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Proclus (410-85 CE) was an influential Neoplatonist philosopher born in Lycia who moved to Athens for the remainder of his life.
Modern writers often call him the last of the so-called classical Greek philosophers.
His works include extensive commentaries on Plato’s dialogues and on Euclid’s Elements of Geometry. He also wrote two major treatises: The Elements of Theology and The Platonic Theology.
Like his better known predecessor, Plotinus, Proclus attempts to combine the Platonic notion of the ideal Forms with Aristotle’s concept of a prime, unmoved Mover (i.e. the first cause of all creation).
His particular synthesis of Platonic and Aristotelian systems culminates in the theory that an overall, divine action coordinates all cosmic elements as the soul embarks on a journey back to the One from which it originally emanated.
Due to the non-Christian aspects of his teaching, the emperor Justinian closed Proclus’ school at Athens after it had survived for nine centuries.
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Medieval is a term that usually but not always describes a period of European history. Historical references are sometimes made, for instance, to Medieval India. So this makes the term a bit difficult to define.
The term is also difficult to define because it may be determined by various criteria. Are the dates for the Medieval period set by achievements in art, economics, technology, standard of living, morality, social issues or critical thinking?
Also called the Middle Ages, the Medieval period is generally seen as running from about 1000 CE to 1500 CE, a time when a relative few kings, notables, literati and Church leaders had a firm, exploitative and sometimes ruthless grip on the masses. As for the people who made up the masses, they for the most part were of dramatically lower economic and educational status.
Some say the Middle Ages differ from the Medieval period, with the former beginning about 600 CE. Others use the terms interchangeably, with the Medieval period also beginning in 600 CE or 1000 CE. And yet some see the Medieval period beginning somewhere between the Council of Nicea (313 CE) and the Sack of Rome (410 CE), and extending to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE.
The term ‘Middle Ages’ was first used in the 16th century by Renaissance writers describing the period from 600 CE to about 1400 CE because they viewed their own civilization as a reinstatement and elaboration of themes prevalent in ancient Greece and Rome.
Recent views of the Medieval period, whatever it may be, question the idea that it was backward. Several innovations were made, although they were not necessarily as dramatic, technologically speaking, as they were within the periods before and after medieval times. Medieval theologians such as Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, came up with some of the most amazingly subtle thinking, on a variety of topics, known to mankind. Likewise, Christian polyphonic devotional music underwent dramatic innovations during this time.
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- Plan for New US Embassy Includes Design Features from Medieval Castles (neatorama.com)
- A Brief History of the Latin Language: Medieval Latin (brighthub.com)
- The Sims Medieval Announced (cinemablend.com)
- The Sims goes medieval in 2011 (geek.com)
- Inside The Medieval Mind: Knowledge (camelswithhammers.com)
- What’s ‘medieval’ about stoning people to death? (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Get Medieval with New Series from EA’s Award-Winning the Sims Studio (eon.businesswire.com)
- Medieval legal history panel at the Kalamazoo medieval conference (volokh.com)
- Archaeologists say Hartlington Stones in Yorkshire Dales were Medieval furnaces (marklord.info)
- Sheep to Sheet (of Parchment) (finebooksmagazine.com)
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Platonism refers to any system of belief based on the metaphysical ideas expressed in Plato‘s dialogues.
These include Plato’s division of an ideal realm of the intellect and an ordinary realm of the soul.
The notion that mathematical truths have an independent existence would be an example of Platonism.
Platonism is also premised on Plato’s idea of the Forms.
Neoplatonist thinkers such as Plotinus argued for the “One” from which all else proceeds, and which is comprehended only through mystical union.
Platonism has many different expressions. It spans from the early Church Fathers to the European Middles Ages,¹ to the 17th century theologians known as the ‘Cambridge Platonists’, right into the New Age philosophies of today.
Plato’s ideas have been influential to the extent that A. N. Whitehead said all of European philosophy is a “footnote to Plato.”
¹ S. G. F. Brandon notes that Platonism in the Middle Ages was temporarily “eclipsed” by the ideas of Aristotle (Dictionary of Comparative Religion, New York: Scribner’s, 1970, p. 505).
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Plato‘s enduring work in which the philosopher-king is depicted as the best kind of ruler.
Not too many people realize that Plato in his Republic disapproved of democracy (Greek: strength of the people), maintaining that the masses were ill-suited to the task of selecting an adequate ruler.
According to this argument, just as a doctor is specially trained to heal citizens, an enlightened ruler is uniquely endowed to govern subjects.
The Republic groups society into four classes of gold, silver, bronze and iron. Individuals ideally fulfill the duties that nature has allotted to their particular social class.
Plato’s popular ‘cave analogy’ also appears in The Republic. It illustrates his views about the connection between change and eternity. The cave analogy goes as follows:
Prisoners are bound to a chair in a cave that they’ve been imprisoned in since childhood. They face a wall with a fire burning some distance behind them. Their captors come and go, always walking between the fire and the prisoners’ backs. Consequently the captors are always seen by the prisoners as shadows projected on the wall of the cave. The prisoners know of nothing else and assume that the shadows are reality. If a prisoner were to escape up the steep slope leading to the cave entrance, his or her eyes would temporarily be blinded by the bright sunlight. Once their eyes adjusted, however, the free prisoner would realize that a far greater reality exists than the world of shadows. If the prisoner were to reenter the cave, they again would be temporarily blinded, this time by a lack of light. When their eyes readjusted, the shadows would reappear. But the prisoner now knows that they’re just shadows and not reality.
In this analogy, the shadows represent the ever-changing world of daily life. The world above the cave entrance represents an eternal, unchanging reality that Plato calls the realm of the Forms.
For Plato, only the Forms are truly real because the mundane world is in a state of becoming–i.e. subject to change and lacking permanence.
The Republic is regarded as a landmark in literature, education, philosophy and political thought. Its influence spread through Europe in the Middles Ages and continues to be felt today.
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The idea of the soul has innumerable meanings around the world and throughout history.
A distinction is often made between an individual soul and a world soul. Some regard the soul as a multiple entity, as in ancient Egyptian religion or the contemporary views of the trance channeler Jane Roberts/Seth.
Others insist the soul is single.
Some say the soul is the conceptual “I” that apparently remains constant throughout life.
Plato viewed the soul as single but containing multiple functions.
Aristotle saw the soul as a partly rational and partly irrational function governing bodily needs, desires and actions that disappears at death. Soul is also envisioned as a spiritual, self-motivating and eternal agent or substance.
St. Thomas Aquinas insists it is united to the body but not of the body. For Aquinas it “operates through corporeal organs” with its “proper function” being “in the understanding.”
In much of Hinduism the soul reincarnates, ultimately to merge with God, as a drop of water returns to the ocean from whence it came. In this sense, individuality is temporary at best. Ramanuja‘s Visistadvaita school of Hinduism is an important exception to this idea. For Ramanuja individual souls (jivas) emerge from and ultimately rest within God (Brahman), retaining some aspect of their individuality, existence and, therefore, reality.
The anatman doctrine of Buddhism contends that the idea of a soul is just a conceptual illusion and, in reality, does not exist.
Catholics believe that the soul is created by God at the moment of human conception, a view that has sparked intense debate among pro-life and pro-choice groups. Concerning death and the afterlife, Catholic believers say the soul rises to heaven or is purified in purgatory in preparation for heaven or descends to eternal hell.
In music “soul” refers to a form of music originating in America that blends gospel music with rhythm and blues. Although soul music was created by black Americans, its contemporary offshoots are composed and performed by anyone, anywhere.
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