• Eva Brann1
  • 1St. John's College


To what extent can philosophy speak to and write about what is most fundamental to itself? This essay sorts through aspects of the problem of Plato's alleged "unwritten doctrine." The essay begins by moving back to Plato's teacher and the non-doctrinal investigations of Socrates, which are grounded in the positing of hypotheses and dialogic questioning. Following this move, the essay turns forward to Plotinus's later, more systematic presentations where the use of terms like "the one" and "the good" are not only beyond being but "are" non-objects, unable to be intuited by the intellect. These terms serve as pointers to "what" can only be realized through the soul's blissful union with its non-objective source and ground.


  • Plato
  • the unwritten doctrines
  • Plotinus

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