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Category: Nemo – Books On Trial

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (10)‏

Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2013 21:28:13 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
Hi Richard,

Have you thought of writing or already written memoirs? I think I’d enjoy reading them.
Your second story reminded me of the Confessions by St. Augustine,
in which he grieved over the death of his beloved friend.

Descartes might say this about your “This is the census” moment: “I lisp, therefore I exist”.
But how would you interpret the “parable”?

What caused you to stop ministering at the palliative care unit after ten years?


a parable is in the eye of the beholder, Nemo,  
nearly by definition, and therefore wide in the
possible breadth of its interpretation, that wide
net, should it catch the imagination of many,
can describe a potent, though indefinable,
moral precept that even whole communities
can then propagate and follow, mysticized
fairy tales, for these last serve a similar
purpose, maybe the age of the listener,
reader, here, is the distinguishing factor,
adults have a hard time with fairy tales 
dimension to my lisp, if you’re asking what
moral precept I derived from that tale, it is
that something was profoundly watching,
unobtrusive, but gently ready to nudge just
enough to inspire hope, like a second wind
I felt, however solipsistically, that something,
someone, was listening, and that was enough,
that indeed would be, wouldn’t you think,
though the information was entirely
metaphorical and abstract 
but I’ve experienced too many moments of
transcendence not to subsribe to a more
than merely rational agenda, Shakespeare
again, There are more things in heaven and
earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your
philosophy.” – Hamlet, act 1, scene 5,
lines 186–187 – which I heartily second
no philosopher has ever admitted that but
Proust and Beethoven, which is why I’ve
somewhat put aside classic philosophy,
though I love the Moralists, after Rome
and before Christianity, Saint Augustine,
I’m afraid, however, distorted the facts,
as well as his great acuity, in order to
entrench a mythology, the dominion of
numinous, entirely male, incidentally,
Trinity, forcing Truth into a submissive,
not to say penitent, and furthermore
impotent, corner until the very Renaissance, 
specifically until Descartes, and, by the way,
until his near contemporary, Shakespeare,
1564 -1616, nearly the equal of Beethoven
and Proust in his philosophical perspicacity, 
To be, or not to beis of course the first
existential soliloquy of our era
Descartes, 1596 – 1650
after ten years at palliative care I had changed,
and the unit had changed, it had become more
regimented and constrictive than it had been in
its early, more companionable, and not yet so
regimented, years, I now had to go through
security to get to my station, which was not at
all the spirit in which I’d entered the service
I am now, I’m imagining, a poet, and live and
write accordingly, these very missives, Nemo, 
are my memoirs, at present you are my muse
I hope you’re “enjoy[ing] reading them



Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (9)


Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2013 16:20:33 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus


You wrote, “I am at the most aware of only one thought, that thought being that
something is thinking,”

Unless you argue that something can think without a thought, there are at least two thoughts here. First, the awareness that something is thinking. Second, if something is thinking, that something is thinking a thought. As you said, “consciousness of my consciousness”. There are two “consciousness”:

There is a thinker who is thinking a thought, and there is an observer who is thinking of the thinker. If the thinker and the observer are the same, the thought becomes an infinite recursion, like an image reflected in two parallel mirrors. This is partly why I said people who speculate this have way too much time, in fact, only eternity would suffice.

the world and everything in it is in the eye of the beholder

Where is the beholder himself, if everything is in his eye? Does the world exist when the beholder closes his eye?



you’ve grasped the Cartesian dilemma,
Nemo, the solipsistic circumference – see
This is the census again on that last
series of sibilants – that defines our, not
eternal, as you suggest, but very mortal
coil“, our incarnate cage, or soul, if you
many parts“, or woman, solipsistically
and fatally, however remarkable, or
even historic, their contribution
Plato died, Proust died, either leaving
merely ephemeral ideas and, however
celebrated and honoured, dust
it is a frightening, and sobering, conclusion,
we cannot escape the prison of our reason
but with the key alone of our imagination,
for everything beyond the logic of that first
statement is conjecture, the play of our fears
and desires 
something is thinking, I think, then identify
with, become the vessel of, that idea, or, if
you prefer, that thought
that thought is still a conjecture, but it has
an immediacy you can’t deny, it is your
entire, quite literally, reality 
but any other thought is of course also
conjecture, just without the manifest
incontrovertibility of the idea of one’s own
existence, my orange might be your red,
but I’ll never be you, or what I interpret as
you, which is not at all how the other guy
sees you either, my lens is merely my
picture of the world, what is real 
reason has done a great job of holding it
all together for most of us, but it rests
fundamentally on the wings of our fallible,
of course, imagination, but for the absolute
apparently miracle of mathematics, which
seems to subsist even without our
speculation, popping up like signposts
everywhere, an existential guardian angel,
Pythagoras, maybe, was right  
not even dimensions, Nemo, I woke up
after a week in a coma, a car accident, in
a white room, quiet, empty, with only what
seemed like motes floating on a ray of light
coming in from a window, still, ethereal, and
perhaps, I wondered, part of a new afterlife,
who knew, I couldn’t assume I was alive, I
only knew that I existed in an unfamiliar
height, I reasoned, and width, I thought,
were evident, there are at least here two
dimensions, and calmly contemplated
the possibility of the same exile the villains
had felt early in Superman“, cast away in
their two-dimensional prisons
Kant was wrong, I concluded, we do not
assume time and space as initial certainties,
I don’t have depth yet   
later a nurse came in from the centre of my
frame creating at least the impression of a
third spatial element, after which I
concentrated on getting better
that my first thought was of Kant after a
week in a coma has remained for me a
searing example of my essentially
cerebral proclivities, be they ever
nevertheless so fundamentally
unsubstantiated, I think that’s a riot
Does the world exist when the beholder closes
his eye“, you ask 
who knows
though I would think so

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (8)‏

Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2013 16:48:26 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
It’s very touching story, Richard. Thanks for sharing. Though the last sentence is a bit anti-climatic, since I have as much reverence for Proust as you Plato. 🙂

For how long did you volunteer in the palliative care unit?

so many pathways have opened up, Nemo,
in our conversation, I’d determined to tackle
them in their chronological order despite
the immediacy, for me, of each question,
each philosophical paradox you might
propose, the order of your submissions 
but this reply of yours has me still laughing,
indeed guffawing, and I didn’t want to forego
the possibility of transferring the spontaneity
and exhilaration of the moment if in delivering
my response swiftly I could, timing talks, in 
other words, too
that our views would be so diametrically
opposed, my Proust your Plato, is, I think,  
hilarious, even, I believe, maybe karmic
another story, another, for me, it appears,
maybe parable, while grieving I’d taken
time off work, cause work, of course, itself
had lost all meaning, why would I hurt in a
world I no longer wanted to even live in,
I had majored in Camus, had been
prodoundly influenced by his L’Étranger“,
The Stranger“, and was drowning in the
to while away the time somewhat productively
– I’d understood that to merely sit and wait
would not of itself allow me to die, and I wasn’t
about to myself wittingly end it, the conclusion
I’d reached from another revelatory moment,
but that’s another story – I took on a job as a
census worker, going from door to door,
some hundreds of them, if not thousands, 
in my neighbourhood, introducing myself
each time as their census taker, “This is
the census”, I said 
have you even sensed the sibilants, Nemo, 
in that sentence, if you haven’t yet already
counted them, for that matter there are 
even more in this corollary one
I lisp, not in a pronounced manner but,
I’m aware, somewhat noticeably, found
out that my father also did, though strangely
I’d never registered it, my mother after he’d
died, in a conversation with me, noted it 
try saying “This is the census” some
hundreds if not thousands of times, Nemo,
the joke becomes cosmic, and indeed it did,
I knew God, or the entity that responded to
my prayers, was about, it was the moment
at which I first smiled, I think I might even
have giggled  
I worked, or rather, I ministered, at palliative
care for ten years, to answer your other

psst: despite our profound, it appears,
          philosophical divergences, Nemo,
          let’s be friends, I would not hold
          your views against you, all roads,
          I believe, lead to Rome, so long as 
          it doesn’t block altogether one’s
          also philosophers must always be
          open to the next question, for none
          of them, they know, can ever be
          definite, the lesson is in the 
          conversation, and I’m having here
          a great time 
          thank you 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (7)‏

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 21:45:49 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus.

To apply Plotinus’ theory of memory to Alzheimer, and answer your earlier question. The disease damaged the first component of memory, i.e., our memory storage facility, but it leaves the second and third components intact, where “we” are most active. People afflicted with Alzheimer are no less human than the rest, because they still have their thoughts, emotions, desires, judgment and will.

