Plotinus in Dialogue with the Gnostics

Jean-Marc Narbonne, Leyde: Brill, 2011


The point of view put forth in the following pages differs greatly from the common perspective according to which the treatises 30 to 33 constitute a single work, a Grossschrift, and this single work, Plotinus essential response to the Gnostics. Our perspective is that of an ongoing discussions with his Gnostic yet Platonizing friends, which started early in his writings (at least treatise 6), developed into what we could call a Grosszyklus (treatises 27 to 39), and went on in later treatises as well (e. g. 47-48, 51). The prospect of an ongoing discussion with the Gnostics bears an additional virtue, that of allowing for a truly dynamic understanding of the Plotinian corpus.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

Preliminary Material


Study One.The Controversy over the Generation of Matter in Plotinus:The Riddle Resolved?

Study Two.The Riddle of the Partly Undescendend Soul in Plotinus: The Gnostic/Hermetic Path of the ὁμοούσιος

Study Three. A Doctrinal Evolution in Plotinus? The Weakness of the Soul in Its Relation to Evil

Study Four. A New Sign of the Impact of the Quarrel against the Gnostics on Plotinus’Thought: Two Modes of Reascent in  (VI ) and  (VI )

Study Five. A New Type of Causality: Plotinian Contemplative Demiurgy

Study Six. New Reflections on God as CAUSA SUI in Plotinus and Its Possible Gnostic Sources

Works Consulted

Index Nominum


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