Proclus on the Two Causal Models for the One’s Production of Being: Reconciling the Relation of the Henads and the Limit/Unlimited

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Jonathan Greig Austrian Academy of Sciences (Institute for Medieval Research)

Search for other papers by Jonathan Greig in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



In Proclus’ metaphysics, the One produces Being through a mediated set of principles which are the direct causes of Being. While the henads (ἑνάδες) feature prominently as these principles, Proclus posits a second set of principles, the Limit and Unlimited, to explain the aspects of unity and plurality found in all beings. Initially there seems to be a tension in these two sets of principles: Proclus does not immediately clarify how they interact with each other or their relationship to each other. In Elements of Theology Prop. 159, he even seems to say that the Limit/Unlimited produce the henads—which contradicts the henads’ nature as pure ‘ones’. This article analyzes this issue by surveying three contemporary solutions that have been posed to address the tension, while also offering a new alternative: the Limit and Unlimited, as the first henads to emerge from the One, causally determine all subsequent henads according to their respective unique character (ἰδιότης), while both sets are ultimately derived from the One according to their subsistence (ὕπαρξις)—preserving the henads’ natures as simply ‘one’ like the One-itself.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 2655 2320 24
Full Text Views 55 19 0
PDF Views & Downloads 98 36 0