Neoplatonism is a modern name for the youngest schooling in ancient Platonism , which was one of the most important currents in Greek philosophy. Neo-Platonism emerged from Middle Platonism before the middle of the 3rd century . From Rome, where the philosopher Plotinus († 270) founded a Neoplatonic school of philosophy , the Neoplatonic movement spread across the Roman Empire . In late antiquity , Neoplatonism was the only remaining variant of Platonism. He dominated the entire philosophical thought of this epoch. The other traditional schools of ancient philosophy were largely extinct.
As the last representatives of ancient Greek philosophy, the Neoplatonists confronted Christianity, which was growing in strength and which was finally elevated to the status of Roman state religion. Some of them were strongly connected with the ancient Greek religion and were in irreconcilable opposition to the ruling Christianity, but others came to terms with the existing conditions or were even Christians themselves. The religious controversies of late antiquity, also within Christianity, were partly carried out with philosophical arguments. The Church Fathers, as spokesmen for the Christians, did not limit themselves to polemics against the “ pagans ”, but also adopted some of the ideas of the Neoplatonists.
Like all Platonists, the Neoplatonists relied on the teachings of Plato , which they interpreted, however, in some cases idiosyncratic. Most of them also counted Aristotle among the Platonists, although the latter had contradicted his teacher Plato in many ways. A characteristic of Neoplatonism is the endeavor to interpret Plato's philosophy as a comprehensive metaphysical system. The late Neo-Platonists expanded the originally relatively simple system of the early period into an increasingly complex model of the spiritual and sensual world. Various directions emerged within Neoplatonism, and there were significant differences between them.
The terms "Neoplatonism" and "Neoplatonist" were first coined in modern times. They originated in the German-speaking area, later they became internationally known through translation into other languages. From the late 18th century onwards, ancient Platonists, whose temporal distance to Plato is large, were referred to as "Neo-Platonists" or "newer Platonists", initially without associating with the idea of a specific, clearly delineated schooling. The term was initially meant derogatory, it was meant to denote signs of decay in the late Platonism of antiquity and misinterpretation of Plato's teaching. It was not until 1864 that the philosophy historian Heinrich von Stein presented a clear and detailed definition of the term. By Neo-Platonism he understood only the phase of Platonism, which begins with Plotinus or his teacher Ammonios Sakkas , and stated that this was a system that had to be differentiated in terms of content from the entire older Platonism. Stein's use of the term became generally accepted from around 1900. Since Ammonios Sakkas left no writings and attempts to reconstruct his doctrine are hypothetical in the details, Plotinus is usually regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism. The end of Neoplatonism coincides roughly with the end of antiquity . Neoplatonic thinking remained present in the Middle Ages and was revived in the Renaissance , but post-antiquity (new) Platonically oriented philosophers are not usually called Neoplatonic.
The term "Middle Platonism" (originally "Middle Platonism") was only introduced in the early 20th century to distinguish Neoplatonism from the previous epoch. Historians of philosophy, who emphasize the continuity between Middle and Neoplatonism and the difficulty of a clear delimitation of content, consider the use of these epoch terms problematic. The periodization is justified by the fact that the Neoplatonists themselves differentiated between “old” (Middle Platonic) and “new” (Neoplatonic) interpreters of Plato's doctrine, from which it can be seen that they were aware of a turning point.
The philosophy school founded by Plato, the Platonic Academy in Athens , presented no later than 86 BC. Chr. Due to the chaos of war, their teaching operations definitely. In the following centuries there was no longer a generally recognized center of Platonism, no organized community of the totality of the Platonists, but only groups of students from individual teachers in different places. These philosophers of the post-academic period are now called “Middle Platonists” to distinguish them from the academy members and the Neoplatonists. Their views were in part very different.
Alexandria was an important center of Middle Platonic activity . The Platonist Ammonios Sakkas taught there in the first half of the 3rd century. This philosopher did not leave any writings, but influenced the development of Platonism through his students. His teaching, which is difficult to reconstruct, formed the transition from Middle Platonism to Neoplatonism.
The Roman School
The most important pupil of Ammonios Sakkas was Plotinus, who moved to Rome in 244 after studying in Alexandria and began to teach there. He was the actual founder of Neoplatonism, the nucleus of which was the Roman philosophy school he founded. It is unclear to what extent core elements of Neoplatonic thought were already present in Ammonios Sakkas. Plotinus was held in high regard in Rome, Emperor Gallienus valued and promoted him, and his philosophy was well received by the political ruling class.
Plotin's most famous pupil Porphyrios endeavored in his numerous works to summarize the essential content of the various teachings of Greek philosophy (with the exception of the frowned upon Epicureanism ) and to classify it in the system created by Plotinus. By arranging, editing and publishing Plotin's writings, he saved them for posterity, thus making a significant contribution to the survival of Neoplatonism. According to this order, the collected works of Plotinus are known under the name Enneades - "Neuner (gruppen)". Porphyrios did not shy away from rejecting some of the positions of his esteemed teacher. This shows his independence and impartiality. A pronounced willingness to criticize was also widespread among later Neoplatonists. If they had disagreements, they would be blunt in their rejection of the beliefs of their teachers or colleagues, or of previous Neoplatonic authors. They also showed no restraint when praising, but rather expressed their admiration emphatically.
The Middle Platonist Longinos , who first taught in Athens and later in the kingdom of Palmyra as an advisor to the local ruler Zenobia , was one of the leading authorities in his time, and rejected most of the basic assumptions of Neoplatonism, but expressed his deep respect for Plotin's philosophical working method.
Further development in the east
A student of Plotinus, Amelios Gentilianos , settled in Apamea in Syria and introduced Neoplatonism there. When he left Plotin's school and went to the east of the empire, he took with him his extensive collection of notes from Plotin's lectures, comprising around a hundred books.
In Syria - very likely in Apamea - Iamblichus († around 320/325) also taught, who had studied with Porphyrios, but later emerged as a resolute philosophical opponent of his former teacher. With his criticism of the teachings of Plotinus and Porphyry, Iamblichus gave the further development of Neoplatonism a new direction that differed significantly from that of the Roman school. His impulses had a strong effect in the later Neo-Platonism. One of the innovations that he introduced was the concept of theurgy (cultic action through which man opens up to divine influence). His theology left room for the incorporation of traditional polytheism into the religious and philosophical world view of Neoplatonism. The philosophical foundation of theurgy resulted in a connection between philosophy and religious practice, which became characteristic of late ancient Neo-Platonism and intensified its rivalry with Christianity.
During the brief reign of the philosophically interested emperor Julian (360–363), who admired Iamblichos and wanted to push back Christianity, pagan Neoplatonism was to form the philosophical basis for the planned renewal of the ancient Roman religion . This plan failed with Julian's death, but the pagan philosophical tradition remained present at the imperial court of Constantinople even among his Christian successors : The rhetor Themistios († after 388), who enjoyed the high esteem of several emperors, strongly advocated political action based on philosophical principles Principles.
Theodorus von Asine was a pupil first of Porphyry and then of Iamblichus . Theodoros defended the doctrines of Porphyry and other earlier Platonists against the criticism of Iamblichus. He founded a school that was known for its opposition to Iamblichos' philosophy. Emperor Julian disapproved of the "shouting" of the "Theodorees" who belittled Iamblichos.
A Neoplatonic philosophy school of its own was also established in Pergamon . Its founder was Aidesios , a student of Iamblichus. Several well-known philosophers emerged from this school: Maximos of Ephesus , Chrysanthios of Sardis , Eusebios of Myndos and Priscus . Emperor Julian also took part in the Aidesio lessons and was enthusiastic about it. The respected philosopher Sosipatra († after 362), who was married to the prominent Neoplatonist Eustathios , also taught in Pergamon .
In Athens, the rich philosopher Plutarch of Athens founded a Neoplatonic school of philosophy. This school maintained tradition by taking ownership of the former premises of the academy. However, the term “academy” often used in modern literature for the Neoplatonic school is incorrect. Lessons did not take place on the grounds of Plato's Academy, which was now just a garden, but in a private house of Plutarch, which after his death remained the seat of the school and the home of its head (the Scholarchen ). Plutarch's successor as Scholarch was his disciple Syrianos , who was strongly influenced by the way of thinking of Iamblichus. The most important scholarch of the Athens School is Syrianos' pupil and successor Proklos , who headed the school for almost half a century and shaped its work through his intensive teaching activities and his numerous writings. Since the school received significant inheritances from patrons and had large estates that brought in abundant income - the total income totaled over a thousand solidi annually - the philosophers were able to pursue their work undisturbed by material problems. Difficulties arose from the religious constellation: the Athens School was consistently pagan from the beginning and was thus in opposition to the Christian state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire. Therefore, Emperor Justinian banned pagan teaching in Athens in 529, which led to the closure of the Neoplatonic school. The Athenian Neoplatonists, including Simplikios and the last scholarch Damascius , initially left Justinian's sphere of influence and emigrated to the Persian Sassanid Empire , but soon returned to the Eastern Roman Empire disappointed. Perhaps some of them settled in Carrhae and continued their work there.
There was also an important Neoplatonic school tradition in Alexandria. There, there were strong tensions between militant Christians and the pagan population in the 4th and 5th centuries. The religious conflicts in the city, in which the Jews were also involved, were sometimes violent and endangered the philosophical teaching. Religious contradictions mixed with political power struggle and personal rivalry. The prominent Neoplatonist Hypatia († 415/416) fell victim to the heated mood . She was attacked and murdered by a Christian crowd.
The relationship between Neoplatonism and Christianity in Eastern Roman North Africa was not only antagonistic, but there were also efforts aimed at a balance and even a connection. Synesius of Cyrene († after 412), a pupil of Hypatias, considered a synthesis of Neoplatonism and Christian thought possible. He was also an enthusiastic Neoplatonist and Christian bishop, with which he embodied the concept of a reconciliation between the two rival worldviews.
