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30 review for The Six Enneads (Great Books of the Western World, #17)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erick

    I suppose, once again, I will prove my Platonist sympathies by reviewing this book so positively. It's not that I am always in agreement with Plotinus (I'll follow this up below), but this is such an influential and foundational work of Philosophy and Neo-Platonism that I really can't give it a lower review in all fairness. I also was engaged in the book from beginning to end. This is a dense work. It's the full unabridged Enneads published by Digireads. I had already read the Essential Plotinus, I suppose, once again, I will prove my Platonist sympathies by reviewing this book so positively. It's not that I am always in agreement with Plotinus (I'll follow this up below), but this is such an influential and foundational work of Philosophy and Neo-Platonism that I really can't give it a lower review in all fairness. I also was engaged in the book from beginning to end. This is a dense work. It's the full unabridged Enneads published by Digireads. I had already read the Essential Plotinus, which was a very sparse selection of the Enneads. I am incredibly glad that I did not let the reading of that very insufficient sampling be my only foray into Plotinus. Just to give an idea of how meager that sampling was, let me list by Ennead and treatise what was found in the Essential Plotinus: I, 2; I, 3; I, 6; III, 8; IV, 3; IV, 8; V, 1; V, 2; V, 9; VI, 9. There are six Enneads, each containing nine treatises, in the complete Enneads. Elmer O'Brien did not include any treatises from the second Ennead and barely touched Enneads 3 and 6. There are many treatises in here that are equally, if not more, thought provoking and engaging, e.g. II, 6; III, 2; III, 7, III, 9; IV, 4; V, 1; V, 3-6; VI, 2; VI, 6; VI, 7--are some that I've marked for re-reading. All of the above prove beyond any doubt the merits of Plotinus. The one thing I was struck by was Plotinus discussions of Being. There is much here that was later explored by the German Idealists; given my penchant for that school of philosophy, I was surprised and intrigued by how many parallels exist between Plotinus and Hegel and Schelling, but even with Kant and Fichte to some degree. The first treatise where this starts to become evident is treatise 6 of the second Ennead, entitled Quality and Form-Idea. Thankfully, the translators included in brackets the Greek original for Plotinus' terms for kinds of Being, e.g. "to on" and "e ousia", translated here as "being" and "reality", respectively. In various places throughout the Enneads, the way Plotinus uses these terms, parallels Schelling's and Hegel's use of the German terms "Seyen" and "Seyende". There are some differences, but the parallels are close enough to say without question that Plotinus was working within the same lines of thought. He discusses passivity and activity within these concepts of being, which is a notable feature of Schelling's work. Mind is also important for Plotinus as it was for Hegel's work. Here, presumably, the word translated as "Intellectual-principle" is most likely the Greek "nous", but, unfortunately, the underlying Greek term is not cited here. To say that Plotinus foreshadowed all later Idealism would be an understatement I think. There are plenty of things I disagree with Plotinus about. Like most Platonists going back to Plato himself, Plotinus believed in the transmigration of souls (i.e. reincarnation)--one of the concepts Plato most likely took from the Pythagoreans. I won't get into my issues with that doctrine here. He also has a vacillating view regarding matter. He argues that all evil stems from matter (yet opposes the gnostics on related issues, ironically enough) but also believes that the supra-lunar world has some more divine and "pure" form of matter. He never really explains why sub-lunar and supra-lunar forms of hyle differ. One is left to speculate that the supra-lunar forms consist of less matter and more mind. Still, it is curious that the luminaries wind up taking part in less matter and earthly forms in more. What exactly initiated that cosmic lottery is not explored. If the luminaries are, say, 3/4 mind and 1/4 matter, they are still 1/4 evil. They are still evil to some degree. Some actions of these divine luminaries must be questionable if that is the case. He also believes in an eternal universe. I reject that idea for the absurdities that result. The above brings up my other issue: Plotinus, like the gnostics, utterly trivializes the nature of evil. How matter can display overt willful evil seems to contradict the Platonic notion of the passivity and inert nature of matter. Once again, one is left to speculate that because in Platonism no being is willfully evil, they are only evil by ignorance or by obstruction; matter seems to function more as an ignorance inducing, and good obstructing, hindrance. But using this as an explanation for the nature of willful evil, which certainly exists (counter to Platonist doctrine), can only be said to be a poor explanation. Plotinus' pantheism is somewhat ambiguous. He always keeps an aspect of divinity transcendent, so not all aspects of divinity are embodied in the cosmos. I don't feel the need to comment on that aspect of his philosophy. I don't want to make this review too long. The point of all my reviews is to provide my thoughts on the book I've read and I've done that. The complete Enneads is highly recommended. The history of Philosophy in general, and Platonism and Idealism in particular, are indebted in varying degrees to Plotinus.