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Title: Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 1 - 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.

    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.

    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. I
    Biographies; Amelian Books, 1-21.

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


It is only with mixed feelings that such a work can be published.
Overshadowing all is the supreme duty to the English-speaking world,
and secondarily to the rest of humanity to restore to them in an
accessible form their, till now, unexploited spiritual heritage, with
its flood of light on the origins of their favorite philosophy. And
then comes the contrast--the pitiful accomplishment. Nor could it
be otherwise; for there are passages that never can be interpreted
perfectly; moreover, the writer would gladly have devoted to it every
other leisure moment of his life--but that was impossible. As a matter
of fact, he would have made this translation at the beginning of his
life, instead of at its end, had it not been for a mistaken sense of
modesty; but as no one offered to do it, he had to do it himself. If he
had done it earlier, his "Philosophy of Plotinos" would have been a far
better work.

Indeed, if it was not for the difficulty and expense of putting it
out, the writer would now add to the text an entirely new summary of
Plotinos's views. The fairly complete concordance, however, should
be of service to the student, and help to rectify the latest German
summary of Plotinos, that by Drews, which in its effort to furnish a
foundation for Hartmann's philosophy of the unconscious, neglected both
origins and spiritual aspects. However, the present genetic insight of
Plotinos's development should make forever impossible that theory of
cast-iron coherence, which is neither historical nor human.

The writer, having no thesis such as Drews' to justify, will
welcome all corrections and suggestions. He regrets the inevitable
uncertainties of capitalization (as between the supreme One,
Intelligence World-Soul and Daemon or guardian, and the lower
one, intelligence, soul and demon or guardian); and any other
inconsistencies of which he may have been guilty; and he beseeches the
mantle of charity in view of the stupendousness of the undertaking,
in which he practically could get no assistance of any kind, and also
in view of the almost insuperable difficulties of his own career. He,
however, begs to assure the reader that he did everything "ad majorem
Dei gloriam."



    Preface                                                  1

    Concordance of Enneads and Chronological Numbers         2

    Concordance of Chronological Numbers and Enneads         3

    Biography of Plotinos, by Porphyry                       5

    Biographies by Eunapius and Suidas                      39

    Amelian Books, 1-21                                     40

    Amelio-Porphyrian Books, 22-23                         283

    Porphyrian Books, 34-45                                641

    Eustochian Books, 46-54                               1017



    1.  Development in the Teachings of Plotinos          1269

    2.  Platonism: Significance, Progress, and Results    1288

    3.  Plotinos' View of Matter                          1296

    4.  Plotinos' Creation of the Trinity                 1300

    5.  Resemblances to Christianity                      1307

    6.  Indebtedness to Numenius                          1313

    7.  Value of Plotinos                                 1327

        Concordance to Plotinos                              i

An outline of the doctrines of Plotinos is published under the title
"The Message of Plotinos."


     i.1  53    iii.1   3     v.1  10

     i.2  19    iii.2  47     v.2  11

     i.3  20    iii.3  48     v.3  49

     i.4  46    iii.4  15     v.4   7

     i.5  36    iii.5  50     v.5  32

     i.6   1    iii.6  26     v.6  24

     i.7  54    iii.7  45     v.7  18

     i.8  51    iii.8  30     v.8  31

     i.9  16    iii.9  13     v.9   5

    ii.1  40     iv.1   4    vi.1  42

    ii.2  14     iv.2  21    vi.2  43

    ii.3  52     iv.3  27    vi.3  44

    ii.4  12     iv.4  28    vi.4  22

    ii.5  25     iv.5  29    vi.5  23

    ii.6  17     iv.6  41    vi.6  34

    ii.7  37     iv.7   2    vi.7  38

    ii.8  35     iv.8   6    vi.8  39

    ii.9  33     iv.9   8    vi.9   9


     1    i.6    19    i.2    37   ii.7

     2   iv.7    20    i.3    38   vi.7

     3  iii.1    21   iv.2    39   vi.8

     4   iv.1    22   vi.4    40   ii.1

     5    v.9    23   vi.5    41   iv.6

     6   iv.8    24    v.6    42   vi.1

     7    v.4    25   ii.5    43   vi.2

     8   iv.9    26  iii.6    44   vi.3

     9   vi.9    27   iv.3    45  iii.7

    10    v.1    28   iv.4    46    i.4

    11    v.2    29   iv.5    47  iii.2

    12   ii.4    30  iii.8    48  iii.3

    13  iii.9    31    v.8    49    v.3

    14   ii.2    32    v.5    50  iii.5

    15  iii.4    33   ii.9    51    i.8

    16    i.9    34   vi.6    52   ii.3

    17   ii.6    35   ii.8    53    i.1

    18    v.7    36    i.5    54    i.7

Life of Plotinos And Order of his Writings

By PORPHYRY. (_Written when about 70 years of age, see 23._)


Plotinos the philosopher, who lived recently, seemed ashamed of having
a body. Consequently he never spoke of his family or home (Lycopolis,
now Syout, in the Thebaid, in Egypt). He never would permit anybody
to perpetuate him in a portrait or statue. One day that Amelius[1]
begged him to allow a painting to be made of him, he said, "Is it not
enough for me to have to carry around this image[2], in which nature
has enclosed us? Must I besides transmit to posterity the image of this
image as worthy of attention?" As Amelius never succeeded in getting
Plotinos to reconsider his refusal, and to consent to give a sitting,
Amelius begged his friend Carterius, the most famous painter of those
times, to attend Plotinos's lectures, which were free to all. By dint
of gazing at Plotinos, Carterius so filled his own imagination with
Plotinos's features that he succeeded in painting them from memory.
By his advice, Amelius directed Carterius in these labors, so that
this portrait was a very good likeness. All this occurred without the
knowledge of Plotinos.


Plotinos was subject to chronic digestive disorders; nevertheless,
he never was willing to take any remedies, on the plea that it was
unworthy of a man of his age to relieve himself by such means. Neither
did he ever take any of the then popular "wild animal remedy," because,
said he, he did not even eat the flesh of domestic animals, let alone
that of savage ones. He never bathed, contenting himself, with daily
massage at home. But when at the period of the plague, which was most
virulent,[3] the man who rubbed him died of it, he gave up the massage.
This interruption in his habits brought on him a chronic quinsy, which
never became very noticeable, so long as I remained with him; but after
I left him, it became aggravated to the point that his voice, formerly
sonorous and powerful, became permanently hoarse; besides, his vision
became disturbed, and ulcers appeared on his hands and feet. All this
I learned on my return, from my friend Eustochius, who remained with
him until his end. These inconveniences hindered his friends from
seeing him as often as they used to do, though he persisted in his
former custom of speaking to each one individually. The only solution
of this difficulty was for him to leave Rome. He retired into Campania,
on an estate that had belonged to Zethus, one of his friends who had
died earlier. All he needed was furnished by the estate itself, or
was brought to him from the estate at Minturnae, owned by Castricius
(author of a Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, to whom Porphyry
dedicated his treatise on Vegetarianism). Eustochius himself told me
that he happened to be at Puzzoli at the time of Plotinos's death,
and that he was slow in reaching the bedside of Plotinos. The latter
then said to him, "I have been waiting for you; I am trying to unite
what is divine in us[4] to that which is divine in the universe." Then
a serpent, who happened to be under Plotinos's death-bed slipped into
a hole in the wall (as happened at the death of Scipio Africanus,
Pliny, Hist. Nat. xv. 44), and Plotinos breathed his last. At that
time Plotinos was 66 years old (in 270, born in 205), according to the
account of Eustochius. The emperor Claudius II was then finishing the
second year of his reign. I was at Lilybaeum; Amelius was at Apamaea
in Syria, Castricius in Rome, and Eustochius alone was with Plotinos.
If we start from the second year of Claudius II and go back 66 years,
we will find that Plotinos's birth falls in the 18th year of Septimus
Severus (205). He never would tell the month or day of his birth,
because he did not approve of celebrating his birth-day either by
sacrifices, or banquets. Still he himself performed a sacrifice, and
entertained his friends on the birth-days of Plato and Socrates; and on
those days those who could do it had to write essays and read them to
the assembled company.


This is as much as we learned about him during various interviews
with him. At eight years of age he was already under instruction by a
grammarian, though the habit of uncovering his nurse's breast to suck
her milk, with avidity, still clung to him. One day, however, she so
complained of his importunity that he became ashamed of himself, and
ceased doing so. At 28 years of age he devoted himself entirely to
philosophy. He was introduced to the teachers who at that time were
the most famous in Alexandria. He would return from their lectures
sad and discouraged. He communicated the cause of this grief to one
of his friends, who led him to Ammonius, with whom Plotinos was not
acquainted. As soon as he heard this philosopher, he said to his
friend, "This is the man I was looking for!" From that day forwards
he remained close to Ammonius. So great a taste for philosophy did he
develop, that he made up his mind to study that which was being taught
among the Persians, and among the Hindus. When emperor Gordian prepared
himself for his expedition against the Persians, Plotinos, then 39
years old, followed in the wake of the army. He had spent between 10
to 11 years near Ammonius. After Gordian was killed in Mesopotamia,
Plotinos had considerable trouble saving himself at Antioch. He reached
Rome while Philip was emperor, and when he himself was 50 years of age.


Herennius, (the pagan) Origen, and Plotinos had agreed to keep secret
the teachings they had received from Ammonius. Plotinos carried out his
agreement. Herennius was the first one to break it, and Origen followed
his example. The latter limited himself to writing a book entitled,
"Of Daemons;" and, under the reign of Gallienus, he wrote another one
to prove that "The Emperor alone is the Only Poet" (if the book was
a flattery; which is not likely. Therefore it probably meant: "The
King (of the universe, that is, the divine Intelligence), is the only
'demiurgic' Creator.")


For a long period Plotinos did not write anything. He contented himself
with teaching orally what he had learned from Ammonius. He thus passed
ten whole years teaching a few pupils, without committing anything to
writing. However, as he allowed his pupils to question him, it often
happened that his school was disorderly, and that there were useless
discussions, as I later heard from Amelius.


Amelius enrolled himself among the pupils of Plotinos during the third
year of Plotinos's stay in Rome, which also was the third year of the
reign of Claudius II, that is, 24 years. Amelius originally had been
a disciple of the Stoic philosopher Lysimachus.[5] Amelius surpassed
all his fellow-pupils by his systematic methods of study. He had
copied, gathered, and almost knew by heart all the works of Numenius.
He composed a hundred copy-books of notes taken at the courses of
Plotinos, and he gave them as a present to his adopted son, Hostilianus
Hesychius, of Apamea. (Fragments of Amelius's writings are found
scattered in those of Proclus, Stobaeus, Olympiodorus, Damascius, and
many of the Church Fathers.)


In the tenth year of the reign of Gallienus, I (then being twenty
years of age), left Greece and went to Rome with Antonius of Rhodes.
I found there Amelius, who had been following the courses of Plotinos
for eighteen years. He had not yet dared to write anything, except a
few books of notes, of which there were not yet as many as a hundred.
In this tenth year of the reign of Gallienus, Plotinos was fifty-nine
years old. When I (for the second, and more important time) joined
him, I was thirty years of age. During the first year of Gallienus,
Plotinos began to write upon some topics of passing interest, and in
the tenth year of Gallienus, when I visited him for the first time, he
had written twenty-one books, which had been circulated only among a
very small number of friends. They were not given out freely, and it
was not easy to go through them. They were communicated to students
only under precautionary measures, and after the judgment of those who
received them had been carefully tested.


I shall mention the books that Plotinos had already written at that
time. As he had prefixed no titles to them, several persons gave them
different ones. Here are those that have asserted themselves:

     1.  Of the Beautiful.                                i. 6.

     2.  Of the Immortality of the Soul.                 iv. 7.

     3.  Of Fate.                                       iii. 1.

     4.  Of the Nature of the Soul.                      iv. 1.

     5.  Of Intelligence, of Ideas, and of Existence.     v. 9.

     6.  Of the Descent of the Soul into the Body.       iv. 8.

     7.  How does that which is Posterior to the First
           Proceed from Him? Of the One.                  v. 4.

     8.  Do all the Souls form but a Single Soul?        iv. 9.

     9.  Of the Good, or of the One.                     vi. 9.

    10.  Of the Three Principal Hypostatic Forms of
           Existence,                                     v. 1.

    11.  Of Generation, and of the Order of Things
           after the First,                               v. 2.

    12.  (Of the Two) Matters, (the Sensible and
           Intelligible).                                ii. 4.

    13.  Various Considerations,                        iii. 9.

    14.  Of the (Circular) Motion of the Heavens.        ii. 2.

    15.  Of the Daemon Allotted to Us,                  iii. 4.

    16.  Of (Reasonable) Suicide,                         i. 9.

    17.  Of Quality,                                     ii. 6.

    18.  Are there Ideas of Individuals?                  v. 7.

    19.  Of Virtues.                                      i. 2.

    20.  Of Dialectics.                                   i. 3.

    21.  (How does the Soul keep the Mean between
           Indivisible Nature and Divisible Nature?)     iv. 2.

These twenty-one books were already written when I visited Plotinos; he
was then in the fifty-ninth year of his age.


I remained with him this year, and the five following ones. I had
already visited Rome ten years previously; but at that time Plotinos
spent his summers in vacation, and contented himself with instructing
his visitors orally.

During the above-mentioned six years, as several questions had been
cleared up in the lectures of Plotinos, and at the urgent request of
Amelius and myself that he write them down, he wrote two books to prove


    22.  The One and Identical Existence is Everywhere
           Entire, I,                                   vi. 4.

    23.  Second Part Thereof.                           vi. 5.

Then he wrote the book entitled:

    24.  The Superessential Transcendent Principle
           Does Not Think. Which is the First Thinking
           Principle? And Which is the Second?           v. 6.

He also wrote the following books:

    25.  Of Potentiality and Actualization.             ii. 5.

    26.  Of the Impassibility of Incorporeal
           Entities.                                   iii. 6.

    27.  Of the Soul, First Part.                       iv. 3.

    28.  Of the Soul, Second Part.                      iv. 4.

    29.  (Of the Soul, Third; or, How do We See?)       iv. 5.

    30.  Of Contemplation.                             iii. 8.

    31.  Of Intelligible Beauty.                         v. 8.

    32.  The Intelligible Entities are not Outside of
           Intelligence. Of Intelligence and of Soul.    v. 5.

    33.  Against the Gnostics.                          ii. 9.

    34.  Of Numbers.                                    vi. 6.

    35.  Why do Distant Objects Seem Small?             ii. 8.

    36.  Does Happiness (Consist in Duration?)           i. 5.

    37.  Of the Mixture with Total Penetration.         ii. 7.

    38.  Of the Multitude of Ideas; Of the Good.        vi. 7.

    39.  Of the Will.                                   vi. 8.

    40.  (Of the World).                                ii. 1.

    41.  Of Sensation, and of Memory.                   iv. 6.

    42.  Of the Kinds of Existence, First.              vi. 1.

    43.  Of the Kinds of Existence, Second.             vi. 2.

    44.  Of the Kinds of Existence, Third.              vi. 3.

    45.  Of Eternity and Time.                         iii. 7.

Plotinos wrote these twenty-four books during the six years I spent
with him; as subjects he would take the problems that happened to come
up, and which we have indicated by the titles of these books. These
twenty-four books, joined to the twenty-one Plotinos had written before
I came to him, make forty-five.


While I was in Sicily, where I went in the fifteenth year of the reign
of Gallienus, he wrote five new books that he sent me:

    46.  Of Happiness.                                   i. 4.

    47.  Of Providence, First.                         iii. 2.

    48.  Of Providence, Second.                        iii. 3.

    49.  Of the Hypostases that Act as Means of
           Knowledge, and of the Transcendent.           v. 3.

    50.  Of Love.                                      iii. 5.

These books he sent me in the last year of the reign of Claudius II,
and at the beginning of the second.

Shortly before dying, he sent me the following four books:

    51.  Of the Nature of Evils.                         i. 8.

    52.  Of the Influence of the Stars.                 ii. 3.

    53.  What is the Animal? What is Man?                i. 1.

    54.  Of the First Good (or, of Happiness).           i. 7.

These nine books, with the forty-five previously written, make in all

Some were composed during the youth of the author, others when in
his bloom, and finally the last, when his body was already seriously
weakened; and they betray his condition while writing them. The
twenty-one first books seem to indicate a spirit which does not yet
possess all its vigor and firmness. Those that he wrote during the
middle of his life, show that his genius was then in its full form.
These twenty-four books may be considered to be perfect, with the
exception of a few passages. The last nine are less powerful than the
others; and of these nine, the last four are the weakest.


Plotinos had a great number of auditors and disciples, who were
attracted to his courses by love of philosophy.

Among this number was Amelius of Etruria, whose true name was
Gentilianus. He did indeed insist that in his name the letter "l"
should be replaced by "r," so that his name should read "Amerius," from
"ameria" (meaning indivisibility, though Suidas states that it was
derived from the town of Ameria, in the province of Umbria), and not
Amelius, from "amellia" (negligence).

A very zealous disciple of Plotinos was a physician from Scythopolis
(or, Bethshean, in Palestine), named Paulinus, whose mind was full of
ill-digested information and whom Amelius used to call Mikkalos (the

Eustochius of Alexandria, also a physician, knew Plotinos at the end
of his life, and remained with him until his death, to care for him.
Exclusively occupied with the teachings of Plotinos, he himself became
a genuine philosopher.

Zoticus, also, attached himself to Plotinos. He was both critic and
poet; he corrected the works of Antimachus, and beautifully versified
the fable of the Atlantidae. His sight gave out, however, and he died
shortly before Plotinos. Paulinus also, died before Plotinos.

Zethus was one of the disciples of Plotinos. He was a native of Arabia,
and had married the daughter of Theodosius, friend of Ammonius. He was
a physician, and much beloved by Plotinos, who sought to lead him to
withdraw from public affairs, for which he had considerable aptitude;
and with which he occupied himself with zeal. Plotinos lived in very
close relations with him; he even retired to the country estate of
Zethus, distant six miles from Minturnae.

Castricius, surnamed Firmus, had once owned this estate. Nobody, in our
times, loved virtue more than Firmus. He held Plotinos in the deepest
veneration. He rendered Amelius the same services that might have been
rendered by a good servant, he displayed for me the attentions natural
towards a brother. Nevertheless this man, who was so attached to
Plotinos, remained engaged in public affairs.

Several senators, also, came to listen to Plotinos. Marcellus,
Orontius, Sabinillus and Rogatianus applied themselves, under Plotinos,
to the study of philosophy.

The latter, who also was a member of the senate, had so detached
himself from the affairs of life, that he had abandoned all his
possessions, dismissed all his attendants, and renounced all his
dignities. On being appointed praetor, at the moment of being
inaugurated, while the lictors were already waiting for him, he refused
to sally forth, and carry out any of the functions of this dignity.
He even failed to dwell in his own house (to avoid needless pomp); he
visited his friends, boarding and sleeping there; he took food only
every other day; and by this dieting, after having been afflicted
with gout to the point of having to be carried around in a litter, he
recovered his strength, and stretched out his hands as easily as any
artisan, though formerly his hands had been incapacitated. Plotinos was
very partial to him; he used to praise him publicly, and pointed him
out as a model to all who desired to become philosophers.

Another disciple of Plotinos was Serapion of Alexandria. At first he
had been a rhetorician, and only later applied himself to philosophy.
Nevertheless he never was able to cure himself of fondness for riches,
or usury.

Me also, Porphyry, a native of Tyre, Plotinos admitted to the circle of
his intimate friends, and he charged me to give the final revision to
his works.


Once Plotinos had written something, he could neither retouch, nor even
re-read what he had done, because his weak eyesight made any reading
very painful. His penmanship was poor. He did not separate words, and
his spelling was defective; he was chiefly occupied with ideas. Until
his death he continuously persisted in this habit, which was for us
all a subject of surprise. When he had finished composing something in
his head, and when he then wrote what he had meditated on, it seemed
as if he copied a book. Neither in conversation nor in discussion did
he allow himself to be distracted from the purpose of his thoughts,
so that he was able at the same time to attend to the needs of
conversation, while pursuing the meditation of the subject which busied
him. When the person who had been talking with him went away, he did
not re-read what he had written before the interruption, which, as has
been mentioned above, was to save his eyesight; he could, later on,
take up the thread of his composition as if the conversation had been
no obstacle to his attention. He therefore was able simultaneously to
live with others and with himself. He never seemed to need recuperation
from this interior attention, which hardly ceased during his slumbers,
which, however, were troubled both by the insufficiency of food,
for sometimes he did not even eat bread, and by this continuous
concentration of his mind.


There were women who were very much attached to him. There was his
boarding house keeper Gemina, and her daughter, also called Gemina;
there was also Amphiclea, wife of Aristo, son of Jamblichus, all
three of whom were very fond of philosophy. Several men and women
of substance, being on the point of death, entrusted him with their
boys and girls, and all their possessions, as being an irreproachable
trustee; and the result was that his house was filled with young boys
and girls. Among these was Polemo, whom Plotinos educated carefully;
and Plotinos enjoyed hearing Polemo recite original verses (?).
He used to go through the accounts of the managers with care, and
saw to their economy; he used to say that until these young people
devoted themselves entirely to philosophy, their possessions should
be preserved intact, and see that they enjoyed their full incomes.
The obligation of attending to the needs of so many wards did not,
however, hinder him from devoting to intellectual concerns a continuous
attention during the nights. His disposition was gentle, and he was
very approachable by all who dwelt with him. Consequently, although he
dwelt full twenty-six years in Rome, and though he was often chosen as
arbitrator in disputes, never did he offend any public personage.


Among those who pretended to be philosophers, there was a certain man
named Olympius. He lived in Alexandria, and for some time had been a
disciple of Ammonius. As he desired to succeed better than Plotinos,
he treated Plotinos with scorn, and developed sufficient personal
animosity against Plotinos to try to bewitch him by magical operations.
However, Olympius noticed that this enterprise was really turning
against himself, and he acknowledged to his friends that the soul of
Plotinos must be very powerful, since it was able to throw back upon
his enemies the evil practices directed against him. The first time
that Olympius attempted to harm him, Plotinos having noticed it, said,
"At this very moment the body of Olympius is undergoing convulsions,
and is contracting like a purse." As Olympius several times felt
himself undergoing the very ills he was trying to get Plotinos to
undergo, he finally ceased his practices.


Plotinos showed a natural superiority to other men. An Egyptian priest,
visiting Rome, was introduced to him by a mutual friend. Having decided
to show some samples of his mystic attainments, he begged Plotinos to
come and witness the apparition of a familiar spirit who obeyed him on
being evoked. The evocation was to occur in a chapel of Isis, as the
Egyptian claimed that he had not been able to discover any other place
pure enough in Rome. He therefore evoked Plotinos's guardian spirit.
But instead of the spirit appeared a divinity of an order superior to
that of guardians, which event led the Egyptian to say to Plotinos,
"You are indeed fortunate, O Plotinos, that your guardian spirit is
a divinity, instead of a being of a lower order." The divinity that
appeared could not be questioned or seen for as long a period as they
would have liked, as a friend who was watching over the sacrificed
birds choked them, either out of jealousy, or fear.


As Plotinos's guardian spirit was a divinity, Plotinos kept the eyes of
his own spirit directed on that divine guardian. That was the motive of
his writing his book[6] that bears the title "Of the Guardian Allotted
to Us." In it he tries to explain the differences between the various
spirits that watch over mankind. Aurelius, who was very scrupulous
in his sacrifices, and who carefully celebrated the Festivals of the
New Moon (as Numenius used to do?) (on the Calends of each month),
one day besought Plotinos to come and take part in a function of that
kind. Plotinos, however, answered him, "It is the business of those
divinities to come and visit me, and not mine to attend on them." We
could not understand why he should make an utterance that revealed so
much pride, but we dared not question the matter.


So perfectly did he understand the character of men, and their methods
of thought, that he could discover stolen objects, and foresaw what
those who resided with him should some day become. A magnificent
necklace had been stolen from Chione, an estimable widow, who resided
with him and the children (as matron?). All the slaves were summoned,
and Plotinos examined them all. Then, pointing out one of them, he
said, "This is the culprit." He was put to the torture. For a long
while, he denied the deed; but later acknowledged it, and returned the
necklace. Plotinos used to predict what each of the young people who
were in touch with him was to become. He insisted that Polemo would
be disposed to amorous relations, and would not live long; which also
occurred. As to me, he noticed that I was meditating suicide. He came
and sought me, in his house, where I was staying. He told me that this
project indicated an unsound mind, and that it was the result of a
melancholy disposition. He advised me to travel. I obeyed him. I went
to Sicily,[7] to study under Probus, a celebrated philosopher, who
dwelt in Lilybaeum. I was thus cured of the desire to die; but I was
deprived of the happiness of residing with Plotinos until his death.


The emperor Gallienus and the empress Salonina, his wife, held Plotinos
in high regard. Counting on their good will, he besought them to have a
ruined town in Campania rebuilt, to give it with all its territory to
him, that its inhabitants might be ruled by the laws of Plato. Plotinos
intended to have it named Platonopolis, and to go and reside there
with his disciples. This request would easily have been granted but
that some of the emperor's courtiers opposed this project, either from
spite, jealousy, or other unworthy motive.


In his lectures his delivery was very good; he knew how to make
immediate apposite replies. Nevertheless, his language was not correct.
For instance, he used to say "anamnemisketai" for "anamimnesketai";
and he made similar blunders in writing. But when he would speak, his
intelligence seemed to shine in his face, and to illuminate it with
its rays. He grew especially handsome in discussions; a light dew of
perspiration appeared on his forehead, gentleness radiated in his
countenance, he answered kindly, but satisfactorily. For three days I
had to question him, to learn from him his opinions about the union
of the body with the soul; he spent all that time in explaining to me
what I wanted to know.[8] A certain Thaumasius, who had entered into
the school, said that he wanted to take down the arguments of the
discussion in writing, and hear Plotinos himself speak; but that he
would not stand Porphyry's answering and questioning. "Nevertheless,"
answered Plotinos, "if Porphyry does not, by his questions, bring up
the difficulties that we should solve (notice, in the course of the
Enneads, the continual objections), we would have nothing to write."


The style of Plotinos is vigorous and substantial, containing more
thoughts than words, and is often full of enthusiasm and emotion.
He follows his own inspirations rather than ideas transmitted by
tradition. The teachings of the Stoics and Peripatetics are secretly
mingled among his works; the whole of Aristotle's Metaphysics is
therein condensed. Plotinos was fully up to the times in geometry,
arithmetic, mechanics, optics and music, although he did not take an
over-weening interest in these sciences. At his lectures were read
the Commentaries of Severus, of Cronius;[9] of Numenius,[10] of Gaius
and Atticus (Platonic Philosophers, the latter, setting forth the
differences between Plato and Aristotle);[11] there were also readings
of the works of the Peripatetics, of Aspasius, of Alexander (of
Aphrodisia, whose theory of Mixture in the Universe Plotinos studies
several times), of Adrastus, and other philosophers of the day. None of
them, however, was exclusively admired by Plotinos. In his speculations
he revealed an original and independent disposition. In all his
researches he displayed the spirit of Ammonius. He could readily
assimilate (what he read); then, in a few words, he summarized the
ideas aroused in him by profound meditation thereon. One day Longinus's
book "On the Principles," and his "On Antiquarians" were read. Plotinos
said, "Longinus is a literary man, but not a philosopher." Origen (the
Pagan[12]) once came among his audience; Plotinos blushed, and started
to rise. Origen, however, besought him to continue. Plotinos, however,
answered that it was only natural for lecturers to cease talking when
they were aware of the presence, in the audience, of people who already
knew what was to be said. Then, after having spoken a little longer, he


At a celebration of Plato's birthday I was reading a poem about the
"Mystic Marriage" (of the Soul) when somebody doubted my sanity,
because it contained both enthusiasm and mysticism. Plotinos spoke
up, and said to me, loud enough to be heard by everybody, "You have
just proved to us that you are at the same time poet, philosopher, and
hierophant." On this occasion the rhetorician Diophanes read an apology
on the utterances of Alcibiades in Plato's "Banquet," and he sought to
prove that a disciple who seeks to exercise himself in virtue should
show unlimited "complaisance" for his teacher, even in case the latter
were in love with him. Plotinos rose several times, as if he wanted to
leave the assembly; nevertheless, he restrained himself, and after the
audience had dispersed, he asked me to refute the paper. As Diophanes
would not communicate it to me, I recalled his arguments, and refuted
them; and then I read my paper before the same auditors as those who
had heard what had been said by Diophanes. I pleased Plotinos so much,
that several times he interrupted me by the words, "Strike that way,
and you will become the light of men!" When Eubulus, who was teaching
Platonism at Athens, sent to Plotinos some papers on Platonic subjects,
Plotinos had them given to me to examine them and report to him about
them. He also studied the laws of astronomy, but not as a mathematician
would have done; he carefully studied astrology; but realizing that no
confidence could be placed in its predictions, he took the trouble to
refute them several times, in his work.[13]


At that time there were many Christians, among whom were prominent
sectarians who had given up the ancient philosophy (of Plato and
Pythagoras), such as Adelphius and Aquilinus. They esteemed and
possessed the greater part of the works of Alexander of Lybia,
of Philocomus, of Demostrates and of Lydus. They advertised the
Revelations of Zoroaster, of Zostrian, of Nicotheus, of Allogenes, of
Mesus, and of several others. These sectarians deceived a great number
of people, and even deceived themselves, insisting that Plato had not
exhausted the depths of intelligible "being," or essence. That is why
Plotinos refuted them at length in his lectures, and wrote the book
that we have named "Against the Gnostics." The rest (of their books)
he left me to investigate. Amelius wrote as much as forty books to
refute the work of Zostrian; and as to me, I demonstrated by numerous
proofs that this alleged Zoroastrian book was apocryphal, and had only
recently been written by those of that ilk who wished to make people
believe that their doctrines had been taught by Zoroaster.


The Greeks insisted that Plotinos had appropriated the teachings of
Numenius. Trypho, who was both a Stoic and a Platonist, insisted
on this to Amelius, who wrote a book that we have entitled, "On
the Difference Between the Teachings of Plotinos and Numenius." He
dedicated it to me under the title, "To Basil" (the King, recently used
as a name, "Royal"). That was my name before I was called "Porphyry,"
the "Purple One." In my own home language (Phoenician) I used to be
called "Malchus"; that was my father's name, and in Greek "Malchus"
is translated by "Basileus" (Basil, or King). Indeed, Longinus, who
dedicated his book "On Instinct" to Cleodamus, and me jointly, there
calls me "Malchus"; and Amelius has translated this name in Greek, just
as Numenius translated "Maximus" (from Latin into Greek by) "Megaos"
(the great one). (I will quote the letter in full).

"Greetings from Amelius to Basil (Royal, or Purple One):

"You may be sure that I did not have the least inclination even
to mention some otherwise respectable people who, to the point of
deafening you, insist that the doctrines of our friend (Plotinos) are
none other than those of Numenius of Apamea. It is evident enough that
these reproaches are entirely due to their desire to advertise their
oratorical abilities. Possessed with the desire to rend Plotinos to
pieces, they dare to go as far as to assert that he is no more than a
babbler, a forger, and that his opinions are impossible. But since you
think that it would be well for us to seize the occasion to recall
to the public the teachings of which we approve (in Plotinos's system
of philosophy), and in order to honor so great a man as our friend
Plotinos by spreading his teachings--although this really is needless,
inasmuch as they have long since become celebrated--I comply with your
request, and, in accordance with my promise, I am hereby inscribing to
you this work which, as you well know, I threw together in three days.
You will not find in it that system and judiciousness natural to a book
composed with care; they are only reflections suggested by the lectures
(received from Plotinos), and arranged as they happened to come to
mind. I, therefore, throw myself on your indulgence, especially as the
thought of (Plotinos, that) philosopher whom some people are slandering
to us, is not easy to grasp, because he expresses the same ideas in
different manners in accordance with the exigencies of the occasion.
I am sure you will have the goodness to correct me, if I happen to
stray from the opinions of Plotinos. As the tragic poet says somewhere,
being overwhelmed with the pressure of duties, I find myself compelled
to submit to criticism and correction if I am discovered in altering
the doctrines of our leader. You see how anxious I am to please you.


I have quoted this letter in full to show that, even in the times
of Plotinos himself, it was claimed that Plotinos had borrowed and
advertised as his own teachings of Numenius; also that he was called
a trifler, and in short that he was scorned--which happened chiefly
because he was not understood. Plotinos was far from the display and
vanity of the Sophists. When lecturing, he seemed to be holding a
conversation with his pupils. He did not try to convince you by a
formal argument. This I realized from the first, when attending his
courses. I wished to make him explain himself more clearly by writing
against him a work to prove that the intelligible entities subsist
outside of intelligence.[14] Plotinos had Amelius read it to him; and
after the reading he laughingly said to him, "It would be well for you
to solve these difficulties that Porphyry has advanced against me,
because he does not clearly understand my teachings." Amelius indeed
wrote a rather voluminous work to answer my objections.[15] In turn,
I responded. Amelius wrote again. This third work at last made me
understand, but not without difficulty, the thought of Plotinos; and I
changed my views, reading my retraction at a meeting. Since that time,
I have had complete confidence in the teachings of Plotinos. I begged
him to polish his writings, and to explain his system to me more at
length. I also prevailed upon Amelius to write some works.


You may judge of the high opinion of Plotinos held by Longinus, from a
part of a letter he addressed to me. I was in Sicily; he wished me to
visit him in Phoenicia, and desired me to bring him a copy of the works
of that philosopher. This is what he wrote to me about the matter:

"Please send me the works; or rather, bring them with you; for I shall
never cease begging you to travel in this one of all other countries,
were it only because of our ancient friendship, and of the sweetness of
the air, which would so well suit your ruined health;[16] for you must
not expect to find any new knowledge here when you visit us. Whatever
your expectations may be, do not expect to find anything new here,
nor even the ancient works (of myself, Longinus?) that you say are
lost. There is such a scarcity of copyists here, that since I have been
here I have hardly been able to get what I lacked of Plotinos here, by
inducing my copyist to abandon his usual occupations to devote himself
exclusively to this work. Now that I have those works of Plotinos you
sent me, I think I have them all; but these that I have are imperfect,
being full of errors. I had supposed that our friend Amelius had
corrected the errors of the copyist; but his occupations have been too
pressing to allow of his attending to this. However passionately I
desire to examine what Plotinos has written about the soul, and about
existence, I do not know what use to make of his writings; these are
precisely those of his works that have been most mis-written by the
copyists. That is why I wish you would send them to me transcribed
exactly; I would compare the copies and return them promptly. I repeat
that I beg you not to send them, but to bring them yourself with the
other works of Plotinos, which might have escaped Amelius. All those he
brought here I have had transcribed exactly; for why should I not most
zealously seek works so precious? I have often told you, both when we
were together, and apart, and when you were at Tyre, that Plotinos's
works contained reasonings of which I did not approve, but that I
liked and admired his method of writing; his concise and forceful
style, and the genuinely philosophical arrangement of his discussions.
I am persuaded that those who seek the truth must place the works of
Plotinos among the most learned."


I have made this rather long quotation only to show what was thought
of Plotinos by the greatest critic of our days, the man who had
examined all the works of his time. At first Longinus had scorned
Plotinos, because he had relied on the reports of people ignorant (of
philosophy). Moreover, Longinus supposed that the copy of the works of
Plotinos he had received from Amelius was defective, because he was not
yet accustomed to the style of Plotinos. Nevertheless, if any one had
the works of Plotinos in their purity, it was certainly Amelius, who
possessed a copy made upon the originals themselves. I will further add
what was written by Longinus about Plotinos, Amelius, and the other
philosophers of his time, so that the reader may better appreciate
this great critic's high opinion of them. This book, directed against
Plotinos and Gentilianus Amelius, is entitled "Of the Limit (of Good
and Evil?)" and begins as follows:

"There were, O Marcellus Orontius[17] many philosophers in our
time, and especially in the first years of our childhood--for it
is useless to complain of their rarity at the present; but when I
was still a youth, there were still a rather goodly number of men
celebrated as philosophers. I was fortunate enough to get acquainted
with all of them, because I traveled early with our parents in many
countries. Visiting many nations and towns, I entered into personal
relations with such of these men as were still alive. Among these
philosophers, some committed their teachings to writings, with the
purpose of being useful to posterity, while others thought that it
was sufficient for them to explain their opinions to their disciples.
Among the former are the Platonists Euclides, Democritus (who wrote
Commentaries on the Alcibiades, on the Phaedo, and on the Metaphysics
of Aristotle), Proclinus, who dwelt in the Troad, Plotinos and his
disciple Gentilianus Amelius, who are at present teaching at Rome;
the Stoics Themistocles, Phebion, and both Annius and Medius, who
were much talked of only recently, and the Peripatetician Heliodorus
of Alexandria. Among those who did not write their teachings are the
Platonists Ammonius (Saccas) and (the pagan) Origen,[18] who lived
with him for a long while, and who excelled among the philosophers
of that period; also Theodotus and Eubulus, who taught at Athens. Of
course, they did write a little; Origen, for instance, wrote about "The
Guardian Spirits"; and Eubulus wrote Commentaries on the Philebus,
and on the Gorgias, and "Observations on Aristotle's Objections
against Plato's Republic." However, these works are not considerable
enough to rank their authors among those who have seriously treated
of philosophy; for these little works were by them written only
incidentally, and they did not make writing their principal occupation.
The Stoics Herminus, Lysimachus,[19] Athenaeus and Musonius (author
of "Memorable Events," translated in Greek by Claudius Pollio),
who lived at Athens. The Peripateticians Ammonius and Ptolemy, who
were the most learned of their contemporaries, especially Ammonius,
whose erudition was unequalled, none of these philosophers wrote any
important work; they limited themselves to writing poems, or festal
orations, which have been preserved in spite of them. I doubt very
much that they wished to be known by posterity merely by books so
small (and unrepresentative), since they had neglected to acquaint us
with their teachings in more significant works. Among those who have
left written works, some have done no more than gather or transcribe
what has been left to us from the ancient (philosophers); among these
are Euclides, Democritus and Proclinus. Others limited themselves to
recalling some details extracted from ancient histories, and they
tried to compose books with the same materials as their predecessors,
as did Annius, Medius, and Phebio; the latter one trying to make
himself famous by style, rather than by thought. To these we might
add Heliodorus, who has put in his writings nothing that had not been
said by the ancients, without adding any philosophical explanation.
But Plotinos and Gentilianus Amelius, have shown that they really made
a profession of being writers, both by the great number of questions
they treated, and by the originality of their doctrines. Plotinos
explained the principles of Pythagoras and Plato more clearly than his
predecessors; for neither Numenius, nor Cronius, nor Moderatus,[20] nor
Thrasyllus,[21] come anywhere near the precision of Plotinos when they
touch on the same topics. Amelius tried to follow in his footsteps,
and adopted the greater part of his ideas; but differs from him in
the verbosity of his demonstrations, and the diffusion of his style.
The writings of these two men alone deserve special consideration;
for what is the use of criticizing the works of imitators; had we
not better study the authors whose works they copied, without any
additions, either in essential points, or in argumentation, doing no
more than choosing out the best? This has been our method of procedure
in our controversy with Gentilianus Amelius's strictures on justice,
in Plato's works; and in my examination of Plotinos's books on the
Ideas.[22] So when our mutual friends Basil of Tyre, (Porphyry[23]),
who has written much on the lines of Plotinos, having even preferred
the teachings of Plotinos to my own (as he had been my pupil),
undertook to demonstrate that Plotinos's views about the Ideas were
better than my own, I have fully refuted his contentions, proving that
he was wrong in changing his views on the subject.[24] Besides, I have
criticized several opinions of Gentilianus Amelius and Plotinos,
as for instance in the "Letter to Amelius" which is long enough to
form a whole book. I wrote it to answer a letter sent me from Rome by
Amelius, which was entitled "The Characteristics of the Philosophy of
Plotinos."[25] I, however, limited myself to entitling my little work,
"A Letter to Amelius."


From the above it will be seen that Plotinos and Amelius are superior
to all their contemporaries by the great number of questions they
consider, and by the originality of their system; that Plotinos had
not appropriated the opinions of Numenius, and that he did not even
follow them; that he had really profited by the opinions of the
Pythagoreans (and of Plato); further, that he was more precise than
Numenius, Cronius, and Thrasyllus. After having said that Amelius
followed in the footsteps of Plotinos, but that he was prolix and
diffuse in his expositions, which characteristic forms the difference
between their styles, he speaks of me, who at that time had known
Plotinos for only a short time, and says, "Our mutual friends, Basil
(King) of Tyre (Porphyry), who has written much, taking Plotinos
as his model." By that he means that I have avoided the rather
unphilosophical diffuseness of Amelius, and have imitated the (concise)
style of Plotinos. The quotation of the judgment of this famous man,
the first critic of his day, should decide of the reverence due to
our philosopher, Plotinos. If I had been able to visit Longinus when
he begged me to do so, he would not have undertaken the refutation he
wrote, before having clearly understood Plotinos's system.


(But when I have a long oracle of Apollo to quote, why should I delay
over a letter of Longinus's, or, in the words of the proverb, quoted in
Iliad xxii. 126 and Hesiod Theogony 35), "Why should I dally near the
oak-trees, or the rock?" If the testimony of the wise is to be adduced,
who is wiser than Apollo, a deity who said of himself, "I know the
number of the grains of sand, and the extent of the ocean; I understand
the dust, and I hear him who does not speak!" This was the divinity who
had said that Socrates was the wisest of men; and on being consulted by
Amelius to discover what had become of the soul of Plotinos, said:

        "Let me sing an immortal hymn to my dear friend!
        Drawing my golden bow, I will elicit melodious sounds from
            my lyre.
        I also invoke the symphonic voice of the choir of Muses,
        Whose harmonious power raises exultant paeans,
        As they once sang in chorus in praise of Achilles,
        A Homeric song in divine inspiration.
        Sacred choir of Muses, let us together celebrate this man,
        For long-haired Apollo is among you!
        "O Deity, who formerly wert a man, but now approachest
        The divine host of guardian spirits, delivered from the
            narrowing bonds of necessity
        That enchains man (while in the body), and from the tumult
            caused by the
        Confusing whirlwind of the passions of the body,
        Sustained by the vigor of thy mind, thou hastenest to swim
        (And like the sage Ulysses in Phaeacia), to land on a shore
            not submerged by the waves,
        With vigorous stroke, far from the impious crowds.
        Persistently following the straightening path of the
            purified soul,
        Where the splendor of the divinity surrounds you, the home
            of justice,
        Far from contamination, in the holy sanctuary of initiation,
        When in the past you struggled to escape the bitter
        When blood-stained life eddied around you with repulsive
        In the midst of the waters dazed by frightening tumult,
        Even then the divinities often showed you your end;[27]
        And often, when your spirit was about to stray from the
            right path,
        The immortals beckoned you back to the real end; the eternal
        Enlightening your eyes with radiant beams in the midst of
            gloomy darkness.
        No deep slumber closed your eyelids, and when shaken by the
            eddies (of matter),
        You sought to withdraw your eyes from the night that pressed
            down upon them;
        You beheld beauties hidden from any who devote themselves to
            the study of wisdom.
        "Now that you have discarded your cloak of mortality, and
        Climbing out from the tombs of your angelic soul,
        You have entered the choir of divinities, where breathes a
            gentle zephyr.
        There dwell friendship, and delightful desire, ever
            accompanied by pure joy;
        There may one quench one's thirst with divine ambrosia;
        There bound by the ties of love, one breathes a gentle air,
            under a tranquil sky.
        There dwell the sons of Jupiter, who lived in the golden age;
        The brothers Minos and Rhadamanthus, the just Aeacus,
        The divine Plato, the virtuous Pythagoras,
        And all those who formed the band of immortal love,
        And who by birth belong to the most blessed of divinities.
        Their soul tastes continual joy amidst perpetual feasts!
        And you, blessed man, after having fought many a valiant
        In the midst of chaste angels, you have achieved eternal
        "Here, O Muses, let us close this hymn in honor of Plotinos;
        Cease the mazes of the dancing of the graceful choir;
        This is what my golden lyre had to say of this eternally
            blessed man!"


This oracle (pieced out of numerous quotations) says (in some now lost
lines, perhaps) that Plotinos was kindly, affable, indulgent, gentle,
such as, indeed we knew him in personal intercourse. It also mentions
that this philosopher slept little, that his soul was pure, ever
aspiring to the divinity that he loved whole-heartedly, and that he did
his utmost to liberate himself (from terrestrial domination) "to escape
the bitter waves of this cruel life."

That is how this divine man, who by his thoughts often aspired to the
first (principle), to the divinity superior (to intelligence), climbing
the degrees indicated by Plato (in his Banquet), beheld the vision
of the formless divinity, which is not merely an idea, being founded
on intelligence and the whole intelligible world. I, myself, had the
blessed privilege of approaching this divinity, uniting myself to him,
when I was about sixty-eight years of age.

That is how "the goal (that Plotinos sought to achieve) seemed to
him located near him." Indeed, his goal, his purpose, his end was to
approach the supreme divinity, and to unite himself with the divinity.
While I dwelt with him, he had four times the bliss of reaching that
goal, not merely potentially, but by a real and unspeakable experience.
The oracle adds that the divinities frequently restored Plotinos to the
right path when he strayed from it, "enlightening his eyes by radiant
splendor." That is why it may truthfully be said that Plotinos composed
his works while in contemplation of the divinities, and enjoying that
vision. "Thanks to this sight that your 'vigilant' eyes had of both
interior and exterior things, you have," in the words of the oracle,
"gazed at many beauties that would hardly be granted to many of those
who study philosophy." Indeed, the contemplation of men may be superior
to human contemplation; but, compared to divine knowledge, if it be of
any value whatever, it, nevertheless, could not penetrate the depths
reached by the glances of the divinities.

Till here the oracle had limited itself to indicating what Plotinos
had accomplished while enclosed in the vesture of the body. It then
proceeds to say that he arrived at the assembly of the divinities where
dwell friendship, delightful desire, joy, and love communing with the
divinity, where the sons of God, Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus are
established as the judges of souls. Plotinos joined them, not to be
judged, but to enjoy their intimacy, as did the higher divinities.
There indeed dwell Plato, Pythagoras, and the other sages who formed
the choir of immortal love. Reunited with their families, the blessed
angels spend their life "in continued festivals and joys," enjoying the
perpetual beatitude granted them by divine goodness.


This is what I have to relate of the life of Plotinos. He had, however,
asked me to arrange and revise his works. I promised both him and his
friends to work on them. I did not judge it wise to arrange them in
confusion chronologically. So I imitated Apollodorus of Athens, and
Andronicus the Peripatetician, the former collecting in ten volumes
the comedies of Epicharmus, and the latter dividing into treatises the
works of Aristotle and Theophrastus, gathering together the writings
that referred to the same subject. Likewise, I grouped the fifty-four
books of Plotinos into six groups of nine (Enneads), in honor of the
perfect numbers six and nine. Into each Ennead I have gathered the
books that treat of the same matter, in each case prefixing the most
important ones.

The First Ennead contains the writings that treat of Morals. They are:

    1.  What is an Animal? What is a Man?                  53.
    2.  Of the Virtues,                                    19.
    3.  Of Dialectics,                                     20.
    4.  Of Happiness,                                      46.
    5.  Does Happiness (consist in Duration)?              36.
    6.  Of Beauty,                                          1.
    7.  Of the First Good, and of the Other Goods,         54.
    8.  Of the Origin of Evils,                            51.
    9.  Of (Reasonable) Suicide,                           16.

Such are the topics considered in the First Ennead; which thus contains
what relates to morals.

In the Second Ennead are grouped the writings that treat of Physics, of
the World, and of all that it contains. They are:

    1.  (Of the World),                                    40.
    2.  Of the (Circular) Motion (of the Heavens),         14.
    3.  Of the Influence of the Stars,                     52.
    4.  (Of both Matters) (Sensible and Intelligible),     12.
    5.  Of Potentiality and Actuality,                     25.
    6.  Of Quality (and of Form),                          17.
    7.  Of Mixture, Where there is Total Penetratration,   37.
    8.  Of Vision. Why do Distant Objects Seem Smaller?    35.
    9.  (Against Those Who say that the Demiurgic
          Creator is Evil, as well as The World Itself),
          Against the Gnostics,                            33.

The Third Ennead, which also relates to the world, contains the
different speculations referring thereto. Here are its component

    1.  Of Destiny,                                         3.
    2.  Of Providence, the First,                          47.
    3.  Of Providence, the Second,                         48.
    4.  Of the Guardian Spirit who was Allotted to Us,     15.
    5.  Of Love,                                           50.
    6.  Of the Impassibility of Incorporeal Things,        26.
    7.  Of Eternity of Time,                               45.
    8.  Of Nature, of Contemplation, and of the One,       30.
    9.  Different Speculations,                            13.

We have gathered these three Enneads into one single body. We have
assigned the book on the Guardian Spirit Who has been Allotted to Us,
in the Third Ennead, because this is treated in a general manner, and
because it refers to the examination of conditions characteristic
of the production of man. For the same reason the book on Love was
assigned to the First Ennead. The same place has been assigned to the
book on Eternity and Time, because of the observations which, in this
Ennead, refer to their nature. Because of its title, we have put in the
same group the book on Nature, Contemplation, and the One.

After the books that treat of the world, the Fourth Ennead contains
those that refer to the soul. They are:

    1.  Of the Nature of the Soul, the First,               4.
    2.  Of the Nature of the Soul, the Second,             21.
    3.  Problems about the Soul, the First,                27.
    4.  Problems about the Soul, the Second,               28.
    5.  (Problems about the Soul, the Third, or) Of
          Vision,                                          29.
    6.  Of Sensation, of Memory,                           41.
    7.  Of the Immortality of the Soul,                     2.
    8.  Of the Descent of the Soul into the Body,           6.
    9.  Do not all Souls form a Single Soul?                8.

The Fourth Ennead, therefore, contains all that relates to Psychology.

The Fifth Ennead treats of Intelligence. Each book in it also contains
something about the principle superior to intelligence, and also about
the intelligence characteristic of the soul, and about Ideas.

    1.  About the three Principal Hypostatic Forms of
           Existence,                                      10.
    2.  Of Generation, and of the Order of Things
           Posterior to the First,                         11.
    3.  Of the Hypostatic Forms of Existence that Transmit
           Knowledge, and of the Superior Principle,       49.
    4.  How that which is Posterior to the First Proceeds
           from it? Of the One,                             7.
    5.  The Intelligibles are not Outside of Intelligence.
           Of the Good,                                    32.
    6.  The Super-essential Principle Does Not Think.
           Which is the First Thinking Principle?
           Which is the Second?                            24.
    7.  Are there Ideas of Individuals?                    18.
    8.  Of Intelligible Beauty,                            31.
    9.  Of Intelligence, of Ideas, and of Existence,        5.

We have gathered the Fourth and Fifth Ennead into a single volume. Of
the Sixth Ennead, we have formed a separate volume, so that all the
writings of Plotinos might be divided into three parts, of which the
first contains three Enneads, the second two; and the third, a single

Here are the books that belong to the Sixth Ennead, and to the Third

    1.  Of the Kinds of Existence, the First,            42.
    2.  Of the Kinds of Existence, the Second,           43.
    3.  Of the Kinds of Existence, the Third,            44.
    4.  The One Single Existence is everywhere Present
            in its Entirety, First,                      22.
    5.  The One Single Existence is everywhere Present
            in its Entirety, Second,                     23.
    6.  Of Numbers,                                      34.
    7.  Of the Multitude of Ideas. Of the Good,          38.
    8.  Of the Will, and of the Liberty of the One,      39.
    9.  Of the Good, or of the One,                       9.

This is how we have distributed into six Enneads the fifty-four books
of Plotinos. We have added to several of them, Commentaries, without
following any regular order, to satisfy our friends who desired to have
explanations of several points. We have also made headings of each
book, following the chronological order, with the exception of the book
on The Beautiful, whose date of composition we do not know. Besides,
we have not only written up separate summaries for each book, but also
Arguments, which are contained among the summaries.[28]

Now we shall try to punctuate each book, and to correct the mistakes.
Whatever else we may have to do besides, will easily be recognized by a
reading of these books.


The philosopher Plotinos came from Egypt; to be accurate, I will add
that his home was Lycopolis. This fact was not set down by the divine
Porphyry, though he himself, as he reports, was a student of Plotinos,
and had spent a great part of his life near him.

The altars dedicated to Plotinos are not yet cold; and not only are his
books read by the learned more than are even those of Plato, but even
the multitude, though incapable of clearly understanding his doctrine,
nevertheless conforms its conduct of life to his suggestions.

Porphyry has set down all the details of the life of this philosopher,
so that little can be added thereto; besides Porphyry seems to have
clearly expounded many of Plotinos's writings.


Plotinos of Lycopolis, philosopher, disciple of that Ammonius who
had once been a porter, was the teacher of Amelius, who himself had
Porphyry as pupil; the latter formed Jamblichus, and Jamblichus
Sopater. Plotinos prolonged his life till the seventh year of the reign
of Gallienus. He composed fifty-four books, which are grouped in six
enneads. His constitution was weakened by the effects of the sacred
disease (epilepsy). He wrote besides other works.


Of Beauty.


1. Beauty chiefly affects the sense of sight. Still, the ear perceives
it also, both in the harmony of words, and in the different kinds of
music; for songs and verses are equally beautiful. On rising from the
domain of the senses to a superior region, we also discover beauty
in occupations, actions, habits, sciences and virtues. Whether there
exists a type of beauty still higher, will have to be ascertained by


What is the cause that certain bodies seem beautiful, that our ears
listen with pleasure to rhythms judged beautiful, and that we love the
purely moral beauties? Does the beauty of all these objects derive
from some unique, immutable principle, or will we recognize some one
principle of beauty for the body, and some other for something else?
What then are these principles, if there are several? Or which is this
principle, if there is but one?


First, there are certain objects, such as bodies, whose beauty exists
only by participation, instead of being inherent in the very essence
of the subject. Such are beautiful in themselves, as is, for example,
virtue. Indeed, the same bodies seem beautiful at one time, while at
another they lack beauty; consequently, there is a great difference
between being a body and being beautiful. What then is the principle
whose presence in a body produces beauty therein? What is that element
in the bodies which moves the spectator, and which attracts, fixes and
charms his glances? This is the first problem to solve; for, on finding
this principle, we shall use it as a means to resolve other questions.


(The Stoics), like almost everybody, insist that visual beauty consists
in the proportion of the parts relatively to each other and to the
whole, joined to the grace of colors. If then, as in this case,
the beauty of bodies in general consists in the symmetry and just
proportion of their parts, beauty could not consist of anything simple,
and necessarily could not appear in anything but what was compound.
Only the totality will be beautiful; the parts by themselves will
possess no beauty; they will be beautiful only by their relation with
the totality. Nevertheless, if the totality is beautiful, it would seem
also necessary that the parts be beautiful; for indeed beauty could
never result from the assemblage of ugly things. Beauty must therefore
be spread among all the parts. According to the same doctrine, the
colors which, like sunlight, are beautiful, are beautiful but simple,
and those whose beauty is not derived from proportion, will also be
excluded from the domain of beauty. According to this hypothesis, how
will gold be beautiful? The brilliant lightning in the night, even
the stars, would not be beautiful to contemplate. In the sphere of
sounds, also, it would be necessary to insist that what is simple
possesses no beauty. Still, in a beautiful harmony, every sound, even
when isolated, is beautiful. While preserving the same proportions, the
same countenance seems at one time beautiful, and at another ugly.
Evidently, there is but one conclusion: namely, that proportion is
not beauty itself, but that it derives its beauty from some superior
principle. (This will appear more clearly from further examples). Let
us examine occupations and utterances. If also their beauty depended on
proportion, what would be the function of proportion when considering
occupations, laws, studies and sciences? Relations of proportion could
not obtain in scientific speculations; no, nor even in the mutual
agreement of these speculations. On the other hand, even bad things may
show a certain mutual agreement and harmony; as, for instance, were we
to assert that wisdom is softening of the brain, and that justice is a
generous folly. Here we have two revoltingly absurd statements, which
agree perfectly, and harmonize mutually. Further, every virtue is a
soul-beauty far truer than any that we have till now examined; yet it
could not admit of proportion, as it involves neither size nor number.
Again, granting that the soul is divided into several faculties, who
will undertake to decide which combination of these faculties, or of
the speculations to which the soul devotes itself, will produce beauty?
Moreover (if beauty is but proportion), what beauty could be predicated
of pure intelligence?


2. Returning to our first consideration, we shall examine the nature
of the element of beauty in bodies. It is something perceivable at the
very first glance, something which the soul recognizes as kindred, and
sympathetic to her own nature, which she welcomes and assimilates.
But as soon as she meets an ugly object, she recoils, repudiates it,
and rejects it as something foreign, towards which her real nature
feels antipathy. That is the reason why the soul, being such as it is,
namely, of an essence superior to all other beings, when she perceives
an object kindred to her own nature, or which reveals only some traces
of it, rejoices, is transported, compares this object with her own
nature, thinks of herself, and of her intimate being as it would be
impossible to fail to perceive this resemblance.


How can both sensible and intelligible objects be beautiful? Because,
as we said, sensible objects participate in a form. While a shapeless
object, by nature capable of receiving shape (physical) and form
(intelligible), remains without reason or form, it is ugly. That which
remains completely foreign to all divine reason (a reason proceeding
from the universal Soul), is absolute ugliness. Any object should be
considered ugly which is not entirely molded by informing reason,
the matter, not being able to receive perfectly the form (which the
Soul gives it). On joining matter, form co-ordinates the different
parts which are to compose unity, combines them, and by their harmony
produces something which is a unit. Since (form) is one, that which it
fashions will also have to be one, as far as a composite object can
be one. When such an object has arrived at unity, beauty resides in
it, and it communicates itself to the parts as well as to the whole.
When it meets a whole, the parts of which are perfectly similar, it
interpenetrates it evenly. Thus it would show itself now in an entire
building, then in a single stone, later in art-products as well as in
the works of nature. Thus bodies become beautiful by communion with
(or, participation in) a reason descending upon it from the divine
(universal Soul).


3. The soul appreciates beauty by an especially ordered faculty, whose
sole function it is to appreciate all that concerns beauty, even
when the other faculties take part in this judgment. Often the soul
makes her (aesthetic) decisions by comparison with the form of the
beautiful which is within her, using this form as a standard by which
to judge. But what agreement can anything corporeal have with what
is incorporeal? For example, how can an architect judge a building
placed before him as beautiful, by comparing it with the Idea which he
has within himself? The only explanation can be that, on abstracting
the stones, the exterior object is nothing but the interior form, no
doubt divided within the extent of the matter, but still one, though
manifested in the manifold? When the senses perceive in an object the
form which combines, unites and dominates a substance which lacks
shape, and therefore is of a contrary nature; and if they also perceive
a shape which distinguishes itself from the other shapes by its
elegance, then the soul, uniting these multiple elements, fuses them,
comparing them to the indivisible form which she bears within herself,
then she pronounces their agreement, kinship and harmony with that
interior type.


Thus a worthy man, perceiving in a youth the character of virtue, is
agreeably impressed, because he observes that the youth harmonizes
with the true type of virtue which he bears within himself. Thus also
the beauty of color, though simple in form, reduces under its sway
that obscurity of matter, by the presence of the light, which is
something incorporeal, a reason, and a form. Likewise, fire surpasses
all other bodies in beauty, because it stands to all other elements
in the relation of a form; it occupies the highest regions;[29] it is
the subtlest of bodies because it most approaches the incorporeal
beings; without permitting itself to be penetrated by other bodies, it
penetrates them all; without itself cooling, it communicates to them
its heat; by its own essence it possesses color, and communicates it
to others; it shines and coruscates, because it is a form. The body
in which it does not dominate, shows but a discolored hue, and ceases
being beautiful, merely because it does not participate in the whole
form of color. Once more, thus do the hidden harmonies of sound produce
audible harmonies, and also yield to the soul the idea of beauty,
though showing it in another order of things. Audible harmonies can be
expressed in numbers; not indeed in any kind of numbers, but only in
such as can serve to produce form, and to make it dominate.


So much then for sense-beauties which, descending on matter like images
and shadows, beautify it and thereby compel our admiration. 4. Now we
shall leave the senses in their lower sphere, and we shall rise to the
contemplation of the beauties of a superior order, of which the senses
have no intuition, but which the soul perceives and expresses.


Just as we could not have spoken of sense-beauties if we had never
seen them, nor recognized them as such, if, in respect to them, we had
been similar to persons born blind, likewise we would not know enough
to say anything about the beauty either of the arts or sciences, or of
anything of the kind, if we were not already in possession of this kind
of beauty; nor of the splendor of virtue, if we had not contemplated
the ("golden) face of Justice," and of temperance, before whose
splendor the morning and evening stars grow pale.


To see these beauties, they must be contemplated by the faculty our
soul has received; then, while contemplating them, we shall experience
far more pleasure, astonishment and admiration, than in contemplation
of the sense-beauties, because we will have the intuition of veritable
beauties. The sentiments inspired by beauty are admiration, a gentle
charm, desire, love, and a pleasurable impulse.


Such are the sentiments for invisible beauties which should be felt,
and indeed are experienced by all souls, but especially by the most
loving. In the presence of beautiful bodies, all indeed see them; but
not all are equally moved. Those who are most moved are designated


5. Let us now propound a question about experiences to these men who
feel love for incorporeal beauties. What do you feel in presence of the
noble occupations, the good morals, the habits of temperance, and in
general of virtuous acts and sentiments, and of all that constitutes
the beauty of souls? What do you feel when you contemplate your inner
beauty? What is the source of your ecstasies, or your enthusiasms?
Whence come your desires to unite yourselves to your real selves, and
to refresh yourselves by retirement from your bodies? Such indeed are
the experiences of those who love genuinely. What then is the object
which causes these, your emotions? It is neither a figure, nor a color,
nor any size; it is that (colorless) invisible soul, which possesses
a wisdom equally invisible; this soul in which may be seen shining
the splendor of all the virtues, when one discovers in oneself, or
contemplates in others, the greatness of character, the justice of the
heart, the pure temperance, the imposing countenance of valor, dignity
and modesty, proceeding alone firmly, calmly, and imperturbably; and
above all, intelligence, resembling the divinity, by its brilliant
light. What is the reason that we declare these objects to be
beautiful, when we are transported with admiration and love for them?
They exist, they manifest themselves, and whoever beholds them will
never be able to restrain himself from confessing them to be veritable
beings. Now what are these genuine beings? They are beautiful.


But reason is not yet satisfied; reason wonders why these veritable
beings give the soul which experiences them the property of exciting
love, from which proceeds this halo of light which, so to speak,
crowns all virtues. Consider the things contrary to these beautiful
objects, and with them compare what may be ugly in the soul. If we
can discover of what ugliness consists, and what is its cause, we
shall have achieved an important element of the solution we are
seeking. Let us picture to ourselves an ugly soul; she will be given
up to intemperance; and be unjust, abandoned to a host of passions,
troubled, full of fears caused by her cowardliness, and of envy by her
degradation; she will be longing only for vile and perishable things;
she will be entirely depraved, will love nothing but impure wishes,
will have no life but the sensual, and will take pleasure in her
turpitude. Would we not explain such a state by saying that under the
very mask of beauty turpitude had invaded this soul, brutalized her,
soiled her with all kinds of vices, rendering her incapable of a pure
life, and pure sentiments, and had reduced her to an existence obscure,
infected with evil, poisoned by lethal germs; that it had hindered her
from contemplating anything she should, forcing her to remain solitary,
because it misled her out from herself towards inferior and gloomy
regions? The soul fallen into this state of impurity, seized with an
irresistible inclination towards the things of sense, absorbed by her
intercourse with the body, sunk into matter, and having even received
it within herself, has changed form by her admixture with an inferior
nature. Not otherwise would be a man fallen into slimy mud, who no
longer would present to view his primitive beauty, and would exhibit
only the appearance of the mud that had defiled him; his ugliness
would be derived from something foreign; and to recover his pristine
beauty he would have to wash off his defilement, and by purification be
restored to what he once was.


We have the right to say that the soul becomes ugly by mingling with
the body, confusing herself with it, by inclining herself towards it.
For a soul, ugliness consists in being impure, no longer unmingled,
like gold tarnished by particles of earth. As soon as this dross is
removed, and nothing but gold remains, then again it is beautiful,
because separated from every foreign body, and is restored to its
unique nature. Likewise the soul, released from the passions begotten
by her intercourse with the body when she yields herself too much to
it, delivered from exterior impressions, purified from the blemishes
contracted from her alliance with the body--that is, reduced to
herself, she lays aside that ugliness which is derived from a nature
foreign to her.


6. Thus, according to the ancient (Platonic or Empedoclean) maxim,
"courage, temperance, all the virtues, nay, even prudence, are but
purifications." The mysteries were therefore wise in teaching that the
man who has not been purified will, in hell, dwell at the bottom of a
swamp; for everything that is not pure, because of its very perversity,
delights in mud, just as we see the impure swine wallow in the mud
with delight. And indeed, what would real temperance consist of, if it
be not to avoid attaching oneself to the pleasures of the body, and
to flee from them as impure, and as only proper for an impure being?
What else is courage, unless no longer to fear death, which is mere
separation of the soul from the body? Whoever therefore is willing to
withdraw from the body could surely not fear death. Magnanimity is
nothing but scorn of things here below. Last, prudence is the thought
which, detached from the earth, raises the soul to the intelligible
world. The purified soul, therefore, becomes a form, a reason, an
incorporeal and intellectual essence; she belongs entirely to the
divinity, in whom resides the source of the beautiful, and of all the
qualities which have affinity with it.


Restored to intelligence, the soul sees her own beauty increase;
indeed, her own beauty consists of the intelligence with its ideas;
only when united to intelligence is the soul really isolated from all
the remainder. That is the reason that it is right to say that "the
soul's welfare and beauty lie in assimilating herself to the divinity,"
because it is the principle of beauty and of the essences; or rather,
being is beauty, while the other nature (non-being, matter), is
ugliness. This is the First Evil, evil in itself, just as that one (the
First Principle) is the good and the beautiful; for good and beauty
are identical. Consequently, beauty or good, and evil or ugliness, are
to be studied by the same methods. The first rank is to be assigned to
beauty, which is identical with the good, and from which is derived
the intelligence which is beautiful by itself. The soul is beautiful
by intelligence, then, the other things, like actions, and studies,
are beautiful by the soul which gives them a form. It is still the
soul which beautifies the bodies to which is ascribed this perfection;
being a divine essence, and participating in beauty, when she seizes an
object, or subjects it to her dominion, she gives to it the beauty that
the nature of this object enables it to receive.


We must still ascend to the Good to which every soul aspires. Whoever
has seen it knows what I still have to say, and knows the beauty of
the Good. Indeed, the Good is desirable for its own sake; it is the
goal of our desires. To attain it, we have to ascend to the higher
regions, turn towards them, and lay aside the garment which we put on
when descending here below; just as, in the (Eleusynian, or Isiac)
mysteries, those who are admitted to penetrate into the recesses of the
sanctuary, after having purified themselves, lay aside every garment,
and advance stark naked.


7. Thus, in her ascension towards divinity, the soul advances until,
having risen above everything that is foreign to her, she alone with
Him who is alone, beholds, in all His simplicity and purity, Him from
whom all depends, to whom all aspires, from whom everything draws
its existence, life and thought. He who beholds him is overwhelmed
with love; with ardor desiring to unite himself with Him, entranced
with ecstasy. Men who have not yet seen Him desire Him as the Good;
those who have, admire Him as sovereign beauty, struck simultaneously
with stupor and pleasure, thrilling in a painless orgasm, loving
with a genuine emotion, with an ardor without equal, scorning all
other affections, and disdaining those things which formerly they
characterized as beautiful. This is the experience of those to whom
divinities and guardians have appeared; they reck no longer of the
beauty of other bodies. Imagine, if you can, the experiences of those
who behold Beauty itself, the pure Beauty, which, because of its
very purity, is fleshless and bodiless, outside of earth and heaven.
All these things, indeed are contingent and composite, they are not
principles, they are derived from Him. What beauty could one still wish
to see after having arrived at vision of Him who gives perfection to
all beings, though himself remains unmoved, without receiving anything;
after finding rest in this contemplation, and enjoying it by becoming
assimilated to Him? Being supreme beauty, and the first beauty, He
beautifies those who love Him, and thereby they become worthy of love.
This is the great, the supreme goal of souls; this is the goal which
arouses all their efforts, if they do not wish to be disinherited of
that sublime contemplation the enjoyment of which confers blessedness,
and privation of which is the greatest of earthly misfortunes. Real
misfortune is not to lack beautiful colors, nor beautiful bodies,
nor power, nor domination, nor royalty. It is quite sufficient to
see oneself excluded from no more than possession of beauty. This
possession is precious enough to render worthless domination of
a kingdom, if not of the whole earth, of the sea, or even of the
heavens--if indeed it were possible, while abandoning and scorning all
that (natural beauty), to succeed in contemplating beauty face to face.


8. How shall we start, and later arrive at the contemplation of this
ineffable beauty which, like the divinity in the mysteries, remains
hidden in the recesses of a sanctuary, and does not show itself
outside, where it might be perceived by the profane? We must advance
into this sanctuary, penetrating into it, if we have the strength to do
so, closing our eyes to the spectacle of terrestrial things, without
throwing a backward glance on the bodies whose graces formerly charmed
us. If we do still see corporeal beauties, we must no longer rush at
them, but, knowing that they are only images, traces and adumbrations
of a superior principle, we will flee from them, to approach Him
of whom they are merely the reflections. Whoever would let himself
be misled by the pursuit of those vain shadows, mistaking them for
realities, would grasp only an image as fugitive as the fluctuating
form reflected by the waters, and would resemble that senseless
(Narcissus) who, wishing to grasp that image himself, according to the
fable, disappeared, carried away by the current. Likewise he would wish
to embrace corporeal beauties, and not release them, would plunge,
not his body, but his soul into the gloomy abysses, so repugnant to
intelligence; he would be condemned to total blindness; and on this
earth, as well as in hell, he would see naught but mendacious shades.


This indeed is the occasion to quote (from Homer) with peculiar force,
"Let us fly unto our dear fatherland!" But how shall we fly? How escape
from here? is the question Ulysses asks himself in that allegory
which represents him trying to escape from the magic sway of Circe
or Calypso, where neither the pleasure of the eyes, nor the view of
fleshly beauty were able to hold him in those enchanted places. Our
fatherland is the region whence we descend here below. It is there that
dwells our Father. But how shall we return thither? What means shall
be employed to return us thither? Not our feet, indeed; all they could
do would be to move us from one place of the earth to another. Neither
is it a chariot, nor ship which need be prepared. All these vain helps
must be left aside, and not even considered. We must close the eyes of
the body, to open another vision, which indeed all possess, but very
few employ.


9. But how shall we train this interior vision? At the moment of
its (first) awakening, it cannot contemplate beauties too dazzling.
Your soul must then first be accustomed to contemplate the noblest
occupations of man, and then the beautiful deeds, not indeed those
performed by artists, but those (good deeds) done by virtuous men.
Later contemplate the souls of those who perform these beautiful
actions. Nevertheless, how will you discover the beauty which their
excellent soul possesses? Withdraw within yourself, and examine
yourself. If you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist,
who cuts off, polishes, purifies until he has adorned his statue
with all the marks of beauty. Remove from your soul, therefore, all
that is superfluous, straighten out all that is crooked, purify and
illuminate what is obscure, and do not cease perfecting your statue
until the divine resplendence of virtue shines forth upon your sight,
until you see temperance in its holy purity seated in your breast.
When you shall have acquired this perfection; when you will see it in
yourself; when you will purely dwell within yourself; when you will
cease to meet within yourself any obstacle to unity; when nothing
foreign will any more, by its admixture, alter the simplicity of your
interior essence; when within your whole being you will be a veritable
light, immeasurable in size, uncircumscribed by any figure within
narrow boundaries, unincreasable because reaching out to infinity,
and entirely incommensurable because it transcends all measure and
quantity; when you shall have become such, then, having become sight
itself, you may have confidence in yourself, for you will no longer
need any guide. Then must you observe carefully, for it is only by the
eye that then will open itself within you that you will be able to
perceive supreme Beauty. But if you try to fix on it an eye soiled by
vice, an eye that is impure, or weak, so as not to be able to support
the splendor of so brilliant an object, that eye will see nothing, not
even if it were shown a sight easy to grasp. The organ of vision will
first have to be rendered analogous and similar to the object it is to
contemplate. Never would the eye have seen the sun unless first it had
assumed its form; likewise, the soul could never see beauty, unless she
herself first became beautiful. To obtain the view of the beautiful,
and of the divinity, every man must begin by rendering himself
beautiful and divine.


Thus he will first rise to intelligence, and he will there contemplate
beauty, and declare that all this beauty resides in the Ideas. Indeed,
in them everything is beautiful, because they are the daughters and the
very essence of Intelligence.

Above intelligence, he will meet Him whom we call the nature of the
Good, and who causes beauty to radiate around Him; so that, to repeat,
the first thing that is met is beauty. If a distinction is to be
established among the intelligibles, we might say that intelligible
beauty is the locus of ideas, and that the Good, which is located above
the Beautiful, is its source and principle. If, however, we desire to
locate the Good and the Beautiful within one single principle, we might
regard this one principle first as Good, and only afterwards, as Beauty.


Page 40, line 4, Equally Beautiful, Phaedrus p. 250, Cary 63-65;
Hippias Major, 295, Cary 44; Philebus p. 17, Cary 20, 21.

Page 41, line 11, Stoic definition, Cicero, Tusculans, iv. 13.

Page 44, line 30, Obscurity of Matter, Timaeus, p. 31, Cary 11;
Philebus, p. 29, Cary 52.

Page 45, line 22, Superior Order, Banquet 210, Cary 34; Timaeus, p. 31,
Cary 11.

Page 45, line 35, Golden Face of Justice, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae,
xii. 546.

Page 46, line 10, Pleasurable Impulse, Banquet, p. 191, Cary 17, 18;
Cratylos, p. 420, Cary 78-80.

Page 47, line 5, Justice of the Heart, Banquet, p. 209, Cary 33;
Republic, iii. 402, Cary 12.

Page 48, line 23, Ugliness, Banquet, p. 215-217, Cary 39, 40; Philebus,
p. 66, Cary 158, 159.

Page 49, line 4, Purifications, Phaedo, p. 69, Cary 37.

Page 49, line 32, Assimilating to Divinity, Republic x. p. 613, Cary 12.

Page 50, line 1, Good and Beautiful, Timaeus, p. 35, Cary 12.

Page 50, line 5, Identical with Good, Philebus, p. 64, Cary 153-155;
First Alcibiades, p. 115, Cary 23, 24.

Page 51, line 1, 2, He who Beholds, Phaedrus, p. 278, Cary 145.

Page 51, line 8, Ardor without Equal; line 15, Very Purity; Banquet, p.
210, 211; Cary 34, 35.

Page 51, line 29, Confers Blessedness, Phaedrus, p. 250, Cary 64.

Page 53, line 16, Interior Vision, Republic, x., p. 533, Cary 13.

Page 53, line 34, Temperance Seated, Phaedrus, p. 279, Cary 147.

Page 54, line 19, Organ of Vision, Timaeus, p. 45, Cary 19.

Page 54, line 23, Assumed its form, Republic, vi., p. 508, Cary 19.

Page 54, line 29, Rise to Intelligence, Philebus, p. 64, Cary 153-155.


Of the Immortality of the Soul: Polemic Against Materialism.


1. Are we immortal, or does all of us die? (Another possibility would
be that) of the two parts of which we are composed, the one might be
fated to be dissolved and perish, while the other, that constitutes our
very personality, might subsist perpetually. These problems must be
solved by a study of our nature.


Man is not a simple being; he contains a soul and a body, which is
united to this soul, either as tool, or in some other manner.[31] This
is how we must distinguish the soul from the body, and determine the
nature and manner of existence ("being") of each of them.


As the nature of the body is composite, reason convinces us that it
cannot last perpetually, and our senses show it to us dissolved,
destroyed, and decayed, because the elements that compose it return
to join the elements of the same nature, altering, destroying them
and each other, especially when this chaos is abandoned to the soul,
which alone keeps her parts combined. Even if a body were taken alone,
it would not be a unity; it may be analyzed into form and matter,
principles that are necessary to the constitution of all bodies, even
of those that are simple.[32] Besides, as they contain extension,
the bodies can be cut, divided into infinitely small parts, and thus
perish.[33] Therefore if our body is a part of ourselves,[34] not all
of us is immortal; if the body is only the instrument of the soul, as
the body is given to the soul only for a definite period, it still is
by nature perishable.


The soul, which is the principal part of man, and which constitutes man
himself,[35] should bear to the body the relation of form to matter, or
of a workman to his tool;[36] in both cases the soul is the man himself.


2. What then is the nature of the soul? If she is a body, she can be
decomposed, as every body is a composite. If, on the contrary, she is
not a body, if hers is a different nature, the latter must be examined;
either in the same way that we have examined the body, or in some other


(a.) (Neither a material molecule, nor a material aggregation of
material atoms could possess life and intelligence.) First, let
us consider the nature of this alleged soul-body. As every soul
necessarily possesses life, and as the body, considered as being the
soul, must obtain at least two molecules, if not more (there are three
possibilities): either only one of them possesses life, or all of
them possess it, or none of them. If one molecule alone possesses
life, it alone will be the soul. Of what nature will be that molecule
supposed to possess life by itself? Will it be water (Hippo), air
(Anaximenes, Archelaus, and Diogenes), earth, or fire (Heraclitus,
Stobaeus?[37]) But those are elements that are inanimate by themselves,
and which, even when they are animated, possess but a borrowed life.
Still there is no other kind of body. Even those (philosophers, like
the Pythagoreans) who posited elements other (than water, air, earth
and fire) still considered them to be bodies, and not souls, not even
attributing souls to them. The theory that life results from the union
of molecules of which, nevertheless, none by itself possesses life, is
an absurd hypothesis. If further any molecule possesses life, then a
single one would be sufficient.


The most irrational theory of all is that an aggregation of molecules
should produce life, that elements without intelligence should beget
intelligence. Others (like Alexander of Aphrodisia) insist that to
produce life these elements must be mingled in a certain manner. That
would, however, imply (as thought Gallen and Hippocrates[38]) the
existence of a principle which produces order, and which should be the
cause of mixture or, temperament,[39] and that should alone deserve
being considered as soul. No simple bodies could exist, much less
composite bodies, unless there was a soul in the universe; for it is
(seminal) reason which, in, adding itself to matter, produces body.[40]
But surely a (seminal) reason could proceed from nowhere except a soul.


3. (b.) (No aggregation of atoms could form a whole that would be one
and sympathetic with itself.) Others, on the contrary, insist that the
soul is constituted by the union of atoms or indivisibles (as thought
Leucippus, Democritus and Epicurus.[41]) To refute this error, we have
to examine the nature of sympathy (or community of affection, a Stoic
characteristic of a living being,[42]) and juxtaposition.[43] On the
one hand an aggregation of corporeal molecules which are incapable of
being united, and which do not feel cannot form a single sympathetic
whole such as is the soul, which is sympathetic with herself. On
the other hand, how could a body or extension be constituted by (a
juxtaposition of) atoms?


(c.) (Every body is a composite of matter and form, while the soul is
a simple substance.) Inasmuch as matter possesses no quality,[44] the
matter of no simple body will be said to possess life in itself. That
which imparts life to it must then be its form. If form is a "being,"
the soul cannot simultaneously be matter and form; it will be only
matter or form. Consequently, the soul will not be the body, since
the body is not constituted by matter exclusively, as could be proved
analytically, if necessary.


(d.) (The soul is not a simple manner of being of matter, because
matter could not give itself a form.) Some Stoics might deny that form
was a "being," asserting the soul to be a mere affection (or, manner
of being) of matter.[45] From whence then did matter acquire this
affection and animating life? Surely matter itself could not endow
itself with a form and a soul. That which endows matter or any body
with life must then be some principle alien and superior to corporeal


(e.) (No body could subsist without the power of the universal soul.)
Besides no body could subsist without the power of the universal Soul
(from Numenius[46]). Every body, indeed, is in a perpetual flow and
movement (as thought Heraclitus, in Plato, Cratylus[47]), and the world
would soon perish if it contained nothing but bodies, even if some one
of them were to be called soul; for such a soul, being composed of
the same matter as the other bodies, would undergo the same fate that
they do; or rather, there would not even be any body, everything would
remain in the condition of shapeless matter, since there would exist
no principle to fashion it. Why, there would not even be any matter,
and the universe would be annihilated to nothingness, if the care of
keeping its parts united were entrusted to some body which would have
nothing but the name of soul, as for instance, to air, or a breath
without cohesion,[48] which could not be one, by itself. As all bodies
are divisible, if the universe depended on a body, it would be deprived
of intelligence and given up to chance. How, indeed, could there be
any order in a spirit which itself would need to receive order from a
soul? How could this spirit contain reason and intelligence? On the
hypothesis of the existence of the soul, all these elements serve to
constitute the body of the world, and of every animal, because all
different bodies together work for the end of all; but without the
soul, there is no order, and even nothing exists any more.


4. (f) (If the soul is anything but simple matter, she must be
constituted by a substantial form.) Those who claim that the soul
is a body are, by the very force of the truth, forced to recognize
the existence, before and above them, of a form proper to the soul;
for they acknowledge the existence of an intelligent spirit, and an
intellectual fire (as do the Stoics, following in the footsteps of
Heraclitus, Stobaeus[49]). According to them, it seems that, without
spirit or fire, there cannot be any superior nature in the order of
beings, and that the soul needs a location where she may be built
up. On the contrary, it is bodies alone that need to be built up on
something, and indeed, they are founded on the powers of the soul.
If really we do believe that the soul and life are no more than a
spirit, why add the qualification "of a certain characteristic,"[50]
a meaningless term employed when forced to admit an active nature
superior to that of bodies. As there are thousands of inanimate
spirits, not every spirit is a soul. If only that spirit is a
soul which possesses that "special characteristic," this "special
characteristic" and this "manner of being" will either be something
real, or will be nothing. If they are nothing, there will be nothing
real but spirit, and this alleged "manner of being" is nothing more
than a word. In that system, therefore, nothing but matter really
exists. God, the soul, and all other things are no more than a word;
the body alone really subsists. If, on the contrary, that "manner of
being" is something real, if it is anything else than substrate or
matter, if it resides in matter without being material or composed of
matter, it must then be a nature different from the body, namely, a
reason (by a pun).[51]


(g.) (The body exerts an uniform action, while the soul exerts a very
diverse action.) The following considerations further demonstrate the
impossibility of the soul being a body. A body must be hot or cold,
hard or soft, liquid or solid, black or white, or qualities differing
according to its nature. If it is only hot or cold, light or heavy,
black or white, it communicates its only quality to what comes close
to it; for fire could not cool, nor ice heat. Nevertheless, the soul
produces not only different effects in different animals, but contrary
effects even in the same being; she makes certain things solid, dense,
black, light, and certain others liquid, sparse, white, or heavy.
According to the different quality of the body, and according to its
color, she should produce but a single effect; nevertheless, she exerts
a very diverse action.


5. (h.) (The body has but a single kind of motion while the soul has
different ones.) If the soul is a body, how does it happen that she
has different kinds of motion instead of a single one, as is the
case with the body? Will these movements be explained by voluntary
determinations, and by (seminal) reasons? In this case neither the
voluntary determinations, nor these reasons, which differ from each
other, can belong to a single and simple body; such a body does not
participate in any particular reason except by the principle that made
it hot or cold.


(i.) (Souls cannot, as do bodies, lose or gain parts, ever remaining
identical.) The body has the faculty of making its organs grow within
a definite time and in fixed proportions. From where could the soul
derive them? Its function is to grow, not to cause growth, unless
the principle of growth be comprehended within its material mass. If
the soul that makes the body grow was herself a body, she should, on
uniting with molecules of a nature similar to hers, develop a growth
proportional to that of the organs. In this case, the molecules that
will come to add themselves to the soul will be either animate or
inanimate; if they are animate, how could they have become such, and
from whom will they have received that characteristic? If they are not
animate, how will they become such, and how will agreement between
them and the first soul arise? How will they form but a single unity
with her, and how will they agree with her? Will they not constitute a
soul that will remain foreign to the former, who will not possess her
requirements of knowledge? This aggregation of molecules that would
thus be called soul will resemble the aggregation of molecules that
form our body. She would lose parts, she would acquire new ones; she
will not be identical. But if we had a soul that was not identical,
memory and self-consciousness of our own faculties would be impossible.


(j.) (The soul, being one and simple, is everywhere entire, and has
parts that are identical to the whole; this is not the case with
the body.) If the soul is a body, she will have parts that are not
identical with the whole, as every body is by nature divisible. If then
the soul has a definite magnitude of which she cannot lose anything
without ceasing to be a soul, she will by losing her parts, change her
nature, as happens to every quantity. If, on losing some part of its
magnitude, a body, notwithstanding, remains identical in respect to
quality, it does not nevertheless become different from what it was,
in respect to quantity, and it remains identical only in respect to
quality, which differs from quantity. What shall we answer to those who
insist that the soul is a body? Will they say that, in the same body,
each part possesses the same quality as the total soul, and that the
case is similar with the part of a part? Then quantity is no longer
essential to the nature of the soul; which contradicts the hypothesis
that the soul needed to possess a definite magnitude. Besides the soul
is everywhere entire; now it is impossible for a body to be entire in
several places simultaneously, or have parts identical to the whole.
If we refuse the name of soul to each part, the soul is then composed
of inanimate parts. Besides, if the soul is a definite magnitude, she
cannot increase or diminish without ceasing to be a soul; but it often
happens that from a single conception or from a single germ are born
two or more beings, as is seen in certain animals in whom the germs
divide;[52] in this case, each part is equal to the whole. However
superficially considered, this fact demonstrates that the principle
in which the part is equal to the whole is essentially superior to
quantity, and must necessarily lack any kind of quantity. On this
condition alone can the soul remain identical when the body loses its
quantity, because she has need of no mass, no quantity, and because her
essence is of an entirely different nature. The soul and the (seminal)
reasons therefore possess no extension.


6. (k.) (The body could not possess either sensation, thought, or
virtue.) If the soul were a body, she would not possess either
sensation, thought, science, virtue, nor any of the perfections that
render her more beautiful. Here follows the proof.


The subject that perceives a sense-object must itself be single, and
grasp this object in its totality, by one and the same power. This
happens when by several organs we perceive several qualities of a
single object, or when, by a single organ, we embrace a single complex
object in its totality, as, for instance, a face. It is not one
principle that sees the face, and another one that sees the eyes; it
is the "same principle" which embraces everything at once. Doubtless
we do receive a sense-impression by the eyes, and another by the ears;
but both of them must end in some single principle. How, indeed, could
any decision be reached about the difference of sense-impressions
unless they all converged toward the same principle? The latter is
like a centre, and the individual sensations are like radii which
from the circumference radiate towards the centre of a circle. This
central principle is essentially single. If it was divisible, and if
sense-impressions were directed towards two points at a distance from
each other, such as the extremities of the same line, they would either
still converge towards one and the same point, as, for instance, the
middle (of the line), or one part would feel one thing, and another
something else. It would be absolutely as if I felt one thing, and you
felt another, when placed in the presence of one and the same thing (as
thought Aristotle, de Anima[53]). Facts, therefore, demonstrate that
sensations centre in one and the same principle; as visible images are
centred in the pupil of the eye; otherwise how could we, through the
pupil, see the greatest objects? So much the more, therefore, must
the sensations that centre in the (Stoic) "directing principle"[54]
resemble indivisible intuitions and be perceived by an indivisible
principle. If the latter possessed extension, it could, like the
sense-object, be divided; each of its parts would thus perceive one
of the parts of the sense-object, and nothing within us would grasp
the object in its totality. The subject that perceives must then be
entirely one; otherwise, how could it be divided? In that case it could
not be made to coincide with the sense-object, as two equal figures
superimposed on each other, because the directing principle does not
have an extension equal to that of the sense-object. How then will we
carry out the division? Must the subject that feels contain as many
parts as there are in the sense-object? Will each part of the soul, in
its turn, feel by its own parts, or will (we decide that) the parts of
parts will not feel? Neither is that likely. If, on the other hand,
each part feels the entire object, and if each magnitude is divisible
to infinity, the result is that, for a single object, there will be an
infinity of sensations in each part of the soul; and, so much the more,
an infinity of images in the principle that directs us. (This, however,
is the opposite of the actual state of affairs.)


Besides, if the principle that feels were corporeal, it could feel only
so long as exterior objects produced in the blood or in the air some
impression similar to that of a seal on wax.[55] If they impressed
their images on wet substances, as is no doubt supposed, these
impressions would become confused as images in water, and memory would
not occur. If, however, these impressions persisted, they would either
form an obstacle to subsequent ones, and no further sensation would
occur; or they would be effaced by the new ones, which would destroy
memory. If then the soul is capable of recalling earlier sensations,
and having new ones, to which the former would form no obstacle, it is
because she is not corporeal.


7. The same reflections may be made about pain, and one's feeling of
it. When a man's finger is said to give him pain, this, no doubt,
is a recognition that the seat of the pain is in the finger, and
that the feeling of pain is experienced by the directing principle.
Consequently, when a part of the spirit suffers, this suffering is felt
by the directing principle, and shared by the whole soul.[56] How can
this sympathy be explained? By relay transmission, (the Stoic) will
answer; the sense-impression is felt first by the animal spirit that
is in the finger, and then transmitted to the neighboring part, and
so on till it reaches the directing part. Necessarily, if the pain is
felt by the first part that experiences it, it will also be felt by the
second part to which it is transmitted; then by the third, and so on,
until the one pain would have caused an infinite number of sensations.
Last the directing principle will perceive all these sensations, adding
thereto its own sensation. Speaking strictly, however, each of these
sensations will not transmit the suffering of the finger, but the
suffering of one of the intermediate parts. For instance, the second
sensation will relay the suffering of the hand. The third, that of
the arm, and so on, until there will be an infinity of sensations.
The directing principle, for its part, will not feel the pain of the
finger, but its own; it will know none but that, it will pay no
attention to the rest, because it will ignore the pain suffered by the
finger. Therefore, relayed sensation is an impossibility, nor could
one part of the body perceive the suffering felt by another part; for
the body has extension, and, in every extension, parts are foreign to
each other (the opposite of the opinion of Cleanthes, Nemesius).[57]
Consequently, the principle that feels must everywhere be identical
with itself; and among all beings, the body is that which is least
suitable to this identity.


8. If, in any sense whatever, the soul were a body, we could not think.
Here is the proof. If feeling[58] is explained as the soul's laying
hold of perceptible things by making use of the body, thinking cannot
also of making use of the body. Otherwise, thinking and feeling would
be identical. Thus, thinking must consist in perceiving without the
help of the body (as thought Aristotle[59]). So much the more, the
thinking principle cannot be corporeal. Since it is sensation that
grasps sense-objects, it must likewise be thought, or intellection,
that grasps intelligible objects. Though this should be denied, it will
be admitted that we think certain intelligibles entities, and that we
perceive entities that have no extension. How could an entity that
had extension think one that had no extension? Or a divisible entity,
think an indivisible one? Could this take place by an indivisible part?
In this case, the thinking subject will not be corporeal; for there
is no need that the whole subject be in contact with the object; it
would suffice if one of its parts reached the object (as Aristotle said
against Plato).[60] If then this truth be granted, that the highest
thoughts must have incorporeal objects, the latter can be cognized only
by a thinking principle that either is, or becomes independent of body.
Even the objection that the object of thought is constituted by the
forms inherent in matter, implies that these forces cannot be thought
unless, by intelligence, they are separated from matter. It is not by
means of the carnal mass of the body, nor generally by matter, that
we can effect the abstraction of triangle, circle, line or point. To
succeed in this abstraction, the soul must separate from the body, and
consequently, the soul cannot be corporeal.


Neither do beauty or justice possess extension, I suppose; and their
conception must be similar. These things can be cognized or retained
only by the indivisible part of the soul. If the latter were corporeal,
where indeed could virtues, prudence, justice and courage exist? In
this case, virtues (as Critias thought),[61] would be no more than
a certain disposition of the spirit, or blood (as Empedocles also
thought).[62] For instance, courage and temperance would respectively
be no more than a certain irritability, and a fortunate temperament of
the spirit; beauty would consist in the agreeable shape of outlines,
which cause persons, in whom they occur, to be called elegant and
handsome. Under this hypothesis, indeed, the types of spirit might
possess vigor and beauty. But what need would it have of temperance?
On the contrary, the spirit would seek to be agreeably affected by the
things it touches and embraces, to enjoy a moderate heat, a gentle
coolness, and to be in contact only with sweet, tender, and smooth
entities. What incentive would the spirit have to apportion rewards to
those who had deserved them?


Are the notions of virtue, and other intelligible entities by the soul
thought eternal, or does virtue arise and perish? If so, by what being,
and how will it be formed? It is the same problem that remains to be
solved. Intelligible entities must therefore be eternal and immutable,
like geometrical notions, and consequently cannot be corporeal.
Further, the subject in whom they exist must be of a nature similar to
theirs, and therefore not be corporeal; for the nature of body is not
to remain immutable, but to be in a perpetual flow.


(9.) There are men who locate the soul in the body, so as to give her
a foundation in some sphere of activity, to account for the various
phenomena in the body, such as getting hot or cold, pushing on or
stopping, (and the like). They evidently do not realize that bodies
produce these effects only through incorporeal powers, and that those
are not the powers that we attribute to the soul, which are thought,
sensation, reasoning, desire, judiciousness, propriety and wisdom, all
of them entities that cannot possible be attributes of a corporeal
entity. Consequently, those (materialists) attribute to the body all
the faculties of incorporeal essences, and leave nothing for the latter.


The proof that bodies are activated only by incorporeal faculties may
be proved as follows: Quantity and quality are two different things.
Every body has a quantity, but not always a quality, as in the case of
matter, (according to the Stoic definition, that it was a body without
quality, but possessing magnitude[63]). Granting this, (you Stoic) will
also be forced to admit that as quality is something different from
quantity, it must consequently be different from the body. Since then
every body has a quantity, how could quality, which is no quantity, be
a body? Besides, as we said above,[64] every body and mass is altered
by division; nevertheless, when a body is cut into pieces, every
part preserves the entire quality without undergoing alteration. For
instance, every molecule of honey, possesses the quality of sweetness
as much as all the molecules taken together; consequently that
sweetness cannot be corporeal; and other qualities must be in a similar
case. Moreover, if the active powers were corporeal, they would have to
have a material mass proportional to their strength or weakness. Now
there are great masses that have little force, and small ones that have
great force; demonstrating that power does not depend on extension, and
should be attributed to some (substance) without extension. Finally,
you may say that matter is identical with body, and produces different
beings only by receiving different qualities (the Stoics considering
that even the divinity was no more than modified matter, their two
principles being matter and quality;[65] the latter, however, was also
considered as body). How do you (Stoics) not see that qualities thus
added to matter are reasons, that are primary and immaterial? Do not
object that when the spirit (breath) and blood abandon animals, they
cease to live; for if these things are necessary to life, there are
for our life many other necessities, even during the presence of the
soul (as thought Nemesius).[66] Besides, neither spirit nor blood are
distributed to every part of the body.


(10). The soul penetrates the whole body, while an entire body cannot
penetrate another entire body. Further, if the soul is corporeal, and
pervades the whole body, she will, with the body, form (as Alexander
of Aphrodisia pointed out) a mixture,[67] similar to the other bodies
(that are constituted by a mixture of matter and quality, as the Stoics
taught). Now as none of the bodies that enter into a mixture is in
actualization[68] the soul, instead of being in actualization in the
bodies, would be in them only potentially; consequently, she would
cease to be a soul, as the sweet ceases to be sweet when mingled with
the bitter; we would, therefore, have no soul left. If, when one body
forms a mixture with another body, total penetration occurs, so that
each molecule contains equal parts of two bodies and that each body
be distributed equally in the whole space occupied by the mass of the
other, without any increase of volume, nothing that is not divided will
remain. Indeed, mixture operates not only between the larger parts
(which would be no more than a simple juxtaposition); but the two
bodies must penetrate each other mutually, even if smaller--it would
indeed be impossible for the smaller to equal the greater; still, when
the smaller penetrates the larger it must divide it entirely. If the
mixture operates in this manner in every part, and if no undivided
part of the mass remain, the body must be divided into points, which
is impossible. Indeed, were this division pushed to infinity, since
every body is fully divisible, bodies will have to be infinite not only
potentially, but also in actuality. It is therefore impossible for
one entire body to penetrate another in its entirety. Now as the soul
penetrates the entire body, the soul must be incorporeal (as thought


(11). (If, as Stoics claim, man first was a certain nature called
habit,[70] then a soul, and last an intelligence, the perfect would
have arisen from the imperfect, which is impossible). To say that
the first nature of the soul is to be a spirit, and that this spirit
became soul only after having been exposed to cold, and as it were
became soaked by its contact, because the cold subtilized it;[71] this
is an absurd hypothesis. Many animals are born in warm places, and do
not have their soul exposed to action of cold. Under this hypothesis,
the primary nature of the soul would have been made dependent on the
concourse of exterior circumstances. The Stoics, therefore, posit as
principle that which is less perfect (the soul), and trace it to a
still less perfect earlier thing called habit (or form of inorganic
things).[72] Intelligence, therefore, is posited in the last rank
since it is alleged to be born of the soul, while, on the contrary,
the first rank should be assigned to intelligence, the second to the
soul, the third to nature, and, following natural order, consider
that which is less perfect as the posterior element. In this system
the divinity, by the mere fact of his possessing intelligence, is
posterior and begotten, possessing only an incidental intelligence.
The result would, therefore, be that there was neither soul, nor
intelligence, nor divinity; for never can that which is potential pass
to the condition of actualization, without the prior existence of some
actualized principle. If what is potential were to transform itself
into actualization--which is absurd--its passage into actualization
will have to involve at the very least a contemplation of something
which is not merely potential, but actualized. Nevertheless, on the
hypothesis that what is potential can permanently remain identical, it
will of itself pass into actualization, and will be superior to the
being which is potential only because it will be the object of the
aspiration of such a being. We must, therefore, assign the first rank
to the being that has a perfect and incorporeal nature, which is always
in actualization. Thus intelligence and soul are prior to nature; the
soul, therefore, is not a spirit, and consequently no body. Other
reasons for the incorporeality of the soul have been advanced; but the
above suffices (as thought Aristotle).[73]


(12). a. Since the soul is not corporeal, its real nature must be
ascertained. Shall we assert that she is something distinct from the
body, but dependent thereon, as, for instance, a harmony? Pythagoras,
indeed, used this word in a technical sense; and after him the harmony
of the body has been thought to be something similar to the harmony
of a lyre. As tension produces in the lyre-strings an affection
(or, manner of being, or state) that is called harmony, likewise,
as contrary elements are mingled in our body, an individual mixture
produces life and soul, which, therefore, is only an individual
affection of this mixture.


As has already been said above[74] this hypothesis is inadmissible for
several reasons. To begin with, the soul is prior (to the body), and
the harmony is posterior thereto. Then the soul dominates the body,
governs it, and often even resists it, which would be impossible if
the soul were only a harmony. The soul, indeed, is a "being," which
harmony is not. When the corporeal principles of which we are composed
are mingled in just proportions, their temperament constitutes health
(but not a "being," such as the soul). Besides, every part of the body
being mingled in a different manner should form (a different harmony,
and consequently) a different soul, so that there would be several
of them. The decisive argument, however, is that this soul (that
constitutes a harmony) presupposes another soul which would produce
this harmony, as a lyre needs a musician who would produce harmonic
vibrations in the strings, because he possesses within himself the
reason according to which he produces the harmony. The strings of the
lyre do not vibrate of themselves, and the elements of our body cannot
harmonize themselves. Nevertheless, under this hypothesis, animated and
orderly "being" would have been made up out of inanimate and disordered
entities; and these orderly "beings" would owe their order and
existence to chance. That is as impossible for parts as for the whole.
The soul, therefore, is no harmony.


(13). b. Now let us examine the opinion of those who call the soul an
entelechy. They say that, in the composite, the soul plays the part of
form in respect to matter, in the body the soul animates. The soul,
however, is not said to be the form of any body, nor of the body as
such; but of the natural body, that is organized, and which possesses
life potentially.[76]


If the soul's relation to the body is the same as that of the statue
to the metal, the soul will be divided with the body, and on cutting
a member a portion of the soul would be cut along with it. According
to this teaching, the soul separates from the body only during sleep,
since she must inhere in the body of which she is the entelechy, in
which case sleep would become entirely inexplicable. If the soul be an
entelechy, the struggle of reason against the passions would become
entirely impossible. The entire human being will experience but one
single sentiment, and never be in disagreement with itself. If the
soul be an entelechy, there will perhaps still be sensations, but mere
sensations; pure thoughts will have become impossible. Consequently
the Peripateticians themselves are obliged to introduce (into human
nature) another soul, namely, the pure intelligence, which they
consider immortal.[77] The rational soul, therefore, would have to be
an entelechy in a manner different from their definition thereof, if
indeed this name is at all to be used.


The sense-soul, which preserves the forms of sense-objects previously
perceived, must preserve them without the body. Otherwise, these forms
would inhere in the body like figures and corporeal shapes. Now, if
the forms inhered in the sense-soul in this manner, they could not
be received therein otherwise (than as corporeal impressions). That
is why, if we do grant the existence of an entelechy, it must be
inseparable from the body. Even the faculty of appetite, not indeed
that which makes us feel the need of eating and drinking, but that
which desires things that are independent of the body, could not either
be an entelechy.[78]


The soul's faculty of growth remains to be considered. This at least
might be thought an inseparable entelechy. But neither does that suit
her nature. For if the principle of every plant is in its root, and if
growth takes place around and beneath it,[79] as occurs in many plants,
it is evident that the soul's faculty of growth, abandoning all the
other parts, has concentrated in the root alone; it, therefore, was not
distributed all around the soul, like an inseparable entelechy. Add
that this soul, before the plant grows, is already contained in the
small body (of the seed). If then, after having vivified a great plant,
the soul's faculty of growth can condense into a small space, and if
later it can, from this small space, again spread over a whole plant,
it is evidently entirely separable from the (plant's) matter.


Besides, as the soul is indivisible, the entelechy of the divisible
body could not become divisible as is the body. Besides, the same soul
passes from the body of one animal into the body of some other. How
could the soul of the first become that of the second, if she were only
the entelechy of a single one? The example of animals that metamorphose
demonstrates the impossibility of this theory. The soul, therefore, is
not the simple form of a body; she is a genuine "being," which does
not owe its existence merely to her being founded on the body, but
which, on the contrary, exists before having become the soul of some
individual animal. It is, therefore, not the body that begets the soul.


c. What then can be the nature of the soul, if she is neither a
body, nor a corporeal affection, while, nevertheless, all the active
force, the productive power and the other faculties reside in her, or
come from her? What sort of a "being," indeed, is this (soul) that
has an existence independent of the body? She must evidently be a
veritable "being." Indeed, everything corporeal must be classified as
generated, and excluded from genuine "being," because it is born, and
perishes, never really exists, and owes its salvation exclusively to
participation in the genuine existence, and that only in the measure of
its participation therein.


9. (14). It is absolutely necessary to postulate the existence of
a nature different from bodies, by itself fully possessing genuine
existence, which can neither be born nor perish. Otherwise, all other
things would hopelessly disappear, as a result of the destruction of
the existence which preserves both the individuals and the universe,
as their beauty and salvation. The soul, indeed, is the principle of
movement (as Plato thought, in the Phaedrus); it is the soul that
imparts movement to everything else; the soul moves herself. She
imparts life to the body she animates; but alone she possesses life,
without ever being subject to losing it, because she possesses it by
herself. All beings, indeed, live only by a borrowed life; otherwise,
we would have to proceed from cause to cause unto infinity. There
must, therefore, exist a nature that is primarily alive, necessarily
incorruptible and immortal because it is the principle of life for
everything else. It is thereon that must be founded all that is divine
and blessed, that lives and exists by itself, that lives and exists
supremely, which is immutable in its essence, and which can neither
be born nor perish. How indeed could existence be born or perish? If
the name of "existence" really suited it, it must exist forever, just
as whiteness is not alternately black and white. If whiteness were
existence itself, it would, with its "being" (or nature) (which is, to
be whiteness), possess an eternal existence; but, in reality, it is no
more than whiteness. Therefore, the principle that possesses existence
in itself and in a supreme degree will always exist. Now this primary
and eternal existence can not be anything dead like a stone, or a piece
of wood. It must live, and live with a pure life, as long as it exists
within itself. If something of it mingles with what is inferior, this
part meets obstacles in its aspiration to the good; but it does not
lose its nature, and resumes its former condition on returning to a
suitable condition (as thought Plato, in his Phaedo[81]).


10. (15). The soul has affinities with the divine and eternal nature.
This is evident, because, as we have demonstrated it, she is not a
body, has neither figure nor color, and is impalpable. Consider the
following demonstration. It is generally granted that everything that
is divine and that possesses genuine existence enjoys a happy and wise
life. Now let us consider the nature of our soul, in connection with
that of the divine. Let us take a soul, not one inside of a body, which
is undergoing the irrational motions of appetite and anger, and the
other affections born of the body, but a soul that has eliminated all
that, and which, so far as possible, had no intercourse with the body.
Such a soul would show us that vices are something foreign to the
nature of the soul, and come to her from elsewhere, and that, inasmuch
as she is purified, she in her own right possesses the most eminent
qualities, wisdom, and the other virtues (as thought Plato[82]). If
the soul, when re-entering into herself, is such, how could she not
participate in this nature that we have acknowledged to be suitable
to every thing that is eternal and divine? As wisdom and real virtue
are divine things, they could not dwell in a vile and mortal entity;
the existence that receives them is necessarily divine, since it
participates in divine things by their mutual affinity and community.
Anyone who thus possesses wisdom and virtue in his soul differs little
from the superior beings; he is inferior to them only by the fact of
his having a body. If all men, or at least, if many of them held their
soul in this disposition, no one would be sceptic enough to refuse to
believe that the soul is immortal. But as we consider the soul in her
present condition of being soiled by vices, no one imagines that her
nature is divine and immortal.


Now when we consider the nature of some being, it should be studied
in its rarest condition, since extraneous additions hinder it from
being rightly judged. The soul must be therefore considered only after
abstraction of foreign things, or rather, he who makes this abstraction
should observe himself in that condition. He then will not doubt that
he is immortal, when he sees himself in the pure world of intelligence.
He will see his intelligence occupied, not in the observation of some
sense-object that is mortal, but in thinking the eternal by an equally
eternal faculty.[83] He will see all the entities in the intelligible
world, and he will see himself become intelligible, radiant, and
illuminated by the truth emanating from the Good, which sheds the light
of truth on all intelligible entities.[84] Then (like Empedocles, in
Diog. Laertes[85]), he will have the right to say:

"Farewell, I am now an immortal divinity."

For he has ascended to the divinity, and has become assimilated
thereto. As purification permits one to know the better things, so the
notions we have within us, and which constitute real science, are made
clear. Indeed, it is not by an excursion among external objects that
the soul attains the intuition of wisdom and virtue, but by re-entering
into herself, in thinking herself in her primitive condition. Then she
clears up and recognizes in herself the divine statues, soiled by the
rust of time. Likewise, if a piece of gold were animated and released
itself from the earth by which it was covered, after first having been
ignorant of its real nature because it did not see its own splendor,
it would admire itself when considering itself in its purity; it would
find that it had no need of a borrowed beauty, and would consider
itself happy to remain isolated from everything else.[86]


11. (16). What sensible man, after having thus considered the nature
of the soul, could still doubt of the immortality of a principle which
derives life from naught but itself, and which cannot lose it? How
could the soul lose life, since she did not borrow it from elsewhere,
and since she does not possess it as fire possesses heat? For, without
being an accident of fire, the heat, nevertheless, is an accident
of its matter; for fire can perish. But, in the soul, life is not an
accident that comes to add itself to a material subject to constitute a
soul. In fact, there is here an alternative: either life is a genuine
"being," which is alive by itself; in which case this "being" is
the soul that we are seeking to discover, and immortality cannot be
refused her; or the soul is a composite, and she must be decomposed
until we arrive at something immortal which moves by itself; and such
a principle could not be subject to death. Further, when (Stoics)
say that life is only an accidental modification of matter, they are
thereby forced to acknowledge that the principle that imparted this
modification to matter is immortal, and incapable of admitting anything
contrary to what it communicates (that is, life, as said Plato, in his
Phaedo[87]), but there is only a single nature that possesses life in


12. (17). (The Stoics), indeed, claim that every soul is perishable.
In this case, everything should long since have been destroyed. Others
might say that our soul were mortal, while the universal Soul were
immortal. On them, however, is the burden of proof of a difference
between the individual and universal souls. Both of them, indeed,
are a principle of movement; both live by themselves; both grasp
the same object by the same faculty, either by thinking the things
contained in heaven, or by considering the nature ("being") of each
being, ascending unto the first principle. Since our soul thinks
absolute essences either by the notions she finds within herself, or by
reminiscence, she evidently is prior to the body. Possessing knowledge
of eternal entities, she herself must be eternal. All that dissolves,
existing only by its compositeness, can naturally dissolve in the
same manner that it became composite. But the soul is a single, simple
actualization, whose essence is life; not in this manner therefore
can the soul perish. Neither could the soul perish by division into
a number of parts; for, as we have shown, the soul is neither a mass
nor a quantity. As little could the soul perish by alteration; for
when alteration destroys anything, it may remove its form, but leaves
its matter; alteration, therefore, is a characteristic of something
composite. Consequently as the soul cannot perish in any of these ways,
she is imperishable.


13. (18). If intelligible entities are separated from sense objects,
how does it happen that the soul descends into a body?[88] So long as
the soul is a pure and impassible intelligence, so long as she enjoys
a purely intellectual life like the other intelligible beings, she
dwells among them; for she has neither appetite nor desire. But that
part which is inferior to intelligence and which is capable of desires,
follows their impulsion, "proceeds" and withdraws from the intelligible
world. Wishing to ornament matter on the model of the Ideas she
contemplated in Intelligence, in haste to exhibit her fruitfulness,
and to manifest the germs she bears within her (as said Plato, in the
Banquet[89]), the soul applies herself to produce and create, and, as
result of this application, she is, as it were, orientated (or, in
"tension") towards sense-objects. With the universal Soul, the human
soul shares the administration of the whole world, without, however,
entering it; then, desiring to administer some portion of the world
on her own responsibility, she separates from the universal Soul, and
passes into a body. But even when she is present with the body, the
soul does not devote herself entirely to it, as some part of her
always remains outside of it; that is how her intelligence remains


The soul is present in the body at some times, and at other times,
is outside of it. When, indeed, following her own inclination, she
descends from first-rank entities (that is, intelligible entities) to
third-rank entities (that is, earthly entities), she "proceeds" by
virtue of the actualization of intelligence, which, remaining within
herself, embellishes everything by the ministration of the soul, and
which, itself being immortal, ordains everything with immortal power;
for intelligence exists continuously by a continuous actualization.[91]


14. (19). What about the souls of animals inferior to man? The
(rational) souls that have strayed so far as to descend into the bodies
of animals are nevertheless still immortal.[92] Souls of a kind other
(than rational souls), cannot proceed from anything else than the
living nature (of the universal Soul); and they necessarily are the
principles of life for all animals. The case is the same with the souls
that inhere in plants. Indeed, all souls have issued from the same
principle (the universal Soul), all have an individual life, and are
indivisible and incorporeal essences ("beings").


To the objection that the human soul must decompose because she
contains three parts, it may be answered that, when souls issue from
here below, those that are purified leave what had been added to them
in generation (the irrational soul,[93]) while the other non-purified
souls do free themselves therefrom with time. Besides, this lower
part of the soul does not itself perish, for it exists as long as
the principle from which it proceeds. Indeed, nothing that exists is


15. (20). This, then, is our answer to those who seek a philosophical
demonstration. Those who are satisfied with the testimony of faith and
sense, may be referred to those extracts from history which furnish
numerous proofs thereof.[94] We may also refer to the oracles given by
the divinities who order an appeasement of the souls who were victims
of some injustice, and to honor the dead,[95] and to the rites observed
by all towards those who live no more;[96] which presupposes that their
souls are still conscious beyond. Even after leaving their bodies,
many souls who lived on the earth have continued to grant benefits to
men.[97] By revelation of the future;[98] and rendering other services,
they themselves prove that the other souls cannot have perished.

    As the first book was evidently Platonic, the second seems
    Numenian, reminding us of the latter's book on the Immortality
    of the Soul, one of the arguments from which we find in 3 E.


Concerning Fate.


1. The first possibility is that there is a cause both for the things
that become, and those that are; the cause of the former being their
becoming, and that of the latter, their existence. Again, neither of
them may have a cause. Or, in both cases, some may have a cause, and
some not. Further, those that become might have a cause, while, of
these that exist, some might partly have a cause. Contrariwise, all
things that exist may have a cause, while of those that become, parts
may have a cause, and part not. Last, none of the things that become
might have any cause.


Speaking of eternal things, the first cannot be derived from other
causes, just because they are first. Things dependent from the first,
however, may indeed thence derive their being. To each thing we should
also attribute the resultant action; for a thing's being is constituted
by its displayed energy.


Now among the things that become, or among those that although
perpetually existent do not always result in the same actions, it may
be boldly asserted that everything has a cause. We should not admit
(the Stoic contention[99]) that something happens without a cause,
nor accept the (Epicurean[100]) arbitrary convergence of the atoms,
nor believe that any body initiates a movement suddenly and without
determining reason, nor suppose (with Epicurus again[101]) that the
soul undertakes some action by a blind impulse, without any motive.
Thus to suppose that a thing does not belong to itself, that it could
be carried away by involuntary movements, and act without motive, would
be to subject it to the most crushing determinism. The will must be
excited, or the desire awakened by some interior or exterior stimulus.
No determination (is possible) without motive.


If everything that happens has a cause, it is possible to discover
such fact's proximate causes, and to them refer this fact. People go
downtown, for example, to see a person, or collect a bill. In all cases
it is a matter of choice, followed by decision, and the determination
to carry it out. There are, indeed, certain facts usually derived
from the arts; as for instance the re-establishment of health may be
referred to medicine and the physician. Again, when a man has become
rich, this is due to his finding some treasure, or receiving some
donation, to working, or exercising some lucrative profession. The
birth of a child depends on its father, and the concourse of exterior
circumstances, which, by the concatenation of causes and effects,
favored his procreation; for example, right food, or even a still more
distant cause, the fertility of the mother, or, still more generally,
of nature (or, in general, it is usual to assign natural causes).


2. To stop, on arriving at these causes, and to refuse further
analysis, is to exhibit superficiality. This is against the advice of
the sages, who advise ascending to the primary causes, to the supreme
principles. For example, why, during the full moon, should the one man
steal, and the other one not steal? Or, why, under the same influence
of the heavens, has the one, and not the other, been sick? Why, by use
of the same means, has the one become rich, and the other poor? The
difference of dispositions, characters, and fortunes force us to seek
ulterior causes, as indeed the sages have always done.


Those sages who (like Leucippus, Democritus and Epicurus) assumed
material principles such as the atoms, and who explain everything by
their motion, their shock and combinations, pretend that everything
existent and occurring is caused by the agency of these atoms, their
"actions and reactions." This includes, according to them, our
appetites and dispositions. The necessity residing in the nature of
these principles, and in their effects, is therefore, by these sages,
extended to everything that exists. As to the (Ionic Hylicists), who
assume other physical (ultimate) principles, referring everything to
them, they thus also subject all beings to necessity.


There are others (such as Heraclitus[102]), who, seeking the (supreme)
principle of the universe, refer everything to it; saying that this
principle penetrates, moves, and produces everything. This they
call Fate, and the Supreme Cause. From it they derive everything;
its motions are said to give rise not only to the things that are
occurring, but even our thought. That is how the members of an animal
do not move themselves, but receive the stimulus from the "governing
principle" within them.


Some (of the astrologers) explain everything by the circular motion of
the heavens, by the relative positions of the planets and stars, and by
their mutual aspects (or, relations). They base this (principle) on the
prevalent habit of deducing therefrom conjectures about futurity.


Others (like the Stoic Chrysippus[103]) define Fate otherwise: it
is "the concatenation of causes" in "their connection towards the
infinite," by which every posterior fact is the consequence of an
anterior one. Thus the things that follow relate to the things that
precede, and, as their effects, necessarily depend thereupon. Amidst
these (Stoic) philosophers there are two conceptions of Fate: some
consider that everything depends from a single principle, while others
do not. These views we shall study later.

We shall first examine the system with which we began; later we shall
review the others.


3. To refer everything to physical causes, whether you call them
atoms or elements, and from their disordered motion to deduce order,
reason and the soul that directs (the body), is absurd and impossible;
nevertheless, to deduce everything from atoms, is, if possible, still
more impossible; and consequently many valid objections have been
raised against this theory.


To begin with, even if we do admit such atomic principles, their
existence does not in any way inevitably lead to either the necessity
of all things, or fatality. Let us, indeed, grant the existence of
atoms; now some will move downwards--that is, if there is an up
and down in the universe--others obliquely, by chance, in various
directions. As there will be no order, there will be nothing
determinate. Only what will be born of the atoms will be determinate.
It will therefore be impossible to guess or predict events, whether by
art--and indeed, how could there be any art in the midst of orderless
things?--or by enthusiasm, or divine inspiration; for prediction
implies that the future is determined. True, bodies will obey the
impulses necessarily communicated to them by the atoms; but how could
you explain the operations and affections of the soul by movements of
atoms? How could atomic shock, whether vertical or oblique, produce
in the soul these our reasonings, or appetites, whether necessarily,
or in any other way? What explanation could they give of the soul's
resistance to the impulsions of the body? By what concourse of atoms
will one man become a geometrician, another become a mathematician
and astronomer, and the other a philosopher? For, according to that
doctrine we no longer produce any act for which we are responsible, we
are even no longer living beings, since we undergo the impulsion of
bodies that affect us just as they do inanimate things.


The same objections apply to the doctrine of the philosophers who
explain everything by other physical causes (such as "elements").
Principles of inferior nature might well warm us, cool us, or even make
us perish; but they could not beget any of the operations which the
soul produces; these have an entirely different cause.


4. But might (Heraclitus) suppose that a single Soul interpenetrating
the universe produces everything, and by supplying the universe with
motion supplies it simultaneously to all its constituent beings, so
that from this primary cause, would necessarily flow all secondary
causes, whose sequence and connection would constitute Fate? Similarly,
in a plant, for instance, the plant's fate might be constituted by the
("governing") principle which, from the root, administers its other
parts, and which organizes into a single system their "actions" and


To begin with, this Necessity and Fate would by their excess destroy
themselves, and render impossible the sequence and concatenation of
the causes. It is, indeed, absurd to insist that our members are moved
by Fate when they are set in motion, or innervated, by the "governing
principle." It is a mistake to suppose that there is a part which
imparts motion, and on the other hand, a part which receives it from
the former; it is the governing principle that moves the leg, as it
would any other part. Likewise, if in the universe exists but a single
principle which "acts and reacts," if things derive from each other
by a series of causes each of which refers to the preceding one, it
will no longer be possible to say truly that all things arise through
causes, for their totality will constitute but a single being. In that
case, we are no longer ourselves; actions are no longer ours; it is no
longer we who reason; it is a foreign principle which reasons, wills,
and acts in us, just as it is not our feet that walk, but we who walk
by the agency of our feet. On the contrary, common sense admits that
every person lives, thinks, and acts by his own individual, proper
life, thought and action; to each must be left the responsibility of
his actions, good or evil, and not attribute shameful deeds to the
universal cause.


5. Others, again, insist that this is not the state of affairs. Their
disposition depends on the circular movement of the heaven which
governs everything, on the course of the stars, of their mutual
relative position at the time of their rising, of their setting, of
their zenith, or of their conjunction. Indeed, such are the signs
on which are founded prognostications and predictions of what is to
happen, not only to the universe, but also to each individual, both as
to his fortunes and his thought. It is noticed that the other animals
and vegetables increase or decrease according to the kind of sympathy
existing between them and the stars, that all other things experience
their influence, that various regions of the earth differ according to
their adjustment with the stars, and especially the sun; that from the
nature of these regions depend not only the character of the plants
and animals, but also human forms, size, color, affections, passions,
tastes, and customs. In this system, therefore, the course of the stars
is the absolute cause of everything.


To this we answer that our astrologer attributes indirectly to the
stars all our characteristics: will, passions, vices and appetites;
he allows us no rôle other than to turn like mills, instead of
responsibility, as befits men, producing actions that suit our nature.
On the contrary, we should be left in possession of what belongs to us
by the observation that the universe limits itself to exercising some
influence on what we possess already thanks to ourselves, and which
is really characteristic of us. Moreover, one should distinguish the
deeds in which we are "active," from those in which we are necessarily
"passive," and not deduce everything from the stars. Nobody, indeed,
doubts that the differences of place and climate exert an influence
over us, imparting to us, for instance, a cool or warm-hearted
disposition. Heredity also should be considered; for children usually
resemble their parents by their features, form, and some affections of
the irrational soul. Nevertheless, even though they resemble them by
their facial features, because they are born in the same place, they
may differ in habits and thoughts, because these things depend on an
entirely different principle. In addition, we can adduce to the support
of this truth the resistance which the soul offers to the temperament
and to the appetites. As to the claim that the stars are the causes of
everything, because one can predict what is to happen to each man from
a consideration of their positions, it would be just as reasonable to
assert that the birds and the other beings which the augurs consult as
omens produce the events of which they are the signs.


This leads us to consider, more in detail, what sort of facts may be
predicted according to the inspection of the positions occupied by the
stars presiding over the birth of a man. They who, from the assertion
that the stars indicate a man's future, draw the consequence that the
stars produce them, are in error. In some person's horoscope which
indicates birth from noble parents, on either maternal or paternal
side, this nobility of birth cannot be attributed to the stars, as
this nobility subsisted already in the parents before the stars had
taken the position according to which the horoscope is cast. Besides,
astrologers pretend they can discover the parent's fortune from the
birth of their children, and from the condition of the parents the
disposition and fate of the unborn offspring. From a child's horoscope,
they announce his brother's death; and from a woman's horoscope, the
fortunes of her husband, and conversely. It is unreasonable to refer to
the stars things which evidently are necessary consequences of parental
conditions. We then reach a dilemma: the cause lies either in these
antecedent conditions, or in the stars. The beauty and ugliness of
children, when they resemble their parents, must evidently be derived
from them, and not from the course of the stars. Moreover, it is
probable that at any one moment are born a crowd of human and animal
young; now, inasmuch as they are born under the same star, they all
ought to have the same nature. How does it then happen that, in the
same positions, stars produce men and other beings simultaneously (as
Cicero asks[105])?


6. Each being derives his character from his nature. One being is a
horse because he is born from a mare, while another is human, because
born from a human mother; and more: he is that particular horse, and
that particular man because he is born from such and such a horse, or
woman. Doubtless, the course of the stars may modify the result, but
the greatest part of the influence must be allowed to heredity.


The stars act on the body only in a physical way, and thus impart
to them heat, cold, and the variety of temperament which results
therefrom. But how could they endow the man with habits, tastes, and
inclinations which do not seem to depend on the temperament, such as
the avocation of a surveyor, a grammarian, a gambler, or an inventor?


Besides, nobody would admit that perversity could come from beings who
are divinities. How could one believe that they are the authors of the
evils attributed to them, and that they themselves become evil because
they set or pass under the earth, as if they could possibly be affected
by the fact that, in regard to us, they seem to set; as if they did not
continue to wander around the heavenly sphere, and remained in the same
relation to the earth? Besides it is incredible that because a star
is in such or such a position in respect of another star, it becomes
better or worse, and that it affects us with goodness when it is well
disposed, and evil in the contrary case.


We grant that by their movement the stars co-operate in the
conservation of the universe, and that they simultaneously play in it
another part. They serve as letters for those skilled in deciphering
this kind of writing; and who, by the observation of the figures formed
by the stars, read into them future events according to the laws of
analogy, as for instance, if one presaged high deeds from seeing a bird
fly high.


7. There remains to be considered the (Stoic) doctrine which,
concatenating and interrelating all things among each other,
establishes "a single cause which produces everything through seminal
reasons." This doctrine reattaches itself to (Heraclitus's) which
deduces from the action of the universal Soul the constitution and the
movements of the individuals as well as those of the universe.


In this case, even if we possessed the power of doing something by
ourselves, we would not be any the less than the remainder of the
universe subjected to necessity, because Fate, containing the whole
series of causes, necessarily determines each event. Now since Fate
includes all causes, there is nothing which could hinder the occurrence
of that event, or alter it. If then everything obeys the impulsion of
a single principle, nothing is left to us but to follow it. Indeed,
in this case, the fancies of our imagination would result from
anterior facts, and would in turn determine our appetites; our liberty
would then have become a mere word; nor would we gain any advantage
from obeying our appetites, since our appetites themselves will be
determined by anterior facts. We would have no more liberty than the
other animals, than children, or the insane, who run hither and yon,
driven by blind appetites; for they also obey their appetites, as fire
would do, and as all the things which fatally follow the dispositions
of their nature. These objections will be decisive for those capable of
apprehending them; and in the search for other causes of our appetites
they will not content themselves with the principles which we have


8. What other cause, besides the preceding, will we have to invoke
so as to let nothing occur without a cause, to maintain order and
interdependence of things in the world, and in order to preserve the
possibility of predictions and omens without destroying our personality?

We shall have to introduce among the number of beings another
principle, namely: the soul; and not only the World-soul, but even the
individual soul of every person. In the universal concatenation of
causes and effects, this soul is a principle of no little importance,
because, instead of, like all other things, being born of a "seminal
reason," it constitutes a "primary cause." Outside of a body, she
remains absolute mistress of herself, free and independent of the
cause which administers the world. As soon as she has descended into
a body, she is no longer so independent, for she then forms part of
the order to which all things are subjected. Now, inasmuch as the
accidents of fortune, that is to say, the surrounding circumstances,
determine many events, the soul alternately yields to the influence
of external circumstances, and then again she dominates them, and
does what she pleases. This she does more or less, according as she
is good or evil. When she yields to the corporeal temperament, she is
necessarily subjected to desire or anger, discouraged in poverty, or
proud in prosperity, as well as tyrannical in the exercise of power.
But she can resist all these evil tendencies if her disposition is
good; she modifies her surroundings more than she is affected by them;
some things she changes, others she tolerates without herself incurring


9. All things therefore, which result either from a choice by the soul,
or from exterior circumstances, are "necessary," or determined by a
cause. Could anything, indeed, be found outside of these causes? If we
gather into one glance all the causes we admit, we find the principles
that produce everything, provided we count, amidst external causes,
the influence exercised by the course of the stars. When a soul makes
a decision, and carries it out because she is impelled thereto by
external things, and yields to a blind impulse, we should not consider
her determination and action to be free. The soul is not free when,
perverting herself, she does not make decisions which direct her in the
straight path. On the contrary, when she follows her own guide, pure
and impassible reason, her determination is really voluntary, free and
independent, and the deed she performs is really her own work, and not
the consequence of an exterior impulse; she derives it from her inner
power, her pure being, from the primary and sovereign principle which
directs her, being deceived by no ignorance, nor vanquished by the
power of appetites; for when the appetites invade the soul, and subdue
her, they drag her with them by their violence, and she is rather
"passive" than "active" in what she does.


10. The conclusion of our discussion is that while everything is
indicated and produced by causes, these are of two kinds: First the
human soul, and then only exterior circumstances. When the soul acts
"conformably to right reason" she acts freely. Otherwise, she is
tangled up in her deeds, and she is rather "passive" than "active."
Therefore, whenever she lacks prudence, the exterior circumstances are
the causes of her actions; one then has good reason to say that she
obeys Fate, especially if Fate is here considered as an exterior cause.
On the contrary, virtuous actions are derived from ourselves; for, when
we are independent, it is natural for us to produce them. Virtuous
men act, and do good freely. Others do good only in breathing-spells
left them in between by their passions. If, during these intervals,
they practice the precepts of wisdom, it is not because they receive
them from some other being, it is merely because their passions do not
hinder them from listening to the voice of reason.

    As the first book seemed Platonic, and the second Numenian, so
    this third one seems called forth by the practical opposition
    of astrologers or Gnostics. Later in life, his thirty-third
    book, ii. 9, was to take up again this polemic in more extended
    form. This chronologic arrangement of Plotinos's first three
    books reveals his three chief sources of interest--devotion to
    Plato, reliance on Numenius, and opposition to the Gnostics and


Of the Being of the Soul.

It is in the intelligible world that dwells veritable being.
Intelligence is the best that there is on high; but there are also
souls; for it is thence that they descended thither. Only, souls have
no bodies, while here below they inhabit bodies and are divided there.
On high, all the intelligences exist together, without separation or
division; all the souls exist equally together in that world which
is one, and there is no local distance between them. Intelligence
therefore ever remains inseparable and indivisible; but the soul,
inseparable so long as she resides on high, nevertheless possesses a
divisible nature. For her "dividing herself" consists in departing
from the intelligible world, and uniting herself to bodies; it might
therefore be reasonably said that she becomes divisible in passing
into bodies, since she thus separates from the intelligible world,
and divides herself somewhat. In what way is she also indivisible?
In that she does not separate herself entirely from the intelligible
world, ever residing there by her highest part, whose nature it is to
be indivisible. To say then that the soul is composed of indivisible
(essence) and of (essence) divisible in bodies means then no more
than that the soul has an (essence) which dwells partly in the
intelligible world, and partly descends into the sense-world, which
is suspended from the first and extends downwards to the second, as
the ray goes from the centre to the circumference. When the soul
descended here below, it is by her superior part that she contemplates
the intelligible world, as it is thereby that she preserves the nature
of the all (of the universal Soul). For here below she is not only
divisible, but also indivisible; her divisible part is divided in a
somewhat indivisible manner; she is indeed entirely present in the
whole body in an indivisible manner, and nevertheless she is said to
divide herself because she spreads out entirely in the whole body.


Of Intelligence, Ideas and Essence.


1. From their birth, men exercise their senses, earlier than their
intelligence,[106] and they are by necessity forced to direct their
attention to sense-objects. Some stop there, and spend their life
without progressing further. They consider suffering as evil, and
pleasure as the good, judging it to be their business to avoid the one
and encompass the other. That is the content of wisdom for those of
them that pride themselves on being reasonable; like those heavy birds
who, having weighted themselves down by picking up too much from the
earth, cannot take flight, though by nature provided with wings. There
are others who have raised themselves a little above earthly objects
because their soul, endowed with a better nature, withdraws from
pleasures to seek something higher;[107] but as they are not capable
of arriving at contemplation of the intelligible, and as, after having
left our lower region here, they do not know where to lodge, they
return to a conception of morality which considers virtue to consist
in these common-place actions and occupations whose narrow sphere they
had at first attempted to leave behind. Finally a third kind is that
of those divine men who are endowed with a piercing vision, and whose
penetrating glance contemplates the splendor of the intelligible world,
and rise unto it, taking their flight above the clouds and darkness of
this world. Then, full of scorn for terrestrial things, they remain up
there, and reside in their true fatherland with the unspeakable bliss
of the man who, after long journeys, is at last repatriated.


2. Which is this higher region? What must be done to reach it? One must
be naturally disposed to love, and be really a born philosopher.[108]
In the presence of beauty, the lover feels something similar to the
pains of childbirth; but far from halting at bodily beauty, he rises
to that aroused in the soul by virtue, duties, science and laws. Then
he follows them up to the cause of their beauty, and in this ascending
progress stops only when he has reached the Principle that occupies
the first rank, that which is beautiful in itself.[109] Then only does
he cease being driven by this torment that we compare to the pains of


But how does he rise up thither? How does he have the power to do
so? How does he learn to love? Here it is. The beauty seen in bodies
is incidental; it consists in the shapes of which the bodies are
the matter.[110] Consequently the substance changes, and it is seen
changing from beauty to ugliness. The body has only a borrowed beauty.
Who imparted that beauty to the body? On the one hand, the presence of
beauty; on the other, the actualization of the soul which fashioned the
body, and which gave it the shape it possesses. But is the soul, by
herself, absolute beauty? No, since some souls are wise and beautiful,
while some others are foolish and ugly. It is therefore only by wisdom
that the soul is beautiful. But from what is her wisdom derived?
Necessarily from intelligence; not from the intelligence that is
intelligent at some time, though not at others, but from the genuine
Intelligence, which is beautiful on that very account.[111] Shall we
stop at Intelligence, as a first principle? Or shall we on the contrary
still rise above it? Surely so, for Intelligence presents itself to us
before the first Principle only because it is, so to speak, located in
the antechamber of the Good.[112] It bears all things within itself,
and manifests them, so that it displays the image of the Good in
manifoldness, while the Good itself remains in an absolute simple unity.


3. Let us now consider the Intelligence which reason tells us is
absolute essence and genuine "being," and whose existence we have
already established in a different manner. It would seem ridiculous
to inquire whether Intelligence form part of the scale of beings; but
there are men who doubt it, or who at least are disposed to ask for a
demonstration that Intelligence possesses the nature we predicate of
it, that it is separated (from matter), that it is identical with the
essences, and that it contains the ideas. This is our task.


All things that we consider to be essences are composites; nothing
is simple or single, either in works of art, or in the products of
nature.[113] Works of art, indeed, contain metal, wood, stone, and are
derived from these substances only by the labor of the artist, who, by
giving matter its form makes of it a statue, or bed, or house. Among
the products of nature, those that are compounds or mixtures may be
analyzed into the form impressed on the elements of the compound; so,
for instance, we may in a man, distinguish a soul and body, and in the
body four elements. Since the very matter of the elements, taken in
itself, has no form, every object seems composed of matter and of some
principle that supplies it with form.[114] So we are led to ask whence
matter derives its form, and to seek whether the soul is simple, or
whether it contains two parts, one of which plays the parts of matter,
and the other of form,[115] so that the first part would be similar
to the form received by the metal of a statue, and the latter to the
principle which produces the form itself.


Applying this conception to the universe, we rise to Intelligence,
recognizing therein the demiurgic creator of the world. It was
in receiving from it its shapes by the intermediation of another
principle, the universal Soul, that the (material) substances became
water, air, earth and fire. On the one hand, the Soul shapes the
four elements of the world;[116] on the other, she receives from
Intelligence the (seminal) reasons,[117] as the souls of the artists
themselves receive from the arts the reasons which they work out.[118]
In Intelligence, therefore, there is a part which is the form of the
soul; it is intelligence considered, as shape. There is another which
imparts shape, like the sculptor who gives the metal the shape of
the statue, and which in itself possesses all it gives.[119] Now the
(shapes) which the Intelligence imparts to the soul connect with the
truth as closely as possible, while those which the soul imparts to the
body are only images and appearances.[120]


4. Why should we not, on arriving at the Soul, stop there, and consider
her the first principle? Because Intelligence is a power different
from the Soul, and better than the Soul; and what is better must, by
its very nature, precede (the worst). The Stoics[121] are wrong in
thinking that it is the Soul which, on reaching her perfection, begets
Intelligence. How could that which is potential pass into actualization
unless there were some principle that effected that transition? If
this transition were due to chance, it could not have occurred at
all. The first rank must therefore be assigned to that which is in
actualization, which needs nothing, which is perfect, while imperfect
things must be assigned to the second rank. These may be perfected
by the principles that begat them, which, in respect to them, play a
paternal part, perfecting what they had originally produced that was
imperfect. What is thus produced is matter, as regards the creating
principle, and then becomes perfect, on receiving its form from it.
Besides, the Soul is (often) affected; and we need to discover some
thing that is impassible, without which everything is dissolved by
time; therefore there is need of some principle prior to the soul.
Further, the Soul is in the world; now there must be something that
resides outside of the world, and which consequently would be superior
to the Soul; for since that which inheres in the world resides within
the body, or matter, if nothing existed outside of the world, nothing
would remain permanent. In this case, the (seminal) reason of man,
and all the other reasons could be neither permanent nor eternal. The
result of all these considerations, as well as of many others that
we could add thereto, is the necessary assertion of the existence of
Intelligence beyond the Soul.


