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Title: Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 2 - In Chronological Order, Grouped in Four Periods
Author: Plotinos (Plotinus)
Language: English
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    Complete Works

    In Chronological Order, Grouped in Four Periods;

    STUDIES in Sources, Development, Influence;
    INDEX of Subjects, Thoughts and Words.


    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 yet
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 experience[1] (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


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. This 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. 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 is 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 be 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 of 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


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 simultaneously 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,


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 suppose 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 the 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 no 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 one 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; as 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 the 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 the 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 perpetual 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 different 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 should 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


(Let us study) the relation of the (world) Soul to bodies. As this
relation is of a different kind, it must 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
in 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) approaches 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, 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 proposition
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 particular 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 every 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 remains
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


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 one 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, 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 which 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 some 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


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 intelligible (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


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, the 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


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
in 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, 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 may 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 beings 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 not 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 its 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 is 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


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 your 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 be 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


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 be 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 thus 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; without 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, 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 simple[12]).
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;
for 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 must 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 change[13]--although, indeed,
there are sense-objects (such as the stars[14]), 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 the 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


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, 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, 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


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 a (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). But these two things form
a single nature, as Aristotle also says that his "quintessence" is


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 said[24] that intelligible nature is always
awake, that it is a life, an 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,
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


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. 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 number[28] 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 we 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


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-part[36] 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
also 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 admission[39] 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


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 still 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 that 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 the 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 matter[48]), 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
lower 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 essence[49] 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 is 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, and 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 name "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 would 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 Aristotle[59]), 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 matter 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 perhaps 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. 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, 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 when[64] 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 introduction
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 the 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. Plato[66] 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; 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 speaks[68] 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 is 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, the 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 of 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
(satisfaction[72]). 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 wonderful 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 becomes
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 penetrate 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 remained (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 itself[81] (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, that 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 produce 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.[89] 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 reason[91] 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


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 researches[101]; 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 there 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 Philebus[102]) 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
universe[103]; 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, taken 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, in 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
actualization 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 functions (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 entirely 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 all 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


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, and 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 Timaeus[107] 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 Phaedrus[108]: "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, 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 by the moral habits, the activities,
the thoughts and behavior of these souls in earlier existence.
According to Plato[109] 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 universal[113] 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. 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


(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 from 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, 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


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 means suitable that what approached the soul should in no
way participate in reason[118]; 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 presence[119] 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


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, 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


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 easily 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, 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
it 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 fixed 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
only 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


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 more 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. Where 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 were 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 Plato[130] 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 the
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



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, 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
would 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 the 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 of 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 the 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 that 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, 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)
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 law[138] 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
around[139] 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 the 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
peculiar 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 what 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.[146] 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-objects; 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
and 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


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


(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 preserve 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 souls[152]; 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 distinguished 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 her 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


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 it 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 perceiving 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 intelligible 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 participates 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


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 her 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 entities 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 change 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


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


6. It may therefore be fearlessly affirmed that the souls which
exercise their discursive reason, and which 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


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 possesses 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, 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; because 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 eternity[154] 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 possess 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? The 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 immense 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-universe 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, 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
impressed 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 the 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 souls 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 expresses 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, 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, 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 commands 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 the 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 by
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


Why therefore should we recognize two kinds of desires, instead of
acknowledging only one kind in the living body? Because nature differs
from the body 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, 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 possesses 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 of 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. 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 must 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


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 at 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 have 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 us 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 for 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 power 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 the
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, and 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
the 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 brilliance 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, 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 the 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, the 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 from their mixture[157]; 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, 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 along 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, 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
configuration 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, and 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 it 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


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 do 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 are
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


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. If 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 said[158]; "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
only 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 all 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. Thus[160] 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
themselves 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, 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 disposition 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 the 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, 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
place 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


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 to 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. Above[161] we suggested the question whether it be possible to see
without some medium such as the air or a diaphanous body[162]; 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 contact 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) the 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 vision[166] 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 only
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, which 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;
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


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 to 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. Later[171] 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
consequently 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 tension[172] 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 affection 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
impressed 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 have 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 undergone 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, as 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 brilliant[175]; 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 is 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.[176]


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 to 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 its 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 no
longer be the first motor[179]; 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 produce[180]; 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, 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,
which does nothing but contemplate, and which produces by its mere


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


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 was 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
activity[183] (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 fructified[184];
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
originally 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 Plato[186] 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 achieved 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 reason[187] 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 she 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. 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 also 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; 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


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 otherwise
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


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


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
this 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 intuition 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 one 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 father[202]? 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


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. 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, 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 is 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 (Narcissus[206]), 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 a 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 genuine 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 body[213]; 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
heaven 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


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. The 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
sciences[218] 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 Plato[219] 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 produced 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 ancients[223] said that ideas are essences and


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
it[225] expressing it discursively, declaring the causes of the
constitution of things, wherever their beautiful disposition excited
admiration. The wisdom of the 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
truth[226] 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 inclined 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 the 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 spherical[229];
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 Plato[231] 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;
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 experiment[234]). 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." Without 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 being[235] 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 imitation 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


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


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, 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 arouses 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 these
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 men[240] 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 fulness[241] 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 receive 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


That Intelligible Entities Are Not External to the Intelligence of the

(_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 demands[245] assent of
the intelligence, or at least of the discursive reason, for though we
admit 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, types[247]) 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 are 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 contemplating 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 opinion[248] because it is a receptive[249] 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 the 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 worthy of itself to constitute all these entities. Though
this nature be divine, it is nevertheless but the second divinity[252];
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
the 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 be 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 between 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 pronounces 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


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 merely 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 Pythagoreans[268]
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 neither 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, it 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


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 contrary 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, one
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 is 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 the 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, 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 them[271]; 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 thereby
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 all 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 would 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


1. We have already seen[276] 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 Principle[279]) potentiality
from actualization[280]; 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 utterance[283] of the second.
The inaction of the one and the action of the other would be equally
mysterious. By its being (or, nature), 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
thinks 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 incongruous 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 effect 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 because[296] 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
honored[298] seems unworthy, 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 movements[299]? 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 purer[302] (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? 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 by "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 universe[313]] 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 entirely 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 sarcasms 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 demonstrated[322] 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
advantageous 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 that[326] 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 composed 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 creating 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 forced[332] 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


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 power[336]; 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 world[338]? 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
deities[339]? 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 below[340]? 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 them[342]? 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


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
said[346] 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 punishment[348]?


Not only are there here below statues of the divinities, but even the
divinities condescend to look 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 good[350]; 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 pride[356]; 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 another 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 illuminated 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 honored[362]? 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 can 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
stroke[363]? Indeed, this conception of the world 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 natures[364] 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


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 were
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 in 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 nature[369]; 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 intelligible 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 them[373]? 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


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. Sometimes 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 different (from our teachings), we would have no advantage in a
further detailed contrast; and it would be unworthy of us to pursue the


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 devoting 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. 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
whatever 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


17. Some (Gnostics) object that they hate the body because Plato[379]
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 is 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, but 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 she 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 following 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

[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.

[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

[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

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.

This four-volume set contains fifty-four "Books," each of which
contains several Sections. Some of the "Books" group those Sections
into sub-Chapters whose headings begin with a letter: "A.", "B.", etc.
(see page 387 as an example). In this plain text version of this eBook,
the Sections and the sub-Chapters are preceded by two blank lines.

Section headings beginning with letter enumerations, such as A. B. C.
were printed larger than normal Section headings.

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

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".

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.

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