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Re: Plotinus, "On Beaty" (1.6 [1])

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  • vaeringjar
    ... as completely shaped according to the form and of the ugly as not completely dominated by shape (1.2.16-18: tr. Armstrong). In a sense, I understand
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 4, 2005
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      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Marina Kogan <mrnkogan@y...>
      wrote:
      > Hi, everybody:
      > I am struggling with Plotinius' notion of the beautiful
      as "completely shaped according to the form" and of the ugly as "not
      completely dominated by shape" (1.2.16-18: tr. Armstrong). In a
      sense, I understand his point (an illustration of it could be
      Sartre's analysis of the obscene in his _Being and nothingness_).
      Yet, taken without qualifications (as Plotinus introduces it), this
      notion appears to me as counter-intuitive. For it seems to
      presuppose that absolutely every form is beautiful (_qua_ form).
      Which, of course, follows from Plotinus' basic point of view that
      evil has no form. My question is, how one should take this.
      > For in 1.6.45-50 Plotinus himself gives examples of bad ("kaka")
      >ideas ("theo^re^mata"); and in 1.6.6.25 he seems to identify the
      >bad with the ugly, and the good with the beautiful. How can one
      >avoid the conclusion, then, that there are ugly ideas?


      I have been rather busy and meaning to reply to your posting, not
      that I have an answer, but I do have a book-length study on Plotinus
      and this subject which is relatively new, <Plotinus On Body and
      Beauty> by Margaret R.Miles, Blackwell, 1999. She does refer to
      these passages starting on p.37. As I say, I am not that familiar
      with the primary text nor these issues raised by it, but I did want
      at least to point out her book. Perhaps it will be of some help.

      Or perhaps someone else could help? I fear the group is no longer
      viable, since there have been so few postings of late - ? That would
      be a pity, but que sera, sera.

      Dennis Clark
      Issaquah
    • jensav55
      ... completely shaped according to the form and of the ugly as not completely dominated by shape (1.2.16-18: tr. Armstrong). In a sense, I understand his
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 5, 2005
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        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Marina Kogan <mrnkogan@y...>
        wrote:
        > Hi, everybody:
        > I am struggling with Plotinius' notion of the beautiful as
        "completely shaped according to the form" and of the ugly as "not
        completely dominated by shape" (1.2.16-18: tr. Armstrong). In a sense,
        I understand his point (an illustration of it could be Sartre's
        analysis of the obscene in his _Being and nothingness_). Yet, taken
        without qualifications (as Plotinus introduces it), this notion
        appears to me as counter-intuitive. For it seems to presuppose that
        absolutely every form is beautiful (_qua_ form). Which, of course,
        follows from Plotinus' basic point of view that evil has no form. My
        question is, how one should take this.
        > For in 1.6.45-50 Plotinus himself gives examples of bad ("kaka")
        ideas ("theo^re^mata")…

        A reference to bad "theoremata" should not be taken to imply the
        existence of bad IDEAS; and the examples of bad theoremata given in
        I.6.1.45-50 are probably to be understood as privative terms referring
        to the absence of some corresponding virtue.

        Edward Butler
      • Giannis Stamatellos
        I think that Edward is right; theoremata in I.6.1.45-50 should not be related to Intellect’s Forms or the primary intelligibles. Plotinus probably refers
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 5, 2005
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          I think that Edward is right; 'theoremata' in
          I.6.1.45-50 should not be related to Intellect�s Forms
          or the primary intelligibles. Plotinus probably refers
          to thinking propositions as representations of the
          intelligibles. A relevant passage appears in V.5.1
          where Plotinus clearly states that the primary
          intelligibles are certainly not �propositions�
          (protaseis) or �axioms� (axiomata) or �expressions�
          (lekta); 'for then they would only say something about
          other things and would not be the things themselves'
          (32-39). Thus, 'theoramata' must be related to the
          latter case and from this perspective could be
          qualified as 'bad'.

          Giannis Stamatellos




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        • mrnkogan
          Thanks to everybody who responded to my question. I am getting back with such a delay only because I have not been aware of these responses (my e-mail
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 11, 2005
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            Thanks to everybody who responded to my question. I am getting back
            with such a delay only because I have not been aware of these
            responses
            (my e-mail notification was not working).
            Also, I apologize for confusion with my name, which is, actually,
            Arkadi Choufrine (I had to use my wife's account first because I
            could
            not pass Yahoo's symbol recognition test :<()
            I will certainly look into the studies to which you referred me
            (French
            is not a problem :>).
            At this point I would just clarify my question a bit.
            I understand that "theoremata" are not Forms. What I do not
            understand
            is:
            (1) How Plotinus could possibly consider some kind of "theoremata"
            to
            be "not dominated by shape" (which is his definition of ugliness).
            What
            does it mean for a "theorema" to be "dominated by shape"?
            (2) What about the second part of my question (concerning the soul)?
            In
            particular, how should we take Plotinus' statement that ugliness
            comes
            to the soul through its "receiving a FORM (eidos) other than its own"?

            Arkadi Choufrine
          • Michael Chase
            ... M.C. I m not certain of this point, and I haven t been able to decipher your system of citing Plotinus : what does « 1.2.16-18 » correspond to? but
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 12, 2005
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              Le 12 avr. 05, à 07:40, mrnkogan a écrit :

              >
              > Thanks to everybody who responded to my question. I am getting back
              > with such a delay only because I have not been aware of these
              > responses
              > (my e-mail notification was not working).
              > Also, I apologize for confusion with my name, which is, actually,
              > Arkadi Choufrine (I had to use my wife's account first because I
              > could
              > not pass Yahoo's symbol recognition test :<()
              > I will certainly look into the studies to which you referred me
              > (French
              > is not a problem :>).
              > At this point I would just clarify my question a bit.
              > I understand that "theoremata" are not Forms. What I do not
              > understand
              > is:
              > (1) How  Plotinus could possibly consider some kind of "theoremata"
              > to
              > be "not dominated by shape" (which is his definition of ugliness).
              > What
              > does it mean for a "theorema" to be "dominated by shape"?

              M.C. I'm not certain of this point, and I haven't been able to decipher
              your system of citing Plotinus : what does « 1.2.16-18 » correspond to?
              but let's take the example of Gnostic's theories in Plotinus' views :
              I suspect he would claim these are theoremata not dominated by form
              precisely because they are ugly, that is, non-virtuous, and if followed
              they would lead to a non-virtuous type of life.


              > (2) What about the second part of my question (concerning the soul)?
              > In
              > particular, how should we take Plotinus' statement that ugliness
              > comes
              > to the soul through its "receiving a FORM (eidos) other than its own"?

              M.C. This seems less problematic, for it seems to point to the basic
              idea underlying Plotinus' ethics ; being intelligible in origin, the
              soul is essentially beautiful and good, but as it descends towards the
              sensible and above all *inclines towards* (neuein) the sensible it
              accumulates foreign accretions - which could perfectly well be called
              forms- to its substance. Ethics means reversing this process through
              purification, and eliminating what is foreign to the soul. That's why
              Plotinus can summarize his own thought on the subject by advising us
              never to stop sculpting our own statue (I, 6, 9, 13).

              I take it the underlying conceptual scheme here is the
              Gnostic-Hermetic-Chaldaean one whereby the soul, on its descent from
              the Intelligible world, passes through the seven planetary spheres and
              accumulates layers of noxious accretions in each of them : the result
              is often referred to as a "tunic" (*khiton*), and the goal of ethics is
              to shed it.

              >
              > Best, Mike.
              >
              >
              Michael Chase
              (goya@...)
              CNRS UPR 76
              7, rue Guy Moquet
              Villejuif 94801
              France
            • jensav55
              ... But Plotinus does not refer to ugly theoremata at I. 6. 1. 44ff, only to bad ones. The difference is made clear by his statement at I. 6. 1. 46 that
              Message 6 of 9 , Apr 13, 2005
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                --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "mrnkogan" <achoufri@p...> wrote:
                >
                > I understand that "theoremata" are not Forms. What I do not
                > understand
                > is:
                > (1) How Plotinus could possibly consider some kind of "theoremata"
                > to
                > be "not dominated by shape" (which is his definition of ugliness).
                > What
                > does it mean for a "theorema" to be "dominated by shape"?

