Monday, March 31, 2014

Hegel on Plotinus

It is very difficult to give a systematic account of his philosophy. For it is not the aim of Plotinus, as it was of Aristotle, to comprehend objects in their special determinations, but rather to emphasize the truth of the substantial in them as against the phenomenal. The point of greatest importance and the leading characteristic in Plotinus is his high, pure enthusiasm for the elevation of mind to what is good and true, to the absolute. He lays hold of knowledge, the simply ideal, and of intellectual thought, which implicitly life, but not silent nor sealed. His whole philosophy is on the one hand metaphysics, but the tendency which is therein dominant is not so much an anxiety to explain and interpret and comprehend what forces itself on our attention as reality, or to demonstrate the position and the origin of these individual objects, and perhaps, for instance, to offer a deduction of matter, of evil; but rather to separate the mind from these externals, and give it its central place in the simple, clear Idea. The whole tenor of his philosophy thus leads up to virtue and to the intellectual contemplation of the eternal, as source of the same; so that the soul is brought to happiness of life therein. Plotinus then enters to some extent on special considerations of virtue, with the view of cleansing the soul from passions, from false and impure conceptions of evil and destiny, and also from incredulity and superstition, from astrology and magic and all their train. This gives some idea of the general drift of his teaching.