Among the pagan Neo-Platonists in Alexandria there was a moderate tendency which saw the way out of the conflict with the Christians in religious restraint and took the sensitivities of the Christian environment into consideration in order to save the traditional educational system. The influential philosophy teacher Ammonios Hermeiou († probably after 517) played a decisive role in the efforts to defuse the religious antagonism . He concluded an agreement with the Patriarch of Alexandria, with which he could secure the continuation of the school operation, presumably by renouncing the propagation of provocative religious activities in the school. This setting of course ensured a stable coexistence and created framework conditions that enabled Christians to acquire traditional educational goods as listeners to the pagan philosophy teachers without getting into a conflict of conscience. But that did not settle the religious dispute; Johannes Philoponos , a Christian student of Ammonios Hermeiou, turned in a pamphlet in 529 against the pagan Athenian Neo-Platonist Proklos, who represented the doctrine of the eternity of the world and thus rejected the Christian concept of creation. Philoponos accused Proclus of a wrong interpretation of Plato's dialogue Timaeus .
The last well-known pagan Neo-Platonist in Alexandria was Olympiodorus the Younger († after 565). His disciples likely included the philosophers Elias and David , who were at least nominally Christians. In the Alexandrian school - perhaps with Elias - the Christian Stephen of Alexandria also received his philosophical training. He was called to Constantinople by the Eastern Roman Emperor Herakleios , where he gave lessons in the early 7th century and was highly regarded as a “world teacher”. Thus the Alexandrian Neoplatonism was transplanted into the capital of the empire and experienced its last heyday there.
The system of Neoplatonism
Plotinus is considered to be the creator of Neoplatonism, but he did not regard himself as an innovator, but as a faithful follower of Plato's teaching, and the later Neoplatonists did not want to create a new philosophy, but only wanted to correctly explain Plato's interpretation of the world and its consequences. The Neoplatonists supported their assumptions by referring to relevant passages in Plato's works. Nevertheless, Neoplatonism led to a reshaping of the tradition and was in fact a new doctrine, because conclusions were drawn from Plato's approaches that radicalized Platonism and shaped it in a new way. Metaphysical questions dominated, while political philosophy, which Plato had dealt intensively with, took a back seat.
Ontology and Cosmology
A fundamental element of Platonism is the sharp separation between the spiritual ( intelligible ) and the sensually perceptible world. The Platonists assume that the sensory world is an image of the spiritual world to which it owes its existence. The Platonic ideas are in the spiritual world . The ideas are the unchangeable archetypes (patterns) of the changeable and always defective material things that are subject to arising and perishing. As a perfect and time-independent pattern, they are real to a greater degree than their ephemeral images, the individual objects and phenomena that can be perceived by the senses. Hence they are ontologically (in the doctrine of the hierarchy of things that are) a higher rank than the sense objects. The lower is a product of the higher, after whose model it is shaped and in whose properties it shares, as far as its conditions of existence permit. It is dependent on the higher in every way, while the higher is in no way dependent on the lower. As a higher-level area, the spiritual is the more general and simpler, the sensually perceptible appears scattered in the variety and individual peculiarity of the individual sensory objects.
In the context of the specifications of this worldview, many questions remained unanswered and were discussed controversially among the Platonists. It was about the nature of the spiritual world, the nature of its relationship to the sensory world and the details of its constant influence on it. The peculiarity of Neoplatonic philosophy results largely from its answers to these questions already discussed in Middle Platonism. It is characteristic of Neoplatonism that the area of the imperceptible was structured more clearly hierarchically than was usual in the older traditions of Platonism. The basic structure is in three parts, three hierarchically ordered principles are assumed: At the top stands " the one " (Greek to hen ), below that the supra-individual spirit or intellect (Greek nous ), followed by the spiritual area, which forms the lowest part of the purely spiritual world ; immediately below it begins the sphere of sense objects.
The starting point for the basic metaphysical trains of thought of the Neo-Platonists were reflections in Plato's dialogue Parmenides . This dialogue played a central role for them, there they looked for the core of the Platonic interpretation of the world, while for the Middle Platonists the Timaeus alone had been in the foreground. The Neo-Platonist Proclus stated that Parmenides was decisive for metaphysics and the Timaeus for cosmology ; in these two dialogues the entire Platonic worldview is contained.
A main goal of Neoplatonic philosophizing is the determination of the relationship between unity and plurality, in particular the investigation of the transition from one to the many. The unity is always understood as the original, causal and therefore higher ranking, the multiplicity as that which emerged from the unity. The unity is general, comprehensive and undifferentiated; the multiplicity is the set of individual things that have emerged from the unity.
In this worldview, “the one” (the unity par excellence) is the first and highest principle. The Neo-Platonists (with the exception of Porphyrios) attached particular importance to working out the absolutely transcendent character of this principle and to drawing all the resulting consequences. The top principle is described as completely undifferentiated. Because of its absolute simplicity, it forms the extreme contrast to the differentiated and manifold. It cannot contain any distinction, neither a duality nor any other plurality, but is simply “one”. Hence it is called "the one". Since the simpler is always superior to the more complex in the sense that it forms the cause of its existence, the one is necessarily ultimately the origin and reason for existence of everything and thus the highest that can exist in the causality hierarchy.
From a religious point of view, the one has the function of the perfect supreme deity as the supreme principle, including the “goodness” associated with the concept of God. Accordingly, the Middle Platonists used to equate the supreme principle with the idea of the good , that is, the good per se, and with the divine spirit, the nous. Seen in this way, it forms the top of the spiritual world. There was also a (controversial) tendency among the Middle Platonists to identify Plato's creator god ( Demiurge ) with the idea of the good, i.e. with the highest principle. From a Neoplatonic point of view, however, such a way of viewing and expressing it is inappropriate. The one must not be identified with the mind, because the mind necessarily has content and therefore it is not unified but rather multiplied. Moreover, the statement that something is spiritual already represents a positive determination, which as such contradicts the absolutely undifferentiated character of the One. Every positive determination implies a difference, an opposition and thus non-unity. The one can therefore not be an idea, not even the idea of the good, rather it is superior to the spirit and all ideas. Only from the perspective of the thinker does it appear as something higher and therefore good. Only viewed from this perspective - not in and of itself - can it be called “good”. Since the one is beyond the spirit, it must also be denied thinking and thus self-confidence.
One cannot even truthfully state that the one “is”, because being as the opposite of non-being or perfect being in contrast to a diminished being already presupposes a distinction and thus something that is subordinate to the one. Strictly speaking, the definition of the one as "one", as simple or uniform in the sense of an opposition to plurality, is a misunderstanding of its true, opposed nature, about which, paradoxically, no correct positive statement is possible. One is “unspeakable” (árrhēton) . One can only determine what it is not, that is, say negations, or talk about it metaphorically and thereby indicate something that cannot be adequately expressed. One thing remains in principle withdrawn from an intellectual, discursive understanding.
Since, according to this view, only negative statements about the one can be considered true, such a talk about the deity is called " negative theology ". Proclus is the first author to combine the terms “negation” (apóphasis) and “theology”. He uses the expression trópos tēs aphairéseōs ("procedure of removal"); the provisions must be removed on the way to one. Proclus recommends sticking to the negations and showing the sublime excess of the One through them. Since the one is withdrawn from any antithesis, it is not to be understood as a collapse of the opposites in the sense of the later concept of the coincidentia oppositorum .
In the ontological hierarchy of Neoplatonism, the one is immediately followed by the supra-individual nous (spirit, intellect) as the second highest hypostasis (level of reality). It emerges from the undifferentiated one, it flows out of it, but without the source itself being affected and thereby somehow changing. Such an "outflow" - not literally but metaphorically - is called emanation in the technical jargon . Emanation is understood in Neoplatonism as a natural necessity (as opposed to an arbitrary act of creation). This notion is one of the main features of the Neoplatonic mindset. The “emergence” (próhodos) is not to be understood as a temporal process in the sense of a beginning of existence at a certain point in time or in a certain period, because the nous exists independently of time. What is meant is that the nous owes its existence to the One; a timeless causality is to be expressed.
While the One has no determination, including being, the nous already belongs to the world of differentiation and multiplicity, the uppermost area of which it forms, and therefore has certain characteristics; in particular it can be described as being. In Neoplatonism, being is not simply present or not present in relation to a thing, but it is graduated: There is a being in the full sense and a restricted or diminished, more or less “improper” or shadowy being. Only the nous as the uppermost part of the realm of being is unrestricted in the full and proper sense.
The nous is the world of pure thought, which is not directed towards individual objects that can be perceived by the senses, but towards the general, the perfect ideas, on which they are based. For the nous it would be a reduction in his perfection if he thought something that is less perfect than himself. Thus he cannot think anything other than himself (that which is in him). Hence the objects of pure thought are exclusively the own contents of the nous in their entirety. From this it follows from the Neoplatonic point of view that the nous consists of nothing other than the totality of the Platonic ideas and that it is the only ontological place of the ideas. This position is formulated by Plotinus in his famous theorem: Ideas exist only within the nous. With this he marks an essential difference between Middle and Neoplatonism. Although there were approaches to a theory of the immanence of ideas in the mind even before Plotinus, he was the first to consistently advocate and justify the concept of the identity of ideas with the nous, which was considered an innovation by his contemporaries.
In contrast to Plotinus, Proclus applies the approach of negative theology to the nous as well. He denies that discursive thinking with its positive statements can adequately grasp and describe the nous. Therefore, not only with regard to the One but also with regard to the Nous, he considers silent contemplation to be the superior approach.