5. Taking it in its genuine sense, Intelligence is not only
potential, arriving at being intelligent after having been
unintelligent--for otherwise, we would be forced to seek out some
still higher principle--but is in actualization, and is eternal. As
it is intelligent by itself, it is by itself that it thinks what it
thinks, and that it possesses what is possesses. Now since it thinks
of itself and by itself, it itself is what it thinks. If we could
distinguish between its existence and its thought, its "being" would be
unintelligent; it would be potential, not in actualization. Thought,
therefore, must not be separated from its object, although, from
sense-objects, we have become accustomed to conceive of intelligible
entities as distinct from each other.


Which then is the principle that acts, that thinks, and what is the
actualization and thought of Intelligence, necessary to justify the
assertion that it is what it thinks? Evidently Intelligence, by its
mere real existence, thinks beings, and makes them exist; it therefore
is the beings. Indeed, the beings will either exist outside of it, or
within it; and in the latter case they would have to be identical with
it. That they should exist outside of Intelligence, is unthinkable;
for where would they be located? They must therefore exist within
it, and be identical with it. They could not be in sense-objects, as
common people think, because sense-objects could not be the first
in any genus. The form which inheres in their matter is only the
representation of existence; now a form which exists in anything
other than itself is put in it by a superior principle, and is its
image. Further, if Intelligence must be the creative power of the
universe, it could not, while creating the universe, think beings as
existent in what does not yet exist. Intelligible entities, therefore,
must exist before the world, and cannot be images of sense-objects,
being on the contrary, their archetypes, and constituting the "being"
of Intelligence. It might be objected that the (seminal) reasons
might suffice. These reasons are, no doubt, eternal; and, if they be
eternal and impassible, they must exist within the Intelligence whose
characteristics we have described, the Intelligence which precedes
the "habit,"[122] nature,[123] and the soul,[124] because here these
entities are potential.[125]


Intelligence, therefore, essentially constitutes all beings; and when
Intelligence thinks them, they are not outside of Intelligence, and
neither precede nor follow it. Intelligence is the first legislator,
or rather, it is the very law of existence. Parmenides[126] therefore
was right in saying, "Thought is identical with existence." The
knowledge of immaterial things is therefore identical with those things
themselves. That is why I recognize myself as a being, and why I have
reminiscences of intelligible entities. Indeed, none of those beings is
outside of Intelligence, nor is contained in any location; all of them
subsist in themselves as immutable and indestructible. That is why they
really are beings. If they were born, or perished, they would possess
existence only in an incidental manner, they would no longer be beings;
it would be the existence they possessed which would be essence. It
is only by participation that sense-things are what they are said to
be; the nature that constitutes their substance derives its shape from
elsewhere, as the metal receives its shape from the sculptor, and wood
from the carpenter; while the image of art penetrates into the matter,
the art itself remains in its identity, and within itself possesses
the genuine existence of the statue or of the bed. That is how the
bodies' general necessity of participating in images shows that they
are different from the beings; for they change, while the entities are
immutable, possess within themselves their own foundation, and have
no need of existing in any location, since they have no extension,
and since they subsist in an intellectual and absolute existence.
Again,[127] the existence of the bodies needs to be guarded[128] by
some other principle, while intelligence, which furnishes the existence
for objects in themselves perishable, has need of nothing to make
itself subsist.


6. Thus Intelligence actually constitutes all beings; it contains them
all, but not locally; it contains them as it possesses itself; it is
identical with them. All entities are simultaneously contained within
it, and in it remain distinct, as many kinds of knowledge may exist
within the soul without their number causing any confusion; each of
them appears when needed, without involving the others. If in the soul
each thought be an actualization independent of other thoughts, so much
the more must Intelligence be all things simultaneously, with this
restriction, however, that each of them is a special power. Considered
in its universality, Intelligence contains all entities as the genus
contains all species, as the whole contains all parts. Even the seminal
powers bear the impress of this universality. Each one, considered in
its totality, is a centre which contains all the parts of the organism
in an undivided condition; nevertheless in it the reason of the eyes
differs from that of the hands, and this diversity is manifested by
that of the organs begotten (therefrom).[129] Each of the powers of
the seed, therefore, is the total unity of the seminal reason when this
power is united to the others which are implied therein. What in the
seed is corporeal contains matter, as, for instance, humidity; but the
seminal reason is the entire form; it is identical with the generative
power, a power which itself is the image of a superior power of the
soul. This generative power contained in seeds is[130] usually called
"nature." Proceeding from the superior powers as light radiates from
the fire, it tames and fashions matter, imparting thereto the seminal
reason[131] without pushing it, or moving it as by levers.


7. The scientific notions that the soul forms of sense-objects, by
discursive reason, and which should rather be called opinions,[132]
are posterior to the objects (they deal with); and consequently,
are no more than images of them. But true scientific notions
received from intelligence by discursive reasons do not contain any
sense-conceptions. So far as they are scientific notions, they are
the very things of which they are the conceptions; they reveal the
intimate union of intelligence and thought. Interior Intelligence,
which consists of the primary (natures) possesses itself intimately,
resides within itself since all eternity, and is an actualization. It
does not direct its glances outside of itself, because it possesses
everything within itself; it does not acquire, and does not reason to
discover things that may not be present to them. Those are operations
characteristic of the soul. Intelligence, remaining fixed within
itself, is all things simultaneously. Nevertheless, it is not thought
which makes each of them subsist; it is only because intelligence
thought the divinity or movement, for instance, that the divinity
or movement exists.[133] When we say that thoughts are forms, we
are mistaken if thereby we mean that the intelligible exists only
because Intelligence thinks it. On the contrary, it is only because
the intelligible exists, that Intelligence can think. Otherwise, how
would Intelligence come to think the intelligible? It cannot meet the
intelligible by chance, nor waste itself in fruitless efforts.


8. Since the thought is something essentially one (?), the form, which
is the object of thought, and the idea[134, 134a] are one and the same
thing. Which is this thing? Intelligence and the intellectual "being,"
for no idea is foreign to intelligence; each form is intelligence, and
the whole intelligence is all the forms; every particular form is a
particular intelligence. Likewise science, taken in its totality,
is all the notions it embraces; every notion is a part of the total
science; it is not separated from the science locally, and exists
potentially in the whole science.[135] Intelligence resides within
itself, and by possessing itself calmly, is the eternal fulness of
all things. If we conceived it as being prior to essence, we would
have to say that it was the action and thought of Intelligence which
produced and begat all beings. But as, on the contrary, it is certain
that essence is prior to Intelligence, we should, within the thinking
principle, first conceive the beings, then actualization and thought,
just as (the nature) of fire is joined by the actualization of the
fire, so that beings have innate intelligence (?[148]) as their
actualization. Now essence is an actualization; therefore essence and
intelligence are but a single actualization, or rather both of them
fuse.[136] Consequently, they form but a single nature, as beings,
the actualization of essence, and intelligence. In this case the
thought is the form, and the shape is the actualization of the being.
When, however, in thought we separate essence from Intelligence, we
must conceive one of these principles as prior to the other. The
Intelligence which operates this separation is indeed different from
the essence from which it separates;[137] but the Intelligence which
is inseparable from essence and which does not separate thought from
essence is itself essence and all things.


9. What then are the things contained within the unity of Intelligence
which we separate in thinking of them? They must be expressed without
disturbing their rest, and we must contemplate the contents of
Intelligence by a science that somehow remains within unity. Since
this sense-world is an animal which embraces all animals, since it
derives both its general and special existence from a principle
different from itself,[138] a principle which, in turn, is derived
from intelligence, therefore intelligence must itself contain the
universal archetype, and must be that intelligible world of which
Plato[139] (well) says; "Intelligence sees the ideas contained within
the existing animal."[140] Since an animal, whose (seminal) reason
exists with the matter fit to receive it, must of course be begotten,
so the mere existence of a nature that is intellectual, all-powerful,
and unhindered by any obstacle--since nothing can interpose between it
and the (substance) capable of receiving the form--must necessarily be
adorned (or, created) by intelligence, but only in a divided condition
does it reveal the form it receives, so that, for instance, it shows
us on one hand a man, and on the other the sun, while intelligence
possesses everything in unity.


10. Therefore, in the sense-world, all the things that are forms
proceed from intelligence; those which are not forms do not proceed
therefrom. That is, in the intelligible world we do not find any of
the things that are contrary to nature, any more than we find what is
contrary to the arts in the arts themselves. Thus the seminal reason
does not contain the defects, such as limping would be in a body.
Congenital lameness is due to the reason's failure to dominate matter,
while accidental lameness is due to deterioration of the form (idea?).


The qualities that are natural, quantities, numbers, magnitudes,
states, actions and natural experiences, movements and recuperations,
either general or particular, are among the contents of the
intelligible world, where time is replaced by eternity,[141] and space
is replaced by the "telescoping" of intelligible entities (that are
within each other). As all entities are together in the intelligible
world, whatever entity you select (by itself) is intellectual and
living "being," identity and difference, movement and rest;[142] it is
what moves, and what is at rest; it is "being," and quality; that is,
it is all. There every essence is in actualization, instead of merely
being in potentiality; consequently it is not separated from quality.


Does the intelligible world contain only what is found in the
sense-world, or does it contain anything additional?... Let us consider
the arts, in this respect. To begin with, the intelligible world
does not contain any imperfection. Evils here below come from lack,
privation, omission; it is a state of matter, or of anything similar to
matter, which failed to be completely assimilated.[143]


11. Let us therefore consider the arts and their products. Unless as
represented within human reason, we cannot refer to the intelligible
world arts of imitation such as painting, sculpture, dancing, or
acting, because they are born here below, take sense-objects as models,
representing their forms, motions, and visible proportions.[144] If,
however, we possess a faculty which, by studying the beauties offered
by the symmetry of animals, considers the general characteristics of
this symmetry, it must form part of the intellectual power which, on
high, contemplates universal symmetry. Music, however, which studies
rhythm and harmony, is, so far as it studies what is intelligible in
these things, the image of the music that deals with intelligible


The arts which produce sense-objects, such as architecture and
carpentry, have their principles in the intelligible world, and
participate in wisdom, so far as they make use of certain proportions.
But as they apply these proportions to sense-objects, they cannot
wholly be referred to the intelligible world, unless in so far as
they are contained within human reason. The case is similar with
agriculture, which assists the growth of plants; medicine, which
increases health, and (gymnastics) which supplies the body with
strength as well as vigor,[145] for on high there is another Power,
another Health, from which all living organisms derive their needed


Last, whenever rhetoric, strategy, private and public finance and
politics weave beauty in their deeds, and they glance above, they
(discover) that they have added to their science a contribution from
the intelligible science.

The science of geometry, however, which deals (wholly) with
intelligible entities, must be referred to the intelligible world. So
also with philosophy, which occupies the first rank among sciences
because it studies essence. This is all we have to say about arts and
their products.


12. If the intelligible world contains the idea of Man, it must also
contain that of the reasonable man, and of the artist; and consequently
the idea of the arts that are begotten by Intelligence. We must
therefore insist that the intelligible world contains the ideas of the
universals, the idea of Man as such, and not, for instance, that of
Socrates. Still we shall have to decide whether the intelligible world
does not also contain the idea of the individual man, that is, of the
man considered with the things that differ in each individual; for one
may have a Roman nose and the other a pug nose. These differences are
indeed implied within the idea of man, just as there are differences
within the idea of animal. But the differences between a Roman or a
snub nose are derived from matter. Likewise, amidst the varieties of
colors, some are contained within the seminal reason, while others are
derived from matter and space.


13. It remains for us to study whether the intelligible world contains
only what is in the sense-world, or whether we should distinguish from
the individual soul the Soul itself, from the particular intelligence,
Intelligence itself, as we have above distinguished the particular
man from Man himself. We should not consider all things here below as
images of archetypes, for instance, the soul of a man as the image
of the Soul herself. Only degrees of dignity differentiate souls;
but these souls are not the Soul itself. As the Soul itself exists
really, it must also contain a certain wisdom, justice and science,
which are not images of wisdom, justice, and intelligible science, as
sense-objects are images of intelligible entities, but which are these
very entities located here below in entirely different conditions of
existence; for they are not locally circumscribed. Therefore when the
soul issues from the body, she preserves these things within herself;
for the sense-world exists only in a determinate place, while the
intelligible world exists everywhere; therefore all that the soul
contains here below is also in the intelligible world. Consequently if,
by "sense-objects" we really mean "visible" things, then indeed the
intelligible world contains entities not present in this sense-world.
If, on the contrary, we include within the "sense-world" the soul and
all she implies, then all things that are above are present here below


14. Can we identify the nature that contains all the intelligibles
(Intelligence) with the supreme Principle? Impossible, because the
supreme Principle must be essentially one, and simple, while essences
form a multitude. But as these essences form a multitude, we are forced
to explain how this multitude, and all these essences can exist. How
can (the single) Intelligence be all these things? Whence does it
proceed? This we shall have to study elsewhere.[146]


It may further be asked whether the intelligible world contains the
ideas of objects which are derived from decay, which are harmful or
disagreeable, such as, for instance, mud or excreta. We answer that
all the things that universal Intelligence receives from the First
are excellent. Among them are not found ideas of those dirty and vile
objects mentioned above; Intelligence does not contain them. But though
receiving from Intelligence ideas, the soul receives from matter
other things, among which may be found the above-mentioned accidents.
Besides, a more thorough answer to this question must be sought for in
our book where we explain "How the Multitude of Ideas Proceeds from the


In conclusion, the accidental composites in which Intelligence does not
share and which are formed by a fortuitous complex of sense-objects,
have no ideas corresponding to them in the intelligible world. Things
that proceed from decay are produced only because the Soul is unable to
produce anything better in this case; otherwise she would have rather
produced some object more agreeing with nature; she therefore produces
what she can.


All the arts concerned with things natural to man are contained within
the ideas of Man himself. The Art that is universal is prior to the
other arts; but Art is posterior to the Soul herself, or rather, to
the life that is in Intelligence before becoming soul, and which, on
becoming soul, deserves to be called the Soul herself.


(Transcriber's note: see footnotes 134a and 148.)


Of the Descent of the Soul Into the Body.[149]


1. On waking from the slumber of the body to return to myself, and on
turning my attention from exterior things so as to concentrate it on
myself, I often observe an alluring beauty, and I become conscious of
an innate nobility. Then I live out a higher life, and I experience
atonement with the divinity. Fortifying myself within it, I arrive
at that actualization which raises me above the intelligible. But
if, after this sojourn with the divinity, I descend once more from
Intelligence to the exercise of my reasoning powers, I am wont to ask
myself how I ever could actually again descend, and how my soul ever
could have entered into a body, since, although she actually abides
in the body, she still possesses within herself all the perfection I
discover in her.


Heraclitus, who recommends this research, asserts that "there are
necessary changes of contraries into each other;" he speaks of
"ascenscions" and of a "descent," says that it is "a rest to change,
a fatigue to continue unremittingly in the same kinds of work, and to
be overwrought. He thus reduces us to conjectures because he does not
explain himself definitely; and he would even force us to ask how he
himself came to discover what he propounds.


Empedocles teaches that "it is a law for souls that have sinned to
fall down here below;" and that "he himself, having withdrawn from
the divinity, came down to the earth to become the slave of furious
discord." It would seem that he limited himself to advancing the ideas
that Pythagoras and his followers generally expressed by symbols, both
on this and other subjects. Besides Empedocles is obscure because he
uses the language of poetry.


Last, we have the divine Plato, who has said so many beautiful things
about the soul. In his dialogues he often spoke of the descent of
the soul into the body, so that we have the right to expect from him
something clearer. Unfortunately, he is not always sufficiently in
agreement with himself to enable one to follow his thought. In general,
he depreciates corporeal things; he deplores the dealings between the
soul and the body; insists[150] that the soul is chained down to it,
and that she is buried in it as in a tomb. He attaches much importance
to the maxim taught in the mysteries that the soul here below is as
in a prison.[151] What Plato calls the "cavern"[152] and Empedocles
calls the "grotto," means no doubt the sense-world.[153] To break her
chains, and to issue from the cavern, means the soul's[154] rising to
the intelligible world. In the Phaedrus,[155] Plato asserts that the
cause of the fall of the soul is the loss of her wings; that after
having once more ascended on high, she is brought back here below by
the periods;[156] that there are souls sent down into this world by
judgments, fates, conditions, and necessity; still, at the same time,
he finds fault with the "descent" of the soul into the body. But,
speaking of the universe in the Timaeus,[157] he praises the world, and
calls it a blissful divinity. He states that the demiurgic creator,
being good, gave it a soul to make it intelligent, because without the
soul, the universe could not have been as intelligent as it ought to
have been.[158] Consequently, the purpose of the introduction of the
universal Soul into the world, and similarly of each of our souls was
only to achieve the perfection of the world; for it was necessary for
the sense-world to contain animals equal in kind and numbers to those
contained in the intelligible world.


2. Plato's theories about the soul lead us to ask how, in general, the
soul has, by her nature, been led to enter into relations with the
body. Other questions arise: What is the nature of the world where the
soul lives thus, either voluntarily or necessarily, or in any other
way? Does the Demiurge[159] act without meeting any obstacle, or is it
with him as with our souls?


To begin with, our souls, charged with the administration of bodies
less perfect than the world, had to penetrate within them profoundly in
order to manage them; for the elements of these bodies tend to scatter,
and to return to their original location, while, in the universe, all
things are naturally distributed in their proper places.[160] Besides,
our bodies demand an active and vigilant foresight, because, by the
surrounding objects they are exposed to many accidents; for they
always have a crowd of needs, as they demand continual protection
against the dangers that threaten them.[161] But the body of the world
is complete and perfect. It is self-sufficient; it has nothing to
suffer contrary to its nature; and consequently, it (acts) on a mere
order of the universal Soul. That is why the universal Soul can remain
impassible, feeling no need, remaining in the disposition desired by
her own nature. That is why Plato says that, when our soul dwells with
this perfect Soul, she herself becomes perfect, soaring in the ethereal
region, and governing the whole world.[162] So long as a human soul
does not withdraw from the (universal) Soul to enter into a body, and
to belong to some individual, she easily administers the world, in the
same manner, and together with the universal Soul. Communicating to the
body essence and perfection is therefore, for the soul, not an unmixed
evil; because the providential care granted to an inferior nature does
not hinder him who grants it from himself remaining in a state of


In the universe there are, indeed, two kinds of providences.[163]
The first Providence regulates everything in a royal manner, without
performing any actions, or observing the details. The second, operating
somewhat like an artisan, adjusts its creative power to the inferior
nature of creatures by getting in contact with them.[164] Now as the
divine Soul (or, the principal power,[165] always administers the
whole world in the first or regal way, dominating the world by her
superiority, and by injecting into the world her lowest power (nature),
we could not accuse the divinity of having given a bad place to the
universal Soul. Indeed, this universal Soul was never deprived of her
natural power, possessing it always, because this power is not contrary
to her being, possessing it uninterruptedly from all eternity.


(Plato) further states that the relation of the souls of the stars
to their bodies is the same as that of the universal Soul to the
universe,[166] where he makes the stars participate in the movements
of the universal Soul. He thus grants to those souls the blessedness
which is suitable to them. The intercourse of the soul with the body
is usually blamed for two things: because it hinders the soul from
busying herself with the conceptions of intelligence, and then because
it exposes her to agreeable or painful sensations which fill her with
desires. Now neither of these two results affect the soul that has not
entered into a body, and which does not depend thereon by belonging
to some particular individual. Then, on the contrary, she possesses
the body of the universe, which has no fault, no need, which can cause
her neither fears nor desires, because she has nothing to fear. Thus
no anxiety ever forces her to descend to terrestrial objects, or to
distract herself from her happy and sublime contemplation. Entirely
devoted to divine things, she governs the world by a single power,
whose exercise involves no anxiety.


3. Consider now the human soul which[167] undergoes numberless ills
while in the body, eking out a miserable existence, a prey to griefs,
desires, fears, sufferings of all kinds, for whom the body is a tomb,
and the sense-world a "cave" or "grotto." This difference of opinions
about the condition of the universal Soul and the human soul is not
contradictory, because these two souls do not have the same reasons
for descent into a body. To begin with, the location of thought, that
we call the intelligible world,[168] contains not only the entire
universal Intelligence, but also the intellectual powers, and the
particular intelligences comprised within the universal Intelligence;
since there is not only a single intelligence, but a simultaneously
single and plural intelligence. Consequently, it must also have
contained a single Soul, and a plurality of souls; and it was from the
single Soul, that the multiple particular and different souls had to be
born, as from one and the same genus are derived species that are both
superior and inferior, and more or less intellectual. Indeed, in the
intelligible world, there is, on one hand, the (universal) Intelligence
which, like some great animal, potentially contains the other
intelligences. On the other hand, are the individual intelligences,
each of which possess in actualization what the former contains
potentially. We may illustrate by a living city that would contain
other living cities. The soul of the universal City would be more
perfect and powerful; but nothing would hinder the souls of the other
cities from being of the same kind. Similarly, in the universal Fire,
there is on one hand a great fire, and on the other small fires, while
the universal Being is the being of the universal Fire, or rather, is
the source from which the being of the universal Fire proceeds.


The function of the rational soul is to think, but she does not limit
herself to thinking. Otherwise there would be no difference between her
and intelligence. Besides her intellectual characteristics, the soul's
characteristic nature, by virtue of which she does not remain mere
intelligence, has a further individual function, such as is possessed
by every other being. By raising her glance to what is superior to her,
she thinks; by bringing them down to herself, she preserves herself; by
lowering them to what is inferior to her, she adorns it, administers
it, and governs it. All these things were not to remain immovable in
the intelligible world, to permit of a successive issue of varied
beings, which no doubt are less perfect than that which preceded them,
but which, nevertheless, exist necessarily during the persistence of
the Principle from which they proceed.


4. There are individual souls which, in their conversion[169] towards
the principle from which they proceed, aspire to the intelligible
world, and which also exercise their power on inferior things, just
as light, which does not disdain to throw its rays down to us though
remaining suspended to the sun on high. These souls must remain
sheltered from all suffering so long as in the intelligible world they
remain together with the universal Soul. They must besides, in heaven,
share with it the administration of the world; like kings who, being
colleagues of the great King of the universe, share the government with
Him, without themselves descending from their thrones, without ceasing
to occupy a place as elevated as He. But when they pass from this
state in which they live with the universal Soul to a particular and
independent existence, when they seem weary of dwelling with another,
then each of them returns to what belongs to her individually. Now
when a soul has done that for a long while, when she withdraws from
the universal Soul, and distinguishes herself therefrom, when she
ceases to keep her glances directed towards the intelligible world;
then, isolating herself in her individual existence, she weakens, and
finds herself overwhelmed with a crowd of cares, because she directs
her glance at something individual. Having therefore separated herself
from the universal Soul as well as from the other souls that remain
united thereto, and having attached herself to an individual body, and
concentrating herself exclusively on this object, which is subjected to
the destructive action of all other beings, she ceases to govern the
whole to administer more carefully a part, the care of which forces
her to busy herself, and mingle with external things, to be not only
present in the body, but also to interpenetrate it.


Thus, in the common expression, she has lost her wings, and is chained
by the bonds of the body, because she gave up the calm existence she
enjoyed when with the universal Soul she shared the administration
of the world; for when she was above she spent a much happier life.
The fallen soul is therefore chained or imprisoned, obliged to
have recourse to the senses because she cannot first make use of
intelligence. She is, as it is said, buried in a tomb, or cavern. But
by her conversion towards thought, she breaks her bonds, she returns
upwards towards higher regions, when, starting from the indications of
reminiscence she rises to the contemplation of the essences;[170] for
even after her fall she always preserves something superior to the body.


Souls therefore are necessarily amphibians;[171] since they alternately
live in the intelligible world, and in the sense-world; staying longer
in the intelligible world when they can remain united to supreme
Intelligence more permanently, or staying longer or preponderatingly
here below when nature or destiny imposes on them a contrary fate. That
is the secret meaning of Plato's words[172] to the effect that the
divinity divides the seeds of the souls formed by a second mixture in
the cup, and that He separates them into (two) parts. He also adds that
they must necessarily fall into generation after having been divided
into a definite number. Plato's statement that the divinity sowed the
souls,[173] as well as the divinity's address to the other deities,
must be taken figuratively. For, in reference to the things contained
in the universe, this implies that they are begotten or produced; for
successive enumeration and description implies an eternal begetting,
and that those objects exist eternally in their present state.


5. Without any inherent contradiction it may therefore be asserted
either,[174] that the souls are sowed into generation, that they descend
here below for the perfection of the universe, or that they are shut up
in a cavern as the result of a divine punishment, that their fall is
simultaneously an effect of their will and of necessity--as necessity
does not exclude voluntariness--and that they are in evil so long as
they are incarnate in bodies. Again, as Empedocles says, they may
have withdrawn from the divinity, and have lost their way, and have
committed some fault that they are expiating; or, as says Heraclitus,
that rest consists in flight (from heaven, and descent here below),
and that the descent of souls is neither entirely voluntary, nor
involuntary. Indeed, no being ever falls voluntarily; but as it is by
his own motion that he descends to lower things, and reaches a less
happy condition, it may be said that he bears the punishment of his
conduct. Besides, as it is by an eternal law of nature that this being
acts and suffers in that manner, we may, without contradiction or
violence to the truth, assert that the being who descends from his rank
to assist some lower thing is sent by the divinity.[175] In spite of
any number of intermediate parts (which separate) a principle from its
lower part, the latter may still be ascribed to the former.[176]


Here there are two possible faults for the soul. The first consists in
the motive that determines her to descend. The second is the evil she
commits after having descended here below. The first fault is expiated
by the very condition of the soul after she has descended here below.
The punishment of the latter fault, if not too serious, is to pass into
other bodies more or less promptly according to the judgment delivered
about her deserts--and we speak of a "judgment" to show that it is the
consequence of the divine law. If however the perversity of the soul
passes all measure, she undergoes, under the charge of guardians in
charge of her chastisement, the severe punishments she has incurred.


Thus, although the soul have a divine nature (or "being"), though she
originate in the intelligible world, she enters into a body. Being a
lower divinity, she descends here below by a voluntary inclination, for
the purpose of developing her power, and to adorn what is below her. If
she flee promptly from here below, she does not need to regret having
become acquainted with evil, and knowing the nature of vice,[177]
nor having had the opportunity of manifesting her faculties, and to
manifest her activities and deeds. Indeed, the faculties of the soul
would be useless if they slumbered continuously in incorporeal being
without ever becoming actualized. The soul herself would ignore what
she possesses if her faculties did not manifest by procession, for
everywhere it is the actualization that manifests the potentiality.
Otherwise, the latter would be completely hidden and obscured; or
rather, it would not really exist, and would not possess any reality.
It is the variety of sense-effects which illustrates the greatness of
the intelligible principle, whose nature publishes itself by the beauty
of its works.


6. Unity was not to exist alone; for if unity remained self-enclosed,
all things would remain hidden in unity without having any form, and no
beings would achieve existence. Consequently, even if constituted by
beings born of unity, plurality would not exist, unless the inferior
natures, by their rank destined to be souls, issued from those beings
by the way of procession. Likewise, it was not sufficient for souls to
exist, they also had to reveal what they were capable of begetting.
It is likewise natural for each essence to produce something beneath
it, to draw it out from itself by a development similar to that of a
seed, a development in which an indivisible principle proceeds to the
production of a sense-object, and where that which precedes remains in
its own place at the same time as it begets that which follows by an
inexpressible power, which is essential to intelligible natures. Now
as this power was not to be stopped or circumscribed in its actions by
jealousy, there was need of a continuous procession until, from degree
to degree, all things had descended to the extreme limits of what was
possible;[178] for it is the characteristic of an inexhaustible power
to communicate all its gifts to everything, and not to permit any of
them to be disinherited, since there is nothing which hinders any of
them from participating in the nature of the Good in the measure that
it is capable of doing so. Since matter has existed from all eternity,
it was impossible that from the time since it existed, it should not
participate in that which communicates goodness to all things according
to their receptivity thereof.[179] If the generation of matter were
the necessary consequence of anterior principles, still it must not
be entirely deprived of the good by its primitive impotence, when
the cause which gratuitously communicated "being" to it remained


The excellence, power and goodness of intelligible (essences)
are therefore revealed by sense-objects; and there is an eternal
connection between intelligible (entities) that are self-existent, and
sense-objects, which eternally derive their existence therefrom by
participation, and which imitate intelligible nature to the extent of
their ability.


7. As there are two kinds of being (or, existence), one of sensation,
and the other intelligible, it is preferable for the soul to live in
the intelligible world; nevertheless, as a result of her nature, it
is necessary for her also to participate in sense-affairs.[180] Since
she occupies only an intermediate rank, she must not feel wronged at
not being the best of beings.[181] Though on one hand her condition be
divine, on the other she is located on the limits of the intelligible
world, because of her affinity for sense-nature. She causes this
nature to participate in her powers, and she even receives something
therefrom, when, instead of managing the body without compromising
her own security, she permits herself to be carried away by her own
inclination to penetrate profoundly within it, ceasing her complete
union with the universal Soul. Besides, the soul can rise above the
body after having learned to feel how happy one is to dwell on high, by
the experience of things seen and suffered here below, and after having
appreciated the true Good by the comparison of contraries. Indeed
the knowledge of the good becomes clearer by the experience of evil,
especially among souls which are not strong enough to know evil before
having experienced it.[182]


The procession of intelligence consists in descending to things that
occupy the lowest rank, and which have an inferior nature,[183] for
Intelligence could not rise to the superior Nature. Obliged to act
outside of itself, and not being able to remain self-enclosed, by a
necessity and by a law of its nature, intelligence must advance unto
the soul where it stops; then, after having communicated of itself to
that which immediately follows it, intelligence must return to the
intelligible world. Likewise, the soul has a double action in her
double relation with what is below and above her. By her first action,
the soul manages the body to which she is united; by the second, she
contemplates the intelligible entities. These alternatives work out,
for individual souls, with the course of time; and finally there occurs
a conversion which brings them back from the lower to the higher


The universal Soul, however, does not need to busy herself with
troublesome functions, and remains out of the reach of evils. She
considers what is below her in a purely contemplative manner, while at
the same time remaining related to what is above her. She is therefore
enabled simultaneously on one side to receive, and on the other to
give, since her nature compels her to relate herself closely with the
objects of sense.[184]


8. Though I should set myself in opposition to popular views, I shall
set down clearly what seems to me the true state of affairs. Not the
whole soul enters into the body. By her higher part, she ever remains
united to the intelligible world; as, by her lower part, she remains
united to the sense-world. If this lower part dominates, or rather, if
it be dominated (by sensation) and troubled, it hinders us from being
conscious of what the higher part of the soul contemplates. Indeed
that which is thought impinges on our consciousness only in case it
descends to us, and is felt. In general, we are conscious of what goes
on in every part of the soul only when it is felt by the entire soul.
For instance, appetite, which is the actualization of lustful desire,
is by us cognized only when we perceive it by the interior sense or by
discursive reason, or by both simultaneously. Every soul has a · lower
part turned towards the body, and a higher part turned towards divine
Intelligence. The universal Soul manages the universe by her lower part
without any kind of trouble, because she governs her body not as we do
by any reasoning, but by intelligence, and consequently in a manner
entirely different from that adopted by art. The individual souls,
each of whom administers a part of the universe,[185] also have a part
that rises above their body; but they are distracted from thought
by sensation, and by a perception of a number of things which are
contrary to nature, and which come to trouble them, and afflict them.
Indeed, the body that they take care of constitutes but a part of the
universe, is incomplete, and is surrounded by exterior objects. That
is why it has so many needs, why it desires luxuriousness, and why it
is deceived thereby. On the contrary, the higher part of the soul is
insensible to the attraction of these transitory pleasures, and leads
an undisturbed life.


How What is After the First Proceeds Therefrom; of the One.


1. Everything that exists after the First is derived therefrom, either
directly or mediately, and constitutes a series of different orders
such that the second can be traced back to the First, the third to the
second, and so forth. Above all beings there must be Something simple
and different from all the rest which would exist in itself, and which,
without ever mingling with anything else, might nevertheless preside
over everything, which might really be the One, and not that deceptive
unity which is only the attribute of essence, and which would be a
principle superior even to being, unreachable by speech, reason, or
science. For if it be not completely simple, foreign to all complexity
and composition, and be not really one, it could not be a principle. It
is sovereignly absolute only because it is simple and first. For what
is not first, is in need of superior things; what is not simple has
need of being constituted by simple things. The Principle of everything
must therefore be one and only. If it were admitted that there was a
second principle of that kind, both would constitute but a single one.
For we do not say that they are bodies, nor that the One and First is a
body; for every body is composite and begotten, and consequently is not
a principle; for a principle cannot be begotten.[186] Therefore, since
the principle of everything cannot be corporeal, because it must be
essentially one, it must be the First.


If something after the One exist, it is no more the simple One, but
the multiple One. Whence is this derived? Evidently from the First,
for it could not be supposed that it came from chance; that would
be to admit that the First is not the principle of everything. How
then is the multiple One derived from the First? If the First be not
only perfect, but the most perfect, if it be the first Power, it must
surely, in respect to power, be superior to all the rest, and the other
powers must merely imitate it to the limit of their ability. Now we
see that all that arrives to perfection cannot unfruitfully remain in
itself, but begets and produces. Not only do beings capable of choice,
but even those lacking reflection or soul have a tendency to impart
to other beings, what is in them; as, for instance, fire emits heat,
snow emits cold; and plant-juices (dye and soak) into whatever they
happen to touch. All things in nature imitate the First principle by
seeking to achieve immortality by procreation, and by manifestation
of their qualities. How then would He who is sovereignly perfect, who
is the supreme Good, remain absorbed in Himself, as if a sentiment of
jealousy hindered Him from communicating Himself, or as if He were
powerless, though He is the power of everything? How then would He
remain principle of everything? He must therefore beget something, just
as what He begets must in turn beget. There must therefore be something
beneath the First. Now this thing (which is immediately beneath the
First), must be very venerable, first because it begets everything
else, then because it is begotten by the First, and because it must,
as being the Second, rank and surpass everything else.


2. If the generating principle were intelligence, what it begot would
have to be inferior to intelligence, and nevertheless approximate
it, and resemble it more than anything else. Now as the generating
principle is superior to intelligence, the first begotten thing is
necessarily intelligence. Why, however, is the generating principle not
intelligence? Because the act of intelligence is thought, and thought
consists in seeing the intelligible; for it is only by its conversion
towards it that intelligence achieves a complete and perfect existence.
In itself, intelligence is only an indeterminate power to see; only by
contemplation of the intelligible does it achieve the state of being
determined. This is the reason of the saying, "The ideas and numbers,
that is, intelligence, are born from the indefinite doubleness, and the
One." Consequently, instead of being simple, intelligence is multiple.
It is composed of several elements; these are doubtless intelligible,
but what intelligence sees is none the less multiple. In any case,
intelligence is simultaneously the object thought, and the thinking
subject; it is therefore already double.


But besides this intelligible (entity, namely, intelligence), there is
another (higher) intelligible (the supreme Intelligible, the First).
In what way does the intelligence, thus determined, proceed from the
(First) Intelligible? The Intelligible abides in itself, and has need
of nothing else, while there is a need of something else in that which
sees and thinks (that is, that which thinks has need of contemplating
the supreme Intelligible). But even while remaining within Himself, the
Intelligible (One) is not devoid of sentiment; all things belong to
Him, are in Him, and with Him. Consequently, He has the conception of
Himself, a conception which implies consciousness, and which consists
in eternal repose, and in a thought, but in a thought different from
that of intelligence. If He begets something while remaining within
Himself, He begets it precisely when He is at the highest point of
individuality. It is therefore by remaining in His own state that
He begets what He begets; He procreates by individualizing. Now as
He remains intelligible, what He begets cannot be anything else
than thought; therefore thought, by existing, and by thinking the
Principle whence it is derived (for it could not think any other
object), becomes simultaneously intelligence and intelligible; but this
second intelligible differs from the first Intelligible from which it
proceeds, and of which it is but the image and the reflection.


But how is an actualization begotten from that self-limited
(intelligible)? We shall have to draw a distinction between an
actualization of being, and an actualization out of the being of each
thing (actualized being, and actualization emanating from being).
Actualized being cannot differ from being, for it is being itself. But
the actualization emanating from being--and everything necessarily has
an actualization of this kind--differs from what produces it. It is as
if with fire: there is a difference between the heat which constitutes
its being, and the heat which radiates exteriorly, while the fire
interiorly realizes the actualization which constitutes its being,
and which makes it preserve its nature. Here also, and far more so,
the First remains in His proper state, and yet simultaneously, by His
inherent perfection, by the actualization which resides in Him, has
been begotten the actualization which, deriving its existence from so
great a power, nay, from supreme Power, has arrived at, or achieved
essence and being. As to the First, He was above being; for He was the
potentiality of all things, already being all things.


If this (actualization begotten by the First, this external
actualization) be all things, then that (One) is above all things,
and consequently above being. If then (this external actualization)
be all things, and be before all things, it does not occupy the same
rank as the remainder (of all other things); and must, in this respect
also, be superior to being, and consequently also to intelligence; for
there is Something superior to intelligence. Essence is not, as you
might say, dead; it is not devoid of life or thought; for intelligence
and essence are identical. Intelligible entities do not exist before
the intelligence that thinks them, as sense-objects exist before the
sensation which perceives them. Intelligence itself is the things that
it thinks, since their forms are not introduced to them from without.
From where indeed would intelligence receive these forms? Intelligence
exists with the intelligible things; intelligence is identical with
them, is one with them. Reciprocally, intelligible entities do not
exist without their matter (that is, Intelligence).


Whether All Souls Form a Single One?


1. Just as the soul of each animal is one, because she is entirely
present in the whole body, and because she is thus really one, because
she does not have one part in one organ, and some other part in
another; and just as the sense-soul is equally one in all the beings
which feel, and just as the vegetative soul is everywhere entirely
one in each part of the growing plants; why then should your soul and
mine not form a single unity? Why should not all souls form but a
single one? Why should not the universal (Soul) which is present in
all beings, be one because she is not divided in the manner of a body,
being everywhere the same? Why indeed should the soul in myself form
but one, and the universal (Soul) likewise not be one, similarly, since
no more than my own is this universal (Soul) either material extension,
or a body? If both my soul and yours proceed from the universal (Soul),
and if the latter be one, then should my soul and yours together form
but a single one. Or again, on the supposition that the universal
(Soul) and mine proceed from a single soul, even on this hypothesis
would all souls form but a single one. We shall have to examine in what
(this Soul which is but) one consists.


Let us first consider if it may be affirmed that all souls form but one
in the sense in which it is said that the soul of each individual is
one. It seems absurd to pretend that my soul and yours form but one in
this (numerical) sense; for then you would be feeling simultaneously
with my feeling, and you would be virtuous when I was, and you would
have the same desires as I, and not only would we both have the same
sentiments, but even the identical sentiments of the universal (Soul),
so that every sensation felt by me would have been felt by the entire
universe. If in this manner all the souls form but one, why is one soul
reasonable, and the other unreasonable, why is the one in an animal,
and the other in a plant? On the other hand, if we do not admit that
there is a single Soul, we will not be able to explain the unity of the
universe, nor find a single principle for (human) souls.


2. In the first place, if the souls of myself and of another man form
but one soul, this does not necessarily imply their being identical
with their principle. Granting the existence of different beings, the
same principle need not experience in each the same affections. Thus,
humanity may equally reside in me, who am in motion, as in you, who may
be at rest, although in me it moves, and it rests in you. Nevertheless,
it is neither absurd nor paradoxical to insist that the same principle
is both in you and in me; and this does not necessarily make us feel
the identical affections. Consider a single body: it is not the left
hand which feels what the right one does, but the soul which is present
in the whole body. To make you feel the same as I do, our two bodies
would have to constitute but a single one; then, being thus united, our
souls would perceive the same affections. Consider also that the All
remains deaf to a multitude of impressions experienced by the parts
of a single and same organism, and that so much the more as the body
is larger. This is the state of affairs, for instance, with the large
whales which do not feel the impression received in some one part of
their body, because of the smallness of the movement.


It is therefore by no means necessary that when one member of the
universe experiences an affection, the latter be clearly felt by the
All. The existence of sympathy is natural enough, and it could not
be denied; but this does not imply identity of sensation. Nor is it
absurd that our souls, while forming a single one should be virtuous
and vicious, just as it would be possible that the same essence be at
motion in me, but at rest in you. Indeed, the unity that we attribute
to the universal (Soul) does not exclude all multiplicity, such a
unity as befits intelligence. We may however say that (the soul) is
simultaneously unity and plurality, because she participates not only
in divisible essence in the bodies, but also in the indivisible,
which consequently is one. Now, just as the impression perceived by
one of my parts is not necessarily felt all over my body, while that
which happens to the principal organ is felt by all the other parts,
likewise, the impressions that the universe communicates to the
individual are clearer, because usually the parts perceive the same
affections as the All, while it is not evident that the particular
affections that we feel would be also experienced by the Whole.


3. On the other hand, observation teaches us that we sympathize with
each other, that we cannot see the suffering of another man without
sharing it, that we are naturally inclined to confide in each other,
and to love; for love is a fact whose origin is connected with the
question that occupies us. Further, if enchantments and magic charms
mutually attract individuals, leading distant persons to sympathize,
these effects can only be explained by the unity of soul. (It is well
known that) words pronounced in a low tone of voice (telepathically?)
affect a distant person, and make him hear what is going on at a great
distance. Hence appears the unity of all beings, which demands the
unity of the Soul.


If, however, the Soul be one, why is some one soul reasonable, another
irrational, or some other one merely vegetative? The indivisible part
of the soul consists in reason, which is not divided in the bodies,
while the part of the divisible soul in the bodies (which, though being
one in herself, nevertheless divides herself in the bodies, because
she sheds sentiment everywhere), must be regarded as another power of
the soul (the sensitive power); likewise, the part which fashions and
produces the bodies is still another power (the vegetative power);
nevertheless, this plurality of powers does not destroy the unity of
the soul. For instance, in a grain of seed there are also several
powers; nevertheless this grain of seed is one, and from this unity is
born a multiplicity which forms a unity.


But why do not all the powers of the soul act everywhere? Now if we
consider the Soul which is one everywhere, we find that sensation is
not similar in all its parts (that is, in all the individual souls);
that reason is not in all (but in certain souls exclusively); and that
the vegetative power is granted to those beings who do not possess
sensation, and that all these powers return to unity when they separate
from the body.


If, however, the body derive its vegetative power from the Whole and
from this (universal) Soul which is one, why should it not derive it
also from our soul? Because that which is nourished by this power forms
a part of the universe, which possesses sensation only at the price of
"suffering." As to the sense-power which rises as far as the judgment,
and which is united to every intelligence, there was no need for it to
form what had already been formed by the Whole, but it could have given
its forms if these forms were not parts of the Whole which produces


4. Such justifications will preclude surprise at our deriving all
souls from unity. But completeness of treatment demands explanation
how all souls are but a single one. Is this due to their proceeding
from a single Soul, or because they all form a single one? If all
proceed from a single one, did this one divide herself, or did she
remain whole, while begetting the multitude of souls? In this case, how
could an essence beget a multitude like her, while herself remaining
undiminished? We shall invoke the help of the divinity (in solving this
problem); and say that the existence of the one single Soul is the
condition of the existence of the multitude of souls, and that this
multitude must proceed from the Soul that is one.


If the Soul were a body, then would the division of this body
necessarily produce the multitude of souls, and this essence would be
different in its different parts. Nevertheless, as this essence would
be homogeneous, the souls (between which it would divide itself) would
be similar to each other, because they would possess a single identical
form in its totality, but they would differ by their body. If the
essence of these souls consisted in the bodies which would serve them
as subjects, they would be different from each other. If the essence
of these souls consisted in their form, they would, in form, be but
one single form; in other terms, there would be but one same single
soul in a multitude of bodies. Besides, above this soul which would be
one, but which would be spread abroad in the multitude of bodies, there
would be another Soul which would not be spread abroad in the multitude
of bodies; it would be from her that would proceed the soul which
would be the unity in plurality, the multiple image of the single Soul
in a single body, like a single seal, by impressing the same figure
to a multitude of pieces of wax, would be distributing this figure
in a multitude of impressions. In this case (if the essence of the
soul consisted in her form) the soul would be something incorporeal,
and as she would consist in an affection of the body, there would be
nothing astonishing in that a single quality, emanating from a single
principle, might be in a multitude of subjects simultaneously. Last,
if the essence of the soul consisted in being both things (being
simultaneously a part of a homogeneous body and an affection of the
body), there would be nothing surprising (if there were a unity of
essence in a multitude of subjects). We have thus shown that the soul
is incorporeal, and an essence; we must now consider the results of
this view.


5. How can an essence be single in a multitude of souls? Either this
one essence is entire in all souls, or this one and entire essence
begets all souls while remaining (undiminished) in itself. In either
case, the essence is single. It is the unity to which the individual
souls are related; the essence gives itself to this multitude, and yet
simultaneously the essence does not give itself; it can give of itself
to all individual souls, and nevertheless remain single; it is powerful
enough to pass into all simultaneously, and to be separated from none;
thus its essence remains identical, while being present in a multitude
of souls. This is nothing astonishing; all of science is entirely in
each of its parts, and it begets them without itself ceasing to remain
entire within itself. Likewise, a grain of seed is entire in each of
its parts in which it naturally divides itself; each of its parts has
the same properties as the whole seed; nevertheless the seed remains
entire, without diminution; and if the matter (in which the seed
resides) offer it any cause of division, all the parts will not any the
less form a single unity.


It may be objected that in science a part is not the total science.
Doubtless, the notion which is actualized, and which is studied to
the exclusion of others, because there is special need of it, is
only partially an actualization. Nevertheless, in a latent manner it
potentially comprises all the other notions it implies. Thus, all the
notions are contained in each part of the science, and in this respect
each part is the total science; for what is only partially actualized
(potentially) comprises all the notions of science. Each notion that
one wishes to render explicit is at one's disposition; and this in
every part of the science that is considered; but if it be compared
with the whole science, it seems to be there only potentially. It
must not, however, be thought that the particular notion does not
contain anything of the other notions; in this case, there would
be nothing systematic or scientific about it; it would be nothing
more than a sterile conception. Being a really scientific notion, it
potentially contains all the notions of the science; and the genuine
scientist knows how to discover all its notions in a single one, and
how to develop its consequences. The geometrical expert shows in his
demonstrations how each theorem contains all the preceding ones, to
which he harks back by analysis, and how each theorem leads to all the
following ones, by deduction.


These truths excite our incredulity, because here below our reason
is weak, and it is confused by the body. In the intelligible world,
however, all the verities are clear, and each is evident, by itself.


Of the Good and the One.


1. All beings, both primary, as well as those who are so called on any
pretext soever, are beings only because of their unity. What, indeed
would they be without it? Deprived of their unity, they would cease to
be what they are said to be. No army can exist unless it be one. So
with a choric ballet or a flock. Neither a house nor a ship can exist
without unity; by losing it they would cease to be what they are.[187]
So also with continuous quantities which would not exist without unity.
On being divided by losing their unity, they simultaneously lose their
nature. Consider farther the bodies of plants and animals, of which
each is a unity. On losing their unity by being broken up into several
parts, they simultaneously lose their nature. They are no more what
they were, they have become new beings, which themselves exist only so
long as they are one. What effects health in us, is that the parts of
our bodies are co-ordinated in unity. Beauty is formed by the unity of
our members. Virtue is our soul's tendency to unity, and becoming one
through the harmony of her faculties.


The soul imparts unity to all things when producing them, fashioning
them, and forming them. Should we, therefore, after rising to the
Soul, say that she not only imparts unity, but herself is unity in
itself? Certainly not. The soul that imparts form and figure to
bodies is not identical with form, and figure. Therefore the soul
imparts unity without being unity. She unifies each of her productions
only by contemplation of the One, just as she produces man only
by contemplating Man-in-himself, although adding to that idea the
implied unity. Each of the things that are called "one" have a unity
proportionate to their nature ("being"); so that they participate in
unity more or less according as they share essence[188] (being). Thus
the soul is something different from unity; nevertheless, as she exists
in a degree higher (than the body), she participates more in unity,
without being unity itself; indeed she is one, but the unity in her
is no more than contingent. There is a difference between the soul
and unity, just as between the body and unity. A discrete quantity
such as a company of dancers, or choric ballet, is very far from being
unity; a continuous quantity approximates that further; the soul gets
still nearer to it, and participates therein still more. Thus from the
fact that the soul could not exist without being one, the identity
between the soul and unity is suggested. But this may be answered
in two ways. First, other things also possess individual existence
because they possess unity, and nevertheless are not unity itself; as,
though the body is not identical with unity, it also participates in
unity. Further, the soul is manifold as well as one, though she be not
composed of parts. She possesses several faculties, discursive reason,
desire, and perception--all of them faculties joined together by unity
as a bond. Doubtless the soul imparts unity to something else (the
body), because she herself possesses unity; but this unity is by her
received from some other principle (namely, from unity itself).


2. (Aristotle[189]) suggests that in each of the individual beings
which are one, being is identical with unity. Are not being and essence
identical with unity, in every being and in every essence, in a manner
such that on discovering essence, unity also is discovered? Is not
being in itself unity in itself, so that if being be intelligence,
unity also must be intelligence, as intelligence which, being essence
in the highest degree, is also unity in the first degree, and which,
imparting essence to other things, also imparts unity to them? What
indeed could unity be, apart from essence and being? As "man," and "a
man" are equivalent,[190] essence must be identical with unity; or,
unity is the number of everything considered individually; and as one
object joined to another is spoken of as two, so an object alone is
referred to as one.


If number belongs to the class of beings, evidently the latter must
include unity also; and we shall have to discover what kind of a being
it is. If unity be no more than a numbering device invented by the
soul, then unity would possess no real existence. But we have above
observed that each object, on losing unity, loses existence also. We
are therefore compelled to investigate whether essence and unity be
identical either when considered in themselves, or in each individual


If the essence of each thing be manifoldness, and as unity cannot be
manifoldness, unity must differ from essence. Now man, being both
animal and rational, contains a manifoldness of elements of which
unity is the bond. There is therefore a difference between man and
unity; man is divisible, while unity is indivisible. Besides, universal
Essence, containing all essences, is still more manifold. Therefore
it differs from unity; though it does possess unity by participation.
Essence possesses life and intelligence, for it cannot be considered
lifeless; it must therefore be manifold. Besides, if essence be
intelligence, it must in this respect also be manifold, and must be
much more so if it contain forms; for the idea[191] is not genuinely
one. Both as individual and general it is rather a number; it is one
only as the world is one.


Besides, Unity in itself is the first of all; but intelligence, forms
and essence are not primary. Every form is manifold and composite, and
consequently must be something posterior; for parts are prior to the
composite they constitute. Nor is intelligence primary, as appears from
the following considerations. For intelligence existence is necessarily
thought and the best intelligence which does not contemplate exterior
objects, must think what is above it; for, on turning towards itself,
it turns towards its principle. On the one hand, if intelligence be
both thinker and thought, it implies duality, and is not simple or
unitary. On the other hand, if intelligence contemplate some object
other than itself, this might be nothing more than some object better
than itself, placed above it. Even if intelligence contemplate itself
simultaneously with what is better than it, even so intelligence is
only of secondary rank. We may indeed admit that the intelligence which
has such a nature enjoys the presence of the Good, of the First, and
that intelligence contemplates the First; but nevertheless at the same
time intelligence is present to itself, and thinks itself as being all
things. Containing such a diversity, intelligence is far from unity.


Thus Unity is not all things, for if so, it would no longer be unity.
Nor is it Intelligence, for since intelligence is all things, unity
too would be all things. Nor is it essence, since essence also is all


3. What then is unity? What is its nature? It is not surprising that
it is so difficult to say so, when it is difficult to explain of what
even essence or form consist. But, nevertheless, forms are the basis
of our knowledge. Everything that the soul advances towards what is
formless, not being able to understand it because it is indeterminate,
and so to speak has not received the impression of a distinctive type,
the soul withdraws therefrom, fearing she will meet nonentity. That is
why, in the presence of such things she grows troubled, and descends
with pleasure. Then, withdrawing therefrom, she, so to speak, lets
herself fall till she meets some sense-object, on which she pauses, and
recovers; just as the eye which, fatigued by the contemplation of small
objects, gladly turns back to large ones. When the soul wishes to see
by herself, then seeing only because she is the object that she sees,
and, further, being one because she forms but one with this object, she
imagines that what she sought has escaped, because she herself is not
distinct from the object that she thinks.


Nevertheless a philosophical study of unity will follow the following
course. Since it is Unity that we seek, since it is the principle
of all things, the Good, the First that we consider, those who will
wish to reach it must not withdraw from that which is of primary rank
to decline to what occupies the last, but they must withdraw their
souls from sense-objects, which occupy the last degree in the scale
of existence, to those entities that occupy the first rank. Such a
man will have to free himself from all evil, since he aspires to
rise to the Good. He will rise to the principle that he possesses
within himself. From the manifold that he was he will again become
one. Only under these conditions will he contemplate the supreme
principle, Unity. Thus having become intelligence, having trusted his
soul to intelligence, educating and establishing her therein, so that
with vigilant attention she may grasp all that intelligence sees,
he will, by intelligence, contemplate unity, without the use of any
senses, without mingling any of their perceptions with the flashes
of intelligence. He will contemplate the purest Principle, through
the highest degree of the purest Intelligence. So when a man applies
himself to the contemplation of such a principle and represents it to
himself as a magnitude, or a figure, or even a form, it is not his
intelligence that guides him in this contemplation for intelligence
is not destined to see such things; it is sensation, or opinion, the
associate of sensation, which is active in him. Intelligence is only
capable of informing us about things within its sphere.


Intelligence can see both the things that are above it, those which
belong to it, and the things that proceed from it. The things that
belong to intelligence are pure; but they are still less pure and less
simple than the things that are above Intelligence, or rather than what
is above it; this is not Intelligence, and is superior to Intelligence.
Intelligence indeed is essence, while the principle above it is not
essence, but is superior to all beings. Nor is it essence, for essence
has a special form, that of essence, and the One is shapeless even
intelligible. As Unity is the nature that begets all things, Unity
cannot be any of them. It is therefore neither any particular thing,
nor quantity, nor quality, nor intelligence, nor soul, nor what is
movable, nor what is stable; it is neither in place nor time; but it
is the uniform in itself, or rather it is formless, as it is above all
form, above movement and stability. These are my views about essence
and what makes it manifold.[192]


But if it does not move, why does it not possess stability? Because
either of these things, or both together, are suitable to nothing but
essence. Besides, that which possesses stability is stable through
stability, and is not identical with stability itself; consequently it
possesses stability only by accident, and would no longer remain simple.


Nor let anybody object that something contingent is attributed to Unity
when we call it the primary cause. It is to ourselves that we are then
attributing contingency, since it is we who are receiving something
from Unity, while Unity remains within itself.


Speaking strictly, we should say that the One is this or that (that is,
we should not apply any name to it). We can do no more than turn around
it, so to speak, trying to express what we feel (in regard to it); for
at times we approach Unity, and at times withdraw from it as a result
of our uncertainty about it.


4. The principal cause of our uncertainty is that our comprehension of
the One comes to us neither by scientific knowledge, nor by thought, as
the knowledge of other intelligible things, but by a presence which is
superior to science. When the soul acquires the scientific knowledge
of something, she withdraws from unity and ceases being entirely one;
for science implies discursive reason and discursive reason implies
manifoldness. (To attain Unity) we must therefore rise above science,
and never withdraw from what is essentially One; we must therefore
renounce science, the objects of science, and every other right (except
that of the One); even to that of beauty; for beauty is posterior to
unity, and is derived therefrom, as the day-light comes from the sun.
That is why Plato[193] says of (Unity) that it is unspeakable and
undescribable. Nevertheless we speak of it, we write about it, but only
to excite our souls by our discussions, and to direct them towards this
divine spectacle, just as one might point out the road to somebody who
desired to see some object. Instruction, indeed, goes as far as showing
the road, and guiding us in the way; but to obtain the vision (of the
divinity), is the work suitable to him who has desired to obtain it.


If your soul does not succeed in enjoying this spectacle, if she does
not have the intuition of the divine light, if she remains cold and
does not, within herself, feel a rapture such as that of a lover who
sees the beloved object, and who rests within it, a rapture felt by him
who has seen the true light, and whose soul has been overwhelmed with
brilliance on approaching this light, then you have tried to rise to
the divinity without having freed yourself from the hindrances which
arrest your progress, and hinder your contemplation. You did not rise
alone, and you retained within yourself something that separated you
from Him; or rather, you were not yet unified. Though He be absent
from all beings, He is absent from none, so that He is present (to
all) without being present (to them). He is present only for those
who are able to receive Him, and who are prepared for Him, and who
are capable of harmonizing themselves with Him, to reach Him, and as
it were to touch Him by virtue of the conformity they have with Him,
and also by virtue of an innate power analogous to that which flows
from Him, when at last their souls find themselves in the state where
they were after having communicated with Him; then they can see Him
so far as his nature is visible. I repeat: if you have not yet risen
so far, the conclusion must be that you are still at a distance from
Him, either by the obstacles of which we spoke above, or by the lack
of such instruction as would have taught you the road to follow, and
which would have imbued you with faith in things divine. In any case,
you have no fault to find with any but yourself; for, to be alone, all
you need to do is to detach yourself from everything. Lack of faith in
arguments about it may be remedied by the following considerations.


5. Such as imagine that beings are governed by luck or chance, and
that they depend on material causes are far removed from the divinity,
and from the conception of unity. It is not such men that we are
addressing, but such as admit the existence of a nature different from
the corporeal one, and who at least rise (to an acknowledgment of the
existence of) the Soul. These should apply themselves to the study of
the nature of the soul, learning, among other truths, that she proceeds
from Intelligence, and that she can achieve virtue by participating in
Intelligence through reason. They must then acknowledge the existence
of an Intelligence superior to the intelligence that reasons, namely,
to discursive reason. They must (also realize) that reasonings imply
an interval (between notions), and a movement (by which the soul
bridges this interval). They must be brought to see that scientific
knowledge consists also of reasons of the same nature (namely, rational
notions), reasons suitable to the soul, but which have become clear,
because the soul has received the succession of intelligence which is
the source of scientific knowledge. By intelligence (which belongs to
her), the soul sees the divine Intellect, which to it seems sensual,
in this sense that it is perceptible by intelligence, which dominates
the soul, and is her father;[194] that is, the intelligible world, a
calm intellect which vibrates without issuing from its tranquility,
which contains everything, and which is all. It is both definite and
indefinite manifoldness, for the ideas it contains are not distinct
like the reasons (the rational notions), which are conceived one by
one. Nevertheless, they do not become confused. Each of them becomes
distinct from the others, just as in a science all the notions,
though forming an indivisible whole, yet each has its own separate
individual existence.[195] This multitude of ideas taken together
constitutes the intelligible world. This is the (entity) nearest
to the First. Its existence is inevitably demonstrated by reason,
as much as the necessity of the existence of the Soul herself; but
though the intelligible world is something superior to the Soul, it is
nevertheless not yet the First, because it is neither one, nor simple,
while the one, the principle of all beings, is perfectly simple.


The principle that is superior to what is highest among beings, to
Intelligence (or intellect, or intelligible world) (may well be sought
after). There must indeed be some principle above Intelligence; for
intelligence does indeed aspire to become one, but it is not one,
possessing only the form of unity. Considered in itself, Intelligence
is not divided, but is genuinely present to itself. It does not
dismember itself because it is next to the One, though it dared to
withdraw therefrom. What is above Intelligence is Unity itself, an
incomprehensible miracle, of which it cannot even be said that it
is essence, lest we make of it the attribute of something else, and
to whom no name is really suitable. If however He must be named, we
may indeed call Him in general Unity, but only on the preliminary
understanding that He was not first something else, and then only
later became unity. That is why the One is so difficult to understand
in Himself; He is rather known by His offspring; that is, by Being,
because Intelligence leads up to Being. The nature of the One, indeed,
is the source of excellent things, the power which begets beings, while
remaining within Himself, without undergoing any diminution, without
passing into the beings to which He gives birth.[196] If we call this
principle Unity, it is only for the mutual convenience of rising to
some indivisible conception, and in unifying our soul. But when we say
that this principle is one and indivisible, it is not in the same sense
that we say it of the (geometric) point, and of the (arithmetical unity
called the) monad. What is one in the sense of the unity of the point
or the monad, is a principle of quantity, and would not exist unless
preceded by being and the principle which precedes even that being. It
is not of this kind of unity that we must think; still we believe that
the point and the monad have analogy with the One by their simplicity
as well as by the absence of all manifoldness and of all division.


6. In what sense do we use the name of unity, and how can we conceive
of it? We shall have to insist that the One is a unity much more
perfect than the point of the monad; for in these, abstracting
(geometric) magnitude, and numerical plurality, we do indeed stop
at that which is most minute, and we come to rest in something
indivisible; but this existed already in a divisible being, in a
subject other than itself, while the One is neither in a subject other
than itself, nor in anything divisible. If it be indivisible, neither
is it of the same kind as that which is most minute. On the contrary,
it is that which is greatest, not by (geometric) magnitude, but by
power; possessing no (geometric) magnitude, it is indivisible in its
power; for the beings beneath it are indivisible in their powers, and
not in their mass (since they are incorporeal). We must also insist
that the One is infinite, not as would be a mass of a magnitude which
could be examined serially, but by the incommensurability of its power.
Even though you should conceive of it as of intelligence or divinity,
it is still higher. When by thought you consider it as the most perfect
unity, it is still higher. You try to form for yourself an idea of a
divinity by rising to what in your intelligence is most unitary (and
yet He is still simpler); for He dwells within Himself, and contains
nothing that is contingent.


His sovereign unity may best be understood by His being
self-sufficient; for the most perfect principle is necessarily that
which best suffices Himself, and which least needs anything else. Now
anything that is not one, but manifold, needs something else. Not
being one, but being composed of multiple elements, its being demands
unification; but as the One is already one, He does not even need
Himself. So much the more, the being that is manifold needs as many
things as it contains; for each of the contained things exists only by
its union with the others, and not in itself, and finds that it needs
the others. Therefore such a being needs others, both for the things
it contains, as for their totality. If then there must be something
that fully suffices itself, it must surely be the One, which alone
needs nothing either relatively to Himself, or to the other things. It
needs nothing either to exist, or to be happy, or to be composed. To
begin with, as He is the cause of the other beings, He does not owe His
existence to them. Further, how could He derive His happiness from
outside Himself? Within Him, happiness is not something contingent, but
is His very nature. Again, as He does not occupy any space, He does not
need any foundation on which to be edified, as if He could not sustain
Himself. All that needs compounding is inanimate; without support it is
no more than a mass ready to fall. (Far from needing any support) the
One is the foundation of the edification of all other things; by giving
them existence, He has at the same time given them a location. However,
that which needs a location is not (necessarily) self-sufficient.


A principle has no need of anything beneath it. The Principle of all
things has no need of any of them. Every non-self-sufficient being is
not self-sufficient chiefly because it aspires to its principle. If the
One aspired to anything, His aspiration would evidently tend to destroy
His unity, that is, to annihilate Himself. Anything that aspires
evidently aspires to happiness and preservation. Thus, since for the
One there is no good outside of Himself, there is nothing that He could
wish. He is the super-good; He is the good, not for Himself, but for
other beings, for those that can participate therein.


Within the One, therefore, is no thought, because there can be no
difference within Him; nor could He contain any motion, because the
One is prior to motion, as much as to thought. Besides, what would
He think? Would He think Himself? In this case, He would be ignorant
before thinking, and thought would be necessary to Him, who fully
suffices to Himself. Neither should He be thought to contain ignorance,
because He does not know Himself, and does not think Himself. Ignorance
presupposes a relation, and consists in that one thing does not know
another. But the One, being alone, can neither know nor be ignorant
of anything. Being with Himself, He has no need of self-knowledge.
We should not even predicate of Him presence with Himself, if we are
to conceive of Him Unity in sheer purity. On the contrary, we should
have to leave aside intelligence, consciousness, and knowledge of
self and of other beings. We should not conceive of Him as being that
which thinks, but rather as of thought. Thought does not think; but
is the cause which makes some other being think; now the cause cannot
be identical with that which is caused. So much the more reason is
there then to say that that which is the cause of all these existing
things cannot be any one of them. This Cause, therefore, must not be
considered identical with the good He dispenses, but must be conceived
as the Good in a higher sense, the Good which is above all other goods.


7. Your mind remains in uncertainty because the divinity is none of
these things (that you know). Apply it first to these things, and
later fix it on the divinity. While doing so, do not let yourself
be distracted by anything exterior for the divinity is not in any
definite place, depriving the remainder of its presence, but it is
present wherever there is any person who is capable of entering into
contact therewith. It is absent only for those who cannot succeed
therein. Just as, for other objects, one could not discover what one
seeks by thinking of something else, and as one should not add any
alien thing to the object that is thought if one wishes to identify
oneself therewith; likewise here one must be thoroughly convinced that
it is impossible for any one whose soul contains any alien image to
conceive of the divinity so long as such an image distracts the soul's
attention. It is equally impossible that the soul, at the moment that
she is attentive, and attached to other things, should assume the form
of what is contrary to them. Just as it is said of matter that it must
be absolutely deprived of all qualities to be susceptible of receiving
all forms; likewise, and for a stronger reason, the soul must be
stripped of all form, if she desire to be filled with and illuminated
by the primary nature without any interior hindrance. Thus, having
liberated herself from all exterior things, the soul will entirely
turn to what is most intimate in her; she will not allow herself to be
turned away by any of the surrounding objects and she will put aside
all things, first by the very effect of the state in which she will
find herself, and later by the absence of any conception of form. She
will not even know that she is applying herself to the contemplation of
the One, or that she is united thereto. Then, after having sufficiently
dwelt with it, she will, if she can, come to reveal to others this
heavenly communion. Doubtless it was enjoyment of this communion
that was the basis of the traditional conversation of Minos with
Jupiter.[197] Inspired with the memories of this interview, he made
laws which represented it, because, while he was drawing them up, he
was still under the influence of his union with the divinity. Perhaps
even, in this state, the soul may look down on civil virtues as hardly
worthy of her,[198] inasmuch as she desires to dwell on high; and this
does indeed happen to such as have long contemplated the divinity.


(In short), the divinity is not outside of any being. On the contrary,
He is present to all beings, though these may be ignorant thereof.
This happens because they are fugitives, wandering outside of Him or
rather, outside of themselves. They cannot reach Him from whom they
are fleeing, nor, having lost themselves, can they find another being.
A son, if angry, and beside himself, is not likely to recognize his
father. But he who will have learnt to know himself will at the same
time discover from where he hails.[199]


8. Self-knowledge reveals the fact that the soul's natural movement is
not in a straight line, unless indeed it have undergone some deviation.
On the contrary, it circles around something interior, around a centre.
Now the centre is that from which proceeds the circle, that is, the
soul.[200] The soul will therefore move around the centre, that is,
around the principle from which she proceeds; and, trending towards it,
she will attach herself to it, as indeed all souls should do. The souls
of the divinities ever direct themselves towards it; and that is the
secret of their divinity; for divinity consists in being attached to
the Centre (of all souls). Anyone who withdraws much therefrom is a man
who has remained manifold (that is, who has never become unified), or
who is a brute.[201]


Is the centre of the soul then the principle that we are seeking?
Or must we conceive some other principle towards which all centres
radiate? To begin with, it is only by analogy that the words "centre"
and "circle" are used. By saying that the soul is a circle, we do not
mean that she is a geometrical figure, but that in her and around her
subsists primordial nature.[202] (By saying that she has a centre, we
mean that) the soul is suspended from the primary Principle (by the
highest part of her being), especially when she is entirely separated
(from the body). Now, however, as we have a part of our being contained
in the the body, we resemble a man whose feet are plunged in water,
with the rest of his body remaining above it. Raising ourselves above
the body by the whole part which is not immerged, we are by our own
centre reattaching ourselves to the Centre common to all beings, just
in the same way as we make the centres of the great circles coincide
with that of the sphere that surrounds them. If the circles of the
soul were corporeal, the common centre would have to occupy a certain
place for them to coincide with it, and for them to turn around it. But
since the souls are of the order of intelligible (essences), and as
the One is still above Intelligence, we shall have to assert that the
intercourse of the soul with the One operates by means different from
those by which Intelligence unites with the intelligible. This union,
indeed, is much closer than that which is realized between Intelligence
and the intelligible by resemblance or identity; it takes place by the
intimate relationship that unites the soul with unity, without anything
to separate them. Bodies cannot unite mutually;[203] but they could
not hinder the mutual union of incorporeal (essences) because that
which separates them from each other is not a local distance, but their
distinction and difference. When there is no difference between them,
they are present in each other.


As the One does not contain any difference, He is always present; and
we are ever present to Him as soon as we contain no more difference.
It is not He who is aspiring to us, or who is moving around us; on
the contrary, it is we who are aspiring to Him. Though we always move
around Him, we do not always keep our glance fixed on Him. We resemble
a chorus which always surrounds its leader, but (the members of) which
do not always sing in time because they allow their attention to be
distracted to some exterior object; while, if they turned towards the
leader, they would sing well, and really be with him. Likewise, we
always turn around the One, even when we detach ourselves from Him, and
cease knowing Him. Our glance is not always fixed on the One; but when
we contemplate Him, we attain the purpose of our desires, and enjoy the
rest taught by Heraclitus.[204] Then we disagree no more, and really
form a divine choric ballet around Him.


9. In this choric ballet, the soul sees the source of life, the source
of intelligence, the principle of being, the cause of the good, and
the root of love. All these entities are derived from the One without
diminishing Him. He is indeed no corporeal mass; otherwise the things
that are born of Him would be perishable. However, they are eternal,
because their principle ever remains the same, because[205] He does
not divide Himself to produce them, but remains entire. They persist,
just as the light persists so long as the sun remains.[206] Nor are we
separated from the One; we are not distant from Him, though corporeal
nature, by approaching us, has attracted us to it (thus drawing us
away from the One).[207] But it is in the One that we breathe and have
our being.[208] He gave us life not merely at a given moment, only to
leave us later; but His giving is perpetual, so long as He remains what
He is, or rather, so long as we turn towards Him. There it is that
we find happiness, while to withdraw from Him is to fall. It is in
Him that our soul rests; it is by rising to that place free from all
evil that she is delivered from evils; there she really thinks, there
she is impassible, there she really lives. Our present life, in which
we are not united with the divinity, is only a trace or adumbration
of real life. Real life (which is presence with the divinity) is the
actualization of intelligence. It is this actualization of intelligence
which begets the divinities by a sort of silent intercourse with the
One; thereby begetting beauty, justice and virtue. These are begotten
by the soul that is filled with divinity. In Him is her principle
and goal; her principle, because it is from there that she proceeds;
her goal, because there is the good to which she aspires, so that by
returning thither she again becomes what she was. Life here below, in
the midst of sense-objects, is for the soul a degradation, an exile, a
loss of her wings.[209]


Another proof that our welfare resides up there is the love that is
innate in our souls, as is taught in the descriptions and myths which
represent love as the husband of the soul.[210] In fact, since the
soul, which is different from the divinity, proceeds from Him, she
must necessarily love Him; but when she is on high[211] her love is
celestial; here below, her love is only commonplace; for it is on high
that dwells the celestial Venus (Urania); while here below resides
the vulgar and adulterous Venus.[212] Now every soul is a Venus, as
is indicated by the myth of the birth of Venus and Cupid, who is
supposed to be born simultaneously with her.[213] So long as she
remains faithful to her nature, the soul therefore loves the divinity,
and desires to unite herself to Him, who seems like the noble father
of a bride who has fallen in love with some handsome lover. When
however the soul has descended into generation, deceived by the false
promises of an adulterous lover, she has exchanged her divine love for
a mortal one. Then, at a distance from her father, she yields to all
kinds of excesses. Ultimately, however, she grows ashamed of these
disorders; she purifies herself, she returns to her father, and finds
true happiness with Him. How great her bliss then is can be conceived
by such as have not tasted it only by comparing it somewhat to earthly
love-unions, observing the joy felt by the lover who succeeds in
obtaining her whom he loves. But such mortal and deceptive love is
directed only to phantoms; it soon disappears because the real object
of our love is not these sense-presentations, which are not the good
we are really seeking. On high only is the real object of our love;
the only one with which we could unite or identify ourselves, which we
could intimately possess, because it is not separated from our soul
by the covering of our flesh. This that I say will be acknowledged by
any one who has experienced it; he will know that the soul then lives
another life, that she advances towards the Divinity, that she reaches
Him, possesses Him, and in his condition recognizes the presence of
the Dispenser of the true life. Then she needs nothing more. On the
contrary, she has to renounce everything else to fix herself in the
Divinity alone, to identify herself with Him, and to cut off all that
surrounds Him. We must therefore hasten to issue from here below,
detaching ourselves so far as possible from the body to which we still
have the regret of being chained, making the effort to embrace the
Divinity by our whole being, without leaving in us any part that is not
in contact with Him. Then the soul can see the Divinity and herself, so
far as is possible to her nature. She sees herself shining brilliantly,
filled with intelligible light; or rather, she sees herself as a pure
light, that is subtle and weightless. She becomes divinity, or, rather,
she is divinity. In this condition, the soul is a shining light. If
later she falls back into the sense-world, she is plunged into darkness.


10. Why does the soul which has risen on high not stay there? Because
she has not yet entirely detached herself from things here below. But
a time will come when she will uninterruptedly enjoy the vision of the
divinity, that is, when she will no longer be troubled by the passions
of the body. The part of the soul that sees the divinity is not the
one that is troubled (the irrational soul), but the other part (the
rational soul). Now she loses the sight of the divinity when she does
not lose this knowledge which consists in demonstratings, conjectures
and reasonings. In the vision of the divinity, indeed, that which sees
is not the reason, but something prior and superior to reason; if that
which sees be still united to reason, it then is as that which is seen.
When he who sees himself sees, he will see himself as simple, being
united to himself as simple, and will feel himself as simple. We should
not even say that he will see, but only that he will be what he sees,
in case that it would still here be possible to distinguish that which
sees from that which is seen, or to assert that these two things do
not form a single one. This assertion, however, would be rash, for in
this condition he who sees does not, in the strict sense of the word,
see; nor does he imagine two things. He becomes other, he ceases to be
himself, he retains nothing of himself. Absorbed in the divinity, he is
one with it, like a centre that coincides with another centre. While
they coincide, they form but one, though they form two in so far as
they remain distinct. In this sense only do we here say that the soul
is other than the divinity. Consequently this manner of vision is very
difficult to describe. How indeed could we depict as different from
us Him who, while we were contemplating Him, did not seem other than
ourselves, having come into perfect at-one-ment with us?


11. That, no doubt, is the meaning of the mystery-rites' injunction not
to reveal their secrets to the uninitiated. As that which is divine is
unspeakable, it is ordered that the initiate should not talk thereof to
any (uninitiated person) who have not had the happiness of beholding it
(the vision).


As (this vision of the divinity) did not imply (the existence of) two
things, and as he who was identical to Him whom he saw, so that he
did not see Him, but was united thereto, if anyone could preserve the
memory of what he was while thus absorbed into the Divinity, he would
within himself have a faithful image of the Divinity. Then indeed had
he attained at-one-ment, containing no difference, neither in regard
to himself, nor to other beings. While he was thus transported into
the celestial region, there was within him no activity, no anger, nor
appetite, nor reason, nor even thought. So much the more, if we dare
say so, was he no longer himself, but sunk in trance or enthusiasm,
tranquil and solitary with the divinity, he enjoyed an the calm.
Contained within his own "being," (or, essence), he did not incline to
either side, he did not even turn towards himself, he was indeed in a
state of perfect stability, having thus, so to speak, become stability


In this condition, indeed, the soul busies herself not even with
the beautiful things, for she rises above beauty, and passes beyond
even the (Stoic) "choir of virtues." Thus he who penetrates into
the interior of a sanctuary leaves behind him the statues placed
(at the entrance) of the temple. These indeed are the first objects
that will strike his view on his exit from the sanctuary, after he
shall have enjoyed the interior spectacle, after having entered into
intimate communion, not indeed with an image or statue, which would
be considered only when he comes out, but with the divinity. The very
word "divine spectacle" does not, here, seem sufficient (to express the
contemplation of the soul); it is rather an ecstasy, a simplification,
a self-abandonment, a desire for intercourse, a perfect quietude, and
last, a wish to become indistinguishable from what was contemplated in
the sanctuary.[214] Any one who would seek to see the Divinity in any
other way would be incapable of enjoying His presence.


By making use of these mysterious figures, wise interpreters wished
to indicate how the divinity might be seen. But the wise hierophant,
penetrating the mystery, may, when he has arrived thither, enjoy
the veritable vision of what is in the sanctuary. If he have not
yet arrived thither, he can at least conceive the invisibility (for
physical sight) of That which is in the sanctuary; he can conceive the
source and principle of everything, and he recognizes it as the one
particular principle worthy of the name. (But when he has succeeded
in entering into the sanctuary) he sees the Principle, enters into
communication with it, unites like to like, leaving aside no divine
thing the soul is capable of acquiring.


Before obtaining the vision of the divinity, the soul desires what
yet remains to be seen. For him, however, who has risen above all
things, what remains to be seen is He who is above all other things.
Indeed, the nature of the soul will never reach absolute nonentity.
Consequently, when she descends, she will fall into evil, that is,
nonentity, but not into absolute nonentity. Following the contrary
path, she will arrive at something different, namely, herself. From
the fact that she then is not in anything different from herself,
it does not result that she is within anything, for she remains in
herself. That which, without being in essence, remains within itself,
necessarily resides in the divinity. Then it ceases to be "being,"
and so far as it comes into communion with the Divinity it grows
superior to "being" (it becomes supra-being). Now he who sees himself
as having become divinity, possesses within himself an image of the
divinity. If he rise above himself, he will achieve the limit of his
ascension, becoming as it were an image that becomes indistinguishable
from its model. Then, when he shall have lost sight of the divinity,
he may still, by arousing the virtue preserved within himself, and
by considering the perfections that adorn his soul, reascend to the
celestial region, by virtue rising to Intelligence, and by wisdom to
the Divinity Himself.


Such is the life of the divinities; such is also that of divine and
blessed men; detachment from all things here below, scorn of all
earthly pleasures, and flight of the soul towards the Divinity that she
shall see face to face (that is, "alone with the alone," as thought


The Three Principal Hypostases, or Forms of Existence.


1. How does it happen that souls forget their paternal divinity? Having
a divine nature, and having originated from the divinity, how could
they ever misconceive the divinity or themselves? The origin of their
evil is "audacity,"[216] generation, the primary diversity, and the
desire to belong to none but themselves.[217] As soon as they have
enjoyed the pleasure of an independent life, and by largely making use
of their power of self-direction, they advanced on the road that led
them astray from their principle, and now they have arrived at such an
"apostasy" (distance) from the Divinity, that they are even ignorant
that they derive their life from Him. Like children that were separated
from their family since birth, and that were long educated away from
home finally lose knowledge of their parents and of themselves, so our
souls, no longer seeing either the divinity or themselves, have become
degraded by forgetfulness of their origin, have attached themselves
to other objects, have admired anything rather than themselves, have
like prodigals scattered their esteem and love on exterior objects,
and have, by breaking the bond that united them to the divinities,
disdainfully wandered away from it. Their ignorance of the divinity
is therefore caused by excessive valuation of external objects, and
their scorn of themselves. The mere admiration and quest after
what is foreign implies, on the soul's part, an acknowledgment of
self-depreciation. As soon as a soul thinks that she is worth less than
that which is born and which perishes, and considers herself as more
despicable and perishable than the object she admires, she could no
longer even conceive of the nature and power of the divinity.


Souls in such conditions may be converted to the Divinity, and raised
to the supreme Principle, to the One, to the First, by being reasoned
with in two ways. First, they may be led to see the worthlessness of
the objects they at present esteem;[218] then they must be reminded of
the origin and dignity of the soul. The demonstration of the latter
point logically precedes that of the former; and if clearly done,
should support it.


It is the second point, therefore, that we shall here discuss. It is
related to the study of the object we desire to know; for it is the
soul that desires to know that object. Now the soul must first examine
her own nature in order to know whether she possess the faculty of
contemplating the divinity, if this study be suited to her, and if she
may hope for success therein. For indeed if the soul be foreign to
divine things, the soul has no business to ferret out their nature. If
however a close kinship obtains between them, she both can and should
seek to know them.


2. This is the first reflection of every soul.[219] By an influx of
the spirit of life, the universal Soul produced all the animals upon
earth, in the air and in the sea, as well as the divine stars, the
sun, and the immense heaven. It was the universal Soul that gave form
to the heavens, and which presides over their regular revolutions;
and she effects all that without mingling with the being to whom
she communicates form, movement and life. The universal Soul is far
superior to all created things. While the latter are born or die in
the measure that she imparts to them, or withdraws from them their
life, she herself is "being" and eternal life, because she could not
cease being herself. To understand how life can simultaneously be
imparted to the universe and to each individual, we must contemplate
the universal Soul. To rise to this contemplation, the soul must be
worthy of it by nobility, must have liberated herself from error, and
must have withdrawn from the objects that fascinate the glances of
worldly souls, must have immersed herself in a profound meditation,
and she must have succeeded in effecting the silence not only of the
agitations of the body that enfolds her, and the tumult of sensations,
but also of all that surrounds her. Therefore let silence be kept
by all--namely, earth, air, sea, and even heaven. Then let the soul
represent to herself the great Soul which, from all sides, overflows
into this immovable mass, spreading within it, penetrating into it
intimately, illuminating it as the rays of the sun light and gild a
dark cloud. Thus the universal Soul, by descending into this world
redeemed this great body from the inertia in which it lay, imparting to
it movement, life and immortality. Eternally moved by an intelligent
power, heaven became a being full of life and felicity. The presence
of the Soul made an admirable whole from what before was no more than
in inert corpse, water and earth, or rather, darkness of matter, which,
as Homer[220] says, was an "object of horror for the divinities."


The nature and power of the Soul reveal themselves still more
gloriously in the way she embraces and governs the world at will. She
is present in every point of this immense body, she animates all its
parts, great and small. Though these may be located in different parts,
she does not divide as they do, she does not split up to vivify each
individual. She vivifies all things simultaneously, ever remaining
whole and indivisible, resembling the intelligence from which she was
begotten by her unity and universality.[221] It is her power which
contains this world of infinite magnitude and variety within the bonds
of unity. Only because of the presence of the Soul are heaven, sun, and
stars divinities; only because of her are we anything; for "a corpse is
viler than the vilest dung-hill."[222]


But if the deities owe their divinity to the universal Soul, she
herself must be a divinity still more venerable. Now our soul is
similar to the universal Soul. Strip her of all coverings, consider her
in her pristine purity, and you will see how precious is the nature of
the soul, how superior she is to everything that is body.[223] Without
the soul, no body is anything but earth. Even if you add to earth fire,
water and air, still there is nothing that need claim your veneration.
If it be the Soul that imparts beauty to the body, why should we
forget the souls within ourselves, while prostituting our admiration on
other objects? If it be the soul that you admire in them, why do you
not admire her within yourselves?


3. Since the nature of the Soul is so divine and precious, you may
be assured of being able to reach the divinity through her; with her
you can ascend to Him. You will not need to search for Him far from
yourself; nor will there be several intermediaries between yourself and
Him. To reach Him, take as guide the divinest and highest part of the
Soul, the power from which she proceeds, and by which she impinges on
the intelligible world. Indeed, in spite of the divinity which we have
attributed to her, the Soul is no more than an image of Intelligence.
As the exterior word (speech) is the image of the (interior) word (of
thought?) of the soul, the Soul herself is the word and actualization
of Intelligence.[224] She is the life which escapes from Intelligence
to form another hypostatic form of existence, just as the fire contains
the latent heat which constitutes its essence ("being"), and also
the heat that radiates from it outside. Nevertheless, the Soul does
not entirely issue from within Intelligence; she does partly reside
therein, but also forms (a nature) distinct therefrom. As the Soul
proceeds from Intelligence, she is intelligible; and the manifestation
of her intellectual power is discursive reason. From Intelligence
the Soul derives her perfection, as well as her existence; only in
comparison with Intelligence does the Soul seem imperfect. The Soul,
therefore, is the hypostatic substance that proceeds from Intelligence,
and when the Soul contemplates Intelligence the soul is reason
actualized. Indeed, while the soul contemplates Intelligence, the Soul
intimately possesses the things she thinks; from her own resources she
draws the actualizations she produces; these intellectual and pure
actualizations are indeed the Soul's only characteristic activities.
Those of an inferior nature really proceed from a foreign principle;
they are passions.


Intelligence therefore, makes the Soul diviner, because Intelligence
(as a father) begets the Soul, and grants its (helpful) presence to
the Soul. Nothing intervenes between them but the distinction between
their natures. The Soul is to Intelligence in the same relation as
that obtaining between form and matter.[225] Now the very matter of
Intelligence is beautiful, because it has an intellectual form, and is
simple. How great then, must Intelligence be, if it be still greater
than the Soul.


4. The dignity of Intelligence may be appreciated in still another way.
After having admired the magnitude and beauty of the sense-world, the
eternal regularity of its movement, the visible or hidden divinities,
the animals and plants it contains, we may (taking our direction from
all this), rise to this world's archetype, a more real World. There
we may contemplate all the intelligible entities which are as eternal
as the intelligible world, and which there subsist within perfect
knowledge and life. There preside pure intelligence and ineffable
wisdom; there is located the real Saturnian realm,[226] which is
nothing else than pure intelligence. This indeed embraces every
immortal essence, every intelligence, every divinity, every soul;
everything there is eternal and immutable. Since its condition is
blissful, why should Intelligence change? Since it contains everything,
why should it aspire to anything? Since it is sovereignly perfect,
what need of development would it have? Its perfection is so much
completer, since it contains nothing but perfect things, and since
it thinks them; it thinks them, not because it seeks to know them,
but because it possesses them.[227] Its felicity is not in any way
contingent on anything else; itself is true eternity, of which time
furnishes a moving image of the sphere of the soul. Indeed, the soul's
action is successive, and divided by the different objects that attract
its attention. Now it thinks Socrates, and then it thinks a horse;
never does it grasp but one part of reality, while intelligence always
embraces all things simultaneously. Intelligence, therefore, possesses
all things immovable in identity. It is; it never has anything but the
present;[228] it has no future, for it already is all it could ever
later become; it has no past, for no intelligible entity ever passes
away; all of them subsist in an eternal present, all remain identical,
satisfied with their present condition. Each one is both intelligence
and existence; all together, they are universal Intelligence, universal


Intelligence exists (as intelligence) because it thinks existence.
Existence exists (as existence) because, on being thought, it makes
intelligence exist and thinks.[229] There must therefore exist
something else which makes intelligence think, and existence exist,
and which consequently is their common principle. In existence they
are contemporaneous and substantial, and can never fail each other.
As intelligence and existence constitute a duality, their common
principle in this consubstantial unity that they form, and which is
simultaneously existence and intelligence, the thinking subject and
the object thought; intelligence as thinking subject, and existence
as object thought; for thought simultaneously implies difference and


The first principles, therefore, are existence and intelligence,
identity and difference, movement and rest.[230] Rest is the condition
of identity; movement is the condition of thought, since the latter
presupposes the differences of the thinking subject and of the object
thought, and because it is silent if reduced to unity. The elements
of thought (subject and object) must thus stand in the relation
of differences, but also in that of unity, because they form a
consubstantial unity, and because there is a common element in all that
is derived therefrom. Besides, here difference is nothing else than
distinction. The plurality formed by elements of thought constitutes
quantity and number;[231] and the characteristic of every element,
quality.[232] From these first principles (the categories, that are the
genera of being) all things are derived.


5. Thus the human soul is full of this divinity (of Intelligence);
she is connected therewith by these (categories), unless the soul
(purposely) withdraws from (that intelligence). The Soul approaches
Intelligence, and thus having been unified, the Soul wonders, 'Who
has begotten this unity?' It must be He who is simple, who is prior
to all multiplicity, who imparts to Intelligence its existence and
manifoldness, and who consequently produces number. Number, indeed,
is not something primitive; for the One is prior to the "pair." The
latter ranks only second, being begotten and defined by unity, by
itself being indefinite. As soon as it is defined, it is a number in
so far as it is a "being"; for these are the grounds on which the Soul
also is a number.[233]


Besides everything that is a mass or a magnitude could not occupy
the first rank in nature; those gross objects which are by sensation
considered beings must be ranked as inferior. In seeds, it is not the
moist element that should be valued, but the invisible principle,
number, and the (seminal) reason. Number and "pair" are only names
for the reasons (ideas) and intelligence. The "pair" is indeterminate
so far as it plays the part of substrate (in respect to unity). The
number that is derived from the pair, and the one, constitute every
kind of form, so that Intelligence has a shape which is determined by
the ideas[234] begotten within it. Its shape is derived in one respect
from the one, and in another respect, from itself, just like actualized
sight. Thought, indeed, is actualized sight, and both these entities
(the faculty and the actualization) form but one.


