Stephen R. L. Clark
University of Liverpool
For the last few years, thanks to the Leverhulme Trust, I've been largely absent from my department, working on the late antique philosopher Plotinus. To speak personally – it's been a difficult few years, since my youngest daughter has been afflicted with anorexia during this period, and my own bowel cancer was discovered, serendipitously, and removed, at the end of 2005. Since then I've had ample occasion to consider the importance – and the difficulty – of the practice of detachment, and also to worry about the moral some have drawn from Plotinian and similar philosophies, namely that the things of this world really do not matter much, and that we should withdraw ourselves from them. Maybe it is true, as Plotinus says, that ‘some troubles are profitable to the sufferers themselves, poverty and sickness for example’. But this is not an altogether helpful message for those afflicted by the bundle of disorders that lead to anorexia. It's difficult not to suspect, for example, that Simone Weil would have lived longer but for her Neo-Platonism. It has also been made obvious to me that we are much less in control of our own mental and emotional states even than I had thought before. None of this, of course, should have been any surprise: I have frequently pointed out – to myself and others – the importance of distinguishing between one's self and the states one finds oneself in, and the extreme difficulty of controlling the thoughts we say are ours. Any delusion that my knowledge of these facts is of itself enough to render me immune to them has been – at least for the moment – thoroughly debunked – though the facts themselves are such that this disillusionment, so to call it, is probably both temporary and almost entirely insincere!
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S1358246109990117
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,401
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff & Mark Johnson - 1980 - University of Chicago Press.
Metaphors We Live By.Max Black - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40 (2):208-210.
Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism.P. O. K. & Gershom G. Scholem - 1943 - Journal of Philosophy 40 (17):474.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Patrides, Plotinus and the Cambridge Platonists.Stephen R. L. Clark - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (5):858-877.
Plotinus: Myth, Metaphor, and Philosophical Practice by Stephen R. L. Clark.Sarah Klitenic Wear - 2017 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 110 (2):282-283.
Plotinus, Self and the World `.Raoul Mortley - 2013 - Cambridge University Press.
Plotinus on Intellect – Eyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson.Stephen Clark - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (235):357-359.
Plotinus: The Enneads by Plotinus Ed. Stephen MacKenna. [REVIEW]Jonathan Lee - 1994 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 87:255-256.
Moments of Truth: The Marginal and the Real.Stephen R. L. Clark - 2012 - The European Legacy 17 (6):769-778.
How to Become Unconscious: Stephen R. L. Clark.Stephen R. L. Clark - 2010 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 67:21-44.


Added to PP index

Total views
41 ( #259,898 of 2,445,454 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,182 of 2,445,454 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes