Plotinus’ Legacy

The Transformation of Platonism

from the Renaissance to the Modern Era

Stephen Gersh (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019, 304 p.


The extensive influence of Plotinus, the third-century founder of “Neoplatonism,” on intellectual thought from the Renaissance to the modern era has never been systematically explored. This collection of new essays fills the gap in the scholarship, thereby casting a spotlight on a current of intellectual history that is inherently significant. The essays take the form of a series of case-studies on major figures in the history of Neoplatonism, ranging from Marsilio Ficino to Henri-Louis Bergson and moving through Italian, French, English, and German philosophical traditions. They bring clarity to the terms “Platonism” and “Neoplatonism,” which are frequently invoked by historians but often only partially understood, and provide fresh perspectives on well-known issues including the rise of “mechanical philosophy” in the sixteenth century and the relation between philosophy and Romanticism in the nineteenth century. The volume will be important for readers interested in the history of thought in the early-modern and modern ages.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of Contents

Introduction Stephen Gersh

Part I. The Italian Renaissance
1. Marsilio Ficino as Commentator on Plotinus: Some Case Studies – Stephen Gersh
2. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on Virtue, Happiness and Magic – Brian Copenhaver

Part II. Sixteenth-Century France
3. Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples and Charles de Bovelles on Platonism, Theurgy, and Intellectual Difficulty – Richard J. Oosterhoff
4. Symphorien Champier on Medicine, Theology and Politics – Guido Giglioni

Part III. The “Cambridge Platonists”
5. Henry More and Descartes – David Leech
6. Ralph Cudworth as Interpreter of Plotinus – Douglas Hedley
7. John Smith on the Immortality of the Soul – Derek A. Michaud

Part IV. German Romanticism
8. Schelling and Plotinus – Thomas Leinkauf
9. Hegel’s Programmatic Recourse to the Ancient Philosophy of Intellect – Jens Halfwassen

Part V. The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
10. Henri-Louis Bergson and Plotinus – Wayne J. Hankey
11. Plotinus and Modern Scholarship: From Ficino to the Twenty-First Century – Kevin Corrigan.


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