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Title: Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 2
       In Chronological Order, Grouped in Four Periods

Author: Plotinos (Plotinus)

Translator: Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie

Release Date: June 13, 2013 [EBook #42931]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Charlene Taylor, Joe C, Charlie Howard, and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian


Complete Works

In Chronological Order, Grouped in Four Periods;

BIOGRAPHY by Porphyry, Eunapius, & Suidas,
COMMENTARY by Porphyry,
ILLUSTRATIONS by Jamblichus & Ammonius,
STUDIES in Sources, Development, Influence;
INDEX of Subjects, Thoughts and Words.

Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie,
Professor in Extension, University of the South, Sewanee;
A.M., Sewanee, and Harvard; Ph.D., Tulane, and Columbia.
M.D., Medico-Chirurgical College, Philadelphia.

Vol. II
Amelio-Porphyrian Books, 22–33.


P. O. Box 42, ALPINE, N.J., U.S.A.

Copyright, 1918, by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie.
All Rights, including that of Translation, Reserved.

Entered at Stationers' Hall, by
George Bell and Sons, Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn, London.


The One Identical Essence is Everywhere Entirely Present.


1. Is it because the body of the universe is so great that the Soul is everywhere present in the universe, though being naturally divisible in (human) bodies? Or it is by herself, that she is everywhere present? In the latter case, she has not been drawn away everywhere by the body, but the body found her everywhere in existence before it; thus, in whatever place it may be, it found the Soul present before it itself was part of the universe, and the total body of the universe was located in the Soul that existed already.


But if the Soul had such an extension before the body approached her, if she already filled all space, how can she have no magnitude? Besides, how could she have been present in the universe when the latter did not yet exist? Last, being considered indivisible and non-extended, is she everywhere present without having any magnitude? If the answer be that she extended herself throughout the body of the universe without herself being corporeal, the question is not yet286 resolved by thus accidentally attributing magnitude to the Soul; for it would then be reasonable to ask how she grew great by accident. The Soul could not extend herself in the entire body in the same manner as quality, as for instance, sweetness or color; for these are passive modifications of the bodies, so that one must not be astonished to see a modification spread all over the modified body, being nothing by itself, inhering in the body, and existing only within it; that is why the soul necessarily has the same magnitude as the body. Besides, the whiteness of one part of the body does not share the experience1 (or, "passion") experienced by the whiteness of another part; the whiteness of one part is identical, in respect to species, to the whiteness of another part; but it is not identical therewith in respect to number; on the contrary, the part of the soul which is present in the foot is identical with the portion of the soul present in the hand, as may be seen in the percepts thereof. Last, what is identical in the qualities is divisible, while that which is identical in the soul is indivisible; if it be said to divide, it is in this sense that it is present everywhere.


In view of these facts, let us, starting from the very beginning, explain in a clear and plausible manner, how the soul, being incorporeal and extended, could, nevertheless, have assumed such an extension, either before the bodies, or in the bodies. If indeed one see that she was capable of assuming extension before the bodies existed, it will be easily understood that she could have done so within the bodies.


2. There exists a genuinely universal (Being). The world that we see is no more than its image. This287 veritably universal (Being) is in nothing; for nothing has proceeded from its existence. What is posterior to this universal (Being) must, to exist, be in it, since it would depend on it, and without it could neither subsist nor move. Do not therefore place our world in this genuinely universal (being) as in a place, if by place you understand the limit of the body containing so far as it contains, or a space which before had, and which still has emptiness for nature. Conceive of the foundation on which our world rests as existing in the (Being) which exists everywhere, and contains it. Conceive their relation exclusively by the mind, setting aside all local nomenclature. Indeed, when one speaks of place, it is only in relation with our visible world; but the universal (being), being the First, and possessing genuine existence, has no need of being in a place, nor in anything whatever. Being universal, it could not fail to support itself, for it fills itself, equals itself, and is where is the universal because it is this itself. What has been built on the universal, being other than it, participates in it, and approaches it, receives strength from it, not by dividing it, but because it finds it in itself, because it approaches it, since the universal ("being") is not outside of itself; for it is impossible for the essence to be in non-essence; on the contrary, it is non-essence that must subsist in essence, and consequently unite entirely with the whole essence. We repeat, the universal could not separate itself from itself; and if we say that it is everywhere, it is only in this sense that it is in essence, that is, in itself. It is not surprising that what is everywhere is in essence and in itself; for that which is everywhere is in the unity. We, however, positing that the (Being) in question is sense-(existence), believe that it is everywhere here below; and, as the sense-(existence) is great, we wonder how nature (that is, the intelligible essence) can extend in that which has so great a magnitude.288 In reality, the (Being) which is called great is small; the (Being) which is regarded as small is great, since the whole of it penetrates in every part of all; or rather, our world, by its parts everywhere approaching the universal (Being), finds it everywhere entire, and greater than itself. Consequently, as it would receive nothing more by a greater extension (for, if it were possible, it would thereby exclude itself from the universal Being), it circles around this Being. Not being able to embrace it, nor to pierce into its innermost, it contented itself with occupying a place, and with having a place where it might preserve existence while approaching the universal (Being), which in one sense is present to it, and in another, is not present; for the universal (Being) is in itself, even when something else wishes to unite itself to it. Therefore, approaching it, the body of the universe finds the universal "Being"; having no need of going any farther, it turns around the same thing because the thing around which it turns is the veritably universal (Being), so that in all its parts it enjoys the presence of this whole entire Being. If the universal (Being) were in a place, our world should (instead of having a circular motion), rush towards it in a straight line, touching different parts of this Being by different parts of its own, and find itself on one side distant from it, and on the other side near it. But as the universal (Being) is neither near one place, nor distant from, another, it is necessarily entirely present as soon as it is at all present. Consequently, it is entirely present to each of these things from which it is neither near nor far; it is present to the things that are able to receive it.


3. Is the universal (Being) by itself present everywhere? Or does it remain within itself, while from its innermost its powers descend on all things, and is289 it in this sense that it is regarded as everywhere present? Yes, doubtless. That is why it is said that souls are the rays of this universal (Being), that it is built on itself, and that from it, souls descend into various animals. The things which participate in its unity, incapable as they are of possessing a complete nature conformed to its nature, enjoy the presence of the universal (Being) in this sense that they enjoy the presence of some of its powers. They are not, however, entirely separated from it, because it is not separated from the power which it communicates to each of them. If they do not have more, it is only because they are not capable of receiving more from the presence of the entire whole (Being). Evidently it is always entirely present there where its powers are present. It however remains separated, for if it became the form of any one particular being, it would cease to be universal, to subsist everywhere in itself, and it would be the accident of some other "being." Therefore, since it belongs to none of these things, even of those that aspire to unite themselves with it, it makes them enjoy its presence when they desire it, and in the measure in which they are capable thereof; but it does not belong to any of them in particular. It is not surprising, therefore, that it should be present in all things, since it is not present in any in a manner such as to belong to it alone. It is also reasonable to assert that, if the soul share the passions of the bodies, it is only by accident, that she dwells in herself, and belongs neither to matter nor to body, that the whole of her illuminates the whole world-body. It is not a contradiction to say that the (Being) which is not present in any place is present to all things each of which is in a place. What, indeed, would be surprising and impossible would be that the universal (Being) could, while occupying a determinate place, be present to things which are in a place, and could at all be290 present in the sense in which we have explained it. Reason forces us, therefore, to admit that the universal (Being) must, precisely because it does not occupy any place, be entirely present to the things to which it is present; and, since it is present to the universe, be entirely present to each thing; otherwise, one part of it would be here, and another there; consequently, it would be divisible, it would be body. How otherwise could one divide the ("Being")? Is it its life that shall within it be divided? If it be the totality of the (being) that is life, no part of it would be that. Or will somebody try to divide the Intelligence, so that one of its parts be here, and the other there? In this case, neither of the two parts would be intelligence. Or will the (Being) itself be divided? But if the totality be the (Being), no one part of it would be that. It might be objected that the parts of the bodies are still bodies themselves. But that which is divided is not the body (as such), but a certain body of a certain extent; now each of its parts possesses the form that causes it to be named body; while the form not only does not have some particular extension, but even any kind of extension at all.


4. How can there be a plurality of essences, intelligences and soul, if essence be one? The essence is one everywhere; but its unity does not exclude the existence of other (beings), which may be said to conform thereto. It is so also with the unity of the intelligence, and of the soul, although the Soul of the universe be different from the particular souls.


It would seem as if there were a contradiction between the present assertions and other statements of291 ours; and perhaps our demonstration imposes rather than convinces. It is impossible to believe that the essence which is one be also everywhere identical; it would seem preferable to admit that essence, considered in its totality, is susceptible of division, so long as this division does not diminish it; or, to use more careful terms, that it begets all things while remaining with itself; and that the souls that are born of it, and are its parts, fill up everything. But if it be admitted that the One essence remains in Himself because it seems incredible that a principle could everywhere be present entire, the same difficulty would hinder us in regard to souls; for it will result that each of them will no longer be entire in the whole body, but will be divided therein, or, if each individual soul remain entire, that it is by remaining in one part of the body, that the soul will communicate her power to it. These same questions about the soul could be raised about the powers of the soul, and we might ask if they be all entire everywhere. Last, one could be led to believe that the soul was in one member, while her power was in another.


Let us first explain how there can be a plurality of intelligences, souls, and essences. If we consider the things that proceed from the first principles, as they are numbers and not magnitudes, we shall also have to ask ourselves how they fill the universe. This plurality which thus arises from the first principles does not in any way help us to solve our question, since we have granted that essence is multiple because of the difference (of the beings that proceed from it), and not by place; for though it be multiple, it is simultaneously292 entire; "essence everywhere touches essence,"2 and it is everywhere entirely present. Intelligence likewise is manifold by the difference (of the intelligences that proceed therefrom), and not by space; it is entire everywhere. It is so also with souls; even their part which is divisible in the bodies is indivisible by its nature. But the bodies possess extension because the soul is present with them; or rather, it is because there are bodies in the sense-world; it is because the power of the Soul (that is universal) which is in them manifests itself in all their parts, that the Soul herself seems to have parts. What proves that she is not divided as they are, and with them, that she is entirely present everywhere, is that by nature she is essentially one and indivisible. Thus, the unity of the Soul does not exclude the plurality of souls, any more than the unity of essence excludes the plurality of (beings), or that the plurality of intelligibles does not disagree with the existence of the One. It is not necessary to admit that the Soul imparts life to the bodies by the plurality of souls, nor that that plurality derives from the extension of the body (of the world). Before there ever were any bodies, there was already one (universal) Soul and several (individual) souls. The individual souls existed already in the universal Soul, not potentially, but each in actuality. The unity of the universal Soul does not hinder the multitude of the individual souls contained within her; the multitude of the individual souls does not hinder the unity of the universal Soul. They are distinct without being separated by any interval; they are present to each other instead of being foreign to each other; for they are not separated from each other by any limits, any more than different sciences are within a single soul. The Soul is such that in her unity she contains all the souls. Such a nature is, therefore, infinite.



5. The magnitude of the Soul does not consist in being a corporeal mass; for every corporeal mass is small, and reduces to nothing, if it be made to undergo a diminution. As to the magnitude of the Soul, nothing can be removed from it; and if something were removed, she would not lose anything. Since, therefore, she cannot lose anything, why fear that she should be far from something? How could she be far from something since she loses nothing, since she possesses an eternal nature, and is subject to no leakage? If she were subject to some leakage, she would advance till where she could leak; but as she cannot leak at all (for there is no place where or into which she could leak), she has embraced the universe, or rather, she herself is the universe, and she is too great to be judged according to physical magnitude. We may say that she gives little to the universe; but she gives it all it can receive. Do not consider the universal Being (Essence) as being smaller, or as having a smaller mass (than our universe); otherwise, you would be led to ask yourself how that which is smaller can unite with that which is greater. Besides, one should not predicate comparative smallness of the universal Essence, nor compare, in regard to mass, that which has no mass with that which has; that would be as if somebody said that the science called medicine is smaller than the body of the doctor. Neither attribute to the universal Essence an extent greater (than that of our universe); for it is not in extension that the soul is greater than the body. What shows the veritable magnitude of the soul, is that, when the body increases, the same soul which formerly existed in a smaller mass is present in this whole mass that has become greater; now it would be ridiculous to suppose294 that the soul increases in the same manner as a corporeal mass.


6. Why (if the universal Soul possess the magnitude here attributed to her), does she not approach some other body (than that which she animates; that is, some individual body)? It would be this body's (privilege or duty) to approach the universal Soul, if it be able to do so; on approaching to her, it receives something, and appropriates it. But would this body, that would approach the universal Soul, not already possess her simultaneously with the soul proper to itself, since these souls (the universal Soul, and the individual soul) do not appear to differ from each other? The fact is, that as their sensations differ, so must the passions that they experience likewise differ. The things are judged to be different, but the judge is the same principle successively placed in presence of different passions, although it be not he who experiences them, but the body disposed in some particular manner. It is as if when some one of us judges both the pleasure experienced by the finger, and the pain felt by the head. But why does not our soul perceive judgments made by the universal Soul? Because this is a judgment, and not a passion. Besides, the faculty that judged the passion does not say, "I have judged," but it limits itself to judging. Thus, in ourselves, it is not the sight which communicates its judgment to the hearing, although both of these senses made separate judgments; what presides over these two senses is reason, which constitutes a different faculty. Often reason cognizes the judgment made by some other (being), while being conscious simultaneously of the passion it experiences. But this question has been treated elsewhere.



Let us return to this question: How can the same principle exist in all things? This question amounts to asking how each of the sense-objects which form a plurality and which occupy different places, can, nevertheless, participate in the same principle; for it is not allowable to divide unity into a multitude of parts; it would be more fitting to reduce the multitude of parts to unity, which could not approach them. But when these parts occupy different places, they have led us to believe that unity likewise is split up, as if the power which dominates and which contains were divided into as many parts as that which is contained. The hand itself (though corporeal), may hold an entire body, such as a piece of wood several feet in length, and other objects. In this case, the force that holds makes itself felt in the whole object that is felt, and does not distribute itself in as many parts as it may contain, though it be circumscribed by the limit of the reach of the hand. Nevertheless, the hand is limited by its own extension, and not by that of the body which is held or suspended. Add to the suspended body some other length, and admitting that the hand can carry it, its force will hold the entire body without dividing into as many parts as it may contain. Now suppose that the corporeal mass of the hand be annihilated, and, nevertheless, allow the force which, before, existed in the hand and held the weight, to persist; will not this same force, indivisible in the totality, be equally indivisible in each of its parts?


7. Imagine a luminous point which serves as centre, and imagine around it a transparent sphere, so that the clearness of the luminous point shines in the296 whole body that surrounds it without the exterior receiving any light from elsewhere; you will surely have to acknowledge that this interior light, by remaining impassible, penetrates the whole surrounding mass, and that it embraces the whole sphere from the central point in which it is seen to shine. The truth is that the light did not emanate from the little body placed in the centre; for this little body did not glow inasmuch as it was a body, but inasmuch as it was a luminous body; that means, by virtue of an incorporeal power. Now in thought annihilate the mass of the little luminous body, and preserve its luminous power; could you still say that light is somewhere? Will it not be equally in the interior, and in the whole exterior sphere? You will no longer perceive where it was fixed before, and you will no longer say whence it comes, nor where it is; in this respect you will remain uncertain and astonished; you will see the light shine simultaneously in the interior and in the exterior sphere. An example of this is the solar light that shines in the air when you look at the body of the sun, at the same time that you perceive everywhere the same light without any division; that is demonstrated by objects that intercept the light; they reflect it nowhere else than in the direction from which it came; they do not shatter it into fragments. But if the sun were an incorporeal power, you could not, when it would radiate light, tell where the light began, nor from where it was sent; there would be but a single light, the same everywhere, having neither point of beginning, nor principle from which it proceeds.


8. When light emanates from a body it is easy to tell when it shines, because the location of that body is known. But if a being be immaterial, if it have no297 need of a body, if it be anterior to all bodies, and be founded on itself, or rather if it have no need, as has a body, or resting on any foundation—then, a being endowed with such a nature has no origin from which it is derived, resides in no place, and depends on no body. How could you then say that one of its parts is here, and another is there? For thus it would have an origin from which it had issued, and it would depend from something. We must, therefore, say that if something participate in this being by the power of the universe, it participates in this being entirely, without thereby being changed or divided; for it is a being united to a body that suffers (although often that happens to it only accidentally), and in this respect it may be said that it is passive and divisible, since it is some part of the body, either its passion, or form. As to the (being) which is united to any body, and to which the body aspires to be united, it must in no manner share the passions of the body, as such; for the essential passion of the body, as such, is to divide itself. If, therefore, the body be by nature inclined to divide itself, then is the incorporeal, by nature, indivisible. How, in fact, could one divide that which has no extension? If, therefore, the extended (being) participate in the (being) which has no extension, it participates in this (being) without dividing it; otherwise, this (being) would have extension. Consequently, when you say that the unity (of the universal essence) is in the manifold, you do not say that unity has become manifoldness, but you refer to this unity the manner of existence of the multitude, seeing it in this whole multitude simultaneously. As to this Unity, it will have to be understood that it belongs to no individual, nor to the whole multitude, but that it belongs to itself alone, that it is itself, and that, being itself, it does not fail to support itself. Nor does it possess a magnitude such as of our universe, nor, let alone, such as that of one298 of the parts of the universe; for it has absolutely no magnitude. How could it have any magnitude? It is the body that should have such magnitude. As to the (being) whose nature is entirely different from that of the body, no magnitude should be ascribed to it. If it have no magnitude, it is nowhere; it is neither here nor there; for if so, it would be in several places. If then the local division suits only the (being) of which one part is here, and the other there, how could the (being) that is neither here nor there be divided? Consequently, the incorporeal (being) must remain indivisible in itself, although the multitude of things aspire to unite itself to it, and succeeds therein. If they aspire to possess it, they aspire to possess it entire, so that if they succeed in participating in that (being), they will participate in that entire (being) so far as their capacity reaches. Nevertheless, the things that participate in this (being) must participate in it as if they did not participate in it, in this sense that it does not belong exclusively to any of them. It is thus that this (being) dwells entirely in itself, and in the things in which it manifests; if it did not remain entire, it would no more be itself, and things would no longer participate in the (being) to which they aspire, but in some other (being) to which they did not aspire.


9. If this unity (of the universal Soul) divided itself in a multitude of parts such that each would resemble the total unity, there would be a multitude of primary (beings); for each one of these (beings) would be primary. How then could one distinguish from each other all these primary (beings), so that they might not all in confusion blend into a single one? They would not be separated by their bodies, for primary (beings) could not be forms of bodies; as299 they would be similar to the primary (Being) which is their principle. On the other hand, if the things named parts were potentialities of the universal (Being), (there would be two results). First, each thing would no longer be the total unity. Then, one might wonder how these potentialities separated from the universal (Being), and abandoned it; for if they abandoned it, it could evidently only be to go somewhere else. There might also be reason to ask oneself if the potentialities which are in the sense-world are still or no longer in the universal (Being). If they be no longer in it, it is absurd to suppose it diminished or became impotent, by being deprived of the powers it possessed before. It is equally absurd to suppose that the potentialities would be separated from the beings to which they belong. On the contrary, if the potentialities exist simultaneously in the universal (Being) and elsewhere, they will, here below, be either wholes or parts; if they be parts, that part of them that will remain on high will also form parts; if they be wholes, they are here below the same as above; they are not divided here below in any way, and thus the universal (Being) is still the same without any division. Or again, the potentialities are the particularized universal (Being), which has become the multitude of the things of which each is the total unity; and these potentialities are mutually similar. In this way, with each being there will be but a single potentiality, united to Being, and the other things will be no more than mere potentialities. But it is not easier to conceive of a being without potentiality, than a potentiality without a being; for above (among the ideas) the potentiality consists of hypostatic existence and being; or rather, it is something greater than being. Here below there are other potentialities, less energetic or lively; they emanate from the universal (Being) as from a brilliant light would emanate another less brilliant light; but the300 beings inhere in these potentialities, as there could be no potentiality without being.


Among such potentialities, which are necessarily conformable to each other, the universal Soul must be the same everywhere, or, if she be not absolutely everywhere, she must, at least, in every place, be entire without division, as in one and the same body. In this case, why could she not also be thus in the whole universe? If we were to suppose that each particular soul were divided into infinity, the universal Soul will no longer be entire, and, as a result of this division, she will become completely impotent. Then, as there will be entirely different powers in different parts of the world, there will be no more sympathy among souls. Last, the image, separated from the essence it represents, and the light, separated from the source of which it is only a weakened emanation, could no longer subsist; for in general everything that derives its existence from anything else and its image could no longer subsist without its model. Likewise, these powers which radiate from the universal Soul would cease to be if they found themselves separated from their principle. If so, the Principle which begets these powers will exist everywhere they are; consequently, from this standpoint also, the universal (Being) must be everywhere present as a whole, without undergoing any divisions.


10. It may be objected that the image need not necessarily be attached to its model; for there are images that subsist in the absence of their model from which they are derived. For instance, when the fire ceases, the heat that proceeds from it does not any the301 less remain in the warmed object. The relation between this image and its model should be understood as follows. Let us consider an image made by a painter. In this case, it is not the model who made the image, but the painter; and even so it is not even the real image of the model, even if the painter had painted his own portrait; for this image did not arise from the body of the painter, nor from the represented form, nor from the painter himself, but it is the product of a complex of colors arranged in a certain manner. We, therefore, do not really here have the production of an image, such as is furnished by mirrors, waters, and shadows. Here the image really emanates from the pre-existing model, and is formed by it, and could not exist without it. It is in this manner that the inferior potentialities proceed from the superior ones.


Let us proceed to the objection drawn from the heat that remains after the withdrawal of the fire. The heat is not the image of the fire, or at least, we may deny that there is always fire in heat; but even so heat would not be independent of fire. Besides, when you withdraw from a body the fire that heats it, this body grows cold, if not instantaneously, at least gradually. It would, however, be wrong to say that the powers that descend here below also gradually grow extinct; for this would amount to stating that only the One is immortal, while the souls and intelligences are mortal. Besides, it is not reasonable to admit that even the things that derive from a "being" that wastes away also gradually exhaust themselves; for even if you should immobilize the sun, it would still shed the same light in the same places. If it were objected that it would not be the same light, the conclusion would be (the absurdity) that the body of the sun is in a perpetual302 wastage. Last we have elsewhere demonstrated at length that what proceeds from the One does not perish, but that all souls and intelligences are immortal.


11. But if (the intelligible Being) be present everywhere, why do not all (beings) participate in the intelligible (Being) entire? Why are there several degrees amidst these (beings), one being the first, the other the second, and so on? Because the (beings) which are capable of absorbing (intelligible Being) are counted as present thereto. Essence exists everywhere in that which is essence, thus never failing itself. Everything that can be present to it is present in reality, in the measure of its capacity, not in a local manner, as light is modified by transparence; for participation takes place differently in an opaque body. If we distinguish several degrees among beings, we shall surely have to conceive that the first is separated from the second, and the second from the third, only by its order, its power, its (individual) differences, but not by its location. In the intelligible world nothing hinders different things from subsisting together, such as soul and intelligence, and all the sciences, superior or inferior. Thus also in a single apple the eye sees color, the nostril smells perfume, and each other sense-organ perceives its individual quality. All these things subsist together and are not separated from each other.


Is the intelligible (Being) then so varied and manifold? It is indeed varied, but it is simultaneously simple; it is both one and manifold; for reason (which is the essence of the universal Soul), is both one and manifold. The universal (Being) is also one; though any difference in it (in this sense, that it contains different303 essences), results from its own constitution; the difference inheres in its nature, for it could not belong to non-being. The constitution of Essence is such as to be inseparable from unity; unity is present wherever essence is, and the one Essence subsists in itself. It is indeed possible that an essence which in a certain respect is separated from another essence, is, however, entirely present with it. But there are different kinds of presence; first, when sense-things are present with intelligible things, at least to those to which they can be present; second, when intelligible entities are present to each other; likewise, when the body is present to the soul; another, when a science is present to the soul; further, when a science is present to another science, and both coexist in the same intelligence; last, when a body is present to another body.


12. When a sound resounds in the air, and when it constitutes a word, the ear that is present hears and perceives this sound and this word, especially if the place be quiet. If another ear should come to be in this place, the sound and the word approach it likewise, or rather, this ear will approach the word. Suppose also that several eyes consider the same object; all are filled with its sight, although this object occupy a determinate place. Thus the same object will impress different organs with different perceptions, because the one is an eye, and the other is an ear. Likewise, all the things that can participate in the soul do participate therein, but each receives a different power from one and the same principle. The sound is everywhere present in the air; it is not a divided unity, but a unity present everywhere, entirely. Likewise, if the air receive the form of the visible object, it possesses it without division, for, in whatever place the eye should304 place itself, it perceives the form of the visible object; at, least, according to our opinion, for not all philosophers agree herewith. We give these examples to explain how several things may participate in one and the same principle. Besides, the example of the sound suffices to demonstrate what we here wish to explain; namely, that the entire form is present in the entire air; for all men would not hear the same thing, if the word uttered by the sound were everywhere entire, and if each ear did not likewise hear it entire. Now if in this case the entire word spread in the entire air, without some definite part of the word being united to a certain part of the air, and some other part of the word being united with another part of the air, how could we refuse to admit that a single Soul penetrates everywhere without dividing herself with the things, that she is entirely present everywhere where she is, that she is everywhere in the world without dividing into parts that correspond to those of the world? When she has united with the bodies, in whatever kind of union, she bears an analogy to the word which has been pronounced in the air, while before uniting with the bodies, she resembles him who pronounces, or is about to pronounce some word. Nevertheless, even when she has united to the bodies, she does not really in certain respects cease resembling him who pronounces a word, and who, while pronouncing it, possesses it, and gives it at the same time. Doubtless the word does not have a nature identical with those things that we proposed to illustrate by this example; nevertheless, there is much analogy between them.


(Let us study) the relation of the (world) Soul to bodies. As this relation is of a different kind, it must305 be understood that the Soul is not partly in herself and partly in the bodies. Simultaneously she dwells entirely within herself, and also projects her image into the multiplicity of the bodies (which reflect her, like mirrors). Suppose that some definite body approach the Soul to receive life from her; it obtains life silently, and thus possesses what already was in other bodies. Indeed, conditions had not been arranged so that a part of the Soul, located in a certain place, should await a body, so as to enter into it. But this part of the Soul which enters into a body, so to speak, existed already in the universe, that is to say, in herself, and she continued to exist in herself although she seemed to have descended here below. How indeed should the Soul descend here below? Therefore, if she did not descend here below, if she only manifested her actual presence, without awaiting the body which was to participate in her, evidently the Soul dwells in herself simultaneously with becoming present to this body. Now, if the Soul dwell in herself at the same time as she becomes present to this body (for it is not the Soul that came into this body), it is the body which entered into her; it is the body which, being till then outside of veritable Essence, entered into it, and passed into the world of life. Now the world of life was all in itself, without extension, and, therefore, without division. The body has, therefore, not entered into it as in something that possesses extension. It commenced by participating, not in one of the parts of the world of life, but in this whole world, entirely. If an additional body should also enter it, it will participate in it in the same way (entirely). Consequently, if we said that the world of life is entire in these bodies, it is similarly entire in each of them. It is, therefore everywhere the same, and numerically one, without dividing, but always present entire.



13. Whence originates extension in our universe, and in the animals? The world of life contains no extension. Sensation, whose testimony hinders us from believing what we are told in this respect, reveals to us here and there the world of life. But reason tells us that, if we see it thus, it is not that it is really extended here and there, but that all that possesses extension has participated in the world of life, which, however, has no extension.


When a being participates in something, evidently it does not participate in itself; for thus it would really participate in nothing, and would remain what it was. The body that participates in something must, therefore, not participate in corporeal nature, for it possesses it already. Consequently, the body will not participate in the corporeal nature, any more than a magnitude would participate in a magnitude, which it possesses already. Let us even admit that a magnitude be increased, yet on that account alone it would not participate in magnitude; for a two-foot object does, not become a three-foot object, but the object which first had a certain quantity merely changes to some other quantity; otherwise two would become three. Thus, since that which has extension and is divided participates in genus that is different, and even very different, the thing in which it participates must neither be divided, nor have extension; but have absolutely no kind of quantity. Consequently, the (being) which everywhere is present entire must be present, though remaining indivisible. It is not indivisible merely because it is small, which would not make it any less divisible; only, it would no more be proportioned to the universe, it would not spread in the corporeal mass in307 the degree that it increases. Neither does it resemble a point, but it includes an infinity of points; consequently what you might suppose was a point would include an infinity of (separate) points, and could not be continuous, nor, consequently, proportion itself to the universe. If then every corporeal mass possess the (being) which is present everywhere, it must possess it entire in all the parts that compose it.


14. But if one and the single Soul be in each person, how does each have his own soul? How then can one soul be good, while the other is evil? The universal Soul communicates her life to each, for she contains all the souls and all the intelligences. She possesses simultaneously unity and infinity; in her breast she contains all the souls, each distinct from her, but not separated; otherwise how could the Soul possess the infinite? It might still be objected that the universal Soul simultaneously contains all things, all lives, all souls, all the intelligences; that these are not each circumscribed by limits, and that that is the reason they form a unity. Indeed, there had to be in the universal Soul a life not only one, but infinite, and yet single; this one life had to be one so far as it was all lives, as these did not get confused in this unity, but that they should originate there, while at the same time they should remain located in the place from where they had started; or rather, they never left the womb of the universal Soul, for they have always subsisted in the same state. Indeed, nothing was begotten in the universal Soul; she did not really divide herself, she only seems divided in respect to what receives her; everything within her remains what it has always been. But that which was begotten (namely, the body) approaches308 the Soul, and seems to unite with her, and depends on her.


And what are we? Are we the universal Soul, or are we what approaches her, and what is begotten in time (that is, the body)? No: (we are not bodies). Before the generation of the bodies had been accomplished, we existed already on high; some of us were men, others of us were even divinities——that is, we were pure souls, intelligences connected with universal Being; we formed parts of the intelligible world, parts that were neither circumscribed nor separated, but which belonged to the entire intelligible world. Even now, indeed, we are not separated from the intelligible world; but the intelligible Man in us has received, and is joined by a man who desired to be different from the former (that is, the sense-man desired to be independent), and finding us, for we were not outside of the universe, he surrounded us, and added himself to the intelligible man who then was each one of us.


Now suppose a single sound or word; those who listen to it hear it and receive it, each in his own way; hearing passes into each of them in the condition of an actualization, and perceives what is acting on it. We thus became two men at once (the intelligible Man, and the sense-man who added himself to the former); we are no longer, as before, only one of the two; or rather, we are sometimes still only one of them, the man who added himself to the first. This occurs every time that the first Man slumbers in us, and is not present, in a certain sense (when we fail to reflect about the conceptions of intelligence).



15. But how did the body approach the universal Soul? As this body had an aptitude for participation in the Soul, it received that for which it was fit; now it was disposed to receive a particular soul; that is why it did not receive the universal Soul. Although the latter be present with this body, she does not become entirely suitable to it; that is why plants and the non-human souls likewise possess only so much of the universal Soul, as they were able to receive from her. Likewise, when a voice challenges notice, so some (persons) grasp only the sound, others grasp also the signification. As soon as the animal has been begotten, it possesses within itself the presence of a soul derived from the universal (Being), and by which it remains united with this (Being) because then it possesses a body that is neither empty nor inanimate. This body was not before in an inanimate place, and (when it was begotten), it only further reapproximated itself to the soul by its aptitude (to receive life); it became not only a body, but also a living body; thanks to the neighborhood to the soul, it received a trace (of the soul); and by that I do not mean a part of the soul, but a kind of heat or light which emanated from the soul, and which, in the body, begat desires, pleasures, and pains. The body of the thus begotten animal was, therefore, not a body foreign (to life). The Soul, that had issued from the divine principle, remained tranquil according to her own nature, and was subsisting in herself, when that part, which was troubled by her own weakness, and was spontaneously fluctuating around when assailed by impulsions from without, first complained audibly by herself, and then in that part of the animal which is common to the soul and body, and communicated her disturbance to the entire living being. Thus when a deliberative assembly calmly examines some question,310 a confused mob, driven by hunger or excited by some passion, may come to spread trouble and disorder in the whole assembly. As long as such people keep quiet, the voice of the wise man may be heard by them; and as a result the crowd retains orderliness, its worse part remaining subordinate; otherwise the worst part dominates, while the better part remains silent, because the trouble hinders the crowd from listening to reason. Thus does evil come to reign in a city and in an assembly. Likewise evil reigns in him who allows himself to be dominated by this disorderly crowd of fears, desires and passions that he bears within his breast; and that will last until he reduce that crowd to obedience, until he become again the man he formerly was (before descending here below), and until he regulate his life (according to the better Man); what he then will grant to the body will be granted as to something foreign. As to him who lives now in one manner, and now in another, he is a man of mingled good and evil.


16. If the soul could not become evil, and if there be but a single way for the soul to enter the body, and to remain present within it, there would be no meaning in the periodical "descents" and "ascents" of the soul, the "chastisements" she undergoes, and the "migration" into the bodies other (than human bodies, that is, animal ones). Such (mythological) teachings have indeed been handed down from the ancient philosophers who best expounded the soul. Now it will be well to show that our doctrine harmonizes with that which they have taught, or that at least there is no contradiction between them.



We have just explained that, when the body participates in the soul, the soul does not somehow go beyond herself to enter into the body, that it is on the contrary the body which enters into the soul, on participating in life, or evidently, when the ancient philosophers say that the soul comes into the body, this means that the body enters into essence, and participates in the life and the soul; in one word, to "come" does not here signify passing from one place into another, but indicates in what way the soul enters into dealings with the body. Therefore "to descend" means, for the soul, to grow into a body, in the sense in which we have explained it; that means, to give the body something of the soul, and not for the soul to become (the property) of the body. Consequently, the soul's issuing from the body must again mean that the body ceases to participate in life.


This is how this participation takes place for the parts of this universe (that is, the bodies). Being situated as it were on the confines of the intelligible world, the soul often gives the body something of herself; for, by her power (or potentiality), she is the neighbor of the body; and finding herself close to it, she enters into dealings therewith by virtue of a law of her nature; but this intercourse is of evil, and to enfranchise herself from the body is good. Why? Because if the soul be not the (property or slave) of the body in this intercourse, she, nevertheless, unites herself to it, and though she were universal, she becomes individual; for her activity no longer is exclusively confined to the intelligible world, although (she still, by nature) belong thereto. It is as if someone, who was an expert in a whole science, confined himself to a single proposition312 thereof; whereas a person who possesses a whole science should naturally consider its entirety, and not a mere part of it. Likewise the soul, which belonged entirely to the intelligible world, and which partially blended her particular essence with the total Essence, withdrew out of the universal Essence, and became individual essence, because the body to which she confines her activities is only a part of this universe. It is as if the fire, endowed with the ability of burning everything, was reduced to burn out some small object, although it possessed power of universal scope. Indeed, when the particular soul is separated from the body, she is no longer particular (in actualization); on the contrary, when she has separated herself from the universal Soul, not by passing from one locality to another, but by applying her activity (to a part of this universe, to a body), she becomes particular (in actualization), though she remain universal in another manner (in potentiality); for when the soul presides over no body she is truly universal, and is particular only in potentiality.


Consequently, when we say that the soul is in hell (Hades), if we mean by "hades" an invisible place, that means that the soul is separated from the body; if, on the contrary, we understand hell to mean a lower locality, we may also offer a reasonable interpretation: for now our soul is with our body and is located with it. But what is meant by saying that the soul is in hell after the body no longer exists? If the soul be not separated from her image, why should she not be where her image is? If the soul were separated from her image by philosophy, this image will alone go to the lower locality, while the soul lives purely in the intelligible world, without any emanation. This is what we had to teach about the image born of some particular313 individual. As to the soul, if she concentrate in her breast the light that radiates around her, then, turned towards the intelligible world, she entirely re-enters into this world; she is no longer in actualization. But this does not cause her to perish (for when she is incarnated in a body, and is particular, she exists only potentially; while she attains to actualization when she becomes universal). So much for this point; now let us return to our subject.


The One Identical Essence is Everywhere Entirely Present.


1. It is a common conception of human thought that a principle single in number and identical is everywhere present in its entirety; for it is an instinctive and universal truism that the divinity which dwells within each of us is single and identical in all.3 It cannot be expected that the men who will use this expression should be able to explain how God is present in us, and without subjecting their opinion to the scrutiny of reason; they will only affirm that such is the state of the case; and resting in this conception which is the spontaneous result of their understanding, they will all hold to this something that is single and only, and will refuse to give up this unity. That is the most solid principle of all, a principle that our souls whisper instinctively, and which is not deduced from the observation of particular things, but which claims our attention far before them, even before the maxim that everything aspires to the Good. Now this principle is true if all the beings aspire to unity, form an unity and tend towards unity. This unity, advancing towards all other things, so far as it can advance seems to be manifold, and indeed becomes so, in certain respects, but the ancient nature which is the desire of the Good, that belongs to itself, really leads to unity; and every315 nature aspires to possess this unity by turning towards itself; for the good of the nature which is One, is to belong to oneself, to be oneself; that is, to unify oneself. That is why it is reasonably said that the Good peculiarly belongs to (this nature), and must not be sought outside of it. How indeed could the Good have fallen outside of the essence, or be found in non-essence? It must evidently be sought in essence, since itself is not non-essence. If then the Good be essence, and may be found in essence, it must be within itself in each of us. We cannot, therefore, be far from essence, but we are in it. Neither is it far from us. All (beings), therefore, constitute but a unity.


2. As the human reason which undertakes to examine the question here raised is not one, but divided, it makes use of corporeal nature in its researches, by borrowing its principles. That is why reason, thinking it intelligible being, similar to bodies, divides it, doubting its unity. It could not be otherwise, because its investigation was not founded on the proper immanent principles. We must, therefore, in our discussion about the one universal Essence, choose principles capable of enlisting support, principles that would be intellectual, that is, would connect with intelligible entities, and veritable being. For since our sense-nature is agitated by continual flux, being subject to all kinds of changes, trending towards all directions of space; it should consequently be called not "being," but generation, or becoming. The eternal Essence, on the contrary, is not divided; it subsists ever in the same manner and in the same state, neither is born, nor perishes; occupies neither place nor space; does not reside in any determinate location; neither enters, nor issues, but remains316 in itself. A discussion about the nature of bodies begins with this (physical) nature, and the things that are related to it, which (deductively) give rise to probable proofs by the aid of syllogisms equally probable. But when we deal with intelligible entities, our starting-point must be the nature of the being considered; principles have to be legitimately derived therefrom; and then, without surreptitiously substituting any other nature (inductively), borrow from the intelligible Being itself the conception formed about it; for being, or whatness, is everywhere taken as principle; and it is said that the definition of an object, when well made, sets forth many of its accidents. Therefore, when we are dealing with things where being is everything, we must, so much the more, apply our whole attention to this being; base all our (arguments) thereon, and refer everything to it.


3. If intelligible essence be essential essence; if it be immutable; if it never evade itself; if it admit of no generation; and be not in any place, the result is, that by virtue of its nature, it ever remains within itself, has no parts distant from each other, located in different places; that it does not issue from itself, which would lead it to inhere in different subjects, or at least to inhere in one subject, and, consequently, no longer to dwell in itself, and no longer to remain impassible; for if it inhered in something different from itself, it would be exposed to suffering (passion, or, experience). As, however, this is impossible, it can not inhere in anything other than itself. Therefore, since it never departs from itself, as it is never divided, as it exists within several things simultaneously without undergoing any change, as it exists within itself one317 and simultaneously entire, it must, while existing in several things, remain everywhere identical; that is, be everywhere entire both in itself, and out of itself. Consequently, it does not (exist) within any determinate thing, but the other things participate in it, so far as they are capable of approaching it, and so far as they do approach it in the measure in which they are capable.


Consequently, it will be necessary either to reject the propositions set forth above, that is, the principles which have been established, and deny the existence of the intelligible entities; or, as this is impossible, to recognize the truth of what has been advanced from the very beginning (of this discussion): the Essence which is one and identical is indivisible, and exists as single everywhere. It is not distant from any of the other things; and, nevertheless, (to be near them) it has no need of spreading, of letting certain portions of its essence flow.4 It remains entire in itself, and though it produce something inferior, it does not, on that account, abandon itself, and does not extend itself hither and yon in other things; otherwise, it would be on one side, while the things it produces would be on the other, and it would occupy a place, finding itself separated therefrom. As to these (produced things), each of them is either a whole or a part. If it be a part, it will not preserve the nature of the all, as we have already said; if, however, it be all, we shall have to divide it in as many parts as that in which it subsists—or, it will have to be granted that the identical essence can simultaneously be everywhere entire. This is a demonstration drawn from the matter itself, which contains nothing external to the being that we are examining,318 and which does not borrow anything from any other nature.


4. Let us, therefore, contemplate this Divinity who is not present here, and absent there, but who is everywhere. All those who have any idea of the divinities admit that they, as well as that supreme Divinity, are present everywhere. Reason compels this admission. Now, since the Divinity is everywhere, He is not divided; otherwise, He would not be present everywhere; He would have His parts, one here, and another there. He would no longer be a unity; He would resemble an expanse divided into a number of parts; He would be annihilated in this division, and all His parts would no longer form the whole; in short, He would have become body. If that be impossible, we shall have to admit that to which before we refused assent, to which all human nature testifies, namely, that the Divinity is everywhere simultaneously present, entire, and identical. If we acknowledge such a nature as infinite, since it has no limits, this will be granting that it lacks nothing. Now if it lack nothing, it must be present to every essence; if it could not be essence, there would be places, where it did not exist, and it would lack something. The essences which exist beneath the One exist simultaneously with Him, are posterior to Him, refer to Him, and reattach themselves to Him as His creatures; so that to participate in what is posterior to Him is to participate in Himself. As, in the intelligible world, there is a multitude of beings which there occupy the first, second, or third ranks, in that they depend from that only centre of a single sphere; and as they coexist there without any separating distance between them, the result is that the essences which319 occupy the first or second ranks are present there even where are the beings that occupy the third rank.


5. In order to clear up this point, the following illustration has been much used. Let us imagine a multitude of rays, which start from a single centre; and you will succeed in conceiving the multitude begotten in the intelligible world. But, admitting this proposition, that things begotten in the intelligible, and which are called multitude, exist simultaneously, one observation must be added: in the circle, the rays which are not distinct may be supposed to be distinct, because the circle is a plane. But there, where there is not even the extension proper to a plane, where there are only potentialities and beings without extension, all things must be conceived as centres united together in a single centre, as might be the rays considered before their development in space, and considered in their origin, where, with the centre, they form but a single and same point. If now you imagine developed rays, they will depend from the points from where they started, and every point will not be any the less a centre, as nothing will separate it from the first centre. Thus these centres, though united to the first centre, will not any the less have their individual existence, and will form a number equal to the rays of which they are the origins. As many rays as will come to shine in the first centre, so many centres will there seem to be; and, nevertheless, all together will form but a single one. Now if we compare all intelligible entities to centres, and I mean centres that coincide in a single centre and unite therein, but which seem multiple because of the different rays which manifest, without begetting them, such rays could give us some320 idea of the things by the contact of which intelligible being seems to be manifold and present everywhere.


6. Intelligible entities, indeed, though they form a manifold, nevertheless, form an unity. On the other hand, though they form an unity, yet by virtue of their infinite nature they also form a manifold. They are the multitude in unity, and unity in multitude; they all subsist together. They direct their actualization towards the whole, with the whole, and it is still with the whole, that they apply themselves to the part. The part receives within itself the first action, as if it were that of only a part; but, nevertheless, it is the whole that acts. It is as if a Man-in-himself, on descending into a certain man, became this man without, however, ceasing being the Man-in-himself. The material man, proceeding from the ideal Man, who is single, has produced a multitude of men, who are the same because one and the same thing has impressed its seal on a multitude. Thus the Man-in-himself, and every intelligible entity in itself, and then the whole entire universal Essence is not in the multitude, but the multitude is in the universal Essence, or rather, refers to it; for if whiteness be everywhere present in the body, it is not in the same manner as the soul of an individual is present and identical in all the organs. It is in this latter manner that the essence is present everywhere.


7. Our nature and we ourselves all depend on (cosmic) being; we aspire to it, we use it as principle, from the very beginning. We think the intelligible321 (entities contained in essence) without having either images or impressions thereof. Consequently, when we think the intelligible (entities), the truth is that we are these very intelligible entities themselves. Since we thus participate in the genuine knowledge, we are the intelligible entities, not because we receive them in us, but because we are in them. However, as beings other than we constitute intelligible entities, as well as we, we are all the intelligibles. We are intelligible entities so far as they subsist simultaneously with all essences; consequently, all of us together form but a single unity. When we turn our gaze outside of Him from whom we depend, we no longer recognize that we are an unity; we then resemble a multitude of faces which (being disposed in a circle) would, as seen from the exterior, form a plurality, but which in the interior would form but a single head. If one of these faces could turn around, either spontaneously, or by the aid of Minerva, it would see that itself is the divinity, that it is the universal Essence. No doubt, it would not at first see itself as universal, but later, not being able to find any landmarks by which to determine its own limits, and to determine the distance to which it extends, it would have to give up the attempt to distinguish itself from the universal (Essence), and it would become the universal (Essence) without ever changing location, and by remaining in the very foundation of the universal (Essence).


8. Whoever will consider the participation of matter in ideas will be impressed with the above theory, will declare it not impossible, and express no further doubts. It is necessary to admit the impossibility of a conception such as the following: on one hand, the322 ideas separate from matter; on the other hand, matter at a distance from them, and then an irradiation from on high descending on matter. Such a conception would be senseless. What meaning would lie in this separation of the ideas, and this distance of matter? Would it not then be very difficult to explain and to understand what is called the participation of matter in ideas? Only by examples can we make our meaning clear. Doubtless, when we speak of an irradiation, we do not, however, mean anything similar to the irradiation of some visible object. But as the material forms are images, and as they have ideas, as archetypes, we say that they are "illuminated by the ideas," so as to convey the idea that that which is illuminated is different from that which illumines. Now, however, to express ourselves more exactly, we shall have to enforce that the idea is not locally separated from matter, and does not reflect itself therein as some object does in water. On the contrary, matter surrounds the idea on all sides; touches it somehow without touching it; then, in its entirety, it receives what, it is capable of receiving from its vicinity (to the idea), without any intermediary, without the idea penetrating through the whole of matter, or hovering above it, without ceasing to remain within itself.


Since the idea of fire, for instance, is not in matter, let us imagine matter serving as subject for the elements. The idea of fire, without itself descending into matter, will give the form of the fire to the whole fiery matter, while the fire, first mingled with matter will constitute a multiple mass. The same conception may be applied to the other elements. If then the intelligible fire appear in everything as producing therein an image of itself, it does not produce this image in323 matter as if it had separated itself therefrom locally, as would have occurred in the irradiation of a visible object; otherwise it would be somewhere, and it would fall under the senses. Since the universal Fire is multiple, we must conclude that, while its idea remains in itself outside of all place, it itself has begotten the localities; otherwise we would have to think that, having become multiple (by its parts), it would extend, by withdrawing from itself, to become multiple in this manner, and to participate several times in the same principle. Now, being indivisible, the idea has not given a part of its being to matter; nevertheless, in spite of its unity, it has communicated a form to what was not contained in its unity; it granted its presence to the universe without fashioning this by one of its parts, and that by some other part. It was as an entire whole that it fashioned the whole and the individuals. It would indeed be ridiculous to suppose that there was a multitude of the ideas of fire, so that each fire might be formed by its own particular idea; if that were the case, the ideas would be innumerable. Further, how would we divide the things that have been generated by the Fire, since it is single, and continuous? If we augment the material fire by adding to it another fire, it is evidently the same idea which will produce in this portion of matter the same things as in the remainder; for it could not be another idea.


9. If all the elements, when begotten, were to be gathered into one sphere, (there would be an opportunity of observing and comparing them. The result would be a conclusion that) this sphere does not have a plurality or a diversity of authors, one of whom would have created one part, and another author,324 another. The production of this sphere will imply a single Author, who created it by acting, as a whole; not producing one part of creation by one part of Himself, and another part of creation, by another part of Himself. In the latter case, the sphere might still have several authors, if the production of the totality were not traced to a single, indivisible Principle. Though this single and indivisible Principle be the author of the entire sphere, it does not interpenetrate the sphere; for it is the entire Sphere which depends on its author. One only and single Life contains the entire Sphere, because this is located in a single Life. All the things that are in the sphere may, therefore, be reduced to a single Life, and all the souls form a Soul which is single, but which is simultaneously infinite. That is why certain philosophers have said that the soul is a number;5 others, that the number produces increase in the soul, no doubt meaning by that, that nothing is deficient in soul, that she is everywhere without ceasing to be herself. As to the expression, "to produce increase to the soul," this must not be taken literally, but so as to mean that the soul, in spite of her unity, is absent nowhere; for the unity of the soul is not a unity that can be measured; that is the peculiarity of another being which falsely claims unity for itself, and which succeeds in gaining the appearance of unity only by participating therein. The Essence which really is one is not a unity composed of several things; for the withdrawal of one of them would destroy the total unity. Nor is it separated from the other things by limits; for if the other things were assimilated thereto, it would become smaller in the case where these would be greater; either it would split itself up into fragments by seeking to penetrate all, and instead of being present to all, as an entirety, it would be reduced to touching their parts by its own parts. If then this Essence may justly be called one, if unity may325 be predicated of its being, it must, in a certain manner, seem to contain the nature opposed to its own; that is, the manifold; it must not attract this manifoldness from without, but it must, from and by itself, possess this manifold; it must veritably be one, and by its own unity be infinite and manifold. Being such, it seems as if it were everywhere a Reason (a being), which is single, and which contains itself. It is itself that which contains; and thus containing itself, it is no where distant from itself; it is everywhere in itself. It is not separated from any other being by a local distance; for it existed before all the things which are in a locality; it had no need of them; it is they, on the contrary, which need to be founded on it. Even though they should come to be founded on it, it would not, on that account, cease resting on itself as a foundation. If this foundation were to be shaken, immediately all other things would perish, since they would have lost the base on which they rested. Now this Essence could not lose reason to the point of dissolving itself by withdrawing from itself; and to be about to trust itself to the deceptive nature of space which needs it for preservation.


10. Animated by wisdom, this Essence dwells in itself, and it could never inhere in other things. It is these, on the contrary, that come to depend from it, as if with passion seeking where it may be. That is the love that watches at the door of the beloved, which remains ever near the beautiful, agitated with the desire of possessing it, and esteeming itself happy to share in its gifts. Indeed, the lover of the celestial beauty does not receive Beauty itself, but, as he stands near it, he shares in its favors, while the latter remains immovable in itself. There are, therefore, many beings326 which love one only and same thing, who love it entire, and who, when they possess it, possess it entire in the measure in which they are capable of doing so; for they desire to possess it entire. Why then should not this Essence suffice to all by remaining within itself? It suffices precisely because it remains within itself; it is beautiful because it is present to all as an entire whole.


For us Wisdom also is a whole; it is common to all of us, because it is not different in different places; it would, indeed, be ridiculous for it to need existence in some locality. Besides, wisdom does not resemble whiteness; for (whiteness is the quality of a body, while) Wisdom does not at all belong to the body. If we really participate in Wisdom, we necessarily aspire to some thing single and identical, which exists in itself, as a whole, simultaneously. When we participate in this Wisdom, we do not receive it in fragments, but entire; and the Wisdom which you possess entire is not different from that which I myself possess. We find an image of this unity of Wisdom in the assemblies and meetings of men, where all those present seem to help in making up a single Wisdom. It seems that each one, isolated from the others, would be powerless to find wisdom; but when the same person is in a meeting, where all the minds agree together, in applying themselves to a single object, he would produce, or rather discover, Wisdom. What indeed hinders different minds from being united within one same and single Intelligence? Although Intelligence be common to us and to other men, we do not notice this community. It is as if, touching a single object with several fingers, one should later imagine having touched several objects; or as if one had struck a single chord of the lyre without seeing it (and thinking that one had struck different chords).



Let us return to our subject. We were seeking how we might attain the Good with our souls. The Good that you attain is not different from the one that I myself attain; it is the same. And when I say that it is the same, I do not mean that from the Good descended upon us both different things, so that the Good would remain somewhere on high, while His gifts descended down here; on the contrary, I mean that He who gives is present to those who receive, so that these may veritably receive; I mean besides that He gives His gifts to beings who are intimately united with Him, and not to beings who might be foreign to Him; for intellectual gifts cannot be communicated in a local manner. One even sees different bodies, in spite of the distance that separates them, receiving the same gifts, because the gift granted, and the effect produced tend to the same result; much more, all the actions and passions which produce themselves in the body of the universe are contained within it, and nothing comes to it from without. Now if a body, which by its nature as it were scatters itself (because it is in a perpetual flowing wastage), nevertheless, receives nothing from without, how would a being that has no extension retain nothing from without, how would a being that has no extension retain something from without? Consequently, as all are contained in one and the same Principle, we see the good, and we altogether touch it by the intelligible part of our nature.


Besides, the intelligible world has much more unity than the sense-world; otherwise, there would be two sense-worlds, since the intelligible sphere would not328 differ from the sense-sphere if the former did not have more unity than the latter. In respect to unity, therefore, the intelligible world would surpass the sense-sphere. It would indeed be ridiculous to admit that one of the two spheres would have an extension suitable to its nature; while the other, without any necessity, would extend, and would withdraw from its centre. Why would not all things conspire together to unity, in the intelligible world? There, indeed, no one thing hinders another by impenetrability, any more than the conception that you have of a notion or of a proposition in no wise hinders the one that I have in myself, any more than different notions mutually hinder each other in the same soul. To the objection that such a union could not take place for (separate) beings, an affirmative answer may be given, but only if one dare to suppose that veritable beings are corporeal masses.


