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Presented at the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies Conference, University of Cagliari, Sardinia, 2012


Though Averroes is not generally considered to be sympathetic to Neoplatonic thinking, there are definite parallels between the philosophies of intellect of Averroes and Plotinus. Both can be considered to be “Idealists” in that intelligible form precedes sensible form in perception, and that the material intellect of Averroes or Reason Principle of Plotinus, nous hylikos or pathetikos, depends in its functioning on the agent intellect of Averroes or Intellectual Principle of Plotinus, nous poietikos. The formation of the image in the oculus mentis is coincident with the formation of a thought, and the sensible form is a transient residue of the permanent intelligible form, as if it is reflected in a mirror and projected on a surface. For both philosophers, material intellect and intellect not connected to sense perception are mediated by a kind of intellectus in habitu, a practicing intellect which leads the individual to higher forms of understanding. The development of phantasmata or imprints of forms in the oculus mentis in the imagination or phantasia is the product of a dialectical relation between the mechanisms of sense perception in material intellect and an a priori understanding of forms in the intelligible, prior to the sensible. In order to be perceived, forms must be constructed, in a structuring of reality.

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