Mr. Kasra Abdavi Azar's Presentation at the Conference
30 January 2024
Mr. Kasra Abdavi Azar's Presentation at the Conference

For those interested, the abstracts of the English sessions of the conference are uploaded:

*Presentation Title: Plato and Moses, Pythagoras and Zoroaster: All Members of One Family? Platonists on Holy Men

*Presenter: Kasra Abdavi Azar (PhD Candidate in Philosophy, De Wulf - Mansion Center for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)


Numenius, a central Platonist philosopher from the second century AD, famously asked: “What is Plato but Moses speaking Attic Greek?”, echoing a wide-spread motif that shaped the perception of great sages throughout antiquity and beyond. According to him and his fellow Platonists, a single overarching tradition of wisdom prevails. In this, philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato join the ranks of ancient prophets such as Moses and Zoroaster, establishing a fundamental kinship, harmony, and common tradition that connects philosophical thought and prophetic revelation. Notwithstanding the diversity and multitude of philosophical systems and religions, the Platonists maintained that truth must be singular, implying that all truly wise men must concur with the same truth—which, in turn, renders Plato and Moses as well as Pythagoras and Zoroaster brothers within one larger family. In this talk, I will briefly outline the cornerstones and challenges of such an outlook with recourse to the works of several ancient Platonists, including Plutarch, Numenius, Iamblichus, and Damascius. Their basic tenets are then juxtaposed with the conception of holy men and sages within Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thought, primarily focusing on the Church Fathers and Suhrawardī. It will be argued that ancient philosophers effectively countered various objections to their harmonist approach, developing numerous arguments in favour of their position. Moreover, it will be shown that Abrahamic thinkers often mirrored these themes, albeit to varying extents: some agreed fully, others advocated for a dependency of the Greek philosophers on the Abrahamic prophets.