A leading scholar of the interconnections between Plotinus' thought and the thought of the Gnostics whom he disliked so much, Jean-Marc Narbonne discusses some of the Plotinian texts and ideas which make more sense if we see them in dialogue with the Gnostics.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Plotinus"
We explore Plotinus' One and the (human) self's encounter with the One. ‘Naked with stillness, on the edge of dawn she stays.’
Episode 117: The Esoteric Plotinus, Part II: Unsaying the Real
We discuss the ineffable in Plotinus: how it is deployed, how it is esoteric, how scholars have tried to deal with it, and how not least among its paradoxical functions is to call us to the highest initiation.
We further explore matters astrological, Plotinian, Platonist, scientific, divinatory, symbolic, and more, and address the problem of astrologers getting it right when that shouldn't really be possible.
Episode 116: Plotinus on Astrology with Marilynn Lawrence
We speak with Marilynn Lawrence, authority on Platonism, Hellenistic astrology, and the intersection of the two, about Plotinus' theoretical writings on the science of the stars.
We discuss aspects of the esoteric found in two distinct sources – Porphyry's Life of Plotinus and Plotinus' own writings – and think through them. The esoteric Platonist exegete meets the late pagan holy man; are they the same person?
We discuss Plotinus on ‘magic’, in theory, and, yes, in practice. Come for magic as applied physics, stay for the apotropaic chickens.
With Mateusz Stróżyński as our anagogue, we travel further up the winding ways of Plotinian philosophy as way-of-life and transformative, practical disciline.
We discuss Plotinian anthropology and spiritual practices with Mateusz Stróżyński. Come for the stripping away of the illusory, bodily self, stay for the luminous, all-encompassing sphere of the higher reality.
We discuss Plotinus' controversial doctrine that some aspect of the human being never descends into the materialised kosmos, but remains eternally in the noetic. More importantly, we discuss Plotinus' descriptions of what it is like to be that higher aspect of the human being. Dig eternity!
Episode 112: We are the One: Plotinus’ Participatory Metaphysics
Plotinus' universe is uniquely full of the human self, which extends all the way from the sucking mud of matter's non-existence to the ultimate profundity of the One's non-existence, and all the existent bits in-between. We discuss some of the ways in which this human metaphysical terrain is explored in the Enneads.
We talk about how Plotinus defined himself and his lineage, versus how modern scholars tend to define these things. We discuss Plotinus' unusual esoteric perennialism, his allegiance to the Ancients, and why, though he may have been a Platonist, he didn't think so.
Episode 111: ‘The Philosopher of our Time’: Introducing Plotinus
Plotinus was the greatest philosopher of late antiquity, and one of the most crucial thinkers for the long story of western esotericism. We introduce his amazing philosophy and the basics of his biography.
Episode 97: Aron Reppmann Introduces Origen of Alexandria
Professor Aron Reppmann introduces the life, thought, and esotericism of Origen of Alexandria, one of the greatest church-fathers, Platonist theologian par excellence, and revolutionary scriptural exegete.
We investigate the esoteric practice of one of Middle Platonism's most enigmatic figures, the great Numenius of Apamea.
We continue our conversation with Dylan Burns, exploring the contours of Platonist esotericism from a number of different angles.
Episode 63: Dylan Burns on the ‘Underworld of Platonism’
Building on our previous episode, where we introduced 'Middle Platonism', in this interview we investigate the middle Platonist 'Underworld', religio-philosophical texts of antiquity which became mainstays of later western esoteric traditions: the Chaldæan Oracles, the Hermetica, and the Gnostic tractates.
We continue our conversation with Professor Dillon, exploring the contours of the Middle Platonist traditions in more detail, not excluding its esoteric 'underworld'.
After the final Pythagorean died, all was quiet. And then, suddenly, people started going around calling themselves Pythagoreans. Growing long beards. Hailing Pythagoras as an ancient magus-sage. Positing a monad as the ultimate source of reality. Welcome to Neopythagoreanism.
Episode 45: Stoic Physics and Esoteric Metaphysics
The Stoics had a naturalistic physical theory which, strangely, had a huge influence both on esoteric spirituality and on occult sciences. In this, our final episode on Stoicism, we discuss three key terms from Stoic physics and their surprising afterlives in western esotericism.