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2064Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Iamblichus 'eye of wisdom' alleged reference

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  • John Uebersax
    May 10 12:39 AM
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      Dennis Clark wrote:

      > Especially curious is the looking up and looking down!

      Yes. Not mentioned is looking to the left and the right, which each also seem correlated
      with specific mental operations.

      > There is also an interesting little coda about Madame Blavatsky and
      > the pineal gland as a vestigial Third Eye,

      Concerning Plato's reference in Rep. 527d-e, here is the commentary from James Adam:

      "Every human being has an organon psuchês viz. nous: it is indeed the possession of nous
      which makes him at once truly human and therewithal divine (VI 501 B note)."
      - The Republic of Plato. James Adam. 1902. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

      So he takes Plato's reference as metaphorical, and not referring to a physiological

      And there is this article by Michael Allen:

      Marsilio Ficino on Plato's Pythagorean Eye
      Michael J. B. Allen
      MLN, Vol. 97, No. 1, Italian Issue. (Jan., 1982), pp. 171-182.
      (at JSTOR)

      This relates that Ficino, in his Philebus commentary, states:

      "Among the wisest men of Greece arose the saying that Plato had three eyes: one with
      which he looked at human things, another at natural things, and another at divine things.
      The last was in his forehead, while the others were under his forehead."'

      Allen reports finding only two ancient sources for this tradition (but both likely
      unfamiliar to Ficino).

      The first is in an anonymous prolegomena to Platonic studies written perhaps by Elias or
      someone else from Olympiodorus' school:

      "It is said, in fact, that having found the theory of ideas he [Plato] dreamt that he had
      a third eye.

      The second is a passing reference by Origen in Contra Celsum. Celsus criticized
      Christianity for promoting 'fantastic stories.' Origen then counters that pagans do the
      same, listing examples, including "the third eye which Plato saw that he himself
      - Origen, Contra Celsum 6.8 (Roberts-Donaldson)

      Back to the pineal gland: the pineal gland does have cells that resemble retinal cells
      (something probably not known by the ancients or even Descartes). This passage from a
      1966 Atlantic Monthly article looks interesting:

      "The physiological site of this sixth chakra, the sahasrara, is located in the center of
      the forehead; it is symbolized by an eye--the so-called third eye, the inner eye, or the
      eye of the mind. When this eye is opened, a new and completely other dimension of reality
      is revealed to the practitioner of yoga. Western scholars when they first came upon this
      literature took the third eye to be an appropriately poetic metaphor and nothing else."

      "But in the middle of the nineteenth century, as the subcontinent of Australia and its
      surrounding territory came to be explored, a flurry of zoological interest centered upon
      a lizard native to the area, the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatum). This animal possessed, in
      addition to two perfectly ordinary eyes located on either side of its head, a third eye
      buried in the skull which was revealed through an aperture in the bone, covered by a
      transparent membrane, and surrounded by a rosette of scales. It was unmistakably a third
      eye, but upon dissection it proved to be nonfunctional. Though it still possessed the
      structure of a lens and retina, these were no longer in good working order; also lacking
      were appropriate neural connections to the brain. But the presence of this eye in the
      tuatara still poses a puzzle to present-day evolutionists, for almost all vertebrates
      possess a homologous structure in the center of their skulls. It is present in many fish,
      all reptiles, birds, and mammals (including humans)."


      John Uebersax

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