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Paul Elmer More

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  • John Uebersax
    I first learned of Paul Elmer More a few months ago and haven t stopped reading his work since.  He is one of the most significant Christian Platonists of the
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 29, 2012
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      I first learned of Paul Elmer More a few months ago and haven't stopped reading his work since.  He is one of the most significant Christian Platonists of the last 100 years, and is arguably the second great Platonist (after Emerson) that America produced.  As an essayist and critic, his literary skill compares favorably with, say, Matthew Arnold.

      More's magnum opus was a four-volume series titled The Greek Tradition, from the Death of Socrates to the Council of Chalcedon.  There he presents his thesis that Socrates and Plato initiated a religious tradition in which the tension-of-opposites between man's material and spiritual nature figures centrally, and which was continued in Christianity, and reached its culmination in the doctrine of the Incarnation.  The early heresies with which Christianity struggled were due to the difficulty in resolving this tension in man's dual nature.

      More's definition of "dualism" is easily misunderstood, as he attaches a fairly distinct meaning to the word.  But he was at pains to distinguish his form of integrated or harmonized dualism (in which human beings can reconcile the material and higher levels of their nature) from the radical, conflicted dualism of, say, Manicheanism.

      More was critical of Neoplatonist metaphysics, however, which he saw as an effort to evade or downplay the difficulty of the human predicament by reducing our existential dualism to a monism, where matter was merely an emanation of higher orders of reality.  (He approved of Plotinian ethics and psychology, though, and this point has often been overlooked by More's critics; More might have allowed that Plotinian metaphysical theory is more useful if regarded as 'suggestive conjecture' or mythos rather than doctrine.)

      I'm mentioning More because perhaps some have not heard of him or have inherited a prejudiced view.  More was writing in the midst of the change of American universities from a classical orientation to the pragmatism of Dewey et al.  As a leading spokesman of the old tradition, More was reviled mercilessly for decades as the new order gained sway. Unfortunately, I think this comes across in a most unsatisfactory treatment of him by K. W. Harrington in the ISNS volume, The Significance of Neoplatonism.

      A good, short introduction to More's Platonism can be found in the prefaces to his books Platonism and The Religion of Plato:

      http://archive.org/details/thereligionofpla00moreuoft
      http://archive.org/details/platonism00more

      John Uebersax
    • Tim Addey
      I m sure members of this yahoo group will be interested to hear of the publication of John Spencer s The Eternal Law, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Modern Physics
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 7, 2012
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        I'm sure members of this yahoo group will be interested to hear of the
        publication of John Spencer's 'The Eternal Law, Ancient Greek
        Philosophy, Modern Physics and Ultimate Reality' (Param Media,
        Vancouver, 2012). The book sets out to show that the basis of modern
        science - especially theoretical physics and its accompanying
        mathematics - is essentially Platonic: not only that, but that
        theoretical physicists have been much more supportive of Platonic (and
        neoplatonic) metaphysics than most modern mainstream philosophers. The
        book meets head-on in the most uncompromising terms the widespread but
        flawed worldview of the anti-realists - as such it should be welcomed by
        those who think that whatever advances humankind has made since the
        closure of the Athenian academy, it has lost sight of an all-important
        understanding of the nature of intelligible reality.

        It's now available from all the usual booksellers (as well as from the
        Prometheus Trust website). Below are a few endorsements from respected
        figures from both ends of the spectrum - modern physicists and students
        of ancient philosophy.

        Reality bites back!

        Tim Addey

        "I found John Spencer's "The Eternal Law" to be enormously refreshing;
        for here we have someone willing to speak out forcefully in favour of
        Platonic ideals lying at the roots of modern science." Sir Roger
        Penrose (OM FRS) Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics,
        Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, author of /The Road to
        Reality./

        "This book gives a spirited defence of the continuing importance of
        Platonic philosophy. The author shows how Pythagorean and Platonic ideas
        influenced the thinking of the creators of modern science, from Kepler
        in the seventeenth century to the founders of quantum mechanics in the
        twentieth." Dr. Stephen M. Barr, Professor of Particle Physics,
        University of Delaware, author of /Modern Physics and Ancient Faith/

        "This is an exciting and thought-provoking book from a young scholar
        whose base is in the philosophical foundations of quantum physics, but
        who has gone on as well to master the whole philosophical tradition,
        particularly that of Platonism, to bring us a wide-ranging study of the
        parameters of reality. All of us can learn from it." Dr. John Dillon
        (who needs no introduction on this group, I think).



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Ryan Haecker
        Thank you for the recommendation. ... -- Sincerely, Ryan Haecker Phone: 1-210-846-8434 rhryanhaecker@gmail.com [Non-text portions of this message have been
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 8, 2012
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          Thank you for the recommendation.

          On Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM, Tim Addey <tim@...> wrote:

          > **
          >
          >
          > I'm sure members of this yahoo group will be interested to hear of the
          > publication of John Spencer's 'The Eternal Law, Ancient Greek
          > Philosophy, Modern Physics and Ultimate Reality' (Param Media,
          > Vancouver, 2012). The book sets out to show that the basis of modern
          > science - especially theoretical physics and its accompanying
          > mathematics - is essentially Platonic: not only that, but that
          > theoretical physicists have been much more supportive of Platonic (and
          > neoplatonic) metaphysics than most modern mainstream philosophers. The
          > book meets head-on in the most uncompromising terms the widespread but
          > flawed worldview of the anti-realists - as such it should be welcomed by
          > those who think that whatever advances humankind has made since the
          > closure of the Athenian academy, it has lost sight of an all-important
          > understanding of the nature of intelligible reality.
          >
          > It's now available from all the usual booksellers (as well as from the
          > Prometheus Trust website). Below are a few endorsements from respected
          > figures from both ends of the spectrum - modern physicists and students
          > of ancient philosophy.
          >
          > Reality bites back!
          >
          > Tim Addey
          >
          > "I found John Spencer's "The Eternal Law" to be enormously refreshing;
          > for here we have someone willing to speak out forcefully in favour of
          > Platonic ideals lying at the roots of modern science." Sir Roger
          > Penrose (OM FRS) Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics,
          > Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, author of /The Road to
          > Reality./
          >
          > "This book gives a spirited defence of the continuing importance of
          > Platonic philosophy. The author shows how Pythagorean and Platonic ideas
          > influenced the thinking of the creators of modern science, from Kepler
          > in the seventeenth century to the founders of quantum mechanics in the
          > twentieth." Dr. Stephen M. Barr, Professor of Particle Physics,
          > University of Delaware, author of /Modern Physics and Ancient Faith/
          >
          > "This is an exciting and thought-provoking book from a young scholar
          > whose base is in the philosophical foundations of quantum physics, but
          > who has gone on as well to master the whole philosophical tradition,
          > particularly that of Platonism, to bring us a wide-ranging study of the
          > parameters of reality. All of us can learn from it." Dr. John Dillon
          > (who needs no introduction on this group, I think).
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >



          --
          Sincerely,
          Ryan Haecker
          Phone: 1-210-846-8434
          rhryanhaecker@...


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John Uebersax
          A nice review of Barrie Fleet s translation/commentary of Enneads 4.8 (On the Descent of the Soul into Bodies) has just appeared in the Bryn Mawr Classical
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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            A nice review of Barrie Fleet's translation/commentary of Enneads 4.8 (On the Descent of the Soul into Bodies) has just appeared in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review:

            http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-11-23.html

            published by Parmenides, and apparently the first of a promising "new series of translations and commentaries on the individual treatises of Plotinus’ Enneads, edited by John Dillon and Andrew Smith"!

            --

            John Uebersax  
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