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"Then There Is No Longer An Outside And An Inside: Only One Single Light...."
Since its original publication in France in 1963, Pierre Hadots lively philosophical portrait of Plotinus remains the preeminent introduction to the man and his thought. Michael Chases lucid translation--complete with a useful chronology and analytical bibliography--at last makes this book available to the English-speaking world. Hadot carefully examines Plotinuss views on the self, existence, love, virtue, gentleness, and solitude. He shows that Plotinus, like other philosophers of his day, believed that Plato and Aristotle had already articulated the essential truths; for him, the purpose of practicing philosophy was not to profess new truths but to engage in spiritual exercises so as to live philosophically. Seen in this light, Plotinuss counsel against fixation on the body and all earthly matters stemmed not from disgust or fear, but rather from his awareness of the negative effect that bodily preoccupation and material concern could have on spiritual exercises.
Personal Review: Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision by Pierre Hadot
The French philosopher Pierre Hadot (b. 1922)is known for his studies of ancient philosophy and for his teaching that philosophy is not a mere academic study. Instead, for Hadot, philosophy is a spiritual training and a way to understand one's life in the company of a teacher and like-minded individuals. Hadot's mastery of ancient philosophy and his understanding of the philosophic endeavor pervade this short outstanding introduction, written in 1963, to the life and thought of Plotinus (205 -- 270 A.D.), the most significant exponent of the philosophy known as neoplatonism. Hadot's book on Plotinus is subtitled "The Simplicity of Vision." A good way of approaching it is to understand what Hadot means by "simplicity." Neither Plotinus nor Hadot make easy or "simple" reading. "Simplicity" here is contrasted with "multiplicity" or with what Plotinus calls "the composite." The composite is the world of everydayness, with its collage of change, a multitude of different things, and human emotions which pull in different directions and tend at each moment to tear the individual and groups of people apart. Most of the time, Plotinus thinks, we live in this composite world. We fall into the mistake of believing that it is all there is. But there is more to reality, and it lies within. By changing the way we look at things and ingrained habits and passions, we can try to redirect our
to meditation. Western. Thus his teachings were devoted to exegisis. among other things. As Hadot concludes: . Hadot would suggest to a modern audience. meditative thought. Hadot teaches. Hadot stresses the immanent character of Plotinus's vision of simplicity. companionship. materialistic culture. "After the ecstasy. gentleness. Ultimately. the laundry" which seems to capture something of how Hadot understands Plotinus. as developed in Plotinus. Plotinus's teachings inform daily life instead of constituting a flight from it. Hadot sees Plotinus's importance as part of a tradition of spiritual. He sees the nature of the good and of reality as inherent to the world we see everyday and available to those who seek it through a redirection of effort. and sociability. I think. or untied to any religious tradition has commonalities with and much to learn from Plotinus. Hadot explains Plotinus's underlying vision in short chapters devoted to love. such understanding could not "conflict" with scientific understanding which abstracts from the whole and deals with particulars. the virtues. For the most part. mystical thought that. Although Plotinus begins with the dualistic contrast between matter and spirit. rather than in finding an "All" or and "Absolute" somehow separate from the self. aloof. Plotinus does not teach creationism in the manner of the Gnostics. Plotinus' teachings are sometimes thought to be otherworldly. I was reminded of the title of a recent book by the American teacher of Buddhist meditation. with references to Plotinian texts. and remote from the world of sense and from human contact. a Platonic demigurge. and to save it from misunderstanding and instant rejection in a scientific. allows one to live in the everyday and pursue the teachings of science without falling into scientism or the senseless never-ending pull back and forth of one's own emotions and desires.which brings goodness. the biography of Plotinus by his student Porphyry. and to spiritual growth. he finds that Plotinus's vision is internalized and rests upon understanding oneself in a new way. Jack Kornfield". whether Buddhist.attention to the purely simple -. It is Hadot's merit to show the depths of Plotinus. to explain the appeal of his vision. and Wittgenstein. or some understandings of western theism. A great deal of contemporary spiritual. Merleau-Ponty. beauty and stability to life. The difficult teaching culminates in a manner in which the rare experience of contemplative ecstacy can be combined with living with one's fellows in daily life in teachings of compassion. Plotinus believed that Plato and Aristotle had basically taught all the substantive teachings necessary for philosophy. and by parallels to modern thinkers including Bergson. that because of the nature of philosophical/religious understanding and its object.without parts or multiplicity -. Plotinus does not end there but moves to a philosophy of all-inclusiveness or nonduality in which terms such as "inside" or "outside" or "self" and "other" tend to lose their meaning. Hadot shows that Plotinus can be understood in a different way. and solitude.
and to everything within it that is mysterious. with as much courage as Plotinus did. and transcendent." (p. We are still. capable of hearing Plotinus's call. There can be no question fo slavishly imitating the spritiual itinerary of Plotinus here in the late twentieth century. Robin Friedman For More 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price: Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision by Pierre Hadot 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price! ."Today we are even more inwardly divided that was Plotinian man. we must consent. Rather. 113) Readers with an interest in spirituality and religion will benefit from knowing Hadot and Plotinus. to every dimension of human experience. inexpressible. however. that would be impossible or illusory.