Title

Everything is Flat: The Transcendence of the One in Neoplatonic Ontology

Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Philosophy

Advisor

Lynne Spellman

Committee Member

Edward Minar

Second Committee Member

Jacob Adler

Keywords

Philosophy, religion and theology; Dionysius the Areopagite; Eastern Christianity; Greek philosophy; Neoplatonism; Ontology; Plotinus

Abstract

My dissertation research addresses the relationship between the One and everything else in Neoplatonic metaphysics. Plato is vague in describing this distinction and thus much of late antiquity attempts to fill in the gaps, as it were. The potential difficulty, however, is that the hierarchy of existence in late antiquity is susceptible to being understood as postulating a being that is "beyond being." To avoid this difficulty, I propose an interpretation of Dionysius the Areopagite to show that being is, by definition, intelligible and thus finite and limited. Since the first principle is that which is infinite it therefore cannot be a being. I argue that the essence/energies distinction in Eastern Christianity helps to alleviate any worries of not postulating the first principle as a being.

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