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Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

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Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

Post  Erodius on Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:59 pm

Drafted by the eminent Thomas Taylor, this is a broad summary of the basic groundwork of the Platonistic worldview. It is by no means all-encompassing of the tremendous sophistication of Platonic religion, but is an attempt, instead, to summarize the core concepts on which the more elaborate, higher concepts are based/derived, and can serve as a fine introduction for those who are not otherwise familiar with the Platonic religious system, for whom immediate diving into long, high-level tomes is, understandably, overwhelming.
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The Platonic Philosophers' Creed

1. I believe that there is one first cause of all things, whose nature is so immensely
transcendent, that it is even superessential; and that in consequence of this it cannot
properly either be named or spoken of, or conceived by opinion, or be known, or
perceived by any being.

2. I believe, however, that if it be lawful to give a name to that which is truly ineffable,
the appellations of The One and The Good are of all others the most adapted to it; the
former of these names indicating that it is the principle of all things, and the latter that it
is the ultimate object of desire to all things.

3. I believe that this immense principle produced such things as are first and proximate
to itself, most similar to itself; just as the heat immediately proceeding from fire is most
similar to the heat in the fire; and the light immediately emanating from the sun, to that
which the sun essentially contains. Hence, this principle produces many principles
proximately from itself.

4. I likewise believe that since all things differ from each other, and are multiplied with
their proper differences, each of these multitudes is suspended from its one proper
principle. That, in consequence of this, all beautiful things, whether in souls or in bodies,
are suspended from one fountain of beauty. That whatever possesses symmetry, and
whatever is true, and all principles are in a certain respect connate with the first principle,
so far as they are principles, with an appropriate subjection and analogy. That all other
principles are comprehended in this first principle, not with interval and multitude, but as
parts in the whole, and number in the monad. That it is not a certain principle like each
of the rest; for of these, one is the principle of beauty, another of truth, and another of
something else, but it is simply principle. Nor is it simply the principle of beings but it is the
principle of principles: it being necessary that the characteristic property of principle after the
same manner as other things, should not begin from multitude, but should be collected
into one monad as a summit, and which is the principle of principles.

5. I believe, therefore, that such things as are produced by the first good in consequence
of being connascent with it, do not recede from essential goodness, since they are
immovable and unchanged, and are eternally established in the same blessedness. All 2
other natures, however, being produced by the one good, and many goodnesses, since
they fall off from essential goodness, and are not immovably established in the nature of
divine goodness, possess on this account the good according to participation.

6. I believe that as all things considered as subsisting causally in this immense principle,
are transcendently more excellent than they are when considered as effects proceeding
from him; this principle is very properly said to be all things, prior to all; priority denoting
exempt transcendency. Just as number may be considered as subsisting occultly in the
monad, and the circle in the centre; this occult being the same in each with causal
subsistence.

7. I believe that the most proper mode of venerating this great principle of principles is
to extend in silence the ineffable parturitions of the soul to its ineffable co-sensation; and
that if it be at all lawful to celebrate it, it is to be celebrated as a thrice unknown darkness,
as the God of all Gods, and the unity of all unities, as more ineffable than all silence, and
more occult than all essence, as holy among the holies, and concealed in its first progeny,
the intelligible Gods.

8. I believe that self-subsistent natures are the immediate offspring of this principle, if it
be lawful thus to denominate things which ought rather to be called ineffable unfoldings
into light from the ineffable.

9. I believe that incorporeal forms or ideas resident in a divine intellect, are the
paradigms or models of every thing which has a perpetual subsistence according to
nature. That these ideas subsist primarily in the highest intellects, secondarily in souls,
and ultimately in sensible natures; and that they subsist in each, characterised by the
essential properties of the beings in which they are contained. That they possess a
paternal, producing, guardian, connecting, perfective and uniting power. That in divine beings they
possess a power fabricative and gnostic; in nature a power fabricative but not gnostic: and
in human souls in their present condition through a degradation of intellect, a power
gnostic, but not fabricative.

10. I believe that this world, depending on its divine artificer, who is himself an
intelligible world, replete with the archetypal ideas of all things, is perpetually flowing, and
perpetually advancing to being, and, compared with its paradigm, has no stability, or
reality of being. That considered, however, as animated by a divine soul, and as being the
receptacle of divinities from whom bodies are suspended, it is justly called by Plato, a
blessed God.

11. I believe that the great body of this world, which subsists in a perpetual dispersion of
temporal extension, may be properly called a whole, with a total subsistence, or a whole of wholes,
on account of the perpetuity of its duration, though this is nothing more than a flowing
eternity. That the other wholes which it contains are the celestial spheres, the sphere of
æther, the whole of air considered as one great orb, the whole earth, and the whole sea.
That these spheres are parts with a total subsistence, and through this subsistence are
perpetual.

12. I believe that all the parts of the universe, are unable to participate of the providence
of divinity in a similar manner, but some of its parts enjoy this eternally, and others
temporally; some in a primary and others in a secondary degree; for the universe being a
perfect whole, must have a first, a middle, and a last part. But its first parts, as having the
most excellent subsistence, must always exist according to nature; and its last parts must
sometimes exist according to, and sometimes contrary to nature. Hence the celestial
bodies, which are the first parts of the universe, perpetually subsist according to nature,
both the whole spheres, and the multitude co-ordinate to these wholes; and the only 3
alteration which they experience is a mutation of figure, and variation of light at different
periods; but in the sublunary region, while the spheres of the elements remain on account
of their subsistence, as wholes, always according to nature; the parts of the wholes have
sometimes a natural, and sometimes an unnatural subsistence: for thus alone can the
circle of generation unfold all the variety which it contains. The different periods
therefore in which these mutations happen, are with great propriety called by Plato,
periods of fertility and sterility: for in these periods a fertility or sterility of men, animals,
and plants, takes place; so that in fertile periods mankind will be both more numerous,
and upon the whole superior in mental and bodily endowments to the men of a barren
period. And a similar reasoning must be extended to irrational animals and plants. The
most dreadful consequence, likewise, attending a barren period with respect to mankind
is this, that in such a period they have no scientific theology, and deny the existence of
the immediate progeny of the ineffable cause of all things.

13. I believe that as the divinities are eternally good and profitable, but are never
noxious, and ever subsist in the same uniform mode of being, we are conjoined with
them through similitude when we are virtuous, but separated from them through
dissimilitude when we are vicious. That while we live according to virtue we partake of
the Gods, but cause them to be our enemies when we become evil: not that they are
angry (for anger is a passion, and they are impassive,) but because guilt prevents us from
receiving the illuminations of the Gods, and subjects us to the power of dæmons of
fateful justice. Hence, I believe, that if we obtain pardon of our guilt through prayers and
sacrifices, we neither appease the Gods, nor cause any mutation to take place in them;
but by methods of this kind, and by our conversion to a divine nature, we apply a remedy
to our vices, and again become partakers of the goodness of the Gods. So that it is the
same thing to assert, that divinity is turned from the evil, as to say that the sun is
concealed from those who are deprived of sight.

14. I believe that a divine nature is not indigent of any thing. But the honours which are
paid to the Gods are performed for the sake of the advantage of those who pay them.
Hence, since the providence of the Gods is extended every where, a certain habitude or
fitness is all that is requisite for the reception of their beneficent communications. But all
habitude is produced through imitation and similitude. On this account temples imitate
the heavens, but altars the earth. Statues resemble life, and on this account they are
similar to animals. Herbs and stones resemble matter; and animals which are sacrificed,
the irrational life of our souls. From all these, however, nothing happens to the Gods
beyond what they already possess; for what accession can be made to a divine nature?
But a conjunction of our souls with the gods is by these means effected.

15. I believe that as the world considered as one great comprehending whole is a divine
animal, so likewise every whole which it contains is a world, possessing in the first place a
self-perfect unity proceeding from the ineffable, by which it becomes a God; in the
second place, a divine intellect; in the third place, a divine soul; and in the last place a
deified body. That each of these wholes is the producing cause of all the multitude which
it contains, and on this account is said to be a whole prior to parts; because considered as
possessing an eternal form which holds all its parts together, and gives to the whole
perpetuity of subsistence, it is not indigent of such parts to the perfection of its being.
And it follows by a geometrical necessity, that these wholes which rank thus high in the
universe must be animated.

16. Hence I believe that after the immense principle of principles in which all things
causally subsist absorbed in superessential light, and involved in unfathomable depths, a
beautiful series of principles proceeds, all largely partaking of the ineffable, all stamped 4
with the occult characters of deity, all possessing an overflowing fullness of good. From
these dazzling summits, these ineffable blossoms, these divine propagations - being, life,
intellect, soul, nature and body depend; monads suspended from unities, deified natures
proceeding from deities. That each of these monads is the leader of a series which
extends to the last of things, and which, while it proceeds from, at the same time abides
in, and returns to its leader Thus all beings proceed from, and are comprehended in the
first being; all intellects emanate from one first intellect; all souls from one first soul; all
natures blossom from one first nature; and all bodies proceed from the vital and
luminous body of the world. That all these great monads are comprehended in the first
one, from which both they and all their depending series are unfolded into light. And
hence this first one is truly the unity of unities, the monad of monads, the principle of
principles, the God of gods, one and all things, and yet one prior to all.

