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Author Topic: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism  (Read 6412 times)

HarpingHawke

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Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« on: September 09, 2014, 11:46:31 pm »
I found an extremely interesting article while doing a random clickthrough of Wiki links and thought I'd ask your opinions on it. If you haven't guessed, it's Neoplatonism.

Linky: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism

I don't have any specific questions so far.

Have fun!
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Sefiru

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 08:03:16 pm »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;158550
I found an extremely interesting article while doing a random clickthrough of Wiki links and thought I'd ask your opinions on it. If you haven't guessed, it's Neoplatonism.

Linky: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism

I don't have any specific questions so far.

Have fun!


I don't like Plato very much, both because I disagree with the main points of the philosophy, and because of the effect it had on the development of Western European culture.

- I find the Platonic concept of the Ultimate Reality (aka the One, aka the Unmoved Mover) to be unappealing and somehow unsatisfying; going by the description in A History of God, in particular, the One comes across as a black hole of pure intellect rather than anything I would consider worth striving towards.

- In my opinion, the concept of Platonic ideals (that is, that the material world is a flawed reflection of a more perfect plane of thoughts) is completely backwards. If Platonic forms exist at all, I think the platonic ideal of (say) Rock is derived from material rocks, via the pattern-making processes of the mind.

- The whole idea of the world of mind being Divine and the material world being Not Divine is really problematic for me. Granted, the version of Neoplatonism described in the linked article isn't as harsh on the material world as, say, the Gnostics, but the idea is still there that the immaterial is superior to the material. Like this quote from the article:

Quote
...the purifying virtues, by which the soul is freed from sensuality and led back to itself, and thence to the nous. By means of ascetic observances, the human becomes once more a spiritual and enduring being, free from all sin.
 

This idea that sensuality is incompatible with (and even opposed to) spiritual development is so deeply ingrained in Western culture, and I just have to go "does ... not ... compute". In short: Plato sucks.

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 05:43:52 pm »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;158550
I found an extremely interesting article while doing a random clickthrough of Wiki links and thought I'd ask your opinions on it. If you haven't guessed, it's Neoplatonism.

My thoughts on Neoplatonism: holy shit. Dead white guys.

Seriously, I can discuss the Hundred Schools of Thought from Ancient China at length and with great erudition. But I know jack squat about the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, or Socrates. I feel like the ideas of these philosophers cast such a great shadow over western history in particular that the rest of the world gets ignored.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 05:45:10 pm by Redfaery »
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

HarpingHawke

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2014, 06:25:45 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;158943
My thoughts on Neoplatonism: holy shit. Dead white guys.

Seriously, I can discuss the Hundred Schools of Thought from Ancient China at length and with great erudition. But I know jack squat about the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, or Socrates. I feel like the ideas of these philosophers cast such a great shadow over western history in particular that the rest of the world gets ignored.

 
Ha, yep!

I would actually love to hear more about the Hundred Schools of Thought some time. Or here, if you have time. I don't think it would derail the thread--it'd make the discussion more interesting!

Agreeing with Sefiru, Plato sucks. Some of his ideas were interesting, but just...guh.
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Gilbride

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2014, 07:40:30 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;158943
My thoughts on Neoplatonism: holy shit. Dead white guys.


Neoplatonism would be Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus among others. Plotinus was from Egypt, Iamblichus was Syrian if I recall correctly. So maybe not so white.

But anyway, Neoplatonist thought is sadly neglected in modern paganism, IMO. It was a Western system of mysticism very similar to Vedanta in many ways. Is there a lot to disagree with or question in it? Yes. But I don't think we should just dismiss it.

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2014, 07:09:40 am »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;158947
I would actually love to hear more about the Hundred Schools of Thought some time. Or here, if you have time. I don't think it would derail the thread--it'd make the discussion more interesting!

 
*jumps at biscuit* GIVE IT TO ME.

Do you want to hear about Mo Zi, Mencius, Lord Shang, Han Fei Zi, or....crap, I can't remember the Confucian dude who thought people were naturally evil. What was his name? *runs off to Wikipedia to jog memory.

Come to think of it, that's not the 100 schools of thought, that's just Ancient Chinese philosophy in general. Yes. I know more about Ancient Chinese philosophy than about any other kind of philosophy. Damn straight!
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2014, 07:13:01 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;158956
Neoplatonism would be Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus among others. Plotinus was from Egypt, Iamblichus was Syrian if I recall correctly. So maybe not so white.

But anyway, Neoplatonist thought is sadly neglected in modern paganism, IMO. It was a Western system of mysticism very similar to Vedanta in many ways. Is there a lot to disagree with or question in it? Yes. But I don't think we should just dismiss it.

