The Ancient Library

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of Aristotle himself, whom in this respect he appears to have chosen as his master.

The difficulty of comprehending and appreciating the system of Plotinus is greatly increased, not only by the want of any systematic and scientific exhibition of it, and the consequent tedious repe­titions, but also by the impossibility of finding in such a mass of isolated treatises the connection of the parts and the foundation of the whole system. No treatises like the Theaetetus and Sophistes of Plato, which undertake to develope and fix the idea of knowledge, and of its objects, are to be found in the Ennead of Plotinus ; and from this circum­stance we can see how the desire for a strictly scientific foundation in the philosophy of the age had been lost. The middle point of the system, however, may be regarded as involved in the doc­trines of a threefold principle, and of pure intuition. We find, if not a fully satisfactory, yet at any rate a vigorous attempt to establish these points in the argument, that true knowledge is not attained so long as the knowing and the known, subject and object, are separate from each other. We trust, says Plotinus, to our sense-perceptions, and yet we are ignorant what it is in them which belongs to the objects themselves, and what to the affections of the subject. Moreover, sense can grasp only an image (e^SojAov) of the object, not the object itself, which ever remains beyond it. In the same way the spirit cannot know the spiritual (ra vorjra) so long as it is separate from it; and if any one would affirm that the spirit and the spiritual may somewhere or other be united, yet still our thoughts would only be types (at vorfaeis tvttoi effovrai)) types it may be of a real external existence ; an existence, however, which the mind can never be sure that it has grasped, and which (whether ex­istence be a spiritual thing or not) must present itself to us as premises, judgments, or propositions (v. 5. § 1, comp. v. 3. §§ 1—3). To despair of truth altogether, he considered, notwithstanding this, to be equivalent to a denial of mind itself. Accord­ingly, we must of necessity presuppose knowledge, truth, and existence ; we must admit that the real spirit carries every thing (spiritual) in itself, not merely their types or images; and that for this very reason there is no need of any demonstration or guarantee of truth ; but, rather, that truth carries its own evidence to the soul. ('H ovtws dXrjdeia ov ffvufyuvovaa, a\\q> ceAA* eavrfj, ib. §2.) The true soul cannot therefore deceive; and its knowledge is nothing representational, uncertain, or borrowed from other sources (§ I). This argu­mentation, directed as well against the Stoics as the atomistic Sensationalists (comp. vi. 1. § "28, ii. 6. § 1, iii. 6. § 6, iv. 4. § 23, 5. § 3, 3. § 18, i. 4. § 10, vi. 7. § 9), now breaks off, and leads immediately to considerations, in which the mind is regarded as a cosmical principle, not a knowing principle. The conclusion of this train of reasoning is found in the third book of the Enneads, which starts from the question, whether the self-conscious (yoovv} sub­ject, in order to separate the thinking from the thought, presupposes an inherent multiplicity ; or whether the simple me can comprehend itself. The former Plotinus cannot admit as valid, since on such a supposition, self and knowledge, the comprehending principle and the comprehended, would be separated from each other ; he cannot renounce the idea of a pure self-comprehension, without at the same time renouncing the know-



ledge of every thing that can be thought of like­wise (v. 3. § 1, comp. §§ 4, 5).

After an acute,, development of the difficulties which oppose themselves to the idea of an abso­lutely simple self-consciousness, Plotinus attempts to solve them by the supposition that the essence of the soul is a spontaneous activity, and that self-consciousness is to be regarded as including at once thinking itself—the thinking principle ; and the object thought (v. 3. §§ 5, 8, 5. § 1). From this it follows still further, that the pure spirit (that which does not strive to work out of itself) lives necessarily in a state of self-consciousness and self-knowledge; that the human spirit, however, developes its pure activity only so far as it masters the soul, with which it is connected by the bond of a mediating thought (StdVoia), and rests simply upon itself (v. 3. § 7). Lastly, it is concluded that the human spirit can only know the divine .and the spiritual, so far as it knows itself (I. c.). In self-knowledge, thought and existence fall absolutely together ; for the former is im­plied in the process of knowing, the latter in setfor the me (vi. 1. § 1). So likewise in all true knowledge, the object must be comprehended im­mediately (v. 9. § 13), and have reference to the ideas which are innate in the soul itself. Medi­tation, or meditating thought, can only be regarded as the ivay to truth (iv. 4. § 12), without being ever able to reach it (v. 5. §§ 1, 3, 6, 8. § 4, comp. i. 3. §§ 4, 5, 8. § 2). Nay, unconditioned Being, or the Godhead, cannot be grasped by thinking, or science, only by intuition (Trapovaia, vi. 9. § 4, 7. § 35). In this pure intuition, the good, or the abso­lute being, gazes upon itself through the medium of our own spirits (vi. 7. §§ 16,34, vi. 6. § 7,8. § 19,9. § 4, iv. 4. § 2, v. 3. § 3). To close the eye against all things transient and variable (oiov /jLvaavra otyiv, i. 6. § 8), to raise ourselves to this simple essence (a-n-Acocrts), to take refuge in the absolute (vi. 9. § 11, v. 8. § 11), this must be regarded as the highest aim of all our spiritual efforts. We are necessitated, however, to regard the unconditioned or the good, as the primary ground of the spirit, and of its fundamental idea of being, or of the world of ideas, by virtue of the- multiplicity of the acts of the soul's activity, and of their objects, all being in­cluded in the conception of being (vi. 3. § 10, 6. § 1, vi. 7. § 37,9. § 2) ; for all multiplicity is conditioned and dependent. In this way the unconditioned shows itself as the absolutely simple,—the uncon­ditioned one (v. 4. § 1, vi. 9. § 6), which for that very reason has no need of thinking nor of willing (vi. 9. § 6) ; and being raised entirely above all the de­terminations of existence (v. 3. § 12, vi. 2. § 3, &c. 8. § 18, 9. § 3) can be described neither as being or not being ; neither as moved or resting; neither as free or necessary; neither as a principle or as no principle ; nay, which can only be characterised as the unconditioned owe, and as the good (v. 2. § 1, 4. § 1, vi. 8. § 8, 9. § 9). Accordingly, the absolute is something inexpressible (vi. 8. § 8), and can only be reached by the above-mentioned yielding up of the soul to it (comp. vi. 9. § 3, 4. § 9, &c.). Conse­quently, it is a necessary presupposition to all being, that we think of every kind of existence as dependent upon the absolute, and in a certain sense produced from it (vi. 9. § 3, comp. v. 1. § 6). It (the absolute) must ever stream forth as inex­haustible (v. 2. § 1) ; it must bring every thing el«o out of itself without becoming the weaker (vi. 8.

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