11. How can the intelligible, which has no extension, penetrate into the whole body of the universe, which has no such extension? How does it remain single and identical, and how does it not split up? This question has been raised several times, and we sought to answer it, so as to leave no uncertainty. We have often demonstrated that the things are thus; nevertheless, it will be well to give some further convincing proofs, although we have already given the strongest demonstration, and the most evident one, by teaching the quality of the nature of the intelligible, explaining that it is not a vast mass, some enormous stone which, located in space, might be said to occupy an extension determined by its own magnitude, and would be incapable of going beyond its limits; for its329 mass and its power would be measured by its own nature, which is that of a stone. (The intelligible Essence, on the contrary,) being the primary nature, has no extension that is limited or measured, because it itself is the measure of the sense-nature; and because it is the universal power without any determinate magnitude. Nor is it within time, because the time is continually divided into intervals, while eternity dwells in its own identity, dominating and surpassing time by its perpetual power, though this seemed to have an unlimited course. Time may be compared to a line which, while extending indefinitely, ever depends from a point, and turns around it; so, that, into whatever place it advances, it always reveals the immovable point around which it moves in a circle. If, by nature, time be in the same relation (as is this line with its centre), and if the identical Essence be infinite by its power as well as by its eternity, by virtue of its infinite power it will have to produce a nature which would in some way be parallel to this infinite power, which rises with it, and depends from it, and which finally, by the movable course of time, tries to equal this power which remains movable in itself.6 But then even this power of the intelligible Essence remains superior to the universe, because the former determines the extension of the latter.


How could then the inferior nature participate in the intelligible, at least to the extent of its capacity? Because the intelligible is everywhere present in its entirety, although, by the impotence of the things that receive it, it be not perceived in its entirety in each of these things. The identical essence is present everywhere, not indeed as the material triangle, which is330 multiple in respect to number in several subjects, although it be identical therein in respect to being; but as the immaterial triangle from which depend material triangles.

Why then is the material triangle not everywhere, like the immaterial triangle? Because matter does not entirely participate in the immaterial triangle, as it also receives other forms, and since it does not apply itself entirely to every intelligible entity. Indeed, the primary Nature does not give itself as an entirety to every thing; but it communicates itself first to the primary genera (of essences;) then, through these, it communicates itself to the other essences; besides, it is not any the less from the very beginning present to the entire universe.


12. But how does this (primary Nature) make itself present to the whole universe? It is present to the universe because it is the one Life. Indeed, in the world considered as a living being, the life does not extend to certain limits, beyond which it cannot spread; for it is present everywhere.

But how can it be everywhere? Remember, the power of life is not a determinate quantity; if, by thought, it be infinitely divided, still it never alters its fundamental characteristic of infinity. This Life does not contain any matter; consequently, it cannot be split up like a mass, and end in being reduced to nothing. When you have succeeded in gaining a conception of the inexhaustible and infinite power of the intelligent Essence; of its nature that is unceasing, indefatigable; that suffices itself completely, to the point that its life, so to speak, overflows, whatever be the place on which you fix your gaze, or direct your331 attention; where will you find absence of that intelligible Essence? On the contrary, you can neither surpass its greatness, nor arrive at anything infinitely small, as if the intelligible Essence had nothing further to give, and as if it were gradually becoming exhausted.


When, therefore, you will have embraced the universal Essence and will be resting within it, you must not seek anything beyond it. Otherwise, you will be withdrawing from it; and, directing your glance on something foreign, you will fail to see what is near you. If, on the contrary, you seek nothing beyond it, you will be similar to a universal Essence. How? You will be entirely united to it, you will not be held back by any of its parts, and you will not even be saying, "This is what I am!" By forgetting the particular being that you are, you will be becoming the universal Being. You had, indeed, already been the universal Essence, but you were something besides; you were inferior by that very circumstance; because that which you possessed beyond the universal Essence did not proceed from the universal Essence, for nothing can be added thereto; but rather had come from that which is not universal. When you become a determined being, because you borrow something from non-essence, you cease being universal. But if you abandon non-essence, you will be increasing yourself. It is by setting aside all the rest that the universal Essence may be discovered; for essence does not reveal itself so long as one remains with the rest. It does not approach you to make you enjoy its presence; it is you who are straying from it, when it ceases to be present. Besides, when you stray away, you are not actually straying away from it, as it continues to be332 present; you are not distant from it, but, though being near Essence, you have turned away from it. Thus even the other divinities, though they be present to many human beings, often reveal themselves only to some one person, because he alone is able (or, knows how) to contemplate them. These divinities (according to Homer),7 assume many different forms, and haunt the cities. But it is to the supreme Divinity that all the cities, all the earth, and all the heavens turn; for the universe subsists by Him, and in Him. From Him also do all real essences derive their existence; it is from Him that all depend, even the (universal) Soul, and the universal Life; it is to His infinite unity that they all turn as to their goal; a unity which is infinite precisely because it has no extension.


The Superessential Principle Does Not Think; Which is the First Thinking Principle, and Which is the Second?


1. One may think oneself, or some other object. What thinks itself falls least into the duality (inherent to thought). That which thinks some other object approaches identity less; for though it contain what it contemplates, it nevertheless differs therefrom (by its nature). On the contrary, the principle that thinks itself is not, by its nature, separated from the object thought. It contemplates itself, because it is intimately united to itself; the thinking subject, and the object thought form but a single being within it,8 or, it thus becomes two, while it is only one. It thinks in a superior manner, because it possesses what it thinks; it occupies the first rank as thinking principle, because the thinking principle must simultaneously be unity and duality. If it were not unity, it would think some object other than itself; it would no longer be the first thinking principle. Indeed, that which thinks an object other than itself could not be the first thinking principle, since it does not think the object of its thought as belonging to its essence; and, consequently, it does not think itself. If, on the contrary, the thinking principle possess the object, if it be334 thought as belonging to its "being" (or nature), then the two terms of the thought (the object and the subject), will be identical. The thinking principle, therefore, implies unity and duality simultaneously; for unless it join duality to unity, it will have nothing to think, and, consequently, it will not think. It must, therefore, be simple, and not simple simultaneously.9 We better understand the necessity of this double condition when, starting from the Soul, we rise to intelligence, for within the latter it is easier to distinguish the subject from the object, and to grasp its duality.10 We may imagine two lights of which the one, the soul herself, is less brilliant, and we may then posit as equal the light that sees and the light that is seen. Both of them, having nothing further that distinguishes them, will form but a single thing, which thinks by virtue of its duality, and which sees by virtue of its unity. Here by reason (which is the characteristic faculty of the soul), we have passed from duality to unity. But, while thinking, intelligence passes from unity to duality; it becomes, or rather is, duality, because it thinks; and is one, because it thinks itself.


2. Since we have distinguished two principles, the one which is the first thinking principle (the Intelligence), and the other which is the second (the Soul), the Principle superior to the first thinking principle must itself not think. In order to think, it would have to be Intelligence; to be Intelligence, it would have to think an object; to be the first thinking principle, it would have to contain this object. Now it is not necessary that every intelligible entity should possess intelligence, and should think; otherwise it would not only be intelligible, but even Intelligence; being thus335 dual, it would not be the first. On the other hand, intelligence cannot subsist, if there be not a purely intelligible nature ("being"), which is intelligible for Intelligence, but which in itself should be neither intelligence nor intelligible. Indeed, that which is intelligible must be intelligible for something else. As to Intelligence, its power is quite vain, if it does not perceive and does not grasp the intelligible that it thinks; for it cannot think, if it have no object to think; and it is perfect only when it possesses this. Now, before thinking, it must by itself be perfect by nature ("being"). Therefore, the principle through which intelligence is perfect must itself be what it is before it thinks; consequently, it has no need to think, since, before thinking, it suffices to itself. It will, therefore, not think.11


Therefore, the First principle (the One) does not think; the second (Intelligence) is the first thinking principle; the third (the Soul) is the second thinking principle. If the first Principle thought, it would possess an attribute; consequently, instead of occupying the first rank, it would occupy only the second; instead of being One, it would be manifold, and would be all the things that it thought; for it would already be manifold, even if it limited itself to thinking itself.


3. It might be objected that nothing (in all this) would hinder the first Principle from being both single and manifold. We will answer that the manifold needs a single subject. The manifold cannot exist without the One from which it comes, and in which it is; without336 the One which is counted the first outside of other things, and which must be considered only in itself. Even on the supposition that it co-exists with other things, it must, none the less, while being taken with the other things with which it is supposed to co-exist, be considered as different from them. Consequently, it must not be considered as co-existing with other things, but be considered as their subject (or, substrate), and as existing in itself, instead of co-existing with the other things of which it is the subject.


Indeed, that which is identical in things other than the One, may no doubt be similar to the One, but cannot be the One. The One must exist alone in itself, thus to be grasped in other things, unless we should claim that its (nature) consists in subsisting with other things. Under this hypothesis, there will not exist either anything absolutely simple, nor anything composite. Nothing absolutely simple will exist, since that which is simple could not subsist by itself; neither could anything composite exist, since nothing simple will exist. For if no simple thing possess existence, if there be no simple unity, subsisting by itself, which could serve as support to the composite, if none of these things be capable of existing by itself, let alone communicating to others, since it does not exist; we must conclude that that which, of all these things, is composite, could not exist, since it would be made up out of elements that do not exist, and which are absolutely nothing. Therefore, if we insist on the existence of the manifold, we are implying the existence of the One before the manifold. Now since that which thinks is multiple, the principle that is not manifold will not think. But as this Principle is the first,337 then Intelligence and thought are entities later than the first.


4. As the Good must be simple, and self-sufficient, it has no need to think. Now that which it does not need could not be within it, since nothing (that is different from it) exists in it; consequently, thought does not exist in it (because it is essentially simple12). Besides, the Good is one thing, and Intelligence another; by thinking, Intelligence takes on the form of Good. Besides, when in two objects unity is joined to something other than itself, it is not possible that this unity, which is joined to something else, should be Unity itself. Unity in itself should exist in itself before this unity was joined to anything else. For the same reason, unity joined to something else presupposes absolutely simple Unity, which subsists in itself, and has nothing of what is found in unity joined to other things. How could one thing subsist in another if the principle, from which this other thing is derived, did not have an existence that was independent, and prior to the rest? What is simple cannot derive anything from any other source; but what is manifold, or at least indicates plurality, is of derivative (nature). The Good may be compared to light, Intelligence to the sun, and the Soul to the moon that derives her light from the sun. The Soul's intelligence is only borrowed, which intellectualizes her by coloring her with its light. On the contrary, Intelligence, in itself, possesses its own light; it is not only light, but it is essentially luminous. The Principle that illuminates Intelligence and which is nothing but light, is absolutely simple light, and supplies Intelligence with the power to be what it is. How could it need anything else? It is not similar to what exists in anything else; for338 what subsists in itself is very different from what subsists in something else.


5. What is manifold needs to seek itself, and naturally desires to embrace itself, and to grasp itself by self-consciousness. But that which is absolutely One could not reflect on itself, and need self-consciousness. The absolutely identical principle is superior to consciousness and thought. Intelligence is not the first; it is not the first either by its essence, nor by the majestic value of its existence. It occupies only the second rank. It existed only when the Good already existed; and as soon as it existed, it turned towards the Good. In turning towards the Good, Intelligence cognized the latter; for thought consists of conversion towards the Good, and aspiration thereto. Aspiration towards the Good, therefore, produced thought, which identifies itself with the Good; for vision presupposes the desire to see. The Good, therefore, cannot think; for it has no good other than itself. Besides, when something other than the Good thinks the Good, it thinks the Good because it takes the form of the Good, and resembles the Good. It thinks, because itself becomes for itself a good and desirable object, and because it possesses an image of the Good. If this thing always remain in the same disposition, it will always retain this image of the Good. By thinking itself, Intelligence simultaneously thinks the Good; for it does not think itself as being actualized; yet every actualization has the Good as its goal.


6. If the above arguments be worth while, the Good has no place for thought. What thinks must339 have its good outside of itself. The Good, therefore, is not active; for what need to actualize would actualization have? To say that actualization actualizes, is tautology. Even if we may be allowed to attribute something to actualizations which relate to some principle other than themselves, at least the first actualization to which all other actualizations refer, must be simply what it is. This actualization is not thought; it has nothing to think, as it is the First. Besides, that which thinks is not thought, but what possesses thought. Thus there is duality in what thinks; but there is no duality in the First.


This may be seen still more clearly by considering how this double nature shows itself in all that thinks in a clearer manner. We assert that all essences, as such, that all things that are by themselves, and that possess true existence, are located in the intelligible world. This happens not only because they always remain the same, while sense-objects are in a perpetual flow and change13—although, indeed, there are sense-objects (such as the stars14), that remain the same—but rather because they, by themselves, possess the perfection of their existence. The so-called primary "being" must possess an existence which is more than an adumbration of existence, and which is complete existence. Now existence is complete when its form is thought and life. Primary "being," therefore, will simultaneously contain thought, existence and life. Thus the existence of essence will imply that of intelligence; and that of intelligence, that of essence; so that thought is inseparable from existence, and is manifold instead of being one. That which is not manifold (the One), cannot, therefore, think. In the340 intelligible world, we find Man, and the thought of man, Horse and the thought of horse, the Just Man and the thought of the just man; everything in it is duality; even the unity within it is duality, and in it duality passes into unity. The First is neither all things that imply duality, nor any of them; it contains no duality whatever.


Elsewhere we shall study how duality issues from unity. Here we merely insist that as the One is superior to "being," it must also be superior to thought. It is, therefore, reasonable to insist that it does not know itself, that it does not contain anything to be known, because it is simple. Still less will it know other beings. It supplies them with something greater and more precious than knowledge of beings, since it is the Good of all beings; from it they derive what is more important (than mere cogitation), the faculty of identifying themselves with it so far as possible.


Of the Aristotelian Distinction Between Actuality and Potentiality.


1. (Aristotle) spoke of (things) existing "potentially," and "actually"; and actuality is spoken of as a "being." We shall, however, have to examine this potential and actual existence; and whether this actual existence be the same as actuality, and whether this potential existence be identical with potentiality; also, whether these conceptions differ so that what exists actually be not necessarily actuality. It is evident that among sense-objects there exist things potentially. Are there also such among the intelligibles? This then is the problem: whether the intelligibles exist only actually; and on the hypothesis of the existence among intelligibles of something existing potentially, whether, because of its eternity, this always remains there in potentiality; and, because it is outside of time, never arrives to actuality.


Let us first define potentiality. When a thing is said to exist potentially, this means that it does not exist absolutely. Necessarily, what exists potentially is potential only in relation to something else; for example,342 metal is the statue potentially. Of course, if nothing were to be done with this thing, or within it, if it were not to become something beyond itself, if there were no possibility of its becoming anything else, it would only be what it was already. How could it then become something different from what it was? It did not, therefore, exist potentially. Consequently, if, on considering what is a thing that exists potentially, and one that exists actually, we say that it exists potentially, we must mean that it might become different from what it is, whether, after having produced this different thing, it remain what it is, or whether, on becoming this different thing, which it is potentially, it ceases being what it is itself. Indeed, if metal be a statue potentially, this is a relation different from water being metal potentially, as air is potentially fire.15


Shall we say that what thus exists potentially is potentiality in respect of what is to be; as, for instance, that the metal is the potentiality of a statue? Not so, if we refer to the producing potentiality; for the producing potentiality cannot be said to exist potentially. If, then, we identified existing potentially not only with existing actually, but also with actuality, then potentiality would coincide with potential existence. It would be better and clearer, therefore, to contrast potential existence with actual existence, and potentiality with actuality. The thing which thus exists potentially is the substance underlying the reactions, shapes and forms which it is naturally fitted to receive, to which it aspires for their betterment or deterioration, and for the destruction of those whose actualization constitutes differentiation.



2. As to matter, we shall have to examine whether it be something actually, while simultaneously it potentially is the shapes it receives; or whether it be nothing at all actually. Everything else of which we predicate potentiality passes on to actuality on receiving its form, and remaining the same. We may call a statue an actual statue, thus contrasting with it a potential statue; but an actual statue will not be implied by the metal which we called the potential statue. Consequently, what exists potentially does not become what exists actually; but from what was previously a potential (statue) proceeds what later is an actual (statue). Indeed, what exists actually is the compound, and not the matter; it is the form added to matter; this occurs when there is produced another being; when, for example, from the metal is made a statue; for the statue exists by this very being something other than the metal; namely, the compound.17


In non-permanent things, what exists potentially is evidently something quite different (from what is said to exist actually). But when the potential grammarian becomes an actual grammarian, why should not the potential and actual coincide? The potential wise Socrates is the same as the actual Socrates. Is the ignorant man, who was potentially learned, the same as the learned? No: only accident makes of the ignorant man a learned one; for it was not his ignorance that made him potentially wise; with him, ignorance was only an accident; but his soul, being by herself disposed (to be actually learned), still remains potentially learned, in so far as she was actually so,344 and still keeps what is called potential existence; thus the actual grammarian does not cease being a potential grammarian.18 Nothing hinders these two different things (of being a potential and actual grammarian) from coinciding; in the first case, the man is no more than a potential grammarian; in the latter, the man is still a potential grammarian, but this potentiality has acquired its form (that is, has become actual19).


If however what is potential be the substrate, while the actual is both (potential and actual) at the same time, as in the (complete) statue, what then shall we call the form in the metal? We might well call the actuality by which some object exists actually, and not merely potentially, the form and shape; therefore not merely actuality, but the actuality of this individual thing.


The name actuality would better suit the (general) actuality rather (than the actuality of some one thing); the actuality corresponding to the potentiality which brings a thing to actuality. Indeed, when that which was potential arrives at actuality, it owes the latter to something else.20


As to the potentiality which by itself produces that of which it is potentiality, that is, which produces the actuality (corresponding to this potentiality), it is a345 (Stoic) "habituation;" while the actuality (which corresponds to this habituation) owes its name thereto; for instance, the "habituation" is courageousness; while the actuality is being brave.21 But enough of this!


3. The purpose of the preceding considerations was to determine the meaning of the statement that intelligibles are actual; to decide whether every intelligible exist only actually, or whether it be only an actuality; and third, how even up there in the intelligible, where all things are actualities, there can also exist something potentially. If, then, in the intelligible world, there be no matter which might be called potential, if no being is to become something which it not yet is, nor transform itself, nor, while remaining what it is, beget something else, nor by altering, cause any substitution, then there could not be anything potential in this World of eternal essence outside of time. Let us now address the following question to those who admit the existence of matter, even in intelligible things: "How can we speak of matter in the intelligible world, if by virtue of this matter nothing exists potentially? For even if in the intelligible world matter existed otherwise than it does in the sense-world, still in every being would be the matter, the form and the compound which constitutes it." They would answer that in intelligible things, what plays the part of matter is a form, and that the soul, by herself, is form; but, in relation to something else, is matter. Is the soul then potential in respect of this other thing? Hardly, for the soul possesses the form, and possesses it at present, without regard to the future, and she is divisible in form and matter only for reason; if she contain matter, it is only because thought conceives of her as double (by distinguishing form and matter in her).346 But these two things form a single nature, as Aristotle also says that his "quintessence" is immaterial.


What shall we say? Potentially, she is the animal, when it is unborn, though to be born. Potentially she is the music, and all the things that become, because they are transient. Thus in the intelligible world there are things which exist, or do not exist potentially. But the soul is the potentiality of these things.22


How might one apply actual existence to intelligible things? Each of them exists actually because it has received form, as the statue (the compound) exists actually, or rather, because it is a form, and because its essence is a perfect form. The intelligence does not pass from the potentiality of thinking to the actuality of thinking.23 Otherwise, it would imply an anterior intelligence which would not pass from potentiality to actuality, which would possess everything by itself; for what exists potentially implies another principle whose intervention brings it to actuality, so as to be something existing actually. A being is an actuality when it always is what it is, by itself. Therefore, all first principles are actualities; for they possess all they should possess by themselves, eternally. Such is the state of the soul which is not in matter, but in the intelligible world. The soul which is in matter is another actuality; she is, for instance, the vegetative soul; for she is in actuality what she is. We shall, therefore, have to admit that (in the intelligible world) everything exists actually, and that thus everything is actuality, because it has rightly been said24 that intelligible nature is always awake, that it is a life, an347 excellent life, and that there on high all actualities are perfect. Therefore, in the intelligible world, everything exists actually, and everything is actuality and life. The place of intelligible things is the place of life, the principle and source of the veritable soul, and of intelligence.


4. All the other objects (the sense-objects), which are something potentially, are also actually something else, which, in regard to the First, may be said to be potential existence. As to matter, which exists potentially in all beings, how could it actually be some of these beings? Evidently, it would then no longer be all beings potentially. If matter be none of the beings, it necessarily is not a being. If it be none of the beings, how could it actually be something? Consequently, matter is none of the beings that in it "become." But might it not be something else, since all things are not in matter? If matter be none of the beings which are therein, and if these really are beings, matter must be non-being. Since, by imagination, it is conceived as something formless, it could not be a form; as being, it could not be counted among the forms; which is an additional reason why it should be considered as non-being. As matter, therefore, is no "being" neither in respect of beings, nor of forms, matter is non-being in the highest degree. Since matter does not possess the nature of veritable beings, and since it cannot even claim a place among the objects falsely called beings (for not even like these is matter an image of reason), in what kind of being could matter be included? If it cannot be included in any, it can evidently not be something actually.



5. If this be so, what opinion shall we form of matter? How can it be the matter of beings? Because matter potentially constitutes the beings. But, since matter already exists potentially, may we not already say that it exists, when we consider what it is to be? The being of matter is only what is to be; it consists of what is going to be; therefore matter exists potentially; but it is potentially not any determinate thing, but all things. Therefore, being nothing by itself, and being what it is, namely, matter, it is nothing actually. If it were something actually, what it would actually be would not be matter; consequently, matter would no longer be absolutely matter; it would be matter only relatively, like metal. Matter is, therefore, non-being; it is not something which merely differs from being, like movement, which relates to matter because it proceeds from matter, and operates in it. Matter is denuded and despoiled of all properties; it can not transform itself, it remains ever what it was at the beginning, non-being. From the very being it actually was no being, since it had withdrawn from all beings, and had never even become any of them; for never was it able to keep a reflection of the beings whose forms it ever aspired to assume. Its permanent condition is to trend towards something else, to exist potentially in respect of the things that are to follow. As it appears where ends the order of intelligible beings, and as it is contained by the sense-beings which are begotten after it, it is their last degree. Being contained in both intelligible and sense-things, it does not actually exist in respect of either of these classes of beings. It exists only potentially; it limits itself to being a feeble and obscure image, which can not assume any form. May we not thence conclude that matter is the image actually; and consequently,349 is actually deception? Yes, it truly is deception, that is, it is essentially non-being. If then matter actually be non-being, it is the highest degree of non-being, and thus again essentially is non-being. Since non-being is its real nature, it is, therefore, far removed from actually being any kind of a being. If it must at all be, it must actually be non-being, so that, far from real-being, its "being" (so to speak) consists in non-being. To remove the deception of deceptive beings, is to remove their "being." To introduce actuality in the things which possess being and essence potentially, is to annihilate their reason for being, because their being consists in existing potentially.


Therefore, if matter were to be retained as unchangeable, it would be first necessary to retain it as matter; evidently, it will be necessary to insist that it exists only potentially, so that it may remain what it essentially is; the only alternative would be to refute the arguments we have advanced.


Of the Impassibility of Incorporeal Entities (Soul and and Matter).



1. Sensations are not affections,25 but actualizations, and judgments, relative to passions. The affections occur in what is other (than the soul); that is, in the organized body, and the judgment in the soul. For if the judgment were an affection, it would itself presuppose another judgment, and so on to infinity.26 Though accepting this statement, we must, nevertheless, examine whether the judgment itself, as such, in nowise participates in the nature of its object; for if it receive the impression thereof,27 it is passive. Besides, the "images derived from the senses"—to use the popular language—are formed in a manner entirely different from what is generally believed. They are in the same case as the intellectual conceptions, which are actualizations, and through which, without being affected, we know objects. In general, neither our reason nor our will permit us, in any way, to attribute to the soul modifications and changes such as the heating or cooling of bodies. Further, we have to consider whether that part of the soul, that is called the passive (or affective, or irrational), must also be be considered as unalterable, or as being affectible.351 But we will take up this question later; we must begin by solving our earlier problems.


How could that part of the soul that is superior to sensation and passion remain unalterable, while admitting vice, false opinions, and ignorance (or folly); when it has desires or aversions; when it yields itself to joy or pain, to hate, jealousy, and appetite; when, in one word, it never remains calm, but when all the things that happen to it agitate it, and produce changes within it?


If, (on the Stoic hypothesis) the soul were extended, and corporeal, it would be difficult, or rather impossible for her to remain impassible and unalterable when the above-mentioned occurrences take place within her. If, on the contrary, she be a "being" that is unextended, and incorruptible, we must take care not to attribute to her affections that might imply that she is perishable. If, on the contrary, her "being" be a number28 or a reason,29 as we usually say, how could an affection occur within a number or a reason? We must therefore attribute to the soul only irrational reasons, passions without passivity; that is, we must consider these terms as no more than metaphors drawn from the nature of bodies, taking them in an opposite sense, seeing in them no more than mere analogies, so that we may say that the soul experiences them without experiencing them, and that she is passive without really being such (as are the bodies). Let us examine how all this occurs.



2. What occurs in the soul when she contains a vice? We ask this because it is usual to say, "to snatch a vice from the soul;" "to introduce virtue into her," "to adorn her," "to replace ugliness by beauty in her." Let us also premiss, following the opinions of the ancients,30 that virtue is a harmony, and wickedness the opposite. That is the best means to solve the problem at issue. Indeed, when the parts of the soul (the rational part, the irascible part, and the part of appetite), harmonize with each other, we shall have virtue;31 and, in the contrary case, vice. Still, in both cases, nothing foreign to the soul enters into her; each of her parts remain what they are, while contributing to harmony. On the other hand, when there is dissonance, they could not play the same parts as the personnel of a choric ballet, who dance and sing in harmony, though not all of them fill the same functions; though one sings while the remainder are silent; and though each sings his own part; for it does not suffice that they all sing in tune, they must each properly sing his own part. In the soul we therefore have harmony when each part fulfils its functions. Still each must have its own virtue before the existence of a harmony; or its vice, before there is disharmony. What then is the thing whose presence makes each part of the soul good or evil? Evidently the presence of virtue or vice. The mere statement that, for the rational part (of the soul) vice consists in ignorance,32 is no more than a simple negation, and predicates nothing positive about reason.


But when the soul contains some of those false opinions which are the principal cause of vice, must we353 not acknowledge that something positive occurs in her, and that one of her parts undergoes an alteration? Is not the disposition of the soul's irascible part different according to its courage or cowardliness? And the soul's appetitive-part, according to whether it be temperate or intemperate? We answer that a part of the soul is virtuous, when it acts in conformity with its "being," or when it obeys reason; for reason commands all the parts of the soul, and herself is subjected to intelligence. Now to obey reason is to see; it is not to receive an impression, but to have an intuition, to carry out the act of vision.33 Sight is of the same (nature) when in potentiality, or in actualization; it is not altered in passing from potentiality to actualization,34 she only applies herself to do what it is her (nature) to do, to see and know, without being affected. Her rational part is in the same relation with intelligence; she has the intuition thereof.35 The nature of intelligence is not to receive an impression similar to that made by a seal, but in one sense to possess what it sees, and not to possess it in another; intelligence possesses it by cognizing it; but intelligence does not possess it in this sense that while seeing it intelligence does not receive from it a shape similar to that impressed on wax by a seal. Again, we must not forget that memory does not consist in keeping impressions, but is the soul's faculty of recalling and representing to herself the things that are not present to her. Some objector might say that the soul is different before reawakening a memory, and after having reawakened it. She may indeed be different, but she is not altered, unless indeed, we call the passing from potentiality to actualization an alteration. In any case, nothing extraneous enters into her, she only acts according to her own nature.



In general, the actualizations of immaterial (natures) do not in any way imply that these (natures) were altered—which would imply their destruction—but, on the contrary, they remain what they were. Only material things are affected, while active. If an immaterial principle were exposed to undergo affections, it would no longer remain what it is. Thus in the act of vision, the sight acts, but it is the eye that is affected. As to opinions, they are actualizations analogous to sight.


But how can the soul's irascible-part36 be at one time courageous, and at the other cowardly? When it is cowardly, it does not consider reason, or considers reason as having already become evil; or because the deficiency of its instruments, that is, the lack of weakness of its organs, hinders it from acting, or feeling emotion, or being irritated. In the contrary condition it is courageous. In either case, the soul undergoes no alteration, nor is affected.


Further, the soul's appetite is intemperate when it alone is active; for then, in the absence of the principles that ought to command or direct her, it alone does everything. Besides, the rational part, whose function it is to see (by considering the notions it receives from intelligence), is occupied with something else, for it does not do everything simultaneously, being busy with some other action; it considers other than corporeal things, so far as it can.37 Perhaps also355 the virtue or vice of the appetite depend considerably on the good or evil condition of the organs; so that, in either case, nothing is added to the soul.


3. There are desires and aversions in the soul, which demand consideration. It is impossible to deny that pain, anger, joy, appetite and fear are changes and affections which occur in the soul, and that move her.38 We must here draw a distinction, for it would be denying the evidence to insist that there are in us no changes or perception of these changes. We cannot attribute them to the soul, which would amount to the admission39 that she blushes, or grows pale, without reflecting that these "passions," though produced by the soul, occur in a different substance. For the soul, shame consists in the opinion that something is improper; and, as the soul contains the body, or, to speak more exactly, as the body is a dependency of the animating soul, the blood, which is very mobile, rushes to the face. Likewise, the principle of fear is in the soul; paleness occurs in the body because the blood concentrates within the interior parts. In joy, the noticeable dilation belongs to the body also; what the body feels is not a "passion." Likewise with pain and appetite; their principle is in the soul, where it remains in a latent condition; what proceeds therefrom is perceived by sensation. When we call desires, opinions and reasonings "movements of the soul," we do not mean that the soul becomes excited in the production of these movements,40 but that they originate within her. When we call life a movement, we do not by this word mean an alteration; for to act according to one's nature is the simple and indivisible life of each part of the soul.



In short, we insist that action, life and desire are not alterations, that memories are not forms impressed on the soul, and that actualizations of the imagination are not impressions similar to those of a seal on wax.41 Consequently in all that we call "passions" or "movements," the soul undergoes no change in her substance (substrate) or "being" (nature); virtue and vice in the soul are not similar to what heat, cold, whiteness or blackness are in bodies; and the soul's relation to vice and virtue is entirely different, as has been explained.


4. Let us now pass to that part of the soul that is called the "passional" (or, affective). We have already mentioned it,42 when treating of all the "passions" (that is, affections), which were related to the irascible-part and appetitive part of the soul; but we are going to return to a study of this part, and explain its name, the "passional" (or, affective) part. It is so called because it seems to be the part affected by the "passions;"43 that is, experiences accompanied by pleasure or pain.44 Amidst these affections, some are born of opinion; thus, we feel fear or joy, according as we expect to die, or as we hope to attain some good; then the "opinion" is in the soul, and the "affection" in the body. On the contrary, other passions, occurring in an unforeseen way, give rise to opinion in that part of the soul to which this function belongs, but do not cause any alteration within her, as we have already explained. Nevertheless, if, on examining unexpected fear, we follow it up higher, we discover that it still357 contains opinion as its origin, implying some apprehension in that part of the soul that experiences fear, as a result of which occur the trouble and stupor which accompany the expectation of evil. Now it is to the soul that belongs imagination, both the primary imagination that we call opinion, and the (secondary) imagination that proceeds from the former; for the latter is no longer genuine opinion, but an inferior power, an obscure opinion, a confused imagination which resembles the action characteristic of nature, and by which this power produces each thing, as we say, unimaginatively.45 Its resulting sense-agitation occurs within the body. To it relate trembling, palpitation, paleness, and inability to speak. Such modifications, indeed, could not be referred to any part of the soul; otherwise, such part of the soul would be physical. Further, if such part of the soul underwent such affections these modifications would not reach the body; for that affected part of the soul would no longer be able to exercise its functions, being dominated by passion, and thus incapacitated.


The affective part of the soul, therefore, is not corporeal; it is a form indeed, but a form engaged in matter, such as the appetite, the power of growth, both nutritive and generative, a power which is the root and principle of appetite, and the affective part of the soul. Now a form cannot undergo an affection or a passion, but must remain what it is. It is the matter (of a body) which is capable of being affected by a "passion" (an affection), when this affection is produced by the presence of the power which is its principle. Indeed it is neither the power of growth that358 grows, nor the nutritive power that is fed; in general, the principle that produces a motion is not itself moved by the movement it produces; in case it were moved in any way, its movement and action would be of an entirely different nature.46 Now the nature of a form is an actualization, by its mere presence producing (something), just as if the harmony alone could cause the vibration of the strings of a lyre. Thus the affective part (of the soul, without itself being affected) is the cause of the affections, whether the movement proceed from it, that is, from sense-imagination, or whether they occur without (distinct) imagination.


We might further consider whether, inasmuch as opinion originates in a higher principle (of the soul), this principle does not remain immovable because it is the form of harmony, while the cause of the movement plays the role of the musician, and the parts caused to vibrate by the affection, that of the strings; for it is not the harmony, but the string that experiences the affection; and even if the musician desired it, the string would not vibrate unless it were prescribed by the harmony.


5. If then, from the very start, the soul undergo no affections, what then is the use of trying to render her impassible by means of philosophy? The reason is that when an image is produced in the soul by the affective part, there results in the body an affection and a movement; and to this agitation is related the359 image of the evil which is foreseen by opinion. It is this affection that reason commands us to annihilate, and whose occurrence even we are to forestall, because when this affection occurs, the soul is sick, and healthy when it does no occur. In the latter case, none of these images, which are the causes of affections, form within the soul. That is why, to free oneself from the images that obsess one during dreams, the soul that occupies herself therewith is to be wakened.47 Again, that is why we can say that affections are produced by representations of exterior entities, considering these representations as affections of the soul.


But what do we mean by "purifying the soul," inasmuch as she could not possibly be stained? What do we mean by separating (or, weaning) the soul from the body? To purify the soul is to isolate her, preventing her from attaching herself to other things, from considering them, from receiving opinions alien to her, whatever these (alien) opinions or affections might be, as we have said; it consequently means hindering her from consideration of these phantoms, and from the production of their related affections. To "purify the soul," therefore, consists in raising her from the things here below to intelligible entities; also, it is to wean her from the body; for, in that case, she is no longer sufficiently attached to the body to be enslaved to it, resembling a light which is not absorbed in the whirlwind (of matter48), though even in this case that part of the soul which is submerged does not, on that account alone, cease being impassible. To purify the affective part of the soul is to turn her from a vision of deceitful images; to separate her from the body, is to hinder her from inclining towards lower360 things, or from representing their images to herself; it means annihilating the things from which she thus is separated, so that she is no longer choked by the whirlwind of the spirit which breaks loose whenever the body is allowed to grow too strong; the latter must be weakened so as to govern it more easily.



6. We have sufficiently demonstrated the impassibility of intelligible "being" which is entirely comprised within the genus of form. But as matter also, though in another manner, is an incorporeal entity, we must examine its nature also. We must see whether it may be affected, and undergo every kind of modification, as is the common opinion; or whether, on the contrary, it be impassible; and in this case, what is the nature of its impassibility.


Since we are thus led to treat of the nature of matter, we must first premiss that the nature of existence, "being" and essence49 are not what they are thought to be by people generally. Existence is; it "is" in the genuine meaning of that word; that is, it "is" essentially; it is absolutely, lacking nothing of existence. Fully being existence, its existence and preservation are not dependent on anything else; so much the more, if other things seem to be, they owe this thereto. If this be true, existence must possess life, perfect life—for otherwise it would not be existence any more than non-existence. Now perfect life is intelligence and perfect wisdom. Existence therefore is determinate and definite. Nothing outside of it exists even potentially; otherwise it would not fully satisfy itself. It is361 therefore eternal, immutable, incapable of receiving anything, or of adding anything to itself; for what it would receive would have to be foreign to it, and consequently be nonentity. In order to exist by itself, existence must therefore possess all things within itself; it must be all things simultaneously, it must at the same time be one and all, since this is of what we consider existence to consist; otherwise instead of emanating from existence, intelligence and life would be incidental thereto. Therefore they could not originate from nonentity; and, on its side, existence could not be deprived of intelligence and life. True nonentity, therefore, will have intelligence and life only as they must exist in objects inferior and posterior to existence. The principle superior to existence (the One), on the other hand, gives intelligence and life to existence, without itself needing to possess them.50


If such be the nature of existence, it could be neither body, nor the substrate of bodies; for their existence is nonentity. (Materialists, however, object), How could we refuse to attribute "being" to the nature of bodies, such as these cliffs and rocks, to the solid earth, and in short, to all these impenetrable objects? When I am struck, am I not by the shock forced to acknowledge that these objects exist as (real) "being"? On the other hand, how does it happen that entities that are not impenetrable, which can neither shock others nor be shocked by them, which are completely invisible, like soul and intelligence, are genuine beings?51 Our answer is that the earth, which possesses corporeal nature in the highest degree, is inert; the element that is less gross (the air) is already more mobile, and362 resides in a higher region; while fire withdraws still more from corporeal nature. The things which best suffice themselves least agitate and trouble the others; those that are heavier and more terrestrial, by the mere fact that they are incomplete, subject to falling, and incapable of rising, fall by weakness, and shock the others by virtue of their inertia, and their weight. Thus inanimate bodies fall more heavily, and shock and wound others more powerfully. On the contrary, animated bodies, by the mere fact of greater participation in existence, strike with less harshness. That is why movement, which is a kind of life, or at least an image of life, exists in a higher degree in things that are less corporeal.


It is therefore an "eclipse of existence" which renders an object more corporeal. While studying those psychoses called affections, we discover that the more corporeal an object is, the more is it likely to be affected; the earth is more so than other elements, and so on. Indeed, when other elements are divided, they immediately reunite their parts, unless there be some opposition; but when we separate parts of earth, they do not come together again. They thus seem to have no natural earth; since, after a light blow, they remain in the state where they are left by the blow that struck or broke them. Therefore the more corporeal a thing is, the more it approaches nonentity, returning to unity with the greater difficulty. The heavy and violent blows by which bodies act on each other are followed by destruction. When even a weak thing falls on something weak, it may still be relatively powerful; as is nonentity hitting nonentity.



Such are the objections that may be raised against those who consider all beings as corporeal; who wish to judge of their existence only by impressions they receive therefrom, and who try to found the certitude of truth on the images of sensation.73 They resemble sleeping men who take as realities the visions they have in their dreams. Sensation is the dream of the soul;52 so long as the soul is in the body, she dreams; the real awakening of the soul consists in genuine separation from the body, and not in rising along with the body. To rise with the body is to pass from one sleep into another kind; from one bed to another; really to awake is to separate oneself completely from the body. The body, whose nature is contrary to that of the soul, consequently has a nature contrary to that of "being." This is proved by the generation, flux, and decay of bodies, all processes contrary to the nature of "being."


7. Let us return to matter as a substrate, and then to what is said to exist within it. This will lead us to see that it consists of nonentity, and that it is impassible. Matter is incorporeal because the body exists only as posterior thereto, because it is a composite of which it constitutes an element. It is called incorporeal because existence and matter are two things equally distinct from the body. Not being soul, matter is neither intelligence, nor life, nor ("seminal) reason," nor limit. It is a kind of infinity.53 Neither is it an (active) power;54 for what could it produce? Since matter is none of the above-mentioned things, it could not be called existence. It deserves only the name364 "nonentity" yet not even in the sense in which we may say that movement or rest are not existence;55 matter is real nonentity. It is an image and phantom of extension, it is aspiration to a form of hypostatic existence. Its perseverance is not in rest (but in change). By itself, it is invisible, it escapes whoever wishes to see it. It is present when you do not look at it, it escapes the eye that seeks it. It seems to contain all the contraries: the large and small, the more and the less, the lack and excess.56 It is a phantom equally incapable of remaining or escaping; for matter does not even have the strength of avoiding (form), because it has received no strength from intelligence, and it is the lack of all existence. Consequently, all its appearances are deceptions. If we represent matter as being greatness, it immediately appears as smallness; if we represent it as the more, we are forced to recognize it as the less. When we try to conceive of its existence, it appears as nonentity; like all the things it contains, it is a fugitive shadow, and a fleeting game, an image within an image. It resembles a mirror, in which one might see the reflections of objects external to it; the mirror seems to be filled, and to possess everything, though really containing nothing.


Thus matter is a shapeless image, into which enter, and out of which issue the images of beings. These appear in it precisely because matter has no shape, though they seem to produce something in it, they really produce nothing in it.57 They have no consistence, strength, nor solidity; as matter has none either, they enter into it without dividing it, as if they would365 penetrate water, or as shapes might move in emptiness. If the images that appear in matter had the same nature as the objects they represent and from which they emanate, then, if we attribute to the images a little of the power of the objects that project them, we might be right in considering them able to affect matter. But as the things that we see in matter do not have the same nature as the objects of which they are the images, it is not true that matter suffers when receiving them; they are no more than false appearances without any resemblance to what produces them. Feeble and false by themselves, they enter into a thing that is equally false.58 They must therefore leave it as impassible as a mirror, or water; producing on it no more effect than does a dream on the soul. These comparisons, however, are yet imperfect, because in these cases there is still some resemblance between the images and the objects.


8. (According to Aristotle59), it is absolutely necessary that what can be affected must have powers and qualities opposed to the things that approach it, and affect it. Thus, it is the cold that alters the heat of an object, and humidity that alters its dryness, and we say that the substrate is altered, when it ceases being hot, and grows cold; and ceasing to be dry, becomes humid. Another proof of this truth is the destruction of the fire that, by changing, becomes another element. Then we say that it is the fire, but not the matter that has been destroyed. What is affected is therefore that which is destroyed; for it is always a passive modification that occasions destruction. Consequently being destroyed and being affected are inseparable notions. Now it is impossible for matter366 to be destroyed; for how could it be destroyed, and in what would it change?


It may be objected that matter receives heat, cold, and numerous, or even innumerable qualities; it is characterized by them, it possesses them as somehow inherent in its nature, and mingled with each other, as they do not exist in isolated condition. How could nature avoid being affected along with them,60 serving as it does as a medium for the mutual action of these qualities by their mixture?61 If matter is to be considered impassible, we shall have to consider it as somehow outside of these qualities. But every quality which is present in a subject cannot be present in it without communicating to it something of itself.


9. It must be noticed that the expressions: "such a thing is present to such a thing" and "such a thing is in such other thing" have several meanings. Sometimes one thing improves or deteriorates some other thing by its presence, making it undergo a change; as may be seen in bodies, especially those of living beings. Again, one thing improves or deteriorates another without affecting it; this occurs with the soul, as we have already seen.62 Again, it is as when one impresses a figure on a piece of wax; the presence of the figure adds nothing to the (nature) of the wax, and its destruction makes it lose nothing. Likewise, light does not change the figure of the object which it enlightens with its rays. A cooled stone participates a little in the nature characteristic of the thing that cools it; but none the less remains stone. What suffering can light inflict on a line or a surface?63 One might perhaps367 say that in this case corporeal substance is affected; but how can it suffer (or be affected) by the action of light? Suffering, in fact, is not to enjoy the presence of something, nor to receive something. Mirrors, and, in general, transparent things, do not suffer (or are not affected) by the effect of images that form in them, and they offer a striking example of the truth we are here presenting. Indeed, qualities inhere in matter like simple images, and matter itself is more impassible than a mirror. Heat and cold occur in it without warming or cooling it; for heating and cooling consist in that one quality of the substrate gives place to another. In passing, we might notice that it would not be without interest to examine whether cold is not merely absence of heat. On entering into matter, qualities mostly react on each other only when they are opposite. What action, indeed, could be exercised by a smell on a sweet taste? By a color on a figure? How, in general, could things that belong to one genus act on another? This shows how one quality can give place to another in a same subject, or how one thing can be in another, without its presence causing any modification in the subject for which or in which it is present. Just as a thing is not altered by the first comer, likewise that which is affected and which changes does not receive a passive modification, or change, from any kind of an object. Qualities are affected only by the action of contraries. Things which are simply different cause no change in each other. Those which have no contraries could evidently not be modified by the action of any contrary. That which is affected, therefore, can not be matter; it must be a composite (of form and matter), or something multiple. But that which is isolated or separated from the rest, what is quite simple must remain impassible in respect of all things, and remain as a kind of medium in which other things may act on each other.368 Likewise, within a house, several objects can shock each other without the house itself or the air within it being affected. It is therefore qualities gathered in matter that act on each other, so far as it belongs to their nature. Matter itself, however, is still far more impassible than the qualities are among each other, when they do not find themselves opposite.


10. If matter could be affected, it would have to preserve some of the affection, retaining either the affection itself, or remain in a state different from the one in which it was before it was affected. But when one quality appears after another quality, it is no longer matter that receives it, but matter as determined by a quality. If even this quality should evanesce, though leaving some trace of itself by the action it has exercised, the substrate will still more be altered; proceeding thus it will come to be something entirely different from pure matter, it will be something multiple by its forms and by its manners of existence. It will no longer be the common receptacle of all things, since it will contain an obstacle to many things that could happen to it; matter would no longer subsist within it, and would no longer be incorruptible. Now if, by definition, matter always remains what it was since its origin, namely "matter," then, if we insist that it be altered, it is evident that matter no longer remains such. Moreover, if everything that is altered must remain unchanged in kind, so as not to be changed in itself, though changed in accidents; in one word, if that which is changed must be permanent, and if that which is permanent be not that which is affected, we come to a dilemma; either matter is altered, and abandons its nature; or it does not abandon its nature, and is not changed. If we say that matter is changed,369 but not in so far as it is matter, it will, to begin with, be impossible to state in what it is changed; and further, we would thereby be forced to insist it was not changed. Indeed, just as other things, which are forms, cannot be changed in their "being" (or, nature), because it is this very unalterability which constitutes their "being" (or, nature), likewise, as the "being" (or, nature) of matter is to exist in so far as it is matter, it cannot be altered in so far as it is matter, and it must necessarily be permanent in this respect. Therefore if form be unalterable, matter must be equally unalterable.


11. This was no doubt the thought present to Plato when64 he rightly said, "These imitations of the eternal beings which enter into matter, and which issue therefrom." Not without good reason did he employ the terms "enter" and "issue"; he wanted us carefully to scrutinize the manner in which matter participates in ideas. When Plato thus tries to clear up how matter participates in ideas, his object is to show, not how ideas enter into matter, as before so many have believed, but their condition within it. Doubtless, it does seem astonishing that matter remains impassible in respect to the ideas that are present therein, while the things that enter in it are affected by each other. We nevertheless have to acknowledge that the things which enter into matter expel their predecessors, and that it is only the composite that is affected. Nevertheless it is not every kind of composite that is affected, but only that composite that happens to need the thing that was introduced or expelled, so that its constitution becomes defective by the absence of that (quality), or more complete by its presence. Nothing is added to the nature of matter, however, by the introduction370 of anything; the presence of that thing does not make matter what it is, and matter loses nothing by its absence; matter remains what it was since its origin. To be ornamented is to the interest of something that admits of order or ornament; it can receive that ornament without being changed, when it only puts it on, so to speak. But if this ornament penetrate into it as something that forms part of its nature, it then cannot receive it without being altered, without ceasing to be what it was before, as for instance, ceasing to be ugly; without, by that very fact, changing; without, for instance, becoming beautiful, though ugly before. Therefore if matter become beautiful, though before ugly, it ceases to be what it was before; namely, ugly; so that on being adorned it loses its nature, so much the more as it was ugly only accidentally. Being ugly enough to be ugliness itself, it could not participate in beauty; being bad enough to be badness itself, it could not participate in goodness. Therefore matter participates in the ideas without being affected; and consequently, this participation must operate in another manner; and, for instance, consist in appearance.65 This kind of participation solves the problem we had set ourselves; it enables us to understand how, while being evil, matter can aspire to the Good without ceasing to be what it was, in spite of its participation in the Good. Indeed if this participation operate in a manner such that matter remains without alteration, as we say, and if it always continue to be what it was, there is no reason to be surprised if, though being evil, it can participate in the Good; it does not swerve from its manner of existence. On one hand, as for her, this participation is unavoidable, it participates as long as it endures; on the other hand, as matter continues to be what it is, by virtue of the kind of participation which does not interfere with its nature, it undergoes no alteration on the part of the371 principle which gives it something; it always remains as bad as it was, because its nature persists. If matter really participated in the Good, if matter were really modified thereby, its nature would no longer be evil. Therefore, the statement that matter is evil is true enough if it be considered to imply that it is impassible in respect to Good; and this really amounts to saying that it is entirely impassible.


12. Plato66 agreed with this, and being persuaded that, by participation, matter does not receive form and shape, as would some substrate that should constitute a composite of things intimately united by their transformation, their mixture, and their common affections; in order to demonstrate the opposite, namely, that matter remains impassible while receiving forms, invented a most apposite illustration of a participation that operates without anything being affected (namely, that engravers, before using dies on the soft wax, clean them carefully). Almost any other kind of illustration would fail to explain how the substrate can remain the same in the presence of forms. While trying to achieve his purpose, Plato has raised many questions; he has besides applied himself to demonstrate that sense-objects are devoid of reality, and that a large part of their hypostatic substance is constituted by appearance. Plato demonstrates the permanence and identity of matter by showing that it is by the figures with which it is endued that matter affects animated bodies, without itself suffering any of their affections. He wishes to convince us that in being endued with these figures, matter undergoes neither affection nor alteration. Indeed, in the bodies that successively assume different figures, we may, relying on analogy, call the change of figures an alteration;372 but since matter has neither figure nor existence,67 how could we, even by analogy, call the presence of a figure an alteration? The only sure way of avoiding a misunderstanding in expression is to say that the substrate possesses nothing in the manner it is usually supposed to possess it. How then could it possess the things it contains, unless as a figure? Plato's illustration means that matter is impassible, and that it contains the apparent presence of images which are not really present therein.


We must still further preliminarily insist on the impassibility of matter; for by using the usual terms we might be misled into wrongly thinking that matter could be affected. Thus Plato speaks68 of matter being set on fire, being wetted, and so forth, as if it received the shapes of air or water. However, Plato modifies the statement that "matter receives the shapes of air and water" by the statement that matter "is set on fire and wetted," and he demonstrates that by receiving these shapes it nevertheless has none of its own, and that forms do not more than enter into it. This expression "matter is set on fire" must not be taken literally; it means only that matter becomes fire. Now to become fire is not the same thing as being set on fire; to be set on fire can achieve no more than what is different from fire, than what can be affected; for that which itself is a part of fire could not be set on fire. To insist on the opposite would amount to saying that metal itself formed a statue, or that fire itself spread into matter and set it on fire. The theory that a ("seminal) reason" had approached matter, forces us to question how this reason could have set matter on fire. The theory that a figure had approached matter would imply that that which is373 set on fire is already composed of two things (matter and a figure), and that these two entities form a single one. Although these two things would form a single one, they would not affect each other, and would act only on other entities. Nor would they even in this case act jointly; for one would effect no more than to hinder the other from avoiding (form). The theory that when the body is divided matter also must be divided, would have to answer the question, How could matter on being divided, escape the affection undergone by the composite (of form and matter)? On such a theory, one might even assert that matter was destroyed, and ask, Since the body is destroyed, why should not matter also be destroyed? What is affected and divided must be a quantity or magnitude. What is not a magnitude cannot experience the same modifications as a body. Therefore those who consider matter affectible would be forced to call it a body.


13. They would further have to explain in what sense they say that matter seeks to elude form. How can it be said to seek to elude the stones and the solid objects which contain it? For it would be irrational to say that it seeks to elude form at certain times, but not at others. If matter seeks to elude form voluntarily, why does it not elude form continuously? If necessity keep matter (within form), there can be no moment when it would not inhere in some form or other. The reason why matter is not always contained by the same form must not be sought for within matter, but in the forms that matter receives. In what sense then could it be said that matter eludes form? Does it always and essentially elude form? This would amount to saying that matter, never ceasing being itself, has form without ever having it. Otherwise, the374 statement would be meaningless.69 (Plato) says that matter is the "nurse and residence of generation." If then matter be the nurse and residence of generation, it is evidently distinct from the latter. Only that which can be affected is within the domain of generation. Now as matter, being the nurse and residence of generation, exists before the latter, it must also exist before any alteration. Therefore to say that matter is the nurse and residence of generation is tantamount to saying that matter is impassible. The same meaning attaches to such other statements as that matter is that in which begotten things appear, and from which they issue,70 that matter is the (eternal) location, and place (of all generation).71


When Plato, rightfully, calls matter "the location of forms," he is not thereby attributing any passion to matter; he only indicates that matters go on in a different manner. How? Since matter, however, by its nature, cannot be any of the beings, and as it must flee from the "being" of all beings, and be entirely different from them—for ("seminal) reasons" are genuine beings—it must necessarily preserve its nature by virtue of this very difference. It must not only contain all beings, but also not appropriate what is their image; for this is that by which matter differs from all beings. Otherwise, if the images that fill a mirror were not transient, and if the mirror remained invisible, evidently we would believe that the things the mirror presents to us existed really. If then there be something in a mirror, that is that which sense-forms are in matter. If in a mirror there be nothing but appearance, then there is nothing in matter but appearance, recognizing that this appearance is the cause of375 the existence of beings, an existence in which the things that exist always really participate, and in which the things which do not really exist do not participate; for they could not be in the condition where they would be if they existed without the existence of existence in itself.


14. What! Would nothing exist (in the sense-world) if matter did not exist? Nothing! It is as with a mirror; remove it, and the images disappear. Indeed, that which by its nature is destined to exist in something else could not exist in that thing; now the nature of every image is to exist in something else. If the image were an emanation of the causes themselves, it could exist without being in anything else; but as these causes reside in themselves, so that their image may reflect itself elsewhere, there must be something else destined to serve as location for that which does not really enter into it; something which by its presence, its audacity, its solicitations, and by its indigence, should as it were forcibly obtain (what it desires), but which is deceived because it does not really obtain anything; so that it preserves its indigence, and continues to solicitate (satisfaction72). As soon as Poverty exists, it ceaselessly "begs," as a (well-known Platonic) myth tells us;97 that shows clearly enough that it is naturally denuded of all good. It does not ask to obtain all that the giver possesses; it is satisfied with the possession of some of it, thus revealing to us how much the images that appear in matter are different from real beings. Even the very name of Poverty, which is given to matter, indicates that it is insatiable. When Poverty is said to unite with Abundance, we do not mean that it unites with Existence or Fulness, but with a work of wonderful376 skill, namely, a thing that is nothing but specious appearance.74,98


It is indeed impossible that that which is outside of existence should be completely deprived of it; for the nature of existence is to produce beings. On the other hand, absolute nonentity cannot mingle with existence. The result is something miraculous: matter participates in existence without really participating in it, and by approaching to it obtains something, though by its nature matter cannot unite with existence. It therefore reflects what it receives from an alien nature as echo reflects sound in places that are symmetrical and continuous. That is how things that do not reside in matter seem to reside in it, and to come from it.


