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1. The Enneads
2. An essay on the beautiful. From
3. Plotinus or the Simplicity of
4. Plotinus: The Enneads (LP Classic
5. Essential Plotinus: Representative
6. Return To The One: Plotinus's
7. The Six Enneads
8. Plotinus: Volume VI, EnneadVI.1-5
9. Plotinus: Road to Reality
10. The Heart of Plotinus: The Essential
11. Plotinus on Number
12. Culture and Philosphy in the Age
13. The philosophy of Plotinus ...
14. The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus
15. Opera, Vol. 2: Enneades 4-5
16. Opera, Vol. 3: Ennead 6 (Latin
17. Plotinus on the Good or the One
18. Arabic Plotinus: A Philosophical
19. Plotinus on Eudaimonia: A Commentary
20. Plotinus: Enneads

1. The Enneads
by Plotinus
Paperback: 484 Pages (2009-01-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$13.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1420933507
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Compiled in the 3rd century AD by his student Porphyry, "The Enneads" unfolds Plotinus' study of the principles of the universe. This work is organized into 54 treatises, which are in turn more largely grouped into six books, which form the foundational concepts of Neo-Platonism. The first Ennead deals principally with ethical topics and human subjects, such as happiness, virtue, beauty, and evil. The second and third Enneads discuss mainly physical reality and cosmology, including heaven, substance, fate, eternity, time, stars, and guardian spirits. The fourth Ennead focuses exclusively on the soul, while the fifth Ennead delves into comprehensible reality and knowledge, particularly on the human intellect. Finally, the sixth Ennead considers Being and One. Overall, "The Enneads" reveal the organized thoughts of one of the last great philosophers of antiquity, a man who believed in the ability of the human soul to ascend through ever higher levels of existence toward a supreme perfection. In synthesizing philosophical thought with a mystic and nearly religious belief, this work would come to powerfully influence the Christian and Islamic theology that would follow. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Enneads insights
Plotinus was a deep thinker who gained great spiritual insight into many of the issues that are timeless in this great world of ours--just as relevant today as they were then, 17 centuries ago. Enneads cuts through the distractions of ritual that detract from true spirituality, and gives timeless messages, often in beautiful language, that are quite memorable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insight Into The Thought of The Ancients
before you read this review, realize that i need to do a lot more study on the aneads before i really know what i am talking about. much of what i write here is based on my own speculations on the subject of soul.

plotinus seeks to delve into conflicting views on the nature of reality and being. he studied in the library at alexandria and i know that he did favour certain approaches over others, as rightfully he should.

it seems to me that the age old question of whether we are animated by a supersoul like the fingers on a glove, or whether we are discrete individual souls comes up. this interests me very much. my own view is that if we seek union with the super soul that all is then this we shall achieve.
like wise if we seek an independent discrete enlightenment then this we shall find. what one seeks for creates what one finds. seeking is a process of creating. one should be careful about what one wants because what one wants is what one will look for and what one looks for one will find. (jesus "seek and ye shall find"). so we are all creating our own unique reality. plotinus was unique, there has never been another plotinus, but then so too is joe bloggs! i am one, you are one, discrete and unique.

some will say that what is just is... whatever you say about God or reality (gods creation) falls short of the mark, statements may be helpful, but only on a practical level. this helpfulness is what makes them true in a practical sense, but the opposite approach too will be just as fruitful at another time or period. reality just is.

so, some will say that all is relative, as with anything you can answer yes and no... there will always be two sides to any argument. however at a given time one approach may be favourable over another.

i have two hands, both are equally hands and this is their symetry... however my right hand i favour to use more often than my left hand. this is asymetry within symetry. there will always be two sides, equal (water), and yet one hand will always be favoured over the other (fire).and so even within equality we find degrees of perfection.

water states (the ultimate leveller) that all is equally important. yes. fire states that there are degrees of perfection. this can be seen as the cross with a vertical (fire) and a horizontal (water). degrees or layers of perfection over and against equality. to me there is really only one supreme truth and that is true love. and God is this love. i dont think it really matters whether you believe this or not, what matters is that i must try to practice this in my daily life. intellectual knowledge is not important, nor is ignorance, what matters is truth, and love is truth. the one love that unites all is the one truth and yet we can separate truth from love and say that truth is the 'understanding' that leads to love, or is a product of love (and as was already said, truth is love, two natures, one person).

[c. 3 months later...]
i am ploughing my way through the first tractate "the animate and the man". plotinus believes in a pure self that animates the body. he admits that individual/discrete self is at the same time part of the shared/essential self, (sometimes known as paramatman or the monad). the ideal self is what he calls the divine. this view is paralleled by that found in hinduism. the neo-platon Origen was found heretical in his teaching (by the church).

Plotinus asks questions such as whether the soul/self is affected by the experiences of the body. he clearly says 'no'. the soul remains pure and unaffected by experience and bodily desires, fears, etc etc etc (the affections/experiences of the body). my own view is that only truth can modify soul material and in so doing creates spirit.

he asks whether the soul is outside or interwoven with the body and draws no firm conclusion on this, he does however assert that whether interwoven or separate... that it is not affected by the body. this must be so since he sees the self as 'ideal' in the platonic sense.

he sees the intellect as ideal too. logos (intellect) is pure and comes from the pure 'self', not from the body. he believes the soul and body act in partnership, but that it is the soul that remains perfect and unaffected by the body. he therefore concludes that childhood is inferior to adulthood since it is in later life that we start to use the higher/soul tool of intellect.

(treat this paragraph with care... this needs more study) The fourth Anead is on the soul, and here, Plotinus the father of Neoplatonism makes it clear that his views parallel quite closely with those of hinduism. one All-soul animates all other souls. this ideal (see platonic ideals) is for want of a better word 'God'. at once all souls are individual and yet part of the All-soul. the all soul is both within and beyond the universe. all things are expressions of the all-soul.
it must be said that the 'i', which 'is' is an impermanent form of being and cannot in my opinion be considered to be the ground of being. the ground of being would seem to be 'this', or consciousness. i think that 'this' is a attribute of God, not the truest nature of God, which is love. the true ground of being is love, from which comes truth/perception, from which comes being/consciousness.

i do not think that God is the All unless one views all things through the eye of love. i do think that all things subsist and have their being through the one true God, even those things that are evil. i am happy to agree with the hindu brother who sees 'love' as the groud of being, even the ground on which 'this', the self 'I' and also the 'soul' rest.

an intersting after-thought is that the neoplatonic 'all soul' is implied in ancient, roman, greek, egyptian and hindu theology. the idea at all gods are emanations of the 'ideal', that each god expresses certain qualities of the 'ideal', or the 'one' true God. but surely are not all things emanent from God if seen through the mirror of love? just as we, these gods express sometimes fickle and unloving characteristics. i do not doublt that these Gods are created by the one true god, and that they serve a noble purpose. my respects to all those that read this. though being one in love, all things. there is still a significant separation between God and us!

there is no doubt that nature is the handi-work of the one true god, but at the same time is mixed with evil, nature is ambiguous. christians explain this mixture as a result of the fall, and some may find this metaphor helpful. i do. evil exists in the world because mankind in Adam made the wrong choice, and this is important.

i do not deny that union with brahman may be possible, only that union with this super self/I is not the ultimate union as that of with the one true God, unless Truth Himself represents himself to the seeker as 'Brahman', the label is not important, it is what the label represents that is significant. according to some hindus, brahman-atman is tainted (a-moral), the one true God is pure... choose your mystical path, confront your mystical goal. a-moral or moral, tainted or perfect. choose for you must. there are of course those sensible minded hindus who will agree with me whole-heartedly on this matter... of course God is pure.

the question arises... was plotinus writing about the soul (essence) or the self (I) ? the soul or essence may be permanent and unchanging, though i doubt this, i think soul is affected by environment. i also think that soul only becomes permanent when interwoven with spirit/Truth.

the one thing that would seem not to be changing is 'mind' or consciousness ('this'), if 'this'/mind is plato's 'intellect' then it may well be permanent and unchanging, possessed of all things and possessing all things through God and as an aspect of God. i suspect though that the common respect for 'reason' is not the 'circle' of plato's mind, and this is since every argument has a conclusion. it is linear and not circular. every argument is with beggining, middle and conclusion (as mentioned by arisotle in 'de anima'). a circle is infinite, having no beginning nor ending, but infinite.

is plato/aristotle's 'intellect' the soul, (it certainly may be perception/Truth and consciousness/being), though i doubt it is the ordinary soul, and this is because many individualites have no intellect, this being the case not everyone or thing has a soul. therefore we are not talking about a universal 'all' or 'world' soul. i believe that most things do have a soul, including inanimate objects such as stones and mountains may. clearly both of these men believed 'intellect' to be soul, but was it not surely 'mind' they were referring to. this is something i am working on myself at the moment and so can give no firm conclusion on the matter. But, and if 'perception'/'consciousness' was to plato his logos, or intellect, then i believe he was mistaken in assuming it to be the ultimate principle, which is love alone. aristotle talks of soul as 'the first principle' in De Anima.

if however perception (Truth) + consciousness (Being) is a part of God "the mind of God is as the mind of man", then we all have in us a part of God (as consciousness)... but we all also have dark material (sin) within us. as i say, this is something i am working on. 'reason' is not intellect ('perception'+'consciousness') for plato, since reason is not possessed by all (nor is it circular)? even though it may well be that intellect resides in the soul. but not in every case. essence is soul and intellect is certainly an aspect of mind, which most of us have. must work on this.

