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  • Thus the question is bound to arise whether there is any originality in the ideas expressed in the Enneads (note 1 : Cf. J. M. Rist, Plotinus – The Road to Reality [Cambridge, 1967], who, in a chapter titled « The Originality of Plotinus », foresees that his readers « may […] have begun to wonder at times either whether Plotinus can stand on his own feet, or why, if he cannot, he is worth serious attention »). The answer to this question depends, to a large extent, on the approach that one chooses to study Plotinus. Once it has been established that Plotinus builds upon the philosophical tradition of the great Greek thinkers, it may hardly be surprising that the language of the Enneads in many respects reflects that same tradition. Also, we can safely say that Plotinus was not an angry young man, eager to sweep away his philosophical heritage (note 2 : Since Plotinus, according to his pupil Porphyry [Life of Plotinus, ch. 4], did not start writing the treatises handed down to us as the Enneads before he was 49 years old, we cannot say of course to what extent he had adopted such a critical attitude towards the philosophical tradition in his younger years). He had no compulsion to reinvent the wheel, when he found at hand a host of perfectly suitable terms and metaphors with which to express his own ideas. Plotinus may even have been somewhat naive in this respect, as his famous attack in the treatise Against the Gnostics (Enn. 2.9 [33]) shows. After having made frequent use of Gnostic metaphors and imagery to present the theme of the « descent » and the « conversion » of the soul in the earlier treatises (metaphors that often originated in the Platonic dialogues, but were incorporated in Gnostic mythology and religion), Plotinus apparently felt the need to oppose those who took his figurative language too literally, linking it with Gnostic religious and cosmological speculations (note 3 : In an attempt to identify the specific Gnostic sect(s) that Plotinus attacks, C. Elsas, in Neuplatonische und gnostische Weltablehrung in der Schule Plotins [Berlin/New York, 1975], has analysed the arguments brought forward by Plotinus in detail, and compared them to the ideas that existed in contemporary Gnostic circles).

  • Remarques de l'éditeur
  • Luciana Santoprete
    • Contexte
    • Introduction au Traité 49, (V, 3), partie : Interpreting Plotinus
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    • 10
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  • Traité 49 (V, 3) (entier) + Traité 33 (II, 9) (entier)