In What Sense Does the One Exist? Existence and Hypostasis in Plotinus

In John F. Finamore & Danielle A. Layne (eds.), Platonic Pathways: Selected Papers from the Fourteenth Annual Conference of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies. Gloucester, UK: pp. 77-92 (2018)
Authors
Michael Wiitala
Cleveland State University
Paul DiRado
University of Kentucky
Abstract
In their chapter, “In What Sense Does the One Exist? Existence and Hypostasis in Plotinus,” Paul DiRado and Michael Wiitala consider the problem of the One’s existence. Starting with the modern philosophical distinction between the “is” of predication and the “is” of existence, they show that Plotinus does not make such a distinction. The reason for this, they argue, is that Plotinus does not share with modern philosophers a univocal notion of existence. For Plotinus, both the verb “einai” and the word “hypostasis” have variable meanings. Thus Plotinus can, in some contexts, say that “the One is” without being committed to the view that the One is or exists in the same way that other entities lower in the metaphysical hierarchy (Forms, say) exist. To say that “the One is” is to say that the One is the basis for the being of other entities; the Forms, on the other hand, truly “are,” in that they are the subjects of necessary and unchanging real predication.
Keywords Plotinus  Existence  Hypostasis  Einai  Metaphysics  The One
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