The net in the sea : a note to Plotinus' en. IV 3(27).9.34–44

Author: Weiss, Sonja
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2019, vol. 24, iss. 2, pp. 235-253
Extent
235-253
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type
Article
Language
English
Abstract(s)
In Plotinus' first treatise, On the Problems of the Soul, the comparison of the cosmic body floating in the soul to a net in the sea is simple enough, at least at first glance. While most of the translators and experts have no doubts that the net in this metaphor stands for the body and the sea for the soul, a few of them are doubtful as to whether the analogy is as self-evident as it seems. This is particularly true of the second part of the metaphor, casting the universal soul as the sea, and thus presenting a striking contrast to the prevalent symbolism of the sea and water in general. The uncertainty of this Plotinian image leads us to investigate two relevant philosophical concepts, namely flux and infinity, which in Plotinus are applied to very different contexts: the former is generally related to the fluctuating nature of the sensible world, but is also present in the image of the One as inexhaustible spring. Similarly, we have a concept of infinity applied to the ungraspable bodiless matter on the one hand, as well as to the limitless power of Being on the other. I believe that Plotinus, refusing to be limited by the established meaning of the current philosophical imagery, is consciously using these ambiguities to refine his arguments, possibly as a polemic against rival philosophical doctrines.
Document
References:
[1] Armstrong, A. H. (Transl.). (1978–1988). Plotinus: Enneads I–VI . Cambridge – London: Harvard University Press.

[2] Beierwaltes, W. (Transl.). (1995). Plotin: Über Ewigkeit und Zeit (Ennade III 7) . Frankfurt: Klostermann.

[3] Bernabé, A. (Ed.). (2004). Poetae Epici Graeci Pars II, Fasc. 1 (Bibliotheca Teubneriana). Munich – Leipzig: K. G. Saur.

[4] Bréhier, É. (1924–1938). (Ed. and transl.). Plotin: Ennéades I–VI . Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

[5] Brisson, L., & Pradeau, J.-F. (Transl.). (2002–2010). Plotin: Traités . Paris: Flammarion.

[6] Des Places, É. (Transl.). (1997). Numénius: Fragments . Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

[7] Dillon, J. M., & Blumenthal, H. J. (Transl.). (2015). Plotinus: Ennead IV.3–4.29: Problems Concerning the Soul . Las Vegas – Zurich – Athens: Parmenides Publishing.

[8] Emilsson, E. K., & Strage, S. K. (Transl.). (2015). Plotinus: Ennead VI.4 & VI.5: On the Presence of Beig, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole . Las Vegas – Zurich – Athens: Parmenides Publishing.

[9] Faggin, G. (Ed.). (2000). Plotino: Enneadi . Milano: Bompiani.

[10] Gerson, L. P. (Ed.). (2018). Plotinus: The Enneads (Translated by G. Boys-Stones, J. M. Dillon, L. P. Gerson, R. A. H. King, A. Smith). Cambridge: University Press.

[11] Harder, R. (Transl.). (1956–1960). Plotins Schriften I–V (Neuarbeitung mit griechischen Lesetext und Anmerkungen fortgeführt von Rudolf Beutler und Willy Theiler). Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag.

[12] Henry, P., & Schwyzer, H. R. (Eds.). (1977). Plotini Opera II. Enneades IV–V (editio minor). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[13] Igal, J. (Transl.). (1985). Plotino: Enéadas III–IV . Madrid: Editorial Gredos.

[14] Kouremenos, Th., Parássoglou, G., & Tsantsanoglou, K. (Eds.). (2006). The Derveni Papyrus . Firenze: Leo S. Olschki.

[15] Radice, R. (Transl.). (2002). Plotino: Enneadi (Saggio introduttivo, prefazioni e note di commento di Giovanni Reale). Milano: Mondadori.