If matter participated in the existence of genuine beings and received them within itself, as might easily be thought, that which would enter into it would penetrate deeply into matter; but evidently matter is not penetrated thereby, remaining unreceptive of any of it. On the contrary, matter arrests their "procession," as echo arrests and reflects sound-waves, matter being only the "residence" (or, "jar" or vase) of the things that enter within it, and there mingle with each other. Everything takes place there as in the case of persons who, wishing to light fire from the rays of the sun, should place in front of these rays polished jars filled with water, so that the flame, arrested by the obstacles met within, should not be able to penetrate, and should concentrate on their outside. That is how matter becomes377 the cause of generation; that is how things occur within it.


15. The objects that concentrate the rays of the sun, are themselves visible, by receiving from the fire of sensation what takes fire in their hearth. They appear because the images that form themselves are around and near them, and touch each other, and finally because there are two limits in these objects. But when the ("seminal) reason" is in matter, it remains exterior to matter in an entirely different manner; it has a different nature. Here it is not necessary that there be two limits; matter and reason are strangers to each other by difference of nature, and by the difference between their natures that makes any mixture of them impossible. The cause that each remains in itself is that what enters into matter does not possess it, any more than matter possesses what enters into it. That is how opinion and imagination do not mingle in our soul,75 and each remains what it was, without entailing or leaving anything, because no mingling can occur. These powers are foreign to each other, not in that there is a mere juxtaposition, but because between them obtains a difference that is grasped by reason, instead of being seen by sight. Here imagination is a kind of phantom, though the soul herself be no phantom, and though she seem to accomplish, and though she really accomplish many deeds as she desires to accomplish them.

Thus imagination stands to the soul in about the same lation as (form) with matter. Nevertheless (imagination) does not hide the soul, whose operations often disarrange and disturb it. Never could imagination hide the soul entirely, even if imagination should penetrate378 the soul entirely, and should seem to veil it completely. Indeed, the soul contains operations and reasons contrary (to imagination), by which she succeeds in putting aside the phantoms that besiege her.76 But matter, being infinitely feebler than the soul, possesses none of the beings, either of the true or false, which characteristically belong to it. Matter has nothing that could show it off, being absolutely denuded of all things. It is no more than a cause of appearance for other things; it could never say, "I am here, or there!" If, starting from other beings,77 profound reasoning should succeed in discovering matter, it ultimately declares that matter is something completely abandoned by true beings; but as the things that are posterior to true beings themselves seem to exist, matter might, so to speak, be said to be extended in all these things, seeming both to follow them, and not to follow them.


16. The ("seminal) reason," on approaching matter, and giving it the extension it desired, made of it a magnitude. The "reason" drew from itself the magnitude to give it to the matter, which did not possess it, and which did not, merely on that account, acquire size; otherwise the magnitude occurring within it would be magnitude itself. If we remove form from matter, the substrate that then remains neither seems nor is large (since magnitude is part of form). If what is produced in matter be a certain magnitude, as for instance a man or a horse, the magnitude characteristic of the horse disappears with the form of the horse.78 If we say that a horse cannot be produced except in a mass of determined size, and that this magnitude remained379 (when the form of the horse disappeared), we would answer that what would then remain would not be the magnitude characteristic of the horse, but the magnitude of mass. Besides, if this mass were fire or earth, when the form of fire or that of earth disappeared, the magnitude of the fire or of the earth would simultaneously disappear. Matter therefore possesses neither figure nor quantity; otherwise, it would not have ceased being fire to become something else, but, remaining fire, would never "become" fire.79 Now that it seems to have become as great as this universe, if the heavens, with all they contain were annihilated, all quantity would simultaneously disappear out of matter, and with quantity also the other inseparable qualities will disappear. Matter would then remain what it originally was by itself; it would keep none of the things that exist within it. Indeed, the objects that can be affected by the presence of contrary objects can, when the latter withdraw, keep some trace of them; but that which is impassible retains nothing; for instance, the air, when penetrated by the light, retains none of it when it disappears. That that which has no magnitude can become great is not any more surprising than that which has no heat can become hot. Indeed, for matter to be matter is something entirely different from its being magnitude; magnitude is as immaterial as figure. Of matter such as it really is we should say that it is all things by participation. Now magnitude forms part of what we call all things. As the bodies are composite, magnitude is there among the other qualities, without however being determinate therein. Indeed, the "reason" of the body also contains magnitude.80 On the contrary, matter does not even contain indeterminate magnitude, because it is not a body.



17. Neither is matter magnitude itself; for magnitude is a form, and not a residence; it exists by itself81 (for matter cannot even appropriate the images of beings). Not even in this respect, therefore, is matter magnitude. But as that which exists in intelligence or in the soul desired to acquire magnitude, it imparted to the things that desired to imitate magnitude by their aspiration or movement, the power to impress on some other object a modification analogous to their own. Thus magnitude, by developing in the procession of imagination, dragged along with itself the smallness of matter, made it seem large by extending it along with itself, without becoming filled by that extension. The magnitude of matter is a false magnitude, since matter does not by itself possess magnitude, and by extending itself along with magnitude, has shared the extension of the latter. Indeed as all intelligible beings are reflected, either in other things in general, or in one of them in particular, as each of them was large, the totality also is, in this manner, great (?). Thus the magnitude of each reason constituted a particular magnitude, as, for instance, a horse, or some other being.82 The image formed by the universal reflection of intelligible beings became a magnitude, because it was illuminated by magnitude itself. Every part of it became a special magnitude; and all things together seemed great by virtue of the universal form to which magnitude belongs. Thus occurred the extension of each thing towards each of the others, and towards their totality. The amount of this extension in form and in mass necessarily depended on the power, that transformed what in reality was nothing to an appearance of being all things. In the same manner color, that arose out of what is not color, and quality, that381 arose out of what is not quality, here below were referred to by the same name as the intelligible entities (of which they are the images). The case is similar for magnitude, which arose out of that which has none, or at least out of that magnitude that bears the same name (as intelligible magnitude).


Sense-objects, therefore, occupy a rank intermediary between matter and form itself.83 They no doubt appear, because they are derived from intelligible entities; but they are deceptive, because the matter in which they appear does not really exist.84 Each of them becomes a magnitude, because it is extended through the power of the entities that appear here below, and which locate themselves here. Thus we have, in every direction, the production of an extension; and that without matter undergoing any violence, because (potentially) it is all things. Everything produces its own extension by the power it derives from the intelligible entities. What imparts magnitude to matter is the appearance of magnitude, and it is this appearance that forms our earthly magnitude. Matter yields itself everywhere entirely to the extension it thus, by the universal appearance of magnitude, is forced to take on. Indeed, by its nature, matter is the matter of everything, and consequently is nothing determinate. Now that which is nothing determinate by itself could become its opposite (of what it is), and even after thus having become its own opposite, it is not yet really this opposite; otherwise this opposite would be its nature.85


18. Let us now suppose that a conception of magnitude were possessed by some being which would have the power not only to be in itself, but also to produce382 itself externally; and that it should meet a nature (such as matter) that was incapable of existing within intelligence, of having a form, of revealing any trace of real magnitude, or any quality. What would such a being do with such a power? It would create neither a horse nor an ox; for other causes (the "seminal) reasons" would produce them.86 Indeed, that which proceeds from magnitude itself cannot be real magnitude; it must therefore be apparent magnitude.87 Thus, since matter has not received real magnitude, all it can do is to be as great as its nature will permit; that is, to seem great. To accomplish that, it must not fail anywhere; and, if it be extended, it cannot be a discrete quantity, but all its parts must be united, and absent in no place. Indeed, it was impossible for a small mass to contain an image of magnitude that would equal the real magnitude, since it is only an image of magnitude; but, carried away with the hope of achieving the magnitude to which it aspired, this image extended to its limit, along with matter, which shared its extension because matter could not follow it. That is how this image of magnitude magnified what was not great, without however making it seem really great, and produced the magnitude that appears in its mass. None the less does matter preserve its nature, though it be veiled by this apparent magnitude, as if by a garment with which it covered itself when it followed the magnitude that involved it in its extension. If matter ever happened to be stripped of this garment, it would nevertheless remain what itself was before; for it possesses magnitude only in so far as form by its presence makes it great.88


As the soul possesses the forms of beings, and as she herself is a form, she possesses all things simultaneously.89383 Containing all the forms, and besides seeing the forms of sense-objects turning towards her, and approaching her, she is not willing to accept them, along with their manifoldness. She considers them only after making abstractions of their mass; for the soul could not become other than she is.90 But as matter does not have the strength to resist, possessing as it does no special characteristic activity, and being no more than an adumbration, matter yields to everything that active power proposes to inflict on it. Besides, that which proceeds from intelligible (nature) possesses already a trace of what is to be produced in matter. That is how discursive reason which moves within the sphere of representative imagination, or the movement produced by reason, implies division; for if reason remained within unity and identity, it would not move, but remain at rest. Besides, not as the soul does, can matter receive all forms simultaneously; otherwise it would be a form. As it must contain all things, without however containing them in an indivisible manner, it is necessary that, serving as it does as location for all things, it should extend towards all of them, everywhere offering itself to all of them, avoiding no part of space, because it is not restricted within any boundary of space, and because it is always ready to receive what is to be. How then does it happen that one thing, on entering into matter, does not hinder the entrance of other things, which, however, cannot co-exist with the former thing? The reason is that matter is not a first principle. Otherwise, it would be the very form of the universe. Such a form, indeed, would be both all things simultaneously, and each thing in particular. Indeed the matter of the living being is divided as are the very parts of the living being; otherwise nothing but reason91 would exist.



19. When things enter into the matter that plays the part of mother to them, they neither hurt it, nor give it pleasure. Their blows are not felt by matter; they direct their blows only against each other, because the powers act upon their opposites, and not on their substrates, unless indeed we consider the substrates as united to the things they contain. Heat makes cold disappear,92 as whiteness affects blackness; or, if they mingle, they produce a new quality by their mixture.93 What is affected is the things that mingle, and their being affected consists in ceasing to be what they were. Among animate beings, it is the body that is affected by the alteration of the qualities, and of the forces possessed. When the qualities constitutive of these beings are destroyed, or when they combine, or when they undergo some change contrary to their nature, the affections relate to the body, as the perceptions do to the soul. The latter indeed knows all the affections that produce a lively impression. Matter, however, remains what it is; it could not be affected when it ceases to contain heat or cold, since neither of these qualities is either characteristic or foreign. The name that best characterizes matter, therefore, is nurse or residence.94 But in what sense could matter, that begets nothing, be called "mother"? Those who call it such consider a mother as playing the part of mere matter, towards her child, merely receiving the germ, without contributing anything of itself, because the body of the child owes its growth to nourishment. If however the mother does contribute anything (to the formation of the child) she then plays the part of form, and does not restrict herself to the part of matter. Indeed, the form alone is fruitful, while the "other nature" (that is, matter), is unfruitful.



That no doubt was the meaning of those ancient sages who in mysteries and initiations symbolically represented the "ancient Hermes"95 with the generative organ in erection, to teach that it is intelligible reason that begets sense-objects. On the other hand, these same sages signify the sterility of matter, condemned to perpetual self-identity, by the eunuchs who surround Rhea,96 making of it the mother of all things, to use the expression they employ in designating the principle that plays the part of substrate.


That name indicates the difference between matter and a mother. To those who, refusing to be satisfied with superficialities, insist on thoroughness, they thus signified in as precise a manner as possible (without lifting the veil of) obscurity, that matter was sterile, although feminine also to extent at least that matter receives, without contributing to, the act of generation. They indicated it by this, that the (Galli) who surround Cybele are not women, but neither are they men, possessing no power of generation; for by castration they have lost a faculty that is characteristic only of a man whose virility is intact.


Psychological Questions.



1. Among the questions raised about the soul, we purpose to solve here not only such as may be solved with some degree of assurance, but also such as may be considered matters of doubt, considering our researches rewarded by even only a definition of this doubt. This should prove an interesting study. What indeed better deserves careful examination and close scrutiny than what refers to the soul? Among other advantages, the study of the soul has that of making known to us two order of things, those of which she is the principle, and those from which she herself proceeds. This examination will be in line with the divine precept to "know ourselves."100 Before seeking to discover and understand the remainder, it is no more than right first to apply ourselves to finding out the nature of the principle that embarks in these researches101; and as we are seeking what is lovable, we will do well to contemplate the most beautiful of spectacles (that of our own intellectual nature); for if there be a duality, in the universal (Soul), so much more likely will there388 be a duality in individual intelligences. We should also examine the sense in which it may be said that souls are sanctuaries of the divinity; but this question will not admit of solution till after we have determined how the soul descends into the body.


Now we must consider whether our souls themselves are (emanations) from the universal Soul. It may be insisted that, to demonstrate that our souls are not particles of the universal Soul, it does not suffice to show that our souls go as far (in their procession) as the universal Soul, nor that they resemble (the universal Soul) in their intellectual faculties, granting indeed that such a resemblance be admitted; for we might say that parts conform to the whole they compose. We might invoke Plato's authority, and insist that he teaches this opinion in that (part of the Philebus102) where he affirms that the universe is animate: "As our body is a part of the universe, our soul is a part of the Soul of the universe." We might add that (Plato) states and clearly demonstrates that we follow the circular movement of heaven, that from it we receive, our moral habits and condition; that as we were begotten in the universe, our soul must be derived from the surrounding universe103; and as each part of us participates in our soul, we ourselves should participate in the Soul of the universe, of which we are parts in the same way as our members are parts of ourselves. Last, we might quote the following words: "The universal Soul takes care of all that is inanimate." This sentence seems to mean that there is no soul outside of the universal Soul; for it is the latter that cares for all that is inanimate.



2. Consider the following answers. To begin with, the assertion that souls conform (to each other), because they attain the same objects, and the reduction of them to a single kind, implicitly denies that they are parts (of the universal Soul). We might better say that the universal Soul is one and identical, and that each soul is universal (that is, that she conforms to the universal Soul, because she possesses all the latter's powers). Now, assertion of the unity of the universal Soul defines her as being something different (from individual souls); namely, a principle which, specially belonging neither to one nor the other, neither to an individual, nor to a world, nor to anything else, itself carries out what is carried out by the world and every living being. It is right enough to say that the universal Soul does not belong to any individual being, inasmuch as she is (pure) being; it is right enough that there should be a Soul which is not owned by any being, and that only individual souls should belong to individual beings.


But we shall have to explain more clearly the sense in which the word "parts" must here be taken. To begin with, there is here no question of parts of a body, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous. We shall make but a single observation, namely, that when treating of homogeneous bodies, parts refer to mass, and not to form. For instance, take whiteness. The whiteness of one part of the milk, is not a part of the whiteness of all the milk in existence; it is the whiteness of a part, and not the part of whiteness; for, taken390 in general, whiteness has neither size nor quantity. Only with these restrictions can we say that there are parts in the forms suitable to corporeal things.


Further, treating of incorporeal things, "parts" is taken in several senses. Speaking of numbers, we may say that two is a part of ten (referring exclusively to abstract numbers). We may also say that a certain extension is a part of a circle or line. Further, a notion is said to be a part of science.


When dealing with numbers and geometrical figures, as well as with bodies, it is evident that the whole is necessarily diminished by its division into parts, and that each part is smaller than the whole. Rightly, these things should be susceptible to increase or diminution, as their nature is that of definite quantities, not quantity in itself. It is surely not in this sense that, when referring to the soul, we speak of quantities. The soul is not a quantity such as a "dozen," which forms a whole divisible into unities; otherwise, we would end in a host of absurdities, since a group of ten is not a genuine unity. Either each one of the unities would have to be soul, or the Soul herself result from a sum of inanimate unities.


Besides, our opponents have granted that every part of the universal Soul conforms to the whole. Now, in391 continuous quantities, it is by no means necessary that the part should resemble the whole. Thus, in the circle and the quadrilateral (the parts are not circles or quadrilaterals). All the parts of the divided object (from which a part is taken) are not even similar to each other, but vary in manifold ways, such as the different triangles of which a single triangle might be composed. Our opponents also acknowledge that the universal Soul is composed of parts that conform to the whole. Now, in a line, one part might also be a line, while differing from the whole in magnitude. But when we speak of the soul, if the difference of the part from the whole consisted in a difference of size, the soul would be a magnitude and a body; for then she would differentiate in quantity by psychic characteristics. But this would be impossible if all souls be considered similar and universal. It is evident that the soul cannot, like magnitudes, be further divided; and even our opponents would not claim that the universal Soul is thus divided into parts. This would amount to destroying the universal Soul, and reducing her to a mere name, if indeed in this system a prior universal (Soul) can at all be said to exist. This would place her in the position of wine, which might be distributed in several jars, saying that the part of the wine contained in each of them is a portion of the whole.104


Nor should we (apply to the soul) the word "part" in the sense that some single proposition is a part of the total science. In this case the total science does not remain any less the same (when it is divided), and its division is only as it were the production and actualization392 of each of its component parts. Here each proposition potentially contains the total science, and (in spite of its division), the total science remains whole.


If such be the relation of the universal Soul to the other souls, the universal Soul, whose parts are such, will not belong to any particular being, but will subsist in herself. No longer will she be the soul of the world. She will even rank with the number of souls considered parts. As all souls would conform to each other, they would, on the same grounds, be parts of the Soul that is single and identical. Then it would be inexplicable that some one soul should be Soul of the world, while some other soul should be one of the parts of the world.


3. Are individual souls parts of the universal Soul as, in any living organism, the soul that animates (or vivifies) the finger is a part of the entire soul back of the whole animal? This hypothesis would force us to the conclusion either that there is no soul outside of the body, or that the whole universal Soul exists entire, not in a body, but outside of the body of the world. This question deserves consideration. Let us do so by an illustration.



If the universal Soul communicate herself to all individual animals, and if it be in this sense that each soul is a part of the universal Soul—for as soon as she would be divided, the universal Soul could not communicate herself to every part—the universal must be entire everywhere, and she must simultaneously be one and the same in different beings. Now this hypothesis no longer permits us to distinguish on one hand the universal Soul, and on the other the parts of this soul, so much the more as these parts have the same power (as the universal Soul); for even for organs whose functions are different, as the eyes and ears, it will not be claimed that there is one part of the soul in the eyes, and another in the ears—such a division would suit only things that have no relation with the soul. We should insist that it is the same part of the soul which animates these two different organs, exercising in each of them a different faculty. Indeed, all the powers of the soul are present in these two senses (of sight and hearing), and the only cause of the difference of their perceptions is the differences of the organs. Nevertheless all perceptions belong to forms (that is, to faculties of the soul), and reduce to a form (the soul) which can become all things (?).153 This is further proved by the fact that the impressions are forced to come and centre in an only centre. Doubtless the organs by means of which we perceive cannot make us perceive all things, and consequently the impressions differ with the organs. Nevertheless the judgment of these impressions belongs to one and the same principle, which resembles a judge attentive to the words and acts submitted to his consideration.105 We have, however, said above that it is one and the same principle which produces acts belonging to different functions394 (as are sight and hearing). If these functions be like the senses, it is not possible that each of them should think; for the universal alone would be capable of this. If thought be a special independent function, every intelligence subsists by itself. Further, when the soul is reasonable, and when she is so in a way such as to be called reasonable in her entirety, that which is called a part conforms to the whole, and consequently is not a part of the whole.


4. If the universal Soul be one in this manner, what about consequences of this (conception)? Might we not well doubt the possibility of the universal Soul's simultaneously being one, yet present in all beings? How does it happen that some souls are in a body, while others are discarnate? It would seem more logical to admit that every soul is always in some body, especially the universal Soul. For it is not claimed, for the universal Soul, as it is for ours, that she ever abandons her body, and though it be by some asserted that the universal Soul may one day leave her body, it is never claimed that she would ever be outside of any body. Even admitting that some day she should be divided from all body, how does it happen that a soul could thus separate, while some other could not, if at bottom both are of the same nature? As to Intelligence, such a question would be impossible; the parts into which it is divided are not distinguished from each other by their individual difference, and they all exist together eternally, for Intelligence is not divisible. On the contrary, as the universal Soul is divisible within the bodies, as has been said, it is difficult to understand how all the souls proceed from the unitary (pure) Being.



This question may be answered as follows. The unitary Being (that is Intelligence), subsists in itself without descending into the bodies. From unitary Being proceed the universal Soul and the other souls, which, up to a certain point, exist all together, and form but a single soul so far as they do not belong to any particular individual (contained in the sense-world). If, however, by their superior extremities they attach themselves to Unity, if within it they coincide, they later diverge (by their actualization), just as on the earth light is divided between the various dwellings of men, nevertheless remaining one and indivisible. In this case, the universal Soul is ever elevated above the others because she is not capable of descending, of falling, of inclining towards the sense-world. Our souls, on the contrary, descend here below, because special place is assigned to them in this world, and they are obliged to occupy themselves with a body which demands sustained attention. By her lower part, the universal Soul resembles the vital principle which animates a great plant, and which there manages everything peaceably and noiselessly. By their lower part our souls are similar to those animalculæ born of the decaying parts of plants. That is the image of the living body of the universe. The higher part of our soul, which is similar to the higher part of the universal Soul, might be compared to a farmer who, having noticed the worms by which the plant is being devoured, should apply himself to destroying them, and should solicitously care for the plant. So we might say that the man in good health, and surrounded by healthy people, is entirely devoted to his duties or studies; the sick man, on the contrary, is entirely396 devoted to his body, and becomes dependent thereon.


5. How could the universal Soul simultaneously be the soul of yourself and of other persons? Might she be the soul of one person by her lower strata, and that of somebody else by her higher strata? To teach such a doctrine would be equivalent to asserting that the soul of Socrates would be alive while being in a certain body, while she would be annihilated (by losing herself within the universal Soul) at the very moment when (as a result of separation of the body) she had come into what was best (in the intelligible world). No, none of the true beings perishes. Not even the intelligences lose themselves up there (in the divine Intelligence), because they are not divided as are bodies, and each subsists in her own characteristics, to their differences joining that identity which constitutes "being." Being located below the individual intelligences to which they are attached, individual souls are the "reasons" (born) of the intelligences, or more developed intelligences; from being but slightly manifold, they become very much so, while remaining in communion with the slightly manifold beings. As however they tend to introduce separation in these less divisible beings (that is, intelligences), and as nevertheless they cannot attain the last limits of division, they simultaneously preserve both their identity and difference. Each one remains single, and all together form a unity.


We have thus succeeded in establishing the most important point of the discussion, namely, that all397 souls proceed from a single Soul, that from being one they become manifold, as is the case with the intelligences, divided in the same way, and similarly undivided. The Soul that dwells in the intelligible world is the one and indivisible reason (born) of intelligence, and from this Soul proceed the particular immaterial "reasons," in the same manner as on high (the individual intelligences proceed from the one and absolute Intelligence).


6. If there be similarity between the universal Soul and the individual souls, how does it happen that the former created the world, while the others did not do so, though each of them also contain all things within herself, and since we have already shown that the productive power can exist simultaneously in several beings? By explaining its "reason" we can thus examine and discover how the same nature ("being") can act or experience, or act and experience, in a different manner in different beings.


How and why did the universal Soul make the universe, while the individual souls only manage a part thereof? That is not more surprising than to see, among men who possess the same knowledge, some command a greater number, and others a lesser. This is the case because there is a great difference between souls. Some, instead of separating from the universal Soul, have remained in the intelligible world, and still contain the body (of the universal), while others, when the body (of the universe) already existed, and398 while the universal Soul, their sister, governed it, accepted destinies assigned them by fate, as if (the universal Soul) had prepared for them dwellings to receive them.106 Besides, the universal Soul contemplates universal Intelligence, and the individual souls rather contemplate individual intelligences. These souls might indeed possibly have also been capable of making the universe; but that is no longer possible to them now that the universal Soul has already done it, and has preceded them. Besides, the very same question would have arisen even if an entirely different soul had first made the universe. Perhaps it is better to state that if the universal Soul has created the universe, it is chiefly because she is more closely related to intelligible entities, for the souls that are nearest thereto are the most powerful. Maintaining themselves in this quiet region, they act with greater facility; for to act without suffering is the sign of a greater power. Thus the power depending on the intelligible world abides within itself, and by abiding within itself, produces. The other souls, descending towards the body, withdraw from the intelligible world, and fall into the abyss (of matter). Perhaps also the element of manifoldness within them, finding itself drawn towards the lower regions, along with it dragged the conceptions of those souls, and made them descend hither. Indeed the distinction of the second or third rank for souls must be understood in this sense that some are nearer, and some further from the intelligible world. Likewise, among us, all souls are not equally disposed in regard to this world. Some succeed in uniting with it, others approach it by their aspirations; others do not quite succeed, because they do not all use the same faculties, and some use the first, others the second, and some the third, though they all equally possess all faculties.



7. That is what seems true to us. As to the Philebus passage (quoted in the first section), it might mean that all souls were parts of the universal Soul. That, however, is not its true meaning, as held by some. It only means what Plato desired to assert in this place, namely, that heaven is animate. Plato proves this by saying that it would be absurd to insist that heaven has no soul, when our body, which is only a part of the body of the universe, nevertheless has a soul; but how could a part be animate, unless the whole was so also? It is especially in the Timaeus107 that Plato clearly expresses his thought. After having described the birth of the universal Soul, he shows the other souls born later from the mixture made in the same vase from which the universal Soul was drawn. He asserts that they are similar to the universal Soul, and that their difference consists in that they occupy the second or third rank. That is further confirmed by this passage of the Phaedrus108: "The universal Soul cares for what is inanimate." Outside of the Soul, indeed, what power would manage, fashion, ordain and produce the body? It would be nonsense to attribute this power to one soul, and not to another. (Plato) adds (in substance): "The Perfect Soul, the Soul of the universe, hovering in the ethereal region, acts on the earth without entering into it, being borne above him as in a chariot. The other souls that are perfect share with it the administration of the world." When Plato speaks of the soul as having lost her wings, he is evidently distinguishing individual souls from the universal Soul. One might also conclude that our souls are part of the universal Soul from his statement that the souls follow the circular movement of the universe, that from it they derive their characteristics,400 and that they undergo its influence. Indeed, they might very easily undergo the influence exercised by the nature of the special localities, of the waters and the air of the towns they inhabit, and the temperament of the bodies to which they are joined. We have indeed acknowledged that, being contained in the universe, we possess something of the life-characteristic of the universal Soul, and that we undergo the influence of the circular movement of the heavens. But we have also shown that there is within us another (rational) soul, which is capable of resistance to these influences, and which manifests its different character precisely by the resistance she offers them. The objection that we are begotten within the universe may be answered by the fact that the child is likewise begotten within its mother's womb, and that nevertheless the soul that enters into its body is distinct from that of its mother. Such is our solution of the problem.


8. The sympathy existing between souls forms no objection. For this sympathy might be explained by the fact that all souls are derived from the same principle from which the universal Soul also is derived. We have already shown that there is one Soul (the universal) and several souls (human souls); and we have also defined the difference between the parts and the whole. Last, we have also spoken of the difference existing between souls. Let us now return to the latter point.


This difference between souls is caused principally by the constitution of the bodies they animate; also by401 the moral habits, the activities, the thoughts and behavior of these souls in earlier existence. According to Plato109 the choice of the souls' condition depends on their anterior existence. On observing the nature of souls in general, we find that Plato recognizes differences between them by saying that some souls occupy the second or third ranks.110 Now we have said that all souls are (potentially) all things,111 that each is characterized by the faculty principally exercised thereby, that is, that some souls unite with the intelligible world by actualization, while others do so in thought or desire.112 Souls, thus contemplating different objects, are and become all that they contemplate. Fulness and perfection also belong to soul, but in this respect they are not all identical, because variety is the law that directs their co-ordination. Indeed, the universal113 reason is on the one hand manifold, and on the other varied, like a being that is animate, and which possesses manifold forms.114 In this case, there is co-ordination; beings are not entirely separated from each other, and there is no place for chance either in real beings, nor in bodies; consequently the number of beings is definite. To be individual, beings must first be stable, then they must remain identical, and last, they must numerically be one in order to achieve individuality. Bodies which by nature perpetually ooze away, because for them form is something incidental, never possess formal existence but by their participation in (and imitation of), genuine "Beings." On the contrary, for the latter, that are not composite, existence consists in each of them being numerically single, in possessing this unity which dates from the beginning, which does not become what it was not, and which will never cease being what it is. If indeed they cannot exist without some producing principle, that principle will not derive them from matter. It will have to add to them something from its own being.402 But if intelligible entities thus have at times more, and at times less, perfection, they will change; which would contradict their (nature, or) "being," which is to remain identical. Why indeed should they become such as they are now, and why should they not always have been such as they now are? Further, if they be at times more or less perfect, if they "become," they are not eternal. But it is granted that the Soul (as an intelligible being) is eternal.


(It might still be asked) whether what is stable can be called infinite? That which is stable is potentially infinite, because its power is infinite without being also infinitely divided; for the divinity too is infinite.115 Thus each soul is what the divinity's nature is, without receiving from any other either limit or determinate quantity. The soul extends as far as she wishes. She is never forced to go further, but everywhere she descends towards bodies and penetrates into them, according to her nature. Besides, she never separates from herself, though present in finger or in foot. Not otherwise is it with the universe: wherever the Soul penetrates, she ever remains indivisible, as when she penetrates into the different parts of a plant. Then, if you cut a certain part, the principle which communicates life to it remains present both in the plant and in the part detached therefrom. The body of the universe is single, and the Soul is everywhere in her unity.


When numberless vermin arise out of the putrefaction of a body, they do not derive their life from403 the soul of the entire animal; the latter has abandoned the body of the animal, and, being dead, no longer dwells in the body. But the matter derived from putrefaction, being well suited for the generation of vermin, each receives a different soul, because the (universal) Soul is not lacking anywhere. Nevertheless, as one part of the body is capable of receiving her, while another is not, the parts that thus become animated do not increase the number of souls; for each of these little beings depends, as far as she remains one, on the single Soul (that is, on the universal Soul). This state of affairs resembles that in us. When some parts of our bodies are cut off, and when others grow in their place, our soul abandons the former, and unites with the latter, in so far as she remains one. Now the Soul of the universe ever remains one; and though amidst things contained within this universe, some are animate, while others are inanimate, the soul-powers nevertheless remain the same.



9. Let us now examine how it happens that the soul descends into the body, and in what manner this occurs; for it is sufficiently astonishing and remarkable. For a soul, there are two kinds of entrance into a body. The first occurs when the soul, already dwelling in a body, undergoes a transmigration; that is, passes from an aerial or igneous body into a terrestrial body. This is not usually called a transmigration, because the condition from which the soul comes is not visible. The other kind occurs when the soul passes from an incorporeal condition into any kind of a body,404 and thus for the first time enters into relations with a body.116


We must here examine what, in the latter case, is experienced by the soul which, till then pure from all dealings with the body, for the first time surrounds herself with that kind of a substance. Besides, it is not only just but even necessary for us to begin by a consideration of (this event in) the universal Soul. To say that the Soul enters the body of the universe and comes to animate it, is no more than a statement made to clarify our thoughts; for the succession in her actions thus established is purely verbal. There never was a moment when the universe was not animated, when its body existed without the Soul, or when matter existed without form.117 But these things can be separated in thought and speech, since as soon as an object is formed, it is always possible to analyse it by thought and speech. That is the truth.


If there were no body, the soul could not have any procession, since the body is the natural locality of her development. As the soul must extend, she will beget a receiving locality, and will, consequently, produce the body. The soul's rest is based, and depends for growth on (the intellectual category of) rest itself. The soul thus resembles an immense light which weakens as it becomes more distant from its source, so that at the extremity of its radiation, it has become no more than an adumbration. However, the soul evidently gave a form to this adumbration from the very beginning of things. It was, indeed, by no means405 suitable that what approached the soul should in no way participate in reason118; consequently there came to be an adumbration of reason in (matter), this adumbration being the soul. The universe thus became a beautiful and varied dwelling, which was not deprived of the presence119 of the universal Soul by her not totally incorporating within it. She judged that the whole universe was worthy of her care, and she thus gave it as much "being" and beauty as it was able to receive, without herself losing any of it, because she manages the world while herself remaining above it in the intelligible sphere. By so animating it, she thus grants it her presence, without becoming its property; she dominates it, and possesses it, without being, thereby, dominated or possessed. The universe, indeed, is in the containing Soul, and participates therein entirely. (The universe is in the Soul as is) a net in the sea, on all sides penetrated and enveloped by life, without ever being able to appropriate it. So far as it can, this net extends along with the sea, for none of its parts could be elsewhere than it is. By nature the universal Soul is immense, because her magnitude is not definite; so that by one and the same power she embraces the entire body of the world, and is present throughout the whole extension. Without it, the world-Soul would make no effort to proceed into extension, for by herself she is all that it is her nature to be. The magnitude of the universe therefore is determined by that of the location of the Soul; and the limits of its extent are those of the space within which it is animated by her. The extension of the adumbration of the Soul is therefore determined by that of the "reason" which radiates from this focus of light; and on the other hand, this "reason" was to produce such an extension as its nature urged it to produce.406120


10. Now let us return to that which has always been what it is. Let us, in thought, embrace all beings: air, light, sun, and moon. Let us then consider the sun, the light, and so forth, as being all things, without ever forgetting that there are things that occupy the first rank, others the second, or the third. Let us, at the summit of this series of beings, conceive of the universal Soul as subsisting eternally. Let us then posit that which holds the first rank after her, and thus continue till we arrive at the things that occupy the last rank, and which, as it were, are the last glimmerings of the light shed by the soul. Let us represent these things as an extension first dark, and then later illuminated by the form which comes to impress itself on an originally dark background. This background is embellished by reason in virtue of the entire universal Soul's independent power of embellishing matter by means of reasons, just as the "seminal reasons" themselves fashion and form animals as microcosms. According to its nature, the Soul gives a form to everything she touches. She produces without casual conception, without the delays of deliberation, or of those of voluntary determination. Otherwise, she would not be acting according to her nature, but according to the precepts of a borrowed art. Art, indeed, is posterior to nature. Art imitates by producing obscure and feeble imitations of nature's works, toys without value or merit; and besides, art makes use of a great battery of apparatus to produce these images. On the contrary, the universal Soul, dominating bodies by virtue of her nature ("being") makes them become and be what she desires; for the things themselves that exist since the beginning cannot raise resistance to her will. In inferior things, as the result of mutual obstruction,407 matter does not receive the exact form that the ("seminal) reason" contains in germ. But as the universal Soul produces the universal form, and as all things are therein co-ordinated, the work is beautiful because it is realized without trouble or obstacle. In the universe there are temples for the divinities, houses for men, and other objects adapted to the needs of other beings. What indeed could the Soul create if not what she has the power to create? As fire warms, as snow cools, the soul acts now within herself, and then outside of herself, and on other objects. The action which inanimate beings elicit from themselves slumbers, as it were, within them; and that which they exert on others consists in assimilating to themselves that which is capable of an experience. To render the rest similar to itself, is indeed the common characteristic of every being. The soul's power of acting on herself and on others is a vigilant faculty. It communicates life to beings who do not have it in themselves, and the life communicated to them is similar to the life of the soul herself. Now as the soul lives in reason, she imparts a reason to the body, which reason is an image of the one she herself possesses. Indeed, what she communicates to the bodies is an image of life. She also imparts to them the shapes whose reasons she contains. Now as she possesses the reasons of all things, even of the divinities, the world contains all things.


11. The ancient sages, who wished to materialize the divinities by making statues of them, seem to me to have well judged the nature of the universe. They understood that the being of the universal Soul was easy to attract anywhere, that her presence can easily408 be summoned in everything suited to receive her action, and thus to participate somewhat in her power. Now anything is suited to undergo the action of the soul when it lends itself like a mirror to the reflection of any kind of an image. In the universe nature most artistically forms all beings in the image of the reasons it contains. In each of (nature's) works the ("seminal) reason" that is united to matter, being the image of the reason superior to the matter (of the idea), reattaches itself to divinity (to Intelligence), according to which it was begotten, and which the universal Soul contemplated while creating.121 It was therefore equally impossible that there should be here below anything which did not participate in the divinity, and which the latter brought down here below; for (the divinity) is Intelligence, the sun that shines there on high. Let us consider (the universal Soul) as the model of reason. Below the Intelligence is the Soul, which depends on it, which subsists by and with it. The Soul holds to this sun (of Intelligence); the Soul is the intermediary by which the beings here below are reattached to intelligible beings; she is the interpreter of things which descend from the intelligible world into the sense-world, and of the things of the sense-world which return into the intelligible world. Indeed, intelligible things are not separated from each other; they are distinguished only by their difference and their constitution. Each of them remains within itself, without any relation to locality; they are simultaneously united and separate. The beings that we call divinities deserve to be considered such because they never swerve from intelligible entities, because they depend on the universal Soul considered in her principle, at the very moment of the Soul's issuing from Intelligence. Thus these beings are divinities by virtue of the very principle to which they owe their existence, and because they devote themselves to the contemplation of Intelligence,409 from which the universal Soul herself does not distract her gaze.


12. Human souls rush down here below because they have gazed at their images (in matter) as in the mirror of Bacchus. Nevertheless, they are not separated from their principle, Intelligence. Their intelligence does not descend along with them, so that even if by their feet they touch the earth, their head rises above the sky.122 They descend all the lower as the body, over which their intermediary part is to watch, has more need of care. But their father Jupiter, pitying their troubles, made their bonds mortal. At certain intervals, he grants them rest, delivering them from the body, so that they may return to inhabit the region where the universal Soul ever dwells, without inclining towards things here below.123 Indeed what the universe at present possesses suffices it both now and in the future, since its duration is regulated by eternal and immutable reasons, and because, when one period is finished, it again begins to run through another where all the lives are determined in accordance with the ideas.124 In that way all things here below are subjected to intelligible things, and similarly all is subordinated to a single reason, either in the descent or in the ascension of souls, or in their activities in general. This is proved by the agreement between the universal order and the movements of the souls which by descending here below, conform to this order without depending on it; and perfectly harmonize with the circular movement of heaven. Thus the actions, fortunes and destinies ever are prefigured in the figures formed by the stars.125 That is the symphony whose sound is so melodious that the ancients expressed it410 symbolically by musical harmony.126 Now this could not be the case unless all the actions and experiences of the universe were (well) regulated by reasons which determine its periods, the ranks of souls, their existences, the careers that they accomplish in the intelligible world, or in heaven, or on the earth. The universal Intelligence ever remains above the heaven, and dwelling there entirely, without ever issuing from itself; it radiates into the sense-world by the intermediation of the Soul which, placed beside it, receives the impression of the idea, and transmits it to inferior things, now immutably, and then changeably, but nevertheless in a regulated manner.


Souls do not always descend equally; they descend sometimes lower, sometimes less low, but always in the same kind of beings (among living beings). Each soul enters into the body prepared to receive her, which corresponds to the nature to which the soul has become assimilated by its disposition; for, according as the soul has become similar to the nature of a man or of a brute, she enters into a corresponding body.


13. What is called inevitable necessity and divine justice consists in the sway of nature which causes each soul to proceed in an orderly manner into the bodily image which has become the object of her affection, and of her predominating disposition. Consequently the soul, by her form, entirely approaches the object towards which her interior disposition bears her. Thus she is led and introduced where she is to go; not that she is forced to descend at any particular moment into any particular body; but, at a fixed411 moment, she descends as it were spontaneously where she ought to enter. Each (soul) has her own hour. When this hour arrives, the soul descends as if a herald was calling her, and she penetrates into the body prepared to receive her, as if she had been mastered and set in motion by forces and powerful attractions exerted by magic.127 Similarly in an animal, nature administers all the organs, solves or begets everything in its own time, grows the beard or the horns, gives special inclinations and powers to the being, whenever they become necessary. Similarly, in plants, (nature) produces flowers or fruits at the proper season. The descent of souls into the bodies is neither voluntary nor forced; it is not voluntary, since it is not chosen or consented to by souls. It is not compulsory, in the sense that the latter obey only a natural impulsion, just as one might be led to marriage, or to the accomplishment of various honest actions, rather by instinct than by reasoning. Nevertheless, there is always something fatal for each soul. One accomplishes her destiny at some one moment; the other soul at some other moment. Likewise, the intelligence that is superior to the world also has something fatal in its existence, since itself has its own destiny, which is to dwell in the intelligible world, and to make its light radiate therefrom. Thus individuals come here below by virtue of the common law to which they are subjected. Each one, indeed, bears within himself this common law, a law which does not derive its power from outside, but which depends on the nature of those who are subject to it, because it is innate in them. Consequently all voluntarily carry out its decrees at the predestined time, because this law impels them to their goal; and because, deriving its force from those whom it commands, it presses and stimulates them and inspires them with the desire to go whither their interior vocation calls them.



14. That is how this world, which already contains many lights, and which is illuminated by souls, finds itself still further adorned by the various beauties derived from different beings. It receives beauties from the intelligible divinities and from the other intelligences which furnish it with souls. This is probably the allegorical intent of the following myth.


(Following both Hesiod and the Gnostics, Plotinos relates that) a woman was formed by Prometheus, and adorned by the other divinities. This piece of clay, after having been kneaded with water, was endowed with a human voice, and received a form similar to the deities. Then Venus, the Graces and the other deities each gave her a gift. That is why this woman was called Pandora, because (as her name implies, in Greek) she had received gifts, which had been given by all the divinities. All, in fact, made some present to this piece of clay already fashioned by some kind of providence ("Prometheia," or "Prometheus"). When Epimetheus rejects the gift of Prometheus, it only indicates that it is better to live in the intelligible world.128 The creator of Pandora, however, is bound because he seems attached to his work. But this bond is entirely exterior, and it is broken by Hercules, because the latter possesses a liberating power. Whatever other interpretation the myth of Pandora may receive, it must still signify gifts received by the world, and its import must agree with our teaching.



15. On descending from the intelligible world, souls first come into heaven, and they there take a body by means of which they pass even into terrestrial bodies, according as they more or less advance (outside of the intelligible world). There are some who issue from heaven into the bodies of an inferior nature; there are some also who pass from one body into another. The latter no longer have the power to reascend into the intelligible world because they have forgotten; they are weighted down by the burden they carry along with themselves. Now souls differ either by the bodies to which they are united, or by their different destinies, or by their kind of life, or by their primitive nature. Thus differing from each other in all these relations, or in only some, the souls here below either succumb to fate, or are alternately subjected to it, and liberated; or, while supporting what is necessary, preserve the liberty of devoting themselves to actions that are characteristic of them, and live according to some other law, following the order that rules the whole universe. This order embraces all the ("seminal) reasons," and all the causes, the movements of the souls, and the divine laws. It agrees with these laws, it borrows from them its principles, and relates thereto all things that are its consequences. It preserves in an imperishable condition all the beings which are able to preserve themselves conformably to the constitution of the intelligible world. It leads the other beings whither their nature calls them, so that whithersoever they may descend, there is a cause which assigns to them some particular position or condition.



16. The punishments which justly overtake the evil must therefore be derived from that Order which rules all things with propriety. The unjust evils, accidents, misery and diseases which seem to overwhelm the good, may all be said to be consequences of anterior faults. These evils are intimately related to the course of events, and are even represented therein by their signs, so that they seem to happen according to the Reason (of the universe). We must however acknowledge that they are not produced by natural "reasons," that they are not within the purview of Providence, and that they are only its accidental consequences. Thus when a house happens to fall, it buries anybody below it, whoever he may happen to be; or again, whether some regular movement drives on some one thing, or even several things, it breaks or crushes anything that happens to lie in its path. These accidents which seem unjust, are not evils for those who suffer them, if you consider how they take their place within the legitimate order of the universe; perhaps even they constitute just chastisements and are the expiations of earlier faults. It would be incredible that one series of beings in the universe should obey its order, while another series should be subject to chance or caprice. If everything happen through causes and natural consequences, in conformity with a single "reason," and to a single order, the smallest things must form part of that order, and agree with it. Injustice practiced against somebody else is an injustice for him who commits it, and must attract a punishment to him; but by the place which it holds in the universal order, it is not an injustice, even for him who suffers it. It had to be thus. If the victim of this injustice was an honest man, for him it can have only415 a happy ending. This universal order must not be accused of being undivine and unjust, but we should insist that distributive justice exercises itself with perfect propriety. If certain things seem worthy of blame, it is because they are due to secret causes that escape our knowledge.


17. From the intelligible world souls first descend into the heaven. For if the heaven is the best part of the sense-world, it must be nearest to the limits of the intelligible world. The celestial bodies are therefore the first that receive the souls, being most fitted to receive them. The terrestrial body is animated the last, and it is suited to the reception of an inferior soul only, because it is more distant from the incorporeal nature. All souls first illuminate the sky, and radiate from it their first and purest rays; the remainder is lit up by inferior powers. There are souls which, descending lower, illuminate inferior things; but they do not gain anything in getting so far from their origin.


We must imagine a centre, and around this centre a luminous sphere that radiates from (Intelligence). Then, around this sphere, lies a second one that also is luminous, but only as a light lit from another light (the universal Soul). Then, beyond and outside of these spheres lies a further one, which no more is light, but which is illuminated only by an alien light, for lack of a light peculiar to (this world of ours). Outside of those two spheres there is indeed a rhomboid, or rather another sphere, that receives its light from the second sphere, and which receives it the more416 intensely, the closer it is thereto. The great light (Intelligence) sheds its light though remaining within itself, and the brilliancy that radiates around it (on to the soul) is "reason." Other souls radiate also, some by remaining united to the universal Soul, others by descending lower in order better to illuminate the bodies to which they devote their care; but these cares are troublous. As the pilot who steers his ship over the troubled waves forgets himself in the effort of his work,129 to the point of forgetting that he exposes himself to perish with the ship in the shipwreck, likewise souls are dragged down (into the abyss of matter) by the attention they devote to the bodies that they govern. Then they are chained to their destiny, as if fascinated by a magic attraction, but really retained by the potent bonds of nature. If every body were as perfect as the universe, it would completely suffice itself, it would have no danger to fear, and the soul that is present within it, instead of this, could communicate life to it without leaving the intelligible world.



18. Does the soul ratiocinate before entering upon the body, and after having left it? No: she reasons only while in a body, because she is uncertain, embarrassed and weakened. To need to reason in order to arrive at complete knowledge always betrays weakening of intellect. In the arts reasoning occurs only when the artist hesitates before some obstacle. Where417 there is no difficulty in the matter, art masters it, and produces its work instantly.


(It might be objected) that if the souls on high do not reason, they will no longer be reasonable. They remain reasonable, however, because they are well able to penetrate into the essence of something, whenever the occasion demands it. Ratiocination should be considered as follows. If it consist in a disposition that is always derived from Intelligence, in an immanent act, a reflection of this power in souls, these must also reason in the intelligible world; but then they have no further need of language. Likewise, when they inhabit heaven, neither do they need to take recourse to speech, as do the souls here below, as a result of their needs and uncertainties. They act in an orderly manner, and in conformity with nature, without premeditation or deliberation. They know each other by a simple intuition, as even here below we know our like without their talking to us, by a mere glance. On high every body is pure and transparent. Each person there, is, as it were, an eye. Nothing is hidden or simulated. Before you have spoken, your thought is already known. It is probable that speech is used by the guardians and other living inhabitants of the air, for they are living beings.



19. Must we consider that (in the soul), the indivisible and the divisible are identical, as if they were418 mingled together? Or should we consider the distinction between the indivisible and the divisible from some other point of view? Should the first be considered as the higher part of the soul, and the latter as the lower, just exactly as we say that one part of the soul is rational, and the other part is irrational? Such questions can be answered only by a close scrutiny of the nature of the divisibility and indivisibility of the soul.


When Plato130 says that the soul is indivisible, he speaks absolutely. When he insists that she is divisible, it is always relatively (to the body). He does indeed say that she becomes divisible in the bodies, but not that she has become such. Let us now examine how, by her nature, the body needs the soul to live, and what necessity there is for the soul to be present in the entire body.


By the mere fact that it feels by means of the entire body, every sense-power undergoes division. Since it is present everywhere, it may be said to be divided. But as, on the other hand, it manifests itself everywhere as a whole, it cannot really be considered as divided. We cannot go further than the statement that it becomes divisible in bodies. Some might object that it was divided only in the sense of touch. It is however also divided in the other senses, since it is always the same body that receives it, but only less so. The case is the same with the power of growth and nutrition; and if appetite have its seat in the liver, and anger in the heart, these appetites must be subject to the same conditions. Besides, it is possible that the419 body does not receive those appetites in a mixture, or that it receives them in some other manner, so that they result from some of the things that the body derives from the soul by participations. Reason and intelligence, however, are not communicated to the body because they stand in no need of any organs to fulfil their functions. On the contrary, they find in them only an obstacle to their operations.


Thus the indivisible and the divisible are in the soul two distinct parts, and not two things mingled together so as to constitute but a single one. They form a single whole composed of two parts, each of which is pure and separable from the other by its characteristic power. If then the part which in the body becomes divisible receives from the superior part the power of being indivisible, this same part might simultaneously be divisible and indivisible, as a mixture of divisible nature and of the (indivisible) power received by it from the higher part.



20. Are the above-mentioned and other parts of the soul localized in the body, or are some localized, and others not? This must be considered, because if none of the parts of the soul are localized, and if we assert that they are nowhere either in or out of the body, the latter will remain inanimate, and we will not be able to explain the manner of the operations occurring by help of the organs. If, on the other hand,420 we assign a location in the body to certain parts of the soul, without localizing other parts, the unlocalized parts will seem not to be within us, and consequently not the whole of our soul will seem to be in the body.


Of the soul neither a part nor the whole is in the body as a locality. The property of space is to contain some body. Where everything is divided it is impossible for the whole to be in every part. But the soul is not body, and the soul contains the body rather than the body contains the soul.


Nor is the soul in the body as in a vase. In this case, the body would be inanimate, and would contain the soul as in a vase or locality. If the soul be considered as concentrated in herself and as communicating to the body something of herself by "close transmission" (as the Stoics would say), that which the soul will transmit to this vase would for her become something lost.


Considering location in the strict sense of the word, it is incorporeal, and consequently cannot be a body. It would no longer need the soul. Besides (if the soul be in the body as if in a locality) the body will approach the soul by its surface, and not by itself. Many other objections can be raised to the theory that localizes the soul in the body. Under this hypothesis, indeed, place would have to be carried around along with the thing in which it will locate. But that which would421 carry place around with it (would be a monstrosity). Moreover, if the body be defined as being an interval, it will be still less true to say that the soul is in the body as a locality; for an interval should be empty; but the body is not empty, being within emptiness.


Nor will the soul be in the body as (a quality) is in a substrate. The attribute of being a substrate is a mere affection, like a color, or a figure; but the soul is separable from the body.


Nor will the soul be in the body as a part in the whole; for the soul is not a part of the body. Nor is it a part of the living whole; for this would still demand explanation of the manner of this being within it. She will not be within it as wine in a jar, or as one jar in another, nor as one thing is within itself (as the Manicheans thought).


Nor will the soul be in the body as a whole is in its parts; for it would be ridiculous to call the soul a whole, and the body the parts of that whole.


Nor will the soul be in the body as form is in matter; for the form that is engaged in matter is not separable. Moreover, that form descends upon matter implies the422 preliminary existence of matter; but it is the soul that produces form in matter; and therefore the soul must be distinct from form. Though the soul be not form begotten in matter, the soul might be a separable form; but this theory would still have to explain how this form inheres in the body, since the soul is separable from the body.


All men say that the soul is in the body, however, because the soul is not visible, while the body is. Observing the body, and judging that it is animated because it moves and feels, we say that it has a soul, and we are thereby led to suppose that the soul is in the body. But if we could see and feel the soul, and if we could realize that she surrounds the whole body by the life she possesses, and that she extends around it equally on all sides till the extremities, we would say that the soul is in no way in the body, but that on the contrary the accessory is within its principle, the contained within the container, what flows within the immovable.


21. How would we answer a person who, without himself making any statements in regard to the matter, should ask us how the soul is present to the body; whether the whole soul is present to the body in the same manner, or whether one of her parts is present in one way, and another in some other way?


Since none of the comparisons that we have formerly examined seems to express the relation of423 the soul to the body, properly we might say that the soul is in the body as the pilot is in the ship.131 This illustration is satisfactory in that it emphasizes the soul's being separable from the body; but it does not properly indicate the presence of the soul in the body. If the soul be present in the body as a passenger in a ship, it would be there only by accident, and the illustration is not yet satisfactory if changed to the pilot's presence in the ship he is steering; for the pilot is not present to the whole of the ship as the whole soul is in the body.132 One might illustrate the soul's presence in the body as an art inheres in its instruments; as, for instance, in the helm, which might be supposed to be alive, containing the power of steering the ship skilfully. This is still unsatisfactory, because such an art comes from without. The soul might indeed be compared to a pilot who should be incarnated in his helm; and the soul might be in the body as in some natural instrument,133 so that the soul would move it at pleasure. This however might still fail to explain the manner in which the soul would exist in her instrument. Therefore, though the latter illustration is an improvement on the former, we must still seek one which closer approaches reality.


22. This is the better illustration: the soul is present in the body as light is present in air. Light is indeed present in air without being present to it; that is, light is present to the whole air without mingling with it, and light remains within itself while the air escapes. When the air, within which light radiates, withdraws from the light, the air keeps none of the light; but it is illuminated so long as the air remains subject to the action of light. Air, therefore, is in light, rather than light is in air. While explaining the generation of the424 universe,134 therefore, Plato properly locates the body (of the world) in the soul, and not the soul in the body.135 He also states that there is a part of the soul that contains the body, and another in which there is no body, in this sense, that there are soul-powers of which the body has no need. The case is similar with the other souls. Their powers in general are not present to bodies, and only those powers of which the body stands in need are present to it. These however are present to the body without being built up either on the members, or upon the body as a whole. For sensation, the faculty of feeling is entirely present to the whole organ which is feeling (as, for instance, to the whole brain); likewise for the other functions, the different faculties are each present to a different organ. I shall explain myself.


