Hellenism

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					              Hellenism

Syncretism . Cynicism. Stoicism. Epicureanism.
          Neo-Platonism. Mysticism.
The Hellenistic World
 Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia made the known
    world Hellenistic.
   Greek-like: dominance of Greek language and culture.
   Macedonia, Syria and Egypt (Hellenistic kingdoms).
   From the Aegean Sea in Greece all the way down to India.
   Around the year 50 B.C., the Hellenistic world fell to the
    Romans.
   Romans imposed culture/Latin from Spain to far inside Asia.
   Ironically, Rome had been a province of Greek culture.
Syncretism 1
 With borders erased, religion, philosophy and science
    mingled into one.
   Each culture practiced their own “national religion.”
   This syncretism possible due to emerged doubts:
    philosophies
   Cultures under Hellenistic influence mixed both ways.
    Example: oriental gods worshipped in all Mediterranean
    territories.
   This religious practice is called syncretism.
Syncretism 2
 Religion: the teaching of immortality and eternal life.
 Philosophical Project: salvation and serenity: deliver man
  from fear of death and pessimism.
 Both religion and philosophy tried to address the same issues:
  the dividing wall fell
 Science: Alexandria in Egypt, center for science. Athens,
  center of philosophy.
 Hellenistic philosophical schools continued the tradition of
  Socrates, Plato and Aristotle: happiness.
Cynicism
 Historical context
 The Alexandrian Empire collapsed.
 Greeks experienced the fall of their Greek-cities-state: wars
    between Spartans, Corinthians and Athenians.
   Greeks looked for salvation and Cynics provided consolation.
   Cynicism, philosophy of consolation.
   Government, private property, marriage, religion, slavery
    and pleasures were worthless.
   Simple life, a life of asceticism.
        The Cynics
 Antisthenes, Socrates’ pupil. Founded the Cynics School around 400 B.C.
 Concentrated on happiness : no money, power or health. Oneself. Lasts for
    good.
   Diogenes: move from my sight. Happy . Lived in a large tub and rejected any
    refinement.
   From “kunos” or doglike.
   Cynics, insensitive to health, death and suffering: the word was evil: withdraw
    from it.
   Happiness = possessions will experience betrayal. Find salvation within
    yourself: virtuous.
   Problems: 1) Antisocial: emphasis on individual virtue, undermining social
    standards.
   2) Borrowed money and food : no pay back arguing “indifference.”
   3) Precedes asceticism, the practice of rejecting worldly possessions and living a
    confined life.
   Current application of cynicism comes: disbelief in human sincerity and
    insensitivity to human suffering.
Stoicism
 Zeno, a Cypriot, Athens: shipwreck. Under a portico (stoa),
    began Stoicism: 400 B. C.
   The Stoics
   Man: microcosms related to a macrocosms: subjected to natural
    law.
   Natural law unbreakable: illness or death
   Man to accept destiny with “stoic calm”
   Nothing is accidental. Natural law responded to universal reason
    independent from time and space.
   No difference between the individual and the universe: no conflict
    between spirit/matter
   There is only one nature: monism-Plato´s dualism.
Stoics
 Open-minded to contemporary culture: “cosmopolitan.”
 Cared for human fellowship and politics.
 In Rome, promoted Greek culture and philosophy.
 Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.).
 Cicero (106-43 B.C.), the famous orator, statesmen and
  philosopher.
 Humanism: man at the center of life.
 Seneca: “to mankind, mankind is holy.”
Epicureanism
 Historical context
 Socrates’ pupil, Aristippus: the highest good, pleasure. The
    greatest evil, pain.”
   Contrasted with Cynics and Stoics: enduring pain of all kinds.
    Epicurus (341-270) arose.
   Epicureans
   Founded Epicurean School of Philosophy around 300 B.C.
   Any action leading to pleasure has side effects.
   Chocolate brings pleasure-makes you sick.
   Look for an “intense pleasure in the long term.” Save it and buy a
    bike.
   No sensual pleasure exclusively: friendship, appreciation for art:
    lasting pleasure.
Epicureanism
 “The Garden Philosophers.” People feared death and gods.
 Epicurus: “as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it
    does come, we no longer exist.”
   Four medicinal herbs:
   The gods are not to be feared. 2. Death is nothing to worry
    about it. 3. Good is easy to attain. 4. The fearful is easy to
    endure.
   “Philosophical medicine chest,” and life in seclusion.
   Today’s interpretation of epicurean: one who lives for
    pleasure.
Neo-Platonism
 Historical context
 Cynics, Stoics and Epicureans: roots to Socrates
 Shaped into the third century: Plotinus (205-270 AD.)
 Studied in Alexandria: center of Greek Philosophy and
  Oriental mysticism.
 Plotinus brought “salvation” to Rome.

Neo-Platonism
 Neo-Platonism
 World, a span between two poles.
 One pole: the light or God.
 The other pole: absolute darkness, far away from the Light.
 Darkness did not exist: just the absence of light.
 The soul is illuminated by the light from the One.
 Matter is the darkness that has no real existence.
 Natural forms get some light from the One.
 Calls God, the One: everything. Sense of wholeness vs. Plato’s
  dual world.
 Sometimes, Plotinus experiences a mystical experience: a fusion
  of his soul with God.
Mysticism

 Three Western religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam converged at
    “the mystical experience.”
   They assure that this “mystical experience” is with a personal God.
   Mysticism
   God: “the cosmic spirit,” or Nature or the Universe.
   A mystic is one who can have a “mystical experience” by being, “one with
    God.”
   Our “I” which is not the true I, can get lost into the real I which is God.
   This merging into God is the “mystical experience.”
   For Western religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, God is
    omnipresent: soul, nature and above and beyond.
   For Eastern religions : Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese religion, the
    fusion is total.

Mystics
 An oriental mystic can claim, “I am the cosmic Spirit.”
 Indian mystic: “When I was, God was not. When God is, I am no
    more.”
   Seventeen century Christian mystic, Angelius Silesius: “Every drop
    becomes the sea when it flows oceanward, just as at last the soul
    ascends and thus becomes the Lord.”
   To experience God, mystics need “purification and enlightenment.”
   One who is able to be one with God, may claim, “I am God, or I
    am you.”
   Vivekananda, an Indian who brought Hinduism to the West,
    atheism is not believing in oneself.
   Radhakrishnan, a former Indian president said, “It is an illusion to
    think that your neighbor is someone other than yourself.”
   Current people, the mystical experience, “a cosmic consciousness
    or oceanic feeling” disconnect from Time and experience the
    world, “from the perspective of eternity.”