To use analogy, I’d liken living with Alzheimer to walking on the beach. Our memory is like the footprints we leave in the sand, which are constantly washed away by the waves, but the lack of footprints doesn’t prevent us from continue walking/living

I have no doubt that there is a soul, a human
entity, behind even a vegetative living being,
Nemo, let me tell you a story, I worked for
years in a palliative care unit as a volunteer
after the death of my beloved, who had died
there in one of their first units in the late 80s,
it was my way of saying thank you
a woman there lay in extremis, making no
sense of the fray that stirred ceaselessly
about her, her family distraught over her
perilous state fussing and worrying,
helpless and trying to find nevertheless
purpose midst unfamiliar and stressful
feelings, awash in their stray, unsettled, 
their senior member, an actual pastor,
asked if I would sit by their mother’s side
while they all took a necessary break for
lunch, of course I immediately acceded,
that’s what I was there for    
gently I sat by her side, I had found
solace in a particular Oriental esoteric
faith meanwhile for my own debilitating
anguish, which had bequeathed me a
chant that would settle often and with
reverence my most aggrieved moments,
little by little it had rendered
acknowledgment, resolve, and, dare I
say, even grace, to my distress 
I began to murmur this chant as I lay my
hand upon her arm, she all aflutter from
her chronic delirium trying to find,
hopelessly it appeared, a place to settle,
I could only with my touch console
somewhat, I wistfully imagined
in my monotone I continued to issue
the palliative vowel sounds, surrounding
them with as much compassion and
gentle harmony as I could muster,
knowing that these must reach the soul,
something I had been discovering from
my own fraught experience
her body began to settle, there was no
question of reaching her mind, any kind
of intelligible conversation, but you do
that also with a very young child, and like
a very young child she continued to
to my chant, which had been like a river
flowing, constant and murmuring, finding
the most soothing paths of a trickling 
rhythm, she began to harmonize
row, row, row, your boat, she began
to sing, haltingly of course, at first
tentatively, but then with more and
more, though ever reliant, confidence
I believe that God had been talking 
there to all of us, I turned to see the
family standing in the doorway, still
and hushed
where, Nemo, does that leave philosophy
therefore Proust   

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (6)‏

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 20:54:23 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus

Hi Richard,

Actually Plotinus posited a memory model that might be quite similar to yours if I understand you correctly. There are three components in this model, the object stored in our memory, our act of remembering as if retrieving an object from storage, and the activated/retrieved image of the object in our mind. To answer your friend’s retort, we are all three components combined, though most prominent in the second component.

You object to the idea of thoughts having their object existence outside our consciousness, but you agree that we’re aware of our thoughts at the same time as we’re aware of our own existence. Is that a fair representation of your position?

If so, thoughts have just as valid an existence in our consciousness as ourselves. Ergo, there are thoughts. 🙂

P.S. People who speculate on this stuff have way too much time on their hands

if I haven’t replied forthwith, Nemo, to your
comment, it is that I found myself with too
little time on my hands to do other things
that required my more immediate, in my
opinion, attention, though I believe time
spent speculating is never a waste of
way too much time on [one’s} hands“,
where would Plato be, or Descartes, or
Russell, Nietzsche, Proust, yes, Proust,
my most revered lingerer, and the answer
to all my philosophical prayers, but that’s
another story I’m sure we’ll get to, if they
hadn’t dawdled around profundities 
and who’s to say we’re not up to the
mark, and who could say we are, but
for conversations that test the waters,
like this one
so I, for one, will deliberate when I get
the chance, which, incidentally, is not a
lot of the time, despite objections that I
might be nevertheless still wasting it 
and I return to the fray like a kid to a
very candy shop
let me point out that Plato would be
proud of us, would’ve been proud of
us, to whose time frame should we
here, do you think, refer, I think Plato
this time could take prominence, if
you’ll allow this playful speculative
this, our talk, is his Socrates discussing
with his Euthyphro, or his other acolytes,
ephebes, describing the Socratic Method,
Nemo, we’re carrying on the tradition,
which 2500 years later still vigorously
Plato, incidentally, c. 428 BC – c. 347 BC
there are a few problems in your argument,
from my perspective, you say “you agree that
we’re aware of our thoughts at the same time as
we’re aware of our own existence”, but that’s an
extrapolation, I am at the most aware of only
one thought, that thought being that
something is thinking, no more, no less
but reason interjects, applies itself to
consciousness, and concludes that
something has just thought, the element
of time and memory enters the fray here,
but not yet explicitly, they are the
handmaidens of consciousness 
if something is thinking, which by the very
act of thinking this I am doing, something
must be doing it, I’ve already conceived of
this consciousness as, for me, irrefutably
real, having had already an impression
of it 
whatever other impression I might add to
this composite, however, is arbitrary and
therefore moot with respect to what might
actually philosophically be real
the world and everything in it is in the eye
of the beholder 
think about it
thoughts are an extrapolation from all
that we can be sure we know, but all
of it is nothing more than a dream
see Shakespeare
          “………………………..We are such stuff
           As dreams are made on; and our little life
            Is rounded with a sleep.”
                                             The Tempest – act 4, scene 1
                                                                            lines 156 -158  

