Plotinus and Epicurus

Matter, Perception, Pleasure

Angela Longo, Daniela Patrizia Taormina (ed.),  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016


This volume investigates the reasons why Plotinus, a philosopher inspired by Plato, made critical use of Epicurean philosophy. Eminent scholars show that some fundamental Epicurean conceptions pertaining to ethics, physics, epistemology and theology are drawn upon in the Enneads to discuss crucial notions such as pleasure and happiness, providence and fate, matter and the role of sense perception, intuition and intellectual evidence in relation to the process of knowledge acquisition. By focusing on the meaning of these terms in Epicureanism, Plotinus deploys sophisticated methods of comparative analysis and argumentative procedures that ultimately lead him to approach certain aspects of Epicurus’ philosophy as a benchmark for his own theories and to accept, reject or discredit the positions of authors of his own day. At the same time, these discussions reveal what aspects of Epicurean philosophy were still perceived to be of vital relevance in the third century AD.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents





IntroductionAngela Longo, Daniela Patrizia Taormina

Part I – Historical overview

Chapter 1 – The school and texts of Epicurus in the early centuries of the Roman empire – Tiziano Dorandi

Part II – Common anti-Epicurean arguments in Plotinus

Chapter 2 – The mention of Epicurus in Plotinus’ tr. 33 (Enn. II 9) in the context of the polemics between pagans and Christians in the second to third centuries AD – Angela Longo
Chapter 3 – Epicureans and Gnostics in tr. 47 (Enn. III 2) 7.29–41 – Manuel Mazzetti

Chapter 4 – ‘Heavy birds’ in tr. 5 (Enn. V 9) 1.8 – Mauricio Pagotto Marsola

Chapter 5 – Plotinus, Epicurus and the problem of intellectual evidence – Pierre-Marie Morel

Chapter 6 – ‘What is known through sense perception is an image’. Plotinus’ tr. 32 (Enn. V 5) 1.12–19 – Daniela Patrizia Taormina

Part III – Plotinus’ criticism of Epicurean doctrines

Chapter 7 – Corporeal matter, indefiniteness and multiplicity – Marco Ninci

Chapter 8 – Plotinus’ reception of Epicurean atomism in On Fate, tr. 3 (Enn. III 1) 1–3 – Erik Eliasson

Part IV – Epicurean elements in Plotinus

Chapter 9 – Athroa epibolē – Andrei Cornea

Chapter 10 – Plotinus and Epicurus on pleasure and happiness – Alessandro Linguiti


Index locorum

Index of modern authors

Index of main concepts


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