus's student Porphyry assembled his teachings into the six sets of nine tractates, or Enneads. Subsequent Neoplatonic philosophers included Iamblichus, Hypatia of Alexandria, Hierocles of Alexandria, Proclus (by far the most influential of later Neoplatonists), Damascius (last head of Neoplatonist School at Athens), Olympiodorus the Younger, and Simplicius of Cilicia.

Thinkers from the Neoplatonic school cross-pollinated with the thinkers of other intellectual schools. For instance, certain strands of Neoplatonism influenced Christian thinkers (such as Augustine, Boethius, John Scotus Eriugena, and Bonaventure)[citation needed], while Christian thought influenced (and sometimes converted) Neoplatonic philosophers (such as Justin Martyr and Dionysius the Areopagite).[2][3] In the Middle Ages Neoplatonistic arguments were taken seriously in the thought of medieval Islamic and Jewish thinkers such as al-Farabi and Moses Maimonides,[4] and experienced a revival in the Renaissance with the acquisition and translation of Greek and Arabic Neoplatonic texts.

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