Proklos, Grundkurs über Einheit

Academia (2004)
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Abstract

A long tradition has established the consensus, that Proclus in his Stoicheiosis theologike presents the neoplatonic theology in a systematic form. And in fact, this book with its 211 general propositions is a systematic one and the word god or gods appears on almost every page. But if you pay attention to the content, you will quickly see that not the gods are the governing theme but unity. Gods are no more than metaphors of unity and intermediaries of unity. Proclus is not as dogmatic, as it many believe; he has a question: How the many things are linked with unity? Our basic human experience is that of plurality, but if "to be" means "to be a unity," we must find a way to explain the unity of our experienced pluralities. Proclus’ answers is: all that is, is a unity, but in different manners or ways. Unity has many forms, a somatic form (easy to see in everyday life, material things), a psychic form (i. e. the form of the thing in a soul), a noetic form (i. e. the same thing as an element of a system, in a world) and at last a henadic form, a presence, a being, thanks to the principle of unity. In my (first) translation into German with introduction and commentary this thesis is confirmed. So Proclus must no more be considered a fantastic theologian, an irrationalist; in fact he is a strong systematic thinker, in no way deriving plurality from unity, but searching how the effective plurality of our world is guided or governed by unity. rec: Markus Gabriel, in: Philosophische Rundschau, 51 (2004) 268–270; Peter Lautner, in: Ancient Philosophy, 26 (2006) 468–471; a totally wasting one by Christian Tornau (Jena), in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.11.14, I am afraid to say based on many false understandings, not at last considering the greek text.

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