Monday, 22 July 2019

The Platonic Philosophers’ Creed - Thomas Taylor 2/2

Thomas Taylor's Philosopher's Creed: points 1 to 8 deal with first principles. Points 9-10 deal with the world of Ideas. Points 11-12 deal with the universe. Points 13 to 17 deal with the world of the Gods. Points 18 to 25 cover the human world and the journey of the soul.  From Miscellanies, in Prose and Verse (1805).

 14. I believe that a divine nature is not indigent of any thing. But the honours which are paid to the Gods are performed for the sake of the advantage of those who pay them.  Hence, since the providence of the Gods is extended every where, a certain habitude or fitness is all that is requisite for the reception of their beneficent communications. But all habitude is produced through imitation and similitude. On this account temples imitate the heavens, but altars the earth. Statues resemble life, and on this account they are similar to animals. Herbs and stones resemble matter; and animals which are sacrificed, the irrational life of our souls. From all these, however, nothing happens to the Gods beyond what they already possess; for what accession can be made to a divine nature?  But a conjunction of our souls with the gods is by these means effected. 

15. I believe that as the world considered as one great comprehending whole is a divine animal, so likewise every whole which it contains is a world, possessing in the first place a self-perfect unity proceeding from the ineffable, by which it becomes a God; in the second place, a divine intellect; in the third place, a divine soul; and in the last place a deified body. That each of these wholes is the producing cause of all the multitude which it contains, and on this account is said to be a whole prior to parts; because considered as possessing an eternal form which holds all its parts together, and gives to the whole perpetuity of subsistence, it is not indigent of such parts to the perfection of its being. And it follows by a geometrical necessity, that these wholes which rank thus high in the universe must be animated. 

16. Hence I believe that after the immense principle of principles in which all things  causally subsist absorbed in superessential light, and involved in unfathomable depths, a  beautiful series of principles proceeds, all largely partaking of the ineffable, all stamped with the occult characters of deity, all possessing an overflowing fullness of good. From these dazzling summits, these ineffable blossoms, these divine propagations -being, life, intellect, soul, nature and body depend; monads suspended from unities , deified natures  proceeding from deities. That each of these monads is the leader of a series which extends to the last of things, and which, while it proceeds from, at the same time abides in, and returns to its leader Thus all beings proceed from, and are comprehended in the first being; all intellects emanate from one first intellect; all souls from one first soul; all natures blossom from one first nature; and all bodies proceed from the vital and  luminous body of the world. That all these great monads are comprehended in the first one, from which both they and all their de pending series are unfolded into light. And  hence this first one is truly the unity of unities, the monad of monads, the principle of  principles, the God of gods, one and all things, and yet one prior to all. 

17. I also believe, that of the Gods some are mundane, but others super-mundane; and  that the mundane are those who fabricate the world.  But of the super-mundane, some  produce essences, others intellect, and others soul; and on this account, they are distinguished into three orders. Of the mundane Gods also, some are the causes of the existence of the world; others animate it; others again harmonise it, thus composed of different natures; and lastly, others guard  and preserve it when harmonically arranged.  Since these orders are four, and each consists of things first, middle, and last, it is necessary that the governors of these should be twelve. Hence Zeus, Poseidon, and Hephaestus, fabricate the world; Demeter , Hera, and Artemis, animate it; Hermes,  Aphrodite, and Apollo, harmonise it; and lastly, Hestia, Athena, and Ares, preside over it  with a guardian power. But the truth of this, may be seen in statues, as in enigmas. For Apollo harmonises the lyre; Pallas Athena is invested with arms; and Aphrodite is naked; since harmony produces beauty, and beauty is not concealed in subjects of sensible inspection. I likewise believe that as these Gods primarily possess the world, it is necessary to consider the other mundane Gods as subsisting in them; as Dionysius in Zeus, Aesculapius in Apollo, and the Graces in Aphrodite. We may also behold the spheres with which they are connected, viz. Hestia with the earth, Poseidon with water, Hera with air, and Hephaestus with fire. But Apollo and Artemis are assumed for the sun and moon; the sphere of Kronos is attributed to Demeter; Æther to Pallas; and heaven is common to them all. 

18. I also believe that man is a microcosm, comprehending in himself partially every thing which the world contains divinely and totally. That hence he is endued with an intellect subsisting in energy, and a rational soul proceeding from the same causes as those from which the intellect and soul of the universe proceed. And that he has likewise an ethereal vehicle analogous to the heavens, and a terrestrial body composed from the four elements, and with which also it is co-ordinate. 

19. I believe that the rational part of man, in which his essence consists, is of a self-motive nature, and that it subsists between intellect, which is immovable both in essence and energy, and nature, which both moves and is moved. 

20. I believe that the human as well as every mundane soul, uses periods and restitutions of its proper life. For in consequence of being measured by time, it energizes transitively, and possesses a proper motion. But every thing which is moved perpetually, and participates of time, revolves periodically, and proceeds from the same to the same. 

21. I also believe that as the human  soul ranks among the number of those souls that  sometimes follow the mundane divinities, in consequence of subsisting immediately after  angels, dæmons and heroes the  perpetual attendants of the Gods, it possesses a power of  descending infinitely into the sublunary region, and of ascending from thence to real  5 being. That in consequence of this, the soul, while an inhabitant of earth, is in a fallen condition, an apostate from deity, an exile from the orb of light. That she can only be  restored, while on earth, to the divine likeness, and  be able after death to re - ascend to the  intelligible world, by the exercise of the  cathartic , and  theoretic virtues; the former purifying  her from the defilements of a mortal nature, and the latter elevating her to the vision of  true being. And that such a soul returns after death to her kindred star from which she fell, and enjoys a blessed life. 

22. I believe that the human soul essentially contains all knowledge, and that whatever knowledge she acquires in the present life, is nothing more than a recovery of what she once possessed; and which discipline evocates from its dormant retreats. 

23. I also believe that the soul is punished in a future for the crimes she has committed in the present life; but that this punishment is proportioned to the crimes, and is not perpetual; divinity punishing, not from anger or revenge, but in order to purify the guilty soul, and restore her to the proper perfection of her nature. 

24. I also believe that the human soul on its departure from the present life, will, if not  properly purified, pass into other terrene bodies; and that if it passes into a human body,  it becomes the soul of that body; but if into the body of a brute, it does not become the  soul of the brute, but is externally connected with the brutal soul in the same manner as presiding dæmons are connected, in their beneficent operations, with mankind; for the  rational part  never becomes the soul of the irrational nature. 

25. Lastly, I believe that souls that live according to virtue, shall in other respects be happy; and when separated from the irrational nature, and purified from all body, shall be conjoined with the Gods, and govern the whole world, together with the deities by whom it was produced. 

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Part 1 

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