Who is Plotinos?

Who is Plotinos?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Plotinos is a Greek philosopher who was born in Lycopolis in Egypt in 204, worked on philosophy for eleven years under the supervision of Ammonius Saccas in Alexandria and lived until 264.


Plotinus, who lived between 204 and 264 BC, reintroduced and interpreted Plato’s metaphysics in a slightly different version. Plotinos played an important role in Plato’s influence in both Christian philosophy and Islamic philosophy in the Hellenistic Age and the Middle Ages.

Plotinos took lessons from Ammonios Sakkas, who had little school with him and many students and was also a great influence as a teacher.

Plotinos, following the fashion of the time, went on a trip to the east. He first planned to go to Iran and then to India, which was considered the source of mystical knowledge at that time. To achieve this goal, he participated in the expedition of Emperor Gordianus against Iran. But the expedition was not successful, Gordianus was defeated and died.

Instead of going to India with the rest of the Roman army, he came to Rome. Settling in Rome, Plotinos first worked as a writer and then opened a philosophy school.


Plotinus M.S. When he died in 270, his beloved student Porphyrios, collected and published the works of his teacher. Porphyrios has combined his works, which consist of a number of short reviews and 51 pieces, into (9) books, each of which consists of six topics. That’s why this series is called “Enneads – nine in Greek”. Since this work has survived to the present day, we have the opportunity to directly examine the philosophy of Plotinus.


The starting point of Plotinos philosophy is an opposition to all kinds of material things. Returning to Plato’s idealism, Plotinos’ starting point is to choose to fight materialism.

In his philosophy, based on Plato’s views on the Good Idea in the “State”, Plotinos deified Plato’s Good Idea and explained everything that exists with a process of origin or emanation starting from God. He, like Plato, thinks that the material world cannot be real because it is constantly changing.

Only something that does not change can really exist. Therefore, this unchanging reality must be distinct and separate from the material world, as Plato has shown. This being, according to Plotinos, is God.

He claims that nothing can be said about God, except to say that God transcends everything in this world. Since God transcends this world, is beyond the material world, he is not a material, finite, and finally divisible being. Since matter, spirit, and mind each change, it is neither matter, nor spirit, nor mind.


According to Plotinos, God cannot be expressed by human language, since he cannot be limited by the thoughts of the human mind. Our senses cannot reach it either. For Plotinos, the only way to reach God is to enter a state of mystical ecstasy that is independent of rational reasoning or sensory experience.

To indicate that God is completely pure and simple, that there is nothing complex in God, and to indicate that God is the Absolute Unity, Plotinus speaks of God as One. The definition of God as One Being shows that God is unchangeable and therefore uncreated and indivisible. For if God changes, can be divided or created, he loses his unity.

According to Plotinos, since God is one, he could not have created things in the sensory world in which we live. Because creation is an action and every action necessitates a state of change. Therefore, God is transcendent, He is beyond all thought and existence. Neither essence, existence, nor life can be attributed to Him. Because all these distinctions or predicates lead to a duality.

So, we can only say about God that He is one, indivisible, unchangeable, eternal, beyond existence, always the same with himself, and that there is no past or future for Him. In this case, Plotinos developed the first species doctrine of the history of philosophy to explain the creation and existence of the world.

Related topics:

Plotinus and the idea of ​​god
Plotinos and the three phases of formation
Plotinus and the human spirit
Plotinus and mysticism

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook; Greek and Medieval Philosophy; Frank Hilly; Projection Publications