[working on these things...] it seems to me that consciousness (being(what is)/this/life) is at the root of soul ('essence' which exists in order to 'be' ie 'existence', to exist, but is not in itself existence, being.). i think soul is not life, rather that 'truth' is life. soul exists in order for the person or thing to exist, to be. if mind 'perception' is truth, then it must be 'life'(since truth and life are one person, two attributes of). being or consciousness emerges from truth/life, as colours emerge from light. we can ascribe this to two parts of jesus's nature, him who is 'life' and the way and the 'truth'.

self ('I') functions in order to provide 'position'/placement, i kind of wonder whether its like an anchor of sorts, anchored in the soul and being. the 'i' weaves the raw material of the soul, which in turn weaves the body. but in truth, without truth there is only the semblance of life. so we talk of both the sanctity of death as well as the sanctity of life. though if we are honest with ourselves we see that we do not always treat life as sacred.

and how can being (consciousness) be?... 'Truth'
and how can truth be? 'Virtue'.
and how can virtue be? 'Simplicity'.

virtue cannot exist without 'simplicity', simple food, clothing, housing, life-style. etc etc etc. without virtue, there cannot be truth. simple.
but that is practical. when i speak of 'truth'. i speak of he who is truth. for it is by virtue of 'he' that being is being.

and what is the purpose of 'life' (being). the purpose of life is 'transcendence'. to transcend. how can it become transcendent? through 'love' (exactly. precisely. perfectly so). love is 'the great guide'. The way, the truth and the life. Love himself. that two may become one in unity. what is 'transcendence'?... 'perfection'. from what does perfection come (its origin, teacher and master)? 'love'. And what is love?... 'kindness'.

an ontological change is needed in the human race and other races. this change will not come about through people who are snow-flakes, though we may help a little. it will come through 'truth'/understanding. this is since being itself is an emanation through truth. truth is the origin of being and as such is the only thing able to modify and adjust it (being) towards transcendence. christians say that 'the truth' (jesus) is the word of God. the understanding we all require to change our being is an understanding of 'kindness'(love) and then an understanding of true love/loving kindness. which must not only be for ourselves but also toward all. love is the root of truth. without loving kindness one will not come to understand ones neighbour. ontology/being is rooted in truth/understanding and understanding is rooted in love/kindness and love is rooted in loving-kindness (true love). this is the only thing that can change the ontology of the human race. understanding that engenders love.

may all who read these words be blessed and turned to the one true God who is true love (loving-kindness). and his love is made manifest in his son, the lord jesus christ, the second person of the trinity.

love, snow-flake...

(i hope there will be more).

ps. still working on this. tc ***

5-0 out of 5 stars This is an important book because-
it influenced 10 centuries of European Medieval thought, even though
no European had read it! But important Medieval writers and thinkers like St Augustine and the Pseudo-Dionyseus acted as conduits for his thought.

Plotinus borrowed from all the philosophies of the Classical and Ancient World. At the same time he placed great emphasis on the individual, so in this sense he is a kind of bridge between the modern and ancient worlds. Although his ideas are quarried by later Christian thinkers, Plotinus regards negative acts or behaviour as the product of a lack of intelligence, rather than the later Christian idea of evil itself being a kind of positive force. In fact pure intellect Plotinus regards as intrinsically good. It is this idea that becomes the foundation of Christian mysticism in the West, the idea that it is possible to know God through the intellect. God has three parts, the hightest of which is also a pure intelligence, according to Plotinus, who calls this highest part 'The Good.'

This book is really about the structure and order of Man, the Universe and Everything as it was seen in the late classical period, from a Platonist viewpoint. Interesting sections are on things like Astrology, then seen as a science: 'Are stars causes?'

One of the problems early Christians had is that the New Testament, unlike -say- Islam, does not provide a model of the Universe, a system of metaphysics or a detailed idea of what it is to be human, save in being sinful and requiring redemption. This book, like many others, was used as a source material by theologians such as St Thomas Aquinus, who were trying to construct an intellectual foundation around Christianity.

One of the problems people had in the past was not understanding biochemistry, of how matter can live, so they constructed a beautiful and interesting series of ideas about how souls enter and leave beings causing them to live or die.

One of the many interesting ideas here is how ideas themselves can have independent lives, as spirits as it were. This could be a forerunner of CG Jung's archetype theory of psychology.

This book is beautifully translated and very easy to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Skip this Penguin travesty of a book
The Enneads: Abridged Edition (Penguin Classics) translated by Stephen MacKenna (ISBN 014044520X).

The Penguin edition of Stephen MacKenna's translation Of Plotinus' 'Enneads' is printed on newsprint in a miniscule font, is sadly and inexplicably incomplete, and has a lengthy and condescending 40-page introduction by the Jesuit Paul Henry followed by a more interesting though much shorter one of 18 pages by editor John Dillon.

If it's the MacKenna translation you want - and there are some who feel it is one of the truly great translations of the age - skip this Penguin travesty of a book and treat yourself instead to a copy of the freshly edited Larson Publications 'Plotinus: The Enneads':

Plotinus: The Enneads (LP Classic Reprint Series)

An important feature of the Larson edition is that it has been annotated, not as the Penguin with mere references to Plato's dialogues (as if we didn't know that Plotinus had read Plato), but with useful and interesting alternate translations of many passages.

Also, unlike the Penguin which with its glued spine that cracks when opened and seems to have been designed to self-destruct after minimal use, the LP Classic Reprint is a PERMANENT BOOK, well-printed in a readable font on excellent paper, sewn in the traditional manner so that it opens flat, and is both clothbound and COMPLETE.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excelent
Precise, beautiful and fine translation. Excelent work, this book is well worth buying. I strongly recommend it. ... Read more

2. An essay on the beautiful. From the Greek of Plotinus.
by Plotinus
Paperback: 78 Pages (2010-05-28)
list price: US$17.75 -- used & new: US$11.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1140977938
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Product Description
The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now for the first time these high-quality digital copies of original 18th century manuscripts are available in print, making them highly accessible to libraries, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.
Western literary study flows out of eighteenth-century works by Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, Denis Diderot, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and others. Experience the birth of the modern novel, or compare the development of language using dictionaries and grammar discourses.
The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to insure edition identification:
British Library


Translated by Thomas Taylor.A reissue of the 1787 edition, with a new titlepage.

London : printed for the author, and sold by T. Payne, B. White and Son, and G. Nicol, 1792. xx,47,[1]p. ; 8° ... Read more

3. Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision
by Pierre Hadot
Paperback: 145 Pages (1998-04-28)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$15.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0226311945
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Since its original publication in France in 1963, Pierre Hadot's lively philosophical portrait of Plotinus remains the preeminent introduction to the man and his thought. Michael Chase's lucid translation--complete with a useful chronology and analytical bibliography--at last makes this book available to the English-speaking world.

Hadot carefully examines Plotinus's views on the self, existence, love, virtue, gentleness, and solitude. He shows that Plotinus, like other philosophers of his day, believed that Plato and Aristotle had already articulated the essential truths; for him, the purpose of practicing philosophy was not to profess new truths but to engage in spiritual exercises so as to live philosophically. Seen in this light, Plotinus's counsel against fixation on the body and all earthly matters stemmed not from disgust or fear, but rather from his awareness of the negative effect that bodily preoccupation and material concern could have on spiritual exercises. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy as Transformative
The French philosopher Pierre Hadot (b. 1922)is known for his studies of ancient philosophy and for his teaching that philosophy is not a mere academic study. Instead, for Hadot, philosophy is a spiritual training and a way to understand one's life in the company of a teacher and like-minded individuals. Hadot's mastery of ancient philosophy and his understanding of the philosophic endeavor pervade this short outstanding introduction, written in 1963, to the life and thought of Plotinus (205 -- 270 A.D.), the most significant exponent of the philosophy known as neoplatonism.

Hadot's book on Plotinus is subtitled "The Simplicity of Vision."A good way of approaching it is to understand what Hadot means by "simplicity." Neither Plotinus nor Hadot make easy or "simple" reading. "Simplicity" here is contrasted with "multiplicity" or with what Plotinus calls "the composite."The composite is the world of everydayness, with its collage of change, a multitude of different things,and human emotions which pull in different directions and tend at each moment to tear the individual and groups of people apart. Most of the time, Plotinus thinks, we live in this composite world.We fall into the mistake of believing that it is all there is. But there is more to reality, and it lies within. By changing the way we look at things and ingrained habits and passions, we can try to redirect our attention to the purely simple-- without parts or multiplicity -- which brings goodness, beauty and stability to life.

It is Hadot's merit to show the depths of Plotinus, to explain the appeal of his vision, and to save it from misunderstanding and instant rejection in a scientific, materialistic culture. Hadot stresses the immanent character of Plotinus's vision of simplicity. For the most part, he finds that Plotinus's vision is internalized and rests upon understanding oneself in a new way, rather than in finding an "All" or and "Absolute" somehow separate from the self. Although Plotinus begins with the dualistic contrast between matter and spirit, Plotinus does not end there but moves to a philosophy of all-inclusiveness or nonduality in which terms such as "inside" or "outside" or "self" and "other" tend to lose their meaning.Plotinus does not teach creationism in the manner of the Gnostics, a Platonic demigurge, or some understandings of western theism. He sees the nature of the good and of reality as inherent to the world we see everyday and available to those who seek it through a redirection of effort. Hadot would suggest to a modern audience, I think, that because of the nature of philosophical/religious understanding and its object, as developed in Plotinus, such understanding could not "conflict" with scientific understanding which abstracts from the whole and deals with particulars. Plotinus believed that Plato and Aristotle had basically taught all the substantive teachings necessary for philosophy.Thus his teachings were devoted to exegisis, to meditation, and to spiritual growth.

Plotinus' teachings are sometimes thought to be otherworldly, aloof, and remote from the world of sense and from human contact. Hadot shows that Plotinus can be understood in a different way.The difficult teaching culminates in a manner in which the rare experience of contemplative ecstacy can be combined with living with one's fellows in daily life in teachings of compassion, gentleness, and sociability. Ultimately, Hadot teaches, Plotinus's teachings inform daily life instead of constituting a flight from it. I was reminded of the title of a recent book by the American teacher of Buddhist meditation, Jack Kornfield", "After the ecstasy, the laundry" which seems to capture something of how Hadot understands Plotinus. Hadot explains Plotinus's underlying vision in short chapters devoted to love, the virtues, companionship, and solitude, with references to Plotinian texts, the biography of Plotinus by his student Porphyry, and by parallels to modern thinkers including Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, and Wittgenstein.

Hadot sees Plotinus's importance as part of a tradition of spiritual, mystical thought that, among other things, allows one to live in the everyday and pursue the teachings of science without falling into scientism or the senseless never-ending pull back and forth of one's own emotions and desires.A great deal of contemporary spiritual, meditative thought, whether Buddhist, Western, or untied to any religious tradition has commonalities with and much to learn from Plotinus.As Hadot concludes:

"Today we are even more inwardly divided that was Plotinian man.We are still, however, capable of hearing Plotinus's call.There can be no question fo slavishly imitating the spritiual itinerary of Plotinus here in the late twentieth century; that would be impossible or illusory.Rather, we must consent, with as much courage as Plotinus did, to every dimension of human experience, and to everything within it that is mysterious, inexpressible, and transcendent." (p. 113)

Readers with an interest in spirituality and religion will benefit from knowing Hadot and Plotinus.

Robin Friedman

5-0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Biography/ Spiritual Philosophy
_This book is a joy to read. It is a joy because the author did not primarily write it for scholars; he wrote it for the layman. He wrote a spiritual biography that explains Plotinus and his teachings, and not a deconstructionist hatchet job to profane them. Yes, it is a slim volume and an introduction, but if it is sufficient to get the idea of simplicity of vision across, of stripping away all of the dross to once again attain union with the One, then it is more than enough. After all, true philosophy is simplicity, and not the complicated, pretentious, artificial construction of "learned" discourse that passes under that name in these days.

