In the last years of his life, Plotinus wrote a single, long work On Providence, which Porphyry divided in two treatises, number 47 and 48 in the chronological order. As Emile Bréhier already remarked many years ago, in this work Plotinus discusses the classical theme of providence following a traditional framework; it included three main topics: 1) proofs of the existence of providence; 2) the way in which providence acts; and 3) the theodicy in the proper sense of the word. In the first chapters of his work, however, Plotinus presents a thesis, which is, in some important aspects, wholly un-traditional. Plotinus denies that providence could be understood in the sense that the good and rational order of the physical world is the result of „a fore-seeing and a calculation of God about how this All might come into existence and how things might be as good as possible“ (3.2.1.18-19). In order to explain how divine causality determines and guarantees an optimal world order, Plotinus develops a new and alternative theory about God’s creative activity. And he maintains that his new theory can deliver a more coherent and defendable story about „universal providence“ than the traditional Platonic theories that appeal to a demiurgic account of the making of the world in order to support the same claims. The purpose of my paper is to discuss some aspects of Plotinus’ dissenting story about divine causality and providence, by making three points. First, I will discuss Plotinus’ criticism of the view that the cosmos is the product of God’s causality based on reasoning, planning and deliberating. Second, I will deal with Plotinus’ own theory on providence and divine causality, and, third, I will highlight what I believe to be the philosophical meaning and relevance of Plotinian theory.

Divine Causality. Demiurge and Providence in Plotinus

Peroli, Enrico
2020-01-01

Abstract

In the last years of his life, Plotinus wrote a single, long work On Providence, which Porphyry divided in two treatises, number 47 and 48 in the chronological order. As Emile Bréhier already remarked many years ago, in this work Plotinus discusses the classical theme of providence following a traditional framework; it included three main topics: 1) proofs of the existence of providence; 2) the way in which providence acts; and 3) the theodicy in the proper sense of the word. In the first chapters of his work, however, Plotinus presents a thesis, which is, in some important aspects, wholly un-traditional. Plotinus denies that providence could be understood in the sense that the good and rational order of the physical world is the result of „a fore-seeing and a calculation of God about how this All might come into existence and how things might be as good as possible“ (3.2.1.18-19). In order to explain how divine causality determines and guarantees an optimal world order, Plotinus develops a new and alternative theory about God’s creative activity. And he maintains that his new theory can deliver a more coherent and defendable story about „universal providence“ than the traditional Platonic theories that appeal to a demiurgic account of the making of the world in order to support the same claims. The purpose of my paper is to discuss some aspects of Plotinus’ dissenting story about divine causality and providence, by making three points. First, I will discuss Plotinus’ criticism of the view that the cosmos is the product of God’s causality based on reasoning, planning and deliberating. Second, I will deal with Plotinus’ own theory on providence and divine causality, and, third, I will highlight what I believe to be the philosophical meaning and relevance of Plotinian theory.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/746047
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