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7 Basic Points of Platonism

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7 Basic Points of Platonism

Post  Erodius on Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:49 pm

I. The universe is a unity, a unity in which all things are interconnected with laws that can be understood.
II. The world is understood as a “hierarchy” in which the more simple and intellectual at the top is prior to and explains the existence and characteristics of the more complex and physical towards the bottom.
III. The Divine, at the top of the hierarchy, explains all things.
IV. The Soul is the principle, coming between the Divine and the corporeal world, which explains all life, including the life of the universe itself.
V. The happiness and salvation of man’s soul is by re-establishing its lost place within this hierarchy.
VI. Aesthetics and morality follows the hierarchy, meaning that the closer something participates in the higher simplicity of the divine, the more beautiful and good it is.
VII. The soul possessed modes of cognition that reflect the world hierarchy, meaning that the soul possesses intuitive noesis to apprehend divine objects, sensation to apprehend physical objects, etc.

Even though Platonists may differ on particular issues, the general outlook and disposition unifies them. Using the above overview of Gerson, and re-ordering it, I would call and describe the elements so:

1. The Principle of Unity

The universe is a whole and unified being, which all things connected in such a way that no one part exists without some relationship to the other parts. This unity however is not simply a collection of parts, but exists as a whole because it is unified by a One, which the Platonists call the Good. This One is the foundation of being for all that exists and can exist.

Further, because we and our minds share in this unity and connection, the mind is connected with the universe and so this makes the universe intelligible, capable of being understood.

Because of this Unity, there exists a holism to the universe, which simply means that the universe is an organic whole. Its parts are connected to each other in a logical and effectual way, a way that can be understood and intuited by the faculties of the trained mind.

The principle of holism is very significant to another aspects of Platonic thought, especially later “Neoplatonic” thought that describes the concept called Cosmic Sympathy. This idea is essentially that one part, when affected or manipulated, causes an effect to another part. It is the theory behind astrology, theurgy, and is behind some interpretations of modern physics, in which, the motions of physical and mental objects in one location brings about a change in the universe in another.

2. The Principle of Hierarchy

The universe possesses a “top-down” hierachy of being, in which the most simple and intelligible is prior to, above, and gives reality to the more complex and physical world we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. This higher intelligible realm gives meaning and support for the apparent flux of change we notice in our daily lives. This hierarchy is produced by a series of illuminations emanating from the one divine Source.

3. The Principle of Divinity

At the top is hiearchy, exists a single divine “One”. It is called the Good, in that all goodness comes from it. It is most unique and simple, so essentially simple and unique, that the mind colapses when attempting to contemplate it.

However, between this One and us, there is a series of divinities. For the Platonists, the universe (as a manifestation of divinity) is filled with divinities; we are surrounded by divine forces, gods and spiritual beings. One of the goals of Philosophy is to learn how to relate to this “ocean of divinity” and, by communing with it, we become divine ourselves.

4. The Principle of Soul

After the One and the gods, most important grade of being is the Soul, the rational principle that animates and gives life to the universe and to the living things within the universe.

The soul holds a centre place. It touches on the realm of the divine above, and it touches on the physical realm below. It is a bridge that connects these two aspects of reality together.

The soul is considered eternal, though its state is not constant. It undergoes countless reincarnations through the ages, and produces our personalities.

It should be noted that there is a distinction between personality and soul. While the soul is eternal, the personality, the memories, the personal identity we have in this life, ends at death, or shortly afterwards. This has implications for how we live our lives and what we should value.

5. The Principle of Knowledge

The soul, holding the middle zone of this hierarchy, possesses faculties capable of seeing into both the intelligible realms above it and the material realms below it. There are four such faculties: the intellect (or intuition), reason (or discursive thinking), imagination (or opinion), and sensation.

Each of these has a proper place and use. Individuals succeed or fail depending on how and where they use each of these faculties. For instance, if you use the faculty of opinion to understand divinity, your knowledge will be deficient. Reason is better, but intellection is most proper.

6. The Principle of Value

Since the Divine is prior and gives existence to what comes below, the closer a thing participates in its divine source, the more divine it is, the more beautiful and good it is.

The more we participate in the good and beauty that radiates from the divine One, the more sacred and whole our lives become. All acts are called beautiful or good when they are in light of or in imitation of the Divine; and all acts are ugly or evil when they are out of harmony with or done without regards to the Divine.

The beautiful aspects of our souls, those which are inherited from the Divine, are called virtues or excellences. These are wisdom, courage, temperance, faith, love, truth, piety, friendship, and justice. These are considered the most beautiful adornments that can be had, because these are not material, but rather divine, gifts.

