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  • Here, and in what follows in the rest of the chapter, Plotinus is probably not only, or even primarily, concerned with explicitly Gnostic doctrines. He is attacking views which were held in the Platonic school and to which he had himself at one time been prepared to make some concessions. The idea that there were two or more Intellects seems to have arisen in the course of discussions about the meaning of Plato, Timaeus 39 E, and the relationship of the intellect of the Demiurge to the intelligible model of the universe, which had long been discussed in the Platonic school (as it still is by modern scholars). Amelius, according to Proclus (In Timaeum III, 268A, p. 103.18 ff., Diehl), came to the conclusion that there were three Intellects, the “existing”, the “possessing” and the “seeing,” a view which had a considerable influence on the later developments of Neoplatonic doctrine (cp. Dodds’s commentary on Proclus, Elements of Theology prop. 167). And in the first of the early notes collected by Porphyry in III, 9, Plotinus puts forward a distinction between an Intellect, “in repose,” and another which is an “activity proceeding from it” and “sees” it, very similar to the distinction criticised here. This distinction seems to go back to Numenius, whose thought had affinities with Gnosticism (cp. Dodds on Proclus El. Th. prop. 168). Dodds also thinks that Numenius may be the author of the other distinction criticised here between the Intellect that thinks and the other which thinks that it thinks. But the passage describing Numenius’s doctrine about the thinking of his three Intellects (Proclus ln Tim. III, 268A-B, p. 103, 28 ff.; Diehl = Numenius test. 25 Leemans Fr. 22 Des Places) is too obscure for any certainty. Similar ideas were, of course current among the Gnostics, but it is important to remember that they were seriously put forward in Plotinus’s own circle, by others than professed Gnostics. The Gnostics themselves, especially Valentinus, derived some of their ideas from Platonism and Neopythagoreanism, which makes it easier to understand the reciprocal influence they exercised on some Platonists and Neophythagoreans.

  • Remarques de l'éditeur
  • Luciana Santoprete
    • Contexte
    • Note 1 au Traité 33 (II, 9), 1, 26-27
    • Page
    • 226-227
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  • Traité 33 (II, 9), 1, 27