Greek philosopher Plotinus - biography, philosophy and interesting facts

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Greek philosopher Plotinus - biography, philosophy and interesting facts
Greek philosopher Plotinus - biography, philosophy and interesting facts

The Greek philosopher Plotinus lived in the third century AD. His teachings are usually classified as neoplatonism in the philosophical direction. This thinker was born in Egypt and subsequently moved to Rome. Very little is known about his life and the details of his biography. Many historians tend to believe that throughout his life, Plotinus deliberately concealed the facts of his biography from future generations, because he wanted to focus their attention on his philosophical views. In his treatises, he never mentions any information regarding the life of the author.

Plotinus the ancient philosopher

On his fate is known only from the works of his student, who compiled a biography. In this position in life, the philosopher Plotinus is similar to the classic of Russian painting, Valentin Alexandrovich Serov, whose later works are distinguished by their disregard for the small details of the composition. The artist focuses only on the main object of the canvas.

Biography of the philosopher

However, some facts of the biography of the philosopher Plotinus still came down to posterity, and therefore a few words should be said about his life and scientific and creative path.Having moved to Alexandria at a fairly young age, Plotinus received an education there, which included, among other things, courses on the study of the works of philosophers of past years. Together with him, Origen also attended one of the Alexandrian schools, who later became famous as an early Christian thinker.

It is known that soon Plotinus achieved that he became a particularly close person to the Roman emperor. He even made a trip to Syria in his retinue in order to study in detail the works of Eastern philosophers, but due to certain circumstances he did not reach this country. Upon returning from a trip, the scientist organized his own school, where he taught his students the basics of his own religious concept.

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With the assistance of the new ruler, the thinker attempted to create an ideal state, thereby bringing to life Plato's utopia about the country of sages and artists. It is known that this initiative of the scientist failed to implement Plotinus.

Key Ideas

The philosopher created a doctrine, which is an intermediate stage between the thought of the era of antiquity and the teachings of Christian, namely early Christian authors.

But despite many extremely progressive ideas for his time, it is still customary to rank him among the philosophers of the ancient Roman period.

This author considered himself and belongs to the followers of Plato by many researchers in the field of philosophy.

dams philosopher main ideas

This philosopher Plotinus called his teacher. The views of the two wise men are based ona similar position that the world was created by a higher substance as a result of its going beyond its limits due to oversaturation. According to the teachings of Plotinus, the divine essence, which is the beginning of the entire universe, cannot be comprehended by the human mind. It should be repeated that Plotinus received his education by studying in the same school with some Christian philosophers. Accordingly, he could well be familiar with the general provisions of their dogma. This is also evidenced by certain features of his philosophy, for example, the provision on the trinity of the highest substance. According to the philosopher, everything that exists came from one source, which consists of the mind, soul and the One.

It is the last element that is the progenitor of all things, which is contained in various objects of the material world and at the same time contains these objects. One, according to Plotinus, is the creator of the whole world, but the process of creating the universe did not occur arbitrarily, as representatives of the Christian religion believe, but unconsciously. The essence of the One, as it were, went beyond its edges, forming more and more new forms. At the same time, the creator of the universe himself did not lose anything in the process of creating his offspring.

Mind, soul and Oneness

This transition from the non-material to the material state was called degradation by Plotinus's contemporaries and he himself, because parts of the One gradually moved away from him in their internal qualities.

In Plato, such a beginning of everything in the world is called the Good. This name largely explains the essence of this substance, which, if notconsciously, but acts with a positive attitude. Mind and Soul, in turn, are the second and third rebirths of the One, and hence the corresponding stages of degradation.

Plotinus philosopher biography

The intermediate step between the mind and the One is called the number. Thus, one incarnation flows into another with the help of a quantitative assessment of primordial matter. So, we can conclude that the mind is a coarser reflection of the One. The next emanations in this chain is the soul. This is a grosser essence, which has a sensual nature. Matter is the last link in the chain of degradation. She by herself cannot perform any rebirths.

Tough Times

Plotinus moved to Rome at a time when the empire was in both political and cultural decline. The philosophers of antiquity, who were so revered in the past, had already lost their popularity during the collapse of the empire, and their teachings were gradually forgotten without finding followers. And pagan science itself was at the last stage of its development, losing weight in front of the new school that appeared then, represented by Christian authors.