7. The Principle of Salvation

Individual souls, our souls, have for some reason or other lost their original place in the great hierarchy of being. They have become attached to the physical world and this things distant from their divine source; they are seduced or drawn from their native land to abide in this physical world. In this current state of attachment, the souls’ vision becomes clouded and they become subject to foolish beliefs and self-detrimental behaviour.

Here they become less than is their potential, by chasing pleasure or power instead of abiding in their own divine nature. The goal of philosophy is to re-establish the soul’s original place in the hierarchy. This is accomplished through the contemplation of divine knowledge and the acquisition of divine virtues.

____________
Cited from www.platonic-philosophy.org

_________________
"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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7 Basic points of Platonism

Post  apseudos on Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:46 pm

This is very clear presentation of the principles of Platonism. So clear, in fact, that I am struck by the singular (Neo-Platonist?) parallels to the Kabballistic teachings and writings of Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi (Warren Kenton) and his exposition of the 4-worlds of the Tree of Life.

In Halevi's teachings, (the hierarchy of) the Tree(s) of Life represents the two-way path of communication between the Divine and the earth-bound existence of every day folk. The 4 worlds are the physical, the psychological, the spiritual and the Divine. Each is represented by a Tree of Life that overlaps the others. Progress from one tree to another is most simply(!) illustrated by the Jungian idea of "individuation" - where the psychological "Self" becomes the root - the most basic level - of the spiritual Tree.

In Halevi's exposition, this "individuation" - the basic step on the ladder of spiritual identity - is the subject of all "Mysteries". (As an exemplar, an excellent account of how this plays into the rituals of Freemasonry can be found in the writings of W. Kirk MacNulty).

This all makes sense. Virtually all "religions" teach that transcendence of "Ego" is the necessary first step in true spiritual development.


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Re: 7 Basic Points of Platonism

Post  Erodius on Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:15 pm

From what I know of Kabbalistic Judaism, the doctrinal overlap with Platonism and Orpheo-Pythagoreanism is considerable (truthfully, there is very little mutual disagreement) — and there is a strong case for the argument that all of these are genealogically related, with the Kabbalah likely having arisen in Judaism while Judaea was under Hellenistic Greek rule, or perhaps even a bit later, under Roman Imperial rule, wherein Judaea was under heavy Hellenistic influence.

The concordances between Orpheo-Pythagoreanism/Platonism, Kabbalistic Judaism, the various Gnostic religions, some medieval Christian mystical movements, and, by extension the ceremonies of the Freemasons, really is striking.

_________________
"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: 7 Basic Points of Platonism

Post  apseudos on Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:43 pm

Erodius wrote:The concordances between Orpheo-Pythagoreanism/Platonism, Kabbalistic Judaism, the various Gnostic religions, some medieval Christian mystical movements, and, by extension the ceremonies of the Freemasons, really is striking.

I certainly agree with that. I am a close friend of Kirk MacNulty (who I mentioned in relation to Freemasonry); and he and his wife are, in fact, the people with whom I learned most of what I know about the Kabbalah (theory and practice). They are followers in the Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi tradition. (They used to share an appartment in London with him).

Really, what I wanted to convey was this - a little bit of personal history that I suspect many on this forum can/could/will eventually relate to. I came to the Olympian gods first as an adolescent reaction to my Christian upbringing. This transformed itself into a "defence" against atheism - then a full acceptance of atheism (actually a full-blown revolt against Christianity). Realising that atheism per se offered nothing (to me) in terms of spirituality, I explored almost every other option. (I could never get to grips with Shintu, and Jainism will challenge even the hardiest!) The experience of Kabbalah, however, lead me back to a deep exploration of my Christian heritage (including regular attendance at church). Much reading, especially of and about the Gnostic gospels, finally pulled me full circle. The Olympian gods - for me - have never gone away.

As a scientist and engineer (even before I knew I was such) I was drawn to Athena and Apollo. Only life experience has finally taught me why. Athena is the embodiment of conflict and wisdom combined. Apollo is the embodiment of light, life, optimism and temperance combined. These are necessary (but not sufficient) elements of the scientist/engineer mind-set.

Well, enough of "me"! I'm just pleased to see that I've not (apparently) been barking up the wrong tree for all these years.



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Re: 7 Basic Points of Platonism

Post  Philhellene91 on Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:24 am

Sounds a lot like christianity, in particular to Orthodox christianity.

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