23. Since, for the body, being animated amounts to being penetrated by the light shed by the soul, every part of the body participates therein in some particular manner. Each organ, according to its fitness, receives the power suitable to the function it fulfils. Thus we may say that the power of sight resides in the eyes; that of hearing in the ears; that of taste in the tongue; that of smell in the nose; that of touch in the whole body, since, for the latter sense, the whole body is the organ of the soul. Now as the instruments for touch are the first nerves, which also possess the power of moving the organism, as they are the seat of this power; as, besides, the nerves originate in the brain, in the brain has been localized the principle of sensation and appetite—in short, the principle of the whole organism; no doubt because it was thought that425 the power which uses the organs is present in that part of the body where are the origins of these organs. It would have been better to say that it is the action of the power that makes use of the organs that originates in the brain; for that part of the body from which starts the movement impressed on the organ had to serve somewhat as a foundation for the power of the workman, a power whose nature is in harmony with that of the organ (it sets in motion); or rather, this part of the body does not serve as foundation for this power, for this power is everywhere, but the principle of the action is in that part of the body in which is the very principle of that organ.


On the other hand, as the power of sensation and the power of appetite, which belong to the sensible and imaginative soul, are beneath reason, because they are related to what is inferior, while reason is above,136 the result was that the ancients localized reason in the highest part of the animal, in the head; not that reason is in the brain,137 but because reason is seated in the sense-power, by the intermediation of which, only, reason may be said to reside in the brain. The sense-power, surely, had to be attributed to the body, and, within the body, to the organs most capable of lending themselves to its action. Reason, which has no (direct) dealing with the body, had however to be in relation with the sense-power, which is a form of the soul, and can participate in reason. The sense-power, does, to a certain extent, judge; and the power of imagination has something intellectual. Last, the appetite, and the desire somehow connect with imagination and reason. Reason, therefore, is in the head,426 not as in a locality, but because it is in relation with the sense-power which resides in that organ, as has been shown above.


As the power of growth, nutrition, and generation operates all through the entire body; and as it is by the blood that the body is nourished; as the blood is contained in the veins; and as the veins, as well as the blood, originate in the liver; this organ has been assigned as the seat of that part of the soul called appetite; for appetite is involved in the power of begetting, of feeding and increasing the body. Further as the blood (purified by respiration) is subtle, light, mobile and pure, the heart becomes a suitable instrument for the power of anger, for the blood that possesses these qualities starts from the heart. Therefore, with good reason, the heart is assigned as the seat of the turbulent convulsions of the power of anger.



24. Whither will the soul pass when she shall have left the body? She will not go where there is nothing suitable to receive her. She could not pass into what is not naturally disposed to receive her, unless there be something that would attract a soul that had lost her prudence. In this case, the soul remains in whatever is capable of receiving her, and follows it whither that (receptive matter) can exist and beget. Now as there are different places, it is necessary that the difference (of the dwellings in which the souls come to dwell)427 should be derived from the disposition of each soul, and of justice which reigns above beings. No one indeed could escape the punishment which unjust actions deserve. The divine law138 is inevitable, and possesses the power of carrying out the judgments (according to its decrees). The man who is destined to undergo a punishment is, in spite of himself, dragged towards that punishment, and is driven around139 by a movement that never stops. Then, as if wearied of struggling against things to which he desired to offer resistance, he betakes himself to the place that is suitable to him, and thus by a voluntary movement undergoes involuntary suffering. The law prescribes the greatness and duration of the punishment. Later, as a result of the harmony that directs everything in the universe, the end of the punishment endured by the soul coincides with the soul's receiving strength to leave those places.


The souls that have a body thereby feel the corporeal punishments they are undergoing. Pure souls, however, that do not carry along with them anything corporeal, necessarily enjoy the privilege of abiding in the incorporeal. Being free from having to dwell in anything corporeal as they have no bodies, they reside where is being and essence, and the divine; that is, in the divinity. There, in the divinity, with the intelligible beings, dwells the pure Soul. If you wish to locate the Soul still more exactly, go to where are the intelligible entities; and if you are looking for them, do not look for them with the eyes, as if they were (physical) bodies.




25. Memory raises the following questions. Does memory generally remain with the bodies that have issued from here below? Does it subsist only in some of them? In this case is memory general or special, durable or transitory? These questions cannot be answered until we define that interior principle in us to which memory belongs. That is, we shall have to determine, not what is memory, but in what kind of beings it must exist by virtue of its nature, for elsewhere we have often defined and treated of memory itself. We must therefore exactly define that principle within us to which memory is natural.140


As memory presupposes a knowledge or casual experience, memory cannot be attributed to beings that are impassible, and outside of the limitations of time. Memory is therefore inapplicable to the Divinity, to Essence, and to Intelligence, all of whom exist outside of time, as eternal and immutable, without a conception of priority or subsequentness, who ever abide in the same condition, without ever experiencing any change. How could that which is identical and immutable make use of memory, since it could neither acquire nor keep a disposition differing from the preceding one, nor have successive thoughts of which the one would be present, while the other had passed into the condition of being remembered?



It (may be objected) that nothing hinders Intelligence from knowing the changes of other beings, such as, for instance, the periodical revolutions of the world, without itself undergoing any change. But then it would have to follow the changes of the moving object, as it would think first of one thing, and then of another. Besides, thought is something else than memory, and we must not apply to self-consciousness the name of memory. Indeed, intelligence does not busy itself with retaining its thoughts, and with hindering them from escaping; otherwise it might also fear lest it lose its own nature ("Being"). For the soul herself, remembering is not the same as recalling innate notions. When the soul has descended here below, she may possess these notions without thinking of them, especially if it be only recently that she entered into the body.141 The ancient philosophers seem to have applied the terms memory and reminiscence to the actualization by which the soul thinks of the entities she possesses; that (however) is a quite special kind of memory, entirely independent of time.142


But perhaps our solution seems superficial, and appears to rest on an insufficient analysis. It might indeed be asked whether memory and reminiscence, instead of belonging to the rational soul, might not characterize the lower soul, or the composite of soul and body that we call the organism? If indeed they belong to the lower soul, from where does the latter derive them, and how does she possess them? The same question may further be asked in the case of the430 organism. To answer all this, we shall, as said above, have to study our own interior principle to which memory belongs. If it be the soul that possesses memory, we shall have to ask what faculty or part thereof is constituted by memory. If, as has been urged by some, it be the organism to which memory belongs, and considering the organism as the sentient principle, how could this faculty operate within it? Besides, what is it that we should call the organism? Further, is it the same power that perceives sense-objects, and intelligible entities, or are there two distinct powers?


26. If the two elements which compose the animal share in the act of sensation, the sensation is common to the soul and the body, such as the acts of piercing or weaving.143 Thus, in sensation, the soul plays the part of the workman, and the body that of his tool; the body undergoes the experience, and serves as messenger to the soul; the soul perceives the impression produced in the body, or by the body; or she forms a judgment about the experience she has undergone. Consequently sensation is an operation common to the soul and body.


This could not be the state of affairs with memory, by which the soul, having already through sensation perceived the impression produced in the body, preserves it, or dismisses it. It might be claimed that memory also is common to the soul and body, because its efficiency depends on the adjustments of the bodies. No doubt the body can hinder or promote the exercise of memory, without this faculty ceasing to be peculiar431 to the soul. How shall we try to prove that the memory of knowledge acquired by study, belongs to the compound, and not to the soul alone? If the organism be the composite of soul and body, in the sense that it is some third object begotten by their union, it will be absurd to say that it is neither soul nor body. Indeed, it could not be anything different from the soul and body, neither if the soul and body were transformed into the composite of which they are the elements, nor if they formed a mixture, so that the soul would be no more than potentially in the organism. Even in this case, it is still the soul, and the soul alone, that would remember. Thus in a mixture of honey and wine, it is the honey alone that should be credited with any sweetness that may be tasted.


It may again be objected that it is indeed the soul that remembers; but only because she is resident in the body, and is not pure; she must be affected in some particular manner to be able to impress the body with the forms of sense-objects; her seat must be in the body to receive these forms, and to preserve them. But to begin with, these forms could not have any extension; then they could not be either (Stoic) seal-imprints, or impressions; for in the soul there is no impulsion, nor any imprint similar to that of a seal on wax, and the operation itself by which it perceives sense-objects is a kind of thought (or intellection). Indeed, it would be impossible to speak of an impression in the act of thought. Thought has no need of the body or a corporeal quality. It is besides necessary for the soul to remember her movements, as for instance, her desires which have not been satisfied, and whose object the body has not attained; for what432 could the body tell us of an object which the body has not yet reached?144 (Speaking of thoughts), how could the soul, conjointly with the body, remember things which the body, by its very nature, could absolutely not know?


Doubtless we will have to acknowledge that there are affections which pass from the body into the soul; but there are also affections which belong exclusively to the soul, because the soul is a real being, with characteristic nature and activities. In this case, the soul must have desires, and recall them, remembering that they have, or have not been satisfied; because, by her nature, she does not form part of the things which are (as Heraclitus said) in a perpetual flow. Otherwise, we could not attribute to the soul coenesthesia (or, common feeling), conscience, reflection, or the intuition of herself. If she did not possess them by her nature, she would not acquire them by union with the body. Doubtless there are activities which the soul cannot carry out without the assistance of the organs; but she herself possesses the faculties (or "powers") from which these activities are outgrowths. Besides, she, by herself, possesses other faculties, whose operations are derived from her alone. Among these is memory, whose exercise is only hindered by the body. Indeed, when the soul unites with the body, she forgets; when she separates from the body, and purifies herself, she often recovers memory. Since the soul possesses memory when she is alone, the body, with its changeable nature, that is ever subject to a perpetual flow, is a cause of forgetfulness, and not of memory; the body therefore is, for the soul, the stream of Lethe (or forgetfulness). To the soul alone, therefore, belongs memory.



27. To which soul, however, does memory belong? To the soul whose nature is more divine, and which constitutes us more essentially, or to the soul that we receive from the universal Soul (the rational and irrational souls)? Memory belongs to both; but in one case it is general, and in the other particular. When both souls are united, they together possess both kinds of memory; if they both remain separate, each remembers longer what concerns herself, and remembers less long what concerns the other. That is the reason people talk of the image of Hercules being in the hells.145 Now this image remembers all the deeds committed in this life; for this life particularly falls to her lot. The other souls which (by uniting within themselves the rational part to the irrational) together possess both kinds of memory. They yet cannot remember anything but the things that concern this life, and which they have known here below, or even the actions which have some relation with justice.


We must still clear up what would be said by Hercules (that is, the man himself), alone, and separated from his image. What then would the rational soul, if separated and isolated, say? The soul which has been attracted by the body knows everything that the man (speaking strictly), has done or experienced here below. In course of time, at death, the memories of earlier existences are reproduced; but the soul, out of scorn, allows some to escape her. Having indeed purified herself from the body, she will remember the things that were not present to her during this life.434146 If, after having entered into another body, she happen to consider the past, she will speak of this life which will become foreign to her, of what she has recently abandoned, and of many other earlier facts. The circumstances which happen during a long period will always remain buried in oblivion. But we have not yet discovered what the soul, when isolated from the body will remember. To solve this question, we shall be forced to decide to which power of the soul memory belongs.


28. Does memory belong to the powers by which we feel and know? Is it by appetite that we remember the things that excite our desires, and by anger that we remember the things that irritate us? Some will think so. It is indeed the same faculty which feels pleasure, and retains remembrance thereof. Thus when, for instance, appetite meets an object which has already made it experience pleasure, it remembers this pleasure on seeing this object. Why indeed should appetite not be similarly moved by some other object? Why is it not moved in some manner by the same object? Why should we not thus attribute to it the sensation of things of this kind? Further, why should appetite itself not be reduced to the power of sensation, and not do likewise for everything, naming each thing, by what predominates therein?


Must we attribute sensation to each power, but in a different manner? In this case, for instance, it will be sight, and not appetite, which will perceive sense-435objects; but appetite will be later wakened by sensation which will be "relayed," (as the Stoics would say); and though it does not judge of sensation, it will unconsciously feel the characteristic affection. The same state of affairs will obtain with anger. It will be sight which will show us an injustice, but it will be anger which will resent it. Just so, when a shepherd notices a wolf near his flock, the dog, though he have not yet observed anything, will be excited by the smell or noise of the wolf. It certainly is appetite which experiences pleasure, and which keeps a trace of it; but this trace constitutes an affection or disposition, and not a memory. It is another power which observes the enjoyment of pleasure, and which remembers what occurred. This is proved by the fact that memory is often ignorant of the things in which appetite has participated, though appetite still preserve traces thereof.


29. Can memory be referred to sensibility? Is the faculty that feels also the one that remembers? But if the image of the soul (the irrational soul) possess the memory, as we said above,147 there would be in us two faculties that will feel. Further, if sensibility be capable of grasping notions, it will also have to perceive the conceptions of discursive reason, or it will be another faculty that will perceive both.


Is the power of perception common to the reasonable soul and to the irrational soul, and will we grant that it possesses the memory of sense-objects and of intelligible things? To recognize that it is one and436 the same power which equally perceives both kinds of things, is already to take one step towards the solution of the problem. But if we divide this power into two, there will nevertheless still be two kinds of memory; further, if we allow two kinds of memory to each of the two souls (the rational and the irrational), there will be four kinds of memory.


Are we compelled to remember sensations by sensibility, whether it be the same power which feels sensation, and which remembers sensation, or is it also discursive reason which conceives and remembers conceptions. But the men who reason the best are not those who also remember the best; and those who have equally delicate senses, do not all, on that account, have an equally good memory. On the contrary, some have delicate senses, while others have a good memory, without however being capable of perceiving equally well. On the other hand, if feeling and remembering be mutually independent, there will be (outside of sensibility) another power which will remember things formerly perceived by sensation, and this power will have to feel what it is to remember.148


(To solve all these difficulties) it may be stated that nothing hinders the admission that the actualization of the sensation produces in memory an image, and that the imagination, which differs (from sensation), possesses the power of preserving and recalling these images. It is indeed imagination in which sensation culminates; and when sensation ceases, imagination preserves its representation. If then this power preserve437 the image of the absent object, it constitutes memory.149 According as the image remains for a longer or shorter time, memory is or is not faithful; and our memories last, or are effaced. Memory of sense-objects therefore belongs to the imagination. If this faculty of memory be possessed by different persons in unequal degrees, this difference depends either on the difference of forces, or on practice (or exercise), or on the absence or presence of certain bodily dispositions which may or may not influence memory, or disturb it.150 But elsewhere we shall study the question further.


30. What about intellectual conceptions? Are they also preserved by imagination? If imagination accompany every thought, and if later it, as it were, preserves its image, we should thus have the memory of the known object; otherwise some other solution will have to be sought. Perhaps reason, whose actualization always accompanies thought, has the function of receiving it and transmitting it to imagination. Indeed, thought is indivisible, and so long as it is not evoked from the depths of intelligence, it remains as it were hidden within it. Reason develops it, and making it pass from the state of thought to that of image, spreads it out as it were in a mirror, for our imagination.151 That is why we grasp (the thought) only when the soul, which always desires rational thought, has achieved a thought. There is a difference between thought and the perception of thought. We are always thinking, but we do not always perceive our thought. That comes from the fact that the principle that perceives the thoughts also perceives the sensations, and occupies itself with both in turn.



31. If theory belong to imagination, and if both the rational and irrational souls possess memory, we will have two kinds of imagination (intellectual and sensual); and if both souls are separate, each of them will possess one kind of imagination. The theory of two kinds of imagination within us in the same principle would not account for there being two kinds of imagination; and it would leave unsolved the question to which of them memory belongs. If memory belong to both kinds of imagination, there will always be two kinds of imagination—for it cannot be said that the memory of intelligible things belongs to the one, and that of sense-things to the other; otherwise we would have two animate beings with nothing in common. If then memory equally belong to both imaginations, what difference is there between them? Besides, why do we not notice this difference? Here is the cause.


When both kinds of imagination harmonize, they co-operate (in the production of a single act). The most powerful dominates, and only a single image is produced within us. The weaker follows the stronger, as the feeble reflection of a powerful light. On the contrary, when both kinds of imagination disagree and struggle, then only one of them manifests, and the other is entirely ignored, just as we always ignore that we have two souls152; for both souls are melted into a single one, and the one serves as vehicle for the other. The one sees all, but preserves only certain memories when she leaves the body, and leaves in oblivion greater part of the things that relate to the other. Likewise, after we have established relations with friends of an inferior order, we may acquire more distinguished439 friendships, and we remember the former but very little, though we remember the latter very distinctly.


What about (the memory) of friends, of parents, of a wife, of the fatherland, and of all that a virtuous man may properly remember? In the image of the soul (the irrational soul) these memories will be accompanied by a passive affection; but in the man (the rational soul) they will not be so accompanied. The affections exist since the beginning in the inferior soul; in the superior soul, as a result of her dealings with the other, there are also some affections, but only proper affections. The inferior soul may well seek to remember the actions of the superior soul, especially when she herself has been properly cultivated; for she can become better from her very principle up, and through the education she receives from the other. The higher soul must willingly forget what comes to her from the inferior soul. When she is good, she can, besides, by her power contain the subordinate soul. The more she desires to approach the intelligible world, the more she must forget the things from here below, unless the whole life she has led here below be such that she has entrusted to her memory none but praiseworthy things. Even in our own world, indeed, it is a fine thing to release oneself from human preoccupations. It would therefore be still finer to forget them all. In this sense we might well say that the virtuous soul should be forgetful. She thus escapes manifoldness, reduces manifoldness to unity, and abandons the indeterminate. She therefore ceases to live with manifoldness, lightens her burdens, and lives for herself. Indeed, while remaining here below, she desires to live in the intelligible world, and neglects all that is foreign to her440 nature. She therefore retains but few earthly things when she has arrived to the intelligible world; she has more of them when she inhabits the heavens. Hercules (in heaven) may well vaunt his valor; but even this valor seems to him trifling when he has arrived at a region still holier than heaven, when he dwells in the intelligible world, when he has risen over Hercules himself by the force manifested in those struggles which are characteristic of veritable sages.


Questions About the Soul.
(Second Part.)


1. When the soul will have risen to the intelligible world, what will she say, and what will she remember? She will contemplate the beings to which she will be united and she will apply her whole attention thereto; otherwise, she would not be in the intelligible world.


Will she have no memory of things here below? Will she not, for instance, remember that she devoted herself to philosophy; and that, during her residence on the earth, she contemplated the intelligible world? No: for an intelligence entirely devoted to the object of its thought, cannot simultaneously contemplate the intelligible and think something else. The act of thought does not imply the memory of having thought.


But this memory is posterior to thought! In this case, the mind in which it occurs has changed condition. It is therefore impossible that he who is entirely devoted to the pure contemplation of the intelligible should simultaneously remember the things that formerly happened to him here below. If, as it442 seems, thought is outside of time, because all the intelligible essences, being eternal, have no relation with time, it is evidently impossible that the intelligence which has raised itself to the intelligible world should have any memory of the things here below, or even have absolutely any memory whatever; for each (of the essences of the intelligible world) are always present to the intelligence which is not obliged to go through them successively, passing from one to the other.


Will not the intelligence divide itself in descending (from the genera) to the species (or forms)? No: for she reascends to the universal and the superior Principle.


Granting then that there is no division in the intelligence which possesses everything simultaneously; will there not at least be division in the soul which has risen to the intelligible world? Nothing however forbids that the totality of the united intelligibles be grasped by an intuition equally unitary and total.


Is this intuition similar to the intuition of an object grasped in its entirety by a single glance, or does it contain all the thoughts of the intelligibles contemplated simultaneously? Since the intelligibles offer a varied spectacle, the thought which grasps them must evidently be equally multiple and varied, comprehending several thoughts, like the perception of a single sense-object, as for instance that of a face comprehends several perceptions because the eye, on perceiving443 the face, simultaneously sees the nose and the other features.


It may be objected that it may happen that the soul will divide and develop something which was unitary. This thing must then already have been divided in intelligence, but such a division is more like an impression. As anteriority or posteriority in ideas does not refer to time, so also will the mental conception of anteriority and posteriority not be subject to temporal conditions, but refer to order (which presides over intelligible things). For instance, on considering a tree's order that extends from the roots to the tree-top, priority and posteriority exists only under the relation of order, inasmuch as the whole plant is perceived at one single glance.


How can things be prior or posterior, if the soul that contemplates the One embrace all things? The potentiality which is One is one in such a manner that it is multiple when it is contemplated by another principle (Intelligence), because then it is not simultaneously all things in one single thought. Indeed, the actualizations (of Intelligence) are not a unity; but they are all produced by an ever permanent potentiality; they therefore become multiple in the other principles (the intelligibles); for Intelligence, not being unity itself, can receive within its breast the nature of the multiple which did not formerly exist (in the One).


2. Granted. But does the soul remember herself? Probably not. He who contemplates the intelligible444 world does not remember who he is; that, for instance, he is Socrates, that he is a soul or an intelligence. How indeed would he remember it? Entirely devoted to the contemplation of the intelligible world, he does not by thought reflect back upon himself; he possesses himself, but he applies himself to the intelligible, and becomes the intelligible, in respect to which he plays the part of matter. He assumes the form of the object he is contemplating, and he then is himself only potentially. Actually, he is himself only when he thinks the intelligible. When he is himself only, he is empty of all things, because he does not think the intelligible; but if by nature he is such that he is all things, in thinking himself, he thinks all things. In this state, seeing himself actually by the glance he throws on himself, he embraces all things in this intuition; on the other hand, by the glance he throws on all things, he embraces himself in the intuition of all things.


Under the above circumstances, the soul changes thoughts—something that we above refused to admit. Intelligence is indeed immutable; but the soul, situated on the extremities of the intelligible world, may undergo some change when she reflects upon herself. Indeed, what applies to the immutable necessarily undergoes some change in respect to it, because it does not always remain applied to it. To speak exactly, there is no change when the soul detaches herself from the things that belong to her to turn towards herself, and conversely; for the soul is all things, and the soul forms but one thing with the intelligible. But when the soul is in the intelligible world, she becomes estranged from herself and from all that belongs to her; then, living purely in the intelligible world, she participates445 in its immutability, and she becomes all that it is; for, as soon as she has raised herself to this superior region, she must necessarily unite herself to Intelligence, towards which she has turned, and from which she is no longer separated by an intermediary. On rising towards intelligence, the soul attunes herself to it, and consequently unites herself with it durably, in a manner such that both are simultaneously single and double. In this state the soul cannot change; she is immutably devoted to thought, and she simultaneously has self-consciousness, because she forms a unity with the intelligible world.


3. When the soul departs from the intelligible world; when instead of continuing to form a unity with it, she wishes to become independent, to become distinct, and to belong to herself; when she inclines towards the things here below, then she remembers herself. The memory of intelligible things hinders her from falling, that of terrestrial things makes her descend here below, and that of celestial things makes her dwell in heaven. In general, the soul is and becomes what she remembers. Indeed, to remember is to think or imagine; now, to imagine is not indeed to possess a thing, but to see it and to conform to it. If the soul see sense-things, by the very act of looking at them she somehow acquires some extension. As she is things other than herself only secondarily, she is none of them perfectly. Placed and established on the confines of the sense and intelligible worlds, she may equally move towards either.


4. In the intelligible world, the soul sees the Good by intelligence; for intelligence does not hinder her446 from arriving to the Good. Between the soul and the Good, the intermediary is not the body, which could be no more than an obstacle; for if the bodies can ever serve as intermediaries, it would only be in the process of descending from the first principles to third rank entities. When the soul occupies herself with inferior objects, she possesses what she wished to possess conformably to her memory and imagination. Consequently memory, even should it apply itself to the very best things, is not the best thing possible; for it consists not only in feeling that one remembers, but also in finding oneself in a disposition conformable to the affections, to the earlier intuitions which are remembered. Now it may happen that a soul possesses something unconsciously, so that she possesses it better than if she were conscious thereof. In fact, when she is conscious thereof, she possesses it like something foreign to her, and from which she is keeping herself distinct; when, on the contrary, she is unconscious of it she becomes what she possesses; and it is especially this latter kind of memory which can most thoroughly effect her degradation (when she conforms herself to sense-objects, by applying her imagination thereto).


That the soul, on leaving the intelligible world, brings away with her memories thereof, implies that even in the (intelligible) world she to a certain degree already possessed memory; but this potentiality was eclipsed by the thought of the intelligible entities. It would be absurd to insist that the latter existed in the soul in the condition of simple images; on the contrary, they there constituted an (intellectual) potentiality which later passed into the condition of actualization. Whenever the soul happens to cease applying herself to the contemplation of intelligible entities447 she no longer sees what she formerly saw (that is, sense-objects).


5. Are our notions of intellectual entities actualized by the potentiality which constitutes memory? If these notions be not intuitions, it is by memory that they become actualized; if they are intuitions, it is by the potentiality which has given them to us on high. This power awakes in us every time that we rise to intelligible things, in it is that which sees what we later talk about. We do not perceive intelligible entities by imagination or reasoning, which itself is forced to draw its principles from elsewhere; it is by our faculty of contemplation, which alone enables us to speak of them while we are here below. We see them by awaking in ourselves here below the same potentiality which we are to arouse when we are in the intelligible world. We resemble a man who, climbing the peak of a rock, should, by his glance, discover objects invisible for those who have not climbed with him.


Reasonable arguments therefore clearly demonstrate that memory manifests in the soul only when she has descended from the intelligible world into the (earthly) heavens. Likewise, it would not surprise us if, when she had risen from here below to the heavens, and had dwelt there, she should remember a great number of things from here below, of which we have already spoken, and that she would recognize many souls which she had known earlier, since these latter must necessarily be joined to bodies with similar countenances. Even though the souls should change448 the shapes of their bodies, making them spherical, they would still be recognizable by their habits and individual character. There is nothing incredible in this, for in admitting that these souls have purified themselves from all these passions, nothing hinders them from preserving their character. Besides, if they can converse with each other, they have this as an additional means of recognizing each other.


What happens when souls descend from the intelligible world into the (earthly) heavens? They then recover memory, but they possess it in a degree less than the souls who have always occupied themselves with the same objects. Besides, they have many other things to remember, and a long space of time has made them forget many actions.


But if, after having descended into the sense-world they fall (from the heavens) into generation, what will be the time when they will remember? It is not necessary that the souls (which depart from the intelligible world) should fall into the lowest regions. It is possible that, after having descended only a little from the intelligible world their movement may be arrested, and nothing hinders them from returning on high before they have become degraded in the lower regions of generation.


6. It may therefore be fearlessly affirmed that the souls which exercise their discursive reason, and which449 change condition, remember; for memory is the characteristic of things that were, but no more are.


But evidently the souls which dwell in the same state could not exercise memory; for what would they have to remember? If (ignoring our arguments above) human reason should wish to attribute memory to the souls of all the stars, especially to that of the moon and the sun, there is nothing to hinder it from doing the same with regard to the universal Soul, and it would dare to attribute even to Jupiter memories which would occupy him with a thousand different things. As soon as it will have entered into this order of ideas, reason would proceed to speculate about the conceptions and ratiocinations of the star-souls—that is, granting that they reason at all. (But that is a gratuitous assumption); for if these souls have nothing to discover, if they do not doubt, if they have no need of anything, if they do not learn things that they have ignored before, what use would they make of reasoning, of arguments, or of the conceptions of discursive reason? They have no need of seeking mechanical means of governing human affairs and events; for they enforce order in the universe in a totally different manner.


7. Will these souls not even remember that they have seen the divinity? (They have no need of doing so, for) they see Him all the time; as long as they continue to see Him they cannot say that they have seen Him, because such a statement would imply that they see Him no more.



Will they not even remember that they performed their revolution yesterday, or the year before, that they lived yesterday, and since have lived a long while? They still live continuously; now, what remains the same, is one. To try to distinguish yesterday and last year in the movement of the stars, is to do like a man who would divide into several parts the movement which forms one step, who would wish to reduce unity to multiplicity. Indeed, the movement of the stars is one, although it is by us subjected to a measure, as if it were multiple; so we count the days different one from the other because the nights separate them from each other. But since there is but one single day in the heavens, how could one count several? How could there be a "last year"?


It may be objected that the space transversed (by planets) is not a unity, but contains several parts, as notably in the zodiac. Why then could the celestial Soul not say, "I have passed this part, I have now arrived at another"? Besides, if the star-souls consider human things, how would they not see that there are changes here below, that the men existing to-day have succeeded others? If so, they must know that other men have already existed, that there have been other facts. They therefore possess memory.


8. It is not necessary to remember all one sees, nor by imagination to represent to oneself all the things that follow fortuitously. Besides, when the mind possesses451 a knowledge and a clear conception of certain objects which later come to offer themselves to his senses, nothing forces him to abandon the knowledge he has acquired by intelligence, to look at the particular sense-object which is in front of him, unless he be charged to administer some of the particular things contained in the notion of the all.


Now, to enter into details, let us first say that one does not necessarily retain all one has seen. When something is neither interesting nor important, the senses, impressed by the diversity of objects without our voluntary direction of consciousness, are alone affected; the soul does not perceive the impressions because there is no utility in them for her. When the soul is turned towards herself, or towards other objects, and when she applies herself to them entirely, she could not remember these indifferent things, for she does not even perceive them when they are present. Neither is it necessary that the imagination should represent to itself what is accidental; nor, if it does represent them to itself, that it should retain them faithfully. It is easy to be convinced that a sense-impression of this kind is not perceived, on the ground of the following arguments. In the act of walking we divide, or rather traverse the air, without any conscious purpose; consequently we neither notice it, nor think of it, while we press forward. Likewise, if we had not decided to take some particular road, and unless we could fly through the air, we would not think of the region of the earth where we are, nor of the distance we have traveled. This is proved by the fact that when the mind possesses the general knowledge of what occurs, and is sure that the things will occur as planned, a man no longer attends to details. Besides, if a person continues to do the same thing,452 it would be useless to continue to observe the similar details. Consequently if the stars, while following their courses, carry out their duties without attending to the occurrence of what goes on; and unless their chief duty is to observe occurrences or the occurrence itself; and if their progress is nothing more than accidental, while their attention is held by other and greater objects; and if they regularly continue to pass through the same orbit without considering the calculation of time, even if it had already been divided (under these four conditions); there is no need to suppose that these stars would have a memory of the places they pass by, or of their periods. Their life would be uniform; because they always travel through the same places, so that their movement is, so to speak, more vital than local, because it is produced by a single living being (the universe), which, realizing it within itself, is exteriorly at rest and interiorly in motion by its eternal life.


The movement of the stars might be compared to that of a choric ballet. Let us suppose that it had but a limited duration; its motion would be considered perfect, if viewed as a totality, from beginning to end; but if considered in its parts only, it would be imperfect. Now if we suppose that it exists always; then will it always be perfect. If it be always perfect, there will be neither time nor place where it is becoming perfect; consequently, it will not even have any desire, and it will measure nothing, neither by time nor place; and therefore will not remember either.


Besides, the stars enjoy a blissful life because they contemplate the real life in their own souls; because453 they all aspire to the One, and, radiating into the entire heavens, like cords that vibrate in unison, they produce a kind of symphony by their natural harmony. Last, the entire heavens revolve; so also do their parts, which, in spite of the diversity of their motions, and of their positions, all gravitate towards a same centre. Now all these facts support the theory we have advanced, since they show that the life of the universe is one system, and is uniform.


9. Jupiter, who governs the world, and endues it with order and beauty, possesses from all eternity154 a royal soul and intelligence; he produces things by his providence, and regulates them by his power; in an orderly manner he disposes everything in the development and achievement of the numerous periods of the stars. Do not such acts on Jupiter's part imply use of memory by which he may know what periods have already been accomplished, and busy himself with the preparation of others by his combinations, his calculations, and reasonings? His being the most skilful administrator in the world would seem to imply that he uses memory.


We might well, in respect to the memory of these periods, examine the number of these periods, and whether it is known to Jupiter; for if it be a finite number, the universe will have had a commencement within time; but if it be infinite, Jupiter will not have been able to know how many things he has done. (To solve this problem) we must admit that Jupiter ever enjoys knowledge, in a single and unitary life. It is in this sense that he must be infinite and possess454 unity, not by a knowledge come to him from without, but interiorly, by his very nature, because the infinite ever remains entire in him, is inherent in him, is contemplated by him, and is not, for him, simply the object of an accidental knowledge. Indeed, while knowing the infinity of his life, Jupiter simultaneously knows that the influence he exercises on the universe is single; but his knowledge thereof is not due to his exercising it on the universe.


10. The principle which presides over the order of the universe is double; from one point of view he is the demiurge; from the other, the universal Soul. By the name of Jupiter, therefore, we designate both the demiurge, and the "Governor of the universe." As to the demiurge, we must dismiss all notions of past or future, and attribute to him nothing but a life that is uniform, immutable, and independent, of time. But the life of the governor of the universe (which is the universal Soul), raises the question whether she be also free from any necessity of reasoning, and of planning what is to be done? Surely, for the order which is to rule has already been devised and decided, and that without having been ordered; for that which is in order was that which became, and the process of becoming eventuates in order. The latter is the activity of the Soul which depends from an abiding wisdom, a wisdom whose image is the order existing within the soul. As the wisdom contemplated by the soul does not change, neither does its action. Indeed, the Soul contemplates wisdom perpetually; if she ceased, she would lapse into incertitude, for the soul is as unitary as her work. This unitary principle that governs the world dominates perpetually, and not only occasionally; for whence should there be several powers, to struggle among each other, or get into uncertainties? The455 principle that administers the universe is therefore unitary, and ever wills the same. Why, indeed, should she desire now one thing, and then another, and thus involve herself in uncertainties? Still, even if she altered herself under unitary conditions, she would not be involved in difficulties. That the universe contains a great number and kinds of parts opposed to each other is no reason that the Soul does not with certainty know how to arrange them. She does not begin by objects of lowest rank, nor by parts; she directs by the principles. Starting from these, she easily succeeds in putting everything in order. She dominates because she persists in a single and identical function. What would induce her to wish first one thing, and then another? Besides, in such a state of affairs, she would hesitate about what she ought to do, and her action would be weakened, and this would result in a weakness of her activities, while deliberating about still undecided plans.


11. The world is administered like a living being, namely, partly from the outside, and from the resulting members, and partly from within, and from the principle. The art of the physician works from outside in, deciding which organ is at fault, operating only with hesitation and after groping around experimentally. Nature, however, starting within from the principle, has no need to deliberate. The power which administers the universe proceeds not like the physician, but like nature. It preserves its simplicity so much the better as it comprises everything in its breast, inasmuch as all things are parts of the living being which is one. Indeed, nature, which is unitary, dominates all individual natures; these proceed from it, but remain attached thereto, like branches of an immense456 tree, which is the universe. What would be the utility of reasoning, calculation, and memory in a principle that possesses an ever present and active wisdom, and which, by this wisdom, dominates the world and administers it in an immutable manner? That its works are varied and changeful, does not imply that this principle must itself participate in their mutability. It remains immutable even while producing different things. Are not several stages produced successively in each animal, according to its various ages? Are not certain parts born and increased at determinate periods, such as the horns, the beard, and the breasts? Does one not see each being begetting others? Thus, without the degeneration of the earlier ("seminal) reasons," others develop in their turn. This is proved by the ("seminal) reason" subsisting identical and entire within the same living being.


We are therefore justified in asserting the rule of one and the same wisdom. This wisdom is universal; it is the permanent wisdom of the world; it is multiple and varied, and at the same time it is one, because it is the wisdom of the living Being which is one, and is the greatest of all. It is invariable, in spite of the multiplicity of its works; it constitutes the Reason which is one, and still is all things simultaneously. If it were not all things, it would, instead of being the wisdom of the universe, be the wisdom of only the latter and individual things.


12. It may perhaps be objected that this might be true of nature, but that whereas the Soul-of-the-universe457 contains wisdom, this implies also reasoning and memory. This objection could be raised only by persons who by "wisdom" understand that which is its absence, and mistake the search for wisdom for reasonable thinking. For what can reasoning be but the quest of wisdom, the real reason, the intelligence of the real essence? He who exercises reason resembles a man who plays the lyre to exercise himself, to acquire the habit of playing it, and, in general, to a man who learns in order to know. He seeks indeed to acquire science, whose possession is the distinguishing characteristic of a sage. Wisdom consists therefore in a stable condition. This is seen even in the conduct of the reasoner; as soon as he has found what he sought, he ceases to reason, and rests in the possession of wisdom.


Therefore, if the governing Power of the world seems to resemble those who learn, it will be necessary to attribute to it reasoning, reflection, and memory, so that it may compare the past with the present or the future. But if, on the contrary, its knowledge be such as to have nothing more to learn, and to remain in a perfectly stable condition, it evidently possesses wisdom by itself. If it know future things—a privilege that could not be denied it under penalty of absurdity—why would it not also know how they are to occur? Knowing all this, it would have no further need of comparing the past with the present. Besides, this knowledge of its future will not resemble the prevision of the foretellers, but to the certitude entertained by makers about their handiwork. This certitude admits no hesitation, no ambiguity; it is absolute; as soon as it has obtained assent, it remains immutable. Consequently, the wisdom about the future is the same as about the present,458 because it is immutable; that is, without ratiocination. If, however, it did not know the future things it was to produce, it would not know how to produce them, and it would produce them without rule, accidentally, by chance. In its production, it remains immutable; consequently, it produces without changing, at least as far as permitted by the model borne within it. Its action is therefore uniform, ever the same; otherwise, the soul might err. If its work was to contain differences, it does not derive these from itself, but from the ("seminal) reasons" which themselves proceed from the creating principle. Thus the created things depend from the series of reasons, and the creating principle has no need to hesitate, to deliberate, neither to support a painful work, as was thought by some philosophers who considered the task of regulating the universe wearisome. It would indeed be a tiresome task to handle a strange matter, that is, one which is unmanageable. But when a power by itself dominates (what it forms), it cannot have need of anything but itself and its counsel; that is, its wisdom, for in such a power the counsel is identical with wisdom. It therefore needs nothing for creation, since the wisdom it possesses is not a borrowed wisdom. It needs nothing (extraneous or) adventitious; consequently, neither reasoning nor memory, which faculties yield us nothing but what is adventitious.


13. How would such a wisdom differ from so-called nature? (In the Soul) wisdom occupies the first rank, and nature the last. Nature is only the image of wisdom; now, if nature occupy no more than the last rank, she must also have only the last degree of the reason that enlightens the Soul. As illustration, take a piece of wax, on which the figure impressed459 on one side penetrates to the other; and whose well-marked traits on the upper face appear on the lower face only in a confused manner. Such is the condition of nature. She does not know, she only produces, blindly she transmits to matter the form she possesses, just as some warm object transmits to another, but in a lesser degree, the heat it itself possesses. Nature does not even imagine: for the act of imagining, inferior as it is to that of thinking, is nevertheless superior to that of impressing a form, as nature does it. Nature can neither grasp nor understand anything; while imagination seizes the adventitious object and permits the one who is imaging to know what he has experienced. As to nature, all it knows is to beget; it is the actualization of the active potentiality (of the universal Soul). Consequently, Intelligence possesses intelligible forms; the (universal) Soul has received them, and ceaselessly receives them from her; that is what her life consists of; the clearness which shines in her is the consciousness she has of her thought. The reflection which (the Soul herself projects on matter is nature, which terminates the series of essences, and occupies the last rank in the intelligible world; after her, there is nothing but imitations (of beings). Nature, while acting on matter is passive in respect (to the Soul). The (Soul), superior to nature, acts without suffering. Finally, the supreme (Intelligence) does not (itself) act on the bodies or on matter.


14. The bodies begotten by nature are the elements. As to the animals and the plants, do they possess nature as the air possesses the light which when retiring does not injure the air, because it never mingled with the air, and remained separate from it? Or is nature's relation to animals and plants the460 same as that of the fire with a heated body, to which, on retiring, it leaves a warmth which is different from the heat characteristic of the fire, and which constitutes a modification of the heated body? Surely this. To the essence which it moulds, nature gives a shape, which is different from the form proper to nature herself. We might however still consider whether there be any intermediary between nature and the essence which she moulds. However, we have sufficiently determined the difference that exists between nature and the wisdom which presides over the universe.


15. We still have to solve one question bearing on the above discussion. If eternity relate to Intelligence, and time to the Soul—for we have stated that the existence of time is related to the actualization of the Soul, and depends therefrom—how can time be divided, and have a past, without the Soul's action itself being divided, without her reflection on the past constituting memory in her? Indeed, eternity implies identity, and time implies diversity; otherwise, if we suppose there is no change in the actualizations of the Soul, time will have nothing to distinguish it from eternity. Shall we say that our souls, being subject to change and imperfection, are in time, while the universal Soul begets time without herself being in it?


Let us admit that the universal Soul is not in time; why should she beget time rather than eternity? Because the things she begets are comprised within time, instead of being eternal. Neither are the other souls within time; nothing of them, except their "actions and reactions" (Stoic terms). Indeed, the souls461 themselves are eternal; and therefore time is subsequent to them. On the other hand, what is in time is less than time, since time must embrace all that is within it, as Plato says, that time embraces all that is in number and place.


16. It may however be objected that if the (universal Soul) contain things in the order in which they were successively produced, she thereby contains them as earlier and later. Then, if she produce them within time, she inclines towards the future, and consequently, also conversely to the past.


It may be answered that the conceptions of earlier and later apply only to things which are becoming; in the Soul, on the contrary, there is no past; all the ("seminal) reasons" are simultaneously present to her, as has already been said. On the contrary, in begotten things, the parts do not exist simultaneously, because they do not all exist together, although they all exist together within the ("seminal) reasons." For instance, the feet or the hands exist together in the ("seminal) reasons," but in the body they are separate. Nevertheless, these parts are equally separated, but in a different manner, in the ("seminal) reason," as they are equally anterior to each other in a different manner. If however they be thus separate in the ("seminal) reason," they then differ in nature.


But how are they anterior to each other? It must be because here he who commands is identical with him who is commanded. Now in commanding he expresses462 one thing after another; for why are all things not together? (Not so). If the command and he who commands were separate entities, the things would have been produced in the same manner as they have been expressed (by speech); but as the commander is himself the first command, he does not express things (by speech), he only produces them one after the other. If he were (by speech) to express what he actually does, he would have to consider the order; consequently, he would have to be separate from it. Is it asked, how can the commander be identical with the command? He is not simultaneously form and matter, but form alone (that is, the totality of the reasons which are simultaneously present to him). Thus, the Soul is both the potentiality and the actualization which occupy the second rank after Intelligence. To have parts some of which are prior to others suits only such objects as cannot be everything simultaneously.


The Soul, such as we are considering her here, is something venerable; she resembles a circle which is united to the centre, and which develops without leaving (its base of operations, the centre), thus forming an undivided extension. To gain a conception of the order of the three principles, the Good may be considered as a centre, the Intelligence as an immovable circle, and the Soul as an external movable circle impelled by desire.


Indeed, intelligence possesses and embraces the Good immediately; while the Soul can only aspire to (the Good), which is located above the Intelligence. The whole world-sphere possessing the Soul which thus aspires (to the Good), is moved by the promptings of its natural aspirations. Its natural aspiration, however,463 is to rise in bodily aspiration to the principle on the outside of which it is; namely, to extend around it, to turn, and consequently to move in a circle.


17. Why are the thoughts and rational aspirations in us different (from what they are in the universal Soul)? Why is there in us posteriority in respect to time (as we conceive things in a successive manner, while the universal Soul conceives them simultaneously)? Why do we have to question ourselves (about this)? Is it because several forces are active in us, and contend for mastery, and there is no single one which alone commands? Is it because we successively need various things to satisfy our needs, because our present is not determined by itself, but refers to things which vary continually, and which are outside of ourselves? Yes, that is the reason why our determinations change according to the present occasion and need. Various things come from the outside to offer themselves to us successively. Besides, as several forces dominate in us, our imagination necessarily has representations that are various, transient, modified by each other, and hindering the movements and actions characteristic of each power of the soul. Thus, when lust arises in us, imagination represents to us the desired object, warns us, and instructs us about the passion born of lust, and at the same time begs of us to listen to it, and to satisfy it. In this state, the soul floats in uncertainty, whether it grant to the appetite the desired satisfaction, or whether she refuse it. Anger, for instance, excites us to vengeance, and thereby produces the same uncertainty. The needs and passions of the body also suggest to us varying actions and opinions; as do also the ignorance of the true goods,464 the soul's inability to give a certain judgment, while in this hesitating condition, and the consequences which result from the mingling of the things we have just mentioned. Still our own highest part makes judgments more certain than those reached by the part common (to the soul and to the body), a part that is very uncertain, being a prey to diversity of opinions.


Right reason, on descending from the higher realms of the soul into the common part, is by this mingling weakened, although it is not naturally weak; thus, in the tumult of a numerous assembly, it is not the wisest counsellor whose word carries weight; but on the contrary, that of the most turbulent and quarrelsome, and the tumult they make forces the wise man to stay seated, powerless and vanquished, by the noise. In the perverse man, it is the animal part that rules; the diversity of influences which overcome this man represents the worst of governments (the rule of the mob). In the commonplace man, things happen as in a republic where some good element dominates the remainder, which does not refuse to obey. In the virtuous man, there is a life which resembles the aristocracy, because he manages to withdraw from the influence of the commonplace part, and because he listens to what is best in himself. Finally, in the best man, completely separated from the common part, reigns one single principle from which proceeds the order to which the remainder is subject. It would seem therefore that there were two cities, the one superior, and the other inferior, which latter derives its order from the former. We saw that the universal Soul was a single identical principle which commands465 uniformly; but other souls, as we have just explained, are in a very different condition. Enough of this.


18. Does the body, thanks to the presence of the soul that vivifies it, possess something which becomes characteristically its own, or is its possession nothing more than its nature, and is this the only thing added to the body? Evidently, the body which enjoys the presence of the soul, and of nature, would not resemble a corpse. It will be in the condition of the air, not when the air is penetrated by the sun-light (for then it really receives nothing), but when it participates in the heat. Therefore, plant and animal bodies that possess "a nature," find that it consists of the shadow of a soul. It is to this body, thus vivified by nature, that sufferings and pleasures relate; but it is for us to experience these sufferings and pleasures without ourselves suffering. By us is here meant the reasonable soul, from which the body is distinct, without however being foreign to it, since it is ours (since it belongs to us). Only because of this, that it is ours, do we care for it. We are not the body; but we are not entirely separated from it; it is associated with us, it depends on us. When we say "we," we mean by this word what constitutes the principal part of our being; the body also is "ours": but in another sense. Therefore its sufferings and pleasures are not indifferent to us; the weaker we are, the more we occupy ourselves with it. In it, so to speak, is plunged the most precious part of ourselves, which essentially constitutes the personality, the man.


The passions do not really belong to the soul, but to the living body, which is the common part, or the466 fusion (of both, or the compound). The body and soul, each taken separately, are self-sufficient. Isolated and inanimate, the body does not suffer. It is not the body that is dissolved, it is the unification of its parts. Isolated, the soul is impassible, indivisible, and by her condition escapes all affections. But the unification of two things is sure to be more or less unstable, and on its occurrence, it often happens that it is tested; hence the pain. I say, "two things," not indeed two bodies, because two bodies have the same nature; the present is a case where one kind of being is to be united to one of a different kind, where the inferior being receives something from the superior being, but receives only a trace of that something, because of its inability to receive her entirely. Then the whole comprises two elements, but nevertheless forms only a unity; which, becoming something intermediary between what it was, and what it has not been able to become, becomes seriously embarrassed, because it has formed an unfortunate alliance, not very solid, always drawn into opposite directions by contrary influences. Thus it is at one time elated, and at another, dejected; when it is dejected, it manifests its suffering; when it is elated, it aspires to communion between the body and the soul.


19. That is why there is pleasure and pain. That is why grief is said to be a perception of dissolution, when the body is threatened with the loss of the image of the soul (of being disorganized by losing the irrational soul). That is why it is said that pleasure is a perception produced in the animal when the image of the soul reassumes its sway over the body. It is the body which undergoes passion; but it is the sense-potentiality of the soul which perceives the passion by467 its relation with the organs; it is she to which all the sensations ultimately report themselves. The body alone is injured and suffers; for example, when one member is cut, it is the mass of the body which is cut; the soul feels pain not merely as a mass, but as a living mass. It is likewise with a burn: the soul feels it, because the sense-potentiality as it were receives its reaction by its relations with the organs. The soul entire feels the passion produced in the body without however herself experiencing it.


Indeed, as the whole soul feels, she localizes the passion in the organ which has received the blow, and which suffers. If she herself experienced the suffering, as the whole of her is present in the whole body, she could not localize the suffering in one organ; the whole of her would feel the suffering; she would not relate it to any one part of the body, but to all in general: for she is present everywhere in the body. The finger suffers, and the man feels this suffering, because it is his finger. It is generally said that the man suffers in his finger, just as it is said that he is blond, because his eyes are blue. It is therefore the same entity that undergoes passion' and suffering, unless the word "suffering' should not here designate both the passion, and the sensation which follows it; in this case no more is meant than that the state of suffering is accompanied by sensation. The sensation itself is not the suffering, but the knowledge of the suffering. The potentiality which knows must be impassible to know well, and well to indicate what is perceived. For if the faculty which is to indicate the passions itself suffer, it will either not indicate them, or it will indicate them badly.



20. Consequently, it may be said that the origin of the desires should be located in the common (combination) and in the physical nature. To desire and seek something would not be characteristic of a body in any state whatever (which would not be alive). On the other hand, it is not the soul which seeks after sweet or bitter flavors, but the body. Now the body, by the very fact that it is not simply a body (that it is a living body), moves much more than the soul, and is obliged to seek out a thousand objects to satisfy its needs: at times it needs sweet flavors, at others, bitter flavors; again humidity, and later, heat; all of them being things about which it would not care, were it alone. As the suffering is accompanied by knowledge, the soul, to avoid the object which causes the suffering, makes an effort which constitutes flight, because she perceives the passion experienced by the organ, that contracts to escape the harmful object. Thus everything that occurs in the body is known by sensation, and by that part of the soul called nature, and which gives the body a trace of the soul. On one hand, desire, which has its origin in the body, and reaches its highest degree in nature, attaches itself thereto. On the other hand, sensation begets imagination, as a consequence of which the soul satisfies her need, or abstains, and restrains herself; without listening to the body which gave birth to desire, nor the faculty which later felt its reaction.


Why therefore should we recognize two kinds of desires, instead of acknowledging only one kind in the living body? Because nature differs from the body469 to which it gives life. Nature is anterior to the body because it is nature that organizes the body by moulding it, and shaping it; consequently, the origin of desire is not in nature, but in the passions of the living body. If the latter suffer, it aspires to possess things contrary to those that make it suffer, to make pleasure succeed pain, and satisfaction succeed need. Nature, like a mother, guesses the desires of the body that has suffered, tries to direct it, and to lure it back. While thus trying to satisfy it, she thereby shares in its desires, and she proposes to accomplish the same ends. It might be said that the body, by itself, possesses desires and inclinations; that nature has some only as a result of the body, and because of it; that, finally the soul is an independent power which grants or refuses what is desired by the organism.


21. The observation of the different ages shows that it is indeed the organism which is the origin of desires. Indeed, these change according as the man is a child or a youth, sick or well. Nevertheless that part of the soul which is the seat of desires ever remains the same. Consequently the variations of desire must be traced back to the variations of the organism. But this desiring faculty of the soul is not always entirely wakened by the excitation of the body, although this subsists to the end. Often even before having deliberated, the soul will forbid the body to drink or eat, although the organism desires it as keenly as possible. Nature herself also often forbids the satisfaction of the bodily desire, because such desire may not seem to it natural, and because she alone has the right to decide what things are harmonious to or contrary to nature. The theory that the body, by its different states suggests different desires to the soul's faculty of desire,470 does not explain how the different states of the body can inspire different desires in the soul's faculty of desire, since then it is not itself that it seeks to satisfy. For it is not for itself, but for the organism, that the soul's faculty of desire seeks foods, humidity or heat, motion, agitation, or the satisfaction of hunger.


22. It is possible, even in plant-life, to distinguish something which is the characteristic property of their bodies, and a power that imparts it to them. What in us in the soul's faculty of desire, is in plant-life the natural element (or, vegetative power).


The earth also possesses a soul; and therefore also such a potentiality; and it is from the earth that the plants derive their vegetative potentiality. One might reasonably first ask which is this soul that resides in the earth. Does she proceed from the sphere of the universe (to which alone Plato seems to attribute a soul from the very first), so as to make of her an irradiation of this sphere upon the earth? Or should we on the contrary, attribute to the earth a soul similar to that of the stars, as Plato does when he calls the earth the first and most ancient of the divinities contained within the interior of the heavens? Could it, in this case, be a divinity, if it did not have a soul? It is therefore difficult to determine the exact state of affairs, and the very words of Plato here instead of diminishing our embarrassment, only increase it.

At first, how will we manage to form a reasonable opinion on this subject? Judging from what the earth causes to grow, one might conjecture that it possesses471 the vegetative potentiality. As many living beings are seen to grow from the earth, why would it itself not be a living being? Being besides a great living being, and a considerable part of the world, why should the earth not possess intelligence, and be a divinity? Since we consider every star as a living being, why would we not similarly consider the earth, which is a part of the universal living being? It would, indeed, be impossible to admit that it was exteriorly contained by a foreign soul, and that interiorly it would have no soul, as if it were the only being incapable of having an individual soul. Why should we grant animation to the (starry) bodies of fire, while not to the earthly body of our earth? Indeed, bodies could as easily be of earth as of fire. Not in the stars, any more than in the earth, is there any nose, flesh, blood, or humours, although the earth is more varied than the stars, and although it be composed of all the other living bodies. As to its inability to move, this can be said only in reference to local motion. (For it is capable of motion in the respect that it can feel.)


It will be asked, But how can the earth feel? We shall answer in turn, How can stars feel? It is not the flesh that feels; a soul is not dependent for feeling on a body; but the body is dependent on the soul for self-preservation. As the soul possesses judgment, she should be able to judge the passions of the body whenever she applies her attention thereto.


It may however still be asked, What are the passions characteristic of the earth, and which may be objects of472 judgment for the soul? It may besides be objected that the plants, considered in the terrestrial element that constitutes them, do not feel.


Let us now examine to what beings sensation belongs, and whereby it operates. Let us see whether sensation can take place even without organs. Of what use to the earth could sensation be? For it does not serve the earth as means of knowledge; the knowledge which consists in wisdom suffices for the beings to whom sensation is of no use. This consideration might however be denied, for the knowledge of sense-objects offers, besides utility, some of the charms of the Muses. Such is, for example, the knowledge of the sun and the other stars, whose contemplation itself is agreeable. This problem will therefore demand solution.


