Reading response of "PLOTINUS's An Essay on the Beautiful"
Plotinus had the point of view that absolute good is the ultimate source of “true beauty” that is derived from various forms of beauty that inspire people. Plotinus argues that a person cannot perceive the true essence of beauty if his or her soul does not have the ability to use intellect in appreciation of beauty (Beardsley 81). Consequently, the true meaning of beauty can be recognized by cleaning the soul and intellect of various forms of beauty.
However, Plato disagrees that the nature of beauty can only be appreciated by exercising self-control in order to remain in the present moment. For instance, a person can fall in love but refrain from physical interaction that may compromise the present feeling. Hence, the two lovers are able to preserve their ideal thoughts about each other’s beauty and the beauty of their feeling. Hence Plotinus asserts that beauty can be achieved through self-control and embracing the aesthetic of wholeness in order to see beauty and consequently God (Beardsley 81).
Though Plato’s philosophy preceded the ideas of Plotinus, they both represent beauty as an outcome of higher consciousness influenced by the ability to exercise self-control. However, their views on how beauty is discerned are divergent. Plotinus advocates becoming godlike and purification of evil through studying the “good” found in beauty while exercising self-control (Taylor). Meanwhile, Plato argues that understanding beauty requires the use of self-control to inhibit the desire to acquire and possess that which is perceived as beautiful in order to appreciate it in its wholeness and enjoy beauty for a longer period. Plotinus advocates becoming godlike and pure while Pluto embraces the aesthetic of becoming a mirror image of the desired object through keen observation.