Plotinus, the Undescended Soul, and the Chariot of the Soul (ὄχημα πνεῦμα) (p. 55-67)


Daniel J. Tolan (

Fellow at The Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Abstract: Plotinus may be understood as the father of Neoplatonism; however, his understanding of the soul departs from ‘Platonic orthodoxy’ both in respect to his belief in the undescended soul and in his lack of use of the chariot of the soul (ochēma pneuma). This article suggests that these are connected and that, rather than the soul taking on layers of embodiment, it is the undescended soul that takes on lower parts of the soul to mediate its relationship with the body.

Plotinus and the Chariot of the Soul (pdf)