Neoplatonism

The Syrian, Athenian, and Alexandrian Schools

The followers of Plotinus took divergent paths. Porphyry, who remained in Rome, made extensive use of allegory in expounding Plotinus' rationalistic thought and attacked Christianity in the name of Hellenic paganism. Lamblichus taught in Rome for a time and then returned to Chalcis in Syria to found a Neoplatonic center there. At this center, and also at others in Athens and Alexandria, the mystical trends of the East, including divination, demonology, and astrology, were grafted onto the body of Neoplatonism.

The central figures at the Athenian school were Plutarch the Younger (350–433) and Proclus, who came from Byzantium to become head of the Academy. The Athenian school culminated in Simplicius, a commentator on Aristotle, and Damascius, who tried to recover the original thought of Plotinus; they were the survivors of the Academy when it was closed in 529. The Alexandrian school of Neoplatonism, which included the woman philosopher Hypatia, was more scholarly but less theological than its Syrian and Athenian counterparts and is important mainly for its commentaries on Aristotle. It survived into the 7th cent., and some Alexandrian Neoplatonists, notably Synesius, became Christians.

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