Respond to each post in your own words critically engaging the writer in 125 words.
1. When the commentator, E. O’Brien, warned us the readers about Plotinus, he was so right to do so. I found Plotinus to be difficult to wrap my mind around (maybe my Intelligence was not contemplating the One while I was reading!) and his hypostases were understanding for me until I was faced with the duality of the Soul – the World’s Soul and the individual soul. Plotinus holds that The One is supremely perfect and that everybody is looking up. Here I see the influence of Plato and the striving for the Good. This part of Plotinus resonates with my faith – that ever present need to do good, to do better. I also hear the voice of Yahweh in Plotinus saying that “ignorance of origin is caused by excessive valuation of sense objects and disdain of self” for here we envision the worship of idols and how it causes us to fall away from The One.
Augustine is closer to my understanding of the Trinity as a Christian because he presents it as a foundation for our faith. Augustine’s use of taking what Plotinus had mapped out as a triad and transforming it into 4th century dogma is easier for us to comprehend because it resonates with our beliefs and theology. Augustine is a great example of how his understanding of what the ancient philosophers had seen as the reason for the universe gave concreteness to Augustine’s Trinitarian thought. His ability to distinguish the singleness of the substance and also the distinctiveness of the persons is what my is the foundation for my core beliefs.
Plotinus begins with Plato’s intelligibles and subdivides this realm into The One, the Intelligence, and the World Soul, wherein The One is absolutely transcendental, the Intelligence (or nous) is analogous to Plato’s realm of ideas and true being, and the World Soul, mediator between being andbecoming. The One, the supreme and perfect being, emanates the Intelligence, which remains unchanged, but the Soul, emanating from the Intelligence, is a mutable emanation. The logic that Plotinus uses to explain the multiplicity of the soul and the distinction of souls from one another is a rationale Augustine uses to explain the triune God; as the distinct souls are all only one soul, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct but of one substance.
Plotinus’s philosophy of trinity is not without issues. In a later writing Plotinus questions whether God must exist or if God chooses to exist; in a theology where one fundamental principle is that God is eternal, the question of God being or not being, whether by choice or necessity, seems moot.
In Augustine’s view of God’s image, the Mind represents the Father; Knowledge represents the Son; and the Holy Spirit is represented by Love. Knowledge emanates from the Mind, and Love from Knowledge. The Son is begotten from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as Love. Thus, the views of Plotinus and Augustine are not incompatible.
3. What did you like about Plotinus understanding of the trinity? What’s your view of Augustine’s psychological model of the Trinity?