Core Statement:

The unit can be regarded either as the limit of its relations to all other units, or as the point of origination of the unique agency or causality associated with it.

Project Statement (After Aristotle, Metaphysics 987b18 & sq.):

The One and the Dyad are the causes of forms, that is, the unit in relation is the cause of form. Thus when we compare units, we discern properties in them that are the same, and from this become aware of forms.

Forms and the Dyad are the causes of sensibles, that is, forms in relation are the causes of sensibles, which are bundles of form-instances.

Intermediate between the forms and the sensibles are the mathematicals, that is, intermediate between philosophy, which concerns units in relation, and the study of phenomena, which concerns forms in relation, comes mathematics, which concerns abstract, indifferent units.

Theory of Multiplicities (Manifolds)

There are two primary structures of multiplicity, polycentric and monocentric. The polycentric multiplicity cannot be generated out of the monocentric multiplicity, and so the polycentric multiplicity should be regarded as prior and the monocentric multiplicity as emergent.

In the polycentric multiplicity, all units are in each unit; this is what makes each unit in a polycentric multiplicity the center for itself and the periphery for another. In the monocentric multiplicity, all units are in one unit, and all units are in this respect “for another” in the monocentric multiplicity.

There are many ways of constituting a monocentric multiplicity, whereas there is only one way of constituting the polycentric multiplicity in the strict sense. In the strict sense, the polycentric multiplicity is the set of existing unique individuals. For this reason, it may also be referred to as the “existential” multiplicity, and monocentric multiplicities as “ontic” or “formal” multiplicities.

The Status of Being

Being is the result of henadic activity; or the system of relations among henads; or the idea of a power belonging to a henad—these expressions are essentially equivalent.

The Modes of Unity

The personal (animal) mode of unity is the most comprehensive, and thus has primacy in the generative hierarchy in this respect, but such a unit may in its activity project itself into a subordinate mode, resulting in different hierarchical dispositions of units and/or principles.


Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion (New York, NY: Phaidra Editions, 2012). Reprints “The Theological Interpretation of Myth,” “Offering to the Gods: A Neoplatonic Perspective,” “Polycentric Polytheism and the Philosophy of Religion,” and two previously unpublished essays.

Essays on the Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus (New York, NY: Phaidra Editions, 2014). Reprints my articles from Dionysius 23 and 26 and from Méthexis 21, 23, and 25, as well as “The Henadic Structure of Providence in Proclus” and the text I wrote for the ceremony commemorating the 1,600th anniversary of Proclus’ birth. Available in paperback from Lulu and as a free PDF.

Essays on Plato (New York, NY: Phaidra Editions, 2018). Includes “Polytheism and Metaphysics (I): Divine Relation,” “Plato’s Gods and the Way of Ideas,” “Animal and Paradigm in Plato,” “Esoteric City: Theological Hermeneutics in Plato’s Republic,” “Polytheism and the Euthyphro,” the previously unpublished “Toward a New Conception of Platonic Henology” and “On the Gods and the Good”.

Polytheism and Indology: Lessons from The Nay Science (Hyderabad: INDICA, 2022). Also available for the Kobo, from Google Play Books, and from Apple Books.


“Polytheism and Individuality in the Henadic Manifold,” Dionysius Vol. 23, 2005, pp. 83-104.

“The Theological Interpretation of Myth,” The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2005, pp. 27-41. Republished in Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion.

“Offering to the Gods: A Neoplatonic Perspective,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2007, pp. 1-20. Republished in Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion.

“The Gods and Being in Proclus,” Dionysius Vol. 26, 2008, pp. 93-114.

“Polycentric Polytheism and the Philosophy of Religion,” The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2008, pp. 207-229. Republished in Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion.

“The Intelligible Gods in the Platonic Theology of Proclus,” Méthexis: International Journal for Ancient Philosophy Vol. 21, 2008, pp. 131-143.

“The Second Intelligible Triad and the Intelligible-Intellective Gods,” Méthexis Vol. 23, 2010, pp. 137-157.

“The Third Intelligible Triad and the Intellective Gods,” Méthexis Vol. 25, 2012, pp. 131-150.

“Plato’s Gods and the Way of Ideas,” Diotima: Review of Philosophical Research 39, 2011 (Hellenic Society for Philosophical Studies, Athens), pp. 73-87.

“Hercules of the Surface: Deleuzian Humanism and Deep Ecology,” in An (Un)Likely Alliance: Thinking Environment(s) with Deleuze/Guattari, ed. Bernd Herzogenrath (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), pp. 139-158.

Opening the Way of Writing: Semiotic Metaphysics in the Book of Thoth,” pp. 215-247 in Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature. Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson, ed. April D. DeConick, Gregory Shaw, and John D. Turner. (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

“The Henadic Origin of Procession in Damascius,” Dionysius Vol. 31, 2013, pp. 79-100.

“Animal and Paradigm in Plato,” Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy Vol. 18, No. 2, 2014, pp. 311-323.

“Esoteric City: Theological Hermeneutics in Plato’s Republic,” Abraxas: International Journal of Esoteric Studies No. 5, 2014, pp. 95-104. Illustrated version with photographs by SF Said, available from Fulgur Esoterica.

“Time and the Heroes,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2014, pp. 23-44. (PDF)

“Transformation and Individuation in Giordano Bruno’s Monadology,” Socrates Vol. 3, No. 2, June 2015, pp. 57-70. (PDF)

“Universality and Locality in Platonic Polytheism,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 2015, pp. 106-118. (PDF)

“Toward a Magical Enlightenment: Notes on Bruno’s Magic,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 2015, pp. 96-109.

“Polytheism and the Euthyphro,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 2, No. 2, Summer 2016, pp. 20-34. (PDF)

Polycentric Polytheism,” pp. 37-40 in Witches & Pagans 32 (June 2016).

“Written in a soul: Notes toward a new (old) philology,” pp. 1-4 in “Reviews of The Nay Science,” Butler, E.P., Lenz, J.R., Vargas, A.L.C. et al., Int. J. Dharma Studies (2016) 4:10. doi:10.1186/s40613-016-0033-9 (Also available as PDF.)

“Plotinian Henadology,” Kronos Philosophical Journal Vol. V, 2016, pp. 143-159. Available as part of the whole issue from the journal site or as an individual PDF.

“The Gods and Brahman,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter 2017, pp. 18-36.

“Perceiving Aphrodite: Empedoclean Metaphysics,” Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 2018, pp. 40-53.

“Bhakti and Henadology,” Journal of Dharma Studies Vol. 1, No. 1, 2018, pp. 147-161.

“Two Models of Polytheism,” pp. 63-80 in Ascendant: Modern Essays on Polytheism and Theology, ed. Michael Hardy (Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2019).

“Damascian Negativity,” Dionysius Vol. 37, 2019, pp. 114-133.

“Polytheism as Methodology in the Study of Religions,” Oscillations: Non-Standard Experiments in Anthropology, the Social Sciences, and Cosmology, August 2021.

“On Amazonian Polytheisms,” Oscillations: Non-Standard Experiments in Anthropology, the Social Sciences, and Cosmology, June 2022.


“The Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus,” New School for Social Research, New York City, 2003. (106 MB PDF)

Bound hardcover and softcover copies of my dissertation are also available from ProQuest.

“The Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus,” MS Word file [NOTE: Pagination does not correspond to the PDF, which is the version of record. This version is provided for those who cannot download the PDF successfully due to its size.]


“The Henadic Structure of Providence in Proclus,” Department of Classics, Dalhousie University, 3/11/10.

“On the Gods and the Good,” Polytheist Leadership Conference, Fishkill, New York, 7/12/14.

“Gods and Daimons in the Platonic Economy of Sacrifice,” 32nd SAGP/SSIPS Conference, New York City, 10/25/14.

