Anda di halaman 1dari 15

Some Logical Aspects of the Concept of "Hypostasis" in Plotinus

Author(s): John P. Anton


Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Dec., 1977), pp. 258-271
Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20127050 .
Accessed: 07/03/2014 16:46
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Philosophy Education Society Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The
Review of Metaphysics.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

SOME LOGICALASPECTS OF THE CONCEPT OF


HYPOSTASIS INPLOTINUS
JOHN P. ANTON

tion

to the

number

on the

studies

Xvecent

philosophy

of Plotinus

problems
interpreters
or what
of hypostases,1
the term
complex

have

drawn

atten

face when
means

the
discussing
case
in the
of the

One, the Nous, and the Soul. The full exploration of these broad
topics, especially in the light of Plotinus' theory of "production"
and his critique of the alternative views other Neoplatonists
held,
falls

outside

question
is given

the

"What
in the

answer
to the
Since Plotinus'
scope of this paper.
as a hypostasisl"
X satisfy
criteria must
to qualify
as a
and as such may
relevant
be treated
texts,2

1
The general
view is that there are three hypostases:
One, Nous,
and Soul.
A. H. Armstrong,
in his "Introduction"
to the Loeb edition
of Plotinus' Enneads
Mass.: Harvard University
(London and Cambridge,
that nature
is a fourth distinct
1966-) Vol.
Press,
I, p. xxii,
suggests
"is
Plotinus
to
reluctant
In his earlier work,
it."
admit
hypostasis,
although
The Architecture
World
in the Philosophy
of the Intelligible
of Plotinus
(Cambridge:
Press,
1940), p. 102, Armstrong
Cambridge
pro
University
five Plotinian
and Nature;
he
posed
One, Nous,
Soul, Logos,
hypostases:
states
that "The Logos
even more
is a fourth hypostasis
than
clearly
whose own structure
is complex."
John
moreover,
nature, and a hypostasis,
M. Rist,
in his Plotinus:
to Reality
The Road
Uni
(Cambridge: Cambridge
in chapter 7, argues against Armstrong
and
1967), especially
versity Press,
takes the view that there can be only three hypostases;
so also John N.
and the One: A Study
in the Philosophy
Deck, Nature,
Contemplation
of
Plotinus
of Toronto
(Toronto: University
Press,
1967), p. 56, but seems
rather uncertain
about excluding
to
nature,
p. 66. R. T. Wallis
appeals
to indicate that in Plotinus'
Enneads
view "Logos is not a
II.9.1.57-63,
but expresses
the relation
of an Hypostasis
to its
separate
Hypostasis
or both, cf. III.2.2.15
its products,
ff." (Neoplatonism
source,
(New York:
own testimony
Charles
Scribner's
that
Sons, 1972), p. 68.) For Plotinus'
are (i) three, see V. 1. [10] 1; and (ii) only three,
the Primal Hypostases
II. 9. [33], 1-2: One, Nous and Soul.
2
in the Enneads
There are key passages
which
refer to the basic
features o? hypostasis,
and we may single out four: (i) as power a hypostasis
is infinite and non-spatial
re
(VI.3.8.
(ii) hypostasis
35ff; VI.9.6.
10-12);
mains
unaffected
it produces,
and as such it is "undiminished
by what
of substance
and 10. 1-19);
(III.8.8 46-48
giving,"
suffering no diminution
creates without
will or movement
(iii) a hypostasis
inclination,
(V.1.6.

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

259

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS
assumes
paper
present
familiarity
in order
in some detail
to consider

of the One

aspects
Plotinus

hypostasis.
that it is impossible
we
when
speak

believes

are

ments

qua

forthcoming

the

with

the

issue,
separate
lated doctrines

certain

re

logical

that

state
contradictory
about
the One.
correctly

Though the One is beyond ousia (kirkKeiva r^? o?cria?) and thus
beyond predication, it is still the case that he makes it the object of
discourse.

The

thesis

that

speak of Being or that which


In the

Aristotle.

realm

and epist?m?,
possible,
tradictions.
This
thesis
Given
and

according
must
learn

dialectic

only

we

to Plotinus

we

to speak

"correctly"

is free

it pertains

of con

ontology.
about the One

when

to

referring

his own discourse on the One

is tainted
with
qua hypostasis
seemingly
ments.
Thus what
is needed
is to examine
the
as

are

statements

can discourse

even

on hypostasis

true

statements,
to all classical

the One, the issue is to decide whether

statements

when

possible

of true

is fundamental

how

not

truly is, is common to both Plato and

of higher
as a system

that

that we

are

contradictions

state
contradictory
status
of
certain
logical

to the One.

The

issue

has

been raised by John N. Deck in his book on Plotinus.3


Though
he has ably defended Plotinus against the charge of contradiction,
the

solution

he offers

to be or have
that

ever,
evidence

his
does

hypostasis
solution
not

casts

a doubt

in the

on whether

fullest

is misleading
it.
support

sense.

the One
It will

and unwarranted.

can be

said

be shown,
how
The textual

II

Deck writes:
The One or Good, was demonstrated
by the need of Nous for a prin
is other than the Good; the caused
The Nous
is
ciple and a good.
a
other
than the cause.
The One is thus a distinct
hypostasis,
distinct "nature."4

has no knowledge
of its products;
(iv) a hypostasis
25-27; V.3.12.
20-29;
the One qua hypostasis
transcends
(VI.7.39.
19-33);
knowledge
altogether
know only the causal principles
yet the lower hypostases
they contain
within
themselves
Neo
See also Wallis,
(IV.4.9.
26-27).
16-18; V.8.3.
62-63.
pp.
platonism,
3
and the One, pp. 9-11.
Nature,
Contemplation
4Deck,
a somewhat
follows
different
formulation
Ibid, p. 9. John Rist
from Deck, who appeals to demonstration
from causality.
His understand
is stated as follows: "The One does
ing that the One is the first hypostasis
not concern itself.
But the result of willing
itself is its production
of the

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

JOHN P. ANTON

260
In a
hypostasis
This
One."

on

(#5)
long footnote
"is not for Plotinus
be

may

so, but

same

the

Deck

page,
a common

himself
it matters

little

notes

that
of the

designation
common
the

how

desig

is or how frequently
the term occurs in the text.
The
important thing is that Plotinus uses it in significant ways and that

nation
he

expressions

Nous

and Soul.

the One

the

employs
to discuss

frequently

qua

verbal

form

and

vipiararai
of
aspects

fundamental

the

its derivative
as well

One

The discussion which follows is restricted

as

solely to

hypostasis.

Deck admits that he has been able "to find only one place where
he

calls

[Plotinus]

and

cites

Enn.

the One

where

VI.8.15.30,
and then

npcuTT)

occurs,

related

passages:
(i) VI.6.3.11:

(iii) VI.8.7.47:

proceeds

the One

(ii) VI.8.13.43-44:

in so many

as

words

expression
a list
to give

"having

quasi-hypostasis"

first

the

hypostasis',"
vit?o-tolo-ls

of

the

de

following

hypostasis."

"the hypostasis

"its

'the

of the Good."
(olov

vTrocrraoris

avrov).

What Deck says in the rest of this important footnote is worth quot
ing in full.
in sys
It would seem that the designation
of the One as an hypostasis
on
of
is
based
tematic accounts of Plotinus'
the
title
VI, 1.
philosophy
which treatise
is an elementary
outline of the doctrine of the One, the
Which Are Prin
and the Soul: "About the Three Hypostases
Nous
tc?v
This
virocrr?crei?v)."
title, however,
rpi?v
(irepl
?pxt>K?)v
ciples
own (Porphyry,
like all the titles of Plotinus'
is not Plotinus'
treatises,
In speaking
ch. 4, lines 16-18).
of the One, the Nous and the Soul
in this treatise,
Plotinus
calls them "these three" (V.l. 10.5) or "the
three natures"
(V. 1.8.27).
Several
1. The
has

critical
passage

no direct

bearing

kv TJ)

(pvorei rpurr?
Kai nap9 i)plv ravra

a collective
Soul,

V.

and

reservations

are

in order:

1.10.5. regarding
"these three,"
the expression
on Deck's
8e
text
The
reads:
ilarrep
point.
ovr
r? eipiq/xeva,
ravr?
kan
\PV
vopil^iv
in
elvat.
The expression
is used
"these
three"

sense and refers in the text to (i) the One beyond being,

67reK Lva rod


of the

observations

bvros

ev

. . . , (ii)
Nous,

vov?

. . . , (iii) the

nature

TTj? ifruxws <pvaL<;.

for it wills
second hypostasis,
itself to be such as to produce
it. Creation
no more
and no less, than the One itself.
is as free,
As for pantheism
it is irrelevant."
See his Plotinus,
the argu
p. 83. While Deck emphasizes
cause to establish
ment from
the One as hypostasis,
Rist
stresses
the
of
the
nature
of
the
One
itself."
qua
analysis
ontological
"willing

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS
2. The

on

ment

"the

expression
with reference

is made

these

three

to Plato's

three

261
rat?

natures,"
Parmenides

in order
we

natures.

rat?

(pvaeat

rpia?v,

to show

must

not

take

agree
it for

Therefore,
as used here,
is part of Plotinus'
stock ter
'natures,'
nor
we
are
to
allowed
infer
that
is
"nature"
used
minology,
synony
with
there is no reason
to insist
mously
"hypostasis."
Furthermore,
that what
serve as evidence
the passage
for or against
the
says may
that

granted

thesis that the One is a hypostasis.

