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In the early treatise Ennead V.9, Plotinus discusses whether the arts are there in the intelligible realm, and concludes that they are at least partly. The chapter’s first part discusses a number of questions that arise. What is exactly the principle of division for which arts or which parts of an art are in the intelligible realm? What is the status of the arts in the intelligible world? Are there Platonic Forms of the arts? In a later treatise, V.8., Plotinus argues that rather than imitating sensible objects, some artists concerned with producing beautiful sensible objects imitate the intelligible paradigm of beauty. Emilsson discusses this claim, which seems a clear deviation from the account of mimetic art in Plato’s Republic. In the latter half of the chapter, Emilsson addresses Plotinus’ demythologisation of Plato’s Timaeus. Plotinus replaces the Demiurge of the Timaeus with the universal intellect and the World-Soul, which do not deliberate. However, Plotinus does not reject entirely any craftsman model, for he appeals to performance arts, which do not involve deliberation, in explaining how natural processes flow from higher principles. Emilsson then discusses what sort of conception of the arts lies behind this view.
In Neoplatonism, kosmos is the first ideal entity that human beings can emulate in their search for god-likeness. Kosmos displays perfection, harmony and completeness, all regulative of ideal selfhood. The chapter discusses cosmic activity as a human telos. It aims to contextualise human action within this ideal and to show the limits as such an ideal. First, human bodies are not totalities like the body of the universe or kosmos, nor perfect like the bodies of stars. Second, since human encounters are between parts, not totalities, human action is essentially different from the perfect and self-sufficient activities of cosmic entities. It involves either affecting or being affected in an encounter with something external to oneself. At 22.214.171.124-6, Plotinus offers a brief but telling glimpse at the challenges of human moral life. By using the example of the Trojan War, he outlines different kinds of encounters between virtuous and vicious people. Through situating the Homeric example in the Platonic framework of affecting and being affected, the text yields an opening for a theory of practical action and morality. Action emerges as ontologically relational, cosmologically situational and morally interpersonal. This human predicament is the inescapable framework of ethics for embodied human beings.
This chapter summarizes section II of Immanuel Kant's dynamic conception of matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. It also summarizes Schelling's metaphysical construction of matter in the Ideas, which represents Schelling's initial thoughts on the concept of life. In the transcendental doctrine of method, Kant distinguishes philosophical cognition, which is rational cognition from concepts, from mathematical cognition, which follows from the construction of concepts. According to Kant, the Cartesian mathematical-mechanical mode of explanation seeks to explain all the properties and actions of matter by its purely geometrical properties. If Schelling's solution in the First Outline subdued his much stronger dogmatic claims in the Ideas and the World-Soul, it brought forth a new problem, namely, the conception of science as a body of knowledge not grounded on self-evident and absolutely necessary principles.
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