Plotinus

Plotinus
c. 205
c. 270

Greek Philosopher, Theorized three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul

Author Quotes

Therefore, since a rational principle came to be in something which was not rational, but an indefinite impulse and as obscure expression, what it produced was something not complete or sufficient, but defective, since it came into being from an indefinite impulse and a sufficient rational principle. So Eros is not a pure rational principle, since he has in himself an indefinite, irrational, unbounded impulse; for he will never be satisfied as long as he has in him the nature of the indefinite.

Wrong-doing from man to man is wrong in the doer and he is not to be absolved from responsibility; but as belonging to the established order of the universe is not a wrong even as regards the innocent sufferer; it is a thing that had to be, and if the sufferer is good, the issue is to his gain. For we cannot think that this ordered combination proceeds without God and justice, even though the reasons of things elude us, and to our ignorance the scheme presents matter of censure.

Things here are but signs that show to the wise how the Supreme God is known; the enlightened sage reading the sign may enter the holy place and make the vision real. This Term, attained only by those that have overpassed all, is the All-Transcending.

This All is universal power, of infinite extent and infinite in potency, a god so great that all his parts are infinite. Name any place, and he is already there.

This is the life of gods and of godlike and blessed men? liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth? a flight of the alone to the Alone.

To make the existence and coherent structure of this Universe depend upon automatic activity and upon chance is against all good sense.

True fortitude is not to fear death; for death is nothing more than a certain separation of soul from body, and this he will not fear, who desires to be alone.

We are left wondering whence it came, from within or without; and when it has gone, we say, ?It was here. Yet no; it was beyond!? But we ought not to question whence; there is no whence, no coming or going in place; now it is seen and now not seen. We must not run after it, but fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for its appearance, as the eye waits on the rising of the sun, which in its own time appears above the horizon ? out of the ocean, as the poets say ? and gives itself to our sight.

We must not run after it, but we must fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for it, as the eye waits on the rising of the Sun which in its own time appears above the horizon and gives itself to our sight.

We need to assign the Senior Beauty, which is identical with the well and which derives the Intelligence which is beautiful in itself.

We should be spectators of murders, and all deaths, and takings and sackings of cities, as if they were on the stages of theatres, all changes of scenery and costume and acted wailings and weepings. For really here in the events of our lives it is not the soul within but the outside shadow of man which cries and moans and carries on in every sort of way on a stage which is the whole earth? Doings like these belong to a man who knows how to live only the lower and external life and is not aware that he is playing in his tears, even if they are serious tears.

What is this vision like? How is it attained? How will one see this immense beauty that dwells, as it were, in inner sanctuaries and comes not forward to be seen by the profane? Let him who can arise, withdraw into himself, forego all that is known by the eyes, turn aside forever from the bodily beauty that was once his joy. He must not hanker after the graceful shapes that appear in bodies, but know them for copies, for traceries, for shadows, and hasten away towards that which they bespeak. For if one pursue what is like a beautiful shape moving over water ? Is there not a myth about just such a dupe, how he sank into the depths of the current and was swept away to nothingness? Well, so too, one that is caught by material beauty and will not cut himself free will be precipitated, not in body but in soul, down into the dark depths loathed by The Intelligence where, blind even there in Hades, he will traffic only with shadows, there as he did here. ? We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing, a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all, though few put it to use. ?

When [we] see the beauty in bodies [we] must not run after them; we must know that they are images, traces, shadows and hurry away to that which they image.

When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.

There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows Being, becomes identical with the Transcendent of Being. He that knows himself to be one with This, has in himself the likeness of the Supreme; if from that heightened self he can pass higher still? image to archetype? he has won the term of all his journeying.

Wherever it lies, under earth or over earth, the body will always rot.

Therefore must we ascend once more towards the Good, towards there where tend all souls. Anyone who has seen it knows what I mean, in what sense it is beautiful. As good it is desired and towards it desire advances. But only those reach it who rise to the intelligible realm, face it fully, stripped of the muddy vesture with which they were clothed in their descent....Those who have witnessed the manifestation of divine or supernatural realities can never again feel the old delight in bodily beauty.

Which will be an object of thought to the intellect, but in itself it will be neither thinker nor object of thought in the proper, authentic sense; for the object of thought is object for something else, and the intellect has its intellectual effort empty of content if it does not grasp and comprehend the object which it thinks.

Therefore we must ascend again towards the Good, the desired of every Soul. Anyone that has seen This, knows what I intend when I say that it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as a Good. To attain it is for those that will take the upward path, who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves of all that we have put on in our descent: ? so, to those that approach the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and the entry in nakedness ? until, passing, on the upward way, all that is other than the God, each in the solitude of himself shall behold that solitary-dwelling Existence, the Apart, the Unmingled, the Pure, that from Which all things depend, for Which all look and live and act and know, the Source of Life and of Intellection and of Being.

World Soul and Individual Souls: There must be something prior to Soul because Soul is in the world and there must be something outside a world in which, all being corporeal and material, nothing has enduring reality: failing such a prior, neither man nor the Ideas would be eternal or have true identity. These and many other considerations establish the necessary existence of an Intellectual-Principle prior to Soul.

One is cause of the cause. He is then in a greater degree something like the most causative and truest of causes, possessing all together the intellectual causes which are going to be from him and generative of what is not as it chanced but as he himself willed.

The more intellective it is, the more beautiful it [i.e. the soul] is. Intellection, and all that comes from intellection, is for the soul a beauty that is its own and not another?s because then it is that the soul is truly soul. ? A divine entity and a part, as it were, of Beauty, The Soul renders beautiful to the fullness of their capacity all things it touches or controls. ?

Only the mind?s eye can contemplate this mighty beauty. But if it comes to contemplation purblind with vice, impure, weak, without the strength to look upon brilliant objects, it then sees nothing even if it is placed in the presence of an object that can be seen. ? Let each one therefore become godlike and beautiful who would contemplate the divine and beautiful.

The nature of the Soul, then, is twofold, being of divine station but skirting the sense-known nature; thus, while it communicates to this realm something of its own store, it absorbs in turn whenever it plunges in an excessive zeal to the very midst of this sphere; though even thus it is always able to recover itself by turning to account the experience of what it has seen and suffered here, learning so the greatness of existence in the Supreme and more clearly discerning the finer things by contrast with their opposites. The experience of evil brings the clearer perception of good.

Our individual bodies need a great deal of troublesome thought? and they are continually in the grip of poverty? [and with the soul's fellowship with it the body] fills the soul with pleasures, desires and griefs.

Author Picture
First Name
Plotinus
Birth Date
c. 205
Death Date
c. 270
Bio

Greek Philosopher, Theorized three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul