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Plotinus, the most profound philosopher of the third century C.E., has been influential on Byzantine and Western Christianity, and Islam. In the West, Augustine brought Plotinian philosophy into Christianity, ensuring the interest of a long line of Christian thinkers. As Margaret Miles shows, Plotinus's philosophy holds both perennial attraction and offers specific contributions to particular issues at the beginning of the twenty first century. Miles offers a fresh interpretation which situates Plotinus's philosophical ideas in the context of society and culture in which those ideas developed. Using extant evidence (the Enneads, Porphyry's Life), she reconstructs an intense third-century conversation, n namely the relationship of body and soul. Mile's portrayal of Plotinus will encourage readers from a range of disciplines to question their construction of body, "self", and identity.
Margaret R. Miles is Dean and d Academic Vice-President of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, and is President of the American Academy of Religion. She was formerly Bussey Professor of historical Theology at Harvard University. Her previous books include Image as Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity and Secular Culture, Carnal Knowing: female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West, Seeing an Believing: Religion and values in the Movies, and, most recently, Reading for Life: Beauty, Pluralism, and Responsibility (1998).