                But Plotinus does not refer to 'ugly' theoremata at I. 6. 1. 44ff,
                only to 'bad' ones. The difference is made clear by his statement at
                I. 6. 1. 46 that "there can be concord and agreement between bad ideas
                [theoremata]."

                > (2) What about the second part of my question (concerning the soul)?
                > In
                > particular, how should we take Plotinus' statement that ugliness
                > comes
                > to the soul through its "receiving a FORM (eidos) other than its
                own"?
                >

                'Other than its own' in the sense that it is incompatible with the
                soul's optimal functioning, albeit perhaps a form in its own right.
                Hence, for example, some patterns of behavior which might be
                appropriate for some other kind of animal do not befit a human.

                Edward Butler
              • Arkadi Choufrine
                ... correspond to? ... Sorry, this is a typo. I meant I.6.2.16-18. Thanks for noticing. ... I suspect he would claim these are theoremata not
                Message 7 of 9 , Apr 13, 2005
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                  >I haven't been able to decipher your system of citing Plotinus : what does
                  < 1.2.16-18 > correspond to?
                  ------------
                  Sorry, this is a typo. I meant I.6.2.16-18. Thanks for noticing.
                  -------------------------
                  > but let's take the example of Gnostic's theories in Plotinus' views :
                  I suspect he would claim these are theoremata not dominated by form
                  precisely because they are ugly, that is, non-virtuous, and if followed
                  they would lead to a non-virtuous type of life.
                  --------------
                  Looking at it this way would turn the issue upside down. The question with
                  which Pl. deals in I.6 is precisely *what* being "ugly" (resp. "beautiful")
                  means. If we already know the answer, this whole treatise is redundant :>)
                  One may easily grant that the propositions that would, if followed, lead to
                  non-virtuous life, are "ugly". The question is, what idea of ugliness would
                  allow one to grant this. I am trying to unravel the logic of Plotinus'
                  answer to this question in this treatise.
                  The same, _mutatis mutandis_, applies to the second part of my question
                  (about the soul).
                  ---------------------------------
                  >being intelligible in origin, the soul is essentially beautiful and good,
                  ------------
                  Sure. But, again, the question is: *what* is it, that makes it beatiful? On
                  the one hand, the begining of this treatise (and other passages, as shown by
                  Suzanne Stern-Gillet in her _Phronesis_ article) suggest that beauty is an
                  essential characteristic of Form _qua_ Form. Insofar as material things are
                  concerned, they are beautiful _qua_ "shaped", and, resp., ugly _qua_
                  material. So far, so good. Yet, Pl. does not (at least, explicitly) limit
                  this concept of beauty (resp., ugliness) to things material. At any rate, I
                  was not able to find in him any explicit modification of this idea for the
                  case of non-material objects, such as "theoremata" and "souls". My question
                  then is how, from Plotinus' point of view, they, also, can be ugly.

                  Arkadi Choufrine



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                • Arkadi Choufrine
                  ... only to bad ones. ... This is a possible explanation, yet, to accept it, one is to consider that in 1.6.6.25 Pl. seems to identify the bad with the ugly,
                  Message 8 of 9 , Apr 13, 2005
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                    > But Plotinus does not refer to 'ugly' theoremata at I. 6. 1. 44ff,
                    only to 'bad' ones.
                    ------------
                    This is a possible explanation, yet, to accept it, one is to consider that
                    in 1.6.6.25 Pl. seems to identify the bad with the ugly, and the good with
                    the beautiful, as I indicated in my oridinal posting.
                    -----------------
                    > The difference is made clear by his statement at I. 6. 1. 46 that "there
                    can be concord and agreement between bad ideas
                    [theoremata]."
                    ----------
                    Pl. mentions this only to *refute* a widespread view that beauty is
                    constituted by proportion and concord.
                    Such an argument would be impossible if the terms "beatiful" and "bad" were
                    not for Pl. interchangeable.
                    ------------------
                    >'Other than its own' in the sense that it is incompatible with the
                    soul's optimal functioning, albeit perhaps a form in its own right.
                    Hence, for example, some patterns of behavior which might be
                    appropriate for some other kind of animal do not befit a human.
                    ---------------
                    Sure. The only problem is that Pl., as far as I know, does not define
                    beauty as optimal functioning, nor ugliness as behavior unfit for one's
                    species.

                    Arkadi Choufrine


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