6. How does Intelligence see, and what does it see? How did the Second
issue from the First, how was it born from the First, so as that the
Second might see the First? For the soul now understands that these
principles must necessarily exist. She seeks to solve the problem often
mooted by ancient philosophers. "If the nature of the One be such as
we have outlined, how does everything derive its hypostatic substance
(or, form of existence), manifoldness, duality, and number from the
First? Why did the First not remain within Himself, why did He allow
the leakage of manifoldness seen in all beings, and which we are
seeking to trace back to the First?" We shall tell it. But we must, to
begin with, invoke the Divinity, not by the utterance of words, but by
raising our souls to Him in prayer. Now the only way to pray is (for
a person), when alone, to advance towards the One, who is entirely
alone. To contemplate Unity, we must retire to our inner sanctuary,
and there remain tranquil above all things (in ecstasy); then we must
observe the statues which as it were are situated outside of (soul and
intelligence), and in front of everything, the statue that shines in
the front rank (Unity), contemplating it in a manner suitable to its
nature (in the mysteries).[235]


All that is moved must have a direction towards which it is moved; we
must therefore conclude that that which has no direction towards which
it is moved must be at a stand-still, and that anything born of this
principle must be born without causing this principle to cease being
turned towards itself. We must, however, remove from our mind the idea
of a generation operated within time, for we are here treating of
eternal things. When we apply to them the conception of generation,
we mean only a relation of causality and effect. What is begotten by
the One must be begotten by Him without any motion on the part of
the One; if He were moved, that which was begotten from Him would,
because of this movement, be ranked third, instead of second.[236]
Therefore, since the One is immovable, He produces the hypostatic
(form of existence) which is ranked second, without volition, consent,
or any kind of movement. What conception are we then to form of this
generation of Intelligence by this immovable Cause? It is a radiation
of light which escapes without disturbing its quietness, like the
splendor which emanates perpetually from the sun, without affecting
its quietness, which surrounds it without leaving it. Thus all things,
in so far as they remain within existence, necessarily draw from
their own essence ("being") and produce externally a certain nature
that depends on their power, and that is the image of the archetype
from which it is derived.[237] Thus does fire radiate heat; thus snow
spreads cold. Perfumes also furnish a striking example of this process;
so long as they last, they emit exhalations in which everything that
surrounds them participates. Everything that has arrived to its point
of perfection begets something. That which is eternally perfect begets
eternally; and that which it begets is eternal though inferior to
the generating principle. What then should we think of Him who is
supremely perfect? Does He not beget? On the contrary, He begets that
which, after Him, is the greatest. Now that which, after Him, is the
most perfect, is the second rank principle, Intelligence. Intelligence
contemplates Unity, and needs none but Him; but the Unity has no need
of Intelligence. That which is begotten by the Principle superior
to Intelligence can be nothing if not Intelligence; for it is the
best after the One, since it is superior to all other beings. The
Soul, indeed, is the word and actualization of Intelligence, just as
Intelligence is word and actualization of the One. But the Soul is an
obscure word. Being an image of Intelligence, she must contemplate
Intelligence, just as the latter, to subsist, must contemplate the
One. Intelligence contemplates the One, not because of any separation
therefrom, but only because it is after the One. There is no
intermediary between the One and Intelligence, any more than between
Intelligence and the Soul. Every begotten being desires to unite
with the principle that begets it, and loves it, especially when the
begetter and the begotten are alone. Now when the begetter is supremely
perfect, the begotten must be so intimately united to Him as to be
separated from Him only in that it is distinct from Him.


7. We call Intelligence the image of the One. Let us explain this.
It is His image because Intelligence is, in a certain respect,
begotten by Unity, because Intelligence possesses much of the nature
of its father, and because Intelligence resembles Him as light
resembles the sun. But the One is not Intelligence; how then can the
hypostatic (form of existence) begotten by the One be Intelligence?
By its conversion towards the One, Intelligence sees Him; now it is
this vision[238] which constitutes Intelligence. Every faculty that
perceives another being is sensation or intelligence; but sensation
is similar to a straight line, while intelligence resembles a
circle.[239] Nevertheless, the circle is divisible, while Intelligence
is indivisible; it is one, but, while being one, it also is the
power of all things. Now thought considers all these things (of
which Intelligence is the power), by separating itself, so to speak,
from this power; otherwise, Intelligence would not exist. Indeed,
Intelligence has a consciousness of the reach of its power, and this
consciousness constitutes its nature. Consequently, Intelligence
determines its own nature by the means of the power it derived from
the One; and at the same time Intelligence sees that its nature
("being") is a part of the entities which belong to the One, and that
proceed from Him. Intelligence sees that it owes all its force to the
One, and that it is due to Him that Intelligence has the privilege of
being a "being" (or, essence). Intelligence sees that, as it itself
is divisible, it derives from the One, which is indivisible, all the
entities it possesses, life and thought; because the One is not any of
these things. Everything indeed is derived from the One, because it is
not contained in a determinate form; it simply is the One, while in the
order of beings Intelligence is all things. Consequently the One is not
any of the things that Intelligence contains; it is only the principle
from which all of them are derived. That is why they are "being," for
they are already determined, and each has a kind of shape. Existence
should be contemplated, not in indetermination, but on the contrary in
determination and rest. Now, for Intelligible entities, rest consists
in determination, and shape by which they subsist.


The Intelligence that deserves to be called the purest intelligence,
therefore, cannot have been born from any source, other than the first
Principle. It must, from its birth, have begotten all beings, all the
beauty of ideas, all the intelligible deities; for it is full of the
things it has begotten; it devours them in the sense that it itself
retains all of them, that it does not allow them to fall into matter,
nor be born of Rhea.[240] That is the meaning of the mysteries and
myths; "Saturn, the wisest of the divinities, was born before Jupiter,
and devoured his children." Here Saturn represents intelligence, big
with its conceptions, and perfectly pure.[241] They add, "Jupiter, as
soon as he was grown, in his turn begat." As soon as Intelligence is
perfect, it begets the Soul, by the mere fact of its being perfect,
and because so great a power cannot remain sterile. Here again the
begotten being had to be inferior to its principle, had to represent
its image, had, by itself, to be indeterminate, and had later to be
determined and formed by the principle that begat it. What Intelligence
begets is a reason, a hypostatic form of existence whose nature it
is to reason. The latter moves around Intelligence; is the light that
surrounds it, the ray that springs from it. On the one hand it is bound
to Intelligence, fills itself with it; enjoys it, participates in it,
deriving its intellectual operations from it. On the other hand, it is
in contact with inferior things, or rather, begets them. Being thus
begotten by the Soul, these things are necessarily less good than the
Soul, as we shall further explain. The sphere of divine things ends
with the Soul.


8. This is how Plato establishes three degrees in the hierarchy
of being[243]: "Everything is around the king of all." He is here
speaking of first rank entities. He adds, "What is of the second order
is around the second principle; and what is of the third order is
around the third principle." Plato[244] further says that "God is the
father of the cause." By cause, he means Intelligence; for, in the
system of Plato, it is Intelligence which plays the part of demiurgic
creator. Plato adds that it is this power that forms the Soul in the
cup.[245] As the cause is intelligence, Plato applies the name of
father to the absolute Good, the principle superior to Intelligence and
superior to "Being." In several passages he calls the Idea "existence
and intelligence." He therefore really teaches that Intelligence is
begotten from the Good, and the Soul from Intelligence. This teaching,
indeed, is not new; it has been taught from the most ancient times, but
without being brought out in technical terms. We claim to be no more
than the interpreters of the earlier philosophers, and to show by the
very testimony of Plato that they held the same views as we do.


The first philosopher who taught this was Parmenides, who identified
Existence and Intelligence, and who does not place existence among
sense-objects, "for, thought is the same thing as existence."[246]
He adds[247] that existence is immovable, although being thought.
Parmenides thus denies all corporeal movement in existence, so as that
it might always remain the same. Further, Parmenides[248] compares
existence to a sphere, because it contains everything, drawing thought
not from without, but from within itself. When Parmenides, in his
writings, mentions the One, he means the cause, as if he recognized
that this unity (of the intelligible being) implied manifoldness.
In the dialogue of Plato he speaks with greater accuracy, and
distinguishes three principles: the First, the absolute One; the
second, the manifold one; the third, the one and the manifold. He
therefore, as we do, reaches three natures.


9. Anaxagoras, who teaches a pure and unmingled Intelligence[249]
also insists that the first Principle is simple, and that the One is
separated from sense-objects. But, as he lived in times too ancient, he
has not treated this matter in sufficient detail.


Heraclitus also taught the eternal and intelligible One; for Heraclitus
holds that bodies are ceaselessly "becoming" (that is, developing), and
that they are in a perpetual state of flux.[250]


In the system of Empedocles, discord divides, and concord unites; now
this second principle is posited as incorporeal, and the elements play
the part of matter.[251]


Aristotle, who lived at a later period, says that the First Principle
is separated from (sense-objects), and that it is intelligible.[252]
But when Aristotle says that He thinks himself, Aristotle degrades Him
from the first rank. Aristotle also asserts the existence of other
intelligible entities in a number equal to the celestial spheres,
so that each one of them might have a principle of motion. About
the intelligible entities, therefore, Aristotle advances a teaching
different from that of Plato, and as he has no plausible reason for
this change, he alleges necessity. A well-grounded objection might here
be taken against him. It seems more reasonable to suppose that all the
spheres co-ordinated in a single system should, all of them, stand
in relation to the One and the First. About Aristotle's views this
question also might be raised: do the intelligible entities depend on
the One and First, or are there several principles for the intelligible
entities? If the intelligible entities depend on the One, they will
no doubt be arranged symmetrically, as, in the sense-sphere, are the
spheres, each of which contains another, and of which a single One,
exterior to the others, contains them, and dominates them all. Thus, in
this case, the first intelligible entity will contain all entities up
there, and will be the intelligible world. Just as the spheres are not
empty, as the first is full of stars, and as each of the others also
is full of them, so above their motors will contain many entities, and
everything will have a more real existence. On the other hand, if each
of the intelligible entities is a principle, all will be contingent.
How then will they unite their action, and will they, by agreement,
contribute in producing a single effect, which is the harmony of
heaven? Why should sense-objects, in heaven, equal in number their
intelligible motors? Again, why are there several of these, since they
are incorporeal, and since no matter separates them from each other?


Among ancient philosophers, those who most faithfully followed the
doctrine of Pythagoras, of his disciples, and of Pherecydes, have
specially dealt with the intelligible.[253] Some of them have committed
their opinions to their written works; others have set them forth only
in discussions that have not been preserved in writing. There are
others of them, also, who have left us nothing on the subject.


10. Above existence, therefore, is the One. This has by us been
proved as far as could reasonably be expected, and as far as such
subjects admit of demonstration. In the second rank are Existence and
Intelligence; in the third, the Soul. But if these three principles,
the One, Intelligence, and the Soul, as we have said, obtain in nature,
three principles must also obtain within us. I do not mean that
these three principles are in sense-objects, for they are separate
therefrom; they are outside of the sense-world, as the three divine
principles are outside of the celestial sphere, and, according to
Plato's expression,[254] they constitute the "the interior man."
Our soul, therefore, is something divine; it has a nature different
(from sense-nature), which conforms to that of the universal Soul.
Now the perfect Soul possesses intelligence; but we must distinguish
between the intelligence that reasons (the discursive reason), and
the Intelligence that furnishes the principles of reasoning (pure
intelligence). The discursive reason of the soul has no need, for
operation, of any bodily organ;[255] in its operations, it preserves
all its purity, so that it is capable of reasoning purely. When
separated from the body, it must, without any hesitation, be ranked
with highest intellectual entities. There is no need of locating it
in space; for, if it exist within itself, outside of body, in an
immaterial condition, it is evidently not mingled with the body, and
has none of its nature. Consequently Plato[256] says, "The divinity
has spread the Soul around the world." What he here means is that
a part of the Soul remains in the intelligible world. Speaking of
our soul he also says, "she hides her head in heaven."[257] He also
advises us to wean the soul from the body; and he does not refer to
any local separation, which nature alone could establish. He means
that the soul must not incline towards the body, must not abandon
herself to the phantoms of imagination, and must not, thus, become
alienated from reason. He means that the soul should try to elevate
to the intelligible world her lower part which is established in the
sense-world, and which is occupied in fashioning the body.[258]


11. Since the rational soul makes judgments about what is just or
beautiful, and decides whether some object is beautiful, whether such
an action be just, there must exist an immutable justice and beauty
from which discursive reason draws its principles.[259] Otherwise, how
could such reasonings take place? If the soul at times reasons about
justice and beauty, but at times does not reason about them, we must
possess within ourselves the intelligence which, instead of reasoning,
ever possesses justice and beauty; further, we must within us possess
the cause and Principle of Intelligence, the Divinity, which is not
divisible, which subsists, not in any place, but in Himself; who is
contemplated by a multitude of beings, by each of the beings fitted
to receive Him, but which remains distinct from these beings, just as
the centre subsists within itself, while all the radii come from the
circumference to centre themselves in it.[260] Thus we ourselves, by
one of the parts of ourselves, touch the divinity, unite ourselves with
Him and are, so to speak, suspended from Him; and we are founded upon
Him (we are "edified" by Him) when we turn towards Him.


12. How does it happen that we possess principles that are so elevated,
almost in spite of ourselves, and for the most part without busying
ourselves about them? For there are even men who never notice them.
Nevertheless these principles, that is, intelligence, and the principle
superior to intelligence, which ever remains within itself (that is,
the One), these two principles are ever active. The case is similar
with the soul. She is always in motion; but the operations that go
on within her are not always perceived; they reach us only when they
succeed in making themselves felt. When the faculty that is active
within us does not transmit its action to the power that feels, this
action is not communicated to the entire soul; however, we may not be
conscious thereof because, although we possess sensibility, it is not
this power, but the whole soul that constitutes the man.[261] So long
as life lasts, each power of the soul exercises its proper function by
itself; but we know it only when communication and perception occur. In
order to perceive the things within us, we have to turn our perceptive
faculties towards them, so that (our soul) may apply her whole
attention thereto.[262] The person that desires to hear one sound
must neglect all others, and listen carefully on its approach. Thus we
must here close our senses to all the noises that besiege us, unless
necessity force us to hear them, and to preserve our perceptive faculty
pure and ready to listen to the voices that come from above.


Of Generation, and of the Order of things that Rank Next After the


1. The One is all things, and is none of these things. The Principle
of all things cannot be all things.[263] It is all things only in the
sense that all things coexist within it. But in it, they "are" not yet,
but only "will be."[264] How then could the manifoldness of all beings
issue from the One, which is simple and identical, which contains no
diversity or duality? It is just because nothing is contained within
it, that everything can issue from it.[265] In order that essence
might exist, the One could not be (merely) essence, but had to be the
'father' of essence, and essence had to be its first-begotten. As the
One is perfect, and acquires nothing, and has no need or desire, He
has, so to speak, superabounded, and this superabundance has produced a
different nature.[266] This different nature of the One turned towards
Him, and by its conversion, arrived at the fulness (of essence). Then
it had the potentiality of contemplating itself, and thus determined
itself as Intelligence. Therefore, by resting near the One, it became
Essence; and by contemplating itself, became Intelligence. Then by
fixing itself within itself to contemplate itself, it simultaneously
became Essence-and-Intelligence.


Just like the One, it was by effusion of its power that Intelligence
begat something similar to itself. Thus from Intelligence emanated an
image, just as Intelligence emanated from the One. The actualization
that proceeds from Essence (and Intelligence) is the universal
Soul. She is born of Intelligence, and determines herself without
Intelligence issuing from itself, just as Intelligence itself proceeded
from the One without the One ceasing from His repose.


Nor does the universal Soul remain at rest, but enters in motion to
beget an image of herself. On the one hand, it is by contemplation of
the principle from which she proceeds that she achieves fulness; on the
other hand, it is by advancing on a path different from, and opposed
to (the contemplation of Intelligence), that she begets an image of
herself, sensation, and the nature of growth.[268] Nevertheless,
nothing is detached or separated from the superior principle which
begets her. Thus the human soul seems to reach down to within that
of (plant) growth.[269] She descends therein inasmuch as the plant
derives growth from her. Nevertheless it is not the whole soul that
passes into the plant. Her presence there is limited to her descent
towards the lower region, and in so far as she produces another
hypostatic substance, by virtue of her procession, which occurs by her
condescension to care for the things below her. But the higher part of
the Soul, that which depends on Intelligence, allows the Intelligence
to remain within itself....

What[270] then does the soul which is in the plant do? Does she not
beget anything? She begets the plant in which she resides. This we
shall have to study from another standpoint.


2. We may say that there is a procession from the First to the last;
and in this procession each occupies its proper place. The begotten
(being) is subordinated to the begetting (being). On the other hand,
it becomes similar to the thing to which it attaches, so long as it
remains attached thereto. When the soul passes into the plant, there
is one of her parts that unites thereto (the power of growth); but
besides, it is only the most audacious[271] and the most senseless
part of her that descends so low. When the soul passes into the brute,
it is because she is drawn thereto by the predominance of the power
of sensation.[272] When she passes into man, it is because she is led
to do so by the exercise of discursive reason, either by the movement
by which she proceeds from Intelligence, because the soul has a
characteristic intellectual power, and consequently has the power to
determine herself to think, and in general, to act.


Now, let us retrace our steps. When we cut the twigs or the branches
of a tree, where goes the plant-soul that was in them? She returns to
her principle,[273] for no local difference separates her therefrom.
If we cut or burn the root, whither goes the power of growth present
therein? It returns to the plant-power of the universal Soul, which
does not change place, and does not cease being where it was. It ceases
to be where it was only when returning to its principle; otherwise, it
passes into another plant; for it is not obliged to contract, or to
retire within itself. If, on the contrary, it retire, it retires within
the superior power.[274] Where, in her turn, does the latter reside?
Within Intelligence, and without changing, location; for the Soul is
not within any location, and Intelligence still less. Thus the Soul is
nowhere; she is in a principle which, being nowhere, is everywhere.[275]


If, while returning to superior regions, the soul stops before reaching
the highest, she leads a life of intermediary nature.[276]


All these entities (the universal Soul and her images) are
Intelligence, though none of them constitutes Intelligence. They are
Intelligence in this respect, that they proceed therefrom. They are
not Intelligence in this respect that only by dwelling within itself
Intelligence has given birth to them.[277]


Thus, in the universe, life resembles an immense chain in which every
being occupies a point, begetting the following being, and begotten by
the preceding one, and ever distinct, but not separate from the (upper)
generating Being, and the (lower) begotten being into which it passes
without being absorbed.


Of Matter.


1. Matter is a substrate (or subject) underlying nature, as thought
Aristotle,[278] and a residence for forms. Thus much is agreed upon by
all authors who have studied matter, and who have succeeded in forming
a clear idea of this kind of nature; but further than this, there is no
agreement. Opinions differ as to whether matter is an underlying nature
(as thought Aristotle),[279] as to its receptivity, and to what it is


(The Stoics, who condensed Aristotle's categories to four, substrate,
quality-mode and relation),[280] who admit the existence of nothing
else than bodies, acknowledge no existence other than that contained
by bodies. They insist that there is but one kind of matter, which
serves as substrate to the elements, and that it constitutes "being";
that all other things are only affections ("passions") of matter, or
modified matter: as are the elements. The teachers of this doctrine do
not hesitate to introduce this matter into the (very nature of the)
divinities, so that their supreme divinity is no more than modified
matter.[281] Besides, of matter they make a body, calling it a
"quantityless body," still attributing to it magnitude.


Others (Pythagoreans, Platonists and Aristotelians) insist that matter
is incorporeal. Some even distinguish two kinds of matter, first, the
(Stoic) substrate of bodies, mentioned above; the other matter being of
a superior nature, the substrate of forms and incorporeal beings.


2. Let us first examine whether this (latter intelligible) matter
exists, how it exists, and what it is. If (the nature) of matter
be something indeterminate, and shapeless, and if in the perfect
(intelligible beings) there must not be anything indeterminate or
shapeless, it seems as if there could not be any matter in the
intelligible world. As every (being) is simple, it could not have any
need of matter which, by uniting with something else, constitutes
something composite. Matter is necessary in begotten beings, which make
one thing arise out of another; for it is such beings that have led to
the conception of matter (as thought Aristotle).[282] It may however be
objected that in unbegotten beings matter would seem useless. Whence
could it have originated to enter in (among intelligible beings),
and remain there? If it were begotten, it must have been so by some
principle; if it be eternal, it must have had several principles; in
which case the beings that occupy the first rank would seem to be
contingent. Further, if (in those beings) form come to join matter,
their union will constitute a body, so that the intelligible (entities)
will be corporeal.


3. To this it may first be answered that the indeterminate should not
be scorned everywhere, nor that which is conceived of as shapeless,
even if this be the substrate of the higher and better entities; for
we might call even the soul indeterminate, in respect to intelligence
and reason, which give it a better shape and nature. Besides, when
we say that intelligible things are composite (of matter and form),
this is not in the sense in which the word is used of bodies. Even
reasons would thus be called composite, and by their actualization
form another alleged composite, nature, which aspires to form. If,
in the intelligible world, the composite tend toward some other
principle, or depend thereon, the difference between this composite
and bodies is still better marked. Besides, the matter of begotten
things ceaselessly changes form, while the matter of the intelligible
entities ever remains identical. Further, matter here below is subject
to other conditions (than in the intelligible world). Here below,
indeed, matter is all things only partly, and is all things only
successively; consequently, amidst these perpetual changes nothing is
identical, nothing is permanent. Above, on the contrary, matter is all
things simultaneously, and possessing all things, could not transform
itself. Consequently, matter is never shapeless above; for it is not
even shapeless here below. Only the one (intelligible matter) is
situated differently from the other (sense-matter). Whether, however,
(intelligible matter) be begotten, or be eternal, is a question that
cannot be determined until we know what it is.


4. Granting now the existence of ideas, whose reality has been
demonstrated elsewhere,[283] we must draw their legitimate
consequences. Necessarily ideas have something in common, inasmuch as
they are manifold; and since they differ from each other, they must
also have something individual. Now the individuality of any idea,
the difference that distinguishes it from any other, consists of its
particular shape. But form, to be received, implies a substrate, that
might be determined by the difference. There is therefore always a
matter that receives form, and there is always a substrate (even in
ideas, whose matter is genus, and whose form is its difference).


Besides, our world is an image of the intelligible world. Now as our
world is a composite of matter (and form), there must be matter also on
high (that is, in the intelligible world). Otherwise, how could we call
the intelligible world "kosmos" (that is, either world, or adornment),
unless we see matter (receiving) form therein? How could we find form
there, without (a residence) that should receive it? That world is
indivisible, taken in an absolute sense; but in a relative sense, is it
divisible? Now if its parts be distinct from each other, their division
or distinction is a passive modification of matter; for what can be
divided, must be matter. If the multitude of ideals constitute an
indivisible being, this multitude, which resides in a single being, has
this single being as substrate, that is, as matter and is its shapes.
This single, yet varied substrate conceives of itself as shapeless,
before conceiving of itself as varied. If then by thought you abstract
from it variety, forms, reasons, and intelligible characteristics, that
which is prior is indeterminate and shapeless; then there will remain
in this (subject) none of the things that are in it and with it.


5. If, we were to conclude that there were no matter in intelligible
entities, because they were immutable, and because, in them, matter is
always combined with (shape), we would be logically compelled to deny
the existence of matter in bodies; for the matter of bodies always
has a form, and every body is always complete (containing a form
and a matter). Each body, however, is none the less composite, and
intelligence observes its doubleness; for it splits until it arrives to
simplicity, namely, to that which can no longer be decomposed; it does
not stop until it reaches the bottom things. Now the bottom of each
thing is matter. Every matter is dark, because the reason (the form)
is the light, and because intelligence is the reason.[284] When, in an
object, intelligence considers the reason, it considers as dark that
which is below reason, or light. Likewise, the eye, being luminous,
and directing its gaze on light and on the colors which are kinds of
light, considers what is beneath, and hidden by the colors, as dark and


Besides, there is a great difference between the dark bottom of
intelligible things and that of sense-objects; there is as much
difference between the matter of the former and of the latter as there
is between their form. The divine matter, on receiving the form that
determines it, possesses an intellectual and determinate life. On
the contrary, even when the matter of the bodies becomes something
determinate, it is neither alive nor thinking; it is dead, in spite
of its borrowed beauty.[285] As the shape (of sense-objects) is only
an image, their substrate also is only an image. But as the shape (of
intelligible entities) possesses veritable (reality), their substrate
is of the same nature. We have, therefore, full justification for
calling matter "being," that is, when referring to intelligible
matter; for the substrate of intelligible entities really is "being,"
especially if conceived of together with its inherent (form). For
"being" is the luminous totality (or complex of matter and form).
To question the eternity of intelligible matter is tantamount to
questioning that of ideas; indeed, intelligible entities are begotten
in the sense that they have a principle; but they are non-begotten in
the sense that their existence had no beginning, and that, from all
eternity, they derive their existence from their principle. Therefore
they do not resemble the things that are always becoming, as our world;
but, like the intelligible world, they ever exist.


The difference that is in the intelligible world ever produces matter;
for, in that world, it is the difference that is the principle of
matter, as well as of primary motion. That is why the latter is also
called difference, because difference and primary motion were born

The movement and difference, that proceed from the First (the Good),
are indeterminate, and need it, to be determinate. Now they determine
each other when they turn towards it. Formerly, matter was as
indeterminate as difference; it was not good because it was not yet
illuminated by the radiance of the First. Since the First is the source
of all light, the object that receives light from the First does not
always possess light; this object differs from light, and possesses
light as something alien, because it derives light from some other
source. That is the nature of matter as contained in intelligible
(entities). Perhaps this treatment of the subject is longer than


6. Now let us speak of bodies. The mutual transformation of elements
demonstrates that they must have a substrate. Their transformation is
not a complete destruction; otherwise (a general) "being"[287] would
perish in nonentity. Whereas, what is begotten would have passed
from absolute nonentity to essence; and all change is no more than
the passing of one form into another (as thought Aristotle).[288] It
presupposes the existence of permanent (subject) which would receive
the form of begotten things only after having lost the earlier form.
This is demonstrated by destruction, which affects only something
composite; therefore every dissolved object must have been a composite.
Dissolution proves it also. For instance, where a vase is dissolved,
the result is gold; on being dissolved, gold leaves water; and so
analogy would suggest that the dissolution of water would result in
something else, that is analogous to its nature. Finally, elements
necessarily are either form, or primary matter, or the composites
of form and matter. However, they cannot be form, because, without
matter, they could not possess either mass nor magnitude. Nor can
they be primary matter, because they are subject to destruction. They
must therefore be composites of form and matter; form constituting
their shape and quality, and matter a substrate that is indeterminate,
because it is not a form.


7. (According to Aristotle),[289] Empedocles thinks matter consists
of elements; but this opinion is refuted by the decay to which they
are exposed. (According to Aristotle),[290] Anaxagoras supposes
that matter is a mixture and, instead of saying that this (mixture)
is capable of becoming all things, he insists that it contains all
things in actualization. Thus he annihilates the intelligence that
he had introduced into the world; for, according to him, it is not
intelligence that endows all the rest with shape and form; it is
contemporaneous with matter, instead of preceding it.[291] Now it is
impossible for intelligence to be the contemporary of matter, for if
mixture participate in essence, then must essence precede it; if,
however, essence itself be the mixture, they will need some third
principle. Therefore if the demiurgic creator necessarily precede,
what need was there for the forms in miniature to exist in matter,
for intelligence to unravel their inextricable confusion, when it is
possible to predicate qualities of matter, because matter had none of
its own, and thus to subject matter entirely to shape? Besides, how
could (the demiurgic creator) then be in all?


(Anaximander)[292] had better explain the consistence of the infinity
by which he explains matter. Does he, by infinity, mean immensity? In
reality this would be impossible. Infinity exists neither by itself,
nor in any other nature, as, for instance, the accident of a body. The
infinite does not exist by itself, because each of its parts would
necessarily be infinite. Nor does the infinite exist as an accident,
because that of which it would be an accident would, by itself, be
neither infinite, nor simple; and consequently, would not be matter.


(According to Aristotle's account of Democritus),[293] neither could
the atoms fulfil the part of matter because they are nothing (as before
thought Cicero).[294] Every body is divisible to infinity. (Against
the system of the atoms) might further be alleged the continuity and
humidity of bodies. Besides nothing can exist without intelligence
and soul, which could not be composed of atoms. Nothing with a nature
different from the atoms could produce anything with the atoms, because
no demiurgic creator could produce something with a matter that lacked
continuity. Many other objections against this system have and can be
made; but further discussion is unnecessary.


8. What then is this matter which is one, continuous, and without
qualities? Evidently, it could not be a body, since it has no quality;
if it were a body, it would have a quality. We say that it is the
matter of all sense-objects, and not the matter of some, and the form
of others, just as clay is matter, in respect to the potter, without
being matter absolutely (as thought Aristotle).[295] As we are not
considering the matter of any particular object, but the matter of all
things, we would not attribute to its nature anything of what falls
under our senses--no quality, color, heat, cold, lightness, weight,
density, sparseness, figure or magnitude; for magnitude is something
entirely different from being large, and figure from the figured
object. Matter therefore is not anything composite, but something
simple, and by nature one (according to the views of Plato and
Aristotle combined).[296] Only thus could matter be deprived of all
properties (as it is).


The principle which informs matter will give it form as something
foreign to its nature; it will also introduce magnitude and all the
real properties. Otherwise, it would be enslaved to the magnitude
of matter, and could not decide of the magnitude of matter, and
magnitude would be dependent on the disposition of matter. A theory
of a consultation between it and the magnitude of matter would be
an absurd fiction. On the contrary, if the efficient cause precede
matter, matter will be exactly as desired by the efficient cause, and
be capable of docilely receiving any kind of form, including magnitude.
If matter possessed magnitude, it would also possess figure, and
would thus be rather difficult to fashion. Form therefore enters into
matter by importing into it (what constitutes corporeal being); now
every form contains a magnitude and a quantity which are determined by
reason ("being"), and with reason. That is why in all kinds of beings,
quantity is determined only along with form; for the quantity (the
magnitude) of man is not the quantity of the bird. It would be absurd
to insist on the difference between giving to matter the quantity of a
bird, and impressing its quality on it, that quality is a reason, while
quantity is not a form; for quantity is both measure and number.


9. It may be objected that it would be impossible to conceive of
something without magnitude. The fact is that not everything is
identical with quantity. Essence is distinct from quantity; for many
other things beside it exist. Consequently no incorporeal nature has
any quantity. Matter, therefore, is incorporeal. Besides, even quantity
itself is not quantative, which characterizes only what participates
in quantity (in general); a further proof that quantity is a form,
as an object becomes white by the presence of whiteness; and as that
which, in the animal, produces whiteness and the different colors, is
not a varied color, but a varied reason; likewise that which produces a
quantity is not a definite quantity, but either quantity in itself, or
quantity as such, or the reason of quantity. Does quantity, on entering
into matter extend matter, so as to give it magnitude? By no means, for
matter had not been condensed. Form therefore imparts to matter the
magnitude which it did not possess, just as form impresses on matter
the quality it lacked.[297]


10. (Some objector) might ask how one could conceive of matter without
quantity? This might be answered by a retort. How then do you (as you
do) manage to conceive of it without quality? Do you again object,
by what conception or intelligence could it be reached? By the very
indetermination of the soul. Since that which knows must be similar to
that which is known (as Aristotle[298] quotes from Empedocles), the
indeterminate must be grasped by the indeterminate. Reason, indeed,
may be determined in respect to the indeterminate; but the glance
which reason directs on the indeterminate itself is indeterminate.
If everything were known by reason and by intelligence, reason here
tells us about matter what reason rightly should tell us about it. By
wishing to conceive of matter in an intellectual manner, intelligence
arrives at a state which is the absence of intelligence, or rather,
reason forms of matter a "bastard" or "illegitimate" image, which is
derived from the other, which is not true, and which is composed of the
other (deceptive material called) reason. That is why Plato[299] said
that matter is perceived by a "bastard reasoning." In what does the
indetermination of the soul consist? In an absolute ignorance, or in
a complete absence of all knowledge? No: the indeterminate condition
of the soul implies something positive (besides something negative).
As for the eye, darkness is the matter of all invisible color, so
the soul, by making abstraction in sense-objects of all things that
somehow are luminous, cannot determine what then remains; and likewise,
as the eye, in darkness (becomes assimilated to darkness), the soul
becomes assimilated to what she sees. Does she then see anything else?
Doubtless, she sees something without figure, without color, without
light, or even without magnitude.[300] If this thing had any magnitude,
the soul would lend it a form.


(An objector might ask) whether there be identity of conditions
between the soul's not thinking, and her experience while thinking of
matter? By no means; when the soul is not thinking of anything, she
neither asserts anything, nor experiences anything. When she thinks
of matter, she experiences something, she receives the impression of
the shapeless. When she presents to herself objects that possess shape
and magnitude, she conceives of them as composite; for she sees them
as distinct (or, colored?) and determined by qualities they contain.
She conceives of both the totality and its two constituent elements.
She also has a clear perception, a vivid sensation of properties
inherent (in matter). On the contrary, the soul receives only an
obscure perception of the shapeless subject, for there is no form
there. Therefore, when the soul considers matter in general, in the
composite, with the qualities inherent in this composite, she separates
them, analyzes them, and what is left (after this analysis), the soul
perceives it vaguely, and obscurely, because it is something vague and
obscure; she thinks it, without really thinking it. On the other hand,
as matter does not remain shapeless, as it is always shaped, within
objects, the soul always imposes on matter the form of things, because
only with difficulty does she support the indeterminate, since she
seems to fear to fall out of the order of beings, and to remain long in


11. (Following the ideas of Aristotle,[301] Plotinos wonders whether
some objector) will ask whether the composition of a body requires
anything beyond extension and all the other qualities? Yes: it demands
a substrate to receive them (as a residence). This substrate is not a
mass; for in this case, it would be an extension. But if this substrate
have no extension, how can it be a residence (for form)? Without
extension, it could be of no service, contributing neither to form
nor qualities, to magnitude nor extension. It seems that extension,
wherever it be, is given to bodies by matter. Just as actions, effects,
times and movements, though they do not imply any matter, nevertheless
are beings, it would seem that the elementary bodies do not necessarily
imply matter (without extension), being individual beings, whose
diverse substance is constituted by the mingling of several forms.
Matter without extension, therefore, seems to be no more than a
meaningless name.


(Our answer to the above objection is this:) To begin with, not every
residence is necessarily a mass, unless it have already received
extension. The soul, which possesses all things, contains them all
simultaneously. If it possessed extension, it would possess all
things in extension. Consequently matter receives all it contains in
extension, because it is capable thereof. Likewise in animals and
plants there is a correspondence between the growth and diminution of
their magnitude, with that of their quality. It would be wrong to claim
that magnitude is necessary to matter because, in sense-objects, there
exists a previous magnitude, on which is exerted the action of the
forming principle; for the matter of these objects is not pure matter,
but individual matter (as said Aristotle).[302] Matter pure and simple
must receive its extension from some other principle. Therefore the
residence of form could not be a mass; for in receiving extension, it
would also receive the other qualities. Matter therefore, is the image
of extension, because as it is primary matter, it possesses the ability
to become extended. People often imagine matter as empty extension;
consequently several philosophers have claimed that matter is identical
with emptiness. I repeat: matter is the image of extension because the
soul, when considering matter, is unable to determine anything, spreads
into indetermination, without being able to circumscribe or mark
anything; otherwise, matter would determine something. This substrate
could not properly be called big or little; it is simultaneously big
and little (as said Aristotle).[303] It is simultaneously extended
and non-extended, because it is the matter of extension. If it were
enlarged or made smaller, it would somehow move in extension. Its
indetermination is an extension which consists in being the very
residence of extension, but really in being only imaginary extension,
as has been explained above. Other beings, that have no extension,
but which are forms, are each of them determinate, and consequently
imply no other idea of extension. On the contrary, matter, being
indeterminate, and incapable of remaining within itself, being moved to
receive all forms everywhere, ever being docile, by this very docility,
and by the generation (to which it adapts itself), becomes manifold. It
is in this way its nature seems to be extension.


12. Extensions therefore contribute to the constitutions of bodies;
for the forms of bodies are in extensions. These forms produce
themselves not in extension (which is a form), but in the substrate
that has received extension. If they occurred in extension, instead of
occurring in matter, they would nevertheless have neither extension
nor (hypostatic) substance; for they would be no more than reasons.
Now as reasons reside in the soul, there would be no body. Therefore,
in the sense-world, the multiplicity of forms must have a single
substrate which has received extension, and therefore must be other
than extension. All things that mingle form a mixture, because they
contain matter; they have no need of any other substrate, because each
of them brings its matter along with it. But (forms) need a receptacle
(a residence), a "vase" (or stand), a location (this in answer to
the objection at the beginning of the former section). Now location
is posterior to matter and to bodies. Bodies, therefore, presuppose
matter. Bodies are not necessarily immaterial, merely because actions
and operations are. In the occurrence of an action, matter serves as
substrate to the agent; it remains within him without itself entering
into action; for that is not that which is sought by the agent. One
action does not change into another, and consequently has no need
of containing matter; it is the agent who passes from one action to
another, and who, consequently, serves as matter to the actions (as
thought Aristotle).[304]


Matter, therefore, is necessary to quality as well as to quantity,
and consequently, to bodies. In this sense, matter is not an empty
name, but a substrate, though it be neither visible nor extended.
Otherwise, for the same reason, we would be obliged also to deny
qualities and extension; for you might say that each of these things,
taken in itself, is nothing real. If these things possess existence,
though their existence be obscure, so much the more must matter possess
existence, though its existence be neither clear nor evident to the
senses. Indeed, matter cannot be perceived by sight, since it is
colorless; nor by hearing, for it is soundless; nor by smell or taste,
because it is neither volatile nor wet. It is not even perceived by
touch, for it is not a body. Touch cognizes only body, recognizes that
it is dense or sparse, hard or soft, wet or dry; now none of these
attributes is characteristic of matter. The latter therefore can be
perceived only by a reasoning which does not imply the presence of
intelligence, which, on the contrary, implies the complete absence of
matter; which (unintelligent reasoning therefore) deserves the name of
"bastard" (or, illegitimate) reasoning.[305] Corporeity itself,[306] is
not characteristic of matter. If corporeity be a reason (that is, by a
pun, a 'form'), it certainly differs from matter, both being entirely
distinct. If corporeity be considered when it has already modified
matter and mingled with it, it is a body; it is no longer matter pure
and simple.


13. Those who insist that the substrate of things is a quality common
to all elements are bound to explain first the nature of this quality;
then, how a quality could serve as substrate; how an unextended,
immaterial (?) quality could be perceived in something that lacked
extension; further, how, if this quality be determinate, it can be
matter; for if it be something indeterminate, it is no longer a
quality, but matter itself that we seek.


Let us grant that matter has no quality, because, by virtue of its
nature, it does not participate in a quality of any other thing. What,
however, would hinder this property, because it is a qualification in
matter, from participating in some quality? This would be a particular
and distinctive characteristic, which consists of the privation of all
other things (referring to Aristotle)?[307] In man, the privation of
something may be considered a quality; as, for instance, the privation
of sight is blindness. If the privation of certain things inhere in
matter, this privation is also a qualification for matter. If further
the privation in matter extend to all things, absolutely, our objection
is still better grounded, for privation is a qualification. Such an
objection, however, amounts to making qualities and qualified things
of everything. In this case quantity, as well as "being," would be
a quality. Every qualified thing must possess some quality. It is
ridiculous to suppose that something qualified is qualified by what
itself has no quality, being other than quality.


Some one may object that that is possible, because "being something
else" is a quality. We would then have to ask whether the thing that
is other be otherness-in-itself? If it be otherness-in-itself, it
is so not because it is something qualified, because quality is not
something qualified. If this thing be only other, it is not such by
itself, it is so only by otherness, as a thing that is identical
by identity. Privation, therefore, is not a quality, nor anything
qualified, but the absence of quality or of something else, as silence
is the absence of sound. Privation is something negative; qualification
is something positive. The property of matter is not a form; for its
property consists precisely in having neither qualification nor form.
It is absurd to insist that it is qualified, just because it has no
quality; this would be tantamount to saying that it possessed extension
by the very fact of its possessing no extension. The individuality
(or, property) of matter is to be what it is. Its characteristic
is not an attribute; it consists in a disposition to become other
things. Not only are these other things other than matter, but besides
each of them possesses an individual form. The only name that suits
matter is "other," or rather, "others," because the singular is too
determinative, and the plural better expresses indetermination.


14. Let us now examine if matter be privation, or if privation be
an attribute of matter. If you insist that privation and matter are
though logically distinct, substantially one and the same thing, you
will have to explain the nature of these two things, for instance,
defining matter without defining privation, and conversely. Either,
neither of these two things implies the other, or they imply each other
reciprocally, or only one of them implies the other. If each of them
can be defined separately, and if neither of them imply the other,
both will form two distinct things, and matter will be different from
privation, though privation be an accident of matter. But neither of
the two must even potentially be present in the definition of the
other. Is their mutual relation the same as that of a stub nose, and
the man with the stub nose (as suggested by Aristotle)?[308] Then each
of these is double, and there are two things. Is their relation that
between fire and heat? Heat is in fire, but fire is not necessarily
contained in heat; thus matter, having privation (as a quality), as
fire has heat (as a quality), privation will be a form of matter, and
has a substrate different from itself, which is matter.[309] Not in
this sense, therefore, is there a unity (between them).


Are matter and privation substantially identical, yet logically
distinct, in this sense that privation does not signify the presence of
anything, but rather its absence? That it is the negation of beings,
and is synonymous with nonentity? Negation adds no attribute; it limits
itself to the assertion that something is not. In a certain sense,
therefore, privation is nonentity.


If matter be called nonentity in this sense that it is not essence,
but something else than essence, there is still room to draw up two
definitions, of which one would apply to the substrate, and the other
to the privation, merely to explain that it is a disposition to become
something else? It would be better to acknowledge that matter, like the
substrate, should be defined a disposition to become other things. If
the definition of privation shows the indetermination of matter, it can
at least indicate its nature. But we could not admit that matter and
privation are one thing in respect to their substrate, though logically
distinct; for how could there be a logical distinction into two things,
if a thing be identical with matter as soon as it is indeterminate,
indefinite, and lacking quality?


15. Let us further examine if the indeterminate, or infinite, be an
accident, or an attribute of some other nature; how it comes to be an
accident, and whether privation ever can become an accident. The things
that are numbers and reasons are exempt from all indetermination,
because they are determinations, orders, and principles of order for
the rest. Now these principles do not order objects already ordered,
nor do they order orders. The thing that receives an order is different
from that which gives an order, and the principles from which the order
is derived are determination, limitation and reason. In this case, that
which receives the order and the determination must necessarily be the
infinite (as thought Plato).[310] Now that which receives the order is
matter, with all the things which, without being matter, participate
therein, and play the part of matter. Therefore matter is the infinite
itself.[311] Not accidentally is it the infinite; for the infinite is
no accident. Indeed, every accident must be a reason; now of what being
can the infinite be an accident? Of determination, or of that which is
determined? Now matter is neither of these two. Further, the infinite
could not unite with the determinate without destroying its nature.
The infinite, therefore, is no accident of matter (but is its nature,
or "being"). Matter is the infinite itself. Even in the intelligible
world, matter is the infinite.


The infinite seems born of the infinity of the One, either of its
power, or eternity; there is no infinity in the One, but the One is
creator of the infinite. How can there be infinity simultaneously above
and below (in the One and in matter)? Because there are two infinities
(the infinite and the indefinite; the infinite in the One, the
indefinite in matter). Between them obtains the same difference as the
archetype and its image.[312] Is the infinite here below less infinite?
On the contrary, it is more so. By the mere fact that the image is
far from veritable "being," it is more infinite. Infinity is greater
in that which is less determinate (as thought Aristotle).[313] Now
that which is more distant from good is further in evil. Therefore the
infinite on high, possessing the more essence, is the ideal infinite;
here below, as the infinite possesses less essence, because it is far
from essence and truth, it degenerates into the image of essence, and
is the truer (indefinite) infinite.


Is the infinite identical with the essence of the infinite? There is
a distinction between them where there is reason and matter; where
however matter is alone, they must be considered identical; or, better,
we may say absolutely that here below the infinite does not occur;
otherwise it would be a reason, which is contrary to the nature of the
infinite. Therefore matter in itself is the infinite, in opposition
to reason. Just as reason, considered in itself, is called reason,
so matter, which is opposed to reason by its infinity, and which is
nothing else (than matter), must be called infinite.


16. Is there any identity between matter and otherness? Matter is not
identical with otherness itself, but with that part of otherness which
is opposed to real beings, and to reasons. It is in this sense that
one can say of nonentity that it is something, that it is identical
with privation, if only privation be the opposition to things that
exist in reason. Will privation be destroyed by its union with the
thing of which it is an attribute? By no means. That in which a (Stoic)
"habit" occurs is not itself a "habit," but a privation. That in
which determination occurs is neither determination, nor that which
is determined, but the infinite, so far as it is infinite. How could
determination unite with the infinite without destroying its nature,
since this infinite is not such by accident? It would destroy this
infinite, if it were infinite in quantity; but that is not the case. On
the contrary, it preserves its "being" for it, realizes and completes
its nature; as the earth which did not contain seeds (preserves its
nature) when it receives some of them; or the female, when she is
made pregnant by the male. The female, then, does not cease being a
female; on the contrary she is so far more, for she realizes her nature


Does matter continue to be evil when it happens to participate in
the good? Yes, because it was formerly deprived of good, and did not
possess it. That which lacks something, and obtains it, holds the
middle between good and evil, if it be in the middle between the two.
But that which possesses nothing, that which is in indigence, or rather
that which is indigence itself, must necessarily be evil; for it is not
indigence of wealth, but indigence of wisdom, of virtue, of beauty, of
vigor, of shape, of form, of quality. How, indeed, could such a thing
not be shapeless, absolutely ugly and evil?


