Plotinus (Friday evening class) - Summary

Friday, August 29, 2014:

III. 8. 8: Discussion focused on the meanings of Vision and contemplation at the levels of Nous, Soul and Nature, distinguishing between the authentic, its image and appearance with reference to “reflection”.  A major portion of the class was devoted to Being-Life-Intellect as ‘constituting’ Intellectual-Principle, or the meaning of identity according to Plotinus.


Friday, August 8, 2014:

III. 8. 5: “The Soul is to extend throughout the Universe [the secondary phase of soul – or partial soul ‘entire’ – i.e. cosmic soul], no spot void of its [cosmic soul’s] energy: but, a prior is always different from its secondary, and energy is a secondary, rising as it must from contemplation or act [in the Nous the soul IS and KNOWS – the reflection of “IS” is ACT the reflection of KNOWS is CONTEMPLATION]; act, however, is not at this stage existent since it depends upon contemplation [soul “originally” participates in Nous through Knowing and necessarily is participating in Being—there are then two directions of contemplation within secondary soul—secondary soul looks to the Nous & contemplates and in that contemplation there is no becoming; but it also contemplates itself as not in being – hence in existence]: therefore the Soul while its phases differ must, in all of them, remain a contemplation….”


Friday, July 25, 2014:

Still engaged with III. 8. 4 the last two weeks.  Timothy observed that he found this to be an “easy” tractate when he began reading Plotinus years ago.  So much for the surface as opposed to the depths, especially where the nuanced language of Plotinus is considered.  Salient in the conversation is the nature of Nature.  What, precisely, constitutes Nature such that Nature is distinguishable from or within Soul, or as a distinct phase of Soul?


Friday, July 11, 2014:

Continued final reading of III. 8, focusing on chapter 3.  “But if this Reason-Principle (Nature) is in act—and produces by the process indicated—how can it have any part in Contemplation?”  Much of the discussion centered on the Greek word Logos and the question: Why is Nature not a hypostasis?


Friday. June 20, 2014:

Final reading of Ennead III. 8 reviewing chapters 1 & 2.  What is Plotinus telling us through his opening reference to "play", and, at the beginning of 2, how might we understand "Nature needs simply the Matter which it is to work upon and bring under Form"?  We will continue from that point next week.


Friday, June 13, 2014:

Reading and discussion of III. 8, “Nature, Contemplation, and the One”, focusing on the concluding chapter of the tractate. 

“The Intellectual-Principle [Nous] is a Seeing, and a Seeing which itself sees; therefore it is a potentiality which has become effective.”  What, then, does Nous see?  If it itself is Being and Intellect, its ultimate source of vision must originate somehow beyond itself as a kind of un-knowing un-being.  “The Source of all this cannot be an Intellect; nor can it be an abundant power: it must have been before Intellect and abundance were; these are later and things of lack; abundance had to be made abundant and Intellection needed to know.”