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 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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
Taylor married his childhood sweetheartMary 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.
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.
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 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 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?
Ammonius Saccas was a Greek philosopher from Alexandria who was often referred to as one of the founders of Neoplatonism. He is mainly known as the teacher of Plotinus, whom he taught for eleven years from 232 to 243. He was undoubtedly the biggest influence on Plotinus in his development of Neoplatonism, although little is known about his own philosophical views. Later Christian writers stated that Ammonius was a Christian, but it is now generally assumed that there was a different Ammonius of Alexandria who wrote biblical texts.
In the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not necessarily the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity.
Plotinus was a major Greek-speaking philosopher of the ancient world. In his philosophy, described in the Enneads, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas, who was of the Platonic tradition. Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism and applied it to Plotinus and his philosophy, which was influential in Late Antiquity. Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.
Theurgy describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more deities, especially with the goal of achieving henosis and perfecting oneself.
Iamblichus was a Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher of Arab origin. He determined the direction that would later be taken by Neoplatonic philosophy. He was also the biographer of Pythagoras, a Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician.
Cassius Longinus was a rhetorician and philosophical critic. He was perhaps a native of Emesa in Syria. He studied at Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas and Origen the Pagan, and taught for thirty years in Athens, one of his pupils being Porphyry. Longinus did not embrace the Neoplatonism then being developed by Plotinus, but continued as a Platonist of the old type and his reputation as a literary critic was immense. During a visit to the east, he became a teacher, and subsequently chief counsellor to Zenobia, queen of Palmyra. It was by his advice that she endeavoured to regain her independence from Rome. Emperor Aurelian, however, crushed the revolt, and Longinus was executed.
Porphyry of Tyre was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre, in the Roman Empire. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. His commentary on Euclid's Elements was used as a source by Pappus of Alexandria.
Syrianus was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, and head of Plato's Academy in Athens, succeeding his teacher Plutarch of Athens in 431/432. He is important as the teacher of Proclus, and, like Plutarch and Proclus, as a commentator on Plato and Aristotle. His best-known extant work is a commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle. He is said to have written also on the De Caelo and the De Interpretatione of Aristotle and on Plato's Timaeus.
Timaeus of Locri is a character in two of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. In both, he appears as a philosopher of the Pythagorean school. If there ever existed a historical Timaeus of Locri, he would have lived in the fifth century BCE, but his historicity is dubious since he only appears as a literary figure in Plato; all other ancient sources are either based on Plato or are fictional accounts.
Platonism, rendered as a proper noun, is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In narrower usage, platonism, rendered as a common noun, refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to "exist" in a "third realm" distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness, and is the opposite of nominalism. Lower case "platonists" need not accept any of the doctrines of Plato.
John Myles Dillon is an Irish classicist and philosopher who was Regius Professor of Greek in Trinity College, Dublin between 1980 and 2006. Prior to that he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Athens on 15 June 2010. Dillon's area of research lies in the history of Platonism from the Old Academy to the Renaissance, and also Early Christianity.
Neoplatonism was a major influence on Christian theology throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the West. This was due to St. Augustine of Hippo, who was influenced by the early Neoplatonists Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as the works of the Christian writer Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who was influenced by later Neoplatonists, such as Proclus and Damascius.
Plutarch of Athens was a Greek philosopher and Neoplatonist who taught at Athens at the beginning of the 5th century. He reestablished the Platonic Academy there and became its leader. He wrote commentaries on Aristotle and Plato, emphasizing the doctrines which they had in common.
Platonism, especially in its Neoplatonist form, underwent a revival in the Renaissance, as part of a general revival of interest in Classical antiquity. Interest in Platonism was especially strong in Florence under the Medici.
Commentaries on Plato refers to the great mass of literature produced, especially in the ancient and medieval world, to explain and clarify the works of Plato. Many Platonist philosophers in the centuries following Plato sought to clarify and summarise his thoughts, but it was during the Roman era, that the Neoplatonists, in particular, wrote many commentaries on individual dialogues of Plato, many of which survive to the present day.
Neoplatonism is a term used to designate a strand of Platonic philosophy that emerged in the third century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and religion. The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as it encapsulates a chain of thinkers which began with Ammonius Saccas and his student Plotinus and which stretches to the sixth century AD. Even though Neoplatonism primarily circumscribes the thinkers who are now labeled Neoplatonists and not their ideas, there are some ideas that are common to Neoplatonic systems, for example, the monistic idea that all of reality can be derived from a single principle, "the One".
The Chaldean Oracles are a set of spiritual and philosophical texts widely used by Neoplatonist philosophers from the 3rd to the 6th century C.E. While the original texts have been lost, they have survived in the form of fragments consisting mainly of quotes and commentary by Neoplatonist writers. They were likely to have originally formed a single mystery-poem, which may have been in part compiled, in part received via trance, by Julian the Chaldean, or more likely, his son, Julian the Theurgist in the 2nd century C.E. Later Neoplatonists, such as Iamblichus and Proclus, rated them highly. The 4th-century Emperor Julian suggests in his Hymn to the Magna Mater that he was an initiate of the God of the Seven Rays, and was an adept of its teachings. When Christian Church Fathers or other Late Antiquity writers credit "the Chaldeans", they are probably referring to this tradition.
Many Plato interpreters held that his writings contain passages with double meanings, called 'allegories' or 'symbols', that give the dialogues layers of figurative meaning in addition to their usual literal meaning. These allegorical interpretations of Plato were dominant for more than fifteen hundred years, from about the first century CE through the Renaissance and into the Eighteenth Century, and were advocated by major figures such as Plotinus, Proclus, and Ficino. Beginning with Philo of Alexandria, these views influenced Jewish, Christian and Islamic interpretation of their holy scriptures. They spread widely in the Renaissance and contributed to the fashion for allegory among poets such as Dante, Spenser, and Shakespeare.
Lucius Calvenus Taurus was a Greek philosopher of the Middle Platonist school.
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