Ennead 4.1. 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 center 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.
Ennead 4.2. How the Soul Mediates Between Indivisible and Divisible Essence.
OUTLINE OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF 4. 7.
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.
EXISTENCE OF DIVISIBLE BEINGS.
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.
DESCRIPTION OF INDIVISIBLE ESSENCE.
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, 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 center, 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 center, the radii’s principle, depend on what is indivisible, remaining attached thereto, though separating in every direction.
BETWEEN THEM IS AN INDIVISIBLE ESSENCE WHICH BECOMES DIVISIBLE WITHIN BODIES.
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.
BY PROCESSION THE SOUL CONNECTS THE TWO.
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, 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.
DIVISION AS THE PROPERTY OF BODIES, BUT NOT THE CHARACTERISTIC OF SOUL.
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. 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. 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.
SOUL AS BOTH ESSENTIALLY DIVISIBLE AND INDIVISIBLE.
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). Likewise, in this universe, there would be not one single soul (the universal Soul), but an infinite number of souls, separated from each other.
POLEMIC AGAINST THE STOIC PREDOMINATING PART OF THE SOUL.
Shall we have recourse to the (Stoic) “continuity of parts” 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.” 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?
THE SOUL HAS TO BE BOTH ONE AND MANIFOLD, EVEN ON THE STOIC HYPOTHESES.
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 center, 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: “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.
Ennead 4.3. Psychological Questions.
A. ARE NOT ALL SOULS PARTS OR EMANATIONS OF A SINGLE SOUL?
PSYCHOLOGY OBEYS THE PRECEPT “KNOW THYSELF,” AND SHOWS HOW WE ARE TEMPLES OF THE DIVINITY.
1. Among the questions raised about the soul, we purpose to solve here not only such as may be solved with some degree of assurance, but also such as may be considered matters of doubt, considering our researches rewarded by even only a definition of this doubt. This should prove an interesting study. What indeed better deserves careful examination and close scrutiny than what refers to the soul? Among other advantages, the study of the soul has that of making known to us two order of things, those of which she is the principle, and those from which she herself proceeds. This examination will be in line with the divine precept to “know ourselves.” Before seeking to discover and understand the remainder, it is no more than right first to apply ourselves to finding out the nature of the principle that embarks in these researches; and as we are seeking what is lovable, we will do well to contemplate the most beautiful of spectacles (that of our own intellectual nature); for if there be a duality, in the universal (Soul), so much more likely will there be a duality in individual intelligences. We should also examine the sense in which it may be said that souls are sanctuaries of the divinity; but this question will not admit of solution till after we have determined how the soul descends into the body.
ARE INDIVIDUAL SOULS EMANATIONS OF THE UNIVERSAL SOUL?
Now we must consider whether our souls themselves are (emanations) from the universal Soul. It may be insisted that, to demonstrate that our souls are not particles of the universal Soul, it does not suffice to show that our souls go as far (in their procession) as the universal Soul, nor that they resemble (the universal Soul) in their intellectual faculties, granting indeed that such a resemblance be admitted; for we might say that parts conform to the whole they compose. We might invoke Plato’s authority, and insist that he teaches this opinion in that (part of the Philebus ) where he affirms that the universe is animate: “As our body is a part of the universe, our soul is a part of the Soul of the universe.” We might add that (Plato) states and clearly demonstrates that we follow the circular movement of heaven, that from it we receive, our moral habits and condition; that as we were begotten in the universe, our soul must be derived from the surrounding universe; and as each part of us participates in our soul, we ourselves should participate in the Soul of the universe, of which we are parts in the same way as our members are parts of ourselves. Last, we might quote the following words: “The universal Soul takes care of all that is inanimate.” This sentence seems to mean that there is no soul outside of the universal Soul; for it is the latter that cares for all that is inanimate.
CONFORMITY TO THE UNIVERSAL SOUL IMPLIES THAT THEY ARE NOT PARTS OF HER.
2. Consider the following answers. To begin with, the assertion that souls conform (to each other), because they attain the same objects, and the reduction of them to a single kind, implicitly denies that they are parts (of the universal Soul). We might better say that the universal Soul is one and identical, and that each soul is universal (that is, that she conforms to the universal Soul, because she possesses all the latter’s powers). Now, assertion of the unity of the universal Soul defines her as being something different (from individual souls); namely, a principle which, specially belonging neither to one nor the other, neither to an individual, nor to a world, nor to anything else, itself carries out what is carried out by the world and every living being. It is right enough to say that the universal Soul does not belong to any individual being, inasmuch as she is (pure) being; it is right enough that there should be a Soul which is not owned by any being, and that only individual souls should belong to individual beings.
LIMITATIONS TO THE USE OF THE TERM “PARTS,” IN PHYSICAL THINGS.
But we shall have to explain more clearly the sense in which the word “parts” must here be taken. To begin with, there is here no question of parts of a body, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous. We shall make but a single observation, namely, that when treating of homogeneous bodies, parts refer to mass, and not to form. For instance, take whiteness. The whiteness of one part of the milk, is not a part of the whiteness of all the milk in existence; it is the whiteness of a part, and not the part of whiteness; for, taken in general, whiteness has neither size nor quantity. Only with these restrictions can we say that there are parts in the forms suitable to corporeal things.
WHEN APPLIED TO INCORPOREAL THINGS, “PARTS” HAVE DIFFERENT SENSES.
Further, treating of incorporeal things, “parts” is taken in several senses. Speaking of numbers, we may say that two is a part of ten (referring exclusively to abstract numbers). We may also say that a certain extension is a part of a circle or line. Further, a notion is said to be a part of science.
SUCH MATHEMATICAL SENSES CANNOT BE APPLIED TO THE SOUL.
When dealing with numbers and geometrical figures, as well as with bodies, it is evident that the whole is necessarily diminished by its division into parts, and that each part is smaller than the whole. Rightly, these things should be susceptible to increase or diminution, as their nature is that of definite quantities, not quantity in itself. It is surely not in this sense that, when referring to the soul, we speak of quantities. The soul is not a quantity such as a “dozen,” which forms a whole divisible into unities; otherwise, we would end in a host of absurdities, since a group of ten is not a genuine unity. Either each one of the unities would have to be soul, or the Soul herself result from a sum of inanimate unities.
ACTUAL DIVISION INTO PARTS WOULD BE TANTAMOUNT TO A DENIAL OF THE WHOLE.
Besides, our opponents have granted that every part of the universal Soul conforms to the whole. Now, in continuous quantities, it is by no means necessary that the part should resemble the whole. Thus, in the circle and the quadrilateral (the parts are not circles or quadrilaterals). All the parts of the divided object (from which a part is taken) are not even similar to each other, but vary in manifold ways, such as the different triangles of which a single triangle might be composed. Our opponents also acknowledge that the universal Soul is composed of parts that conform to the whole. Now, in a line, one part might also be a line, while differing from the whole in magnitude. But when we speak of the soul, if the difference of the part from the whole consisted in a difference of size, the soul would be a magnitude and a body; for then she would differentiate in quantity by psychic characteristics. But this would be impossible if all souls be considered similar and universal. It is evident that the soul cannot, like magnitudes, be further divided; and even our opponents would not claim that the universal Soul is thus divided into parts. This would amount to destroying the universal Soul, and reducing her to a mere name, if indeed in this system a prior universal (Soul) can at all be said to exist. This would place her in the position of wine, which might be distributed in several jars, saying that the part of the wine contained in each of them is a portion of the whole.
NOR IS THE SOUL A PART IN THE SENSE THAT ONE PROPOSITION IS A PART OF A SCIENCE.
Nor should we (apply to the soul) the word “part” in the sense that some single proposition is a part of the total science. In this case the total science does not remain any less the same (when it is divided), and its division is only as it were the production and actualization of each of its component parts. Here each proposition potentially contains the total science, and (in spite of its division), the total science remains whole.
THE DIFFERENCE OF FUNCTIONS OF THE WORLD-SOUL AND INDIVIDUAL SOULS MAKES ENTIRE DIVISION BETWEEN THEM IMPOSSIBLE.
If such be the relation of the universal Soul to the other souls, the universal Soul, whose parts are such, will not belong to any particular being, but will subsist in herself. No longer will she be the soul of the world. She will even rank with the number of souls considered parts. As all souls would conform to each other, they would, on the same grounds, be parts of the Soul that is single and identical. Then it would be inexplicable that some one soul should be Soul of the world, while some other soul should be one of the parts of the world.
ARE INDIVIDUAL SOULS PART OF THE WORLD-SOUL AS IS THE LOCAL CONSCIOUSNESS OF SOME PART OF THE BODY TO THE WHOLE CONSCIOUSNESS?
3. Are individual souls parts of the universal Soul as, in any living organism, the soul that animates (or vivifies) the finger is a part of the entire soul back of the whole animal? This hypothesis would force us to the conclusion either that there is no soul outside of the body, or that the whole universal Soul exists entire, not in a body, but outside of the body of the world. This question deserves consideration. Let us do so by an illustration.
