Written by Kirsten Macdonald
Philosophy is the investigation of the truths and principles of being. Making sense of the world and thinking about the why and how.
For as long as we have gazed upon the stars, we have asked questions about our existence and searched for meaning. Philosophy can often be a complex mosaic of ideas from the founding greats, and what is one of the biggest bones to chew on? The soul.
How does one simplify complex Philosophy regarding the soul? It can’t without seriously offending the ancestors of thought and contemplative intelligencia. But why don’t we ponder the great minds and strands of ideas they developed and devoured in bite sizes?
Animation of cells is, in fact, life. But what of the matter in between and the ether from behind the old think tank?
Maya Angelou print available here.
One of the most influential philosophers after Plato and Aristotle was a fella by the name of Plotinus. Born in 205 AD, Plotinus lived in Egypt to a ripe inspired age of 64-65.
His Platonic philosophy was the genesis of Neo-Platonism.
Plotinus benchmarked some of Plato’s philosophical ideas and developed some newbies. In a nutshell, his ponderings involved a complex spiritual cosmology involving three foundational elements: the One, the Intelligence, and the Soul. The beauty of Philosophy is the evolving nature of ideas through discussion, contemplation, debate and reflection.
An original thinker too, Plotto pondered that when these three gems were in productive unity, all existence emanates. It is from the productive unity of these three Beings that all existence emanates, according to the teacher and lecturer of 240’s CE.
His writings The Enneads were edited and compiled by his student Porphyry. Who also reported that Plotinus was indeed a mystic and had several mystical experiences with the One.
The Essential Enneads available here
Anthony Kenny explains Plotinus theory best it best in ‘A New History of Western philosophy.’
“When the musician plucks the strings of the lyre, he says it is the strings, not the melody, that he acts on; but the strings would not be plucked unless the body called for it.”
There is an all-knowing, supreme “THE ONE”. The One is beyond category or definition and is the sum of all beings. Then from the One emanates Nous, which is thought, Intelligence and that which contemplates The One. From Nous springs The Soul which consists of the WORLD soul, an upper overarching aspect between all things and remains in sync with Nous and the lower aspect which allows for nature and the individual human soul.
We will leave you with Plotinus’ description about World Soul is quite beautiful. He compares The World Soul to a man standing up in the sea, with half his body in the water and half in the air. But he thought that we should really ask not how the soul is in body, but how the body is in the soul. Body floats in soul, as a net floats in the sea. This is again beautifully described in Kenny’s book.
So what did Aristotle have to say about this? Check back for Part II –
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