The Unsayable in Platonism

with Professor Gregory Shaw

Tuesday 22nd February 2022 – 8:00pm – 9:30pm (UK Time) via Zoom

THIS SESSION IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF THREE, EXPLORING THE IMPOSSIBLE, THE UNSAYABLE AND THE MAGICAL. These talks explore how we can speak about experiences which seem to defy the rules of our everyday lives, and which certainly challenge our capacity to find adequate language in which to convey their truth. Three experts in their fields of paranormal research, Platonism and astrology will consider the ‘impossible’ questions of UFOs, the ineffable, unspoken heart of Platonic thinking, and how Jung’s concept of synchronicity underlies both astrology and magic. 

About the session: It is widely recognized that the foundations of Western culture lie in Greek philosophy, specifically in the intellectual achievement of Platonism. What is less known, however, is that the leading teachers of the later Platonic schools did not embrace the metaphysics that are now identified with “Platonism.” At the heart of their philosophy was a radical scepticism about what can be known and the recognition that the Platonic tradition is rooted in an awareness that defies rational expression. This non-representable and indescribable awareness was nevertheless believed to be the source of all discourse and available to anyone who learned how to receive it. This reception requires that we come to terms with our inability to grasp the unknowable and recognize that rationality itself is rooted in the unknown.

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Professor Gregory Shaw is professor of religious studies at Stonehill College, located in Easton, Massachusetts, USA. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Shaw graduated from Arizona State University in 1977 as Outstanding Senior in the Fine Arts College. He earned an M.A .(1980) and Ph.D. (1987) in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Joining Stonehill in 1987, he has enjoyed working in the Religious Studies Department and with the entire Stonehill community.

Research interests include Religions of Late Antiquity, especially Neoplatonism; history of divination with an emphasis on dreams; contemporary religious movements that draw from Hermetic and Platonic sources; Jungian psychology; UFO phenomena.

He has published several articles on Neoplatonism and religions in Late Antiquity and a book, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus (Penn State Press, 1995). He has also co-edited a book, Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature. Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson (Brill, 2013). 

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