The world soul
The third hypostasis follows the nous, the area of the soul that is also not perceptible to the senses. Here is the world soul that animates the cosmos. This is the lowest area of the purely spiritual world; the sensory world begins immediately below. Like the nous from the one, the world soul emerges from the nous by emanation; it is an outward self-development of the spirit. Here, too, the emergence is only to be understood as a metaphor for an ontological relationship of dependence; it is not a question of an origin in time. Like everything spiritual, the world soul is uncreated and immortal. Since it stands on the border between the spiritual and the sensual world, it has a steering function within the framework of the world order for the sphere of material, sensually perceptible things below it. In contrast to the individual souls of living beings who descend into the material world and connect with bodies there in such a way that they are exposed to suffering, the world soul controls and animates its body (the sensually perceptible cosmos) sovereignly and is therefore free of suffering. Your freedom cannot be compromised. It affects the world body, but experiences no reaction from it.
Time led Plotinus back to the hypostasis of the soul. He assigned it to the plane of being of the world soul and argued against Aristotle's physical concept of time , who determined the nature of time based on its connection with the movement of which it is the measure. Iamblichus and Proclus, who gave time the rank of its own hypostasis and located it in the area of the nous, i.e. above the soul level, were of a completely different view from Plotinus. By this they meant a primary, spiritual time, which they distinguished from physical time as an element of the spiritual world. This spiritual time has points that mark a sequence of “earlier” and “later”, but in contrast to physical time it does not “flow”. Damascius finally presented a somewhat different concept. He assumed a “total time” (sýmpas chrónos) , a simultaneously existing reality of all time as the basis of the physical time perceived by humans as a continuum. He attributed a discontinuous structure to physical time. He said that it consists of quanta that cannot be subdivided, since a sequence of points in time without expansion would not result in any expansion and thus no flow of time. In the eleventh book of the Confessions , Augustine von Hippo finally developed his own Neoplatonic theory of time .
The relationship of the hypostases
Plotinus was of the opinion that there were no mediating instances between the one, the nous and the world soul, but that the transition from one to the other should be understood as immediate. Later Neoplatonists did not follow him. Plotin's simple model was greatly expanded in late ancient Neo-Platonism through differentiation and subdivision, and additional mediating entities were introduced; for example, Proclus accepted “henads” as mediating authorities between the One and the Nous. The three-tiered basic structure was always retained.
Iamblichos taught that the effects of every level of reality extend to all areas below it. According to a rule established by Proklos, however, the following applies: the higher and therefore more powerful a level of reality, the deeper its effects reach. For example, the soul only has an effect on the level of living beings, while the nous, as a higher hypostasis, can also shape the inanimate, which it gives form.
Matter and body world
According to the Neoplatonic doctrine, the material world of sense objects is produced by the spiritual world and animated by the world soul and the other souls. In and of itself, matter is “nothing”, in Aristotelian terms pure potency , something not realized, only existing as a possibility. Seen in this way, as “non-being” it is that which differs most strongly from the spiritual world, the realm of things that actually exist. It is thus the ontologically lowest and most imperfect. Since it has nothing of its own, it can only receive; its feature is the greatest possible passivity. In terms of its pure passivity, this matter resembles the “ first matter ” in Aristotle.
Since the Neoplatonists reduced everything inferior to a higher one and ultimately derived all reality from a single highest principle, their philosophy is strictly monistic . This differs from Middle Platonism, because the Middle Platonists also had a dualistic tendency that saw matter as an independent principle that cannot ultimately be traced back to the deity, but is just as original as it. In Neoplatonic monism, the existence of matter is also a meaningful part of the unified world order, which is affirmed in its entirety by the Neoplatonists. Matter is the last necessary consequence of higher causes.
Plotinus calls matter bad. He considers it the worst of everything and also the cause of the weakness and wickedness of the individual souls, which turn to matter and are thereby weakened. It should be noted, however, that in the monistic worldview of Neoplatonism, bad does not have an independent existence, since badness only exists in the absence of good. Thus, for Plotinus, matter is not bad in the sense that "badness" can be assigned to it as a real property, but only in the sense that it is furthest away from good in the ontological hierarchy.
In later Neo-Platonism objections were raised to Plotin's reduction of all evils to matter. Iamblichos does not consider matter bad, since it is at least capable of absorbing something good. Proclus and Simplikios also refuse to characterize the matter as bad. Proclus, like Plotinus, understands evil as a mere lack of good, but does not attribute it to matter, but regards matter as neutral and assumes a multitude of causes of evil.
Soul doctrine, ethics and the path of salvation
In all Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, teaching was not viewed as a mere transfer of knowledge, but rather a way of life based on philosophical principles was expected from the students. Neoplatonic philosophizing was strongly oriented towards the life practice of the philosopher. The ontological position of man and his role and task in the total cosmos, in which he has access to both areas, the purely spiritual and the sensually perceptible, was discussed . It was not about the human being as a composite of body and soul, but only insofar as he is soul, because in Platonism the soul alone is the perceiving and acting subject and the bearer of all life functions, the body is nothing but an instrument that is temporarily available to the soul. All philosophical endeavors were therefore ultimately aimed at the fate of the immortal soul and, above all, should have a positive influence on its future after the death of the body.
In the doctrine of the soul, Plotinus, as an exception, represented a conviction that he did not trace back to Plato, but for which he claimed originality: the doctrine that the soul has a highest part, which when it is incorporated does not connect with the body, but always with remains in the spiritual world. This special doctrine was rejected by Iamblichus and the later Neo-Platonists who followed him. One of the arguments of Iamblichus was that no permanent communion with the divine realm could be assumed for the uppermost part of the soul, because otherwise all people would be continuously happy. Proclus also attacked Plotin's position.
These differences of opinion had far-reaching consequences. It is true that the Neo-Platonists shared the conviction that every soul, due to its immaterial nature, is at home in the spiritual world from which it originates and should therefore return there; it once descended into the physical world and now, if it turns to philosophy, would like to rise again. But different - depending on the respective position in the doctrine of the soul - were the paths taken to achieve this goal.
Plotinus taught that the soul is only partially bound to a body, not in its entirety. Not only do they maintain the connection with the nous through their ability to think, but their highest part always remains in the spiritual world. Through this highest part, even if her embodied part suffers disaster, she has a constant share in the whole fullness of the spiritual world. Based on this assumption, Plotinus believed that the philosophical way of life was sufficient as a way to liberate the soul. If it aligns itself with the spiritual world, it ascends there. It is necessary to cultivate the virtues according to Plato's teaching and to constantly focus attention on the divine that the soul can find in itself. The drive for this striving gives the soul its longing for the beautiful, because the longing directs it to the source of beauty, the nous. In order to be able to perceive metaphysical beauty, the soul must make itself beautiful and thus godlike by purifying itself. This happens by means of virtue, because virtue is an expression of the pursuit of the good and the approach to the good leads at the same time to the beautiful, since the “light” of the good is the source of all beauty. Divine intervention from outside is not necessary. Plotinus and Porphyrios even claimed that in this way they had achieved a union (hénōsis) with the formless deity, the One.
While Plato strongly devalued the fine arts , seeing at best in their products defective images, Plotinus came to a more positive assessment in his Metaphysics of the Beautiful. He was concerned with the important role of the aesthetic drive in the ascent of the soul. He said that visible beauty is a manifestation of the divine in the sense world and therefore attractive to people. Beauty can be conveyed in works of art and therefore art can make a significant contribution to the ascent of the soul. The artist not only imitates natural things, but creates his works on the basis of his access to the world of spiritual archetypes. The medium of beauty in Neoplatonism is light as the principle of visibility; Due to its light nature, a picture can represent the spiritual source of beauty and make it clear to the viewer and thus point him to the archetypes (light metaphysics).
Since Iamblichus and the neo-Platonists who followed him rejected the doctrine of the permanent residence of a part of the soul in the spiritual world, they did not assume, like Plotinus, that a philosopher can bring about the aspired ascent of the soul solely through his own efforts. They believed that the soul, bound in its entirety to the physical world, needed the help of an external divine power, without which it could not be redeemed. Hence, they combined ritual and theurgical practices with philosophical study.
All Neoplatonists followed the Platonic doctrine of the migration of souls , but on the question of whether human souls also enter animal bodies, they had different opinions. According to Plotin's doctrine, there is no essential difference between human and animal souls, but every soul can in principle inhabit a human as well as an animal or even a plant body. For Iamblichus and Proclus, on the other hand, only a human body comes into consideration as the abode of a human soul.
Logic had been founded as a philosophical discipline by Aristotle, therefore activity in this area always meant a confrontation with the logical work of this thinker. From a Platonic point of view, criticism of Aristotle's theory of categories was already exercised in the time of Middle Platonism . The Middle Platonist Klaudios Nikostratos had criticized the fact that the theory of categories does not differentiate between spiritual things and sense objects and does not take into account the peculiarities of the spiritual world. Plotinus also asserted this point of view. He argued that the Aristotelian system does not offer a universally valid division of beings, because it only serves to describe the world that can be perceived by the senses. The Aristotelian scheme of ten categories is not applicable to the much more important spiritual world. The category Ousia ( substance , literally “beingness”) cannot encompass both because of the fundamental difference between the spiritual and physical modes of being. There is no definition of this category that indicates a special characteristic of being that is present in all kinds of being equally. The category of relation is said to have been created partly by ideas, partly only arose with human thought and therefore unsuitable for the world of ideas. The categories of the qualitative, the place, the situation, the time, the doing, the suffering and the having are useless for the spiritual world, since nothing corresponds to these concepts there. In addition, the ten categories of Aristotle are mere modes of expression and not the highest genera of beings. Plotinus thus turns against Aristotle's conviction that being itself appears in the various forms of the statement. He emphasizes the difference between being and its discursive expression.
