Dissertation, University of Edinburgh (2013)

Jonathan Greig
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Aristotle and Plotinus both demonstrate the existence of a first principle as cause of the existence of all things. Aristotle puts forward that this first principle is a divine intellect which thinks on itself, and in being the highest being in complete actuality and without potentiality, it is also absolutely simple. Plotinus, on the other hand, sees reason to assert that the divine intellect can not be absolutely simple but a duality of some sort, and thus the first principle, as a cause of unity for all things, must be beyond the divine intellect and thus beyond being in being, itself, absolutely simple. Comparing Plotinus to Aristotle, Plotinus’ position appears odd at the outset given that he also holds to the divine intellect being completely in act and that it thinks on itself. Why thinking should be dual even when it is self-referential and unified in its activity is not apparent, and so Aristotle’s position seems the more coherent one. Yet, through an analysis of both positions, this dissertation proposes that Plotinus better accounts for the problem of self-intellection as requiring some form of distinction in thought while maintaining an identity between the subject and object of thought. If absolute simplicity is an essential attribute to being the first principle, Plotinus’ position is ultimately more consistent in positing a first principle beyond the divine intellect while also holding to a more coherent understanding of thinking with his understanding of divine intellect as a duality instead of an absolute simplicity.
Keywords Plotinus  Aristotle  Neoplatonism  First principles  Metaphysics  Ancient philosophy  Simplicity
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2013, 2014
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,811
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Plotinus on Intellect.Eyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Desire and the Good in Plotinus.Michael Oliver Wiitala - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (4):649-666.
Apprehension of Thought in Ennead 4.3.30.D. M. Hutchinson - 2011 - International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 5 (2):262-282.
The Place of Intellect in Aristotle.Kurt Pritzl - 2006 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 80:57-75.
Más Allá de Aristóteles: Un Análisis Metafísico Del Entendimiento.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2009 - In Alfonso Pérez de Laborda (ed.), El Dios de Aristóteles. Νόησις Νόησεως. Ediciones de la Facultad de Teología San Dámaso. pp. 345-366.


Added to PP index

Total views
40 ( #274,118 of 2,463,159 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #223,490 of 2,463,159 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes