Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plotinus and Birthdays

"Plotinus was so fervently committed to his Platonic ideas regarding the imperfection of his physical body, in contrast to the perfection of his eternal soul, that he refused to celebrate his birthday. His reasoning was that he was ashamed that his immortal soul had to be contained in such an imperfect vessel as his body, and that celebrating its birth was a cause for regret, not celebration" (John Chaffee, The Philosopher's Way: A Text with Readings, page 105).

Now I'm not citing this information to prove that we should not celebrate our day of birth (although I believe that celebrating birthdays is not a biblically based practice). However, I never knew that Plotinus did not celebrate his birthday and I found his reason for not celebrating his it to be an interesting one.



Dominick said...

Edgar that is an interesting thought!


Edgar Foster said...

I agree, Dominick. It is reminiscent of Eccl 7:1ff. This is not to say that the reasons a Christian or Jew might refuse to celebrate birthdays is identical to Plotinus' reason. Nevertheless, his logic (given his logical premises and his metaphysical scheme) seems to follow from his premises.

Best regards,