Live and learn

It can be concluded that the philosopher Plotinus belonged to the strata of the elite, since he could afford to choose his education rather carefully and leisurely. He went from one teacher to another without finding the wisdom he was looking for.

Finally, he came across a certain Ammonius, who taught him the basics of philosophical science. This man's training lasted abouteleven years old, which was a rarity for that time. The future philosopher finished his education only by the age of forty. After that, he began to develop his own philosophical concept.

Interpenetration of cultures

Plotinus himself did not consider himself the creator of a new direction in science, but only said that he slightly rethought the words of Plato, Aristotle and other ancient representatives of science. Thus, he was the successor of the work that the authors of antiquity began.

Under him, the works of such thinkers as Plato and Aristotle acquired a cult status for those who study them. They began to be worshiped as sacred spiritual literature. Christian philosophers, on the other hand, were of the opinion that the most valuable ideas should be taken from ancient thought and used in their works. The most progressive contemporaries of Plotinus and the followers of his philosophical worldviews believed that the young religious trend should be treated with due attention. Thus, ancient thought gradually passed from the stage of paganism to Christianity.

Dams Biography Life Facts

Nevertheless, a student of the philosopher Plotinus, Porfiry, who is his main biographer and who recorded information about the teachings of this sage, was extremely tense about Christianity.

Pagan Saint

He did not understand the true essence of the new creed and believed that this religion kills individuality in philosophers. In contrast to the Christian descriptions of the life of holy people, he created a biography of his teacher, more similar in style to the life.

Some researchers of Plotinus later called him a non-Christian saint or a pagan righteous man. This happened largely due to the manner in which his student presented a few facts from the life of Plotinus. It is worth saying that the philosopher himself was extremely stingy with stories about the details of his biography. This was largely due to the fact that he was ashamed of his material body. The philosopher was dissatisfied with the fact that, according to his teaching, he was at the last stage of the degradation of the being.


For this reason, Plotinus, who all his life sought to gain new knowledge and studied Eastern teachings, then delved into Roman and Greek philosophy, then paid attention to the Christian religion, did all this not only in order to gain new knowledge. He also tried, as it were, to escape from his material body, from his rough shell.

According to Plato, whose follower he was, the soul was not obliged to exist in the body, and its stay in it was determined by the previous sins of man. To leave this existence, to move on to one's true destiny, to stay in the soul - this is what Plotinus called for, exclaiming: "Let's return to our fatherland!"


He said that he was not only a student of the ancient philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, but also a follower of his teacher Ammonius. His school was distinguished by the fact that the students took a vow not to disclose their knowledge to strangers. The only one who dared to rebel against this rule was Plotinus. However, he does not reveal the essence of the doctrineAmmonius, but only sets out the basics of his concept.

Works of the philosopher Plotinus

The sage himself left behind a small number of written records.

The philosophy of Plotinus was systematized and set forth in several books, which were called "Enneads", that is, nine in Greek.

dams philosopher works

The six volumes of the Ennead were divided into nine sections each. In Europe, interest in the books of Plotinus arose among philosophers in the 18th and 19th centuries, when numerous translations of the works of this scientist were made.

It should be said that the author's language is highly poetic, and therefore the translation of these works is a rather painstaking work. This is also the reason why there are numerous versions of his works. The German philosophers and philologists of the nineteenth century were most interested in the works of Plotinus.

Exploring creative heritage

In Russia, this thinker is underestimated. His work began to be studied only in the twentieth century. Moreover, sometimes translations were made not from the original, which is written in ancient Greek, but from German versions or from other European languages. The Soviet philosopher Alexei Losev paid much attention to Plotin's works, and he himself made some translations of his works.

dams philosopher

In conclusion, it should be said that Plotinus is one of the ancient philosophers, whose teachings were fully appreciated only after many centuries. And only in the twentieth century did his thoughts findresponse in the works of contemporary thinkers. It can also be said that this author was a genius who foresaw topics that would occupy scientists many centuries after his death.

The ancient philosopher Plotinus can be called a pagan who came closer to Christianity than others.

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