In this paper we explore some of the key themes in the thought of Werner Beierwaltes. He established a reputation as a scholar of Neoplatonism during a period of great renewal of Neoplatonic studies in the last century, and that esteem was justly deserved. Yet his work was motivated by the faith in Platonism as a living tradition and a resolute conviction that metaphysics is an ineluctable part of the philosophical vocation; and indeed he was irritated by jejune or simplistic critiques of metaphysics. Plotinus was at the centre of his scholarship, which explored the great themes of Neoplatonism through medieval, Renaissance and Idealistic philosophy into the contemporary context. Theology, aesthetics and the question of selfhood or subjectivity were recurrent topics in his writing. The discussion of these problems was fueled by a keen sense of the abiding significance of the Platonic tradition for the most puzzling and urgent intellectual questions.
This essay examines Henry More’s engagement with Jacob Böhme and compares the sympathetic critique of Böhme with More’s much more negative evaluation of Spinoza. More directs his criticism of Böhme at the similarities between Spinoza and Böhme: their materialism and confusion of God and world. The present essay suggests, however, that the perception of shared Platonism informs More’s more favourable approach to the Silesian. The problem of what “Platonism” means in this context is thus also addressed. Böhme’s writings were valued by More because of a shared metaphysics that rejected both radical dualism and pantheism, and the Platonic theology of the goodness of God and the freedom of man, together with the rejection of predestination. Spinoza, on the other hand, is rejected because of his radical determinism, his denial of any substantial distinction between good and evil, and the transcendent being of the divine.