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The Origin of the Division Between Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism

  • Leo Catana
Chapter
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 227)

Abstract

The division of Ancient Platonism into Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism is a fairly new one. The conceptual foundation of this division was cemented in Jacob Brucker’s pioneering Historia critica philosophiae (1742–1767). In the 1770s and 1780s, the term ‘Neoplatonism’ was coined on the basis of Brucker’s analysis. Three historiographical concepts were decisive to Brucker: ‘system of philosophy’, ‘eclecticism’ and ‘syncretism’. By means of these concepts, he characterized Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism as opposing philosophical movements, the former being a genuine form of Platonism, the latter a false form. It is argued in this chapter that the division is untenable and that we ought to abandon it.

Keywords

Plato Plotinus Porphyry Middle Platonism Neoplatonism Eclecticism Syncretism System of philosophy Heumann Brucker 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Leo Catana
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Philosophy, Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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