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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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The Number of Infinity

The Number of Infinity

(p.54) 3 The Number of Infinity
Plotinus on Number

Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes Plotinus’ refutation of the Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s view of number in the Parmenides. By rejecting any quantitative value of number in the intelligible realm, Plotinus specifically focuses on Aristotle’s inability to understand the Monad and the Indefinite Dyad as the principles of creation and order of the intelligible. The chapter shows that Plotinus not only follows the steps of his Platonic and Neopythagorean predecessors in defence of Plato’s position, but cleverly uses Aristotle’s own ideas in arguing that number in the intelligible is activity and a property of primary substance (ousia). The result is an original and ontologically elaborate theory of substantial number which offers a new and more successful defence of Plato’s “true numbers” against Aristotle’s criticism and explains the relationship between substantial non-quantitative number and monadic quantitative number as that between intelligible paradigm and its material copy.

Keywords:   Plato’s Parmenides, Monad, Indefinite Dyad, Aristotle, Plato, true numbers, Plotinus’ theory of number, substantial number, monadic number

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