Front Page Titles (by Subject) NOTE ON THE ORDER OF THE TRACTATES OF THE THIRD AND SECOND ENNEADS - Psychic and Physical Treatises; comprising the Second and Third Enneads
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NOTE ON THE ORDER OF THE TRACTATES OF THE THIRD AND SECOND ENNEADS - Plotinus, Psychic and Physical Treatises; comprising the Second and Third Enneads [253 AD]
Psychic and Physical Treatises; comprising the Second and Third Enneads, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
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NOTE ON THE ORDER OF THE TRACTATES OF THE THIRD AND SECOND ENNEADS
It has been pointed out by several exponents and commentators (for example Whittaker, pp. 31-32) that the logical order of the Enneads is roughly IV., V., VI., II., III., I. Starting from I., therefore, it is best to read in the order I., III., II.
Since it happens that the second and third tractates fall together in this volume it has been judged advisable to open with the Third as the most natural sequent to the First.
The order in which Porphyry knew the tractates of the Second and Third Enneads is as follows (see volume i.):—
Approximately, therefore, the chronological order of the tractates in this volume runs:—
In simple honesty to such readers as do not consult the original, the translator feels obliged to state that he does not pretend to be perfectly satisfied that he has himself understood every passage of which he has been obliged to present a rendering: he has in no case passed for publication any passage or phrase which does not appear to him to carry a clear sense in English and a sense possible in view at once of the text and of Plotinus’ general thought; he has been scrupulous in frankly committing himself; but there are at least three or four places in which he feels himself to be as probably wrong as right, places in which either the text is disordered or Plotinus, as often, was inattentive to the normal sequence, or even—verbally at least—to the general consistency, of his thought.
For the present it appears that the best service to Plotinian studies is to dare to be tentative and to beg critics to collaborate in the clearing of dark passages: the notices the first volume of this series received were more flattering than helpful. Modifications suggested by such comment will be noted in the final volume.
Readers are reminded that “we read” translates “he says” of the text, and always indicates a reference to Plato, whose name does not appear in the translation except where it was written by Plotinus: and that all matter shown in brackets is added by the translator for clearness’ sake, and therefore is not canonical. Nothing but what is judged to be quite obviously present in the text appears without this warning sign.