Plotinus: Enneads 1:1 Does the Soul Sense?

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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7 Responses

  1. Rufus, I’m glad blogging the canon has returned.

    “Animals live embodied lives in which very little of their thought is not directed towards the experiences of their bodies. Man is able to isolate, even alienate, his thoughts from his body. Too little such separation and he can be boorish, even dangerously impulsive; too much and he can become neurotic. Nevertheless the neurotic is impressively imaginative- the creative, even artistic, triumph of a neurosis over physical reality is rarely acknowledged.”

    Is this your idea or Plotinus’s? This may come across as nitpicking, but I’m not sure I can agree that neurosis is the obverse of boorishness here. “Aloof” seems more appropriate.Report

    • Thanks! I’m glad to be back to doing them.

      Aloof is probably better than neurosis, but I was going for too-muchness. How about dissociation?Report

      • “Neurotic” is interesting word choice. We usually think of “neurosis” as an inconvenience at best and a crippling disability at worst, but the idea that too much disconnect from reality is responsible for creative act is thought-provoking. (Ignore any perceived puns – the necessary multiple layers of irony in these sorts of conversations is enough to make one’s head explode.) “Disassociation” lacks the mythic flavor of “neurotic”.Report

  2. J.L. Wall says:

    Plotinus is a few centuries after my comfort zone (ah, Late Antiquity! One day, my dearest, we will become better acquainted!), so my comment is (of course) more toward the literary side than the philosophical: I find his reading of the Herakles scene in the Odyssey to be … interesting. Mostly because there is no evidence, in that scene, that Homer envisions him anywhere but Hades. When he finishes his speech and moves away, we’re told that he is going “AGAIN (autis) to the House of Hades” — that he had been there, and will continue to be. Nothing else about divinity; some (I’m among them) take this as pretty decent evidence that there were competing traditions about the deification of Herakles. So when Plotinus says “the poet,” it is actually less a specific reference to the Homeric poet in particular than to “the poet” of the literary/mythic tradition: perhaps an attempt to explain how, by the 3rd century CE, there is little or no cognitive dissonance provoked by his lack of divinity in Homer and his divinity in other (later?) tellings.

    (One note, that may or may not be important: Herakles, from a local perspective, increases in importance as you move from east to west across the Greek world. Hence, perhaps, a divine Herakles, essential to Greek claims to western islands, among western colonists and a the shade of the dead Herakles in the Ionic Homeric poems.)Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to J.L. Wall says:

      I do think he’s pretty much reading into a passage (Odyssey XI 601-602) where he sees a distinction being made between the shade of Herakles in Hades and Herakles himself being in Olympus that is probably not there. It is a somewhat strange and confusing passage though.Report