From Neo-Platonism to Souls in Silico

Edith Wyschogrod

in Crossover Queries

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226061
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235148 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

From Neo-Platonism to Souls in               Silico

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With the emergence of a new conceptual landscape of dematerialization, many contemporary philosophers turn not to a plural subject, a we, but to the subject that is envisioned as an etiolated, mathematized body, a string of genes that have become the bearers of immortality. This chapter points to some manifestations of the depersonalized subject and examines the accounts of soul in the Neoplatonist philosophies of Plotinus and Iamblichus. In his analysis of mathematics in Neoplatonism, Dominic O'Meara argues that, to see the soul as number, one must turn from Plotinus to Iamblichus, who sought to lay down an older and more authentic Platonism that reflected Pythagorean notions. It goes on to describe the recent conceptual shift from the materiality of a visible and tangible body to the soul in silico. Finally, the chapter considers whether identity, as constructed through invisible gene-links rather than through bodily resemblance, offers an opportunity to break with the twentieth century's nefarious uses of evolutionary biology, or whether it perpetuates the danger.

Keywords: dematerialization; immortality; Plotinus; Iamblichus; Neoplatonism; Dominic O'Meara; soul; Platonism; Pythagorean notions; identity

Chapter.  6536 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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