Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2005
Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society
Gary M. Gurtler, S.J.
Matter and Otherness, “On Matter” (II 4)
An examination of Plotinus’s treatise on matter, II 4, reveals interesting paradoxes. He seems to use Aristotle’s matter to explain Plato’s receptacle. Attention to the text reveals that both matter and the receptacle are, in fact, recast in terms of the otherness of Plato’s Sophist. By this, Plotinus articulates how matter and the receptacle function as the condition of possibility for the sensible cosmos. His analysis of related terms further supports this rapprochement: privation and substrate exclude quality and quantity as attributes of matter; and the indefinite, the unlimited, size and mass echo the paradoxical language of the Timaeus.