Volume 2, Issue 4, 2018
Ancient Greek Philosophy: Neo-Platonic Philosophy
Personalization of Ethics in the First Ennead of Plotinus
Plotinus’ ethics is based on our inner manner of looking towards the beauty of the good soul. Civic virtues must have an existential basis which is provided through a dialectical education. The greatest happiness is achieved in a transparent and rational life. The activity of thought is concealed, and can only be seen through the psychic acts of apprehension and reflection. Plotinus’ moral ideal is a virtuous person that receives the good from the transcendent good. If we neglected the meaning of meditation for an active life, we would destroy “the existence of happiness”. Evils are produced in the soul when it is looking towards becoming which has the matter as its principle. Plotinus pays close attention to the manner in which “we” perceive. The psychic capacity of sensation is based on the capacity to understand (ἀντιληπτικὴν) impressions in the soul, which are already objects of the intellect. In this way, Plotinus introduces the notion of the personal self, or “I” and the notion of the subjectivity. His ethics estimates each individual according to his own worth, at the same time taking into account the cosmic dimension of human existence.