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    I have chosen to perhaps write this review prematurely, before my thoughts settle and before I've reread certain parts of the text that I want to reread. But it is difficult to tell whether freshness or certainty is more beneficial for a review, and for now I choose the former. I read this book because of my more mystic leanings and because Plotinus is referenced in the footnotes on just about every other page of my copy of Augustine's Confessions. I'm on a hunt for significant primary texts in t I have chosen to perhaps write this review prematurely, before my thoughts settle and before I've reread certain parts of the text that I want to reread. But it is difficult to tell whether freshness or certainty is more beneficial for a review, and for now I choose the former. I read this book because of my more mystic leanings and because Plotinus is referenced in the footnotes on just about every other page of my copy of Augustine's Confessions. I'm on a hunt for significant primary texts in the history of philosophy, and Plotinus seemed both interesting and influential. The opening biographical chapter by Porphyry is entertaining. It seems that Plotinus was fond of nursing until he was eight. Most interesting to me, however, from this part is Porphyry's statement that, as opposed to caring about style, Plotinus' "one concern was for the idea" (7). Of course, I did not read this book in the Greek, so translation might have polished it, but I think a large part of my love for it is a result of its style. I mentioned that I have mystic leanings, and as one might imagine this leads me to prefer Plato to Aristotle, and Plotinus, perhaps taking this aspect of Plato even further than Plato, was quite agreeable to me. The most enjoyable parts to me were his discussions of the contemplative life, found throughout the work but especially at the very end. A passage from nearer the beginning: "Murders, death in all its guises, the reduction and sacking of cities, all must be to us just such spectacle as the changing scenes of a play; all is but the varied incident of a plot, costume on and off, acted grief and lament. For on earth, in all the succession of life, it is not the Soul within but the Shadow outside of the authentic man, that grieves and complains and acts out the plot on this world stage which men have dotted with stages of their own constructing ... Those incapable of thinking gravely read gravity into frivolities which correspond to their own frivolous nature ... we cannot take laments as proof that anything is wrong; children cry and whimper where there is nothing wrong" (III.2.15, 194-195). A long passage but a good one. What has led me away from literary studies lately has been its lack of purpose for life. It is enjoyable to unlock new methods to analyze a poem, but this does not affect my perception of things that I think matter more, such as real life. Thus, part of my interest in philosophy is a determination to flesh out my own beliefs about reality. Plotinus' mystic philosophy is just what I am looking for: it seems to grow distant, at times, from the practical, but ultimately I view it as a push toward a certain approach to life, culminating in VI.9. All of the ideas leading to that point do in fact lead to it. His philosophy necessitates - if it's correct - a certain style of living. And he has not abandoned the eudaimonic goal. "But there is a third order," he writes in V.9.1, "those godlike men who, in their mightier power, in the keeness [sic] of their sight, have clear vision of the splendour above and rise to it from among the cloud and fog of earth and hold firmly to that other world, looking beyond all here, delighted in the place of reality, their native land, like a man returning after long wanderings to the pleasant ways of his own countries" (499). He goes on to discuss the necessary attributes of such a person in V.9.2. This is a philosophy of life, and I view his other metaphysical discussions as a method to attain this lifestyle. And I believe it is correct. As I believe, and have always believed, this world is something of a mess, and not very pleasant, and Plotinus seems to believe this too, but he gives a large dose of hope, an escape from this realm in this life. I could quote all of VI.9 if I'm not careful, but to wrap up this review, I will restrain myself to a single much shorter quote: "'Not to be told, not to be written': in our writing and telling we are but urging towards it: out of discussion we call to vision: to those desiring to see, we point the path; our teaching is of the road and the travelling; the seeing must be the very act of one that has made this choice" (VI.9.4, 701-702). This plainly states that a view and way of life is his goal. I regret not discussing in detail his less directly practical ideas, which are very interesting, but I think other reviewers have done so, and this is my review, and therefore I review what I mainly took from the text which, as the above quote states, would have likely pleased Plotinus. I guess this makes me a Plotinian. I recommend this book to anyone. It helps to have read some Plato first, but everybody should read Plato anyway, so my recommendation stands. This translation was clear, and the edition is nice, including multiple translations of tricky passages and helpful/pretty appendices. I plan on eventually working through the Loeb multi-volume edition as well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Curtis Aguirre