17. I also believe, that of the Gods some are mundane, but others super-mundane; and
that the mundane are those who fabricate the world. But of the supermundane, some
produce essences, others intellect, and others soul; and on this account, they are
distinguished into three orders. Of the mundane Gods also, some are the causes of the
existence of the world; others animate it; others again harmonise it, thus composed of
different natures; and lastly, others guard and preserve it when harmonically arranged.
Since these orders are four, and each consists of things first, middle, and last, it is
necessary that the governors of these should be twelve. Hence Zeus, Poseidon, and
Hephaestus, fabricate the world; Demeter, Hera, and Artemis, animate it; Hermes,
Aphrodite, and Apollo, harmonise it; and lastly, Hestia, Athena, and Ares, preside over it
with a guardian power. But the truth of this, may be seen in statues, as in enigmas. For
Apollo harmonises the lyre; Pallas Athena is invested with arms; and Aphrodite is naked;
since harmony produces beauty, and beauty is not concealed in subjects of sensible
inspection. I likewise believe that as these Gods primarily possess the world, it is
necessary to consider the other mundane Gods as subsisting in them; as Dionysius in
Zeus, Aesculapius in Apollo, and the Graces in Aphrodite. We may also behold the
spheres with which they are connected, viz. Hestia with the earth, Poseidon with water,
Hera with air, and Hephaestus with fire. But Apollo and Artemis are assumed for the
sun and moon; the sphere of Kronos is attributed to Demeter; Æther to Pallas; and
heaven is common to them all.

18. I also believe that man is a microcosm, comprehending in himself partially every thing
which the world contains divinely and totally. That hence he is endued with an intellect
subsisting in energy, and a rational soul proceeding from the same causes as those from
which the intellect and soul of the universe proceed. And that he has likewise an ethereal
vehicle analogous to the heavens, and a terrestrial body composed from the four
elements, and with which also it is co-ordinate.

19. I believe that the rational part of man, in which his essence consists, is of a selfmotive nature, and that it subsists between intellect, which is immovable both in essence
and energy, and nature, which both moves and is moved.

20. I believe that the human as well as every mundane soul, uses periods and restitutions
of its proper life. For in consequence of being measured by time, it energizes transitively,
and possesses a proper motion. But every thing which is moved perpetually, and
participates of time, revolves periodically, and proceeds from the same to the same.

21. I also believe that as the human soul ranks among the number of those souls that
sometimes follow the mundane divinities, in consequence of subsisting immediately after
angels, dæmons and heroes the perpetual attendants of the Gods, it possesses a power of
descending infinitely into the sublunary region, and of ascending from thence to real 5
being. That in consequence of this, the soul, while an inhabitant of earth, is in a fallen
condition, an apostate from deity, an exile from the orb of light. That she can only be
restored, while on earth, to the divine likeness, and be able after death to re-ascend to the
intelligible world, by the exercise of the cathartic, and theoretic virtues; the former purifying
her from the defilements of a mortal nature, and the latter elevating her to the vision of
true being. And that such a soul returns after death to her kindred star from which she
fell, and enjoys a blessed life.

22. I believe that the human soul essentially contains all knowledge, and that whatever
knowledge she acquires in the present life, is nothing more than a recovery of what she
once possessed; and which discipline evocates from its dormant retreats.

23. I also believe that the soul is punished in a future for the crimes she has committed
in the present life; but that this punishment is proportioned to the crimes, and is not
perpetual; divinity punishing, not from anger or revenge, but in order to purify the guilty
soul, and restore her to the proper perfection of her nature.

24. I also believe that the human soul on its departure from the present life, will, if not
properly purified, pass into other terrene bodies; and that if it passes into a human body,
it becomes the soul of that body; but if into the body of a brute, it does not become the
soul of the brute, but is externally connected with the brutal soul in the same manner as
presiding dæmons are connected, in their beneficent operations, with mankind; for the
rational part never becomes the soul of the irrational nature.

25. Lastly, I believe that souls that live according to virtue, shall in other respects be
happy; and when separated from the irrational nature, and purified from all body, shall
be conjoined with the Gods, and govern the whole world, together with the deities by
whom it was produced.

_________________
"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: Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

Post  hhodios on Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:55 am

Erodius, I lean something from you every time I read your posts. Χαίρε!
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Re: Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

Post  Erodius on Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:55 pm

Thank you, truly. I'm touched.

If that is the case, I consider my labors a meaningful success. Wink 

_________________
"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: Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

Post  Αρχιμήδης on Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:14 am

More and more I read your posts Erodious I feel there is a stoic quality to your posts.

What do you think about panentheism?

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Re: Taylor's 'Platonic Creed'

Post  Erodius on Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:36 am

I think highly of much of Stoic ideology; however, I am religiously an Orphic, and philosophically a Pythagorean/Neoplatonist. The major points of divergence are in the area of the soteriology of the soul. For the Stoics, salvation comes from the submission of the soul to an irresistible Εἱμαρμένη (Fate/Determinism). For us, salvation comes from the ordering and separation of the two elements within the self — quite similar, in a variety of ways, to the Samkhya philosophy of India.

We might be called panentheistic in certain senses, but not in others.

_________________
"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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