Plotinus’ calling was to work within the Platonic tradition, expounding and elaborating the ideas of his predecessor Plato, yet his philosophy nevertheless represents a distinctive and original stage of development, which is now called Neoplatonism. He is regarded by most modern scholars as the first and perhaps the greatest Neoplatonic philosopher, and his writings, collected together as the Enneads, are 'the primary and classical document of Neoplatonism'.
Plotinus and the Path to Liberation, which was published on 1st December 2013, began life as a revision of a Shrine of Wisdom work entitled The System of Plotinus, which first appeared from 1919 to 1922 as a series of four articles in The Shrine of Wisdom magazine and was subsequently published in book form in 1924. What has emerged from the process of revision is a new book, incorporating new commentary throughout, a thorough revision of the original chapters, and the addition of a new chapter and appendix. The intention is to present a systematic exposition of the philosophy of Plotinus and to unfold the nature of the fundamental principles upon which the whole of his philosophy is founded. It provides a basic introduction to the essentials of Plotinus’ teachings to those who are not able to study the Enneads themselves in any detail, while it affords those who wish to investigate the various treatises in greater depth the opportunity to approach them better prepared. It is especially intended for the seeker who aspires to become a disciple of Plotinus, to be inspired by his ardent spirit, to share in his clear insight, and to follow in his footsteps to the sublime experience of the finding of one’s own soul.
Here is an extract from the work on the Ascent to the One:
The Ascent to the One
The path to liberation in Plotinus is both three and one, for the goal is one, and the three paths are inseparable and interdependent. The goodness of virtue is also beautiful and true, truth is good and beautiful, and beauty reveals the good and the true - none is truly separate from the other, neither below nor above, for 'even Here a thoughtful life is dignity and beauty in accord with truth'. In ascending from the realm of generation, the soul ascends through the three pathways to Nous, to the intelligible beauty, the realm of truth, and the ideal goodness. Yet this is not the end of its journey. For beyond even Nous is the One, the Supreme Beauty, the Good, 'which shines truth on all the intelligibles, its source and goal, to which the soul is drawn by love...
And in the ascent to its ultimate goal, the One, the soul will attain, not to something foreign, or external, or other than itself, but to itself, to its own innermost unity, which is also the unity of all that is.
For indeed the nature of the soul... will come, not to something other, but to itself, and consequently, since it is not in something other, it will not be in nothing, but in itself. But when it is in itself alone and not in being, it is in That. For one becomes not being, but beyond being, by this association. If, then, one sees that he has become this, he has himself as a likeness of That, and if one goes on from oneself, as image to archetype, one has reached the end of the journey... And this is the life of gods and divine and blest men, release from the things of this world, a life beyond the pleasures of this world, a flight of the alone to the Alone. (vi. 9. 11. 38-51)
The book is available from the Fintry Administrator at a cost of £17 (including p&p). Please note that it now includes as an appendix Plotinus' On the Beautiful and On Intelligible Beauty, previously sold as a separate work.