The problem of evil in Plotinus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



First the aim of my study is to focus on Plotinus’s conception of evil, as presented in both Ennead I 8 [51]. However, this is not the only place that Plotinus speaks about this subject. In other treatises he speaks about the evil in a context of human freedom and destiny, like Ennead III, 1 [3, III, 2 [47] and III 3 [48] or in the Ennead IV 8 [6] On the descent of soul into bodies. The big difference between Enneads I, 8, and Enneads III and IV is that the treatises that touch on evil are being analyzed in terms of mainly anthropological and existential issues. On the contrary, in Ennead I 8 [51] the problem of evil has a mainly metaphysical and theodicy treatment. We will mainly analyze the notion of absolute evil, and its consequences for the notion of matter. Second, we intend to address the possible esoteric influences on the issue of evil in Plotinus. We will try to argue that Plotinus, in the confrontation with the Gnostics, particularly in the treaty 33, that we find elements consonant with the treaty 51, and that come from a Christian and not a Gnostic influence. This one will be more esoteric than exoteric, contrary to the doctrine professed by certain Neoplatonists, after Plotinus, where exoteric and esoteric elements are mixed with philosophical thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-97
Number of pages25
JournalFlorentia Iliberritana
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022


  • Evil
  • Good
  • Matter
  • Non-being
  • Esoteric
  • Platonic
  • Neoplatonic


Dive into the research topics of 'The problem of evil in Plotinus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this