Ascent toward Beauty
“Let no one when young delay to study philosophy, nor
when he is old grow weary of his study.
For no one can come too early or too late to secure the health of his soul.”
Pythagoras coined the term Philosophos, which means Lover of Wisdom.
Modern philosophy often seems like a dry, academic discipline residing in the highest attics of the ivory tower, but ancient Philosophy was very different. It was a practical discipline aimed at teaching one to live well.
In some ways Philosophy is more like medicine than a theoretical subject. Its goal is both Therapy and a cure helping the mind to live in harmony and balance with the body.
Philosophy was also a discipline of the mind aiming to develop a critical and clear thinking. Consequently, reason gives to our life a very helpful stability.
For all these reasons philosophy is essential for the practice of Theurgy. Of course, it is not necessary to learn 3000 years of philosophy as some philosophers are closer to our tradition than others. In this regard, Platonism and Neoplatonism are fundamental, but we associate this philosophical school with at least Epicureanism and Stoicism.
It is interesting to give you few insights about Neoplatonism.
Neoplatonism is a modern term for a strand of Platonic philosophy that started with Plotinus in the 3rd century CE. Neoplatonic philosophy derives the whole of reality from a single principle, "the One", an idea which is still popular in modern-day spirituality.
Three distinct phases in classical neoplatonism after Plotinus can be distinguished: the work of his student Porphyry; that of Iamblichus and his school in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished. The work of Proclus (412-485) had a lasting influence in the dissemination of Neoplatonism after the closing of the Platonic Academy in Athens in 529 CE by Justinian I.
In the Middle Ages, neoplatonic ideas were studied and discussed by Islamic, Christian, and Jewish thinkers. In the Islamic cultural sphere, neoplatonic texts were available in Arabic translations, and notable thinkers such as al-Farabi, Solomon ibn Gabirol (Avicebron), Avicenna, and Moses Maimonides incorporated Neoplatonic elements into their own thinking.
Latin translations of late ancient neoplatonic texts were first available in the Christian West in the 9th century, and became influential from the 12th century onward. Thomas Aquinas had direct access to works by Proclus, Simplicius and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and he knew about other Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus and Porphyry, through secondhand sources. Meister Eckhart was also influenced by neoplatonism, propagating a contemplative way of life which points to the Godhead beyond the nameable God.
Neoplatonism also had a strong influence on the Perennial philosophy of the Italian Renaissance thinkers Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola and continues through 19th century Universalism and modern-day spirituality and nondualism.
You can also access the recommended readings and choose what you want to read to go further >
We recommend also specifically the reading of the book by Bruce J. MacLennan, The Wisdom of Hypatia, Llewellyn Publications.