_Those who think that Plotinus merely regurgitated the concepts of Plato couldn't be more mistaken. Plotinus achieved the mystic union that enabled him to verify Plato's teachings by direct experience. In the same way, later mystics validated Plotinus' teachings by direct experience. That isn't regurgitation- it is a form validation and verification based on experience. Yes, there is a chain uniting all true mystics and mystical philosophers, but it is not a cause and effect chain in the earthly world of matter and history- it is a chain existing at the higher level of pure Intellect, where we all are united whether we realize it or not.

_Our self extends from God down to the level of matter. Most of us are not conscious of it. However, our point of attention or perspective can be shifted to a higher level. Our soul is in an intermediate position between the lower world (matter), and the higher worlds of Spirit and the One. When we descend from the All before birth we add something to this All. We do not gain by this addition, but are lessened by it. This addition is what constitutes our little, rational self. However, we can forget this little self and at least briefly re-unite with Spirit. A few may even briefly reach as high as the One while still rooted in this realm of time.

_The secret lies in contemplation. Through spiritual practice we calm and purify the consciousness to be ready for the intervention of the Spirit. For we do not control this outcome no matter how long and hard we may work for it. Plotinus held that it ultimately depended upon...Grace. We must strive to become a living temple- but it is up to the divine presence whether or not it chooses to enter in.

_There is a remarkable underlying consistency to all the teachings attributed to Plotinus. Even his last words are a holographic fragment containing the whole: "I am trying to make what is most divine in me rise back up to what is divine in the universe."

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book
I cannot say enough about Pierre Hadot. What he says in a paragraph is more than many scholars can say in an entire hefty tome. Hadot's Plotinus is intensely human, aspiring to the angelic, and always trying to recover from fleeting encounters with the Divine. Every page of this book is compelling, and Hadot shows that we have lost much in our own modern attitudes toward philosophy and thought, and uses Plotinus to propose a modest road to recovery.

This book is only a little over a hundred pages, but you will never find a better bang for your buck, guaranteed. "Sublime" doesn't even begin to describe it.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Then there is no longer an outside and an inside: only one single light...."
Pierre Hadot wrote PLOTINUS OR THE SIMPLICITY OF VISION at a time (1963) when far fewer supplementary Plotinian texts existed. This third edition paperback, translated from the French, has been available since 1993 essentially unchanged from the earliest version. Hadot's scholarship regarding both the life and philosophy of Plotinus has passed the test of time.

This short, but not superficial, overview examines Plotinus' teachings on the Self, Presence, Love, Virtues, Gentleness, and Solitude.

It also provides a spiritual biography of the third-century Roman and seeks to dispel certain misconceptions that reading THE LIFE OF PLOTINUS, by the master's student, Porphyry, can and have biased the minds of many pre-Hadot readers. Precious little is known about Plotinus' life, but Hadot takes care to place what is in the context of the norms of philosopher's era. Thus, Plotinus is depicted as a man of balance, not as a unhealthy ascetic: "Plotinus' spiritual life consists in tranquil confidence and peaceful gentleness," Hadot persuades.

Plotinus sought to teach his students constant inner contemplation (very similar to meditation disciplines popularized in the West over the last several decades but not widely influential here in 1963). In the ENNEADS (the compilation of his writings, as organized by Porphyry), he explains what a diligently practicing student could experience," ' Suddenly a light bursts forth, pure and alone. We wonder whence it came: from the outside, or from the inside?...The light comes from nowhere, and it goes nowhere; it simply either appears or does not appear....What a wonder!' "

For anyone interested in this philosopher/sage, PLOTINUS OR THE SIMPLICITY OF VISION is an outstanding place to begin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eternal Truths from Plotinus
The delusion that our modern age is superior to the ages that have preceded us is shattered by reading this remarkably well written book by Hadot on the writings of Plotinus. This great thinker and philosopher seems to bring us the source of what we assume to be "modern" discoveries about the nature of Being. Read this book and allow the darkness you live in to be illuminated! It is a breathtaking dive into brilliancy. ... Read more

4. Plotinus: The Enneads (LP Classic Reprint Series)
by Lorenz Books
Hardcover: 768 Pages (2004-07-25)
list price: US$75.00 -- used & new: US$49.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0943914558
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"The best edition to date" of the unabridged definitive Stephen MacKenna translation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Plotinus: The Divine, Supra-Celestial Philosophy
The sixth head of the Platonic Academy, Archesilaus (318-242 BC) was "the first to meddle with the system handed down by Plato (Diogenes Laertius, 4.6)." This meddling, Diogenes informs us, entailed a drastic shift in emphasis in which eristic skepticism was employed as the pre-eminent methodological approach to all philosophical inquiry.Thus with Archesilaus begins the Middle Academy, which fortuitously only lingered on until the advent of Antiochus of Ascalon (130-68 BC), who restored the school to something of its former glory, during the term known as the Middle-Platonic era.But with Plotinus (204-270 AD), upon whom the spirit of Plato descended so graciously, the Divine Philosophy found its fullest expression at last.Even St. Augustine, who did not sway from criticizing Plotinus in the City of God, remarked that "Plato should be thought of as coming to life again in Plotinus (Contra Academicos, 3.18.40)."And Eunapius, writing over a century after Plotinus' passing, tells us that "altars in honor of Plotinus are still warm, and his books are in the hands of educated men, more so than the dialogues of Plato (Lives of the Philosophers, pg. 353, LCL)." Porphyry also testified that in a celebrated oracle of Apollo, that Plotinus, postmortem, was apotheosized and enlisted among the ranks of Plato and Pythagoras in the celestial sphere of the Immortals (Life of Plotinus, 23).Such was his fame and such is his enduring legacy!

Now we owe this present collection of `Enneads' [=nines] to Plotinus' beloved student Porphyry, who collected and edited these sublime and terse philosophical discourses for posterity.(1.) The first series of `Enneads' Porphyry grouped contains moral and ethical treatises, (2.) the second, those on Natural Philosophy [Physics], (3.) the third, on the World and the operation of Fate, Providence, Eternity and Time, (4.) the fourth, elucidates the nature of the Soul, (5.) the fifth (6.) and sixth `Enneads' constitute various metaphysical treatises.

A summation some of the main tenets of Plotinus' philosophy goes as follows:Transcending all being is the One and the Good, the self-contained primal principle, which maintains the order and unity of all things and bestows all goodness, being Goodness and Unity itself.Attendant upon the One, is the secondary principle [or hypostasis], the Primal Intellect, in which thrive all Forms and Ideas that constitute the Authentic Existences, both actually and potentially.Attendant upon the Divine Intellect, is the tertiary hypostasis, Primal Soul, which emanates from the Intellect and the One. While extending into the Material-Cosmos, the All-Soul is transmutted into World-Soul, which distributes Rational Soul to all beings, gives Form to Matter, and is the herald of Nature within the Sense-World.The World-Soul, therefore, distributes all things from, and restores all things to, the three primary Hypostases, as in a circle.The World-Soul is positioned at the epi-center of the Cosmos and is its Limit and is the furthest extension of the Divine in the universe.Man is a micro-cosmos, and in the Hierarchy of Being, is positioned midway between the Divine Intellect and the Material-World.As an intellective soul (offspring of God), man may incline towards the Triad [One, Intellect, Soul], thus freeing his true-self from the fetters of the body, by practicing the practical, purificatory and contemplative virtues.Or, contrarywise, he may incline to the lower-self, which is attached to Nature and Matter and, ever alienating himself from the Triad, he becomes that which his soul was a personification of on earth; and this phase continues, in a series of graded re-births, until the soul deigns and learns to live virtuously and aspire to the blessed Triad, its native abode.Thus rewards and punishments for the soul differ accordingly to the exercise of virtue relative to each soul during embodiment.It is hoped that this brief outline will illuminate something of the essence of Plotinus' stellar philosophy.

Overall, Plotinus' Enneads are the most perfect and faithful systemization of his master Plato's thought.From the labyrinthine exchange of dialectic argumentation inherent to the Dialogues, Plotinus has uncovered the single mind of Plato.He has also lifted the veil of mystery from the Platonic myths and has disclosed their true meaning.The Enneads are a living testimony to the beauty and veracity of the deathless Platonic philosophy.

In Stephen MacKenna's classic edition, we have the most readable translation of the Enneads.The prose is very poetic, artful and vigorous, making this volume a most enjoyable and fulfilling read.Contained in Mackenna's version is the Life of Plotinus by Porphyry, an appendix providing a Suggestive Outline of Plotinian Metaphysics and meanings to various key passages from all existing English versions where indicated.

This book will be welcomed by students and scholars of Greek philosophy, by Christian theologians and classicists, or anyone venturing on the "hunt for true being (Plato, Phaedo 66C)."

5-0 out of 5 stars An inspired system of spiritual philosophy
_The Enneads (the Nines) is the greatest surviving work of spiritual philosophy of late antiquity. Here we have expounded Plotinus' interpretation of the perennial philosophy. We are shown that the material world has a spiritual origin, for all of creation emanates down from the divine Source, through the various levels of manifestation, to our own world. Moreover, we are shown that mankind's ultimate goal is to turn away from the distractions of this lower material creation and seek union with this divine Source (God, the One, the Good.)

_While Plotinus critised the Gnostic sects of his day, it is obvious that his own idea of intuitive intellectual knowledge, where subject and object unite in perfect understanding, is pure gnosis. The main disagreement seems to have been on the nature of the material world: The Gnostics held it to be inherently evil, while Plotinus saw it as simply lower and inferior, yet basically good.

_There is great wisdom in this book for those who can penetrate the traditional intuitive mindset. This only to be expected since Plotinus studied the perennial philosophy at the great library of Alexandria for over a decade. There is also the fact that Plotinus admitted to three episodes of enlightenment, epiphany, or cosmic consciousness in his life. Like all true masters, he was more of a reciever of timeless divine truths than an originator of anything new and contrived.

1-0 out of 5 stars Poor translation of Plotinus
Plotinus is a philosopher worth digesting but not in this 19th century indigestible translation by Stephen MacKenna. Book publishers often use old translations regardless of quality, so that they can go to print without paying the long-dead translator.
A good translation reads smoothly and clearly, as if the book had been originally written in English. It should not sound like this stilted gobbledygook from MacKenna in III.2.14 (p 149):
"In this demand for more good than exists, there is implied a failure to recognize that the form allotted to each entity is sufficient in itself; it is like complaining because one kind of animal lacks horns."Whaaaat????
Could MacKenna be trying to say something like: "All forms are perfect as created. Demanding something better than exists is like saying an animal without horns is inferior to one with horns."
Don't buy this inferior Penguin version of Plotinus but keep shopping.