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (5)‏

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 10:01:30 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment]  “Ennead I” by Plotinus.

Let’s go through it point by point.

1. When someone says, “I think”, he is obviously thinking of something, i.e., thoughts. I’m aware and conscious of my thoughts.

2. “I think” necessarily means there are thoughts.

3. The difference between the statements “I think” and “there are thoughts” is that the latter does not presuppose the existence of the “I”.

4. To prove the existence of the “I”, we cannot presuppose its existence. Therefore, we cannot use the statement “I think” or anything with a subject “I”.

5. We are left with the statement, “There are thoughts”.

Which of the above arguments do you disagree with and why?

first of all, Nemo, let me say that I haven’t had as
much fun since a couple of weeks ago when a
friend and I were trying to come to a conclusion
about the meaning of memory, is memory all of
one’s memories, or is it the process of
I thought the process set the thing in motion
after which the memories themselves took
but for the process to take hold you need at
least two memories, my friend more or less  
retorted, I paraphrase 
where does that leave us
I’m still thinking about it 
perhaps we’ll end up at the same place,
loggerheads, but let’s try 
I object to your second proposition, ““I
think” necessarily means there are thoughts“,
I believe “I think” to mean only “I think”,
nothing more, nothing less, these two
words are our speculative arena   
but I admit you have a point, to think
presupposes a thought, and perhaps
not as peripherally as I’d thought
previously, if I refer to my earlier,
memory, model 
but before you jump up and down in
apparent victory remember that the
thought cannot be thought without
the thinker, who initiates the thought 
an apparent paradox, much like the
relation between energy and matter,
which came first 
I believe the consciousness of my
consciousness came first, and from
there I evolved the process that gives
order to my world, memory, and then
its development into reason
but that’s just what I think, and, of
course, I could be wrong 
essentially I, of course, must be wrong
somewhere, but I’ll never know where
nor will I know where I’m right, ever
on questions of philosophical speculation, 
of course, without the advantage of
mathematics, the closest thing I can think
of, incidentally, to what we think of as God,
or is that, to what I think of, me, no one else,
what do I know of what others are thinking
of, as God, there goes He, She, It, out the
window, as a Jungian idea of collective
unified consciousness, or as a frozen
Platonic, universally conceded, ideal   
what I do know is that I exist  
that’s also, I think, all you know 
the rest is entirely speculation
thank you Descartes 
psst: all that speculation, note, is what has,
           to my mind, made a paradise, for some,
           of our world, for others a work of always
           fascinating and wondrous invention  
           read Proust

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (4)

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 05:43:44 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus

The Latin “cogito ergo sum” is actually closer to the interpretation I had in mind at the beginning,”There are thoughts, therefore there is a thinker”. If you accept that as a valid argument, then you’re closer to accepting the existence of God. “There is creation, therefore there is a Creator”.

The Republic of Plato is not ruled by an autocrat, but by Reason and knowledge. Come to think of it, Plato should be hailed as the Father of Enlightenment. 🙂 I’ve written a post on the Republic too, if you like to discuss it further.

Plato’s theory of the nature of the universe in Timaeus encompasses both change and immutability, and Plotinus explains this in Ennead III.

