What is beauty? Why are we so attracted to beauty? Neoplatonism is based upon an axiomatic presupposition that the world that we experience through our senses is not the real world. Behind it lies something that is more real than it is, which in turn, is based upon something that is still even more real than it, so that the Most Real is quite removed from what we ordinarily experience. It is a theme found in ancient Greek philosophy and in numerous Hindu writers throughout the centuries.
It is a theme of great historical importance in the intellectual history of the West, and India, and one that is not inconsistent with, and is even relatively amenable to, the major ideologies of the Greeks, Indians, Hebrews, Romans, Christians and Muslims.
One distinctive feature of the Neoplatonic interpretation of this theme is a mapping or ranking of reality into a series of levels of reality so that anything at any given lower level is only relatively real. It can be concretely real as an individual thing while also being real as a lower level of something of a higher level. According to Plotinus, for example, man is most apparently real as a body, but he is also real as a soul, and as some element of the divine.