Inspirational Plotinus Quotes

Plotinus (c. 204/5 – 270) was a major Greek-speaking philosopher of the ancient world. This post features some inspirational Plotinus Quotes. In his philosophy there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul.

Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism and applied it to him and his philosophy which was influential in Late Antiquity. Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry’s preface to his edition of Plotinus’ Enneads. His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Christian, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.

Plotinus took up the study of philosophy at the age of twenty-seven, around the year 232, and travelled to Alexandria to study. There he was dissatisfied with every teacher he encountered until an acquaintance suggested he listen to the ideas of Ammonius Saccas. Upon hearing Ammonius lecture, he declared to his friend, “this was the man I was looking for,” and began to study intently under his new instructor. Besides Ammonius, Plotinus was also influenced by the works of Alexander of Aphrodisias, Numenius, and various Stoics.

While in Rome Plotinus also gained the respect of the Emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina. At one point Plotinus attempted to interest Gallienus in rebuilding an abandoned settlement in Campania, known as the ‘City of Philosophers’, where the inhabitants would live under the constitution set out in Plato’s Laws. An Imperial subsidy was never granted, for reasons unknown to Porphyry, who reports the incident.

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent “One”, containing no division, multiplicity or distinction; beyond all categories of being and non-being. His “One” “cannot be any existing thing”, nor is it merely the sum of all things , but “is prior to all existents”. Plotinus identified his “One” with the concept of ‘Good’ and the principle of ‘Beauty’.

Authentic human happiness for Plotinus consists of the true human identifying with that which is the best in the universe. Because happiness is beyond anything physical, Plotinus stresses the point that worldly fortune does not control true human happiness, and thus “… there exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing we hold to constitute happiness.”

Plotinus quotes
Plotinus quotes

Plotinus Quotes

“It is now time, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order; a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye, but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the soul, independent of all corporeal aid.”
― Plotinus

“Being is desirable because it is identical with Beauty, and Beauty is loved because it is Being. We ourselves possess Beauty when we are true to our own being; ugliness is in going over to another order; knowing ourselves, we are beautiful; in self-ignorance, we are ugly.”
― Plotinus

“We shall never be able to tell of virtue’s brightness, unless by looking inward we perceive the fair countenance of justice and temperance, and are convinced that neither the evening nor morning star are half so beautiful and bright.”
― Plotinus

“From the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.”
Plotinus

“The world is knowable, harmonious, and good.”
― Plotinus

“Those who believe that the world of being is governed by luck or chance and that it depends upon material causes are far removed from the divine and from the notion of the One.”
― Plotinus

“Beauty is established in multitude when the many is reduced into one, and in this case it communicates itself both to the parts and to the whole. But when a particular one, composed from similar parts, is received it gives itself to the whole, without departing from the sameness and integrity of its nature.”
― Plotinus

“I am striving to give back the Divine in myself to the Divine in the All.”
― Plotinus

“Withdraw into yourself and look.”
― Plotinus

“Pleasure and distress, fear and courage, desire and aversion, where have these affections and experiences their seat? Clearly, either in the Soul alone, or in the Soul as employing the body, or in some third entity deriving from both. And for this third entity, again, there are two possible modes: it might be either a blend or a distinct form due to the blending.”
― Plotinus

“Perhaps, the good and the beautiful are the same, and must be investigated by one and the same process; and in like manner the base and the evil.”
― Plotinus

“To make the existence and coherent structure of this Universe depend upon automatic activity and upon chance is against all good sense.”
― Plotinus

“All teems with symbol; the wise man is the man who in any one thing can read another.”
― Plotinus

“Self-knowledge reveals to the soul that its natural motion is not, if uninterrupted, in a straight line, but circular, as around some inner object, about a center, the point to which it owes its origin.”
Plotinus quotes

“It is in virtue of unity that beings are beings.”
― Plotinus

“We must enter deep into ourselves, and, leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense”.
― Plotinus

“Life is the flight of the alone to the alone.”
― Plotinus

Plotinus Quotes
Plotinus Quotes

“If you accurately distinguish the intelligible objects you will call the beautiful the receptacle of ideas; but the good itself, which is superior, the fountain and principle of the beautiful; or, you may place the first beautiful and the good in the same principle, independent of the beauty which there subsists”.
― Plotinus

“When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.”
Plotinus quotes

“The sensitive eye can never be able to survey, the orb of the sun, unless strongly endued with solar fire, and participating largely of the vivid ray.”
― Plotinus

“Wherever it lies, under earth or over earth, the body will always rot. ”
― Plotinus

“The stars are like letters that inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.”
― Plotinus

“The soul in its nature loves God and longs to be at one with Him in the noble love of a daughter for a noble father; but coming to human birth and lured by the courtships of this sphere, she takes up with another love, a mortal, leaves her father and falls.”
― Plotinus

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