Plotinus in a Nutshell…

The following notes refer to page numbers in The Essential Plotinus, Elmer O’Brien, translator (Hackett Publishing, 1964).  They are from Enneads I.6, IV.8, V.9, and VI.9.

I. The One   [VI.9]

a. The First Principle (p. 75)
b. Simple (p. 75-76)
c. Prior to Being  (p. 77)
d. Without Shape—even Intellectual Shape (p. 77)

II. The Intelligence   [V.9, mostly…]

a. Intellect is intent on its prior (i.e. the One) (p. 75-76)
b. Holding itself in the presence of the Good and First it is also self-present – knowing itself as all Being.

i. Intelligence is Intelligence in Act… (p.50)
ii. It is itself the very things upon which its intellection acts… (p.50; cf. p.76)
iii. Intellection and object are inseparable… (p.50)
iv. As authentic intellection, it has authentic intellecton of a the authentically existent and establishes their existence. (p.50)
v. These existences are the originals of those which appear in this world.  (p.50)
vi. The Intelligence contains all things and is One with its content – a unity in distinction – “all are one, there, and yet distinct” (p.51)
vii. All that is present in the realm of sense comes from above where time is replaced by eternity and space by mutual inclusiveness. (p.54)

c. There is no archetype of evil – evil is a privation.  (p.54)

III. The Soul   [IV.8]

a. The Soul has its own task (p. 65)

i. Looks toward the higher and has intellection (p. 65)
ii. Looks towards itself and conserves its peculiar being.
iii. Looks towards its lower and: (p. 65)

1. orders
2. administers
3. governs

IV. Human Souls   [I.6, mostly]

a. We have an affinity with the source.  (p. 35)
b. The loveliness of this world come by communion with ideal form. (p.36)
c. We recognize beauty in this world by virtue of our affinity with its source and for that reason find it “thrilling” or “delightful”.  (p.35-36)
d. Our appetite for divine Intellect urges us to return to our source and, in the Intellectual, to remain with Soul entire (which always looks toward the higher and has intellection).  (p. 65-66)

V. The Fall or Descent of the Soul   [IV.8, mostly]

a. There is a stage of descent through which the soul becomes partial and self-centered (in the narrow sense of the word)  (p. 66)
b. If the descent is long maintained, the soul is a deserter from the all and becomes  (p. 66)

i. Weak
ii. Full of care
iii. Fragmented
iv. Severed from the whole

c. The ugly soul has traded it’s own essential Idea for an alien (inauthentic) nature. (38-39)
d. In spite of this, it retains a transcendent aspect to which it can return by a conversion towards the intellective act.
e. If the soul turns back quickly, the descent isn’t bad: (p.67)

i. Understanding “sin” and knowing “evil” does not hurt it
ii. It’s own activity gives actuality (on a lower plane) to that whch might have remained merely potential.
f. Our human soul has not sunk entire, but if that part which in the realm of sense holds mastery, it keeps us blind to what the upper sphere holds in contemplation. (p.70)
g. Every soul seems to have a foot in both realms (70).

VI. The return of the Soul  [I.6 and VI.9]

a. The return is not a journey for the feet. You must close your eyes and call upon another vision which is to be awakened within you (p. 42)
b. Self-Discipline can be an aid to this inner vision… (p. 42)
c. The soul mounts first to the intellectual principle. (p. 42)
d. The Intellectual Principle gives wisdom to the soul, but find “The First” (Principle) or “Supreme Beginning’ we must look still inward and beyond! (p.48)
e. What’s beyond the Intellectual is the Good (the One) radiating Beauty before it.
(p. 43)
f. Awareness of the One comes neither by Knowing (the One) or by knowing Intellectual Beings, but by a presence that transcends all knowledge  (p.78)
g. Awareness of the One cannot be told or written, but must become the very act of the one who sees.  (p.78)
h. Our writing or telling is a call to vision and an urging towards… (p.78)
i. From none is that principle absent – and yet from all… (p.78)
j. Present, yet absent – except to those who are able to see… (p.78)
k. We are like a choir, turning away from the conductor.  We cannot be utterly cutoff, but we do not always attend… (p.84)
l. In this dance, the soul looks upon the source of life. (p.84)

–> Neoplatonic Symbolism in the Tarot Suits

[See also my Compendium of Texts from Plotinus’ Enneads (PDF)]