    Plotinus is my favourite philosopher. He was hugely influential on the Church Fathers who lived after him. They often considered him an honourary Christian, though Plotinus never actually participated in that group, but was very much a "pagan" philosopher in the "pagan" Roman society of his day. He and Origen had the same philosophy teacher (Ammonius Sacchas), but Origen was about 15 years older than Plotinus, so they probably did not study with him at the same time. If you are up for a mental c Plotinus is my favourite philosopher. He was hugely influential on the Church Fathers who lived after him. They often considered him an honourary Christian, though Plotinus never actually participated in that group, but was very much a "pagan" philosopher in the "pagan" Roman society of his day. He and Origen had the same philosophy teacher (Ammonius Sacchas), but Origen was about 15 years older than Plotinus, so they probably did not study with him at the same time. If you are up for a mental challenge, and want to explore life, the universe, and everything, read this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    anton

    the soul is a meteor / a blossom of light / burned by harsh skies. so influential it is the skeleton key to Christian thought and Renaissance Painting, a primary text alike the Timaeus, the Vedas, the Nikayas (which all happen to rhyme), and an indispensable guide to the mystic on how to become One with the Void. scaling up the Ennead of Parmenides 8+1 affirmative/negative to eventually reach the Top, an ineffable meta-principle. the circle of emanation and return is the ultimate story of the st the soul is a meteor / a blossom of light / burned by harsh skies. so influential it is the skeleton key to Christian thought and Renaissance Painting, a primary text alike the Timaeus, the Vedas, the Nikayas (which all happen to rhyme), and an indispensable guide to the mystic on how to become One with the Void. scaling up the Ennead of Parmenides 8+1 affirmative/negative to eventually reach the Top, an ineffable meta-principle. the circle of emanation and return is the ultimate story of the stuttering of the One, recoils of shots in the War in Heaven that sparked between the logos and the void that took place before the Fiat Lux, the war was not fought with missiles and spears but axioms of being, propositions and proofs in the vacuum. and God won through reflexion: in the Nothing only the tautology of identity is self-supporting. the One is the ultimate meta-tautology, Atum masturbating ouroborically, a self-study in henosis. the main concepts are the arborescent hierarchy of the One-Being-Intellect triad. this fractalizes and is responsible for spirit's descent into matter which one must eventually escape by tracing back up the emanationist ladder one has tragically fell down from. oneness is goodness because individuation commits an object to being an intelligible unity. there can be no distinction between inside and outside within the One, being and center as a dimensionless point, God's being is his centrality and yet also this flickering as its own emanationist contraction and expansion in all its quasi-gnostic contours with theses like the badness of Nature but doesn't quite reach finality. finality as gnosis cannot be voiced or even thematized, yet even a deeper truth is the apophatic non-conceptualization of a negative/unknowable God is yet another capture mechanism, the inclusion of its own negation within the meta-logic in the Game with Being as an internal production of the One, that black hole brain structure you see from time to time: the Demiurge is a donut. the annular repetition of the torus coinciding and retroactively refuting yet clarifying Campbell's monomyth: the Hero's Journey is really an immanentized Spirit's journey. somewhere Plotinus says that the Odyssey is the eternal story of the Journey of the Spirit. spirit always has a story to tell precisely because it's there to tell it, because its being and its telling are one and the same. the One's overflow is the jouissance that fissions into Two. there is no room for a positive Evil in Plotinus only privations just as the monists before him, the Nous for him is Good. the Gnostic co-opts it as the origin of Evil, determination: the Demiurge. the je ne sais quoi, things best left unsaid, the black square as an art piece, or better, a black Sphere. man as a creator is himself co-operating in demiurgy, his art and ornament distractions or reminders to re-member your true Self, like how re-membering the limbs of Osiris is akin to restructuring the estranged Self. Plotinus thought the world-soul was something like a star that radiates Light (internality) everywhere and "adheres" only in that substance given to adhere to it and this mutual relation between ground and issue became the principle of non-contradiction. the One neither is one, nor is. the hierarchy of Spirit is the only hierarchy climbed by its recognition: it is hierarchy as such, of which all others participate in only formally. the chain of being as it should be. symbols speak in rhizomatic bursts of signification. there will come a time you'll read in color. the One overflows because it overflows, yet this statement seems more like an evasion than anything else and perhaps even neoplatonism is yet another root in this meta-intellectual fingertrap of the Demiurge, which is the God creating this material world easily demonized to a being of affect, terror, sense and horror. one question resounds and echoes after all the mysticalization: why did the One plunge himself into nescience? he who is self-luminous is his own shadow

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A heavy reliance on Plato’s Timaeus and Parmenides results in Plotinus being classified as one of the first Neoplatonists by the many or an advocate of orthodox Platonism by the few. Either way, Plato had an impact. Plotinus’ reliance on the more mystical, and perhaps the most ambiguous (Parmenides), Platonic works cues the reader to Plotinus’ style. Though this point is debatable, he strikes me much more of a mystic than a philosopher. To those who have given any thought to purpose in our being, A heavy reliance on Plato’s Timaeus and Parmenides results in Plotinus being classified as one of the first Neoplatonists by the many or an advocate of orthodox Platonism by the few. Either way, Plato had an impact. Plotinus’ reliance on the more mystical, and perhaps the most ambiguous (Parmenides), Platonic works cues the reader to Plotinus’ style. Though this point is debatable, he strikes me much more of a mystic than a philosopher. To those who have given any thought to purpose in our being, it doesn’t take long to come to the realization that using solely rational thought fails to provide the longed for answers. Therefore there is always a leap to some value. To God, to gods, to truth, to experience. Plotinus at least doesn’t attempt to cloak his irrationality in the doublespeak endemic to philosophy. For Plotinus, the Sage finds answers through introspection after whittling away the illusions of life through the dialectic. This introspection yields a vision of the One from which Intelligence emanates and which thereby reflects upon the One through its own emanations which we view as the Soul. Or something close to this. The six Enneads take up just over 700 pages so I’m leaving a few things out. At times, many times, a tedious read. Plotinus meanders, sometimes poetically but oftentimes randomly, as he constructs an internally consistent worldview that is reminiscent of Buddhism. Goodness is gauged by the distance one is from unity with the One. The One is beyond rational thought and is beyond Activity and Rest in its august Repose. Soul is not described as a personal attachment to the body, but an essence that surrounds us and fragments to the individual. Like a noise that is exists outside of ourselves but is heard by each or light that divides in a prism. In a rather intriguing sleight of hand to Aristotle’s prime mover hypothesis, Plotinus takes the One and its reflective emanation, Intelligence, and takes them outside of Time making Time a measurement for activity of the Soul. (III. 7, Time and Eternity) The One is beyond time and even Being, therefore to question who made the One is to miss the point that the unthinking, unbeing One is beyond creation. It is only through the unintended emanation of Intelligence that the question can even be posed by us. The plethora of hyphenated proper nouns (i.e. the All-Soul, Real-Beings, Reason-Principle, etc) along with the infrequent definitions provided to terms gives the book an overall feel of a third century New Age cult handbook, but there are some good things buried within if you have the fortitude to dig them out.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jake Maguire