 
Not dismissing it. Just dismissing my own knowledge base. :whis:

As a Mahayana Buddhist, I take a "middle path" that says that the world of form is true emptiness, and not necessarily bad. It's just when you get tangled up in things and fixated on them that it becomes bad. But for a Buddhist like me, getting fixated on anything - even the idea of nirvana - is bad.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Gilbride

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2014, 09:31:13 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;159004
Not dismissing it. Just dismissing my own knowledge base. :whis:


Gotcha. :)


Neoplatonism is kind of like the Consciousness-Only tradition in Buddhism, they don't exactly hate the material world (in fact they criticized the Gnostics for taking that stance) but they do tend to see it as being fundamentally unreal or a lesser form of reality. Mind emanates all "lower" levels of reality in Neoplatonist thought- to simplify a really complex philosophy.

Early Neoplatonists like Plotinus tried to get at "enlightenment" by turning inward and disregarding sense impressions. Later Neoplatonists like Iamblichus used elaborate visualizations and magical rituals to get the same results. Iamblichus would maybe be similar to Vajrayana or Shingon practices in Buddhism.

HarpingHawke

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2014, 10:26:55 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;159003
*jumps at biscuit* GIVE IT TO ME.

Do you want to hear about Mo Zi, Mencius, Lord Shang, Han Fei Zi, or....crap, I can't remember the Confucian dude who thought people were naturally evil. What was his name? *runs off to Wikipedia to jog memory.


 
Hit me with everything you got! (Maybe not everything--I don't want to make you take too much time out of your day for this. Maybe just hit me with everything you want to).
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Sefiru

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2014, 06:47:45 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;159012

Early Neoplatonists like Plotinus tried to get at "enlightenment" by turning inward and disregarding sense impressions. Later Neoplatonists like Iamblichus used elaborate visualizations and magical rituals to get the same results. Iamblichus would maybe be similar to Vajrayana or Shingon practices in Buddhism.


Weirdly, I am now quite curious about these practices, regardless of how much I dislike the concepts behind them. Most discussions of Neo- and other Platonism that I've seen spend most of their time on the philosophy and barely even mention that there are practices. Would you be able to point me at some resources?

EJay

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2014, 03:32:39 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;158661
In short: Plato sucks.

 
Dang.  That's harsh.  And brutal. And harsh.  Going after dead white guys... well...

I happen to have a crush on a dead white guy by the name of Pythagoras.

Your comment just makes me want to respond with a highly intelligent retort of, "Your grandmother sews socks that smell!"

Don't be dissing on my man, Plato. I'm on his side of the line.
If you understand, things are just as they are.  If you do not understand, things are just as they are.

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2014, 11:18:48 am »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;159016
Hit me with everything you got! (Maybe not everything--I don't want to make you take too much time out of your day for this. Maybe just hit me with everything you want to).

 
I don't know. I've got an awful lot. Can you be more specific?:o Do you want something totally obscure and forgotten, a few unusual tidbits on the more famous schools, or...well, like I said. There's a lot.

I could talk about Mo Zi, but he's the least relevant. I just find it amusing that his main maxim is almost always translated "universal love" and he's made out to be some fluffy bunny, when actually his whole philosophy was more about being impartial with our altruism. He criticized Confucian teachings that encouraged family members to hide one another's crimes out of filial piety, as he pointed out that this prevented the victims of those crimes from getting justice, and thus it harmed society as a whole.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

HarpingHawke

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2014, 11:46:54 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;159120

I could talk about Mo Zi, but he's the least relevant. I just find it amusing that his main maxim is almost always translated "universal love" and he's made out to be some fluffy bunny, when actually his whole philosophy was more about being impartial with our altruism. He criticized Confucian teachings that encouraged family members to hide one another's crimes out of filial piety, as he pointed out that this prevented the victims of those crimes from getting justice, and thus it harmed society as a whole.

 
Actually, could you elaborate on this? I'm very interested now...

And maybe Han Fei Zi?

Thanks!
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2014, 05:47:38 pm »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;159122
Actually, could you elaborate on this? I'm very interested now...

And maybe Han Fei Zi?

Thanks!
Oh dear gods....Mo Zi is the least relevant because his philosophy didn't survive like Confucianism or Daoism,  or have any great impact on government, like Legalism.

Aaaaaand..... Han Fei Zi. Crap. Legalist dude. That much I remember. I think he was an adviser to the first Chinese Emperor?

Legalism was a very pragmatic approach to lawmaking. It emphasized laws and penalties as a means of correcting behavior, unlike Confucianism, which was very anti-punitive.

The Confucian ruler was supposed to lead by example and inspire his subjects to live virtuously. The Legalists said "bullshit, let's get a penal code up in this bitch."
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Redfaery

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on Neoplatonism
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2014, 05:56:01 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;159003
I can't remember the Confucian dude who thought people were naturally evil. What was his name? *runs off to Wikipedia to jog memory.

XunZi! I remember it now!!!!! He and Mencius (which my autocorrect just tried to turn into "pencils"...) were diametrically opposed.

Mencius felt that humans were essentially good by nature, but that they were corrupted by their environment.  He gave a famous example that if you see a child about to fall into a well, you will rush to save it - not to gain the esteem of the child's parents, or any other sort of material benefit, but because you don't want to see the kid drown.

XunZi believed that people were born selfish and cruel, and it was only through being taught by their parents and teachers that they learned to behave virtuously.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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