In the intelligible world, matter is essence; for what is above it (the
One), is considered as superior to essence. In the sense-world, on the
contrary, essence is above matter; therefore matter is nonentity, and
thereby is the only thing foreign to the beauty of essence.


Fragments About the Soul, the Intelligence, and the Good.


1. Plato says, "The intelligence sees the ideas comprised within
the existing animal." He adds, "The demiurge conceived that this
produced animal was to comprise beings similar and equally numerous
to those that the intelligence sees in the existing animal." Does
Plato mean that the ideas are anterior to intelligence, and that they
already exist when intelligence thinks them? We shall first have to
examine whether the animal is identical with intelligence, or is
something different. Now that which observes is intelligence; so
the Animal himself should then be called, not intelligence, but the
intelligible. Shall we therefrom conclude that the things contemplated
by intelligence are outside of it? If so, intelligence possesses only
images, instead of the realities themselves--that is, if we admit that
the realities exist up there; for, according to Plato, the veritable
reality is up there within the essence, in which everything exists in


(This consequence is not necessary). Doubtless Intelligence and the
intelligible are different; they are nevertheless not separated.
Nothing hinders us from saying that both form but one, and that they
are separated only by thought; for essence is one, but it is partly
that which is thought, and partly that which thinks. When Plato says
that intelligence sees the ideas, he means that it contemplates the
ideas, not in another principle, but in itself, because it possesses
the intelligible within itself. The intelligible may also be the
intelligence, but intelligence in the state of repose, of unity, of
calm, while Intelligence, which perceives this Intelligence which has
remained within itself, is the actuality born therefrom, and which
contemplates it. By contemplating the intelligible, intelligence is
assimilated thereto and is its intelligence, because Intelligence
thinks the intelligible it itself becomes intelligible by becoming
assimilated thereto, and on the other hand also something thought.

It is (intelligence), therefore, which conceived the design in
producing in the universe the four kinds of living beings (or
elements), which it beholds up there. Mysteriously, however, Plato here
seems to present the conceiving-principle as different from the other
two principles, while others think that these three principles, the
animal itself (the universal Soul), Intelligence and the conceiving
principle form but a single thing. Shall we here, as elsewhere, admit
that opinions differ, and that everybody conceives the three principles
in his own manner?


We have already noticed two of these principles (namely, intelligence,
and the intelligible, which is called the Animal-in-itself, or
universal Soul). What is the third? It is he who has resolved to
produce, to form, to divide the ideas that intelligence sees in
the Animal. Is it possible that in one sense intelligence is the
dividing principle, and that in another the dividing principle is not
intelligence? As far as divided things proceed from intelligence,
intelligence is the dividing principle. As far as intelligence itself
remains undivided, and that the things proceeding from it (that is,
the souls) are divided, the universal Soul is the principle of this
division into several souls. That is why Plato says that division is
the work of a third principle, and that it resides in a third principle
that has conceived; now, to conceive is not the proper function of
intelligence; it is that of the Soul which has a dividing action in a
divisible nature.


2. (As Nicholas of Damascus used to say) the totality of a science
is divided into particular propositions, without, however, thereby
being broken up into fragments, inasmuch as each proposition contains
potentially the whole science, whose principle and goal coincide.
Likewise, we should so manage ourselves that each of the faculties we
possess within ourselves should also become a goal and a totality; and
then so arrange all the faculties that they will be consummated in
what is best in our nature (that is, intelligence). Success in this
constitutes "dwelling on high" (living spiritually); for, when one
possesses the intelligible, one touches it by what is best in oneself.


3. The universal Soul has not come into any place, nor gone into any;
for no such place could have existed. However, the body, which was in
its neighborhood, participated in her, consequently, she is not inside
a body. Plato, indeed, does not say that the soul is in a body; on the
contrary, he locates the body in the soul.


As to individual souls, they come from somewhere, for they proceed from
the universal Soul; they also have a place whither they may descend,
or where they may pass from one body into another; they can likewise
reascend thence to the intelligible world.


The universal Soul, on the contrary, ever resides in the elevated
region where her nature retains her; and the universe located below her
participates in her just as the object which receives the sun's rays
participates therein.


The individual soul is therefore illuminated when she turns towards
what is above her; for then she meets the essence; on the contrary,
when she turns towards what is below her, she meets non-being. This
is what happens when she turns towards herself; on wishing to belong
to herself, she somehow falls into emptiness, becomes indeterminate,
and produces what is below her, namely, an image of herself which
is non-being (the body). Now the image of this image (matter), is
indeterminate, and quite obscure; for it is entirely unreasonable,
unintelligible, and as far as possible from essence itself. (Between
intelligence and the body) the soul occupies an intermediary region,
which is her own proper domain; when she looks at the inferior region,
throwing a second glance thither, she gives a form to her image (her
body); and, charmed by this image, she enters therein.


4. How does manifoldness issue from Unity? Unity is everywhere; for
there is no place where it is not; therefore it fills everything.
By Him exists manifoldness; or rather, it is by Him that all things
exist. If the One were only everywhere, He would simply be all things;
but, as, besides, He is nowhere, all things exist by Him, because He
is everywhere; but simultaneously all things are distinct from Him,
because He is nowhere. Why then is Unity not only everywhere, but also
nowhere? The reason is, that Unity must be above all things, He must
fill everything, and produce everything, without being all that He


5. The soul's relation to intelligence is the same as that of sight to
the visible object; but it is the indeterminate sight which, before
seeing, is nevertheless disposed to see and think; that is why the soul
bears to intelligence the relation of matter to form.


6. When we think, and think ourselves, we see a thinking nature;
otherwise, we would be dupes of an illusion in believing we were
thinking. Consequently, if we think ourselves, we are, by thinking
ourselves, thinking an intellectual nature. This thought presupposes
an anterior thought which implies no movement. Now, as the objects
of thought are being and life, there must be, anterior to this
being, another being; and anterior to this life, another life.
This is well-known to all who are actualized intelligences. If the
intelligences be actualizations which consist in thinking themselves,
we ourselves are the intelligible by the real foundation of our
essence, and the thought that we have of ourselves gives us its image.


7. The First (or One) is the potentiality of movement and of rest;
consequently, He is superior to both things. The Second principle
relates to the First by its motion and its rest; it is Intelligence,
because, differing from the First, it directs its thought towards Him,
while the First does not think (because He comprises both the thinking
thing, and the thing thought); He thinks himself, and, by that very
thing, He is defective, because His good consists in thinking, not in
its "hypostasis" (or existence).


8. What passes from potentiality to actuality, and always remains
the same so long as it exists, approaches actuality. It is thus that
the bodies such as fire may possess perfection. But what passes from
potentiality to actuality cannot exist always, because it contains
matter. On the contrary, what exists actually, and what is simple,
exists always. Besides, what is actual may also in certain respects
exist potentially.


9. The divinities which occupy the highest rank are nevertheless
not the First; for Intelligence (from which proceed the divinities
of the highest rank, that is, the perfect intelligences) is (or, is
constituted by) all the intelligible essences, and, consequently,
comprises both motion and rest. Nothing like this is in the First.
He is related to nothing else, while the other things subsist in Him
in their rest, and direct their motion towards Him. Motion is an
aspiration, and the First aspires to nothing. Towards what would He,
in any case, aspire? He does not think himself; and they who say that
He thinks Himself mean by it only that He possesses Himself. But when
one says that a thing thinks, it is not because it possesses itself,
it is because it contemplates the First; that is the first actuality,
thought itself, the first thought, to which none other can be anterior;
only, it is inferior to the principle from which it derives its
existence, and occupies the second rank after it. Thought is therefore
not the most sacred thing; consequently, not all thought is sacred; the
only sacred thought is that of the Good, and this (Good) is superior to


Will the Good not be self-conscious? It is claimed by some that the
Good would be good only if it possessed self-consciousness. But if it
be Goodness, it is goodness before having self-consciousness. If the
Good be good only because it has self-consciousness, it was not good
before having self-consciousness; but, on the other hand, if there be
no goodness, no possible consciousness can therefore exist. (Likewise,
someone may ask) does not the First live? He cannot be said to live,
because He Himself gives life.


Thus the principle which is self-conscious, which thinks itself (that
is, Intelligence), occupies only the second rank. Indeed, if this
principle be self-conscious, it is only to unite itself to itself by
this act of consciousness; but if it study itself, it is the result
of ignoring itself, because its nature is defective, and it becomes
perfect only by thought. Thought should therefore not be attributed to
the First; for, to attribute something to Him would be to imply that He
had been deprived thereof, and needed it.


About the Movement of the Heavens.


1. Why do the heavens move in a circle? Because they imitate
Intelligence. But to what does this movement belong? To the Soul, or
to the body? Does it occur because the Soul is within the celestial
sphere, which tends to revolve about her? Is the Soul within this
sphere without being touched thereby? Does she cause this sphere to
move by her own motion? Perhaps the Soul which moves this sphere should
not move it in the future, although she did so in the past; that is,
the soul made it remain immovable, instead of ceaselessly imparting
to it a circular movement. Perhaps the Soul herself might remain
immovable; or, if she move at all, it will at least not be a local


How can the Soul impart to the heavens a local movement, herself
possessing a different kind of motion? Perhaps the circular movement,
when considered by itself, may not seem a local movement. If then it be
a local movement only by accident, what is its own nature, by itself?
It is the reflection upon itself, the movement of consciousness, of
reflection, of life; it withdraws nothing from the world, it changes
the location of nothing, while embracing all. Indeed, the power which
governs the universal Animal (or world) embraces everything, and
unifies everything. If then it remained immovable, it would not embrace
everything either vitally or locally; it would not preserve the life of
the interior parts of the body it possesses, because the bodily life
implies movement. On the contrary, if it be a local movement, the Soul
will possess a movement only such as it admits of. She will move, not
only as soul, but as an animated body, and as an animal; her movement
will partake both of the movement proper to the soul, and proper to the
body. Now the movement proper to the body is to mobilize in a straight
line; the movement proper to the Soul, is to contain; while both of
these movements result in a third, the circular movement which includes
both transportation and permanence.


To the assertion that the circular movement is a corporeal movement,
it might be objected that one can see that every body, even fire,
moves in a straight line. However, the fire moves in a straight line
only till it reaches the place assigned to it by the universal order
(it constitutes the heavens, which are its proper place). By virtue of
this order its nature is permanent, and it moves towards its assigned
location. Why then does the fire as soon as it has arrived there, not
abide there quiescently? Because its very nature is constant movement;
if it went in a straight line, it would dissipate; consequently, it
necessarily possesses a circular motion. That is surely a providential
arrangement. Providence placed fire within itself (because it
constitutes the heavens, which are its location); so that, as soon as
it finds itself in the sky it must spontaneously move in a circle.


We might further say that, if the fire tended to move in a straight
line, it must effect a return upon itself in the only place where it is
possible (in the heavens), inasmuch as there is no place outside of the
world where it could go. In fact there is no further place, beyond the
celestial fire, for itself constitutes the last place in the universe;
it therefore moves in a circle in the place at its disposal; it is its
own place, but not to remain immovable, but to move. In a circle, the
centre is naturally immovable; and were the circumference the same, it
would be only an immense centre. It is therefore better that the fire
should turn around the centre in this living and naturally organized
body. Thus the fire will tend towards the centre, not in stopping, for
it would lose its circular form, but in moving itself around it; thus
only will it be able to satisfy its tendency (towards the universal
Soul). However, if this power effect the movement of the body of the
universe, it does not drag it like a burden, nor give it an impulsion
contrary to its nature. For nature is constituted by nothing else
than the order established by the universal Soul. Besides, as the
whole Soul is everywhere, and is not divided into parts, it endows the
sky with all the ubiquity it can assimilate, which can occur only by
traversing all of it. If the Soul remained immovable in one place, she
would remain immovable as soon as the heavens reached this place; but
as the Soul is everywhere, they would seek to reach her everywhere.
Can the heavens never reach the Soul? On the contrary, they reach her
ceaselessly; for the Soul, in ceaselessly attracting them to herself,
endues them with a continual motion by which she carries them, not
towards some other place, but towards herself, and in the same place,
not in a straight line, but in a circle, and thus permits them to
possess her in all the places which she traverses.


The heavens would be immovable if the Soul rested, that is, if she
remained only in the intelligible world, where everything remains
immovable. But because the Soul is in no one determinate place, and
because the whole of her is everywhere, the heavens move through the
whole of space; and as they cannot go out of themselves, they must move
in a circle.


2. How do the other beings move? As none of them is the whole, but
only a part, consequently, each finds itself situated in a particular
place. On the contrary, the heavens are the whole; they constitute the
place which excludes nothing, because it is the universe. As to the law
according to which men move, each of them, considered in his dependence
towards the universe, is a part of all; considered in himself, he is a


Now, if the heavens possess the Soul, wherever they are, what urges
them to move in a circle? Surely because the Soul is not exclusively in
a determinate place (and the world does not exclusively in one place
desire to possess her). Besides, if the power of the Soul revolve
around the centre, it is once more evident that the heavens would move
in a circle.


Besides, when we speak of the Soul, we must not understand the term
"centre" in the same sense as when it is used of the body. For the
Soul, the centre is the focus of (the intelligence) whence radiates a
second life (that is, the Soul); as to the body, it is a locality (the
centre of the world). Since, however, both soul and body need a centre,
we are forced to use this word in an analogous meaning which may suit
both of them. Speaking strictly, however, a centre can exist only for
a spherical body, and the analogy consists in this, that the latter,
like the Soul, effects a reflection upon itself. In this case, the Soul
moves around the divinity, embraces Him, and clings to Him with all
her might; for everything depends from Him. But, as she cannot unite
herself to Him, she moves around Him.


Why do not all souls act like the universal Soul? They do act like
her, but do so only in the place where they are. Why do our bodies not
move in a circle, like the heavens? Because they include an element
whose natural motion is rectilinear; because they trend towards other
objects, because the spherical element[315] in us can no longer easily
move in a circle, because it has become terrestrial, while in the
celestial region is was light and movable enough. How indeed could it
remain at rest, while the Soul was in motion, whatever this movement
was? This spirit(ual body) which, within us, is spread around the soul,
does the same thing as do the heavens. Indeed, if the divinity be in
everything, the Soul, which desires to unite herself to Him, must move
around Him, since He resides in no determinate place. Consequently,
Plato attributes to the stars, besides the revolution which they
perform in common with the universe, a particular movement of rotation
around their own centre. Indeed, every star, in whatever place it may
be, is transported with joy while embracing the divinity; and this
occurs not by reason, but by a natural necessity.


3. One more subject remains to be considered. The lowest power of
the universal Soul (the inferior soul),[316] rests on the earth,
and thence radiates abroad throughout the universe. The (higher, or
celestial) power (of the world-Soul) which, by nature, possesses
sensation, opinion, and reasoning, resides in the celestial spheres,
whence it dominates the inferior power, and communicates life to it.
It thereby moves the inferior power, embracing it in a circle; and
it presides over the universe as it returns (from the earth) to the
celestial spheres. The inferior power, being circularly embraced by
the superior power, reflects upon itself, and thus operates on itself
a conversion by which it imparts a movement of rotation to the body
within which it reacts. (This is how motion starts) in a sphere that
is at rest: as soon as a part moves, the movement spreads to the rest
of it, and the sphere begins to revolve. Not otherwise is our body;
when our soul begins to move, as in joy, or in the expectation of
welfare, although this movement be of a kind very different from that
natural to a body, this soul-movement produces local motion in the
body. Likewise the universal Soul, on high, while approaching the Good,
and becoming more sensitive (to its proximity), thereby impresses the
body with the motion proper to it, namely, the local movement. (Our own
human) sense-(faculty), while receiving its good from above, and while
enjoying the pleasures proper to its nature, pursues the Good, and,
inasmuch as the Good is everywhere present, it is borne everywhere.
The intelligence is moved likewise; it is simultaneously at rest and
in motion, reflecting upon itself. Similarly the universe moves in a
circle, though simultaneously standing still.


Of Our Individual Guardian.


Other principles remain unmoved while producing and exhibiting
their ("hypostases," substantial acts, or) forms of existence. The
(universal) Soul, however, is in motion while producing and exhibiting
her ("substantial act," or) forms of existence, namely, the functions
of sensation and growth, reaching down as far as (the sphere of the)
plants. In us also does the Soul function, but she does not dominate
us, constituting only a part of our nature. She does, however,
dominate in plants, having as it were remained alone there. Beyond
that sphere, however, nature begets nothing; for beyond it exists no
life, begotten (matter) being lifeless. All that was begotten prior
to this was shapeless, and achieved form only by trending towards its
begetting principle, as to its source of life. Consequently, that
which is begotten cannot be a form of the Soul, being lifeless, but
must be absolute in determination. The things anterior (to matter,
namely, the sense-power and nature), are doubtless indeterminate,
but only so within their form; the are not absolutely indeterminate;
they are indeterminate only in respect of their perfection. On the
contrary, that which exists at present, namely, (matter), is absolutely
indeterminate. When it achieves perfection, it becomes body, on
receiving the form suited to its power. This (form) is the receptacle
of the principle which has begotten it, and which nourishes it. It is
the only trace of the higher things in the body, which occupies the
last rank amidst the things below.


2. It is to this (universal) Soul especially that may be applied
these words of Plato:[317] "The general Soul cares for all that is
inanimate." The other (individual) souls are in different conditions.
"The Soul (adds Plato), circulates around the heavens successively
assuming divers forms"; that is, the forms of thought, sense or growth.
The part which dominates in the soul fulfills its proper individual
function; the others remain inactive, and somehow seem exterior to
them. In man, it is not the lower powers of the soul that dominate.
They do indeed co-exist with the others. Neither is it always the
best power (reason), which always dominates; for the inferior powers
equally have their place. Consequently, man (besides being a reasonable
being) is also a sensitive being, because he possesses sense-organs.
In many respects, he is also a vegetative being; for his body feeds
and grows just like a plant. All these powers (reason, sensibility,
growth), therefore act together in the man; but it is the best of them
that characterizes the totality of the man (so that he is called a
"reasonable being"). On leaving the body the soul becomes the power she
had preponderatingly developed. Let us therefore flee from here below,
and let us raise ourselves to the intelligible world, so as not to fall
into the pure sense-life, by allowing ourselves to follow sense-images,
or into the life of growth, by abandoning ourselves to the pleasures
of physical love, and to gormandizing; rather, let us rise to the
intelligible world, to the intelligence, to the divinity!


Those who have exercised their human faculties are re-born as men.
Those who have made use of their senses only, pass into the bodies of
brutes, and particularly into the bodies of wild animals, if they have
yielded themselves to the transports of anger; so that, even in this
case, the difference of the bodies they animate is proportioned to the
difference of their inclinations. Those whose only effort it was to
satisfy their desires and appetites pass into the bodies of lascivious
and gluttonous animals.[318] Last, those who instead of following
their desires or their anger, have rather degraded their senses by
their inertia, are reduced to vegetate in plants; for in their former
existence they exercised nothing but their vegetative power, and they
worked at nothing but to make trees of themselves.[319] Those who
have loved too much the enjoyments of music, and who otherwise lived
purely, pass into the bodies of melodious birds. Those who have reigned
tyrannically, become eagles, if they have no other vice.[320] Last,
those who spoke lightly of celestial things, having kept their glance
directed upwards, are changed into birds which usually fly towards the
high regions of the air.[321] He who has acquired civil virtues again
becomes a man; but if he does not possess them to a sufficient degree,
he is transformed into a sociable animal, such as the bee, or other
animal of the kind.


3. What then is our guardian? It is one of the powers of our soul.
What is our divinity? It is also one of the powers of our soul. (Is it
the power which acts principally in us as some people think?) For the
power which acts in us seems to be that which leads us, since it is
the principle which dominates in us. Is that the guardian to which we
have been allotted during the course of our life?[323] No: our guardian
is the power immediately superior to the one that we exercise, for it
presides over our life without itself being active. The power which
is active in us is inferior to the one that presides over our life,
and it is the one which essentially constitutes us. If then we live
on the plane of the sense-life, our guardian is reason; if we live on
the rational plane, our guardian will be the principal superior to
reason (namely, intelligence); it will preside over our life, but it
itself does not act, leaving that to the inferior power. Plato truly
said that "we choose our guardian"; for, by the kind of life that we
prefer, we choose the guardian that presides over our life. Why then
does He direct us? He directs us during the course of our mortal life
(because he is given to us to help us to accomplish our (destiny); but
he can no longer direct us when our destiny is accomplished, because
the power over the exercise of which he presided allows another power
to act in his place (which however is dead, since the life in which it
acted is terminated). This other power wishes to act in its turn, and,
after having established its preponderance, it exercises itself during
the course of a new life, itself having another guardian. If then we
should chance to degrade ourselves by letting an inferior power prevail
in us, we are punished for it. Indeed, the evil man degenerates because
the power which he has developed in his life makes him descend to the
existence of the brute, by assimilating him to it by his morals. If
we could follow the guardian who is superior to him, he himself would
become superior by sharing his life. He would then take as guide a
part of himself superior to the one that governs him, then another
part, still more elevated until he had arrived at the highest. Indeed,
the soul is several things, or rather, the soul is all things; she
is things both inferior and superior; she contains all the degrees
of life. Each of us, in a certain degree, is the intelligible world;
by our inferior part we are related to the sense-world, and by our
superior part, to the intelligible world; we remain there on high by
what constitutes our intelligible essence; we are attached here below
by the powers which occupy the lowest rank in the soul. Thus we cause
an emanation, or rather an actualization which implies no loss to the
intelligible, to pass from the intelligible into the sense-world.


4. Is the power which is the act of the soul always united to a body?
No; for when the soul turns towards the superior regions, she raises
this power with her. Does the universal (Soul) also raise with herself
to the intelligible world the inferior power which is her actualization
(nature)? No: for she does not incline towards her low inferior
portion, because she neither came nor descended into the world; but,
while she remains in herself, the body of the world comes to unite with
her, and to offer itself to receive her light's radiation; besides, her
body does not cause her any anxiety, because it is not exposed to any
peril. Does not the world, then, possess any senses? "It has no sight"
(says Plato[324]) "for it has no eyes. Neither has it ears, nostrils,
nor tongue." Does it, then, as we, possess the consciousness of what is
going on within it? As, within the world, all things go on uniformly
according to nature, it is, in this respect, in a kind of repose;
consequently, it does not feel any pleasure. The power of growth
exists within it without being present therein; and so also with the
sense-power. Besides, we shall return to a study of the question. For
the present, we have said all that relates to the question in hand.


5. But if (before coming on to the earth) the soul chooses her life
and her guardian, how do we still preserve our liberty? Because what
is called "choice" designates in an allegorical manner the character
of the soul, and her general disposition everywhere. Again, it is
objected that if the character of the soul preponderate, if the soul
be dominated by that part which her former life rendered predominantly
active, it is no longer the body which is her cause of evil; for if
the character of the soul be anterior to her union with the body; if
she have the character she has chosen; if, as said (Plato), she do not
change her guardian, it is not here below that a man may become good or
evil. The answer to this is, that potentially man is equally good or
evil. (By his choices) however he may actualize one or the other.


What then would happen if a virtuous man should have a body of evil
nature, or a vicious man a body of a good nature? The goodness of the
soul has more or less influence on the goodness of the body. Exterior
circumstances cannot thus alter the character chosen by the soul. When
(Plato) says that the lots are spread out before the souls, and that
later the different kinds of conditions are displayed before them,
and that the fortune of each results from the choice made amidst the
different kinds of lives present--a choice evidently made according to
her character--(Plato) evidently attributes to the soul the power of
conforming to her character the condition allotted to her.


Besides, our guardian is not entirely exterior to us; and, on the
other hand, he is not bound to us, and is not active in us; he is
ours, in the sense that he has a certain relation with our soul; he is
not ours, in the sense that we are such men, living such a life under
his supervision. This is the meaning of the terms used (by Plato) in
the Timaeus.[325] If these be taken in the above sense, all explains
itself; if not, Plato contradicts himself.


One can still understand thus why he says that our guardian helps us
to fulfil the destiny we have chosen. In fact, presiding over our
life, he does not permit us to descend very far below the condition we
have chosen. But that which then is active is the principle below the
guardian and which can neither transcend him, nor equal him; for he
could not become different from what he is.


6. Who then is the virtuous man? He in whom is active the highest part
of the soul. If his guardian contributed to his actions, he would not
deserve being called virtuous. Now it is the Intelligence which is
active in the virtuous man. It is the latter, then, who is a guardian,
or lives according to one; besides, his guardian is the divinity.
Is this guardian above Intelligence? Yes, if the guardian have, as
guardian, the principle superior to Intelligence (the Good). But why
does the virtuous man not enjoy this privilege since the beginning?
Because of the trouble he felt in falling into generation. Even before
the exercise of reason, he has within him a desire which leads him
to the things which are suitable to him. But does this desire direct
with sovereign influence? No, not with sovereignty; for the soul is so
disposed that, in such circumstances becoming such, she adopts such a
life, and follows such an inclination.


(Plato) says that the guardian leads the soul to the hells,[326]
and that he does not remain attached to the same soul, unless this
soul should again choose the same condition. What does the guardian
do before this choice? Plato teaches us that he leads the soul to
judgment, that after the generation he assumes again the same form
as before; and then as if another existence were then beginning,
during the time between generations, the guardian presides over the
chastisements of the souls, and this period is for them not so much a
period of life, as a period of expiation.


Do the souls that enter into the bodies of brutes also have a guardian?
Yes, doubtless, but an evil or stupid one.


What is the condition of the souls that have raised themselves on high?
Some are in the sensible world, others are outside of it. The souls
that are in the sense-world dwell in the sun, or in some other planet,
or in the firmament, according as they have more or less developed
their reason. We must, indeed, remember that our soul contains in
herself not only the intelligible world, but also a disposition
conformable to the Soul of the world. Now as the latter is spread out
in the movable spheres and in the immovable sphere by her various
powers, our soul must possess powers conformable to these, each of
which exercise their proper function. The souls which rise from here
below into the heavens go to inhabit the star which harmonizes with
their moral life, and with the power which they have developed; with
their divinity, or their guardian. Then they will have either the same
guardian, or the guardian which is superior to the power which they
exert. This matter will have to be considered more minutely.


As to the souls which have left the sense-world, so long as they remain
in the intelligible world, they are above the guardian condition,
and the fatality of generation. Souls bring with them thither that
part of their nature which is desirous of begetting, and which may
reasonably be regarded as the essence which is divisible in the body,
and which multiplies by dividing along with the bodies. Moreover, if
a soul divide herself, it is not in respect to extension; because she
is entirely in all the bodies. On the other hand, the Soul is one; and
from a single animal are ceaselessly born many young. This generative
element splits up like the vegetative nature in plants; for this nature
is divisible in the bodies. When this divisible essence dwells in the
same body, it vivifies the body, just as the vegetative power does for
plants. When it retires, it has already communicated life, as is seen
in cut trees, or in corpses where putrefaction has caused the birth of
several animals from a single one. Besides, the vegetative power of the
human soul is assisted by the vegetative power that is derived from the
universal (Soul), and which here below is the same (as on high).


If the soul return here below, she possesses, according to the life
which she is to lead, either the same guardian, or another. With her
guardian she enters into this world as if in a skiff. Then she is
subjected to the power (by Plato) called the Spindle of Necessity;[327]
and, embarking in this world, she takes the place assigned to her by
fortune. Then she is caught by the circular movement of the heavens,
whose action, as if it were the wind, agitates the skiff in which the
soul is seated; or rather, is borne along. Thence are born varied
spectacles, transformations and divers incidents for the soul which
is embarked in this skiff; whether because of the agitation of the
sea which bears it, or because of the conduct of the passenger who is
sailing in the bark, and who preserves her freedom of action therein.
Indeed, not every soul placed in the same circumstances makes the same
movements, wills the same volitions, or performs the same actions. For
different beings, therefore, the differences arise from circumstances
either similar or different, or even the same events may occur to
them under different circumstances. It is this (uncertainty) that
constitutes Providence.


Of Suicide.


1. (As says pseudo-Zoroaster, in his Magic Oracles), "The soul should
not be expelled from the body by violence, lest she go out (dragging
along with her something foreign," that is, corporeal). In this case,
she will be burdened with this foreign element whithersoever she may
emigrate. By "emigrating," I mean passing into the Beyond. On the
contrary, one should wait until the entire body naturally detaches
itself from the soul; in which case she no longer needs to pass into
any other residence, being completely unburdened of the body.


How will the body naturally detach itself from the soul? By the
complete rupture of the bonds which keep the soul attached to the body,
by the body's impotence to fetter the soul, on account of the complete
destruction of the harmony which conferred this power on it.


One may not voluntarily disengage oneself from the fetters of the body.
When violence is employed, it is not the body which disengages itself
from the soul, it is the soul which makes an effort to snatch herself
from the body, and that by an action which accomplishes itself not in
the state of impassibility (which suits a sage), but as the result of
grief, or suffering, or of anger. Now such an action is forbidden, or


May one not forestall delirium or insanity, if one become aware of
their approach? To begin with, insanity does not happen to a sage, and
if it does, this accident should be considered one of those inevitable
things which depend from fatality, and in which case one should direct
one's path less according to his intrinsic quality than according to
circumstances; for perhaps the poison one might select to eject the
soul from the body might do nothing but injure the soul.


If there be an appointed time for the life of each of us, it is
not well to forestall the decree of Providence, unless, as we have
said,[328] under absolute compulsion.

Last, if rank obtained above depend on the state obtaining at the time
of exit from the body, no man should separate himself from it so long
as he might still achieve progress.[329]


Of Essence and Being.


1. Is "essence" something different from "being"? Does essence indicate
an abstraction of the other (four categories), and is being, on the
contrary, essence with the other (four categories), motion and rest,
identity and difference? Are these the elements of being? Yes: "being"
is the totality of these things, of which one is essence, the other is
motion, and so forth. Motion, therefore, is accidental essence. Is it
also accidental "being?" Or is it being completely? Motion is being,
because all intelligible things are beings. But why is not each of the
sense-things a being? The reason is, that on high all things form only
a single group of totality, while here below they are distinct one from
another because they are images that have been distinguished. Likewise,
in a seminal (reason), all things are together, and each of them is
all the others; the hand is not distinct from the head; while, on the
contrary, in a body all the organs are separate, because they are
images instead of being genuine beings.


We may now say that, in the intelligible world, qualities are the
characteristic differences in being or essence. These differences
effect distinction between the beings; in short, they cause them to
be beings. This definition seems reasonable. But it does not suit the
qualities below (in the sense-world); some are differences of being,
as biped, or quadruped (as thought Aristotle);[330] others are not
differences, and on that very account are called qualities. Still,
the same thing may appear a difference when it is a complement of
the being, and again it may not seem a difference when it is not a
complement of the being, but an accident: as, for instance, whiteness
is a complement of being in a swan, or in white lead; but in a human
being like you, it is only an accident (as thought Aristotle).[331] So
long as the whiteness is in the ("seminal) reason," it is a complement
of being, and not a quality; if it be on the surface of a being, it is
a quality.


Two kinds of qualities must be distinguished; the essential quality,
which is a peculiarity of its being, and the mere quality, which
affects the being's classification. The mere quality introduces no
change in the essence, and causes none of its characteristics to
disappear; but, when the being exists already, and is complete,
this quality gives it a certain exterior disposition; and, whether
in the case of a soul or body, adds something to it. Thus visible
whiteness, which is of the very being of white lead, is not of the
being of the swan, because a swan may be of some color other than
white. Whiteness then completes the being of white lead, just as heat
completes the being of fire. If igneousness is said to be the being
of fire, whiteness is also the being of white lead. Nevertheless,
the igneousness of the visible fire is heat, which constitutes the
complement of its being; and whiteness plays the same part with respect
to white lead. Therefore (differing according to the difference of
various beings) the same things will be complements of being, and
will not be qualities, or they will not be complements of being, and
will be qualities; but it would not be reasonable to assert that
these qualities are different according to whether or not they are
complements of being, since their nature is the same.


We must acknowledge that the reasons which produce these things (as
heat, and whiteness) are beings, if taken in their totality; but on
considering their production, we see that what constitutes a whatness
or quiddity (the Aristotelian "what it were to be") in the intelligible
world, becomes a quality in the sense-world. Consequently, we always
err on the subject of the quiddity, when we try to determine it,
mistaking the simple quality for it (as thought Plato),[332] for, when
we perceive a quality, the fire is not what we call fire, but a being.
As to the things which arrest our gaze, we should distinguish them from
the quiddity, and define them by the qualities of sense (objects); for
they do not constitute the being, but the affections of being.


We are thus led to ask how a being can be composed of non-beings? It
has already been pointed out that the things subject to generation
could not be identical with the principles from which they proceed. Let
us now add that they could not be beings. But still, how can one say
that the intelligible being is constituted by a non-being? The reason
is that in the intelligible world since being forms a purer and more
refined essence, being really is somehow constituted by the differences
of essence; or rather, we feel it ought to be called being from
considering it together with its energies (or, actualizations). This
being seems to be a perfecting of essence; but perhaps being is less
perfect when it is thus considered together with its actualizations;
for, being less simple, it veers away from essence.


2. Let us now consider what quality in general is; for when we shall
know this, our doubts will cease. First, must it be admitted that one
and the same thing is now a quality, and then a complement of being?
Can one say that quality is the complement of being, or rather of such
a being? The suchness of being implies a previously existing being and


Taking the illustration of fire, is it "mere being" before it is "such
being?" In this case, it would be a body. Consequently, the body will
be a being; fire will be a hot body. Body and heat combined will not
constitute being; but heat will exist in the body as in you exists the
property of having a stub nose (as said Aristotle).[333] Consequently,
if we abstract heat, shine and lightness, which seem to be qualities,
and also impenetrability, nothing will remain but tridimensional
extension, and matter will be "being." But this hypothesis does not
seem likely; it is rather form which will be "being."


Is form a quality? No: form is a reason. Now what is constituted by
(material) substance, and reason? (In the warm body) it is neither what
burns, nor what is visible; it is quality. If, however, it be said that
combustion is an act emanating from reason, that being hot and white
are actualities, we could not find anything to explain quality.


What we call a complement of being should not be termed a quality,
because they are actualizations of being, actualizations which proceed
from the reasons and the essential potentialities. Qualities are
therefore something outside of being; something which does not at times
seem to be, and at other times does not seem not to be qualities;
something which adds to being something that is not necessary; for
example, virtues and vices, ugliness and beauty, health, and individual
resemblance. Though triangle, and tetragon, each considered by itself,
are not qualities; yet being "transformed into triangular appearance"
is a quality; it is not therefore triangularity, but triangular
formation, which is a quality. The same could be said of the arts
and professions. Consequently, quality is a disposition, either
adventitious or original, in already existing beings. Without it,
however, being would exist just as much. It might be said that quality
is either mutable or immutable; for it forms two kinds, according to
whether it be permanent or changeable.


3. The whiteness that I see in you is not a quality, but an
actualization of the potentiality of whitening. In the intelligible
world all the things that we call qualities are actualizations.
They are called qualities because they are properties, because they
differentiate the beings from each other, because in respect to
themselves they bear a particular character. But since quality in
the sense-world is also an actualization, in what does it differ
from the intelligible quality? The sense-quality does not show the
essential quality of every being, nor the difference or character of
substances, but simply the thing that we properly call quality, and
which is an actualization in the intelligible world. When the property
of something is to be a being, this thing is not a quality. But when
reason separates beings from their properties, when it removes nothing
from them, when it limits itself to conceiving and begetting different
from these beings, it begets quality, which it conceives of as the
superficial part of being. In this case, nothing hinders the heat of
the fire, so far as it is natural to it, from constituting a form, an
actualization, and not a quality of the fire; it is a quality when it
exists in a substance where it no longer constitutes the form of being,
but only a trace, an adumbration, an image of being, because it finds
itself separated from the being whose actualization it is.


Qualities, therefore, are everything that, instead of being
actualizations and forms of beings, are only its accidents, and only
reveal its shapes. We will therefore call qualities the habituations
and the dispositions which are not essential to substances. The
archetypes (or models) of qualities are the actualizations of the
beings, which are the principles of these qualities. It is impossible
for the same thing at one time to be, and at another not to be a
quality. What can be separated from being is quality; what remains
united to being is being, form, and actualization. In fact, nothing can
be the same in itself, and in some other condition where it has ceased
to be form and an actualization. What, instead of being the form of a
being, is always its accident, is purely and exclusively a quality.


Do Ideas of Individuals Exist?


1. Do ideas of individuals (as well as of classes of individuals),
exist? This means that if I, in company with some other man, were to
trace ourselves back to the intelligible world, we would there find
separate individual principles corresponding to each of us. (This might
imply either of two theories.) Either, if the individual named Socrates
be eternal, and if the soul of Socrates be Socrates himself, then the
soul of each individual is contained in the intelligible world. Or
if, on the contrary, the individual named Socrates be not eternal, if
the same soul can belong successively to several individuals, such as
Socrates or Pythagoras, then (as Alcinoous, e. g., and other Platonists
insist), each individual does not have his idea in the intelligible


If the particular soul of each man contains ("seminal) reasons" of
all the things she does, then each individual corresponds to his idea
in the intelligible world, for we admit that each soul contains as
many ("seminal) reasons" as the entire world. In this case, the soul
would contain not only the ("seminal) reasons" of men but also those
of all animals, the number of these reasons will be infinite, unless
(as the Stoics teach) the world does not re-commence the identical
series of existences in fixed periods; for the only means of limiting
the infinity of reasons, is that the same things should reproduce


But, if produced things may be more numerous than their specimens,
what would be the necessity for the "reasons" and specimens of all
individuals begotten during some one period? It would seem that the
(idea of) the "man himself" to explain the existence of all men, and
that the souls of a finite number of them could successively animate
men of an infinite number. (To this contention we demur: for) it
is impossible for different things to have an identical ("seminal)
reason." The (idea of) the man himself would not, as model, suffice
(to account) for men who differ from each other not only by matter,
but also by specific differences. They cannot be compared to the
images of Socrates which reproduce their model. Only the difference
of the ("seminal) reasons" could give rise to individual differences.
(As Plato said),[334] the entire period contains all the ("seminal)
reasons." When it recommences, the same things rearise through the same
"reasons." We need not fear that, as a consequence, there would be an
infinite (number or variety) of them in the intelligible world; for the
multitude (of the seminal reasons) constitutes an indivisible principle
from which each issues forth whenever active.


2. (First objection): The manner in which the ("seminal) reasons"
of the male and female unite, in the act of generation, suffices to
account for the diversity of individuals, without implying that each
of them possesses its own ("seminal) reason." The generating principle,
the male, for example, will not propagate according to different
("seminal) reasons," since it possesses all of them, but only according
to its own, or those of its father. Since it possesses all of the
("seminal) reasons," nothing would hinder it from begetting according
to different "reasons," only, there are always some which are more
disposed to act than are others.


(Second objection): Please explain how differing individuals are
born from the same parents. This diversity, if it be anything
more than merely apparent, depends on the manner in which the two
generating principles concur in the act of generation; at one time
the male predominates, at other times, the female; again, they may
both act equally. In either case, the ("seminal) reason" is given in
its entirety, and dominates the matter furnished by either of the
generating principles.


(Third objection): What then is the cause of the difference of the
individuals conceived in some other place (than the womb, as in the
mouth), (as Aristotle[335] and Sextus Empiricus[336] asked)? Would
it arise from matter being penetrated by the ("seminal) reason" in
differing degrees? In this case, all the individuals, except one, would
be beings against nature (which, of course, is absurd). The varieties
of the individuals are a principle of beauty; consequently, form cannot
be one of them; ugliness alone should be attributed to the predominance
of matter. In the intelligible world, the ("seminal) reasons" are
perfect, and they are not given any less entirely for being hidden.


(Fourth objection): Granting that the ("seminal) reasons" of the
individuals are different, why should there be as many as there are
individuals which achieve existence in any one period? It is possible
that identical "reasons" might produce individuals differing in
external appearance; and we have even granted that this may occur
when the ("seminal) reasons" are given entirely. It is asked, is
this possible when the same "reasons" are developed? We teach that
absolutely similar things might be reproduced in different periods;
but, within the same period, there is nothing absolutely identical.


3. (Fifth objection): But how could ("seminal) reasons" be different in
the conception of twins, and in the act of generation in the case of
animals who procreate multiple offspring? Here it would seem that when
the individuals are similar, there could be but one single "reason."
No so; for in that case there would not be so many "reasons" as there
are individuals; and, on the contrary, it will have to be granted that
there are as many as there are individuals that differ by specific
differences, and not by a mere lack of form. Nothing therefore hinders
us from admitting that there are different "reasons," even for animal
offspring which show no difference, if there were such. An artist
who produces similar works cannot produce this resemblance without
introducing in it some difference which depends on reasoning; so that
every work he produces differs from the others, because he adds some
difference to the similarity. In nature, where the difference does not
derive from reasoning, but only from differing ("seminal) reasons" the
(individual) difference will have to be added to the specific form,
even though we may not be able to discern it. The ("seminal) reason"
would be different if generation admitted chance as to quantity (the
number of offspring begotten). But if the number of things to be born
is determinate, the quantity will be limited by the evolution and
development of all the "reasons," so that, when the series of all
things will be finished, another period may recommence. The quantity
suitable to the world, and the number of beings who are to exist
therein, are things regulated and contained in the principle which
contains all the "reasons" (that is, the universal Soul), from the very


Concerning Virtue.


1. Man must flee from (this world) here below (for two reasons):
because it is the nature of the soul to flee from evil, and because
inevitable evil prevails and dominates this world here below. What
is this flight (and how can we accomplish it)? (Plato),[337] tells
us it consists in "being assimilated to divinity." This then can be
accomplished by judiciously conforming to justice, and holiness; in
short, by virtue.


If then it be by virtue that we are assimilated (to divinity), does
this divinity to whom we are trying to achieve assimilation, Himself
possess virtue? Besides, what divinity is this? Surely it must be He
who must most seem to possess virtue, the world-Soul, together with the
principle predominating in her, whose wisdom is most admirable (supreme
Intelligence)--for it is quite reasonable that we should be assimilated
to Him. Nevertheless, one might, unreflectingly, question whether all
virtues might suit this divinity; whether, for instance, moderation in
his desires, or courage could be predicated of Him; for, as to courage,
nothing can really harm Him, and He therefore has nothing to fear; and
as to moderation, no pleasant object whose presence would excite His
desires, or whose absence would in Him awaken regrets, could possibly
exist. But inasmuch as the divinity, just as we ourselves, aspires to
intelligible things, He is evidently the source of our gracious sanity
and virtues. So we are forced to ask ourselves, "Does the divinity
possess these virtues?"


It would not be proper to attribute to Him the homely (or, civil)
virtues, such as prudence, which "relates to the rational part of our
nature"; courage, which "relates to our irascible part"; temperance,
which consists of the harmonious consonance of our desires and our
reason; last, of justice, which "consists in the accomplishment by all
these faculties of the function proper to each of them," "whether to
command, or to obey," (as said Plato[338]). But if we cannot become
assimilated to the divinity by these homely virtues, that process
must demand similarly named virtues of a superior order. However,
these homely virtues would not be entirely useless to achieve that
result, for one cannot say that while practising them one does not at
all resemble the divinity as they who practise them are reputed to be
godlike. These lower virtues do therefore yield some resemblance to the
divinity, but complete assimilation can result only from virtues of a
higher order.


Virtues, even if they be not homely, are therefore ultimately ascribed
(to the divinity). Granting that the divinity does not possess the
homely virtues, we may still become assimilated to Him by other virtues
for with virtues of another order the case might differ. Therefore,
without assimilating ourselves to the divinity by homely virtues we
might nevertheless by means of virtues which still are ours, become
assimilated to the Being which does not possess virtue.

This may be explained by an illustration. When a body is warmed by the
presence of fire, the fire itself need not be heated by the presence of
another fire. It might be argued that there was heat in the fire, but
a heat that is innate. Reasoning by analogy, the virtue, which in the
soul is only adventitious, is innate in Him from whom the soul derives
it by imitation; (in other words, the cause need not necessarily
possess the same qualities as the effect).

Our argument from heat might however be questioned, inasmuch as the
divinity really does possess virtue, though it be of a higher nature.
This observation would be correct, if the virtue in which the soul
participates were identical with the principle from which she derives
it. But there is a complete opposition; for when we see a house, the
sense-house is not identical with the intelligible House, though
possessing resemblance thereto. Indeed, the sense-house participates in
order and proportion, though neither order, proportion, nor symmetry
could be attributed to the idea of the House. Likewise, we derived
from the divinity order, proportion and harmony, which, here below,
are conditions of virtue, without thereby implying that the divinity
Himself need possess order, proportion, or harmony. Similarly, it is
not necessary that He possess virtue, although we become assimilated to
Him thereby.

Such is our demonstration that human assimilation to the divine
Intelligence by virtue does not (necessarily imply) (in the divine
Intelligence itself) possession of virtue. Mere logical demonstration
thereof is not, however, sufficient; we must also convince.


2. Let us first examine the virtues by which we are assimilated to
the divinity, and let us study the identity between our soul-image
which constitutes virtue, and supreme Intelligence's principle
which, without being virtue, is its archetype. There are two kinds
of resemblance: the first entails such identity of nature as exists
when both similar things proceed from a same principle; the second is
that of one thing to another which precedes it, as its principle. In
the latter case, there is no reciprocity, and the principle does not
resemble that which is inferior to it; or rather, the resemblance must
be conceived entirely differently. It does not necessitate that the
similar objects be of the same kind; it rather implies that they are of
different kinds, inasmuch as they resemble each other differently.


(It is difficult to define) what is virtue, in general or in
particular. To clear up the matter, let us consider one particular
kind of virtue: then it will be easy to determine the common essence
underlying them all.

The above-mentioned homely virtues really render our souls gracious,
and improve them, regulating and moderating our appetites, tempering
our passions, delivering us from false opinions, limiting us within
just bounds, and they themselves must be determined by some kind of
measure. This measure given to our souls resembles the form given to
matter, and the proportion of intelligible things; it is as it were
a trace of what is most perfect above. What is unmeasured, being no
more than formless matter, cannot in any way resemble divinity. The
greater the participation in form, the greater the assimilation to the
formless; and the closer we get to form, the greater the participation
therein. Thus our soul, whose nature is nearer to divinity and more
kindred to it than the body is, thereby participates the more in the
divine, and increases that resemblance enough to make it seem that the
divinity is all that she herself is. Thus arises the deception, which
represents her as the divine divinity, as if her quality constituted
that of the divinity. Thus are men of homely virtues assimilated to the


3. We will now, following (Plato),[339] speak of another kind of
assimilation as the privilege of a higher virtue. We will thus better
understand the nature of homely virtues, and the higher virtues,
and the difference between them. Plato is evidently distinguishing
two kinds of virtues when he says that assimilation to the divinity
consists in fleeing from (the world) here below; when he adds the
qualification "homely" to the virtues relating to social life; and when
in another place he asserts[340] that all virtues are processes of
purification; and it is not to the homely virtues that he attributes
the power of assimilating us to the divinity.


How then do the virtues purify? How does this process of purification
bring us as near as possible to the divinity? So long as the soul is
mingled with the body, sharing its passions and opinions, she is evil.
She becomes better, that is, she acquires virtues, only when, instead
of agreeing with the body, she thinks by herself (this is true thought,
and constitutes prudence); when she ceases to share its passions (in
other words, temperance); when she no longer fears separation from the
body (a state called courage); and last, when reason and intelligence
can enforce their command (or justice).


We may therefore unhesitatingly state that the resemblance to the
divinity lies in such regulation, in remaining impassible while
thinking intelligible things; for what is pure is divine and the
nature of the divine action is such that whatever imitates it thereby
possesses wisdom. But it is not the divinity that possesses such a
disposition, for dispositions are the property of souls only. Besides,
the soul does not think intelligible objects in the same manner as the
divinity; what is contained in the divinity is contained within us in
a manner entirely different, or even perhaps is not at all contained.
For instance, the divinity's thought is not at all identical with
ours; the divinity's thought is a primary principle from which our
thought is derived and differs. As the vocal word is only the image
of the interior reason[341] of the soul, so also is the word of the
soul only the image of the Word of a superior principle; and as the
exterior word, when compared to the interior reason of the soul, seems
discrete, or divided, so the reason of the soul, which is no more than
the interpreter of the intelligible word, is discrete, in comparison
with the latter. Thus does virtue belong to the soul without belonging
either to absolute Intelligence, nor to the Principle superior to


4. Purification may be either identical with the above-defined virtue,
or virtue may be the result of purification. In this case, does virtue
consist of the actual process of purification, or in the already
purified condition? This is our problem here.

The process of purification is inferior to the already purified
condition; for purity is the soul's destined goal. (Negative) purity
is mere separation from extraneous things; it is not yet (positive)
possession of its prize. If the soul had possessed goodness before
losing her purity, mere purification would be sufficient; and even in
this case the residuum of the purification would be the goodness, and
not the purification. What is the residuum? Not goodness; otherwise,
the soul would not have fallen into evil. The soul therefore possesses
the form of goodness, without however being able to remain solidly
attached thereto, because her nature permits her to turn either to the
good, or the evil. The good of the soul is to remain united to her
sister intelligence; her evil, is to abandon herself to the contrary
things. After purifying the soul, therefore, she must be united to the
divinity; but this implies turning her towards Him. Now this conversion
does not begin to occur after the purification, but is its very result.
The virtue of the soul, therefore, does not consist in her conversion,
but in that which she thereby obtains. This is the intuition of her
intelligible object; its image produced and realized within herself; an
image similar to that in the eye, an image which represents the things
seen. It is not necessary to conclude that the soul did not possess
this image, nor had any reminiscence thereof; she no doubt possessed
it, but inactively, latently, obscurely. To clarify it, to discover her
possessions, the soul needs to approach the source of all clearness.
As, however, the soul possesses only the images of the intelligibles,
without possessing the intelligibles themselves, she will be compelled
to compare with them her own image of them. Easily does the soul
contemplate the intelligibles, because the intelligence is not foreign
to her; when the soul wishes to enter in relations with them, all the
soul needs to do is to turn her glance towards them. Otherwise, the
intelligence, though present in the soul, will remain foreign to her.
This explains how all our acquisitions of knowledge are foreign to us
(as if non-existent), while we fail to recall them.


5. The limit of purification decides to which (of the three hypostases
of) divinity the soul may hope to assimilate and identify herself;
therefore we shall have to consider that limit. To decide that would
be to examine the limit of the soul's ability to repress anger,
appetites, and passions of all kinds, to triumph over pain and similar
feelings--in short, to separate her from the body. This occurs when,
recollecting herself from the various localities over which she had, as
it were, spread herself, she retires within herself; when she estranges
herself entirely from the passions, when she allows the body only such
pleasures as are necessary or suitable to cure her pains, to recuperate
from its fatigues, and in avoiding its becoming importunate; when she
becomes insensible to sufferings; or, if that be beyond her power, in
supporting them patiently, and in diminishing them by refusing to share
them; when she appeases anger as far as possible, even suppressing
it entirely, if possible; or at least, if that be impossible, not
participating therein; abandoning to the animal nature all unthinking
impulses, and even so reducing to a minimum all reflex movements;
when she is absolutely inaccessible to fear, having nothing left to
risk; and when she represses all sudden movements, except nature's
warning of dangers. Evidently, the purified soul will have to desire
nothing shameful. In eating and drinking, she will seek only the
satisfaction of a need, while remaining foreign to it; nor will she
seek the pleasures of love; or, if she does, she will not go beyond the
exactions of nature, resisting every unconsidered tendency, or even in
remaining within the involuntary flights of fancy.


In short, the soul will be pure from all these passions, and will
even desire to purify our being's irrational part so as to preserve
it from emotions, or at least to moderate their number and intensity,
and to appease them promptly by her presence. So would a man, in the
neighborhood of some sage, profit thereby, either by growing similar
to him, or in refraining from doing anything of which the sage might
disapprove. This (suggestive) influence of reason will exert itself
without any struggle; its mere presence will suffice. The inferior
principle will respect it to the point of growing resentful against
itself, and reproaching itself for its weakness, if it feel any
agitation which might disturb its master's repose.


6. A man who has achieved such a state no longer commits such faults;
for he has become corrected. But his desired goal is not to cease
failing, but to be divine. In case he still allows within himself
the occurrence of some of the above-mentioned unreflecting impulses,
he will be simultaneously divinity and guardian, a double being; or
rather, he will contain a principle of another nature (Intelligence),
whose virtue will likewise differ from his. If, however, he be not
troubled by any of those motions, he will be wholly divine; he will be
one of those divinities "who (as Plato said)[342] form the attending
escort of the First." It is a divinity of such a nature that has
come down from above to dwell in us. To become again what one was
originally, is to live in this superior world. He who has achieved that
height dwells with pure Intelligence, and assimilates himself thereto
as far as possible. Consequently, he feels none of those emotions, nor
does he any more commit any actions, which would be disapproved of by
the superior principle who henceforth is his only master.


For such a being the separate virtues merge. For him, wisdom consists
in contemplating the (essences) possessed by Intelligence, and with
which Intelligence is in contact. There are two kinds of wisdom, one
being proper to intelligence, the other to the soul; only in the latter
may we speak of virtue. In the Intelligence exists only the energy (of
thought), and its essence. The image of this essence, seen here below
in a being of another nature, is the virtue which emanates from it.
In Intelligence, indeed, resides neither absolute justice, nor any of
those genuinely so-called virtues; nothing is left but their type. Its
derivative in the soul is virtue; for virtue is the attribute of an
individual being. On the contrary, the intelligible belongs to itself
only, and is the attribute of no particular being.


Must justice ever imply multiplicity if it consist in fulfilling its
proper function? Surely, as long as it inheres in a principle with
several parts (such as a human soul, in which several functions may
be distinguished); but its essence lies in the accomplishment of
the function proper to every being, even when inhering in a unitary
principle (such as Intelligence). Absolute and veritable Justice
consists in the self-directed action of an unitary Principle, in which
no parts can be distinguished.


In this higher realm, justice consists in directing the action of the
soul towards intelligence; temperance is the intimate conversion of
the soul towards intelligence; courage is the (suggestive fascination)
or impassibility, by which the soul becomes similar to that which it
contemplates; since it is natural for intelligence to be impassible.
Now the soul derives this impassibility from the virtue which hinders
her from sharing the passions of the lower principle with which she is


7. Within the soul the virtues have the same interconnection obtaining
within Intelligence between the types superior to virtue. For
Intelligence, it is thought that constitutes wisdom and prudence;
conversion towards oneself is temperance; the fulfillment of one's
proper function is justice, and the intelligence's perseverance in
remaining within itself, in maintaining itself pure and separated from
matter, is analogous to courage. To contemplate intelligence will
therefore, for the soul, constitute wisdom and prudence, which then
become virtues, and no longer remain mere intellectual types. For the
soul is not identical with the essences she thinks, as is intelligence.
Similarly, the other soul-virtues will correspond to the superior
types. It is not otherwise with purification, for since every virtue is
a purification, virtue exacts preliminary purification; otherwise, it
would not be perfect.


The possessor of the higher virtues necessarily possesses the
potentiality for the inferior virtues; but the possessor of the lower
does not, conversely, possess the higher. Such are the characteristics
of the virtuous man.


(Many interesting questions remain). Is it possible for a man to
possess the higher or lower virtues in accomplished reality, or
otherwise (merely theoretically)? To decide that, we would have
individually to examine each, as, for example, prudence. How could
such a virtue exist merely potentially, borrowing its principles
from elsewhere? What would happen if one virtue advanced naturally
to a certain degree, and another virtue to another? What would you
think of a temperance which would moderate certain (impulses), while
entirely suppressing others? Similar questions might be raised about
other virtues, and the arbiter of the degree to which the virtues have
attained would have to be prudence.


No doubt, under certain circumstances, the virtuous man, in his
actions, will make use of some of the lower, or homely virtues;
but even so he will supplement them by standards or ideas derived
from higher virtues. For instance, he will not be satisfied with
a temperance which would consist in mere moderation, but he will
gradually seek to separate himself more and more from matter. Again, he
will supplement the life of a respectable man, exacted by common-sense
homely virtues; he will be continually aspiring higher, to the life of
the divinities; for our effort at assimilation should be directed not
at mere respectability, but to the gods themselves. To seek no more
than to become assimilated to respectable individuals would be like
trying to make an image by limiting oneself to copying another image,
itself modelled after another image (but not copying the original).
The assimilation here recommended results from taking as model a
superior being.


Of Dialectic, or the Means of Raising the Soul to the Intelligible


1. What method, art or study will lead us to the goal we are to
attain, namely, the Good, the first Principle, the Divinity,[343] by a
demonstration which itself can serve to raise the soul to the superior


He who is to be promoted to that world should know everything, or at
least, as says (Plato),[344] he should be as learned as possible. In
his first generation he should have descended here below to form a
philosopher, a musician, a lover. That is the kind of men whose nature
makes them most suitable to be raised to the intelligible world. But
how are we going to raise them? Does a single method suffice for all?
Does not each of them need a special method? Doubtless. There are two
methods to follow: the one for those who rise to the intelligible world
from here below, and the other for those who have already reached
there. We shall start by the first of these two methods; then comes
that of the men who have already achieved access to the intelligible
world, and who have, so to speak, already taken root there. Even these
must ceaselessly progress till they have reached the summit; for one
must stop only when one has reached the supreme term.


The latter road of progress must here be left aside (to be taken up
later),[345] to discuss here fully the first, explaining the operation
of the return of the soul to the intelligible world. Three kinds of men
offer themselves to our examination: the philosopher, the musician,
and the lover. These three must clearly be distinguished, beginning by
determining the nature and character of the musician.


The musician allows himself to be easily moved by beauty, and admires
it greatly; but he is not able by himself to achieve the intuition of
the beautiful. He needs the stimulation of external impressions. Just
as some timorous being is awakened by the least noise, the musician is
sensitive to the beauty of the voice and of harmonies. He avoids all
that seems contrary to the laws of harmony and of unity, and enjoys
rhythm and melodies in instrumental and vocal music. After these purely
sensual intonations, rhythm and tunes, he will surely in them come to
distinguish form from matter, and to contemplate the beauty existing in
their proportions and relations. He will have to be taught that what
excites his admiration in these things, is their intelligible harmony,
the beauty it contains, and, in short, beauty absolute, and not
particular. He will have to be introduced to philosophy by arguments
that will lead him to recognize truths that he ignored, though he
possessed them instinctively. Such arguments will be specified


2. The musician can rise to the rank of the lover, and either remain
there, or rise still higher. But the lover has some reminiscence of the
beautiful; but as here below he is separated (from it, he is incapable
of clearly knowing what it is). Charmed with the beautiful objects
that meet his views, he falls into an ecstasy. He must therefore be
taught not to content himself with thus admiring a single body, but,
by reason, to embrace all bodies that reveal beauty; showing him what
is identical in all, informing him that it is something alien to the
bodies, which comes from elsewhere, and which exists even in a higher
degree in the objects of another nature; citing, as examples, noble
occupations, and beautiful laws. He will be shown that beauty is found
in the arts, the sciences, the virtues, all of which are suitable means
of familiarizing the lover with the taste of incorporeal things. He
will then be made to see that beauty is one, and he will be shown the
element which, in every object, constitutes beauty. From virtues he
will be led to progress to intelligence and essence, while from there
he will have nothing else to do but to progress towards the supreme


3. The philosopher is naturally disposed to rise to the intelligible
world. Borne on by light wings, he rushes thither without needing to
learn to disengage himself from sense-objects, as do the preceding men.
His only uncertainty will concern the road to be followed, all he will
need will be a guide. He must therefore be shown the road; he must be
helped to detach himself entirely from sense-objects, himself already
possessing, as he does, the desire, being since a long while already
detached therefrom by his nature. For this purpose he will be invited
to apply himself to mathematics, so as to accustom him to think of
incorporeal things, to believe in their existence. Being desirous
of instruction, he will learn them easily; as, by his nature, he is
already virtuous, he will need no more than promotion to the perfection
of virtue. After mathematics, he will be taught dialectics, which will
perfect him.


4. What then is this dialectics, knowledge of which must be added
to mathematics? It is a science which makes us capable of reasoning
about each thing, to say what it is, in what it differs from the
others, in what it resembles them, where it is, whether it be one of
the beings, to determine how many veritable beings there are, and
which are the objects that contain nonentity instead of veritable
essence. This science treats also of good and evil; of everything that
is subordinated to (being), the Good, and to its contrary; of the
nature of what is eternal, and transitory. It treats of each matter
scientifically, and not according to mere opinion. Instead of wandering
around the sense-world, it establishes itself in the intelligible
world; it concentrates its whole attention on this world, and after
having saved our soul from deceit, dialectics "pastures our soul in the
meadow of truth,"[347] (as thought Plato). Then it makes use of the
Platonic method of division to discern ideas, to define each object,
to rise to the several kinds of essences[348] (as thought Plato);
then, by thought concatenating all that is thence derived, dialectics
continues its deductions until it has gone through the whole domain
of the intelligible. Then, by reversing, dialectics returns to the
very Principle from which first it had started out.[349] Resting
there, because it is only in the intelligible world that it can find
rest, no longer needing to busy itself with a multitude of objects,
because it has arrived at unity, dialectics considers its logic, which
treats of propositions and arguments. This logic is an art subordinate
to dialectics just as writing is subordinate to thought. In logic,
dialectics recognizes some principles as necessary, and others as
constituting preparatory exercises. Then, along with everything else,
subjecting these principles to its criticism, it declares some of them
useful, and others superfluous, or merely technical.


5. Whence does this science derive its proper principles? Intelligence
furnishes the soul with the clear principles she is capable of
receiving. Having discovered and achieved these principles, dialectics
puts their consequences in order. Dialectics composes, and divides,
till it has arrived at a perfect intelligence of things; for according
to (Plato),[350] dialectics is the purest application of intelligence
and wisdom. In this case, if dialectics be the noblest exercise of
our faculties, it must exercise itself with essence and the highest
objects. Wisdom studies existence, as intelligence studies that
which is still beyond existence (the One, or the Good). But is not
philosophy also that which is most eminent? Surely. But there is no
confusion between philosophy and dialectics, because dialectics is the
highest part of philosophy. It is not (as Aristotle thought) merely
an instrument for philosophy, nor (as Epicurus thought) made up of
pure speculations and abstract rules. It studies things themselves,
and its matter is the (real) beings. It reaches them by following a
method which yields reality as well as the idea. Only accidentally
does dialectics busy itself with error and sophisms. Dialectics
considers them alien to its mission, and as produced by a foreign
principle. Whenever anything contrary to the rule of truth is advanced,
dialectics recognizes the error by the light of the truths it contains.
Dialectics, however, does not care for propositions, which, to it,
seem only mere groupings of letters. Nevertheless, because it knows
the truth, dialectics also understands propositions, and, in general,
the operations of the soul. Dialectics knows what it is to affirm, to
deny, and how to make contrary or contradictory assertions. Further,
dialectics distinguishes differences from identities, grasping the
truth by an intuition that is as instantaneous as is that of the
senses; but dialectics leaves to another science, that enjoys those
details, the care of treating them with exactness.


6. Dialectics, therefore, is only one part of philosophy, but the most
important. Indeed, philosophy has other branches. First, it studies
nature (in physics), therein employing dialectics, as the other arts
employ arithmetic, though philosophy owes far more to dialectics. Then
philosophy treats of morals, and here again it is dialectics that
ascertains the principles; ethics limits itself to building good habits
thereon, and to propose the exercises that shall produce those good
habits. The (Aristotelian) rational virtues also owe to dialectics the
principles which seem to be their characteristics; for they chiefly
deal with material things (because they moderate the passions). The
other virtues[351] also imply the application of reason to the passions
and actions which are characteristic of each of them. However, prudence
applies reason to them in a superior manner. Prudence deals rather
with the universal, considering whether the virtues concatenate, and
whether an action should be done now, or be deferred, or be superseded
by another[352] (as thought Aristotle). Now it is dialectics, or its
resultant science of wisdom which, under a general and immaterial form,
furnishes prudence with all the principles it needs.


Could the lower knowledge not be possessed without dialectics or
wisdom? They would, at least, be imperfect and mutilated. On the other
hand, though the dialectician, that is, the true sage, no longer
need these inferior things, he never would have become such without
them; they must precede, and they increase with the progress made in
dialectics. Virtues are in the same case. The possessor of natural
virtues may, with the assistance of wisdom, rise to perfect virtues.
Wisdom, therefore, only follows natural virtues. Then wisdom perfects
the morals. Rather, the already existing natural virtues increase and
grow perfect along with wisdom. Whichever of these two things precedes,
complements the other. Natural virtues, however, yield only imperfect
views and morals; and the best way to perfect them, is philosophic
knowledge of the principles from which they depend.


How the Soul Mediates Between Indivisible and Divisible Essence.


1. While studying the nature ("being") of the soul, we have shown
(against the Stoics) that she is not a body; that, among incorporeal
entities, she is not a "harmony" (against the Pythagoreans); we have
also shown that she is not an "entelechy" (against Aristotle), because
this term, as its very etymology implies, does not express a true idea,
and reveals nothing about the soul's (nature itself); last, we said
that the soul has an intelligible nature, and is of divine condition;
the "being" or nature of the soul we have also, it would seem, clearly
enough set forth. Still, we have to go further. We have formerly
established a distinction between intelligible and sense nature,
assigning the soul to the intelligible world. Granting this, that the
soul forms part of the intelligible world, we must, in another manner,
study what is suitable to her nature.


To begin with, there are (beings) which are quite divisible and
naturally separable. No one part of any one of them is identical with
any other part, nor with the whole, of which each part necessarily is
smaller than the whole. Such are sense-magnitudes, or physical masses,
of which each occupies a place apart, without being able to be in
several places simultaneously.


On the other hand, there exists another kind of essence ("being"),
whose nature differs from the preceding (entirely divisible beings),
which admits of no division, and is neither divided nor divisible.
This has no extension, not even in thought. It does not need to be
in any place, and is not either partially or wholly contained in any
other being. If we dare say so, it hovers simultaneously over all
beings, not that it needs to be built up on them,[353] but because
it is indispensable to the existence of all. It is ever identical
with itself, and is the common support of all that is below it. It is
as in the circle, where the centre, remaining immovable in itself,
nevertheless is the origin of all the radii originating there, and
drawing their existence thence. The radii by thus participating in
the existence of the centre, the radii's principle, depend on what is
indivisible, remaining attached thereto, though separating in every


Now between entirely indivisible ("Being") which occupies the first
rank amidst intelligible beings, and the (essence) which is entirely
divisible in its sense-objects, there is, above the sense-world,
near it, and within it, a "being" of another nature, which is not,
like bodies, completely divisible, but which, nevertheless, becomes
divisible within bodies. Consequently, when you separate bodies, the
form within them also divides, but in such a way that it remains entire
in each part. This identical (essence), thus becoming manifold, has
parts that are completely separated from each other; for it then is a
divisible form, such as colors, and all the qualities, like any form
which can simultaneously remain entire in several things entirely
separate, at a distance, and foreign to each other because of the
different ways in which they are affected. We must therefore admit that
this form (that resides in bodies) is also divisible.


Thus the absolutely divisible (essence) does not exist alone; there is
another one located immediately beneath it, and derived from it. On
one hand, this inferior (essence) participates in the indivisibility
of its principle; on the other, it descends towards another nature by
its procession. Thereby it occupies a position intermediary between
indivisible and primary (essence), (that is, intelligence), and the
divisible (essence) which is in the bodies. Besides it is not in the
same condition of existence as color and the other qualities; for
though the latter be the same in all corporeal masses, nevertheless the
quality in one body is completely separate from that in another, just
as physical masses themselves are separate from each other. Although
(by its essence) the magnitude of these bodies be one, nevertheless
that which thus is identical in each part does not exert that community
of affection which constitutes sympathy,[355] because to identity is
added difference. This is the case because identity is only a simple
modification of bodies, and not a "being." On the contrary, the nature
that approaches the absolutely indivisible "Being" is a genuine "being"
(such as is the soul). It is true that she unites with the bodies and
consequently divides with them; but that happens to her only when she
communicates herself to the bodies. On the other hand, when she unites
with the bodies, even with the greatest and most extended of all (the
world), she does not cease to be one, although she yield herself up to
it entirely.


In no way does the unity of this essence resemble that of the body;
for the unity of the body consists in the unity of parts, of which
each is different from the others, and occupies a different place. Nor
does the unity of the soul bear any closer resemblance to the unity of
the qualities. Thus this nature that is simultaneously divisible and
indivisible, and that we call soul is not one in the sense of being
continuous (of which each part is external to every other); it is
divisible, because it animates all the parts of the body it occupies,
but is indivisible because it entirely inheres in the whole body, and
in each of its parts.[356] When we thus consider the nature of the
soul, we see her magnitude and power, and we understand how admirable
and divine are these and superior natures. Without any extension, the
soul is present throughout the whole of extension; she is present in a
location, though she be not present therein.[357] She is simultaneously
divided and undivided, or rather, she is never really divided, and she
never really divides; for she remains entire within herself. If she
seem to divide, it is not in relation with the bodies, which, by virtue
of their own divisibility, cannot receive her in an indivisible manner.
Thus division is the property of the body, but not the characteristic
of the soul.


2. Such then the nature of the soul had to be. She could not be either
purely indivisible, nor purely divisible, but she necessarily had to be
both indivisible and divisible, as has just been set forth. This is
further proved by the following considerations. If the soul, like the
body, have several parts differing from each other, the sensation of
one part would not involve a similar sensation in another part. Each
part of the soul, for instance, that which inheres in the finger, would
feel its individual affections, remaining foreign to all the rest,
while remaining within itself. In short, in each one of us would inhere
several managing souls (as said the Stoics).[358] Likewise, in this
universe, there would be not one single soul (the universal Soul), but
an infinite number of souls, separated from each other.


Shall we have recourse to the (Stoic) "continuity of parts"[359]
to explain the sympathy which interrelates all the organs? This
hypothesis, however, is useless, unless this continuity eventuate
in unity. For we cannot admit, as do certain (Stoic) philosophers,
who deceive themselves, that sensations focus in the "predominating
principle" by "relayed transmission."[360] To begin with, it is a wild
venture to predicate a "predominating principle" of the soul. How
indeed could we divide the soul and distinguish several parts therein?
By what superiority, quantity or quality are we going to distinguish
the "predominating part" in a single continuous mass? Further, under
this hypothesis, we may ask, Who is going to feel? Will it be the
"predominating part" exclusively, or the other parts with it? If that
part exclusively, it will feel only so long as the received impression
will have been transmitted to itself, in its particular residence; but
if the impression impinge on some other part of the soul, which happens
to be incapable of sensation, this part will not be able to transmit
the impression to the (predominating) part that directs, and sensation
will not occur. Granting further that the impression does reach the
predominating part itself, it might be received in a twofold manner;
either by one of its (subdivided) parts, which, having perceived the
sensation, will not trouble the other parts to feel it, which would be
useless; or, by several parts simultaneously, and then we will have
manifold, or even infinite sensations which will all differ from each
other. For instance, the one might say, "It is I who first received
the impression"; the other one might say, "I received the impression
first received by another"; while each, except the first, will be
in ignorance of the location of the impression; or again, each part
will make a mistake, thinking that the impression occurred where
itself is. Besides, if every part of the soul can feel as well as the
predominating part, why at all speak of a "predominating part?" What
need is there for the sensation to reach through to it? How indeed
would the soul recognize as an unity the result of multiple sensations;
for instance, of such as come from the ears or eyes?


On the other hand, if the soul were absolutely one, essentially
indivisible and one within herself, if her nature were incompatible
with manifoldness and division, she could not, when penetrating into
the body, animate it in its entirety; she would place herself in its
centre, leaving the rest of the mass of the animal lifeless. The
soul, therefore, must be simultaneously one and manifold, divided and
undivided, and we must not deny, as something impossible, that the
soul, though one and identical, can be in several parts of the body
simultaneously. If this truth be denied, this will destroy the "nature
that contains and administers the universe" (as said the Stoics); which
embraces everything at once, and directs everything with wisdom; a
nature that is both manifold, because all beings are manifold; and
single, because the principle that contains everything must be one. It
is by her manifold unity that she vivifies all parts of the universe,
while it is her indivisible unity that directs everything with wisdom.
In the very things that have no wisdom, the unity that in it plays the
predominating "part," imitates the unity of the universal Soul. That is
what Plato wished to indicate allegorically by these divine words[361]:
"From the "Being" that is indivisible and ever unchanging; and from
the "being" which becomes divisible in the bodies, the divinity formed
a mixture, a third kind of "being." The (universal) Soul, therefore,
is (as we have just said) simultaneously one and manifold; the forms
of the bodies are both manifold and one; the bodies are only manifold;
while the supreme Principle (the One), is exclusively an unity.

Paragraph 3 of this book (iv. 2,--21) will be found in its logical
position--judging by the subject matter,--on pages 75 to 78, in the
middle of iv. 7,--2.


[1] See 7.

[2] See vi. 7, 8.

[3] A.D. 262.

[4] See vi. 5, 1.

[5] See 20.

[6] iii. 4.

[7] See above, 6.

[8] See iv. 2.

[9] Often quoted by Porphyry in his Cave of the Nymphs.

[10] See 3.

[11] Euseb. Prep. Ev. xi. 2; xv. 4-9, 12-13.

[12] See 3.

[13] See ii. 3; iii. 1, 2, 4.

[14] See v. 5.

[15] This suggests that Suidas was right in claiming that Amelius was
the teacher of Porphyry.

[16] See 11.

[17] See 7.

[18] See 3.

[19] See 3.

[20] Mentioned in Porphyry's Life of Pythagoras, 48, living under Nero.

[21] Living under Tiberius, see Suetonius, Life of Tiberius, 14.

[22] See vi. 5.

[23] See 17.

[24] See 18.

[25] See 17.

[26] See ii. 3. 17.

[27] See 23.

[28] The fragments of all this are probably the Principles of the
Theory of the Intelligibles, by Porphyry.

[29] See ii. 1.

[30] See i. 3.

[31] As pilot, perhaps, iv. 3. 21.

[32] See ii., 4. 6.

[33] See ii. 7. 1.

[34] See i. 1. 10.

[35] See i. 9. 8. 10.

[36] See iv. 3. 20, 21.

[37] Ecl. Phys., p. 797, Heeren and Aristotle, de Anima, i. 2.

[38] See Nemesius, de Nat. Hom. 2.

[39] See ii. 7, 1.

[40] See ii. 7, 3.

[41] Stob. Ecl. Phys. 797.

[42] See ii. 3, 5.

[43] See ii. 7, 1.

[44] ii. 4, 7.

[45] See iv. 7, 8.

[46] Euseb., Prep. Ev. xv. 17.

[47] p. 54, Cousin.

[48] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 9.

[49] Ecl. Phys. 797, Cicero, de Nat. Deor. iii. 14.

[50] See ii. 4, 1. 'pôs echon.' of Dikearchus and Aristoxenus.

[51] See ii. 6, on 'logos.'

[52] See v. 7, 3.

[53] iii. 2.

[54] See iv. 2, 2.

[55] iv. 2, 1.

[56] Plutarch, de Placitis Philosoph, iii. 8. The Stoic definition
of sensation being that senses are spirits stretched (by relays with
"tension") from the directing principle to the organs.

[57] de Nat. Hom. 2.

[58] See iv. 4, 23. In the words of Zeno, as, for the Stoics, the
principal act of the intelligence was comprehensive vision, "phantasia

[59] de Anima, iii. 4, 5.

[60] de Anima, i. 3.

[61] de Anim. Arist. i. 2.

[62] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 9.

[63] See ii. 4, 1.

[64] See iv. 7, 5.

[65] See ii. 4, 1.

[66] de Nat. Hom. 2.

[67] See ii. 7.

[68] See ii. 7, 1.

[69] Nat. Hom. 2.

[70] See ii. 4, 16.

[71] As thought Chrysippus, in Plutarch, de Stoic. Repugnant.

[72] See ii. 4, 16.

[73] Met. xii. 6; see ii. 5, 3.

[74] iv. 7, 3.

[75] From end of iv. 2, 3.

[76] Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 1.

[77] Arist. de Anima, ii. 2; iii. 5.

[78] See Aristotle, de Anima, i. 5.

[79] See Aristotle, de Anima, ii. 2.

[80] Here we resume Ennead IV. Book 7. The bracketed numbers are those
of the Teubner text; the unbracketed those of the Didot edition.

[81] Page 299, Cousin.

[82] Quoted in i. 1, 12, in Republic x.

[83] See i. 1, 11.

[84] See i. 6, 9.

[85] See viii. 62.

[86] See i. 6, 5.

[87] Page 297, Cousin.

[88] See iv. 8, 5.

[89] Pages 206, 312, 313, Cousin.

[90] See iv. 8, 8.

[91] See iv. 8, 6, 7.

[92] See i. 1, 11.

[93] See iv. 5, 7.

[94] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 12-16.

[95] Such as Porphyry's "Philosophy derived from Oracles."

[96] Plato, in Diog. Laert., iii. 83.

[97] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 18, 37.

[98] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 12, 18; de Divinat, i. 58.

[99] Chrysippus, in Cicero, de Fato, 10.

[100] Cicero, de Finibus, i. 6.

[101] Cicero, de Natura Deorum, i. 25.

[102] Stobeus, Ecl. Phys. i. 6, p. 178.

[103] Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticæ, vi. 2.

[104] As thought the Stoics, Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 11.

[105] Cicero, de Divinatione, ii. 44.

[106] As thought Plato, in the Phaedo, C81.

[107] See i. 6.8.

[108] See i. 3.1.

[109] See i. 3.

[110] See i. 6.2.

[111] See i. 6.6.

[112] See i. 6.9, and the Philebus of Plato, C64.

[113] As suggested in the Phaedo of Plato.

[114] See ii. 4.6.

[115] The rational soul and intelligence, see iii. 9.5.

[116] See ii. 9.12; iv. 4.14.

[117] See ii. 3.17. 18; ii. 9.2, 3; vi. 4.9.

[118] A pun on "reason," or "logos," i. 6.2; ii. 3.16; ii. 4.3; ii.
6.2; ii. 7.3.

[119] See iv. 4.1012.

[120] Far from the truth; see iii. 8.3. 7.

[121] Stoics, see iv. 7.8.

[122] Or Stoic form of inorganic objects.

[123] The form of lower living beings.

[124] The form of human nature.

[125] See iv. 7.14.

[126] Parmenides, see v. 1.8.

[127] As Plato hints in his Cratylos, C50, by a pun between "soma" and

[128] The later theological "saved."

[129] See Aristotle, de Gen. i. 18.

[130] By Stoics.

[131] See iii. 8.1-3.

[132] See v. 5.1.

[133] See v. 1.4.

[134] In Greek a pun on "eidos" and "idea."

[134a] This sentence might well be translated as follows: "When
therefore thought (meets) the essentially one, the latter is the form,
and the former the idea." While this version seems more literal, it
makes no connected sense with what follows.

[135] See iv. 9.5.

[136] See iii. 9.1.

[137] See iii. 9.1.

[138] The universal Soul.

[139] Timaeus, C39.

[140] See iii. 9.1.

[141] See iii. 7.10.

[142] See ii. 7.2.

[143] To form, see i. 6.2.

[144] As thought Plato, in his Republic, x.

[145] As thought Plato in Gorgias, C464.

[146] vi. 7.

[147] vi. 7.

[148] Or, "so that it may contain the intelligence which is
one, as its own actualization."

[149] See iv. 3.9-17.

[150] In the Cratylus, C400.

[151] As in the Phaedo, C62.

[152] Republic, vii, C514.

[153] See Jamblichus, Cave of the Nymphs, 8.

[154] Procession, or rising.

[155] C246.

[156] Of the universe.

[157] C34.

[158] Timaeus, C30.

[159] The Creator, who is the universal Soul.

[160] See iv. 3.9-11.

[161] See iv. 3.17.

[162] As thought Plato in his Phaedrus, C246.

[163] The First belongs to the principal power of the universal Soul,
the second to its natural and plant power, see iii, 8.1 and iv. 4.13.

[164] See iv. 4.13.

[165] See ii. 3.18.

[166] As in the Timaeus, C42.

[167] iv. 8.1.

[168] See iv. 2.2.

[169] See iv. 3.6.7.

[170] As thought Plato in his Phaedrus, C249 and Phaedo, C72.

[171] That lead an alternate or double life.

[172] In his Timaeus, C42, 69.

[173] In the stars.

[174] As does Plato, see iv. 8.1.

[175] As a messenger, see iv. 3.12.13.

[176] See ii. 9.2.

[177] Without having given herself up to it.

[178] See i. 8.7.

[179] That is, of form, ii. 4.4.

[180] See iv. 6.3.

[181] See iii. 2.8.

[182] See iv. 8.5.

[183] See iv. 3.18.

[184] See ii. 9.2.

[185] That is, the body to which she is united.

[186] As thought Plato in his Parmenides, C154.

[187] See vi. 6.13.

[188] "Being." It has been found impossible, in order to preserve
good English idiom, to translate "ousia" by "being," and "to on" by
"essence," with uniformity. Where the change has been made, the proper
word has been added in parentheses, as here.

[189] In his Metaphysics, iv. 2.

[190] Aristotle, Met. iv. 2.

[191] Evidently a pun on forms and ideas.

[192] See vi. 2.7.

[193] In the Timaeus not accurately quoted.

[194] As Plato said in the Timaeus, 37.

[195] See iv. 9.5.

[196] See vi. 8.11.

[197] Odyss. xix. 178.

[198] See i. 2.2.

[199] See iv. 3.1.

[200] See ii. 2.2.

[201] See the beginning of Plato's Republic, ix.

[202] See i. 8.7.

[203] Because they do not allow of mutual penetration.

[204] See iv. 8.5.

[205] As thought Numenius 29.

[206] See ii. 3.

[207] See i. 8.14.

[208] See Acts, xvii. 25, 27, 28.

[209] See iv. 3.7, following the Phaedrus of Plato.

[210] Cupid and Psyche, as interpreted by Apuleius.

[211] See iii. 5.2.

[212] See iii. 5.4.

[213] See iii. 5.7-9.

[214] See v. 5.11; i. 6.7, 8; v. 8.4; vi. 9.11. It has been contended
that this was a description of the Isiac temple in Rome.

[215] Num. 10.

[216] By virtue of which, according to the Pythagoreans, the dyad
"dared" to issue from the unity.

[217] That is the desire which leads souls to separate themselves
primitively from the divinity, and to unite themselves to bodies.

[218] We have seen this elsewhere, i. 3.1.

[219] See ii. 2.3.

[220] Iliad xx. 65.

[221] See vi. 4.4.

[222] As said Heraclitus, Plutarch, Banquet, iv. 4.

[223] See iv. 7.10.

[224] See i. 2.3; iv. 3.11.

[225] See iii. 9.5.

[226] As thought Plato in his Cratylus, C. xi. 39, and Macrobins, in
his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, i. 11.

[227] See i. 8.2; ii. 9.2.

[228] See iii. 7.2-4.

[229] See v. 9.2, 7.

[230] See vi. 2.

[231] See vi. 8.

[232] See vi. 3.

[233] See iii. 6.1.

[234] Pun on "ideas" and "forms."

[235] vi. 9. 11. This seems to refer to the Roman temple of Isis in
front of which stood the statues of the divinities, vi. 9.11.

[236] Would be soul, instead of intelligence.

[237] See v. 4.1.

[238] See iii. 8.10.

[239] As thought Plato, Laws, x.; see ii. 2.3.

[240] See iii. 6.19.

[241] As thought Plato, in the Cratylos, C. xi. 39.

[242] This paragraph is founded on Numenius 36, 39.

[243] See Plato's Second Letter, 312; in English, Burges, p. 482; i.

[244] In Timaeus, 34.

[245] In his Timaeus, C43.

[246] As quoted by Clemens Al. Strom. vi. p. 627.

[247] In Simplicius, Comm. in Phys. Arist., 9.

[248] See Plato's Sophists, C244.

[249] See ii. 7.7.

[250] See ii. 1.2.

[251] See ii. 4.7.

[252] See Metaph. xii. 7.8.

[253] Referring to Numenius's work on "The Good," and on the
"Immateriality of the Soul."

[254] In the Acibiades, C36.

[255] See i. 1.9.

[256] In his Timaeus, C30.

[257] In the Phaedrus.

[258] See iii. 6.5.

[259] See v. 3.3.

[260] From the circumference, see iii. 8.7.

[261] Cicero, Tusculans, i. 22.

[262] See i. 4.9.

[263] See iii. 9.9.

[264] See iii. 8.9.

[265] iii. 9.4.

[266] iii. 8.9.

[267] See v. 1.7.

[268] See i. 1.8; iv. 9.3.

[269] See iii. 4.1, 2.

[270] Fragment belonging here, apparently, but misplaced at end of next

[271] See v. 1.1.

[272] See iii. 4.2.

[273] See iv. 4.29; iv. 5.7.

[274] That is, in the principal power of the universal soul, see ii.

[275] See vi. 5; that is, within intelligence.

[276] Between celestial and terrestrial life; see iii. 4.6.

[277] See iii. 8.7.

[278] Met. vii. 3.

[279] Met. v. 8.

[280] Diog. Laertes vii. 61.

[281] See Cicero, de Nat. Deor. i. 15.

[282] Met. viii. 1.

[283] See vi. 7.

[284] See i. 8.4.

[285] See i. 8.15.

[286] Plotinos's six categories are identity, difference, being, life,
motion and rest. See v. 1; v. 2; vi. 2.

[287] Not the absolute eternal existence, nor the totality of the
constitutive qualities of a thing, as in ii. 6.

[288] Met. xii. 2.

[289] Met. i. 3.

[290] Met. xi. 6.

[291] See v. 1.9.

[292] As reported by Diog. Laert. ii. 2.

[293] Met. i. 4; vii. 13.

[294] de Nat. Deor. i. 24.

[295] Met. viii. 4.

[296] In the Timaeus, C49-52, Met. vii. 3.

[297] See ii. 7.3.

[298] In Met. iii. 4 and de Anima i. 2.5; ii. 5.

[299] In the Timaeus.

[300] See i. 8.9; ii. 4.12.

[301] Met. vii. 3, see iii. 6.7-19.

[302] Met. viii. 4.

[303] Met. i. 6.

[304] Met. vii. 7.

[305] See ii. 4.10.

[306] See ii. 7.3.

[307] Met. xii. 2.

[308] Met. vi. 1; vii. 5.

[309] See i. 2.1.

[310] In the Philebus, 252.

[311] The same definition is given of "evil" in i. 8.10-14.

[312] See i. 8.8.

[313] Physics. iii. 7.

[314] This paragraph interrupts the argument.

[315] Plato's spirit in the Timaeus, C79.

[316] The inferior soul, see ii. 3.18.

[317] In his Phaedrus, C246.

[318] Plato, Phaedo, C. i. 242.

[319] Plato, Tim. C77.

[320] Plato, Rep. x. p. 291.

[321] Plato, Tim. 91.

[322] The text is very difficult.

[323] Plato, Rep. x. p. 617-620.

[324] In the Timaeus.

[325] C90.

[326] Phaedo, p. 107, c. i. p. 300.

[327] Rep. x. 616, p. 234.

[328] In i. 2.8, 16.

[329] See ii. 9.18.

[330] As thought Aristotle, Met. v. 14.

[331] As thought Aristotle, Met. v. 30.

[332] As thought Plato, Letter 7, 343.

[333] As said Aristotle, Met. vii. 5.

[334] Phaedros C1,217.

[335] de Gen. An. 4.2.

[336] Adv. Math. 5.102 p. 355.

[337] Theataetus, C2,132.

[338] Rep. iv. E3,434.

[339] Theataetus, 176.

[340] Plato, Phaedo, 69.

[341] Pun on the word "logos," which means both reason and word.

[342] Plato, Phaedrus, 246.

[343] v. 1.1.

[344] In his Phaedrus, Et. 266.

[345] In v. 1.1.

[346] i. 3. 4, 5, 6; i. 6.

[347] In his Phaedrus, p. 248.

[348] In his Politician, p. 262.

[349] v. 1.

[350] In his Sophist., p. 253.

[351] See i. 2.3-6.

[352] Morals i. 34, 35; Nicom. Eth., vi. 8, 11.

[353] See iv. 1.22.

[354] See iii. 8.7.

[355] See iv. 2.2.

[356] See iv. 3.19, 22, 23; iv. 4.28.

[357] See iv. 3.20-22.

[358] Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 31-33.

[359] See 4.7.6, 7.

[360] Plutarch, de Plac. Phil. v. 21; Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 11. The
"predominating principle" had appeared in Plato's Timaeus, p. 41.

[361] Of the Timaeus, p. 35.

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. Inconsistent capitalization
has not been changed.

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 remedy them.

The "Index" near the beginning of the book actually is a Table of
Contents for the four-volume set.

Page 11: the last paragraph seems to end abruptly: "to prove that"

Page 94: "parent's" probably should be "parents'", but is unchanged

Page 236: the closing parenthesis for "(destiny)" also seems to be
the closing parenthesis for the phrase beginning "(because he is
given ...". There are several instances in this text where a closing
quotation mark is shared in a similar manner.

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 a combination of footnotes (indicated by
symbols) and endnotes (indicated by numbers). 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.

Footnotes sometimes were printed in a different sequence than their
anchors (as on page 60: third and fourth footnotes were printed in
incorrect sequence). and the symbols used for the anchors sometimes
were in a different sequence than the footnotes (as on page 72, second
and third symbols). Except as noted below, all footnotes have been
resequenced to match the sequence of their anchors.

Page 85: The last footnote is printed out of sequence and followed by
a paragraph that appears to be a final comment. In this eBook, that
footnote has been repositioned to be in the sequence of its anchor.

Pages 111 and 118: Anchor 134 (originally 29) originally referred to two
footnotes. In this eBook, they are footnotes 134 and 134a.

Pages 186 and 192: section "PLATO TEACHES THREE SPHERES OF
EXISTENCE.[242]" (originally 47) used an out-of-sequence endnote number
that matched the last endnote in the chapter; that endnote has been
repositioned to be in the overall footnote sequence.

Page 196: Footnote 267 (originally 5) has no anchor; the missing anchor
would be on page 193 or 194.

Page 242: Footnote 322 (originally 6) has no anchor; the missing anchor
would be on page 235.

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