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them a general holding to asceticism. Many Greek philosophers had taught suppression of sense-pleasures, but only from the point of view of thereby following reason more completely and attaining an unshakable good in a self-poised will. Asceticism, however, with the NeoPythagoreans and Neo-Platonists meant beyond this a purification from the defilement of what was essentially evil-matter-and a step upwards towards union with the purity of Deity. Their asceticism followed from the doctrine of the dualistic opposition between mind and matter-good and evil. Again, these men all look beyond reason for the means of attaining the highest conditions of life, some looking to communications from the gods, and some to a state of ecstasy, which is the immediacy of the Divine. Much of their thought and feeling represents sense of severance from God and yearning for reunion with him; it is religious rather than philosophic.

Philo; Apollonius of Tyana.

Philo, the philosophic Alexandrian Jew who sought to interpret and systematize the Mosaic law through Greek philosophy, was the first to set man's highest good in contemplation of the Godhead, which transcends definite conception.' Men know that God is, but what he is they cannot know.' He may be apprehended by such as are pure in act and pure of all defilement through attachment to the evil world of matter; but for this there must be an abandonment of self, a throwing of one's self into the infinite, an utter cessation from self-consciousness. Philo held Plato above all other Greek philosophers. There would also seem to have been quite as much Platonism as Pythagoreanism among those religious sages called Neo-Pythagoreans, perhaps from their fondness for the symbolism of number. In their ascetic inclinations they regarded

1 Zeller, Philosophie der Griechen, 3d edition, 32 p. 421. For the most part I have followed Zeller in the following statement of the Alexandrian philosophy. • Ib., P. 356.

themselves as the disciples of Pythagoras, whom they made into a god-inspired sage, even into a god or dæmon with the power of farthest prophecy, thus giving a point of attachment to their general beliefs in revelation from the gods to men. Apollonius of Tyana, who wandered about the world in the first century as the sanctified figure of the sect, was a being god-inspired, and possessed of all knowledge derivable from human sources. In youth he travelled to learn; in manhood he went about working wonders and preaching abstinence from sensepleasures, animal food, and woollen clothing. To him all gods were divine; he lived in temples, taught and slept in temples, and held converse in them with the beings in whose cult they stood. The highest god, taught Apollonius, should be worshipped only by pure thought, even spoken words being for him a defilement. But intermediary gods and dæmons might be honored according to customary rites. Apollonius and his disciples represent tendencies coming among men towards ascetic mysticism and disregard of rational principles of life.


A more catholic appreciation of life is found in the man who has endeared to us the ancient world. Plutarch was a follower of Plato, but one whose admiration for his master was deeper than his understanding of him. No more than Chæronæa was a great matter in the world are the philosophic opinions of Plutarch of deep value. They show the tendencies of the time working in a man of different temperament from the Neo-Pythagoreans. Plutarch was no ascetic, but a thorough Greek. Following the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, he advocated a fulfilment by each man of the higher parts of his nature, with no suppression of the more animal elements of life, wherein he took issue with the Stoics. Yet in his philosophy the principles of good and evil are at strife; above all is the highest God, whose existence we can affirm, that he is one, changeless, and eter

nal, and that he is the source of all good and beauty. The principle of evil, the evil world-soul, comes not from God. Its home is formless matter, which in itself is neither evil nor good. The good soul of the world proceeds from God and is the all-pervading formative influence, triumphing over the evil, which is all-pervading too. So there is Typhon as well as Osiris, as Plutarch calls the two world-souls when philosophizing with Egyptian deities; and there are many evil demons, functionaries of the formlessness of matter, opposed to the finer formative processes whereby it is raised towards the beautiful and good. Here work the good demons, who are also intermediaries between the gods and men. A man should believe in divination and prophecy, above all in God's providential care of the world. Without these beliefs life were without support, and impious. Holding to his belief in a highest and therefore remotest God, Plutarch is ready to give credit to all the more respectable gods and modes of worship observed throughout the Græco-Roman world. God indeed is not held in images; yet through them he may be made real to the worshipper. And why blame the Egyptians for worshipping him in living animals, which are not the work of human hands and wherein is life? As for Oracles and reported manifestations of the gods and dæmons, Plutarch is gently credulous, and, good Greek that he is, ready to support his credulity with reasons having the validity of logical phrase.

Men like Plutarch, Philo, or Apollonius, were forerunners of the Neo-Platonists. Plotinus regarded his system as a harmony of previous Greek philosophies under the dominant note of Plato.

Plotinus the NeoPlatonist.


it took up enough elements of former systems to satisfy persons of Platonic or Aristotelian or Stoic leanings; and its spirit accorded with the reverence for the classic past prevailing in Alexandria. Moreover, 1 See generally Isis and Osiris.

Plotinus was a great metaphysician. His system would satisfy the Greek love of reasoned thought, a love which had outlived confidence in reason as an all-sufficiency for man. And, in answer to the yearnings of the time, he held the highest goal to be ecstatic union of the soul with God, a state not reached through processes of dialectic, but transcending reason, void even of self-consciousness which always attends rationalizing modes. Plotinus's system being thus mystical in its tendency, afforded place for the popular religion. Hence Neo-Platonism became for remaining pagan times the dominant philosophy, became a religious system, became debased through absorption of magical practices and gross superstitions, and was throughout the champion of Polytheism against Christianity.

Plotinus's system was an exposition, so far as such was possible, of the absolute First God, of the Nous with its component Ideas emanating from the First, and of the souls and other existences more or less impenetrated with matter, which emanate immediately or mediately from the Nous. These metaphysics set forth the stages of existence by which the souls of men are separated from God; and the ethics of the system set forth the means by which a reunion of the soul with God may be attained.

The Absolute


The necessities of a conception of absolute unity moulded Plotinus's thoughts of God, the original One, the First, the Source of all else, i.e., of the Many. Plato, Aristotle, even Philo, had conceived of God as the thinking principle as well as the object of thought, the sole object or content it might be of its own thought. But thought implies the duality of subject and object, even when the thinker is the object of his own thought; in order to sever absolutely the One from the Many, the One must transcend thought,-so argued Plotinus. Hence, seeking beyond Plato's world of ideas, he finds the absolute One

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to transcend being and thought; nor can its nature be grasped by reason. Yet he tries to conceive the One more nearly, at first by denying it definite qualities; for all definite existence implies finitude, and the One is absolute; It is the Infinite. The thought of the Good does not apply definitely to that which transcends all definite quality. It, God, the One, the First, is infinite, indefinite, formless: It is not beautiful, though the source of beauty, which It transcends; It has no will, for volition presupposes desire, as well as the distinction between being and activity. Activity (evɛpyɛía) cannot be attributed to It, as that implies endeavor, which cannot exist in what is absolute completion in itself; nor can It be conceived as thinking, since that implies duality; neither can there be attributed to It self-consciousness or life or being.

Passing from these negations, Plotinus seeks a more positive conception of God. The First is the source of the Good; It may be conceived as the underlying principle of infinitude and as the source of all existence. From Its manifestations we may work back in thought to It: It is absolute causality,—the absolute cause and the absolute end of all finite existence, and It may be called the One and the Good. But It can be defined thus only from our point of view, that is, as the effect It produces in us or in the universe; Its causality pertains rather to us than to It. God's causal effect proceeds not from volition, but from his overflowing fulness, as light from the sun. His causality directly effectuates only the next stage of existence below him, the Nous,-perfect and perfected thought.

The Nous.

The Nous is the direct emanation from God. God transcends thought in his unity and in that he is the source of thought. But thought is next to God, is less complete only than God, who is its immediate source and the proper object of its contemplation. Thought is veriest being, and this strictly Platonic

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