Because of this criticism, Plotinus rejects the Aristotelian scheme of ten categories. He replaces it for the spiritual world with a new one with five categories: beingness (ousía) , movement (kínēsis) , immutability (stásis) , identity and diversity. He considers movement to be a necessity in the spiritual world, since it is an essential characteristic of living things and is necessary for thinking - beings are “nothing dead”. Plotinus also rejects the Aristotelian scheme of categories for the world of the senses, where he introduces a new system with five categories: beingness in the improper sense (where “becoming” would be a more appropriate term), quantity, quality, relation and movement. One cannot speak of being here in the actual sense, since what is physically “being” is only a variable combination of matter and shape (qualities). Place and time are to be assigned to the relation, the location belongs to the place. Doing and suffering are not their own categories, but only special cases of change and thus belong to the category of movement. The category having is superfluous.
Porphyrios, however, did not accept Plotin's rejection of Aristotelian logic, but was convinced that this part of Aristotle's teaching was compatible with Platonism. His decision to accept Aristotle's theory of categories was extraordinarily momentous, because this setting of the course meant that Aristotle was recognized as the authoritative authority in the field of logic throughout late ancient Neo-Platonism. The Isagogue of Porphyry, an introduction to Aristotelian logic, became a textbook for beginners' philosophical classes. At the beginning of the 6th century Boethius stated that since the time of Porphyry everyone who wanted to learn logic had started with this book.
The Neoplatonists paid relatively little attention to political philosophy, but they stuck to the claim to preserve this part of the Platonic heritage as well. Plotinus formulated the plan to repopulate an abandoned city in Campania. It was to be ruled according to the laws designed by Plato and was to be called Platonopolis. He wanted to live there with his students. The project failed due to a lack of support at the imperial court.
In the 4th century Themistius turned against the political restraint widespread in Neoplatonist circles and emphatically advocated an active political role for the philosopher. He viewed the ruler as a representative of the deity, who should prove himself worthy of this role by implementing philosophical teachings in government practice. It is incumbent on the emperor - with which Themistios takes up a famous demand of Plato - the task of assimilation to God, as far as this is possible. This makes his government the image of the cosmic rule of God. He approaches this goal through his virtues, among which Themistios emphasizes philanthropy as an outstanding ruling virtue .
The neo-Platonists of late antiquity dealt with Plato's dialogues on the philosophy of the state, mostly not out of interest in political questions, but from the point of view of the philosophical foundations of state theory. Theodoros von Asine and Proklos defended Plato's controversial demand for extensive equality between men and women in the state and his concept of the qualification of women for leadership roles.
In the 6th century in the Eastern Roman Empire, the unknown Neoplatonic author of a only fragmentary and anonymously handed down dialogue on statecraft was grappling with the question of the best constitution. He started from the relevant concepts of Plato and Cicero and applied them to the conditions of his time. Above all, he discussed the central role of the emperor and discussed the constitutional order and administrative issues. As with Themistius, the starting point was the Platonic idea of imitating the divine model.
Relation to other philosophical teachings
The Neoplatonists considered Plato's teachings to be absolutely true, only the interpretation of individual statements in his works was disputed. This definition did not prevent the Neoplatonic thinkers from adopting ideas from foreign philosophical and religious traditions which, in their opinion, were compatible with the basic lines of Platonism. In particular, they regarded Aristotle as a respectable student of Plato, whose works contained knowledge that was useful for Platonists and that had to be acquired. In late antique Neoplatonic schools, writings by Aristotle were part of the propaedeutic curriculum. Each student had to attend the courses on the philosophy of Aristotle before being admitted to the advanced courses in which Plato's dialogues were dealt with. One studied first Aristotle's Organon (his writings on logic), then his ethics and political philosophy, then selected writings on natural philosophy (physics, cosmology) and, at the end of the propaedeutic studies, his metaphysics .
Pythagoras was held in high esteem by the Neo-Platonists . Porphyrios and Iamblichus wrote biographies of this pre-Socratics . There was a widespread belief that Pythagorean doctrine was in complete agreement with Platonism.
The Neoplatonists were interested in the wisdom teachings of foreign peoples. Even before he moved to Rome, Plotinus intended to familiarize himself with Persian and Indian philosophy. To this end, he joined a Roman army that went to war against the Persians. The failure of this campaign, however, ruined the philosopher's plan. Similarities between Plotin's philosophy and Indian systems have led to conjectures about a historical connection, but speculations about the influence of Far Eastern teachings on Neoplatonism are not supported in the sources. In his writings, Plotinus dealt exclusively with the Greek tradition. It was only with his pupil Porphyrios, who interpreted the Chaldean oracles , that texts from foreign cultures began to be included in Neoplatonic philosophy; with Iamblichus, who also consulted hermetic literature, it intensified.
The attitude of the church fathers to Platonism was ambivalent. On the one hand, philosophers such as the Middle Platonist Kelsus and the Neo-Platonist Porphyrios were the main literary opponents of Christianity; on the other hand, the strong emphasis on metaphysics, and especially the unity and transcendence of the supreme deity, which is characteristic of Neoplatonism, appealed to some Christian theologians. The pronounced need for salvation was common to Neoplatonists and Christians. In the fourth century, the Neoplatonist Marius Victorinus , who converted to Christianity and translated Plotin's writings into Latin, contributed to the rapprochement. One of the users of his Plotinus translation was the very influential Church Father Augustine († 430), who made extensive use of Neoplatonic trains of thought and thought schemes in his theological works. For example, he took from Neoplatonic literature the answer to the question about the origin of evil , which is that every evil is only a defect or defect; only the good is determined as being, the evil is nothing but a partial absence of the good, a disturbance of the good world order with limited effects. Augustine believed that the Platonists were closer to Christianity than any other philosopher, and called Porphyry the "most learned of the philosophers". Other patristic authors also received suggestions from Plotinus. Eusebios of Caesarea compared the three Neoplatonic principles (One, Nous, World Soul) with the three Persons of the Trinity .
The ancient theologians affirmed the principle of the absolute transcendence of the highest principle and the negative theology derived from it. They used the argumentation of negative theology in particular in dealing with anthropomorphic (humanizing the divine) ideas of their pagan environment. However, negative theology also posed problems for the Church Fathers, since the Bible contains positive statements about God and ascribes positive properties to him. According to the understanding of the ancient Christian large church, God includes both the absolutely transcendent one of the Neoplatonists and the nous and is identical with the world creator (demiurge). The ontological separation of the hypostases characteristic of pagan Neoplatonism was therefore not acceptable from a Christian point of view.
The most extensively elaborated and most influential patristic concept of negative theology is that of an unknown late antique author who called himself Dionysius and was identified in the Middle Ages with Dionysius Areopagita , a disciple of the Apostle Paul mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles . Today he is known as the Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita . Pseudo-Dionysius took over some concepts and thoughts from Proclus. He replaced the Neoplatonic model of the gradual emergence of the world from the first cause by a Christian model of creation, in which there is also a hierarchical order of levels, but the totality of what is created goes back directly to the unfathomable Creator.
Pseudo-Dionysius recognizes the positive statements of Revelation as true, but does not relate them to God's nature, but only to his effect. Since they are not valid statements about his being, they must be negated. In this sense, Pseudo-Dionysius describes negations as true and affirmations as inappropriate. But the negations also turn out to be not really applicable and must therefore also be denied. However, this does not mean a return to positive statements, but a turn to “over-statements” with the prefix over- (Greek hyper- , Latin super- ), for example “over-looking” or “over good”. Ultimately, however, the over-statements are only aids and not factual assertions about the nature of God. Only through the last negation, with which one transcends any kind of determinations, is the decisive step taken in approaching divine reality: namelessness is identified with the “ineffable name”, which is the basis of all names and designations and as such all names united. Thus, the completion of emptying leads to completed fullness, absolute emptiness and absolute fullness turn out to be identical.
According to the pseudo-Dionysian theology, the soul accomplishes an ascent through the gradual execution of the negations, which takes it away from the familiar world of thought and thus leads it to God. The one striving for knowledge comes to an insight into his own ignorance and ignorance; negative theology leads him to wordlessness and thus to silence. His efforts to reach the goal by means of the ideas based on sensory perception and the discursive thought processes based thereon have failed. Such failure proves to be a prerequisite for achieving an authentic relationship with God.
Latin speaking world
The works of the pagan Neo-Platonists who wrote in Greek remained unknown to the Latin-speaking scholarly world of the West until the late Middle Ages . Neoplatonic influence, however, made itself felt in Western and Central Europe in various indirect ways. The Neoplatonic coinage of Augustine's theology was particularly significant, because Augustine was a first-rate authority in the Middle Ages. An important mediator of Neoplatonic ideas was also the late antique writer Macrobius , whose commentary on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis played a key role in the inclusion of Neoplatonic ideas in the High Middle Ages , especially in the field of cosmology. The writing Consolatio philosophiae (“ The Consolation of Philosophy ”) by the late antique Christian Neoplatonist Boethius had an extraordinarily strong aftereffect in the Middle Ages . In addition, as early as the 9th century, the Neoplatonic writings of Pseudo-Dionysius in Latin translation from Greek were widespread. They were in high regard because they were considered the works of a student of the apostles. The writing De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii by the late ancient Roman scholar Martianus Capella , a textbook of the seven liberal arts , was also received intensively in the Middle Ages .
In addition, many Neoplatonic teachings circulated under the name of Aristotle, to whom they were mistakenly ascribed. Particularly influential was translated into Latin in the 12th century, primarily on Proclus' basics of theology foot early medieval Arabic "Treatise on the pure Good," which the Latin title Liber de causis received ( "Book of the causes"). This pseudo-Aristotelian work became one of the most important philosophical textbooks of scholasticism and was considered the authoritative representation of Aristotle's supposed theology, which was seen as a supplement to his metaphysics .