Just the same, Deck holds that

can mean

"nature

hypostasis."5
this passage
the question
whether
supports
beyond
an interpretation
us
to
count
which
the
One
"the
three
among
permits
to dismiss
Thus
he proceeds
accounts
of
hypostases."
"systematic
even
favor
this
and
has
reservations
view
Plotinus'
that
philosophy"
3. Deck

about

goes

to words

appealing

in Porphyry's

used

titles.

Deck

However,

offers no decisive argument to show that Porphyry had taken liberties


when

the master's

editing

Deck

admits

(VI.8.15.30)

where

first

to concede,

enough

primary
no less

hypostases;
than that

the grounds

"calls

Plotinus

for his

able to find only one place

the

he does

However,

hypostasis'."

cisive

works.6

that he has been

as we

shall see,
as he argues,

rather,
of a "quasi-hypostasis."
thesis,

we

must

in so many
this

One
not

first

words

consider
that

But
take

de
passage
is one of the

the One

is no more

its status
before

a careful

'the

we

and

examine

look at what

Plotinus says in the passage to which Deck refers the reader in order
to decide its relevance to Deck's initial point that Plotinus is in fact
identifying on this sole occasion the One and the first hypostasis
rather

than

is discussing
context,

Enneads

we

presupposing

it.

The

real

is whether

question

the point which Deck claims. When


obtain

VI.8,

a different

deals with

picture.

First

we

the topic "On Free Will

Plotinus

line 30 is read in
need

to note

and the Will

that

of

5
and the One, p. 66. His meaning,
Deck, Nature,
Contemplation
is
not
made
clear.
however,
6
own seems to rest on his
Deck's claim that the titles are Porphyry's
of the text.
See Porphyry,
On the Life of Plotinus,
ch. 4, in
misreading
Enneads
does not say that he supplied the
(Loeb edition) Vol. I. Porphyry
"These were the writ
titles, only that he used the ones that had prevailed:
since he gave them no titles himself,
each [of the few people
ings, to which,
who had received
titles for the several
treatises.
copies] gave different
are the titles which finally prevailed.
The following
I add the first words
to make
of the treatises,
it easy to recognize from them which
treatise
is
indicated by each title" (Armstrong's
translation
[Loeb edition], Vol. I, p.
ch. 25, 32-37.
See also, Porphyry,
13). The word for title is ?pigraphe.

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

JOHN P. ANTON

262
the One."7

ev7)<;

line 30 comes

where

?? irpaiTT) ovk ev aifivx^

Yir?crTaaric
?crd

text

the

Now,

y?p

to

eis

elvat

kqc? avrr)

reads:
30

ov?' ?v ?cof) ?Xbyq)


ovaa

arK?daai?

Kai aopuTT?a ?XX' bcrco irp?etcriv ei? X?yov,


to y?p Kara X?yov ov
rvxw'
rvxj]-8

Xbyov

?iroXeiirei

Translation:
cannot consist of something
the first hypostasis
inanimate
Moreover,
or of life irrational;
in respect
is weak
of
for such a life [or state]
of reason and ind?termination.
How
being, and itself a skattering
to the extent
that it advances
toward
it abandons
ever,
reason,
is not subject to chance.
chance; for what is in accordance with reason,

Strictly speaking, line 30 in this passage does not say what the
first hypostasis
is; it presupposes reference to the One. Taken in
as we

isolation,

shall

its meaning

see,

becomes

To

ambiguous.

illustrate this point we need to go back to the opening lines of chapter


occurs

the term
where
4-10,
"hypostasis"
mean
context
for what
lines 30-34

15, especially
that fixes
the

in a way

to convey.
Ei ?? to

(jvvbv
ev,

to

T(b q) avvecTTiv
koct
?? ?(f>eTov

ev

to

Kcti

ttjv

olov

El

eavTov

Kal

??

tovto,

eavTov

Kvpios

yevb/jLevo?,

Tr?kiv

e^c?fievov
kc?
olov

im?aTacriv

Tamo

?xevov, TToKiv ab J]plv ave$?vr\


ova?a.

av
kol

&?

?kX' ?? S?Xet avT?s.

10

itself

not

MacKenna's

translation,

</>er?>

viroKe?

i] ?</> cri? Kai r?


ecFTiv

avTo?
ovx

tw

tl

ovto?

eTepov

free

ttolojv

i]0?\r?ae

from misinterpretations,

as follows:

reads

are one, seeker


and "associating"
Since in the Supreme
"associated"
as Hypostasis
and substrate
of
and sought one, the sought serving
more God's being and his seeking are identical; once
the seeker?once
sovran of Himself,
not
is the self-producing,
more,
then, the Supreme
as wills
it.9
coming to be as some extern willed but existing
to see why

It is important

Plotinus'
basis

reference
follow."

argument

of what

the

MacKenna's

translation

is misleading.

