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Ancient philosophical schools, I argue in the book, were pretty conservative places. In order to study the sort of advanced ancient philosophy you had to go through a lot of middle school and high school, the equivalent of an ancient undergraduate education which involved a lot of rhetoric and memorisation and learning and internalisation of Greek poetry and Greek history. Some of them have to do with heavenly storerooms and how much snow God likes to keep in them.

Instead, what you have is a sort of trickle-down epistemology where the things that are completely true at the top, in the world of forms, are reflected in various permutations through levels of reality which become increasingly more material until you get down to the world which we inhabit today where all kinds of forms and ideas inhabit material objects and so the way that you climb back to the forms to the most true level of things is by crawling up one step at a time through these various permutations of reality, thinking more and more clearly, more and more disconnected from the world of change around you in to the world of ideas where things are universal, complete and increasingly simple.

MC : You mentioned he believed in a sort of trickle-down divinity, so basically Plotinus was a metaphysical Reagan and the Gnostics were metaphysical anarchists. Like I said, the environment in which Plotinus was writing was very conservative. These were not people who were interested in overthrowing things. For a time Plotinus held his seminars in the Royal Palace itself.

This is like in the middle of the White House or the Pentagon. Very wealthy people were members of this.

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He had a Matroness who was a Patrona for him, who supported him. Everybody involved with these extremely high levels of ancient education came from wealthy families that had a lot of vested interest in the present order. Much like people come out of the Ivy League today most often with the vested interest of maintaining the order that the Ivy League supports. The Gnostics, on the other hand, often used the language of authority and rulership.

Seth and the Alien God

What is an Archon? An Archon is literally a ruler, a magistrate, somebody who works for the government. They then used these terms to describe bad things, bad people, bad entities that run the present world. DB : This is tough to say.

Were the Gnostics a Christian sect or a cult? | NT @ Oxford

He just simply says they used to be friends of his. And one is reminded of this complaint that the 2nd-century Christian thinker Tertullian says. Writing about martyrdom he reports that a Roman magistrate is very tired of Christians martyring themselves to prove their religion. This is an extrapolation. From the beginning of the Roman church, care for the poor and the less advantaged in society was of paramount concern.

DB : This is a very interesting point.

Myths of Mankind - The Gnostic Origins of Christianity

Were the Gnostics doing magic? He says they with the chants make hissing sounds, here we have a lot of wonderful, very rare, if not singular, Greek words for different sorts of sounds — hoots and growls! We think it must have been used as an amulet because of the way it was folded. In fact, we know that the Treatise Zorostrianos must have been used in such a way itself.

Now why would Plotinus have had such a big problem with that? And he thought that was very silly because human beings could not have power over demons or angels or anything else superhuman by virtue of being material beings into which souls have descended. Human beings are less powerful than demons or angels or heroes, less material beings or immaterial beings whose souls had not descended into the world as far.

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Material objects like amulets or speech actually, the product of material speech organs could have no power over spiritual things having to do with the soul and that includes demons or angels and what have you. Iamblichus completely disagreed. But he disagreed that human beings actually had powers over angels and demons.

He said that Porphyry was right that human beings do not have power over angels and demons themselves. They share a divine essence with God on some level and you see this reflected in Gnostic texts where human beings actually have power or can learn to have power over various supernatural beings and they are said to be superior to the creator of the world and the creators of the human body itself. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions.

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