Was there a decline & fall of the Classical Philosopher in the 4th/5th century?

Was there a decline & fall of the Classical Philosopher in the 4th/5th century?

  • NO

    Votes: 3 50.0%
  • YES

    Votes: 3 50.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    6

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
By "Classical Philosopher" I refer to the (collective) lineages of Greek and/or Roman philosophers extending from Plato and Aristotle in the 5th century BCE through to the closure of the Platonic school in Athens 529 CE by Justinian I. [Agathias (Histories 2.31)] These lineages include those of Pythagoreanism, Sophism, Cynicism, Cyrenaicism, Platonism, Peripateticism, Pyrrhonism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Eclecticism, Hellenistic Judaism, Neopythagoreanism, Hellenistic Christianity and Neoplatonism.

During the 3rd century there was a revival (and imperial patronage) of the Platonist (sometimes termed Neoplatonist) lineage of philosophers. By the time of the Nicene Council and the sole rule of Constantine, the Platonists may have been one of the most influential, if not the foremost represented philosophical school in the empire.

By "decline and fall" I mean precisely that. A decline is "a gradual and continuous loss of strength, numbers, or value." Consequently the question here is something like was there "a gradual and continuous loss of strength, numbers, or value" in the profession of philosophy during the 4th/5th centuries. A fall is "an act of falling or collapsing". Consequently the question here is something like whether the philosophical academies and schools collapsed during this epoch.

For those that object to the term "decline and fall" because of its Gibbonic overtones I would like to point out that I am not interested in the decline and the fall of the Roman Empire. Rather I am interested in the perceived (or otherwise) decline and fall of the profession of the classical philosopher. Specifically the lineage of Platonists.

For those who think there was a decline and fall of the philosopher in the 4th/5th centuries I would be interested in discussing the perceived causes of the decline.

For those who think there was neither a decline nor fall of the philosopher and his, or her, vocation, I would ask this question: Did the vocation of the philosopher continue unperturbed through Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages or was it compromised by the rise of the church? For example there is no doubt that Augustine found that "only a few words and phrases" needed to be changed in order to bring Platonism into complete accord with Christianity. But this would hardly be evaluated as a blossoming or revival of Platonism. As far as I can gauge it evaluates as a "Christianising of Platonism". This may be a gain for Christian philosophy, but I am sorry to say I do not see this as a gain for classical philosophy, but a decline.

For those who think there was a decline but not a fall of the classical philosopher (esp the Platonists) because of the effort of Christian scribes in monasteries and Byzantine libraries who studied and copied the texts of the classical philosophers, I would ask this question: Did the vibrant activity of the Platonic Schools gradually collapse with the rise of the Christian State? Did the last of the classical philosophers join up with the last of the classical physicians, and eventually flee to Persia due to Christian persecution?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_of_Gondishapur
The Academy of Gondishapur was one of the three Sasanian centers of education (Ctesiphon, Resaina, Gundeshapur) and academy of learning in the city of Gundeshapur, Iran during late antiquity, the intellectual center of the Sasanian Empire. It offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science. The faculty were versed in the Zoroastrian and Persian traditions. According to The Cambridge History of Iran, it was the most important medical center of the ancient world during the 6th and 7th centuries.

In a.d. 489, the Nestorian Christian theological and scientific center in Edessa was ordered closed by the Byzantine emperor Zeno, and was transferred and absorbed into the School of Nisibis in Turkey, also known as Nisibīn, then under Persian rule. Here, Nestorian scholars, together with Hellenistic philosophers banished from Athens by Justinian in 529, carried out important research in medicine, astronomy, and mathematics.
However, it was under the rule of the Sassanid emperor Khosrau I (531-579 CE), known to the Greeks and Romans as Chosroes, that Gondeshapur became known for medicine and learning. Khosrau I gave refuge to various Greek philosophers and Syriac-speaking Nestorian Christians fleeing religious persecution by the Byzantine empire.
This is the third in a series of questions:

(1) http://historum.com/ancient-history/121019-there-decline-fall-classical-physician-4th-century.html

(2) http://historum.com/ancient-history/123776-there-decline-fall-classical-historian-4th-century.html

(3) Was there a decline & fall of the Classical Philosopher in the 4th/5th century? (This thread).
 
