Chapter

The Neoplatonists

R. J. Hankinson

in Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246564
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597572 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199246564.003.0013
The Neoplatonists

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Although the syncretism of the preceding Platonic tradition is still evident in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus, Plotinus’ system of reality, Hankinson argues, is a strikingly original achievement. Plotinus conceives reality as an ordered and causally inter‐related structure, according to which everything is explained in terms of its relationship with the supreme, transcendent One; this is taken over by his successors, such as Proclus, with whom Neoplatonism reaches its most formalized incarnation. The thought of Plotinus and Proclus is quite remote from the discussions of nature that had provided the context for earlier Greek theories of causation. But John Philoponus, a Christian philosopher, brings a Neoplatonic approach to physical explanation, in particular in his critique of Aristotle's physics and dynamics. Simplicius tried to combine physics and theology; as Christianity came to dominate the Graeco‐Roman world, however, scientific speculation on natural causes waned, and theology became the main concern.

Keywords: Christianity; Neoplatonism; John Philoponus; physics; Plotinus; Proclus; Simplicius; theology; transcendent One

Chapter.  22145 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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