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Plotinus, «Tolma», and the Descent of Being

An Exposition and Analysis


N. Joseph Torchia

This work deals with the metaphysical scheme of Plotinus (204-270 A.D.), examining those aspects of his philosophical outlook reflecting a negative attitude toward the emergence of being. The study focuses specifically upon his use of the substantive tolma, its verbal and adjectival forms, and related terminology designating the will toward separate existence which is instrumental in the emanation of being from the One. But because the tolma connotes an illegitimate desire for «otherness» and autonomy, it also provides an interesting referent which enables us to trace pessimistic and dualistic strains running through the Enneads.