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David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
I'd say there was a very sharp decline and fall at the death of Aristotle in 323 B.C. The Stoics are very poor relatives of Socrates.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
Here's what Charles Freeman has to say about the decline of philosophy ...


https://www.amazon.com/Closing-Western-Mind-Faith-Reason/dp/1400033802
On the relationship between Christianity and philosophy I argue that there were two major strands of Greek philosophy , those of Plato and Aristotle. The early church did not reject Greek philosophy but drew heavily on Platonism to the exclusion of Aristotle. In the thirteenth century Christianity was reinvigorated by the adoption of Aristotelianism , notably by Thomas Aquinas. It seems clear that Christianity needed injections of pagan philosophy to maintain its vitality and a new era in Christian intellectual life was now possible. I don't explore it in this book. Even so, when one compares the rich and broad intellectual achievements of the `pagan' Greek centuries with those of the Middle Ages, it is hard to make a comparison in favour of the latter. Where are the great names? (The critic who mentioned the ninth century philosopher Erigena should also have mentioned that he was condemned as a heretic.)

When one reads the great works of second and third century AD thinkers such as Plutarch, Galen, Ptolemy and Plotinus, which are remarkable for their range and depth, one cannot but feel that much has been lost in the west by the fifth century. Something dramatic happened in the fourth century. In 313 Constantine brought the traditional policy of Roman toleration for different religious beliefs to its culmination by offering Christians (who had condemned the pagan gods as demons) a privileged place within the empire alongside other religions.

By 381 the Christian emperor Theodosius when enforcing the Nicene creed condemns other Christians as `foolish madmen..
We decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious names of heretics . . .
they will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation,
and in the second the punishment which our authority , in accordance with
the will of heaven, shall decided to inflict'.
If this is not a `closing of the western mind' it is difficult to know what is. It goes hand in hand with a mass of texts which condemn rational thought and the violent suppression of Jewish and pagan sacred places. There is no precedent for such a powerful imposition of a religious ideology in the Greco-Roman world. The evidence of suppression is so overwhelming that the onus must be on those who argue otherwise to refute it.
The OP here is focussed upon the classical philosophers and their ultimate fate under the Christian State in the 4th and subsequent centuries. As mentioned the most prolific school at that time was that of the Platonists and the recent philosophical literature of Plotinus and Porphyry.





What happened to this school and its literature in the 4th century
prior to the closing of the Academy by Justinian?


(1) How many of the works of Porphyry did Constantine burn?


(2) How do we explain the presence of the literature of Plotinus and Porphyry within the Nag Hammadi Codices? What series of events lead to the authorship (by writers familiar with Porphyry's philosophical works) of at least three of these so-called 'Platonizing' texts in the Nag Hammadi Library?


Here is a reference on question (2) ....
Porphyry and Gnosticism
Author(s): Ruth Majercik
Source: The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (May, 2005), pp. 277-292
Published by: on behalf of Cambridge University Press Classical Association
Stable URL: Porphyry and Gnosticism on JSTOR

PORPHYRY AND GNOSTICISM

The recent publication of a new edition of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic text Zostrianos'
and a recent study by Zambon 2 on Porphyry and Middle Platonism provide an opportunity
to take a new look at the philosophical influences on three of the so-called 'Platonizing'
texts in the Nag Hammadi Library:

Zostrianos (NHC VIII, 1),
Allogenes (NHC XI, 3) and
The Three Steles of Seth (NHC VII, 5).3

The debate on influence has been divided among those who think that the philosophical vocabulary
common to these texts derives from a general Middle Platonic background4 and those who argue that
the influence is Neoplatonic.5 What complicates this picture is that Gnostic texts with the titles
Zostrianos and Allogenes are also mentioned by Porphyry in his Life of Plotinus (Plot. 16).