We must therefore first investigate if the earth possess senses, to what animals sensation naturally belongs, and how sensation operates. It will be necessary to begin by discussing the doubtful points that we have indicated, and to examine in general if sensation can operate without organs, and if the senses have been given for utility, admitting even that they can procure some other advantage.


23. Conception of sense-objects occurs when the soul or the living being experiences perceptions by grasping the bodies' inherent qualities, and by representing their forms to itself. The soul must therefore perceive sense-objects either with or without the body.473 How could the soul do so alone? Pure and isolated, she can conceive only what she has within herself; she can only think. But for conception of objects other than herself, she must previously have grasped them, either by becoming assimilated to them, or by finding herself united to something which may have become similar to them.


It is impossible for the soul to become similar to sense-objects (in order to grasp them), by remaining pure. How indeed could a point become similar to a line? The intelligible line itself could not become conformed to the sense-line, any more than intelligible fire to the sense-fire, or the intelligible man to the sense-man. Nature herself which begets man could not be identical with the begotten man. The isolated soul, even if she could grasp sense-objects, will finish by applying herself to the intuition of intelligible objects, because, having nothing by which to grasp the former, she will let them escape. Indeed, when the soul perceives from far a visible object, although only the form reaches her, nevertheless what first began by being for her indivisible, finally constitutes a subject, whether it be color or a figure, whose size is determined by the soul.


The soul and the exterior object do not therefore suffice (to explain sensation); for there would be nothing that suffers. There must therefore be a third term that suffers, that is, which receives the sense-form, or, shape. This third term must "sympathize," or, share the passion of the exterior object, it must also experience the same passion, and it must be of the same matter; and, on the other hand, its passion must474 be known by another principle; last, passion must keep something of the object which produces it, without however being identical with it. The organ which suffers must therefore be of a nature intermediary between the object which produces the passion and the soul, between the sensible and the intelligible, and thus play the part of a term intermediary between the two extremes, being receptive on one side, making announcements on the other, and becoming equally similar to both. The organ that is to become the instrument of knowledge must be identical neither with the subject that knows, nor with the object that is known. It must become similar to both of them; to the exterior object because it suffers, and to the cognizing soul because the passion which it experiences becomes a form. Speaking more accurately, the sensations operate by the organs. This results from the principle asserted above, that the soul isolated from the body can grasp nothing in the sense-world. As used here, the word "organ" either refers to the whole body, or to some part of the body fitted to fulfil some particular function; as in the case of touch or sight. Likewise, it is easy to see that tools of artisans play a part intermediary between the mind which judges, and the object which is judged; and that they serve to discover the properties of substances. For instance, a (foot) rule, which is equally conformed to the idea of straightness in the mind, and to the property of straightness in the wood, serves the artisan's mind as intermediary to judge if the wood he works be straight.


We have just demonstrated that sensation belongs exclusively to an embodied soul, and that this implies organs. But we have nothing to do with the question whether the perceived object must be in contact with the organ, or whether the sensation can take place at475 a distance from the sense-object, by means of an intermediary; as the case of the fire which is located at a distance from our body, without the intermediary's suffering in any manner. It happens again where, empty space serving as intermediary between the eye and the color, one may well ask whether, to see, it suffice to possess the potentiality proper to that organ. But it is sure that sensation is some activity of the soul in a body, or through a body.


24. Whether the senses were given us for the sake of utility must be examined as follows. If the soul were separated from the body, she would not feel; she feels only when united to a body; therefore she feels by and for the body. It is from the soul's intimacy with the body that sensation results, either because all passions, when keen enough, reach the soul; or whether the senses were made for us to take care that no object approaches too near us, or exercises on our organs an action strong enough to destroy them. If so, the senses were given us for the sake of utility. Even if the senses do serve to acquire knowledge and information, they would be of no use to a being who possesses knowledge, but only to one who needs to learn he has the misfortune of being ignorant, or who needs to remember, because he is subject to forgetfulness. They are therefore not found in the being who has no need to learn, and who does not forget.


Let us consider what consequences may be drawn therefrom for the earth, the stars, and especially for the heavens and the whole world. From what we have476 seen, the parts of the world which suffer may possess sensation in their relation with other parts. But is the entire world, capable of feeling, as it is entirely impassible in its relations with itself? If sensation demand on one hand an organ, and on the other the sense-object, the world which includes everything, can have neither organ to perceive, nor exterior object to be perceived. We may therefore ascribe to the world a sort of intimate sensation, such as we ourselves possess, and deny to it the perception of other objects. When we feel something unusual in our bodies, we perceive it as being external. Now as we perceive not only exterior objects, but even some part of our body through some other part of the body itself, similarly the world might very well perceive the sphere of the planets by means of the sphere of the fixed stars; and perceive the earth with all the objects it contains by means of the sphere of the planets? If these beings (the stars and the planets) do not feel the passions felt by other beings, why might they not also possess different senses? Might not the sphere of the planets not only by itself possess sight by itself, but in addition be the eye destined to transmit what it sees to the universal Soul? Since she is luminous and animated, she might see as does an eye, supposing that she did not feel the other passions.155 (Plato), however, said, "that the heavens have no need of eyes." Doubtless the heavens have nothing outside of themselves to see; and consequently, they may not have need of eyes, as we have; but they contain something to contemplate, namely, themselves. If it should be objected that it is useless for them to see themselves, it may be answered that they were not made principally for this purpose, and that if they see themselves, it is only a necessary consequence of their natural constitution. Nothing therefore hinders them from seeing, as their body is diaphanous.



25. It would seem that in order to see, and in general to feel, mere possession of the necessary organs by the soul, is not enough; the soul must also be disposed to direct her attention to things of sense. But it is usual for the (universal) Soul to be ever applied to the contemplation of intelligible things; and mere possession of the faculty of sensation would not necessarily imply its exercise, because it would be entirely devoted to objects of a higher nature. So when we apply ourselves to the contemplation of intelligible things, we notice neither the sensation of sight, nor those of other senses; and, in general, the attention that we give to one thing hinders us from seeing the others. Even among us human beings, to wish to perceive one of our members through another, as, for instance, looking at ourselves, is both superfluous and vain, unless this has some very good purpose. Moreover, it is a characteristic of an imperfect and fallible being to contemplate some external thing, merely because it is beautiful. It may therefore well be said that if to feel, hear and taste are distractions of a soul that attaches herself to outer objects, the sun and the other stars cannot see or hear, except accidentally. It would however not be unreasonable to admit that they turn towards us through the exercise of the senses of sight or hearing. Now, if they turn towards us, they must be mindful of human affairs. It would be absurd that they should not remember the men to whom they do so much good; how indeed would they do good, if they had no memory?


26. The stars know our desires through the agreement and sympathy established between them and us478 by the harmony reigning in the universe. Our desires are granted by the same method. Likewise, magic is founded on the harmony of the universe; it acts by means of the forces which are interconnected by sympathy. If so, why should we not attribute to the earth the faculty of sensation? Granting this, what sort of sensations would we attribute to it? To begin with, why should we not attribute to it touch, whether by one part feeling the condition of another, and by the transmission of the sensation to the governing power, or by the whole earth feeling the fire, and other similar things; for if the terrestrial element is inert, it certainly is not insensible. The earth will therefore feel the great things, and not those of minor importance. Why should it feel? Surely if the earth have a soul, she will not ignore the strongest motions therein. The earth must also be supposed to feel, in order to dispose all that depends on her for the benefit of humanity. All these things she will suitably dispose by the laws of harmony. She can hear and grant the prayers addressed to her, but in a manner other than we ourselves would do. Besides, she might exercise other senses in her relations, either with herself, or with foreign things; as, for example, to have the sensations of taste and smell perceived by other beings. Perhaps even she has need to perceive the odors of the liquids to fulfil her providential functions in respect to animals, and to take care of her own body.


We must however not insist on her organs being the same as ours. Not even in all animals are the senses similar. Thus, for instance, not all have similar ears, and even those who have no ears at all nevertheless will perceive sounds. How could the earth see, if light be necessary for her vision? Nor must we claim for479 her the necessity of having eyes. We have already above granted that she possesses the vegetative power; we should therefore thence draw the deduction that this power is primitively by its essence a sort of spirit. What objection then could there be to assume that this spirit might be resplendent and transparent? Arguing merely from its nature of being a spirit, we should (potentially at least) conclude that it is transparent; and that it is actually transparent because it is illuminated by the celestial sphere. It is therefore neither impossible nor incredible that the soul of the earth should possess sight. Besides, we must remember that this soul is not that of a vile body, and that consequently, she must be a goddess. In any case, this soul must be eternally good.


27. If the earth communicate to plant-life the power of begetting and growing, it possesses this power within itself, and gives only a trace of it to the plants which derive from it all their fruitfulness, and as it were are the living flesh of its body. It gives to them what is best in them; this can be seen in the difference between a plant growing in the soil, and of a branch cut from it; the former is a real plant, the latter is only a piece of wood. What is communicated to the body of the earth by the Soul which presides over it? To see this it is sufficient to notice the difference between some earth resting within the soil, and a piece that is detached therefrom. It is likewise easy to recognize that stones increase in size as long as they are in the bosom of the earth, while they remain in the same state when they have been plucked out therefrom. Everything therefore bears within itself a trace of the universal vegetative (power) shed abroad over the whole earth, and belonging particularly to no one of its parts. As to the earth's power480 of sensation, it is not (like its vegetative power) mingled with the body of the earth; it only hovers above and guides it. Moreover, the earth possesses also, higher than the above powers, a soul and an intelligence. They bear respectively the names of Ceres and Vesta, according to the revelations of men of prophetic nature, who allow themselves to be inspired by the divine.


28. Enough of this. Let us return to the question from which we digressed. We granted that the desires, pains and pleasures (considered not only as sentiments, but as passions), originate in the constitution of the organized and living body. Must the same origin be assigned to the irascible (power)? Were this so, we would have several questions to ask: Does anger belong to the entire organism, or only to a particular organ, such as the heart when so disposed, or to the bile, as long as it is part of a living body? Is anger different from the principle which gives the body a trace of the soul, or is it an individual power, which depends on no other power, whether irascible or sensitive?


The vegetative power present in the whole body communicates to every part thereof a trace of the soul. It is therefore to the entire body that we must refer suffering, pleasure, and the desire of food. Though nothing definite is ascertained about the seat of sexual desire, let us grant that their seat is in the organs destined to its satisfaction. Further, be it granted that the liver is the seat of the soul's faculty of desire, because that organ is particularly the theatre of the481 activities of the vegetative power which impresses a trace of the soul on the body; and further, because it is from the liver that the action it exercises starts.


As to anger, we shall have to examine its nature, what power of the soul it constitutes, whether it be anger that imparts to the heart a trace of its own power; if there exist another force capable of producing the movement revealed in the animal; and finally, if it be not a trace of anger, but anger itself which resides in the heart.


First, what is the nature of anger? We grow irritated at maltreatment of ourselves or of a person dear to us; in general, when we witness some outrage. Therefore anger implies a certain degree of sensation, or even intelligence, and we should have to suppose that anger originates in some principle other than the vegetative power. Certain bodily conditions, however, predispose us to anger; such as being of a fiery disposition, and being bilious; for people are far less disposed to anger if of a cold-blooded nature. Besides, animals grow irritated especially by the excitement of this particular part, and by threats of harm to their bodily condition. Consequently we would once more be led to refer anger to the condition of the body and to the principle which presides over the constitution of organism. Since men are more irritable when sick than when well, when they are hungry, more than when well satisfied, anger or its principle should evidently be referred to the organized and living body; evidently, attacks of anger are excited by the blood or the bile, which are living parts of the animal. As soon as the body suffers, the blood as well as the bile boils, and482 there arises a sensation which arouses the imagination; the latter then instructs the soul of the state of the organism, and disposes the soul to attack what causes this suffering. On the other hand, when the reasonable soul judges that we have been injured, she grows excited, even if there were no disposition to anger in the body. This affection seems therefore to have been given to us by nature to make us, according to the dictates of our reasons, repel and threatens us. (There are then two possible states of affairs.) Either the irascible power first is moved in us without the aid of reason, and later communicates its disposition to reason by means of the imagination; or, reason first enters into action, and then reason communicates its impulse to that part of our being which is disposed to anger. In either case, anger arises in the vegetative and generative power, which, in organizing the body, has rendered it capable to seek out what is agreeable, and to avoid what is painful; diffusing the bitter bile through the organism, imparting to it a trace of the soul, thus communicating to it the faculty of growing irritated in the presence of harmful objects, and, after having been harmed, of harming other things, and to render them similar to itself. Anger is a trace of the soul, of the same nature as the soul's faculty of desire, because those least seek objects agreeable to the body, and who even scorn the body, are least likely to abandon themselves to the blind transports of anger. Although plant-life possesses the vegetative power, it does not possess the faculty of anger because it has neither blood nor bile. These are the two things which, in the absence of sensation, leads one to boil with indignation. When however sensation joins these two elements, there arises an impulse to fight against the harmful object. If the irrational part of the soul were to be divided into the faculty of desire, and that of anger, and if the former were to be considered the483 vegetative power, and the other, on the contrary, as a trace of the vegetative power, residing in either the heart or blood, or in both; this division would not consist of opposed members, because the second would proceed from the first. But there is an alternative: both members of this division, the faculties of desire and anger, might be considered two powers derived from one and the same principle (the vegetative power). Indeed, when the appetites are divided, it is their nature, and not the being from which they depend, that is considered. This essence itself, however, is not the appetite, but completes it, harmonizing with it the actions proceeding from the appetite. It is also reasonable to assign the heart as seat of the trace of the soul which constitutes anger; for the heart is not the seat of the soul, but the source of the (arterially) circulating blood.


29. If the body resemble an object warmed rather than illuminated, why does nothing vital remain after the reasonable soul has abandoned it? It does preserve some vital element, but only for a short time; this trace soon disappears, as vanishes the heat of an object when it is removed from the fire. After death, some trace of life still remains. This is proved by the growth of hair and nails on corpses; and it is well known that animals, even after being cut in pieces, still move for some time. Besides, the disappearance of the (vegetative) life simultaneously with the reasonable soul, does not prove their identity, and that they (the reasonable soul, and the vegetative soul) are not different. When the sun disappears, it causes the disappearance not only of the light that surrounds it immediately, and as it were depends from it, but also of the brilliance484 which these objects receive from this light, and which completely differs from it.


But does that which disappears merely depart, or does it perish? Such is the question which applies both to the light which inheres in the illuminated objects (and colors them), as well as to the life inherent in the body, and which we call the characteristically bodily life. Evidently, there remains no light left in the objects which were illuminated. But the question is to decide whether the light that inhered in them returns to its source, or is annihilated. Annihilation is impossible if anteriorly it was something real. What was it really? So-called color must depend on the very bodies from which light also emanates; and when these bodies perish, their coloring perishes with them; nobody indeed asks after the fate of the color of the fire that has gone out any more than one troubles oneself about what has become of its appearance. It may be objected that the appearance is only a condition,156 such as holding the hand open or closed, while the color, on the contrary, is the same sort of a quality as sweetness. Now, is there nothing to hinder the sweet or the fragrant body from perishing, without affecting the existence of the sweetness and fragrance? Could they subsist in other bodies without being felt, because the bodies which participate in the qualities, are such as not to allow the qualities they possess to be felt? What would hinder the unaffected existence of the light after the destruction of the body it colored, if it merely ceased to be reflected, unless one's mind should see that those qualities subsist in no subject? If we were to admit this opinion, we would also be obliged to admit that qualities are indestructible, that they are not produced in the constitution of the bodies,485 that their colors are not produced by the reasons in seed; that, as happens with the changing plumage of certain birds, the ("seminal) reasons" not only gather or produce the colors of the objects, but they besides make use of those that still fill the air, and that they remain in the air without being such as they appear to us when in bodies. Enough of this.


It may still be asked whether, if while the bodies subsist, the light that colors them remains united to them, and does not separate from them, why then would not both it, together with its immediate emanations, move along with the body in which it inheres, although it cannot be seen going away any more than it is seen approaching? We shall therefore have to examine elsewhere if the second-rank powers of the soul always remain attached to the higher ones, and so on; or if each of them subsist by itself, and can continue to subsist in itself when it is separated from the higher ones; or if, inasmuch as no part of the soul can be separated from the others, all together form a soul which is simultaneously one and manifold, but in some still undetermined manner.


What becomes of this trace of life that the soul impresses on the body, and that the latter appropriates? If it belong to the soul, it will follow the latter, since it is not separated from the being of the soul. If it be the life of the body, it must be subject to the same conditions as the luminous color of the bodies (and perish with them). Indeed, it will be well to examine if the life can subsist without the soul, or if, on the486 contrary, the life exists no earlier than the soul is present, and acts on the body.


30. We have shown that memory is useless to the stars; we have agreed that they have senses, namely, sight and hearing, and the power to hear the prayers addressed to the sun, and also those by many people addressed to the other stars, because these people are persuaded that they receive from them many benefits; they think even that they will obtain them so easily that these men ask the stars to co-operate in actions not only such as are just, but even such as are unjust. Questions raised by the latter point must still be considered.


Here arise important questions which have been frequently considered especially by such as will not allow the divinities to be regarded as the accomplices or authors of shameful deeds, such as love-adventures and adulteries. For this reason, as well as on account of what was said above about the memory of the stars, we shall have to examine the nature of the influence they exercise. Indeed, if they grant our petitions, though not immediately, and give us what we ask after a time that sometimes is very long, they must necessarily exercise memory of the prayers addressed to them; now, we have above denied that they could have memory. As to the benefits that they grant to men, it has been said that it seemed as if they had been granted by Vesta, that is, the earth, unless indeed it should be insisted that the earth alone granted benefits to men.



We have therefore two points to examine: we first have to explain that if we do attribute memory to the stars, it is only in a sense agreeing with our former statements, and not for the reason advanced by other people; we shall later have to show that it is a mistake to attribute evil actions to them. In view of this, we shall try, as is the duty of the philosopher, to refute the complaints formed against the divinities which reside in the heavens, and against the universe which is equally accused, in the case that any credence whatever is to be attached to such as pretend that heaven can be magically swayed by the arts of audacious men; last, we shall explain the administration of the ministry of guardians, unless the latter point have been explained incidentally to the solution of the former problems.


31. Let us in general consider the actions and reactions produced in the universe either by nature or by art. In the works of nature, there is an action of the whole on the parts, of the parts on the whole, and of the parts on the parts. In the works of art, art either alone accomplishes what it has undertaken, or depends on natural forces to effect certain natural operations. We may call actions of the universe, all that the total circular expanse affects on itself or its part. For in fact, the heavens by moving themselves, somehow effect themselves and their parts, both those in its own revolutions, or on the earth. The mutual reactions and passions of the parts of the universe are easy to recognize, such as the positions taken up by the sun, and the influence the sun exercises on the other stars, and especially in regard to the earth; further, the488 processes in its own elements, as well as in those of the other constellations, and of objects on earth—all of which deserve separate consideration.


Architecture and the fine arts, fulfil themselves in such an object. Medicine, agriculture and similar professions, however, are auxiliary arts, and obey the laws of nature, assisting their efficient production so as to make them as natural as possible. As to rhetoric, music, and other arts of refinement, which serve the education of souls in improving or degrading men, it remains an open question how many there are of them, and what power they possess. In all these things, we will have to examine what may be of use to us for the questions we are treating, and we will have to discover the cause of the facts, as far as possible.


It is evident that the revolution of the stars exercises an influence first by disposing them in different arrangement; then the things contained within its spheres; then terrestrial beings, not only in body, but in soul; further, each part of the heavens exercises influence on terrestrial and inferior things. We shall indeed inquire whether the lower things in turn exercise some influence on the superior ones. For the present, however, granting that the facts admitted by all, or at least a majority, are what they seem to be, we shall have to try to explain how they are produced, by following them up to their origins. We must indeed not say that all things are caused exclusively by heat or cold, with possibly the other qualities named the "primary qualities of the elements," or with those that derive from489 their mixture157; neither should we assert that the sun produces everything by the heat, or some other star (like Saturn), by cold. For indeed what would cold amount to in the heavens, which are a fiery body, or in fire, which has no humidity? Moreover, in this manner it would be impossible to recognize the difference of the stars. Then there are many facts that could not be traced to their influence. If the influence of the stars is to be made to account for the differences of human character, which are supposed to correspond to mixtures of corporeal elements, producing a temperament in which there is an excess of cold or heat, to which such causes would one trace hate, envy, and malice? Granting even that this were possible, how would one then by the same causes explain good and bad fortune, poverty and wealth, nobility of fathers and children, and the discovery of treasures? A thousand facts equally as foreign to the influence exercised by the physical qualities of the elements on the bodies or souls of animals, could be cited.


Neither should the things which happen to sublunary beings be attributed to either a voluntary decision, or to deliberations of the universe, or the stars. It is not permissible to imagine that the divinities sway events in a manner such that some should become thieves, others should enslave their fellow-beings, or capture cities, or commit sacrilege in temples, or be cowards, effeminate in their conduct, or infamous in their morals. To favor such crimes would be unworthy of men of the most commonplace virtue, let alone divinities. Besides, what beings would be likely to busy themselves favoring vices and outrages from which they were not to reap any advantage?



32. Since the influence exteriorly exercised by the heavens on us, on animals, and on human affairs generally has been excluded from physical causes (of astrology) and from voluntary decisions of divinities, it remains for us to find some cause to which it may reasonably be attributed. First, we will have to admit that this universe is a single living being, which contains within its own organism all living beings; and that it contains a single Soul, which is communicated to all its parts; namely, to all beings that form part of the universe. Now every being that is contained in the sense-world is a part of the universe. First, and unrestrictedly, it is a part of the universe by its body. Then, it is again part of the universe by its soul, but only so far as it participates (in the natural and vegetative power) of the universal Soul. The beings which only participate in (the natural and vegetative power) of the universal Soul are completely parts of the universe. Those who participate in another soul (the superior power of the universal Soul), are not completely parts of the universe (because they are independent by their rational souls); but they experience passions by the actions of the other beings, as far as they have something of the universe (so far as by their irrational souls, they participate in the natural and vegetative power of the universe), and in the proportion in which they possess some part of the universe. This universe is therefore a single living being that is self-sympathetic. The parts that seem distant are not any the less near, as, in each animal, the horns, nails, fingers, the organs at distance from each other, feel, in spite of the interval which separates them, the affection experienced by any other one of them. In fact,491 as soon as the parts are similar, even when they are separated by an interval instead of being placed by each others' side, they sympathize by virtue of this their similarity, and the action of the distant one is felt by all the others. Now in this universe which is a single living being, and which forms a single organism, there is nothing distant enough in place not to be near because of the nature of this being whose unity makes it self-sympathetic. When the suffering being resembles the acting one, it experiences a passion conformable to its nature; when on the contrary it differs, it experiences a passion that is foreign to its nature, and painful. It is therefore not surprising that though the universe be single, one of its parts can exert on another a harmful influence, since it often happens to ourselves that one of our parts wounds another by its action; as for instance, that the bile, setting anger in motion, should crush and tear some other part of the body. Now something analogous to this bile which excites anger, and to other parts that form the human body, is discovered in the universe. Even in plants there are certain things which form obstacles to others, and even destroy them. Now the world forms not only a single animal, but also a plurality of animals; each of them, as far as it has a share in the singleness of the universe, is preserved thereby; but, in so far as this animal enters into the multiplicity of some other animal, he can wound it, or be wounded by it, make use of it, or feed on it, because it differs from itself as much as it resembles itself; because the natural desire of self-preservation leads us to appropriate what is suitable to itself, and in its own interest to destroy what is contrary thereto. Finally, each being, fulfilling its part in the universe, is useful to those that can profit by its action, and wounds or destroys those who cannot support it; thus plants are scorched by the passage of fire, and the little animals are dragged along492 or trampled by the greater. This generation and this corruption, this betterment and deterioration of things render easy and natural the life of the universe considered as a single living being. Indeed, it would not otherwise have been possible that the particular beings it contains should have lived as if they were alone, should possess their ends in themselves, and should live only for themselves; since they are only parts, they must, as such, concur in the ends of the whole of which they are parts; and, so far as they are different, they could not each preserve its own life, because they are contained in the unity of the universal life; neither could they entirely remain in the same state, because the universe must possess permanence, and because of the universe, permanence consists in ever remaining in motion.


33. As the circular movement of the world has nothing fortuitous, inasmuch as it is produced conformably to the reason of this great animal, a perfect symphonic (co-operation) between what "acts" and what "reacts" must exist within it; and there must also have been an order which would co-ordinate things one with another, so that at each of the phases of the circular movement of the world there might be a correspondence between the various beings subject to it, as if, in a varied choric ballet the dancers formed a single figure. As to our own modern dances, it is easy to explain the eternal things which contribute thereto, and which differ for every motion, like the sounds of the flute, the songs, and the other circumstances which are thereto related. It is not however as easy to conceive the motions of a person who conforms himself strictly to each figure, who accompanies,493 who raises one limb, or lowers another, who moves this limb, or holds the other limb motionless in a different attitude. The dancer's eyes are doubtless fixed on some further aim while his limbs are still responding to the motions inspired by the music, by co-operating in expressing them, and in completing them symmetrically. Likewise, a man learned in the art of dancing could explain the reason that, in such a figure, such a limb is raised, such a limb is bent, while others are hidden or lowered; not indeed that the dancer deliberates about these different attitudes, but because in the general movement of his body he considers such a posture suitable to such a limb to fulfil its proper part in the dance. Likewise do the stars produce certain facts, and announce other ones. The entire world realizes its universal life by causing the motion of the greater parts it comprises, by ceaselessly changing the figures, so that the different positions of the parts, and their mutual relations may determine the rest, and that things may occur as in a movement executed by a single moving living organism. Thus such a state is produced by such an attitude, such positions, such figures; while some other state is produced by some other kind of figures, and so forth. Consequently, the real authors of what is occurring do not seem to be those who carry out the figures, but He who commands them; and He who plans the figures does not do one thing while busying Himself with another, because He is not acting on something different from Himself; He himself is all the things that are done; He here is the figures (formed by the universal movement), He himself there is the resultant passions in the animal so moved and constituted by nature, simultaneously "active" and "passive" as the result of necessary laws.



34. Granting that men are influenced by the universe through one of the elements of their being, it must be by (their body), that which forms part of the body of the universe, not by all those of which they are constituted. Consequently, the surrounding universe should exercise on them only a limited influence. In this respect they resemble wise servants who know how to carry out the orders of their masters without interfering with their own liberty, so that they are treated in a manner less despotic, because they are not slaves, and do not entirely cease to belong to themselves.


As to the difference found in the figures formed by the stars, it could not be other than it is, because the stars do not advance in their course with equal swiftness. As they move according to the laws of reason, and as their relative positions constitute the different attitudes of this great organism (which is the world), and as all the things that occur here below are, by the laws of sympathy related to those that occur on high, it would be proper to inquire whether terrestrial things are the consequences of the celestial things to which they are similar, or whether the figures possess an efficacious power; and in the latter case, whether all figures possess this power, or if figures are formed by stars only; for the same figure does not bear the same significance, and does not exert the same action in different things, because each being seems to have its own proper nature. It may be said that the configuration of certain things amounts to no more than the mere disposition of things; and that the configuration495 of other things is the same disposition with another figure. If so, influence should be attributed not to the figures, but to the prefigured realities; or rather, to things identical by their essence, and different by their figures; a different influence will also have to be attributed to the object which differs from the others only by the place it occupies.


But of what does this influence consist? In significance, or in (genuine effective) action? In many cases, the combination, or thing figured, may be said to have both an action, and a significance; in other cases, however, a significance merely. In second place, both the figures and the things figured should be credited with the powers suitable to each; as with dancers, the hand exerts an influence similar to that of the other members; and, returning to figures, these would exert an influence far greater than a hand in dancing. Last, the third (or lowest) degree of power pertains to those things which follow the lead of the figures, carrying out (their significance); just as, returning to the dance-illustrations, the dancer's limbs, and the parts of those limbs, ultimately do follow the dance-figures; or (taking a more physiological example), as when the nerves and veins of the hand are contracted by the hand's motions, and participate therein.


35. How then do these powers exert themselves?—for we have to retrace our steps to give a clear explanation. What difference is exhibited by the comparison of one triangle with another? What action does the one exert on another, how is it exerted, and496 how far does it go? Such are the questions we have to study, since we do not refer the production of things here below to the stars, neither to their body, nor to their will; not to their bodies, because the things which happen are not simple physical effects; nor to their will, because it is absurd that divinities should by their will produce absurd things.


Let us now recall what has already been established. The universe is a single living being by virtue of its unity being sympathetic with itself. The course of its life is regulated by reason; it is entirely in agreement with itself; it has nothing fortuitous, it offers a single order, and a single harmony. Besides, all the (star) figures are each conformed to a reason and to a determinate number. The parts of the universal living beings which constitute this kind of a dance—we mean the figures produced in it, of the parts figured therein, as well as the things derived therefrom—are the very actualization of the universe. Thus the universe lives in the manner we have determined, and its powers contribute to this state according to the nature they have received from the reason that has produced them. The figures are, in some way, the reasons of the universal Living being, the intervals or contrasts (of the parts) of the Living being, the attitudes they take according to the laws of rhythm, and according to the reason of the universe. The beings which by their relative distances produce these figures are the divers members of this living being. The different powers of this living being act without deliberation, as its members, because deliberation is a process foreign to the nature of themselves or to this living being. Aspiration to a single aim is the characteristic of the single living being; but it497 includes manifold powers. All these different wills aspire to the same end as the single will of the organism, for each part desires some one of the different objects that it contains. Each wishes to possess something of the other's possessions, and to obtain what it lacks; each experiences a feeling of anger against another, when it is excited against that other; each increases at the expense of another, and begets another. The universe produces all these actions in its parts, but at the same time it seeks the Good, or rather, it contemplates it. It is always the Good that is sought by the right will, which is above passions, and thus accords with the will of the universe. Similarly, servants ascribe many of their actions to the orders received from their master; but the desire of the Good carries them where their own master is carried. Consequently, the sun and the other stars exert what influence they do exert on things here below through contemplation of the intelligible world.


We shall limit ourselves to the above illustration, which may easily be applied to the rest. The sun does not limit itself to warming terrestrial beings. It makes them also participate in its soul, as far as possible; for it possesses a powerful physical soul. Likewise, the other stars, involuntarily, by a kind of irradiation, transmit to inferior beings somewhat of the (natural) power they possess. Although therefore all things (in the universe) form but a single thing of a particular figure, they offer manifold different dispositions; which different figures themselves each have a characteristic power; for each disposition results in appropriate action.



Things which appear as a figure themselves possess a characteristic influence, which changes according to the people with which they are brought in contact. Examples of this may be seen daily. Why do certain figures or appearances inspire us with terror, although they have never done us any harm, while others do not produce the same effect on us? Why are some people frightened by certain figures or appearances, while others are frightened by different ones? Because the former's constitution specially acts on the former people, and the latter on the latter; they could only produce effects in harmony with their nature. One object attracts attention by a particular appearance, and would yet attract attention by a different constitution. If it was its beauty that exerted the power of arousing emotion, why then would this beautiful object move one man, while the other object would move another, if there be no potency in the difference of figure or appearance? It would be unreasonable to admit that colors have a characteristic influence and action, yet deny the same power to figures or appearances. It would, besides, be absurd, to admit the existence of something, but to refuse it all potency. Every being, because of his mere existence, must "act" or "suffer." Some indeed "act" exclusively, while others both "act" and "suffer." Substances contain influences independent of their figure or appearance. Terrestrial beings also possess many forces which are derived neither from heat nor cold. The reason is that these beings are endowed with different qualities, that they receive their forms from ("seminal) reasons," and participate in the powers of nature; such are the peculiar virtues of natural stones, and the surprising effects produced by plants.



36. The universe is full of variety; it contains all the "reasons," and an infinite number of different powers. So, in the human body, the eye, the bones, and the other organs each have their characteristic power; as, the bone in the hand does not have the same strength as the bone in the foot; and in general, each part has a power different from that possessed by every other part. But unless we observe very carefully, this diversity escapes us in the case of (natural) objects. Much more would it escape us in the world; for the forces that we see in it are (but) the traces of those that exist in the superior region. There must then be in the world an inconceivable and admirable variety of powers, especially in the stars that wander through the heavens. The universe is not a great and vast edifice, inanimate, and composed of things of which it would be easy to catalogue the different kinds, such as stones, lumber, and ornamental structures; it is a wakeful being, living in all its parts, though differently so in each; in short, it includes all that can ever be. This solves the problem, how inanimate matter can exist within an animated living being. Our discussions have therefore taught us that in the universe (nothing is inanimate; that, on the contrary) everything it contains is alive; but each in a different manner. We deny that there is life in objects that we do not see moving; but nevertheless they do live, though only with a latent life. Those whose life is visible are composed of those whose life is invisible, but which nevertheless contribute to the life of this animal by furnishing it with admirable powers. It would therefore be equally impossible that the universe should be alive unless each of the things it contained lived with its own life. Nevertheless the acts of the universe do500 not depend on choice; it acts without needing to choose, because it precedes any choice. Thus many things obey its forces.


37. The universe therefore (contains all that it needs), and rejects (or wastes) nothing. Study, therefore, the fire, and all the other things considered capable of action. Satisfactory investigation of their action would demand recognition that these things derive their power from the universe, and a similar admission for all that belongs to the domain of experience. But we do not usually examine the objects to which we are accustomed, nor raise questions about them. We investigate the nature of a power only when it seems unusual, when its novelty excites our astonishment. Nevertheless we would not be any less astonished at the objects that we see so often if their power were explained to us at a time when we were not yet so thoroughly accustomed to it. Our conclusion therefore is that every thing has a secret (sub-conscious) power inasmuch as it is moulded by, and receives a shape in the universe; participating in the Soul of the universe, being embraced by her, as being a part of this animated All; for there is nothing in this All which is not a part thereof. It is true that there are parts, both on the earth and in the heavens, that act more efficiently than do others; the heavenly things are more potent because they enjoy a better developed nature. These powers produce many things devoid of choice, even in beings that seem to act (purposively); though they are also active in beings that lack that ability to choose. (Even these powers themselves act unconsciously): they do not even turn (towards themselves) while communicating power, when some part of their own soul is emanating (to that which they are501 begetting). Similarly animals beget other animals without implying an act of choice, without any weakening on the part of the generator, and even without self-consciousness. Otherwise, if this act was voluntary, it would consist of a choice, or the choice would not be effective. If then an animal lack the faculty of choice, much less will it have self-consciousness.


38. Things which arise from the universe without the incitation of somebody are generally caused by the vegetative life of the universe. As to the things whose production is due to somebody, either by simple wishes, or by cunning enchantments, they should be ascribed not to some star, but to the very nature of that which is produced. 1. Of course, the necessaries of life, or what serves some other use, should be attributed to the goodness of the stars; it is a gift made by a stronger part to a weaker one. Any harmful effect on the generation of animals exercised by the stars must depend on their substance's inability to receive what has been given them; for the effect is not produced absolutely, but relatively to some subject or condition, for that which "suffers" or is to "suffer" must have a determinate nature. 2. Mixtures also exert a great influence, because each being furnishes something useful to life. Moreover, something good might happen to a person without the assistance of beings which by nature would seem useful. 3. The co-ordination of the universe does not always give to each person what he desires. 4. Besides, we ourselves add much to what has been given to us. 5. All things are not any the less embraced in a same unity; they form an admirable harmony; besides, they are derived from each other, though originating from contraries; for indeed all things are parts of a single animal. If502 any one of these begotten things is imperfect because it is not completely formed, the fact is that matter not being entirely subdued, the begotten thing degenerates and falls into deformity. Thus some things are produced by the stars, others are derived from the nature of substance, while others are added by the beings themselves.


39. Since all things are always co-ordinated in the universe, and since all trend to one single and identical aim, it is not surprising that all (events) are indicated by (astrological) signs. "Virtue has no master," as Plato said158; "she attaches herself to all who honor her, and abandons those who neglect her; God is innocent."159 Nevertheless, her works are bound up with the universal order; for all that is here below depends on a divine and superior principle, and even the universe participates therein. Thus all that happens in the universe is caused not only by the ("seminal) reasons," but by reasons of a higher order, far superior to those (that is, the ideas). Indeed, the seminal reasons contain the reasons of nothing produced outside of seminal reasons, neither of what is derived from matter, nor from the actions of begotten things exercised on each other. The Reason of the universe resembles a legislator who should establish order in a city. The latter, knowing the probable actions of the citizens, and what motives they would probably obey, regulates his institutions thereupon, intimately connects his laws with the conduct of the individuals subject to them, establishes rewards and punishments for their deeds, so that automatically all things conspire in mutual harmony by an inerrant current. Each therefore is indicated by (astrological) signs, without this indication being an essential purpose of nature; it is only503 the result of their concatenation. As all these things form but a single one, each of them is known by another, the cause by the effect, the consequent by the antecedent, the compound by its elements.


The above consideration would clear up the problem set above. The gods (that is, the stars), cannot be held responsible for our ills because, 1. things produced by the gods do not result from a free choice, but from a natural necessity; because, as parts of the universe, the gods act on other parts of the universe, and contribute to the life of the universal organism. 2. Terrestrial beings themselves add very much to the things that are derived from the stars; 3. the things given us by the stars are not evil, but are altered by being mingled; 4. the life of the universe is not regulated (in advance) for the individual, but only for the totality; 5. matter does not experience modifications completely corresponding to the impressions it receives, and cannot entirely submit to the form given to it.


40. But how shall we explain the enchantments of magic? By the sympathy that things have for each other, the accord of those that are similar, the struggle of those that are contrary, the variety of the powers of the various beings which contribute to the formation of a single organism; for many things are attracted towards each other and are mutually enchanted, without the intervention of a magician. The real magic is the Love that reigns in the universe, with its contrary of Hate. The first magician, him whom men consult to act by the means of his philtres and enchantments, is Love; for it is from the natural mutual love of all504 things, and from the natural power they have to compel each others' love, that is derived the efficaciousness of the art of inspiring love by employing enchantments. By this art, magicians bring together the natures which have an innate love for each other; they unite one soul to another as one cross-fertilizes distant plants; by employing (symbolic) figures which possess special virtues; by themselves taking certain attitudes, they noiselessly attract the powers of other beings, and induce them to conspire to unity so much the easier as they themselves are in unity. A being of the same disposition, but located outside of the universe, could neither by magic attractions fascinate, nor by his influence enchain any of the things contained in the world; on the contrary, from the moment that he is not a stranger to the world, he can attract towards himself other beings, knowing their mutual relations and attractions within the universal organism. There are indeed invocations, songs, words, (symbolic) figures, and, for instance, certain sad attitudes and plaintive tones which exert a natural attraction. Their influence extends even to the soul—I mean, the irrational soul; for neither the will nor the reason permit themselves to be subdued by the charms of music. This magic of music does not arouse any astonishment; nevertheless those who play or sing, charm and inspire love unintentionally. Nor does the virtue of prayers depend on their being heard by Beings that make free decisions; for these invocations do not address themselves to free-will. Thus160 when a man is fascinated by a serpent, he neither feels nor understands the influence exerted on him; he perceives what he has felt only after having experienced it—the governing part of the soul cannot anyway experience anything of the kind. Consequently when an invocation is addressed to a Being, some thing results; either for him who makes this invocation, or for some other person.



41. Neither the sun, nor any other star hears the prayers addressed to it. If they are granted, it is only by the sympathy felt by each part of the universe for every other; just as all parts of a cord are caused to vibrate by excitation of any one part; or, just as causing one string of a lyre to vibrate would cause all the others to vibrate in unison, because they all belong to the same system of harmony. If sympathy can go as far as making one lyre respond to the harmonies of another, so much the more must this sympathy be the law of the universe, where reigns one single harmony, although its register contains contraries, as well as similar and analogous parts. The things which harm men, like anger, which, together with the bile, relate to the liver, were not created for the purpose of harming men. It is as if a person, in the act of taking fire from a hearth accidentally wounded another. This person is doubtless the author of the wound because he transferred the fire from one place to another; but the wound occurred only because the fire could not be contained by the being to whom it had been transmitted.


42. The stars therefore have no need of memory to remember our prayers, nor senses to receive them; thus is solved the problem considered above. Nor even, if our prayers are answered, is this due, as some think, to any free will on their part. Whether or not we address prayers to them, they exercise over us a certain influence by the mere fact that, along with us, they form part of the universe.



There are many forces that are exercised involuntarily, either automatically, without any invitation, or with the assistance of skill. Thus, in an animal, one part is naturally favorable or harmful to another; that is why both physician and magician, each by his characteristic arts, force one thing to communicate its power to another. Likewise, the universe communicates to its parts something of its own power, either automatically, or as a result of the attraction exercised by the individual. This is a natural process, since he who asks is not foreign to it. Neither should we be astonished if even an evil individual obtains his requests; for do not the evil drink from the same streams as do the good? In this case, the granting is done unconsciously; it grants simply, and what is granted harmonizes with the order of the universe. Consequently, if an evil individual asks and obtains what is within reach of all, there is no reason why he should be punished.


It is therefore wrong to hold that the universe is subject to experiencing passions. In the first place, the governing Soul is entirely impassible; then, if there be any passions in her, they are experienced only by her parts; as to her, being unable to experience anything contrary to her nature, she herself remains impassible. To experience passions seems suitable to stars considered as parts of the universe; but, considered in themselves, they are impassible, because their wills are impassible, and their bodies remain as unalterable as their nature, because their soul loses nothing, and their bodies remain the same, even if, by their soul, they communicate something of themselves507 to inferior beings. If something issues from them, they do not notice it; if some increase happens, they pay no attention.


43. How will the worthy man be able to escape the action of the enchantments and the philtres employed by magic? His soul escapes them entirely; his reason is impassible, and cannot be led to change opinions. The worthy man, therefore, can suffer only through the irrational part that he receives from the universe; this part alone "suffers." Nor will he be subdued by the loves inspired by philtres, because love presupposes a soul's inclination to experience what another soul experiences. As enchantments act on the irrational part of the soul, their power will be destroyed by fighting them; and by resisting them by other enchantments. As a result of enchantments, therefore, it is possible to experience sicknesses, and even death; and, in general, all the affections relative to the body. Every part of the universe is subject to experiencing an affection caused in it by another part or by the universe itself (with the exception of the wise man, who remains impassible); without there being anything contrary to nature it can also feel this affection only at the end of some time.


The guardians themselves can "suffer" through their irrational part. They must have memory and senses, by nature they must be susceptible to enchantments, of being induced to commit certain acts, and to hear the prayers addressed to them. The guardians subjected to this influence are those who approach men,508 and they are the more subdued thereby as they approach to men closer.


Every being that has some relation with another can be bewitched by him; he is bewitched and attracted by the being with whom he is in relations. Only the being concentrated in himself (by the contemplation of the intelligible world) cannot be bewitched. Magic exercises its influence on every action, and on every active life; for active life trends towards the things which charm it. Hence the (Platonic) expression, "The subjects of the magnanimous Erechtheus are remarkable by the beauty of their countenances." What indeed does one being feel in his relations with another? He is drawn towards him, not by the art of magic, but by the seduction exerted by nature, which harmonizes and unites two beings joining them one to the other, not by locality, but by the power of the philtres employed.


44. Only the man devoted to contemplation can defy enchantments, inasmuch as none can be bewitched by himself. The man who contemplates has become unified; he has become what he contemplates, his reason is sheltered from all seductive influences. He does what he ought to do, he accomplishes his life and his proper function. As to the remainder of humanity, the soul does not fulfil her characteristic function, nor does reason determine its action; the irrational soul becomes the principle of action, and the passions furnish men with directions. The influence of a magic attraction manifests in the disposition509 to marriage, in the care we take of our children, and, in general, in all that the bait of pleasure leads us to do. Amidst our actions there are some that are provoked by an irrational power, either by anger, or the general faculty of desire of the soul. Other actions relate to political life, like the desire of obtaining office, and they spring from a desire to command. Those actions in which we propose to avoid some evil, are inspired by fear; while those actions in relating to the desire to possess more than others, are inspired by cupidity. Last, those actions relating to utility, and to the satisfaction of our needs, show with what force nature has attached us to life.


It may perhaps be said that the actions whose aim is noble and honest escape the influences of magic; otherwise contemplation itself would be subject thereto. This is true, that the man who performs deeds of honesty as being inevitable, with his eyes fixed on true Beauty, could never be bewitched. He knows duty, and the aim of his life (which would limit his efforts) is not anything on earth or in the (universe). It may indeed be objected that he is bewitched and attached here below by the magic force of human nature, which binds him to the lives of others and of himself. It would even be reasonable to say that we should not separate ourselves from the body because of the attachment for him inspired by some magic charm. As to the man who (to contemplation) prefers practical activity, and who contents himself with the beauty discovered therein, he is evidently misled by the deceptive traces of the Beautiful, since he seeks beauty in inferior things. Every activity unfolded in the510 domain of what has nothing but the appearance of truth, every inclination for this kind of thing supposes that the soul is deceived by what attracts it. That is the way in which the magic power of nature is exercised.


Indeed, to follow what is not Good as if it was the Good, to let oneself be misled by its appearance, and by irrational inclinations, that is the characteristic of a man who in spite of himself is led whither he does not wish to go. Now does this not really amount to yielding to a magic charm? He alone escapes every magic charm who, though he be carried away by the lower faculties of his soul, considers good none of the objects that seem such to these faculties, who calls good only what he by himself knows to be such, without being misled by any deceptive appearance; and who regards as good not what he has to seek, but what he possesses veritably. Then only could he in no way be misled by any magic charm.


45. This discussion teaches us that each one of the beings contained in the universe contributes to the purpose of the universe by its "actions" and "passions" according to its nature and dispositions, as, in an organism, each organ contributes to the final purpose of the entire body, by fulfilling the function assigned to it by its nature and constitution. From this each organ derives its place and role, and besides communicates something else to the other organs, and from them receives all that its nature would allow. Somehow, all the organs feel what is going on in the others, and if each of them became an organism, it would be quite ready to fulfil the function of an organism,511 which function differs from that of being merely an organ.


We are thus shown our condition. On the one hand, we exercise a certain action on the whole; on the other, we not only experience the passions that it is natural for our body to experience in its relations with other bodies, but we also introduce into these relations the soul which constitutes us, bound as we are to the kindred things which surround us by our natural resemblance to them. Indeed, by our souls and dispositions we become, or rather, we already are similar on one hand to the inferior beings of the demonic world, and on the other, to the superior beings of the intelligible world. Our nature cannot be ignored, therefore. Not all of us receive, not all of us give the same thing. How indeed could we communicate to others the good, if we do not possess it? or receive it, if our nature was not capable of it?


Thus the evil man shows what he is, and he is by his nature impelled towards what already dominates him, both while he is here below, or after he has left this place; when he passes into the place towards which his inclinations draw him. The virtuous man, on the contrary, has, in all these respects, a different fate. Each one is thus driven by his nature, as by some occult force, towards the place whither he is to go. In this universe, therefore, there obtains an admirable power and order, since, by a secret, and hidden path, each one is led to the unescapable condition assigned to him by divine justice. The evil man does not know this, and is, in spite of himself, conducted to the place512 in the universe which he is to occupy. The wise man knows it, and himself proceeds to his destined abode. Before leaving this life, he knows what residence inevitably awaits him, and the hope of dwelling there some day in company with the divinities fills his life with happiness.


The parts of each small organism undergo changes and sympathetic affections which are not much felt, because these parts are not individual organisms (and they exist only for some time, and in some kinds of organisms). But in the universal organism, where the parts are separated by so great distances, where each one follows its own inclinations, where there is a multitude of different animals, the movements and change of place must be more considerable. Thus the sun, the moon and the other stars are seen successively to occupy different places, and to revolve regularly. It is not unreasonable therefore to suppose that souls would change location, as they change character, and that they would dwell in a place suitable to their dispositions. They would thus contribute to the order of the universe by occupying some, a place analogous to the head in the human body; and others, a place analogous to the human feet; for the universe admits of place for all degrees of perfection. When a soul does not choose the best (actions), and yet does not attach herself to what is worst, she would naturally pass into some other place, which is indeed pure, but yet proportioned to the mediocrity she has chosen. As to the punishments, they resemble the remedies applied by physicians to sickly organs. On some the physician lays certain substances; in some he makes incisions, or he changes the condition of some others, to reestablish the health of the whole system, by giving to513 each organ the special treatment suitable to it. Likewise, the health of the universe demands that the one (soul) be changed; that another be taken away from the locality where she languishes, and be located where she would recover from the disease.


Psychological Questions—III.
About the Process of Vision and Hearing.


1. Above161 we suggested the question whether it be possible to see without some medium such as the air or a diaphanous body162; we shall now try to consider it. It has already been asserted that in general the soul cannot see or feel without the intermediation of some body; for, when completely separated from the body (the soul dwells in the intelligible world). But, as touch consists of perception, not indeed of intelligible entities, but only of sense-objects, the soul cannot see or feel without the intermediation of some body; for when completely separated from some body, the soul dwells in the intelligible world. But, as touch consists of perception, not indeed of intelligible entities, but only of sense-object, the soul in order to come in contact with these sense-objects, must enter into cognitive or affective relation with them by the means of intermediaries which must possess an analogous nature; and that is why the knowledge of bodies must be acquired by the means of corporeal organs. Through these organs which are so interrelated as to form a sort of unity, the soul approaches sense-objects in a manner such as to establish effective communion. That contact between the organ and the cognized object must be established is evident enough for tangible objects, but is doubtful for visible objects. Whether contact515 be necessary for hearing is a question we shall have to discuss later.163 Here we shall first discuss whether sight demand a medium between the eye and color.


If a medium of sight exist, it exists only by accident, and in no way contributes to sight.164 Since opaque and earthy bodies hinder sight, and as we see so much the better as the medium is more subtle, it may be said, indeed, that mediums contribute to sight, or at least, if they do not contribute such thereto, they may be hindrances as slight (as possible); but evidently a medium, however refined, is some sort of an obstacle, however slight.


(There is an opinion that) the medium first receives and then transmits the affection, and impression. For instance, if some one stand in front of us, and directs his gaze at some color, he also sees it; but the color would not reach us unless the medium had experienced the affection. To this it may be answered that there is no necessity for the affections to be experienced by the medium, inasmuch as the affection is already experienced by the eye, whose function consists precisely in being affected by color; or at least, if the medium be affected, its affection differs from that of the eye. For instance, a reed interposed between the hand and the fish called the "torpedo," or "electric ray," does not feel the same numbness which it nevertheless communicates to the holding hand; still, the hand would not be affected with numbness unless the reed formed a communication between the fish and the hand.165 However, the matter is not beyond discussion, for (even without any intermediary, if for instance) the516 fisher were in (direct contact) with the "ray" inside of the net, he would also feel the electric numbness. This communication therefore seems based on sympathetic affections. That, by virtue of its nature, one being can be sympathetically affected by some other being, does not necessarily imply that the medium, if different, shares that affection; at least (it is certain that) it is not affected in the same manner. In such a case, the organ destined to experience the affection experiences it far better when there is no medium, even when the medium itself is susceptible to some affection.


2. If vision166 presupposes the union of the "light of the eye,"167 with the light interposed (between the eye) and the sense-object itself, the interposed medium is the light, and this medium is necessary, on this hypothesis. (On the theory of Aristotle) the colored substance produces a modification in the medium; but nothing here would hinder this modification from reaching the eye itself, even when there is no medium. For, in this case, the medium is necessarily modified before the eye is. (The Platonic philosophers) teach that vision operates by an effusion of the light of the eye. They have no need to postulate a medium, unless indeed they should fear that the ray of the eye should lose its way; but this ray is luminous, and the light travels in a straight line. (The Stoics) explain vision by the resistance experienced by the visual ray. They cannot do without a medium.168 (The Atomists and) the believers in "images" (such as Epicurus), insist that these images move in emptiness, thereby implying the existence of a free space to avoid hindering the images. Consequently as they will be hindered in a direct ratio to the existence of a medium, this opinion does not run counter to our own hypothesis (that there is no medium).



Those who (with Plotinos himself) teach that vision operates by sympathy, assert that vision is poorer through a medium, because this medium hinders, fetters, and weakens sympathy. In this case, indeed, the medium necessarily weakens sympathy even though it shared the same nature (as the eye and the object), and was affected in the same manner. (It acts like the integument) of some body that is deeply burned by fire applied to it; the interior parts are less affected because they are protected by the exterior parts. There is no doubt that the parts of one and the same animal will be less affected in experiencing sympathy because of the existence of a medium. The affection will be weakened according to the nature of the medium, because such a medium would hinder excess of affection, unless indeed that which is transmitted (by one part to another) is not such as to fail to affect the medium. But if the universe sympathize with itself because it constitutes a single organism, and if we are affected because we are contained within this single organism, and form part of it, why should any continuity be necessary for us to feel a distant object? The single organism, indeed, could not be continuous without the continuity of some medium; this continuous medium is affected only by accident; but otherwise we would have to admit that all can be affected by all. But if these two objects are affected in one manner, and other two objects are affected in another manner, there might not always be need of a medium. Whoever asserts the need of a medium for vision will have to advance a very good argument, inasmuch as that which traverses the air does not always affect the air, and often limits itself to dividing the air. Thus when a stone falls the only518 thing that happens to the air is that it fails to support the stone. As falling is part of the stone's nature, it would be unreasonable to assert that its falling was due to the reaction exerted by the ambient air. Otherwise we would have to assert that it is this same reaction of the ambient air that makes fire ascend, which is absurd; because the fire, by the rapidity of its motion, forestalls this reaction. That, by the very rapidity of the motion, reaction is accelerated, takes place only by accident, and has no relation to the upward impulsion; for trees grow from above without receiving any (upward) impulsion. Even we, when walking, divide the air without being pushed by the reaction of the air; the air behind us limits itself to filling the void we have created. If then the air allow itself to be divided by bodies without being affected by them, what would hinder the air from permitting free transit for the images to reach the eye, without being thereby divided?


If these images do not reach us by some sort of effluence, why should the air be affected, and why should we ourselves be affected only as a result of the affection experienced by the air? If we felt only because the air had been affected before us, we would attribute the sensation of sight not to the visible object, but to the air located near us, as occurs with heat. In the latter case it is not the distant fire, but the air located near us which, being heated, then warms us; for the sensation of heat presupposes contact, which does not occur with vision. We see, not because the sense-object is imposed on the eye (but because the medium is illuminated); now it is necessary for the medium to be illuminated because the air by itself is dark. If the air were not dark, it would have no need of light; for (to effectuate vision) the obscurity, which519 forms an obstacle to vision, must be overcome by light. That is perhaps the reason why an object placed very near the eye is not seen; for it brings with it the darkness of the air, together with its own.