An important Neoplatonic-oriented thinker of the early Middle Ages was the Irish scholar Eriugena , who emerged as a theological and philosophical writer in western France in the 9th century . As a translator of Greek theological literature from the epoch of the Church Fathers, as a commentator on Neo-Platonic influenced works of late antiquity (Encyclopedia of Martianus Capella, On the Heavenly Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius) and as the author of the theological, cosmological and anthropological work Periphyseon , he made an important contribution to its dissemination Neoplatonic ideas in the Latin-speaking West. His idea of a gradual emergence of the world from the deity and a consequent hierarchical order of hypostases was neo-Platonic . From Neoplatonism he also adopted the concept of the world soul, which he regarded as the principle of all movement, and the metaphysics of light. Several ecclesiastical condemnations of Eriugena's views in the 9th and 13th centuries hindered the reception of his teaching.
The Neoplatonic influence is particularly evident in the thinking of Albert the Great († 1280). Albert, one of the most famous late medieval scholars, conveyed the Neoplatonic suggestions to his students, among whom Ulrich von Strasbourg in particular took up the Platonic themes.
It was not until the 13th century that the writings of Late Antique Pagan Neo-Platonists became accessible in the West. The scholar Wilhelm von Moerbeke († 1286) translated some of the main works of Proclus, two Aristotle commentaries by Simplikios and one Aristotle commentary by Ammonios Hermeiou into Latin. The newly developed Neoplatonic literature, especially that of Proclus, aroused great interest among late medieval scholastics. At first it was evaluated by Thomas von Aquin , later the Dominicans received an intensive Proklos reception at the Cologne Ordenshochschule ( Studium generale ) . The Dominican Dietrich von Freiberg († around 1318/1320), one of the leading philosophical writers of his time, received important suggestions from Proklos and the Liber de causis . His Neoplatonic orientated, strongly influenced by Pseudo-Dionysius friar Berthold von Moosburg , who wrote an extensive Proklos commentary, tied in with Dietrich's considerations .
Master Eckhart was also one of the Neoplatonic orientated thinkers of the late Middle Ages . In the context of his negative theology, with which he joined the view of pseudo-Dionysius, he expressed himself about the deity (the supra-personal aspect of the divine total reality, which corresponds to the one of the Neoplatonists). He denied the deity not only all properties (such as goodness or wisdom), but also, like the pagan ancient Neo-Platonists, being. Eckhart's deity is omnipotent and "wiseless" (with no qualities by which it could be defined). It is a “groundless reason” and a “silent desert”, a “simple silence”. Eckhart taught that the ideas give the sensually perceptible individual things their shapes and thus their existence; Like the Neo-Platonists, he understood formless matter as ontologically non-existent. In Neoplatonic terms, he also interpreted evil as a diminution and partial loss of the good. Accordingly, it exists only through its respective relation to the particular good that affects it. It can diminish the good, but it can never completely erase it. Eckhart is convinced that there cannot be anything thoroughly evil or absolutely evil.
In the 15th century, Nikolaus von Kues used the ideas of Proclus in his metaphysics. The main focus was on the theory of unity and its relationship to plurality. Nikolaus also obtained ideas of Neoplatonic origin from the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius and Albert the Great.
In the 11th century in the Byzantine Empire , Michael Psellos tried to revive the Neoplatonic tradition. Psellos was a good connoisseur of plotin. He and his student Johannes Italos also dealt with the previously neglected philosophy of Proclus. In the following years Proclus was received intensively by Byzantine scholars. On the other hand, in the 12th century, the bishop Nikolaos of Methone turned against the theology of Proclus. He tried to prove the incompatibility of Neoplatonic theology with Christian (especially the doctrine of the Trinity).
In the late Middle Ages, the scholar Nikephoros Choumnos, who argued from an ecclesiastical point of view, wrote a pamphlet against Plotin's doctrine of the soul. In the 15th century, the scholar and philosopher Georgios Gemistos Plethon , an avid supporter of Platonism, advocated some of the teachings of Plotinus.
Arabic speaking area
In the Islamic world, in addition to some of Plato's dialogues, Middle and Neoplatonic literature was also translated into Arabic at an early stage, partly directly from Greek, partly via a detour from Syriac. These include Arabic paraphrases from parts of the Enneades Plotinus, which go back to a work that was written in the 9th century in the circle of the philosopher al-Kindī and has not survived in its original version. Proklos' book Fundamentals of Theology was also translated into Arabic and processed for interpretation. It influenced Islamic philosophers and theologians and was the main source of the 9th century Arabic "Treatise on Pure Good" (Kalam fi mahd al-khair) . A dissertation known under the misleading title “Theology of Aristotle”, which was distributed in a longer and a shorter version, was popular. It contains lengthy explanations, most of which are translations or paraphrases from Books IV – VI of the Enneades , although Plotin's statements are mixed up with foreign material and in some cases falsified. Numerous scholars, including Avicenna (ibn Sīnā, † 1037), wrote Arabic commentaries on "theology". Avicenna, along with al-Kindī and al-Fārābī († 950), is one of the best-known medieval Muslim philosophers who adopted Neoplatonic concepts in metaphysics and theory of the soul.
Jewish philosophy and Kabbalah
The founder of the Neoplatonic movement in medieval Jewish philosophy was the thinker Isaak ben Salomon Israeli († around 932) , who came from Egypt and later lived in Kairouan in what is now Tunisia . His doctrine of creation and cosmology as well as his anthropology are shaped by Neoplatonic influence. In his theory of the origins of the world, he combines the traditional Jewish conception of creation with the Neoplatonic cosmogony . In the sense of the Jewish tradition he assumes that God made a creation “out of nothing” ( Creatio ex nihilo ). In contrast to conventional religious teaching, however, he does not relate the idea of creation out of nothing to the totality of things, but only to the "first form", which he calls perfect wisdom and pure splendor, and the first (spiritual) matter. He equates this work of God with the second highest hypostasis. The intellect is the fruit of the union of the first form with the first matter. All other things emerge from the intellect in a graduated process. They do not have their cause directly, but only indirectly in God. The rational world soul is a direct outflow of the intellect. With Isaac it shows the three parts which the Aristotelian theory of the soul ascribes to the human soul (rational soul, sensually perceiving and vegetative soul). Isaac understands these parts as three independent hypostases.
In the doctrine of the ascent of the soul, Isaac follows Proclus' view. As with Plotinus, the ascent should not enable a union with the one (God himself), but only lead to the area of intellect or wisdom. According to Isaac, the soul can achieve this goal during earthly life.
Another well-known Jewish Neoplatonist was the philosopher and poet Solomon ibn Gabirol († around 1057) , who lived in Muslim Spain ( al-Andalus ). His main philosophical work The Source of Life found in Latin translation (Fons vitae) a lot of resonance in the Christian world and contributed to the strengthening of the Neo-Platonic current in the philosophy of scholasticism. Ibn Gabirol adopts the Neoplatonic emanation concept. The highest hypostasis of creation flowed directly out of God or, according to the Jewish conception, was created by God out of nothing. The other hypostases have arisen from the next higher level and thus have their origin only indirectly in God. The lower a hypostasis is in the order of origin and ranking, the more complex it is. Ibn Gabirol also adopts the Neoplatonic concept of the world soul, which, like the ancient Neoplatonists, emerged from the universal intellect.
The medieval Jewish thinkers whose views show a relatively strong Neoplatonic influence include Bachja ben Josef ibn Paquda , Abraham bar Chijja , Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra and Josef ben Jakob ibn Zaddiq .
The Neoplatonic way of thinking was even more noticeable in the Kabbalah than with the Jewish philosophers , where not only the pre-existence of the soul was taught (the souls of not yet born people are waiting for their incarnation), but also the transmigration of souls, which has been in the Kabbalistic literature occurs in the 12th century. The Kabbalist Azriel of Gerona († around 1238) identified the Sefirot (emanations) of the Kabbalah with Neoplatonic hypostases. A well-known Jewish Neoplatonist of the 13th century was the Toledo-based philosopher Isaak ben Abraham ibn Latif , who critically examined the Kabbalistic studies of his time.
Early modern age
During the Renaissance , towards the end of the 15th century, Plotinus received an intense reception. The work of the humanist Platonist Marsilio Ficino , who translated Plotin’s writings into Latin from 1484–1486 and then commented on them from the perspective of his Christian Neoplatonism, was groundbreaking . In his main work, the "Platonic Theology" published in 1482, Ficino made Plotin's doctrine the basis of his ontological system. He expressed his conviction that Plotinus was an excellent interpreter of Plato by writing that Plato's judgment on Plotinus would be like the words of God at the Lord's transfiguration : “This is my beloved son, whom I am everywhere find; listen to him! ”( Mt 17,5 LUT ). The Renaissance humanists did not see a difference in content between the teachings in Plato's works, which were now accessible in the original Greek text and in a Latin translation, and the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato. Plotinus and Proclus were considered excellent representatives of the Platonic tradition.
In 1519 a Latin translation of the "Theology of Aristotle" appeared in Rome, which from then on was also considered an authentic work of Aristotle in the West. This error led to Aristotle's wrongly assuming a Neoplatonic way of thinking. His authorship was contested as early as the 16th century, among others by Martin Luther and Petrus Ramus , but it was not until 1812 that Thomas Taylor was able to show that “theology” is based on Plotinus Enneades .
In the 16th century, Christian philosophers and poets valued the Neoplatonic doctrine of the soul, which offered them arguments for the individual immortality of the human soul.
Neoplatonism found resonance with the English philosophers Henry More († 1687) and Ralph Cudworth († 1688), who were among the Cambridge Platonists . This group had a good knowledge of Plotin's teaching and saw in him a faithful keeper of Plato's legacy.
