Neo-platonist Ontology

The representative figure amongst the Neo-Platonists is Plotinus. His

comprehensive mind gathered up the main threads of Alexandrian thought,

and wove them into the fabric of a vast speculative system. The system

is as much a religion as a philosophy. It is the triumph of

uncompromising monism. The last traces of dualism have been

eradicated. God, for Plotinus, is true being and the only being. He

is all and in a
l. God is an impersonal Trinity, comprising the One,

the cosmic reason and the cosmic soul. The One is primal, ineffable,

behind and beyond all human experience. All we know of Him is that He

is the source and union of reason and soul. Creation is effected by a

continuous series of emanations from God. Emanation is not an

arbitrary act of divine will; it is a necessary consequence of the

nature of the One. God must negate Himself, and the process is

creation. The further the process of negation is carried, the less

reality does the created object possess. Last in the scale comes

matter, which has no self-subsistence, but is the absolute

self-negation of God. We referred in the last chapter to Plotinus'

favourite illustration. We may be allowed, perhaps, to repeat it here.

As light, he says, issues from the sun and grows gradually dimmer,

until it passes by imperceptible degrees into the dark, so reason

emanates from God and, passing through the phases of nature, loses its

essence gradually in its procession, until finally it is derationalised

and becomes its opposite.