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Plotinus and the Presocratics

A Philosophical Study of Presocratic Influences in Plotinus' Enneads

Giannis Stamatellos

Publication Year: 2007

Filling the void in the current scholarship, Giannis Stamatellos provides the first book-length study of the Presocratic influences in Plotinus’ Enneads. Widely regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism, Plotinus (204–270 AD) assimilated eight centuries of Greek thought into his work. In this book Stamatellos focuses on eminent Presocratic thinkers who are significant in Plotinus’ thought, including Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the early Pythagoreans, and the early Atomists. The Presocratic references found in the Enneads are studied in connection with Plotinus’ fundamental theories of the One and the unity of being, intellect and the structure of the intelligible world, the nature of eternity and time, the formation of the material world, and the nature of the ensouled body. Stamatellos concludes that, contrary to modern scholarship’s dismissal of Presocratic influence in the Enneads, Presocratic philosophy is in fact an important source for Plotinus, which he recognized as valuable in its own right and adapted for key topics in his thought.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-ix

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p. xi

Gratefully, I would like to acknowledge all those who have assisted me in this work. First and foremost, I would like to thank Professor Rosemary Wright for her constant encouragement, insightful instruction, and philosophical inspiration throughout this project. Her help was invaluable and I owe her gratitude...

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pp. 1-2

Plotinus (ad 204–205) and the Presocratic thinkers (ad c. 6th–5th c.) designate the historical boundaries of ancient Greek philosophy. Whereas the Presocratics determine the beginning of Greek philosophy, Plotinus initiates the last period of Greek intellection which is usually marked by the closure of...

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Chapter 1 The Origins of Plotinus’ Philosophy

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pp. 3-22

A comparative study of the origins of Plotinus’ philosophy presupposes, first, an investigation into his philosophical sources and, second, an analysis of his philosophical method. Modern scholarship recognizes the importance of both. In the last fifteen years many studies on Plotinus focus on his philosophical sources as well as the manner in which these sources are...

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Chapter 2 One and Unity

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pp. 23-58

The One is the fundamental principle in Plotinus’ philosophy; it is the transcendent source of being, intelligence, life beyond substance, and form.1 The One is the First Hypostasis of Being, the supreme non-composite metaphysical principle prior to any plurality, multiplicity, and opposition. It is the...

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Chapter 3 Intellect and Being

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pp. 59-88

Plotinus’ theory of Intellect (Nους) is one of the most original concepts of Greek philosophy.1 It links Plotinus’ Neoplatonic philosophy not only with the philosophy of Middle-Platonism and especially with Numenius and Albinus, 2 but also with the original Presocratic, Platonic, and Aristotelian tradition...

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Chapter 4 Eternity and Time

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pp. 89-134

Plotinus’ central discussion on eternity (αι>ω} ν) and time (χρóνος) appears in Ennead III.7, On Eternity and Time.1 The treatise is divided into thirteen chapters: after a first introductory chapter in which Plotinus presents his method of research, in chapters 2–6, he speculates upon the nature of eternity, in chapters...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 135-172

Plotinus’ theory of Matter (υ&λη)1 is a philosophical synthesis of Plato’s Receptacle of becoming (υ< ποδοχη} ) in the Timaeus (48e–52d), and Aristotle’s theory of matter as Substrate (υ< ποκει}μενον) in Physics 192a3 (II.4.1; III.6.13–14).2 For Plotinus, matter is sterile and undesignated nonbeing, the formless and insubstantial receptacle of the Platonic Forms; the unqualified...

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Chapter 6 Conclusion

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pp. 173-176

Plotinus belongs to a philosophical tradition originating with Presocratic thought. In using the Presocratics frequently in the Enneads, Plotinus’ aim is to show that his philosophy is not an innovation, but that the fundamental principles of his system were rooted in the teaching of the ancients. Since key Presocratic theories were first stated before Plato and the Platonic adaptation...


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pp. 177-196


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pp. 197-238


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pp. 239-254

Index Fontium

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pp. 255-258


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pp. 259-270

E-ISBN-13: 9780791480311
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791470619
Print-ISBN-10: 079147061X

Page Count: 282
Illustrations: 4 tables
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 137639118
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Plotinus and the Presocratics

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Subject Headings

  • One (The One in philosophy).
  • Soul.
  • Intellect.
  • Plotinus. Enneads.
  • Philosophy, Ancient.
  • Pre-Socratic philosophers.
  • Plotinus.
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