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WHAT IS NEOPLATONISM?
A modern term for the recasting of Plato's philosophy, as first completed by Plotinus (c. 205-270 AD). Preceded by three centuries of revived Platonist speculation (sometimes called 'Middle Platonism'), Plotinus effectively combined Platonic with Pythagorean, Aristotelian, and Stoic doctrines to form a philosophical system in line with the religious preoccupations of his time. His central doctrine of three hypostases (The One, Nous, and Soul) with its metaphysical, exegetical, and experiential aspects, remained basic; but his philosophy was found, at least in the Greek-speaking world, to be insufficiently precise on some metaphysical points, inadmissibly casual in its exposition of Plato, and too austerely intellectual to function in the way that 4th-century Neoplatonists wanted, that is as a rival religion to Christianity.
The hallmark of later Neoplatonism, inaugurated by Iamblichus (c. 250-c. 325 AD), was its metaphysical elaboration (for example, its proliferation of hypostases and its replacement of Plotinus' 'procession and reversion' with a triadic process of "abiding - procession - reversion"), its systematic exegesis of Platonic and other texts, and its stress on theurgy or ritual magic in place of intellectual contemplation. By the mid 5th century, there were two main schools of Neoplatonism, one at Alexandria, which became Christian, and one at Athens, which was finally closed down in 529 AD as a center of paganism. For a millennium (c. 250-1250 AD), Neoplatonism was the dominant philosophy in Europe. A link between ancient and medieval thought was revived during the Renaissance by Ficino, Pico, and others. Its influence continued into the 19th century.
A Dictionary of Philosophy, Macmillan, s.v. "Neoplatonism," accessed November 28, 2012, http://0-www.credoreference.com.library.regent.edu/entry/macdphil/neoplatonism