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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Iamblichus

(c. 274?-c.337 CE). Founder of a school of NEOPLATONISM in Syria. He was born at Chalcis in Coel-Syria. After spending some time with Porphyry he established his own school.

Of Iamblichus’ works little of significance have survived and it has been necessary to infer the content of his teachings from comments by PROCLUS and a few fragments of his writings that remain.

Helena P. BLAVATSKY claims that Iamblichus was an Initiate and she ranks him equal with Plato and Pythagoras (CW XIII:154). In her SD Blavatsky frequently quotes from Iamblichus in support of certain aspects of the teachings contained in that work.

Iamblichus was the first to steer the Neoplatonic philosophy away from its existing emphasis on the mystical and spiritual as expounded by Plotinus. The Plotinus view of the spiritual world was comparatively simple in its structure and Iamblichus, building on the basic structure, erected a complex hierarchical one. He introduced many orders of spiritual beings who mirrored each other at different levels. Iamblichus was probably the first philosopher to conceive of a remote, ineffable “one,” beyond all definition or qualification; thus he was in accord with theosophy and the teaching of the VEDAS.

He died at some time during the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great (274-337).

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