Plotinus (AD 205–270) was a follower of Plato and founder of a school of philosophy subsequently called Neoplatonism. Our interview about the best books to learn about Neoplatonism is with Ursula Coope, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Oxford, who calls Plotinus “a deep and imaginative thinker.” This list includes books by Plotinus but also books that introduce his thinking, which can seem quite alien to a modern reader.
Books by Plotinus
“I would also like to mention two other books that are nicely complementary to O’Meara’s. One is Eyjólfur Emilsson’s Plotinus, which is similar in scope and aim to O’Meara’s book but slightly more advanced. It would be a good thing to read after O’Meara.”
“The other is Pierre Hadot’s Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision (in the original French, Plotin ou la simplicité du regard). Hadot is especially good at bringing out the way in which, for Plotinus, philosophy is not only an intellectual exercise but also a way of life: a means to self-improvement and self-transformation.”
“Porphyry also wrote a short life of Plotinus, which tells us some interesting details about him. Of course, we can’t be sure how reliable it is. Porphyry wanted to paint a particular picture of his own relation to Plotinus. But it’s interesting to have the little details that we get from that portrait.”
Interviews where books by Plotinus were recommended
Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads
by Dominic O’Meara
by Pauliina Remes
Ennead VI.8: On the Voluntary and on the Free Will of the One
by Plotinus, Kevin Corrigan, and John D. Turner
On Abstinence from Killing Animals
Porphyry and Gillian Clark (translator)
by Proclus and Carlos Steel (translator)
To the modern reader, Neoplatonist thinkers can seem quite alien, but engaging with them helps us to understand ourselves and modern philosophy better, says Ursula Coope, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Oxford. She recommends five books to introduce readers to Neoplatonist philosophy, starting with Plotinus in the 3rd century.