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Plotinus himself, we are told, reached the climax of complete unification several times in his life, Porphyry only once, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. Probably the condition so denominated was a species of hypnotic trance. Its importance in the Neo-Platonic system has been considerably exaggerated, and on the strength of this single point some critics have summarily disposed of Plotinus and his whole school as unreasoning mystics. Mysticism is a vague word capable of very various applications. In the present instance, we presume that it is used to express a belief in the existence of some method for the discovery of truth apart from tradition; observation, and reasoning. And, taken in this sense, the Neo-Platonic method of arriving at a full apprehension of the One would be considered an extreme instance of mysticism. We must bear in mind, however, that Plotinus arrives at an intellectual conception of absolute unity by the most strictly logical process. It makes no difference that his reasoning is unsound, for the same criticism applies to other philosophers who have never been accused of mysticism. It may be said that after leading us up to a certain point, reason is replaced by intuition. Rather, what the ultimate intuition does is not to take the place of logic, but to substitute a living realisation for an abstract and negative conception. Moreover, the intuition is won not by forsaking logic, but by straining its resources to the very utmost. Again, one great characteristic of mysticism, as ordinarily understood, is to deny the truth of common observation and reasoning. Now Plotinus never goes this length. As we have already remarked, he does not even share Platos distrust of sensible impressions, but rather follows the example of Aristotle in recognising their validity within a certain sphere. Nor does he mention having received any revelations of divine truth during his intercourse with the absolute One. This alone marks an immense difference between his ecstasiesif such they can be calledand313 those of the Christian mystics with whom he is associated by M. Barthlemy Saint-Hilaire.464
CHAPTER V. THE SPIRITUALISM OF PLOTINUS.The Germans had flung some more bridges across the river beyond Andenne, which had been used for the occupation of Namur chiefly, and lay idle now guarded by only one sentry. I left by the town-gate without any difficulties; the German soldiers jumped out of the way and stood to atten153tion, as soon as they noticed the Netherland flag flying at the front of the motor. To the right and the left of the gateway they had written in gigantic letters: "Newspapers, please!"
But she couldnt get the real ones! persisted Dick.
It is to the second theory that Plotinus evidently leans. However closely his life may have been conformed to the Pythagorean modela point with respect to which we have306 nothing better than the very prejudiced statements of Porphyry to rely onthere is no trace of Pythagorean asceticism in his writings. Hereafter we shall see how hostile he was to Gnostic pessimism. In the preceding essay, he had already specified admiration for physical beauty as a first and necessary step in the souls ascent to a contemplation of spiritual realities;451 and now it is under the guidance of Platos later speculations that he proceeds to account for her descent from that higher world to the restraints of matter and of sense.It appears, then, that the popular identification of an Epicurean with a sensualist has something to say in its favour. Nevertheless, we have no reason to think that Epicurus was anything but perfectly sincere when he repudiated the charge of being a mere sensualist.132 But the impulse which lifted him above sensualism was not derived from his own original philosophy. It was due to the inspiration of Plato; and nothing testifies more to Platos moral greatness than that the64 doctrine most opposed to his own idealism should have been raised from the dust by the example of its flight. We proceed to show how the peculiar form assumed by Epicureanism was determined by the pressure brought to bear on its original germ two generations before.
The only reason Jeff would swing toward the water and give up working with the stick must be that the stick would not operate the elevators.
Bang! Another theory gone up in smoke! Dick was rueful.