Porphyry indicates that these and other Gnostic works known to Plotinus and his circle were in the
possession of 'Christian heretics'.6 If so, one would expect these texts to be Christianized in one
form or another. But this is not the case with the three tracts mentioned above which are all now
considered by the majority of scholars as examples of a non- Christian form of Sethian Gnosticism.7

Thus it is unlikely that the texts mentioned by Porphyry in Plot. 16 are the same as those discovered
at Nag Hammadi.8 Zambon's contribution to this debate is his detailed analysis of the continuing Middle
Platonic influences on Porphyry throughout his career - in addition to the influence of Plotinus - and
his demonstration, in particular, of how both are combined in Porphyry's Commentary on the Parmenides.

In this regard, Zambon both confirms and strengthens Hadot's thesis that Porphyry is the true author
of this other- wise 'anonymous' commentary.9 This is of particular importance, since this commen- tary
is one of the principal philosophical sources utilized in the aforementioned Gnostic texts. But this is not all.

The authors of these texts have also borrowed material from other writings of Porphyry and, as a consequence,
these texts display a wide range of Porphyrian themes, doctrines, and terminology.

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate this Porphyrian influence and to suggest the circumstances
in which these texts may have been written.

[My formatting]
 
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David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Jack--

I've been reading St. Augustine's City of God and he's doing a pretty good classical philosophy job in refuting pagan religious beliefs and practices.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
Jack--

I've been reading St. Augustine's City of God and he's doing a pretty good classical philosophy job in refuting pagan religious beliefs and practices.
Augustine is developing Christian philosophy not classical philosophy


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_of_God_(book)
The City of God Against the Pagans (Latin: De ciuitate Dei contra paganos), often called The City of God,
is a book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century AD.

The book was in response to allegations that Christianity brought about the decline of Rome and is considered one of Augustine's most important works, standing alongside The Confessions, The Enchiridion, On Christian Doctrine and On the Trinity. As a work of one of the most influential Church Fathers, The City of God is a cornerstone of Western thought, expounding on many profound questions of theology, such as the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will and divine omniscience, and the doctrine of original sin.


[my formatting]
Augustine wrote after the effects of Theodosius' anti-pagan legislation (381-395 CE)
and enforcement of a strict [ideological] adherence to a modified Nicene creed ...

We decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious names of heretics . . .
they will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation,
and in the second the punishment which our authority , in accordance with
the will of heaven, shall decided to inflict'.
Augustine was obviously glorifying the recent victory of the Christian State over the pagan state.
The WIKI article on that book goes on to say:
Augustine's eyes were fixed on Heaven, a theme of many Christian works of Late Antiquity,
and despite Christianity's designation as the official religion of the Empire,
Augustine declared its message to be spiritual rather than political.

///

The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea
and the Council of Constantinople[11] closely identified with Augustine's City of God.
In the OP I wrote that Augustine found that "only a few words and phrases" needed to be changed in order to bring Platonism into complete accord with Christianity. But this would hardly be evaluated as a blossoming or revival of Platonism.
 
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Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
Was there "a gradual and continuous loss
of strength, numbers, or value" in the profession
of classical philosophy during the 4th/5th centuries.

(Was there a DECLINE?)



In evaluation of the following historical evidence my answer would be YES.

Here are five issues in the rule of Constantine alone to start discussion:



(1) The Rise of Christian [Apologetic] philosophy

A sudden rise in the popularity of Christian apologetics and philosophy is evident in the 4th century.
Logically this corresponds with a decrease in the popularity of classical philosophy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praeparatio_evangelica

Preparation for the Gospel was a work of Christian apologetics written by Eusebius in the early part of the fourth century AD. It was begun about the year 313,[1] and attempts to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics
Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the theological science or religious discipline of defending or proving the truth of religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse.[1][2][3] Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their beliefs against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called Christian apologists.[4]

///

In the Classical Greek legal system, two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia. To deliver an apologia meant making a formal speech or giving an explanation to reply and rebut the charges, as in the case of Socrates' Apologia defense, as chronicled in Plato's Apology (the defense speech of Socrates at his trial).
Momigliano comments that: "Preparatio evangelica is one of the boldest attempts ever made to show continuity between pagan and Christian thought." (p.139, The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 1990)



(2) The Philosophical Conflict over the "Essence" of Jesus at the Nicene Council

ESSENCE ... οὐσία, ousía, "essence, being"
SEE: Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, ????-?