“Ineffability and Unity in Damascius,” American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 12/28/14.

“Ineffability and Totality in Damascius,” 33rd SAGP/SSIPS Conference, New York City, 10/24/15.

“Polytheism as Methodology in the Study of Religions,” 34th SAGP/SSIPS Conference, New York City, 10/30/16.

“Bhakti and Henadology,” 15th DANAM Conference, AAR Annual Meeting, Boston, 11/18/17.

“Polytheism and Ecology,” Indic Academy International Online Conference on Indigenous Environmentalism for Scholars and Saviours, 5/17/20, published in Indic Today, 5/27/20.

“Techniques for Interpreting Mythology from the Pagan Platonists,” Centre for Indic Studies, 7/15/21. Video

“The Polemic Against Polytheism,” guest lecture at “Race and Hindu Reform”, a course at the Hindu University of America, instructor Joydeep Bagchee, 8/15/2021, revised version published in Indic Today, 9/1/2021.


17 Responses to “Philosophy”

  1. t3dy said

    thanks for making this all available and saving me a trip to the library.

  2. Zeno said


    I just finished reading your ‘Polytheism and Individuality in the Henadic Manifold’, which I found very insightful. Your stressing that the One neither is, nor is one,and that there is no such thing as the One Itself, if we mean something different than the henads, recalled to my mind an essay by Henry Corbin in which he underlines that the Proclean One is not to be conceived as an ens, not even as an ens supremum, but rather as the unitive agent. However, I couldn’t find Corbin mentioned in any of your bibliographies (admittedly, Corbin is not an authority on Proclus, and his references to the latter are rather incidental), so I thought you might like to read his essay (in English translation), which I think you will appreciate not simply for its insights on Proclus:

    Thank you for your dedicated work and for making it available.

    • henadology said


      Thank you for the link to that very interesting essay, with which I was not previously familiar, though I have long been familiar with Corbin’s work on the Ishraqiyya.

  3. nathias said

    Regarding Hercules of the Surface;

    The simulacra of surface destroy the former thought of hight and depth, but they can also produce new ones.
    I don’t know if I understood it well, as I’m working on a whole different set of deleuzian problems (from kant and in relation to speculative realism) and have never actually read Deleuze’s Spinosism, but here it goes…

    The concept of intrinsic value seems to be dependant on the difference between being and essence, a properly ontlogical difference, which Deleuze inscribes in things themselves. If beings do not decompose others qua beings but only as essences, the selection of essences is without measure, as the only measure that would be proper to already individuated beings is that of a determinate essence, so then from a perspective of one modus, only the relations it is implicated count, and the particular provides the measure with its own power, a particular measure that expresses only the relations good to it. Does this not render any notion of value useless on this level, and can be aplied only as abstract as the already reflexive notion of value of value, that can become operative in ethics but can again only be made by subects (not even as humans but pure subjects of thought). If this is so, then I can’t see how intrinsic value would be any different from denying value altogether (including ourselves as animals), except for thought. I think that would even be better, because intrinsic value although it does not mean the same as sanctity of life, can be easily read as implying it…

  4. Mary Ahmed said

    The book on Hecate is amazing and inspirational and recently I have found myself researching this Godess, so you can imagine how delighted I was knowing I have Henadology to refer to as real deep and meaningful stuff. …………..I have called on you before seeking info on Hathor,and could I be so bold as to ask you’r advice again…..This time I’m trying to find Dion Fortunes ”CHANT OF THE ELEMENTS” recieved on Glastenbury Tor, it goes like this….the wind and the fire work on the hill(repeat3)Evoke ye the wind and the fire
    Thanking you so much……… and light..Mary Ahmed

    • henadology said


      I’m pleased that you enjoyed my essay on Hekate in the Chaldaean Oracles.

      As for the chant, if you’re just looking for the complete text, a Google search for “Dion Fortune” and “chant of the elements” seems to turn it up straightaway. If you’re looking for some particular insight from me about it, I’m afraid I have nothing to offer!


