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Plotinus on Number$
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Svetla Slaveva-Griffin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377194

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377194.001.1

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Platonic Cosmology on Plotinian Terms

Platonic Cosmology on Plotinian Terms

(p.24) 1 Platonic Cosmology on Plotinian Terms
Plotinus on Number

Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relationship between Plotinus’ concept of the origin of multiplicity as “separation from the One” (apostasis) and Plato’s presentation of the Demiurge’s composition of the universe (systasis) in the Timaeus. The two terms characterize the “top-down” approach in Ennead VI.6 and the “bottom-up” approach in the Timaeus. The two works achieve the same goal—the explanation of the universe—with the same means—according to number—but from opposite starting points. The missing conceptual link between the two approaches, the chapter discovers, is found in Numenius’ concept of the Three Gods, ordering the universe: the Father, the Maker, and the Creation. The characteristics of Numenius’ First God convey the dichotomy between rest, as being and stability, and motion, as change, in the first principle. The explicit paradox of ontological stability (stasis) and innate motion (symphytos kinêsis) in Numenius’ First God is implicitly present in Plotinus’ explanation of the origin of the universe as “separation.” This chapter concludes that Plotinus induces the concept of multiplicity as a measurement of the ontological distance from the One. It also opens the possibility for stronger Neopythagorean influences.

Keywords:   multiplicity, Origin of the Universe, Composition of the Universe, Separation from the One, Timaeus, Numenius, Ennead VI.6

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