    One of the most important and influential philosophers ever in my opinion. Don't get tangled up in the introduction for too long, once you get into the thick of it, you will need to drink a coffee and then call someone who cares! Big foundational ideas that shaped Western civilization. One of the most important and influential philosophers ever in my opinion. Don't get tangled up in the introduction for too long, once you get into the thick of it, you will need to drink a coffee and then call someone who cares! Big foundational ideas that shaped Western civilization.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Faris

    Beautiful. Whenever Plotinus mentioned beauty, its categories and how he saw it. As oppose to Aristotle which emphasized the idea of the soul, something was missing in his writing which I cannot quite grasp. Perhaps it was because he was to analytical and didn't use enough showing language. Plotinus on the other hand, had a similar message filled with idealism. He presented Morality and empathy, these modern concepts and mentioned that a person isn't able to really realize the struggle of virtue, Beautiful. Whenever Plotinus mentioned beauty, its categories and how he saw it. As oppose to Aristotle which emphasized the idea of the soul, something was missing in his writing which I cannot quite grasp. Perhaps it was because he was to analytical and didn't use enough showing language. Plotinus on the other hand, had a similar message filled with idealism. He presented Morality and empathy, these modern concepts and mentioned that a person isn't able to really realize the struggle of virtue, only if he himself lives in it, or to what we would call today as empathy. Moreover when he mentioned that some beauty can be a part of a bigger thing. For example a Comedian would appreciate the comedy of Richard Pryor; where's a regular person is wouldn't see the beauty. His example was of the Older gentleman seeing himself in a young man. On Personal immortality is the ability for an individual in philosophical terms to live on for a prolonged period. A person needs to believe and be part of the category of immortality and fit every criterion, which is found in Abrahamic religions, and many others. An Athiest or non-believer wouldn't fulfill personal immortality because he's a non-believer. We're already immortal. For example, if I decide to take the mystic approach Plotinus drives; individuals and souls have always been continuous and on until they stop existing in our relative universe. Why should we assume another a medium of oblivion exists. Unlike Aristotle which rejects the idea, Plotinus presents the concept of the soul carrying on, given its fulfilling a particular purpose He gives different parts of the individual and love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Justinian the Great

    ...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Feliks

    It's an arcane book but a good workout for the mind. Affords a rich glimpse of Greek thought; to hear Plotinus explaining his universe in his simple and direct voice is as vital in its way as anything by Plato/Aristotle, Homer, or the various Greek myths you've probably read. If none of the Greek writing you're familiar with seems convincing or relevant; check out Plotinus. There are some spell-binding passages in this dissertation of his. Plotinus has a sober, dry, matter-of-fact delivery; he a It's an arcane book but a good workout for the mind. Affords a rich glimpse of Greek thought; to hear Plotinus explaining his universe in his simple and direct voice is as vital in its way as anything by Plato/Aristotle, Homer, or the various Greek myths you've probably read. If none of the Greek writing you're familiar with seems convincing or relevant; check out Plotinus. There are some spell-binding passages in this dissertation of his. Plotinus has a sober, dry, matter-of-fact delivery; he alternates between question-and-answer style and more simple itemization. The flow of words is tight and dense and blocky. But what emerges (even from the passages of near-gibberish) is that he is an honest writer and not afraid to admit when his knowledge falls short. But he is at at least writing in the Christian world and so when he talks about 'evil' he treats it with a dimension that the Socratic schools before him, lack; (and in their lack, seem remote and unfamiliar to us). Plotinus uses a large lexicon of opaque terms which are marvelous in showing how ancient schools of philosophy debated about metaphysical topics. You can tell by the way he keeps combing out the same strand of thought time and time again, (yet rarely the same way twice) and the words themselves are quite plain: one which recurs often is 'Magnitude'. This means little to us today, but concepts like these were crucial to Plotinus, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaximander, and all these other joes. Magnitude, Quantity, Attribute. No end of reliance on these ideas. Plotinus is naturally confronting a wide array of contradictory arguments from thinkers in other Schools and so he darts hummingbird-like, to-and-fro; over many hedges. It gets utterly incomprehensible at times; but that's because he's anatomizing abstract concepts which are meaningful to the other Greeks he was debating with, (not to us). 'The One' or 'entities', 'elements' or 'The First', 'the Primary'. Still, his writers show a huge talent and it is enjoyable for this alone. Various topics: how the soul migrate to heaven (if at all); how does the soul arrive in newborns (if at all); do the stars truly affect anything; what is Matter; what is Beauty; what is Mind. What is the Self; what is Judgment. What is destiny and fate. One thing I admire about this cryptic sage is that he is unafraid to advance his statements. He faces challenges squarely and stoutly. Refreshing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    P.D. Maior

