SGA 12 (2022)

Studia graeco-arabica 12 (2022). L’influence du néoplatonisme sur les trois monothéismes au Moyen Âge

Guest Editors: Daniel De Smet, Géraldine Roux

ISSN 2281-2687 / ISSN 2239-012X (Online)

Available in print. Please contact: press@unipi.it
Affiliations and addresses of the Authors of this Volume

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Prof. Polymnia Athanassiadi
pathan [at] arch.uoa.gr
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Ilissia (3nd floor), Athens
Greece
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Dr. Dario Cellamare
dario.cellamare [at] unipo.it
Dipartimento DISUM
Università del Piemonte orientale
Via Galileo Ferraris 116, 13100 Vercelli
Italia
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Prof. Michael Chase
chasemike780 [at] gmail.com
Department of Greek and Roman Studies
University of Victoria
3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria BC V8P 5C2
Canada
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Dr. Elisa Coda
elisacoda [at] gmail.com
Centre Jean Pépin UMR 8230 MSCA Fello (THEIA Project)
CNRS Paris
France
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Prof. José Costa
jose.costa [at] sorbonne-nouvelle.fr
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III
13 rue de Santeuil, 75005 Paris
France
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Prof. Cristina D’Ancona
cristina.dancona [at] unipi.it
Dipartimento CFS
Università di Pisa
via P. Paoli 15, 56126 Pisa
Italia
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Prof. Daniel De Smet
daniel.desmet [at] kuleuven.be
De Wulf – Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2 – box 3200
3000 Leuven
Belgium
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Prof. Marco Di Branco
marco.dibranco [at] uniroma1.it
Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia
Università di Roma “La Sapienza”
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma
Italia
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Dr. Maria Fasciano
maria.fasciano [at] phd.unipi.it
Dipartimento CFS
Università di Pisa
via P. Paoli 15, 56126 Pisa
Italia
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Prof. Paul B. Fenton
paul.fenton [at] sorbonne-universite.fr
Département d’Études arabes et hébraïques
Université Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV
1, rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris
France
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Prof. Jules Janssens
De Wulf – Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2 – box 3200
3000 Leuven
Belgium
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Prof. Isabelle Koch
isabelle.koch [at] univ-amu.fr
Centre Gilles Gaston Granger UMR 7304
Université d’Aix-Marseille – Site Schuman
Maison de la Recherche
29, avenue Robert Schuman
13621 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 1
France
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Dr. Matteo Maserati
matteo.maserati00 [at] gmail.com
Dipartimento di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale/DISPAC
Università di Salerno
Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132 – 84084 Fisciano, Salerno
Italia
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Prof. Géraldine Roux
direction [at] institut-rachi-troyes.fr
Institut Universitaire Européen Rachi
2 Rue Brunneval, 10000 Troyes
France
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Prof. Brigitte Tambrun
brigitte.tambrun [at] cnrs.fr
Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (LEM/UMR 8584)
Campus Condorcet
14 cours des Humanités
93322 Aubervilliers
France
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Prof. Mathieu Terrier
Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (LEM/UMR 8584)
Campus Condorcet
14 cours des Humanités
93322 Aubervilliers
France
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Dr. Marianna Zarantonello
marianna.zarantonello [at] phd.unipd.it
Dipartimento di Filosofia, Sociologia, Pedagogia, Psicologia Applicata
Università di Padova
Piazza Capitaniato, 3, 35139 Padova
Italia
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Articles

1. Isabelle Koch, Fabriquer le cosmos. La hiérarchie plotinienne des puissances démiurgiques , SGA 12 (2022), pp. 1-22
Affiliation: Université Aix Marseille ‒ Centre Gilles Gaston Granger UMR 7304
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Keywords: Middle Platonism, Intellect, Plotinus, World Soul, Timaeus

Abstract, Full Text PDF

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Plotinian cosmology is based on a re-reading of the Timaeus, rejecting the anthropomorphic model of crafting, and making the Intellect the true demiurge, against the literal interpretations of this figure that Middle Platonism had developped. The world is a “natural” image of the intelligible model, generated like a reflection in a mirror. The catoptric model brings about a radical overturn of the craft model of world production: it eliminates not only anthropomorphic mediation, but absolutely all mediation, since it is by their sheer existence that the Forms produce a corporeal image of themselves. However, Plotinus does not confine himself to such a minimalist scheme of cosmological explanation. Instead, he multiplies other mediating instances between the Intellect and its sensible product: the Forms, the Soul hypostasis, the Soul of the world, Nature, different kinds of reasons. I will seek to show that the hierarchy of these producing powers, while it is based on the metaphysics of processive degrees, also proposes a rearrangement, rather than an elimination, of the elements provided by the demiurgy of the Timaeus.

2. Polymnia Athanassiadi, Le ciel image de la terre: de Celse à Julien, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 23-34
Affiliation: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
doi:
Keywords: Celsus, Emperor Julian, Synesius of Cyrene, Christians, God

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Men create their gods in their own image and likeness, and their ideal universe in the image and likeness of the one in which they live. Thus, to the minds of those living in the Roman Empire, the pyramid of secular power with the emperor at its apex suggested a heavenly pyramid, in which the one and the many came together in the form of a hierarchical structure. In Platonic terms, the one transcendent God manifested Himself in the form of the deities of the traditional pantheon. In other words, theological monotheism had its counterpart in cultic polytheism. The Platonist Celsus attacked the Christians on both theological and social grounds, arguing that in their refusal to worship any of the traditional gods of the Empire they disrupted the harmony between the heavenly and the social order, known as pax deorum. Two centuries later, the Emperor Julian took Celsus’ line of reasoning to its logical conclusion by propounding his theory of the ethnic or national gods: in their capacity as divine archetypes allotted by the supreme God to specific nations, these deities had bestowed upon the races in their custody customs and laws to fit their peculiar character. By forsaking the traditions of Judaism, the Christians had deprived themselves of the protection of their own national god, Jehovah, becoming outlaws both on earth and in the cosmic order. Julian’s theory of the ethnic gods continued to be popular among Platonising intellectuals, as the writings of the bishop of Cyrene Synesius show.

3. Michael Chase, Des quatre questions aristotéliciennes au tawḥīd. Notes sur les origines de la théologie négative en Islam, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 35-52
Affiliation: Department of Greek and Roman Studies – University of Victoria
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Keywords: Avicenna, Islamic thought, Ismāʿīlīs, Ḍirār ibn ʿAmr, Ǧahm ibn Ṣafwān

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The importance of negative theology in Islamic theology is widely recognized. Ismāʿīlīs, Sūfis, and other heterodox theologians, but also thinkers as famous as Avicenna and Maimonides agreed that human knowledge of the divine First Principle is to some extent limited and imperfect. It has not been widely noted that orthodox Aristotelianism could also lend itself to the conclusion that there are strict limits to what human beings can know about the Divine. Particularly important in this regard were the wellknown four methodological questions from Book II of the Posterior Analytics. I therefore study the development of the interpretation of these four questions in Greco-Roman and early Islamic thought, suggesting in conclusion that this use of the Aristotelian scheme may go back to Ǧahm b. Ṣafwān and Ḍirār b. ʿAmr, who were active well before the first known school of Greco-Arabic philosophical translation.

4. Daniel De Smet, Les couleurs de l’Âme: d’Abū Yaʿqūb al-Siǧistānī aux Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ en passant par le Plotin arabe, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 53-70
Affiliation: De Wulf – Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy Leuven
doi:
Keywords: Brethren of Purity, pseudo-Theology of Aristotle, Plotinus, Abū Yaʿqūb al-Siǧistānī, Spiritual Colors,

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The notion of “spiritual colors” (al-aṣbāġ al-rūḥānīya) appears, in relation with the Universal Soul, in the longer version of the Arabic pseudo-Theology of Aristotle, as well as in several works by the Ismāʿīlī Neoplatonist Abū Yaʿqūb al-Siǧistānī and in the Rasāʾil Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ. The Universal Soul contemplates the spiritual colors in the Intellect before painting them on the material substrate of the sense perceptible world. This doctrine is rooted in Plotinus’ Enneads, but was considerably elaborated in the Arabic Plotinus, first of all in the so-called “shorter” version of the pseudo-Theology. However, the expression al-aṣbāġ al-rūḥānīya and the almost exclusive use of the term ṣibġa, instead of the more common lawn, for “color”, belongs to the specific features of the longer pseudo-Theology and is shared by al-Siǧistānī, confirming once again the close relationship between this longer version and Ismāʿīlī Neoplatonism. The presence of the same theory about the aṣbāġ in the Rasāʾil Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ (although the expression al-aṣbāġ al-rūḥānīya is lacking here), raises the question of the relation between the Brethren of Purity, 10th century Isma‘ilism and the longer version of the pseudo-Theology.

5. Jules Janssens, Présence d’éléments néoplatoniciens dans la conception ghazalienne de l’âme humaine, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 71-88
Affiliation: De Wulf – Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy Leuven
doi:
Keywords: Classical Islam, al-Ġazālī, Human soul, Neoplatonic soul, Sufism, Neoplatonism

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Abū Ḥāmid al-Ġazālī (ca. 1056 – 1111) is one of the major Muslim thinkers of all times. His doctrine of the human soul is based on both Sufi and philosophical sources. For this reason, it is not easy to determine al-Ġazālī’s profound view on such a complex and delicate issue as the human soul. A Neoplatonic inspiration might be present in some of its major themes, as e.g., the identification of the soul with man’s immaterial quintessence, the establishment of a close link between self-knowledge and knowledge of God, and the attribution of two faces to the soul. Certainly, al-Ġazālī – or, already his immediate source – offers not seldom a reinterpretation of a specific Neoplatonic idea, especially when it, according to its original formulation, implies serious tensions with basic tenets of the Islamic belief. However, al-Ġazālī uses many different sources coming from very different horizons – one of which is the moderate Sufism of classical Islam. With regard to the human soul, this Sufism expresses ideas that would have been undoubtedly accepted by most Neoplatonic thinkers. Hence, one may wonder whether the latter did not influence – directly, or indirectly — the former. Whatever be the case, this paper shows the undeniable presence of significant similarities between the Neoplatonic view on the human soul and al-Ġazālī’s conception.

6. José Costa, Le néoplatonisme a-t-il influencé l’eschatologie des rabbins antiques?, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 89-112
Affiliation: Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3
doi:
Keywords: Babylonian Talmud, Immortality of the Soul, Neoplatonic eschatology, Neoplatonic ὄχημα, Rabbinic eschatology

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At first sight, rabbinic and Neoplatonic eschatology differ substantially from one another: the former focuses on bodily resurrection and messianic faith, the latter on immortality of the soul. As it is well known, the rabbis distinguish between soul and body and several of their texts show obvious Platonic features. It still remains difficult to find clear evidence of a Neoplatonic influence on rabbinic eschatology. This article is mainly interested in a rabbinic tradition describing the place of the preexistent souls as a “body” (guf), which is mentioned no less than four times in the Babylonian Talmud. According to us, the Talmudic “body” of the souls remains a real puzzle, so long as it is not understood against the background of the Neoplatonic ὄχημα, a kind of body which is the vehicle of the soul before and after death. Outside the eschatological domain, a possible Neoplatonic influence is also perceptible in the rabbinic conception of the Shekhina as an emanation of God.

7. Paul B. Fenton, Rémanences néoplatoniciennes dans un commentaire judéo-arabe sur le Cantique des cantiques, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 113-134
Affiliation: Département d’Études arabes et hébraïques – Université Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV
doi:
Keywords: Agent Intellect, Ibn ʿAqnīn, Jewish prophetology, Song of Songs, Sufi mysticism

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Known to Orientalists since the 19th century, Joseph ben Juda Ibn ʿAqnīn (Al-Andalus, 12th c.), was the author of a Judeo-Arabic philosophical commentary on the Song of Songs. Drawing on both Neoplatonism and Sufi mysticism, the author perceives in this love-song an allegory of the individual soul’s quest to unite through love with the Agent Intellect. During his exposition, Ibn ʿAqnīn goes into an excursus on the episode of Jacob’s struggle with the angel (Gen. 32, 25-29), which he also perceives as an allegory for the intense philosophical effort exerted by the human soul to conjoin with the Active Intellect. In the present article, this passage is translated and explained in the light of philosophical sources, in particular the description of Plotinian ecstasy. By its platonization of Jewish prophetology, Ibn ʿAqnīn’s interpretation was perhaps the prototype of a whole line of philosophers and Qabbalists who integrated purgative and illuminative elements into their theories of prophecy, positing mystical individuation as a preliminary condition to the prophetic state, evoking at the same time the transformative union of the encounter with the metaphysical world, and its attendant illumination.

