Plotinus (204-270ad)

4 hypostases


The one precedes the good and beautiful.  It goes through all.  It cannot be described in words.  It is better as described negatively.  The without end.


His point of view is hyper scientific:

While all is really one.  As a science is broken into parts.  But is the study of one . there are many ways to examine one thing”  the universe is glittering with ideas, many and few.  And as we perceive (with (or less without) science) all is intellective.  all dualities are in essence and being and are contained in one


The whole body implies state called whole.  Where is whole?  Soul produces the form in the matter.  So soul is different from form, and not in the body.  I say souls are differentiated.


One object can be described in many ways.  The one is all possible awarenesses of everything together.


Neuroscience and emergent properties.


The multiplicity (being) differs from the one, even though it is the one by participation.  Because of the Tao concept that you can’t have one without the many. Therefore, the one is a real thing and not just a superimposed counting scheme.


The one emanates all, but doesn’t diminish to.  And all it eminates persists also.  Without the one, we wouldn’t exist.



The second level is intellectual principle (nous).  It is the image of the one.  In its self quest, it has a vision; this seeing is nous.  The light by which the one sees itself.  Self will makes us forget the divine mind.

Those divinely possessed and inspired feel its power.  It moves in them and they perceive the power.


Things that come and go have only borrowed being.  Not they, but the law on whom they draw are real.  We seek substance from the intelligence.  It just is.  We don’t have knowledge of sense of objects.  Only opinions of objects. We have knowledge of the laws behind them.

The one is like the dot at the center of the circle.

We go back reunited with the source. We go back to where we came from. We are connected to the beginning of time.  We’re already there, but don’t realize it.

There is one intellect and many intellects.  There are many souls and one soul.

Dot radiates out in a sphere (this is not in space) we are faces on the outside of it (the outside of a balloon sphere).  We see different things.  The outside things that will fade.  The forms are behind us.  We need to turn in to our true collective soul and forms.  The sphere is intellect, our soul is the life through it.

The intellect attained gives us a vision of the one.  “at the moment of touch there is no power whatever to make any affirmation; there is no leisure; reasoning upon the vision is for afterwards.  We may know we have the vision when the soul has suddenly taken light. This light is from the Supreme and is the Supreme.”

How is this to be accomplished?  “Cut away everything”


Plotinus ascends to extacy many times.


“Many times it has happened:  Lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a marvelous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order’ enacting the noblest life, acquiring that identity with the divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity’ poised above whatsoever in the Intellectual is less than the Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it happens that I can now be descending, and how did the Soul ever enter into my body, the Soul which even within the body, is the high thing it has shown itself to be.”


3 - SOUL

The third level down then is soul.

It is inferior to nous.   it is the author of all living things; it made the sun and mood  and starts and the whole visible world.

It is the offspring of the divine intellect.

It looks into the eternal and outer.

Nothing emanates from the soul when it forgets to look upward towards nous.

The visible world is beautiful, but it is less good than the intellectual world.

The soul creates the material world from the memory of the divine.  It is not fallen.  It is as good as a sensible world can be.


He is the last thinker for some time to think of the earth as beautiful.

Augustine says this world is a necessary evil, but evil.


The soul enters matter in an attractive, nearly sexual way.

When you die you are reincarnated into the same life from the opposite side.  If you gave love, you receive it.  If you killed a man, you get killed.

You may remember the world when disembodied, but the closer you get to the eternal, the less friends children and wife are remembered.  Eventually you soul just contemplates the intellectual realm.



What of the body soul duality. Matter is passive, it cannot have created itself;  matter could not exist if soul had not created it, and , if soul did not exist, matter would disappear in a twinkling.


As the laws are ethereal, they create the opposite possibility. 

Soul goes into matter, like a composer that first imagines her music and then wants to hear it performed by an orchestra.

The soul incorporated in body exists because it is a possible thought.

There are some unfortunate results.

Before entering a body.  All souls are one.  After they are separate.

It also must govern what is lower than itself.

In all but a few men, the soul becomes chained to the body.

Mind’s ability to transcend time and space gets dragged back.

The soul is not matter or form, but eternal essence.  As ideas are eternal. The soul enters the body through appetite.

