What does Demiurge Mean?

A Greek term (dēmiourgós) that can be translated as “creator” derived, in our language, in demiurge. This is what is called, in different philosophical currents, to the divinity or the entity that created or that promoted the universe.

Gnostic philosophy and Platonic philosophy are two of the schools that appeal to the idea of ​​the demiurge. The demiurge can be understood as a maker or an organizer of reality.

The creator divinity of the universe is called demiurge.

Platonic demiurge

According to Plato, the demiurge is in charge of copying (perfect) ideas into (imperfect) matter. This is how the objects that are part of the real world are obtained, which tries to imitate the perfection of the ideal plane.

The Platonic demiurge, in this context, is a divine being who contemplates ideas and takes them as models with the aim of embodying them in matter. This means that both ideas and matter are pre- existing to the demiurge. This peculiarity clearly differentiates this divinity from the Christian God, who created the universe from nothing.

It can be pointed out that the demiurge is the maker of reality.

The term according to Gnosticism

For the Gnostics, on the other hand, the demiurge has the function of ordering the material world and is the incarnation of evil, since it ties the human being to the passions of matter.

Gnosticism postulates the existence of a spiritual (superior) world, with an unknown God, and a material (inferior) world, in which human beings reside. The true God is that of the spiritual universe; the demiurge is the computer of the material universe. This degraded condition of the creator is the reason for the miseries of reality.

It is important to point out that the group of currents that make up Gnosticism at one point in history managed to merge with Christianity, so to speak. This took place between the 1st and 3rd centuries, approximately, until it was finally declared a heretical thought. Of course, before the Christians rejected him, they had come to respect him; so much so that we can speak of a pagan Gnosticism and a Christian one.

In addition to the importance that the demiurge has for Plato in his idealistic philosophy, as creator and author of the world and the universe, he also occupies a fundamental place in the mystique of Neoplatonism. This denomination refers to the revitalization of the philosophical doctrine that the followers of Plato developed from the beginning of the 1st century BC. C., which took place around the third century and lasted for more than two hundred years.

The demiurge as craftsman and teacher

In the previous paragraphs, two terms are mentioned that serve to describe the nature of the demiurge: it is a “creating” entity, a “maker” of matter. To this definition we can add two other concepts: the demiurge is also a “supreme craftsman” and a “master.”

The Timaeus is a dialogue that Plato wrote around the year 360 BC. C., prior to Atlantis and Critias, and is considered the one that has most influenced philosophy and the sciences that appeared later. In his lines we can appreciate a particular vision about the origin of the universe, the structure of matter and the nature of the human being, since the philosopher focuses on the cosmogonic, physical and anthropological problem, respectively.

According to Plato, when the universe was born, only the following elements existed: chaos and formless matter; ideas, which we can describe as “perfect”; a divinity whom we call demiurge; space. The philosopher points out that the demiurge felt compassion for matter and copied ideas into them, thanks to which he obtained the objects that are part of the reality we know. Through this explanation, he justifies the division between the world of ideas and the real, mentioned above.