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55 Posts

Posted - 01 Sep 2008 :  17:59:18  


I believe I can understand your rejection of this (I won't say "theory", but simple) truth, especially since all sort of mad persons and organisations, even churches, produced evil in order to do some good, as they claimed and even thought they did really. There appeared others with an unbelievable cynicism, like the one who said he was going to kill all the city, innocent included, because the divine justice knows who is innocent and who is not, and God will take His own with Him. But I believe we must not let these things damage our judgement.

The fact that lunatics have played God, doesn't mean that God Himself is not able to use (not produce) the evil we make and turn it to some good result. You don't need to theorize on that, you can just think of an example. Have you ever been sorry for something you did? Have you ever caused some pain? Then, was not your feeling sorry, your will to not do this again, your will to make some good instead of the pain that you caused - was not this regret of yours something good, that came out of evil, of the evil you yourself have caused?

If this pain that you caused made you a better person, then you have an example of the hospital 'theory' in action. You can think of many such cases, even if you yourself have not experienced one (if you are too young to had the chance of feeling guilt for anything). And there exist also many other ways you can see that this 'theory' is not abstract, on the contrary, it is true, and it is the only explanation of the existence of death and loss.

Another explanation is that God is a torturer, as some gnostics believed, that the creator of this world is different and inferior to the ultimate God. This explanation just reveals that we have understood nothing of where we are and where we go, and of course this is not the explanation Plato (or the Fathers) gave.

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1 Posts

Posted - 27 Feb 2012 :  08:45:38  



Writing here is a new member.

Several questions come to mind on the clearly central bundle of philosophical topics configured around the concept of logos. But before, one previous question: Would it be possible to regard www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plotinus/default.asp" target="_blank">Plotinus as a valid source, at least for non-greeks like myself, for trying to understand the most ancient Greek ways of thinking the Cosmos, including logos? Aside from having worked out as a kind of bridge between ancient Greek thought and some of the Fathers of the Christian Church, would it be legitimate to consider Plotinus relevant for an understanding of Plato, at least for those of us who have nothing better to hold on to, since most interpretations of Plato going around today seem quite excessively verbal and syllogistical, compared to what one seems to read in Plato's own writings, and actually in most Greek philosophy before Aristotle?

Regarding the concept of logos, I'm thinking of a passage in the fifth Ennead, to begin with. Where, toward the end of V 1, 6, Nous is said to be the Logos of the One and the Soul is said to be the Logos of Nous:

"Καὶ πάντα τὰ ὄντα, ἕως μένει, ἐκ τῆς αὐτῶν οὐσίας ἀναγκαίαν τὴν περὶ αὐτὰ πρὸς τὸ ἔξω αὐτῶν ἐκ τῆς παρούσης δυνάμεως δίδωσιν αὐτῶν ἐξηρτημένην ὑπόστασιν, εἰκόνα οὖσαν οἷον ἀρχετύπων ὧν ἐξέφυ· πῦρ μὲν τὴν παρ´ αὐτοῦ θερμότητα· καὶ χιὼν οὐκ εἴσω μόνον τὸ ψυχρὸν κατέχει· μάλιστα δὲ ὅσα εὐώδη μαρτυρεῖ τοῦτο· ἕως γάρ ἐστι, πρόεισί τι ἐξ αὐτῶν περὶ αὐτά, ὧν ἀπολαύει ὑποστάντων ὁ πλησίον. Καὶ πάντα δὲ ὅσα ἤδη τέλεια γεννᾷ· τὸ δὲ ἀεὶ τέλειον ἀεὶ καὶ ἀίδιον γεννᾷ· καὶ ἔλαττον δὲ ἑαυτοῦ γεννᾷ. Τί οὖν χρὴ περὶ τοῦ τελειοτάτου λέγειν; Μηδὲν ἀπ´ αὐτοῦ ἢ τὰ μέγιστα μετ´ αὐτόν. Μέγιστον δὲ μετ´ αὐτὸν νοῦς καὶ δεύτερον· καὶ γὰρ ὁρᾷ ὁ νοῦς ἐκεῖνον καὶ δεῖται αὐτοῦ μόνου· ἐκεῖνος δὲ τούτου οὐδέν· καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἀπὸ κρείττονος νοῦ νοῦν εἶναι, καὶ κρείττων ἁπάντων νοῦς, ὅτι τἆλλα μετ´ αὐτόν· οἷον καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ λόγος νοῦ καὶ ἐνέργειά τις, ὥσπερ αὐτὸς ἐκείνου. Ἀλλὰ ψυχῆς μὲν ἀμυδρὸς ὁ λόγος — ὡς γὰρ εἴδωλον νοῦ (...)"

In a context like where I live, where Christianity is a tradition and a social reality one can't possibly ignore or deny, this helps (at least it helps me) to see how John the evangelist may have said that the Logos was right there with God "ἐν ἀρχῇ". One might be inclined to regard "the logos of the One" (the Plotinian Nous) as consubstantial to the being of the One, which engenders its logos since it is, in McKenna's translation, "fully achieved", "eternally achieved".

This divine logos might then rightfully be regarded as an utterance of the One, but beyond verbal (and especially beyond human) logos, perhaps even slightly different from strictly causal logos. Looking at it this way makes it easier for me to try to understand Heraclitus' logos as it appears to us in the words rendered by Hippolytus of Rome before what we know as Heraclitus' fiftieth fragment:

"Ἡ. μὲν οὖν φησιν εἶναι τὸ πᾶν διαιρετὸν ἀδιαίρετον, γενητὸν ἀγένητον, θνητὸν ἀθάνατον, λόγον αἰῶνα, πατέρα υἱόν, θεὸν δίκαιον· «οὐκ ἐμοῦ, ἀλλὰ τοῦ λόγου ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογεῖν σοφόν ἐστιν ἓν πάντα εἶναι» ὁ Ἡ. φησι."

It is extremely hard for some of us to see how anything like reasoning and verbal language, which Plotinus (and Plato as he reads him) places clearly "down here" near matter and technical work, could be with God and one with God in principle, "ἐν ἀρχῇ". Unless one wants to believe, like some certainly respectable traditions apparently do, that human language and the categories of structured human thought actually create the Cosmos. This kind of view seems clearly expressed, for instance, in the Hebrew Zohar. I've heard some people passionately defend this also from a certain conservative Catholic viewpoint which relates a certain human order with a certain "natural" order: Such views, one might think, have been very influential in the Christian world, backed by the authority of Scholastic epistemology - and they might thus be inadvertently influential in contemporary global culture, in spite of the efforts of the Reformation, and along with modern scientific thought.

I would have many questions around these matters, especially for the native Greeks in the forum, and could provide many precise quotations to illustrate the questions, if anyone were interested in pursuing this thread.

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615 Posts

Posted - 28 Feb 2012 :  09:01:47  


Welcome to the forum Rafael, and thank you for this profound post.

If I understand you, Plotinus seems to you as offering a proper way of understanding Plato, because he is greatly influenced by Plato. However this does not make him an authority, nor anyone else of course. We must read Plato's own texts, and along with them read Plotinus or anyone else. Besides this, I think that we can not relate the fourth gospel with Plotinus, since Plotinus was not even born when the gospel was written.

Your remarks about the relation between human language and the creation of the world touch upon a great paradox, the paradox of the relation between non-material and shapeless God with creaturely matter and shapes. This is an open subject, we must think of by taking into account the Incarnation.

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