Great Thinkers

W. R. Inge

Times have changed since Pfleiderer, in 1883, after summing up Neoplatonism in three contemptuous sentences, concludes, “In this convulsed state, entirely destitute of contents, consciousness has disappeared, and with it the very possibility of the religious relation, in favour of an orgiastic tumult of feeling.” Had Pfleiderer ever read a word of Plotinus or Proclus? If not, he had many to keep him company among the philosophers of his generation, though to be sure, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Hartmann realized the importance of the latest era in Greek philosophy. Jowett, in his introductions to Plato, never shows the slightest interest in what Platonism became under the Roman Empire. Edward Caird had certainly read Plotinus; but his lectures upon him in his Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, though highly praised at the time, are even more misleading than the ignorant neglect of writers like Pfleiderer.