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The Neoplatonic Doctrine As defined by Funk and Wagnals Neoplatonism is a type of idealistic monism in which the ultimate reality of the universe is held to be an infinite unknowable perfect One From this one emanates nous pure intelligence whence in turn is derived the world soul the creative activity of which engenders the lesser souls of human beings The world soul is conceived as an image of the nous even as the nous is an image of the One both the nous and the world soul despite their differentiation are thus consubstantial with the One The world soul however because it is intermediate between the nous and the material world has the option either of preserving its integrity and imaged perfection or of becoming altogether sensual and corrupt The same choice is open to each of the lesser souls When through ignorance of its true nature and identity the human soul experiences a false sense of separateness and independence it becomes arrogantly self-assertive and falls into sensual and depraved habits Salvation for such a soul is still possible the Neoplatonist maintains by virtue of the very freedom of will that enabled it to choose its sinful course The soul must reverse that course tracing in the opposite direction the successive steps of its degeneration until it is again united with the fountainhead of its being The actual reunion is accomplished through a mystical experience in which the soul knows an all-pervading ecstasy Doctrinally Neoplatonism is characterized by a categorical opposition between the spiritual and the carnal elaborated from Platos dualism of Idea and Matter by the metaphysical hypothesis of mediating agencies the nous and the world soul which transmit the divine power from the One to the many by an aversion to the world of sense and by the necessity of liberation from a life of sense through a rigorous ascetic discipline Funk and Wagnalls History of
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