Did Plato and Aristotle influence early Christian and medieval philosophy?

Yes, but both early christian and medieval philosophy were influenced by interpretations of Plato and Aristotle's thought, which neither they nor today's scholars would accept as completely true to the sources. This was because Plato was given a Neoplatonic interpretation and Aristotle was interpreted through a Christian world view. Not until the Renaissance did the intellectual complexity and humanism of ancient Greek thinkers begin to fully re-emerge, however. Until Aristotle's texts were rediscovered in the ninth century, Plato was the major influence from antiquity, although many of his dialogues were lost. And until the Renaissance, all Greek or pagan philosophy took a distant second place to christian theology and philosophy.

Was Christianity the only religious influence on philosophy after the ancient period?

No. Although, Christianity formed the dominant world view in Europe for over a thousand years, Jewish and Muslim thought also flourished.


What was Neoplatonism?

Neoplatonism was an elaborate system of religious and intellectual belief that was based on ideas about "The One" as the unseen source of all existence. As a powerful but unseen foundation for everything in existence, the One was similar to Plato's forms.

Did Christians accept Neoplatonism?

Neoplatonism was a revision of Plato's main ideas, but it was able to coexist with christianity as Rome and its empire became increasingly averse to atheism and paganism. Neoplatonists and Christians were often at bitter odds with each other on political and religious grounds, and few people were both christians and Neoplatonists before medieval times.

What was The One?

The One was like God, a creator of the universe and an ongoing standard for morality.

How did Neoplatonism become popular?

Neoplatonism spread as the Roman Empire began to fall after the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180), who was a stoic, died. While early Neoplatonism began under the Roman Empire, different forms of it persisted throughout the medieval period, the Renaissance, and into the seventeenth century.

How was Neoplatonism similar to Christianity?

Just as christianity promised a better emotional and spiritual world in times of great social and political upheaval, the Neoplatonists offered their followers an intellectual picture of a higher realm that could also console them personally. That is, Neoplatonism was closer to christianity than to other ancient philosophies because of its emphasis on one creator and the importance placed on the feelings of its followers.

Who were the early Neoplatonists?

Plotinus (205-270) founded Neoplatonism in the third century. He wrote most of his work between 253 and 270, and all of it was edited and published by his student Porphyry (233-309). Porphyry's writings on Plotinus were developed and revised in different schools throughout the educated world, including Alexandria, Athens, Syria, and Western Europe. Early Neoplatonism ended with the work of Boethius (full name, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius; 480-c.524) in the sixth century, who attempted to reconcile Plato and Aristotle with christian theology.

Who was Plotinus?

Plotinus (205-270) was born in upper Egypt. At the age of 28, he began an 11-year study of philosophy with Ammonius Saccas (n.d.). He left to fight with Emperor Gordianus Ill's (Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius; also known as Gordian III; 225-244) army against Persia. After Gordianus died, or according to some accounts was murdered, Plotinus fled to Antioch, but then settled in Rome. He founded a school in Rome, became friends with Emperor Gallienus (Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus; c. 218-268), and began writing down his philosophy. Gallienus intended to give Plotinus land to set up a community in accordance with Plato's dialogue, the Laws (c. 360 b.c.e.), but others intervened, and Gallienus was soon assassinated by his own officers in the midst of a competitive military campaign. Plotinus himself died two years later, it is said, from leprosy.

Plotinus was the founder of Neoplatonism during the decline of the Roman civilization (Art Archive).

Plotinus was the founder of Neoplatonism during the decline of the Roman civilization (Art Archive).

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