Changing Interpretations of Plotinus: The Eighteenth-Century Introduction of the Concept of a ‘System of Philosophy’

  • Leo Catana
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 227)


This chapter critically explores the history and nature of a hermeneutic assumption which frequently guided interpretations of Plotinus from the eighteenth century onwards, namely that Plotinus (204/5–270 CE) advanced a system of philosophy. It is argued that this assumption was introduced relatively late, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and that it was primarily made possible by Brucker’s methodology for the history of philosophy, dating from the 1740s, to which the concept of a ‘system of philosophy’ was essential.


Plotinus methodology of the history of philosophy Brucker Creuzer Zeller Renaissance Platonism 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Leo Catana
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Philosophy, Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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