[16] Armstrong, A. H. (1937). 'Emanation' in Plotinus . Mind., 46(181), 61–66. | DOI 10.1093/mind/XLVI.181.61

[17] Aubenque, P. (2005). Narcisse ou Hylas? Une contribution de Goethe à l'exégèse de Plotin . In E. Vegleris (Ed.), Cosmos et psyché. Mélanges offerts à Jean Frère (pp. 265–269). Hildesheim – Zürrich – New York: Georg Olms Verlag.

[18] Barks, C. (Transl.). (2010). Rumi: The Big Red Book: The Great Masterpiece Celebrating Mystical Love and Friendship . New York: Harper Collins.

[19] Beierwaltes, W. (1961). Die Metaphysik des Lichtes in der Philosophie Plotins . Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 15(3), 334–362.

[20] Blumenthal, H. J. (1971). Plotinus' Psychology: His Doctrines of the Embodied Soul . The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

[21] Bréhier, É. (1982). La philosophie de Plotin . Paris: Vrin.

[22] Bussanich, J. (1988). The One and its Relation to Intellect in Plotinus. A commentary on selected texts . Leiden – New York – København – Köln: Brill.

[23] Caluori, D. (2015). Plotinus on Soul . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[24] Carroll, W. J. (2002). Plotinus on the Origin of Matter . In M. F. Wagner (Ed.), Neoplatonism and Nature (pp. 179–207). Albany: SUNY Press.

[25] Charrue, J.-M. (1978). Plotin lecteur de Platon . Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

[26] Clarc, S. R. L. (2016). Plotinus: Myth, Metaphor and Philosophical Practice . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[27] Corrigan, K. (2000). The Positive and Negative Matter in Later Platonism: the Uncovering of Plotinus' Dialogue with the Gnostics . In J. D. Turner, & R. Majercik (Eds.), Gnosticism and Later Platonism. Themes, Figures, and Texts (pp. 19–56). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

[28] Corrigan, K. (2005). Reading Plotinus: A Practical Introduction to Neoplatonism . Purdue University Press.

[29] Decleva Caizzi, F. (1988). La 'materia scorrevole'. Sulle tracce di un dibattito perduto . In J. Barnes, & M. Mignucci (Eds.), Matter and Metaphysics. Fourth Symposium Hellenisticum (pp. 425–470). Napoli: Bibliopolis.

[30] Deuse, W. (1983). Untersuchungen zur mittelplatonischen und neuplatonischen Seelenlehre . Wiesbaden: Steiner.

[31] Dillon, J. (1977). The Middle Platonists. 80 B.C. to A.D. 220 . Ithaca – New York: Cornell University Press.

[32] Drozdek, A. (2007). Greek Philosophers as Theologians, the Divine Arche . Aldershot – Hampshire: Ashgate.

[33] Ferwerda, R. (1965). La signification des images et des métaphores dans la pensée de Plotin . Groningen: J. B. Wolters.

[34] Gatti, M. L. (1996). Plotinus: The Platonic Tradition and the Foundation of Neoplatonism . In L. Gerson (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (pp. 10–37). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[35] Gerson, L. P. (1994). Plotinus . London – New York: Routledge.

[36] Gerson, L. P. (2003). Metaphor as an Ontological Concept: Plotinus on the Philosophical Use of Lanugage . In M. Fattal (Ed.), Logos et langage chez Plotin et avant Plotin (pp. 255–269). Paris: L'Harmattan.

[37] Gregorios, P. (Ed.). (2002). Neoplatonism and Indian Philosophy . Albany: SUNY Press.

[38] Hadot, P. (1976). Le mythe de Narcisse et son interprétation par Plotin . Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, 13, 81–108.

[39] King, K. L. A. (2013). Distinctive Intertextuality: Genesis and Platonizing Philosophy in The Secret Revelation of John . In K. Corrigan, & T. Rasimus (Eds.), Gnosticism, Platonism and the late ancient world: essays in honour of John D. Turner (pp. 3–22). Leiden – Boston: Brill.

[40] Kleist, H. von (1883). Plotinische Studien. Erstes Heft: Studien zur IV. Enneade . Heidelberg: Verlag von Georg Weiss.

