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Silly Question

Post  tayarlin on Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:41 pm

I feel absurd asking such a question, but when writings, such as Plato, use "God" what or who are they referring to? I've wondered about this since reading The Republic last fall and have never had the gumption to ask. Embarassed

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Achrelus on Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:39 pm

I asked myselff and others the same question. I believe, someone will correct me if I am wrong, that he used "the devine mover" and they took that to mean "god" in translation. Plato and his later followers had a different view and weren't average hellenists.

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:22 pm

Platonism and related lines range from considerably to radically different from archaic Homero-Hesiodian common religion in almost every respect. Although Plato most likely devised his philosophical system himself, he is believed to have been heavily influenced by Orpheo-Pythagorean ideas, although he makes it clear that his philosophy is not synonymous with these entirely.

Orphism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, Peripateticism and their various lines are theologically in a whole different ballpark, so to speak, from the 'theology' with which one would be familiar from only being exposed to popular mythology. Although the specifics vary to different degrees between these systems, they are, overall, neither traditionally polytheistic nor traditionally monotheistic, but somewhere in between, akin to much Hindu theology. God is considered to be basically one at the most essential level, as is all of reality, but differentiated at different degrees depending on what ontological level one is speaking of. In the theology of Orphism and religious Pythagoreanism and Platonism, especially in their height of revival in the Imperial period, is monarchianist and emanationist. The Dodecad Gods, as well as the various lower deities, are considered to have distinction in the sense that different gods are not considered to be identical to one another — i.e. Venus/Aphrodite and Ceres/Dimitra, for instance, are considered to exist distinctly from one another at the level of what I would call the 'geocentric cosmos', but at an ontological level above that, they all subsist within a higher, usually genderless or hermaphroditic, Demiurge god (whom Orphics, Pythagoreans, and many later Platonists called some variation of 'Zeus'). Beyond this, especially in the often exceedingly complex, cosmic 'Russian-doll' hierarchies that developed in later Platonic and Platonistic theologies, this supreme Demiurge is itself contained within higher and higher 'Russian-dolls', until eventually one reached a level at which any further reference becomes impossible due to the ineffability that is reached upon exceeding the bounds of existence itself.

It can get very complex very quickly. What Plato means by God sort of depends on the particular instance.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Silly Question

Post  J_Agathokles on Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:20 am

One also has to account for the singular plural. This is when a word is used in the singular form, but used to denote the whole of what it means. For example in English the word "man" is often used as singular, to denote all men, or even all of humankind. In some cases the ancients did the same things with their word for "God".

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Callisto on Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:27 pm

J_Agathokles wrote:One also has to account for the singular plural. This is when a word is used in the singular form, but used to denote the whole of what it means. For example in English the word "man" is often used as singular, to denote all men, or even all of humankind. In some cases the ancients did the same things with their word for "God".

This is how I've understood it as well.

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Lesbian Believer on Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:55 pm

@tayarlin: "Silly questions" do not exist. Ask whatever you want to. Smile

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:31 pm

There are certainly such things as silly questions. However, no honest question is ever a silly one. Very Happy

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Silly Question

Post  Linda on Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:17 pm

I've always been under the impression that this 'God' was in some way a Gaia avatar in one way or another. Like some proto-deity or cosmic mother, something which essense would eventually form into the twelve gods and the other, lower circles of deities, comparable to how the universe was formed out of a single matter-energy according to the big bang theory.

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:37 pm

Linda wrote:I've always been under the impression that this 'God' was in some way a Gaia avatar in one way or another. Like some proto-deity or cosmic mother, something which essense would eventually form into the twelve gods and the other, lower circles of deities, comparable to how the universe was formed out of a single matter-energy according to the big bang theory.


That is the basic idea, at least with some Platonists, as well as the Orphics. However, to say it is a form of Earth, at least from the Orphic tradition, as well as Platonists like Iamblikhos, Porphyrios and Plotinus is a pretty serious error. Earth is considered the lowest station of material progression. It is a mistake to call this principle either male or female, because the active and receptive duality is subsequent to this principle. In Orphism, this unified godhead is most often called hermaphroditic, as an undifferentiated union of the creative principles. This principle is addressed also as the Supreme Zefs, who is Lord and also Mother, and Nature, called Supreme Mother, Father, and Father of Herself – a paradoxical statement to anyone in a dualist frame of reference.

