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The Six Enneads[edit]

See also the presentation of the Enneads at Christian Classics with helpful chapter titles:

Focus: First Ennead, Eighth Tractate, 2nd Section:
And the First Act is the Act of The Good stationary within Itself, and the First Existence is the self-contained Existence of The Good; but there is also an Act upon It, that of the Intellectual-Principle which, as it were, lives about It.
And the Soul, outside, circles around the Intellectual-Principle, and by gazing upon it, seeing into the depths of It, through It sees God.
Such is the untroubled, the blissful, life of divine beings, and Evil has no place in it; if this were all, there would be no Evil but Good only, the first, the second and the third Good. All, thus far, is with the King of All, unfailing Cause of Good and Beauty and controller of all; and what is Good in the second degree depends upon the Second-Principle and tertiary Good upon the Third.


Porphyry's Launching Points to the Realm of the Mind: An Introduction to the NeoPlatonic Philosophy of Plotinus. Trans. Kenneth Guthrie. Intro. Michael Hornum. Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1988.

Levels of Reality

(1) "The first principle and the source of all else is called the One. This name predicates nothing of its nature, but merely serves through the negation of all else in relation to it to identify the One as the most simple and self-sufficient concept which the human mind can reach" (Hornum 7)

(2) "The first level of reality derived from the One is the realm of Mind, the realm of true Being, called the Nous in Greek. It is here that the highest level of the human self lies" (Hornum 9)

(3) "From the Nouse comes forth the third level of reality. This is the physical or sensible universe which is a moving, changing image of the realm of Mind, and is governed by the Soul which pervades all things giving form and life" (Hornum 12)

Launching Points is primarily concerned with two essentials in the quest for the archetypal self. The first is an understanding of incorporeality and the second is a discussion of the different types of virtue and how virtue can bring one to the level of Nous" (Hornum 14)

Launching Points

1. "The Civil Virtues consist of moderation in passions, and in letting one's actions follow the rational laws of duty" (Porphyry / Plotinus 27)

2. "The Virtues of the man who tries to rise to contemplation consist in detaching oneself from things here below; that is why they are called "purificatory" (Porphyry / Plotinus 27-28)

3. "There is a third kind of Virtues, which are superior to the civil and purificatory virtues, the "virtues of the soul that contemplates intelligence" (Porphyry / Plotinus 29)

4. "There is a fourth kind of Virtues, the "exemplary virtues," which reside within intelligence" (Porphyry / Plotinus 30)