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Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision Reprint Edition

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226311944
ISBN-10: 0226311945
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Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision + The Inner Citadel: The <i>Meditations</i> of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) + Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault
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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226311945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226311944
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful By "mythologue" on November 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
`Plotinus or the simplicity of vision', like other books written by Pierre Hadot, seeks to go back to a conception of philosophy in which philosopher and philosophical experience are inextricably linked, and it implicitly holds that such a conception is not only desirable but possible. It is less a catalogue of plotinian doctrines than a `psycho-portrait' of Plotinus, the witness of a way of life. Hadot emphasizes the process of the plotinian philosophical experience, his work becoming the mirror of the text it analyses: the initial sections thus deal with the preparatory, purificatory steps, which eventually lead to a discussion of the One, source of all things, and possible fusion with it. In some of the later chapters, Hadot considers Porphyry's `Life of Plotinus' and uses it to counter some of the questionable assertions that have been made about Plotinus over the years (often under the authority of that same work); he then takes a closer look at Plotinus' late treatises, whose topics generally revolve around death, the origin of evil, happiness and Providence. Hadot's approach is both personal and self-effacing: the commentary of a spiritual work becomes a spiritual work itself, as the commentator takes part in the experience related by the author he writes about. Those who read this book - which is useful either before, during or after our reading of the Enneads - will, too.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on December 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pierre Hadot wrote PLOTINUS OR THE SIMPLICITY OF VISION at a time (1963) when far fewer supplementary Plotinian texts existed. This third edition paperback, translated from the French, has been available since 1993 essentially unchanged from the earliest version. Hadot's scholarship regarding both the life and philosophy of Plotinus has passed the test of time.

This short, but not superficial, overview examines Plotinus' teachings on the Self, Presence, Love, Virtues, Gentleness, and Solitude.

It also provides a spiritual biography of the third-century Roman and seeks to dispel certain misconceptions that reading THE LIFE OF PLOTINUS, by the master's student, Porphyry, can and have biased the minds of many pre-Hadot readers. Precious little is known about Plotinus' life, but Hadot takes care to place what is in the context of the norms of philosopher's era. Thus, Plotinus is depicted as a man of balance, not as a unhealthy ascetic: "Plotinus' spiritual life consists in tranquil confidence and peaceful gentleness," Hadot persuades.

Plotinus sought to teach his students constant inner contemplation (very similar to meditation disciplines popularized in the West over the last several decades but not widely influential here in 1963). In the ENNEADS (the compilation of his writings, as organized by Porphyry), he explains what a diligently practicing student could experience," ' Suddenly a light bursts forth, pure and alone. We wonder whence it came: from the outside, or from the inside?...The light comes from nowhere, and it goes nowhere; it simply either appears or does not appear....What a wonder!' "

For anyone interested in this philosopher/sage, PLOTINUS OR THE SIMPLICITY OF VISION is an outstanding place to begin.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a joy to read. It is a joy because the author did not primarily write it for scholars; he wrote it for the layman. He wrote a spiritual biography that explains Plotinus and his teachings, and not a deconstructionist hatchet job to profane them. Yes, it is a slim volume and an introduction, but if it is sufficient to get the idea of simplicity of vision across, of stripping away all of the dross to once again attain union with the One, then it is more than enough. After all, true philosophy is simplicity, and not the complicated, pretentious, artificial construction of "learned" discourse that passes under that name in these days.

Those who think that Plotinus merely regurgitated the concepts of Plato couldn't be more mistaken. Plotinus achieved the mystic union that enabled him to verify Plato's teachings by direct experience. In the same way, later mystics validated Plotinus' teachings by direct experience. That isn't regurgitation- it is a form validation and verification based on experience. Yes, there is a chain uniting all true mystics and mystical philosophers, but it is not a cause and effect chain in the earthly world of matter and history- it is a chain existing at the higher level of pure Intellect, where we all are united whether we realize it or not.

Our self extends from God down to the level of matter. Most of us are not conscious of it. However, our point of attention or perspective can be shifted to a higher level. Our soul is in an intermediate position between the lower world (matter), and the higher worlds of Spirit and the One. When we descend from the All before birth we add something to this All. We do not gain by this addition, but are lessened by it. This addition is what constitutes our little, rational self.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
The French philosopher Pierre Hadot (b. 1922)is known for his studies of ancient philosophy and for his teaching that philosophy is not a mere academic study. Instead, for Hadot, philosophy is a spiritual training and a way to understand one's life in the company of a teacher and like-minded individuals. Hadot's mastery of ancient philosophy and his understanding of the philosophic endeavor pervade this short outstanding introduction, written in 1963, to the life and thought of Plotinus (205 -- 270 A.D.), the most significant exponent of the philosophy known as neoplatonism.

Hadot's book on Plotinus is subtitled "The Simplicity of Vision." A good way of approaching it is to understand what Hadot means by "simplicity." Neither Plotinus nor Hadot make easy or "simple" reading. "Simplicity" here is contrasted with "multiplicity" or with what Plotinus calls "the composite." The composite is the world of everydayness, with its collage of change, a multitude of different things, and human emotions which pull in different directions and tend at each moment to tear the individual and groups of people apart. Most of the time, Plotinus thinks, we live in this composite world. We fall into the mistake of believing that it is all there is. But there is more to reality, and it lies within. By changing the way we look at things and ingrained habits and passions, we can try to redirect our attention to the purely simple -- without parts or multiplicity -- which brings goodness, beauty and stability to life.

It is Hadot's merit to show the depths of Plotinus, to explain the appeal of his vision, and to save it from misunderstanding and instant rejection in a scientific, materialistic culture. Hadot stresses the immanent character of Plotinus's vision of simplicity.
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