Plotinus: Ennead Ii.5: On What Is Potentially And What Actually: Translation With An Introduction And Commentary (The Enneads Of Plotinus)
Publish Date: 2015-07-31
Author: Cinzia Arruzza
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The term dunamis (potentiality) entered into the philosophical vocabulary with Plato, but it was with Aristotle that it acquired, together with energeia (actuality), the strong technical meaning that the two terms have maintained, with variations, throughout subsequentphilosophical tradition.
The significance of the notions of actuality and potentiality in Plotinus thought can hardly be overstated. Throughout the Enneads, they are crucial to understanding the specific causality of intelligible realities and the relation of participation betweenintelligible and sensible realms.
In Ennead II.5, Plotinus for the first time provides a systematic clarification of his peculiar use of these terms, through a sustained revision of Aristotles own elaboration of the topic and of his terminology. The treatise discusses the differentmeanings of potentiality and actuality as well as the way each of themapplies or does not apply to the sensible realm, to the intelligible realm, and to matter.
While the structure of the text unfolds in a coherent and cohesive manner, Plotinus writing in this treatise is dense andat times dry in its technicality. The detailed commentary guides the reader step by step, making an otherwise particularly difficult text accessible.