STUDY OF THE QUESTION BY OBSERVATION OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM.
If the universal Soul communicate herself to all individual animals, and if it be in this sense that each soul is a part of the universal Soul—for as soon as she would be divided, the universal Soul could not communicate herself to every part—the universal must be entire everywhere, and she must simultaneously be one and the same in different beings. Now this hypothesis no longer permits us to distinguish on one hand the universal Soul, and on the other the parts of this soul, so much the more as these parts have the same power (as the universal Soul); for even for organs whose functions are different, as the eyes and ears, it will not be claimed that there is one part of the soul in the eyes, and another in the ears—such a division would suit only things that have no relation with the soul. We should insist that it is the same part of the soul which animates these two different organs, exercising in each of them a different faculty. Indeed, all the powers of the soul are present in these two senses (of sight and hearing), and the only cause of the difference of their perceptions is the differences of the organs. Nevertheless all perceptions belong to forms (that is, to faculties of the soul), and reduce to a form (the soul) which can become all things (?). This is further proved by the fact that the impressions are forced to come and center in an only center Doubtless the organs by means of which we perceive cannot make us perceive all things, and consequently the impressions differ with the organs. Nevertheless the judgment of these impressions belongs to one and the same principle, which resembles a judge attentive to the words and acts submitted to his consideration. We have, however, said above that it is one and the same principle which produces acts belonging to different functions (as are sight and hearing). If these functions be like the senses, it is not possible that each of them should think; for the universal alone would be capable of this. If thought be a special independent function, every intelligence subsists by itself. Further, when the soul is reasonable, and when she is so in a way such as to be called reasonable in her entirety, that which is called a part conforms to the whole, and consequently is not a part of the whole.
INTELLECTUAL DIFFICULTY OF THE SOUL BEING ONE AND YET IN ALL BEINGS.
4. If the universal Soul be one in this manner, what about consequences of this (conception)? Might we not well doubt the possibility of the universal Soul’s simultaneously being one, yet present in all beings? How does it happen that some souls are in a body, while others are discarnate? It would seem more logical to admit that every soul is always in some body, especially the universal Soul. For it is not claimed, for the universal Soul, as it is for ours, that she ever abandons her body, and though it be by some asserted that the universal Soul may one day leave her body, it is never claimed that she would ever be outside of any body. Even admitting that some day she should be divided from all body, how does it happen that a soul could thus separate, while some other could not, if at bottom both are of the same nature? As to Intelligence, such a question would be impossible; the parts into which it is divided are not distinguished from each other by their individual difference, and they all exist together eternally, for Intelligence is not divisible. On the contrary, as the universal Soul is divisible within the bodies, as has been said, it is difficult to understand how all the souls proceed from the unitary (pure) Being.
THE HEALTHY SOUL CAN WORK, THE SICK SOUL IS DEVOTED TO HER BODY.
This question may be answered as follows. The unitary Being (that is Intelligence), subsists in itself without descending into the bodies. From unitary Being proceed the universal Soul and the other souls, which, up to a certain point, exist all together, and form but a single soul so far as they do not belong to any particular individual (contained in the sense-world). If, however, by their superior extremities they attach themselves to Unity, if within it they coincide, they later diverge (by their actualization), just as on the earth light is divided between the various dwellings of men, nevertheless remaining one and indivisible. In this case, the universal Soul is ever elevated above the others because she is not capable of descending, of falling, of inclining towards the sense-world. Our souls, on the contrary, descend here below, because special place is assigned to them in this world, and they are obliged to occupy themselves with a body which demands sustained attention. By her lower part, the universal Soul resembles the vital principle which animates a great plant, and which there manages everything peaceably and noiselessly. By their lower part our souls are similar to those animalculæ born of the decaying parts of plants. That is the image of the living body of the universe. The higher part of our soul, which is similar to the higher part of the universal Soul, might be compared to a farmer who, having noticed the worms by which the plant is being devoured, should apply himself to destroying them, and should solicitously care for the plant. So we might say that the man in good health, and surrounded by healthy people, is entirely devoted to his duties or studies; the sick man, on the contrary, is entirely devoted to his body, and becomes dependent thereon.
SOULS RETAIN BOTH THEIR UNITY AND DIFFERENCES ON DIFFERENT LEVELS.
5. How could the universal Soul simultaneously be the soul of yourself and of other persons? Might she be the soul of one person by her lower strata, and that of somebody else by her higher strata? To teach such a doctrine would be equivalent to asserting that the soul of Socrates would be alive while being in a certain body, while she would be annihilated (by losing herself within the universal Soul) at the very moment when (as a result of separation of the body) she had come into what was best (in the intelligible world). No, none of the true beings perishes. Not even the intelligences lose themselves up there (in the divine Intelligence), because they are not divided as are bodies, and each subsists in her own characteristics, to their differences joining that identity which constitutes “being.” Being located below the individual intelligences to which they are attached, individual souls are the “reasons” (born) of the intelligences, or more developed intelligences; from being but slightly manifold, they become very much so, while remaining in communion with the slightly manifold beings. As however they tend to introduce separation in these less divisible beings (that is, intelligences), and as nevertheless they cannot attain the last limits of division, they simultaneously preserve both their identity and difference. Each one remains single, and all together form a unity.
SOULS DEVELOP MANIFOLDNESS JUST AS INTELLIGENCE DOES.
We have thus succeeded in establishing the most important point of the discussion, namely, that all souls proceed from a single Soul, that from being one they become manifold, as is the case with the intelligences, divided in the same way, and similarly undivided. The Soul that dwells in the intelligible world is the one and indivisible reason (born) of intelligence, and from this Soul proceed the particular immaterial “reasons,” in the same manner as on high (the individual intelligences proceed from the one and absolute Intelligence).
WHY SHOULD CREATION BE PREDICATED OF THE UNIVERSAL SOUL AND NOT OF THE HUMAN?
6. If there be similarity between the universal Soul and the individual souls, how does it happen that the former created the world, while the others did not do so, though each of them also contain all things within herself, and since we have already shown that the productive power can exist simultaneously in several beings? By explaining its “reason” we can thus examine and discover how the same nature (“being”) can act or experience, or act and experience, in a different manner in different beings.
THE WORLD-SOUL ALONE CREATES BECAUSE SHE REMAINS NEAREST THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
How and why did the universal Soul make the universe, while the individual souls only manage a part thereof? That is not more surprising than to see, among men who possess the same knowledge, some command a greater number, and others a lesser. This is the case because there is a great difference between souls. Some, instead of separating from the universal Soul, have remained in the intelligible world, and still contain the body (of the universal), while others, when the body (of the universe) already existed, and while the universal Soul, their sister, governed it, accepted destinies assigned them by fate, as if (the universal Soul) had prepared for them dwellings to receive them. Besides, the universal Soul contemplates universal Intelligence, and the individual souls rather contemplate individual intelligences. These souls might indeed possibly have also been capable of making the universe; but that is no longer possible to them now that the universal Soul has already done it, and has preceded them. Besides, the very same question would have arisen even if an entirely different soul had first made the universe. Perhaps it is better to state that if the universal Soul has created the universe, it is chiefly because she is more closely related to intelligible entities, for the souls that are nearest thereto are the most powerful. Maintaining themselves in this quiet region, they act with greater facility; for to act without suffering is the sign of a greater power. Thus the power depending on the intelligible world abides within itself, and by abiding within itself, produces. The other souls, descending towards the body, withdraw from the intelligible world, and fall into the abyss (of matter). Perhaps also the element of manifoldness within them, finding itself drawn towards the lower regions, along with it dragged the conceptions of those souls, and made them descend hither. Indeed the distinction of the second or third rank for souls must be understood in this sense that some are nearer, and some further from the intelligible world. Likewise, among us, all souls are not equally disposed in regard to this world. Some succeed in uniting with it, others approach it by their aspirations; others do not quite succeed, because they do not all use the same faculties, and some use the first, others the second, and some the third, though they all equally possess all faculties.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL AND UNIVERSAL SOULS.
7. That is what seems true to us. As to the Philebus passage (quoted in the first section), it might mean that all souls were parts of the universal Soul. That, however, is not its true meaning, as held by some. It only means what Plato desired to assert in this place, namely, that heaven is animate. Plato proves this by saying that it would be absurd to insist that heaven has no soul, when our body, which is only a part of the body of the universe, nevertheless has a soul; but how could a part be animate, unless the whole was so also? It is especially in the Timæus that Plato clearly expresses his thought. After having described the birth of the universal Soul, he shows the other souls born later from the mixture made in the same vase from which the universal Soul was drawn. He asserts that they are similar to the universal Soul, and that their difference consists in that they occupy the second or third rank. That is further confirmed by this passage of the Phædrus: “The universal Soul cares for what is inanimate.” Outside of the Soul, indeed, what power would manage, fashion, ordain and produce the body? It would be nonsense to attribute this power to one soul, and not to another. (Plato) adds (in substance): “The Perfect Soul, the Soul of the universe, hovering in the ethereal region, acts on the earth without entering into it, being borne above him as in a chariot. The other souls that are perfect share with it the administration of the world.” When Plato speaks of the soul as having lost her wings, he is evidently distinguishing individual souls from the universal Soul. One might also conclude that our souls are part of the universal Soul from his statement that the souls follow the circular movement of the universe, that from it they derive their characteristics, and that they undergo its influence. Indeed, they might very easily undergo the influence exercised by the nature of the special localities, of the waters and the air of the towns they inhabit, and the temperament of the bodies to which they are joined. We have indeed acknowledged that, being contained in the universe, we possess something of the life-characteristic of the universal Soul, and that we undergo the influence of the circular movement of the heavens. But we have also shown that there is within us another (rational) soul, which is capable of resistance to these influences, and which manifests its different character precisely by the resistance she offers them. The objection that we are begotten within the universe may be answered by the fact that the child is likewise begotten within its mother’s womb, and that nevertheless the soul that enters into its body is distinct from that of its mother. Such is our solution of the problem.
SYMPATHY BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL AND UNIVERSAL SOUL COMES FROM COMMON SOURCE.
8. The sympathy existing between souls forms no objection. For this sympathy might be explained by the fact that all souls are derived from the same principle from which the universal Soul also is derived. We have already shown that there is one Soul (the universal) and several souls (human souls); and we have also defined the difference between the parts and the whole. Last, we have also spoken of the difference existing between souls. Let us now return to the latter point.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOULS.
This difference between souls is caused principally by the constitution of the bodies they animate; also by the moral habits, the activities, the thoughts and behavior of these souls in earlier existence. According to Plato the choice of the souls’ condition depends on their anterior existence. On observing the nature of souls in general, we find that Plato recognizes differences between them by saying that some souls occupy the second or third ranks. Now we have said that all souls are (potentially) all things, that each is characterized by the faculty principally exercised thereby, that is, that some souls unite with the intelligible world by actualization, while others do so in thought or desire. Souls, thus contemplating different objects, are and become all that they contemplate. Fullness and perfection also belong to soul, but in this respect they are not all identical, because variety is the law that directs their co-ordination. Indeed, the universal reason is on the one hand manifold, and on the other varied, like a being that is animate, and which possesses manifold forms. In this case, there is co-ordination; beings are not entirely separated from each other, and there is no place for chance either in real beings, nor in bodies; consequently the number of beings is definite. To be individual, beings must first be stable, then they must remain identical, and last, they must numerically be one in order to achieve individuality. Bodies which by nature perpetually ooze away, because for them form is something incidental, never possess formal existence but by their participation in (and imitation of), genuine “Beings.” On the contrary, for the latter, that are not composite, existence consists in each of them being numerically single, in possessing this unity which dates from the beginning, which does not become what it was not, and which will never cease being what it is. If indeed they cannot exist without some producing principle, that principle will not derive them from matter. It will have to add to them something from its own being. But if intelligible entities thus have at times more, and at times less, perfection, they will change; which would contradict their (nature, or) “being,” which is to remain identical. Why indeed should they become such as they are now, and why should they not always have been such as they now are? Further, if they be at times more or less perfect, if they “become,” they are not eternal. But it is granted that the Soul (as an intelligible being) is eternal.
LIKE THE DIVINITY, THE SOUL IS ALWAYS ONE.
(It might still be asked) whether what is stable can be called infinite? That which is stable is potentially infinite, because its power is infinite without being also infinitely divided; for the divinity too is infinite. Thus each soul is what the divinity’s nature is, without receiving from any other either limit or determinate quantity. The soul extends as far as she wishes. She is never forced to go further, but everywhere she descends towards bodies and penetrates into them, according to her nature. Besides, she never separates from herself, though present in finger or in foot. Not otherwise is it with the universe: wherever the Soul penetrates, she ever remains indivisible, as when she penetrates into the different parts of a plant. Then, if you cut a certain part, the principle which communicates life to it remains present both in the plant and in the part detached therefrom. The body of the universe is single, and the Soul is everywhere in her unity.
SOUL POWERS REMAIN THE SAME THROUGHOUT ALL CHANGES OF BODY.
When numberless vermin arise out of the putrefaction of a body, they do not derive their life from the soul of the entire animal; the latter has abandoned the body of the animal, and, being dead, no longer dwells in the body. But the matter derived from putrefaction, being well suited for the generation of vermin, each receives a different soul, because the (universal) Soul is not lacking anywhere. Nevertheless, as one part of the body is capable of receiving her, while another is not, the parts that thus become animated do not increase the number of souls; for each of these little beings depends, as far as she remains one, on the single Soul (that is, on the universal Soul). This state of affairs resembles that in us. When some parts of our bodies are cut off, and when others grow in their place, our soul abandons the former, and unites with the latter, in so far as she remains one. Now the Soul of the universe ever remains one; and though amidst things contained within this universe, some are animate, while others are inanimate, the soul-powers nevertheless remain the same.
B. WHY AND HOW DO SOULS DESCEND INTO BODIES?
TWO KINDS OF TRANSMIGRATION.
9. Let us now examine how it happens that the soul descends into the body, and in what manner this occurs; for it is sufficiently astonishing and remarkable. For a soul, there are two kinds of entrance into a body. The first occurs when the soul, already dwelling in a body, undergoes a transmigration; that is, passes from an aerial or igneous body into a terrestrial body. This is not usually called a transmigration, because the condition from which the soul comes is not visible. The other kind occurs when the soul passes from an incorporeal condition into any kind of a body, and thus for the first time enters into relations with a body.
STUDY OF FIRST INCARNATION.
We must here examine what, in the latter case, is experienced by the soul which, till then pure from all dealings with the body, for the first time surrounds herself with that kind of a substance. Besides, it is not only just but even necessary for us to begin by a consideration of (this event in) the universal Soul. To say that the Soul enters the body of the universe and comes to animate it, is no more than a statement made to clarify our thoughts; for the succession in her actions thus established is purely verbal. There never was a moment when the universe was not animated, when its body existed without the Soul, or when matter existed without form. But these things can be separated in thought and speech, since as soon as an object is formed, it is always possible to analyze it by thought and speech. That is the truth.
HOW THE UNIVERSE IS ANIMATED BY THE WORLD SOUL.
If there were no body, the soul could not have any procession, since the body is the natural locality of her development. As the soul must extend, she will beget a receiving locality, and will, consequently, produce the body. The soul’s rest is based, and depends for growth on (the intellectual category of) rest itself. The soul thus resembles an immense light which weakens as it becomes more distant from its source, so that at the extremity of its radiation, it has become no more than an adumbration. However, the soul evidently gave a form to this adumbration from the very beginning of things. It was, indeed, by no means suitable that what approached the soul should in no way participate in reason; consequently there came to be an adumbration of reason in (matter), this adumbration being the soul. The universe thus became a beautiful and varied dwelling, which was not deprived of the presence of the universal Soul by her not totally incorporating within it. She judged that the whole universe was worthy of her care, and she thus gave it as much “being” and beauty as it was able to receive, without herself losing any of it, because she manages the world while herself remaining above it in the intelligible sphere. By so animating it, she thus grants it her presence, without becoming its property; she dominates it, and possesses it, without being, thereby, dominated or possessed. The universe, indeed, is in the containing Soul, and participates therein entirely. (The universe is in the Soul as is) a net in the sea, on all sides penetrated and enveloped by life, without ever being able to appropriate it. So far as it can, this net extends along with the sea, for none of its parts could be elsewhere than it is. By nature the universal Soul is immense, because her magnitude is not definite; so that by one and the same power she embraces the entire body of the world, and is present throughout the whole extension. Without it, the world-Soul would make no effort to proceed into extension, for by herself she is all that it is her nature to be. The magnitude of the universe therefore is determined by that of the location of the Soul; and the limits of its extent are those of the space within which it is animated by her. The extension of the adumbration of the Soul is therefore determined by that of the “reason” which radiates from this focus of light; and on the other hand, this “reason” was to produce such an extension as its nature urged it to produce.
THE WORLD-SOUL PROGRESSIVELY INFORMS ALL THINGS.
