Plotinus' metaphysics of the Good as mystical philosophy

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The Enneads of Plotinus provides a perfect example of the type of philosophical activity whose insight directly emanates from an ‘ascend of the mind’ to the mystical experience of union (henosis) with the One, the absolute divine beyond intellect (nous), often equivocated to the vision of Plato’s form of the Good (Rep. VI.507-509). The present inquiry explores Plotinus’ thinking activity that emanates and unfolds from his beatific vision of the Good, and highlights the way of interrelation between the visionary and philosophical as it shines forth through the interplay between the forces of being and non-being. Mostly, Plotinus’ philosophizing of unification through soul and nous to the absolute One, that transcendent beyond: “to hyperechon” (IV.8.8.17-18), effectively discloses an existential ethics whereby the Good is equivocated with hypostatic being, the light of knowledge and truth, wisdom and beauty. In contradistinction, evil shows itself as non-hypostatic and illusory: appears as the eclipse of being, the absence of light and knowledge. By identifying on a moral level the ways of ignorance and untruth as non-hypostatic Plotinus elucidates philosophically the way to freedom as the recurrent choosing of light over darkness. Hence, freedom of will becomes quintessential to the ethical life; and his metaphysical thinking bearing no abstract systematic or idealistic exigesis, emanates directly from the realization of the spiritual life: evinces a highly evolved and illumined mind, an enlightened visionary that with confidence can paradigmatically assert concerning henosis with being as the One, that “whoever has already seen, will know what I am saying” (En. VI.9.9.47-48). As such, Plotinus’ metaphysics of henosis with the One, effectually accentuates an emergent philosophical activity whose primary focus becomes existential didactics, or else an ethics of catharsis, that aims to direct and cajole the worthy individual soul to the attainment of “hyperechon ti” (En. IV.8.4.30-31). Above all, this paper highlights the ways in which Plotinus’ philosophical praxes harmoniously coalesce with the highest form of spiritual life, wherein metaphysical insight mystical experience and the ethical life blend and reinforce each other, granting to the human the realization of having attained spiritual dignity through life’s ultimate goal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Greek Philosophy: Ethics, Politics and the Origins of Philosophy on Rhodes
EditorsKonstantine Boudouris, Maria Veneti
Place of PublicationAthens
PublisherIonia Publications
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-960-7670-83-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 29th International Conference of Philosophy on Greek moral and political philosophy (From Pre-Socratics to Neo-Platonism) - Municipality of Rhodes, Rhodes, Greece
Duration: 7 Jul 201712 Jul 2017
Conference number: 29

Publication series

Name29th International Conference of Greek Philosophy
PublisherIonia Publications


ConferenceThe 29th International Conference of Philosophy on Greek moral and political philosophy (From Pre-Socratics to Neo-Platonism)
Abbreviated titleGreek moral and political philosophy (From Pre-Socratics to Neo-Platonism)
Internet address


  • Plotinus, mystical, henosis, world soul, divine nous, beyond being, ethics


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