“Cogito, ergo sum”, Nemo, I have to insist, is
not There are thoughts“, as you argue, it is
“Cogito”, “I think”, “I grasp consciousness”,
“I perceive”, it is not an acknowledgment of
any more than its own consciousness, “there
are thoughts” is a further, and only peripheral,
application, thoughts themselves are entirely
speculative and without any firm basis but
this is a fundamental disagreement in our
discussion which needs to be recognized
and acknowledged, it doesn’t seem to have
been as yet 
There is creation” therefore, in my opinion,
is presumptuous at best, though the
proposition seems manifestly, even 
irrationally, obvious, which has nothing to
do, nevertheless, with Descartes, and what
we’re discussing 
should you wish to discuss more intuitive
subjects, I’ll pass, cause faith, and oratory,  
have no basis in anything other than mere
seduction, the Greeks called it rhetoric and
reason, of the Greeks, and of our epoch, is
still my essential arbiter, though my own
personal mystical devotion is ardent and
it is however, my own personal mystical
devotion, merely evident and convincing
by example, not argument  
but I digress    
I’ll read your post on “The Republic“, a
treatise I’ve found even repulsive, I’ll read
again Timaeus“, or as much of it as I can
again tolerate, and read your Ennead III“,
or did Plotinus write three “Ennead”s,
hope to discover enlightenment
psst: o my god, he wrote Vl 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (3)‏


having thrilled at the very first moment of an
apparent convergence on the Internet with
a kindred spirit, of the intellect, let me point
out, rather than of the more pressing, for
some, senses, I gurgled out a ready program 
of philosophical positions to him meant to
engage and perhaps more profoundly
together ponder   
to my delight the conversation took hold
and is ensuing, I thought I’d share 
here is the third instalment, the first two are
available on my counterpart’s impressive blog,
“Ennead”, of which to date he’s got three 
at the bottom in the comments section,
should you be interested 
how, of course, could you not      
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 19:19:11 +0000
To Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
Descartes did not prove the existence of “I”. To prove that something exists, you cannot presuppose its existence and say “something” does this or that. In other words, “I exist” is the condition that comes before “I think”, not after. If Descartes wanted to prove the existence of “I”, he made the mistake of circular logic, putting the cart before the horse.Even if we grant that the individual is conscious of the “I”. Does the “I” exist as a part, a mere concept, in his thoughts, just as other people exist as mere concepts of his thoughts, or is there an “I” beyond his consciousness? To borrow the imagery of Plotinus, does the Moon exist as part of the reflection in the water, or does it exist independently outside the water?

Plato’s theory encompasses both change and immutability. They are incomplete without the other, nay, they cannot exist without the other. This is proven by our own experience. We can observe changes only because we’re using something static as a reference

first of all, Nemo, thank you for this conversation,
I’m finding this exercise very stimulating, not many 
have called me on my philosophical positions, not
many, I suspect, having given these positions much
thought in the first place, you are perhaps a kindred
spirit, what a delight 
and as such I can only be, respectfully and humbly
ever, forthright 
in a Socratic, as it were, contract 
this part of Plato, incidentally, is the only part I accept,
his celebration of the Socratic Method, to put words
later into the greater philosopher’s mouth, to me, is
highly unethical, especially to spout with that authority
such drivel  
you can tell I don’t like Plato
the flurry of consciousness is the clue, in Descartes,
the moment of realization, the inkling of perception,
that allows us to know that something is behind that,
producing that, without which there would be no
actuality, that something is what we call “I”
interestingly, “Cogito, ergo sum”, the Latin, often used,
translation of the original French, “Je pense, donc je
suis”, doesn’t show an “I” in its very grammar, which
is an apt demonstration of the proposition we are
if there is conscioussness of something being
conscious, something must be being conscious,
that something Descartes called “moi”, we call
“me”, others call whatever they call it   
therefore I am
but I could not have done that without consciousness,
nebulous and indeterminate consciousness, but that’s
all we have, all we’ve ever had   
Plato tried to fashion an alternate, paternalistic, I might
add, conscience driven, later driven-by-Christian-fear,
reality, somewhere out there, that lasted for all of the 
Middle, did I say Middle or Dark, Ages, a good thousand,
count them, thousand, years, conservatively even
Nietzsche got rid of that, finally, but still all of nearly
five hundred years later
where does Plato “encompass[–] both change and
immutability“, “The Republic” makes short shrift of
that, how is this “proven by our own experience
I like “We can observe changes only because we’re
using something static as a reference“, where did
you get that, I’ll have to ponder it
but “static” is my stumbling block, in a world
I cannot see as in any way static, autocratic,
read also Ovid 
psst: I’m putting this thrilling conversation on my 
            blog, look out for it