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By W. T. Stace

The traditional Greek philosophers have performed a pivotal function within the shaping of the western philosophical culture. This booklet surveys the seminal works and ideas of key figures within the old Greek philosophical culture from the Presocratics to the Neoplatonists. It highlights their major philosophical matters and the evolution of their concept from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

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89 Proclus, having, as he believed, demonstrated from the cosmos’ being a god that it contains nothing evil and therefore contains nothing able to destroy [it],90 next91 attempts to demonstrate from this that it has not even come to be. For, he says, destruction and generation have the same cause, but when controlled [it is the cause] of generation, and when it has the control, of destruction. Should, then, he says, the ordered and well-arranged universe be destroyed, it could not be destroyed by anything other than disorder and disarray;92 for this is the evil of a thing that is ordered and well-arranged.

Those, then, who seek to misinterpret Plato by means of such subtleties make it clear, by the very fact that they are ashamed to admit that he arranged things thus, that they believe, along with everyone else, that this is a bad (atopos) business, and by being unable to defend him against the charge they themselves are finding him liable for the badness of the law. That is all [I have to say] on these topics. There are countless other subjects on which it could be shown that Plato was wide of the truth; but, so as not to prolong this digression, even what we have said is sufficient to prove that not everything that Plato says hits the mark.

After all, its parts are embraced within the universe. Indeed, the whole, or universe, is nothing other than the mutual relation of all of its parts and their coming together in one place. At all events, it is as a result of this [kind of thinking] that people have so insulted the glory of God as to drag the divine majesty and name down to the level of the very beasts and inanimate objects and the most shameful of human evils. If, then, the cosmos is observed to be body and to undergo change and alteration and if it is impossible for it to be exempt from change and if the race of gods is unreceptive of change, then it is impossible for the cosmos to be a god.

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