    Plotinus says in this work the goal is not to become a good man but to become a god. I love that about this and know it’s not meant in an egoistic way. For even Buddha is in agreement: “Virtuous and devout men go to “heaven” - but a different path is taken by the Awakened Ones.” [Dhammapada 126] This man, Plotinus, was born possibly even a little before 200 AD and was purported to be close to those at the very root of esoteric, primordial Christianity; as well as riding the zeitgeist on the verge Plotinus says in this work the goal is not to become a good man but to become a god. I love that about this and know it’s not meant in an egoistic way. For even Buddha is in agreement: “Virtuous and devout men go to “heaven” - but a different path is taken by the Awakened Ones.” [Dhammapada 126] This man, Plotinus, was born possibly even a little before 200 AD and was purported to be close to those at the very root of esoteric, primordial Christianity; as well as riding the zeitgeist on the verge (as one of it’s fountainheads) of the Neo-Platonist Reconquista Movement. Ammonius the Sack Bearer was claimed to be the one who initiated Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Plotinus here, later Longinus who taught Odenathus and his queen, young Poryphry later and a few others, into many mysteries - as it was said he was affiliated with the original gnostic 12 disciples’ adepts per Clement - see Rodney Collin and Lady Hahn who mention a few sources for this too. So much for Plotinus’ possible influences then. Now Plotinus shows in this work the lower part of the soul is in coalescence with the senses and thought and goes whither such does (hypnos=undergnos). But the upper is imperturbable and uses the biological machine as it’s instrument it need not be identified with at all - anymore than a craftsman need feel always the vibration in his tools in order to operate them; nor need he always use the same tools, he says. As the Upanishads teach, we belong essentially to a third world of man of Direct Consciousness that can be equally Self Remembered in it’s dream or walking around state suddenly, and which is not contingent to either state once self awareness is dis covered, the Nous or Gnos awakened in the Astral Consciousness behind and before both. For consciousness is principally centered and seated in the Lingha Sharira or Astral Body which is the most important and real soul to become cleansed (as Eliphas Levi and Theosophy speak of) and lucid. Such is a finer materia and denser materiality like brains and bodies arise from it’s effluvium moving out from immaterial consciousness in the astral, not the other way around in the links. Such clearing, disengaging from hypnos, cleansing of the lower soul bringing it up into the upper where the astral resides when this increases; this comes about principally by increasing direct consciousness as Plotinus shows. He shows mind as consciousness and somewhat as a miner and the brain mined inside by it, and the mountain ratiocination of thoughts in us mined by it, the sort of in in the word in-tellect (tell meaning a hill and extension). Mind, intellect, intelligence then is not the briney brain or material; or psychic or akashic rolls of memories chiefly but asleep in all such until 3rd state self consciousness arises centered in the astral self and upper unhypnotized soul. Plotinus speaks of this experience and of his most important moments in his life being where he experienced this Nous beyond the abode body, such enlightenment, a few times. It is the most important secret in Buddhism the Tathagata’s paths all lead to; and all Primordial Shamanic and Religious texts point toward such as paramount. Forget saving the anima psyche (lower psychology) in life with a little “L” with all manner of psycho-analysis and religion - save the astral body while one has time, the extraction of the upper soul. Otherwise, even as it is exoterically written in the Old Testament by such as Solomon: “the Spirit returns to God and the body returns to the dust and what is left?” Such is the liet motif in Plotinus too, easily missed by most re viewers. It is really key to so much. As my spiritual godfather once told me, concerning even exoteric Christianities doctrines: “people forget the most important event was the Transfiguration. The Resurrection - however you take such to mean - was just an after effect of that.” Now before him Pythagoras and after him Iamblichus also both made this distinction - as Plotinus does - between the upper (more unconditioned and conscious) and lower (more animus/psyche/passion filled) sides/siddhe’s of the entire soul - in it’s full undeveloped to developed spectrum. And they made clear, of the same, which to go toward. But Pythagoras said it was forbidden to reveal the border secrets of the way from the phenomenal world of becoming to the unconditioned world of noumena and spirit except to his students. So Plotinus is invaluable then as a revealer here in this work. It is also mentioned a bit by the mystics in the early Christian Church in the writings of the Philokalia and in Old Egyptian Temple Writings as well; these distinctions and the goal. So it is a great thing Plotinus made all this more clear and really so many things about the Cosmoses, Consciousness and the Highest good as well he also made wide open for us to ruminate in and act on. The Enneads, which also means ninefold - more so than any other modern, and almost any other ancient, Philosophical work - are more ordered, lucid, compact, crystalline and clear. I think that is what one might enjoy most about reading it if you decide to. It is a great work. It betrays every marking of an Olympian and Heroic - Highly and Well Ordered - Soul. Such writings we have come down to us from him are a rare treasury. “I’m so sick and tired of trying to change your mind when it’s so easy to disconnect mine: High(er) Time, High Times. I feel fine.” - High Times, Elliott Smith “Lifting the mask from a local clown, feeling down like him Seeing the light in a station bar traveling far in sin Sailing downstairs to the northern nine, watching the shine of his shoes Hearing the trials of the people there, who's to care if they lose? Take a look, you may see me on the ground For I am the para site of this town Dancing a jig in a church with chimes, a sign of the times today Hearing no bell from a steeple tall, people all in dismay Falling so far on a silver spoon, making the moon for fun Changing a robe [the Lingha Sharira] for a size too small, people all get hung Take a look, you might see me coming through For I am the para site who travels two-by-two: I'm lifting the mask from a local clown, feeling down like him And I'm seeing the light in a station bar traveling far in sin And I'm sailing downstairs to the northern nine, watching the shine of his shoes And hearing the trials of the people there, who's to care if they lose? Take a look, you might see me on the ground For I am the para site of this town Take a look, you may see me in the dirt For I am the para site who hangs from your skirt [outer abode body]” - Para Site by Nick Drake (a friend of Ayers, Pentangle and other Gurdjieffians carrying on the Neo-Platonist and *Esoteric* Christian’s Mysteries in his day)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blakely