In desiring to be independent/separate we fall.  In going away from the origin, we become perverse.  Like children raised without parents


The one is everything and not everything.  It is not everything because it is the source of everything. It is everything as a seed is a tree.  It contains all to be.  As a shoot grows a tree. Is the DNA discreet or scaffolded for directing flow of  a soul returns it returns with the power of its prior.  The one is what the rules of the intelligence are in that makes the rules for the DNA in body (matter).



Appreciation of beauty is recognition by the soul of something like itself.  This can tell us what the soul is like.  Repulsion is towards things unlike the soul.  Beyond senses is a better beauty.  The beauty of approaching ideas.  the “luster” of right living and learning, the face of justice with the eye of the soul.  These things must be lived.  Like the blind don’t see, many haven’t seen this luster.  Ugly souls are unjust, teeming with lusts, inner discord, craven fears, petty envies and constantly trying to suck matter into themselves.  It has bartered it’s idea for something foreign to it.  If someone is covered in mud their native comeliness disappears.  Clean yourself .  Clean the body away. Temperance, prudence and every virtue are purifications  Look first at a great person.  Then turn inside to look for admiral qualities in yourself.  As a sculptor, cut away excess, smooth roughness’ never stop working on this statue, this stainless shrine.  If you seek to contemplate the godlike divine and beautiful, become godlike and beautiful.  Technically, beauty is in the place of ideas and the good lies beyond it as its source and principle.



The soul is contaminated by being made individual and particular in a body.  Plato's cave is an analogy for the body in which the soul is trapped.  


When we descend down into individuality, our activity lacks concentration.   The soul loses wings as it is tied to particulars.  This willing descent helps the perfection and completion of the whole. 

If the intelligible didn’t take bodily form, it couldn’t see the intelligible objectively.  So we sit on the edge of intelligibility.  We wouldn’t understand hunger without a body, we can feel it and envision above it. 

There is also an inner unity in that the laws of nature are the same in us.  This makes us a whole as in we who make up the universe.  Much like a hologram.  So to the greatest star above and the moral universe within. 


Health of body is in whether or not it is running as one, of the soul by communing with one.  he soul makes man by contemplating man.  It bestows ____ on other things by noticing shape etc.,  and it can lift them up into the one by realizing they are in one.    But he wants to see if being and unity are one. 


We are different from the one because we can be divided Intelligence cannot have preceded the one in time.  Because intelligence contemplates what is higher than itself.  The intelligence should try to contemplate the one without reference to sense objects (for not intelligence, but sense sees such things).

The feeling is like the lover who has come to rest with his love.  Knowledge makes aware of it.  But the final understanding isn’t in words.  As we turn towards it we go higher and are delivered from evil.  Life without the one mimics life.  With it we spew virtues.  Don’t devote your love to shadows.


Love of the higher enlightens. Souls don’t stay there because they aren’t detached from what’s here below.  Don’t seek to see the light as an object have union.


we reflect the intelligence borne of the one.  In The Intelligence knowledge, or wisdom, is thought’ temperance is its relation with itself, justice is the achieving of the activity that is proper to it.  The analog of courage is the Intelligence’s identity with itself and the persistency of its pure state. In The Soul wisdom and prudence are the vision of the Intelligence. But they are there the virtues of The Soul.



Question: can one apprehend the one better by knowledge, or transcending intellect?  Answer of Plotinus:  The intellect.  The intellect can imagine beyond intellect, to a place of pure desire.  Ecstatic means beyond oneself.  He seeks to send the intellect beyond itself. . The mind “returns” from outside to inside.  From the changing/mortal to the unchanging/ immortal.  Confusion to clarity. 


This intelligence is findable.  That proves it is in us, before the soul, waiting to be discovered, as scientific knowledge is.

Intelligence hasn’t given the soul perfection.  The soul is related to the intelligence as matter is to words.  If this world has objects of beauty, then how much more the intelligence.   


Also, there is no objective reality I can look at material spiritually not divide it, put borders on the discussed area parameters AND choose the magnification.



Some live in sense only.  Good and evil for them only are this.  Good is what feels good and bad is what feels bad.  They may rise up to care about honor, from pleasure, but that’s all.  Some , ultimately, go higher to virtue, knowledge , noble deeds and law.  Few go all the way to contemplate the beautiful soul.  Are all souls beautiful?  No!  They are to the the extent that they are vestibules for the good “the intelligence”. 


