A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin
The Origin of the Division between Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism
The division of Ancient Platonism into Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism is a fairly new one. The conceptual foundation of this division was cemented in Jacob Brucker’s pioneering Historia critica philosophiae (1742-67). In the 1770s and 1780s, the term ‘Neoplatonism’ was coined on the basis of Brucker’s analysis. Three historiographical concepts were decisive to Brucker: ‘system of philosophy’, ‘eclecticism’ and ‘syncretism’. By means of these concepts, he characterized Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism as opposing philosophical movements, the former being a genuine form of Platonism, the latter a false form. However, the division is untenable and we ought to abandon it.