By Pierre Grimes
Where have we been and where are we going? It is time to rethink the direction of our study. Our goal was to understand the idea of the Self, or the Logos, and Destiny of Man. Let us review our goals. In the course of our studies we have discussed the thought of Plato, Homer, Proclus, and pseudo-Dionysius.
We found that in Proclus’ Elements of Theology that he demonstrates through a set, or class, of principles that the rational structure to our reality necessarily includes, of course, the three orders of the Hellenic Gods. Among the order of the Gods Proclus focuses on the Olympian Gods since they function within our world view, and it is these Gods that fulfill the highest of purposes. For, as you consider chapter twenty-two of Proclus’ Platonic Theology we find a description the nature of each these Olympian Gods and that identifies the system of interrelating ideas that define those Olympian Gods. The order of these Gods justifies the claim that they represent a rational system of theological thought. These twelve Gods are arranged in four groups of three triads, forming the demiurgic, vivific, anagogic, and guardian triads. Thus, there are two sets of ideas that play out his theology, one to show the rational structure of these Gods, and the other the set of ideas that are presupposed for that rational system. The final cause of this system culminates in Hermes functioning as the provider for philosophy and the dialectic. The dialectic is described as the way to reach truth and understanding of the Self. Thus, this theology is a way to reach an understanding the destiny of mankind.
Now, would it not be interesting to locate an earlier source of these key ideas, since they include the idea of the Self. However, we have already seen the idea of Self play a major role in Homer’s Iliad since the idea of the self is introduced in his chapter 18 to designate the source of Achilles’ Divine illumination, and it is also used when any object that carries the mark of excellence such the shield of Achilles that was made by the God Hephestus, and it also signifies someone who shows themselves most ideally.
In our study of Plato’s Parmenides we found the idea of the Self, or autos, occurring over 400 times. In his first hypothesis it is present over 30 times and is cited after each major idea is identified. It marks the divisions of the ideas being discussed and then it is contrasted with the idea of Self. In addition, after each of these ideas is defined they become a necessary part of a more complex idea since they are assumed as the condition for the next complex idea that is cited. The reasoning of the first hypothesis follows that of the Logos. These ideas cited in the first hypothesis are the ideas that in Proclus are theprimary philosophical ideas of his Elements of Theology and in the Platonic Theology.
In studying Hathaways’ Letters of Pseudo-Dionysius we traced his thought back to that of Proclus and realized that the Letters had drawn upon Proclus’ Elements of Theology many times and they repeat the same major themes that could be traced back to Proclus and Plato. In the Letters he included many propositions of Proclus’ Elements (proposition 21, 23, 28, 33, 35, 36,40, 41, 56, 72,103, 129, 151, 155, 160, ) but he ignored our favorite, the 35th, “All that is caused abides in Self, proceeds from self and reverts to the cause of Self.”