Front Page Titles (by Subject) IX: Matter - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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IX: Matter - Plotinus, The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead [253 AD]
The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead, with Porphry’s Life of Plotinus, and the Preller-Ritter Extracts forming a Conspectus of the Plotinian System, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
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I. 8, 7. “But why does the existence . . . necessity of Evil” (pages 100-101).
Plotinus goes much further than Plato in the low rank accorded to Matter. In the Enneads it is the sheer terminus of the Truly-Existent and of The Good; it is that which has nothing of reality or of value. Sometimes, however, like Plato, Plotinus makes Matter “The Other-than-Being”: cf. I. 8, 3, and I. 8, 5, pages 94, 97 of this volume.
III. 6, 7. “Matter is without body; body is of earlier date (less distant from the Divine) and merely includes Matter . . . neither is Matter a spirit or a mind, it is not life, it is not a Reason-Form or Idea, it is not a limit; it might be more nearly described as a boundlessness; it is not a power or potentiality; it produces nothing and since it is none of the things of this sphere it cannot come under the name of an Existent; it is, rather, Not-Being; and it is not even this in the sense in which Motion and Rest may be called Not-Being; it is merely a phantasm or shadow of space, an aspiration towards existence; it is present where no one sees; it ever eludes the eye that searches for it . . . it comprises all the contraries, the little and the great, the more and the less . . . it is a ghostly thing incapable alike of staying or going since it has drawn no force from the Divine: and, so, all its pretence of existence is a lie.”
From Plotinus’ doctrine it would follow that wherever there is Non-Being or defect of Being, there must be some presence of Matter; that would seem to be the case even in the Soul, even in the Divine Mind; but Plotinus will not allow Matter There (?).