Alison Scott-Baumann
School of Oriental and African Studies
Plotinus developed a metaphorical approach to language that allowed him to offer a transcendent vision of God, a paradox that made clear how ineffably and incontrovertibly unclear God is – as is our relationship with Him. Ricoeur bridged the centuries by working intensively upon Plotinus in the 1950s-70s. He was seeking a philosophy of negation to help him understand the ways in which modern humans define themselves by lack, loss and longing and asked himself: ‘what is not-ness?’ Eventually Ricoeur abandoned his search for a philosophy of negation that would explain the negative turn in modern life, and developed a model of language and of dialectic within which the negative was embedded. By fully integrating negation into various language forms he was implementing the conviction that we have to accept that the negative is an integral part of each of us: blame cannot be attributed to others. Through his negation project Ricoeur applied existential thinking to negative theology and gave its structural strangeness a new application. Using Plotinus he ensured that opposing existential concerns can in fact be brought into discussion, when we accept the impossibility of the unity for which we long. I propose that he even created a strange kind of analogue between negative theologies and existentialist problems, adapting the powerful provisionality of Plotinus’ dialectical and metaphorical devices, to help him address modern crises. Laclau believed that these crises can be solved, and Butler and Lorey concur, all three arguing for close attention to language, rhetoric and the people’s potential. In this context we can instructively apply Ricoeur’s adaptation of Plotinus to consider the emerging patterns around the Mediterranean, which we wish to negate and really must act upon: a mounting refugee crisis, the instability created by wars and an increasingly insecure workforce. The first step for a nation to take is to be able to talk about such matters and research on university campuses suggest that this is being inhibited by government regulatory practices. Attempts to reverse this trend render the extraordinary worlds of Plotinus and Ricoeur immensely useful. Using Plotinus he ensured that opposing existential concerns can in fact be brought into discussion, when we accept the impossibility of the unity for which we long. If we contrast this with the non-dialogic, argumentative and polarised discourse of populist political parties across Europe and round Plotinus’ Mediterranean, we can see how potent it could be to re-introduce Ricoeur’s response to Plotinus into modern discourse.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
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: 59,068
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On Populist Reason.Ernesto Laclau - 2006 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (4):832-835.
The Conflict of Interpretations.Hans-Georg Gadamer & Paul Ricoeur - 1982 - In Ronald Bruzina & Bruce Wilshire (eds.), Phenomenology: Dialogues and Bridges. State University of New York Press. pp. 299--321.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Proclus and Plotinus on Self-Constitution in the One.Jonathan Greig - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Edinburgh
Plotinus. [REVIEW]Eric D. Perl - 1996 - Review of Metaphysics 50 (2):399-399.
Plotinus.Emilsson K. Eyjólfur - 2005 - Routledge.
The Relation of the Forms to the Intellect in Plotinus.Kenneth Brent Wolfe - 2000 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
Plotinus on Dialectic.Annamaria Schiaparelli - 2009 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91 (3):253-287.
What is the Matter with Matter, According to Plotinus?A. A. Long - 2016 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 78:37-54.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #1,080,573 of 2,427,832 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #515,500 of 2,427,832 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes