Plotinus' Search for the Good

Plotinus' Search for the Good

Plotinus' Search for the Good

Plotinus' Search for the Good

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to penetrate behind Plotinus' statements to the problems that faced his philosophy. This is no simple task because in Plotinus, as in much of Platonism, dialectic and an unavowed symbolism prevent much of the real problems from being directly stated. Perhaps the most basic difficulty is the intertwining of existential and valuational considerations. "Reality," as Professor Herbert W. Schneider has recently remarked, "is not only a weasel word, but a foxy concept. It has all the smart appearance of ideality but the beastly habit of devouring actuality." In Plotinus a paraphrase rendition of his philosophy will give us a phantastic system of levels of reality: a natural world, a noumenal world, and a One that is the crown and the stupendously productive source of all that is. It will give us a description of the "worlds" above the natural world that contains still more of the marvelous. But one chief key to Platonism is to read its levels of reality as levels of value. For the sake of anticipatory simplification this may be described as the method of this book. It should be noted that the author discovered the "key" last. For his first reading of Plotinus was one of puzzlement, and only a laborious analysis brought the disentanglement of the experience from the vision of Plotinus that this book attempts to state.

This book then deviates from the usual approach to Plotinus in that it is less concerned with the interrelation of his ideas and the architecture of his system than with the experiential reference of his ideas. It treats Plotinus' dialectic less for its own sake than to show its function in bridging the inevitable inconsistencies that arise when valuational and existential considerations are not clearly distin-

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