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Philosophy and Religion in Plato's Dialogues

Book cover of Philosophy and Religion
Cambridge University Press
March 2021

In ancient Greece, philosophers developed new and dazzling ideas about divinity, drawing on the deep well of poetry, myth, and religious practices even as they set out to construct new theological ideas. Andrea Nightingale argues that Plato shared in this culture and appropriates specific Greek religious discourses and practices to present his metaphysical philosophy. In particular, he uses the Greek conception of divine epiphany - a god appearing to humans - to claim that the Forms manifest their divinity epiphanically to the philosopher, with the result that the human soul becomes divine by contemplating these Forms and the cosmos. Nightingale also offers a detailed discussion of the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Orphic Mysteries and shows how these mystery religions influenced Plato's thinking. This book offers a robust challenge to the idea that Plato is a secular thinker.