3. A strong proof that the forms of sense-objects are not seen merely because the air, on being affected, transmits them by relays from point to point, is that even in darkness the fire, the stars, and their forms may be seen. In this case no one would claim that the forms of the objects, being impressed on the obscure air, are transmitted to the eye; otherwise, there would be no obscurity, as the fire, while transmitting its form, would illuminate. Indeed, in the profound obscurity in which the light of the stars is not seen, the fire of signals and of light-houses may be perceived. Should any one, in opposition to the testimony of his senses, claim that even in this case the fire penetrates the air, he should be answered by having it pointed out to him that in that case human vision should distinguish the smallest objects which are in the air, instead of being limited to the perception of the fire. If then we see what is beyond a dark medium, it would be much better seen without any medium whatever.


It might indeed be objected that without medium, vision ceases. This occurs not because of the lack of medium, but because the sympathy of the (universal) organism is in such a case destroyed since a medium presupposes that all the parts of this organism together form but a single being. It would indeed seem to be a general condition necessary for sensation that the universal organism be sympathetic with itself;520 otherwise, no one thing could participate in the power of any other thing that might happen to be very distant.


Here is another important (related) question. If there existed another world and organism which had no relation with our world, and if on the surface of the sky was an eye that was looking, would it perceive this other world at a moderate distance, or would it have no relation thereto? This question will be considered later.169 Now however we shall give a further proof that the medium has nothing to do with vision. If the air were affected, it would experience a material affection, similar to the figure impressed on wax. In this case, a certain part of the object would be impressed on a certain part of the air; and consequently, the part of the air nearest to the eye would receive a part of the visible object, and this part would be of a size equal to that of the pupil. Now a visible object is seen in its entirety, and all those who are in the air equally see it, whether they behold it from the front, or side, or whether they be one behind the other, without however forming mutual obstacles. This proves that every part of the air contains the entire visible object. This cannot be explained by any corporeal affection, but by higher laws, suitable to the soul, and to the (universal) organism which everywhere responds to itself.


4. What is the mutual relation between the light that emanates from the eye, and the light which is exterior to the eye, and which extends between the eye and the object?170 Light has no need of air as a medium, unless indeed somebody should undertake to521 say that there is no light without air, in which case air would be a medium only accidentally. Light itself, however, is an unaffected medium, for there is no necessity here for an affection, but only for a medium; consequently, if light be not a body, there is no need of a body (to act as medium). It might be objected that sight has no need either of a foreign light nor of a medium to see near by, but has need of them for vision at a distance. Later171 we shall consider whether or not light without air be possible. Now let us consider the first point.


If the light which is contiguous to the eye should become animated, and if the soul should, so to speak, interpenetrate it, uniting with it as she unites with the interior light, there would be no need of intermediary light for the perception of the visible object. Sight resembles touch; it operates in light by somehow transferring itself to the object, without the medium experiencing any affection. Now consider: does the sight transfer itself to the visible object because of the existence of an interval between them, or because of the existence of some body in the interval? In the latter case, vision would occur by removing this obstacle. If, on the other hand, it be because of the existence of a mere interval, then the nature of the visible object must seem inert and entirely inactive. This is however impossible; not only does touch announce and experience the neighboring object but, by the affection it experiences, it proclaims the differences of the tangible object, and even perceives it from a distance, if nothing oppose it; for we perceive the fire at the same time as the air that surrounds us, and before this air has been heated by the fire. A solid body heats better than does the air; and consequently522 it receives heat through the air, rather than by the intermediation of air. If then the visible object have the power to act, and if the organ have the power of experiencing (or suffering), why should sight need any intermediary (besides light) to exert its power? This would really be needing an obstacle! When the light of the sun reaches us, it does not light up the air before lighting us, but lights both simultaneously; even before it has reached the eye, while it is still elsewhere, we have already seen, just as if the air was not affected at all; that is the case, probably, because the medium has undergone no modification, and because light has not yet presented itself to our view. Under this hypothesis (which asserts that the air receives and transmits an affection) it would be difficult to explain why during the night we see the stars and, in general, any kind of fire.


On the hypothesis that the soul remains within herself, while making use of the light (emanated from the eye) as a rod to reach the visible object, a very sharp perception would be caused by the resistance experienced by the light in its tension172 and sense-color. In so far as it is color, the light itself would possess the property of reflecting light. In this case, the contact would take place by a medium. But already before this the light has reached the object without any medium; so that the later contact operated by a medium would produce cognition by a sort of memory or reasoning—which is not the case.


The hypothesis that the light contiguous to the visible object is affected, and transmits this affection523 by relays from point to point into the eye, is essentially identical with that theory which supposes that the medium must be preliminarily modified by the visible object; a hypothesis that has already been discussed above.


5. As to hearing, there are several theories. One is that the air is first set in motion, and that this motion, being transmitted unaltered from point to point from the (location of the) sound-producing air as far as the ear, causes the sound to arrive to the sense. Again, another theory is that the medium is here affected accidentally, and only because it happens to be interposed; so that, if the medium were annihilated, we would feel the sound immediately on its production by the shock of two bodies. We might think that the air must first be set in motion, but the medium interposed (between the first moved air and the ear) plays a different part. The air here seems to be the sovereign condition of the production of sound; for, at the origin of the sound, the shock of two bodies would produce no sound if the air, compressed and struck by their rapid concussion did not transmit the motion from point to point as far as the ear.173 But if the production of the sound depend on the impulsion impressed on the air, the (qualitative) difference between voices and (instrumental) sounds will challenge explanation; for there is great difference (of "timbre") between metal struck by metal of the same kind, or another. These differences are not merely quantitative, and cannot be attributed to the air which (everywhere) is the same, nor to the force of the stimulus (which may be equal in intensity). Another theory (of Aristotle's) is that the production of voices and sound is due to the air, because the impulsion impressed524 on the air is sonorous. (To this it should be answered that) air, in so far as it is air, is not the cause of sound; for it resounds only in so far as it resembles some solid body, remaining in its situation, before it dilates, as if it were something solid.174 The (cause of the sound) then is the shock between objects, which forms the sound that reaches the sense of hearing. This is demonstrated by the sounds produced in the interior of animals, without the presence of any air, whenever one part is struck by some other. Such is the sound produced by certain articulations when they are bent (as, the knee); or certain bones, when they are struck against each other, or when they break; in this case air has nothing to do with the production of the sound. These considerations compel a theory of hearing similar to our conclusions about sight. The perception of audition, like that of vision, therefore consists in a repercussion (an affection sympathetically felt) in the universal organism.


6. Could light exist without air, if the sun illuminated the surface of bodies, and if there were a void in the interval which is accidentally illuminated by virtue of its location (between the sun and the bodies)? It is certain that if the other things were affected because the air itself was affected, and if light were nothing more than an affection of the air, that is, its substance; then indeed this affection could not exist without the experiencing subject (the air). But (in our view) light is not essentially characteristic of air as such; for all fiery and brilliant bodies, among which are precious stones, possess a luminous color. Could that which passes from a brilliant body into some other body exist without that other body? If light be but a simple quality of an object, and as every quality implies a subject on which it depends, light will have525 to be sought in the body in which it resides. If, on the contrary, light be only an actualization produced by some other thing, and if there be no body contiguous to the luminous object, and it be entirely surrounded by a void, why could light not exist, and radiate upwards (as well as downwards, and in every direction)? Since light radiates, why should it not radiate without hindrance? If its nature be to fall, it will spontaneously descend; for neither the air nor any illuminated body will make it issue from the illuminating body, nor can force it to advance, since it is neither an accident that implies a subject, nor an affection that implies an affected object. Otherwise, the light would remain (in the illuminated body) when the object from which it emanates should happen to withdraw; but since the light withdraws with it, it radiates. In what direction does light radiate? (Its radiation) demands no more than the existence of sufficient space; otherwise the body of the sun would lose its actualization; that is, the light it radiates. In this case light would not be the quality of a subject, but the actualization that emanates from a subject, but which does not pass into any other subject (as a kind of undulation); but if another subject be present, it will suffer an affection. As life, which constitutes an actualization of the soul, affects the body if it be present, and does not any the less constitute an actualization if the body be absent, likewise light constitutes an actualization subject to the same conditions. It is not the obscurity of the air that begets light, nor obscurity mingled with the earth which produces an impure light; otherwise one might produce something sweet by mingling some thing with what is bitter. The statement that light is a modification of the air, is incomplete without the addition that the air must itself be modified by this modification, and that the obscurity of the air is no longer obscure after having undergone526 that change. The air itself, however, remains what it was, just as if it had not been affected. The affection belongs only to that which has been affected. Color therefore does not belong to the air, but subsists in itself; the air's only function is its presence. But enough of this.


7. It might be asked whether the withdrawal of the object from which light emanates abandons the light to destruction, or does the light follow the source into withdrawal? This question is related to the former one; (and it may be said that) if the light inhere in the illuminated body in a manner such as to have become characteristic of it, the light perishes with it. The light is an immanent actualization, for otherwise it would surround the object from which it emanates, and remain within it, accumulating there. If this were so, the light could not vanish so long as the object from which it emanates itself continues to subsist. If this object pass from one place to another, light would pass thither also, not because it turns back on itself or changes locality, but because the actualization of the luminous object exists and is present as soon as nothing opposes it. If the distance from the sun to the earth were much more considerable than it really is, the light of the sun would nevertheless reach us, providing no obstacle were interposed. On the one hand, there is in the luminous body an actualization, a kind of superabundant life, a principle and source of activity; on the other hand, beyond the limits of the luminous body, exists a second actualization which is the image of the actualization characteristic of this body, and which never separates itself from the body. Every being has an actualization which is its image; so that, as527 soon as the being exists, its actualization exists also; and so long as the being subsists, its actualization radiates nearer or further. Actualizations (differ indeed); some are feeble and obscure, others are secret or hidden, others are powerful and radiate afar. When an actualization radiates at a distance it must be admitted to exist there where it acts, where it exercises and manifests its power. Consequently one can see light shine from the eyes of animals whose eyes are naturally brilliant175; likewise when the animals that exert a concentrated interior fire happen to open their eyelids, they radiate rays of light into the darkness; while, when they close their eyes, no more light exists outside them. The light therefore does not perish; only, it is no longer produced exteriorly. It does not re-enter into the animal but merely ceases to exist exteriorly, for the visual fire does not pass outside, remaining inside. Is light itself then within? At least this light remains within; but (when the eye is closed) the eyelid forms an obstacle to its diffusion.


Thus the light that emanates from bodies is the actualization of the luminous body which is active exteriorly. The light in the bodies whose original nature is such, is the formal being of the originally luminous body. When such a body has been mingled with matter, it produces color. The actualization alone does not suffice to give color; it produces only the hue, because the actualization is the property of a subject, and depends on it, so that nothing can be withdrawn from the subject without simultaneously being withdrawn from its actualization. Light is entirely incorporeal, though it be the actualization of a body. It could not therefore properly be said of light that it withdraws or is528 present. The true state of affairs is entirely different; for the light, so far as it is the actualization of the luminous body, is its very being. The image produced in a mirror is therefore an actualization of the visible object, which acts on anything that is passive (that can suffer, or experience), without letting any of its substance escape by any wastage. If the object be present, the image appears in the mirror; it is as it were the image of the color that possesses some particular figure. When the object withdraws, the diaphanous body no longer possesses what it possessed while the visible object was acting on the mirror. A similar condition is that of the soul; her actualization dwells within the (world's) body so long as this soul herself dwells within it.


(Curiosity might lead some one to ask about) a force that were not the actualization of the Soul, but which only proceeded from this actualization, such as the life which we say is proper to the body. Is the case of such a force similar to that of the light characteristic of bodies? We said that the light inheres in colored bodies, so far as that which produces the colors inheres in the bodies. As to the life proper to the bodies, we think that the body possesses it so far as the soul is present; for nothing can be inanimate. When the body perishes, and when it is no longer assisted by the soul which communicated life to it, nor by the actualization of this soul, how should life remain in the body? What! Has this life perished? No: this life itself has not perished, for it is only the image of an irradiation; it would not be correct to say more than that it is no more there.529176


8. If there were a body outside of our world, and if an eye observed it from here without any obstacle, it is doubtful that the eye could see that body, because the eye would have no affection common to it; for community of affection is caused by the coherence of the single organism (that is, the unity of the world). Since this community of affection (or, sympathy), supposes that sense-objects and that the senses belong to the single organism, a body located outside of the world would not be felt, unless it were part of the world. In this case, it would be felt. If it were not a part of the world, but yet by its color and other qualities it was conformed to the organ that was to cognize it, would it be felt? No, it would not be felt, that is, if such a hypothesis (of a body located outside of the world) were at all admissible. If however, anyone should refuse to admit such a hypothesis, he would pretend that it is absurd that the eye should not see the color located in front of it, and that the other senses do not perceive the qualities before them. That is the reason of its absurdity. For we are active or passive only because we are integral parts of the single organism, and are located within it. Is anything still left to be considered? If what we have said suffices, our demonstration is finished; otherwise we shall have to give still further proofs to support our proposition.


Every organism is coherent (that is, is sympathetic with itself). In the case of a single organism, our demonstration suffices, and all things will experience common affections so far as they constitute parts of the single organism. The plea that a body exterior to530 the world could be felt because of its resemblance (is ill-founded because perception is characteristic of an organism and because it is the organism that possesses perception. For its organ resembles (the perceived object); thus sensation would be the perception presented to the soul by means of organs similar to the perceived objects. If then the organism feel not only its contents, but also objects resembling them, it will perceive these things by virtue of its organic nature; and these things will be perceived not because they are contents thereof, but by virtue of their resemblance thereto. It seems rather that perceived objects must be perceived in the measure of their resemblance, because the soul has familiarized herself with them, and has assimilated them to herself. If then the soul which has assimilated these objects to herself differ from them, the things which were supposed to have become assimilated to her will remain entirely foreign to her. The absurdity of this consequence shows us that there is a flaw in the hypothesis; for it affirms simultaneously that the soul exists, and does not exist, that the things are both conformable and different, similar and dissimilar. Since then this hypothesis implies contradictories, it is not admissible; for it supposes that the soul exists in this world, as a result of the world, both being and not being universal, both being and not being different, both being and not being perfect. The above hypothesis must therefore be abandoned; and since it implies a contradiction, no reasonable consequence could be deduced therefrom.


Of Nature, Contemplation and Unity.177

(These three subjects are discussed in paragraphs 1–4, 5–7, and 8–16. The plain paragraph numbers are those of the Teubner edition; those in parenthesis are the Creuzer (Didot) edition.)



1. If as a preliminary pleasantry, we said that all beings, not only reasonable ones, but even the irrational, plants as well as the earth that begets them, aspire to contemplation, and are directed towards that end; that, as a result of the difference existing between them, some really achieve contemplation, while others only accomplish a reflection or image of it, we would no doubt be told that this was an absurd paradox. But as we are here engaged in a private study, we may, as an indulgence, support this paradox. While thus trifling, are we ourselves not actually engaging in contemplation? Besides, it would be not only we, but any who thus trifle, who aspire to contemplation. We might even say that a joking child, as well as a meditating man both aim at reaching contemplation when the former jokes, and the later meditates. Indeed, there is not a single action that does not tend towards contemplation; more or less externalizing it according as it is carried out strictly or freely. In any case its532 ultimate aim is always contemplation; but of this later.178


(1). Let us begin by explaining what could be the nature of contemplation (thought) that we attribute to the earth, to the trees, and to the plants (as we promised), and how the things produced and begotten by these beings can be reduced to the actuality of contemplation; how nature, that is usually considered to lack reason and imagination, nevertheless is quite capable of some kind of contemplation, thereby producing all its works, although speaking strictly, it is incapable thereof.


2. Evidently nature possesses neither hands, nor feet, nor any natural or artificial instrument. For production its only need is a matter on which to work, and which it forms. The works of nature exclude all ideas of mechanical operation; not by any impelling force, nor by using levers nor machines does it produce varied colors, nor draw the outlines of objects. Even the workmen who form wax figures, to whose work the operations of nature are often compared, cannot endue objects with colors without borrowing them from elsewhere. Besides, we must observe that these workmen contain a power which remains immutable, and by the sole means of which they produce their works with their hands. Likewise, nature contains a power which remains immovable as a whole; it has no need of some parts that would remain immovable, and others that move. It is matter alone that undergoes movement, for the forming power is in no way moved. Were the forming power moved, it would no533 longer be the first motor179; the first motor would no longer be nature, but whatever might, in its totality, be immovable.


It may be objected that the ("seminal) reason" may remain immutable, but that nature is distinct from reason, and is mutable. Considering the totality of nature, we include reason. Considering only one of its parts as immutable, this part still will be reason. Nature must be a form, and not a composite of matter and form. What need would it have of a matter that might be either cold or hot, since matter, when subjected to form, either possesses these qualities, or receives them, or rather undergoes the action of reason before having any qualities. Indeed, it is not by fire that matter becomes fire, but by reason. Consequently, in animals and plants, it is the "reasons" that produce180; and nature is a reason that produces other reasons, imparting some of herself to the substance subjected to her influence, while remaining within herself. The reason that consists in a visible shape occupies the last rank; it is dead, and produces nothing. The living "reason" (which administers the body of the living being), being sister to the "reason" that produced the visible form (in begetting the body of the living being), and possessing the same power as this reason, alone produces within the begotten being.181


3. (2). How does nature produce? And how, in producing, does she arrive at contemplation? Since she produces while remaining immovable within herself,534 and as she is a "reason," she is a contemplation also. Indeed, every action is produced according to a "reason," and consequently differs from it. Reason assists and presides over action, and consequently is not an action. Since reason is not an action, it is a contemplation. In universal Reason, the reason which holds the last rank itself proceeds from contemplation, and in this sense still deserves the name of contemplation because it is produced by the contemplation (of the soul). However universal Reason, which is superior to the latter reason, may be considered under two points of view, as soul and as nature. (Let us begin by nature.)


Does reason, considered as nature, also derive from contemplation? Yes, but on condition that it has contemplated itself somewhat; for it is produced by a contemplation and a principle which was contemplated. How does it contemplate itself? It does not possess this mode of contemplation which proceeds from (discursive) reason; that is to say, which consists in discursively considering what one has in himself. Being a living "reason" and a productive power, how could it fail discursively to consider what it contains? Because one considers discursively only what he does not yet possess. Now as nature possesses, she produces by the mere fact that she possesses. To be what she is and to produce what she produces are identical. Because she is "reason," she simultaneously is contemplation and contemplated object. As she is all three: contemplation, contemplated object, and "reason," nature produces by the mere fact that it is in her essence to be these things. As we have shown, evidently action is a sort of contemplation; for it is the result of the contemplation that remains immutable, which535 does nothing but contemplate, and which produces by its mere contemplation.


4. (3). If anybody were to ask nature why she produces, Nature, if at all willing to listen and answer would say, "You should not have questioned me; you should have tried to understand, keeping silence, as I do; for I am not in the habit of speaking. What were you to understand? Here it is. First, what is produced is the work of my silent speculation, a contemplation effected by my nature; for, myself being born of contemplation, mine is a contemplative nature. Besides, that which in me contemplates, produces a work of contemplation, like geometricians who, while contemplating, describe figures. For it is not in describing figures, but in contemplating, that I let drop from within me the lines which outline the forms of the bodies. I preserve within me the disposition of my mother (the universal Soul), and that of the principles that beget me (the formal 'reasons'). The latter, indeed, are born of contemplation: I was begotten in the same way. These principles gave birth to me without any action, or the mere fact that they are more powerful reasons, and that they contemplate themselves."


These words signify that nature is a soul begotten by a superior Soul that possesses a more potent life, and contains her contemplation silently within herself, without inclining towards that which is higher or lower. Abiding within her own essence ("being") that is, within her own rest and self-consciousness, having discovered, so far as it was possible for her, what was536 below her, without going out of her way to seek it, nature produced an agreeable and brilliant object. If it is desired to attribute some sort of cognition or sensation to nature, these will resemble true cognition and sensation only as those of a man who is awake resemble those of a man who is asleep.182 For nature peaceably contemplates her object, which was born in her as effect of nature's abiding within and with herself, of herself being an object of contemplation, and herself being a silent, if weak contemplation. There is, indeed, another power that contemplates more strongly; the nature which is the image of another contemplation. Consequently, what she has produced is very weak, because a weakened contemplation can beget a weak object only.


Likewise it is men too weak for speculation who, in action, seek a shadow of speculation and reason. Not being capable of rising to speculation, and because of their soul-weakness not being able to grasp that which in itself is intelligible, and to fill themselves therewith, though however desiring to contemplate it, these men seek, by action, to achieve that which they could not obtain by thought alone. Thus we find that action is a weakness or result of contemplation, when we act, or desire to see, or to contemplate, or to grasp the intelligible, or try to get others to grasp it, or propose to act to the extent of our ability. It is a weakness, for, after having acted, we possess nothing of what we have done; and a consequence, because we contemplate something better than we ourselves have made. What man indeed who could contemplate truth would go and contemplate its image? This is the explanation of the taste for manual arts, and for physical activity183 (as thought Aristotle).




5. (4). After having spoken of nature, and having explained how generation is a sort of contemplation, let us pass to the Soul that occupies a rank superior to nature. This is what we have to say about her. By her contemplative action, by her ardent desire to learn and to discover, by the fruitfulness of her knowledge, and her resulting need to produce, the Soul, her totality having become an object of contemplation, gave birth to some other object; just as science, on fructifying, by instruction begets a lesser science in the soul of the young disciple who possesses the images of all things, but only in the state of obscure theories, of feeble speculations, which are incapable of self-sufficiency. The higher and rational part of the Soul ever dwells in the higher region of the intelligible world, and is, by this intelligible world, ever illuminated and fructified184; while the lower ("natural and generative power") participates in what the superior part has received, by immediately participating in the intelligible; for life ever proceeds from life, and its actualization extends to everything, and is present everywhere. In her procession, the universal Soul allows her superior part to remain in the intelligible world; for, if she detached herself from this superior part, she would no longer be present everywhere; she would subsist only in her lower extremities. Besides, the part of the Soul that thus proceeds out of the intelligible world is inferior to what remains within it. Therefore, if the Soul must be present and must assert her sphere of activity everywhere, and if that which occupies the superior rank differs from that which occupies the inferior; if, besides, her activity proceeds either from contemplation or action—-though indeed originally538 from contemplation—because contemplation precedes the action which could not exist without contemplation; in this state of affairs, though one actualization would be weaker than another, yet it would ever remain a contemplation, so that the action derived from contemplation seems to be no more than a weakened contemplation; for that which is begotten must always remain consubstantial with its generating principle, though weaker, since of lower rank. All things therefore silently proceed from the Soul, because they stand in no need of either contemplation or exterior visible action. Thus the Soul contemplates, and the contemplating part of the Soul, being somehow located outside of the superior part, and being different therefrom, produces what is below it; thus it is that contemplation begets contemplation.185 No more than its object is contemplation limited below; that is why it extends to everything. Where is it not? Every soul contains the same object of contemplation. This object, without being circumscribed as a magnitude, does not equally inhere in all beings; consequently, it is not present in the same way to all parts of the Soul. That is why Plato186 says that the charioteer of the soul communicates to his horses what he has seen. The latter receive something from him only because they desire to possess what he has seen; for they have not received the entire intelligible (world). Though they act because of a desire, they act only in view of what they desire; that is, in view of contemplation, and of its object.


6. (5). The purpose of action is to contemplate, and to possess the contemplated object. The object or activity, therefore, is contemplation. It seeks to achieve indirectly what it is unable to accomplish directly. It is not otherwise when one has achieved539 the object of one's desires. One's real desire is not to possess the desired object without knowing it, but to know it more thoroughly, to present it to the sight of the soul, and to be able to contemplate it therein. Indeed, activity always has in view some good; one desires to posses it interiorly, to appropriate it, and to possess the result of one's action. Now as Good can be possessed only by the soul, activity once more brings us back to contemplation. Since the soul is a "reason," what she is capable of possessing could be no more than a silent "reason," being so much the more silent as it is more a "reason," for perfect "reason" seeks nothing farther; it rests in the manifestation of that with which it is filled; the completer the manifestation, the calmer is the contemplation, and the more does it unite the soul. Speaking seriously, there is identity between knowing subject and known object in the actualization of knowledge. If they were not identical, they would be different, being alien to each other, without any real bond, just as reasons (are foreign to the soul) when they slumber within her, without being perceived. The reason187 must therefore not remain alien to the learning soul, but become united thereto, and become characteristic of her. Therefore when the soul has appropriated a "reason," and has familiarized herself therewith, the soul as it were draws it out of her (breast) to examine it. Thus she observes the thing that she (unconsciously) possessed, and by examining it, distinguishes herself therefrom, and by the conception she forms of it, considers it as something foreign to her; for though the soul herself be a "reason" and a kind of intelligence, nevertheless when she considers something, she considers it as something distinct from herself, because she does not possess the true fulness, and is defective in respect to her principle (which is intelligence). Besides, it is with calmness that she observes what she540 has drawn from within herself; for she does not draw from within herself anything of which she did not formerly have even a notion. But she only drew from within herself that of which her view was incomplete, and which she wished to know better. In her actualizations (such as sensation), she adapts the "reasons" she possesses to exterior objects.188 On one hand, as she possesses (the intelligible entities) better than does nature, she is also calmer and more contemplative; on the other hand, as she does not possess (the intelligible entities) perfectly, more (than intelligence) she desires to have direct experimental knowledge and contemplation of the object she contemplates. After having (temporarily) withdrawn from her own higher part, and having (by discursive reason) run through the series of differences, she returns to herself, and again gives herself up to contemplation by her higher part (intelligence) from which she had withdrawn (to observe the differences); for the higher part does not deal with differences, as it abides within herself. Consequently the wise mind is identical with reason, and in itself possesses what it manifests to others. It contemplates itself; it arrives at unity not only in respect to exterior objects, but also in respect to itself; it rests in this unity, and finds all things within itself.


7. (6). Thus everything (ultimately) derives from contemplation; everything (really) is contemplation, including the true beings, and the beings by the former secondarily begotten by giving themselves up to contemplation, and which themselves are objects of contemplation either for sensation, or for knowledge or opinion. Actions, and also desire, result in knowledge.541 Generation originates in speculation, and ends in the production of a form, that is: in an object of contemplation. In general, all beings that are images of generating principles produce forms and objects of contemplation. Begotten substances, being imitations of beings, show that the purpose of generating principles is neither generation nor action, but the production of works which themselves are to be contemplated. Contemplation is aimed at by both discursive thought, and beneath it, by sensation, the end of both of which is knowledge. Further, beneath discursive thought and sensation is the nature which, bearing within herself an object of contemplation, that is, a ("seminal) reason," produces another "reason."189 Such are the truths that are self-evident, or that can be demonstrated by reasoning. Besides it is clear that, since the intelligible objects devote themselves to contemplation, all other beings must aspire thereto; for the origin of beings is also their end.


The begetting of animals is entirely due to the activity within them of seminal reasons. Generation is an actualization of contemplation; it results from the need of producing multiple forms, from objects of contemplation, of filling everything with reasons, of ceaseless contemplation; begetting is no more than producing a form, and to spread contemplation everywhere.190 All the faults met with in begotten or manufactured things are no more than faults of contemplation. The poor workman resembles the producer of bad form. Besides, lovers must be counted among those who study forms, and who consequently give themselves up to contemplation. But enough of this.




8. (7). Since contemplation rises by degrees, from nature to the Soul, from the Soul to Intelligence; and as within it thought becomes more and more (intimate or) interior, more and more united to the thinker; and as in the perfect Soul the things known are identical with the knower; and because they aspire to Intelligence, the subject must then evidently within Intelligence be identical with the object; not through any appropriation thereof, as the perfect Soul does indeed appropriate it, but because their essence ("being") is identical, because of the identity between thinking and being ("essence"). Within intelligence no longer do we have on one side the object, and on the other the subject; otherwise we would need another principle where this difference would no longer exist. Within it, then, these two things, the subject and the object, form but a single (entity). That is a living contemplation, and no longer an object of contemplation which seems to inhere in something else; for existence within a living being is not identical with living by oneself. Therefore if it is to be alive, the object of contemplation and of thought must be life itself, and not the life of plants, that of sensation, or psychic life. Those are different thoughts, the one being the thought of plants, the thought of sensation, and psychic thought. They are thoughts because they are "reasons."


Every life is a thought which, like life itself, may be more or less true. The truest thought is also the first life; and the first life is identical with the first Intelligence. Consequently, the first degree of life is also543 the first degree of thought; the second degree of life is also the second degree of thought; and the third degree of life is also the third degree of thought. Therefore every life of this kind is a thought. Nevertheless it is humanly possible to define the differences of the various degrees of life without being able to set forth clearly those of thought; men will limit themselves to saying that some (of these degrees of thought) imply intelligence, while others exclude it, because they do not seek to penetrate the essence of life. We may observe that the remainder of the discussion brings us back to this proposition, that "all beings are contemplations."191 If the truest life be the life of thought, if the truest life and the life of thought be identical, then the truest thought must be alive. This contemplation is life, the object of this contemplation is a living being and life, and both form but one.


Since both are identical, the unity that they form became manifold because it does not contemplate unity, or it does not contemplate unity so far as it is one; otherwise it would not be intelligence. After having begun by being one, it ceased being one; unconsciously it became manifold as a result of the fruitful germs it contained. It developed to become all things, though it would have been better for it not to have desired this. Indeed, it thus became the second principle, as a circle which, by developing, becomes a figure and a a surface, whose circumference, centre, and rays are distinct, occupying different points. The origin of things is better than their goal. The origin is not equivalent to the origin and goal, and that which is both origin and goal is not identical with that which is no more than origin. In other words, intelligence itself is not the intelligence of a single thing, but universal intelligence;544 being universal, it is the intelligence of all things.192 If then intelligence be universal Intelligence, and the intelligence of all things, then each of its parts must also be universal, also possess all things. Otherwise, intelligence would contain a part that was not intelligence; intelligence would be composed of non-intelligences; and it would resemble a conglomeration of things which would form an intelligence only by their union. Thus intelligence is infinite. When something proceeds from it, there is no weakening; neither for the things that proceed from it, for this is also all things, nor for the intelligence from which the thing proceeds, because it is not a summation of parts.193


9. (8). Such is the nature of Intelligence. Therefore it does not occupy the first rank. Above it must be a Principle, whose discovery is the object of this discussion. Indeed, the manifold must be posterior to unity. Now intelligence is a number; and the principle of number is unity, and the principle of the number that constitutes unity is absolute Unity. Intelligence is simultaneously intelligence and the intelligible; it is therefore two things at once. If then it be composed of two things, we must seek what is prior to this duality. Could this principle be Intelligence alone? But Intelligence is always bound to the intelligible. If the Principle we seek cannot be bound to the intelligible, neither will it be Intelligence. If then it be not Intelligence, and transcend duality, it must be superior thereto, and thus be above Intelligence. Could it be the Intelligence alone? But we have already seen that the intelligible is inseparable from Intelligence. If this Principle be neither Intelligence, nor the intelligible, what can it be? It must be the Principle from which are derived both Intelligence and its implied intelligible.



But what is this Principle, and how are we to conceive it? It must be either intelligent or not intelligent. If it be intelligent, it will also be Intelligence. If it be not intelligent, it will be unconscious of itself, and will not be in any way venerable. Though true, it would not be clear or perspicuous to say that it is the Good itself, since we do not yet have an object on which we could fasten our thought when we speak of it. Besides, since the knowledge of the other objects in all beings who can know something intelligent, occurs through Intelligence and lies in Intelligence, by what rapid intellection (or intuition) could we grasp this Principle that is superior to Intelligence? We may answer, by that part of us which resembles it; for there is in us something of it; or rather, it is in all things that participate in Him. Everywhere you approach the Good, that which in you can participate receives something of it. Take the illustration of a voice in a desert, and the human ears that may be located there. Wherever you listen to this voice, you will grasp it entirely in one sense, and not entirely in another sense. How then would we grasp something by approximating our intelligence (to the Good)? To see up there the Principle it seeks, Intelligence must, so to speak, return backwards, and, forming a duality, it must somehow exceed itself; that means, it would have to cease being the Intelligence of all intelligible things. Indeed, intelligence is primary life, and penetration of all things, not (as the soul does) by a still actualizing movement,194 but by a movement which is ever already accomplished and past.195 Therefore, if Intelligence be life, which is the penetration of all things, if it possess all things distinctly, without confusion—for otherwise546 it would possess them in an imperfect and incomplete manner—it must necessarily proceed from a superior Principle which, instead of being in motion, is the principle of motion (by which Intelligence runs through all things), of life, of intelligence, and of all things. The Principle of all things could not be all things, it is only their origin. Itself is neither all things, nor any particular thing, because it begets everything; neither is it a multitude, for it is the principle of multitude. Indeed that which begets is always simpler than that which is begotten. Therefore if this principle beget Intelligence, it necessarily is simpler than Intelligence. On the theory that it is both one and all, we have an alternative, that it is all things because it is all things at once, or that it is everything individually. On the one hand, if it be all things at once, it will be posterior to all things; if on the contrary it be prior to all things, it will be different from all things. For if the One co-existed with all things, the One would not be a principle; but the One must be a principle, and must exist anteriorly to all things, if all things are to originate from it. On the other hand, if we say that the One is each particular thing, it will thereby be identical with every particular thing; later it will be all things at once, without being able to discern anything. Thus the One is none of these particular things, being prior to all things.


10. (9). This Principle then is the potentiality of all.196 Without it, nothing would exist, not even Intelligence, which is the primary and universal life. Indeed what is above life is the cause of life. The actualization of life, being all things, is not the first Principle; it flows from this Principle as (water) from a spring.



The first Principle may indeed be conceived of as a spring (of water) which is its own origin, and which pours its water into many streams without itself becoming exhausted by what it yields, or even without running low, because the streams that it forms, before flowing away each in its own direction, and while knowing which direction it is to follow, yet mingles its waters with the spring.


Again, (the Supreme may be compared to) the life that circulates in a great tree, without its principle issuing from the root, where is its seat, but which later divides among the branches. Though spreading everywhere a manifold life, the Principle still dwells in itself exempt from all manifoldness, though being only its origin.197


This contains nothing surprising. Why should we be surprised at manifoldness issuing from Him who is not manifold, or at the impossibility of the existence of the manifold without the prior existence of That which is not manifold? The Principle is not distributed in the universe; far rather, if it were disturbed, the universe would be annihilated; for it cannot exist except in so far as its Principle abides within itself, without becoming confused with the rest.


Consequently, there is everywhere a return to unity—for there is for everything a unity to which it may be reduced. Consequently, the universe must be derived from the unity that is superior to it; and as this548 unity is not absolutely simple, it must itself be derived from a still superior unity, and so on until we arrive at the absolutely simple Unity, which cannot be reduced to any other. Therefore, considering what is in a tree—that is, its permanent principle—or what is unitary in an animal, in a soul, or in the universe, you will everywhere have that which is most powerful and precious. If, at last, you consider that unity of the things that really exist, that is, their principle, their source, their (productive) power, can you doubt its reality, and believe that this principle amounts to nothing? Certainly this principle is none of the things of which it is the principle; it is such that nothing could be predicated of it, neither essence, nor being, nor life, because it is superior to all of it. If you grasp it, by abstracting from it even being, you will be in ecstasy. By directing your glance towards it, by reaching it, and resting in it, you will get a unitary and simple intuition thereof; you will conceive of its greatness by both itself and its derivatives.


11. (10). A further consideration. Since intelligence is a sort of intuition, namely, a seeing (or actualizing) intuition (or vision), it really consists of a potentiality that has passed into actualization. It will therefore contain two elements, which will play the parts of (intelligible) matter,198 and of form, just like actualized vision,199 for actualized vision also implies duality. Therefore intuition, before being actualized, was unity. Thus unity has become duality, and duality has become unity. (Sense-) vision receives from sense-objects its fulness, and its perfection, so to speak. As to intellectual vision, however, its fulness comes from a principle that is the Good. Now if intelligence were the Good itself, what would be the use of its intuition549 or its actualization? Other beings, indeed, aspire to the Good, as the goal of their activity; but the Good itself has need of nothing; and therefore possesses nothing but itself.200 After having named it, nothing should be added thereto by thought; for, to add something, is to suppose that He needs this attribute. Not even intelligence should be attributed to Him; that would be introducing therein something alien, distinguishing in Him two things, Intelligence and the Good. Intelligence needs the Good, but the Good has no need of Intelligence. On achieving the Good, Intelligence takes its form, for it derives its form from the Good; and it becomes perfect, because it assumes the nature (of the Good). The model (or, archetype) must be judged by the trace it leaves in Intelligence, conceiving of its true character according to the impression it leaves. Only by this impression does Intelligence behold and achieve the Good. That is why Intelligence aspires to the Good; and as Intelligence ever aspires to the Good, Intelligence ever achieves it. The Good itself, however, never aspires to anything; for what could He desire? Nor does He achieve anything, since He desires nothing.201 Therefore (the Supreme) is not Intelligence, which ever desires, and aspires to the form of Good.


No doubt Intelligence is beautiful; it is the most beautiful of things, since it is illuminated by a pure light, since it shines with a pure splendor, and contains the intelligible beings of which our world, in spite of its beauty, is but an adumbration and image. The intelligible world is located in a region resplendent with clearness, where is nothing either obscure or indefinite, where, within itself, it enjoys a blissful life. It entrances the human gaze, especially when one550 knows how to commune with it. But just as a view of heaven, and the splendor of the stars leads one to seek and conceive their author, likewise the contemplation of the intelligible world, and the fascination it exerts leads (the beholder) to seek its author. The question then arises, Who is He who has given existence to the intelligible world? Where and how did He beget this so pure Intellect, this so beautiful son who derives all of his fulness from his father202? This supreme Principle itself is neither Intelligence nor son, but is superior to Intelligence, which is His son. Intelligence, His son, succeeds Him, because the son needs to receive from the father both intellection and fulness, which is his food; so (the son) holds the first rank after Him who has need of nothing, not even intellection. Nevertheless Intelligence possesses fulness and true intellection, because it immediately participates in the Good. Thus the Good, being above real fulness and intellection, neither possesses them, nor needs them; otherwise, He would not be the Good.


Concerning Intelligible Beauty.


1. Since he who rises to the contemplation of the intelligible world, and who conceives the beauty of true intelligence, can also, as we have pointed out, by intuition grasp the superior Principle,203 the Father of Intelligence, let us, so far as our strength allows us, try to understand and explain to ourselves how it is possible to contemplate the beauty of Intelligence and of the intelligible world. Let us imagine two pieces of marble placed side by side, the one rough and inartistic, the other one fashioned by the sculptor's chisel, who made of it the statue of a goddess, a grace, or a muse; or that of a man—but not that of any individual whatever, but that of a (cultured gentle) man in whom art would have gathered all the traits of beauty offered by different individuals. After having thus from art received the beauty of the form, the second marble will appear beautiful, not by virtue of its essence, which is to be stone—for otherwise the other block would be as beautiful as this one—but because of the form received through art. The latter, however, did not exist in the matter of the statue. It was in the thought of the artist that it existed before passing into the marble; and it existed therein, not because it had eyes and hands, but because it participated in art. It was therefore in art that this superior beauty existed. It could not have become incorporated in stone.552 Dwelling within itself, it begat an inferior form, which, passing into matter, could neither preserve all its purity, nor completely respond to the will of the artist, possessing no perfection other than that allowed by matter. As the nature of art is to produce beauty, if art succeed in producing beauty which conforms to its constitutive essence, then, by the possession of the beauty essential to it, art possesses a beauty still greater and truer than that which passes into exterior objects. As all form extends by passing into matter, (this objectified form) is weaker than that which remains one. All that extends abandons its own (nature), as do force, heat, and in general any property; likewise with beauty. Every creating principle is always superior to the created thing. It is not the lack of musical ability, but the music itself that creates the musician; while it is the intelligible music that creates the sense music. It has been attempted to degrade the arts by saying that to create they imitate nature. This may be answered by pointing out that the natures of beings are themselves the images of other beings (or essences); besides, the arts do not limit themselves to the imitation of objects which offer themselves to our view, but that they go as far back as the (ideal) reasons from which are derived the nature of objects. Further the arts independently create many things, and to the perfection of the object they add what is lacking, because they possess beauty in themselves. Phidias seems to have represented Jupiter without copying any sense-objects, conceiving him such as he would appear to us if he ever revealed himself to our eyes.204


2. Now let us turn away from the arts and consider the objects they imitate, such as natural beauties,553 namely, rational and irrational creatures, especially the more perfect, in which the creator was able to master matter, and endue it with the desired form. What then constitutes the beauty in these objects? Surely not (the physical characteristics, such as) blood or menstrual discharges, but the color and figure, which differ essentially therefrom; otherwise that which constitutes beauty is something indifferent—either something formless, or something that contains a simple nature (that is, the "seminal reason"), as does matter, for instance.


Whence came the beauty of that Helena about whom so many battles were fought? Whence comes the beauty of so many women comparable to Venus? Whence came the beauty of Venus herself? Whence comes the beauty of a perfect man, or that of one of those divinities who reveal themselves to our eyes, or who, without showing themselves, nevertheless possess a visible beauty? Does it not everywhere originate from the creating principle that passes into the creature, just as, in the art considered above, the beauty passes from the artist into the work? It would be unreasonable to assert that the creatures and the ("seminal) reason" united to matter are beautiful, while denying beauty to the "reason" which is not united to matter while still residing in the creator in a primary and incorporeal condition; and to assert that in order to become beautiful this reason must become united to matter. For if mass, as such, was beautiful, then the creative reason would be beautiful only in so far as it was mass. If form, whether in a large or small object, equally touches and moves the soul of the beholder, evidently beauty does not depend on the size of the mass. Still another proof of this is554 that so long as the form of the object remains exterior to the soul, and as we do not perceive it, it leaves us insensible; but as soon as it penetrates into the soul, it moves us. Now form alone can penetrate into the soul by the eyes; for great objects could not enter by so narrow a space. In this respect, the size of the object contrasts, because that which is great is not mass, but form.205


Further, the cause of beauty must be either ugly, beautiful or indifferent. If it were ugly, it could not produce its opposite. If it were indifferent, it would have no more reason to produce that which is beautiful, than that which is ugly. Therefore nature which produces so many beautiful objects must in herself possess a very superior beauty. But as we do not have the habit of seeing the interior of things, which remains unknown, we attach ourselves only to their exterior, forgetting that which moves us hides itself within them; and (in this habit of ours) we resemble (Narcissus206), who, on seeing his image, and not knowing whence it came, would try to catch it. It is not the mass of an object that constitutes its attractiveness for us, for it is not in mass that beauty inheres.207 This is revealed by the beauty found in the sciences, in the virtues, and in general in the souls, where it shines more truly and brilliantly on contemplation and admiration of its inherent wisdom. Then we do not regard the countenance, which may be ugly; we leave aside the form of the body, to attach ourselves exclusively to interior beauty. If, carried away by the emotion that such a spectacle should cause, you should not proclaim its beauty; and if, on directing your gaze within yourself, you should not experience all the charm of beauty,208 then you search for intelligible beauty, by such a555 method, would be vain; for you would seek it only with what is impure and ugly.209 That is why these discussions are not intended for all men. But if you have recognized beauty within yourself they you may rise to the reminiscence (of intelligible beauty).


3. The reason of the beauty in nature is the archetype of the beauty of the (bodily) organism. Nature herself, however (is the image of the) more beautiful archetypal "reason" which resides in the (universal) Soul, from which it is derived.210 This latter shines more brilliantly in the virtuous soul, whenever it develops therein. It adorns the soul, and imparts to her a light itself derived from a still higher Light, that is, primary Beauty. The universal Soul's beauty thus inhering in the individual soul, explains the reason of the Beauty superior to it, a reason which is not adventitious, and which is not posited in any thing other than itself, but which dwells within itself. Consequently it is not a "reason," but really the creating principle of the primary Reason, that is, the beauty of the soul, which in respect to the soul plays the part of matter.211 It is, in the last analysis, Intelligence, which is eternal and immutable because it is not adventitious.


What sort of an image does Intelligence then afford? This is a material question because we know that any image of Intelligence supplied by anything else would be imperfect. Therefore this image of itself given by Intelligence also could not be a genuine556 image; it can be no more than what is any stray piece of gold in respect to gold in general, namely, a sample. But if the gold which falls under our perception be not pure, we have to purify it either by our labor or by our thought, observing that it can never be gold in general that we can examine, but gold in particular, considered in an individual mass.212 Likewise (in the subject we are studying) our starting-point must be our purified intelligence, or, if you prefer, the divinities themselves, considering the kind of intelligence indwelling in them; for they are all venerable and unimaginably beautiful. To what do they owe their perfection? To Intelligence, which acts in them with sufficient force to manifest them. They do not indeed owe it to the beauty of their body; for their divinity does not consist in the possession of a body213; the divinities therefore owe their character to their intelligence. Now all divinities are beautiful, because they are not wise at certain times, and at other times unwise. They possess wisdom by an impassible intelligence, that is immutable and pure. They know everything; not indeed human things, but those which are proper to them, the things which are divine, and all those that intelligence contemplates.214


Amidst the divinities, those who reside in the visible heaven, having much leisure, ever contemplate the things existing in the superior Heaven, but as it were from a distance, and "by raising their head."215 On the contrary, those in the superior Heaven, and who dwell there, dwell there with their whole personality, because they reside everywhere. Everything on high, namely, earth, sea, plants, or animals, forms part of the heaven; now all that forms part of the heaven557 is celestial. The divinities that dwell there do not scorn men, nor any of the other essences up there, because all are divine, and they traverse the whole celestial region without leaving their rest.216


4. That is why the divinities in heaven lead an easy life, truth being mother, nurse, element and food. So they see everything; not the things which are subject to generation, but those which have the permanence of being, so that they see themselves in everything else. In this intelligible world everything is transparent. No shadow limits vision. All the essences see each other and interpenetrate each other in the most intimate depth of their nature. Light everywhere meets light. Every being contains within itself the entire intelligible world, and also beholds it entire in any particular being. All things there are located everywhere. Every thing there is all, and all is each thing; infinite splendor radiates around. Everything is great, for there even the small is great. This world has its sun and its stars; each star is a sun, and all suns are stars. Each of them, while shining with its own due splendor, reflects the light of the others. There abides pure movement; for He who produces movement, not being foreign to it, does not disturb it in its production. Rest is perfect, because it is not mingled with any principle of disturbance. The beautiful is completely beautiful there, because it does not dwell in that which is not beautiful (that is, in matter). Each one of the celestial things, instead of resting on an alien foundation, has its own especial seat, its origin, and its principle, in its own being, and does not differ from the region within which it dwells, because it is Intelligence that is its substrate, and itself is intelligible.



In order to conceive this better, we should imagine that this visible sky is a pure light which begets all the stars. Here below, doubtless, no one part could be begotten by any other, for each part has its own individual existence. On the contrary, in the intelligible world every part is born from the whole, and is simultaneously the whole and a part; wherever is a part, the whole reveals itself. The fabled Lynceus, whose glance penetrated the very bowels of the earth, is only the symbol of the celestial life. There the eye contemplates without fatigue, and the desire of contemplating is insatiable, because it does not imply a void that needs filling, or a need whose satisfaction might bring on disgust. In the intelligible world, the beings do not, among each other, differ so as that what is proper to the one would not be proper to the other. Besides, they are all indestructible. Their insatiability (in contemplation) is to be understood in the sense that satiety does not make them scorn what satiates them. The more that each sees, the better he sees; each one follows its nature in seeing as infinite both itself and the objects that present themselves to its view. On high, life, being pure, is not laborious. How indeed could the best life imply fatigue? This life is wisdom which, being perfectly complete, demands no research. It is primary wisdom, which is not derived from any other, which is being, and which is not an adventitious quality of intelligence; consequently there is none superior to it. In the intelligible world absolute knowledge accompanies intelligence, because the former accompanies the latter, as Justice is enthroned by the side of Jupiter.217 All the essences (or, beings) in the intelligible Being resemble so many statues which are visible by themselves, and the vision of which imparts an unspeakable happiness to the spectators. The559 greatness and power of wisdom is revealed in its containing all beings, and in its having produced them. It is their origin; it is identical with them; it fuses with them; for wisdom is very being. This we do not easily understand because by sciences218 we mean groups of demonstrations and propositions, which is not true even of our sciences. However, if this point be contested, let us drop this comparison with our sciences, and return to knowledge itself, of which Plato219 says that "it does not show itself different in different objects." How can that be? Plato left that to be explained by us, that we might show if we deserve to be called his interpreters.220 We shall undertake this interpretation by the following observation.


5. All the productions of nature or art are the works of a certain wisdom which ever presides over their creation. Art is made possible only by the existence of this wisdom. The talent of the artist is derived from the wisdom of nature which presides over the production of every work. This wisdom is not a sequence of demonstrations, as the whole of it forms a unity; it is not a plurality reduced to unity, but a unity which is resolved into a plurality. If we admit that this wisdom is primary Wisdom, there is nothing to be sought beyond it, since in this case it is independent of every principle, and is located within itself. If, on the contrary, we say that nature possesses the ("seminal) reason," and is its principle, we shall have to ask whence nature derives it.221 If it be called a superior principle, we still have to ask the derivation of this principle; if it be derived from nothing, we need not go beyond it (but return to the above demonstration). If, on the contrary, it be derived from Intelligence, we shall have to examine whether Intelligence produced560 wisdom. The first objection here will be, how could it have done so? For if Intelligence itself produced it, Intelligence could not have produced it without itself being Wisdom. True Wisdom is therefore "being" and, on the other hand, "being" is wisdom, and derives its dignity from Wisdom; that is why "being" is veritable "Being." Consequently, the being (essences) which do not possess wisdom are such beings only because they were created by a certain wisdom; but they are not true beings (essences), because they do not in themselves possess Wisdom. It would, therefore, be absurd to state that the divinities, or the blessed dwellers in the intelligible world, in that world are engaged in studying demonstrations. The entities that exist there are beautiful forms,222 such as are conceived of as existing within the soul of the wise man; I do not mean painted forms, but existing (substantial) forms. That is why the ancients223 said that ideas are essences and beings.


6. The sages of Egypt seem to me to have shown either a consummate insight or a marvellous instinct when, in order to reveal to us their wisdom, they did not, to express words and propositions, make use of letters representing sounds and expressions, but symbolized objects by hieroglyphics,224 and in their mysteries symbolically designated each of them by a particular emblem. Thus each hieroglyphic sign constituted a kind of science or wisdom; and without discursive conception or analysis places the thing under the eyes in a synthetic manner. Later, this synthetic notion was reproduced by other signs which developed it225 expressing it discursively, declaring the causes of the constitution of things, wherever their beautiful disposition excited admiration. The wisdom of the561 Egyptians is best seen in this, that though they did not possess the causes of (essential) beings, (their writing) was able to express everything so as to harmonize with the causes of essential "Being."


If therefore all (celestial) entities resemble earthly objects—a truth226 which is perhaps impossible to demonstrate, so much the more must we, before any examination or discussion, premiss that all (earthly) objects resemble those which exist in the intelligible world. This truth, which applies to everything, may perhaps best be understood by an important example.


7. It is then by all of us agreed that the universe proceeds from a superior Principle which possesses a certain perfection. The (Gnostic) question then arises whether this Principle, before creating, reflected that it was necessary first to form the globe, and to suspend it to the middle of the world; then, to produce the water, and to spread it over the surface of the earth; later creating successively the other things contained in the space between the earth and heaven. Further, did He give birth to all the animals only after having to Himself represented all their forms, and exterior parts? Did the Creator undertake the work only after having conceived the plan of the world in its totality and in its details? Certainly not; He cannot have submitted to all such considerations.227 How could He, never having seen anything such, have been inclined562 to them? Neither could He have borrowed the idea of the things He was to produce, and then carried them out as some workman, by the use of his hands and feet; for hands and feet are created entities. The only hypothesis left is that all things were within some one other thing (that is, matter, which is their substrate). ("Being") was next to this other thing (matter), and as no interval separated them, He suddenly begot an image or representation of Himself, either by Himself, or by the intermediation of the universal Soul, or of some particular soul—which detail does not matter to our discussion here.


Therefore, everything here below derives from above there, and is more beautiful in the superior world; for forms here below are mingled with matter; on high, they are pure. Thus this universe proceeds from the intelligible world, and is contained by the forms from beginning to end. First matter receives the forms of the elements, later receiving gradual accessions of other forms, so that ultimately matter becomes so buried under forms that it becomes difficult to recognize. It receives forms easily, because it (already) possesses a form which holds the lowest rank. Likewise, the producing Principle uses a form as model, and easily produces forms because it consists entirely of "being" and form; as a result, its work has been easy and universal, because itself was universal. Therefore it met no obstacle, and still exercises an absolute sovereignty. Even of the things that act as obstacles to each other, none, even until the present time, form an obstacle to the demiurgic (Creator), because He preserves His universality. That is why I am convinced that if even we were simultaneously the models, forms and essence of things, and if the563 form which produces here below were our essence, (that is, being), we would accomplish our work without trouble, though man, in his present state here below, produces (his individual body which is) a form different from himself; indeed, on becoming an individual, man ceased being universal. But on ceasing to be an individual, man, in the words of Plato,228 "soars in the ethereal region, and governs the whole world." For, becoming universal, he administers the universe.


Returning to our subject, you can perhaps explain why the earth is located in the middle of the world, and why its form is spherical229; you may clear up why the equator is inclined towards the ecliptic; but you would be wrong in thinking that the divine Intelligence proposed to achieve these objects because it judged them to be reasonable; these things are good only because Intelligence is what it is. Its work resembles the conclusion of a syllogism, whose premises had been withdrawn, and that was based on the intuition of its causes. In divine Intelligence nothing is a consequence, nothing depends on a combination of means; its plan is conceived independently of such considerations. Reasoning, demonstration, faith—all these are posterior things. The mere existence of the principle determines here below the existence and nature of the entities depending from it. Never is one more right in asserting that the causes of a principle should not be sought, than when referring to a Principle which is perfect, and is both principle and end. That which is simultaneously principle and end is all things at the same time, and consequently leaves nothing to be desired.