8. Géraldine Roux, L’usage maïmonidien de notions néoplatoniciennes dans le Guide des Égarés. Une stratégie philosophique, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 135-146
Affiliation:
doi:
Keywords: Kalām, Guide of the Perplexed, Jewish philosophy, Maimonides, pseudo-Theology of Aristotle

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Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) was an Andalusian rabbi, philosopher and physician whose aim in his works, both in the study of the legal aspects of the Jewish law and in his philosophical questioning, was to restore the science of this law, which he considered to have been lost as a result of internal conflicts within Judaism as well as external persecutions and oppressions. We will focus on this premise which runs through his mature philosophical work, the Guide of the Perplexed, and leads him to a position that is at the same time transgressive and reforming: to ignore a large part of the medieval Jewish philosophy that preceded him, by his systematic criticism of the methods of the Kalām and the traditional mode of exegesis of the Torah. Does the polemic he engages with the Kalām and the mysticism of the Shefʾa aims at asserting a pure Aristotelianism as a philosophical position or at expunging both the philosophical and the Jewish tradition of any Gnostic resurgence? The analysis of the Maimonidean definition of the notion of overflow in the Guide of the Perplexed, in the context of the Medieval debate on the status of matter, will allow us to sketch a hypothesis: how does this Arabic notion, fayḍ, allow Maimonides to switch to a Medieval cosmological paradigm relying on the emanatist theory of divine overflow, integrated into the Neoplatonic corpus known to the author, in its Arabic translation and Muslim commentaries, as the pseudo-Theology of Aristotle (Uṯūlūğīyā Arisṭāṭālīs).

9. Brigitte Tambrun, Pléthon et la destinée harmonique de l’homme, SGA 12 (2022), pp. 147-156
Affiliation: Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (LEM/UMR 8584)
doi:
Keywords: Christian eschatology, Immortal Soul, Plethon, Psellus, Universal Harmony

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Plethon does not accept the Christian doctrines about eschatology. He challenges the idea of a single Savior. In his opinion, every human soul is invited to be a savior of the universe, by periodically doing a kind of civil service here on earth. Thus man, as an immortal soul and a mortal body, is considered as an articulation in the universal harmony. This harmony has to be understood in the literal sense of the term, as a system articulated according to mathematical proportion.

10. Mathieu Terrier, Néoplatonisme et gnose šīʿite: l’Intellect premier et l’Âme universelle chez Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī (VIIIe/XIVe siècle) , SGA 12 (2022), pp. 157-180-
Affiliation: Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (LEM/UMR 8584)
doi:
Keywords: Neoplatonism, Perfect Man, Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī, Šiʿi gnosis, Šiʿi esotericism

Abstract, Full Text PDF

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This article intends to shed light on the surprisingly vivid presence of Neoplatonism in a major representative of the “Šiʿi gnosis”, claiming to belong to Imami Šiʿism and Sufism rather than to Hellenistic philosophy (falsafa): Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī (d. after 787/1385). In his esoteric commentary (ta ʾwīl) on the Qurʾan as well as in his commentary on the Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 637/1240), the influence of Neoplatonism is reflected in the systematic use of the concepts of procession (ṣudūr) or bestowal (fayḍ), Prime Intellect (al-ʿaql al-awwal) and Universal Soul (al-nafs al-kulliyya). These concepts are at the core of a system of correspondences between man as a microcosm and the world as a macranthrope, as well as of a hierarchy of levels of reality described as a succession of theophanies. They are also identified with the esoteric meaning of many Qurʾanic verses, figures and symbols. Finally, they enter into Āmulī’s own conception of writing, of the books he comments on and of those he produces. Despite his explicitly distant or even hostile positions towards philosophy, his work thus appears as an attempt to harmonize or symphonize between Šiʿi esotericism, Sufism and Neoplatonic philosophy. Three traditions converging in the figure of the Perfect Man (al-insān al-kāmil) are at the center of the author’s speculations.

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