Plotinus on the Parthood and Agency of Individual Souls

In: Méthexis
Dániel Attila Kovács Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary
Institute of Philosophy at Research Centre for the Humanities, Budapest, Hungary

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Plotinus criticizes the view that individual human souls are parts of the world-soul arguing that they would lack individual agency since their alleged actions would have to be attributed to the whole they are parts of (iii.1.4). He nevertheless holds that individual souls are parts of a larger whole, the so-called hypostasis soul, a soul that does not ensoul any body but encompasses and produces all individual souls including the world-soul (iv.3.4.14–21; iv.8.36–12; iv.9.5). In this paper, I ask whether Plotinus, in the face of his own arguments, can consistently attribute agency to individual souls and hold that they are parts of the hypostasis soul. I argue that Plotinus’ model of intelligible mereology (vi.2.20) allows individual souls to depend on the hypostasis soul as parts in a way that grounds their agency by providing them with the capacity for rational thought.

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