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Plotin et l’ordonnancement de l’être, by Bernard Collette-Ducic

Reviewed by José Baracat

Plotinus’ thought is deeply marked by paradox, and the most striking one probably is that the cause of being must not itself be being nor have any of the determinations implied by being. It is a perennial paradox of Greek philosophy — how can the multiple proceed from the unity? — taken to the utmost consequences by Plotinus: the One is above determination and being, but it notwithstanding is the origin of all determination and being. At the other end, that is below the ordered being, there is the completely indeterminate matter that also lacks all determinations of being. Thus the syntax of being, i.e. its co-ordination, comes from indetermination and originates indetermination. This is the problem that permeates Collette-Ducic’s book.

The book comprises three large parts minutely subdivided into chapters, sections, and subsections, being remarkable for its organization, clarity, and sense of development.

The first part, L’indétermination comme condition de la détermination, the most brilliant in my opinion, reflects upon the causal role played by the indeterminate One in the constitution of the intelligible and of the sensible realms, which are determinate and ordered. The One generates Intellect and gives to it an immense creative power; but, returning to the One in order to be completed, it is not able to see the One as the absolute simplicity it is. There is a sort of creative failure at the origin of all determination: for, when Intellect tries to grasp the One, that is to make it an object of thought, it confers to the One the determination the principle does not possess. Being comes from such determination, and it may be said to be the One, not the One as it is in itself, but the One as seen by the limited visage of Intellect. The same happens to Soul when conferring determination to matter: it produces something wholly deprived of form — the absolute ugliness — and cannot stand looking at it. Then, in a second move, Soul informs matter and produces the bodies. Kosmos (determination, order), therefore, is born from Intellect and Soul being unable to think the indetermination of the One and of matter.

Read the original article at: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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