The Essence of Plotinus
Grace H. Turnbull


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The Essence of Plotinus: Extracts from the six Enneads and Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus

Based on the translation by Stephen Mackenna. With an appendix giving some of the Platonic and Aristotlean sources on which Plotinus drew, and an annotated bibliography. Foreword by W.R. Inge.

Plotinus, though so long neglected by the general public in America and England, because no good English edition has been readily available, is of equal importance with Plato and Aristotle in Greek philosophy and has influenced Christian thought more than any other single man. He was head of the Neo-Platonic School and was the classical exponent of mysticism: practically all the great mystics, pagan and Christian, echo his words, and he was an outstanding influence in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, Boetius, Bruno, Spinoza, Pascal, Emerson; among the poets who reflect him are Dante, Spenser, Schiller, Goethe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson; among modern philosophers, William James, Bergson and Whitehead.

This edition is based on the splendid translation made by Stephen Mackenna and published in 5 volumes for the Medici Society. Mr. Mackenna himself felt the urgent need of a simpler edition which would include all the passages of mystical or ethical appeal while omitting much that was purely technical. He started compiling it as soon as he had finished the larger work, but he had to abandon it. When Miss Turnbull later entertained a similar project he generously permitted her to make use of his translation in the way that she thought best. This book is the result.

The book will be of particular interest to the many who in these days take an interest in philosophy; to Christian ministers of all denominations who, led by such thinkers as Dean Inge and Troeltsch, believe that in the blending of Neo-Platonism with Christianity lies the only possible solution of the problems of the present day; to Theosophists who throughout the world have always attempted to keep acquaintance with Plotinus, but who for the most part have had to use an antiquated edition containing an imperfect translation and but fifteen of the original fifty-four treatises; and to undergraduate students at the universities.

But the general reader, too, will find that Plotinus, stripped of unnecessary obscurities will appeal to him greatly because he is not only a philosopher but a great spiritual leader, poet and artist as well. His philosophy is a practical one which can be applied to daily living. “I have lived with him for nearly thirty years,” says Dean Inge, “and I have not sought him in vain in prosperity or adversity.

The Essence of Plotinus, Compiled by Grace H. Turnbull, Oxford University Press, 1934

Hardback. Decimo. Bound in blue cloth. The book covers are worn. Pages are clean and unmarked. Dust jacket shows some wear and has been repaired where ripped at the front. A tight copy.