[41] Lacrosse, J. (1994). L'amour chez Plotin. Eros hénologique, eros noétique, eros psychique . Bruxelles: Ousia.

[42] Lamberton, R. D. (1986). Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Reading and the Growth of the Epic Tradition . Berkeley: University of California Press.

[43] Leeming, D. A. (1994). A Dictionary of Creation Myths . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[44] Leeming, D. A. (2010). Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia . Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

[45] Müller, H. F. (1913). Ist die Metaphysik des Plotinos ein Emanationssystem? Hermes, 48, 408–425.

[46] Narbonne, J.-M. (1993). Essay sur la problématique plotinienne . In J.-M. Narbonne (Ed.), Plotin. Les deux matières [Ennéade II 4(12)] (pp. 11–269). Paris: Vrin.

[47] Narbonne, J.-M. (2011). Plotinus in Dialogue with the Gnostics . Leiden: Brill.

[48] Obenga, Th. (2004). African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period, 2780–330 BC . Popenguine: Per Ankh Books.

[49] Pépin, J. (1982). The Platonic and Christian Ulysses . In D. J. O'Meara (Ed.), Neoplatonism and Christian Thought (pp. 3–18). Albany: SUNY Press.

[50] Puech, H.-C. (1957). Plotin et les gnostiques . Entretiens sur l'antiquité classique, V: Les sources de Plotin, 159–190.

[51] Rappe, S. (1995). Metaphor in Plotinus' Enneads V 8.9 . Ancient Philosophy, 15, 155–172. | DOI 10.5840/ancientphil199515140

[52] Reale, G. (1983). I fondamenti della metafisica di Plotino e la struttura della processione . In L. P. Gerson (Ed.), Graceful Reason. Essays in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy presented to Joseph Owens (pp. 153–175). Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

[53] Reale, G. (2004). Storia della filosofia Greca e Romana, vol. 8. Plotino e il neoplatonismo pagano . Milano: Bompiani.

[54] Rist, J. M. (1967). Plotinus: the Road to Reality . Cambridge: University Press.

[55] Schroeder, F. M. (1992). Form and Transformation: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus . Montreal – Kingston – London – Buffalo: McGill-Queen's University Press.

[56] Smith, A. (1996). Eternity and Time . In L. P. Gerson (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (pp. 196–216). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[57] Smith, A. (2004). Philosophy in Late Antiquity . New York and London: Routledge.

[58] Smith, G. (2012). Physics and Metaphysics . In S. F. Johnson (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (pp. 513–543). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[59] Smith, T. (Transl.). (1870). The Clementine Homilies . In A. Roberts, & J. Donaldson (Eds.), Anti-Nicene Christian Library (Vol. XVII). Edinbourgh: T & T Clarc.

[60] Tornau C. (1998). Plotin. Enneaden VI 4–5 [22–33] . Ein Kommentar. Stuttgart – Leipzig: Teubner.

[61] Turner, J. D. (1992). Gnosticism and Platonism: The Platonizing Sethian Texts from Nag Hammadi in Their Relation to Later Platonic Literature . In R. T. Wallis, & J. Bregman (Eds.), Neoplatonism and Gnosticism (Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern, 6; pp. 425–459). Albany: SUNY Press.

[62] Turner, J. D. (2001). Sethian Gnosticism and the Platonic Tradition . Québec: Presses Université Laval.

[63] Uždavinys, A. (Ed.). (2009). The Heart of Plotinus. The Essential Enneads . Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom.

[64] Wallis, R. T. (1992). Soul and Nous in Plotinus, Numenius and Gnosticism . In R. T. Wallis, & J. Bregman (Eds.), Neoplatonism and Gnosticism (Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern, 6; pp. 461–482). Albany: SUNY Press.

[65] Wolters, A. M. (1982). Survey of Modern Scholarly Opinion . In Harris, & R. Beine Harris (Ed.), Neoplatonism and Indian Thought (pp. 293–308). Albany: SUNY Press.