New Book: Philosophic Silence and the ‘One’ in Plotinus

I am very happy to draw attention to the forthcoming publication of Nicholas Banner’s Philosophic Silence and the ‘One’ in Plotinus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). I was lucky enough to read some of it when it was still in production, and it was great stuff. From the book’s website here:

Plotinus, the greatest philosopher of Late Antiquity, discusses at length a first principle of reality – the One – which, he tells us, cannot be expressed in words or grasped in thought. How and why, then, does Plotinus write about it at all? This book explores this act of writing the unwritable. Seeking to explain what seems to be an insoluble paradox in the very practice of late Platonist writing, it examines not only the philosophical concerns involved, but the cultural and rhetorical aspects of the question. The discussion outlines an ancient practice of ‛philosophical silence’ which determined the themes and tropes of public secrecy appropriate to Late Platonist philosophy. Through philosophic silence, public secrecy and silence flow into one another, and the unsaid space of the text becomes an initiatory secret. Understanding this mode of discourse allows us to resolve many apparent contradictions in Plotinus’ thought.

Part I. The Cultural Roots of Platonist Philosophic Silence:
1. De philosophorum Graecorum silentio mystico: preliminaries
2. The silent philosopher
3. Perennial wisdom and Platonist tradition
4. Plotinus and ‘the Ancients’: tradition, truth and transcendence
Part II. The Transcendent Absolute, the Ineffable and Plotinian Poetics of Transcendence:
5. The development of the Transcendent Absolute in the Middle Platonist milieu
6. The Transcendent Absolute and the ineffability of reality in Plotinus
7. The poetics of transcendence in Plotinus.