Oneness, Nonbeing, Intelligibility and Omnipresence in the Global Third Century: Plotinus and Wang Bi (Departmental Seminar)

Joining the Seminar face-to-face:
Limited seats for face-to-face seminar. Registrations will be handled on a first come, first served basis.
Register by 30 November 2023: https://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/webform/view.php?id=13678778

Joining the Seminar online:
No registration is required.
Link: https://cuhk.zoom.us/j/98822140092
Meeting ID: 988 2214 0092

Tel: 3943 7135
Email: philosophy@cuhk.edu.hk



Plotinus and Wang Bi, the nominal founders of what are sometimes retrospectively called Neo-Platonism and Neo-Daoism respectively, lived at the same time, on opposite sides of the globe. Both were seminal thinkers, whose work set the agenda for much of the philosophical speculation done over the next thousand-plus years in their respective traditions. In this presentation I will consider the tropes of oneness, nonbeing, intelligibility and omnipresence in their thought, exploring both the apparent similarities and the salient structural differences, focusing especially on the impact these differences. Is oneness as a synonym for being and the essence of determinacy, or is oneness a structuring lack? Is nonbeing precisely indeterminacy, matter and evil, while also creeping dangerously into the definition of the transcendent One, or is nonbeing the omnipresent indeterminacy that serves as the condition of possibility for all being? Is determinate intelligibility the closest approximation available for transcendent oneness, or is it a reverse image of localized indeterminacies? Is determinacy or indeterminacy what is omnipresent? These are the questions to be explored. Of special interest will be the problem of identity of indiscernibles in Plotinus’s treatment of Matter and the One, and whether Wang Bi’s approach to parallel questions, on entirely different premises, presents a viable alternative.

Delivered in English.
All are welcome.