takes the form: If so and so is the case, on the

interrelated

terms

a and b, and

c and d, mean

with

to the One, then it should be clear that certain identities


The

theorem,

so to speak,

he is about

to prove

in this chapter

7
translation
of the title Porphyry
Uepl tov
preserved:
Armstrong's
eKovcriov kol i?eXr)/maros tov evos, (ch. 26 [Loeb edition] Vol. I, p. 85).
8
text.
E. Br?hier's
(Paris: "Les Belles Lettres,"
Plotin, Enn?ades,
153.
Vol.
1924-38),
VI2, p.
9
The Enneads,
3rd edition revised
S. MacKenna,
translation,
English
1962), p. 608.
by B. S. Page (London: Faber and Faber,

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS

263

is that love (eros) and the beloved


as

One

love

itself.

of

Thus,

the

desired

then

it becomes

identical.

to us

clear

in which

context

The

desire

that

that

case

in which

one,

the

and as though hypokeimenon,

is in the fashion of hypostasis

desired

and

synon,

are one, and if the desiring


are

t? ephet?)

(ephiemenon

the

co-present,

(t? en ? synestin)

inwhich it is co-present
and

are identical in the

(erasmion)

if the

the

occurs

argument

are

ousia

and

(ephesis)

it

makes

evident that Plotinus is not purporting to prove here that the One
is a hypostasis; rather, his point is that the concept of hypostasis
can help us understand how it is that the One is the ideal case of
self-love.

The

to collapse
of the mode

order
ance

hypostasis
translation
The

starts with
argument
the meanings
of the

here

of hypostasis.
is a substitute

distinctions

and

terms

involved,
it is not correct

If so,
for the One,

is what

which

as Hypostasis"
implies.
"serving
comes
to
which
Deck appeals
passage

have

avoided

it there,

using

and

that

later,
the
come

normally

terms is defended.

the collapsing of the correlative

Plotinus

Instead,

to say

MacKenna's

lines
only twenty
occurs.
However,

3 f., where
"first hypostasis"
the expression
in
word
to
order
his claim, should
"first",
support

in line 6, where

in
comparisons
with
the assist

reasons.

for good

In

lines 30 and following, we suddenly have a new unit of thought which


a negative
particle,
is not to be sought:

contains
hypostasis

Nothing
Are

explicit

we

to

tell

us

inanimate

is said about what

in what
things

the
things
and irrational

first
life.

is as such.

this first hypostasis

to suppose
that it is to be found
in something
animate
in instances
of rational
life? No such conclusion
follows.
Yet

and

then

its nature

remains

and

unidentified,

how to ascend to that which


(kallion) than logos.
But

now

we

have

a new

the passage

ends

What

question:

says:

whatever

as

qualifies

the

root

as to

beautiful
is more

is that which

beautiful than logos ? The answer to this is suggested


sentence

on advice

is not just logos but more

inwhat the next

of reason

tou

(riza

logon), which is of itself and that in which everything terminates


(eis touto ta panta l?gei). Unless the reader is already familiar with
the preceding chapters, it is difficult to decide whether the "root"
means

the One

ways,

though not both if the word "everything"

the most
itself.

or Nous.

inclusive
Without

Either

and absolute
these

can meet

sense,

qualifications,

garded as the "first hypostasis."

which

would

Nous

can

Strictly

in certain

this requirement

or "all" is taken in
then

include

conceivably

speaking, Plotinus

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Nous
be

re

offers

JOHN P. ANTON

264
no

answer

con
in these
lines of the passage
under
is why
to quote
out of context,
it is misleading
to say what
thus forcing
the passage
it does not.
Instead
of a direct
a
Plotinus
resorts
to
simile:
this
"root
of
reason"10
is "like
answer,
unequivocal
and
sideration,

the principle

that

and ground

of a greatest

plant,

according

living

to logos,

while the principle itself remaining by itself, giving the being which
the plant received according to logos" (translation supplied). The
text

reads:
Pt?a
TOVTo

Xr?yei

Ta n?vTa,

y?p

(?cnrep

Kai eis

Trap' avrrjs

X?yov

Kara

<f>VTOv /ney?cTov

35

X?yov

(,?)vtos ?pxv Kai ?acris


/n?vovaa avri) e<f>'?avrifs,
?i?ovcra ?? Kara X?yov r?> </>vt?>,bv eXa?ev, e?vai.
15 draws
to a close,
chapter
in the
which
still
question
lingers

As
The

Plotinus
whether

means

self-love

could have
instead

of

the issue and dispensed

settled
the

"root

expression

could

have

However,
statement
for what

seek

the

remains
mind

is on what
emphasis
sense of the word.

the main

in the ultimate

The difficulty can no doubt


the texts, but it would be a
the first hypostasis, which
evidence. Had Deck made
probably
thesis.

issue

unsettled.

is not whether

intends to identify the One as the first hypostasis but


the argument is one which aims to establish this identity.

is so because

This

the

reader's

made
since
the

countervening

of reason"

is eros
Probably

with
he

and what
Plotinus

if

the ambiguity

said

"root

of nous."

be removed by borrowing freely from


different solution. Hence, if the One is
it is, we must look for further textual
use of the difficulty in lines 30-38, he

a stronger
he considers

case

for his
18 to have

ch.

"quasi-hypostasis"
a clear
provided

first hypostasis
is, he finds
evidence
elsewhere.

it necessary

to

Ill
In discussing
Deck

observes,

phrases,

but

Plotinus'
and

usually

tactic in philosophizing

correctly
to correct

so,

that

them,

Plotinus
usually

about the One,

"dualistic
employs
to remind
his hearers

that these phrases must be purged of dualism to apply to the One"


(p. 10).

Deck

also

draws

ing incorrectly" (ovk bp?

attention

to Plotinus'

s) inVI. 8.13-18,

10
III. 8. 10, where
Compare
in "roots": olov ?v p?tpr) ?8pv/jb?vr)s

Plotinus

awareness

of "speak

and of resorting to "words


speaks

also

of life as founded

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS 265


must

which
rols

from

depart

the

of knowledge

rigour

?v

(rrapavor/r?ov

47-50).

(VI.8.13.1-5;
to Deck,
such
of cases, which

XoyotsT

Thus,
according
occurs
in a number

"incorrect
are

(i) The One is from itself, from

of the One
speaking"
below.
reproduced

itself and through itself: Trap'

VI.8.11.33
VI.8.14.42;
k<p' avrov,
avrov
Kal es avr?v,
is towards
itself:
TTpbs
7rp?? avrb, V.3.10.51.

avrov,
It

(ii)

VI.8.17.26;

(iii) It wills itself: VI.8.13.38-40.


itself as cause of itself: dinov
(iv) It makes or constitutes
VI.8.14.42.

eavrov,
It made

(v)

to

itself

subsist:

avrbs

?pa

avr?v,

vrrkdrr/aev

VI.8.16.30.
It is self-sufficient

(vi)
Of these

six select
that

ground

instances

Since

the One

?avrco,

so named
on the
speaking,"
and hence misleading,
the crucial

of this paper is (v): "it made

needs

1.8.2.4-5.

of "incorrect
are dual

the expressions

one for the purposes

iKavbv

(qua good):

nothing

(1.8.2.4-5;

itself to subsist."

VI.9.6.18),

Deck

argues

that:
It does not need subsistence,
If it needed any of
entity, act or life.
these it would not be the first: some other principle,
toward which
it
Nor does it
tended, would
supply them to it (cf. III.8.11.38-44).
have them.
For in having
it would
be two: itself, and that
them,
which
it had. Neither
needing nor having them, but the source from
which
the One is beyond
subsistence,
they proceed,
beyond
entity,
beyond act (pp. 10-11).
Now

we

come

to another

crucial

expression

in Plotinus,

in Deck's

list:
(vii) The

One

is before

subsistence:

rrpb

rrjs

vTroaraaecos,

VI.8.10.37.
Hence:

(viii) The One does not subsist: ov?? vrr?ariq, VI.8.10.35-38;


rb

?ii) vrrocrr?v,

Of course, Deck
himself.

The

VI.8.11.1-5.

is careful to note that "Plotinus is not contradicting

One

is or has

all

these

[viz.,

substance,

entity,

act,

life, self-sufficiency], to the extent that neither they nor the being or
having of them involves duality (p. 11).
The real issue for Deck is not so much whether Plotinus is

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

266

JOHN P. ANTON

contradicting himself, but whether


are we

how

to understand

it qua

the One is a hypostasis,


He

hypostasis.

absolves

and if so
Plotinus

of the charge of contradiction by saying that "Plotinus applies


negative formulae to the One, not to deny positivity of it, but to
deny

And

duality."

he

continues,

Thus positive
formulae
to remove
be qualified
sistence,
cites

Deck

the

charge
Deck's

standing
to attribute

renders

Plotinus'

as

"quasi-subsistence."
of contradiction
need

to Plotinus

of a rhetorical

not

expression
it may
be

Now,
be raised

is (a) inventing an issue which

question:

"Does

Plotinus

olov11

objected
at all, notwith
as will be shown,

it; nor is it correct,


against
a doctrine
of "quasi-subsistence."

defense

suing his analysis, Deck


form

to say:

down,

can be applied to the One, provided


that they
the One has quasi-sub
the taint of duality:
quasi-life, which are identical with itself (p. 11).
and

VI.8.7.46-54.
avrov

vTroaraais
that

quasi-entity,

further

In pur

is cast in the

contradict

himself?"

and (b) dismissing the issue by forcing an interpretation which the


text does not justify, namely that the meaning of hypostasis in the
case

of the One

is that

best

understood

in the

to Deck's
of "quasi-subsistence."
Contrary
be kept
that the term "subsistence"
the text requires
intact,
view,
can
means
excellence.
This
be
it
and that
par
hypostasis
meaning
A.

