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which the miseries of our present existence are the just punishment. It was a free act, in so far as no power outside of us forced us to do it; a necessary act, in so far as our own nature determined it. Every man is the author of his fate, and, conversely, his fate depends upon his individual character. True, we choose only the fate which we can choose, but we choose this simply because we do not desire anything else.
Moreover (and here we note a difference between NeoPlatonism and modern pessimism in favor of the former), incarnation is but a relative misfortune and even a blessing, provided the soul descends into matter merely in order to transform it, and ascends heavenwards as soon as possible. Nay, the soul profits by its contact with the body, for it thereby not only learns to recognize evil but also to exercise its hidden powers, to produce works which it would otherwise not have been able to accomplish. Furthermore, though closely connected with the body, it remains separate from it. This is proved by the fact that, instead of assisting our aspirations towards the ideal world the body opposes them, and that the philosopher welcomes death. The human soul is like the Olympus whose summit is steeped in azure while its sides are beaten by the storm ; it is not confounded with the body, but escapes its bondage by means of the intelligence, its better part.
The ethical system of Plotinus reminds us of Plato and Stoicism. The end of human life is the purification of the soul and its gradual assimilation with the divinity. Three roads lead to God:3 music (art), love, and philosophy; three paths, or rather a single one with three stages. The artist seeks for the Idea in its sensible manifestations; the lover seeks for it in the human soul; the philosopher,
1 Cf. p. 46, note 2. 2 Cf. St. Paul. Epistle to the Philippians, I., 23. $ Enneals, I., 3.
finally, seeks for it in the sphere in which it dwells without alloy, — in the intelligible world and in God. The man who has tasted the delights of meditation and contemplation foregoes both art and love. The traveller who has beheld and admired a royal palace forgets the beauty of the apartments when he perceives the sovereign. For the philoso pher, beauty in art, nay, living beauty itself, is but a pale reflection of absolute beauty. He despises the body and its pleasures in order to concentrate all his thoughts upon the only thing that endures forever. The joys of the philosopher are unspeakable. These joys make him forget, not only the earth, but his own individuality; he is lost in the pure intuition of the absolute. His rapture is a union (évwols) of the human soul with the divine intellect, an ecstasy, a flight of the soul to its heavenly home. As long as he lives in the body, the philosopher enjoys this vision of God only for certain short moments, - Plotinus had four such transports, – but what is the exception in this life will be the rule and the normal state of the soul in the life to come. Death, it is true, is not a direct passage to a state of perfection. The soul which is purified by philosophy here below, continues to be purified beyond the grave until it is divested of individuality itself, the last vestige of its earthly bondage.?
§ 26. The Last Neo-Platonic Polytheists. Porphyry,
Jamblichus, Proclus 1. Plotinus was succeeded in the Neo-Platonic school at Rome by his friend Malchus or PORPHYRY,8 a native Phoenician, who published the Enneads. Porphyry is still more convinced than his master of the identity of the doctrines of the Academy and the Lyceum. Although much inferior to Plotinus, on whom his teachings essentially depend, he,
· Enneads, V., 5, 10. 3 Id., IV., 3, 32. 8 Died at Rome, 301.
nevertheless, exercised an influence on the progress of philosophy during the following centuries, because of the clearness with which he set forth the problem of universals in his Introduction to the Categories of Aristotle.' Indeed, the question whether genera and species are realities apart from the thought which conceives them, forms the chief topic of interest during the Middle Ages.
Neo-Platonism changes in character towards the end of the fourth century without essentially modifying its principles. Plotinus and Porphyry, who antedate the reign of Constantine and the ultimate triumph of Christianity, are outspoken opponents of superstition, like all the great thinkers since the days of Xenophanes. But among their successors the search for truth is gradually subordinated to the interests of religion and apologetics. After ten centuries of opposition against traditional religion, philosophy became alarmed at its work of destruction; it came to the conclusion that its stubborn opposition had simply advanced the cause of a religion that was foreign to the Greek spirit and hostile to classic culture, and that its official representatives would be a thousand times more intolerant than the Greek and Roman priesthood. Thus it happened that philosophy, the sworn enemy of the popular faith, became the palladium of the persecuted gods; she became ancilla Panthei, prior to becoming ancilla Ecclesia. To promote polytheism, to promote it at all hazards : such was the desperate task undertaken by her. Henceforth she regards everything in paganism as good; she not only excuses and tolerates the strangest superstitions, the ex orcism of spirits, the practices of sorcery, magic, and tht urgy, but even commends them and practises them with feverish zeal. The Greek mind literally lapses into its second childhood.
