“Porphyry was one of Plotinus’s pupils. In this treatise, Porphyry argues for vegetarianism and, more generally, that we should not kill animals apart from in self-defence. There were earlier traditions of vegetarianism in Greek philosophy, but Porphyry gives us insight into a range of arguments for and against meat eating. The treatise is written as a letter to a friend, Castricius, a fellow Platonist who had reverted to eating meat. So this treatise is addressed to somebody who shares a lot of Porphyry’s presuppositions, trying to explain why he should be a vegetarian. One argument is that it’s not good for you to eat meat—and spiritually not good for you, not just bad for your physical health. The Neoplatonists thought, quite generally, that indulging in luxury is not good for you. You should be attempting to detach yourself from bodily things, as far as is possible. By indulging your appetites you tie yourself more firmly to your body. So one argument against meat eating is that it undermines your attempt to assimilate yourself to the divine.” Read more...
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