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.
The traits common to Neoplatonism and all these speculations are well summed up by Zeller (Philos.
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.
Thinkers chose their doctrines from many sources - from the venerated teaching of Aristotle and Plato, from that of the Pythagoreans and of the Stoics, from the old Greek mythology, and from the Jewish and other Oriental systems. Yet it must be observed that Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, and the other systems which are grouped under the name Alexandrian, were not truly eclectic, consisting, as they did, not of a mere syncretism of Greek and Oriental thought, but of a mutual modification of the two.
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.'
In the introduction to his Dialogue with Trypho, Justin follows a method which bears a striking resemblance to the later method of Neoplatonism: he seeks to base the Christian knowledge of God - that is, the knowledge of the truth - on Platonism, Scepticism and " Revelation."
A still more remarkable parallel to the later Neoplatonism is afforded by the Christian Gnostics of Alexandria, especially Valentinus and the followers of Basilides.2 Like the Neoplatonists, the Basilidians believed, not in an emanation from the Godhead, but in a dynamic manifestation of its activity.
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.