Author: Giovanni Panno


In the Enneads the concept of self-movement appears in different places, but Plotinus does not examine it closely. He does not do so because of the possibility of attributing this activity – directly or not – to the Hen and to the Nous, as well as to the soul. Plotinus uses autokinēsis to describe the passage from the Hen to the Nous, that is the self-reflection of the Nous. At the same time, the way the soul turns around to the Nous belongs indirectly to the autokinēsis. Self-movement as “beholding of Being and activity” (Plotinus, Enn. 6, 2, 18 [43], 5–8) is related to the whole process of flowing from the Hen, thus it also describes the activity of the Hen. In this way Plotinus points out a difference between Plato and Aristotle concerning the activity of the first principle. Aristotle refuses a self-movement for God, whereas for Plato (especially in Laws x) the Nous and the soul are self-moving first principles. Plotinus’ solution has influenced medieval apophatic theology and provided an important basis for Novalis’ first-romanticism as well as for Hegel’s system.

In: Thinking, Knowing, Acting: Epistemology and Ethics in Plato and Ancient Platonism