Plotinus
Overview
 
Plotinus (ca. CE 204/5–270) was a major philosopher
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas was a Greek philosopher from Alexandria who was often referred to as one of the founders of Neoplatonism. He is mainly known as the teacher of Plotinus, whom he taught for eleven years from 232 to 243. He was undoubtably the biggest influence on Plotinus in his development of...

 and he is of the Platonic tradition. Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

and applied it to him and his philosophy which was influential in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

.
Encyclopedia
Plotinus (ca. CE 204/5–270) was a major philosopher
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas was a Greek philosopher from Alexandria who was often referred to as one of the founders of Neoplatonism. He is mainly known as the teacher of Plotinus, whom he taught for eleven years from 232 to 243. He was undoubtably the biggest influence on Plotinus in his development of...

 and he is of the Platonic tradition. Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

and applied it to him and his philosophy which was influential in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

. His metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 writings have inspired centuries of Pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, Christian
Christian philosophy
Christian philosophy may refer to any development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from a Christian tradition.- Origins of Christian philosophy :...

, Jewish
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

, Islamic
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

 and Gnostic
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 metaphysicians
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 and mystics
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

.

Biography

Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

 reported that Plotinus was 66 years old when he died in 270, the second year of the reign of the emperor Claudius II
Claudius II
Claudius II , commonly known as Claudius Gothicus, was Roman Emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alamanni and scored a crushing victory against the Goths at the Battle of Naissus. He died after succumbing to a smallpox plague that ravaged the provinces of...

, thus giving us the year of his teacher's birth as around 205. Eunapius
Eunapius
Eunapius was a Greek sophist and historian of the 4th century. His principal surviving work is the Lives of the Sophists, a collection of the biographies of twenty-three philosophers and sophists.-Life:He was born at Sardis, AD 347...

 reported that Plotinus was born in the Deltaic Lycopolis
Lycopolis (Delta)
Lycopolis or Lykopolis , or the Deltaic Lycopolis was an ancient town in the Sebennytic nome in Lower Egypt, in the neighbourhood of Mendes, and, from its appellation, apparently founded by a colony of Osirian priests from the town of Lycopolis in Upper Egypt...

; Lyco from the Greek meaning "wolf". It is the same root that gave rise to Aristotle's Lyceum (place of the wolf) in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, which has led to speculations that he may have been a native Egyptian of Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, or Hellenized
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 descent.

Plotinus had an inherent distrust of materiality (an attitude common to Platonism
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

), holding to the view that phenomena were a poor image or mimicry (mimesis
Mimesis
Mimesis , from μιμεῖσθαι , "to imitate," from μῖμος , "imitator, actor") is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the...

) of something "higher and intelligible" [VI.I] which was the "truer part of genuine Being". This distrust extended to the body, including his own; it is reported by Porphyry that at one point he refused to have his portrait painted, presumably for much the same reasons of dislike. Likewise Plotinus never discussed his ancestry, childhood, or his place or date of birth. From all accounts his personal and social life exhibited the highest moral and spiritual standards.

Plotinus took up the study of philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 at the age of twenty-seven, around the year 232, and travelled to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 to study. There he was dissatisfied with every teacher he encountered until an acquaintance suggested he listen to the ideas of Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas was a Greek philosopher from Alexandria who was often referred to as one of the founders of Neoplatonism. He is mainly known as the teacher of Plotinus, whom he taught for eleven years from 232 to 243. He was undoubtably the biggest influence on Plotinus in his development of...

. Upon hearing Ammonius lecture, he declared to his friend, "this was the man I was looking for," and began to study intently under his new instructor. Besides Ammonius, Plotinus was also influenced by the works of Alexander of Aphrodisias
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Alexander of Aphrodisias was a Peripatetic philosopher and the most celebrated of the Ancient Greek commentators on the writings of Aristotle. He was a native of Aphrodisias in Caria, and lived and taught in Athens at the beginning of the 3rd century, where he held a position as head of the...

, Numenius
Numenius of Apamea
Numenius of Apamea was a Greek philosopher, who lived in Apamea in Syria and flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century AD. He was a Neopythagorean and forerunner of the Neoplatonists.- Philosophy :...

, and various Stoics
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

.