5-0 out of 5 stars Arguably the greatest mind in Western culture
Plotinus ought to be read and digested by anyone who asks the ultimate question. Ultimately, his words point to a central experience - and presuppose that we wish to tread the same way. Western philosophy has had a lot of 'stick' in recent years, an inevitable reaction - given the fact that since the 18th c., much if not most Western philosophy has become a head trip - a tangle of knots. Modern philosophers like Heidegger have located the problem further back - with Platonism, and it has become a common place to see all Western philosophy as chopped logic, resulting in a fragmented perception of reality.

Everything Plotinus says - points to a crowning experience, what he termed 'henosis' - realising a state of 'at-onement.' Hence, any idea of identifying Plotinus use of the term 'Nous' (translated as 'intellect' in English) with its narrower, modern equivalent, would be a fatal misunderstanding. Plotinus leaves no room for distinctions between the knower and the known, presenting a marked parallel with Buddhist intuitions. Given theextensive influence that Buddhism has exerted upon western culture in recent years, it would be a crime to ignore the fruit-ful parallels afforded by Plotinus.

More to the point, a reading of Plotinus raises some serious questions about the verdict of people like Heidegger - when it comes to the history of Western philosophy. Moreover, it would not do to whinge about the Christian refutation of 'pagans,'as ifthe Church ignored Plotinus. His ideas influenced the early Church fathers - an influence that continued with people like Aquinus, Augustine - Eckhart etc.Hence, Heidegger's view of Western philosophy/theology as a kind of degeneration and fragmentation of 'Being' - is open to question, and one wonders why a whole generation of scholars like him, have persistently ignored what philosophers like Plotinus had to say. It is not all 'bad news.' A certain kind of 'Platonism' may well amount to what Nietzsche called 'the palest and thinnest ideas of all,' but by the same token, another form of it helped shape the intuitions of Meister Eckhart, and inspired Renaissance thinkers like Ficino. W.Y. Evans-Wentz, the noted American scholar-gypsy, a Rhodes scholar who sat at the feet of eminent Tibetan Lamas, and helped pave the way for a Western absorption of Buddhist ideas, held Plotinus in great esteem - seeing a perennial philosophy in the best of Western and Oriental civilisation.Hence, the Paul Brunton foundation endeavoured to promote a proper study of Plotinus' thought.

Stephen Mackenna's translation of the Enneads was a labour of love, and gave his life to the task. It taxed Mackenna's strength, some portions of the text being completed by people like B.S. Page. The Larson edition is of especial value here, examining the nuance of various terms found in Plotinus' work - all told, the best single volume edition of the Enneads. Thanks to John Dillon's endeavours, an economically priced, abridged version of Mackenna's work is available in p/back. Dillon's comments are well worth taking into account. A.H. Armstrong's translation (with the Greek text) is available in separate volumes, but the Larson/Mackenna version - with plentiful notes, cross references etc., is the best buy for the general reader who wants to devote some time to the idioms used by Plotinus. Nobody finds Plotinus an easy read, but as the other reviews testify, those who allow Plotinus' intuitions to play upon their minds, and read between the lines, will find their vision enlarged. It is no small thing to discover that our microcosmic selves participate in the life of the divine energeia - embodying some-thing of its power, enabling us to share in the life of the whole - to feel and know that we are at one with it. Like the Yi-Ching, the Upanishads, or Prajnaparamita, Plotinus' is one of those seminal influences, providing the pinnacle of insight for a whole civilisation. Wells may be forgotten or blocked over, but the water is always there to drink.

5-0 out of 5 stars the ultimate sky-hook
Readers of mine may notice that I rarely speak of fiction and prefer
the term "imaginative literature." Plotinus, by trade, was a
philosopher, and some of the greatest in his profession, apart from
unusual powers of reasoning, are not exactly conspicuous for their
imagination. But others did great and displayed fertile imagination
and linguistic felicity. Even if totally refuted in a strictly
philosophical sense, their work remains to be a source of inspiration
and a joy to read.

Plotinus began publishing in the advanced
age of 49. His work became the hidden nursery of Christian theology;
something he certainly didn't intend. The Christian apologist
Tatian, in his address "Against the Greeks," expressed an
increasingly popular sentiment when he said: "I am not to worship
God's creation made for our use. The Sun and the Moon were made on
our account. How then shall I worship my own ministers?" Plotinus,
usually never shrill, replied in strong terms:

temerity is only too willing to accept such grandiloquent ravings. The
simple folks hear: 'People whose worship is inherited from
antiquity are not His children - you are!'So you address the
lowest of men as brothers, but you deny this courtesy to the Sun and
disown your ties with the Cosmos?" Plotinus created the last great
synthesis of antique philosophy. It combined Plato's theory of Ideas
with a doctrine of emanation, a constant flux of creative energy from
the primeval One through several agencies all the way down to humans,
animals, and matter in various states of lesser reality.

this vision even the polytheistic pantheon participates in the
ultimately undivided unity of the cause for our
existence. Plotinus' reasoning is not difficult to follow, but for
us modern semi-barbarians, his discerning subtlety often seems to
verge on empty verbiage. However the basic premise is endearingly
simple: "It is unity that makes a being. The members of every plant
and animal form a unity; separation means loss of existence."
History has been written by the victorious, so our views reflect the
dim opinions of paganism's worst enemy; but let me assure you, in
their days, the Pagans had the better thinkers on their side.

So, once in the saddle, Christians went on the offensive. Egged on
by their bishop, Alexandria's mob flayed alive the philosopher
Hypathia in her own lecture-hall, because she was a mathematician, a
philosopher, a pagan, and - what in the eyes of her Christian
opponents was her worst sin - a woman. Two centuries later, Emperor
Justinian, the bigot, switched off the lights, and drove Athen's
last philosophers into exile. It took a treaty with foreign powers,
that the last pagan intellectuals got permission to go home to their
families and end their lives in peace and darkness.

was always honest about the possibility to actually get it wrong:
"Consider sense knowledge: its objects seem most patently artified,
yet the doubt remains whether the apparent reality may not lie in the
states of the percipient rather than in the material before him."
He even seems to have anticipated the modern concept of gravity: "The
heavens, by their nature, will either be motionless or move by circle;
all other movement indicates outside compulsion."

In a
series of papers from 1969-1978, Professor Robert Fischer (not the
chess-champion) made explicit reference to Plotinus' description
of his mystical ecstasy. Based on controlled experiments with
mind-enhancing substances, Fischer mapped out an ascending continuum
of nervous arousal that bridges the state of meditative torpor on one
end with the surrender to white hot hysteria on the other. Such
ecstasy occurs when amphetamine or LSD or some kind of prayer
discipline breach the amnesic state boundaries, that structure our
layers of memory, and causes an overload of data which freezes the
mental "hard drive."

In Plotinus' own words:
"Abandon the duality of seer and seen, and count both as one, so that
he in its vision does not distinguish, nor even imagines a duality. He
has changed, does no longer own himself, but belongs to the One, a
center in sync with the center. He will behold a solitary light
suddenly revealing itself - not from some perceived object, but pure
and self-contained. We must not enquire its origin, for there is no
"origin." The primal One does not come on cue, it is not
like one who enters, but who is eternally present. Like one who has
entered the temple's inner sanctuary and left the images behind,
the self is perfectly still and alone. This is liberation from the
alien that besets us here ..."

Plotinus enjoyed this
experience only four times in the five or six years that his
biographer Porphyry knew him. Given the choice, I am not quite sure,
whether I really would like to relinquish my distance as separate
observer, but it is a noted fact, that everyone who ever
"returned" from the bright light of such schizoid stupor (which
includes so called "near death experiences") did so with deep
regret. It is a fact of our empirical existence, though not effected
by some numinous sky hook, as Plotinus would like us to think. Still,
the most fantastic of all philosophies could actually be the most
realistic description of the intellect and its evolution, to date.

"The Universe is organized, effective, complex, lavish, but
it cannot be at once symbol and reality. As we look upon the world,
its vastness and beauty and the order of its eternal march, and think
of the gods seen and hidden, and the life of animal and plant, let us
ascend to its archetype, to the yet more authentic sphere of unsoiled
intelligence. That archetypal world is the true Golden Age, age of
Kronos, who is the Intellectual-Principle, the exuberance of the
One." Paganism at its best.

... Read more

5. Essential Plotinus: Representative Treatises from the Enneads
by Plotinus, Elmer O'Brien
Hardcover: 236 Pages (1975-06-01)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$16.84
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Asin: 0915144107
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introductory selection
This is a very fine selection from the Enneads, in a lucid, quite readable translation.Far more accurate than McKenna's paraphrase, it is also much more euphonious than Armstrong's Loeb translation.

I have used this text with an undergraduate reading group; we read one of the selected Enneads (or two of the shorter ones) per week over the course of half a semester.It was a great success.The Enneads here are arranged in a logical order, leading students deeper and deeper into the metaphysics.There is a clear introduction to each treatise; and, what I like most about this edition, a group of related readings (from Plato, Aristotle, the presocratics and Stoics) keyed to the Plotinus readings.The edition also comes with a helpful glossary, defining Plotinian terms and crossreferencing them to the selected Enneads, and a 20-page introduction to Plotinus's thought.Taken all together, it is a (nearly) complete self-contained course in Plotinus, either for private study or in a group.

I have only a few criticisms.The selections concentrate on the distinction among the three hypostases and their natures.It can thus get a little repetitive: after reading Intelligence, Ideas and Being (V.9), The Good or the One (VI.9) and The Three Primal Hypostases (V.1), one does begin to feel that the same ideas are being hammered into one's head again and again (though Plotinus can be a bit like that...).It would have been interesting, for variety's sake, to have a little more on such subjects as providence, the nature of evil, free will etc.To supplement the text, I had my students read Pierre Hadot's wonderful "Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision," which avoids getting too much into the complexity of the metaphysics, stressing the transformative and ethical sides of Plotinus's philosophy; and Dillon & Gerson's "Neoplatonic Philosophy," which has (less finely translated) substantial excerpts from Plotinus on evil, providence etc., and continueson through to Proclus.

But having said that, I still think that this is the book to start with for anyone who wants to discover for him or herself the beauty and subtlety of Plotinus's philosophy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Sample of Plotinus
The Essential Plotinus: Representative Treatises from the Enneads by Elmer O'Brien provides a short selection of Plotinus' more important writings.Though not widely read today Plotinus had a tremendous influence on ancient and medieval thought. Rather esoteric and oblique from a twentieth-first standpoint, his work remains relevant for students of philosophy and theology.In particular, Plotinus' view of the One's (God) transcendence and his thoughts regarding the limitations of intellectual analysis and reason are helpful.

