Plotinus and grace
#1
I am exploring Plotinus and am particularly interested in his understanding of grace. So far it seems like his idea of God, as remote, does not allow for a Christian interpretation but the whole idea of emanation and the possibility of return are in themselves aspects of Divine grace.

NB I am not saying that Plotinus is Catholic in any way, and his ideas about the human Higher Self are quite dangerous, namely that we all contain a perfect soul that has only to be aware of itself for union with the Absolute to be possible.

I want to find a way where Plotinian theology can be resolved to Catholic belief. Not artificially, where it is not possible then I would admit Plotinus' failings. But his ideas about grace interest me and I wonder if any Fisheaters know much about him and could share some information.
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#2
I've only read a little of his works, and that was in college. Is there a specific passage you could post so that we could discuss it?
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#3
I did not have particular quotes in mind, more the total system. Plotinus talks about God's presence pretty much throughout.
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#4
St. Augustine subscribed to Plotinus for a long time as did Pseudo-Dionysius.  Neo-Platonism as described by Plotinus, however, has inherent incompatibilities with the Catholic Faith.

I think one of the bigger problems is Catholicism treats grace as an act of Will on the part of God and Plotinus would not see things at that level as making a willful emanation.
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#5
So, to Plotinus grace occurs because it is part of God's nature to emanate grace, rather than His conscious choice to do so? How does this impact on individuals accepting that grace, would Plotinus say we are moved by Divine grace, or that it is an act of will on our part to become aware of it?

Another issue I would like some help with is - since Plotinus posits that the Higher Soul, that which is directly aware of the Nous, is perfect and indeed a part of the One, does it correspond to Catholic ideas of the soul? Only within Christianity, it was the soul itself (and therefore the relationship with the One) which Christ came to restore? In Plotinus, there was no need for restoration and therefore no need for salvation.

I hope it's ok if I think aloud like this, my ideas are a bit scattered and it's difficult to get my lecturer to talk about any of this except as Eastern mysticism - he is convinced Plotinus is entirely indebted to oriental philosophy and tends to ignore other ideas.
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#6
(05-12-2010, 04:56 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: Platonism as described by Plotinus, however, has inherent incompatibilities with the Catholic Faith.

I agree, but I think these have been overstated in the past.

(05-12-2010, 04:56 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: I think one of the bigger problems is Catholicism treats grace as an act of Will on the part of God and Plotinus would not see things at that level as making a willful emanation.

People are quick to contrast the Neoplatonic language of necessity with the Christian language of freedom. This is perfectly understandable. The two views can be reconciled though.

God is extrinsically free in all that he does. That is to say, God is not subject to forces from without. God is nevertheless intrinsically required to act according to His nature. In God, will and necessity coincide. God necessarily wills what is best, for this is according to His nature.

The whole thing is a matter of emphasis in my opinion.

(05-12-2010, 05:43 PM)loggats Wrote: In Plotinus, there was no need for restoration and therefore no need for salvation.

That's right.
It's worth noting that the later Neoplatonists rejected Plotinus' doctrine of the "undescended soul".

(05-12-2010, 05:43 PM)loggats Wrote: How does this impact on individuals accepting that grace, would Plotinus say we are moved by Divine grace, or that it is an act of will on our part to become aware of it?

I'm not sure there's a Plotinian equivalent to divine grace.

(05-12-2010, 05:43 PM)loggats Wrote: I hope it's ok if I think aloud like this, my ideas are a bit scattered and it's difficult to get my lecturer to talk about any of this except as Eastern mysticism - he is convinced Plotinus is entirely indebted to oriental philosophy and tends to ignore other ideas.

That's unfortunate.
The church fathers took the Neoplatonists very seriously, and I think we should too.
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