Expedition to Persia and return to Rome

After spending the next eleven years in Alexandria, he then decided to investigate the philosophical teachings of the Persian philosophers
Iranian philosophy
Iranian philosophy or Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as to Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts which originated in ancient Indo-Iranian roots and were considerably influenced by Zarathustra's teachings...

 and the Indian philosophers
Indian philosophy
India has a rich and diverse philosophical tradition dating back to ancient times. According to Radhakrishnan, the earlier Upanisads constitute "...the earliest philosophical compositions of the world."...

 around the age of 38. In the pursuit of this endeavor he left Alexandria and joined the army of Gordian III
Gordian III
Gordian III , was Roman Emperor from 238 to 244. Gordian was the son of Antonia Gordiana and an unnamed Roman Senator who died before 238. Antonia Gordiana was the daughter of Emperor Gordian I and younger sister of Emperor Gordian II. Very little is known on his early life before his acclamation...

 as it marched on Persia. However, the campaign was a failure, and on Gordian's eventual death Plotinus found himself abandoned in a hostile land, and only with difficulty found his way back to safety in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

.

At the age of forty, during the reign of Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab , also known as Philip or Philippus Arabs, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249. He came from Syria, and rose to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire...

, he came to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where he stayed for most of the remainder of his life. There he attracted a number of students. His innermost circle included Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

, Amelius Gentilianus
Amelius
Amelius , whose family name was Gentilianus, was a Neoplatonist philosopher and writer of the second half of the 3rd century. He was a native of Tuscany...

 of Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, the Senator Castricius Firmus, and Eustochius of Alexandria, a doctor who devoted himself to learning from Plotinus and attending to him until his death. Other students included: Zethos, an Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 by ancestry who died before Plotinus, leaving him a legacy and some land; Zoticus, a critic and poet; Paulinus, a doctor of Scythopolis; and Serapion from Alexandria. He had students amongst the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 beside Castricius, such as Marcellus Orontius, Sabinillus, and Rogantianus. Women were also numbered amongst his students, including Gemina, in whose house he lived during his residence in Rome, and her daughter, also Gemina; and Amphiclea, the wife of Ariston the son of Iamblichus. Finally, Plotinus was a correspondent of the philosopher Cassius Longinus
Cassius Dionysius Longinus
Cassius Longinus was an Hellenistic rhetorician and philosophical critic. He was perhaps a native of Emesa in Syria. He studied at Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas and Origen the Pagan, and taught for thirty years in Athens, one of his pupils being Porphyry...

.

Later life

While in Rome Plotinus also gained the respect of the Emperor Gallienus
Gallienus
Gallienus was Roman Emperor with his father Valerian from 253 to 260, and alone from 260 to 268. He took control of the Empire at a time when it was undergoing great crisis...

 and his wife Salonina
Cornelia Salonina
Julia Cornelia Salonina was an Augusta, wife of Roman Emperor Gallienus and mother of Valerian II, Saloninus, and Marinianus.-Early life:...

. At one point Plotinus attempted to interest Gallienus in rebuilding an abandoned settlement in Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

, known as the 'City of Philosophers', where the inhabitants would live under the constitution set out in Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Laws. An Imperial subsidy was never granted, for reasons unknown to Porphyry, who reports the incident.

Porphyry subsequently went to live in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, where word reached him that his former teacher had died. The philosopher spent his final days in seclusion on an estate in Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

 which his friend Zethos had bequeathed him. According to the account of Eustochius, who attended him at the end, Plotinus' final words were: "Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All." Eustochius records that a snake crept under the bed where Plotinus lay, and slipped away through a hole in the wall; at the same moment the philosopher died.

Plotinus wrote the essays that became the Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

over a period of several years from ca.
Circa
Circa , usually abbreviated c. or ca. , means "approximately" in the English language, usually referring to a date...

253 until a few months before his death seventeen years later. Porphyry makes note that the Enneads, before being compiled and arranged by himself, were merely the enormous collection of notes and essays which Plotinus used in his lectures and debates, rather than a formal book. Plotinus was unable to revise his own work due to his poor eyesight, yet his writings required extensive editing, according to Porphyry: his master's handwriting was atrocious, he did not properly separate his words, and he cared little for niceties of spelling. Plotinus intensely disliked the editorial process, and turned the task to Porphyry, who not only polished them but put them into the arrangement we now have.

