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Plotinus - The Enneads - All the virtues without exception are purifications



Type of Spiritual Experience


This is interesting because Plotinus recognises the value of reason, but only if memory has been 'cleansed' - in effect one cannot reason on unpurified memory

A description of the experience

Plotinus – The Enneads

To Plato, unmistakeably, there are two distinct orders of virtue, and the civic does not suffice for Likeness; 'Likeness to God', he says 'is a flight from this world's ways and things'.... and elsewhere he declares all the virtues without exception to be purifications.  But in what sense can we call the virtues purifications?


As the soul can be evil by being interfused with the body and by coming to share the body's states and to think the body's thoughts, so it would be good, it would be possessed of virtue, if

  • it threw off the body's moods and devoted itself to its own Act – the state of wisdom
  • never allowed the passions of the body to affect it – the virtue of Sophrosyny
  • knew no fear at the parting from the body – the virtue of Fortitude
  • and if reason ruled without opposition – in which state is Righteousness.

Such a disposition in the soul, become thus intellective and immune to passion, it would not be wrong to call Likeness to God; for the Divine too, is pure and the Divine-Act is such that Likeness to it is wisdom.

The source of the experience


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