8. This Principle is sovereignly beautiful; it is beautiful entirely and throughout, so that not a single one of its parts lacks beauty. Who could deny that this Principle is beautiful? Only such as do not entirely possess beauty, possessing it only partially, or even not at all. If this Principle were not sovereignly beautiful, surely none other could claim that distinction. As the superior Principle (the one, superior to Intelligence) is above beauty, that which first presents itself to our view, because it is a form, and the object of the contemplation of intelligence, is that whose aspect is amiable.230


It was to express this idea strikingly that Plato231 represents the demiurgic creator as admiring his handiwork, which would lead us also to admire the beauty both of the model and of the idea. After all, admiration of a work made to resemble a model amounts to admiration of the model itself. However there is no reason for astonishment at persons to whom this idea seems novel, for lovers, and in general all those who admire visible beauty do not realize that they admire it only because (it is the image) of the intelligible beauty.232 That Plato referred to the model the admiration felt by the demiurgic (creator) for his work is proved by his adding to the words "he admired his work" the expression "and he conceived the purpose of rendering it still more similar to its model." He betrays the beauty of the model by saying that the work is beautiful, and that it is the image of the model;565 for if this model were not sovereignly beautiful, and did not possess an unspeakable beauty, how could there be anything more beautiful than this visible world? It is therefore wrong to criticize this world; all that can be said of it, is that it is inferior to its model.233


9. (To explain our view we shall propose an experiment234). Let us imagine that in the sense-world every being should remain as it is, confusing itself with the others in the unity of the whole, to the extent of its ability; so that all that we see is lost in this unity. Imagine a transparent sphere exterior to the spectator, by looking through which one might see all that it contains, first the sun and the other stars together, then the sea, the earth, and all living beings. At the moment of picturing to yourself in thought a transparent sphere that would contain all moving, resting and changeable things, preserving the form of this sphere, and without diminishing the size of it, suppress mass, extent, and material conception. Then invoke the divinity that created this world of which you have made yourself an image to invest it. His coming down into it may be conceived of as resulting from two causes. Either the Divinity that is simultaneously single and manifold will come to adorn this world in the company of the other inferior divinities which exist within Him. Each of these would contain all the others that are manifold because of their powers; and nevertheless they would form a single divinity because their multiple powers are contained in unity. Or the Divinity will do this because the only divinity contains all the inferior divinities within His breast. (Which is the more likely hypothesis?)



Indeed, this only Divinity loses none of His power by the birth of all the divinities contained within Him. All co-exist, and their individual distinctions obtain without their occupying separate localities or affecting a sense-form. Otherwise the one would be here, and the other there; each one would be individual, without simultaneously being universal in itself. Neither have they any parts that differ in each of them, or from each other; neither is the whole formed by each of them a power divided in a multiplicity of parts, a power whose magnitude would be measured by the number of its parts. Taken in its universality the intelligible world possesses a universal Power, which penetrates everything in its infinite development without exhausting its infinite force. He is so great that even His parts are infinite. There is no locality that He does not interpenetrate. Even our world is great; it likewise contains all the powers; but it would be much better, and its magnitude would be inconceivable if it did not also contain physical powers, which are essentially small (because limited). Fire and the other bodies cannot be called great powers because they consist only of an image of the infinity of the genuine Power by burning, crushing, destroying, and contributing to the generation of animals. They destroy only because they themselves are destroyed; they contribute to generation only because they themselves are generated.


The Power which resides in the intelligible world is pure "being," but perfectly beautiful "being." Without567 beauty, what would become of "being"? Without "being," what would become of beauty? "Being" itself would be annihilated by the beauty of "being." "Being"211 is therefore desirable, it is identical with beauty, and beauty is amiable because it is "being." Seeing that both are of the same nature, it would be useless to inquire which is the principle of the other. The deceptive "being" (of bodies) needs to receive the image borrowed from beauty to appear beautiful; and in general, to exist; it exists only in so far as it participates in the beauty found in "being"; the greater its participation, the more perfect is it, because it appropriates this beautiful being235 all the more.


10. That is why Jupiter, the most ancient of the other divinities, whose chief he is, leads them in this divine spectacle of the contemplation of the intelligible world.236 He is followed by these divinities, the guardians, and the souls who can support (the glory of) this vision. From an invisible place,237 this divine world sheds light on all. On rising above its sublime horizon, it scatters its rays everywhere, inundating everything with clearness. It dazzles all those who are located at the foot of the peak where it shines; and, like the sun, it often obliges them to turn away their sight, which cannot sustain its glory. Some however are forced to raise their eyes, imparting to them strength for this contemplation; others, who are at a distance, are troubled. On perceiving it, those who can contemplate Him fix their gaze on it and all its contents. Not every one, however, sees in it the same thing. One discerns therein the source and being of justice; another is overwhelmed by the revelation of wisdom, of which men here below scarcely possess an enfeebled image. Indeed, our vision is only an imitation568 of intelligible wisdom. The latter, spreading over all beings, and as it were embracing immensity, is the last to be perceived by those who have already long contemplated these brilliant lights.


Such is the vision seen by the divinities, all together, and each one separately. It is also beheld by the souls that see all the things contained within the intelligible world. By this sight, souls themselves become capable of containing, from beginning to end, all the entities within their intelligible world; they dwell within it by that part of theirs which is capable of doing so. Often, even, the whole of them dwells within it, at least so long as they do not withdraw therefrom.


This is what is beheld by Jupiter and by all those of us who share His love for this revelation. The last thing which then appears is the beauty that shines in its entirety in the essences (that is, beings), as well as in those who participate therein. In the intelligible world everything glows, and beautifies itself by shedding splendor on those who gaze at it. Thus men who have climbed a high mountain on arriving at the summit suddenly shine with the golden color reflected by the ground whereon they stand. Now the color that bathes the intelligible world is the beauty that blooms within its flower; or rather there everything is color, everything is beauty, in its most intimate depths; for beauty, in the intelligible world, is not a flower that blooms only on the surface. Those who do not apprehend the totality of the view appreciate the beauty of only that which meets their gaze; but those who,569 like men intoxicated with this sweet nectar,238 are, to the very soul, penetrated by the beauty of the intelligible world, are no longer mere spectators. No longer are the contemplated objects and the contemplated soul two things exterior to each other. If the soul's gaze is piercing enough, she finds the object she contemplates within herself. Often she possesses it without knowing it. Then indeed does she contemplate it as she would contemplate some exterior object, because she seeks to see it in the same manner. Every time that one looks at something as a spectacle, it is seen outside of oneself. Now this spectacle of the intelligible world must be transferred within oneself, and be contemplated as something with which one has fused, to the point of identity. Thus a man, possessed by a divinity, whether by Phoebus or by some Muse, would contemplate this divinity within himself, if he were at all able to contemplate a divinity.


11. (The ecstasy operates as follows.) When a man is entranced by the divinity, he loses consciousness of himself. Then when he contemplates the (divine) spectacle which he possesses within himself, he contemplates himself and sees his image embellished. However beautiful it be, he must leave it aside, and concentrate upon the unity, without dividing any of it. Then he becomes simultaneously one and all with this divinity which grants him His presence silently. Then is the man united to the divinity to the extent of his desire and ability. If, while remaining pure, he return to duality, he remains as close as possible to the divinity, and he enjoys the divine presence as soon as he turns towards the divinity.



The advantages derived from this conversion towards the divinity are first self-consciousness, so long as he remains distinct from the divinity. If he penetrate into his interior sanctuary, he possesses all things, and renouncing self-consciousness in favor of indistinction from the divinity, he fuses with it. As soon as he desires to see something, so to speak, outside of himself, it is he himself that he considers, even exteriorly. The soul that studies the divinity must form an idea of him while seeking to know him. Later, knowing how great is that divinity to which she desires to unite herself, and being persuaded that she will find beatitude in this union, she plunges herself into the depths of the divinity until, instead of contenting herself with contemplating the intelligible world, she herself becomes an object of contemplation, and shines with the clearness of the conceptions whose source is on high.


But how can one be united to beauty, without seeing it? If it be seen as some thing distinct from oneself, he is not yet fused with it. If the act of vision imply a relation with an exterior object, we have no vision; or, at least, this vision consists in the identity of seer and seen. This vision is a kind of conscience, of self-consciousness; and if this feeling be too acute, there is even danger of breaking up this unity. Besides, one must not forget that the sensations of evils make stronger impressions, and yield feebler knowledge, because the latter are frittered away by the force of impressions. Thus sickness strikes sharply (but arouses571 only an obscure notion); health, on the contrary, thanks to the calm that characterizes it, yields us a clearer notion of itself, for it remains quietly within us, because it is proper to us, and fuses with us. On the contrary, sickness is not proper to us, but foreign. Consequently it manifests itself vividly, because it is opposed to our nature; while we, on the contrary, enjoy but a feeble feeling of ourselves and of what belongs to us. The state in which we grasp ourselves best is the one in which our consciousness of ourselves fuses with us. Consequently on high, at the very moment when our knowledge by intelligence is at its best, we believe that we are ignorant of it, because we consult sensation, which assures us that it has seen nothing. Indeed it has not seen anything, and it never could see anything such (as the intelligible beings). It is therefore the sensation that doubts; but he who has the ability to see differs therefrom. Before the seer could doubt, he would have to cease believing in his very existence; for he could not, so to speak, externalize himself to consider himself with the eyes of the body.


12. We have just said that a man can see, either in differing from what he sees, or in identifying himself with the object seen. Now, when he has seen, either as being different, or as being identical, what does he report? He tells us that he has seen the Divinity beget an offspring of an incomparable beauty, producing everything in Himself, and without pain preserving within Himself what He has begotten. In fact, charmed with the things He has begotten, and full of love for his works, the Divinity retained them within Himself, congratulating Himself upon their splendor, as much as upon his own. In the midst of these572 beauties, nevertheless inferior to those which have remained within the nature of the Divinity, alone of all these beings, his Son (Jupiter, the son of Saturn, here representing the universal Soul born of divine Intelligence) has manifested himself externally. By him, as by an image, you may judge of the greatness of his Father, and that of his brothers still unissued from within their Father's nature. Besides, it is not in vain that Jupiter tells us that he proceeds from his Father; for he constitutes another world that has become beautiful, because he is the image of beauty, and because it is impossible that the image of beauty and being should not itself be beautiful. Jupiter, therefore, everywhere imitates his archetype. That is why, because he is an image, he possesses life and constitutes being; and that is why, because he proceeds from his Father, he also possesses beauty. He likewise enjoys the privilege of being the image of his eternity. Otherwise he would at one time reveal the image of his Father, and at other times he would not; which is impossible, because he is not an artificial image. Every natural image remains what it was, so long as its archetype subsists.239 It is therefore an error to believe that, while the intelligible world subsists, the visible world could perish, and that it was begotten in such a manner as that he who had created it, had done so with deliberation. Whatever indeed might have been the manner of operation, these men240 do not wish to conceive and believe that, so long as the intelligible world shines, other things that proceed therefrom could not perish; and that they exist ever since (their model) existed. But the (intelligible world) has ever existed, and will ever exist; for (in spite of their impropriety), we are obliged to make use of such terms to express our thought.



13. (Saturn) is always represented as chained, because He remains immovable in his identity. It is said he gave up to his son, Jupiter, the government of the universe, because such (an occupation) did not suit Him, who possesses the fulness241 of good things,242 to distract himself from the government of the intelligible world to undertake that of an empire younger and less exalted than himself. Besides, on one hand, (Saturn) fixed within himself, and raised himself up to his father (Coelus, or Uranus). On the other hand, he likewise fixed the inferior things which were begotten by his son (Jupiter). Between both he (Saturn) therefore occupies a rank intermediary between his Father, who is more perfect and his son, who is less so. On one hand he mutilates his Father, by splitting primitive unity into two different elements. On the other, he raises himself above the being which is inferior to him, disengaging himself from the chains that might tend to lower him. As (Coelus), the father of (Saturn), is too great to admit of having beauty attributed to him, (Saturn) occupies the first rank of beauty.


The universal Soul is beautiful also; but she is less beautiful than (Saturn), because she is his image, and because, however beautiful she may by nature be, she is still more beautiful when contemplating her principle. Therefore if the universal Soul—to use clearer terms—and if even Venus (as subordinate to him, Jupiter), possess beauty, what must be that of Intelligence? If by their nature the universal Soul and Venus receive574 their beauty from some other principle, from whom would they derive the beauty they intrinsically possess, and that which they acquire? As to us, we are beautiful when we belong to ourselves; and we are ugly when we lower ourselves to an inferior nature. Again, we are beautiful when we know ourselves, and ugly when we ignore ourselves. It is therefore in the intelligible world that beauty shines and radiates. Are these considerations sufficient for a clear knowledge of the intelligible world, or must we engage in a further effort to accomplish this?


That Intelligible Entities Are Not External to the Intelligence of the Good.

(The subject of the quarrel between Amelius and Porphyry.243)


1. Surely, nobody could believe that the veritable and real Intelligence could be deceived, and admit the existence of things that do not exist? Its very name guarantees its intelligent nature. It therefore possesses knowledge without being subject to forgetfulness, and its knowledge is neither conjectural, doubtful, nor borrowed, nor acquired by demonstration. Even if we did admit that some of its knowledge was derived from demonstration, no one will deny that it possesses certain knowledge from within itself. It would be wiser, however, to be entirely reasonable and say that it derives everything from within itself.244 Without this, it would be difficult to distinguish what knowledge it derived from itself, and what was derived from outside. Even the certainty of the knowledge derived from itself would vanish, and it would lose the right to believe that things really are such as it imagines. Indeed, though the things whose knowledge we derive from the senses seem capable of producing in us the highest evidential value, it may still be asked whether their apparent nature do not derive more from modifications in us than from the objects themselves. Even so, belief in them demands245 assent of the intelligence, or at least of the discursive reason, for though we admit576 that things perceived by the senses exist in sensible objects, it is none the less recognized that what is perceived by sensation is only a representation of the exterior object, and that sensation does not reach to this object itself, since it remains exterior to sensation.246 But when intelligence cognizes, and is cognizing intelligibles, intelligence could never even meet them if they are cognized as lying outside of Intelligence. One explanation would be that intelligence does not at all meet them, nor cognize them. If it be by chance that intelligence meets them, the cognition of them will also be accidental and transient. The explanation that cognition operates by union of the intelligence with the intelligible depends on explanation of the bond that unites them. Under this hypothesis, the cognitions of the intelligible gathered by intelligence will consist of impressions (or, types247) of reality, and will consequently be only accidental impressions. Such, however, could not exist in Intelligence; for what would be their form? As they would remain exterior to Intelligence, their knowledge would resemble sensation. The only distinction of this knowledge from sensation would be that intelligence cognizes more tenuous entities. Intelligence would never know that it really perceives them. It would never really know for certain that a thing was good, just or beautiful. In this case the good, just and beautiful would be exterior and foreign to it; Intelligence, in itself, will not possess any forms to regulate its judgments, and deserve its confidence; they, just as much as truth, would remain outside of it.


On the other hand, the intelligible entities are either deprived of feeling, life and intelligence, or they are577 intelligent. If they be intelligent, they, like truth, fuse with intelligence into the primary Intelligence. In this case we shall have to inquire into the mutual relations of intelligence, intelligible entity, and truth. Do these constitute but one single entity, or two? What in the world could intelligible entities be, if they be without life or intelligence? They are surely neither propositions, axioms, nor words, because in this case they would be enunciating things different from themselves, and would not be things themselves; thus, when you say that the good is beautiful, it would be understood that these two notions are foreign to each other. Nor can we think that the intelligibles—for instance, beauty and justice—are entities that are simple, but completely separate from each other; because the intelligible entity would have lost its unity, and would no longer dwell within a unitary subject. It would be dispersed into a crowd of particular entities, and we would be forced to consider into what localities these divers elements of the intelligible were scattered. Besides, how could intelligence embrace these elements and follow them in their vicissitudes? How could intelligence remain permanent? How could it fix itself on identical objects? What will be the forms or figures of the intelligibles? Will they be like statues of gold, or like images and effigies made of some other material? In this case, the intelligence that would contemplate them would not differ from sensation. What would be the differentiating cause that would make of one justice, and of the other something else? Last, and most important, an assertion that the intelligible entities are external to Intelligence would imply that in thus contemplating objects exterior to itself Intelligence will not gain a genuine knowledge of them, having only a false intuition of them. Since, under this hypothesis, true realities will remain exterior to Intelligence, the latter, while contemplating578 them, will not possess them; and in knowing them will grasp only their images. Thus reduced to perceiving only images of truth, instead of possessing truth itself, it will grasp only deceptions, and will not reach realities. In this case (intelligence will be in the dilemma) of either acknowledging that it grasps only deceptions, and thus does not possess truth; or intelligence will be ignorant of this, being persuaded it possesses truth, when it really lacks it. By thus doubly deceiving itself, intelligence will by that very fact be still further from the truth. That is, in my opinion, the reason why sensation cannot attain the truth. Sensation is reduced to opinion248 because it is a receptive249 power—as indeed is expressed by the word "opinion"250;—and because sensation receives something foreign, since the object, from which sensation receives what it possesses remains external to sensation. Therefore, to seek truth outside of intelligence is to deprive intelligence of truth or verity of intelligence. It would amount to annihilating Intelligence, and the truth (which was to dwell within it) will no longer subsist anywhere.


2. Therefore intelligible entities must not be regarded as exterior to Intelligence, nor as impressions formed in it. Nor must we deny it the intimate possession of truth. Otherwise, any cognition of intelligibles is made impossible, and the reality of both them and Intelligence itself is destroyed. Intimate possession of all its essences is the only possible condition that will allow knowledge and truth to remain within Intelligence, that will save the reality of the intelligibles, that will make possible the knowledge of the essence of every thing, instead of limiting us to the579 mere notion of its qualities, a notion which gives us only the image and vestige of the object, which does not permit us to possess it, to unite ourselves with it, to become one with it. On this condition only, can Intelligence know, and know truly without being exposed to forgetfulness or groping uncertainty; can it be the location where truth will abide and essences will subsist; can it live and think—all of which should belong to this blessed nature, and without which nowhere could be found anything that deserved our esteem and respect. On this condition only will Intelligence be able to dispense with credulity or demonstration in believing realities; for Intelligence itself consists in these very realities, and possesses a clear self-consciousness. Intelligence sees that which is its own principle, sees what is below it, and to what it gives birth. Intelligence knows that in order to know its own nature, it must not place credence in any testimony except its own; that it essentially is intelligible reality. It therefore is truth itself, whose very being it is to conform to no foreign form, but to itself exclusively. Within Intelligence fuses both being, and that which affirms its existence; thus reality justifies itself. By whom could Intelligence be convinced of error? What demonstration thereof would be of any value? Since there is nothing truer than truth, any proof to the contrary would depend on some preceding proof, and while seeming to declare something different, would in reality be begging the question.


3. Thus Intelligence, with the essences and truth, form but one and single nature for us. It forms some great divinity; or rather, it is not some certain divinity, but total (divinity); for Intelligence judges it worthy580 of itself to constitute all these entities. Though this nature be divine, it is nevertheless but the second divinity252; which manifests itself to us before we see the (supreme divinity, Unity). Intelligence forms the magnificent throne which (the Supreme) formed for Himself, and whereon He is seated immovably. For it was not adequate that something inanimate should either develop within the breast of the divinity, nor support the supreme Divinity when advancing towards us.


So great a King deserved to have dazzling beauty as the (ostentatious) van of his (royal) procession. In the course of rising towards Him are first met the things which by their inferior dignity are classed among the first ranks of the procession; later those that are greater and more beautiful; around the king stand those that are truly royal, while even those that follow Him are of value. Then, after all these things, suddenly breaks in upon our view the King himself; and we who have remained behind after the departure of those who were satisfied with a view of the preliminaries, fall down and worship. A profound difference distinguishes the great King from all that precedes Him. But it must not be supposed that He governs them as one man governs another. He possesses the most just and natural sovereignty. He possesses real royalty because He is the King of truth. He is the natural master of all these beings that He has begotten, and which compose His divine body-guard. He is the king of the king and of the kings,253 and is justly called Father of the divinities. Jupiter himself (who is the universal Soul), imitates Him in this respect that he does not stop at the contemplation of his father, (who is Intelligence), and he rises to the581 actualization of his grandfather,254 and he penetrates into the hypostatic substance of His being.255


4. It has already been said that we must rise to the Principle which is really one, and not one in the same way as are other things, which, being in themselves multiple, are one only by participation. On the contrary, that Principle is not one by participation, as are all those things which (being neutral) would just as lief be multiple as one. We have also said that Intelligence and the intelligible world, are more unitary than the remainder, that they approach Unity more than all other things, but that they are not purely one. To the extent of our ability we are now going to examine in what the Principle which is purely one consists, purely and essentially, and not (accidentally) from without.


Rising therefore to the One, we must add nothing to Him; we must rest in Him, and take care not to withdraw from Him, and fall into the manifold. Without this precaution there will be an occurrence of duality,256 which cannot offer us unity, because duality is posterior to Unity. The One cannot be enumerated along with anything, not even with uniqueness (the monad), nor with anything else. He cannot be enumerated in any way; for He is measure, without Himself being measured; He is not in the same rank with other things, and cannot be added to other things (being incommensurable). Otherwise, He would have something in common with the beings along with which He would be enumerated; consequently, He would be582 inferior to this common element, while on the contrary He must have nothing above Him (if He is to be the one first Being). Neither essential (that is, intelligible) Number, nor the lower number which refers to quantity, can be predicated of the unique; I repeat, neither the essential intelligible Number, whose essence is identical with thought, nor the quantative number, which, because all number is quantity, constitutes quantity concurrently with, or independently of other genera.257 Besides, quantative number, by imitating the former (essential intelligible) Numbers in their relation to the Unique, which is their principle, finds its existence in its relation to real Unity, which it neither shares nor divides. Even when the dyad (or "pair") is born, (it does not alter) the priority of the Monad (or Uniqueness). Nor is this Uniqueness either of the unities that constitute the pair, nor either of them alone; for why should it be one of them rather than the other? If then the Monad or Uniqueness be neither of the two unities which constitute the pair, it must be superior to them, and though abiding within itself, does not do so. In what then do these unities differ from the Uniqueness (or Monad)? What is the unity of the "pair"? Is the unity formed by the "pair" the same as that which is contained in each of the two unities constituting the "pair"? The unities (which constitute the "pair") participate in the primary Unity, but differ from it. So far as it is one, the "pair" also participates in unity, but in different ways; for there is no similarity between the unity of a house and the unity of an army. In its relation to continuity, therefore, the "pair" is not the same so far as it is one, and so far as it is a single quantity. Are the unities contained in a group of five in a relation to unity different from that of the unities contained in a group of ten? (To answer this we must distinguish two kinds of unity.) The unity which obtains between583 a small and a great ship, and between one town and another, and between one army and another, obtains also between these two groups of five and of ten. A unity which would be denied as between these various objects would also have to be denied as obtaining between these two groups. (Enough of this here); further considerations will be studied later.


5. Returning to our former assertion that the First ever remains identical, even though giving birth to other beings, the generation of numbers may be explained by the immanence of Unity, and by the action of another principle which forms them, as images of unity. So much the more must the Principle superior to beings be immanent Unity; but here it is the First himself who begets the beings, and not another principle who produces beings in the image of the First while this First would abide within Himself. Likewise the form of unity, which is the principle of numbers, exists within all in different degrees, because the numbers posterior to unity participate therein unequally. Likewise, the beings inferior to the First contain something of His nature, which something constitutes their form. Numbers derive their quantity from their participation in unity. Likewise here beings owe their being to their containing the trace of the One, so that their being is the trace of the One.258 Not far from the truth would we be in holding that essence, which is the (more common or) plainer nomenclature of being,259 is derived from the word "hen," which means one. Indeed essence proceeded immediately from the One,273 and has differentiated from Him but very little. Turning towards its own basis, it has settled, and both became and is the "being" of all. When a man pronounces584 essence ("on"), and emphasizes it, he unconsciously approximates the sound meaning one ("hen"), demonstrating that essence proceeds from unity, as indeed is indicated, so far as possible, by the word "on," which means essence. That is why "being" ("ousia") and essence ("einai"260) imitate so far as they can the principle of the Power from which they have emanated. The human mind, observing these similarities, and guided by their contemplation,261 imitated what it grasped by uttering the words "on,"262 "einai,"263 "ousia,"264 and "hestia."265 Indeed, these sounds try to express the nature of what has been begotten by unity, by means of the very effort made by the speaker so as to imitate as well as possible the generation of being.


6. Whatever be the value of these etymologies, as begotten being is a form—for it would be impossible to give any other designation to that which has been begotten by the One—as it is, not a particular form, but all form, without exception, it evidently results that the One is formless. As it possesses no form, it cannot be "being," for this must be something individual, or determinate. Now the One could not be conceived of as something determined; for then He would no longer be a principle; He would only be the determined thing attributed to Him. If all things be in that which has been begotten, none of them could be unity. If the One be none of them, He cannot be what is above them; consequently, as these things are "essences and essence," the One must be above essence. Indeed, the mere statement that the One is above essence, does not imply any determinateness on His part, affirms nothing concerning Him and does not even undertake to give Him a name. It merely585 states that He is not this or that. It does not pretend to embrace Him, for it would be absurd to attempt to embrace an infinite nature. Mere attempt to do so would amount to withdrawing from Him, and losing the slight trace of Him thereby implied. To see intelligible Being, and to contemplate that which is above the images of the sense-objects, none of these must remain present to the mind. Likewise, to contemplate Him who is above the intelligible, even all intelligible entities must be left aside to contemplate the One. In this manner we may attain knowledge of His existence, without attempting to determine what He is. Besides, when we speak of the One, it is not possible to indicate His nature without expressing its opposite.267 It would indeed be impossible to declare what is a principle of which it is impossible to say that it is this or that. All that we human beings can do is to have doubts poignant enough to resemble pangs of childbirth. We do not know how to name this Principle. We merely speak of the unspeakable, and the name we give Him is merely (for the convenience of) referring to Him as best we can. The name "One" expresses no more than negation of the manifold. That is why the Pythagoreans268 were accustomed, among each other, to refer to this principle in a symbolic manner, calling him Apollo,269 which name means denial of manifoldness. An attempt to carry out the name of "One" in a positive manner would only result in a greater obscuration of the name and object, than if we abstained from considering the name of "One" as the proper name of the first Principle. The object of the employment of this name is to induce the mind that seeks the first Principle first to give heed to that which expresses the greatest simplicity, and consequently to reject this name which has been proposed as only the best possible. Indeed, this name is not adequate to designate this nature, which can neither586 be grasped by hearing, nor be understood by any who hears it named. If it could be grasped by any sense, it would be by sight; though even so there must be no expectation of seeing any form; for thus one would not attain the first Principle.


7. When intelligence is in actualization it can see in two ways, as does the eye.274 First, the eye may see the form of the visible object; second, it may see the light by which this object is seen. This light itself is visible, but it is different from the form of the object; it reveals the form and is itself seen with this form, to which it is united. Consequently it itself is not seen distinctly, because the eye is entirely devoted to the illuminated object. When there is nothing but light, it is seen in an intuitive manner, though it be still united to some other object. For if it were isolated from every other thing, it could not be perceived. Thus the light of the sun would escape our eye if its seat were not a solid mass. My meaning will best appear by considering the whole sun as light. Then light will not reside in the form of any other visible object, and it will possess no property except that of being visible; for other visible objects are not pure light. Likewise in intellectual intuition (sight of the mind) intelligence sees intelligible objects by means of the light shed on them by the First; and the Intelligence, while seeing these objects, really sees intelligible light. But, as Intelligence directs its attention to the enlightened object, it does not clearly see the Principle that enlightens them. If, on the contrary, it forget the objects it sees, in the process of contemplating only the radiance that renders them visible, it587 sees both the light itself, and its Principle. But it is not outside of itself that that Intelligence contemplates intelligible light. It then resembles the eye which, without considering an exterior and foreign light, before even perceiving it, is suddenly struck by a radiance which is proper to it, or by a ray which radiates of itself, and which appears to it in the midst of obscurity. The case is still similar when the eye, in order to see no other objects, closes the eye-lids, so as to draw its light from itself; or when, pressed by the hand, it perceives the light which it possesses within itself. Then, without seeing anything exterior the eye sees, even more than at any other moment, for it sees the light. The other objects which the eye heretofore saw, though they were luminous, were not light itself. Likewise, when Intelligence, so to speak, closes its eye to the other objects, concentrating in itself, and seeing nothing, it sees not a foreign light that shines in foreign forms, but its own light which suddenly radiates interiorly, with a clear radiance.


8. When intelligence thus perceives this divine light, it is impossible to discern whence this light comes, from within or from without; for when it has ceased shining the subject first thinks that it came from within, and later that it came from without. But it is useless to seek the source of this light, for no question of location can be mooted in connection with it. Indeed, it could neither withdraw from us, nor approach us; it merely appears, or remains hidden. Therefore it cannot be sought; we must restfully wait till it appears, while preparing ourselves to contemplate it, just as the eye awaits the rising of the sun which appears above the horizon, or, as the poets say, which springs up from the ocean.



Whence rises He whose image is our sun? Above what horizon must He rise, or appear, to enlighten us? He must appear above the contemplating Intelligence. Thus, Intelligence must remain immovable in contemplation, concentrated and absorbed in the spectacle of pure beauty which elevates and invigorates it. Then Intelligence feels that it is more beautiful and more brilliant, merely because it has approached the First. The latter does not come, as might be thought; He comes without really coming, in the proper sense of the word; He appears without coming from any place, because He is already present above all things before Intelligence approaches Him. In fact, it is Intelligence which approaches and withdraws from the First; it withdraws when it does not know where it should be, or where is the First. The First is nowhere; and if Intelligence could also be nowhere—I do not wish to say "in no place," for itself is outside of all place, that is, absolutely nowhere—it would always perceive the First; or rather, it would not perceive Him, it would be within the First, and fusing with Him. By the mere fact that Intelligence is intelligence, it perceives the First only by that part of itself which is not intelligence (that is, which is above Intelligence). It doubtless seems surprising that the One could be present to us without approaching us; and be everywhere, though being nowhere. This surprise is based on the weakness of our nature; but the man who knows the First would much more likely be surprised were the state of affairs different. It cannot indeed be otherwise. Wonder at it, if you please; but what has been said nevertheless represents the real state of the case.



9. All that is begotten by anything else resides either in the begetting Principle, or in some other being, in the case of the existence of any being after or below the generating principle; for that which was begotten by something else, and which, to exist, needs something else, needs something else everywhere, and must consequently be contained within something else. It is therefore natural that the things which contain the last rank should be contained in the things which precede them immediately, and that the superior things should be contained in those which occupy a still more elevated rank, and so on till the first Principle. As there is nothing above Him, He could not be contained within anything. Since He is not contained in anything, and as each other thing is contained in the one immediately preceding it, the first Principle contains all the other beings; He embraces them without sharing Himself with them, and possesses them without being shared by them. Since He possesses them without being possessed by them, He is everywhere; for, unless He be present, He does not possess; on the other hand, if He be not possessed, He is not present. Consequently He both is, and is not present in this sense that, not being possessed, He is not present; and that, finding Himself independent of everything, He is not hindered from being nowhere. If indeed He were hindered from being somewhere, He would be limited by some other principle, and the things beneath Him could no longer participate in Him; consequently the divinity would be limited, He would no longer exist within Himself, and would depend from inferior beings. All things contained within anything else are in the principle from which they depend. It is the contrary590 with those which are nowhere; there is no place where they are not. If indeed there be a place lacking the divinity, evidently this place must be embraced by some other divinity, and the divinity is in some other; whence, according to this hypothesis, it is false that the divinity is nowhere. But as, on the contrary, it is true that the divinity is nowhere, and false that He is anywhere, because He could not be contained in any other divinity, the result is that the divinity is not distant from anything. If then He, being nowhere, be not distant from anything, then He will in himself be everywhere. One of his parts will not be here, while another is there; the whole of Him will not be only in one or another place. The whole of Him will therefore be everywhere; for there is no one thing which exclusively possesses Him, or does not possess Him; everything is therefore possessed by Him. Look at the world: as there is no other world but Him, He is not contained in a world, nor in any place. No place, indeed, could exist anteriorly to the world. As to its parts, they depend from it, and are contained within it. The Soul is not contained in the world; on the contrary, it is the Soul that contains the world; for the locus of the Soul is not the body, but Intelligence. The body of the world is therefore in the Soul, the Soul in Intelligence, and Intelligence itself in some other Principle. But this Principle Himself could not be (contained) in any other principle, from which He would depend; He is therefore not within anything, and consequently He is nowhere. Where then are the other things? They are in the first Principle. He is therefore not separated from other things, nor is He in them; there is nothing that possesses Him, on the contrary, it is He who possesses all. That is why He is the good of all things, because all things exist by Him, and are related to Him each in a different manner. That is why there are things which are better, one591 than the other; for some exist more intensely than others (in relation with the Good).


10. Do not seek to see this Principle by the aid of other things; otherwise, instead of seeing Him himself, you will see no more than His image. Try rather to conceive the nature of the Principle that must be grasped in Himself, that is, pure and without any admixture, because all beings participate in Him, without any of them possessing Him. No other thing indeed could be such as He; but nevertheless such a Being must exist. Who indeed could all at once embrace the totality of the power of this Principle? If a being did so, how could this being differ from Him? Would the being limit itself to embracing only a part of Him? You might grasp this Principle by an intuitive, simple intellection, but you will not be able to represent Him to yourself in His totality. Otherwise it is you who would be the thinking intelligence, if indeed you have reached that principle; but He is more likely to flee you, or more likely still, you will flee from Him. When you consider the divinity, consider Him in His totality. When you think Him, know that what you remember of Him is the Good; for He is the cause of the wise intellectual life, because He is the power from which life and intelligence proceed. He is the cause of "being" and essence, because He is one; He is simple and first, because He is principle. It is from Him that everything proceeds. It is from Him that the first movement proceeds, without being in Him; it is from Him also that proceeds the first rest, because He himself has no need of it; He himself is neither in movement nor rest; for He has nothing in which He could rest or move. By His relation to what, towards what, or in what could He move or rest? Neither is592 He limited, for by what could He be limited? Neither is He infinite in the manner suggested by an enormous mass; for whither would He have any need of extending Himself? Would He do so to get something? But He has need of nothing! It is His power that is infinite. He could neither change nor lack anything; for the beings which lack nothing owe this to Him only.


11. The first Principle is infinite because He is one, and nothing in Him could be limited by anything whatever. Being one, He is not subject to measure or number. He is limited neither by others nor by Himself, since He would thus be double. Since He has neither parts nor form, He has no figure. Not by mortal eyes therefore must you seek to grasp this principle such as reason conceives of Him. Do not imagine that He could be seen in the way that would be imagined by a man who believes that everything is perceived by the senses, and thus annihilate the principle which is the supreme reality. The things to which the common people attribute reality do not possess it; for that which has extension has less reality (than that which has no extension); now the First is the principle of existence, and is even superior to "being." You must therefore admit the contrary of that which is asserted by those commonplace persons; otherwise, you will be deprived of the divinity. You would resemble such men as in the sacred festivals gorge themselves with the foods from which one should abstain on approaching the divinities, and who, regarding this enjoyment as more certain than the contemplation of the divinity whose festival is being celebrated, depart without having participated in the593 mysteries. Indeed as the divinity does not reveal Himself in these mysteries, these gross men doubt His existence, because they consider real only what is visible by the physical eyes. Thus people who would spend their whole life in slumber would consider as certain and real the things they would see in their dreams; if they were to be waked and forced to open their eyes, they would place no credence in the testimony of their eyes, and would plunge themselves again into their somnolence.


12. We should not seek to perceive an object otherwise than by the faculty that is suitable to cognize it. Thus colors are perceived by the eyes, sounds by the ears, and other qualities by other senses. Analogy would assign to intelligence its proper function, so that thinking should not be identified with seeing and hearing. To act otherwise would be to resemble a man who would try to perceive colors by the ears, and who would deny the existence of sounds because he could not see them. We must never forget that men have forgotten the Principle which from the beginning until this day has excited their desires and wishes. Indeed all things aspire to the first Principle, tend thither by a natural necessity, and seem to divine that they could not exist without Him. The notion of the beautiful is given only to souls that are awake, and that already possess some knowledge; at sight of Him they are simultaneously dazed with His sublimity, and spurred on by love.270 From His very origin, on the contrary, the Good excites in us an innate desire; He is present with us even in sleep; His view never dazes us with stupor, because He is always with us. Enjoyment of His presence demands neither reminiscence nor attention,594 because one is not deprived thereof even in sleep. When the love of the beautiful overwhelms us, it causes us anxieties, because the sight of the beautiful makes us desire it. As the love excited by the beautiful is only secondary, and as it exists only in such persons as possess already some knowledge, the beautiful evidently occupies only the second rank. On the contrary, the desire of the Good is more original, and demands no preliminary knowledge. That surely demonstrates that the Good is anterior and superior to the beautiful. Besides, all men are satisfied as soon as they possess the Good; they consider that they have reached their goal. But not all think that the beautiful suffices them; they think that the beautiful is beautiful for itself, rather than for them; as the beauty of an individual is an advantage only for himself. Last, the greater number of people are satisfied with seeming beautiful, even if they are not so in reality; but they are not satisfied with seeming to possess the Good, which they desire to possess in reality. Indeed, all desire to have that which occupies the front rank; but they struggle, they engage in rivalry about the beautiful in the opinion that it is born just as they are (from development of circumstances). They resemble a person who would claim equality with another person who holds the first rank after the king, because both depend from the king; such a person does not realize that though both are subject to the king, yet there is a great difference in hierarchical rank between them271; the cause of this error is that both participate in a same principle, that the One is superior to both of them, and that lastly the Good has no need of the beautiful, while the beautiful is in need of the Good.272 The Good is sweet, calm, and full of delights; we enjoy it at will. On the contrary, the beautiful strikes the soul with amazement, agitates it, and mingles pains with pleasures. In spite of ourselves we are thereby595 often separated from the Good, like a beloved object separates a son from the father. The Good is more ancient than the beautiful, not in time, but in reality; besides, it exerts superior power, because it is unlimited. That which is inferior to it, possesses only an inferior and dependent power, instead of having a limitless power (as belongs to Intelligence, which is inferior to the Good). The Divinity therefore is master of the power which is inferior to His own; He has no need of things that are begotten; for it is from Him that all their contents are derived. Besides, He had no need of begetting; He still is such as He was before; nothing would have been changed for Him if He had not begotten; if it had been possible for other things to receive existence (independently of Himself) He would not have opposed it through jealousy. It is now no longer possible for anything to be begotten, for the divinity has begotten all that He could beget. Nor is He the universality of things, for thus He would stand in need of them. Raised above all things, He has been able to beget them, and to permit them to exist for themselves by dominating all.


13. Being the Good Himself, and not simply something good, the Divinity cannot possess anything, not even the quality of being good. If He possessed anything, this thing would either be good, or not good; now in the principle which is good in Himself and in the highest degree, there cannot be anything which is not good. On the other hand, the statement that the Good possesses the quality of being good is impossible. Since therefore (the Good) can possess neither the quality of being good, or of not being good, the result is that He cannot possess anything; that He is unique, and isolated from everything else. As all596 other things either are good without being the Good, or are not good, and as the Good has neither the quality of being good, or of not being good, He has nothing, and this is the very thing that constitutes His goodness. To attribute to Him anything, such as being, intelligence, or beauty, would be to deprive Him of the privilege of being the Good. Therefore when we deprive Him of all attributes, when we affirm nothing about Him, when one does not commit the error of supposing anything within Him, He is left as simple essence, without attribution of things He does not possess. Let us not imitate those ignorant panegyrists who lower the glory of those they praise by attributing to them qualities inferior to their dignity, because they do not know how to speak properly of the persons they are trying to praise. Likewise, we should not attribute to the Divinity any of the things beneath and after Him; we should recognize Him as their eminent cause, but without being any of them. The nature of the Good consists not in being all things in general, nor in being any of them in particular. In this case, indeed, the Good would form no more than one with all beings; consequently, He would differ from them only by His own character; that is, by some difference, or by the addition of some quality. Instead of being one, He would be two things, of which the one—namely, what in Him was common with the other beings—would not be the Good, while the other would be the Good (and would leave all beings evil). Under this hypothesis, He would be a mixture of good and of not good; he would no longer be the pure and primary Good. The primary Good would be that in which the other thing would particularly participate, a participation by virtue of which it would become the good. This thing would be the good only by participation, whilst that in which it would participate would be nothing in particular; which would597 demonstrate that the good was nothing in particular. But if, in the principle under discussion, the good be such—that is, if there be a difference whose presence gives the character of goodness to the composite—this good must derive from some other principle which must be the Good uniquely and simply. Such a composite, therefore, depends on the pure and simple Good. Thus the First, the absolute Good, dominates all beings, is uniquely the Good, possesses nothing within Himself, is mingled with nothing, is superior to all things, and is the cause of all things. The beautiful and that which is "being" could not derive from evil, or from indifferent principles; for the cause being more perfect, is always better than its effects.


Against the Gnostics; or, That the Creator and the World are Not Evil.275


1. We have already seen276 that the nature of the Good is simple and primary, for nothing that is not primary could be simple. We have also demonstrated that the nature of the Good contains nothing in itself, but is something unitary, the very nature of the One; for in itself the One is not some thing to which unity could be added, any more than the Good in itself is some thing to which goodness could be added. Consequently, as both the One and the Good are simplicity itself, when we speak of the One and the Good, these two words express but one and the same nature; they affirm nothing, and only represent it to us so far as possible. This nature is called the First, because it is very simple, and not composite; it is the absolute as self-sufficient, because it is not composite; otherwise it would depend on the things of which it was composed. Neither is it predicable of anything (as an attribute in a subject) for all that is in another thing comes from something else. If then this nature be not in anything else, nor is derived from anything else, if it contain nothing composite, it must not have anything above it.



Consequently there are no principles other (than the three divine hypostatic substances); and the first rank will have to be assigned to Unity, the second to Intelligence, as the first thinking principle,277 and the third to the Soul. Such indeed is the natural order, which admits of no further principles, in the intelligible world. If less be claimed, it is because of a confusion between the Soul and Intelligence, or Intelligence with the First; but we have often pointed out their mutual differences.278 The only thing left is to examine if there might not be more than these three hypostatic substances; and in this case, what their nature might be.


The Principle of all things, such as we have described it, is the most simple and elevated possible. The (Gnostics) are wrong in distinguishing within that (supreme Principle279) potentiality from actualization280; for it would be ridiculous to seek to apply to principles that are immaterial and are actualizations, that (Aristotelian) distinction, and thus to increase the number (of the divine hypostatic substances.281)


Neither could we, below the Supreme, distinguish two intelligences, one at rest, and the other in motion.282 We should have to define the resting of the First, and the movement or utterance283 of the second. The inaction of the one and the action of the other would be equally mysterious. By its being (or, nature),601 Intelligence is eternally and identically a permanent actualization. To rise to Intelligence and to move around it is the proper function of the soul.


Reason (logos) which descends from Intelligence into the Soul, and intellectualizes her, does not constitute a nature distinct from the Soul and Intelligence, and intermediary between them.


Nor should we admit the existence of several intelligences, merely because we distinguish a thinker from a consciousness of the thinker. Though there be a difference between thinking, and thinking that one thinks, these two nevertheless constitute a single intuitive consciousness of its actualizations. It would be ridiculous to deny such a consciousness to veritable Intelligence. It is therefore the same Intelligence that thinks, and that thinks that it thinks. Otherwise there would be two principles, of which the one would have thought, and the other consciousness of thought. The second would doubtless differ from the first, but would not be the real thinking principle. A mere logical distinction between thought and consciousness of thought would not establish the (actual) differences between two (hypostatic substances). Further, we shall have to consider whether it be possible to conceive of an Intelligence which would exclusively think, without any accompanying consciousness of its thought.284 If we ourselves who are entirely devoted to practical activity and discursive reason were in such a condition,285 we would, even if otherwise considered sensible, be insane. But as true Intelligence thinks602 itself in its thoughts, and as the intelligible, far from being outside of Intelligence, is Intelligence itself, Intelligence, by thinking, possesses itself, and necessarily sees itself.286 When Intelligence sees itself, it does not see itself as unintelligent, but as intelligent. Therefore in the first actualization of thought, Intelligence has the thought and consciousness of thought, two things that form but a single one; not even logically is this a duality. If Intelligence always thinks what it is, is there any reason to separate, even by a simple logical distinction, thought from the consciousness of thought? The absurdity of the doctrine we are controverting will be still more evident if we suppose that a third intelligence is conscious that the second intelligence is conscious of the thought of the first; we might thus go on to infinity.287


Last, if we suppose that Reason is derived from Intelligence, and then from reason in the soul derive another reason which would be derived from Reason in itself, so as to constitute a principle intermediary between Intelligence and Soul, the Soul would be deprived of the power of thought. For thus the Soul, instead of receiving reason from Intelligence, would receive reason from an intermediary principle. Instead of possessing Reason itself, the Soul would possess only an adumbration of Reason; the Soul would not know Intelligence, and would not be able to think.288


2. In the intelligible world, therefore, we shall not recognize more than three principles (Unity, Intelligence, and Soul), without those superfluous and incongruous603 fictions. We shall insist that there is a single Intelligence that is identical, and immutable, which imitates its Father so far as it can. Then there is our soul, of which one part ever remains among the intelligibles, while one part descends to sense-objects, and another abides in an intermediary region.289 As our soul is one nature in several powers, she may at times entirely rise to the intelligible world, with the best part of herself and of essence; at other times the soul's lower part allows itself to be dragged down to the earth, carrying with it the intermediate portion; for the soul cannot be entirely dragged down.290 This being dragged down occurs only because the soul does not abide in the better region.291 While dwelling in it, the Soul, which is not a part (of it) and of which we are not a part,292 has given to the body of the universe all the perfections of which she was capable. The Soul governs it by remaining quiet, without reasoning, without having to correct anything. With wonderful power she beautifies the universe by the contemplation of the intelligible world. The more the Soul attaches herself to contemplation, the more powerful and beautiful she is; what she receives from above, she communicates to the sense-world, and illuminates because she herself is always illuminated (by Intelligence).


3. Thus the Soul, ever being illuminated, in turn herself illuminates lower things that subsist only through her, like plants that feed on dew, and which participate in life, each according to its capacity. Likewise a fire heats the objects that surround it, each in proportion to its nature. Now if such is the effect604 of fire whose power is limited, while intelligible beings exert unlimited powers, how would it be possible for these beings to exist without causing anything to participate in their nature? Each of them must therefore communicate some degree of its perfection to other beings. The Good would no longer be the good, Intelligence would no longer be intelligence, the Soul would no longer be soul, if, beneath that which possesses the first degree of life, there was not some other thing which possessed the second degree of life, and which subsisted only so long as subsists He who occupies the first rank. It is therefore unavoidable that all things (inferior to the First) must always exist in mutual dependence, and that they be begotten, because they derive their existence from some other source. They were not begotten at a definite moment. When we affirm that they are begotten, we should say, they were begotten, or, they shall be begotten. Nor will they be destroyed, unless they are composed of elements in which they could be dissolved. Those that are indissoluble will not perish. It may be objected that they could be resolved into matter. But why should matter also not be liable to be destroyed? If it were granted that matter was liable to destruction, there was no necessity for its existence.293 It may be further objected that the existence of matter necessarily results from the existence of other principles. In this case, this necessity still subsists. If matter is to be considered as isolated (from the intelligible world), then the divine principles also, instead of being present everywhere,294 will, as it were, be walled up in a limited place.295 But if the latter be impossible, then must matter be illuminated (by the intelligible world).



4. But in that case, the Soul created only because296 she had lost her wings. The universal Soul, however, could not have been subject to such an accident. Those (Gnostics) who claim that she committed a fault should explain the nature of that fault.297 Why did this fall occur? If she fell from all eternity, she must similarly remain in her fault; if only at a determinate time, why not earlier? We however believe that the Soul created the world not by inclining (towards matter), but rather because she did not incline towards it. Thus to incline towards matter the Soul would have forgotten the intelligible entities; but if she had forgotten them, she could not have created the world (using them as models). From what (models) would the soul have created the world? She must have formed it according to the intelligible models she had contemplated above. If she remembered them while creating, she had not inclined (away from them towards matter). Neither did the Soul have an obscure notion of the intelligibles; otherwise she would have inclined herself towards them, to get a clear intuition of them. For if she kept some memory of the intelligible world, why would she not have wished to reascend therein?


Besides, what advantage could the (world-Soul) have imagined she was gaining by creating the world? That she did so in order to be honored298 seems unworthy,606 for it would be attributing to her the desires of a sculptor. Another theory is that the (world-Soul) created the world by virtue of a rational conception, and she thus exercised her power, though creating did not inhere in her nature. If so, how did she make the world? When will she destroy it? If she repented, what is she waiting for (before she destroys her handiwork)? If, however, she has not yet repented, she could not repent after time will have accustomed her to her work, and will have made her more kindly disposed thereto. If however she be awaiting individual souls, the latter should not have returned into generation, since, in the former generation, they have already experienced evils here below, and consequently, they should long since have ceased to descend upon this earth.


Nor should the world be considered badly made, merely because we suffer so much therein. This idea results from entertaining unjustifiable expectations of its perfections, and from confusing it with the intelligible world of which it is an image. Could a more beautiful image, indeed, be imagined? After the celestial fire could we imagine a better fire than our own? After the intelligible earth, could we imagine a better earth than ours? After the actualization by which the intelligible world embraces itself, could we imagine a sphere more perfect, more wonderful, or better ordered in its movements299? After the intelligible sun, how could we imagine any sun different from the one that we see?



5. Is it not absurd to see those (Gnostics) who, like everybody else, possess a body, passions, fears, and excitements, holding an idea of their own powers high enough to make them believe themselves capable of attaining the intelligible,300 while to the sun, though it be immutable and perfect,301 and though it be impassible power, refusing a wisdom superior to ours, we who were born only yesterday, and who find so many obstacles in our search after truth? We certainly are surprised to see these (Gnostics) considering the souls of both themselves and of the vilest men immortal and divine, while refusing immortality to the entire heaven, to all the stars it contains, though they be composed of elements more beautiful and purer302 (than we), though they manifest a marvellous beauty and order, while (these Gnostics) themselves acknowledge that disorder is observed here below? According to their theories, however, the immortal Soul would have picked out the worst part of the world, while giving up the best to mortal souls.303


It is also absurd to see them introduce into the world, after the universal Soul, another soul said to be composed of elements. How could a composition of elements possess life? A mixture of elements does not produce heat or cold, humidity or dryness, or any combination thereof. Besides, how could this soul (that is inferior to the universal Soul), hold in union together the four elements, if she herself were composed of them, and therefore were posterior to them?608 We may also rightfully demand of the (Gnostics) an explanation of their predicating perception, reflection, and other faculties to this (mythical) soul.


Besides, as the (Gnostics) have no appreciation of the work of the demiurgic creator, nor for this earth, they insist that the divinity has created for them a new earth, which is destined to receive them when they shall have left here below, and which is the reason of the world. But what need do they have of inhabiting the model of this world that they pretend to hate? In any case, from where does this model come? According to them, the model was created only when its author inclined towards things here below. But what was the use of the model, if its creator busied himself considerably with the world to make a world inferior to the intelligible world which he possessed? If (the model were created) before the world, what could have been its use? Was it for the saved souls?304 Why therefore were those souls not saved (by remaining within the model)? Under this hypothesis the creation of the model was useless. If (the model, however, was created) after this world, its author derived it from this world, stealing the form away from matter; the experience that the souls had acquired in their earlier trials sufficed to teach them to seek their salvation.305 Last, if the (Gnostics) pretend to have, in their souls, received the form of the world,306 we have a new incomprehensible language.307


6. We hardly know what to say of the other new conceptions they have injected into the universe, such as exiles,308 antitypes,309 and repentances.310 If by609 "repentances" and "exiles" they mean certain states of the Soul (in the normal meaning of the word, where a soul) yields to repentance; and if by "antitypes" they mean the images of the intelligible beings that the Soul contemplates before contemplating the intelligible beings themselves, they are using meaningless words, invented merely as catchwords and terms for their individual sect; for they imagine such fictions merely because they have failed clearly to understand the ancient wisdom of the Greeks. Before them the Greeks, clearly and simply, had spoken of "ascensions" of souls that issued from the "cavern," and which insensibly rise to a truer contemplation. The doctrines of these (Gnostics) are partly stolen from Plato, while the remainder, which were invented merely to form their own individual system, are innovations contrary to truth. It is from Plato that they borrowed their judgments, the rivers of Hades.311 They do speak of several intelligible principles, such as essence, intelligence, the second demiurgic creator or universal Soul; but all that comes from Plato's Timaeus,312 which says, "Likewise as the ideas contained in the existing Organism were seen by Intelligence, so he [the creator of this universe313] thought that the latter should contain similar and equally numerous (natures)." But, not clearly understanding Plato, the Gnostics here imagined (three principles), an intelligence at rest, which contains all (beings), a second intelligence that contemplates them (as they occur) in the first intelligence, and a third intelligence that thinks them discursively. They often consider this discursive intelligence as the creative soul, and they consider this to be the demiurgic creator mentioned by Plato, because they were entirely ignorant of the true nature of this demiurgic creator. In general, they alter entirely the idea of creation, as well as many other doctrines of Plato, and they give out an entirely610 erroneous interpretation thereof. They imagine that they alone have rightly conceived of intelligible nature, while Plato and many other divine intellects never attained thereto. By speaking of a multitude of intelligible principles, they think that they seem to possess an exact knowledge thereof, while really they degrade them, assimilating them to lower, and sensual beings, by increasing their number.314 The principles that exist on high must be reduced to the smallest number feasible; we must recognize that the principle below the First contains all (the essences), and so deny the existence of any intelligible (entities) outside of it, inasmuch as it contains all beings, by virtue of its being primary "Being," of primary Intelligence, and of all that is beautiful beneath the First Himself. The Soul must be assigned to the third rank. The differences obtaining between souls must further be explained by the difference of their conditions or nature.315


Instead of besmirching the reputation of divine men,316 the (Gnostics) should interpret the doctrines of the ancient sages in a friendly way, borrowing from them such as they are right in professing, as, for instance, the immortality of the soul, the existence of the intelligible world, and of the first Divinity (who is the Good), the necessity for the soul to flee from intercourse with the body, and the belief that separation of the soul from body is equivalent to a return from generation to "being."317 They do well indeed if they borrow these ideas from Plato, for the purpose of developing them. They are even at liberty to express any opinion they please in diverging from his views; but their own doctrine should not be established in the minds of their followers by insults and sarcasms611 against Greek sages. They could only do so by demonstrating the propriety of their distinctive tenets, whenever they differ from those of the ancient philosophers, and by expounding their own tenets with a really philosophic reserve and equanimity. Even when they controvert a system they are still bound to consider nothing but the truth, without any attempt at self-glorification, either by attacking men whose teachings have long since been approved by worthy philosophers, or by claims of superiority to the latter. For that which the ancients taught on the subject of the intelligible world will always be considered as the best and wisest by all who do not permit themselves to be misled by the errors that to-day mislead so many.318


If from the doctrines of the (Gnostics) we remove what they have borrowed from the teachings of the ancients, their remaining additions will be discovered as very unfortunate. Their polemic against (Greek philosophy) consists of an introduction of a great number of genealogies,319 and destructions, blaming the intercourse of the soul with the body,320 complaining of the universe, criticising its administration, identifying the demiurgic creator (that is, Intelligence) with the universal souls.321


7. Elsewhere we have demonstrated322 that this world never began, and will never end; and that it must last as long as the intelligible entities. We have also shown,323 and that earlier than these (Gnostics), that the soul's intercourse with the body is not advantageous612 to her. But to judge the universal Soul according to ours is to resemble a man who would blame the totality of a well governed city by an examination limited to the workers in earth or metal.