One

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity or distinction; likewise it is beyond all categories of being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

 and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience called the dyad, and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects, and therefore is beyond the concepts that we derive from them. The One "cannot be any existing thing", and cannot be merely the sum of all such things (compare the Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence), but "is prior to all existents". Thus, no attributes can be assigned to the One. We can only identify it with the Good and the principle of Beauty. [I.6.9]

For example, thought
Thought
"Thought" generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual's subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas. Similar concepts include cognition, sentience, consciousness, and imagination...

  cannot be attributed to the One because thought implies distinction between a thinker and an object of thought (again a dyad). Even the self-contemplating intelligence (the noesis of the nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

) must contain duality
Dualism
Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...

. "Once you have uttered 'The Good,' add no further thought: by any addition, and in proportion to that addition, you introduce a deficiency." [III.8.11] Plotinus denies sentience
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

, self-awareness or any other action (ergon) to the One [V.6.6]. Rather, if we insist on describing it further, we must call the One a sheer Dynamis
Dunamis
In philosophy, Potentiality and Actuality are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics and De Anima .The concept of potentiality, in this context, generally refers to...

 or potentiality without which nothing could exist. [III.8.10] As Plotinus explains in both places and elsewhere [e.g. V.6.3], it is impossible for the One to be Being or a self-aware Creator God. At [V.6.4], Plotinus compared the One to "light", the Divine Nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

 (first will towards Good) to the "Sun", and lastly the Soul to the "Moon" whose light is merely a "derivative conglomeration of light from the 'Sun'". The first light could exist without any celestial body.

The One, being beyond all attributes including being and non-being, is the source of the world—but not through any act of creation, willful or otherwise, since activity cannot be ascribed to the unchangeable, immutable One. Plotinus argues instead that the multiple cannot exist without the simple. The "less perfect" must, of necessity, "emanate", or issue forth, from the "perfect" or "more perfect". Thus, all of "creation" emanates from the One in succeeding stages of lesser and lesser perfection. These stages are not temporally isolated, but occur throughout time as a constant process. Plotinus here resolves the issues between Plato's ontology and Aristotle's Actus et potentia. The issue being that Aristotle, through resolving Parmenides
Parmenides
Parmenides of Elea was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem, On Nature, which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides...

' Third Man
Third Man Argument
The third man argument , first offered by Plato in his dialogue Parmenides, is a philosophical criticism of Plato's own theory of Forms...

 argument against Plato's forms and ontology created a second philosophical school of thought. Plotinus here then reconciles the "Good over the Demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

" from Plato's Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

 with Aristotle's static "unmoved mover
Unmoved mover
The unmoved mover is a philosophical concept described by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" is not moved by any prior action...

" of Actus et potentia. Plotinus does this by making the potential or force (dunamis) the Monad or One and making the demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

 or dyad, the action or energy component in philosophical cognitive ontology
Cognitive ontology
Cognitive ontology is ontology which begins from features of human cognition directly, as opposed to its collective summary which is reflected in language. The more radical forms of it challenge also the central position of mathematics as "just another language" which biases human cognition...

. Later Neoplatonic philosophers, especially Iamblichus, added hundreds of intermediate beings as emanations between the One and humanity; but Plotinus' system was much simpler in comparison.

The One is not just an intellectual conception but something that can be experienced, an experience where one goes beyond all multiplicity. Plotinus writes, "We ought not even to say that he will see, but he will be that which he sees, if indeed it is possible any longer to distinguish between seer and seen, and not boldly to affirm that the two are one."

Emanation by the One

Plotinus offers an alternative to the orthodox Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 notion of creation ex nihilo
Ex nihilo
Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing"—chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurs in other fields.In theology, the common phrase creatio ex...

(out of nothing), which attributes to God the deliberation of mind and action of a will, although Plotinus never mentions Christianity in any of his works. Emanation ex deo (out of God), confirms the absolute transcendence of the One, making the unfolding of the cosmos purely a consequence of its existence; the One is in no way affected or diminished by these emanations. Plotinus uses the analogy of the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 which emanates light indiscriminately without thereby diminishing itself, or reflection in a mirror which in no way diminishes or otherwise alters the object being reflected.

