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The being that knows itself is the good. The good is the authentic. Contemplation of the divine is our highest good. Those three sentences can be found within this book or within Thomas Aquinas. I’ve read how influential Plotinus was but I never understood what they really meant by that until I read these three volumes.
Parmenides’ One leads to Einstein’s block universe, a universe without time except thru illusion (at least Karl Popper will say that). Henri Bergson wants to keep time within the universe and Plotinus does too while reworking The One, the primal cause, the cause before any cause into a coherent and consistent system. This is why the modern day Bergson was influenced by the ancient Plotinus. They both understood (or more properly believed) that time is entwined with the physical. The General Theory of Relativity sees the universe as a whole and all at once continuously while quantum physics sees the world discreetly; Einstein never accepted quantum physics and would mock ‘spooky action at a distance’ which turned out to be real and is called entanglement today.
Plotinus is not a scientist by any means, but he did understand the problems with time being immanent or emergent, and he definitely makes a statement equivalent to the conservation of mass. Plotinus is mostly antithetical to my most favorite of all other ancient books, ‘On the Nature of Things’. One can tell that Plotinus is intimately familiar with that book and he quotes frequently from the Epicureans in order to refute them. Plotinus gives freedom through the will because of the attachment of the soul from the divine to the body while the epicureans will hypothesize a ‘swerve’ at the last moment, and the stoics will just say ‘go with the flow’ (Plotinus is definitely not a stoic or a Gnostic).
These works of Plotinus are the ultimate work of spirituality. Every modern book just seems to be a poor imitation of these works. Plotinus will mix the Eastern with Platonic thought and develops a non contradictory take on the world that delves into being, time, reality and the essences of nature, and at other times will show that our anxiety over nothing (what Kierkegaard refers to as ‘despair’) is really about nothing worthwhile.
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