Thomas Taylor (neoplatonist)

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Portrait of Thomas Taylor by Sir Thomas Lawrence, about 1812, from the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. In the background the Acropolis of Athens is silhouetted against a fiery sky, and by Taylor's left hand is a copy of his translation of the works of Plato. Thomas Taylor portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.jpg
Portrait of Thomas Taylor by Sir Thomas Lawrence, about 1812, from the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. In the background the Acropolis of Athens is silhouetted against a fiery sky, and by Taylor's left hand is a copy of his translation of the works of Plato.

Thomas Taylor (15 May 1758 1 November 1835) was an English translator and Neoplatonist, the first to translate into English the complete works of Aristotle and of Plato, as well as the Orphic fragments.

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Contents

Biography

Thomas Taylor was born in the City of London on 15 May 1758, the son of a staymaker Joseph Taylor and his wife Mary (born Summers). He was educated at St. Paul's School, and devoted himself to the study of the classics and of mathematics. After first working as a clerk in Lubbock's Bank, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Society for the Encouragement of Art (precursor to the Royal Society of Arts), in which capacity he made many influential friends, who furnished the means for publishing his various translations, which besides Plato and Aristotle, include Proclus, Porphyry, Apuleius, Ocellus Lucanus and other Neoplatonists and Pythagoreans. His aim was the translation of all the untranslated writings of the ancient Greek philosophers.

Corsetmaker profession

A corsetmaker is a specialist tailor who makes corsets. Corsetmakers are frequently known by the French equivalent terms corsetier (male) and corsetière (female). Stay-maker is an obsolete name for a corsetmaker.

Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baronet British politician

Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baronet was an eminent English banker. Lubbock was also a merchant and Member of Parliament. He was the first son of a Cambridge don, the Reverend William Lubbock of Lammas, Norfolk, by Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cooper of North Walsham, Norfolk. He married Elizabeth Christiana Commerell, daughter of his business partner, Frederick Commerell of Hanwell, Middlesex and his wife Catherine Elton on 12 Oct 1771 at St Dunstan’s in the East, London. They had no children. In 1806 he was created a baronet, of Lammas, with remainder to his nephew John William Lubbock, who succeeded him as second baronet.

Proclus Lycaeus, called the Successor, was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major classical philosophers. He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism. He stands near the end of the classical development of philosophy, and was very influential on Western medieval philosophy.

Taylor was an admirer of Hellenism, most especially in the philosophical framework furnished by Plato and the Neoplatonists Proclus and the "most divine" Iamblichus, whose works he translated into English. So enamoured was he of the ancients, that he and his wife talked to one another only in classical Greek.

Ancient Greek religion religion in ancient Greece

Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared similarities.

He was also an outspoken voice against corruption in the Christianity of his day, and what he viewed as its shallowness. Taylor was ridiculed and acquired many enemies, but in other quarters he was well received. Among his friends was the eccentric traveller and philosopher John "Walking" Stewart, whose gatherings Taylor was in the habit of attending.

Family

Taylor married his childhood sweetheart [2] Mary Morton, daughter of John Morton, in 1777, and they had children George Burrow Taylor (born 1779), John Buller Taylor (1781), William Grainger Taylor (1783-1785), Mary Joseph Taylor (1789) and Thomas Taylor (1791). Their eldest daughter, Mary Meredith Taylor (1787–1861), was named after his generous patron William Meredith and married a haberdasher, Samuel Beverly Jones. His wife Mary died in 1809. He married again, and his second wife Susannah died in 1823. From his second marriage he had one son, Thomas Proclus Taylor (born 1816).

Thomas Taylor died in Walworth.

Influence

The texts that he used had been edited since the 16th century, but were interrupted by lacunae; Taylor's understanding of the Platonists informed his suggested emendations. His translations were influential on William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth. In American editions they were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and G. R. S. Mead, secretary to Helena Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society.

Lacuna (manuscripts) gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or a musical work

A lacuna is a gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or a musical work. A manuscript, text, or section suffering from gaps is said to be "lacunose" or "lacunulose". Some books intentionally add lacunas to be filled in by the owner, often as a game or to encourage children to create their own stories.

William Blake English poet and artist

William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic works were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich œuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself".

Percy Bysshe Shelley English Romantic poet

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets, who is regarded by some as among the finest lyric and philosophical poets in the English language, and one of the most influential. A radical in his poetry as well as in his political and social views, Shelley did not see fame during his lifetime, but recognition of his achievements in poetry grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron, John Keats, Leigh Hunt, Thomas Love Peacock, and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

Taylor also published several original works on philosophy (in particular, the Neoplatonism of Proclus and Iamblichus) and mathematics. These works have been republished (some for the first time since Taylor's lifetime) by the Prometheus Trust.

It appears that he and his wife were landlords at Walworth in the late 1770s to a family that included the 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft; it is not clear whether the future author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman actually knew the Taylors, as at that age she left home for a job as a lady's companion. Consideration of Wollstonecraft's 1792 magnum opus , together with Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" inspired Taylor in his A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes: if men and women have rights, why not animals too? [3]

List of works

Notes

  1. Artwork Page: Thomas Taylor Lawrence's painting of Taylor is described
  2. Greer, John Michael (2017). The Occult Book. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Sterling. p. 129. ISBN   978-1-4549-2577-4.
  3. Gordon, 154

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