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Desire and the Good in Plotinus
05.08.2021 Michael Oliver Wiitala
philosophy
Plotinus

Plotinus calls the first principle the One and the Good. According to Plotinus, ‘Good’ is an appropriate name for the One because the One is that which all things desire. Since he says that the One is beyond knowledge, beyond language, beyond intellect, and beyond being, however, what philosophical evidence can he provide for his claim that the One is that which all desire? 

In this article I offer some philosophical evidence, aside from mystical union with the One, for why ‘the Good’ is an appropriate name for the One, and for why calling the One ‘Good’ is not at odds with the fact that it is beyond knowledge, but rather entails it. To this end, after an initial consideration of the relationship between the good and desire in Plato and Aristotle, I focus on the role that desire plays in relation to the Good in Plotinus' thought.

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