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NEO-PYTHAGOREAN


745


NEO-PYTHAGOREAN


Scholasticism, such as St. Thomas Aquinas. None of the later scholastics, however, went the full length of adopting the metaphysics of the Pseudo-Aroopagitc in its essential principles, as did John Scotus Eriugena in his "Dc divisiunc naturie".

After the .■suppression of the Athenian school of philosophy by Justinian in .529, the representatives of neo-Platonism went, as we have seen, to Persia. They did not remain long in that country. Another exo- dus, however, had more permanent consequences. A number of Clreck neo-Platonists who settled in Syria carried with them the works of Plato and Aristotle, which, having been translated into Syriac, were after- wards translated into .\rabic, Hebrew, and Latin, and thus, towards the middle of the twelfth century, began to re-enter Christian Europe through Moorish Spain. These translations were accompanied by commen- taries which continued the neo-Platonic tradition com- menced by Simplicius. At the same time a num- ber of anonymous philosophical works, written for the most part under the influence of the school of Proclus, some of which were ascribed to Aristotle, began to be known in Christian Europe, and were not without influence on Scholasticism. Again, works like the "Fons vitte" of Avicebrol, which were known to be of Jewish or Arabian origin, were neo-Platonic, and helped to determine the doctrines of the scholastics. For example, Scotus's doctrine of materia -primo-prima is acknowledged by Scotus himself to be derived from Avicebrol. Notwithstanding all these facts. Scholas- tic philosophy was in spirit and in method Aristo- telean; it explicitly rejected many of the neo-Platonic interpretations, such as the unit}' of the .4ctive Intel- lect. For this reason all unprejudiced critics agree that it is an exaggeration to describe the whole Scho- lastic movement as merely an episode in the history of neo-Platonism. In recent times this exaggerated view has been defended by M. Picavet in his " Esquisse d'une histoire comparee des philosophies medi6vales" (Paris, 1907).

The neo-Platonic elements in Dante's "ParadLso" have their origin in his interpretation of the scholas- tics. It was not until the rise of Humanism in the fifteenth century that the works of Plotinus and Pro- clus were translated and studied with that zeal which characterized the Platonists of the Renaissance. It was then, too, that the theurgic, or magic, elements in neo-Platonism were made popular. The same tend- ency is found in Bruno's "Eroici Furori", interpreting Plotinus in the direction of materialistic Pantheism. The active rejection of Materialism by the Cambridge Platonists in the seventeenth century carried with it a revival of interest in the neo-Platonists. An echo of this appears in Berkeley's "Siris", the last phase of his opposition to materialism. Whatever neo- Platonic elements are recognizable in the transcen- dentalists, such as Schelling and Hegel, can hardly be cited as survivals of philosophical principles. They are rather inspirational influences, such as we find in Platonizing poets like Spenser and Shelley.

Creuzer .vnd Moser, edd., Plotini opera (Oxford, 1835), tr. Taylor (London, 1794-1817); Johnson (tr.). Three Treatises of Plotinus (Osceola, Missouri, 1880); Cousin, Prodi Opera (Paris, 1864), tr. Taylor (London, 17S9 and 1825); Nacck ed., Por- phyrii Opuscula (Leipzig, 1860 and 1886), tr. Taylor; Idem, tr. (London, 1823) ; Whittaker, The Nco-Plat nists (Cambridge, 1901); BioG, The Christian Neo-Plaiu,,,,^ oj ,m widria (Oxford, 1886); Neo-Platonism (London. 1895) ; V.acherot, L' Ecole d' Alei- andrie (Paris, 1846-1851); Simon, Histoire de I'ecole d' Alexandrie (Paris, 1843-4.5); Zeller, Philosophic der Griechen, III (4th ed., Leipzig. 1903), 2,468 sqq.; Turner, History of Philosophy (Bos- ton, 1903), 205 sqq.

William Turner.

Neo-Pythagorean Philosophy. — The ethico-re-

ligious suciel y founded by Pythagoras, which flour- ished especially in Magna Cinecia in the fifth century B. c, disappears completely from history during the fourth century, when philosophy reached the zenith of its perfection at Athens. Here and there, however,


there appears a philosopher who reverts to the Pytha^ gorean doctrine of numbers, and in a general way man- ifests the tendency of the school towards religious ethics and the practices of asceticism. Beginning with the middle of the first century B. c, a more sys- tematic attempt was made to restore the speculative philosophy of the Pythagoreans and combine it with the practice of astrology and sorcery. The first of these systematic neo-Pythagoreans was Figulus, a Roman philosopher who lived at Alexandria about the middle of the first century B. c, and was a friend of Cicero. Other Romans also contributed to the move- ment, the chief of whom were Vatinius and the Sex- tians. It was, however, at Alexandria that the most influential of the neo-Pythagoreans taught. In the second and third centuries of the Christian era, the philosophers of the school became, so to speak, apos- tles of the cult, and travelled throughout the Roman Empire. The names most prominently associated with this active philosophical campaign are those of Moderatus of Gades, Apollonius of Tyana, Nicoma- chus of Gerasa, Numenius, and Philostratus. Like the neo-Platonists (see Neo-Platonism), the neo- Pythagoreans definitely placed their philosophy at the disposal of the pagan opponents of Christianity. Their original aim — to save the pagan world from moral and social ruin by the introduction of the re- ligious element into philosophy and into conduct — was, of course, conceived without any reference to the claims of Christianity. But as soon as the Christian religion came to be recognized as a factor in the intel- lectual and political life of the Roman Empire, phi- losophy, in the form of Neo-Pythagoreanism, made active campaign against the Christians, proclaimed its own system of spiritual regeneration, and set up in opposition to Christ and the Saints the heroes of philosophical tradition and legend, especially Pythag- oras and Apollonius of Tyana.

Speculative System. — The neo-Pythagoreans were methodical eclectics. They admitted into their speculative system not only the traditional teachings of the Pythagorean school but also elements of Pla- tonism, Aristoteleanism, and Stoicism. Besides, they derived from Oriental religions with which they were in contact at Rome as well as at Alexandria, a highly spiritual notion of God. There was, naturally, very little coherence in a system developed from principles so divergent. Neither was there agreement in the school even in respect of fundamental tenets. Never- theless, it may, in general, be said that the school placed God, the supremely spiritual One, at the head of all reality. This, of course, was Oriental in its origin. Next, they interpreted the Pythagorean doc- trine in a Platonic sense, when they taught that num- bers are the thoughts of God. 'Thirdly, borrowing from Stoicism, they went on to maintain that numbers, emanating as forces from the divine thoughts, are, not indeed the substance of things, but the forms accord- ing to which things are fashioned. From Aristotle they borrowed the doctrine that the world is eternal and that there is a distinction between terrestrial and celestial matter. Their cosmology, in spite of this Aristotclean influence, is dominated to a great extent by the belief that the stars are deities and that the powers of air, earth, and sky are demons.

Ethics and Religion. — In theirtheory of conduct the neo-Pythagoreans attach great importance to personal asceticism, contemplation, and the worship of a purely spiritual deity. At the same time, it is an essential part of their ethical system that freedom from the trammels of matter and final union with God are to be obtained only by invoking the aiil of friendly spirits and God-sent men and by thwarting llic efforts of malign demons. This latter prim-iple led to the practice of magic and sorcery and event u:illy to a good deal of charlatanry. The principle tluit the friendly spirits and the souls of God's special mes.sengers aid