Form and Transformation

Form and Transformation: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus

Frederic M. Schroeder
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 144
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Form and Transformation
    Book Description:

    The Platonic Form is often presented as an instrument of explanation and as a cause in ontology, epistemology, and ethics. As such, it is usually approached from the perspective of its relations to the particulars of the sensible world. Frederic Schroeder contends that Plotinus argues for the sovereignty of the Platonic Form both as a ground of being and as an intrinsically valuable object of intellective and spiritual vision. These two aspects coalesce in the thought of Plotinus, for whom the Form is, apart from its philosophical uses, an object of enjoyment. Schroeder argues also that the particular must be seen as having an intrinsic character, distinct from its relationship to the Form or to other particulars. The particular thus becomes a window on the world of Form. In the course of his exploration of the sovereignty of Form, Schroeder examines the themes of illumination, silence, language, and love. He undertakes an immanent interpretation of the Plotinian text, showing how Plotinian vocabulary displays intricate internal connections and genetic relationships.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6410-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. I Form
    (pp. 3-23)

    WE ARE USED TO THE ANALOGY or metaphor of light in metaphysical and religious discourse. We are perhaps ready to accept that the Platonic Good should be the sun of the intelligible universe or that Christ should be the light of the world. In Plotinus, however, we find a thinker who asks us to understand sensible light and the phenomenon of earthly illumination in terms of the seemingly less palpable procession of soul from soul, as if the events of the spirit were somehow more familiar than our quotidian experience.

    Light is, for Plotinus, an effect of the luminous source....

  6. II Light
    (pp. 24-39)

    PLOTINUS BORROWS many figures from sensible experience to describe the intelligible world, most of which need considerable qualification to avoid suggesting the conflation of intelligible with sensible reality. For example, Plotinus compares the presence of intelligible reality to the sensible world to the force exerted by a hand upon a plank.¹ The hand exerts this power without being divided among the various parts of the plank. In this way the “day and sail” argument of Plato’sParmenidesis to be overcome.² Form is not, by its presence, divided among the particulars. It is to the force exerted by the hand,...

  7. Ill Silence
    (pp. 40-65)

    THE WORLD AS reflected image is, in contrast to the product of art or craft, begotten, not made. By employing the notion of begetting, Plotinus suggests that in the case of the world the relationship between creator and created is immediate: there is no mediator (e.g., Demiurge) between them. In begetting, we produce from ourselves. The act requires no deliberate address to pattern, copy, and material, as production by artisan or artist.

    We shall see that Plotinus supplements the language of begetting with words referring to silence as he portrays creation. Ultimately, this vocabulary of silence is justified by his...

  8. IV Word
    (pp. 66-90)

    Yet if silence is the beginning and the end of Plotinian philosophizing, we may well ask, why are Plotinus and his circle in Rome so very loquacious? What can be the status of the word or of speech in Plotinus’ thinking? Further, for Plotinus, the One, the ultimate subject of his discourse, is finally ineffable. Why not then take refuge in mystical silence?³

    In treating of the One, Plotinus asks: “How then do we speak about it? Indeed we say something about it (), but we do not say the One itself (oύ µήv αύτò λέγoμεv), nor do we have...

  9. V Love
    (pp. 91-114)

    PORPHYRY DESCRIBES PLOTINUS’ relationship to his circle with these words: “He was present at once to himself and to others(συνήν kαì έαντώ ãμα kαι),”¹ Hadot remarks,² “On the subject of the philosopher’s rapport with others, about his ‘presence to others’ of which Porphyry speaks, we find no theoretical information in the treatises of Plotinus.” In the present chapter, we shall see, on the contrary, that there is abundant evidence of a theoretical background, both metaphysical and ethical, for Porphyry’s statement.

    The presence portrayed in Porphyry’s sentence is twofold: Plotinus is present both to himself and to others. What is presence...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 115-120)
  11. Index Locorum
    (pp. 121-122)
  12. General Index
    (pp. 123-125)