Neoplatonism seeks this in the ecstatic intuition of the ineffable One.
The systematic theosophy of Plotinus and his successors does not belong to the present article, except so far as it is the presupposition of their mysticism; but, inasmuch as the mysticism of the medieval Church is directly derived from Neoplatonism through the speculations of the pseudo-Dionysius, Neoplatonic mysticism fills an important section in any historical review of the subject.
Neoplatonism owes its form to Plato, but its underlying motive is the widespread feeling of self-despair and the longing for divine illumination characteristic of the age in which it appears.
Neoplatonism appears in the first half of the 3rd century, and has its greatest representative in Plotinus.
It will be seen from the above that Neoplatonism is not.
Ancient philosophy was dying out in the schools of Athens, that the speculative mysticism of Neoplatonism made a.
When Justinian in 529 closed the university of Athens, the last seat of paganism in the Roman empire, the last seven teachers of Neoplatonism emigrated to Persia.
It appears in various forms in Indian philosophy, and is the characteristically oriental element in syncretic systems like Neoplatonism and Gnosticism.
See especially articles Evolution, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism.
Clement, as a scholar and a theologian, proposed to unite the mysticism of NeoPlatonism with the practical spirit of Christianity.
The revival of Greek from the time of Chrysoloras onward, instead of begetting a Hellenistic spirit, transported the more serious-minded to the nebulous shores of NeoPlatonism, while the less devout became absorbed in scholarly or literary ambitions, translations, elegantly phrased letters, clever epigrams or indiscriminate invective.
NeoPlatonism, which is in some respects nearer the Christian patristic than the Hellenic spirit, was as far as the radical religious thinkers of the Italian Renaissance receded.
His many-sided activity, as shown especially in his letters, and his loosely mediating position between Neoplatonism and Christianity, make him a subject of fascinating interest.
NEOPLATONISM, the name given specially to the last school of pagan philosophy, which grew up mainly among the Greeks of Alexandria from the 3rd century onwards.
Just as the Later Roman empire was at once the supreme effort of the old world and the outcome of its exhaustion, so Neoplatonism is in one aspect the consummation, in another the collapse, of ancient philosophy.
But, from the religious and moral point of view, it must be admitted that the ethical " mood " which Neoplatonism endeavoured to create and maintain is the highest and purest ever reached by antiquity.
The philosophers themselves, no doubt, still lived on the knowledge they repudiated; but the masses were trained to a superstition with which the Christian church, as the executor of Neoplatonism, had to reckon and contend.
Neoplatonism, coming last, borrowed something from all the schools.
This appears not only in its philosophical method, but also - though less prominently - in its metaphysic. And, fifthly, Neoplatonism adopted the ethics of Stoicism; although it was found necessary to supplement them by a still higher conception of the functions of the spirit.
Thus, with the exception of Epicureanism - which was always treated by Neoplatonism as its mortal enemy - there is no outstanding earlier system which did not contribute something to the new philosophy.
And yet Neoplatonism cannot be described as an eclectic system, in the ordinary sense of the word.
Neoplatonism perceived that neither sense perception nor rational cognition is a sufficient basis or justification for religious ethics; consequently it broke away from rationalistic ethics as decidedly as from utilitarian morality.
In short, philosophy as represented by Neoplatonism, its sole interest being a religious interest, and its highest object the suprarational, must be a philosophy of revelation.
In the interpretation of myths Neoplatonism followed the allegorical method, as practised especially by the Stoa; but the importance it attached to the spiritualized myths was unknown to the Stoic philosophers.
Neoplatonism claimed to be not merely the absolute philosophy, the keystone of all previous systems, but also the absolute religion, reinvigorating and transforming all previous religions.
It contemplated a restoration of all the religions of antiquity, by allowing each to retain its traditional forms, and at the same time making each a vehicle for the religious attitude and the religious truth embraced in Neoplatonism; while every form of ritual was to become a stepping-stone to a high morality worthy of mankind.
In short, Neoplatonism seizes on the aspiration of the human soul after a higher life, and treats this psychological fact as the key to the.
Neoplatonism thus represents a stage in the history of religion;' indeed this is precisely where its historical importance lies.
Neoplatonism, however, failed as signally in its religious enterprise as it did in its philosophical.
It is also true that Neoplatonism sought to come to an understanding 1 Porphyry wrote a book, lrfpi T Aoyi a' CALAof001as, but this was before he became a pupil of Plotinus; as a philosopher he was independent of the Aoyca.
To Neoplatonism political affairs are at bottom as indifferent as all other earthly things.
Important and instructive, therefore, as are the attempts made from time to time by the state and by individual philosophers to unite Neoplatonism and the universal monarchy, their failure was a foregone conclusion.
Why did not Neoplatonism set up an independent religious community?
The answer to this question involves the answer to another - Why was Neoplatonism defeated by Christianity?
Three essentials of a permanent religious foundation were wanting in Neoplatonism; they are admirably indicated in Augustine's Confessions (vii.
