Parmenides Publishing

Titles by Andrew Smith


PLOTINUS Ennead V.8:
On Intelligible Beauty

Translation, with an Introduction, and Commentary


Series Edited by
John M. Dillon and Andrew Smith

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January 2018
173 pages • 5 x 7.5 • Paperback


AndrewSmithAndrew Smith
is Emeritus Professor at University College Dublin where he was Professor of Classics from 1992–2010. He had also lectured at the University of Liverpool and University College Galway after undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Hull and Bern. He is the author of numerous articles on Neoplatonism (some of which are reprinted in Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus: Philosophy and Religion in Neoplatonism, 2012) and edited the Teubner edition of the fragments of Porphyry. He has contributed Ennead I.6 to this series, of which he is the co-editor with John Dillon.

Photo: Alain Liebart

Plotinus’ Ennead V.8, originally part of a single work (with III.8, V.5, and II.9), provides the foundation for a positive view of the universe as an image of divine beauty against the Gnostic rejection of the world.

Although it emphasizes the cosmic dimension of beauty, it is, as are most treatises of Plotinus, concerned with the individual soul. The notion that the artist has within him an idea of beauty that derives directly from the intelligible world in fact coincides with his theory that each one of us has access to Intellect through his or her own intellect. It is the exploitation of this theme that forms the central dynamic of the treatise, with its stress on our ability to "see" and be one with the intelligible world and its beauty.

Plotinus was a Platonist, committed to expounding the doctrines put forward by Plato some seven centuries earlier. He was born and educated in Egypt, where he studied the teachings of Plato under the guidance of Ammonius Saccas. He came to Rome in 244 CE and built up a circle of followers devoted to studying Plato through Plato's own works and those of philosophers, both Platonist and non-Platonist, of the intervening centuries. From his fiftieth year Plotinus himself wrote down, in Greek, the findings of the seminars, and these writings were later edited by one of his pupils, Porphyry, and published in six groups of nine treatises entitled the Enneads (from the Greek word for nine – ennea).

Ennead V.8 is the second part of a long treatise divided into four sections, the other three parts being III.8, V.5, and II.9, the last two already available in this series. Smith’s translation of V.8 is lucid and the commentary learned. For the Plotinian initiate the intelligible world is clearly explained and set firmly in its philosophical background. As our guide on the path to and within Intellect Smith is sure-footed, with his immense learning marked on every page.

—Kieran McGroarty, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Ancient Classics, Maynooth University

Smith does a beautiful (pun-intended) job of introducing treatise V.8 On Intelligible Beauty, as well as on the fresh translation, and informative commentary and synopses. Anyone interested in the work of Plotinus, Plato, and even art or beauty, should definitely read this book; doing so will produce intellectual dividends.

—David J. Yount, Professor of Philosophy
Mesa Community College

As Andrew Smith in his brilliant and insightful new commentary on Enn. V.8 rightly points out, the treatise should not only be read as part of the anti-Gnostic Großschrift 30-33, but has a certain independence in developing an original idealist theory of beauty.

—Prof. Dr. Christoph Horn, Universität Bonn
Institut für Philosophie

Smith's excellent translation is accompanied by an insightful introduction and commentary that illuminates this treatise's important elucidation of the universal and cosmic dimension of beauty and its wide-ranging deployment of mythical imagery. Highly recommended for all students of Plotinus' theories of love, beauty, and the arts.

—John Bussanich, Professor of Philosophy
University of New Mexico