Proclus

Nicholas Weeks

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Proclus - An Introduction by Radek Chlup is a recent book I admire for making Proclus' works more clear. Here is a bit from his Introduction:

"Late Neoplatonism is one of the most complex metaphysical systems ever
produced in the West. In spite of this, of all the areas of ancient thought
it remains possibly the least familiar. While the founder of Neoplatonism,
Plotinus, has already gained his place among the classics of philosophy,
and his treatises are studied even by those who do not specialize in ancient
thought, late Neoplatonists are still known to j ust a handful of experts,
general philosophical awareness of them being minimal. Nowhere is this
more obvious than in the case of Proclus of Lycia (AD 412-85). While not
an entirely original thinker, Proclus produced the most systematic version
of late Neoplatonic philosophy, and his position within the Neoplatonic
tradition may perhaps be compared to that of Thomas Aquinas within
scholasticism. His impact on later thought was considerable: he influence d
Byzantine philosophy as well as Western scholasticism, was widely studied
in the Renaissance, and left a deep impression on German idealism. In
terms of the quantity of preserved works, he ranks among the top five of
ancient philosophers. Yet few of these are regularly studied nowadays.
The reasons for this neglect lie in the enormous intricacy of Proclus'
system, as well as his predilection for technical terminology, which makes
the reading of his treatises extremely difficult for beginners...

It is the task of this book to remedy this state of affairs and provide
easier access to the world of late Neoplatonism. My aim is to introduce
Proclus to those who are generally interested in philosophy but have no
knowledge of Neoplatonism, or indeed of ancient philosophy as such
beyond its very basics. I take special care not to just summarize Proclus'
ideas, but to bring them to life and show them as sophisticated answers
to relevant philosophical problems. While many of ProcIus' conceptions
must necessarily appear as bizarre today, I still strive to present them as a
meaningful way of looking at the universe and finding one's way about it.
To what extent I have achieved this is for the critical reader to judge."

To my mind he has done a wonderful job, with many diagrams to assist in fathoming Proclus' system of thought.
 
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From the Metaphysics chapter:

"The philosophy of Neoplatonism is essentially holistic. For the Neoplatonists
(as indeed for most ancient philosophers), metaphysics, ethics, logic
or philosophy of nature are interconnected and can never be treated as
independent disciplines, as they often are today. Accordingly, by Proclus'
'metaphysics' I do not mean a self-contained discipline distinct from other
branches of philosophy, but rather a system of basic principles that keep
Proclus' conceptual universe together, turning it into a coherent whole.

The fundamentally holistic nature of this complex body of principles
makes any lucid exposition of it an onerous task. The elementary laws of
Proclus' universe are limited in number, but they all refer to one another,
being hard to grasp separately. Any linear explanation of them is thus
extremely difficult, for ideally the reader would need to see all the principles
at once. In order to be able to introduce them step by step, I will need to have
recourse to a number of deliberate simplifications, concealing important
points in early sections to reveal them fully later on. In many cases I will
try to create a kind of cosmological narrative designed to throw light on
various parts of Proclus' system. While some Proclus specialists may find
such a method questionable, the beginner will hopefully appreciate it,
being spared the shock of having to absorb all of the system at once."
 
The universe is always happy, and our soul will likewise be happy, when it is assimilated to the universe; for thus it will be led back to its cause.
Proclus,
Commentary on the Timaeus
 
In the meantime someone you love is dying from bowel cancer, and that's the part that needs understanding?
 
When Mother Theresa said 'suffering can be holy' Christopher Hitchens and the rest vilified her for glorifying suffering, and even said she wanted people to suffer?
 
Grrr ... you can always nigh-on guarantee that when you look up a 'scholarly tome', the book price can be eye-watering, and the Kindle price breath-taking ...
 
How begins his Theology of Plato, Thomas Taylor translation:

Chapter I

O PERICLES, to me the dearest of friends, I am of opinion that the whole philosophy of Plato was at first unfolded into light through the beneficent will of superior natures, exhibiting the intellect concealed in them, and the truth subsisting, together with beings, to souls conversant with generation (so far as it is lawful for them to participate of such supernatural and mighty good); and again, that afterwards having received its perfection, returning as it were into itself and becoming unapparent to many who professed to philosophize; and who earnestly desired to engage in the investigation of true being, it again advanced into light. But I particularly think that the mystic doctrine respecting divine concerns, which is purely established on a sacred foundation, and which perpetually subsists with the gods themselves, became thence apparent to such as are capable of enjoying it for a time, through one man, Plato, whom I should not err in calling the primary leader and hierophant of those true mysteries, into which souls separated from terrestrial places are initiated, and of those entire and stable visions, which those participate who genuinely embrace a happy and blessed life.
But this philosophy shone forth at first from him so venerably and arcanely, as if established in sacred temples, and within their adyta, and being unknown to many who have entered into these holy places, in certain orderly periods of time, proceeded as much as was possible for it into light, through certain true priests, and who embraced a life corresponding to the tradition of such mystic concerns. It appears likewise to me, that the whole place became splendid, and that illuminations of divine spectacles everywhere presented themselves to the view.
 
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... a tad off topic, but any suggestions on reading Iamblichus?

A – there are cheap kindle translations, I'll try and check how good they are,
B – commentaries on his writings?

No problem if not.
 
... a tad off topic, but any suggestions on reading Iamblichus?

A – there are cheap kindle translations, I'll try and check how good they are,
B – commentaries on his writings?

No problem if not.

On the Mysteries (De mysteriis), ed. Gustav Parthey, Teubner, 1857;[19] ed. Edouard des Places, Collection Budé, 1989. English translations: Thomas Taylor, 1821,;[20][21] Alexander Wilder, 1911;[22][23] Emma C. Clarke, John M. Dillon, and Jackson P. Hershbell, 2003, ISBN 1-58983-058-X.

I like the Wilder, have not studied the Dillon one. Cannot vouch for translation quality - ignorance is bliss.
 
On prayer from Commentary of Timaeus of Plato:

All beings are the progeny of the Gods, by whom they are produced without a medium, and in whom they are firmly established. For the progression of things which perpetually subsist, and cohere from permanent causes, is not alone perfected by a certain continuation, but immediately subsists from the Gods, from whence all things are generated, however distant they may be from the divinities. And this is no less true, even though asserted of matter itself. For a divine nature is not absent from any thing, but is equally present to all things. Hence though you should assume the last of beings, in these also you will find divinity. For The One is every where; and in consequence of its absolute dominion, every thing receives its nature and coherence from the Gods.
 
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