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The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:41 pm

What do you think about this guy's philosophy on the existence and being of the Greek Gods?

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:13 pm

Not too terribly off the mark, though it is a bit simplistic... And it seems like he's reading the myths a tad too literally, though I can't be for sure.

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:18 pm

I think he's referring to the idea that the myths can describe the abilities and powers of the Gods, although the myth itself may not be literal.
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:25 pm

Ultimately, the Gods are beyond being, so they aren't bound by time and space at all, nor do they really move through it, so he would be correct in saying that Poseidon and Artemis aren't bound by the sea and the forest, but that's mostly because they are everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:35 pm

Having these theological discussions is good.
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Vadzhij on Fri May 01, 2015 12:25 am

I personally hold the view that the gods are not beyond Being and non-Being, I don't know of any ancient source who postulated this. Plotinus interpreted that the One is beyond Being based on a verse of the Republic regarding the Good but this was only one interpretation. Others, including many Middle-Platonists regarded the One as Being-in-itself. Based on Platonic dialogues and I regard the so-called Platonic Forms, which I identify with Aristotelian Categories as gods which are ordered hierarchically from more universal to less universal Forms. That is my ontological view of the gods, but I'm also drawn to the Stoic interpretation of the gods of poetry, (i.e. Zeus is aether, Hera is Air, Poseidon is water, Apollo is the Sun, Artemis is the Moon, Hephaestus is fire, Aphrodite is desire, etc...)

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri May 01, 2015 6:54 am

Vadzhij wrote:I personally hold the view that the gods are not beyond Being and non-Being, I don't know of any ancient source who postulated this. Plotinus interpreted that the One is beyond Being based on a verse of the Republic regarding the Good but this was only one interpretation. Others, including many Middle-Platonists regarded the One as Being-in-itself. Based on Platonic dialogues and I regard  the so-called Platonic Forms, which I identify with Aristotelian Categories as gods which are ordered hierarchically from more universal to less universal Forms. That is my ontological view of the gods, but I'm also drawn to the Stoic interpretation of the gods of poetry, (i.e. Zeus is aether, Hera is Air, Poseidon is water, Apollo is the Sun, Artemis is the Moon, Hephaestus is fire, Aphrodite is desire, etc...)

To quote the Wikipedia article on Proclus (because I suck at articulating myself when it comes to discussions on the One and the nature of the Gods):

The first principle in Neoplatonism is the One (Greek: to Hen). Being proceeds from the One. The One cannot itself be a being. If it were a being, it would have a particular nature, and so could not be universally productive. Because it is beyond being (epekeina tes ousias, a phrase from Plato's Republic 509b), it is also beyond thought, because thinking requires the determinations which belong to being: the division between subject and object, and the distinction of one thing from another. For this reason, even the name The One isn't a positive name, but rather the most non-multiple name possible, a name derived from our own inadequate conception of the simplicity of the first principle. The One causes all things by conferring unity, in the form of individuality, on them, and in Neoplatonism existence, unity, and form tend to become equivalent. The One causes things to exist by donating unity, and the particular manner in which a thing is one is its form (a dog and a house are individual in different manners, for example). Because the One makes things exist by giving them the individuality which makes them what they are as distinct and separate beings, the Neoplatonists thought of it also as the source of the good of everything. So the other name for the One is the Good. Despite appearances, the first principle is not double; all things have a double relation to it, as coming from them (One) and then being oriented back towards them to receive their perfection or completion (Good).

The particular characteristic of Proclus's system is his elaboration of a level of individual ones, called henads, between the One which is before being and intelligible divinity. The henads exist "superabundantly", also beyond being, but they stand at the head of chains of causation (seirai) and in some manner give to these chains their particular character. He identifies them with the Greek Gods, so one henad might be Apollo and be the cause of all things apollonian, while another might be Helios and be the cause of all sunny things. Each henad participates in every other henad, according to its character. What appears to be multiplicity is not multiplicity at all, because any henad may rightly be considered the center of the polycentric system.

The One/Henads emanate the Intellect/Nous, which is properly the first Being, containing within itself all determinate natures, and the Forms exist within the Intellect, their existence due to the Intellect generating a series of perspectives of the One as it contemplates and tries to rejoin with the One but is unable to grasp the utter simplicity of the One.

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Vadzhij on Fri May 01, 2015 9:48 am

Alas I will quote Proclus:

"The sequence of principles which participate in the divine henads extends from Being to the bodily nature, since Being is the first, while body - inasmuch as we speak of heavenly or divine bodies - the last participant." (ET 139)

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri May 01, 2015 9:59 am

Right. Being participates in the divine Henads first. This doesn't mean that Being is one and the same as the Henads, rather that Being is the closest in proximity to the Henads. If Being were the same as the One/Henads, it would not "participate" in the nature of the One because it "is" the One.

The One cannot be a Being. To be a Being is to have a determinate nature, and the One is indeterminate by necessity. It is the source of Being, the source of all determinate natures (which are manifest in the Divine Intellect), but it is not the same as Being, rather Being is its offspring.

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Fri May 01, 2015 2:33 pm

I think people have grossly misunderstood Plato's theory of forms, and incorrectly labeled him as a monotheist. His dialogues cover over 1,000 pages, so most people are not going to read through them to see the obvious that he highly philosophized about the existence of the Greek Gods. They're just going to take what their teacher says. But those who have read them know he was not a monotheist, and that he believed in the Greek Gods. I don't know if I would call the modern coverup of that a conspiracy, but it's certainly ignored in favor of the bias and preferences of modern monotheistic teachers and historians. They have even reworded the words of philosophers to masquerade as monotheism. I listened to a person reciting the trial of Socrates, as if he were Socrates himself, and he said, "Only God is wise." No, that's not accurate. What Socrates actually said, if you read the dialogue, is that, "The God is wise," meaning the God of Delphi, Apollon, whom Socrates believed had sent him on his mission. Some have even went to the clear absurdity of labeling people like Socrates and Plato as atheists. When the philosophers do use the word "God," assuming they have been translated accurately, I don't think they meant it the way people today take it. If they give recognition to the existence of the Greek Gods, then clearly they are polytheists, and therefore the "God" reference can only be referring to a particular God or divinity as a whole. There are two kinds of history: The truth, and what you would LIKE to be true. Many people go for the latter. When Plato talks about the Good, he's not talking about a God.
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri May 01, 2015 3:09 pm

The separation between monotheism and polytheism is taken to rather absurd extremes. Of course there are multiple Gods in the cosmos. However, everything in the cosmos has a single source; multiplicity arises from unity. There are a multitude of theotic souls within the cosmos who are perfectly aligned with their respective Henads and thus the One. They are still distinct entities.

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Fri May 01, 2015 4:02 pm

When Plato talks about forms and the Good, he is referring to abstract concepts. They are atemporal. Of all the forms, the greatest is The Good, which gave substance to all forms. It is not a God, it's a concept.
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Erodius on Fri May 01, 2015 9:52 pm

AgathonZante wrote: It is not a God, it's a concept.

Not in the sense of an individual, accessible, conceivable, encosmic deity with a name and character, no. But divine, most assuredly – the most divine of anything, the root of perceivable divinity itself.

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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

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri May 01, 2015 10:21 pm

Exactly

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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  De Li on Sat May 02, 2015 8:43 am

Aktaion wrote:Exactly

'Exactly' from me as well! Smile
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  De Li on Sat May 02, 2015 8:47 am

Aktaion wrote:Right. Being participates in the divine Henads first. This doesn't mean that Being is one and the same as the Henads, rather that Being is the closest in proximity to the Henads. If Being were the same as the One/Henads, it would not "participate" in the nature of the One because it "is" the One.

The One cannot be a Being. To be a Being is to have a determinate nature, and the One is indeterminate by necessity. It is the source of Being, the source of all determinate natures (which are manifest in the Divine Intellect), but it is not the same as Being, rather Being is its offspring.

Well said Smile
Another Orphic-Neoplatonist here, it seems (?) Smile
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Sat May 02, 2015 10:15 pm

I agree as well. He's talking about a clear and present goodness in the Universe.
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Re: The Being of the Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun May 03, 2015 9:58 pm

De Li wrote:Another Orphic-Neoplatonist here, it seems (?) Smile

Yes.

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