The first emanation is Nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

(Divine Mind, logos or order, Thought, Reason), identified metaphorically with the Demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

 in Plato's Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

. It is the first Will
Will (philosophy)
Will, in philosophical discussions, consonant with a common English usage, refers to a property of the mind, and an attribute of acts intentionally performed. Actions made according to a person's will are called "willing" or "voluntary" and sometimes pejoratively "willful"...

 toward Good. From Nous proceeds the World Soul
Anima mundi (spirit)
The world soul is, according to several systems of thought, an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, which relates to our world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body...

, which Plotinus subdivides into upper and lower, identifying the lower aspect of Soul with nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

. From the world soul proceeds individual human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 souls, and finally, matter, at the lowest level of being and thus the least perfected
Perfection
Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness.The term "perfection" is actually used to designate a range of diverse, if often kindred, concepts...

 level of the cosmos. Despite this relatively pedestrian assessment of the material world, Plotinus asserted the ultimately divine nature of material creation since it ultimately derives from the One, through the mediums of nous and the world soul. It is by the Good or through beauty that we recognize the One, in material things and then in the Forms.

The essentially devotional nature of Plotinus' philosophy may be further illustrated by his concept of attaining ecstatic union with the One (henosis
Henosis
Henosis is the word for "oneness," "union," or "unity" in classical Greek, and is spelled identically in modern Greek where "Enosis" is particulary connected with the modern political "Unity" movement to unify Greece and Cyprus....

 see Iamblichus). Porphyry relates that Plotinus attained such a union four times during the years he knew him. This may be related to enlightenment
Enlightenment (spiritual)
Enlightenment in a secular context often means the "full comprehension of a situation", but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual...

, liberation, and other concepts of mystical union
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 common to many Eastern and Western traditions.

The True Human and Happiness

Authentic human happiness for Plotinus consists of the true human identifying with that which is the best in the universe. Because happiness is beyond anything physical, Plotinus stresses the point that worldly fortune does not control true human happiness, and thus “… there exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing we hold to constitute happiness.” (Enneads I.4.4) The issue of happiness is one of Plotinus’ greatest imprints on Western thought, as he is one of the first to introduce the idea that eudaimonia
Eudaimonia
Eudaimonia or eudaemonia , sometimes Anglicized as eudemonia , is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing" has been proposed as a more accurate translation...

 (happiness) is attainable only within consciousness.

The true human is an incorporeal contemplative capacity of the soul, and superior to all things corporeal. It then follows that real human happiness is independent of the physical world. Real happiness is, instead, dependent on the metaphysical and authentic human being found in this highest capacity of Reason. “For man, and especially the Proficient, is not the Couplement of Soul and body: the proof is that man can be disengaged from the body and disdain its nominal goods.” (Enneads I.4.14) The human who has achieved happiness will not be bothered by sickness, discomfort, etc., as his focus is on the greatest things. Authentic human happiness is the utilization of the most authentically human capacity of contemplation. Even in daily, physical action, the flourishing human’s “…Act is determined by the higher phase of the Soul.” (Enneads III.4.6) Even in the most dramatic arguments Plotinus considers (if the Proficient is subject to extreme physical torture, for example), he concludes this only strengthens his claim of true happiness being metaphysical, as the truly happy human being would understand that which is being tortured is merely a body, not the conscious self, and happiness could persist.

Plotinus offers a comprehensive description of his conception of a person who has achieved eudaimonia. “The perfect life” involves a man who commands reason and contemplation. (Enneads I.4.4) A happy person will not sway between happy and sad, as many of Plotinus’ contemporaries believed. Stoics, for example, question the ability of someone to be happy (presupposing happiness is contemplation) if they are mentally incapacitated or even asleep- Plotinus disregards this claim, as the soul and true human do not sleep or even exist in time, nor will a living human who has achieved eudaimonia suddenly stop using its greatest, most authentic capacity just because of the body’s discomfort in the physical realm. “…The Proficient’s will is set always and only inward.” (Enneads I.4.11)

Overall, happiness for Plotinus is "...a flight from this world's ways and things." (Theat 176AB) and a focus on the highest, i.e. Forms and The One.