The

context

"quasi-subsistence"
to
Deck
which
passage
appeals
has stated
that it would
be most
from
of the

of avre?ovo-iov,

"in control

of itself."

oZo^

The
vrroorracris.
problem:
comes
after
Plotinus
immediately
to take away
absurd
"self-control"

nor moves
needs
towards
for it neither
the Good,
any
anything
move
in
46-54:
and
he
continues
lines
towards
which
it,
things

11
. . .
to formal
claims
aversion
Wallis
that "Plotinus'
systems
of his accounts
of spiritual being by
is shown by his continual qualification
as hoion or hosper Cso to speak')."
such Greek works
p.
Neoplatonism,
is a technical
41. Evidently,
the possibility
Wallis
that hoion
questions
IfWallis'
terms used by
then all conceptual
claim is granted,
expression.
to explicate
to "so to speak" expressions.
the One are reducible
Plotinus
"so to speak" is too weak to render
that the expression
It may be objected
or capture the seriousness
and the tone
of his arguments
Plotinus' meaning
the expression
is an important
where
There
of his exposition.
passage
sense: VI. 8. 11. Plotinus
technical
to hoion
is used in a conspicuously
to
of ?jlt)
determine
the meaning
states
there that for the whole
inquiry
vTToarav as related
to "the question
just raised," we need to think of the
concepts: r\ tov t? kanv elvai rj rov olov f? rov ?t? t? r? tov elvau.
following
he says that to ?? olbv kan t^relv
After
stating what the last two mean,
avr
, avfi?e?iqKev
firjb?v (lines 9-10).
rlav/jL?e?rjKev

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS

267
??

Orav
?tj

rj olov

avrov

VTT?araais

rj olov

(ov

r\

kv?pyeia

7)

y?p

?xev erepov, 77 ?' erep?v kanv, el ye firj?? kirl rov vov


Tovro) ovTL fi?XXov Kara to elvat 7) kvkpyeia r? Kara ri)v
kvkpyeiav to elvat ?oare ovk ?xei to <bs rrefyvKev kvepyelv,
ov?? i] kv?pyeta Kai 7) olov 1,(07)?vevexO^aerat
eis tt)v
olov

?XX'

ova?av,

vofi?vT) k? ?t?iov
eavrov

Kal

Kal

t? olov

ova?a

rj] kvepyeia

avvovaa

olov

Kai

avyye

avrb avrb

k? ?/x^o?v

50

Troiel

ov?evos.

Translation:
When
the hypostasis
of the Good, such as this can be,12 is regarded
as actuality
(for these are not two different
things, not even in the
case of Nous),
it is no more
the case that actuality
is determined
"to act," as originated
Therefore,
by being than being is by actuality.
does not apply here, nor can actuality
and what
is like
by nature,
to what
is like (its) ousia; rather, ousia,
such as
(its) life be reduced
it may be in this case, as copresent
and as being born together with
since
is
the
makes
what
Good
itself from itself and
actuality
eternity,
nothing else.
If the

term.

the

rendition

is close

to Plotinus'

then

meaning,

hy

in the case of the One-Good must be used in the fullest sense

postasis
of

above

hypostasis."
the concepts
"ousia,"

and

support

this

it seems
rather
Hence,
baffling
The text makes
it clear that Plotinus

to

call

means

it

"quasi
to correlate

with
of "hypostasis"
and "energeia"
the help of "being",
"life."
and ?pupo?v
The words
avvovaa,
avyyevopuevT),
If so, the "incorrect
of speaking"
view.
has been
way

cleared of its difficulties by the time Plotinus has ended each chapter.
B.

The

issue

of contradiction.

inwhich Plotinus

passages

We

to emerge
when we
begins
difficulty
in which
the One is "before
subsistence"

The

such
Let

that
us

"it made

to subsist"

itself
text.

the

consider

now

need

to turn

is allegedly denying hypostasis


try

to understand

(avrbs

apa

the

vrroaraae

(rrpb rijs

vrrearr/aev

The

to those

of the One.
sense
s) and
avr?v).

vTroar?aecos

rrpb tt)?
expression
10 raises
which
question
chapter
can have any place in a philosophi
is whether
this connection
"chance"
cal account
Plotinus
asks:
of the One qua arche.
Thus,

occurs

in VI.8.10.37.

