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RE: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again

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  • Thomas Mether
    Since Dennis is giving us an on-going review of Kingsley s Reality, Persian inflence on Greek culture has come up in several conversations offlist -- exploring
    Message 1 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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      Since Dennis is giving us an on-going review of Kingsley's Reality, Persian inflence on Greek culture has come up in several conversations offlist -- exploring the free movement between Persia and Greek centers that has been masked by our "Athens-centric" perspectives. There is a classicist who has his intrigue renewed, in this light, of why both the Persians and Indians call Aristotle the "Plagiarist".
       
      I know the Indians "explanation" (whether it historically works or not) is that Aristotle copied the works of vadanga and nirukta (8 BCE to 4BCE) as "his"
      philosophy. The vedanga and nirukta have speculative grammar where the
      intelligible object (sat, Being) of pratyaksa (intellectual perception) and
      buddhi (determiniation) has modes where words and forms of being match
      (nama-rupa). Thus, they develop a set of categories, ways of saying being
      and ways that being is with the fundamental one being substance (dravya)
      and all the other categories apply to it. Plus they developed a monadic
      and dyadic principle for change that led to a furmulation of potency
      and act (essence and actualized existence, essence and material
      cause, etc.). They claim "Sikander the Vainglorious" sent copies of
      these works back to him.
       
      I wonder if the Persians had a similar discipline at the time. 

      --- On Fri, 5/15/09, Mehr Aban <nabarz@...> wrote:


      From: Mehr Aban <nabarz@...>
      Subject: RE: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, May 15, 2009, 9:18 AM





      yes indeed or :) carry the bull on your shoulders as he carried on his shoulders....



      Regards,

      Nabarz

      ***************************************************

      http://www.myspace.com/nabarz




      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      From: t_mether@...
      Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 13:03:35 -0700
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again







      Well, within academia, nothing beats Mithraism. After cutting through the bull, you can transcend the various malefic spheres of influence.















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    • Thomas Mether
      It is an anachronism to say what allowed Christianity (singular) to prevail. The studies I am familiar with (that move beyond higher historical criticism and
      Message 2 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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        It is an anachronism to say what allowed "Christianity" (singular) to prevail. The studies I am familiar with (that move beyond higher historical criticism and search for the historical Jesus, discuss the synoptic problem, etc.) show there were forms of Christianity that would not or could not have prevailed given the social-political conditions that allowed the one form of it that did prevail to prevail. The version of christianity out of the many early christianities that prevailed was the one that looked most like an empire that could be used to shore up an empire. The one that was already the most imperial in its internal constitution was the one used by the larger imperial order to give it new life.

        --- On Sat, 5/16/09, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:


        From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
        To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 4:55 AM









        JSK wrote:

        > laments for various gods were heard on a regular basis

        In the absence of any supporting evidence from Greek mythology that I know of, I am not persuaded that the announcement of Pan's death implies the usual dying/resurrected god motif. Further, this does not address my broader question, which the Pan example was merely intended to illustrate: what socio-cultural and psychological factors enabled Christianity to prevail?

        As far as these silly lyrics are concerned, please allow me to point out that there are devout Christians (and members of other traditional religions) amongst the members of this group.

        Now consider: one simply could not imagine the posting of lyrics that trivialized (or insulted) Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Yet people feel perfect liberty -- if not a compulsion -- to insult Christianity. I ask you, as a philosopher, to reflect on this, and to consider why such may be the case.

        In my own opinion, the posting of such lyrics is inappropriate, baiting, and in any case devoid of wisdom and far removed from anything to do with the content or principles of the Platonic tradition.