In the 18th century, neo-Platonism was generally little understood. Theologians saw the fusion of Christianity and Plotinian philosophy, which had been widespread since Ficino, as a falsification of the Christian message; the religious-metaphysical thinking of the ancient Neoplatonists was alien to the spirit of the Enlightenment . In the German-speaking world, historians of philosophy did not hide their contempt for Neoplatonism. He was considered to be a misinterpretation of Plato's teaching, which had disfigured it beyond recognition, and spoke disparagingly of an eclectic (combining elements of different systems) direction. The term "Neo-Platonism", which was initially used imprecisely, only became common in the last third of the 18th century. The sharp condemnation of Neoplatonic philosophy as a crush in Johann Jakob Brucker's Historia critica philosophiae (1742) had consequences . George Berkeley , however, showed open-mindedness ; he dealt with Plotinus and often quoted him in his writing Siris .
The writer and translator Thomas Taylor († 1835) made an important contribution to the popularization of Platonism in the English-speaking world. He professed his support for the Platonic tradition and was therefore also called "Thomas Taylor the Platonist". His English translations of texts by the Neoplatonists Plotinus, Porphyrios, Iamblichus, Synesios and Proclus made broader educated circles more familiar with Neoplatonism.
In Germany, a new interest in Neoplatonism set in in the late 18th century, which intensified around the turn of the century. Hegel viewed the emergence of Neoplatonism as an important turning point in intellectual history, comparable to the emergence of Platonism and Aristotelianism. He saw in Neoplatonism the completion of the entire ancient philosophy. He considered the metaphysics of Proclus to be the final climax of ancient thought. What he particularly appreciated about her was the increase in hypostases. By differentiating the order of the hypostasis, Proclus made Neoplatonism a richly structured and fully developed system. According to Hegel's understanding, this is a system of universal mediation that allows the various stages of being to emerge continuously from one another and at the same time leads them to the highest possible unity and wholeness through the mediating intermediate stages and the connections between the stages. Hegel reinterpreted the Neoplatonic absolutely transcendent One as pure being. He placed particular emphasis on the conception of a triadic (three-part) form of all beings, especially of every thought movement, developed by Proklos. For Proclus the three elements are persistence in unity, the emergence of something out of unity and its return into unity; in Hegel's terminology it is about the trinity of the general, the particular and the particular. Hegel saw a deficiency of Neoplatonism in the fact that the emergence of reality from the over-being of the One is not explained, but remains incomprehensible, since negative theology stands in the way of an explanation. In his own system, Hegel tried to overcome negative theology and to understand the emergence of reality from the absolute as a necessity.
With Schelling , a special proximity to Plotin’s thinking is recognizable, which was already apparent to his contemporaries. The traces of Schelling's confrontation with Neoplatonism can be seen, for example, in his theory of the world soul as a principle of the explanation of nature in the context of a “higher physics” and in his understanding of the absolute as absolute indifference, that is, as an undetermined unity of identity and difference. Arthur Schopenhauer reprimanded Plotin's method of presentation; Although he granted him considerable philosophical insight, he was of the opinion that it was not a matter of the Neo-Platonist's own knowledge, but of wisdom of oriental origin.
When assessing Neoplatonism in ancient scholarship, critical voices dominated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, although Plotinus was recognized as an important philosopher, but the judgments of the later Neoplatonists were mostly unfavorable. Heinrich von Stein wrote in 1864: “Greek philosophy could have been indulged in ending with Plotinus, something like wishing a wounded hero to die on the battlefield himself, and not after the long misery of a pitiful sick bed . […] But Neoplatonism did not have such a lot: it had to twitch and bleed for a long time, and hang around in all the bondage of superstition and ignorance until it came to an end. ” Johann Eduard Erdmann saw a deep chasm between Plato and the Neoplatonists. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff valued Plotinus and some of the works of Neo-Platonists from late antiquity, but drew the balance that the Neo-Platonic literature was predominantly "inedible", that from the time of Iamblichus it was largely a matter of windy speculation "that tries to clump the clouds because it has lost the solid ground of science under its feet ”.
An intensely and controversially discussed topic in recent research is the question of Plotin's relationship to the older traditions of Platonism and the extent of its independence. In his pioneering study The Origin of Spirit Metaphysics (1964), Hans Joachim Krämer emphasized the similarities between Plotin's teachings and those of earlier Platonists back to the time of the " Old Academy ". With regard to the achievements of the later Neo-Platonists, which were often derogatory in the past, a more positive assessment is made today. While Porphyrios was mainly considered to explain and disseminate Plotinian ideas in older research, his independence has been more developed and appreciated since the second half of the 20th century. Werner Beierwaltes in particular contributed to a differentiated and overall positive appreciation of the Proclus philosophy . Iamblichos, who was previously assigned the role of a corrupter of Greek rationality and the main culprit in the decline of Neoplatonism, has been judged more impartially since the late 20th century.
Editions and translations of sources
- Heinrich Dörrie , Matthias Baltes (ed.): Platonism in antiquity. Basics - System - Development . Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987ff. (Greek and Latin texts with German translation; previously published: volumes 1–7.1 and index volume for 1–4)
- Shmuel Sambursky, Shlomo Pines (Ed.): The Concept of Time in Late Neoplatonism. Texts with Translation, Introduction and Notes . The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem 1971.
- Shmuel Sambursky (Ed.): The Concept of Place in Late Neoplatonism. Texts with Translation, Introduction and Notes . The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem 1982, ISBN 965-208-049-7 .
- Fritz-Peter Hager: Neo-Platonism. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . Volume 24, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1994, ISBN 3-11-014596-0 , pp. 341-363.
Introductions and general presentations
- Werner Beierwaltes : Thinking of the One. Studies on Neoplatonic philosophy and its history of impact . Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-465-01637-8 .
- Lloyd P. Gerson (Ed.): The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity . 2 volumes, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2010, ISBN 978-0-521-87642-1
- Wolfgang L. Gombocz : The philosophy of the end of antiquity and the early Middle Ages (= history of philosophy , edited by Wolfgang Röd , volume 4). CH Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-31268-3 , pp. 151-229.
- Jens Halfwassen : Plotinus and Neoplatonism . CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51117-1 .
- Anthony C. Lloyd: The Anatomy of Neoplatonism . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1990, ISBN 0-19-824229-8 .
- Christoph Riedweg et al. (Ed.): Philosophy of the Imperial Era and Late Antiquity (= outline of the history of philosophy . The philosophy of antiquity. Volume 5). Schwabe, Basel 2018, ISBN 978-3-7965-2629-9 , volume 5/2, pp. 1247–1456 and volume 5/3, pp. 1857-2193
Collections of articles
- Riccardo Chiaradonna, Franco Trabattoni (Ed.): Physics and Philosophy of Nature in Greek Neoplatonism . Brill, Leiden 2009, ISBN 978-90-04-17380-4 .
- Cristina D'Ancona (Ed.): The Libraries of the Neoplatonists . Brill, Leiden 2007, ISBN 978-90-04-15641-8 .
- Jens Halfwassen et al. (Hrsg.): Soul and matter in Neoplatonism / Soul and Matter in Neoplatonism. Winter, Heidelberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-8253-6291-1
- Maria-Christine Leitgeb, Stéphane Toussaint, Herbert Bannert (eds.): Platon, Plotin and Marsilio Ficino. Studies on the forerunners and the reception of Florentine Neoplatonism. Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-7001-6600-9
- Pauliina Remes, Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (Ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism . Routledge, London / New York 2014, ISBN 978-1-844-65626-4
- Clemens Zintzen (ed.): The philosophy of Neo-Platonism . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1977, ISBN 3-534-06669-3 .
Investigations on individual topics
- Lutz Bergemann: Force metaphysics and mystery cult in Neoplatonism. One aspect of Neoplatonic philosophy . Saur, Munich and Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-598-77846-5 .
- Dirk Cürsgen: Henology and Ontology. The metaphysical doctrine of principles of late Neoplatonism . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8260-3616-3 .
- Sebastian RP Gertz: Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism: Studies on the Ancient Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo . Brill, Leiden 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-20717-2 .
- Udo Hartmann : The late antique philosopher. The lifeworlds of pagan scholars and their hagiographic design in the philosophers' lives from Porphyrios to Damascios , Habelt, Bonn 2018, ISBN 978-3-7749-4172-4 .
- Dominic J. O'Meara: Platonopolis. Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity . Clarendon Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-925758-2 .
- Walter Pagel : Religion and Neoplatonism in Renaissance medicine. Edited by Marianne Winder. London 1985.
- Sara Rappe: Reading Neoplatonism. Non-discursive Thinking in the Texts of Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-65158-1 .
- Carlos G. Steel: The Changing Self. A Study on the Soul in Later Neoplatonism: Iamblichus, Damascius and Priscianus . Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België, Brussels 1978.
- Gerd Van Riel: Pleasure and the Good Life. Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonists . Brill, Leiden 2000, ISBN 90-04-11797-0 .
- Lenn E. Goodman (Ed.): Neoplatonism and Jewish Thought . State University of New York Press, Albany 1992, ISBN 0-7914-1340-3 .
- Raif Georges Khoury, Jens Halfwassen (ed.): Platonism in the Orient and Occident. Neo-Platonic thought structures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam . Winter, Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-8253-5006-1 .
- Verena Olejniczak Lobsien , Claudia Olk: Neo-Platonism and Aesthetics. On the history of transformation of the beautiful . De Gruyter, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019225-4
- Eugène N. Tigerstedt: The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato . Societas Scientiarum Fennica, Helsinki 1974, ISBN 951-653-037-0 .
- Arthur Hilary Armstrong: Neo-Platonism. In: Philip P. Wiener (Ed.): Dictionary of the History of Ideas . Vol. 3, New York 1973, pp. 371-378
- Edward Moore: Entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
- Christian Wildberg : Entry in Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
- Clemens Zintzen : The valuation of mysticism and magic in Neoplatonic philosophy (PDF, 7.2 MB)
- International Society for Neoplatonic Studies
- Evidence from Helmut Meinhardt: Neo-Platonism. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy . Vol. 6, Basel 1984, Col. 754-756, here: 755.
- Heinrich von Stein: Seven books on the history of Platonism. Part 2, Göttingen 1864 (reprint Frankfurt am Main 1965), pp. 295f., 316.
- Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes (ed.): Platonism in antiquity. Vol. 1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987, p. 44.
- Marco Zambon: Middle Platonism. In: Mary Louise Gill, Pierre Pellegrin (Eds.): A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Malden 2006, pp. 561-576, here: 561f.
- Evidence from Matthias Baltes: Middle Platonism. In: The new Pauly . Vol. 8, Stuttgart 2000, Col. 294-300, here: 294.
- Thomas Alexander Szlezák : Plotinus and the secret teachings of Ammonios offers an investigation, a discussion of older research opinions and a skeptical balance sheet . In: Helmut Holzhey and Walther Ch. Zimmerli (eds.): Esoterik und Exoterik der Philosophie , Basel 1977, pp. 52–69. See also Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer : Ammonios Sakkas, the teacher of Plotinus , Opladen 1983, pp. 72–78; Jens Halfwassen: Plotinus and Neo-Platonism , Munich 2004, p. 21.
- On Apamea as the seat of the school of Iamblichos see John Dillon : Iamblichos de Chalkis . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 3, Paris 2000, pp. 824-836, here: 828f.
- Michael von Albrecht (Ed.): Jamblich: Peri tou Pythagoreiou biou. Pythagoras: Legend - Doctrine - Lifestyle , Darmstadt 2002, p. 15f.
- On the importance of theurgy in Iamblichus and the Neoplatonists who followed his view, see Gregory Shaw: Theurgy: Rituals of Unification in the Neoplatonism of Iamblichus . In: Traditio 41, 1985, pp. 1-28; Thomas Stäcker: The position of theurgy in the teaching of Jamblich , Frankfurt am Main 1995; Beate Nasemann: Theurgy and Philosophy in Jamblichs De mysteriis , Stuttgart 1991, pp. 215–282.
- Julian, Letter 12 Bidez-Cumont (= Letter 18 Weis).
- On the income see Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes (ed.): The Platonism in antiquity. Vol. 1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987, pp. 267, 550f.
- This hypothesis is highly controversial. Philippe Hoffmann: Damascius offers an overview of the older research discussion . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 562f. Cf. Paul Foulkes: Where was Simplicius? In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 112, 1992, p. 143; Udo Hartmann : Spirit in Exile. Roman philosophers at the court of the Sasanids . In: Monika Schuol u. a. (Ed.): Crossing borders. Forms of contact between Orient and Occident in antiquity , Stuttgart 2002, pp. 123–160, here: 138f .; Polymnia Athanassiadi : Persecution and response in late paganism: the evidence of Damascius . In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 113, 1993, pp. 1–29, here: 24–29; Rainer Thiel : Simplikios and the end of the Neoplatonic school in Athens , Stuttgart 1999, pp. 42–55; Robin Lane Fox : Harran, the Sabians and the late Platonist "movers" . In: Andrew Smith (Ed.): The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity , Swansea 2005, pp. 231-244; Pantelis Golitsis: Les Commentaires de Simplicius et de Jean Philopon à la Physique d'Aristote. Tradition et Innovation , Berlin 2008, pp. 20f .; Edward Watts: Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century? Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45, 2005, pp. 285-315; Ilsetraut Hadot: Dans quel lieu le neoplatonicien Simplicius at-il fondé son école de mathématiques, et où a pu avoir lieu son entretien avec un manichéen? In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 1, 2007, pp. 42-107.
- On the agreement and its presumed content see Richard Sorabji : Divine names and sordid deals in Ammonius' Alexandria . In: Andrew Smith (Ed.): The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity , Swansea 2005, pp. 203-213. See Leendert Gerrit Westerink (Ed.): Prolégomènes à la philosophie de Platon , Paris 1990, pp. XIII – XV.
- On the late Alexandrian school see Leendert Gerrit Westerink (ed.): Prolégomènes à la philosophie de Platon , Paris 1990, pp. XVII – XLII.
- Werner Beierwaltes: Thinking of One , Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 11.
- Luc Brisson , Jean-François Pradeau: Plotinus. In: Mary Louise Gill, Pierre Pellegrin (Eds.): A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Malden 2006, pp. 577-596, here: 582f.
- Proklos, In Platonis Timaeum I 12.30-13.7.
- On the one hand and its transcendence see Werner Beierwaltes: Thinking of the One. Frankfurt am Main 1985, pp. 38-72.
- See also Carlos Steel: The One and the Good: Some Reflections on a Neoplatonic Identification. In: Arjo Vanderjagt, Detlev Pätzold (Hrsg.): The Neoplatonic Tradition. Jewish, Christian and Islamic Themes. Cologne 1991, pp. 9-25, here: 18f.
- Plotinus, Enneads V 3,13,1f. Porphyry, however, has a different opinion, for whom the supreme principle is not something that is omnipotent, but absolute being.
- Proclus, In Platonis Parmenidem 1128.
- Dirk Westerkamp: Via negativa. Munich 2006, p. 17f.
- For the history and problems of the concept of emanation see Heinrich Dörrie: Emanation. In: Heinrich Dörrie: Platonica minora. Munich 1976, pp. 70-88.
- Jens Halfwassen: Plotinus and Neo-Platonism. Munich 2004, pp. 64f., 74-77.
- Arthur H. Armstrong: The Negative Theology of Nous in Later Neoplatonism. In: Horst-Dieter Blume , Friedhelm Mann (ed.): Platonism and Christianity. Münster 1983, pp. 31-37.
- See Shmuel Sambursky: The Concept of Time in Late Neoplatonism. In: Clemens Zintzen (Ed.): The Philosophy of Neo-Platonism , Darmstadt 1977, pp. 475–495; Samuel Sambursky, Shlomo Pines (Ed.): The Concept of Time in Late Neoplatonism. Jerusalem 1971, pp. 18-21, 74.
- Katrin Stepath: Contemporary Concepts. Würzburg 2006, pp. 112-114.
- Werner Beierwaltes: Thinking of the One. Frankfurt am Main 1985, pp. 155-157.
- Anthony C. Lloyd: The Anatomy of Neoplatonism. Oxford 1990, p. 106.
- On Plotin's theory of matter see Hubert Benz: 'Matter' and Perception in the Philosophy of Plotinus. Würzburg 1990, pp. 85-177.
- On the Neo-Platonic monism see Karin Alt : Weltflucht und Weltbejahung. Stuttgart 1993, pp. 55-60.
- Karin Alt: Flight from the world and world affirmation. Stuttgart 1993, pp. 63-81.
- Fritz-Peter Hager: Matter and Evil in Ancient Platonism. In: Clemens Zintzen (ed.): The philosophy of Neo-Platonism. Darmstadt 1977, pp. 427-474, here: 455f.
- On this difference between the positions of Plotinus and Proclus see Werner Beierwaltes: Thinking of the One. Frankfurt am Main 1985, pp. 182-192; Fritz-Peter Hager: Matter and Evil in Ancient Platonism. In: Clemens Zintzen (ed.): The philosophy of Neo-Platonism. Darmstadt 1977, pp. 427-474, here: 444-469.
- Plotinus, Enneades IV, 8.8.
- For the argumentation of Iamblichus see Carlos G. Steel: The Changing Self. A Study on the Soul in Later Neoplatonism: Iamblichus, Damascius and Priscianus. Brussels 1978, pp. 38–45.
- On Proklos' criticism of Plotinus see Werner Beierwaltes: Thinking of One. Frankfurt am Main 1985, pp. 174-182; Carlos G. Steel: The Changing Self. A Study on the Soul in Later Neoplatonism: Iamblichus, Damascius and Priscianus. Brussels 1978, p. 46f.
- On this doctrine see Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato and Aristoteles in the Nuslehre Plotinus. Basel 1979, pp. 167-205.
- On Plotin's doctrine of the ascension of the soul, see Carlos G. Steel: The Changing Self. A Study on the Soul in Later Neoplatonism: Iamblichus, Damascius and Priscianus. Brussels 1978, pp. 34-38; Your song: the rise and fall of the soul. Göttingen 2009, pp. 18-23, 37-60; Venanz Schubert: Plotinus. Freiburg 1973, pp. 64-82.
- Porphyrios, Vita Plotini 23.
- Jens Halfwassen: The idea of beauty in Neoplatonism and its Christian reception in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In: Raif Georges Khoury, Jens Halfwassen (ed.): Platonism in the Orient and Occident. Heidelberg 2005, pp. 161-173.
- On the role of theurgy see Thomas Stäcker: The position of theurgy in the teaching of Jamblich. Frankfurt am Main 1995, pp. 113-138.
- Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes (ed.): Platonism in antiquity. Vol. 6.2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, pp. 358-382.
- Plotinus enneads IV 7,9,23-24; V 4,2,43; VI 9.2, 24-25. See Michele Abbate : The interpretation of the pre-Socratic Parmenides in Plotinus: The foundation of the identity of being and thinking. In: Würzburg Yearbooks for Classical Studies. New episode 30, 2006, pp. 188–191.
- On Plotin's theory of categories, see Klaus Wurm: Substance and Quality. Berlin 1973, pp. 135-166, 221-262; Silvia L. Tonti: Plotin's concept of “intelligible matter” as a reinterpretation of the Platonic concept of otherness. Würzburg 2010, pp. 131-138.
- Boethius, In isagogen Porphyrii commenta (editio prima) 1.5.
- Porphyrios, Vita Plotini 12.
- Dominic J. O'Meara: Platonopolis , Oxford 2003, pp. 206-208.
- See Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes (ed.): The Platonism in the Antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 206-209.
- Dominic J. O'Meara: Platonopolis , Oxford 2003, pp. 83-86.
- An English translation of the dialogue with a detailed introduction is provided by Peter Bell: Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian , Liverpool 2009.