The

Ti)v
Kal

bpov

7T?)s ?v

ns

main

07} ?pxw
ttjv

tovtov

iravrbs

in

X?yov re Kal raf?eos

vrrbaraaiv

avaOe?T)

tvxt);

12
For

see VI. 8. 7. 31-32:


of the use of hoion,
comparable
examples
rov ?ya?ov
avrov
bvros olov ?XXo rrap' avrb aya&bv
Y7r?p ?r) ravra
A comparative
tpqr?lv aroT?ov.
study of the uses of hoios in the Platonic
texts may prove useful on this point.
Ion 537C and
See, for instance,
538A and also Gorgias
454D.

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

JOHN P. ANTON

268
Translation:
When we ask about that which
and limit, how can one ascribe
The

is that we

answer

we must

there

stop

cannot.

and

since

Now,

more.

say nothing

of every logos and order


to chance?
the first,
into the
inquire

the One
We

is also

may

it, but not into the origins of that which

from

things generated

is the origin
its hypostasis

is

At this point Plotinus


finds it necessary
to raise a
ungenerated.
about
the
which
the
"to
give hypostasis
meaning
expression
question
in the case of the One.
In this connection,
to X" can have
Deck
truly

is right when
he says
of the One "the taint

that Plotinus
of duality."

two things: (i) what

it means

must

remove

Thus,

Plotinus

to give hypostasis

from

his

needs

exposition
to correlate

and (ii) what

it is

a problem
that presents
of possible
in complicated
in lines 22-38,
he concludes
"question
once
at
is
that
the
is
and by
and answer"
One
ungenerated
language,
as
itself such
it is."
of its own
i.e., "using
"Being master
necessity,
made
the One subsist.
The One gave
itself its own
ousia,"
nothing
to be ungenerated.
What
duality.

subsistence

It is the former

and

eavrbv"
only

appears
the
because

so.

necessarily
to contradict
text

The

expression

the

expression"
is complicated.
The

npb

vrroar^aas

"ovx
ri)s

vrroaraaecos"

misunderstanding

can

be removed without much difficulty with the aid of two recommenda


tions: the first is editorial, the second calling for careful contextual
reading.
emendation.

(1) Textual
of three
sisting
as
rest
mode.

interconnected
of one
a
Seen

faithfully

quasi-question
in this way,
and

on

ending
in

must

as a series

be read

as a simple
con
passage
kurios
the word
and the
(1.23),
not

the

the
thus

22-25
and

questions,

question

rendered,

Lines

the

hypothesis-apodosis
intent
of the passage
expression

ovx

syntactical
be more

can

vrroari/aas

eavrbv

falls in line with the thesis which pervades the entire tractate. By
placing a question mark rather than a period at the end of line 25,
the passage

would

translate:

and while being


But then, can we say that, if the One is ungenerated
of its own ousia?
And can we
such as it is, that it is not master
of it, while being such as it is, that it did not
say that, if not master
cause itself to subsist
itself such
eavrbv) by using
(ovx vrroar?aas
as it is, and that this is so by necessity
and could not be otherwise?

(2) Contextual

reading.

Given that the One ismaster

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

of its own

269

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS

as causing
it be conceived
that
it is inherently
necessary
ousia,
Ten lines later, after he has explained
itself to be its own subsistence.
of power"
the One has "fullness
s) and
ttj? Svva/xe
(vrrep?oXi)v
why
at what
is worse"
for it to "arrive
impossible
to
to the issue of hypostasis.
The
he returns
TTpbs
xtipov),
means
us to see what
Plotinus
lines permits
of these
by the
sion oi)8e vrrearT).
it

is thus

in previous

cussed

no

of VI.8.,

chapters

context
expres

(?vayicq) had already been dis

Since the aspect of necessity

it was

where

that

established

it makes

of the One is different from other necessities,

the necessity

(?X?elv

10 to say there
in the present
is such a
context
of chapter
as a necessity
Since
and also the One, as if this is a real duality.

sense

thing

but rather is itself the ground of

the One is not subject to necessity


all other
sure,

necessities,
is "How
could

causes

the

to be
rhetorical
the question,
which
it is necessity
say that
then,
if
is
the
One
(vrrearT/aev),
especially

of being

and

one,

One's

subsisting
as having
fullness

understood

law,

of power?"

insist that this is not the way to talk


Obviously,
about the One qua hypostasis, for it is not the case that it is thus that
it came to subsist (vir?arT)); nor can it be that it is this necessity that
Plotinus must

afforded
came

to

subsistence
it and

after

other

the

subsistents

of it.

because

Given

qua

cluding

to all cases

it is prior
which
already
question,
One,

can it then be that what


subsistence
itself?"
cannot

be

of subsistence.
the answer,

contains

occupied

by

is admittedly

(ii) the vrroarrjaas


(iii) a hypostasis
set the
considerations

eavrbv,
underived

'AXX? rb pui] vrroar?v

rovro

once

subsisting'?"
for

surprise

aspect

The
the

reader.

v<p?arr)Ke,

from

itself

it is also
from

con

the

becomes:

"How

attains

it did

else, unless
of the verb

so by

vipiaravai

is (i) rrpb tt)? viroar?aecos


the

only

another

thing

is at

which

These

hypostasis.

the

discussion

Logically

to restate
before

Now

of ch. 11:
opening
question
is this One which
is 'not
"But what

for

n;

dialectical

of subsistence

subsistence

context

source

"necessity."

