Dialectic – The Most Precious Part of Philosophy

According to Plotinus the dialectic aids the philosopher in raising their soul to the Intellectual Realm (the Divine or Noetic Mind). Let’s compare a passage (which partly defines the dialectic) from 4 different translations so as to locate in particular what they have in common.

“It stops wandering about the world of sense and settles down in the world of intellect, and there it occupies itself, casting off falsehood and feeding the soul in what Plato calls ‘the plain of truth,’ using his method of division to distinguish the Forms, and to determine the essential nature of each thing, and to find the primary kinds, and weaving together by the intellect all that issues from these primary kinds, till it has traversed the whole intelligible world; then it resolves again the structure of that world into its parts, and comes back to its starting-point; and then, keeping quiet (for it is quiet in so far as it is present There) it busies itself no more, but contemplates, having arrived at unity.” Ennead I.3.4

Plotinus, The Enneads, tr. A. H. Armstrong, including the Greek, in 7 volumes (Loeb Classical Library, Harvard-London: 1966-1968).

“It puts an end to error in sense knowledge by establishing itself in the intelligible realm. It concentrates its whole attention there, and after having left deception behind it allows the soul, as Plato says, to feed in the “meadows of truth.” It uses his method of division in order to distinguish ideas, to define each object, to separate the supreme kinds of being. It alternates between synthesis and analysis until it has gone through the entire domain of the intelligible and has arrived at the principle. Stopping there, for it is only there that it can stop, no longer busying itself with a multitude of objects since it has arrived at unity, it contemplates.” – Ennead I.3.4

Elmer O’Brien, S. J. (1964) tr., The Essential Plotinus: Representative Treatises From The Enneads (Hackett Publishing).

“All this accomplished, it gives up its touring of the realm of sense and settles down in the Intellectual Kosmos and there plies its own peculiar Act: it has abandoned all the realm of deceit and falsity, and pastures the Soul in the “Meadows of Truth”: it employs the Platonic division to the discernment of the Ideal-Forms, of the Authentic-Existence and of the First-Kinds [or Categories of Being]: it establishes, in the light of Intellection, the unity there is in all that issues from these Firsts, until it has traversed the entire Intellectual Realm: then, resolving the unity into the particulars once more, it returns to the point from which it starts. Now rests: instructed and satisfied as to the Being in that sphere, it is no longer busy about many things: it has arrived at Unity and it contemplates:” – Ennead I.3.4

THE SIX ENNEADS – By Plotinus – translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page – Christian Classics Ethereal Library

“Instead of wandering around the sense-world, it establishes itself in the intelligible world; it concentrates its whole attention on this world, and after having saved our soul from deceit, dialectics “pastures our soul in the meadow of truth,” (as thought Plato). Then it makes use of the Platonic method of division to discern ideas, to define each object, to rise to the several kinds of essences (as thought Plato); then, by thought concatenating all that is thence derived, dialectics continues its deductions until it has gone through the whole domain of the intelligible. Then, by reversing, dialectics returns to the very Principle from which first it had started out. Resting there, because it is only in the intelligible world that it can find rest, no longer needing to busy itself with a multitude of objects, because it has arrived at unity,” – Ennead I.3.4

Plotinos: Complete Works, Vol 1, 1918 – Trans by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie – (Comparative Literature Press).





About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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