The Academy

Continuing the heritage of the Emperor, the Academy teaches a philosophical system focused on a single, deity often called the Good, the True, the Beautiful, or any number of similar, abstract epithets. This philosophy grows out of a critique of organized religion: the gods are too human—fallible and sinful—to be true deities. What is divine, according to the teachings of the Emperor, must be purely good and perfect in every way.

A true deity, the Emperor taught, cannot be unjust, immoral, jealous, vindictive, and ignorant, as the deities often show themselves to be. Therefore, any deity who shows such traits—cannot be true deities. Philosophers who love wisdom and seek the truth propose the existence of a divine force that is superior to all other deities. In fact, other deities are but imperfect reflections of it. This being is the true god of the Academy.

This is not just abstract speculation for the philosophers of the Academy, however. The goal of the philosophical life, as they express it, is “to become like a god, as far as this is possible.” This goal is not a despiritualized ideal, but a real possibility. Through the act of searching for the truth and contemplating the divine, philosophers hope to attain the ultimate mystical experience of union with the divine.

As part of their quest, philosophers engage in personal meditation, but their principal task is teaching. Philosophers of the Academy consider it their responsibility to defend against “superstition,” which means (to them) any characterization of a deity that does not do justice to the true nature of the divine. While they have little influence over what goes on outside their schools, vigilance is important within the schools to prevent superstition from creeping into the ranks. Further, some philosophers consider it important to allegorize myths—both the stories of the gods and others—to make them conform to “true religion.”

The Academy

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