        John Uebersax



















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bradley Skene
        The usual explanation that is advanced by historians of Late Antiquity is that the Church became a powerful institution with an income, charities, courts, etc.
        Message 3 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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          The usual explanation that is advanced by historians of Late Antiquity is
          that the Church became a powerful institution with an income,
          charities, courts, etc. during the crisis of the mid third century when the
          Empire was at its weakest as an institution. After that it was inevitable
          that it be co-opted by the Imperial administration--too hard and wasteful to
          destroy it as Diocletian found. Sorting out doctrine and belief was a
          secondary consideration.
          Cheers,

          Bradley A. Skene

          On Sat, May 16, 2009 at 9:18 AM, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          > It is an anachronism to say what allowed "Christianity" (singular) to
          > prevail. The studies I am familiar with (that move beyond higher historical
          > criticism and search for the historical Jesus, discuss the synoptic problem,
          > etc.) show there were forms of Christianity that would not or could not have
          > prevailed given the social-political conditions that allowed the one form of
          > it that did prevail to prevail. The version of christianity out of the many
          > early christianities that prevailed was the one that looked most like an
          > empire that could be used to shore up an empire. The one that was already
          > the most imperial in its internal constitution was the one used by the
          > larger imperial order to give it new life.
          >
          > --- On Sat, 5/16/09, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...<john.uebersax%40yahoo.com>>
          > wrote:
          >
          > From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@... <john.uebersax%40yahoo.com>>
          >
          > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
          > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com>
          > Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 4:55 AM
          >
          > JSK wrote:
          >
          > > laments for various gods were heard on a regular basis
          >
          > In the absence of any supporting evidence from Greek mythology that I know
          > of, I am not persuaded that the announcement of Pan's death implies the
          > usual dying/resurrected god motif. Further, this does not address my broader
          > question, which the Pan example was merely intended to illustrate: what
          > socio-cultural and psychological factors enabled Christianity to prevail?
          >
          > As far as these silly lyrics are concerned, please allow me to point out
          > that there are devout Christians (and members of other traditional
          > religions) amongst the members of this group.
          >
          > Now consider: one simply could not imagine the posting of lyrics that
          > trivialized (or insulted) Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Yet people
          > feel perfect liberty -- if not a compulsion -- to insult Christianity. I ask
          > you, as a philosopher, to reflect on this, and to consider why such may be
          > the case.
          >
          > In my own opinion, the posting of such lyrics is inappropriate, baiting,
          > and in any case devoid of wisdom and far removed from anything to do with
          > the content or principles of the Platonic tradition.
          >
          > John Uebersax
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Thomas Mether
          State Cults: a few points need to be made.   1. Over the last few years, we have been refining our terms and their references. More precisely, we need to make
          Message 4 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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            State Cults: a few points need to be made.
             
            1. Over the last few years, we have been refining our terms and their references. More precisely, we need to make a distinction between religious of correct belief (orthodoxy) and of correct practice (orthopraxy) and recognize that most state cults were practices -- not belief. Given that, the "cynicism" or "questioning", as Burkert points out for one, of what we used to say was of the state cult is not directed to the cult itself (the practice) but to the epic mythology. Alienation from the mythology does not translate into alienation from the cult and the physical evidence (votives, offerings, graves, etc) show no abandonment of the cult. Plus, we have evidence of cultic sites resisting the "Homer-Hesiodic mythological interpretations" when they were first applied to particular sites. This trend seems to travel with the building of Zeus temples with a cultic image -- the oldest temples with a cultic image are of Hera. There was a marked resistance,
            both in drama and in cult, of having images of Zeus or even an altar. At many sites, the altar to Zeus was simply the accumulated pile of ash from sacrifices. Anyway, for some reason, the trend of mythologizing sites (i.e., interpreting the local cult in terms of Homeric-Hesiodic motifs) was met with immediate resistance (myths were sacrilege or obscene) travelled with the trend to build Zeus temples and images. Burkert speculated, and some following Burkert have found evidence to support his speculation that this trend was part of a "panhellenic" ideology, Homer-Hesiod the "pnahellenic myth-epic" and Zeus the "panhellenic god over the panhellenic games". Anyway, the physical evidence suggests the local cults were not abandoned or "less busy" as time went by.
             
