Plotinus – On Nature and Contemplation and On the One

Plotinus was an ancient Egyptian philosopher who many see as the father of Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism is a school of thought that sprung up in 3 A.D. and its teachings were based on the Plato. The word ‘neo’ was added sometimes later by modern scholars who wanted to differentiate their teachings from those of the ancient scholars but generally the teachings were more or less the same and identified themselves by the tag name Platonists. Neo-Platonism can be defined as a kind of monism idealism, which is characterized by the existence, of a transcendent one from which the rest of the world came from in a pattern of lesser beings.

Generally, Neo-Platonism is a kind of a religious philosophy and takes aboard the elements unique to polytheism in which the God and Goddesses are two completely different entities that are brought together by a unifying factor, which is divine to all God and is referred to by the name ‘The One’. The Platonists argue that the main objective of all the humans in the world is to be reunited with ‘The One’ mainly through intellectual sense. This unification can only be achieved through contemplation hence the goal of humanity is contemplation.

For a start, the mind of a human being thinks outside the physical world, about anything abstract with reference to knowledge, “what if we begin by speaking playfully, before trying to be serious and say that everything desires to contemplate and looks towards this goal? This is so not only for rational living beings but also for non rational ones as well and even for nature as it exists in plants and the earth that generates these” (p. 36). Plotinus and his group of Platonists believed that evil or anything bad does not exist on its own, only in the absence of that which is considered good and that all living things attain contemplation in whichever way possible, “all things attain it insofar as it is possible for them, according to their nature…” (p. 36).

Plotinus in his work examines how the earth and trees respond to contemplation. He explores how the trees contemplate and how this contemplation connects with what the earth produces at certain times and how nature though irrational has contemplation within itself and the possibility that it produces what it produces due to contemplation. Plotinus explains that nature is contemplative. This is because it gives rise to environmental cues which are taken upon by other living things to contemplate on their own independent ways to produce visible shapes while at the same time it remains static, “This expressed principle that is in the ultimate visible shape is at the same time a corpse and is o longer able to make another, whereas that which has life is the brother of that which produces the shape and having itself the identical power produces in that which comes to be” (p. 37).

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