Unitas Multiplex as the Basis of Plotinus' Conception of Beauty

Estetika 48 (2):172-198 (2011)

The essay first succinctly points out shortcomings in previous interpretations of Plotinus’ notion of beauty. Beauty is to be connected primarily with Intellect, which is to be understood as a special unity in diversity. The section of the essay devoted to aesthetics is therefore preceded by a short analysis of Intellect’s unity and diversity. The hypothesis about the primary relation of beauty to the Intellect is then corroborated by a reading of Ennead V.8 and further developed. The emphasis is on three basic aspects of beauty: its being a unity of a mixture whose character is shared by all ontological levels; its function of referring to what is above it; and its fundamental accessibility. Though Plotinus opposes the Stoic notion of beauty as symmetry and stresses beauty’s simplicity, it follows for him that beauty has the character of unitas multiplex, albeit a special one.
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