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In this paper I want to show the import and the centrality of Freedom as Creativity in the philosophy of Plotinus. I will only say a little about Freedom's cardinal role and centrality in his thought, as I defend that position at length in my forthcoming book on the topic (and on Enneads 6.8). Instead, I will show the link between Freedom and Creativity in Section 1, then speak of Creativity as a human good and ideal when understood in the Plotinian sense, touching also upon the light it sheds on general problem of philosophy (Section 2); and finally, of cosmic creativity and the parallels between Plotinus’ thought on the topic and some areas of the new physics (Section 3).

Plotinus speaks of Freedom primarily in Enneads 6.8. the treatise on Free Will of the One. According to the Plotinian Concordance, there are only another few passages, throughout the Enneads. where Plotinus discusses "freedom" directly. None of these other instances contradicts the main doctrine outlined in 6.8, and the latter is perfectly consistent with the rest of the Enneads as a whole. It is clear that I can only affirm this at this time, and not defend my contention as I have done elsewhere, with copious textual evidence. At any rate, the importance of this treatise (i.e. Enneads 6.8.) cannot be overemphasized. I have also learned a great deal about Plotinus’ thought in this regard from the late Fr. Vincenzo Cilento. particularly from some of the articles in the collected papers, titled Saggi su Plotino.


Laura Westra presented “Plotinus on Freedom, Creativity and the One” to the Society at its meeting with the Central Division of the American Philosophical Assocaiton in New Orleans in 1990. A more extensive presentation of her views may be found in her Plotinus and Freedom: A Meditation on Enneads 6.8. Edwin Mellen Press 1990.

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