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6071Re: RES: RES: [neoplatonism] Re: Calling all astrologers!

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  • Sebastian Moro
    Oct 11, 2013
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      Dear Mike,

      Many thanks for your clarification of Proclus' position on human/animal souls and how geometrical justice is related to the choice of lives. 
      Does this animation of animal bodies and being "connected relationally" to a an animal soul mean that according to the notion of metempsychosis, the irrational or perishable elements of the human soul (which are related to a human soul and its immortal "part") can be transferred to an animal soul. If not in which sense do you think this connection (*en skhesei*) could work?
      For example, the famous fragment about Pythagoras recognizing a friend in a dog that was being beaten  ("I knew him by his voice"). This can mean that all life, human, animal, vegetal, is related, connected, and it is in a sense sacred because it comes from the same divine source, Intelligible Life. But, in Pythagoreanism and Neoplatonism, it seems problematic that the divine part of the soul, the immortal soul that defines a person, can pass from a human body to an animal body. 
      In relation to the journey of the soul through the Zodiacal cycle, in Numenius, Plato, Porphyry, Proclus and Macrobius, and the gateways or doors of the souls (in Capricorn and Cancer) of the souls, mentioned by Marilynn, it could be added that the Platonic goal of assimilation to god (Theaetetus) is associated to the aim of the souls when directing their lives towards Capricorn, which is the divine door and "escape" of the cycle of genesis. It might take many circuits or "laps", but it seems that Capricorn is what counts (the ascent). This journey of the soul between two poles might have been represented in the Roman chariot races, where dolphins and eggs were used to count the laps. And the dolphin is an astrological representation connected to Capricorn (or in India with the Makara). Cancer on the other hand, was associated with the crab or the Hydra killed by Hercules (or an octopus opposed to the Apollonian dolphin). 
      The choice between Capricorn and Cancer would be similar to the Pythagorean choice (or the choice of Hercules) represented with the letter Y. However, if the soul needs to enter/descend to the world of genesis through the door in Cancer, this could be the occasion of choosing a human life that is conducive to the return from the world of genesis.
      I hope I did not go off-topic too much with this.
      Kind regards,

      On Friday, October 11, 2013 6:23 PM, Goya <goya@...> wrote:

      > Dear all,
      > Very interesting topic. In relation to José's question one could say that
      > according to Proclus' interpretation (In Remp. II.309.3 ff.) it is not
      > possible for a human soul to be born in an animal body, he says that this
      > kind of choice means a choice of a mode of life, and mentions the example
      > of the dog as an irrational kind of life (according to the Oracles).

      M.C. I think Proclus' position is more subtle than that. At In Remp. II,
      266, 1-12, Proclus states that transitions of souls can take place, inter
      alia, " from irrational to rational beings, or from rational to
      irrational" (*...apo alogOn esi logika, E apo logikOn eis aloga*).
      Later (In Remp. II, 309 29ff) he qualifies his position: the human soul
      cannot enter into an animal body, but can be connected relationally (*en
      skhesei*) to an animal soul animating an animal body (which, like the
      human soul in the human body, is present *en katataxei*). This solution,
      Proclus tells us, was first proposed by Theodore of Asine. At In Tim. 3,
      294, 29ff. Proclus tells us he has explained all this in detail in his
      Lessons on the Phaedrus.

      > choices and the lots (klêroi) depend on the qualitative aspect of the
      > soul and its dispositions (In Remp. 263.5). Do these dispositions depend
      > on a previous life? (on merits, as Festugiere translates II. 265.5) or do
      > they depend on the kind of soul and the causal seirai that each
      > represents?

      M.C. The dynamic between the two is very tricky already in Porphyry. For
      him, the souls' choice of life is free, *but* their faculty of free choice
      is soiled (*khrainesthai*; Proclus uses the same term at In Remp. II, 316,
      2)) (a) by the soul's experience in its previous life, and (b) by the
      desires it feels for one of the types of life it sees projected on the

      That said, Proclus is quite emphatic when, probably reacting against
      Porphyry, he denies that all types of life are offered/displayed to all
      souls, insisting that only some types of life are displayed to some
      souls, and this is decided by merit. If this were not the case, there
      would be too much democracy in the matter of the souls' choice of life. As
      he puts it (unencumbered as he was by political correctness): the power or
      freedom (*exousia*) of unequal souls must also be unequal. After all, it
      is not permitted in well-governed states that all should partake of the
      same *exousia* (II, 263, 1-2). Of course, Proclus could adduce an
      impressive pedigree for these ideas: it's the notion of distributive or
      geometrical justice, as defended by Plato (Laws VI, 55b) and Aristotle (EN

      All best, Mike


      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76

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