1 Porphyrii de quinque vocibus, sive in categorias Aristotelis introductio (eioaywyń), Paris, 1513; Latin translation, Venice, 1516, 1566. We also have of Porphyry a Life of Protagoras, a Life of Plotinus, and an Epistle to Anebo (fragments collected by Gale, Oxford, 1078), etc. Several of his treatises, the most important perhaps, are lost. Sources : Suidas; Eunapius, Vila Soph.; Augustine, De civitate Dei, X.; the De Mysteriis Ægyptiorum, ascribed to Jamblichus: [Ritter and Preller, pp. 541 ff.); N. Bouillet, Porphyre, son rôle dans l'école néoplatonicienne, etc., Paris, 1861; Adrien Naville, Julien l’A postat et la philosophie du polythéisme, Paris and Neuchâtel, 1877. See, besides, the works quoted on p. 166.
The death-struggle is, however, broken by lucid moments. Among the few surviving defenders of the dying polytheistic faith we must mention two men who, though compromising with paganism and pompously assuming the title of hierophants, bring the history of ancient philosophy to a brilliant close. I mean Jamblichus of Chalcis in Coelesyria (died about 330), the most distinguished champion of what we call Syrian Neo-Platonism (in order to distinguish this ultra-mystical movement from the philosophy of Plotinus, which is still profoundly Greek), and Proclus of Byzantium (412-485), who taught at Athens and occupied a position between the school of Rome and Jamblichus, of whom he was an enthusiastic admirer.
2. JAMBLICHUS 1 draws his inspiration from the speculations of non-Christian literature, from Pythagoras, Plato, the religious traditions of the Orient and Egypt, and especially from his sacred triple ternary. His mathematical genius and brilliant imagination enable him to undertake a philosophical reconstruction of the pagan Pantheon. The gods emanate from the depths of the unspeakable unity in ternary series, and form a triple halo, as it were,
1 De vita Pythagoræ ; Protrepticæ orationes ad philosophiam ; De mysteriis Ægptiorum (Greek and Latin ed. by Th. Gale, Oxford, 1678; by G. Parthey, Berlin, 1857). Other sources: Proclus, In Timæum; Suidas; [Ritter and Preller, pp. 546 ff.]; Hebenstreit, De Jamblichi, philosophi Syri, doctrina, etc., Leipsic, 1764. [Engl. tr. of Life of Pythagorus, by Taylor, London, 1818; Egyptian Mysteries, Chiswick, 1821.]
around the Monad of monads. He opposes the Christian conception of the God-man and exaggerates the theological spiritualism of Plotinus by declaring the absolute to be non-communicable (àuébextos). The Supreme God is not only divested of all intelligence, but of all qualities whatsoever. Hence the real beings do not participate in the absolute unity but in the secondary unities (évades) emanating from it. These beings are also transcendent (ÚTTEPovo lai), but plural. This hierarchy of derived gods is divided into three stages : intellectual gods (voepol), supramundane gods (útrepkoo ulol), and the immanent gods of the world (érykógulol). We come into communication only with these gods (the Ideas of Plato, the Numbers of Pythagoras, the substantial Forms of Aristotle); they are our Providence. The absolute has no share in the governance of things.
3. PROCLUS 1 derives the priestly characteristics of his philosophy from Jamblichus, and his systematic and scholastic tendencies from Plotinus. He bases his system on the triple triad of Jamblichus, and deduces from the absolute and non-communicable (åpétextos) unity: first, being (ov), i. e., the infinite (ärtelpov), the end or form (Trépas), and their unity, the finite (uiktóv, Tetepao uévov): secondly, life (5wń), i. e., potentiality (dúvapıs), existence (ümapěls), and their unity, intelligible life (çon vontń); thirdly, intelligence (voûs), i. e., static thought (uévelv), thought in motion or perception (Tt polévai), and their unity, reflective
1 Works of Proclus : In theologiam Platonis, libri VI. ; Institutio theologica ; In Platonis Timaeum, etc. Procli opera omnia, ed. V. Cousin, Paris, 1819–27, 2d ed. in 6 vols., 1864; [Ritter and Preller, pp. 556 ff.). See on Proclus : Marinus, Vita Procli; Suidas : Berger, Proclus, exposition de sa doctrine, Paris, 1810; J. Simon, Du Commentaire de Proclus sur le T'imée de Platon, Paris, 1839; C. H. Kirchner, De Procli neoplatonici metaphysica, Berlin, 1846. See also concerning Jamblichus and Proclus the histories of the Alexandrian school mentioned on