Against causal astrology

Plotinus seems to be one of the first to argue against the still popular notion of causal astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

. In the late tractate 2.3, "Are the stars causes?", Plotinus makes the argument that specific stars influencing one's fortune (a common hellenistic theme) attributes irrationality
Irrationality
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate reasoning, emotional distress, or cognitive deficiency...

 to a perfect universe, and invites moral turpitude. He does, however, claim the stars and planets are ensouled, as witnessed by their movement.

Plotinus and the Gnostics

At least two modern conferences within Hellenic philosophy fields of study have been held in order to address what Plotinus stated in his tract Against the Gnostics and who he was addressing it to, in order to separate and clarify the events and persons involved in the origin of the term "Gnostic". From the dialogue, it appears that the word had an origin in the Platonic and Hellenistic tradition long before the group calling themselves "Gnostics" -- or the group covered under the modern term "Gnosticism" -- ever appeared. It would seem that this shift from Platonic to Gnostic usage has led many people to confusion. The strategy of sectarians taking Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 terms from philosophical contexts and re-applying them to religious contexts was popular in Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the Cult of Isis and other ancient religious contexts including Hermetic
Hermetica
The Hermetica are Greek wisdom texts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, mostly presented as dialogues in which a teacher, generally identified with Hermes Trismegistus or "thrice-greatest Hermes", enlightens a disciple...

 ones (see Alexander of Abonutichus for an example).

In the case of gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 it is important to understand that Plotinus and the Neoplatonists
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 viewed it as a form of heresy or sectarianism to the Pythagorean
Pythagoreanism
Pythagoreanism was the system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism...

 and Platonic
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

 philosophy of the Mediterranean and Middle East. He accused them of using senseless jargon and being overly dramatic and insolent in their distortion of Plato's ontology.
Plotinus attacks his opponents as untraditional, irrational and immoral and arrogant. He also attacks them as elitist and blasphemous to Plato for the Gnostics despising the material world and its maker.

Plotinus, for example, attacked the Gnostics for vilifying Plato's ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 of the universe contained in Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

, and the universes' creation by the demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

. In this view the Demiurge is an artist or craftsman, in that he creates through mixing or amalgamating what already is. Plotinus accused Gnosticism of vilifing the Demiurge or craftsman that crafted the material world, even thinking of the material world as evil or a prison.

The Neoplatonic movement (though Plotinus would have simply referred to himself as a philosopher of Plato) seems to be motivated by the desire of Plotinus to revive the pagan philosophical tradition. Plotinus was not claiming to innovate with the Enneads, but to clarify aspects of the works of Plato that he considered misrepresented or misunderstood. Plotinus referred to tradition as a way to interpret Plato's intentions. Because the teachings of Plato were for members of the academy rather than the general public, it was easy for outsiders to misunderstand Plato's meaning. However, Plotinus attempted to clarify how the philosophers of the academy had not arrived at the same conclusions (such as misotheism
Misotheism
Misotheism is the "hatred of God" or "hatred of the gods" . In some varieties of polytheism, it was considered possible to inflict punishment on gods by ceasing to worship them...

 or Dystheism of the creator God as an answer to the problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

) as the targets of his criticism.

Ancient world

Many Christians were also influenced by Neoplatonism, most notably Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum . The author is identified as "Dionysos" in the corpus, which later incorrectly came to be attributed to Dionysius...

. St. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, though often referred to as a "Platonist," acquired his Platonist philosophy through the mediation of Plotinus' teachings.

Christianity

Plotinus's theology has had great influence on Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

. The Eastern Orthodox position on energy for example is often contrasted with the position of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and in part this is attributed to varying interpretations of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and Plotinus, either through Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 for the Roman Catholics or Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

 for the Orthodox.

Islam

Neo-Platonism and the ideas of Plotinus influenced medieval Islam as well, since the Sunni Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

s fused Greek concepts into sponsored state texts, and found great influence amongst the Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

 Shia. Persian philosophers as well, such as Muhammad al-Nasafi and Abu Yaqub Sijistani
Abu Yaqub Sijistani
Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani was an Persian Ismaili missionary and Neo-Platonic philosopher, who was martyred a few years after 971 CE.-External links:* at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy-Notes:...

