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Re: Plotinus/Schuon-The One: Infinite? Source of Privation & Evil?

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  • Tim Addey
    *** robnen@att.net wrote: Whereas I thought that the One, being the Unity, The Real, the Totality, does not allow for nothingness outside of itself. ***
    Message 1 of 18 , Jul 25, 2009
      ***
      robnen@... wrote:

      Whereas I thought that the One, being the Unity, The Real, the Totality,
      does not allow for nothingness outside of itself.

      ***

      Robert,

      We're now circling around the most profound paradox - the one that all
      the great philosophies have struggled to put into words - Taoism,
      Hindu/Buddhism, Platonism and, no doubt, others now forgotten.

      For the One to emanate the all it cannot possess any particular quality,
      because then the opposite quality cannot be produced from it. But does
      "to be empty of quality" mean nothingness? Or does it mean a
      super-fulness? And if we have this full-nothingness, is there an
      "outside" in which ordinary "nothingness" can exist?

      To be infinite is to possess a power. At some point we must consider
      the Infinite One as something possessing a power - and indeed this is
      what Plotinus says in VI, ix, 6 - "The priniciple of all things like
      must be admitted to be infinite, not because he is magnitude or number
      which cannot be passed over, but because the power of him is
      incomprehensible." But our consideration of the One as "something
      possessing a power" is itself a departure from the simplicity of the
      One, and only necessary because we're trapped in the world of intellect
      (or, if you like, in the world of being). "Something possessing a
      power" is, after all, not as simple as "something."

      There is a beautiful passage which Thomas Taylor gives from Proclus'
      Commentary on the Parmenides (p. 32 in the Prometheus Trust edition of
      the Works of Plato III - I have never been able to find it in the Morrow
      and Dillon paginated translation) - it seems to say about as much as one
      can about our approach to this great mystery:

      "Lastly, the intention of the first hypothesis is to absolve that which
      is simply one from all the properties and conditions of the unities of
      the Gods; and by this absolving to signify the procession of all things
      from thence. But our intention in pursuing these mysteries is no other
      than by the logical energies of our reason to arrive at the simple
      intellection of beings, and by these to excite the divine one resident
      in the depths of our essence, or rather which presides over our essence,
      that we may perceive the simple and incomprehensible one. For after,
      through discursive energies and intellections, we have properly denied
      of the first principle all conditions peculiar to beings, there will be
      some danger, lest, deceived by imagination after numerous negations, we
      should think that we have arrived either at nothing, or at something
      slender and vain, indeterminate, formless, and confused; unless we are
      careful in proportion as we advance in negations to excite by a certain
      amatorial affection the divine vigour of our unity; trusting that by
      this means we may enjoy divine unity, when we have dismissed the motion
      of reason and the multiplicity of intelligence, and tend through unity
      alone to The One Itself, and through love to the supreme and ineffable
      good."

      Tim Addey



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • vaeringjar
      ... Yes, definitely the One is defined as beyond duality, beyond all qualities or aspects, but again, there are variations among the Neoplatonists. As I was
      Message 2 of 18 , Jul 25, 2009
        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "robnen@..." <ronen1968@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Tim,
        >
        > Thanks to you and everyone else who responded to my original query.
        >
        > It seems that in speaking of the One, what's going on is that >it's being defined as that which is beyond all dualities and >multiplicities. For infinity to exist, it's polar opposite >necessarily must also exist, and the One transcends polarities like >infinity and finiteness.

        Yes, definitely the One is defined as beyond duality, beyond all qualities or aspects, but again, there are variations among the Neoplatonists. As I was saying in the earlier post, Iamblichus made a place at his level of the One for specifically those two polarities, and Damascius was concerned in the same way.

        >It contains or prefigures them. However, I was under the possibly >erroneous impression that the One transcended Being because it >itself was Beyond-Being (not non-Being or nothingness), or the >potentiality of all Being.

        No, that's not an error. Even Plato in the Republic appears to state that the Good is above being.

        > It was my possibly mistaken understanding that what mainly distinguished neoplatonic emanationism from Semitic monotheistic ex nihilo creationism was that monotheistic creationism posits a hiatus between creator and creation, where neither can become the other, whereas emanationism bridges the gap. If in monotheism God created the world out of nothing, whence nothingness? Doesn't this setup a duality? Whereas I thought that the One, being the Unity, The Real, the Totality, does not allow for nothingness outside of itself.
        >
        > Take care.
        >
        > Robert
        >

        I found it helpful when first studying Plotinus to bear in mind that the One is not in any way a temporal beginning, nor a spatial one, that in the Neoplatonist view the universe is eternal and has no beginning in time - here an obvious major difference with Christian and other monotheistic belief that occasioned much debate in later Antiquity - so that the One is always there pouring forth into the universe its bounty, outside though also of time as well as space, not sullied with physical reality but still the source of it, the ultimate cause. One reason I think that the Sun early on became symbolically important and then doctrinally as well to Neoplatonists, as it just shines on radiating its energy.

        Dennis Clark
      • Michael Chase
        ... Likewise, when Porphyry talks about per se incorporeals (which, I take it, include souls, Forms, intellects, and the One, inter alia) as being everywhere
        Message 3 of 18 , Jul 25, 2009
          On Jul 24, 2009, at 2:26 PM, vaeringjar wrote:

          > Or maybe I am parsing here overly and/or projecting a demand back
          > onto the view of the One that is a little anachronistic for
          > Porphyry, too early, too Damascian or Iamblichean - the One as
          > beyond all, ineffable, etc.? Have I "untelescoped" Porphyry's
          > hypostases a bit?
          >

          > M.C. I'm not sure how worried we should be about such talk. I think
          > it simply boils down to possibility of speaking either in strict
          > terms or loosely (Greek *katakhrêstikôs*) As Plotinus often reminds
          > us, we're not *really* or *strictly* entitled to attribute any
          > predicates to the One; but since we do have to designate it if we're
          > going to talk about it, we use such terms as "The Good" or such
          > metaphors as the sun to designate it, even though it transcends all
          > our cognitive capacities.
          >








          Likewise, when Porphyry talks about per se incorporeals (which, I
          take it, include souls, Forms, intellects, and the One, inter alia) as
          being "everywhere and nowhere" (Sent. 27; 31), he is talking loosely,
          or rather, intentionally using counter-intuitive talk to shake us free
          of our usual mental habits. In fact, qua incorporeals, they are not
          actually any*where*, since they are exempt from time and space. They
          are present by inclination (*rhopê*) and relation (*skhesis*).
          Elsewhere, Porphyry is willing to be more strict: instead of saying
          "the soul is there" we should say "the soul is active (*energei*)
          there".

          So yes, strictly speaking the One, like all incorporeals, cannot be
          said to *be* any*where*. But we don't always have to speak strictly
          (thank goodness!). Compare Heisenberg:

          The physicist may be satisfied when he has the mathematical scheme and
          knows how to use for the interpretation of the experiments. But he has
          to speak about his results also to non-physicists who will not be
          satisfied unless some explanation is given in plain language. Even for
          the physicist the description in plain language will be the criterion
          of the degree of understanding that has been reached.

          Best, Mike



          > .
          >
          >

          Michael Chase
          (goya@...)
          CNRS UPR 76
          7, rue Guy Moquet
          Villejuif 94801
          France



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Robert Wallace
          Dear Tim, Robert, and all, I certainly agree that these are deep and central issues. ... If the One is not in space or time, in what sense could anything be
          Message 4 of 18 , Jul 25, 2009
            Dear Tim, Robert, and all,

            I certainly agree that these are deep and central issues.

            On Jul 25, 2009, at 2:58 AM, Tim Addey wrote:

            > For the One to emanate the all it cannot possess any particular
            > quality,
            > because then the opposite quality cannot be produced from it. But does
            > "to be empty of quality" mean nothingness? Or does it mean a
            > super-fulness? And if we have this full-nothingness, is there an
            > "outside" in which ordinary "nothingness" can exist?


            If the One is not in space or time, in what sense could anything be
            "outside" it? I suppose things could be "outside" it in the sense that
            they are "in" space and time, while the One "is not in" space and
            time. But if it's important that the One is not in space and time--if
            this tells us something about the One, itself--then it would seem that
            the One is characterized partly by its relations to something other
            than itself; and this seems to threaten its "One"-ness. It seems to
            make the One really just one finite thing among others.

            I suspect that considerations like these were in Plato's mind when he
            said in the Timaeus that the divine (the demiurge) "isn't jealous" --
            that is, it isn't to be characterized by its exclusion of anything
            else. For characterizing it in such a way would make it finite--not
            self-determining--and thus not fully One.

            If this is what Plato was thinking, this would explain why he doesn't
            speak of creation "from nothing." For "nothing" is certainly defined
            by its opposition to "something." And if divinity became involved in
            oppositions like this, they would make it finite, not fully One, and
            thus not divine.

            Your Proclus quote is fascinating:

            > there will be
            > some danger, lest, deceived by imagination after numerous negations,
            > we
            > should think that we have arrived either at _nothing_, or at something
            > slender and vain, indeterminate, formless, and confused; unless we are
            > careful in proportion as we advance in negations to excite by a
            > certain
            > amatorial affection the divine vigour of our unity; trusting that by
            > this means we may enjoy divine unity, when we have dismissed the
            > motion
            > of reason and the multiplicity of intelligence, and tend through unity
            > alone to The One Itself, and through love to the supreme and ineffable
            > good."


            Indeed, love is indispensable to all of this. But why would one love
            an ineffable "One"? Why should union with it be the supreme good? A
            couple more deep questions....

            Best, Bob Wallace

            > ***
            > robnen@... wrote:
            >
            > Whereas I thought that the One, being the Unity, The Real, the
            > Totality,
            > does not allow for nothingness outside of itself.
            >
            > ***
            >
            > Robert,
            >
            > We're now circling around the most profound paradox - the one that all
            > the great philosophies have struggled to put into words - Taoism,
            > Hindu/Buddhism, Platonism and, no doubt, others now forgotten.
            >
            > For the One to emanate the all it cannot possess any particular
            > quality,
            > because then the opposite quality cannot be produced from it. But does
            > "to be empty of quality" mean nothingness? Or does it mean a
            > super-fulness? And if we have this full-nothingness, is there an
            > "outside" in which ordinary "nothingness" can exist?
            >
            > To be infinite is to possess a power. At some point we must consider
            > the Infinite One as something possessing a power - and indeed this is
            > what Plotinus says in VI, ix, 6 - "The priniciple of all things like
            > must be admitted to be infinite, not because he is magnitude or number
            > which cannot be passed over, but because the power of him is
            > incomprehensible." But our consideration of the One as "something
            > possessing a power" is itself a departure from the simplicity of the
            > One, and only necessary because we're trapped in the world of
            > intellect
            > (or, if you like, in the world of being). "Something possessing a
            > power" is, after all, not as simple as "something."
            >
            > There is a beautiful passage which Thomas Taylor gives from Proclus'
            > Commentary on the Parmenides (p. 32 in the Prometheus Trust edition of
            > the Works of Plato III - I have never been able to find it in the
            > Morrow
            > and Dillon paginated translation) - it seems to say about as much as
            > one
            > can about our approach to this great mystery:
            >
            > "Lastly, the intention of the first hypothesis is to absolve that
            > which
            > is simply one from all the properties and conditions of the unities of
            > the Gods; and by this absolving to signify the procession of all
            > things
            > from thence. But our intention in pursuing these mysteries is no other
            > than by the logical energies of our reason to arrive at the simple
            > intellection of beings, and by these to excite the divine one resident
            > in the depths of our essence, or rather which presides over our
            > essence,
            > that we may perceive the simple and incomprehensible one. For after,
            > through discursive energies and intellections, we have properly denied
            > of the first principle all conditions peculiar to beings, there will
            > be
            > some danger, lest, deceived by imagination after numerous negations,
            > we
            > should think that we have arrived either at nothing, or at something
            > slender and vain, indeterminate, formless, and confused; unless we are
            > careful in proportion as we advance in negations to excite by a
            > certain
            > amatorial affection the divine vigour of our unity; trusting that by
            > this means we may enjoy divine unity, when we have dismissed the
            > motion
            > of reason and the multiplicity of intelligence, and tend through unity
            > alone to The One Itself, and through love to the supreme and ineffable
            > good."
            >
            > Tim Addey
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >

            Robert Wallace
            website: www.robertmwallace.com (Philosophical Mysticism; The God of
            Freedom)
            email: bob@...
            phone: 414-617-3914









            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michael Chase
            ... M.C. I m not sure about this. One could make the same argument about good and evil: since the one transcends them it contains them. Therefore there is evil
            Message 5 of 18 , Jul 26, 2009
              On Jul 24, 2009, at 4:16 PM, robnen@... wrote:

              > Hi Tim,
              >
              > Thanks to you and everyone else who responded to my original query.
              >
              > It seems that in speaking of the One, what's going on is that it's
              > being defined as that which is beyond all dualities and
              > multiplicities. For infinity to exist, it's polar opposite
              > necessarily must also exist, and the One transcends polarities like
              > infinity and finiteness. It contains or prefigures them.
              >










              M.C. I'm not sure about this. One could make the same argument about
              good and evil: since the one transcends them it contains them.
              Therefore there is evil in the One. But Plotinus would, I take it,
              deny this.

              I believe Rist is correct to say, quite simply, that the One is simply
              infinite for Plotinus (Road to reality 37):

              The One is infinite, the others finite; the One is creator, the others
              creatures; the One is entirely itself, entirely infinite, the others
              are both finite and infinite [...] the One has no otherness, the
              others are other than the One [...] the One exists in an infinite way,
              the others finitely.



              > However, I was under the possibly erroneous impression that the One
              > transcended Being because it itself was Beyond-Being (not non-Being
              > or nothingness), or the potentiality of all Being.
              >





              M.C. Yes, that's true for Plotinus, although apparently not for
              Porphyry, for whom the One is precisely identical with Being (as a
              verb in the infinitive, *to einai*)


              > It was my possibly mistaken understanding that what mainly
              > distinguished neoplatonic emanationism from Semitic monotheistic ex
              > nihilo creationism was that monotheistic creationism posits a hiatus
              > between creator and creation, where neither can become the other,
              > whereas emanationism bridges the gap.
              >






              M.C. I'm not sure matters are quite so simple. Plotinus often insists
              on the radical difference between the One and what comes after it; cf.
              Rist, Eros & Psyche 80-81. Nowhere, as far as I know, does Plotinus
              suggest we can "become the One", but several Christian tendencies,
              especially in the East, allow for the divinization of mankind.



              > If in monotheism God created the world out of nothing, whence
              > nothingness?
              >


              M.C. Why does there have to be a "whence" for nothingness? It's the
              default state: it requires no explanation. The great philosophical
              question, as Leibniz saw, is not "whence nothingness?" but "Why is
              there something rather than nothing ?"

              > Doesn't this setup a duality?
              >


              M.C. You mean, between God and nothingness? I wouldn't think so: for
              there to be a duality between A and B, both A and B would have to be
              *principles* (Greek *arkhai*), that is, endowed with independent
              existence and causal efficacy (this, we recall, is why Proclus accused
              Plotinus of dualism in his doctrine of matter). But in Christian (and
              later Neoplatonic) doctrine, nothingness is not a principle but a mere
              privation.

              > Whereas I thought that the One, being the Unity, The Real, the
              > Totality, does not allow for nothingness outside of itself.
              >




              M.C. Not so sure. The One is not, I think, the Real, but the hyper-
              real (the real would correspond to the Intelligible world), nor is it
              the All (once again, that would be the Intelligible). The One is the
              *source* or principle of the all, but a source or principle is *not*
              identical with that of which it is the source or principle: thus, the
              monad, source of number, is not itself a number. Remember that the
              One, unlike a material cause, can give to its products that which it
              itself does not have, and therefore is not lessened by its gifts.

              Does the One allow for nothingness outside itself ? Interesting
              question. If matter can be said to be nothingness, then we're back to
              the question of whether or not matter exists outside of the One (i.e.
              is a principle in its own right) or is itself an emanation of the One.
              But as we've seen, no definitive clarify on this last point is to be
              expected anytime soon.

              Best, Mike






              >
              > Take care.
              >
              > Robert
              >
              >
              >
              >

              Michael Chase
              (goya@...)
              CNRS UPR 76
              7, rue Guy Moquet
              Villejuif 94801
              France



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Dan Hartjes
                  To robnen  Here is another way to look at evil.  Think of things that  exist and what they have to offer. A rock can t talk and  apparently doesn t
              Message 6 of 18 , Jul 28, 2009
                    To robnen
                 Here is another way to look at evil.  Think of things that
                 exist and what they have to offer. A rock can't talk and
                 apparently doesn't perceive or have any kind of complexity
                 to it the way humans or the animals do. It just sits there.
                 There is not much it has within itself to offer the world. The
                 world acts upon it and the rock does little to act on the world.
                 A rock is higher in the Neoplatonic scheme of things than matter.
                 It has organization and is not devoid of qualities. Matter is sim-
                 ilar to the rock in that it takes upon itself qualities from outside
                 itself (disregard the simplicity in which I am using these spatial
                 analogies). Matter has less within itself to offer the world, it is so
                 passive that the rock in fact is more active than it.
                 
                 This is the way I have come to understand the meaning of evil in
                 Neoplatonic thought. The more the fullness of the spirit is within
                 and expresses itself the less evil it is. Humans with their wonderful
                 intelligence and their multiplicity of expressions, surprise, fear, laughter,
                 happiness, shame, lovingness, with all these they show more and more
                 of spirit than such things as dirt and stones, and are less evil.  Evil is a
                 cosmic notion in Neoplatonism, where in ethics/morality it is primarily
                 a notion restricted to human beings, for example whether they are good
                 or evil (the garden of Eden story). In the writers this group studies, evil is
                 an idea viewed from a cosmic perspective, that is to say, what a thing has
                 within itself, what a thing has to offer the cosmos.
                           Dan Hartjes

                 





                Hi all,
                I'm new to this group, and I'm sure this topic has probably been
                covered, but searching through backposts I couldn't find the answer to
                certain questions I have about Plotinus's metaphysical scheme.
                With regard to matter being "evil" because it is furthest from the
                one or is a privation of the one, if The One is infinite, how can there
                be distance from it? For there to be emanation from the One towards the
                privation of matter, wouldn't that infer that the One is finite rather
                than infinite, or am I conceptualizing this completely incorrectly?
                I recently read Frithjof Schuon's "The Fullness of God" where he
                writes:

                "The divine Maya, Relativity, is the necessary consequence of
                the very infinitude of the Principle; it is because God is infinite that
                He comprises the dimension of relativity, and it is because He comprises
                that dimension that He manifests the world. To which it should be added:
                it is because the world is manifestation and not Principle that
                relativity, which at first was only determination, limitation, and
                manifestation, gives rise to that particular modality constitution
                'evil'...... .evil resides only in whatever is privative or negative with
                respect to good, and its function is to manifest in the world its aspect
                of distance from the Principle, and to play its part in an equilibrium
                and a rhythm necessitated by the economy of the created universe."

                Again, the part in bold is something I don't quite grasp. Why
                should relativity be the necessary consequence of the very infinitude of
                the Principle? If God or the One is absolute and infinite, why would it
                comprise relativity? If the One is the fullness of infinity, why would
                privation even exist?

                Thanks.

