Dr. Kostelecky - Philosophy 249 - 20

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Matthew Kostelecky

PHILOSOPHY 249 PORPHYRY'S ISOGOGY when we refer to the problem of universals (not forms) we know we are in an Aristotelian context. it is so tempting to make philosopher's systems work. YOu can only take them as what they are saying. porphyry is a 3rd century AD thinker aristotle and plato are usually held to differ fundamentally but they can be held to be so similar as to compliment one another. GNOSTICISM - there are many kinds of gnosticisms. gnosis - knowledge. there are a selct few who have knowledge of very good very divine things, and that has to be passed on.. but you only want the select few to have the knowledge. one of the things it teaches is that materiality is evil. in contrast to that unenviable state of being a bodily thing, there is a divine spark in every thing. if you read enough plato, you can tease that out of it. you see the seeds for that kind of dualism in plato (the soul as charioteer) if you were living in 2C AD mediterranean, and you were trying to pick which religion will be of world historical importance in the future. you probably wouldnt say judaism or christianity but probably gnosticism cause it was really important back then. one of the ways you would combat gnosticism if you were pagan (not jewish or christian) YOU WOULD GO BACK TO PLATO TO PROVE HOW BADLY THE GNOSTICS MISUSE PLATO. one of the people who does this was PLOTINUS (270 ad), a pagan, who wanted to discount gnostics. his importance is difficult to overstate. he writes enneads and "against the gnostics." gnosticism is seen to have fundamental errors that lead to all kind of bad errors. Porphyry was the editor of Plotinus' Enneads. One thing Plotinus does is use Aristotle in a couple key moments to help explain Plato. For the most part he thinks aristotle misunderstands plato, to be sure, but this use of him is important cause Porphyry picks up on this. PORPHYRY, inspired by Plotinus, writes "AGAINST THE CHRISTIANS" he writes an introduction to Aristotle's "Categories" called "ISAGOGUE" isogogue is the greek word for introduction. ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CHRISTIANITY IS THAT IT IS UNIVERSAL. this sets it apart from Judaism, which isn't universalist. Christians undertake to educate themselves in the philosophy of the day because everyone is making fun of their lack of sophistication. The philosophy of the day is Plato and Aristotle. They need to explain how God is three and one. Also they say that God creates ex nihilo, from nothing, which violates Greco/Roman logic as well. So the christians have to do some explaining. So they go and learn as much as they possibly can from that philosophy. These early christians find in Plato a certain harmony, especially in PLOTINUS. PLOTINUS posits that there are three fundamental divine realities: 1.the One 2.Intelligence (Nous) 3.and the Soul so the one, there is nothing beyond this, it is totality nous is thought thinking itself. it descends in some order from the one. the christians do this, and this is not platonic. the One >>>> FATHER Nous >>>> SON Soul >>>> HOLY SPIRIT it is a divine triad of sorts. now plotinus thought of these three as distinct and not the same, whereas the christians thought that the three were the same but somehow distinct at the same time. In PLATO we see the "curb the passions" doctrine. That's a norm for christians and they can use Plato to defend that norm of theirs. then someone comes along after Plotinus AUGUSTINE! He becomes infatuated, as he grows up, with a specific form of GNOSTICISM. He also has an extrordinary sexual appetite. But he hates this about himself. So gnosticism draws him in with his rejection of bodily pleasure. He ends up rejecting gnosticism cause it cannot allow for natural philosophy and rationalism. He becomes a skeptic. he doesn't need things to be provable as much as rational. Then 10 years later he becomes a Christian. He reads the bible allegorically and not literally. He reads into the great platonists. his conversion is in large part because of plato and plotinus maybe moreso than the gospels.
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