chapter  2
9 Pages


The novelty of Plotinus’s view on transcendence is exhausted neither by the doctrine of the undescended soul, nor his commitment to forms of individuals. For there is a further notion of transcendence to be found in the Enneads, one that pertains to the foundation of the intelligibles. Plotinus was convinced that the process of contemplation disclosed to the ascendant soul more than its home amidst myriad intellects, more than its station among the transcendentals. Theo¯ria, contemplation, intimates a source deeper than the eternal forms, the hidden and previously unrecognized root of all multiplicity. This is the One, the ultimate divine principle in Plotinus. It is the One, the Good, that the soul desires, its nature drawn to contemplation because of an obscure craving for ultimacy. As a result, even the beauty, the orderliness, the stability of Intellect, does not suffice. However rich its content and immutable its nature, Intellect betrays its penultimacy to the contemplative soul. The soul desires a final and total unity, beyond the complexity of Intellect. Intellect for Plotinus is inherently multiple, since it is comprised of a vast number of forms, each a conscious mind engaged in reflection. Thus Intellect is always complex, something that Plotinus takes as a token of its secondary and derivative character. For beyond it there must be a principle free from collectivity, an absolute unity.