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Open Access The Motion of Intellect On the Neoplatonic Reading of Sophist 248e-249d

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The Motion of Intellect On the Neoplatonic Reading of Sophist 248e-249d

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This paper defends Plotinus’ reading of Sophist 248e-249d as an expression of the togetherness or unity-in-duality of intellect and intelligible being. Throughout the dialogues Plato consistently presents knowledge as a togetherness of knower and known, expressing this through the myth of recollection and through metaphors of grasping, eating, and sexual union. He indicates that an intelligible paradigm is in the thought that apprehends it, and regularly regards the forms not as extrinsic “objects” but as the contents of living intelligence. A meticulous reading of Sophist 248e-249d shows that the “motion” attributed to intelligible being is not temporal change but the activity of intellectual apprehension. Aristotle’s doctrines of knowledge as identity of intellect and the intelligible, and of divine intellect as thinking itself, are therefore in continuity with Plato, and Plotinus’ doctrine of intellect and being is continuous with both Plato and Aristotle.

Affiliations: 1: Loyola Marymount University, Department of Philosophy1 LMU Drive, Suite 3600, Los Angeles, CA 90045eperl@lmu.edu

This paper defends Plotinus’ reading of Sophist 248e-249d as an expression of the togetherness or unity-in-duality of intellect and intelligible being. Throughout the dialogues Plato consistently presents knowledge as a togetherness of knower and known, expressing this through the myth of recollection and through metaphors of grasping, eating, and sexual union. He indicates that an intelligible paradigm is in the thought that apprehends it, and regularly regards the forms not as extrinsic “objects” but as the contents of living intelligence. A meticulous reading of Sophist 248e-249d shows that the “motion” attributed to intelligible being is not temporal change but the activity of intellectual apprehension. Aristotle’s doctrines of knowledge as identity of intellect and the intelligible, and of divine intellect as thinking itself, are therefore in continuity with Plato, and Plotinus’ doctrine of intellect and being is continuous with both Plato and Aristotle.

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2014-08-20
2017-12-17

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