            2. We need to distinguish Greek from Roman cults. In Rome, the "graeco-interpretation" (the mythologization) was stipulated in Roman law to not be official or part of the public cult (by the way, neither was the cella and its image -- the public cult was three fires and the templum, the platform drawn out by auspices, and rites for domestic gods. For foreign gods that were adopted by Rome, they had by contrast a fanum for the platform
            not drawn out by auspices but just surveyed). The stereotype we have had even in academia that there was a general and growing alienation from the public cult has been overturned in recent research. The Roman public cult was vigorously going alive and well and was suppressed by Christians with great difficulty over a period of 300 years. Most
            Romans, at least of the middle to upper classes -- whether in the cities or in the villas in the country, were devout even into late empire. Here I cite the work of professors Le Glay, Sorbonne, Voisin, Bourgogne, and Le Bohec, Lyon.  

            --- On Sat, 5/16/09, Jake Stratton-Kent <jakestrattonkent@...> wrote:


            From: Jake Stratton-Kent <jakestrattonkent@...>
            Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
            To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 5:58 AM








            2009/5/16 John Uebersax <john.uebersax@ yahoo.com>:
            >> JSK wrote:
            >
            >> laments for various gods were heard on a regular basis
            >
            > In the absence of any supporting evidence from Greek mythology that I know
            > of, I am not persuaded that the announcement of Pan's death implies the
            > usual dying/resurrected god motif.

            understood, although Plutarch is also far from infallible (when
            touting his virtues to a classicist some decades back he responded
            with 'that gossip columnist!') It is also too easy to over value
            literary evidence.

            Further, this does not address my broader
            > question, which the Pan example was merely intended to illustrate: what
            > socio-cultural and psychological factors enabled Christianity to prevail?

            as you said, they were complex: the march of disillusionment with
            State religion can be traced back to the time of Plato. Add the mood
            of cultural pessimism that Roman rule brought to the Hellenic and
            Semitic worlds (producing millinerarianism in the Hermetica as well as
            the Apocalypses) . These currents made way for many new religious
            movements, of which Christianity was one.

            > As far as these silly lyrics are concerned, please allow me to point out
            > that there are devout Christians (and members of other traditional
            > religions) amongst the members of this group.

            Having just donated to Christian Aid on my doorstep, I'm now trying to
            imagine a Christian Neoplatonist picket of 'Jesus Christ Superstar',
            while wondering in what way its libretto is sillier than the pagan
            poking lyrics that preceded those for several posts without comment?

            Someone smarter than myself once said that a good religion is one that
            can laugh at itself, whether true of a religion or not it certainly
            denotes a better class of person. I preceded everything I said with an
            inclusion of Jesus in my personal pantheon (which was not entirely
            unknown in the classical world, was it Severus who had a shrine to
            Jesus, Abraham and Orpheus?). If I have offended anyone I apologise,
            but academic sneering at ancient or indeed new religious movements is
            not a good example to those of us in the cheap seats.

            > Now consider: one simply could not imagine the posting of lyrics that
            > trivialized (or insulted) Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Yet people
            > feel perfect liberty -- if not a compulsion -- to insult Christianity. I ask
            > you, as a philosopher, to reflect on this, and to consider why such may be
            > the case.

            It might also be philosophical to take those lyrics in the spirit and
            the context in which they were posted. My posting of these lyrics
            followed screen after screen of doggerel concerning pagan deities and
            indeed Zoroaster. These received no censure, why should Lloyd
            Webber's?

            Reading some of the other posts it is apparent that the apparent
            trivilising of paganism disturbed some of the other lurkers on the
            list. Are their feelings of less account?

            > In my own opinion, the posting of such lyrics is inappropriate, baiting, and
            > in any case devoid of wisdom and far removed from anything to do with the
            > content or principles of the Platonic tradition.

            I agree, but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

            ALWays

            Jake


















            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Thomas Mether
            Agreed, I don t think I said anything different except that using the term Christianity in the singular is anachronistic. Some christianities were too
            Message 5 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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              Agreed, I don't think I said anything different except that using the term "Christianity" in the singular is anachronistic. Some christianities were too amorphous and free-form, others too counter-cultural and anti-establishment, and others too oriental. The christianity that had a concept of apostolic succession, as seen in or as invented by Polycarp, Ignatius, and... company, is the one that emerges with the institutional clout to and internal government to shore up Rome.

