"By 'constructive' I mean that these images and metaphors were intended to be spiritual or imaginative exercises, which could be expected to have a transformative effect on those willing to follow them through: 'dynamic' into Waze at least, in that they develop as one contemplates them, and that their enjoyment changes one's underlying mind-set." ix

"by changing the 'metaphors we live by', we can begin to change the way we live." x

"Scholarly exegesis simple of 'the text' cannot be all we do, for at least five reasons. First of all, it is obvious that all philosophers have more beliefs than they write down, beliefs which may influence their arguments." xii-xiii

"Second, none of these philosophers considered themselves to be wholly original: they were writing and arguing within an ancient oral tradition." xiii

"Third, the 'living voice' was to be preferred to any written text, as it was only--or at least principally--from such a voice, such a living presence, that we could hope to pick up the things that cannot be said but only shown. This was a notion shared by both pagan and Christian writers: Pappias recorded that he 'did not imagine that things out of books would help me as much as the utterances of a living and abiding voice.' This does not, of course, preclude the use of texts and textual commentaries: Plotinus's seminars took their start from these. But even now the discipline of philosophy--like carpentry or surgery--is learned in a long apprenticeship to some master, and not just from books.'" xiv

"A fourth reason to go beyond the text must apply even to the most literary of traditions, the least reliant on oral transmission and on unvoiced assumptions. We cannot ever understand 'the text' at all without making our own assumptions about what it might reasonably say: . . . We understand any such text when we can make plausible additions to it, or at least have some guesses as to how the author might respond to an objection. And this leads to the fifth reason why mere exegesis cannot be enough. Darwinian theory--to take a more modern and more familiar case--is not just what Darwin said" xiv-xv

"So also with the Enneads: we shall not understand them till we can make a worthwhile guess about what is not said, and develop them in ways Plotinus did not, quite possibly, intend. . . . On one account, a reading of the Enneads in this light will be like developing Darwinian theory; on another, like sketching the backstory or future life of [Sherlock] Holmes. If we do neither, why bother with the Enneads at all? Even discussing them as part of our intellectual history requires that we see them through the eyes of their interpreters and devotees: that is, we have to see how they were and might be developed. But if we do both, as Plotinus himself did when speaking even of his own favorite philosopher (Plato), we may better understand how we cannot know the world and ourselves except by changing them." xvi


"...the World Wide Web, which serves--in addition to its practical advantages-- as a working image, eikon aei eikonizomene ("an image always reimagining itself"; after II.3.[52].18, 17), of the Plotinian Intellect." xxi

Part I: Prolegomena

Chapter 1: Why Read Plotinus?

"Consider also the advice of Zosimus of Panopolis, the alchemist:

"'Do not roam about searching for God; but sit calmly at home, and God, who is everywhere, and not confined in the smallest place like the daemons, will come to you. And being calm in body, also calm your passions, desire and pleasure and anger and grief and the twelve portions of death. In this way, taking control of yourself, you will summon the divine to come to you, and truly it will come, that which is everywhere and nowhere.'" 7

Chapter 2: How to Read Plotinus

"'know everything one can possibly know about a text, except what it says': which is to say, what it means for their own lives and for others." 18

"As Armstrong has written, 'philosophical discussion and reflection are not simply means for solving intellectual problems (though there are and must be that). They are also charms for the deliverance of the soul.' But not all Plotinus's charms are simply argumentative: some require us instead to use our imagination. As Chittick also urges us:

"'If the heart is to perceive the Word of God resounding in itself, and if it is to intensify it's own spiritual instinct, it must open what Ibn 'Arabi calls its "two eyes"--the eye of reason and the eye of imagination, or discursive thought and mystic vision.'" 19

Chapter 3: Theories About Metaphor

"...Siegelmann: 'much of psychotherapy consists in identifying previously unconscious metaphors and discovering how we unwittingly live by them.'" 30

"Readers--including, of course, myself--ceaselessly intrude their own metaphor, their own readings of metaphors, into the text and cannot easily be checked by the author's inattention or aggrieved complaint (since the author of our text is long departed). The best we can manage is simply to try to attend to what is said and try to explore his metaphoric landscape (as Plotinus also explored Plato's). Maybe patience will, occasionally, be rewarded, as Julian insisted:

"'The more paradoxical the riddle is the more it seems to warn us not to believe simply the bare words but rather to study diligently the hidden truth, and not to relax our efforts until under the guidance of the gods those hidden things become plain, and so initiate or rather perfect our intelligence, I mean that small particle of the One and the Good which controls the whole indivisible.'" 30

Chapter 4: Dialectic

"Dialectic involves correct identifications and differentiations, evaluations and discriminations (and we get better at it by practice)." 31-32

"The study of logic or of the physical world, even the application of virtues and principles to practical dilemmas, are all inferior parts or aspects of philosophy: the real point is to 'see' the truth, handing 'petty precisions of speech' over to another discipline (I.3 [20].4 11-8)." 32

"Dialectic is, in essence, the uncovering of error (and so gradually reveals the truth by elimination)." 33-34

"We lose our grip on intellligible reality when we want to be independent and have all things our way. In place of things as they are, we see and feel them only as they are for us, in the light of our fears, desires, and stereotypical misjudgements." 36

"Instead of assessing or measuring what happens by reference only to our own state and feeling . . . we should seek for some universal measure, without privileging any particular place or scale or moment." 38-39

"Human beings, if they are to be reckoned something other than 'animals,' must have an eye to the whole truth, the cosmos as a living reality, rather than the simple local worlds, the Umwelten, of all other creatures. The World, our predecessors thought, was primarily for human beings and gods--because only humans and gods are ever acquainted with the World as such. 'Animals know only one world, the one which they perceive by experience, internal as well as external. Men alone have the faculty of conceiving the ideal, of adding something to the real.'" 40

"Hermes Trismegistus made an even larger claim that Plotinus:

"'You must think of god in this way, as having everything--the cosmos, himself, universe--like thoughts within himself. Thus, unless you make yourself equal to god, you cannot understand god; like is understood by like. Make yourself grow to immeasurable immensity, outleap all body, outstrip all time, become eternity and you will understand god. Having understood that nothing is impossible to you, consider yourself immortal and able to understand everything, all art, all learning, the temper of every living thing.'

"The more plausible moral would be that the attempt will reveal exactly why we do not have the mind of God, rather than being a recipe for attainit it and its associated virtues." 41

"'If we repose our trust in our own reasonings, we shall construct and build up the city of Mind that corrupts the truth.'" 42

Chapter 5: Naked and Alone

"Knowledge comes in the discovery that we can be mistaken--as we never could be if our thoughts were all there were." 50