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Re: [neoplatonism] Section 5, Tractate 3 Of The Fifth Ennead

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  • dgallagher@aol.com
    Good conversation, Chester. We re at an especially pregnant point in the dialog; quite fitting in the platonic sense. Now would be a good time to consider
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2010
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      Good conversation, Chester. We're at an especially pregnant point in the
      dialog; quite fitting in the platonic sense.

      Now would be a good time to consider III.8 in order to frame the context of
      all of this as contemplation. What he outlines in III.8, as I suggested
      earlier, is crucial to understanding the rest of his position.

      I smiled when you asked: "Wouldn't that, in effect, make the whole world a
      giant mind?" Very perceptive question, noting the indication of a
      perception. Could the perception also be a sensation? Hold that idea. It's
      important. My smile stemmed from your having recognized it. That aside for
      the moment, you continued:

      "All knowing would then be self knowing. If that's true, then there really
      isn't such a thing as knowing, at all."

      My question: Why not? Please elaborate your reasoning to the negative
      conclusion.

      A note on translation: MacKenna renders the Greek as self-knowing. In
      contrast, Armstrong renders "thinking itself". Hence, self-knowing = thinking
      itself. The subtlety of distinction in the respective renderings is
      important. Further, since you're really into this, I'd advise you get the
      Armstrong translation for the purpose of comparison. Armstrong is the more
      literal and preferred among the academics. It's a tad expensive, however (7
      volumes). Comparison is often helpful.

      Here's a little snippet from Plato, with your distinction between
      perception and sensation in mind, that applies to the topics at hand:


      [Shorey] "Understand then…that by the other section of the intelligible I
      mean that which the reason itself lays hold of by the power of dialectic,
      treating its assumptions not as absolute beginnings but literally as
      hypotheses, underpinnings, footings, and springboards so to speak, to enable it
      to rise to that which requires no assumption and is the starting point of
      all, and after attaining to that again taking hold of the first dependencies
      from it, so to proceed downward to the conclusion, making no use whatever
      of any object of sense but only of pure ideas moving on through ideas to
      ideas and ending with ideas." [Republic, 511c] Emphasis on "...making no use
      whatever of any object of sense but only of pure ideas moving on through
      ideas to ideas and ending with ideas."
      Finally, as you embark upon III.8, dwell a bit on the following at the end
      of the opening paragraph of the first chapter: "...we would scarcely find
      anyone to endure so strange a thesis. But in a discussion entirely among
      ourselves there is no risk in a light handling of our own ideas."









      In a message dated 3/31/2010 11:08:31 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
      chesterelders28@... writes:




      Dear David:

      Well; here it is. This is my critique of the
      fifth section of the third tractate of the fifth Ennead. Boy; that's a
      mouthfull. OK; Plotinus opens this section with a question. "Does it
      all come down, then [to] one phase of the soul knowing another phase?"
      V,3,5,1. The "it" being referred to is the question of how an
      uncompounded being can know itself. In the previous section, we found
      out that "...the self knower is a double person." V,3,4,14. On the one
      hand, there is the person who knows by"...virtueof which understanding
      occurs in the soul, or mind; and, on the other hand there is the
      person"...knowing himself by the higher, knowing himself by the
      Intellectual-Intellectual-<WBR>Principle with which he becomeIntellectual-
      Plotinus calls this distinction "phases".

      So, one phase of the soul is the person knowing
      himself by the Intellectual-himself by the Intellectual-<WBR>P
      person knowing by the principle of understanding which occurs in the
      mind, or soul. We found out in a previous section that this
      "understanding" is tied to the "sense-principle""understanding" is tie
      by which the soul apprehends impressions. (The other being the
      reasoning-principlereasoning-principle<WBR>.) Plotinus immediately d
      that one phase of the soul might know itself by knowing another phase.
      "That", he says, "...would be the case of [the] knower [being]
      distinguished from [the] known, and would not be self-knowing.d
      V,3,5,3-5. To qualify as self-knowing, "...the total
      combination.combination.<WBR>..[needs to be]...one piece, [the]
      undistinguished from [the] known." V,3,5,6-8.

      Plotinus assumes the whole question of phases
      to be disinginuous. "[T]he distinction in one self...is a strange
      phenomenon." V,3,5,13-14. This does not occur naturally. Self awareness
      cannot happen, at all after any such division occurs. Otherwise, the
      knowing phase would know the known phase as "...merely representations
      of [that] reality." V,3,5,33. In order to be self aware, "...the object
      [which is] known must be identical with the knowing act (or agent),
      [which is] the Intellectual-[which is] the Intellectual-<WBR>Principle.
      possible? First, "[The] intellectual object is...an activity, not merely
      potentiality.potentiality.<WBR>" V,5,3,61-62. Furthermore, "...it
      object) must be undistinguishably identical with it's act..."
      V,3,5,77-79. Secondly, "...Being, and the Intellectual object are also
      identical with the act..." V,3,5,79-80. Thirdly, "...the Intellectual
      Principle, it's excercise of intellection, and the object of
      intellection are all indentical..intellection are all indentical..<WBR>." V
      [that] it's intellection [is] identical with [the] intellectual object
      and the object [is] identical with the Principle itself, it cannot but
      have self knowledge...have self know

      At this point, I personally need to back up in
      order to properly understand this argument. So, the object of knowing is
      one-and-the-one-and-the-<WBR>same as the act of knowing. OK; I got t
      that the Intellectual-that the Intellectual-<WBR>Principle, and the ex
      the same thing. But, why is the object of intellection the same as the
      other two? Maybe it would be clearer if I went back and mentioned that
      the activity, which is the intellectual object is "...the first
      activity, it must be the noblist intellection ...possessing real being
      since it is entirely true..." V,5,3,68-70. So, the excercise of
      intellection is real. That makes sense. After all, we're told that Being
      and the Intellectual object are identical. By "Being", I assume Plotinus
      means "being, as such..the act or state of existing. Admittedly he isn't
      very clear on this point; but, maybe I can make the leap. By reading-
      between-the-between-the-<WBR>lines, I'm surmising that, since the
      intellection is a real and concrete thing, maybe it bestows reality and
      concreteness on that which it apprehends. Otherwise, it couldn't be
      real; right? I think we can make an even stronger claim, here. When the
      excercise of intellection apprehends something, it infuses that thing
      with it's own nature. The knower, since the means by which it knows is
      through the excercise of intellection is already enlivened with the
      nature of the Intellectual-nature of the Intellectual-<WBR>Principle. The kn
      the same nature must surely know each other because sameness recognizes
      sameness. That is tantamount to self awareness. The only problem I have
      with this line of reasoning is that everything which is known would then
      be of the same nature as the knower. Wouldn't that, in effect make the
      whole world a giant mind? All knowing would then be self knowing. If
      that's true, then there really isn't such a thing as knowing, at all.

      My intention was to analyse Plotinus and then
      evaluate my assertions about sensations and perceptions in light of what
      he said. But now, I'm so muddled about his take on self awareness that I
      doubt anything I said would make sense. You see, my contention is that
      there are two basic ways by which we apprehend impressions. There are
      sensations, which are immediate and are not mediated by any kind of
      faculty; whereas, perception are not immediate because they are mediated
      by ideas. Futhermore, I claimed that, although ideas are the means by
      which perceptions are apprehended, they, themselves can never be
      apprehended. We are aware of that to which ideas point; we are never
      aware of the ideas, themselves. Yet, if my understanding of Plotinus is
      right, then all knowledge would necessarily be of sensations. Why?
      Because, according to Plotinus, it seems that all knowledge is enlivened
      with the nature of the Intellectual-with the nature of the Intellectual-
      which is known and that which knows. Now, sensations arise because there
      is no distinction between that which knows and that which is known.
      Therefore all is sensations, and there are no ideas because, without
      perception they are not needed. See; I told you it wouldn't make sense.
      Well; I'm ready for some feedback. I'm sure it's coming.






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