- Philippe Hoffmann: What was Commentary in Late Antiquity? The Example of the Neoplatonic Commentators. In: Mary Louise Gill, Pierre Pellegrin (Eds.): A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Malden 2006, pp. 597-622, here: 605-613.
- Gregor Staab: Pythagoras in late antiquity. Munich 2002, pp. 110-115, 441-461; Dominic J. O'Meara: Pythagoras Revived , Oxford 1989, pp. 25-29, 101-105, 114ff.
- A research overview on this is provided by Albert M. Wolters: A Survey of Modern Scholarly Opinion on Plotinus and Indian Thought. In: R. Baine Harris: Neoplatonism and Indian Thought. Norfolk (Virginia) 1982, pp. 293-308. Cf. Frits Staal : Advaita and Neoplatonism: A Critical Study in Comparative Philosophy , Madras 1961, Appendix from p. 235.
- On the Neoplatonism of Marius Victorinus see Marcia L. Colish: The Neoplatonic Tradition: The Contribution of Marius Victorinus. In: Arjo Vanderjagt, Detlev Pätzold (Hrsg.): The Neoplatonic Tradition. Jewish, Christian and Islamic Themes. Cologne 1991, pp. 57-74.
- On Augustine's reception of Neo-Platonism see Wilhelm Geerlings : Libri Platonicorum. Augustine's Philosophical Education. In: Theo Kobusch , Burkhard Mojsisch (ed.): Plato in the occidental intellectual history. Darmstadt 1997, pp. 60-70; Christian Schäfer: Unde malum. The question of where evil comes from in Plotinus, Augustine and Dionysius. Würzburg 2002, pp. 217-249.
- Eusebios, Praeparatio evangelica 11,16f. and 11.20.
- On Neoplatonism in the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius see Werner Beierwaltes: Dionysios Areopagites - a Christian Proclus? In: Theo Kobusch, Burkhard Mojsisch (ed.): Plato in the occidental intellectual history. Darmstadt 1997, pp. 71-100; Sarah Klitenic Wear, John Dillon: Dionysius the Areopagite and the Neoplatonist Tradition. Despoiling the Hellenes. Aldershot 2007.
- Dirk Westerkamp: Via negativa. Language and method of negative theology. Munich 2006, pp. 23-36.
- On Macrobius' Neoplatonism see Stephen Gersh: Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. The Latin Tradition. Vol. 2, Notre Dame (Indiana) 1986, pp. 493-595.
- Tengiz Iremadze: Conceptions of Thought in Neo-Platonism. On the reception of Proclic Philosophy in the German and Georgian Middle Ages. Dietrich von Freiberg - Berthold von Moosburg - Joane Petrizi , Amsterdam 2004.
- Meister Eckhart, Sermon 48, The German Works. Vol. 2, pp. 420f. = Niklaus Largier (ed.): Meister Eckhart: works. Vol. 1, Frankfurt a. M. 1993, pp. 508f .; Sermon 2, The German Works. Vol. 1, pp. 43f. = Niklaus Largier (ed.): Meister Eckhart: works. Vol. 1, Frankfurt a. M. 1993, pp. 34-37; Sermon 42, The German Works. Vol. 2, p. 309 = Niklaus Largier (Ed.): Meister Eckhart: Works. Vol. 1, Frankfurt a. M. 1993, pp. 456f.
- Heribert Fischer: Master Eckhart. Freiburg 1974, pp. 76-78, 80f.
- On Nikolaus' Proklos reception see Werner Beierwaltes: Procliana. Frankfurt a. M. 2007, pp. 165-222; Burkhard Mojsisch: Platonic and Platonic in the philosophy of Nikolaus von Kues. In: Theo Kobusch, Burkhard Mojsisch (ed.): Plato in the occidental intellectual history. Darmstadt 1997, pp. 134-141.
- Linos Benakis: News on the Proclus tradition in Byzantium. In: Gilbert Boss, Gerhard Seel (eds.): Proclus et son influence , Zurich 1987, pp. 247-259; Georgi Kapriev: Byzantium. In: Christoph Horn et al. (Hrsg.): Platon-Handbuch. Stuttgart 2009, pp. 433-439, here: 435f.
- Christopher M. Woodhouse: George Gemistos Plethon. The Last of the Hellenes. Oxford 1986, pp. 74f.
- Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer: Plotinos. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswwissenschaft (RE), Vol. XXI 1, Stuttgart 1951, Sp. 471-592, here: 499-508; Rémi Brague : La philosophie dans la Théologie d'Aristote. Pour un inventaire. In: Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale. Vol. 8, 1997, pp. 365-387; Peter Adamson: The Arabic Plotinus. A Philosophical Study of the Theology of Aristotle. London 2002.
- On Isaak's Neo-Platonism see Karl Erich Grözinger : Jüdisches Denk. Vol. 1, Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 502-521; Sarah Pessin: Jewish Neoplatonism: Being Above Being and Divine Emanation in Solomon ibn Gabirol and Isaac Israeli. In: Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (Eds.): The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge 2003, pp. 91-110, here: 101-105.
- Tamar M. Rudavsky: Medieval Jewish Neoplatonism. In: Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (eds.): History of Jewish Philosophy. New York 1997, pp. 154-156.
- On ibn Gabirol's Neoplatonism see Sarah Pessin: Jewish Neoplatonism: Being Above Being and Divine Emanation in Solomon ibn Gabirol and Isaac Israeli. In: Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (Eds.): The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge 2003, pp. 91-110, here: 94-100.
- See Colette Sirat: A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages , Cambridge 1985, pp. 81–83.
- See also Hermann Greive : Studies on Jewish Neo-Platonism. The religious philosophy of Abraham ibn Ezra (= Studia Judaica. Research on the science of Judaism. Volume 7). Berlin / New York 1973.
- On ibn Zaddiq see Colette Sirat: A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge 1985, pp. 86-88.
- Karl Erich Grözinger: Jüdisches Denk , Vol. 2, Frankfurt am Main 2005, pp. 140–144; Günter Stemberger: Soul III. Judaism. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia. Vol. 30, Berlin 1999, pp. 740-744, here: 743f .; Boaz Huss: Migration of Souls II. Judaism. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia. Vol. 31, Berlin 2000, pp. 4-6.
- On Neoplatonism in early Kabbalistic studies, see Moshe Idel : Jewish Kabbalah and Platonism in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In: Lenn E. Goodman (Ed.): Neoplatonism and Jewish Thought. Albany 1992, pp. 319-351, here: 325-331.
- Shoey Raz: Latif, Isaac b. Abraham ibn. In: Encyclopaedia Judaica . 2nd Edition. Vol. 12, Detroit 2007, pp. 506f.
- On Ficino's reception of Plotin, see Clemens Zintzen: Plotin und Ficino. In: Jens Holzhausen (Ed.): Ψυχή - soul - anima. Festschrift for Karin Alt on May 7, 1998. Stuttgart 1998, pp. 417–435; Henri D. Saffrey: Florence, 1492: The Reappearance of Plotinus. In: Renaissance Quarterly . Vol. 49, 1996, pp. 488-506.
- On the reception of Neo-Platonism in these circles influenced by Ficino, see Françoise Joukovsky: Le regard intérieur. Thèmes plotiniens chez quelques écrivains de la Renaissance française. Paris 1982, pp. 19-21, 37-41.
- Evidence from Helmut Meinhardt: Neo-Platonism. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Vol. 6, Basel 1984, Sp. 754–756, here: 755.
- Material on Plotinus reception in the 17th and 18th centuries is compiled by Max Wundt : Plotin and the Romanticism. In: New year books for classical antiquity, history and German literature and for pedagogy. Vol. 35 (= department 1 year 18), 1915, pp. 649–672, here: 649–658. On Berkeley see Naguib Baladi: Plotin et l'immatérialisme de Berkeley. Témoignage de la Siris. In: Revue internationale de philosophie. Volume 24 No. 92, 1970, pp. 338–347.
- On Hegel's understanding of Neoplatonism see Werner Beierwaltes: Platonismus und Idealismus. Frankfurt am Main 1972, pp. 144-187; Jens Halfwassen: Hegel and Late Antique Neo-Platonism. Bonn 1999, pp. 14-17, 92-98, 118-126, 150-159, 273-298, 386-399, 463-468.
- Venanz Schubert: Plotinus. Freiburg 1973, pp. 19-24; Werner Beierwaltes: The true self. Frankfurt a. M. 2001, pp. 182-227; Werner Beierwaltes: Platonism and Idealism. 2nd Edition. Frankfurt a. M. 2004, pp. 100-144, 202-214, 222-226, 233f .; Harald Holz : Spirit in History. Idealismus-Studien , Würzburg 1994, pp. 201, 232-240.
- Arthur Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena. Vol. 1, ed. Ludger Lütkehaus , Zurich 1994, p. 64f.
- See also Wolfgang L. Gombocz: The philosophy of the outgoing antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Munich 1997, p. 152.
- Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff u. a .: The Greek and Latin literature and language. 3. Edition. Leipzig 1912, p. 282.
- Thomas Alexander Szlezák offers an overview of the history of research: Plato and Aristoteles in Plotin's doctrine of nuances. Basel 1979, pp. 45-51.
- Werner Beierwaltes: Proklos. Basic features of his metaphysics. 2nd Edition. Frankfurt am Main 1979, pp. 1–23 (with an overview of the history of research).
- Thomas Stäcker: The position of theurgy in the teaching of Jamblich. Frankfurt am Main 1995, pp. 16-26; John F. Finamore, John M. Dillon (Eds.): Iamblichus De anima. Leiden 2002, p. 9; Henry J. Blumenthal, Gillian Clark (Eds.): The Divine Iamblichus. Philosopher and Man of Gods. London 1993, pp. 1f. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff summarized the destructive judgment of older research in: Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff u. a .: The Greek and Latin literature and language. 3. Edition. Leipzig 1912, p. 281.