Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Philo on the Number Six

Among numbers by the laws of nature the most suitable to productivity is six...It is the first perfect number, being equal to the product of its factors, as well as made up of the sum of them...It is in its nature both male and female, and is the result of the distinctive power of either. For among things that are it is the odd that is male, and the even female.- Philo of Alexandria, De opificio mundi, ch. 13 (tr. LCL)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

John Dillon on "Becoming like God"

The later Platonist ethical ideal of 'becoming like to God' has
generally been accepted without much demur as a reasonable ambition
for mortals, but it is in truth a rather problematic one. In what
respect are we to liken ourselves to God? In respect of immortality?
Or of omnipotence? Or of omniscience? Or, if none of the above, then
what? And yet Plotinus, in Enn. I 2,7, says that our aim is not to be
good men, but to be gods. I suggest, taking my cue from this tractate
of his, that the points of likeness with the gods towards which we are
being exhorted are rationality and impassivity, and that these are
quite reasonable aims -- which, if achieved,will lead, no doubt, in an
afterlife, to immortality, omnipotence and omniscience (though only in
union with the rest of the intellectual realm).

Gregory Shaw on Theurgy as "The Tantra of the West"

Scholarship on Iamblichean theurgy has changed profoundly in the last
30 years. No longer dismissed as a distortion of Greek philosophy,
theurgy is now recognized by most scholars as a complement—even
culmination—to the disciplines of rational reflection. Yet resistance
to recognizing the full implications of living in a theurgic cosmos
continues. Although the gods of theurgy penetrate the material realm
and theurgists embodied these gods in ritual and aesthetic experience,
we continue to imagine the goal of theurgy as escaping from matter and
ascending to the noetic fire. A residual and often unconscious dualism
influences our thinking. Theurgists were athletes of divine fire, but
this fire is here, on earth, and the gods are revealed, Iamblichus
says, “by our physical eyes.” Iamblichean theurgy represents a
radically non-dual orientation that incorporates the body into divine
experience. In this sense theurgy closely resembles the tantric
non-dualism of South Asian yoga traditions. Dr Shaw will explore the
consequences of living in a non-dual cosmos and will present Platonic
theurgy as the Tantra of the West.