Soloviev Roman

The emergence of the term "neoplatonism" and the historiographical clichés which it generates

Soloviev Roman (2023) "The emergence of the term "neoplatonism" and the historiographical clichés which it generates ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2023, vol. 106, pp. 69-88 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2023106.69-88


The article traces the history of the division of Platonic tradition into Middle and New Platonism, as well as the origin and usage of the term "Neoplatonism". The division of Platonism into the periods of Ancient Academy, Middle Platonism and New Platonism, which had been useful in the past, nowadays hinders the formation of a reliable historical view, as it turns out to be not strict at all for such authors as Longinus, Chalcidius, Numenius, Amelius and Porphyry, and also creates an impression of the closed nature of the mentioned periods in both diachronic and synchronic dimensions. The term "Neoplatonism" was introduced in German historiography by J. Brucker and initially conveyed a sharply negative assessment. The distaste for a specific type of philosophizing led Brucker's followers to make a clear distinction between the original Platonism and the subsequent 'distortions'. An analysis of Brucker's use of the term shows its biased character, distorting the representation of late Platonism and creating a strain according to which the terminological break represents a valid break in late Antique Platonism. This approach has caused among scholars a marginalization of Neoplatonism, presented as a self-sufficient and closed school, impervious to the influence of other philosophical schools, including Christianity (an approach shared by H. Dörrie, L. Brisson, A. Segon, Ph. Offmann and C. de Vogel). The author has identified the reasons of the pejorative attitude to the late Platonists in the science of XVIIIth – first half of XXth centuries, which did not take into account the self-perception of Platonists and their method of treatment of philosophical material, and also analyses modern attempts to reassess the established classification (L. Katana, L. Gerson, T. Rodriguez). The examples of interschool interaction (Celsus, Numenius, St. Justin, Amelius and Porphyry) given in the article not only in diachronic, but also in synchronic aspect, have allowed us to question the necessity of retaining the term "Neoplatonism", as well as the cliché about the closedness of the Roman Neoplatonic school of the third century.


Late Antique philosophy, Neoplatonism, Middle Platonism, historiographical stamps, J. Brooker, Plotinus,


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Information about the author

Soloviev Roman

Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0833-0624;
Email: solorom@gmail.com.