Plotinus' fiercely polemical treatise
Against the Gnostics has proved peculiarly resistant to modern methods of criticism. So much so, that historians of philosophy frequently end up attributing to Plotinus himself the very beliefs which Plotinus attempts to demolish in his criticism of the Gnostics.
Denis O'Brien attempts to unravel this paradox by showing that, in earlier treatises of the
Enneads, Plotinus puts forward a theory of the generation of matter by soul, which he then takes for granted in his attack on the Gnostics. This leads to a wholly new understanding of Plotinus' 'theodicy' and of the way in which Plotinus himself conceived of his relation to the Gnostics.
Denis O'Brien's analysis should highlight tired commonplaces and support the view that a consistent and original philosophy underlies the complexities and obscurities of the text of the
Denis O'Brien is a former Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, and former fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Dr. O'Brien has lived and worked in France since 1971. His publications cover the whole field of ancient philosophy from the Presocratics to Plotinus.
...très intéressant par les critiques qu'il apporte en cours de démonstration aux interprétations diverses qui ont été données...'
Connaissance des Religions, 1993.
The straight-forward, unadorned writing style makes this book on Plotinus'confrontation with Gnosticism in Enneads 2.9
an approachable and informative read.'
Lisa Marie Esposito Buckley,
Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 1994.
...this book deserves the serious attention of Plotinus scholars as well as those who want to see a good and concise example of philological rigor in the service of ancient philosophy.'
Lloyd P. Gerson,
Ancient Philosophy, 1994.
Universities and academic libraries, students and specialists of ancient philosophy and gnosticism.