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Self-KnowledgeA History$
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Ursula Renz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190226411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190226411.001.0001

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Self-Knowledge in Plotinus

Self-Knowledge in Plotinus

Becoming Who You Are

(p.78) Chapter Four Self-Knowledge in Plotinus

Pauliina Remes

Oxford University Press

Plotinus (ca. A.D. 204–270) operates with an in his time novel distinction between the soul and the self that enables asking questions about self-knowledge more directly. His Enneads provide both epistemic and ethical discussions on self-knowledge. Plotinus presents an elaborate picture of self-reflexivity. His other main contribution lies in the discussion of self-knowledge that is not a given, but an accomplishment. Becoming self-knowledgeable coincides with self-transformation. The inner turn coincides with a process in which the infelicities found within are chiseled away. The theory has a proto-voluntarist aspect: human beings are points of identification and origins of self-improvement. Second, we are not devoid of any essence: at the core of each human being is an innate intellect, governing and directing our lives as rational beings. Self-knowledge is self-realization of this true nature of our selfhood, and thus ennobling.

Keywords:   Plotinus, self-transformation, introspection, self-identification, self-ennobling

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