    Pro: interesting. Con: if you didn't like Plato's Parmenides, run away fast. Pro: interesting. Con: if you didn't like Plato's Parmenides, run away fast.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gerrit Gmel

    I never thought I’d give a book 1 star because I reserve 1 star reviews for books that I believe make you worse off for reading them. This one deserves it. Maybe one day I’ll revise to a 2-star rating to reflect the historical importance... I’ve been going through a solid 12-month philosophical journey and read Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and some more modern writers like Tolstoy or (yes, blasphemy) Ray Dalio. Reading Plotinus was supposed to close the chapter on Ancient philosophy I never thought I’d give a book 1 star because I reserve 1 star reviews for books that I believe make you worse off for reading them. This one deserves it. Maybe one day I’ll revise to a 2-star rating to reflect the historical importance... I’ve been going through a solid 12-month philosophical journey and read Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and some more modern writers like Tolstoy or (yes, blasphemy) Ray Dalio. Reading Plotinus was supposed to close the chapter on Ancient philosophy which so far had been an absolute treasure trove of wisdom and applicable philosophies for life. Plotinus is where humanity went wrong. It’s a dogmatic text that tries to cram reality into a made-up theory which clearly doesn’t work (demonstrated by Plotinus contradicting himself). Going the mystic/religious route rather than continuing the exploration of “good living” and inquiries on the meaning of life and how this world is built through scientific work and dialectic, is exactly why the Middle Ages happened and wasted centuries of human lives. Plotinus bases his thinking on Plato and even sometimes the stoics, and then breaks everything they built by taking them literally and making everything about a mystic creator whom we should aspire to rejoin. It’s the easy solution to complex problems, but complex problems can’t be solved by easy solutions and a rule-book made up by one guy in his attic. We might never really figure it out, and we’ll probably realise that that’s part of the fun. So... please don’t shut down the scientific method and proper dialectic? The Greeks and Romans didn’t take the gods too seriously, and they made some serious progress in thinking. I’ve been quoting and using their concepts constantly, and this stuff is 2000 years old! Plotinus just had to spoil the party... it’s unusable and almost unreadable mystic BS. If it wasn’t so old I’d call it “New Age”. Have I mentioned it’s poorly written, a chore to read and often contradictory from one tractate to the next...? I’m going back to my stoics and the OGs Plato and Aristotle and I’ll try to forget I ever read this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katelis Viglas

    The essense of mystic thought of all times. Grandeur of Logos and Ecstasy. This is an abridged edition, for a first contact with Plotinus's masterpiece. His thought of course isn't accesible easily. One shouldn't have the illusion that reading only one time a translation of the Enneads, in English, will understand the complicated and at the same time simple in its architecture Plotinian system of thought. If someone tries to be absorbed in the text, probably he will be disappointed. If again tri The essense of mystic thought of all times. Grandeur of Logos and Ecstasy. This is an abridged edition, for a first contact with Plotinus's masterpiece. His thought of course isn't accesible easily. One shouldn't have the illusion that reading only one time a translation of the Enneads, in English, will understand the complicated and at the same time simple in its architecture Plotinian system of thought. If someone tries to be absorbed in the text, probably he will be disappointed. If again tries to read indirectly, and believes he understands the skeleton of Plotinus's thought, probably he will leave somehow or other with empty hands. Only with the combination of both, maybe, at the end, will comprehend something of his thought.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Crofut

    Invoking the Tyler Cowen rule: if it isn't worth the effort, put it down. A few parts in the First Ennead sparked thought, but he lost me in the Second/Third. Too much mysticism for my taste anymore. Invoking the Tyler Cowen rule: if it isn't worth the effort, put it down. A few parts in the First Ennead sparked thought, but he lost me in the Second/Third. Too much mysticism for my taste anymore.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gwyndyllyn

    One of the most important of the great world mystics.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Violand

    A major philosopher of the ancient world in the tradition of Plato. He developed a system of belief based on three principles: The One, The Intellect and The Soul. The composite of these principles is easily to prove the existence of God to most Christians, but it is unlikely that Plotinus meant any such thing - even though our concept of the Trinity seems to borrow an awful lot from him. A very difficult read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Georges E.

