SYLLABUS OF LECTURES VI, VII, VIII — THE WORLD OF SENSE
sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022
LECTURES VI, VII, VIII THE WORLD OF SENSE
There are two fundamental triads in Plotinus — that of the Divine Principles, the Absolute (to agathon, to en, to proton) ; Spirit (nous), and Soul (psyche) ; and the division of man into Spirit, Soul, and Body.
In their objective aspects, Body, Soul, and Spirit are respectively the world as perceived by the senses ; the world interpreted by the mind as a spiritual and temporal order ; and the spiritual world. The last alone is fully real. Reality is constituted by the unity in duality of the spiritual faculty and the spiritual world which it contemplates in exercising its self-consciousness. The reality of Soul and its world is derivative and dependent; the phenomenal world does not possess reality (ousia).
Refutation of materialism. Plotinus sees the issue between materialism and the philosophy of spirit more clearly than any previous thinker. He argues against the Stoics that when we pass from Body to Soul, we have to deal with a different kind of existence, to which the quantitative categories do not apply. Justice and virtue cannot be stated in terms of extension. And the explanation of a thing must always be sought in what is above it in the scales of value and existence. The Stoics, while professing to be pantheists, slide into materialism.
Matter (hyle) is not material in our sense. It is the subject of energy, viewed by abstraction as separated from the energy which alone gives it reality.
In what sense does Plotinus regard Matter as evil ? The difficulty arises from the relation of the two standards, that of Value and that of Existence. In the scale of existence there are no minus signs ; but the value judgment has to register temperatures below zero. But we have to remember that there can be no world without Form working on Matter. Form and Matter together are’ one illuminated reality it is only when isolated by abstraction that Matter appears as that which resists the good. Matter can be perceived only ’ by an illegitimate kind of reasoning.’ The half-blinded spiritual faculty, the clouded perception, and the shapeless object, all belong together, and all ’ desire’ to rise into a light where all will be transformed. But there is Matter in the spiritual world, since in every sphere the recipient of Form holds the position of Matter. This is enough to prove that Plotinus never dreams of making Matter the diabolical principle in his universe.
Matter was created, but not in time. It was created in order that the will-activities of Soul and Spirit might become actualities.
The world of appearance may be regarded either as the spiritual world seen through a distorting medium, or as an actual but imperfect copy of the archetype. The real-idealism of Plotinus holds these two views together. A feeble contemplation makes a feeble object of contemplation. Our knowledge of this half-real world is a kind of half-knowledge.
Nature (physis) is the active faculty of the World-Soul, its outer life. On the other side, it is that which, added to Matter, gives it its substantiality. It is the lowest of the spiritual existences. "All that is below Nature is but a copy of reality."
The ground-form of all appearance is Extension. Mutual externality is the condition of things in the world of sense, as compenetration is the character of the spiritual world. ’Space is after everything else’ — the lowest rung of the ladder. Spatial ideas are our clearest and our poorest ideas.
Time is the moving image of eternity. ’ Things that are born are nothing without their future/ Perpetuity is the symbol and copy of the permanence of eternity. In eternity the whole is in each part; in the world of Time the stages follow each other.
Time arose through the desire of the World-Soul to exert its active powers ; ’it desires always to translate what it sees in the eternal world into another form.’ ’ Time is the activity of an eternal soul, exercised in creation.’
Bergson ’s theory of Time is next discussed.
We cannot admit real causality without teleology. Things cannot be causes.
Time is the form of willed change.
The universe had no temporal beginning and will have no temporal end. But its history consists of an unending series of finite schemes, which have a beginning, middle, and end. This cosmology is alone consistent with modern science.
Categories of the world of appearance.
The controversy with the Gnostics. ’ Those who despise what is so nearly akin to the spiritual world show that they know nothing of the spiritual world except in name.’ ’ This world is worthy of its Author, complete, beautiful, and harmonious.’ ’ There is nothing Yonder which is not also Here.’