BMCR 2015.06.02 Han on Emilsson, Strange, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4 and VI.5

Eyjólfur K. Emilsson, Steven K. Strange, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4 and VI.5: On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole. The Enneads of Plotinus with philosophical commentaries. Las Vegas; Zurich; Athens: Parmenides Publishing, 2015. Pp. 295. ISBN 9781930972346. $37.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Sui Han, Beijing (suihanhoudiao)

This new English translation of, and commentary on, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4-5, the joint achievement of the Plotinian scholars Eyjólfur K. Emilsson and Steven K. Strange, combines philological rigor with philosophical insight. An introduction and a synopsis help the readers on their way. As the title, On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole, indicates, Plotinus here explores the question of how intelligible being remains the same and whole, and the participation of the dispersed bodies in it does not render it divided. His ingenious solution to this problem, raised in Parmenides 131b-c, is that the participation of the sensible in the intelligible does not amount to the spatio- temporal presence of the intelligible in the sensible realm. In fact, the intelligible realm, where all individuals together form one unity, is always present to itself as a whole at its own level; the sensible, when it approaches this eternal presence, gives the impression of fragmentation only because it cannot receive all of the intelligible. Despite the clear formulation of this main thesis, some side issues in these two treatises are less lucid and cause more difficulties to their interpreters. In their introduction and commentary, Emilsson and Strange outline these controversial problems too, such as the doctrine of sense-perception in VI.4.6 (pp. 30, 151), the question of who we are in VI.4.14 and 16 (pp. 30, 195-200, 208) and the topic of the soul-trace in VI.4.15 (pp. 150-1).

​More: BMCR 2015.06.02 ( on the BMCR blog​

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