Arius and the Arians refused to describe Jesus with the term 'homoousios' (same essence) and instead appeared to have invented another term 'homoiousios' (similar essence). This distinction separated Arius and the Arians, who consistently used the latter term, and led to their ultimate condemnation as heretics from the main body of Christianity, whom we are advised, prefered to use the former term.

While one word ('homoousios') implied that Jesus was of the same essence or being, another word ('homoiousios') implied that Jesus was of a similar essence or being. The critical question that must be asked is precisely what was this conceptual essence or being to which the essence or being of Jesus was being compared by Arius and the Arians. Modern scholarship (Rowan Williams and Kannengiesser) would indicate that "Arius' entire effort consisted precisely in acclimatizing Plotinic logic within biblical creationism."

While the continuators of Eusebius follow a "Eusebian Model" to describe the conflict at the Nicene Council, it "is evident that Philip of Side tried to go his own way and to avoid imitating Eusebius..." (Momigliano, p.141/142; ibid).

Here is the Philip of Side fragment: It indicates that the classical philosophers attended the Nicene Council in droves and seem to have been coordinated by Arius. The philosophers are opposed to the Bishops. The persuasive arguments of the classical philosophers however appear to have been vanquished by the persuasive arguments of the Bishops.
Philip of Side, Fragments (2010). 5.6
Anonymous Ecclesiastical History 2.12.8-10 [p. 47, lines 5-19 Hansen][160]


When these things were expressed by them—or rather, through them, by the Holy Spirit—those who endorsed Arius' impiety were wearing themselves out with murmuring (these were the circles of Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea, whom I have already pointed out earlier), and yet they were looking with favor on the "hirelings" of Arius, certain philosophers who were indeed very good with words; Arius had hired them as supporters of his own wickedness, and arrived with them at that holy and ecumenical council. (9)

For there were present very many philosophers; and having put their hopes in them, as I have said just now, the enemies of the truth were reasonably caught, along with the one who actually taught them their blasphemy. The Holy Scripture was fulfilled in him and in them, which says, "Cursed is everyone who has his hope in a mortal man, and whose heart has departed from the Lord."[161] (10) For truly, the blasphemous heart of the fighter against God, Arius, and of those who shared in his impiety, departed from the Lord—they dared to say that the Son of God, the creator of the universe and the craftsman of both visible and invisible created natures, is something created and something made.

[my formatting]
(3) Constantine Burns the ["Prohibited"] books of Porphyry and Arius of Alexandria:
Eusebius Opens the Church Organisation Ledger on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Immediately after the Nicene Council Constantine issues orders to destroy the books of Arius. He advises he has already burnt the books of Porphyry and pronounces an imperial "damnatio memoriae" upon the books, and name, and political memory of Arius. He indicates that military search and destroy operations were underway by which any preservers of these "forbidden books" would be executed on the spot.

[As an aside Constantine suggests that the followers of Arius should be known as "Porphyrians". As we all know nobody seems to have followed Constantine's suggestion, since the followers of Arius became publicised as "Arians"]

At the same time Eusebius begins to compile a list of "the books of the heretics". Such a list of forbidden books is continued in the Decretum Gelasianum (c.491 CE but with material from the 370's and Damasus). Over a thousand years later in the middle ages, such a list is openly still being published and mainted by the church organsiation in the form of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books")

None of these draconian events were good for the classical philosopher for whom the books of Porphyry were the contemporary literary high point c.325 CE in the lineage of the Platonist school of philosophy.




(4) Constantine publically executes Sopater the Platonist (c.330's)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopater_of_Apamea
Sopater of Apamea (died before 337 AD), was a distinguished sophist and Neoplatonist philosopher.

///

Sopater was one of many who were put to death by Constantine, sometime before 337 AD. Zosimus ascribes his death to the machinations of Ablabius.[5] Eunapius alleges that Sopater was charged with detaining by magical arts a fleet laden with grain.[6]
This surely was a great loss to the Platonists living during the rule of Constantine.
One final item of historical evidence to be placed in this post and related to the OP during the rule of Constantine (we will get to the rest of the 4th century later) is the following, already referenced above.