I would recommend the book as an entry point for someone seeking an introduction to Plotinus.This is not, however, a good starting point for someone who is new to the field of philosophy.From my perspective, as others have noted, O'Brien's translation is quite readable (about as readable as Plotinus gets anyways).A potential drawback is the limited analysis and context provided by the author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Discourse on The Religious Experience
Plotinus, the philosopher. Interesting, how Plotinus takes the writings of Plato, the Stoics, Parmenides and fragments of Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles and Aristotle and pieces it all together in what he perceives as a clearer model. It's amazing how Plotinus and his predecessors knew all this. How did they? Now on much of their logic, there is validity, but in their assessment of what exactly happens at death and what created the human mind, soul and being is nothing short of human speculation, both valid expressions and those obviously erroneous.

Now the feeling I get from reading this book, that is, the psychology of Plotinus, is that of a both very learned individual with much profundity and yet with a pompous officiality of the "philosopher," sort of like the Martin Heidegger of German philosophy - the Mr. "knowledge" and official doctorate of educated impressiveness. I mean, did any of these philosophers die and come back from the other realm to relate in such accurate detail the accounts of Beinghood, the soul and the origin of life? And yet, Plotinus, in many instances, writes as "proof" from what he is interpreting, expounding and elaborating on. You really have to read this book with a grain of salt. I can't help thinking of Swedenborg and Hildegard von Bingen, the metaphysical visionaries of philosophical insight in the Christian mystic venue of origins and spiritual realms of life, although, these mystics do not appear as the pompous philosophical Plotinus type, but much more as the William Blake side of the coin as visionaries of ambiguity, as opposed to Plato, who although discounting myths for reason, wrote the accounts of Phaedo and Phaedrus, the amazing stories of spiritual life in the heavens and their subsequent returns. Such stories influenced our friend here, Plotinus.

And so with this in mind, the book itself has many limitations, but it is truly an interesting and enlightening read despite all its declared "proofs" of authenticity. And it relays an outstanding view on facilities of reason, intelligence, Beinghood, unity, diversity, multiplicity, oneness, and so forth. The only thing is sometimes Plotinus speaks rather clearly and beautifully and at other times obscurely and wordy like the German Immanuel Kant in his constant repetition of words over and over again defining themselves in Aristotelian terms of definitive over emphasis.

In this book, Plotinus outlays the three hypostasis, the "One," the "Intelligence," and the "Soul." The One transcends essence, existence, beyond number and name, denied of all multiplicity, the first and everything's goal. The Intelligence is undivided Being from which proceeds the Soul which is the maker of the cosmos through Nature. The Soul consists of a multiplicities that are the pilots of earthy life.

Beauty consists of an idea of symmetry of diversity in unity, that is an idea we have of multiplicity that is unified symmetrically, which we perceive in form and interpret as beauty. Not all things however are images of models, as the Soul is not that, but is a thing in itself, soul-as-such. The soul, tired of living with someone else, "falls" down into earthly individuality, and although it can never abandon itself, it becomes severed and fragmented and forgets its worth as it gets caught up in its inquires of bodily life. Souls do not descend freely nor are they sent. They move towards bodies indeliberately, as if by instinct based on a law of karma-justice, drawn without reflection. There is a paradox; humans become imprinted with memories, snapshots, from bodily impressions, so they are reduced from the memories of the collective soul, while the souls, when apart from bodies, then get caught up in the higher levels so that they forget the lower. The soul remembers its previous lives, even though some recollections have vanished through lack of appreciation. When freed of the body, it will remember things it could not remember in its present life, but in time forgets many of the vents it has encountered. There are two types of memories, the fragmented soul with bodily impressions of the earthly reality, and the soul that is joined with the collective Soul that is united in a larger memory database apart from the bodily sensations. (Pages, 91-92, 145, 152-160, 188).

"It is one thing to think; it is another thing to perceive one's thought. We are always thinking. But we do not always perceive out thought because the subject and receives the thoughts receives also, alternately, sensations." P. 158

"The wise man is penetrated by reason and has wholly within himself what he manifests to others. He contemplates himself. He achieves unity and immobility not only in regard to external objects but also in regard to the things within himself. He finds all things within himself." P. 168

One other thing about this book. Its amazing to see, and you can, the influence of Plotinus here on the early church fathers, such as Augustine, Tertullian and others, how they took Plato and Plotinus and covered it over with their Christian grid of terminology and interpretation and "wala," a new, more spiritually sophisticated and profound Christianity was born. This also influenced the Gnostic Christians as well, although Plotinus rejected Christianity in its severe lack of philosophical inquiry, which according to Plato and Plotinus, is the only way towards pure beauty and the higher realms.

4-0 out of 5 stars The One, The Intellect and onward
The base of Plotinus' philosophical system begins with what he calls The One, which is all things and no things... absolute unity, completely indivisible and set beyond existence. From The One emanates the less perfect universal Intellect from which the universal Soul emanates also less perfect, from which individual souls emanate. Plotinus postulates that every man is conflicted between a desire for individuality and a stronger, but poorly guided, yearning to return to the absolute unity of the one. He outlines that all beautiful things are more or less reflections of the Unity that all souls seek, but we are easily distracted by the reflections, blinded by the bodily, and led astray. he offers a cosmological view of the universe as it extends from the One and a partial guide to returning oneself to the One, although it is a journey he himself has not been able to complete.
Partially philosophic and partially a beautiful spiritual account, The Enneads are essential reading for anyone wanting to fully understand western philosophy; to see a crucial development on Platonic ideas and to see his influence in later philosophy/theology such as the works of Thomas Acquinas. It is so valuable itsown right as a well written and thoughtful attempt to express something very familiar but unwordable that runs through the human psyche.
The Elmer O'Brien translation is a good introductory text for anyone wishing to become acquinted with, but not deeply familiar with the works of Plotinus. He presents a sort of "best of the treatises" arranged in a way that he finds most accesible to the reader. For the more devoted scholar, the multitude of Loeb copies will both be more accurate, more complete, more comprehensive and offer the oppurtunity to read the greek text directly, which offers many insights that can't be conveyed into a perspicacious english text. As an introductory read, however, the O'Brien far outweighs the McKenna translation in accuracy and conveys a tone somewhat more akin to the actual writings of Plotinus.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Resource
Few people today read Plotinus whose work ranked with Plato's and Aristotle's in Antiquity. Indeed a knowledge of this difficult and esoteric philosopher's thought is a must for understanding western philosophy through Spinoza. Unfortunately, MacKenna's edition-- the standard in English-- is lacking for many reasons (looseness and excessive liberty in translation for one). O'Brien avoids these pitfalls. This is a beautiful translation of a well-chosen representation of texts. Start with "On Beauty" for an easy introduction to a mystic tradition now largely forgotten. Make no mistake about it, however, Plotinus is difficult, albeit rewarding, to read under any circumstances (I almost suspect it is a proof of insanity to claim to comprehendfully "The Three Primal Hypostasis"). Luckily O'Brien has done several things to help the reader. Aside from a beautiful translation ably annotated, he supplies a useful introduction and an appendix of texts from Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics that Plotinus creatively appropriated and reinterpreted in a highly original way. O'Brien thoughtfully directs the reader's attention to the appropriate passage[s] in Plotinus. Read this book and you will begin to understand how the teaching of this esoteric Neo-Platonist was once a serious rival to Christianity. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

6. Return To The One: Plotinus's Guide To God-Realization
by Brian Hines
Paperback: 390 Pages (2009-01-01)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$15.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0977735214
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In the Enneads, 3rd century mystic philosopher Plotinus synthesized a thousand years of accumulated Greek wisdom with his own profound mystical experiences. What is the nature of God? Of spirit? Of soul? In what fashion can God be realized? How can the validity of spiritual experiences be tested?Return to the One presents Plotinus's compelling answers to such ageless questions in a refreshing modern style. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, you will find yourself challenged and stimulated by Plotinus's matchless blend of rationality and mysticism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost read in one sitting --- superb book
Never in my life have I enjoyed a philosophy book so much.It is easy to read and understand. The author has a real talent for taking mystifying passages and expressing them in plain English. This book was a joy to read. I wish the author would write an entire series of books based on explaining the "Great Ones"! Well done and many thanks. Your book really fed my soul!

5-0 out of 5 stars Good book
I had a question: How do you go from Plato to Ficino? The path seemed to go through a few obscure (for me at least) romanized philosophers, like Plotinus, Porphiry, Iamblichus, etc. I took a volume of the Enneads (the 3rd Ennead) from the library and... I couldn't keep my concentration. It was even stranger than Ficino, Bruno, etc. I just didn't understand what was going on. Then I decided to get this book.

This is a good introduction/summary/study to Plotinus philosophical thought. How do I know it is good? Well, first of all, it makes sense. It answers many questions, and do that very clearly. If you are new to Greek philosophy, you'd probably think it is repetitive or even too mystical. Nothing of the sort: Mr. Hines is telling it as it is. Plotinus must be read slowly and reflexively. Now I have re-started the Enneads and this time I have a general picture to guide me, thanks to Mr. Hines.

Second, the author explains concisely some "features" of Greek thought that help understand Plotinus better, which I found very fitting and to the point. This "help" could have been overlooked easily, as so many authors do, but it should result very useful to many readers. If you'd like to expand on this kind of "background" topics, I could recommend Jean-Pierre Vernant's books, specially "Myth and Thought Among the Greeks", which is kind of dense, but infinitely rewarding.

Third, Mr. Hines is not afraid of explicitly quoting from contemporary authors, specially from Pierre Hadot, "Plotinus" (I have bought this book now and it is next in the queue). This is something to praise. Many authors of popular books feel the need to appear as entirely original or as something like "monolithic", and go quietly plagiarizing others. Mr. Hines here gives a lesson on humility and realism.

Only one negative comment: In the Introduction, Mr. Hines wastes (in my opinion) a full paragraph explaining the usage of "he" and "she" in his book, and apologizing in advance in case someone finds it sexist, etc. Then in the book itself almost all of the examples and illustrations from ordinary life he uses are quite sexist: women are worried about love relationships and like putting on make-up; men are worried about work and like sports, etc. Personally I don't care so much. I just want to point out the paradox.

As a summary: this is a good book about a difficult subject. If you are not particularly interested in Plotinus or Neoplatonism, this book could be tedious. But if you are planning to plunge into the Enneads, and you are not a scholar, you will probably need some help: buy this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars He who cannot learn from 3000 years is living from hand to mouth
Goethe expressed the fundamental truth that there is nothing much more to Philosophy than footnotes to Plato.

Plotinus, some 600 years later than Plato, eliminated the Platonic dabbling in politics and quietly separated Greek mysticism from the emerging fundamentalism of Christianity and became, somewhat bemusedly, a cult figure in his own right.

Brian Hines deals with the subject in a hugely sympathatic way.

