This from Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The Church Fathers congregated in Rome, but Gnosticism had its center
in Alexandria, a marketplace of competing religious and philosophical ideas.
There in the third century a man named Plotinus gave birth to
Neo-platonism, an amalgam of the best of Greek thought with the ethical
teachings of Christ.
Extremely eclectic, drawing on currents of thought from Rome to India,
Plotinus's teachings became the religion of some of the later Roman Emperors.
During the fourth century the religion of Neo-platonism disappeared as a
rival of the Church. However it deeply influenced the shape of Christian
thought, most notably through the mind of St. Augustine. Augustine in his
spiritual journey passed through a Neo-platonic stage, which left its mark upon
his Christian life and writing. Augustine occupies an anomalous position in the history
of the Church: he is both a Church Father of impeccable reputation and the spiritual
forebear of many theologians whose Neo-platonic bent put them on the fringe of orthodoxy:
Erigena, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Meister Eckhart are a few of
these Neo-platonic Christians. Some of those thinkers succeeded in remaining
within the umbrella of the authorized tradition; some were partially or totally
cast out. Among them they preserved to theology a breadth and a poetic
dimension that burst open the priestly cocoon with the 15th Century
Renaissance and the 16th Century Reformation.
Thomas Taylor, the Grecian
According to the letter that Blake wrote to John Flaxman, Milton, Shakespeare, Boehme and Paracelsus were among his teachers, but there were others:
Unlike the ones above Thomas Taylor was Blake's own age. About 1784 Taylor gave 12 lectures at Flaxman's home on Neoplatonism. Blake undoubtedly attended (at least some of) these lectures.
Blake hitherto had frowned on Plato, but he was impressed by Taylor's lectures. He found a new world in Plotinus and the others; they exercised a marked influence on his poetry and pictures.
On page six of Milton Percival's Circle of Destiny he quoted this passage from Plotinus:
"No: our reasoning is our own. We ourselves think the thoughts that occupy the understanding--for this is actually the We--but the operation of the Intellectual Principle enters from above" (sounds remarkably like WB).
The same year (1784) Blake wrote his satiric parody: An Island in the Moon: he referred to Taylor as Obtuse Angle and to himself as Quid:
" Obtuse Angle came in Oh I am glad you are come said quid......
Obtuse Angle giving a grin said Voltaire understood nothing of the
Mathematics and a man must be a fool ifaith[?] not to understand the
"But Ob[t]use Angle, entering the room having made a
gentle bow, proceeded to empty his pockets of a vast number of papers, turned about & sat down wiped his [head] with his pocket handkerchief & shutting his eyes began to scratch his head--well gentlemen said he what is the cause of strife the Cynic answerd. they are only quarreling about: Voltaire--Yes said the Epicurean & having a bit of fun with him. And said the Pythagorean endeavoring to incorporate their souls with their bodies"Read it!
And this at the post called Blind Enion:
Raine (Blake and Tradition) :
Enion, the emanation of Tharmas becomes matter without association with spirit. Raine calls Enion the "first matter out of which all things are generated .........................."
Raine finds the antecedents for Enion in Platonic metaphysics. She quotes Plotinus: "matter is neither soul nor intellect, nor life, nor form, nor reason nor bound, but a certain indefiniteness ... of itself invisible, and avoiding the desire of him who wishes to perceive its nature." In a reversal of the way we may have been trained to perceive, spirit is substantial and matter has no substance. Enion in her fallen state neither sees nor is seen; she resides close to non entity which she fears.
More information about Neo-platonism may be found here
".....certain strands of Neoplatonism influenced Christian thinkers (such as Augustine, Boethius, John Scotus Eriugena, and Bonaventure),.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
In the seventeenth century in England, Neoplatonism was fundamental to the school of the Cambridge Platonists, whose luminaries included Henry More, Ralph Cudworth, Benjamin Whichcote and John Smith, all graduates of Cambridge University. Coleridge claimed that they were not really Platonists, but "more truly Plotinists": "divine Plotinus", as More called him."