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6076Re: RES: RES: [neoplatonism] Re: Calling all astrologers!

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  • Sebastian Moro
    Oct 13, 2013
      Dear Mike, 

      Many thanks for your detailed answer. These texts and topics are fascinating. 
      Kind regards,

      On Friday, October 11, 2013 10:46 PM, Goya <goya@...> wrote:

      > 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?

      M.C. This is a very tricky question. Theodoros of Asine, probably
      following Porphyry, seems to have argued that when, for instance, Plato
      talks about a human soul migrating into a kite, the kite has its own
      (irrational) soul, but the rational human soul becomes bound to that
      irrational animal soul and stays with it and flies along with it (Aen.
      Gaz. Theophrastus p. 14, 12ff. Colonna). For Theodoros, to say that a
      human soul enters into a *skhesis* with an animal seems to mean that it
      enters a close but not irrevocable relationship with that soul (Deuse,
      Theodoros von Asine 159). It's interesting to compare Iamblichus' view
      (apud Sallustius De diis 20): if a soul's metempsychosis takes place into
      an irrational being, it does not become part of that irrational being (as
      it *would* become part of a rational being), but it merely follows that
      being from outside, like the demon that has received us by lot [acc. to
      the myth of Er in the Republic]. Thus human soul:animal = demon:human.

      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.

      M.C. Yes. Porphyry - at least in some of his works - seems to have broken
      with Plotinus on this point and insisted that Plato's talk of
      reincarnations of human souls into animals must be understood

      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

      M.C. I'm not sure the soul "chooses" between Cancer and Capricorn. Cancer
      is the path by which the soul descends, Capricorn that by which it rises
      up. The soul's initial choice is not whether or not to be incarnated -
      although according to Porphyry in the De regressu a philosophical soul may
      finally free itself from the cycle of reincarnations - but only what
      *kind* of incarnate life it will lead.

      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.

      M.C. Perhaps. For Porphyry the only life that is conducive to the return
      is that of the philosopher. From the extant fragments it's not clear
      whether one can *choose*, before incarnation, the life of a philosopher.
      One can choose, for instance, to be a human being (first choice), then to
      be a pirate (second choice), and then one must live with the consequences.
      However, Porphyry also says (On what depends on us in Stobaeus II, p. 166,
      1 ff.) that the acquisition of skills and knowledge depends on us, at
      least to some extent. Generally speaking, we're stuck with what we've got
      (i.e. what we've chosen prior to incarnation) as far as "careers" are
      concerned, but even if we're stuck with, say, the career of a pirate or a
      tyrant, we can choose, during this life, to be a *philosophical* tyrant,
      and hence, presumably, escape the cycle of reincarnations.

      Or so it seems to me. These texts are hard to interpret, since the Greek
      is difficult and the (fragmentary) text features lacunae and mistakes.

      HTH, Mike

      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76

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