(5) Porphyry is next heard speaking from the Nag Hammadi Codices (mid 4th century)

At post #3 is a reference to three "Platonising" texts within the NHL: Zostrianos (NHC VIII, 1), Allogenes (NHC XI, 3) and The Three Steles of Seth (NHC VII, 5). The claim made here is quite straightforward .... "The authors of these texts have also borrowed material from other writings of Porphyry and, as a consequence, these texts display a wide range of Porphyrian themes, doctrines, and terminology."


Did the Platonists go to the literary underground and become Sethians?


I would not mind some feedback on any of these issues 1-5 listed above, but especially this last one. It seems highly likely, at least to me, that the last vestiges of Porphyrian Platonism are speaking to us from Nag Hammadi, and possibly from a Pachomian monastic settlement, 400 miles up the Nile from the Platonic Academy in the city of Alexandria.

Was the Alexandrian school of Platonist philosophy caught up in the general oppression and military duress imposed upon the city of Alexandria by Constantine's and Constantius' military regimes? IDK. But I'd think this is what most likely may have happened.


CONCLUSION

Above I have outlined five different issues by which I have argued that, during the rule of Constantine (325-337 CE), there was "a gradual and continuous loss of strength, numbers, or value" in the profession of philosophy during this period. Hence a DECLINE in both the Classical philosophers and consequently in Classical philosophy.

How do others evaluate any of this evidence? Feel free to introduce any other evidence either for or against the propositional question in the OP.
 
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David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Jack--I'm shocked, shocked, that you conclude that there was the decline you question ion your first post. Why didn't you start with your position rather than making it appear that you were open to argument?

BTW--I don't see much difference in the substance or the method between Saint Augustine's discussion of Roman religious practices and those of Cicero in "The Nature of the Gods." I realize the Saint's end is religious, but his method and his substance are philosophic.

And yes, there certainly is a lot of Plato in the doctrines of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. I think that's a good thing. In my opinion, as someone who has studied and continues to study philosophy, I would expect that philosophers of the time period would have turned their attention to the newly legitimated Christian doctrines rather than continue to plow the already well-turned Platonic fields in the 4th and 5th centuries.

And I object to the following statement as not proven, in this thread or in any of your other threads on the same or similar topics:
"Was the Alexandrian school of Platonist philosophy caught up in the general oppression and military duress imposed upon the city of Alexandria by Constantine's and Constantius' military regimes?"
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
Jack--I'm shocked, shocked, that you conclude that there was the decline you question ion your first post. Why didn't you start with your position rather than making it appear that you were open to argument?
I am never closed to arguments involving evidence. I am always interested in alternative positions.

BTW--I don't see much difference in the substance or the method between Saint Augustine's discussion of Roman religious practices and those of Cicero in "The Nature of the Gods." I realize the Saint's end is religious, but his method and his substance are philosophic.
St. Augustine of Hippo > By Individual Philosopher > Philosophy

Augustine "developed a philosophical and theological system which employed elements of Plato and Neo-Platonism in support of Christian orthodoxy".

Obviously his support of Christian orthodoxy was at the expense of the support of whatever orthodoxy existed within the Classical Platonic School which at that time had been redefined by Plotinus and Porphyry and Iamblichus and other Platonists of that epoch. This is why I am inclined to think there was a corresponding decline in the classical (here Platonist) philosopher and his/her "schools".



And yes, there certainly is a lot of Plato in the doctrines of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. I think that's a good thing. In my opinion, as someone who has studied and continues to study philosophy, I would expect that philosophers of the time period would have turned their attention to the newly legitimated Christian doctrines rather than continue to plow the already well-turned Platonic fields in the 4th and 5th centuries.
Hence a decline in the Platonic fields in the 4th and 5th century.


