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