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The debate between Christians and pagans I. Plotinus

For Plotinus, the highest ontological principles were immediately present to the core of the self,43 so that the self can attain to them - and hence attain to the fulfilment of his being - by a solitary turn inwards and upwards (ijovou •pos |jovov).44 One turns inwards to one's soul, and, since the highest point ofthe soul remains in the intellectual realm, one discovers at the metaphysical height of oneself the presence of the hypostasis of Intellect.45 Beyond this, one goes beyond oneself, laying aside all otherness - even the otherness of Intellect - and attains union with the supreme hypostasis of the One.46 Such ascent to union required no tertiary intermediaries,47 so supplication of gods and daemons - and hence pagan ritual in general - is unnecessary.

At the root of this position was Plotinus' view that the notions of 'distance' and 'remoteness' were spatial categories belonging to the ontological domain of bodies, and that these categories had no application to higher (supracorpo-real) levels of being.48 The uppermost Principles of Intellect and One, being beyond the domain of the bodily, were themselves everywhere present, and as such were neither ontologically remote nor distant from human beings.49 Rather, the human being, at his highest point, was united ontologically to the hypostasis of Intellect,50 and thereby to the One which was directly constitutive of such Intellect.51

II. Porphyry

This rejection of hierarchical remoteness was radicalised by Porphyry, who 'telescoped' the principal hypostases of One, Intellect and Soul - hypostases that Plotinus had insisted were distinct, although not separate52 - to the point of fusion. First the distinction between soul and intellect was denied outright.53 Second, the One was fused with Intellect by means of a triadic analysis of Intellect. The One was understood as pure existence (hyparxis, einai)54 whose energeia proceeded as life55 and which reverted back to the One as

43 Cf. Plotinus, Enn. vL4.14.17ff.

47 Cf.e.g. the accounts of ascent in Plotinus, Enn. v.i; vi.9.

49 E.g., ibid., vi.4.3 (for Intellect) and m.9.4 (for the One).

53 Cf. Iamblichus, ap. Stobaeus, Ecl. 365.16-1.

54 Porphyry, InParm. 12.23-7.

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