Freedom and Praxis in Plotinus's Ennead 6.8.1-6

Bernardo Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this paper, I argue that Plotinus does not limit the sphere of free human agency simply to intellectual contemplation, but rather extends it all the way to human praxis. Plotinus’s goal in the first six chapters of Ennead 6.8 is, accordingly, to demarcate the space of freedom within human practical actions. He ultimately concludes that our external actions are free whenever they actualize, in unhindered fashion, the moral principles derived from intellectual contemplation. This raises the question of how the freedom of practical actions might relate to the freedom of intellectual contemplation. After considering two previously offered models—a model of double activity, and an Aristotelian model of practical syllogism—I offer a third alternative, namely a model of moral attunement, according to which our rational desires assume a kind of 'care of the soul' through active supervision. Practical life is thus imbued with freedom to the extent that the soul supervises its actions to conform to its will and choice of the good.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03031
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Plotinus
  • Freedom
  • Soul
  • Action
  • Practical Ethics


Dive into the research topics of 'Freedom and Praxis in Plotinus's Ennead 6.8.1-6'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this