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Forms of Individuals in Plotinus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

John M. Rist
Affiliation:
University College, Toronto

Extract

When the theory of Forms was first developed by Plato, it was the final stage of a series of philosophical investigations which began with Socrates' search for definitions. The Form was regarded as a ‘one over many’ that is separate from particulars. It is by their participation in the perfect Form that the particulars derive their transitory existence. There is a Form, according to the Republic (596 a 5–7) corresponding to every set of things that have a common name. There are Forms of moral qualities, mathematical entities, and material objects. In the Parmenides Socrates admits that he is in doubt whether there are Forms of Man, Fire, and Water (130 c), but by the time of the Timaeus (51 b) Plato has no doubts about Forms of the four elements, and in the Philebus (15 a) he accepted a Form of Man also. This fact is well known to Aristotle, who speaks of Man as a typical Form at E.N. 1096b1. Finally, we may add that regress arguments, such as that about the Form of Largeness at Parmenides 132 ab, were generally referred to in antiquity as Third Man arguments—arguments, that is, which used the Form of Man as a paradigm for Forms in general.

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Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 1963

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References

page 223 note 1 For ancient evidence about the Third Man argument see Ross, W. D., Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics i (Oxford, 1924), 194–5.Google Scholar

page 223 note 2 Grube, G. M. A., Plato's Thought (London, 1935, and Boston, 1958), p. 148.Google Scholar

page 224 note 1 This is discussed later in the paper.

page 224 note 1 The phrase (5. 7. 2. 12) cannot simply mean ‘in alia terra’, as Henry, and Schwyzer, take it in their edition of the Enneads (ii [Paris, 1959], 372)Google Scholar. I follow Harder, Bréhier, Cilento, and Page in thinking that Plotinus is referring to ‘another part of the womb’.

page 227 note 1 Rich, A. N. M., ‘Reincarnation in Plotinus’, Mnemosyne, 4th ser., x (1957), 232–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 227 note 2 Comm. in Rempublicam 2. 309–10 (Kroll).Google Scholar

page 228 note 1 Cf. 3. 4. 5.

page 229 note 1 Comm. on Aristotle's Metaphysics, 1. 194.

page 229 note 2 In Met. 28 (Kroll).

page 230 note 1 For further information on the Stoic position, see Plut. dt Com. Not. 36 and Stob. Ecl. 1. 434.

page 230 note 2 Cf. Theaet. 176 b, Rep. 500 d, etc.

page 230 note 3 It is omitted at Enn. 1.2. 1.4, 1. 2. 3. 5–6, 1. 6. 6. 19–20, but is present at 2. 9. 9. 50–51.

page 231 note 1 Arnou, R., Le Désir de Dieu dans la philosophic de Plotin (Paris, 1921), p. 24Google Scholar

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