It is not as a philosophy, then, nor as a new religion, that Neoplatonism became a decisive factor in history, but, if one may use the expression, as a " mood."
Yet the influence of Neoplatonism on the history of our ethical culture is immeasurable, above all because it begot the consciousness that the only blessedness which can satisfy the heart must be sought higher even than the sphere of reason.
That man shall not live by bread alone, the world had learned before Neoplatonism; but Neoplatonism enforced the deeper truth - a truth which the older philosophy had missed - that man shall not live by knowledge alone.
As forerunners of Neoplatonism we may regard, on the one hand, those Stoics who accepted the Platonic distinction between the sensible world and the intelligible, and, on the other hand, the so-called Neopythagoreans and religious philosophers like Plutarch of Chaeronea and especially Numenius of Apamea.
But these cannot be considered the actual progenitors of Neoplatonism; their philosophic method is quite elementary as compared with the Neoplatonic, their fundamental principles are uncertain, and unbounded deference is still paid to the authority of Plato.
The Jewish and Christian thinkers of the first two centuries approach considerably nearer than Numenius to the later Neoplatonism.'
Philosophically considered, therefore, the Gnostic systems are very unlike the rigorous self-consistency of Neoplatonism; although they certainly contain almost all the elements which enter into the Neoplatonic theory of the universe.
Since Neoplatonism originated in Alexandria, where Oriental modes of worship were accessible to every one, and since the Jewish philosophy had also taken its place in the literary circles of Alexandria, we may safely assume that even the earliest of the Neoplatonists possessed 1 The resemblance would probably be still more apparent if we thoroughly understood the development of Christianity at Alexandria in the 2nd century; but unfortunately we have only very meagre fragments to guide us here.
But if we search Plotinus for evidence of any actual influence of Jewish and Christian philosophy, we search in vain; and the existence of any such influence is all the more unlikely because it is only the later Neoplatonism that offers striking and deep-rooted parallels to Philo and the Gnostics.
The influence of Christianity - whether Gnostic or Catholic - on Neoplatonism was at no time very considerable, although individual Neoplatonists, after Amelius, used Christian texts as oracles, and put on record their admiration for Christ.
This production is not a physical process, but an emission of force; and, since the product has real existence only in virtue of the original existence working in it, Neoplatonism may be described as a species of dynamic pantheism.
Porphyry marks the transition to a new phase of Neoplatonism, in which it becomes completely subservient to polytheism, and seeks before everything else to protect the Greek and Christianity.
In the hands of Iamblichus (q.v.), the pupil of Porphyry, Neoplatonism is changed " from a philosophical theory to a theological doctrine."
But now Neoplatonism was thrust from the great stage of history.
The more all this settled and established itself - certainly not without opposition - in the church the purer did Neoplatonism become.
At the beginning of the 6th century Neoplatonism had ceased to exist in the East as an independent philosophy.
In the West, where philosophical efforts of any kind had been very rare since the 2nd century, and where mystical contemplation did not meet with the necessary conditions, Neoplatonism found a congenial soil only in isolated individuals.
It may be said that Neoplatonism influenced the West only through the medium of the church theology, or, in some instances, under that disguise.
The question as to the influence of Neoplatonism on the development of Christianity is not easily answered, because it is scarcely possible to get a complete view of their mutual relations.
If Neoplatonism is understood in the widest sense, as the highest and fittest expression of the religious movements at work in the Graeco-Roman empire from the 2nd to the 5th century, then it may be regarded as the twin-sister of the church dogmatic which grew up during the same period; the younger sister was brought up by the elder, then rebelled against her and at last tyrannized over her.
Now, in so far as both Neoplatonism and the church dogmatic set out from the felt need of redemption, in so far as both sought to deliver the soul from sensuality and recognized man's inability without divine aid - without a revelation - to attain salvation and a sure knowledge of the truth, they are at once most intimately related and at the same time mutually independent.
When Neoplatonism appeared, the Christian church had already laid down the main positions of her theology; or if not, she worked them out alongside of Neoplatonism - that is not a mere accident - but still independently.
It was only by identifying itself with the whole history of Greek philosophy, or by figuring as pure Platonism restored, that Neoplatonism could stigmatize the church theology of Alexandria as a plagiarism from itself.
Although our sources are unfortunately very imperfect, the theology of the church does not appear to have learned much from Neoplatonism in the 3rd century - partly because the latter had not yet reached the form in which its doctrines could be accepted by the church dogmatic, and partly because theology was otherwise occupied.
From the 4th century downwards, however, the influence of Neoplatonism on the Oriental theologians was of the utmost importance.
The church gradually expressed her most peculiar convictions in dogmas, which were formulated by philosophical methods, but were irreconcilable with Neoplatonism (the Christological dogmas); and the further this process went the more unrestrainedly did theologians resign themselves to the influence of Neoplatonism on all other questions.
The doctrines of the incarnation, the resurrection of the flesh and the creation of the world in time marked the boundary line between the church's dogmatic and Neoplatonism; in every other respect, theologians and Neoplatonists drew so closely together that many of them are completely at one.