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NEOPLATONISME (français / anglais)

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NEOPLATONISME 

« Quelle sera donc la fin de ces discours, sinon le silence complet, l’aveu que nous ne
connaissons rien des choses qu’il ne nous est pas permis de connaître, parce qu’il nous est
impossible de les connaître »

         Damascius

Damascius, Proclus, le féerique Plotin,
Et vous, mon Prince, perdu dans le vertige des mots !
Vous qui aimez le chant charnel des oiseaux
Et les suaves baisers à l’ombre des jasmins ! 

         Athanase Vantchev de Thracy

Glose:

Damascius (né à Damas vers 480 ap. J.-C.) : philosophe grec. La tradition veut que Damascius ait été le dernier scholarque de l’École d’Athènes. Jeune, il se rendit à Alexandrie où il passa douze ans, en parte comme disciple du rhétoricien Theon d’Alexandrie (335 – 405 ap. J.-C.), en partie comme professeur d’éloquence. Cette période de temps écoulée, il se tourna vers la philosophie et les sciences. Il fut élève d’Hermeias d’Alexandrie et de ses fils Ammonius et Héliodore. Plus tard il émigra à Athènes et poursuivit ses études comme disciple du mathématicien Marinus, de Zénodote et du dialecticien Isidore. Il se lia d’une profonde amitié avec ce dernier, lui succéda comme chef de l’école philosophique d’Athènes et rédigea sa biographie, dont une partie se trouve à la Bibliothèque de Photius. Le plus ancien de ses manuscrits lui donne le nom de diadoque, « successeur » de Platon, qu’avait porté Proclus. On peut conclure de là qu’il avait été à la tête de l’Académie au moment où le décret de l’empereur Justinien Ier en ordonna la fermeture. C’est le dernier grand nom de l’histoire de la pensée grecque. Après lui, il n’y eut plus que des commentateurs, et qui commentèrent surtout Aristote. Le plus grand fut son propre disciple : Simplicius.

Proclus (412-486): c’est le plus célèbre des philosophes de l’école néoplatonicienne. Presque toutes ses œuvres nous sont parvenues, dont le  Commentaire sur le premier livre des Eléments d’Euclide, son chef-d’œuvre.

 

Plotin (vers 205 – 270 ap. J.-C.) : la philosophie de Plotin se fonde sur une nouvelle lecture des œuvres de Platon et en particulier de ce dialogue difficile qu'est le Parménide. Plotin est considéré comme le fondateur du néoplatonisme, courant philosophique dans lequel se classent aussi Porphyre, son disciple, Jamblique et Proclus.

 

ENGLISH (My translation into English) :

NEOPLATONISM

'Complete silence is our only possible option if we follow these ideas to their conclusion: a recognition that we have no knowledge of those mysteries that are hidden from us, and that we know nothing of them because it is impossible for us to comprehend them.'

        Damascius

Damascius, Proclus, the unreal Plotinus,
And you, my Prince, you lost in deeply dizziness of their sweet words!
You, my Child, who likes the carnal song of birds
And pleasant kisses in the shade of jasmines!

 

Neoplatonism

'Complete silence is our only possible option if we follow these ideas to their conclusion: a recognition that we have no knowledge of those mysteries that are hidden from us, and that we know nothing of them because it is impossible for us to comprehend them.'

      Damascius

My Prince, you've read Damascius, Proclus and Plotinus
so deeply that your head's spinning and you've lost contact with the world!
You who have a childish love of the songs of real birds
and of kisses stolen in the shade of the jasmine!

translated from the French of Athanase Vantchev de Thracy by Norton Hodges

07.10.05.

Notes:

Damascius, the last of the Neoplatonists, was born in Damascus about 480 AD. In his early youth he went to Alexandria, where he spent twelve years partly as a pupil of Theon, a rhetorician, and partly as a professor of rhetoric. He then turned to philosophy and science, and studied under Hermeias and his sons, Ammonius and Heliodorus. Later on in life he migrated to Athens and continued his studies under Marinus, the mathematician, Zenodotus, and Isidore, the dialectician. He became a close friend of Isidore, succeeded him as head of the school in Athens, and wrote his biography, part of which is preserved in the Bibliotheca of Photius.

Proclus: (412–485) :  neoplatonic philosopher, born in Constantinople. He studied at Alexandria and at Athens, where he was a pupil of the Platonist Syrianus, whom he succeeded as a teacher. As a partisan of paganism he was forced to leave Athens, but he returned at the end of a year. A synthesizer of Neoplatonic doctrines, Proclus gave the philosophy its most systematic form. He kept the elements of Plotinus, but introduced a principle of triadic development in the series of emanations; the three stages are an original, an emergence from the original, and a return in a lower form to the original. Proclus differed from Plotinus in regard to the origin of matter, which he held to emerge from the first emanation rather than from the plastic forces. Among his writings are commentaries on several Platonic dialogues and two treatises, On Plato's Theology and Institutes of Theology.

Plotinus (205–270 AD) : philosopher, the founder of the Neoplatonism. A native of Egypt, perhaps of Roman descent, he went to Alexandria (circa 232) to devote himself to philosophy. For 10 years he was a dedicated disciple of Ammonius Saccas. To study the philosophies of India and Persia, Plotinus in 242 traveled in the Eastern expedition of Gordian III, the Roman emperor. From 244 he lived in Rome, where his school attracted wide attention. Many followed his advice and example; they gave their wealth to those in need and turned to contemplative thought. However, Plotinus never taught or practiced extreme asceticism. His pupil Porphyry wrote a biography of him and was responsible for the arrangement of his works, which were written a fter 253, into six ‘Enneads’, or groups of nine treatises.