The Primary Substance in Plotinus’ Metaphysics: A Little-Known Concept

in Phronesis
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This article addresses primary and universal ousia, the first level of the intelligible, in Plotinus’ metaphysics. In Treatise 43 (6.2), Plotinus argues that the five ‘great kinds’ of the Sophist constitute its exclusive ‘completives’ (τὰ συµπληρωτικὰ τῆς οὐσίας); species only appear later within the intelligible realm, at the level of particular ousiai. The relationship between universal Intellect and particular intellects therefore finds an exact correspondence in the connection between primary ousia and particular ousiai within the intelligible realm. Plotinus’ innovative ontology thus integrates the heritage of the Sophist while breaking with the Aristotelian model connecting genus and species.

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