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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/815

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NEO-PYTHAGOREAN


745


NEO-l'-PLATONISM


partially M^ni . such as St Thomas Aquinas. None of woild of ideas, ^tics -I'^h ai-,r-ne muaipfe-arcuei>jjif. of things From the intellect emanates an image in which thore is a tendency to dynamic differentiation, namely the World-Soul, which is the abode of forces, as the Intellect is the abode of Ideas. From the World-Soi'l emanate the Forces (one of which is the human soil), which by a series of successive degrada- tions towards nothing become finally Matter, the non-existei't, the antithesis of God. All this process is called an emanation, or flowing. It is described in figurative language, and tlius its precise philosophical value is not determined. Similarly the One, God, is described as light, and Matter is said to be darkness. Matter, is, in fact, for Plotinus, essentially the opposit- of the Good; it is evil, and the source of all evil. T' is unreality and wherever it is present, there is not ^nly a lack of goodness but also a lack of reality. God alone is free from Matter; He alone is Light; He alone is fully real. Everywhere there is partial differentiation, partial darkness, partial unreality; in the Intellect, in the World-Soul, in Souls, in the material uni- verse. God, the reality, the spiritual, is, therefore, contrasted with the worlfl, the unreal, the material. God is noumenon, everything else is appearance, or phenomenon.

Man, being composed of body and soul, is partly, like God, spiritual, and partly like matter, the oppo- site of spiritual. It is his duty to aim at returning to God by eliminating from his being, his thoughts, and his actions, everything that is material and, there- fore, tends to separate him from God. The soul came from God. It existed before its union with the body; its survival after death is, therefore, hardly in need of proof. It will return to Ciod by way of knowledge, because that wliich separates it from God is matter and material conditions, which are only illusions or deceptive appearances. The first step, therefore, in the return of the soul to God is the act by which the soul, withdrawing from the world of sense lay a process of purification (Kadapins) , frees itself from the tram- mels of matter. Next, having retired within itself, the soul contemplates within itself the indwelling intellect. From the contemplation of the Intellect within, it rises to a contemplation of the Intellect above, and from that to the contemjilation of the One. It cannot, however, reach this final stage except by revelation, that is, by the free act of God, Who, shed- ding around Him the light of His own greatness, sends into the soul of the philosopher and saint a special lighl which enables it to see God Himself. This intui- tion of the One so fills the .soul that it excludes all con- sciousness and feeling, reduces the mind to a state of utter passivity, and renders possible the union of man with God. The ecstasy (cicirTao-is) by which this union is attained is man's supreme happiness, the goal of all his endeavour, the fulfilment of his destiny. It is a liappincss which receives no increa.se by continu- ance of time. Once the philosopher-saint has at- tained it, he becomes confirmed, so to speak, in grace. Heni'eforth forever, he is a spiritual being, a man of God, a prophet, and a wonder-worker. He commands all the powers of nature, and even bends to his will the demons themselves. He sees into the future, and in a sense sliares the vision, as he shares the life, of God.

IV. Porphyry, who in beauty and lucidity of style excels all the other followers of Plotinus, and who is distinguished also by the bitterness of his opposition to Christianity, was born A. D. 233, probably at Tyre. After having studied at Athens, he visited Rome and there became a devoted disciple of Plotinus, whom he accompanied to Campania in 263. He died about the year 303. Of his work " ."^gainst the Christians " only a few fragments, preserved in the works of the Chris- tian Apologists, have come down to us. From these it appears that he directed his attack along the lines of what we should now call historical criticism of the


there appears a philo le comparative study of religions, n-i.ro-in Hoctrineof nu" Nympharum" is an elaborate allegorical ondeney-'ition and defence of pagan my- thology. His, p. 'pfial (Sentences) is an exposition of Plotinus's phik jphy. His biographical writings in- cluded "Lives' of Pythagoras and Plotinus in which he strove to show that these "god-sent" men were not only '.lodels of philosophic sanctity but also eavfiarovp- ol, or " wonder-workers", endowed with theurgic ^;owers. The best known of all his works is a logical treatise entitled €6<rayayri, or "Introduction to t^'.e Categories of Aristotle". In a Latin transla- tion made by Boethius, this work was very widely jsed in the early Middle Ages, and exerted considera- ble influence on the growth of Scholasticism. It is, as is well known, a passage in this "Isagoge" that ia said to have given occasion to the celebrated con- troversy concerning universals in the eleventh and twelth centuries. In 'his expository works on the philosophy of Plotinus, Porphyry lays great stress on the importance of theurgic practices. He holds, of course, that the practices of asceticism are the starting- point on the road to perfection. One must begin the process of perfection by "thinning out the veil of matter" (the body), which stands between the soul and spiritual things. Then, as a means of further advancement, one must cultivate self-contemplation. Once the stage of self-contemplation is attained, fur- ther progress towards perfection is dependent on the consultation of oracles, divination, bloodless sacrifices to the superior goda and bloody sacrifices to demons, or inferior powers.

V. lamhlichus, a native of Syria, who was a pupil of Porphyry in Italy, and died about the year 330, while inferior to his teacher in power of exposition, seemed to have a firmer grasp of the speculative principles of neo-Platonism and modified more profoundly the metaphysical doctrines of the school. His works bear the comprehensive title "Summary of Pythagorean Doctrines". Whether he or a disciple of his is the au- thor of the treatise " De Mysteriis ^gyptiorum " (first pub. by Gale, Oxford, 1678, and afterwards by Par- they, Berlin, 18.57), the book is a product of his school and proves that he, like Porphyry, emphasized the magic, or theurgic, factor in the neo-Platonic scheme of salvation. As regards the speculative side of Plotinus's system, he devoted attention to the doctrine of emanation, which he modified in the direction of completeness and greater consistency. The precise nature of the modification is not clear. It is safe, however, to say that, in a general way, he forestalled the effort of Proclus to distinguish three subordinate "moments", or stages, in the process of emanation.

While these philosophical defenders of' neo-Platon- ism were directing their attacks against Christianity, representatives of the school in the more practical walks of life, and even in high places of authority, carried on a more effective warfare in the name of the school. Hierocles, pro-consul of Bithynia during the reign of Diocletian (284-30.5), not only persecuted the Christians of his province, but wrote a work, now lost, entitled "The discourse of a Lover of Truth, against the Christians", setting up the rival claims of neo-Platonic philosophy. He,like Julian the Apostate, Celsus (q.v.), and others, was roused to activity chiefly by the claim which Christianity made to be, not a national religion like Judaism, but a world-wide, or universal, religion. Julian sums up the case of philosophy against Chris- tianity thus: "Divine Government is not through a special society (such as the Christian Church) leach- ing an authoritative doctrine, but through the order of the visible universe and all the variety of civic and national institutions. The imderlying harmony of these is to be sought out by free examination, which is philo.sophy" (Whit laker, '" Xro-Platonists", p. 1.55). It is in the light of lliis principle of public policy that we must view the attempt of lamblichus to furnish a