. By the 11th century, Neo-Platonism was adopted by the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 state of Egypt, and taught by their da'i. Neo-Platonism was brought to the Fatimid court by Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani
Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani
Hamid al–Din Abu’l–Hasan Ahmad b. ‘Abdallah al–Kirmani was a Persian Isma'ili scholar who served as a da'i, theologian and philosopher under the Fatimid caliph-imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah. He was called upon to refute the dissident da'is, who by proclaiming al-Hakim's divinity had initiated the...

, although his teachings differed from Nasafi and Sijistani, who were more aligned with original teachings of Plotinus. The teachings of Kirmani in turn influenced philosophers such as Nasir Khusraw
Nasir Khusraw
Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn...

 of Persia.

Renaissance

In the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 the philosopher Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin...

 set up an Academy under the patronage of Cosimo de Medici in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, mirroring that of Plato. His work was of great importance in reconciling the philosophy of Plato directly with Christianity. One of his most distinguished pupils was Pico della Mirandola, author of An Oration On the Dignity of Man. Our term 'Neo Platonist' has its origins in the Renaissance.

England

In England, Plotinus was the cardinal influence on the 17th-century school of the Cambridge Platonists
Cambridge Platonists
The Cambridge Platonists were a group of philosophers at Cambridge University in the middle of the 17th century .- Programme :...

, and on numerous writers from Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

 to W. B. Yeats
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...

 and Kathleen Raine
Kathleen Raine
Kathleen Jessie Raine was a British poet, critic, and scholar writing in particular on William Blake, W. B. Yeats and Thomas Taylor. Known for her interest in various forms of spirituality, most prominently Platonism and Neoplatonism, she was a founder member of the Temenos Academy.-Life:Raine was...

.

India

Many renown Indian philosophers such as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan , OM, FBA was an Indian philosopher and statesman. He was the first Vice President of India and subsequently the second President of India ....

, Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician, as well as a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West...

 and others used the writing of Plotinus in their own texts as a superlative elaboration upon Indian monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

, specifically Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

ic and Advaita Vedantic thought. Some have compared Plotinus' teachings to the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

 (advaita meaning "not two" or "non-dual"), and has been elaborated upon in J. F. Staal
Frits Staal
Johan Frederik Staal is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and South & Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley....

, Advaita and Neoplatonism: A critical study in comparative philosophy, Madras: University of Madras, 1961. More recently, see Frederick Copleston, Religion and the One: Philosophies East and West (University of Aberdeen
University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen, an ancient university founded in 1495, in Aberdeen, Scotland, is a British university. It is the third oldest university in Scotland, and the fifth oldest in the United Kingdom and wider English-speaking world...

 Gifford Lectures
Gifford Lectures
The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford . They were established to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term — in other words, the knowledge of God." The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology supported...

 1979-1980) and the special section "Fra Oriente e Occidente" in Annuario filosofico No. 6 (1990), including the articles "Plotino e l'India" by Aldo Magris and "L'India e Plotino" by Mario Piantelli. The connection is also mentioned in Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan , OM, FBA was an Indian philosopher and statesman. He was the first Vice President of India and subsequently the second President of India ....

 (ed.), History of Philosophy Eastern and Western (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952), vol. 2, p. 114; in a lecture by Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson; and in John Y. Fenton, "Mystical Experience as a Bridge for Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion: A Critique," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 1981, p. 55. The joint influence of Advaitin and Neoplatonic ideas on Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 is considered in Dale Riepe, "Emerson and Indian Philosophy," Journal of the History of Ideas, 1967.

See also

  • Antiochus of Ascalon
    Antiochus of Ascalon
    Antiochus , of Ascalon, , was an Academic philosopher. He was a pupil of Philo of Larissa at the Academy, but he diverged from the Academic skepticism of Philo and his predecessors...

  • Disciples of Plotinus
    Disciples of Plotinus
    -Porphyry:Porphyry, the most important of Plotinus's pupils, was born in Tyre c. 233. He was taught first by Cassius Longinus in Athens, before travelling to Rome in 262 where he studied under Plotinus for six years. After the death of Plotinus, he edited and published the Enneads, which had been...

  • Emanationism
    Emanationism
    Emanationism is an idea in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems. Emanation, from the Latin emanare meaning "to flow from" or "to pour forth or out of", is the mode by which all things are derived from the First Reality, or Principle...

