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DUALITY OF TIME:

Complex-Time Geometry and Perpetual Creation of Space

by Mohamed Haj Yousef



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2.6  From Plato to Plotinus


As we mentioned in section 2 above, Plato is the founder of the Academy in Athens, and he is widely considered the pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, along with Socrates and Aristotle, his most influential teacher and student, respectively. He also had noticeable influence on the Christian religion and spirituality, through many of his followers such as Plotinus and St. Augustine, the early Christian theologians and philosophers who played profound roles in the development of Western Christianity and philosophy.

Plato himself borrowed some of his main concepts from the Pythagoreans. He took their same mystical approach to the soul and its place in the material world, and the idea that mathematics and abstract thinking is a secure basis for philosophy. The Pythagorean numerical principle, that all things in the cosmos are numbers, can also be related to Plato’s view that the physical world of becoming is an imitation of the mathematical world of being, but this is also influenced by both Heraclitus and Parmenides. Form the first, through his famous remarks that all things are continuously changing, or becoming, as outlined in his well known image of the river with ever-changing waters where no one can swim twice, and from Parmenides who emphasized the idea of one changeless Being, and considered that change is an illusion of the senses as we have seen in section 4 above. These ideas of becoming and being, led Plato to formulate his theory that there is a world of perfect, eternal and changeless forms; the realm of Being, and an imperfect sensible world of becoming that partakes the qualities of forms and their instantiation in the sensible world.

Plato’s denial of the reality of the material world is often coined as “Platonism” which means that the material world is only a shadow of the real world, as neatly demonstrated by the Allegory of the Cave, while the term “Neoplatonism” is applied to Plotinus (204-270 AD) and his followers whose philosophy is based on the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul, that led to the cosmology or cosmogony of “Emanationism”; that all things in the cosmos are derived from the “first principle”, as opposed to both creationism (ex nihilo) and materialism (that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions).

The “first principle” for Plotinus means a supreme transcendent “One”, containing no division or multiplicity; beyond all categories of being and non-being. He identified this “One” with the concept of “Good” and the principle of “Beauty”. Through these concepts, Emanation can be considered as an alternative to the orthodox Christian notion of creation ex nihilo. The first emanation from the One is Nous, or: Divine Mind, Logos, Order, Thought, Reason, or the first Will toward Good. From Nous then proceeds the World Soul, which Plotinus subdivides into upper and lower, identifying its lower aspect with Nature. From the World Soul proceeds individual human souls, down to matter, at the lowest level of being and the least perfected level of the cosmos, as he explained in The Enneads. It will be noted in section 7 that these concepts are deeply characterized in later Islamic Cosmology and particularly that of Avicenna and Ibn al-Arabi.

Henosis is therefore a word to that means mystical “union” with the fundamental reality of the One, or the Source, or Monad. According to Plotinus, one can reach a state of tabula rasa, a blank state where the individual may grasp or merge with the One. This absolute simplicity means that the individual nous, or the person, is then dissolved and completely absorbed back into the Monad. Henosis for Plotinus was defined in his works as a reversing of the ontological process of consciousness via meditation toward no thought and no division within the individual being.

As Bertrand Russell noted, Plotinus’ philosophy had a great influence on the development of Christian theology: ”To the Christian, the Other World was the Kingdom of Heaven, to be enjoyed after death; to the Platonist, it was the eternal world of ideas, the real world as opposed to that of illusory appearance. Christian theologians combined these points of view, and embodied much of the philosophy of Plotinus. ... Plotinus, accordingly, is historically important as an influence in moulding the Christianity of the Middle Ages and of theology.” Russell (1945)

Neoplatonism also influenced many medieval Muslim scholars, from the 9th century, beginnings with Al-Kindi (Alkindus, 801-873 AD), to the 10th and 11th centuries with Al-Farabi (Alpharabius, 872-951 AD) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980-1037 AD). On the other hand, both al-Ghazali (Algazelus, 1058-1111 AD) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 1126-1198 AD) vigorously opposed the Neoplatonic views.



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The science of Time is a noble science, that reveals the secret of Eternity. Only the Elites of Sages may ever come to know this secret. It is called the First Age, or the Age of ages, from which time is emerging.
Ibn al-Arabi [The Meccan Revelations: Volume I, page 156. - Trns. Mohamed Haj Yousef]
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