The Classical Quarterly

Research Article

Plotinus and India

A. H Armstrong

One of the most interesting recent attempts to interpret the peculiarities of Plotinus's philosophy is that of Bréhier in his ‘La Philosophie de Plotin’(Bibl. de la Revue des Cours et Conférences, Boivin, Paris, 1928). His thesis, contained in the last four chapters of the work, is that Plotinus, instead of being simply the continuator of the Greek rationalist tradition, is the founder of modern European Idealism, or, perhaps more accurately, Pantheism. ‘Avec Plotin nous saisissons done le premier chatnon d'une tradition religieuse qui n'est pas moins puissante au fond en Occident que la tradition chretienne …’. He is the spiritual ancestor of Spinoza and Hegel. It is interesting in passing to compare this view with that of Dean Inge, for whom Plotinus is the spiritual begetter of S. Thomas Aquinas. The divergences of modern interpreters of the Plotinian metaphysic are often both amusing and suggestive.