You seem to have come to the same conclusion we have almost exactly, however, we deny the ascription of separated dualistic qualities to this principle/source-divinity.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Silly Question

Post  Linda on Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:43 pm

Erodius wrote: however, we deny the ascription of separated dualistic qualities to this principle/source-divinity.

I'm with you. The gender thing ("cosmic mother"/"all father") is of course obsolete when talking about primal existences like that, because they came into existence long before the dual genders were formed. Formed out of the evolution on this planet Earth, while in another galaxy far far away it doesn't nessecarely have to look like that, they might have 68 genders or transient genders or none at all, we can only speculate... However we little ones with our tiny brains tend to get stuck in our day to day world view and therefor we tend to use the words and the parables we are used to. Thus 'cosmic mother' from me...
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Re: Silly Question

Post  J_Agathokles on Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:39 am

Linda wrote:while in another galaxy far far away it doesn't nessecarely have to look like that, they might have 68 genders or transient genders or none at all, we can only speculate...

Even on our own Earth we have species with more then two genders. I heard of a species of microscopic animal that has eight genders in it's species, and it can mate to reproduce with every single one of them except the ones who are the same gender. Even on our Earth it's not as simple as the male-female binary.

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Linda on Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:42 am

Yes, and there are fishes which can perform sex-changes, somtimes several times during their lifespans.
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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:58 am

In any act of generation, there is always a kinesis, and a receiver/carrier of that kinesis.

If a machine throws a ball, it gives kinesis, while the air through which it flies carries that kinesis. There is an obvious similitude there to sexual reproduction as it exists on Earth, but to say that a terrestrial conception of biological sex precedes the earth itself is really rather nonsensical.


Anywhere in the universe, there will be action and reception, but one needn't even leave earth to find examples of the terrestrial sexual binary being a very poor demonstration of this.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Silly Question

Post  Linda on Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:42 pm

Erodius wrote:but to say that a terrestrial conception of biological sex precedes the earth itself is really rather nonsensical.
That wasn't what I said but rather that we tend to express usselves using terms we are familiar with even when we do describe something we are not really familiar with. Othervise it would be de facto impossible to talk to other people about more abstract issues. And giving a proto-divine essense the epithet of a 'mother' was more like a random way of saying that it was there first and existed as an origin comparable to a mother in relation to children.
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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:40 pm

That wasn't what I said but rather that we tend to express usselves using terms we are familiar with even when we do describe something we are not really familiar with.

Of course we do that Wink It's only natural that we would use our own frame of reference even at a level whereat it is no longer truthfully applicable.

In my religion, when we use parental language to speak of transcendent gods, we recognize that it is not truly accurate to use such language, but we recognize that it is helpful in terms of conceptualizing abstractions.

Nevertheless, though there exist in the Orpheo-Pythagorean and related traditions other titles for the generative essences, like Ratio and Material, Limit and Unlimited, Monad and Dyad, Continuous and Divisible, when using parental terminology, we always say 'Father and Mother' or 'All-Parent'. Not doing so both introduces a duality to a nonduality, as well as gives assent to sexual hierarchy and interpolations of sex-based religious superiority.

Calling the Supreme Essence 'Father' puts maleness in charge, and in a place where it did not yet exist, calling It 'Mother' puts femaleness in charge, and in a place where it did not yet exist either.

I do not stand for anyone being made to feel inferior because of his/her sex.

*down off my soapbox*

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Silly Question

Post  Linda on Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Well then let's just call that existence parental then. (Which was a gender term existing in an SciFi tale with hermaphroditic/one-gendered aliens and which I found usable Surprised )

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Re: Silly Question

Post  Erodius on Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Linda wrote:Well then let's just call that existence parental then. (Which was a gender term existing in an SciFi tale with hermaphroditic/one-gendered aliens and which I found usable Surprised )


I think that's an excellent non-gendered word that's still within human comprehensibility.

Its etymological derivation is even quite appropriate; 'parent' comes from the Latin present active participle 'parens, parentis', which derives from the verb 'pario, parere', which means 'beget', 'create' or 'produce.' cheers

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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