“Now, for one who knows Professor Draper, even by reputation, the latter supposition is simply absurd. Therefore, we must think, with deep regret, that his desire was to misrepresent their religious aspirations. It is decidedly an awkward thing for modern philosophers, whose sole aim seems to be the elimination of the ideas of God and the immortal spirit from the mind of humanity, to have to treat with historical impartiality the most celebrated on the Pagan Platonists.
To have to admit, on the one hand, their profound learning, their genius, their achievements in the most abstruse philosophical questions, and therefore their sagacity; and, on the other, their unreserved adhesion to the doctrine of immortality, of the final triumph of spirit over matter, and their implicit faith in God and the gods, or spirits; in the return of the dead, apparitions, and other “spiritual” matters, is a dilemma from which academical human nature could not reasonably be expected to extricate itself so easily.
The plan resorted to by Lempriere, in such an emergency as the above, is coarser than Professor Draper’s, but equally effective. He charges the ancient philosophers with deliberate falsehood, trickery, and credulity.
After painting to his readers Pythagoras, Plotinus, and Porphyry as marvels of learning, morality, and accomplishments; as men eminent for personal dignity, purity of lives, and self-abnegation in the pursuit of divine truths, he does not hesitate to rank “this celebrated philosopher” (Pythagoras) among imposters; while to Porphyry he attributes “credulity, lack of judgment, and dishonesty.”
Forced by the facts of history to give them their just do in the course of the narrative, he displays his bigoted prejudice in the parenthetical comments which he allows himself. From this antiquated writer of the last century we learn that a man may be honest, and at the same time an imposter; pure virtuous, and a great philosopher, and yet dishonest, a liar, and a fool!”
H. P. Blavatsky