Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Neoplatonism, the philosophy of the commentators

This project studies the theory and practice of moral education in the (Neo)Platonic tradition.

Bert van den Berg

Current project

The Neoplatonists on Moral Education

This project studies the theory and practice of moral education in the (Neo)Platonic tradition, i.e. the issue of how to render the young into virtuous people. I am especially interested in the way in which Neoplatonists appropriate existing moralizing literature (Hesiod’s Works and Days, Prodicus’ Choice of Hercules, the Pythagorean Golden Verses) and genres (history, rhetoric) and adapt it to fit their own psychological and ethical ideas.
Key publications:
R.M. van den Berg, ‘Proclus on Hesiod’s Works and Days and ‘Didactic Poetry’, Classical Quarterly 64 (2014), pp. 383-397.
R.M. van den Berg, ‘Proclus and Iamblichus on Moral Education’, Phronesis 59 (2014), pp. 272-296.

Previous projects

The Neoplatonists on language and naming

This project examined the ideas of the Neoplatonists about language, its relation to the outside world it seeks to describe, and its function as an instrument in philosophical investigations as we find these in the ancient commentators on Aristotle’s Organon (Porphyry, Iamblichus, Ammonius) and especially in Proclus’ commentary on Plato’s Cratylus.
Key publication:
R.M. van den Berg, Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in Context: Ancient Theories of Language and Naming, Brill (Leiden) 2008.

Proclus’ Hymns

For my PhD I examined the hymns of Proclus against the background of his literary theories and within the context of theurgy, the rituals by means of which the later Neoplatonists sought to attract divine assistance and illumination.
Key publication:
R.M. van den Berg, Proclus’ Hymns. Essays, Translations, Commentary, Brill (Leiden) 2001.

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