Plotinus on The One and the Good Essay

Plotinus on The One and the Good Essay

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Plotinus on The One and the Good



In Ennead VI, 9, Plotinus discusses the nature of The One with respect to goodness, and particularly the supreme concept of goodness, which he calls the Good. The One is a model for the highest virtue or principle; however, we find that it is difficult to characterize The One in such a way because Plotinus explains that it supercedes all description that we attribute to it. While Plotinus’ account of The One is an interesting argument that develops somewhat logically, in the end, it becomes difficult to reconcile the lack of qualities of The One with Plotinus’ claim that it is the cause of existence.

In his passage on The One and the Good, Plotinus begins by saying that The One is not an intellective existence, meaning that it does not think. He then states that The One does not exhibit any sort of motion because it predates motion and thought as well. This is important to the development of the rest of Plotinus’ philosophy because it provides the context that The One existed before both thought and material objects. The reason for the latter is because motion is fundamental to matter and The One existed before motion.

Plotinus continues and states that The One is not in a state of ignorance despite its lack of knowledge or thought. The reason for this is because ignorance requires knowledge to be ignorant of, and The One existed before knowledge. “Ignorance presupposes a dual relationship: one does not know another. But The One, in its aloneness, can neither know nor be ignorant of anything.” The One exists, therefore, effectively at a time before time existed. The only way to characterize The One’s state at that point is that it existed...


... middle of paper ...


...ast sound instantly passed between the future and the past, it only existed in the future which was when we heard it. Therefore, even if the present has no time value, it is a reference point for all time that has passed.

Augustine’s conflict between people being able to measure time and the difficulty in doing so is understandable because of his perspective on the present. He claims sensibly that the present moment has no overall value, but that doesn’t mean that in it we can’t assign points in time that pass and compare them. His conclusion arises because he doesn’t consider the possibility that time of something in the past still has value in the future as long as the difference between its start and end points are known. It is not surprising that he excludes this possibility, however, because he believes that time in the past is immeasurable.

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