2064Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Iamblichus 'eye of wisdom' alleged reference
- May 10 12:39 AMDennis 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 andConcerning Plato's reference in Rep. 527d-e, here is the commentary from James Adam:
> the pineal gland as a vestigial Third Eye,
"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.
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)."
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