We evolve in imitation of the intelligence.  The intelligence is not the law giver, it is the law. For the beings of no matter, to be and to think are the same.


Ultimately all tasks from general to carpenter happen in the realm of (physical intellective laws and manifest form. 

The ideas of reasoning man and artistic man and good cook must be there as universals also. 

Our ideas, risen from the body can exist in the intelligible world. (This he gets from Aristotle)  Perfect forms of the idea of ideas.  So whatever is attained to here is there and of course the sensible and more. 


Putrification and filth come from the yet undiscussed soul, not the intelligence.  From not seeing things as they truly are.

Plotinus speaks of beauty, but not of virtues.   virtue makes one like oneself. Plotinus says by civic virtue one becomes  truly oneself.  By becoming truly oneself, one is closer to the divine and by exercise of higher virtues, one becomes divine.  


As the intelligence has many intelligences, so the soul has many souls.  To just play sports  or work towards beating everyone?


At first you serve the lower virtues with an eye towards the higher.  Then become disabused of civic virtue and live as a god (not a good man).


The soul is evil to the extent that it is judges in accord with body. But, whatever is not wholly submitted to measure is matter.

If it is no longer commanded by the body (this is temperance), if quit of the body it no longer feels fear (this is courage), if reason and intelligence control with ease (this is rectitude).  The soul thus disposed, thinks dispassionately. This disposition can be called likeness to the divinity because the divinity is pure and its act is as well.  


Punishment is an upholding of justice to restore balance and life all.

But effort not to avoiding evil, but by becoming divine.  Justice is each fulfilling his function.  But in highest justice it is a type of gaze, a unity towards self.


Love is the unifies and hate is the separation.



Our longing implies the higher realm.  Everything has a form. We seek the other realm.  Effect seeking cause.  Image towards prototype.  First, separate from here and the multiplicity.  By doing this we do alchemy. The mind is sensible among the insensible.  It should realize itself as a higher.  As in a syllogism, we use things to realize trier forms.  Some act as though we were intellects.  Some as though we weren’t .


We, as having a lower and higher realm, are a microcosm of the universe.  Both go from the multiplicity to the one You must note similarity of your intellect and the intellectual nature of virtues.  Vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not the light that is seeing.  In our knowledge we know that all isn’t perfect which implies that there is a perfection to which to aspire.  It implies the stable and perfect.



If you think our soul is part of the greater soul.  It is wrong.  It is the greater soul.  Because your analogy is with the physical.  But because milk and paper are white doesn’t make them part of white.  They are white .  2 is but isn’t really a part of 10.  Biology is a part of science but not a piece of science.  If we were said to be mini replicas of the soul, we would be independent.  Not so?  The eye and ear don’t have separate soul types.  They feed differently because they’re different organs.  But they inform the soul.  The soul is a unity of everywhere, but with different functions.  The soul is universal and rational.  The soul comes as an explanatory/ expression of intelligence and like this rational laws of nature is undying and undifferentiated.  How has the soul made the world, and why, .  While individual souls govern each part of the world?    The intelligence is the law of nature, the soul its movement.



All act is comtemplative , from plants growing to us joking.  All beings strive after contemplation.   Nature is a rational principle that produces the Reason that accords something of itself to the substratum while itself remaining unmoved.  Reason that manifests itself in shapes is the lowest of its kind, because it isn't productive of another rational kind.  Because it produces while itself remaining unmoved, active is itself contemplation.  Action is a shadow of contemplation and reason weak men engage in.  They can’t give themselves to contemplation due to a weak soul.  What they cannot achieve in contemplation, they strive to in actions.  The proof is that retarded people do crafts and want to see the product of their work. 

The mind births thoughts.  The soul needs no visual or external object for contemplation.  Contemplation is the end of action.  When one achieves one wants merely to think about it.   Learning is bringing outside in and assimilating it.  So all derives from contemplation and is contemplation.  All contemplation produces forms.  Poor results (forms) result from poor thinking.   The intelligence is a multiplicity because its in all things. multiplicity comes after unity.  therefore the one preceded it.  Keep asking “how can the table be thought?  It is obeying rational laws.  The table is a lower level of thought.  It is also a projection  of a table thought someone had.