And I object to the following statement as not proven, in this thread or in any of your other threads on the same or similar topics:
"Was the Alexandrian school of Platonist philosophy caught up in the general oppression and military duress imposed upon the city of Alexandria by Constantine's and Constantius' military regimes?"
Roman Egypt was originally in a sense, the personal spoil of Augustus. It was ruled by the power of the emperor and was important for the grain supply to Rome and after Constantine to the city of Constantine. Autocratic rule of Roman Egypt by the Roman Emperor was prepared at all times to subdue any rebellions in Alexandria.

How did the Alexandrians take to "transfer" of temple treasures from the city of Alexander to the city of Constantine?

I would defend my position by claiming that Roman Egypt was at all times controlled by autocratic Roman military duress, and nothing changed much over the centuries between Augustus and Constantine. Rather the military duress increased under Constantine as a direct response to the increase in the controversies which arose at Alexandria over a whole host of issues from 325 CE onwards.

I would be interested in hearing of any specific evidence either for or against this proposition, which has been inferred from the history of the political and military administration of the Egyptians (particularly the Alexandrians) by the Roman Emperors. I have read "A HISTORY OF EGYPT
ROMAN EGYPT; CHAPTER I - THE ORGANISATION OF EGYPT UNDER THE ROMANS by Milne, and this has influenced this proposition. There may be newer scholarships and if so I am interested in their overall findings.
 

David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
I would defend my position by claiming that Roman Egypt was at all times controlled by autocratic Roman military duress, and nothing changed much over the centuries between Augustus and Constantine. Rather the military duress increased under Constantine as a direct response to the increase in the controversies which arose at Alexandria over a whole host of issues from 325 CE onwards.

I would be interested in hearing of any specific evidence either for or against this proposition, which has been inferred from the history of the political and military administration of the Egyptians (particularly the Alexandrians) by the Roman Emperors. I have read "A HISTORY OF EGYPT
ROMAN EGYPT; CHAPTER I - THE ORGANISATION OF EGYPT UNDER THE ROMANS by Milne, and this has influenced this proposition. There may be newer scholarships and if so I am interested in their overall findings.
In your previous comment, you stated as a fact that there was "general oppression and military duress imposed upon the city of Alexandria by Constantine's and Constantius' military regimes?"

You've stated this repeatedly in other threads that you've started, one of which asked for evidence regarding the political situation in the middle years of the Fourth Century. As I recall, none was forthcoming. Yet you continue to make a claim of fact regarding what was going on.

I believe that a better way of looking at the period is that a religion superior to paganism appeared on the scene and when it became legal to discuss it, most of the "intelligentsia" turned to discussing it instead of continuing the debates that Plato had (literally) put into the mouths of Socrates and his friends hundreds of years earlier and was by that time somewhat played out. The best part of Plato was subsumed via Plotinus into Christianity.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,964
Rural Australia
In your previous comment, you stated as a fact that there was "general oppression and military duress imposed upon the city of Alexandria by Constantine's and Constantius' military regimes?"

You've stated this repeatedly in other threads that you've started, one of which asked for evidence regarding the political situation in the middle years of the Fourth Century. As I recall, none was forthcoming. Yet you continue to make a claim of fact regarding what was going on.
The basis of the claim is that Roman Egypt was always under "general oppression and military duress imposed by the Roman Emperors since Augustus". Conditions did not improve under the Christian emperors.


I believe that a better way of looking at the period is that a religion superior to paganism appeared on the scene and when it became legal to discuss it, most of the "intelligentsia" turned to discussing it instead of continuing the debates that Plato had (literally) put into the mouths of Socrates and his friends hundreds of years earlier and was by that time somewhat played out.
Aside from the fact that it was being fully supported by the Roman Emperor, what criteria do you use to claim that Christianity was "superior" to paganism?

When 'most of the "intelligentsia" turned to discussing' Christian philosophy do you think the discussions raised harmony or controversy? (Have a look at the Philp of Side fragment above).

The best part of Plato was subsumed via Plotinus into Christianity.
In the later 4th century Augustine realised that only a few words and phrases were required to bring Platonist philosophy into complete accord with "Christian philosophy".

What do you make (if anything) of the three Sethian (Platonising) texts from the Nag Hammadi Library[listed above] which display a knowledge of the philosophical literature of Porphyry?