Plotinus on the Inner Sense

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (5):864-887 (2015)
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Recently, there has been a growing interest in ancient views on consciousness and particularly in their influence on medieval and early modern philosophers. Here I suggest a new interpretation of Plotinus’s account of consciousness which, if correct, may help us to reconsider his role in the history of the notion of the inner sense. I argue that, while explaining how our divided soul can be a unitary subject of the states and activities of its parts, Plotinus develops an original account of consciousness that appeals to an inner sense. In contrast to ‘the outer senses’, which perceive sensible things out there in the world, this sense, for him, perceives the activities of the parts of our soul, thus enabling us to be conscious of them as a single subject. I suggest that Plotinus devises his account of this psychic power in the light of Alexander of Aphrodisias’s interpretation of the Aristotelian ‘common sense’. Since in Alexander the ‘common sense’ enables us to be conscious as a single subject of sensat..



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Sara Magrin
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

Salving the phenomena of mind: energy, hegemonikon, and sympathy in Cudworth.Sarah Hutton - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (3):465-486.
The Duality of phantasia in Plotinus: Two Faculties, or Two Representations?Eleni Perdikouri - 2016 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 19 (1):212-234.

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References found in this work

Aristotle on consciousness.Victor Caston - 2002 - Mind 111 (444):751-815.
Plato's Utopia Recast.Christopher Bobonich - 2004 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (217):619-622.
Plotinus on Self: The Philosophy of the 'We'.Pauliina Remes - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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