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A Demiurge is basically an artisan, it uses whatever he has at its disposal to create its worlds. Different from the monotheistic view where the Creator of the universe creates everything ex nihilo. Generally the Demiurge works as an agent of the Supreme God to create the universe for him. For example, Ein Sof uses Keter, Monad uses Nous, Brahman uses Brahma and so on.
Carl Black.

The Demiurge is an artisan-like creator deity responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe.

Overview

The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not necessarily the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity.

The Demiurge is not a single entity but more of a title for architects and creators, the most well known demiurge is the false god Yaldabaoth though even God has been known as a demiurge.

In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony, the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles. Plotinus and the later Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause. Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind, is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory within Platonic realism (also called idealism). In order to reconcile Aristotelian with Platonian philosophy, Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge within the pantheon of the Greek Gods as Zeus.

The first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the One (Τὸ Ἕν, "To Hen"), the source, or the Monad. This is the God above the Demiurge, and manifests through the actions of the Demiurge. The Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous (consciousness) from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self-reflection. This self-reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the "Demiurge" or creator.

The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient force or dynamis, also called the one or the Monad. The dyad is energeia emanated by the one that is then the work, process or activity called nous, Demiurge, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, universe, cosmos. Plotinus also elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in The Enneads which more correctly is to express the concept of idealism or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous.

Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty (ergon) within man which orders the force (dynamis) into conscious reality. In this, he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning: a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text. This tradition of creator God as nous (the manifestation of consciousness), can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology.

The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous (mind of God), and is one of the three ordering principles:

  • Arche (Gr. "beginning") – the source of all things,
  • Logos (Gr. "reason/cause") – the underlying order that is hidden beneath appearances,
  • Harmonia (Gr. "harmony") – numerical ratios in mathematics.

Before Numenius of Apamea and Plotinus' Enneads, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory in Plato's Timaeus. The idea of Demiurge was, however, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius.

The word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinised form of the greek δημιουργός or dēmiurgós. It was originally a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but gradually came to mean "producer", and eventually "creator". The philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is also described as a creator in the Platonic and Middle Platonic philosophical traditions. In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school (third century onwards), the Demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but in most Neoplatonic systems is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is simply ignorant or misguided.

List of Demiurges

Believed Demiurges

Quotes

A demiurge is an artisan, a creator of the world under the command of a higher power, a lesser god doing comission work for a greater god. I am a demiurge, and so is Odin, and Ptah, and your father, Zeus.
Eurynome to a demigod son of Zeus

Gallery

Trivia

  • Although the Demiurge is generally portrayed as an antagonistic figure by Gnosticism, a Demiurge is not necessarily an evil being. It's just imperfect. Being imperfect, it cannot create a perfect world.
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