    If there was ever a work that would require a lifetime of reading and rereading it would be "The Enneads". Every passage can become a basis for treatise and many in fact have. I have combined its reading with multiple commentaries on it and some available lectures that try to expound the main ideas and concepts of the work. Would be going back and forth in this work for many years to come trying to untangle the many levels of meaning and interpretations of core ideas. If there was ever a work that would require a lifetime of reading and rereading it would be "The Enneads". Every passage can become a basis for treatise and many in fact have. I have combined its reading with multiple commentaries on it and some available lectures that try to expound the main ideas and concepts of the work. Would be going back and forth in this work for many years to come trying to untangle the many levels of meaning and interpretations of core ideas.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Hadley

    Plotinus imagined himself as Plato's best and most dedicated student. He Casts Plato's philosophy in a new light which, while not always easy to understand, is somehow comforting and interesting to read. I don't like how he codifies what he believes to be THE Platonic philosophy, but I think that, unlike Aristotle, he was at least well-intentioned in doing so. Plotinus imagined himself as Plato's best and most dedicated student. He Casts Plato's philosophy in a new light which, while not always easy to understand, is somehow comforting and interesting to read. I don't like how he codifies what he believes to be THE Platonic philosophy, but I think that, unlike Aristotle, he was at least well-intentioned in doing so.

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    This was an utter diarrhea of words in which the author drones on and on about philosophical concepts with the passion of a bored professor and often the intelligence of an orangutan. His abuse of syllogism through sophistry is truly painful to read in places.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Red

    Love is all you need, love is all you need at the Butterfly Ball

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jared Tobin

    I enjoy imagining Plotinus as a fellow who discovered the works of Plato, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and PCP. I enjoy imagining Plotinus as a fellow who discovered the works of Plato, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and PCP.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Naoise

    I'm so glad I read McKenna's translation of this, even if what I was told about how the annual McKenna Lecture in Trinity is filled with Freemasons is true lol. There's some gorgeous prose here. I can't imagine not being at least metaphysically - if not always logically - propelled toward Plotinus' mysticism here. I thin it's fitting as well that an Irishman - and an ardent Gaelic Nationalist at that - wrote the most famous translation of this. There's something distinct about the Irish spirit w I'm so glad I read McKenna's translation of this, even if what I was told about how the annual McKenna Lecture in Trinity is filled with Freemasons is true lol. There's some gorgeous prose here. I can't imagine not being at least metaphysically - if not always logically - propelled toward Plotinus' mysticism here. I thin it's fitting as well that an Irishman - and an ardent Gaelic Nationalist at that - wrote the most famous translation of this. There's something distinct about the Irish spirit which draws us toward mystical idealism. Whether that be the subjective form of Berkeley or the pantheistic objective form of Eriugena. And also, considering retvrning to the fatherland is the prime goal of the metaphysics here --- the nationalist implications are clear. Cf. Enn.,5.9.1. "Those godlike men who, in their mightier power, in the keenness of their sight, have clear vision of the splendour above and rise to it from among the cloud and fog of earth and hold firmly to that other world, looking beyond all here, delighted in the place of reality, their native land, like a man returning after long wanderings to the pleasant ways of his own country"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    This is one of the best ancient philosophy books I've ever read. It's literally life changing. Plotinus speaks to anyone open to the mystic side of religion and philosophy with amazing order and reason. The book reads like a university professor lecturing to open-minded students as he summarizes his vast knowledge of Plato and other Greek minds. I can't recommend this book enough for those who enjoy the pre-Socratics and classics of ancient philosophy. I see hints of the Jewish mysticism in the This is one of the best ancient philosophy books I've ever read. It's literally life changing. Plotinus speaks to anyone open to the mystic side of religion and philosophy with amazing order and reason. The book reads like a university professor lecturing to open-minded students as he summarizes his vast knowledge of Plato and other Greek minds. I can't recommend this book enough for those who enjoy the pre-Socratics and classics of ancient philosophy. I see hints of the Jewish mysticism in the air in his times and he launches ideas for the better Christian-minded thinkers about to enter the stage of history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Really interesting and influential but dense and overlong.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aden2g

