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Plotinus on Body and Beauty: Society, Philosophy, and Religion in Third-Century Rome Paperback – November 1, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0631212751 ISBN-10: 0631212752 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631212752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631212751
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,956,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book puts a new and provocative perspective on the culture and intellectual world of late antiquity. With her interest in the body on the one hand, and her interest in pagan philosophy alongside Christian thought on the other, Miles is also able to open up Plotinus' philosophy to our own postmodern times by relating the interest in the soul - for which Plotinus is famous - to that of the body as being necessarily complementary in any debate about human self." Willemien Otten, Utrecht University

"The author brings the ancient world alive. She does not gloss over the profound differences between ancient and modern societies, but at the same time points to some fascinating parallels. Anyone who reads Miles's study will be asking questions about constructions of the "self" and one's place in the universe. This beautifully written book displays a fine interdisciplinary sense and a grasp of ancient literature and contemporary scholarship that one can only admire." Margaret Y. MacDonald, St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia.

"This study is very nicely done and provides an excellent introduction to Plotinus' thought. In brief, a strong, appealing, but not uncritical case for Plotinus as a secular theologian." Religious Studies Review

"This is a splendid, non-technical introduction to and interpretation of the central concerns of Plotinus's philosophy. By sketching the social and cultural conditions of Plotinus's third-century CE Rome, Margaret Miles achieves a convincing account. Highly recommended to historians, philosophers, and students of religion." International Review of Biblical Studies

"Sparked by the dramatic juxtaposition of Plotinus and the themes of body and beauty, drawing from career-long experience of teaching Plotinus, and writing with an eloquence and directness not unlike his own, Miles has convincingly demonstrated that Plotinus can indeed be a window between third-century Rome and the world of our own experience and concerns. More than that, she has written a thorough and dependable introduction to his philosophy." Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"This sympathetic and passionate reading of Plotinus deserves the attention of scholars and anyone interested in ancient religious thought. I recommend this animated and well-informed study of one of the great spirits of late antiquity." Journal of Religion

From the Back Cover

Plotinus, the most profound philosopher of the third century C.E., has been influential on Byzantine and Western Christianity, and Islam. In the West, Augustine brought Plotinian philosophy into Christianity, ensuring the interest of a long line of Christian thinkers. As Margaret Miles shows, Plotinus’s philosophy holds both perennial attraction and offers specific contributions to particular issues at the beginning of the twenty first century.

Miles offers a fresh interpretation which situates Plotinus’s philosophical ideas in the context of society and culture in which those ideas developed. Using extant evidence (the Enneads, Porphyry’s Life), she reconstructs an intense third-century conversation, n namely the relationship of body and soul. Mile’s portrayal of Plotinus will encourage readers from a range of disciplines to question their construction of body, "self", and identity.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By calmly on November 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Plotinus seemed to remain one of the best-kept secrets of antiquity. His vision is dazzling and his assumptions few.
Although there's a remarkable simplicity to his teachings, that simplicity may be obscured by the dust of 18 centuries as well as the detailed way in which Plotinus presents his teaching.
After my first reading of "The Enneads", I sought out a book which would provide me a better context for understanding it: information about the times including philosophies like Platonism. I've read a few now and this one has been the most helpful.
Margaret Miles appears to have a real love of Plotinus. At the same time, she's definitely a scholar, but a scholar who can write (and write well) to reach beyond other scholars to educated lay readers. Moreover, although she works at a theological school, she presents Plotinus on his own terms, rather than as nothing more than a Christian resource.
The themes Ms. Miles has wisely chosen, body and beauty, run deep and wide through Plotinus's teaching.
This is they way scholars should write, well-footnoted but not in a narrow scholarese. This is a great way to meet Plotinus, full of facts and insights from someone really sympathetic to Plotinus, someone who has obviously spent the time to understand him well. I feel quite fortunate to have found this book and appreciate Ms. Miles' caliber and efforts in keeping Plotinus contemporary.
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Plotinus on Body and Beauty: Society, Philosophy, and Religion in Third-Century Rome
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