The differences between the universal Soul and our (human) souls are very important. To begin with, the universal Soul does not govern the world in the same manner (as our soul governs the body); for she governs the world without being bound thereto. Besides many other differences elsewhere noted,324 we were bound to the body after the formation of a primary bond.325 In the universal Soul the nature that is bound to the body (of the world) binds all that it embraces; but the universal Soul herself is not bound by the things she binds. As she dominates them, she is impassible in respect to them, while we ourselves do not dominate exterior objects. Besides, that part of the universal Soul which rises to the intelligible world remains pure and independent; even that326 which communicates life to the body (of the world) receives nothing therefrom. In general what is in another being necessarily participates in the state of that being; but a principle which has its own individual life would not receive anything from any other source.327 That is why, when one thing is located within another, it feels the experiences of the latter, but does not any the less retain its individual life in the event of the destruction of the latter. For instance, if the fire within yourself be extinguished, that would not extinguish the universal fire; even if the latter were extinguished, the universal Soul would not feel it, and only the constitution of the body (of the world) would be affected thereby. If a world exclusively composed613 of the remaining three elements were a possibility, that would be of no importance to the universal Soul, because the world does not have a constitution similar that of each of the contained organisms. On high, the universal Soul soars above the world, and thereby imposes on it a sort of permanence; here below, the parts, which as it were flow off, are maintained in their place by a second bond.328 As celestial entities have no place (outside of the world), into which they might ooze out,329 there is no need of containing them from the interior, nor of compressing them from without to force them back within; they subsist in the location where the universal Soul placed them from the beginning. Those which naturally move modify the beings which possess no natural motion.330 They carry out well arranged revolutions because they are parts of the universe. Here below there are beings which perish because they cannot conform to the universal order. For instance, if a tortoise happened to be caught in the midst of a choric ballet that was dancing in perfect order, it would be trodden under foot because it could not withdraw from the effects of the order that regulated the feet of the dancers; on the contrary, if it conformed to that order, it would suffer no harm.


8. To ask (as do the Gnostics) why the world was created, amounts to asking the reason of the existence of the universal Soul, and of the creation of the demiurgic creator himself. To ask such a question well characterizes men who first wish to find a principle of that which (in the world) is eternal, but who later opine that the demiurgic creator became the creating614 cause only as a result of an inclination or alteration.331 If indeed they be at all willing to listen to us fairly, we shall have to teach them the nature of these intelligible principles, to end their habit of scorning (those) venerable (intelligible) beings, and (to induce them to) pay these a deserved respect. No one, indeed, has the right to find fault with the constitution of the world, which reveals the greatness of intelligible nature. We are forced332 to recognize that the world is a beautiful and brilliant statue of the divinities, from the fact that the world achieved existence without beginning with an obscure life, such as that of the little organisms it contains, and which the productiveness of universal life never ceases to bring forth, by day or night; on the contrary, its life is continuous, clear, manifold, extended everywhere, and illustrating marvellous wisdom. It would be no more than natural that the world should not equal the model it imitates; otherwise, it would no longer be an imitation. It would be an error, however, to think that the world imitates its model badly; it lacks none of the things that could be contained by a beautiful and natural image; for it was necessary for this image to exist, without implying reasoning or skill.333


Intelligence, indeed, could not be (the last degree of existence). It was necessarily actualization of a double nature, both within itself, and for other beings.334 It was inevitable that it should be followed by other beings, for only the most impotent being would fail to produce something that should proceed from it,335 while (it is granted that) the intelligible possesses a wonderful power336; wherefore, it could not help creating.



What would be the nature of a world better than the present one, if it were possible? The present one must be a faithful image of the intelligible world, if the existence of the world be necessary, and if there be no better possible world. The whole earth is peopled with animate and even immortal beings; from here below up to the heaven (the world) is full of them.337 Why should the stars in the highest sphere (the fixed stars), and those in the lower spheres (the planets), not be divinities, in view of their regular motion, and their carrying out a magnificent revolution around the world338? Why should they not possess virtue? What obstacle could hinder them from acquiring it? Not on high are found the things which here below make men evil; namely, that evil nature which both is troubled, and troubles. With their perpetual leisure why should not the stars possess intelligence, and be acquainted with the divinity and all the other intelligible deities339? How should we possess a wisdom greater than theirs? Only a foolish man would entertain such thoughts. How could our souls be superior to the stars when at the hands of the universal Soul they undergo the constraint of descending here below340? For the best part of souls is that which commands.341 If, on the contrary, the souls descend here below voluntarily, why should the (Gnostics) find fault with this sphere whither they came voluntarily, and from which they can depart whenever it suits them342? That everything here below depends on the intelligible principles is proved by the fact that the organization of the world is such that, during this life, we are able to acquire wisdom, and live out a life similar to that of the divinities.616343


9. No one would complain of poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth if one realized that the sage does not seek equality in such things, because he does not consider that the rich man has any advantage over the poor man, the prince over the subject.344 The sage leaves such opinions to commonplace people, for he knows that there are two kinds of life; that of the virtuous who achieve the supreme degree (of perfection) and the intelligible world, and that of common earthly men. Even the latter life is double; for though at times they do think of virtue, and participate somewhat in the good, at other times they form only a vile crowd, and are only machines, destined to satisfy the primary needs of virtuous people.345 There is no reason to be surprised at a man committing a murder, or, through weakness, yielding to his passions, when souls, that behave like young, inexperienced persons, not indeed like intelligences, daily behave thus. It has been said346 that this life is a struggle in which one is either victor or vanquished. But is not this very condition a proof of good arrangement? What does it matter if you are wronged, so long as you are immortal? If you be killed, you achieve the fate that you desired. If you have reason to complain of how you are treated in some particular city, you can leave it.347 Besides, even here below, there evidently are rewards and punishments. Why then complain of a society within which distributive justice is exercised, where virtue is honored, and where vice meets its deserved punishment348?


Not only are there here below statues of the divinities, but even the divinities condescend to look617 on us, leading everything in an orderly manner from beginning to end, and they apportion to each the fate that suits him, and which harmonizes with his antecedents in his successive existences.349 This is unknown only to persons who are most vulgarly ignorant of divine things. Try therefore to become as good as you can, but do not on that account imagine that you alone are capable of becoming good350; for then you would no longer be good. Other men (than you) are good; there are most excellent (ministering spirits called) guardians; further, there are deities who, while inhabiting this world, contemplate the intelligible world,351 and are still better than the guardians. Further still is the blissful (universal) Soul that manages the universe. Honor therefore the intelligible divinities, and above all the great King of the intelligible world,352 whose greatness is especially manifested in the multitude of the divinities.


It is not by reducing all things to unity, but by setting forth the greatness developed by the divinity itself, that one manifests his knowledge of divine power. The Divinity (manifests His power) when, though remaining what He is, He produces many divinities which depend on Him, which proceed from Him, and exist by Him. In this way this world holds existence from Him, and contemplates Him along with all the divinities which announce to men the divine decrees, and who reveal to them whatever pleases them.353 These stars must not be blamed for not being what the divinity is, for they only represent their nature.



If, however, you pretend to scorn these (stars that are considered) divinities, and if you hold yourself in high esteem, on the plea that you are not far inferior to them, learn first that the best man is he who is most modest in his relations with divinities and men. In the second place, learn that one should think of the divinity only within limits, without insolence, and not to seek to rise to a condition that is above human possibilities. It is unreasonable to believe that there is no place by the side of the divinity for all other men, while impudently proposing alone to aspire to that dignity. This by itself would deprive the Soul of the possibility of assimilation to the Divinity to the limit of her receptivity.354 This the Soul cannot attain unless guided by Intelligence. To pretend to rise above Intelligence,355 is to fall short of it. There are people insane enough to believe, without reflection, claims such as the following ("By initiation into secret knowledge, or gnosis), you will be better, not only than all men, but even than all the deities." These people are swollen with pride356; and men who before were modest, simple and humble, become arrogant on hearing themselves say, "You are a child of the divinity; the other men that you used to honor are not his children, any more than the stars who were worshipped by the ancients. You yourself, without working, are better than heaven itself." Then companions crowd around him, and applaud his utterance. He resembles a man who, though not knowing how to count, should, in the midst of a crowd of men, equally ignorant with him, hear it said by somebody that he was a thousand feet high while others were only five feet high. He would not realize what was meant by a thousand feet, but he would consider this measure very great.



(Gnostics) admit that the Divinity interests Himself in men. How then could He (as they insist), neglect the world that contains them? Could this be the case because He lacked the leisure to look after it? In this case He would lack the leisure to look after anything beneath Him (including men also). On the other hand, if He do care for men, that care would include the world that surrounds and contains them. If He ignored what surrounded men, in order to ignore the world, He would thereby also ignore the men themselves. The objection that men do need that the Divinity should care for the world (is not true), for the world does need the care of the Divinity. The Divinity knows the arrangement of the world, the men it contains, and their condition therein.357 The friends of the Divinity support meekly all that results necessarily therefrom. (They are right), for that which happens should be considered not only from one's own standpoint, but also from that of the totality of circumstances. Each (person or thing) should be considered from his place (in the scale of existence); one should ever aspire to Him to whom aspire all beings capable of (the Good); one should be persuaded that many beings, or rather that all beings, aspire thereto; that those who attain to Him are happy, while the others achieve a fate suitable to their nature; finally, one should not imagine oneself alone capable of attaining happiness.358 Mere assertion of possession does not suffice for real possession thereof. There are many men who, though perfectly conscious that they do not possess some good, nevertheless boast of its possession, or who really believe they do possess it, when the opposite is the true state of affairs; or that they exclusively possess it when they are the only ones who do not possess it.



10. On examining many other assertions (of the Gnostics), or rather, all of their assertions, we find more than enough to come to some conclusion concerning the details of their doctrines. We cannot, indeed, help blushing when we see some of our friends, who had imbued themselves with (Gnostic) doctrines before becoming friends of ours, somehow or another persevere therein, working zealously to try to prove that they deserved full confidence, or speaking as if they were still convinced that they were based on good grounds.385 We are here addressing our friends, not the partisans (of the Gnostics). Vainly indeed would we try to persuade the latter not to let themselves be deceived by men who furnish no proofs—what proofs indeed could they furnish?—but who only impose on others by their boastfulness.359


Following another kind of discussion, we might write a refutation of these men who are impudent enough to ridicule the teachings of those divine men who taught in ancient times, and who conformed entirely to truth. We shall not however embark on this, for whoever understands what we have already said will from that (sample) be able to judge of the remainder.


Neither will we controvert an assertion which overtops all their others in absurdity—we use this term for lack of a stronger. Here it is: "The Soul and another621 Wisdom inclined downwards towards things here below, either because the Soul first inclined downwards spontaneously, or because she was misled by Wisdom; or because (in Gnostic view), Soul and Wisdom were identical. The other souls descended here below together (with the Soul), as well as the "members of Wisdom," and entered into bodies, probably human. Nevertheless the Soul, on account of which the other soul descended here below, did not herself descend. She did not incline, so to speak, but only illuminated the darkness. From this illumination was born in matter an image (Wisdom, the image of the Soul). Later was formed (the demiurgic creator, called) an image of the image, by means of matter or materiality, or of a principle by (Gnostics) designated by another name (the "Fruit of the fall")—for they make use of many other names, for the purpose of increasing obscurity. This is how they derive their demiurgic creator. They also suppose that this demiurgic creator separated himself from his mother, Wisdom, and from him they deduce the whole world even to the extremity of the images." The perpetration of such assertions amounts to a bitter sarcasm of the power that created the world.


11. To begin with, if the Soul did not descend, if she limited herself to illuminating the darkness (which is synonymous with matter), by what right could it be asserted that the Soul inclined (downwards)? If indeed a kind of light issued from the Soul, this does not justify an inclination of the Soul, unless we admit the existence of something (darkness) beneath her, that the Soul approached the darkness by a local movement, and that, on arriving near it, the Soul illuminated it. On the contrary, if the Soul illuminated622 it while remaining self-contained, without doing anything to promote that illumination,360 why did the Soul alone illuminate the darkness? (According to the Gnostics) this occurred only after the Soul had conceived the Reason of the universe. Then only could the Soul illuminate the darkness, by virtue of this rational conception. But then, why did the Soul not create the world at the same time she illuminated the darkness, instead of waiting for the generation of ("psychic) images"? Further, why did this Reason of the world, which (the Gnostics) call the "foreign land," and which was produced by the superior powers, as they say, not move its authors to that inclination? Last, why does this illuminated matter produce psychic images, and not bodies? (Wisdom, or) the image of the Soul does not seem to stand in need of darkness or matter. If the Soul create, then her image (Wisdom) should accompany her, and remain attached to her. Besides, what is this creature of hers? Is it a being, or is it, as the (Gnostics) say, a conception? If it be a being, what difference is there between it and its principle? If it be some other kind of a soul, it must be a "soul of growth and generation," since its principle is a reasonable soul.361 If however (this Wisdom) be a "soul of growth and generation," how could it be said to have created for the purpose of being honored362? In short, how could it have been created by pride, audacity, and imagination? Still less would we have the right to say that it had been created by virtue of a rational conception. Besides, what necessity was there for the mother of the demiurgic creator to have formed him of matter and of an image? Speaking of conception, it would be necessary to explain the origin of this term; then, unless a creative force be predicated of this conception, it would be necessary to show how a conception can constitute a real being. But what creative force can623 be inherent in this imaginary being? The (Gnostics) say that this image (the demiurgic creator) was produced first, and that only afterwards other images were created; but they permit themselves to assert that without any proof. For instance, how could it be said that fire was produced first (and other things only later)?


12. How could this newly formed image (the demiurgic creator) have undertaken to create by memory of the things he knew? As he did not exist before, he could not have known anything, any more than the mother (Wisdom) which is attributed to him. Besides, it is quite surprising that, though the (Gnostics) did not descend upon this world as images of souls, but as veritable, genuine souls, nevertheless hardly one or two of them succeeds in detaching themselves from the (sense) world and by gathering together their memories, to remember some of the things they previously knew, while this image (the demiurgical creator), as well as his mother (Wisdom), which is a material image, was capable of conceiving intelligible entities in a feeble manner, indeed, as say the Gnostics, but after all from her very birth. Not only did she conceive intelligible things, and formed an idea of the sense-world from the intelligible world, but she also discovered with what elements she was to produce the sense-world. Why did she first create the fire? Doubtless because she judged she would begin thereby; for why did she not begin with some other element? If she could produce fire because she had the conception thereof, why, as she had the conception of the world—as she must have begun by a conception of the totality—did she not create the whole at one single stroke363? Indeed, this conception of the world624 embraced all its parts. It would also have been more natural, for the demiurgical creator should not have acted like a workman, as all the arts are posterior to nature and to the creation of the world. Even to-day, we do not see the natures364 when they beget individuals, first produce the fire, then the other elements successively, and finally mingle them. On the contrary, the outline and organization of the entire organism are formed at once in the germ born at the monthly periods in the womb of the mother. Why then, in creation, should matter not have been organized at one stroke by the type of the world, a type that must have contained fire, earth, and all the rest of them? Perhaps the (Gnostics) would have thus conceived of the creation of the world, if (instead of an image) they had had in their system a genuine Soul. But their demiurgic creator could not have proceeded thus. To conceive of the greatness, and especially of the dimension of the heavens, of the obliquity of the zodiac, of the course of the stars, the form of the earth, and to understand the reason of each of these things, would not have been the work of an image, but rather of a power that proceeded from the better principles, as the (Gnostics) in spite of themselves acknowledge.


Indeed, if we examine attentively that in which this illumination of the darkness consists, the (Gnostics) may be led to a recognition of the true principles of the world. Why was the production of this illumination of the darkness necessary, if its existence was not absolutely unavoidable? This necessity (of an illumination of the darkness) was either in conformity with, or in opposition to nature. If it conformed thereto, it must have been so from all time; if it were625 contrary thereto, something contrary to nature would have happened to the divine powers, and evil would be prior to the world. Then it would no longer be the world that was the cause of evil (as the Gnostics claim), but the divine powers. The world is not the principle of evil for the soul, but it is the soul that is the principle of evil for the world. Ascending from cause to cause, reason will relate this world to the primary principles.


If matter is also said to be the cause of evil, where does it originate? For the darkness existed already, as say (the Gnostics), when the soul has seen and illuminated them. From whence (comes darkness)? If (the Gnostics) answer that it is the soul herself that created (darkness) by inclining (downwards to matter), then evidently (the darkness) did not exist before the inclination of the soul. Darkness therefore is not the cause of this inclination; the cause is in the nature of the soul. This cause may thus be related to preceding necessities, and as a result to first principles.365


13. Those who complain of the nature of the world do not know what they are doing, nor the extent of their audacity. Many men are ignorant of the close concatenation which unites the entities of the first, second, and third ranks,366 and which descends even to those of the lowest degree. Instead of blaming what is subordinate to first principles, we should gently submit to the laws of the universe, rise to first principles, not undergo those tragic terrors,367 inspired in626 certain people by the spheres of the world which exert on us nothing but a beneficent influence.368 What is so terrible in them? Why should they be feared by these men foreign to philosophy and all sound learning? Though celestial spheres do have fiery bodies, they should not inspire us with any fear, because they are perfectly harmonious with the universe and with the earth. We must besides consider the souls of the stars to which those (Gnostics) consider themselves so superior, while their bodies, which surpass ours so much in size and beauty, efficaciously concur in the production of things that are conformed to the order of nature369; for such things could not be born if first principles alone existed. Finally the stars complete the universe, and are important members thereof. If even man holds a great superiority over animals, there must be a far greater superiority in those stars which exist as ornaments to the universe, and to establish order therein, and not to exert thereover a tyrannical influence.370 The events that are said to flow from the stars are rather signs thereof than causes.371 Besides, the events that really do flow from the stars differ among each other by circumstances. It is not therefore possible that the same things should happen to all men, separated as they are by their times of birth, the places of their residence, and the dispositions of their souls. It is just as unreasonable to expect that all would be good, nor, because of the impossibility of this, to go and complain on the grounds that all sense-objects should be similar to intelligible objects. Moreover,372 evil is nothing but what is less complete in respect to wisdom, and less good, in a decreasing gradation. For instance, nature (that is, the power of growth and generation) should not be called evil because she is not sensation; nor sensation be called evil, because it is not reason. Otherwise, we might be led to think that there was evil in the intelligible627 world. Indeed, the Soul is inferior to Intelligence, and Intelligence is inferior to the One.


14. Another error of the (Gnostics) is their teaching that intelligible beings are not beyond the reach of being affected by human beings. When the (Gnostics) utter magic incantations, addressing them to (intelligible beings), not only to the Soul, but to the Principles superior thereto, what are they really trying to do? To bewitch them? To charm them? Or, to influence them373? They therefore believe that divine beings listen to us, and that they obey him who skilfully pronounces these songs, cries, aspirations and whistlings, to all of which they ascribe magic power.374 If they do not really mean this, if they by sounds only claim to express things which do not fall under the senses, then, through their effort to make their art more worthy of respect, they unconsciously rob it of all claim to respect, in our estimation.


They also pride themselves on expelling diseases. If this were done through temperance, by a well regulated life, as do the philosophers, this claim might be respected. But they insist that diseases are demons, which they can expel by their words, and they boast of this in order to achieve reputation among the common people, that is always inclined to stand in awe of magic. They could not persuade rational individuals that diseases do not have natural causes, such as fatigue, satiety, lack of food, corruption, or some change depending on an interior or exterior principle. This is proved by the nature of diseases. Sometimes628 a disease is expelled by moving the bowels, or by the administration of some potion; diet and bleeding are also often resorted to. Is this because the demon is hungry, or the potion destroys him? When a person is healed on the spot, the demon either remains or departs. If he remain, how does his presence not hinder recovery? If he depart, why? What has happened to him? Was he fed by the disease? In this case, the disease was something different from the demon. If he enter without any cause for the disease, why is the individual into whose body he enters not always sick? If he enter into a body that contains already a natural cause of disease, how far does he contribute to the disease? The natural cause is sufficient to produce the disease. It would be ridiculous to suppose that the disease would have a cause, but that, as soon as this cause is active there would be a demon ready to come and assist it.


The reader must now clearly see the kind of assertions given out by the (Gnostics), and what their purpose must be. What they say about demons (or guardians) has here been mentioned only as a commentary on their vain pretenses. Other opinions of the (Gnostics) may best be judged by a perusal of their books, by each individual for himself. Remember always that our system of philosophy contains, beside the other good (reasons), the simplicity of moral habits, the purity of intelligence, and that instead of vain boasting it recommends the care of personal dignity, rational self-confidence, prudence, reserve, and circumspection. The remainder (of Gnostic philosophy) may well be contrasted with ours. As all that is taught by the Gnostics is very different629 (from our teachings), we would have no advantage in a further detailed contrast; and it would be unworthy of us to pursue the matter(?).


15. We should however observe the moral effect produced in the soul of those who listen to the speeches of these men who teach scorn of the world and its contents. About the destiny of man there are two principal doctrines. The one assigns as our end the pleasures of the body, the other suggests honesty and virtue, the love of which comes from the divinity, and leads back to the Divinity, as we have shown elsewhere.375 Epicurus, who denies divine Providence, advises us to seek the only thing that remains, the enjoyments of pleasure. Well, the (Gnostics) hold a still more pernicious doctrine; they blame the manner in which divine Providence operates, and they accuse Providence itself; they refuse respect to laws established here below, and the virtue which has been honored by all centuries. To destroy the last vestiges of honor, they destroy temperance by joking at it; they attack justice, whether natural, or acquired by reason or exercise; in one word, they annihilate everything that could lead to virtue. Nothing remains but to seek out pleasure, to profess selfishness, to renounce all social relations with men, to think only of one's personal interest, unless indeed one's own innate disposition be good enough to resist their pernicious doctrines. Nothing that we regard as good is by them esteemed, for they seek entirely different objects.


Nevertheless, those who know the Divinity should attach themselves to Him even here below, and by devoting630 themselves to His first principles, correct earthly things by applying their divine nature thereto. Only a nature that disdains physical pleasure can understand that of which honor consists; those who have no virtue could never rise to intelligible entities. Our criticism of the (Gnostics) is justified by this that they never speak of virtue, never study it, give no definition of it, do not make out its kinds, and never repeat anything of the beautiful discussions thereof left to us by the ancient sages. The (Gnostics) never tell how one could acquire or preserve moral qualities, how one should cultivate or purify the soul.376 Their precept, "Contemplate the divinity,"377 is useless if one does not also teach how this contemplation is to take place. One might ask the (Gnostics) if such contemplation of the divinity would be hindered by any lust or anger? What would hinder one from repeating the name of the divinity, while yielding to the domination of the passions, and doing nothing to repress them? Virtue, when perfected, and by wisdom solidly established in the soul, is what shows us the divinity. Without real virtue, God is no more than a name.


16. One does not become a good man merely by scorning the divinities, the world, and the beauties it contains. Scorn of the divinities is the chief characteristic of the evil. Perversity is never complete until scorn of the divinities is reached; and if a man were not otherwise perverse, this vice would be sufficient to make him such. The respect which the (Gnostic) pretend to have for the intelligible divinities (the aeons) is an illogical accident. For when one loves a being, he loves all that attaches thereto; he extends to the children the affection for the parent. Now every soul is a daughter of the heavenly Father.631 The souls that preside over the stars are intellectual, good, and closer to the divinity than ours. How could this sense-world, with the divinities it contains, be separated from the intelligible world? We have already shown above the impossibility of such a separation. Here we insist that when one scorns beings so near to those that hold the front rank, it can only be that one knows them by name only.


How could it ever be considered pious to claim that divine Providence does not extend to sense-objects, or at least interests itself only in some of them (the spiritual men, not the psychical)? Such an assertion must surely be illogical. The (Gnostics) claim that divine Providence interests itself only in them. Was this the case while they were living on high, or only since they live here below? In the first case, why did they descend onto this earth? In the second, why do they remain here below? Besides, why should the Divinity not be present here below also? Otherwise how could He know that the (Gnostics), who are here below, have not forgotten Him, and have not become perverse? If He know those that have not become perverse, He must also know those who have become perverse, to distinguish the former from the latter. He must therefore be present to all men, and to the entire world, in some manner or other. Thus the world will participate in the Divinity. If the Divinity deprived the world of His presence, He would deprive you also thereof, and you could not say anything of Him or of the beings below Him. The world certainly derives its existence from Him whether the divinity protect you by His providence or His help, and whatever632 be the name by which you refer to Him. The world never was deprived of the Divinity, and never will be. The world has a better right than any individuals to the attentions of Providence, and to participation in divine perfections. This is particularly true in respect to the universal Soul, as is proved by the existence and wise arrangement of the world. Which of these so proud individuals is as well arranged, and as wise as the universe, and could even enter into such a comparison without ridicule or absurdity? Indeed, unless made merely in the course of a discussion, such a comparison is really an impiety. To doubt such truths is really the characteristic of a blind and senseless man, without experience or reason, and who is so far removed from knowledge of the intelligible world that he does not even know the sense-world? Could any musician who had once grasped the intelligible harmonies hear that of sense-sounds without profound emotion? What skilful geometrician or arithmetician will fail to enjoy symmetry, order and proportion, in the objects that meet his view? Though their eyes behold the same objects as common people, experts see in them different things; when, for instance, with practiced glance, they examine some picture. When recognizing in sense-objects an image of intelligible (essence), they are disturbed and reminded of genuine beauty: that is the origin of love.378 One rises to the intelligible by seeing a shining image of beauty glowing in a human face. Heavy and senseless must be that mind which could contemplate all the visible beauties, this harmony, and this imposing arrangement, this grand panoramic view furnished by the stars in spite of their distance, without being stirred to enthusiasm, and admiration of their splendor and magnificence. He who can fail to experience such feelings must have failed to observe sense-objects, or know even less the intelligible world.



17. Some (Gnostics) object that they hate the body because Plato379 complains much of it, as an obstacle to the soul, and as something far inferior to her. In this case, they should, making abstraction of the body of the world by thought, consider the rest; that is, the intelligible sphere which contains within it the form of the world, and then the incorporeal souls which, in perfect order, communicate greatness to matter by modeling it in space according to an intelligible model, so that what is begotten might, so far as possible, by its greatness, equal the indivisible nature of its model; for the greatness of sense-mass here below corresponds to the greatness of intelligible power. Let the (Gnostics) therefore consider the celestial sphere, whether they conceive of it as set in motion by the divine power that contains its principle, middle and end, or whether they imagine it as immovable, and not yet exerting its action on any of the things it governs by its revolution. In both ways they will attain a proper idea of the Soul that presides over this universe. Let them then conceive of this soul as united to a body, though remaining impassible, and still communicating to this body so far as the latter is capable of participating therein,380 some of its perfections, for the divinity is incapable of jealousy.381 Then they will form a proper idea of the world. They will understand how great is the power of the Soul, since she makes the body participate in her beauty to the limit of her receptivity. This body has no beauty by nature, but when (it is beautified by the Soul) it entrances divine souls.



The (Gnostics) pretend that they have no appreciation for the beauty of the world, and that they make no distinction between beautiful and ugly bodies. In this case they should not distinguish good from bad taste, nor recognize beauty in the sciences, in contemplation, nor in the divinity itself; for sense-beings possess beauty only by participation in first principles. If they be not beautiful, neither could those first principles be such. Consequently sense-beings are beautiful, though less beautiful than intelligible beings. The scorn professed by (Gnostics) for sense-beauty is praiseworthy enough if it refer only to the beauty of women and of young boys, and if its only purpose be to lead to chastity. But you may be sure that they do not boast of scorning what is ugly, they only boast of scorning what they had at first recognized and loved as being beautiful.


We must further observe that it is not the same beauty that is seen in the parts and in the whole, in individuals and in the universe; that there are beauties great enough in sense-objects and in individuals, for instance, in the guardians, to lead us to admire their creator, and to prove to us that they indeed are works of his. In this way we may attain a conception of the unspeakable beauty of the universal Soul, if we do not attach ourselves to sense-objects, and if, without scorning them, we know how to rise to intelligible entities. If the interior of a sense-being be beautiful, we shall judge that it is in harmony with its exterior beauty. If it be ugly we will consider that it is635 inferior to its principle. But it is impossible for a being really to be beautiful in its exterior while ugly within; for the exterior is beautiful only in so far as it is dominated by the interior.382 Those who are called beautiful, but who are ugly within, are externally beautiful only deceptively. In contradiction to those who claim that there are men who possess a beautiful body and an ugly soul, I insist that such never existed, and that it was a mistake to consider them beautiful. If such men were ever seen, their interior ugliness was accidental, and also their soul was, by nature, beautiful; for we often meet here below obstacles which hinder us from reaching our goal. But the universe cannot by any obstacle be hindered from possessing interior beauty in the same way that it possesses exterior beauty. The beings to whom nature has not, from the beginning, given perfection, may indeed not attain their goal, and consequently may become perverted; but the universe never was a child, nor imperfect; it did not develop, and received no physical increase. Such a physical increase would have been impossible inasmuch as it already possessed everything. Nor could we admit that its Soul had ever, in the course of time, gained any increase. But even if this were granted to the (Gnostics), this could not constitute any evil.


18. (Gnostics) however might object that their doctrine inspired revulsion from, and hate for the body, while (that of Plotinos) really attached the soul to the body (by recognition of its beauty). Hardly. We may illustrate by two guests who dwelt together in a beautiful house. The first guest blamed the disposition of the plan, and the architect who constructed it, but636 nevertheless remained within it. The other guest, instead of blaming the architect, praised his skill, and awaited the time when he might leave this house, when he should no longer need it. The first guest would think himself wiser and better prepared to leave because he had learned to repeat that walls are composed of lifeless stones and beams, and that this house was far from truly representing the intelligible house. He would however not know that the only difference obtaining between him and his companion, is that he did not know how to support necessary things, while his companion (who did not blame the house) will be able to leave it without regret because he loved stone-buildings only very moderately. So long as we have a body we have to abide in these houses constructed by the (world) Soul, who is our beneficent sister, and who had the power to do such great things without any effort.383


The Gnostics do not hesitate to call the most abandoned men their "brothers," but refuse this name to the sun, and the other deities of heaven, and to the very Soul of the world, fools that they are! Doubtless, to unite ourselves thus to the stars by the bonds of kindred, we must no longer be perverse, we must have become good, and instead of being bodies, we must be souls in these bodies; and, so far as possible, we must dwell within our bodies in the same manner as the universal Soul dwells within the body of the universe. To do this, one has to be firm, not allow oneself to be charmed by the pleasures of sight or hearing, and to remain untroubled by any reverse. The Soul of the world is not troubled by anything, because she637 is outside of the reach of all. We, however, who here below are exposed to the blows of fortune, must repel them by our virtue, weakening some, and foiling others by our constancy and greatness of soul.384 When we shall thus have approached this power which is out of the reach (of all exigencies), having approached the Soul of the universe and of the stars, we shall try to become her image, and even to increase this resemblance to the assimilation of fusion. Then, having been well disposed by nature and exercised, we also will contemplate what these souls have been contemplating since the beginning. We must also remember that the boast of some men that they alone have the privilege of contemplating the intelligible world does not mean that they really contemplate this world any more than any other men.


Vainly also do some (Gnostics) boast of having to leave their bodies when they will have ceased to live, while this is impossible to the divinities because they always fill the same function in heaven. They speak thus only because of their ignorance of what it is to be outside of the body, and of how the universal Soul in her entirety wisely governs what is inanimate.


We ourselves may very well not love the body, we may become pure, scorn death, and both recognize and follow spiritual things that are superior to earthly things. But on this account we should not be jealous of other men, who are not only capable of following638 the same goal, but who do constantly pursue it. Let us not insist that they are incapable of doing so. Let us not fall into the same error as those who deny the movement of the stars, because their senses show them to remain immovable. Let us not act as do the (Gnostics), who believe that the nature of the stars does not see what is external, because they themselves do not see that their own souls are outside.



1 A Stoic term.

2 As says Parmenides, verse 80.

3 Cicero, Tusc. i. 16; Nat. Deor. i. 1; Maxim. Tyr. xvii. 5.

4 As wastage, see 6.4, 10; as Numenius might have said in 12, 22.

5 As said Numenius fr. 46.

6 See Plato's Timaeus 37.

7 Od. xvii. 486.

8 See v. 3.5, 6.

9 See v. 3.10.

10 See v. 3.8, 9.

11 See v. 3.12–17.

12 See v. 5.13.

13 See ii. 1.2.

14 ii 1.1.

15 Aristotle, Met. v. 4.

16 Aristotle, Met. xii. 2.

17 Aristotle, Met. vii. 8.

18 Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 5.

19 Aristotle, Met. xii. 5.

20 Aristotle, Met. ix. 8.

21 Aristotle, Met. ix. 5.

22 That is, their producing potentiality, and not the potentiality of becoming these things, as thought Aristotle. Met. ix. 2.

23 As thought Aristotle, Soul, iii. 7; Met. xii.

24 By Plato in the Timaeus 52.

25 See iv. 6. A polemic against Aristotle, de Anima ii. 5, and the Stoics, Cleanthes, Sextus Empiricus, adv. Math. vii. 288, and Chrysippus, Diog. Laert. vii. 50.

26 As thought Chrysippus, Diog. Laert. vii. 111.

27 See iv. 6.

28 See vi. 6.16.

29 See ii. 6.2.

30 Plato, in his Phaedo 127.

31 See i. 2.1.

32 See i. 2.1, the Socratic definition.

33 See i. 1.2.4.

34 See ii. 5.2.

35 See i. 2.4.

36 A term of Stoic psychology.

37 See i. 2.4.

38 These are the so-called "passions" of the Stoic Chrysippus, Diog. Laert. vii. 111.

39 Of the Stoic contention, Tert. de Anima, 5.

40 See i. 1.13.

41 As was taught by Cleanthes, Sext. Empir. adv. Math. vii. 288.

42 See iii. 6.3.

43 Or, "affections," as we shall in the future call them, in English.

44 See i. 8.15.

45 Or, blindly, see iii. 8.1–3; iv. 4.13, 14.

46 See iii. 6.3, and i. 1.13.

47 See iii. 6.6.

48 See i. 4.8.

49 Notice this Numenian name for the divinity used at the beginning of the Escoreal Numenius fragment.

50 See iii. 8.9.

51 As Plato asked in his Sophist 246; Cxi. 252.

52 As thought Philo in Leg. Alleg. i.

53 See ii. 4.15.

54 See ii. 5.3–5.

55 See vi. 2.

56 See ii. 4.11.

57 As thought Plato in the Timaeus 49–52.

58 See ii. 5.5.

59 de Gen. et Corr. ii. 2, 3.

60 As objected Aristotle, in de Gen. et Corr. i. 7.

61 See ii. 7.1.

62 iii. 6.2.

63 As asked Aristotle, de Gen. i. 7.

64 In his Timaeus 50.

65 See iii 6.12, 13.

66 In his Timaeus 51.

67 See ii. 4.11.

68 In his Timaeus 51.

69 In his Timaeus 49.

70 See iii. 6.11.

71 As said Plato, in his Timaeus 52.

72 See ii. 8.14.

73 See iii. 5.9.

74 The myth of Pandora, see iv. 3.14.

75 See iii. 6.4.

76 See iii. 6.5, 6.

77 By a "bastard" reasoning," see ii. 4.10.

78 See ii. 4.9–12.

79 See iii. 6.12.

80 See ii. 7.2.

81 See iii. 6.13.

82 See ii. 4.8.

83 See ii. 6.3.

84 See ii. 4.5.

85 See iii. 4.6.

86 It would create the magnitude that exists in matter; that is, apparent magnitude.

87 ii. 4.11; against Moderatus of Gades.

88 See ii. 4.11.

89 See iv. 6.3.

90 See ii. 4.12.

91 That is, intelligible "being."

92 See iii. 6.8.

93 See ii. 7.1.

94 As was suggested by Plato in the Timaeus 49–52.

95 As was suggested by Herodotus, ii. 51, and Cicero, de Nat. Deor. iii. 22.

96 That is, Cybele, see v. 1.7.

97 The Stoics.

98 We have here another internal proof of the rightness of our present chronological order of Plotinos's Enneads. The myth of Pandora occurs in iv. 3.14, which follows this book.

99 Against the Manicheans.

100 See vi. 7.41.

101 See i. 1.13.

102 In that port of the Philebus, 29; C ii. 345.

103 As thought Plato, in the Phaedrus, 246–248.

104 As was taught by the Manicheans.

105 As thought Cicero, Tusculans, i. 20; and Aristotle, de Anima, iii. 1–3.

106 See ii. 9.18.

107 42; 69.

108 264; C vi. 48.

109 Rep. x. C 287.

110 See iv. 3.7.

111 See iv. 3.6.

112 See iv. 3.6.

113 Generative.

114 See iii. 2.16.

115 In the sense that it has no limits.

116 See iv. 3.15.

117 As thought Xenocrates and Aristotle, de Coelo, i. 10.

118 See iv. 3.10.

119 Philo, de Sommis, M 648, de Monarchia, M 217.

120 See iii. 6.16, 17.

121 As said Numenius, fr. 32.

122 As did Discord, in Homer's Iliad, iv. 443.

123 See ii. 9.7.

124 See v. 7.1.

125 See ii. 3.7.

126 Plato, Rep. x. C 617; C x. 286.

127 See iv. 4, 24, 40, 43; iv. 9.3.

128 As was taught by Himerius; see also Plutarch and Themistius.

129 As Numenius said, fr. 26.3.

130 In his Timaeus, 35.

131 As said Numenius, fr. 32.

132 See Aristotle, Plato's Critias, Numenius, 32, and Proclus.

133 As thought Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 1.4.

134 In his Timaeus, 34; 30.

135 Plato does just the opposite.

136 Being the power which directs the animal from above, see i. 1.7.

137 As thought Plato in the Timaeus, 73.

138 iv. 3.13.

139 As thought Plato in the Menexenus, 248.

140 As Aristotle asked, de Memoria et Remin. 1.

141 See i. 1.11.

142 Plato, Philebus, C ii. 359.

143 As thought Plato, in the Philebus, C ii. 357.

144 As thought Plato in his Philebus, C ii. 363.

145 See i. 1.12; iv. 3.32; the irrational soul, which is an image of the rational soul, is plunged in the darkness of sense-life.

146 As thought Plato in his Philebus, C ii. 359.

147 In iv. 3.27.

148 As thought Aristotle, de Mem. 1.

149 As thought Aristotle.

150 As thought Aristotle.

151 See i. 4.10.

152 As Numenius said, fr. 32.

153 Another reading is: "All perceptions belong to forms which can reduce to all things." But this does not connect with the next sentence.

154 According to Plato Phaedrus, 246; C vi. 40, and Philebus, 30; C ii. 347.

155 Timaeus, 33.

156 A pun on "schêma" and "schêsis."

157 As thought Aristotle, de Gen. et Corr. ii. 2–8.

158 Rep. x. 617; C x. 287; see 2.3.9.

159 Rep. x.

160 According to Aristotle.

161 iv. 4.23.

162 Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 7.

163 See section 5.

164 As thought Aristotle, de Anim. ii. 7.

165 As Plato pointed out in his Meno, 80.

166 As Plato teaches.

167 A mistaken notion of Plato's, then common; see Matth. 6.23.

168 Diog. Laert. vii. 157.

169 Section 8.

170 Section 2.

171 Section 6.

172 This Stoic theory is set forth by Diogenes Laertes in vii. 157.

173 As thought Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 8.

174 As Aristotle again thought.

175 As thought Aristotle, de Gener. Anim. v. 1.

176 See iv. 4.29.

177 This book sounds more Numenian or Amelian, than the former three, which seem to have been written to answer questions of Porphyry's.

178 See section 1–7.

179 As thought Aristotle in his Physics, viii.

180 iv. 3.10.

181 See ii. 3.13.

182 iii. 6.6.

183 Children, whose minds are still weak, and cannot understand the theories of speculative sciences exhibited by Nic. Eth. x. 7.

184 This upper part of the universal Soul is the principal power of the soul; see ii. 3.17.

185 See ii. 3.18.

186 In his Phaedrus, 272, Cary, 75.

187 That is, the essence of the known object, a pun on "reason," as in ii. 6.2.

188 see iv. 6.3.

189 Which is the visible form; see iii. 8.1.

190 As thought Plato, Banquet, Cary, 31, and Aristotle in Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 4.

191 This sounds as if it were a quotation from Numenius, though it does not appear in the latter's fragments.

192 See i. 8.2.

193 See v. 1.4.

194 See iii. 7.2.

195 See iii. 7.10.

196 Notice the connection between this thought and ii. 5, written in the same period of his life; see vi. 8.18.

197 See iii. 3.7 and vi. 8.15.

198 That is, the intelligible matter of ii. 4.3.

199 As thought Aristotle, in Nic. Eth. i. 7; de Anima, ii. 1.

200 See vi. 8.16.

201 vi. 8.15.

202 A pun on "koros," meaning both fulness and son.

203 Another proof of the chronological order; see 3.8.9.

204 Cicero, Orator 2; Seneca, Controversiae v. 36.

205 ii. 8.1.

206 See i. 6.8.

207 i. 6.2.

208 i. 6.9.

209 i. 6.8.

210 i. 6.2.

211 i. 6.6.

212 i. 6.5.

213 iii. 5.6.

214 As thought Plato, in Phaedrus, Cary, 58.

215 Phaedrus, Cary, 59, 62; Numenius, 32.

216 See ii. 2.1.

217 In Sophocles Oedipus Coloneus, 1375; a pun on "dü" and "dikên."

218 A pun between "science" and "knowledge."

219 In his Phaedrus; Cary, 58.

220 See v. 1.8.

221 See iv. 4.11, 12.

222 A pun on the word meaning "forms" and "statues," mentioned above.

223 Such as Numenius fr. 20.

224 Pun on "agalmata," which has already done duty for "statues" and "forms."

225 Here Plotinos refers to the hieratic writing, which differed from both the hieroglyphic and demotic.

226 See iii. 2 and 3.

227 See ii. 9.12; iii. 2.1.

228 In his Phaedrus, 246; Cary, 55.

229 As was taught by Cleomedes, Meteora viii, and Ptolemy, Almagest i, Geogr. i. 7; vii. 5.

230 See i. 6.9.

231 In his Timaeus, 37; Cary, c. 14.

232 See i. 3.2; i. 6.8.

233 Referring to the Gnostics; see ii. 9.17; this is another proof of the chronological order.

234 As proposed in ii. 9.17.

235 See i. 8.15.

236 As thought Plato in his Phaedrus; Cary, 56.

237 The "infra-celestial vault," of Theodor of Asine.

238 As said Plato, in his Phaedrus; Cary, 59.

239 See v. 1.6.

240 Gnostics.

241 Pun on "koros," fulness, or son.

242 Or, being satiated with good things.

243 See Life of Plotinos, 18. Notice how well the chronological order works out. The former book (31) and the next (33) treat of the Gnostics, while this book treats of the philosophical principle of their practical aspect. Besides, it explains the Amelio-Porphyrian quarrel. Like all other difficulties of the time, it was about Gnosticism, and Amelius's dismissal meant that Plotinos rejected Egyptian Gnosticism, and Numenius's true position as a dualist stands revealed; but after Porphyry's departure, Plotinos harked back to it.

244 We see here an assertion of the standpoint later asserted by Berkeley, Kant and Hegel that the mind cannot go outside itself, and that consequently it is the measure of all things. Kant's "thing-in-itself," a deduction from this, was already discovered by Plotinos in the result of the "bastard reasoning" process, which Hegel called "dialectic."

245 See iii. 6.1.

246 The Kantian "thing-in-itself." See Porphyry, Principles of Intelligibles, 33.

247 See iii. 6.1.

248 Here is a pun based on "doxa."

249 "Paradechomenê."

250 "Doxa," which is derived from "dechesthai," to receive.

251 We would, in other words, become pessimists.

252 This is Philo's secondary divinity, p. 27, Guthrie's "Message of Philo Judaeus."

253 That is, of the Intelligence and of the intelligible entities.

254 Who is the Unity; a Numenian conception, fr. 36.

255 A term reminiscent of the famous Christian Nicene formulation.

256 That is we will form a "pair." Numenius, 14, also taught the Pythagorean "pair or doubleness."

257 See vi. 6.16.

258 Pun between essences, "einai," and one, or "henos."

259 "Ousia."

260 Notice the two words for "essence." Plato Cratylus, 424; Cary, 87.

261 As Plato in his Cratylus suggests.

262 Or, essence.

263 Or, essence, to be.

264 Being.

265 The goddess Hestia in Greek, or Vesta in Latin; but "hestia" also meant a "stand." P. 401, Cratylus, Cary, 40.

266 See Numenius, 67, 42.

267 See ii. 9.1; iii. 9.9.

268 Such as Numenius, 42, and Plutarch, de Isis et Osiris, Fr. Tr. 381.

269 From "a-polus."

270 See i. 6.4; iii. 5.1.

271 See v. 5.1.

272 See i. 6, end.

273 Pun between "on" and "hen."

274 See Plato, Rep. vi., Cary, 13.

275 Mentioned in Biography of Plotinos, 16.

276 See vi. 9. Another proof of the chronological arrangement.

277 See v. 6.

278 See v. 1, 2, 3, 6; vi. 7, 9.

279 Of Bythos.

280 Ennoia and Thelesis.

281 By distinguishing within each of them potentiality and actualization, Numenius, 25, multiplied them.

282 Nous, and Logos or Achamoth; see ii. 9.6.

283 The prophoric logos, see i. 2.3; and Philo. de Mosis Vita 3.

284 See v. 3.4.

285 See i. 1.7.

286 This is a mingling of Platonic and Aristotelic thought, see Ravaisson, Essay on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, ii. 407.

287 Which would be nonsense; the Gnostics (Valentinus) had gone as far as 33 aeons.

288 See ii. 9.11.

289 Between the sense-world, and the intelligible world, see iv. 3.5–8; v. 2.3. Plotinos is followed by Jamblichus and Damascius, but Proclus and Hermias denied that the soul did not entirely enter into the body, Stobaeus, Ecl. i. 52.

290 See iv. 3.18; iv. 4.3.

291 The intelligible world.

292 See iv. 3.1–8; iv. 9.

293 Thus Plotinos opposes the Gnostic belief that the world was created, and will perish.

294 See ii. 9, 9, 16.

295 The Gnostic Horos.

296 As Plato said Phaedrus, 246; Cary, 55.

297 The Gnostic theory of creation by the fall of Sophia and Achamoth.

298 See ii. 9.11. Valentinus however said only that Achamoth had created all things in honor of the aeons; only the later theologians held this view mentioned by Plotinos.

299 See i. 2.1, 2.

300 See I. Tim. vi. 20, 21; and ii. 9.9.

301 See ii. 3.9.

302 See ii. 1.4.

303 This, however, is a mistake of Plotinos's, as the Gnostics held not this, but that the pneumatic or spiritual humans dwell on earth, and the psychic in heaven, as Bouillet remarks.

304 So that they should remain in the model instead of descending here below?

305 By remaining in the model, instead of descending here below.

306 That is, the spiritual germs emanating from the "plerôma."

307 Plotinos here treats as synonymous "new earth," "reason of the world," "model of the world," and "form of the world;" but Bouillet shows that there is reason to believe he was in error in the matter.

308 From the plerôma, whose "seeds of election" they were, and which now become to them a foreign country.

309 Of the aeons, from whom souls, as intelligible beings, had emanated.

310 As in the famous drama of Sophia and Achamoth.

311 The unseen place; the transmigrations of Basilides, Valentinus, Carpocrates, and the others.

312 P. 39. Cary, 15.

313 Added to Plato by Plotinos.

314 Plotinos had done so himself (Intelligence, and the intelligible world); Numenius (25) also did so.

315 See iv. 3.8, 15.

316 Such as Pythagoras and Plato, Life of Plot. 23.

317 See ii. 9.17.

318 The doctrine of the Gnostics.

319 Or, generations, the "syzygies" of the aeons, see Titus iii. 9.

320 ii. 9.17.

321 As in the drama of the fall of Sophia and Achamoth.

322 See ii. 1.1; iii. 2.1; iv. 3.9.

323 See i. 2.

324 iv. 3.

325 For the descending souls enter bodies already organized by the universal Soul, see iv. 3.6; ii. 1.5; ii. 3.9; ii. 9.18.

326 Lower part, see ii. 1.5; ii. 3.5, 18.

327 See ii. 1, 3, 4, 5.

328 The first "bond" is nature, the second is the human soul.

329 See ii. 1.3.

330 That is, the stars, ii. 3.7–13.

331 See ii. 9.5.

332 With Plato's Timaeus, 29, Cary, 9.

333 In the universal Soul, ii. 3.16, 17.

334 By existing and creating, see ii. 5.2.

335 See i. 8.7, for matter.

336 See ii. 9.3.

337 See Philo, de Gigant. i.

338 See ii. 2.1.

339 See ii. 3.9–13.

340 See iv. 8.

341 See ii. 3.9.

342 See i. 4.8.

343 See i. 2.

344 See i. 4.7.

345 See ii. 3.13.

346 See i. 4.8.

347 See i. 4.14–16.

348 See ii. 3.8, 16.

349 See ii. 3.9.

350 See below.

351 The stars, see ii. 3.9.

352 That is, Intelligence, see i. 8.2.

353 The stars prognosticate events, see ii. 3.9.

354 See i. 2.

355 To the perfect Father, Bythos, Irenaeus, ii. 18.

356 See Irenaeus, iii. 15.

357 See ii. 9.16.

358 See Irenaeus. i. 21.

359 See Irenaeus, iii. 15.

360 See i. 1.12.

361 Thus identifying the "reasonable soul" with Sophia, and "the soul of growth and generation" with Achamoth.

362 See ii. 9.4.

363 ii. 3.16.

364 Or "seminal reasons," ii. 3.13.

365 See iii. 4.1.

366 As wrote Plato in his second Letter, 2, 312, Cary, 482.

367 Jeremiah x. 2.

368 Pindar, Olymp. i. 43.

369 See ii. 3.9.

370 See ii. 3.7.

371 See ii. 3.7.

372 As thought Plato, Laws, x, p. 897, Cviii. 265; Cary, C8, that evil is only negative.

373 See Irenaeus, i. 25.

374 See Origen, c. Cels. i. 24.

375 See i. 2.

376 This is, however, extreme, as Clement of Alexandria hands down helpful extracts from Valentinus, Strom. iv.; etc.

377 See ii. 9.9

378 See i. 6.7.

379 In his Phaedo, pp. 66, 67; Cary, 29–32.

380 That is, according to its receptivity.

381 As thought Plato in the Timaeus, p. 29; C xi. 110, Cary, 10.

382 By the soul that gives it form, see i. 6.2.

383 See iii. 4.6; v. 1.2–6.

384 See i.4.8–14.

385 This was evidently a rebuke to Amelius, for his faithfulness to Numenius; and it is at this time that Amelius left Plotinos.

386 This may refer to Numenius's views, see fr. 27 b. 10.

387 Compare Numenius, fr. 61, 62a.

Transcriber's Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this four-volume set; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Infrequent spelling of "Plotinus" changed to the predominant "Plotinos."

Several opening or closing parentheses and quotation marks are unmatched; Transcriber has not attempted to determine where they belong.

Cover created by Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain.

Page 377: "lation as (form)" perhaps should be "relation as (form)"; unchanged here.

Page 387: "two order of things" perhaps should be "two orders of things".

Page 459: "who is imaging to know" probably should be who is "imagining to know".

Page 459: the opening parenthesis in "which (the Soul herself" has no matching closing parenthesis; it probably belongs after "Soul".

Page 467: incorrect/inconsistent single and double quotation marks in the following line have not been changed:

passion' and suffering, unless the word "suffering'

Page 470: "What in us in the soul's" perhaps should be "What in us is the soul's".

Page 494: in the source, the last line, "who assumes the various poses suggested by the music," was out of place; no suitable place for it was found, so it has been removed for continuity and now appears only in this note.

Page 530: the closing parenthesis after "perceived object" also is the closing parenthesis for the phrase beginning "is ill-founded". There are other instances in this four-volume set in which closing parentheses and quotation marks are shared.

Page 555: "within yourself they you may" perhaps should be "within yourself then you may".

Page 613: "a constitution similar that of each" probably should be "a constitution similar to that of each".

Cover created by Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain.

Footnote Issues

In these notes, "anchor" means the reference to a footnote, and "footnote" means the information to which the anchor refers. Anchors occur within the main text, while footnotes are grouped in sequence at the end of this eBook. The structure of the original book required two exceptions to this, as explained below.

The original text used chapter endnotes. In this eBook, they have been combined into a single, ascending sequence based on the sequence in which the footnotes occurred in the original book, and placed at the end of the eBook. Several irregularities are explained below.

1. Some footnotes are referenced by more than one anchor, so two or more anchors may refer to the same footnote.

2. Some anchors were out of sequence, apparently because they were added afterwards or because they are share a footnote with another anchor. They have been renumbered to match the numbers of the footnotes to which they refer.

Page 349: Footnote 16 (originally 2) has no anchor.

Page 597: Footnote 251 (originally 9) has no anchor.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 2, by
Plotinos (Plotinus)


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