              --- On Sat, 5/16/09, Bradley Skene <anebo10@...> wrote:


              From: Bradley Skene <anebo10@...>
              Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
              To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 9:46 AM








              The usual explanation that is advanced by historians of Late Antiquity is
              that the Church became a powerful institution with an income,
              charities, courts, etc. during the crisis of the mid third century when the
              Empire was at its weakest as an institution. After that it was inevitable
              that it be co-opted by the Imperial administration- -too hard and wasteful to
              destroy it as Diocletian found. Sorting out doctrine and belief was a
              secondary consideration.
              Cheers,

              Bradley A. Skene

              On Sat, May 16, 2009 at 9:18 AM, Thomas Mether <t_mether@yahoo. com> wrote:

              >
              >
              > It is an anachronism to say what allowed "Christianity" (singular) to
              > prevail. The studies I am familiar with (that move beyond higher historical
              > criticism and search for the historical Jesus, discuss the synoptic problem,
              > etc.) show there were forms of Christianity that would not or could not have
              > prevailed given the social-political conditions that allowed the one form of
              > it that did prevail to prevail. The version of christianity out of the many
              > early christianities that prevailed was the one that looked most like an
              > empire that could be used to shore up an empire. The one that was already
              > the most imperial in its internal constitution was the one used by the
              > larger imperial order to give it new life.
              >
              > --- On Sat, 5/16/09, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@ yahoo.com<john.uebersax% 40yahoo.com> >
              > wrote:
              >
              > From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@ yahoo.com <john.uebersax% 40yahoo.com> >
              >
              > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] On becoming Hellenes again
              > To: neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com <neoplatonism% 40yahoogroups. com>
              > Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009, 4:55 AM
              >
              > JSK wrote:
              >
              > > laments for various gods were heard on a regular basis
              >
              > In the absence of any supporting evidence from Greek mythology that I know
              > of, I am not persuaded that the announcement of Pan's death implies the
              > usual dying/resurrected god motif. Further, this does not address my broader
              > question, which the Pan example was merely intended to illustrate: what
              > socio-cultural and psychological factors enabled Christianity to prevail?
              >
              > As far as these silly lyrics are concerned, please allow me to point out
              > that there are devout Christians (and members of other traditional
              > religions) amongst the members of this group.
              >
              > Now consider: one simply could not imagine the posting of lyrics that
              > trivialized (or insulted) Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Yet people
              > feel perfect liberty -- if not a compulsion -- to insult Christianity. I ask
              > you, as a philosopher, to reflect on this, and to consider why such may be
              > the case.
              >
              > In my own opinion, the posting of such lyrics is inappropriate, baiting,
              > and in any case devoid of wisdom and far removed from anything to do with
              > the content or principles of the Platonic tradition.
              >
              > John Uebersax
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



















              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Cosmin I. Andron
              I believe this topic has been somewhat over discussed so i would be grateful if it could find a halt here. I am also taking this opportunity to remind
              Message 6 of 25 , May 16, 2009
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                I believe this topic has been somewhat over discussed so i would be grateful if it could find a halt here.

                I am also taking this opportunity to remind honourable list members what it is written on the opening page of this forum:
                "purpose of the list is to provide an environment for an academic type of discussion of Platonism and its significance."

                Without any doubt many issues could be linked to Platonism and almost everything could be argued to be a Platonism-related discussion if one really wants. Yet we also all know when the borders of both topic and approach have been crossed. Therefore, even if Plato was a pagan who influenced Christian faith i find it to be off-topic for this list any discussion (except accidentally mentioning of) on the values of paganism, revival of it, the value of the Church, the lost spirit, etc. A list about ancient mysteries and the such would be more appropriate.

                There is also the option of carrying on some off topic discussion through private correspondence.

                Thank you!

                Cosmin

                ----------------------------------------------------
                Cosmin I. Andron, Ph. D.

                Director, Centre for International Cooperation
                Office of the Rector
                National School of Political Studies and Administration
                6-8 Povernei St, Bucharest, Romania
                Tel. +40213180897 ext. 2550
                Email: cosmin.andron@...

                &

                Tutor in Philosophy
                Department of Classics
                Royal Holloway College, University of London
                Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, England
                Email: c.i.andron@...


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