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Iamblichus, Ficino and Schleiermacher on the Sources of Religious Knowledge

In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters
Author: James Hankins1
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  • 1 History Department, Harvard University, Robinson Hall, Room M-01, 35 Quincy Street, Cambridge, ma 02138, USA, jhankins@fas.harvard.edu
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In one of the Platonic schools of late antiquity Iamblichus developed a philosophical defence of religious experience, describing it as a precognitive awareness of humanity’s existential dependence on a divine principle of unity. The argument was directed against the high rationalism of Porphyry. Marsilio Ficino, the first student of Iamblichus in the Latin West since antiquity, made the argument a foundational one in his own philosophy, implicitly responding to sceptical themes in Renaissance scholasticism. The argument was revived a third time by Friedrich Schleiermacher in response to the scientific materialists of the Enlightenment and as a development of Rousseau’s religious thought.

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