    • The Theology of Aristotle
      The Theology of Aristotle
      The Theology of Aristotle was a paraphrase of parts of Plotinus' Six Enneads along with Porphyry's commentary into Arabic. It had a significant effect on early Islamic philosophy, due to Islamic interest in Aristotle. Al-Kindi and Avicenna, for example, were influenced by Plotinus' works...

  • Henology
    Henology
    Henology is the philosophical account or discourse on "The One" that appears most notably in the philosophy of Plotinus. Reiner Schürmann describes it as a "metaphysics of radical transcendence" that extends beyond being and intellection...

  • Ignosticism
    Ignosticism
    Ignosticism or igtheism is the theological position that every other theological position assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts...

  • Plutarch of Chaeronea
  • Thomas Taylor

Further reading

Critical editions of the Greek text
  • Emile Bréhier
    Émile Bréhier
    Émile Bréhier was a French philosopher. His interest was in classical philosophy, and the history of philosophy. He wrote a Histoire de la Philosophie, translated into English in seven volumes....

    , Plotin: Ennéades (with French translation), Collection Budé
    Collection Budé
    The Collection Budé, or the Collection des Universités de France, is a series of books comprising the Greek and Latin classics up to the middle of the 6th century...

    , 1924-1938.
  • Paul Henry and Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer (eds.), Editio maior (3 volumes), Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 1951–1973.
  • Paul Henry and Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer (eds.), Editio minor, Oxford, Oxford Classical Text, 1964–1982.


Complete English translation
  • Plotinus. The Enneads (translated by Stephen MacKenna), London, Medici Society, 1917-1930.
  • A. H. Armstrong
    A. H. Armstrong
    Arthur Hilary Armstrong FBA was an English educator and author. Armstrong is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the philosophical teachings of Plotinus ca. 205–270 CE. His multi-volume translation of the philosopher's teachings is regarded as an essential tool of classical studies.-...

    , Plotinus. Enneads (with Greek text), Loeb Classical Library
    Loeb Classical Library
    The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each...

    , 7 vol., 1966-1988.
  • Thomas Taylor, Collected Writings of Plotinus, Frome, Prometheus Trust, 1994. ISBN 1-898910-02-2


Lexica
  • J. H. Sleeman and G. Pollet, Lexicon Plotinianum, Leiden, 1980.
  • Roberto Radice (ed.), Lexicon II: Plotinus, Milan, Biblia, 2004. (Electronic edition by Roberto Bombacigno)


The Life of Plotinus by Porphyry
  • Porphyry, "On the Life of Plotinus and the Arrangement of his Works" in Mark Edwards (ed.), Neoplatonic Saints: The Lives of Plotinus and Proclus by their Students, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2000.


Anthologies of texts in translation, with annotations
  • Kevin Corrigan, Reading Plotinus: A Practical Introduction to Neoplatonism, West Lafayette, Purdue University Press
    Purdue University Press
    Purdue University Press, founded in 1960, is a university press that is part of Purdue University. Dedicated to the dissemination of scholarly and professional information, Purdue University Press provides quality resources in several key subject areas including business, technology, health,...

    , 2005.
  • John M. Dillon
    John M. Dillon
    John Myles Dillon is an Irish classicist and philosopher who was Regius Professor of Greek in Trinity College, Dublin between 1980 and 2006. Prior to that he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Athens on 15 June 2010...

     and Lloyd P. Gerson, Neoplatonic Philosophy: Introductory Readings, Hackett, 2004.


Introductory works
  • Kevin Corrigan, Reading Plotinus. A Practical Introduction to Neoplatonism, Purdue University Press, 1995.
  • Lloyd P. Gerson, Plotinus, New York, Routledge, 1994.
  • LLoyd P. Gerson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, Cambridge, 1996.
  • Dominic J. O'Meara, Plotinus. An Introduction to the Enneads, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993. (Reprinted 2005)
  • John M. Rist, Plotinus. The Road to Reality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1967.


Major commentaries in English
  • Michael Atkinson, Plotinus: Ennead V.1, On the Three Principal Hypostases, Oxford, 1983.
  • Kevin Corrigan, Plotinus' Theory of Matter-Evil: Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander of Aphrodisias (II.4, II.5, III.6, I.8), Leiden, 1996.
  • John N. Deck
    John N. Deck
    John Norbert Deck was a Canadian philosopher. Adhering to neither sartorial nor intellectual fashions, Deck inspired generations of students with his highly idiosyncratic form of idealism, deriving from Plotinus but equally rooted in Thomas Aquinas and Hegel.He was educated at Assumption College...

