In addition to the specific observation that Gavin makes concerning
what Plotinus seemed to have thought the difference is, I would like
to add a couple of observations.
For one, Plotinus never actually mentions "Gnostics" directly, it is
his biographer that added the term. However, it does seem that he was
talking about a Gnostic group, and he even mentions some writings that
we would generally call "Gnostic" in the technical meaning of the term.
Interestingly, he takes the ideas of some of these Gnostic writings
quite seriously... he does not simply write them off. Nor does it seem
that he completely understood them, because in some cases he seems to
be argreeing with them while only thinking he is in disagreement. It
does appear that he was on a relatively friendly basis with them, and
they were part of his Platonist circle.
I don't think these are simply "similarities", but instead, literally
part of the same movement. What I mean is, Gnosticism is not something
LIKE a type of Platonism, it IS a type of Platonism. We see this in
the polemic attacks of Christians and other Platonists alike
(Plotinus, Calsus, Irenaeus, etc..) AND we see this in the writings of
the Gnostics themselves. No one debates the fact that Allogenes (for
instance) or the Tripartite Tractate is Platonic, as far as I know.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@y...> wrote:
> Hello. I was wondering if anyone here who has studied the Enneads of
> Plotinus has anything to say about the polemical criticism that
> Plotinus wrote against the gnostic groups he was familiar with. I
> this interesting given the close similarities between Neo-Platonic
> thought and ancient Gnosticism. -Steve W.