                Robert

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



















                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Robert
                Hi Mike,      Thanks for clearing up a few concepts for me. I also spent a bit of time reading this chapter on Proclus vs Plotinus on the Procession of
                Message 7 of 18 , Jul 29, 2009
                  Hi Mike,

                       Thanks for clearing up a few concepts for me. I also spent a bit of time reading this chapter on Proclus vs Plotinus on the Procession of Matter:

                  http://www.scribd.com/doc/17123689/Proclus-vs-Plotinus-on-the-Procession-of-Matter

                       Although Proclus didn't conceive matter as evil, he did see if as the lowest form of manifestation, so once again there is gradation and distance, which brings us back to square one as you pointed out below. It's hard to grasp a "One" that is (or isn't?) infinite and yet fades out with distance into nothingness (other?). Plus this whole thing about the One being unaspected seems nebulous. How can something be posited and argued for when we aren't even certain of its attributes?  Then again, this might be a lack of my own comprehension. I noticed some of you here have written books on this subject matter, so your level of study and understanding is obviously much greater than mine.
                     
                        Tim Addey wrote a few days back:
                      
                       "There is no infinite without bound - if the One were itself infinite in the way you have tried looking at it, then all things would be one, and one only. In other words, they would disappear from existence and there would just be the One."

                         If anything, this sounds like a good point in favor of simple multiplicity rather than a "One" that just seems to lead to metaphysical deadends.

                  Thanks and take care.

                  Robert

                  --- On Sun, 7/26/09, Michael Chase <goya@...> wrote:



                  Does the One allow for nothingness outside itself ? Interesting

                  question. If matter can be said to be nothingness, then we're back to

                  the question of whether or not matter exists outside of the One (i.e.

                  is a principle in its own right) or is itself an emanation of the One.

                  But as we've seen, no definitive clarify on this last point is to be

                  expected anytime soon.



                  Best, Mike





















                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • John Uebersax
                  ... But positing and arguing are aspects of discursive knowledge.  There are other and higher kinds of knowledge -- as Plato (the Divided Line , Rep
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jul 29, 2009
                    Robert wrote:

                    > How can something be posited and argued for when we aren't even certain of its attributes?

                    But "positing" and "arguing" are aspects of discursive knowledge.  There are other and higher kinds of knowledge -- as Plato (the 'Divided Line', Rep 6.509d - 6.511e) tells us -- with Plotinus in agreement.

                    (text of Plato's 'Divided Line':  http://john-uebersax.com/plato/plato1.htm#text )

                    Perhaps on this point others can inform me.  Plato's highest category of knowledge here would be noesis, which seems, at least etymologically, related to Nous.  But for Plotinus, Nous is an emanation of the One.

                    Would that mean there is a category of knowledge higher than Nous by which the One is experienced or known?   (Or perhaps such an experience would transcend knowledge altogether, which almost presupposes a distinction between knower and known?)

                    John Uebersax



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Thomas Mether
                    Hello, In Plato, as early as the Phaedo, if we allow the unwritten traditions (but even the dialogues indicate this), there is the ordering mind that orders
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jul 30, 2009
                      Hello,
                      In Plato, as early as the Phaedo, if we allow the unwritten traditions (but even the dialogues indicate this), there is the ordering mind that orders according to the _one_ true cause -- the Good. Socrates agrees with Anaxagoras that the cosmos is ordered by mind but then criticizes his view because in Anaxagoras' scheme mind doesn't do anything in causally - there is a fall back to naturalism. Socrates says his "revolution" or new start is that if mind orders all things, an account must be given of how and why it does this -- which is what Anaxagoras leaves out. He goes on to say how the mind orders all things is in terms of what is *best* for them or according to their own *good* that it contemplates. So, it is not enough to posit the effect and mind as the cause, there must be a third element in terms of which mind is oredering cause - that is the One cause that is Good. So, already in the early dialogues read in light of the unwritten doctrines,
                      cosmic mind is contemplating a One that is the Good. Look again at his account of the "second voyage" in the Phaedo. Its starts around 99b. Perhaps even the demiurge is already prefigued in this dialogue in the section starting where I indicated.
                       
                      I am with Hans Joachim Kramer and Giovanni Reale on this point that Plotinus is simply following the Platonic architectonic already laid out in the Phaedo. If so, knowledge of the One is conscience or moral knowledge as the template, in effect, of metaphysical knowledge. In fact, as I read it, knowledge of the Good-One is to become like it as a perfection of the moral and intellectual virtues
                       
                      So, if the One is the Good and knowledge of it is essentially moral knowledge, the One cannot be the source of evil. I would argue that the Platonic tradition falls solidly in the natural law tradition (in effect, the good is higher than even the divine maker). As I read Schuon (with his drawing from Advaita Vedanta and Ibn al'Arabi to create a syncretic system -- actually Guenon did it -- it waffles between a natural law view and a divine command view to the extent he does not unequivocally state the absolute is Good.), he is problematically leaving his position undefined on the relation of the absolute to the Good.
                       
                      There are also different kinds and different conceptions of infinite running around here.
                      Guenon made a distinction Schuon does not stick with between the infinite and the indefinite or indeterminate. Guenon's indefinite/indeterminate is somewhat similar to Plato's dyad.
                       
                      Thomas Mether  

                      --- On Wed, 7/29/09, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:


                      From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
                      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Plotinus/Schuon-The One: Infinite? Source of Privation & Evil?
                      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 11:25 PM


                       



                      Robert wrote:

                      > How can something be posited and argued for when we aren't even certain of its attributes?

                      But "positing" and "arguing" are aspects of discursive knowledge.  There are other and higher kinds of knowledge -- as Plato (the 'Divided Line', Rep 6.509d - 6.511e) tells us -- with Plotinus in agreement.

                      (text of Plato's 'Divided Line':  http://john- uebersax. com/plato/ plato1.htm# text )

                      Perhaps on this point others can inform me.  Plato's highest category of knowledge here would be noesis, which seems, at least etymologically, related to Nous.  But for Plotinus, Nous is an emanation of the One.

                      Would that mean there is a category of knowledge higher than Nous by which the One is experienced or known?   (Or perhaps such an experience would transcend knowledge altogether, which almost presupposes a distinction between knower and known?)

                      John Uebersax

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                    • Thomas Mether
                      Perhaps we should make a distinction between a qualitative infinite and a quanitative one. And each have their bounds. For example, the sequence of natural
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jul 30, 2009
                        Perhaps we should make a distinction between a qualitative infinite and a quanitative one. And each have their bounds. For example, the sequence of natural whole numbers is infinite. One just has to recursively add one, +1, again +1. Yet, this infinity is bounded by its nature (by nature it is 1+1+1 ...). And even though infinite, it has less in it than the domain of rational numbers that contains whole numbers but also fractions. But then again, the domain of rational numbers has less in it than the domain of real numbers. The continuum of real numbers contains both the domain of natural whole numbers, rational numbers and much else besides. But the domain of real numbers is, while infinite, also bounded because it does not include infinitesimals (Cantor thought he could identify the continnum with real numbers by eleminating infinitesimals -- it now appears he was wrong). The continnuum contains the domain of natural whole numbers, rational numbers,
                        real numbers and infinitiesimals. And yet these infinities are all purely quanitative. That is their shared bound or limit. The Plotinian One could be said to be the qualitatively infinite. It is all positive good qualities. But as I argued in a prior post, namely that it is the Good, it is qualitatively infinite in possessing all positive good qualities but is bounded by its nature to not lack these positive good qualities in any measure or possess bad qualities. This is how I would recommend an approach can be made to think about this.
                         
                        Thomas Mether

                        --- On Wed, 7/29/09, Robert <ronen1968@...> wrote:


                        From: Robert <ronen1968@...>
                        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Plotinus/Schuon-The One: Infinite? Source of Privation & Evil?
                        To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 11:01 PM


                         



                        Hi Mike,

                             Thanks for clearing up a few concepts for me. I also spent a bit of time reading this chapter on Proclus vs Plotinus on the Procession of Matter:

                        http://www.scribd com/doc/17123689 /Proclus- vs-Plotinus- on-the-Processio n-of-Matter

                             Although Proclus didn't conceive matter as evil, he did see if as the lowest form of manifestation, so once again there is gradation and distance, which brings us back to square one as you pointed out below. It's hard to grasp a "One" that is (or isn't?) infinite and yet fades out with distance into nothingness (other?). Plus this whole thing about the One being unaspected seems nebulous. How can something be posited and argued for when we aren't even certain of its attributes?  Then again, this might be a lack of my own comprehension. I noticed some of you here have written books on this subject matter, so your level of study and understanding is obviously much greater than mine.
                           
                              Tim Addey wrote a few days back:
                            
                             "There is no infinite without bound - if the One were itself infinite in the way you have tried looking at it, then all things would be one, and one only. In other words, they would disappear from existence and there would just be the One."

                               If anything, this sounds like a good point in favor of simple multiplicity rather than a "One" that just seems to lead to metaphysical deadends.

                        Thanks and take care.

                        Robert

                        --- On Sun, 7/26/09, Michael Chase <goya@...> wrote:

                        Does the One allow for nothingness outside itself ? Interesting

                        question. If matter can be said to be nothingness, then we're back to

                        the question of whether or not matter exists outside of the One (i.e.

                        is a principle in its own right) or is itself an emanation of the One.

                        But as we've seen, no definitive clarify on this last point is to be

                        expected anytime soon.

                        Best, Mike










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                      • Michael Chase
                        ... M.C. Perhaps. But either you have just the One - an amorphous, undifferentiated mass which is even harder to conceive (perhaps the situation of our cosmos
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jul 31, 2009
                          On Jul 29, 2009, at 9:01 PM, Robert wrote:

                          > Hi Mike,
                          >
                          >








                          > Thanks for clearing up a few concepts for me. I also spent a
                          > bit of time reading this chapter on Proclus vs Plotinus on the
                          > Procession of Matter:
                          >
                          >



                          > http://www.scribd.com/doc/17123689/Proclus-vs-Plotinus-on-the-Procession-of-Matter
                          >
                          >





                          > Although Proclus didn't conceive matter as evil, he did see if
                          > as the lowest form of manifestation, so once again there is
                          > gradation and distance, which brings us back to square one as you
                          > pointed out below. It's hard to grasp a "One" that is (or
                          >





                          > isn't?) infinite and yet fades out with distance into nothingness
                          > (other?).
                          >
                          >

                          M.C. Perhaps. But either you have just the One - an amorphous,
                          undifferentiated mass which is even harder to conceive (perhaps the
                          situation of our cosmos pre-Big-Bang?), or else you have a world that
                          contains differentiation. Gradation and distance are the price you pay
                          for differentiation.


                          > Plus this whole thing about the One being unaspected seems nebulous.
                          > How can something be posited and argued for when we aren't even
                          > certain of its attributes?
                          >




                          M.C. I have less of a problem with this than you do. It very often
                          happens in the sciences that one realizes the theoretical necessity of
                          an entity or phenomenon without being able to deduce all its
                          properties (black holes, for instance). Aristotle way already aware of
                          the difference between (1) asking and knowing *whether* a thing is
                          (*hoti estin*) and (2) asking or knowing what it is (*ti estin*),
                          i.e., what are its properties. 1) is the realm of demonstration, 2) of
                          definition. But it is clear, writes the Stagirite (An. Po. II, 3,
                          911a5ff.) that neither is there demonstration of of everything of
                          which there is definition, nor is there definition of everything of
                          which there is demonstration, nor in general is it possible to have
                          both of the same thing.

                          So much for the view of the hard-headed empiricist Aristotle. But
                          there might also be other reasons to support his view, such as
                          epistemological humility. Human intellect might be powerful enough to
                          deduce the necessity for an Ultimate Principle, but it might very well
                          be the case is *not* capable of grasping, defining, or otherwise
                          understanding the essence, nature or properties of such a principle.
                          This is the notion behind all negative theology.


                          > If anything, this sounds like a good point in favor of simple
                          > multiplicity rather than a "One" that just seems to lead to
                          > metaphysical deadends.
                          >




                          M.C. Perhaps. But then the question still arises: where did this
                          multiplicity come from? The continuing debates around the Big Bang
                          hypothesis show, I think, that modern science is still a long way from
                          completely resolving this problem to the satisfaction of all.

                          All best, Mike.



                          > .
                          >
                          >

                          Michael Chase
                          (goya@...)
                          CNRS UPR 76
                          7, rue Guy Moquet
                          Villejuif 94801
                          France



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