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Lecture

Leiden University Late Antique and Medieval Studies inaugural lecture: "The Neo-platonists on Theurgy: Making Philosophical Sense of Religion and Magic in Late Antiquity”

Date
Wednesday 20 November 2019
Time
Location
Lipsius
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room
1.47

The Leiden University Late Antique and Medieval Studies - is pleased to announce the inaugural lecture by

Bert van den Berg


 

The Neo-platonists on Theurgy: Making Philosophical Sense of Religion and Magic in Late Antiquity


From Iamblichus (ca. 242–ca. 325) onwards, many Neo-platonists assume that the rational study of philosophy does not suffice for the salvation of the human soul but that it has to be supplemented with the non-rational performance of rituals, known as theurgy. Because of its non-rational nature, scholars of Neo-platonism often find theurgy problematic and tend to view it in isolation from Neoplatonic philosophy as a somewhat regrettably eccentric feature that is best ignored. However, whereas the practice of theurgy may be non-rational, this did not prevent the Neo-platonists from reflecting philosophically on theurgy. In my talk, I shall argue that for this reason theurgy deserves it to be taken seriously by students of Late Ancient philosophy. I shall do so by discussing a few examples of Neo-platonic philosophical reflections on theurgical practices, mostly drawn from Proclus’ little treatise known under the title De Sacrificio et Magia(On Sacrifice and Magic).

 

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