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Plato's moral realism rests on the Idea of the Good, the unhypothetical first principle of all. It is this, as Plato says, that makes just things useful and beneficial. That Plato makes the first principle of all the Idea of the Good sets his approach apart from that of virtually every other philosopher. This fact has been occluded by later Christian Platonists who tried to identify the Good with the God of scripture. But for Plato, theology, though important, is subordinate to metaphysics. For this reason, ethics is independent of theology and attached to metaphysics. This book challenges many contemporary accounts of Plato's ethics that start with the so-called Socratic paradoxes and attempt to construct a psychology of action or moral psychology that makes these paradoxes defensible. Rather, Lloyd Gerson argues that Plato at least never thought that moral realism was defensible outside of a metaphysical framework.
The present volume is the ‘successor’ to The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (1996). Over the last twenty-five years, there has been an enormous increase in published work on Plotinus and on late ancient Platonism generally. In addition, many scholars who had not even begun their careers twenty-five years ago are now working intensely in this area. This fact is reflected in the list of authors of this volume, none of whom appeared in the previous work and most of whom had not yet even begun their careers when the original Companion appeared.1
Plotinus stands at a crossroads in ancient philosophy, between the more than 600 years of philosophy that came before him and the new Platonic tradition. He was the first and perhaps the greatest systematizer of Plato's thought, and all later students of Plato in the following centuries approached Plato through him. This Companion from a new generation of ancient philosophy scholars reflects the current state of research on Plotinus, with chapters on topics including mathematics, fate and determinism, happiness, the theory of forms, categories of reality, matter and evil, and Plotinus' legacy. The volume offers an accessible overview of the thought of one of the pivotal figures in the history of philosophy, and reveals his importance as a thinker whose impact goes far beyond his importance as an interpreter of Plato.
Nature for Plotinus is near the limit of intelligibility in the hierarchical universe. It is the lowest part of the soul of the cosmos. Hence, all problems in cosmology and biology, prior to their solution, need to be situated within the framework of the ultimate metaphysical explanatory principles of the One, Intellect and Soul. This chapter explores the sense in which Plotinus is and is not receptive of panpsychism, the contemporary philosophical view according to which mentality or consciousness is ubiquitous in the world. Plotinus argues for the idea that nature contemplates which seems, perhaps surprisingly, compatible with the radically anti-Platonic naturalism of panpsychists.