The Notion of That Which Depends On Us in Plotinus and Its Background

University dissertation from Uppsala : Filosofiska institutionen

Abstract: The study analyzes Plotinus’ notion of eph' hēmin, that which depends on us. It surveys previous Plotinian scholarship and identifies a number of confusions due to a lack of systematic treatment of this notion as such. The study analyzes the distinguishing features of the notions of eph' hēmin within the Aristotelian, the Stoic, and the Middle-Platonist traditions. The analysis is mainly carried out by examining whether an author has what in the study are called an inclusive or an exclusive notion of eph' hēmin, i.e. one which grants that even those of our activities with non-rational origins can be eph' hēmin, and one which demands that the origins be in some sense rational. Plotinus’ notion of eph' hēmin is then analyzed further, to include his detailed account in Ennead VI.8 as well as the occurrences of this notion outside VI.8. It is argued that Plotinus in several respects develops a notion of eph' hēmin that is more exclusive than in any prior author. Plotinus raises a number of problems inherent in previous definitions of the notion, and to solve them, develops a unified account of the notion in terms of the self-directedness of the virtuous soul, i.e. the fact that the virtuous soul is entirely directed towards its own perfection. This self-directedness guarantees, on the one hand, that the inner activity of the soul, that is, its reasonings, are dependent on the soul alone, by not being initiated nor directed towards anything external. On the other hand, this self-directedness guarantees that the external actions are dependent on the soul alone, in that they are not initated nor directed towards anything external. It is suggested that this account is modelled on Plotinus’ investigation of the notion in relation to Intellect and the One in VI.8.

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