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Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity Paperback – November 3, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0199285532 ISBN-10: 0199285535 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


`Review from previous edition Against the presumption that Neoplatonism was fundamentally escapist, O'Meara argues convincingly for the existence of Neoplatonic political philosophies. Following a historical survey of the major figures in Neoplatonism, he undertakes a summary reconstruction of Neoplatonic theories of politics which nevertheless does justice to their complexity... O'Meara's presentation of the material is readily accessible and his arguments are clearly structured. Even less advanced students could read the book with profit, but because the study is pioneering in many ways, advanced students and scholars will also find it noteworthy...The abundance of such fascinating and learned discussion, coupled with the breadth of material analyzed, makes this study most impressive.' Theological Studies

`... a lucid, orderly and comprehensive survey ... Erudite and judicious.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

About the Author

Dominic J. O'Meara is at University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199285535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199285532
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.5 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,546,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on August 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Platonopolis" is a book about Neo-Platonism written by Dominic J. O'Meara, a philosophy professor based in Switzerland. Neo-Platonism was a form of Platonism that flourished from the third to the sixth centuries in the Roman Empire, being gradually displaced (or even assimilated) by Christianity.

Plato, of course, combined political and philosophical ideas. Indeed, he is most notorious for his political philosophy, as laid out in the dialogue "The Republic". The standard view of the Neo-Platonists, by contrast, is that they had lost all interest in worldly matters, concentrating instead on "divinization", a purely spiritual activity taking place in splendid isolation from the world.

O'Meara argues, quite persuasively, that Neo-Platonists *didn't* lack a political philosophy, and that they weren't completely escapist and contemplative. It's well-known that the Neo-Platonic thinker Plotinus wanted to build a "city of philosophers" in Campania, named Platonopolis in honour of Plato. Most historians consider this a curious quirk in the otherwise contemplative life of Plotinus, perhaps even a mad utopian project. But perhaps Plotinus wasn't mad after all? Perhaps he was actually being consistent?

So how did Neo-Platonist political philosophy look like? O'Meara believes that the seemingly other-worldly concept of divinization actually had political implications. The Neo-Platonists regarded "the political virtues" as a preparatory stage to the "purificatory virtues" by which the soul ascended to the divine. A life of good moral conduct, if possible in the public sphere, prepared souls too immersed in the material world for the next, more contemplative stage.
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Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity
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