  5. JLF said

    “Polytheism and Individuality…” reference pp 15, 16 of “henadic-manifold.pdf”
    First of all, good reading. Second, you had a comment section so I’m commenting on, not attacking or criticizing, what came to my mind when rading the the article.
    Now, I don’t have or rather have as yet to get my hands on a complete copy of anyone’s translation of Proclus’ Commentary on the Parmenides in english and my greek is less than wanting. But from what I do have of Proclus, there is no way that I can see any accord between your ‘there is no such thing as the One Itself…’ and Proclus’ thought regardless of what ‘we’ mean by it. I base this (my) observation on Proclus’ ‘Plato’s Theology’ where on numerous occasions he chides others for not accepting that there is a One Itself or in the case of Origen not positing it for what ever reason. Further more, in what I have of Proclus, there isn’t any intimation of the One Itself being anything other than ‘perfectly ineffable’ of which the henads you equate with it are not.
    Correct me if I’m wrong and I know you didn’t say/write it like this but you did say that ‘the henads are the One Itself’? If not then disregard, if so then I disagree and thus reject your reasoning as to how he (Proclus) or you ‘clearly and unequivocally distinguish’ the One Itself form the One-That-Is. But I do accept that ‘Divinity is nothing but the Gods themselves.’ I think that we agree on the henads basically on that premise.
    The differences we do have, one of which has already been stated, is one of placement and or function. In the case placement, using the Parmenides as our model it seems to me that you would place the henads in the first hypothesis whereas I would Place them between the first and the second hypothesis. This of course means that we have different sources for the unity found in the One-That-Is which I think is a trifling point. To wit you use the term totality whereas I use the term complete, like I said a trifling point (to me at least). Anyway, it seems to me that what Proclus was trying to do with the henads is to provides a means, mechanism, cause to generate the One-That-Is. Which is impossible to do without ‘magic’ based on the conclusions of the first hypothesis which makes the One Itself out to be entirely imparticable or as some would say ‘non-existent’ or even synonomous with nothing and nothing arises from nothing and thus rightly can be said not to be the cause of anything that is. Thus for me the henads are for lack of a better term a needed transition phase between the One Itself and the One-That-Is. I’m not an academic, so your presentation of the henads was a bit word heavy for my tastes and intellect. Be that as it may, correct me if I’m wrong but your henads as presented could be more succintly stated as: same and like(other) and the monad as: different and like (other) or more commonly part to whole. Which I think provides a ‘smoother’ transition between the first and second hypothesis. Like I siad I think we agree on most points its just trifling which of course in subjects like these are sometimes unecessarily non-trivial and breed ill-will which I hope hasn’t occurred here.
    After having said that, and I remind you that I’m not an academic (whatever I mean by that) but I have a concern or point or question concerning ‘arithmos and plethos’. It appears that you are making point of distinction of their usage by Proclus but I don’t think that I’m seeing it clearly, at least to my own satisfaction. What kind of ‘set’ is arithmos? Is it infinite, finite or indeterminate? The same goes for plethos. But for plethos I have an inkling that it’s distinction has some connection with participation in time as an event or something otherwise existing in the phenomenal world and thusly arithmos does not?
    And lastly maybe some or all of my musings may had clarification on the last few pages of your article but my french is non-existent (no pun intended). So if a translation of those quates would help me, I would appreciate it. Otherwise I believe that I got the gist of everything else, except that maybe you could have elucidated a better explanation as to what may be the cause of modern commentators inability to integrate the henad doctrine’s theological and philosophical sides.

    • henadology said

      With respect to the untranslated French at the end of the paper, it might indeed be useful to offer a translation here, as a supplement.

      Starting from p. 102 of my article, Guérard says “It is not necessary to capitalize this generic ‘one’ which is not the One … after the One will come necessarily the henadic manifold [nombre, cp. arithmos] which, in contradistinction to the Iamblichean doctrine, is only the ‘unitary’ summit of the Ones and not an individual hypostasis. As a result, beings will not participate in what would be a unified one, but indeed in Ones. From this perspective, it will not be a question of a participated One, nor of participation in a unified one. It is necessary, on the contrary, that the participation in the one be participation in Ones” (Guérard, p. 76). Just below, I quote Guérard again to the effect that “one ought to say that in the strict sense for Proclus, there is no henology, only henadology”; then again when he says that the first proposition of the Elements, when it “states that everything necessarily participates the one … evidently signifies that everything participates the One by means of the Henads, and not that the One is participated or that it is one.” The henads “are not therefore ‘participants’ of the One, but pure ‘participations’ … between them and the One, one must not establish a relationship of methexis [participation, as in a form], but of simple proödos [procession]” (78). Further down, Guérard says that “the Henads are autonomous and do not constitute a unified hypostasis”.

      We’re now on p. 103 of my article; Guérard says that “the participation in the one is participation in Ones, not in the preceding unity of being” (that is, the unity prior to each plane of beings, e.g., Intellect prior to intellects). Further down, he criticizes reading the Proclean system as one in which “each reality stays in its place in a fixed hierarchy,” arguing that there is a tendency in Proclus which “calls for considering all the orders, even the last, as so many rays issuing immediately from a universal center. All become so many modes, not equal, but direct, of the One.” Guérard says that “the primacy of the one over being derives all its sense from this,” and that “the idea of hierarchy, fundamental to all Platonism, is not applicable with respect to the gods,” and thus the henadology represents something “revolutionary in classical Greek thought”.

    • henadology said

      Regarding Origen, et al., note that according to Proclus, Origen said that the One was anhupostatos, without subsistence, and accordingly that the first hypothesis was purely aporetic (“produces impossible conclusions,” In Parm. 1065). My own reading of Proclus, by contrast, articulates the positive significance of the negations in the first hypothesis. The point of not “hypostatizing” the One Itself is precisely to explicate the hypostasis of unity, that is, of Ones.

  6. mattygsite said

    I absolutely love your articles, though I must admit, as a layman, a lot of the content does go over my head due to lack of familiarity with the core materials and concepts. I was wondering if you might be interested in providing any kind of concise bibliography for the layman? Something which identifies good translations and accessible overviews that could help people like me better understand some of the concepts you explore in this work. I understand if that’s not something you want to put time into, but I just wanted to let you know that at least one person out there would have some interest in some guidance. Thanks!

    • Edward P. Butler said

      I get this sort of question a lot, and it’s not that I don’t want to put in the time, but it’s difficult for me because my own pathway into this material did not lead through such overviews, but rather through encountering the primary texts directly. Radek Chlup’s Proclus: An Introduction (2012) might be helpful to orient the non-specialist, however.

  7. […] Perhaps Feser is under the impression that polytheists themselves believe that the Gods instance a kind, and he’s just letting them define their own position. But, even if this were true of all polytheists, one should be expected to stand polytheism on its strongest legs. In light of the belief that the divine cannot be an instance of any kind, this would amount to conceiving of the Gods as forming a plurality that did not involve instantiation. Moreover, it is not true of all polytheists – anymore than that all Christians deny divine simplicity – and the literature on henadology is readily available to any who look (e.g. here). […]

  8. mattygsite said

    I’ve just finished Alasdair MacIntyre’s “After Virtue,” and his connection of the Aristotelian tradition to the medieval Christian tradition got me wondering: do you intend on writing any articles that focus on moral philosophy, specifically, from a polytheistic and/or NeoPlatonic perspective? If you don’t, do you have any authors or texts that you would most recommend as regards moral philosophy from those frameworks?

  9. […] Neo- Platonism, and the polytheistic philosophy of religion. Most of this work is available on the Philosophy and Theology pages of his website. He also has a strong interest in Egyptian theology, and his site […]

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