Test Your Neo-Platonist Critical Methods
Neo-Platonism, even when mixed with Aristotelian formalism in its attention to the work's mechanical structure, always looks for moral, ethical, and emotional effects brought to the readers by the work. If the work produces no effects, or few, emaciated effects in its readers, this evidence would cause the critic to dismiss the work. The analysis would support that by explaining why the effects fail, or what changes would bring about greater effects. If the work produced great effects, especially good effects, that would make the work great and the analysis would explain what forces, characters, and events produce the effects, though in the end the poet's divine madness might be the ultimate cause.
How would the literary neo-Platonist treat the emotional effects, or the moral and ethical sentiments in Tennyson's "Ulysses"?
How would that same test interpret the emotions produced by or the values of Joyce Kilmer's "A Tree"?
What about the same tests applied to poems from Charles Beaudelaire's Fleurs du mal?
How would Plato judge those three poems, and how might a modern, twenty-first century neo-Platonist critics judge them?
How would Aristotle or Horace judge those three poems, and how might a modern, twenty-first century neo-classical formalist critic judge them?