    Based

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mapapa

    I like it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Peter Crouse

    The foundational text of Neo-Platonism and the western mystical tradition. Building on Plato, concepts like transcendence, the emanation of Being and the ascent of the soul are here given a much fuller treatment. The debt to Aristotelian metaphysics and the Stoic idea of Providence is also heavy. While I admit to being drawn at least in part to mystical ideas, I can't help being stupefied by certain fundamental problems that are raised again and again in the course of the treatises which Plotinus The foundational text of Neo-Platonism and the western mystical tradition. Building on Plato, concepts like transcendence, the emanation of Being and the ascent of the soul are here given a much fuller treatment. The debt to Aristotelian metaphysics and the Stoic idea of Providence is also heavy. While I admit to being drawn at least in part to mystical ideas, I can't help being stupefied by certain fundamental problems that are raised again and again in the course of the treatises which Plotinus fails to answer in a satisfactory manner. One of the most vexing is the question of the nature of Matter. It would seem to me to be easy to admit a kind of dualism between Good and Evil to reality, much as the Gnostics did, thereby granting actual existence to the latter and explaining why the material universe falls short of perfection. However Plotinus insists on preserving the 'goodness' of his ultimate principle at all costs, and thus we have the elegant formulation that Matter/Evil is merely the absence of Good and counterintuitively has no claim to real Being. More important is the question of the transcendental One and how something technically beyond all being, knowledge and ability to be classified can be expounded upon, experienced by the soul and be the source of all reality. A wise course of action would be to draw a veil of Wittgensteinian silence over the entire subject. Initially I was disappointed to have picked up Penguin's abridged edition of the Enneads, but after reading all 600 pages of Mackenna's admittedly eloquent translation I actually wish that they had cut out more. The problem is that Porphery never meant his collection of his master's treatises to be a systematic exposition of doctrine and thus the finished product tends to be VERY repetitive as it glides from one topic to the next, often discussing relatively archaic and trivial matters regarding the nature of soul and astrology. The edition also includes far too much introductory material, including an unnecessary biography of the translator. Occasionally beautiful and often meandering, I find there's nothing in the Enneads that Plato hasn't said better already. On the other hand, my wayword soul is probably too blind to glimpse the truer realm of Real-Being and Intellegence anyway... What's refreshing about Plotinus is his positive attitude to creation and the cosmos: an attitude that's sorely lacking in the Christian fathers who drew so heavily on his influence.

  28. 4 out of 5

    JP

    While exhibiting depth and some implication, the work is still best classified, in my opinion, as Platonic fluff. It falls into the class of philosophy starting with huge leaps about mystical concepts, followed by giant defining assumptions. It is beautiful, sensuous writing but to no worthy end. In "Descent" we are shown the possible alternatives to explain the free, lasting soul, descending into the limited, terminal body. My critique is best summarized by the introduction's point of highlight While exhibiting depth and some implication, the work is still best classified, in my opinion, as Platonic fluff. It falls into the class of philosophy starting with huge leaps about mystical concepts, followed by giant defining assumptions. It is beautiful, sensuous writing but to no worthy end. In "Descent" we are shown the possible alternatives to explain the free, lasting soul, descending into the limited, terminal body. My critique is best summarized by the introduction's point of highlighting an "unusually positive view of Matter." In "On the Good, the One," Plotinus combines Aristotelian unity with Platonic metaphysics. We are shown that unity is good because it neither seeks nor needs to be anything else. He also references Aristotle positively for considering every possible state but then not for considering probability.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daphne

    Am still re-reading Plotinus' "Six Enneads", as written/edited by his student Porphyry, and translated into English by Stephen MacKenna. MacKenna's poetic (non-academic) translation is an added bonus. I've now read enough interpretations and synopses of Plotinus to be truly appreciative of any writer who can communicate the spirit of Plotinus' life's work. And MacKenna does just this. "Thought" and "Understanding" are impossibly difficult concepts to articulate, and Plotinus is able to do so whil Am still re-reading Plotinus' "Six Enneads", as written/edited by his student Porphyry, and translated into English by Stephen MacKenna. MacKenna's poetic (non-academic) translation is an added bonus. I've now read enough interpretations and synopses of Plotinus to be truly appreciative of any writer who can communicate the spirit of Plotinus' life's work. And MacKenna does just this. "Thought" and "Understanding" are impossibly difficult concepts to articulate, and Plotinus is able to do so while never losing sight of this fact. I cannot say enough about the importance of this book. *This review is based upon a reading of Stephen MacKenna's translation of Plotinus's "Six Enneads" in its entirety. This does not refer to John Dillon's abridged version, as I have not read it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The peak of pagan philosophy; like a cathedral in thought. You can immediately see why so many Church Fathers adopted Plotinian themes (though adapted for Trinitarian theology, of course). One curious thing about Plotinus is that you keep expecting him (or at least I kept expecting him) to refer to a revelation as the source of his system ... I found myself thinking, "wait, how does Plotinus know this?" It seems that he almost treats all previous thought as scripture, and then sets himself the v The peak of pagan philosophy; like a cathedral in thought. You can immediately see why so many Church Fathers adopted Plotinian themes (though adapted for Trinitarian theology, of course). One curious thing about Plotinus is that you keep expecting him (or at least I kept expecting him) to refer to a revelation as the source of his system ... I found myself thinking, "wait, how does Plotinus know this?" It seems that he almost treats all previous thought as scripture, and then sets himself the very challenging hermeneutic task of making it all align, somehow (even passages in Plato and Aristotle that are literally not reconcilable).

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