And so it should be.

If there is any hope for the future it has to be in something which does not change with time.

And Plato, after some 24 centuries, is as close as one can be to Timeless.

And Truth has to be time-less.

Well, according to Plotinus.

Father Robin.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book for all faiths
Hines' book comments and expands on a variety of paragraphs from the Enneads, a set of treatises by Greek philosopher and mystic Plotinus.The "central message . . . .is that what each of us truly longs for, even if we don't consciously realize it, is to return to the One--which may be thought of as `God'. . ."Even in translation Plotinus is difficult for the modern reader, and Hines does a good job of making this very religious philosopher accessible.

Plotinus is often Buddhist and sometimes Christian in his outlook.No matter what their stance, this book can help readers of all traditions identify the yearnings that drew them in the first place. Hines concludes, "If religious pursuit is viewed as akin to a trek up a mountain with God at the apex, then the various religions may be conceived as paths that attempt the ascent up different vertical divisions of the mountain."His point is not merely that the differences are differences of symbol, language, and understanding of revelation.His point is a deeper one: that the Divine One offers us unity, not mere relationship with Another.In these chapters, Christians might find themselves thinking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; Buddhists might think of Buddha Nature or even Dependent Arising in general.

Hines has a gift for short, memorable comments:
* The soul isn't in a body: it is a body that is in the soul.
* Simplicity is a reliable guide to truth.
* If I'm bad it isn't because the Devil made me do it.I'm justinsufficiently filled with the Good.

Many readers will disagree with Plotinus' concept of each soul's pre-existence, the idea that each of us has had "an enduring soul-essence" that has been reborn in this universe.His thoughts on the subject, as well as Hines' comments, are still worth reading and pondering.If you disagree, keep reading, and focus on what else he says, that each of us is more than just the "I" that we know ourselves to be.

There are things to disagree with in this book.There are also things to learn, and many opportunities for growth.You'll come away feeling like God is your friend:God is present to all beings . . . the world participates in God.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucid and Luminous
For years I've been telling friends, "You must read Plotinus--he's the single greatest mind in the Western mystical tradition."But when they pick up his great classic, the Enneads, they complain they can't understand a word!The problem is the English translations are geared for readers with an extensive knowledge of ancient Greek philosophical terminology.
I'm so grateful to Brian Hines for writing a book that makes Plotinus' profound and incredibly inspiring insights accessible to everyone.With bracing clarity and vivid examples Hines "unpacks" the Enneads, explaining the master's brilliant realizations in terms people today can easily understand.
Lucid and luminous, Return to the One is a contemporary spiritual classic. ... Read more

7. The Six Enneads
by Plotinus
Hardcover: 766 Pages (2010-05-23)
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But does not Likeness by way of Virtue imply Likeness to some being that has Virtue? To what Divine Being, then, would our Likeness be? To the Being- must we not think?- in Which, above all, such excellence seems to inhere, that is to the Soul of the Kosmos and to the Principle ruling within it, the Principle endowed with a wisdom most wonderful. What could be more fitting than that we, living in this world, should become Like to its ruler? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Kindle Disappointment
Here we have a text consisting of 54 separate treatises, which the publishers thought appropriate to offer without an active table of contents. Ridiculous. When will Amazon impose even the most basic publication and advertising standards on these Kindle books--for example, accurate information regarding original publishers, editions, translators, functionality? ... Read more

8. Plotinus: Volume VI, EnneadVI.1-5 (Loeb Classical Library No. 445)
by Plotinus
Hardcover: 368 Pages (1988-01-01)
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Plotinus (204/5-270 CE) was the first and greatest of Neoplatonic philosophers. His writings were edited by his disciple Porphyry, who published them many years after his master's death in six sets of nine treatises each (the Enneads).

Plotinus regarded Plato as his master, and his own philosophy is a profoundly original development of the Platonism of the first two centuries of the Christian era and the closely related thought of the Neopythagoreans, with some influences from Aristotle and his followers and the Stoics, whose writings he knew well but used critically. He is a unique combination of mystic and Hellenic rationalist. His thought dominated later Greek philosophy and influenced both Christians and Moslems, and is still alive today because of its union of rationality and intense religious experience.

In his acclaimed edition of Plotinus, Armstrong provides excellent introductions to each treatise. His invaluable notes explain obscure passages and give reference to parallels in Plotinus and others.

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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A mystical and spiritual genius who still speaks with wisdom
One scholar once called Plotinus 'The most brilliant and original Philosopher after Plato.'While one could also perhaps give that same title to Aristotle or another Philosopher (i.e. Epicurus reached similar speculative heights but in materialism rather than the spiritual side of philosophy), it must be acknowledged that Plotinus is one of the world's most brilliant spiritual teachers, mystics and philosophers, all in one man.

Plotinus was taught by a fellow called Ammonius Saccas, the same man who taught the outstanding Christian Philosopher Origen.Plotinus found Saccas at the age of 26 (so his biographer Porphyry tells us) and proclaimed 'this is the man I have been looking for!'Plotinus is also said to have remarked about not wanting to have his portrait painted because he was in a material body, and telling his students 'to unite the divine in you with the Divine in the universe.'

By the accounts we have Plotinus was a very gentle, intelligent and humble man, probably from the Aristocratic class.While highly virtuous and shunning material wealth, he had many aristocratic friends and also looked after the raising of children and orphans.

Plotinus was a Platonist through and through, regarding all of Plato's works essentially as divinely inspired truth about both the visible and invisible realms of reality.However, Plotinus was also very much in his own right, an original speculative philosopher and mystic of immense creative power.Plotinus was also deeply rational, and was averse to any kind of fanatical adherence to religious beliefs or claims salvation was found by irrational means, such as by magic, divination or worshipping a saviour figure.Plotinus looked sympathetically upon such practices for those who needed the emotional in religion, but for Plotinus, the main goal was to find and unite with the Absolute in so far as it was possible in this mortal body.

Plotinus's cooly rational system is extremely abstract and difficult to fathom.A.H. Armstrong's translation is the best I've seen in English, but even so Plotinus does not write well stylistically and often repeats himself or goes on long digressions over the same point when he doesn't need to.But even so, Plotinus has immense and profound insight into both himself and the Absolute, rarely matched anywhere in the world's mystical or religious literature.

To summarise, the aim and goal of man on Earth is to unite with the highest reality which exists, which Plotinus calls 'The One.'The One is the source of all being, life, and existence, and the creator of the universe, however at the same time it is so transcendant we can't say what it is, only what it isn't.Plotinus identifies the One with the Good and the Beautiful as it occurs in Plato's works, and also says it is unlimited, infinite, and beyond being.

From the One comes the Soul, and from Soul comes Nous or Intellect.From this triad everything in existence rests, comes into being, and returns in a grand procession which never ends.

Despite the fact the One is essentially incomprehensible and ineffable and there is really no way we can rationally understand it as it is, Plotinus believed union with the Absolute was possible by looking within the Self.For Plotinus, this marvelous 'vision', which is the highest happiness to be held in this life, happened four times in his life and references to this estatic mystical experience occur throughout the Enneads.The ascent to the highest reality occurs by looking in oneself once the philosopher has 'purified' himself through the practice of virtue, or by contemplation of the Forms.All help in the ascent to the highest, the One itself.

Plotinus's brilliant mystical philosophy is not only a work of genius in itself, but also had an immense impact on Christianity, Judaism and Islam.St Augustine and many other Church fathers were very deeply influenced by his mysticism, and adopted many elements of Plotinus in their own theological and mystical systems.Plotinus also influenced Islam through the so called 'Book of Causes', attributed to Aristotle, but which in fact was a mixture of the Enneads and Proclus (another Neo-Platonist) in Arabic, especially in Sufi mystical thought.

Today in our age, when the spiritual seems to have less relevance because so much can be explained by material causes, laws and forces through the application of Science, Plotinus can at times seem to be an archaic remnant of an age where irrational belief in magic and the unseen held a superstitious hold over the mind of humans.But, if one tries to read Plotinus not as a master of science but of the spirit, then his striking genius radiates from every page.

Any seeker should try to read and understand Plotinus and listen to what this calm and sagely philosopher has to say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Most intelligent collection of philosophy on earth
Plotinus' logic is second to none. I personally found more from reading Plotinus than from 6 years in college. the Emanationism as illuminated by Plotinus is the only philosophically logical description of the cosmos, opposite to both creationism and Nihilism/athiesm, as well as opposed to Pantheism and Gnosticism, the philosophy of Plotinus is pithy, intense and has NO EQUAL in intelligence and breadth, period.

Having myself many 1000s of books on philosophy and as an translator of ancient pali philosophical texts, I must say i find that most of which I have read in life to be utter trash, or worthless at best, save for Plotinus.

I personally find the Enneads of Plotinus to be my "Bible", his concise and laser-like accuracy to logic and emphasis of "Union with the One" to be the Paramount of metaphysical writtings.

Its unfortunate that so many Christians seek 'God-talk' in the works of Plotinus, when in fact there are none, for Plotinus, an Emanationist who speaks of the insentient Absolute, the Divine, is utterly opposed to a sentient self-aware Creationistic GOD who holds the fate of mankind in his hand.

Its absolutely unreal that Plotinus' works are so unknown, by and large, having read from all the Presocratics, and other Neoplatonists, and Plato and the rest, none approach the intelligent and insight that Plotinus reaches in the Enneads.

A.H. Armstrongs translation is the best available, the work by Mr. Steven MacKenna is poor at best, and that of T. Taylor is incomplete and far too lose.

I cherish this 7 Vol. translation with the Greek more than any other set of works, the metaphysical emphasis of wisdom and Union (EPISTROPHE) with the One in this collection is the best of its kind which exists. Buy this collection and youll never regret it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ultimate net. Web of the universe!
While Plotinus has always had his devotees -(Neo-)Platonism has received a heavy bashing in our times, chiefly a legacy of Nietzsche's and Heidegger's strictures. According to them, it was all something of a mistake.

However, the fact remains that 'Platonism' of a certain sort has to be thanked for some of the most inspired - and inspiring elements of Western culture. Meister Eckhart - for instance, who has certainly been back on the map - is an heir to the Platonist tradition. Nietzsche's view of the Renaissance as a kind of 'inversion' of Platonist thought was entirely mistaken. People like Ficino and members of the Florentine Academy were ardent students of Platonism - especially as re-stated by Plotinus.

Walk round any classic Italian city - and the beauty you see is very much a legacy of Neo-Platonism. It isn't - and wasn't, the 'dead' claptrap Nietzsche and Heidegger spoke of. One upshot of the contemporary disdain for 'traditional' Western philosophy is to look at 'Oriental' teachings. That is a fine and meaningful enterprise. Yet Meister Eckhart - highly infuenced by Platonism, is frequently cited as a Western 'thinker' who is in tune with 'Oriental' thought.