    , Nature, Contemplation and the One: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus, University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press is Canada's leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America. Founded in 1901, UTP has published over 6,500 books, with well over 3,500 of these still in print....

    , 1967; Paul Brunton Philosophical Foundation, 1991.
  • Barrie Fleet, Plotinus: Ennead III.6, On the Impassivity of the Bodiless, Oxford, 1995.
  • W. Helleman-Elgersma, Soul-Sisters. A Commentary on Enneads IV, 3 (27) 1-8 of Plotinus, Amsterdam, 1980.
  • Kieran McGroarty, Plotinus on Eudaimonia: A Commentary on Ennead I.4, Oxford, 2006.
  • P. A. Meijer, Plotinus on the Good or the One (VI.9), Amsterdam, 1992.
  • H. Oosthout, Modes of Knowledge and the Transcendental: An Introduction to Plotinus Ennead V.3, Amsterdam, 1991.
  • J. Wilberding, Plotinus' Cosmology. A study of Ennead II. 1 (40), Oxford, 2006.
  • A. M. Wolters, Plotinus on Eros (eNN. III.5), Amsterdam, 1972.


General works on Neoplatonism
  • Robert M. Berchman, From Philo to Origen: Middle Platonism in Transition, Chico, Scholars Press, 1984.
  • Frederick Copleston
    Frederick Copleston
    Frederick Charles Copleston, SJ, CBE was a Jesuit priest and historian of philosophy.-Biography:...

    , A History of Philosophy: Vol. 1, Part 2. ISBN 0-385-00210-6
  • P. Merlan, "Greek Philosophy from Plato to Plotinus" in A. H. Armstrong (ed.), The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge, 1967. ISBN 0-521-04054-X
  • Thomas Taylor, The fragments that remain of the lost writings of Proclus, surnamed the Platonic successor, London, 1825. (Selene Books reprint edition, 1987. ISBN 0-933601-11-5)
  • Richard T. Wallis, Neoplatonism and Gnosticism
    Neoplatonism and Gnosticism
    Neoplatonism is the modern term for a school of Hellenistic philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century, based on the teachings of Plato and some of his early followers. Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius...

    , University of Oklahoma, 1984. ISBN 0-7914-1337-3 and ISBN 0-7914-1338-1


Studies on some aspects of Plotinus' work
  • R. B. Harris (ed.), Neoplatonism and Indian Thought, Albany, 1982.
  • Giannis Stamatellos, Plotinus and the Presocratics. A Philosophical Study of Presocratic Influences in Plotinus' Enneads, Albany, 2008.
  • N. Joseph Torchia, Plotinus, Tolma, and the Descent of Being, New York, Peter Lang, 1993. ISBN 0-8204-1768-8
  • Antonia Tripolitis, The Doctrine of the Soul in the thought of Plotinus and Origen, Libra Publishers, 1978.
  • M. F. Wagner (ed.), Neoplatonism and Nature. Studies in Plotinus' Enneads, Albany, 2002.

External links

Text of the Enneads
  • Greek original (page scans of Adolf Kirchhoff
    Adolf Kirchhoff
    Johann Wilhelm Adolf Kirchhoff , German classical scholar and epigraphist.-Biography:He was born in Berlin. In 1865 he was appointed professor of classical philology in the university of his native city...

    's 1856 Teubner edition) with English (complete) and French (partial) translations;
  • Another Greek original.


Online English Translations
  • The Internet Classics Archive of MIT The Six Enneads translated into English by Stephen MacKenna and B.S. Page.
  • On the Intelligible Beauty, translated by Thomas Taylor Ennead V viii(see also the Catalog of other books which include Porphyry, Plotinus' biographer - TTS Catalog).
  • Philosophy Archive: An Essay on the Beautiful Translated into English by Thomas Taylor in 1917


Encyclopedias
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a free online encyclopedia on philosophical topics and philosophers founded by James Fieser in 1995. The current general editors are James Fieser and Bradley Dowden...

    : "Plotinus" by Edward Moore.


Bibliographies
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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