Plotinus: Myth, Metaphor, and Philosophical Practice

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University of Chicago Press, May 4, 2016 - Philosophy - 344 pages
The thought of the Roman philosopher, Plotinus (c205-70), has been the object of perennial fascination for philosophers and laymen alike. Best known today for his doctrine of self-transformation through contemplation, Plotinus did not regard his originality as formulating new truths but rather as showing how to engage in spiritual exercises so as to live philosophically. Taking a highly unconventional approach, the distinguished philosopher Stephen R. L. Clark here gives us a book that is at once deeply penetrating and highly personal. Clark focuses on dimensions of Plotinus that scholars have dismissed as irrelevant or merely ornamental: his images, metaphors, and myths. He argues that we need to understand those dimensions in the cultural and philosophical context of his time if we are to understand what those exercises amount to, and so to understand, as it were from within, where his philosophy leads. Clark shows how Plotinus employs specific images drawn from the Greek literary tradition for philosophical purposes: images of knowledge like those of light or drunkenness; or images of being itself in order to analyze and explore the realities of the Divine Intellect. He also notes their momentous legacy in later thinkers in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions. The book aims to be both scholarly and open to psychotherapeutic discussions from within other philosophical and psychiatric traditions that acknowledge the role that stories, myths, and metaphors play in constructing the mind."


Metaphorically Speaking
The Plotinian Imaginary
Understanding the Hypostases
The Plotinian Way

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About the author (2016)

Stephen R. L. Clark is professor emeritus at the University of Liverpool and has also taught at the University of Oxford and the University of Glasgow. He is the author of many books, most recently Understanding Faith, Philosophical Futures, and Ancient Mediterranean Philosophy.

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