Since the One is the only thing which


and

no

has

prior to hypostasis,

of something
(vrrearT]) by virtue
of the subject
Therefore
the place
the word

which

(vrroaravrcov)
the One

such as it may be, it is evident

other than itself for its hypostasis,


that

that

which

enough,

Plotinus

follows

other"

(k<py avrov

rrplv aXXo).

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

no

to the

returns

that the One "attained


any

holds

its own
y?p

Kal

JOHN P. ANTON

270
IV

The preceding analysis was not directed against a position Deck


obviously does not hold, namely that Plotinus is in fact open to the
was
to show that the
the purpose
Rather,
not
in any significant
does not even arise
way,
one
there
is
residual
However,
difficulty.

of contradiction.
charge
issue of contradiction
even

a preliminary

as

in Deck's

problem
case

of the One we
as has

This,

been

namely his contention

interpretation,

that in the

a "quasi-hypostasis."
only speak of its being
In addition
is a mistaken
interpretation.
argued,
can

to what has been said in the discussion of the relevant texts, further
support
Plotinus

be adduced

may

clearly

speaks

from VI.8.13,
of the Good

lines

50-52

in connection

and 55-59,
where
an argument

with

to show that it is possible to bring will and being together


eis

ev tt)v ?ovX7)atv

Kal ri)v

ovaiav).
El y?p

avrov

nap'
VTToar?aei

avrov'

Kal

olov

avrov,

epyov
avrbs

avrov,

(avvaKrkov

?v

(bare ovx OTrep ervx?v

ovrws

avrr)

??

?v

VTroarrjaas

kanv,

55

7] ?ovXiqais

ravrbv

tt)
e?T]

?XX' brrep 7)?ovX7)$r)

avrbs.

Translation:
if will is from Him and like His work, while His will is identical
can thus come to subsist
He Himself
his hypostasis,
(ovrcos
as
Him.
this did not occur by
is
for
Therefore,
vTToaT7)aas)
possible
as He willed.
chance but precisely

For
with

to call this a quasi-hypostasis.


therefore,
such reservations
has anticipated
that Plotinus
evident
fact, it seems
a quasi-hypostasis
to ask what
as Deck
If we were
has expressed.
to be one which
have
it would
amount
would
to, most
certainly
There

is no

not deserving
could

conceive

reason,

of the One, for it would be lacking in something.


of no

stronger

instance

than

the

case

In

is

One

of hypostasis

is lacking in energeia.
Quite likely Deck would resist this
imputation on his view, but let us consider the case. Plotinus would
most definitely reject it as inadmissible and disown it outright on the
lines 11-15
basis of what he states in VI.8.20,
which

?vev kvepye?as ns
Ei ?? vTibaraaiv
ko?I
7)
reXeioraTT) Traa?v
?reXi)s
Oelro, kXXLTT7]s7) ?pxv
earai.
Kal ei Trpoade?rj kv?pyeiav,
ovx ?v T7)pel. El ovv
?? to
reXeibrarov
reXecbrepov 7) kv?pye?a tt)s ovalas,
Trpc?Tov,

TTp?)TOv

?v

kv?pye?a

e?/rj.

15

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

271

LOGICALASPECTS OF HYPOSTASIS
Translation:

is the
which
the Arche,
If one posits hypostasis
without
energeia,
and imperfect.
would
be incomplete
of all principles,
most
perfect
then he could
And if one would make energeia
something
composite,
than ousia,
if energeia
is more perfect
the One.
not preserve
Thus,
is the
it must be that energeia
is first is most perfect,
and that which
first.

The argument
calls

for more

than

leads to the fundamental


the mere

addition

thesis that hypostasis


What

of energeia.

makes

the

intelligible and actual is the original ac


concept of hypostasis
is presupposed by its ousia. Given these
of
the
which
One,
tivity
ontic

restrictions,

it is difficult

to see how we

can

speak

of a "quasi

hypostasis" in the case of the One. In fact, it cannot be other than


This is what "correct discourse" about the One
the first hypostasis.
demands.13
Emory

University.

13
of the
at the Second
International
Congress
presented
Originally
October 23,
International
Studies, Brock University,
Society for Neoplatonic
1976; and in revised version at the joint session of the Society for the Study
with the American
of Philosophy
of the History
Association,
Philosophical
Pacific Division,
Portland,
Oregon, March 25, 1977.

This content downloaded from 181.118.153.57 on Fri, 7 Mar 2014 16:46:16 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions