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O'Meara here articulates primary themes and developments in philosophical political thought in the classical Neoplatonic period, from Plotinus's day in the mid-third century into the sixth century. Concurrently, he addresses head on "the conventional view that the Platonist philosophers of Late Antiquity had no political philosophy" 3.

Political Philosophy

This view exemplifies the more general perspective that the Neoplatonists were simply disinterested in this-worldly affairs in lieu of "an immaterial world. Consequently, O'Meara provides both a unique study of an important [End Page ] topic and a compelling case for a more complete, balanced understanding of Neoplatonic other-worldly-ness.

O'Meara's study covers key figures from four main groups of neo Platonists: Plotinus and his students; the schools in Syria and Asia Minor inspired by Iamblichus; the Athenian school Plutarch, Proclus, Damascius et al. He organizes his investigation chapters into three Parts. The pivotal concept in O'Meara's two-pronged endeavor is divinization - "assimilation and unification, as far as possible, to god" 31, Proclus - a concept whose meaning for classical Neoplatonists ranges from "becoming a god" to "imitating some form of divine life, in one way or another" Part I focuses on the Neoplatonists' shared association of a human soul's divinization with virtue-osity [my jargon], beginning with Plotinus's distinction between political virtue s and purification —or purificatory virtue s.

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O'Meara emphasizes the relevance of the resulting "scale of virtues" to a life of continued activity—for example explicating Plotinus's denial that a "purified" soul is somehow exempt from the rightness-of-acting expected of the politically virtuous soul: rather, "reaching higher principles and different measures he will act [directly, immediately] according to these" 43, En.

Another organizing theme as O'Meara's investigations proceed beyond Plotinus is the significance of the increasing complexities of particular Neoplatonic metaphysical systems, and so also of their moral systems - e. Implicit in the Neoplatonic scale s of virtue s was the thesis that as one progresses towards divinization "lower" virtue-osity is not transcended in the sense of lost or dismissed but rather it is included or incorporated into a higher form.

Arguably, "lower" sciences are likewise not merely aids or stepping-stones towards something "higher," but genuine topoi of study and knowledge in their own right. Part II is the true heart of O'Meara's outstanding scholarly and philosophical inquiry. Here is where he fulfills his intent to discern a substantive tradition of political philosophy and to articulate its key themes and concepts.

96 - Dominic O'Meara on Neoplatonism | History of Philosophy without any gaps

Though he associates this part of his investigation with Plato's conceit of the philosopher's return to the cave, he immediately parses this "descent" as a "divinization of political life through philosophy" He articulates various Neoplatonists' approaches to questions inspired by Plato's cave allegory—e. Is the philosopher socially obligated to "return"? His investigation here does seem to overlook Neoplatonic conceptions of choice, volition, or will as these might pertain to such questions. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review.


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