Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance


Where does the soul fit into Plotinus’ system of Platonic entities?

All individual souls form one world soul, which comes after Intelligence. Some souls are disembodied, but those that are in bodies have additional “accretions.” Humans, animals, and plants all have souls that are immortal, substantial (that is, they are substances) and incorporeal (not physical). Because they are incorruptible, individual souls may be reincarnated in different bodies.

The soul emanates or effulgurates from Intelligence, just as Intelligence emanates or effulgurates from the One. These emanations from the One and Intelligence neither detract from them nor are they willed. The same is true of the emanation of matter from the soul. Although the processes of emanation from the One, Intelligence, and the Soul are very natural, Plotinus (205–270) sometimes speaks of them as selfish descents to lower states. In emanating from Intelligence, the soul is actualizing a desire to rule and it becomes too attached to its body, which can lead to its deterioration. However, even when it is incarnated, the soul also lives in Intelligence.


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