Modes of Knowledge and the Transcendental

An introduction to Plotinus Ennead 5.3 [49]

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The philosophy of Plotinus is usually depicted as a quest for the absolute, outside and beyond the world of human knowledge and experience. Yet in the late treatise <i>Ennead</i> 5.3 [49], Plotinus shows himself a philosopher of the transcendental, rather than of the transcendent. Starting from a critical analysis of the idea of self-knowledge, he develops a world-view in which central notions of his metaphysics are represented, not as different &#8220;hypostases&#8221; or transcendent beings, but as limiting cases of reality as we human beings know it. Fundamental to this world-view is Plotinus' assumption that a close analogy can be established between the psychological and the physical description of man.

Subjects: Classical philosophy

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