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Plotinus’s Language of Seeing: Marsilio Ficino on Enneads V.3, V.8 and III.8

Corrias, A; (2019) Plotinus’s Language of Seeing: Marsilio Ficino on Enneads V.3, V.8 and III.8. International Journal of the Classical Tradition , 26 pp. 251-269. 10.1007/s12138-018-0465-y. Green open access

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Abstract

The story of Plotinus’s life and the main traits of his inspiring personality were preserved in the biography written by Porphyry, his most famous pupil, which remains the chief source for understanding the ‘persona’ of Plotinus. Through Porphyry’s report, the various aspects of his master’s life became inseparable from the principles of his philosophy and helped to create an idea of Plotinus as possessing an almost superhuman soul, which proved fascinating to later readers of the Enneads. Along with the pact of secrecy between Ammonius Saccas’s disciples, the divine nature of his daemon and the story of his death – when a snake was said to have appeared and immediately disappeared into a hole in the wall – the unique difficulty of his prose has played a great part in the definition of Plotinus’s philosophical personality. Plotinus’s style is frequently hard to comprehend, the development of his thoughts is complex and unpredictable, and his words are pregnant with meaning which is easily lost in translation. He certainly regarded the verbalization of concepts as necessary for philosophical teaching, but was little concerned with words in themselves, which remained unable, because of their essential materiality, to express the profound insights of his metaphysics. Hence his style constantly attempts to describe what cannot be described. As R. T. Wallis has rightly observed: ‘In contrast to Plato, Plotinus’s treatises exhaust the resources of language in endeavouring to attain successively closer approximations to what remains finally inexpressible.’

Type: Article
Title: Plotinus’s Language of Seeing: Marsilio Ficino on Enneads V.3, V.8 and III.8
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12138-018-0465-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12138-018-0465-y
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051930
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