Plotinus on the nature and value of emotions

Creator: 

Clifton, John S.

Date: 

1980

Abstract: 

It has often been remarked upon by Plotinian scholars that despite Plotinus' importance in the history of philosophy, he has not been adequately understood. As Rist comments, "[p]erhaps no philosopher has been accorded more respect and less understanding than Plotinus." This is largely due, I think, to Plotinus' mode of explication. As Blumenthal observes, "[a]t first sight Plotinus' philosophy is full of contradictions." In order to ameliorate this state of affairs somewhat, I attempt to provide a fairly exhaustive survey of problems in Plotinus' doctrines on emotions. As well as pointing out these difficulties, I offer various resolutions that I take to be consonant with the spirit of the Enneads. The implications of these resolutions for our understanding of the philosophy as a whole are also considered. Of particular interest are Plotinus' doctrines on "emotionlessness" (apatheia) and on love in the incorporeal. With regard to the former, I argue that too literal an interpretation of Plotinus' call for the eradication of emotions is misleading and that in actuality emotions play an important role in human existence. With regard to the latter, I explain how the discussions of incorporeal love may be understood as symbolic or indirect communications.

Subject: 

Plotinus
Emotions

Language: 

English

Publisher: 

Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 
M.A.

Thesis Degree Level: 

Master's

Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Philosophy

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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