Read Plotinus carefully, and you'll be in for some pleasant surprises. He hints about a process called 'henosis' - becoming 'one'd' with the action of the divine energeia. For him, this was not just something inside the cranium, but an actual experience - like a Zen 'satori.' We are no longer accustomed to the kind of terms and language employed by Plotinus, but the effort to recapture his terms of thinking
brings all sorts of precious intuitions. The most dualistic elements of the Western tradition are relatively recent - a legacy of Cartesian philosophy, modern rationalism and the Industrial Revolution.

It is nothing more than a shallow generalisation to 'lump' all the bad elements of Western philosophy together - as a legacy of Platonism. There is much sublimity and beauty in it, and you will find both in good measure - if you digest the writings of Plotinus.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Loeb Edition Table of Contents
This Loeb Classical Library edition of the works of Plotinus is in seven volumes. The titles are as follows:

Plotinus I: Porphyry on Plotinus, Ennead I (Loeb Classical Library, 440)

Plotinus II: Ennead II (Loeb Classical Library, 441)

Plotinus III: Ennead III (Loeb Classical Library, 442)

Plotinus IV: Ennead IV (Loeb Classical Library, 443)

Plotinus V: Ennead V (Loeb Classical Library, 444)

Plotinus VI: Ennead VI, Books 1-5 (Loeb Classical Library, 445)

Plotinus VII: Ennead VI, Books 6-9 (Loeb Classical Library, 468)


Below is the combined table of contents for those volumes:


Preface (editors)

Sigla (editors)

On the Life of Plotinus and the Order of his Books (Porphyry)

Ennead I:

1. What is the Living Being, and What is Man? (53)

2. On Virtues (19)

3. On Dialectic (20)

4. On Well-being (46)

5. On Whether Well-being Increases with Time (36)

6. On Beauty (1)

7. On the Primal Good and the Other Goods (54)

8. On What Are and Whence Come Evils (51)

9. On Going Out of the Body (16)


Sigla (editors)

Ennead II:

1. On Heaven (40)

2. On the Movement of Heaven (14)

3. On Whether the Stars are Causes (52)

4. On Matter (12)

5. On What Exists Actually and What Potentially (25)

6. On Substance, or On Quality (17)

7. On Complete Transfusion (37)

8. On Sight, or How Distant Objects Appear Small (35)

9. Against the Gnostics (33)


Sigla (editors)

Ennead III:

1. On Destiny (3)

2. On Providence I (47)

3. On Providence II (48)

4. On Our Allotted Guardian Spirit (15)

5. On Love (50)

6. On the Impassibility of Things without Body (26)

7. On Eternity and Time (45)

8. On Nature and Contemplation and the One (30)

9. Various Considerations (13)


Preface to the Loeb Plotinus IV-V (A. H. Armstrong)

Sigla (editors)

Ennead IV:

1. [2] On the Essence of the Soul I (4)

2. [1] On the Essence of the Soul II (21)

3. On Difficulties About of the Soul I (27)

4. On Difficulties About of the Soul I (28)

5. On Difficulties About of the Soul III, Or On Sight (29)

6. On Sense Perception and Memory (41)

7. On the Immortality of the Soul (2)

8. On the Descent of the Soul into Bodies (6)

9. If All Souls are One (8)


Preface to the Loeb Plotinus IV-V (A. H. Armstrong)

Sigla (editors)

Ennead V:

1. On the Three Primary Hypostases (10)

2. On the Origin and Order of the Beings Which Come After the First (11)

3. On the Knowing Hypostases and That Which is Beyond (49)

4. How That Which is After the First Comes From the First, And on the One (7)

5. That the Intelligibles are not Outside the Intellect, and on the Good (32)

6. On the Fact that that Which is Beyond Being does not Think, and on What is the Primary and What the Secondary Thinking Principle (24)

7. On the Question Whether there are Ideas of Particular Things (18)

8. On the Intelligible Beauty (31)

9. On Intellect, the Forms, and Being (5)


Preface to the Loeb Plotinus VI, VII (A. H. Armstrong)

Sigla (editors)

Ennead VI (continued in volume VII):

1. On the Kinds of Being I (42)

2. On the Kinds of Being II (43)

3. On the Kinds of Being III (44)

4. On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole I (22)

5. On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole II (23)


Preface to the Loeb Plotinus VI, VII (A. H. Armstrong)

Sigla (editors)

Ennead VI (continued from volume VI):

6. On Numbers (34)

7. How the Multitude of Forms Came into Being, and on the Good (38)

8. On Free Will and the Will of the One (39)

9. On the Good or the One (9)

The numbers in parentheses indicate Plotinus' order of composition, which differs from the order given them by Porphyry and which this edition follows.

The bracketed numbers for the first two chapters of Ennead IV are an alternate ordering for them.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Edition of Plotinus
As is typical for the Loeb classical library books, the volumes are physically small, and the original text (Greek, for Plotinus) is given on the left hand page, with the English translation on the right.

The Preface describes the historical context within which Plotinus wrote, offers a summary of this thought, and a survey of Plotinus translations, commentaries, and studies. This material is supplemented by short introductions and synopses at the start of each chapter, and by abundant and detailed footnotes. The footnotes explain translation difficulties (not uncommon with Plotinus), and also identify the sources of Plotinus' references to other writers. These materials are excellent.

The only thing that this edition lacks is an index. The editors plead the difficulty of indexing Plotinus, and recommend "Lexicon Plotinianum" by J. H. Sleeman and Gilbert Pollet as an alternative. This work is, however, out of print (is it even in English? I am not sure) so it is not a very helpful suggestion. As it is, given Plotinus' rather scattered way of writing, an index is missed.

The Enneads are a collection of Plotinus' writings from fairly late in his life. Porphyry, his student, encouraged him in writing down his teachings, and acted as his posthumous editor (he also wrote a short biography of Plotinus which is included in the first volume). The works as they exist today are as they were received from Porphyry. As editor, Porphyry created his own organization for the works based on subject matter. This order is completely different from the order in which Plotinus wrote them. Porphyry, however, did document the original ordering.

From my own experience, however, I would recommend strongly reading Plotinus' writings in the order Plotinus wrote them rather than the order in which Porphyry arranged them. The major advantage I found was that it was much easier to follow the reasons why Plotinus believed what he did, even if the subject matter does jump around a bit. I tried Porphyry's order first, and almost gave up in despair before trying again in Plotinus' order. I have come to the conclusion that much of Plotinus' reputation as a bad writer is due to unfortunate but well-intended editorial decisions by Porphyry. Given that the Loeb edition presents Plotinus' writings in Porphyry's order, and that the Loeb edition is in multiple volumes, reading Plotinus this way does have a certain entertaining quality as well (first get volume IV, read a treatise, then get volume VI, read another, then get volume I, read another, and so on).

An important recommendation I would make for the reader is that he be properly prepared in his background reading. All of Aristotle and all of Plato would be ideal (as well as a worthwhile activity in its own right), but if the would-be reader of Plotinus finds that a little daunting and wants to get started sooner, there are a few works that he should make a particular effort to read: Plato's "Phaedo", "Republic" (Books VI, VII), "Parmenides", and "Timaeus"; Aristotle's "Physics", "On the Heavens", "On the Soul", and "Metaphysics". Plato, as the earlier writer, should be read first (by the way - don't be discouraged when you find you don't understand the second half of "Parmenides", Plotinus is going to tell you what he thinks it means in due course, so all you need to do is understand the references). If you don't have Plato or Aristotle, for Plato, Cooper's "Plato: Complete Works" (in one volume), and for Aristotle, Barnes' "Complete Works of Aristotle" (in two volumes), are excellent. ... Read more

9. Plotinus: Road to Reality
by Rist
Paperback: 290 Pages (1977-06-24)
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This 1967 study of Plotinus' philosophy was the first comprehensive work in English since Inge's The Philosophy of Plotinus was published early in the twentieth century. After a brief biography of Plotinus, Professor Rist discusses, among other topics, Plotinus' concept of the one, the logos and free will and ends with a discussion of faith in Plotinus and later in Neoplatonism. Perhaps because he is strictly neither a classical nor a medieval philosopher Plotinus' work has been rather neglected in the English-speaking world. Professor Rist has rescued him from this relative obscurity and has indicated some of the ways in which he has influenced both Christian and non-Christian philosophers. ... Read more

10. The Heart of Plotinus: The Essential Enneads (The Perennial Philosophy)
by Algis Uzdavinys
Paperback: 296 Pages (2009-04-25)
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Drawing parallels with other traditions, U davinys emphasizes that Plotinus' philosophy was not a purely mental or rational exercise, but a complete way of life incorporating the spiritual virtues. Plotinus is widely regarded as the founder of the school of Neo-Platonism and this book provides an introduction to his teachings and an informative commentary on the Enneads. Also included is a commentary by Plotinus' leading disciple, Porphyry (c. 233-305 A.D.), on an enigmatic passage from Homer's epic, the Odyssey. ... Read more

11. Plotinus on Number
by Svetla Slaveva-Griffin
Hardcover: 192 Pages (2009-03-04)
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Ancient Greek Philosophy routinely relied upon concepts of number to explain the tangible order of the universe. Plotinus' contribution to this tradition, however, has been often omitted, if not ignored. The main reason for this, at first glance, is the Plotinus does not treat the subject of number in the Enneads as pervasively as the Neopythagoreans or even his own successors Lamblichus, Syrianus, and Proclus. Nevertheless, a close examination of the Enneads reveals that Plotinus systematically discusses number in relation to each of his underlying principles of existence--the One, Intellect, and Soul. Plotinus on Number offers the first comprehensive analysis of Plotinus' concept of number, beginning with its origins in Plato and the Neopythagoreans and ending with its influence on Porphyry's arrangement of the Enneads. It's main argument is that Plotinus adapts Plato's and the Neopythagoreans' cosmology to place number in the foundation of the intelligible realm and in the construction of the universe. Through Plotinus' defense of Plato's Ideal Numbers from Aristotle's criticism, Svetla Slaveva-Griffin reveals the founder of Neoplatonism as the first post-Platonic philosopher who purposefully and systematically develops what we may call a theory of number, distinguishing between number in the intelligible realm and number in the quantitative, mathematical realm. Finally, the book draws attention to Plotinus' concept as a necesscary and fundamental linke between Platonic and late Neoplatonic schools of philosophy. ... Read more

12. Culture and Philosphy in the Age of Plotinus (Classical Literature and Society)
by Mark Edwards
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-12-19)
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This book offers a survey of the teachings of, and relations between, four leading figures in 3rd-century Platonism: Longinus, Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus. It documents and explains the coalescence of Aristotelian and Platonic elements in the Platonic tradition before the 3rd century, considers the effect of the new political environment on these thinkers, and argues that the antagonistic interests of the two older men (Longinus and Plotinus) were combined in the work of the two younger figures (Porphyry and Iamblichus) without sacrifice of coherence, rationality or fidelity to Plato. The authorship of the treatise on the sublime, the question of mysticism in Plotinus and the relation of Neoplatonism to ancient Christianity are among the topics discussed. ... Read more

13. The philosophy of Plotinus ...
by William Ralph Inge, James Nairne, W K. C. 1906-1981 Guthrie
Paperback: 274 Pages (2010-08-30)
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General Books publication date: 2009Original publication date: 1918Original Publisher: Longmans, GreenSubjects: Philosophy / GeneralPhilosophy / History ... Read more

14. The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
Paperback: 480 Pages (1996-08-13)
list price: US$39.99 -- used & new: US$29.00
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Asin: 0521476763
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Plotinus is the greatest philosopher in the 700 year period between Aristotle and Augustine.He thought of himself as a disciple of Plato, but in his efforts to defend Platonism against Aristotelians, Stoics, and others, he actually produced a reinvigorated version of Platonism that later came to be known as "Neoplatonism".In this volume, sixteen leading scholars introduce and explain the many facets of Plotinus' complex system. They place Plotinus in the history of ancient philosophy while showing how he was a founder of medieval philosophy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (CCP)
I have purchased and read much of the book.

On the one hand the CCP will be, in my opinion, a difficult read for those that have little understanding of the philosophical intricacies and arguments that Aristotle, Plato and the presocratics presented, and that Plotinus was rebutting, reformulating or reappraising. On the other hand the fine scholarship makes it an important contribution to understanding the philosophy of Plotinus. Professor John Bussanich's article "Plotinus's Metaphysic's of the One" comes close, I fancy, to formulating the axiom of mysticism itself. A bitter grumble here: as Plotinus made no mention of Christianity (Rist, 394), why devote an article about such a possibility in the CCP at this level of scholarship? Hmmm. In the Introductory essay Professor L. Gerson remarks "Some important topics are only touched on...aesthetics and mysticism, for instance" (p.2). I am a little confused. Readers, such as myself, that have invested several years in understanding the drive behind the genesis of Plotinus' Enneads, will find this remark frowningly odd. Plotinus is not Quine. You cannot sanitize Plotinus by omitting discussion on the purpose of his entire philosophy, I opine. The bookis an exciting treasure to those already knee-deep in Plotinan studies. Lots of grist for the mill! I deeply respect the world-class quality of the scholarship in the book. As I do not read Plotinian articles written by Christian scholars nor articles by scholars funded by Institutionalized Religions,some essays in the book remain unread. I am glad I own the book. I got my money's worth.

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful, but not for a first look at Plotinus.
I can't help agreeing with the previous reviewer. There is a uneven quality to the material in this book. It isn't that helpful - unless you are already familiar with Plotinus, whereas the aim of this series had been to provide a handy introduction. I also agree that - brief though it may be, John Dillon's introduction to the Penguin Mckenna trans. succeeds in saying far more to make Plotinus comprehensible.

For example, Dominic J. O'Meara's material in Chapter 3 - 'The Hierarchical Ordering of Reality in Plotinus' - begins with a quote from Darwin " Never use the words higher and lower" - noting that Plotinus never referred to his system of philosophy as a 'hierarchy' at all, pointing out that this notion was added by later commentators. He then seeks to explicate the problem, by inviting readers to 'pick out terminology which Plotinus himself uses explicitly in order to formulate a structuring of things to which we would tend to refer as "hierarchical. . ." - hopefully, as a starting point to begin reformulating the position in Plotinus' own terms. But why not circumvent the problem by ignoring later commentaries, assumptions, sticking with Plotinus' terms from the outset?

Blumenthal's material (Chapter 4) - On Soul and Intellect' begins with rather patronising advice: "Readers of the Companion who have arrived at this chapter should be well aware that Platonus was a Platonist " - much as if we might have taken Plotinus for a Druid or Hindu. No doubt, Blumenthal was thinking of the serious consequences of projecting post 18th c. notions of 'Intellect' etc. - into Plotinus. This distinction could have been made, without making the book look like a 'Plotinus for Dummies' publication. You would have to be pretty dense - failing to recognise that Plotinus was a Platonist, after reading the Introduction and reaching page 82 of the book.

Again, I had qualms about Sara Rappe's contribution in Chapter 10 - 'Self-knowledge and Subjectivity in the Enneads,' largely because it begins by suggesting that Plotinus anticipated Descartes' view of subjectivity. To be fair, Rappe begins by noting convergences, but then moves on to qualify the divergences involved. All the same, I think the gap between Plotinus and Descartes is far too wide to suggest that the former anticipated the latter. All it says, really, is that philosophers of the European Enlightenment were heirs to a philosophical tradition which had its beginnings in ancient Greece. But Descartes was thinking in 'Latin' derivatives of Greek philosophical terms, and in that sense, his notion of 'subjectivity' was undoubtedly different. Why not stick with Plotinus? - if the aim was to introduce his philosophy? One of my chief reasons for reading Plotinus - and enjoying it, is that he doesn't sound like Descartes.

John Dillon's piece (Chapt. 13) was worth reading- 'An Ethic for the Late Antique Sage,' engaging precisely because Dillon stayed with the primary sources. Again, the piece by Georges Leroux (Chapter 12) was interesting, because he discussed what is ostensibly a very modern topic (human freedom),without projecting 18th c philosophical assumptions into the matter.
I dare say that all the papers in this book have relevance, but to my mind, there could have been better focus on Plotinus. I agree with the previous reviewer, who averred that it is often easier to read Plotinus - directly, than it is to digest some of these essays.

3-0 out of 5 stars Rough going
If you are an expert in philosophy (or becoming one), this book may be a good value for you. For a modest price, you get access to 16 experts on Plotinus.

However, it was very difficult reading for me, with some of the essays nearly impenetrable. The back cover of the book says it was an aim of the Cambridge Companion series to "dispel the intimidation such readers [ non-specialists] feel when faced with the work of a difficult and challenging thinker". Could have fooled me since The Enneads seem easier going than this collection. Nor did I find these collection the "most convenient and accessible guide to Plotinus currently available". The opposite seems closer to the truth.

The introductory essays presented by the editor John Dillon in Penguin's abridged publication of Stephen McKenna's translation of The Enneads were vastly more readable for me. Avoid the mistake I made of reading this book first: what you may lack in context even if you read Plotinus cold, Plotinus will more than make up for by his sweeping vision and attentiveness to clear explanation. If not, you might try the Karl Jaspers book on the great philosphers that includes a big section on Plotinus.

I wouldn't not recommend this book, because it does provide a great deal of context (e.g. on Plotinus's place within Platonism and his debt to Aristotle and the Stoics), the essayists are indeed top scholars, and the price is excellent. Even if you find one or two of the essayists you really benefit from and read more of them in the future, this book will have served as a good sampler. But be careful thinking that because you are very smart or very interested in Plotinus that this book is worth your time: you may find, like I am finding, that it serves mostly as a reminder of the twisty passages of academia. ... Read more

15. Opera, Vol. 2: Enneades 4-5
by Plotinus
Hardcover: 338 Pages (1977-04-07)
list price: US$74.00 -- used & new: US$74.00
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Asin: 0198145829
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16. Opera, Vol. 3: Ennead 6 (Latin and Greek Edition) (Vol 3)
by Paul Henry
Hardcover: 402 Pages (1983-12-01)
list price: US$74.00 -- used & new: US$74.00
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Asin: 0198145918
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17. Plotinus on the Good or the One (Enneads VI, 9 : An Analytical Commentary)
by P. A. Meijer
Paperback: 381 Pages (1992-05-01)
list price: US$88.00 -- used & new: US$83.88
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Asin: 9050630820
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18. Arabic Plotinus: A Philosophical Study of the 'Theology of Aristotle'
by Peter Adamson
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2003-03-17)
list price: US$81.00 -- used & new: US$81.00
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Asin: 0715631632
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"The Arabic Plotinus" was the most important source for Neoplatonic ideas in the Arabic world. Falsely attributed to Aristotle and known as the ‘Theology of Aristotle’, the Arabic version of Plotinus’ "Enneads" was influential on Muslim philosophers from al-Kindi to Avicenna and beyond. This book is a study of the philosophical transformation undergone by the works of Plotinus when they were rendered into Arabic as the ‘Theology’. The translator’s approach to Plotinus was creative and historically decisive: he tried to make Neoplatonism compatible with the religions of Christianity and Islam, and to assimilate Plotinus to the thought of the genuine Aristotle.

This is the first book-length study of the text, devoted to understanding the ideas and motivations of the translator who helped to determine how philosophers for centuries thereafter would confront Greek thought. ... Read more

19. Plotinus on Eudaimonia: A Commentary on Ennead I.4
by Kieran McGroarty
Hardcover: 260 Pages (2006-11-30)
list price: US$110.00 -- used & new: US$72.74
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Asin: 0199287120
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In this volume, Kieran McGroarty provides a philosophical commentary on a section of the Enneads written by the last great Neoplatonist thinker, Plotinus. The treatise is entitled "Concerning Well-Being" and was written at a late stage in Plotinus' life when he was suffering from an illness that was shortly to kill him. Its main concern is with the good man and how he should pursue the good life. The treatise is therefore central to our understanding of Plotinus' ethical theory, and the commentary seeks to explicate and elucidate that theory. Plotinus' views on how one should live in order to fulfill oneself as a human being are as relevant now as they were in the third century AD. All Greek and Latin is translated, while short summaries introducing the content of each chapter help to make Plotinus' argument clear even to the non-specialist. ... Read more

20. Plotinus: Enneads
by Plotinus
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B003UYUYSQ
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Compiled in the 3rd century AD by his student Porphyry, "The Enneads" unfolds Plotinus' study of the principles of the universe. This work is organized into 54 treatises, which are in turn more largely grouped into six books, which form the foundational concepts of Neo-Platonism. The first Ennead deals principally with ethical topics and human subjects, such as happiness, virtue, beauty, and evil. The second and third Enneads discuss mainly physical reality and cosmology, including heaven, substance, fate, eternity, time, stars, and guardian spirits. The fourth Ennead focuses exclusively on the soul, while the fifth Ennead delves into comprehensible reality and knowledge, particularly on the human intellect. Finally, the sixth Ennead considers Being and One. Overall, "The Enneads" reveal the organized thoughts of one of the last great philosophers of antiquity, a man who believed in the ability of the human soul to ascend through ever higher levels of existence toward a supreme perfection. ... Read more

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