Thursday, March 31, 2011


So reverse your way of thinking, or you will be left deprived of God, like the people at festivals who by their gluttony stuff themselves with things which it is not lawful for those going in to the gods to take, thinking that these are more obviously real than the vision of the god for whom they ought to be celebrating the festival, and take no part in the rites within. Yes, in these our rites also the god, since he is not seen, creates disbelief in his existence in those who think that that alone is obviously real which they see only with the flesh; as if people who slept through their life thought the things in their dreams were real and obvious, but, if someone woke them up, disbelieved in what they saw with their eyes open and went to sleep again.

- Plotinus, Ennead V.5.11, trans. Armstrong

1 comment:

Malcolm Chisholm said...

C. S. Peirce in A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God, states:

"Real" is a word invented in the thirteenth century to signify having Properties, i.e. characters sufficing to identify their subject, and possessing these whether they be anywise attributed to it by any single man or group of men, or not. Thus, the substance of a dream is not Real, since it was such as it was, merely in that a dreamer so dreamed it; but the fact of the dream is Real, if it was dreamed; since if so, its date, the name of the dreamer, etc., make up a set of circumstances sufficient to distinguish it from all other events; and these belong to it, i.e. would be true if predicated of it, whether A, B, or C Actually ascertains them or not. The "Actual" is that which is met with in the past, present, or future.

If Peirce is right, was Plotinus using the word "reality"? Also, was Plotinus wise to choose the analogy of the dream, given what Peirce says?