Plotinus on Number

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Ancient Greek Philosophy routinely relied upon concepts of number to explain the tangible order of the universe. Plotinus' contribution to this tradition, however, has been often omitted, if not ignored. The main reason for this, at first glance, is the Plotinus does not treat the subject of number in the Enneads as pervasively as the Neopythagoreans or even his own successors Lamblichus, Syrianus, and Proclus. Nevertheless, a close examination of the Enneads reveals that Plotinus systematically discusses number in relation to each of his underlying principles of existence—the One, Intellect, and Soul. Plotinus on Number offers the first comprehensive analysis of Plotinus' concept of number, beginning with its origins in Plato and the Neopythagoreans and ending with its influence on Porphyry's arrangement of the Enneads. It's main argument is that Plotinus adapts Plato's and the Neopythagoreans' cosmology to place number in the foundation of the intelligible realm and in the construction of the universe. Through Plotinus' defense of Plato's Ideal Numbers from Aristotle's criticism, Svetla Slaveva-Griffin reveals the founder of Neoplatonism as the first post-Platonic philosopher who purposefully and systematically develops what we may call a theory of number, distinguishing between number in the intelligible realm and number in the quantitative, mathematical realm. Finally, the book draws attention to Plotinus' concept as a necesscary and fundamental linke between Platonic and late Neoplatonic schools of philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well argued and will stimulate further discussion of the matter." —Classical World

"Slaveva-Griffin deals with her sometimes intractable subject with remarkable ease and clarity, and she is in full command of the relevant literature, both ancient and modern.... this book is a rewarding study of important aspects of Plotinus philosophy as a whole, and an indispensable tool for anyone interested in Enn. VI.6 and the mathematical strand in ancient Platonism."—Frans A. J. de Haas, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195377194
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/4/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Svetla Slaveva-Griffin is Assistant Professor of Classics, Florida State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: One by Number
1. Platonic Cosmology on Plotinian Terms
Ennead VI.6 and the Timaeus
Origin of Multiplicity in Plotinus
Plotinus' apostasies and Numenius' stasis
The Universe as Degrees of Separation from the One
2. Multiplicity as Number
Surfacing from "the Neopythagorean Underground"
Outward and Inward Direction of Multiplicity in VI.6
Multiplicity as Effluence and Unity
3. "The Number of Infinity"
Plato's Position
Aristotle's Criticism of Plato and the Platonists
Plotinus' Answer
4. Number and Substance
Plotinus' Three Hypotheses about Number in the Intelligible Realm
Is Substantial Number Discrete and Incidental?
The Whole Number of Beings
The Substantial and Monadic Number
5. Number and the Universe
Substantial Number and the One
Substantial Number and the Absolute Being
Substantial Number and Intellect
Substantial Number and Beings
Substantial Number and the Complete Living Being
Soul and Number
The Unfigured Figure of Soul's Dance
6. Unity of Thought and Writing
Porphyry and the Enneads
Enneads VI.6
"Six Along with the Nines"
Conclusion: In Defense of Plato
Index of Names and Subjects
Index Locorum

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