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Unformatted text preview: Adrian Milik PH 302 History of Medieval Philosophy Spring 2007 1-17-07 Plotinus Born in Egypt in 203/4. He was a pupil of Amonius Sacas at the age of 28 and remained a student until he went on an expedition to Persia in 242. At 40 he went to Rome and opened a school. He was favored by the emperor Daliatus. At 60 he had Porphyry as a pupil who wrote Enneads . Plotinus attacked the Gnostics but said nothing of the Christian religion. He was never a Christian but was a resolute witness to moral and spiritual ideals in both life and writing, these were an influence on St. Augustine. For Platinus God is absolutely transcendent. He is One, beyond all thought, beyond all being, incomprehensible, and ineffable. The One cannot be identified with the sum of individual things (metaphysical One not mathematical One), because the sum of things requires a source that is distinct from them and does not require them. Thus the One cannot be any existing thing but is prior to all existents. The One of Plotinus is not the monistic One of Parmenades, but is similar to the One in neo- Pythagoreans and Middle Platonists. The One transcends all things of which we have experience. Concepts come from our experience and so the One also transcends concepts, and therefore transcends the activity of thought. So he refuses to attribute any positive attributes to God. Goodness may be attributed to the One provided that it is not attributed as an inherent quality (God is the good rather than good). Cannot ascribe to the One thought, because that's an activity (which implies a distinction between the thinker and the object which is not One). God is the one beyond all distinctions, can't even distinguish himself from himself (has no self-consciousness). He is self-identity. The multiplicity of things cannot be explained by the activity of creation because the One is incapable of any activity. Instead he uses the metaphor of emanation , the world issues from God by necessity. There is a principle of emanation which says that the less perfect comes from the more perfect and every nature should make which is immediate subordinate. The world proceeds from God according to the necessity of nature. He rejects free creation from nothing, which is the Christian position. For Plotinus the prior principle remains in its own place undiminished and unimpaired by the emanation. The first emanation from the One is the Nous (thought). This is an immediate apprehension, not discursive knowledge (Aristotle starts by intuition, you can't prove your first principles). Thought is a duality, it has itself and the object of thought. The Nous is identified with the demiurge of the Platonic Timeus . It is here that multiplicity first appears. The demiurge of Plato and Aristotle's thought-of- thought thus come together in Plotinus' Nous. Nous is eternal and beyond time and its state of blessedness is an eternal possession. The Nous knows all things together and sees all things in an eternal presence....
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