Friday, February 20, 2009


Ousager on Stamatellos on Paulina Remes, Plotinus on Self: The Philosophy of the 'We'. Response to BMCR 2009.01.06.
Response by Asger Ousager (

I regret to report that Stamatellos, the reviewer of Remes' 287-page book Plotinus on Self: The Philosophy of the 'We', conceals the fact that the approach of her book is fundamentally outdated from the start. Remes and her reviewer totally neglect a highly essential -- and evident -- element of Plotinian selfhood. They hereby disregard "Stand der Forschung", as this element was previously referred in, e.g., O'Daly's pioneering 121-page book "Plotinus' philosophy of the self" (1973) and has been the subject for exhaustive investigation in my book of 397 pages, "Plotinus on Selfhood, Freedom and Politics" (Aarhus University Press, 2004).

Her book states that according to Plotinus, there are two selfhoods, the corporeal and the rational. According to my book, on the other hand, these two selfhoods are demonstrably not essential to Plotinus. On the contrary, to Plotinus, the supra-rational Self of the One is paramount to any other selfhood. In the human soul, aspiring to absolute unification, this essential third element most fortunately happens to be represented -- and not just the rational and corporeal selves. In my book, I present that utterly significant point of Plotinian selfhood in context with its far-reaching consequences for both inner and outer freedom. In his review in Ancient Philosophy (2006), for instance, Dr. Barrie Fleet from the University of Cambridge certainly recognises this prominent feature of my "ambitious" book.

Whereas Remes sporadically refers to the book by her examiner O'Daly and uncritically refers to the survey book by her supervisor Sorabji, Self (2006), she does not mention my book at all, although she knows both my points of view and me perfectly well as a fellow research student from King's College London (1998-2001). I cannot help finding this un-academic silencing by both Remes and the reviewer of BMCR both peculiar and appalling. Reading only their texts, anyone genuinely interested in Plotinian selfhood will remain just as basically misguided as they are.


  1. An excellent exemplification of the principle that no-one should ever respond to a review of their own book, let alone someone else's.


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