10. Now let us return to that which has always been what it is. Let us, in thought, embrace all beings: air, light, sun, and moon. Let us then consider the sun, the light, and so forth, as being all things, without ever forgetting that there are things that occupy the first rank, others the second, or the third. Let us, at the summit of this series of beings, conceive of the universal Soul as subsisting eternally. Let us then posit that which holds the first rank after her, and thus continue till we arrive at the things that occupy the last rank, and which, as it were, are the last glimmerings of the light shed by the soul. Let us represent these things as an extension first dark, and then later illuminated by the form which comes to impress itself on an originally dark background. This background is embellished by reason in virtue of the entire universal Soul’s independent power of embellishing matter by means of reasons, just as the “seminal reasons” themselves fashion and form animals as microcosms. According to its nature, the Soul gives a form to everything she touches. She produces without casual conception, without the delays of deliberation, or of those of voluntary determination. Otherwise, she would not be acting according to her nature, but according to the precepts of a borrowed art. Art, indeed, is posterior to nature. Art imitates by producing obscure and feeble imitations of nature’s works, toys without value or merit; and besides, art makes use of a great battery of apparatus to produce these images. On the contrary, the universal Soul, dominating bodies by virtue of her nature (“being”) makes them become and be what she desires; for the things themselves that exist since the beginning cannot raise resistance to her will. In inferior things, as the result of mutual obstruction, matter does not receive the exact form that the (“seminal) reason” contains in germ. But as the universal Soul produces the universal form, and as all things are therein co-ordinated, the work is beautiful because it is realized without trouble or obstacle. In the universe there are temples for the divinities, houses for men, and other objects adapted to the needs of other beings. What indeed could the Soul create if not what she has the power to create? As fire warms, as snow cools, the soul acts now within herself, and then outside of herself, and on other objects. The action which inanimate beings elicit from themselves slumbers, as it were, within them; and that which they exert on others consists in assimilating to themselves that which is capable of an experience. To render the rest similar to itself, is indeed the common characteristic of every being. The soul’s power of acting on herself and on others is a vigilant faculty. It communicates life to beings who do not have it in themselves, and the life communicated to them is similar to the life of the soul herself. Now as the soul lives in reason, she imparts a reason to the body, which reason is an image of the one she herself possesses. Indeed, what she communicates to the bodies is an image of life. She also imparts to them the shapes whose reasons she contains. Now as she possesses the reasons of all things, even of the divinities, the world contains all things.
THE UNIVERSAL SOUL AS MODEL OF REASON, AS INTERMEDIARY AND INTERPRETER.
11. The ancient sages, who wished to materialize the divinities by making statues of them, seem to me to have well judged the nature of the universe. They understood that the being of the universal Soul was easy to attract anywhere, that her presence can easily be summoned in everything suited to receive her action, and thus to participate somewhat in her power. Now anything is suited to undergo the action of the soul when it lends itself like a mirror to the reflection of any kind of an image. In the universe nature most artistically forms all beings in the image of the reasons it contains. In each of (nature’s) works the (“seminal) reason” that is united to matter, being the image of the reason superior to the matter (of the idea), reattaches itself to divinity (to Intelligence), according to which it was begotten, and which the universal Soul contemplated while creating. It was therefore equally impossible that there should be here below anything which did not participate in the divinity, and which the latter brought down here below; for (the divinity) is Intelligence, the sun that shines there on high. Let us consider (the universal Soul) as the model of reason. Below the Intelligence is the Soul, which depends on it, which subsists by and with it. The Soul holds to this sun (of Intelligence); the Soul is the intermediary by which the beings here below are reattached to intelligible beings; she is the interpreter of things which descend from the intelligible world into the sense-world, and of the things of the sense-world which return into the intelligible world. Indeed, intelligible things are not separated from each other; they are distinguished only by their difference and their constitution. Each of them remains within itself, without any relation to locality; they are simultaneously united and separate. The beings that we call divinities deserve to be considered such because they never swerve from intelligible entities, because they depend on the universal Soul considered in her principle, at the very moment of the Soul’s issuing from Intelligence. Thus these beings are divinities by virtue of the very principle to which they owe their existence, and because they devote themselves to the contemplation of Intelligence, from which the universal Soul herself does not distract her gaze.
SOULS ARE NOT CUT OFF FROM INTELLIGENCE DURING THEIR DESCENT AND ASCENT.
12. Human souls rush down here below because they have gazed at their images (in matter) as in the mirror of Bacchus. Nevertheless, they are not separated from their principle, Intelligence. Their intelligence does not descend along with them, so that even if by their feet they touch the earth, their head rises above the sky. They descend all the lower as the body, over which their intermediary part is to watch, has more need of care. But their father Jupiter, pitying their troubles, made their bonds mortal. At certain intervals, he grants them rest, delivering them from the body, so that they may return to inhabit the region where the universal Soul ever dwells, without inclining towards things here below. Indeed what the universe at present possesses suffices it both now and in the future, since its duration is regulated by eternal and immutable reasons, and because, when one period is finished, it again begins to run through another where all the lives are determined in accordance with the ideas. In that way all things here below are subjected to intelligible things, and similarly all is subordinated to a single reason, either in the descent or in the ascension of souls, or in their activities in general. This is proved by the agreement between the universal order and the movements of the souls which by descending here below, conform to this order without depending on it; and perfectly harmonize with the circular movement of heaven. Thus the actions, fortunes and destinies ever are prefigured in the figures formed by the stars. That is the symphony whose sound is so melodious that the ancients expressed it symbolically by musical harmony. Now this could not be the case unless all the actions and experiences of the universe were (well) regulated by reasons which determine its periods, the ranks of souls, their existences, the careers that they accomplish in the intelligible world, or in heaven, or on the earth. The universal Intelligence ever remains above the heaven, and dwelling there entirely, without ever issuing from itself; it radiates into the sense-world by the intermediation of the Soul which, placed beside it, receives the impression of the idea, and transmits it to inferior things, now immutably, and then changeably, but nevertheless in a regulated manner.
WHY SOULS TAKE ON DIFFERENT KINDS OF BODIES.
Souls do not always descend equally; they descend sometimes lower, sometimes less low, but always in the same kind of beings (among living beings). Each soul enters into the body prepared to receive her, which corresponds to the nature to which the soul has become assimilated by its disposition; for, according as the soul has become similar to the nature of a man or of a brute, she enters into a corresponding body.
HOW SOULS COME TO DESCEND.
13. What is called inevitable necessity and divine justice consists in the sway of nature which causes each soul to proceed in an orderly manner into the bodily image which has become the object of her affection, and of her predominating disposition. Consequently the soul, by her form, entirely approaches the object towards which her interior disposition bears her. Thus she is led and introduced where she is to go; not that she is forced to descend at any particular moment into any particular body; but, at a fixed moment, she descends as it were spontaneously where she ought to enter. Each (soul) has her own hour. When this hour arrives, the soul descends as if a herald was calling her, and she penetrates into the body prepared to receive her, as if she had been mastered and set in motion by forces and powerful attractions exerted by magic. Similarly in an animal, nature administers all the organs, solves or begets everything in its own time, grows the beard or the horns, gives special inclinations and powers to the being, whenever they become necessary. Similarly, in plants, (nature) produces flowers or fruits at the proper season. The descent of souls into the bodies is neither voluntary nor forced; it is not voluntary, since it is not chosen or consented to by souls. It is not compulsory, in the sense that the latter obey only a natural impulsion, just as one might be led to marriage, or to the accomplishment of various honest actions, rather by instinct than by reasoning. Nevertheless, there is always something fatal for each soul. One accomplishes her destiny at some one moment; the other soul at some other moment. Likewise, the intelligence that is superior to the world also has something fatal in its existence, since itself has its own destiny, which is to dwell in the intelligible world, and to make its light radiate therefrom. Thus individuals come here below by virtue of the common law to which they are subjected. Each one, indeed, bears within himself this common law, a law which does not derive its power from outside, but which depends on the nature of those who are subject to it, because it is innate in them. Consequently all voluntarily carry out its decrees at the predestined time, because this law impels them to their goal; and because, deriving its force from those whom it commands, it presses and stimulates them and inspires them with the desire to go whither their interior vocation calls them.
BY A PUN ON “WORLD” AND “ADORNMENT,” PLOTINUS SHOWS MEN ADD TO THE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD.
14. That is how this world, which already contains many lights, and which is illuminated by souls, finds itself still further adorned by the various beauties derived from different beings. It receives beauties from the intelligible divinities and from the other intelligences which furnish it with souls. This is probably the allegorical intent of the following myth.
BY A PUN ON “PROMETHEUS” AND “PROVIDENCE,” PLOTINUS EMPLOYS THE MYTH OF PANDORA.
(Following both Hesiod and the Gnostics, Plotinus relates that) a woman was formed by Prometheus, and adorned by the other divinities. This piece of clay, after having been kneaded with water, was endowed with a human voice, and received a form similar to the deities. Then Venus, the Graces and the other deities each gave her a gift. That is why this woman was called Pandora, because (as her name implies, in Greek) she had received gifts, which had been given by all the divinities. All, in fact, made some present to this piece of clay already fashioned by some kind of providence (“Prometheia,” or “Prometheus”). When Epimetheus rejects the gift of Prometheus, it only indicates that it is better to live in the intelligible world. The creator of Pandora, however, is bound because he seems attached to his work. But this bond is entirely exterior, and it is broken by Hercules, because the latter possesses a liberating power. Whatever other interpretation the myth of Pandora may receive, it must still signify gifts received by the world, and its import must agree with our teaching.
WHY MANY SOULS SUCCUMB TO THE LAW OF THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE.
15. On descending from the intelligible world, souls first come into heaven, and they there take a body by means of which they pass even into terrestrial bodies, according as they more or less advance (outside of the intelligible world). There are some who issue from heaven into the bodies of an inferior nature; there are some also who pass from one body into another. The latter no longer have the power to reascend into the intelligible world because they have forgotten; they are weighted down by the burden they carry along with themselves. Now souls differ either by the bodies to which they are united, or by their different destinies, or by their kind of life, or by their primitive nature. Thus differing from each other in all these relations, or in only some, the souls here below either succumb to fate, or are alternately subjected to it, and liberated; or, while supporting what is necessary, preserve the liberty of devoting themselves to actions that are characteristic of them, and live according to some other law, following the order that rules the whole universe. This order embraces all the (“seminal) reasons,” and all the causes, the movements of the souls, and the divine laws. It agrees with these laws, it borrows from them its principles, and relates thereto all things that are its consequences. It preserves in an imperishable condition all the beings which are able to preserve themselves conformably to the constitution of the intelligible world. It leads the other beings whither their nature calls them, so that whithersoever they may descend, there is a cause which assigns to them some particular position or condition.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MISFORTUNES AND PUNISHMENTS.
16. The punishments which justly overtake the evil must therefore be derived from that Order which rules all things with propriety. The unjust evils, accidents, misery and diseases which seem to overwhelm the good, may all be said to be consequences of anterior faults. These evils are intimately related to the course of events, and are even represented therein by their signs, so that they seem to happen according to the Reason (of the universe). We must however acknowledge that they are not produced by natural “reasons,” that they are not within the purview of Providence, and that they are only its accidental consequences. Thus when a house happens to fall, it buries anybody below it, whoever he may happen to be; or again, whether some regular movement drives on some one thing, or even several things, it breaks or crushes anything that happens to lie in its path. These accidents which seem unjust, are not evils for those who suffer them, if you consider how they take their place within the legitimate order of the universe; perhaps even they constitute just chastisements and are the expiations of earlier faults. It would be incredible that one series of beings in the universe should obey its order, while another series should be subject to chance or caprice. If everything happen through causes and natural consequences, in conformity with a single “reason,” and to a single order, the smallest things must form part of that order, and agree with it. Injustice practiced against somebody else is an injustice for him who commits it, and must attract a punishment to him; but by the place which it holds in the universal order, it is not an injustice, even for him who suffers it. It had to be thus. If the victim of this injustice was an honest man, for him it can have only a happy ending. This universal order must not be accused of being undivine and unjust, but we should insist that distributive justice exercises itself with perfect propriety. If certain things seem worthy of blame, it is because they are due to secret causes that escape our knowledge.
FROM THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD, SOULS FIRST GO INTO HEAVEN.
17. From the intelligible world souls first descend into the heaven. For if the heaven is the best part of the sense-world, it must be nearest to the limits of the intelligible world. The celestial bodies are therefore the first that receive the souls, being most fitted to receive them. The terrestrial body is animated the last, and it is suited to the reception of an inferior soul only, because it is more distant from the incorporeal nature. All souls first illuminate the sky, and radiate from it their first and purest rays; the remainder is lit up by inferior powers. There are souls which, descending lower, illuminate inferior things; but they do not gain anything in getting so far from their origin.
THE DESCENDING GRADUATIONS OF EXISTENCE.
We must imagine a center, and around this center a luminous sphere that radiates from (Intelligence). Then, around this sphere, lies a second one that also is luminous, but only as a light lit from another light (the universal Soul). Then, beyond and outside of these spheres lies a further one, which no more is light, but which is illuminated only by an alien light, for lack of a light peculiar to (this world of ours). Outside of those two spheres there is indeed a rhomboid, or rather another sphere, that receives its light from the second sphere, and which receives it the more intensely, the closer it is thereto. The great light (Intelligence) sheds its light though remaining within itself, and the brilliancy that radiates around it (on to the soul) is “reason.” Other souls radiate also, some by remaining united to the universal Soul, others by descending lower in order better to illuminate the bodies to which they devote their care; but these cares are troublous. As the pilot who steers his ship over the troubled waves forgets himself in the effort of his work, to the point of forgetting that he exposes himself to perish with the ship in the shipwreck, likewise souls are dragged down (into the abyss of matter) by the attention they devote to the bodies that they govern. Then they are chained to their destiny, as if fascinated by a magic attraction, but really retained by the potent bonds of nature. If every body were as perfect as the universe, it would completely suffice itself, it would have no danger to fear, and the soul that is present within it, instead of this, could communicate life to it without leaving the intelligible world.
C. DOES THE SOUL EMPLOY DISCURSIVE REASON WHILE DISCARNATE?
THE SOUL DOES NOT USE DISCURSIVE REASON EXCEPT WHILE HINDERED BY THE OBSTACLES OF THE BODY.
18. Does the soul ratiocinate before entering upon the body, and after having left it? No: she reasons only while in a body, because she is uncertain, embarrassed and weakened. To need to reason in order to arrive at complete knowledge always betrays weakening of intellect. In the arts reasoning occurs only when the artist hesitates before some obstacle. Where there is no difficulty in the matter, art masters it, and produces its work instantly.
THE SOUL CAN REASON INTUITIONALLY WITHOUT RATIOCINATION.
(It might be objected) that if the souls on high do not reason, they will no longer be reasonable. They remain reasonable, however, because they are well able to penetrate into the essence of something, whenever the occasion demands it. Ratiocination should be considered as follows. If it consist in a disposition that is always derived from Intelligence, in an immanent act, a reflection of this power in souls, these must also reason in the intelligible world; but then they have no further need of language. Likewise, when they inhabit heaven, neither do they need to take recourse to speech, as do the souls here below, as a result of their needs and uncertainties. They act in an orderly manner, and in conformity with nature, without premeditation or deliberation. They know each other by a simple intuition, as even here below we know our like without their talking to us, by a mere glance. On high every body is pure and transparent. Each person there, is, as it were, an eye. Nothing is hidden or simulated. Before you have spoken, your thought is already known. It is probable that speech is used by the guardians and other living inhabitants of the air, for they are living beings.
D. HOW CAN THE SOUL SIMULTANEOUSLY BE DIVISIBLE AND INDIVISIBLE?
A DECISION WILL DEPEND ON THE MEANING OF THE TERMS.
19. Must we consider that (in the soul), the indivisible and the divisible are identical, as if they were mingled together? Or should we consider the distinction between the indivisible and the divisible from some other point of view? Should the first be considered as the higher part of the soul, and the latter as the lower, just exactly as we say that one part of the soul is rational, and the other part is irrational? Such questions can be answered only by a close scrutiny of the nature of the divisibility and indivisibility of the soul.
THE BODY NEEDS THE SOUL FOR LIFE.
When Plato says that the soul is indivisible, he speaks absolutely. When he insists that she is divisible, it is always relatively (to the body). He does indeed say that she becomes divisible in the bodies, but not that she has become such. Let us now examine how, by her nature, the body needs the soul to live, and what necessity there is for the soul to be present in the entire body.
SENSE, GROWTH AND EMOTION TEND TOWARDS DIVISIBILITY.
By the mere fact that it feels by means of the entire body, every sense-power undergoes division. Since it is present everywhere, it may be said to be divided. But as, on the other hand, it manifests itself everywhere as a whole, it cannot really be considered as divided. We cannot go further than the statement that it becomes divisible in bodies. Some might object that it was divided only in the sense of touch. It is however also divided in the other senses, since it is always the same body that receives it, but only less so. The case is the same with the power of growth and nutrition; and if appetite have its seat in the liver, and anger in the heart, these appetites must be subject to the same conditions. Besides, it is possible that the body does not receive those appetites in a mixture, or that it receives them in some other manner, so that they result from some of the things that the body derives from the soul by participations. Reason and intelligence, however, are not communicated to the body because they stand in no need of any organs to fulfill their functions. On the contrary, they find in them only an obstacle to their operations.
THE SOUL AS A WHOLE OF TWO DISTINCT DIVISIBLE AND INDIVISIBLE PARTS.
Thus the indivisible and the divisible are in the soul two distinct parts, and not two things mingled together so as to constitute but a single one. They form a single whole composed of two parts, each of which is pure and separable from the other by its characteristic power. If then the part which in the body becomes divisible receives from the superior part the power of being indivisible, this same part might simultaneously be divisible and indivisible, as a mixture of divisible nature and of the (indivisible) power received by it from the higher part.
E. RELATIONS BETWEEN SOUL AND BODY.
IF FUNCTIONS ARE NOT LOCALIZED THE SOUL WILL NOT SEEM ENTIRELY WITHIN US.
20. Are the above-mentioned and other parts of the soul localized in the body, or are some localized, and others not? This must be considered, because if none of the parts of the soul are localized, and if we assert that they are nowhere either in or out of the body, the latter will remain inanimate, and we will not be able to explain the manner of the operations occurring by help of the organs. If, on the other hand, we assign a location in the body to certain parts of the soul, without localizing other parts, the unlocalized parts will seem not to be within us, and consequently not the whole of our soul will seem to be in the body.
SPACE IS CORPOREAL; THE BODY IS WITHIN THE SOUL.
Of the soul neither a part nor the whole is in the body as a locality. The property of space is to contain some body. Where everything is divided it is impossible for the whole to be in every part. But the soul is not body, and the soul contains the body rather than the body contains the soul.
NOR IS THE BODY A VASE, FOR PROXIMATE TRANSMISSION OF THE SOUL.
Nor is the soul in the body as in a vase. In this case, the body would be inanimate, and would contain the soul as in a vase or locality. If the soul be considered as concentrated in herself and as communicating to the body something of herself by “close transmission” (as the Stoics would say), that which the soul will transmit to this vase would for her become something lost.
MANY METAPHYSICAL OBJECTIONS TO THE CONCEPTION OF SOUL AS LOCALIZED.
Considering location in the strict sense of the word, it is incorporeal, and consequently cannot be a body. It would no longer need the soul. Besides (if the soul be in the body as if in a locality) the body will approach the soul by its surface, and not by itself. Many other objections can be raised to the theory that localizes the soul in the body. Under this hypothesis, indeed, place would have to be carried around along with the thing in which it will locate. But that which would carry place around with it (would be a monstrosity). Moreover, if the body be defined as being an interval, it will be still less true to say that the soul is in the body as a locality; for an interval should be empty; but the body is not empty, being within emptiness.
NOR IS THE SOUL IN THE BODY AS A QUALITY IN A SUBSTRATE.
Nor will the soul be in the body as (a quality) is in a substrate. The attribute of being a substrate is a mere affection, like a color, or a figure; but the soul is separable from the body.
NOR IS THE SOUL IN THE BODY AS A PART IN THE WHOLE.
Nor will the soul be in the body as a part in the whole; for the soul is not a part of the body. Nor is it a part of the living whole; for this would still demand explanation of the manner of this being within it. She will not be within it as wine in a jar, or as one jar in another, nor as one thing is within itself (as the Manicheans thought).
NOR IS THE SOUL IN THE BODY AS A WHOLE IN A PART.
Nor will the soul be in the body as a whole is in its parts; for it would be ridiculous to call the soul a whole, and the body the parts of that whole.
NOR WILL THE SOUL BE IN THE BODY AS FORM IN MATTER.
Nor will the soul be in the body as form is in matter; for the form that is engaged in matter is not separable. Moreover, that form descends upon matter implies the preliminary existence of matter; but it is the soul that produces form in matter; and therefore the soul must be distinct from form. Though the soul be not form begotten in matter, the soul might be a separable form; but this theory would still have to explain how this form inheres in the body, since the soul is separable from the body.
THE SOUL IS SAID TO BE IN THE BODY BECAUSE THE BODY ALONE IS VISIBLE.
All men say that the soul is in the body, however, because the soul is not visible, while the body is. Observing the body, and judging that it is animated because it moves and feels, we say that it has a soul, and we are thereby led to suppose that the soul is in the body. But if we could see and feel the soul, and if we could realize that she surrounds the whole body by the life she possesses, and that she extends around it equally on all sides till the extremities, we would say that the soul is in no way in the body, but that on the contrary the accessory is within its principle, the contained within the container, what flows within the immovable.
THIS LEAVES THE QUESTION OF THE MANNER OF THE SOUL’S PRESENCE.
21. How would we answer a person who, without himself making any statements in regard to the matter, should ask us how the soul is present to the body; whether the whole soul is present to the body in the same manner, or whether one of her parts is present in one way, and another in some other way?
THE SOUL IN A BODY AS A PILOT IN A SHIP.
Since none of the comparisons that we have formerly examined seems to express the relation of the soul to the body, properly we might say that the soul is in the body as the pilot is in the ship. This illustration is satisfactory in that it emphasizes the soul’s being separable from the body; but it does not properly indicate the presence of the soul in the body. If the soul be present in the body as a passenger in a ship, it would be there only by accident, and the illustration is not yet satisfactory if changed to the pilot’s presence in the ship he is steering; for the pilot is not present to the whole of the ship as the whole soul is in the body. One might illustrate the soul’s presence in the body as an art inheres in its instruments; as, for instance, in the helm, which might be supposed to be alive, containing the power of steering the ship skilfully. This is still unsatisfactory, because such an art comes from without. The soul might indeed be compared to a pilot who should be incarnated in his helm; and the soul might be in the body as in some natural instrument, so that the soul would move it at pleasure. This however might still fail to explain the manner in which the soul would exist in her instrument. Therefore, though the latter illustration is an improvement on the former, we must still seek one which closer approaches reality.
THE SOUL PRESENT IN THE BODY AS LIGHT IN AIR.
22. This is the better illustration: the soul is present in the body as light is present in air. Light is indeed present in air without being present to it; that is, light is present to the whole air without mingling with it, and light remains within itself while the air escapes. When the air, within which light radiates, withdraws from the light, the air keeps none of the light; but it is illuminated so long as the air remains subject to the action of light. Air, therefore, is in light, rather than light is in air. While explaining the generation of the universe, therefore, Plato properly locates the body (of the world) in the soul, and not the soul in the body. He also states that there is a part of the soul that contains the body, and another in which there is no body, in this sense, that there are soul-powers of which the body has no need. The case is similar with the other souls. Their powers in general are not present to bodies, and only those powers of which the body stands in need are present to it. These however are present to the body without being built up either on the members, or upon the body as a whole. For sensation, the faculty of feeling is entirely present to the whole organ which is feeling (as, for instance, to the whole brain); likewise for the other functions, the different faculties are each present to a different organ. I shall explain myself.
WHILE THE SOUL-POWER IS EVERYWHERE, THE PRINCIPLE OF ACTION IS LOCALIZED IN THE SPECIAL ORGAN.
23. Since, for the body, being animated amounts to being penetrated by the light shed by the soul, every part of the body participates therein in some particular manner. Each organ, according to its fitness, receives the power suitable to the function it fulfills Thus we may say that the power of sight resides in the eyes; that of hearing in the ears; that of taste in the tongue; that of smell in the nose; that of touch in the whole body, since, for the latter sense, the whole body is the organ of the soul. Now as the instruments for touch are the first nerves, which also possess the power of moving the organism, as they are the seat of this power; as, besides, the nerves originate in the brain, in the brain has been localized the principle of sensation and appetite—in short, the principle of the whole organism; no doubt because it was thought that the power which uses the organs is present in that part of the body where are the origins of these organs. It would have been better to say that it is the action of the power that makes use of the organs that originates in the brain; for that part of the body from which starts the movement impressed on the organ had to serve somewhat as a foundation for the power of the workman, a power whose nature is in harmony with that of the organ (it sets in motion); or rather, this part of the body does not serve as foundation for this power, for this power is everywhere, but the principle of the action is in that part of the body in which is the very principle of that organ.
REASON IS IN THE HEAD, BUT NOT IN THE BRAIN, WHICH IS THE SEAT OF THE INTERMEDIARY, THE POWER OF SENSATION.
On the other hand, as the power of sensation and the power of appetite, which belong to the sensible and imaginative soul, are beneath reason, because they are related to what is inferior, while reason is above, the result was that the ancients localized reason in the highest part of the animal, in the head; not that reason is in the brain, but because reason is seated in the sense-power, by the intermediation of which, only, reason may be said to reside in the brain. The sense-power, surely, had to be attributed to the body, and, within the body, to the organs most capable of lending themselves to its action. Reason, which has no (direct) dealing with the body, had however to be in relation with the sense-power, which is a form of the soul, and can participate in reason. The sense-power, does, to a certain extent, judge; and the power of imagination has something intellectual. Last, the appetite, and the desire somehow connect with imagination and reason. Reason, therefore, is in the head, not as in a locality, but because it is in relation with the sense-power which resides in that organ, as has been shown above.
GROWTH IS LOCALIZED IN THE LIVER, ANGER IN THE HEART.
As the power of growth, nutrition, and generation operates all through the entire body; and as it is by the blood that the body is nourished; as the blood is contained in the veins; and as the veins, as well as the blood, originate in the liver; this organ has been assigned as the seat of that part of the soul called appetite; for appetite is involved in the power of begetting, of feeding and increasing the body. Further as the blood (purified by respiration) is subtle, light, mobile and pure, the heart becomes a suitable instrument for the power of anger, for the blood that possesses these qualities starts from the heart. Therefore, with good reason, the heart is assigned as the seat of the turbulent convulsions of the power of anger.
F. WHERE GOES THE SOUL AFTER DEATH?
THE SOUL AFTER DEATH GOES TO THE PLACE SUITED TO IT BY RETRIBUTION.
24. Whither will the soul pass when she shall have left the body? She will not go where there is nothing suitable to receive her. She could not pass into what is not naturally disposed to receive her, unless there be something that would attract a soul that had lost her prudence. In this case, the soul remains in whatever is capable of receiving her, and follows it whither that (receptive matter) can exist and beget. Now as there are different places, it is necessary that the difference (of the dwellings in which the souls come to dwell) should be derived from the disposition of each soul, and of justice which reigns above beings. No one indeed could escape the punishment which unjust actions deserve. The divine law is inevitable, and possesses the power of carrying out the judgments (according to its decrees). The man who is destined to undergo a punishment is, in spite of himself, dragged towards that punishment, and is driven around by a movement that never stops. Then, as if wearied of struggling against things to which he desired to offer resistance, he betakes himself to the place that is suitable to him, and thus by a voluntary movement undergoes involuntary suffering. The law prescribes the greatness and duration of the punishment. Later, as a result of the harmony that directs everything in the universe, the end of the punishment endured by the soul coincides with the soul’s receiving strength to leave those places.
PURE INCORPOREAL SOULS DWELL WITHIN INTELLIGENCE IN DIVINITY.
The souls that have a body thereby feel the corporeal punishments they are undergoing. Pure souls, however, that do not carry along with them anything corporeal, necessarily enjoy the privilege of abiding in the incorporeal. Being free from having to dwell in anything corporeal as they have no bodies, they reside where is being and essence, and the divine; that is, in the divinity. There, in the divinity, with the intelligible beings, dwells the pure Soul. If you wish to locate the Soul still more exactly, go to where are the intelligible entities; and if you are looking for them, do not look for them with the eyes, as if they were (physical) bodies.
G. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF THE OPERATION OF MEMORY AND IMAGINATION?
COSMIC QUESTIONS ABOUT MEMORY DEPEND ON EXACT DEFINITION OF WHAT MEMORY IS.
25. Memory raises the following questions. Does memory generally remain with the bodies that have issued from here below? Does it subsist only in some of them? In this case is memory general or special, durable or transitory? These questions cannot be answered until we define that interior principle in us to which memory belongs. That is, we shall have to determine, not what is memory, but in what kind of beings it must exist by virtue of its nature, for elsewhere we have often defined and treated of memory itself. We must therefore exactly define that principle within us to which memory is natural.
MEMORY INAPPLICABLE EXCEPT TO BEINGS SUBJECT TO LIMITATIONS OF TIME.
As memory presupposes a knowledge or casual experience, memory cannot be attributed to beings that are impassible, and outside of the limitations of time. Memory is therefore inapplicable to the Divinity, to Essence, and to Intelligence, all of whom exist outside of time, as eternal and immutable, without a conception of priority or subsequentness, who ever abide in the same condition, without ever experiencing any change. How could that which is identical and immutable make use of memory, since it could neither acquire nor keep a disposition differing from the preceding one, nor have successive thoughts of which the one would be present, while the other had passed into the condition of being remembered?
THERE IS A TIMELESS MEMORY CONSISTING OF SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS.
It (may be objected) that nothing hinders Intelligence from knowing the changes of other beings, such as, for instance, the periodical revolutions of the world, without itself undergoing any change. But then it would have to follow the changes of the moving object, as it would think first of one thing, and then of another. Besides, thought is something else than memory, and we must not apply to self-consciousness the name of memory. Indeed, intelligence does not busy itself with retaining its thoughts, and with hindering them from escaping; otherwise it might also fear lest it lose its own nature (“Being”). For the soul herself, remembering is not the same as recalling innate notions. When the soul has descended here below, she may possess these notions without thinking of them, especially if it be only recently that she entered into the body. The ancient philosophers seem to have applied the terms memory and reminiscence to the actualization by which the soul thinks of the entities she possesses; that (however) is a quite special kind of memory, entirely independent of time.
DEFINITION OF MEMORY DEPENDS ON WHETHER IT BELONGS TO THE SOUL OR ORGANISM.
But perhaps our solution seems superficial, and appears to rest on an insufficient analysis. It might indeed be asked whether memory and reminiscence, instead of belonging to the rational soul, might not characterize the lower soul, or the composite of soul and body that we call the organism? If indeed they belong to the lower soul, from where does the latter derive them, and how does she possess them? The same question may further be asked in the case of the organism. To answer all this, we shall, as said above, have to study our own interior principle to which memory belongs. If it be the soul that possesses memory, we shall have to ask what faculty or part thereof is constituted by memory. If, as has been urged by some, it be the organism to which memory belongs, and considering the organism as the sentient principle, how could this faculty operate within it? Besides, what is it that we should call the organism? Further, is it the same power that perceives sense-objects, and intelligible entities, or are there two distinct powers?
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SENSATION.
26. If the two elements which compose the animal share in the act of sensation, the sensation is common to the soul and the body, such as the acts of piercing or weaving. Thus, in sensation, the soul plays the part of the workman, and the body that of his tool; the body undergoes the experience, and serves as messenger to the soul; the soul perceives the impression produced in the body, or by the body; or she forms a judgment about the experience she has undergone. Consequently sensation is an operation common to the soul and body.
IN ANY CASE MEMORY IS PECULIAR TO THE SOUL AND BODY.
This could not be the state of affairs with memory, by which the soul, having already through sensation perceived the impression produced in the body, preserves it, or dismisses it. It might be claimed that memory also is common to the soul and body, because its efficiency depends on the adjustments of the bodies. No doubt the body can hinder or promote the exercise of memory, without this faculty ceasing to be peculiar to the soul. How shall we try to prove that the memory of knowledge acquired by study, belongs to the compound, and not to the soul alone? If the organism be the composite of soul and body, in the sense that it is some third object begotten by their union, it will be absurd to say that it is neither soul nor body. Indeed, it could not be anything different from the soul and body, neither if the soul and body were transformed into the composite of which they are the elements, nor if they formed a mixture, so that the soul would be no more than potentially in the organism. Even in this case, it is still the soul, and the soul alone, that would remember. Thus in a mixture of honey and wine, it is the honey alone that should be credited with any sweetness that may be tasted.
THAT THE SOUL IS INCARNATE IS NOT THE CAUSE OF HER POSSESSING MEMORY.
It may again be objected that it is indeed the soul that remembers; but only because she is resident in the body, and is not pure; she must be affected in some particular manner to be able to impress the body with the forms of sense-objects; her seat must be in the body to receive these forms, and to preserve them. But to begin with, these forms could not have any extension; then they could not be either (Stoic) seal-imprints, or impressions; for in the soul there is no impulsion, nor any imprint similar to that of a seal on wax, and the operation itself by which it perceives sense-objects is a kind of thought (or intellection). Indeed, it would be impossible to speak of an impression in the act of thought. Thought has no need of the body or a corporeal quality. It is besides necessary for the soul to remember her movements, as for instance, her desires which have not been satisfied, and whose object the body has not attained; for what could the body tell us of an object which the body has not yet reached? (Speaking of thoughts), how could the soul, conjointly with the body, remember things which the body, by its very nature, could absolutely not know?
MEMORY BELONGS TO THE SOUL ALONE.
Doubtless we will have to acknowledge that there are affections which pass from the body into the soul; but there are also affections which belong exclusively to the soul, because the soul is a real being, with characteristic nature and activities. In this case, the soul must have desires, and recall them, remembering that they have, or have not been satisfied; because, by her nature, she does not form part of the things which are (as Heraclitus said) in a perpetual flow. Otherwise, we could not attribute to the soul coenesthesia (or, common feeling), conscience, reflection, or the intuition of herself. If she did not possess them by her nature, she would not acquire them by union with the body. Doubtless there are activities which the soul cannot carry out without the assistance of the organs; but she herself possesses the faculties (or “powers”) from which these activities are outgrowths. Besides, she, by herself, possesses other faculties, whose operations are derived from her alone. Among these is memory, whose exercise is only hindered by the body. Indeed, when the soul unites with the body, she forgets; when she separates from the body, and purifies herself, she often recovers memory. Since the soul possesses memory when she is alone, the body, with its changeable nature, that is ever subject to a perpetual flow, is a cause of forgetfulness, and not of memory; the body therefore is, for the soul, the stream of Lethe (or forgetfulness). To the soul alone, therefore, belongs memory.
MEMORY BELONGS BOTH TO THE DIVINE SOUL, AND TO THAT DERIVED FROM THE WORLD-SOUL.
27. To which soul, however, does memory belong? To the soul whose nature is more divine, and which constitutes us more essentially, or to the soul that we receive from the universal Soul (the rational and irrational souls)? Memory belongs to both; but in one case it is general, and in the other particular. When both souls are united, they together possess both kinds of memory; if they both remain separate, each remembers longer what concerns herself, and remembers less long what concerns the other. That is the reason people talk of the image of Hercules being in the hells. Now this image remembers all the deeds committed in this life; for this life particularly falls to her lot. The other souls which (by uniting within themselves the rational part to the irrational) together possess both kinds of memory. They yet cannot remember anything but the things that concern this life, and which they have known here below, or even the actions which have some relation with justice.
WHAT THE RATIONAL SOUL, IF SEPARATED, WOULD REMEMBER OF LIFE.
We must still clear up what would be said by Hercules (that is, the man himself), alone, and separated from his image. What then would the rational soul, if separated and isolated, say? The soul which has been attracted by the body knows everything that the man (speaking strictly), has done or experienced here below. In course of time, at death, the memories of earlier existences are reproduced; but the soul, out of scorn, allows some to escape her. Having indeed purified herself from the body, she will remember the things that were not present to her during this life. If, after having entered into another body, she happen to consider the past, she will speak of this life which will become foreign to her, of what she has recently abandoned, and of many other earlier facts. The circumstances which happen during a long period will always remain buried in oblivion. But we have not yet discovered what the soul, when isolated from the body will remember. To solve this question, we shall be forced to decide to which power of the soul memory belongs.
MEMORY DOES NOT BELONG TO APPETITE, BECAUSE IT MAY BE REDUCED TO SENSATION.
28. Does memory belong to the powers by which we feel and know? Is it by appetite that we remember the things that excite our desires, and by anger that we remember the things that irritate us? Some will think so. It is indeed the same faculty which feels pleasure, and retains remembrance thereof. Thus when, for instance, appetite meets an object which has already made it experience pleasure, it remembers this pleasure on seeing this object. Why indeed should appetite not be similarly moved by some other object? Why is it not moved in some manner by the same object? Why should we not thus attribute to it the sensation of things of this kind? Further, why should appetite itself not be reduced to the power of sensation, and not do likewise for everything, naming each thing, by what predominates therein?
WHAT APPETITE KEEPS IS AN AFFECTION, BUT NOT A MEMORY.
Must we attribute sensation to each power, but in a different manner? In this case, for instance, it will be sight, and not appetite, which will perceive sense-objects; but appetite will be later wakened by sensation which will be “relayed,” (as the Stoics would say); and though it does not judge of sensation, it will unconsciously feel the characteristic affection. The same state of affairs will obtain with anger. It will be sight which will show us an injustice, but it will be anger which will resent it. Just so, when a shepherd notices a wolf near his flock, the dog, though he have not yet observed anything, will be excited by the smell or noise of the wolf. It certainly is appetite which experiences pleasure, and which keeps a trace of it; but this trace constitutes an affection or disposition, and not a memory. It is another power which observes the enjoyment of pleasure, and which remembers what occurred. This is proved by the fact that memory is often ignorant of the things in which appetite has participated, though appetite still preserve traces thereof.
MEMORY DOES NOT BELONG TO THE FACULTY OF SENSATION.
29. Can memory be referred to sensibility? Is the faculty that feels also the one that remembers? But if the image of the soul (the irrational soul) possess the memory, as we said above, there would be in us two faculties that will feel. Further, if sensibility be capable of grasping notions, it will also have to perceive the conceptions of discursive reason, or it will be another faculty that will perceive both.
MEMORY DOES NOT BELONG EXCLUSIVELY TO THE POWER OF PERCEPTION.
Is the power of perception common to the reasonable soul and to the irrational soul, and will we grant that it possesses the memory of sense-objects and of intelligible things? To recognize that it is one and the same power which equally perceives both kinds of things, is already to take one step towards the solution of the problem. But if we divide this power into two, there will nevertheless still be two kinds of memory; further, if we allow two kinds of memory to each of the two souls (the rational and the irrational), there will be four kinds of memory.
MEMORY IS NOT IDENTICAL WITH FEELING OR REASONING.
Are we compelled to remember sensations by sensibility, whether it be the same power which feels sensation, and which remembers sensation, or is it also discursive reason which conceives and remembers conceptions. But the men who reason the best are not those who also remember the best; and those who have equally delicate senses, do not all, on that account, have an equally good memory. On the contrary, some have delicate senses, while others have a good memory, without however being capable of perceiving equally well. On the other hand, if feeling and remembering be mutually independent, there will be (outside of sensibility) another power which will remember things formerly perceived by sensation, and this power will have to feel what it is to remember.
MEMORY BELONGS TO IMAGINATION.
(To solve all these difficulties) it may be stated that nothing hinders the admission that the actualization of the sensation produces in memory an image, and that the imagination, which differs (from sensation), possesses the power of preserving and recalling these images. It is indeed imagination in which sensation culminates; and when sensation ceases, imagination preserves its representation. If then this power preserve the image of the absent object, it constitutes memory. According as the image remains for a longer or shorter time, memory is or is not faithful; and our memories last, or are effaced. Memory of sense-objects therefore belongs to the imagination. If this faculty of memory be possessed by different persons in unequal degrees, this difference depends either on the difference of forces, or on practice (or exercise), or on the absence or presence of certain bodily dispositions which may or may not influence memory, or disturb it. But elsewhere we shall study the question further.
INTELLECTUAL CONCEPTIONS ARE NOT ENTIRELY PRESERVED BY IMAGINATION.
30. What about intellectual conceptions? Are they also preserved by imagination? If imagination accompany every thought, and if later it, as it were, preserves its image, we should thus have the memory of the known object; otherwise some other solution will have to be sought. Perhaps reason, whose actualization always accompanies thought, has the function of receiving it and transmitting it to imagination. Indeed, thought is indivisible, and so long as it is not evoked from the depths of intelligence, it remains as it were hidden within it. Reason develops it, and making it pass from the state of thought to that of image, spreads it out as it were in a mirror, for our imagination. That is why we grasp (the thought) only when the soul, which always desires rational thought, has achieved a thought. There is a difference between thought and the perception of thought. We are always thinking, but we do not always perceive our thought. That comes from the fact that the principle that perceives the thoughts also perceives the sensations, and occupies itself with both in turn.
THE TWO KINDS OF MEMORY IMPLY TWO KINDS OF IMAGINATION.
31. If theory belong to imagination, and if both the rational and irrational souls possess memory, we will have two kinds of imagination (intellectual and sensual); and if both souls are separate, each of them will possess one kind of imagination. The theory of two kinds of imagination within us in the same principle would not account for there being two kinds of imagination; and it would leave unsolved the question to which of them memory belongs. If memory belong to both kinds of imagination, there will always be two kinds of imagination—for it cannot be said that the memory of intelligible things belongs to the one, and that of sense-things to the other; otherwise we would have two animate beings with nothing in common. If then memory equally belong to both imaginations, what difference is there between them? Besides, why do we not notice this difference? Here is the cause.
OF THE TWO IMAGINATIONS ONE ALWAYS PREDOMINATES OR OVERSHADOWS THE OTHER.
When both kinds of imagination harmonize, they co-operate (in the production of a single act). The most powerful dominates, and only a single image is produced within us. The weaker follows the stronger, as the feeble reflection of a powerful light. On the contrary, when both kinds of imagination disagree and struggle, then only one of them manifests, and the other is entirely ignored, just as we always ignore that we have two souls; for both souls are melted into a single one, and the one serves as vehicle for the other. The one sees all, but preserves only certain memories when she leaves the body, and leaves in oblivion greater part of the things that relate to the other. Likewise, after we have established relations with friends of an inferior order, we may acquire more distinguished friendships, and we remember the former but very little, though we remember the latter very distinctly.
PARTITION OF THE FUND OF MEMORY BETWEEN THE TWO SOULS.
What about (the memory) of friends, of parents, of a wife, of the fatherland, and of all that a virtuous man may properly remember? In the image of the soul (the irrational soul) these memories will be accompanied by a passive affection; but in the man (the rational soul) they will not be so accompanied. The affections exist since the beginning in the inferior soul; in the superior soul, as a result of her dealings with the other, there are also some affections, but only proper affections. The inferior soul may well seek to remember the actions of the superior soul, especially when she herself has been properly cultivated; for she can become better from her very principle up, and through the education she receives from the other. The higher soul must willingly forget what comes to her from the inferior soul. When she is good, she can, besides, by her power contain the subordinate soul. The more she desires to approach the intelligible world, the more she must forget the things from here below, unless the whole life she has led here below be such that she has entrusted to her memory none but praiseworthy things. Even in our own world, indeed, it is a fine thing to release oneself from human preoccupations. It would therefore be still finer to forget them all. In this sense we might well say that the virtuous soul should be forgetful. She thus escapes manifoldness, reduces manifoldness to unity, and abandons the indeterminate. She therefore ceases to live with manifoldness, lightens her burdens, and lives for herself. Indeed, while remaining here below, she desires to live in the intelligible world, and neglects all that is foreign to her nature. She therefore retains but few earthly things when she has arrived to the intelligible world; she has more of them when she inhabits the heavens. Hercules (in heaven) may well vaunt his valor; but even this valor seems to him trifling when he has arrived at a region still holier than heaven, when he dwells in the intelligible world, when he has risen over Hercules himself by the force manifested in those struggles which are characteristic of veritable sages.
Ennead 4.4. Questions About the Soul. (Second Part.)
SPEECH OF SOUL IN THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
1. When the soul will have risen to the intelligible world, what will she say, and what will she remember? She will contemplate the beings to which she will be united and she will apply her whole attention thereto; otherwise, she would not be in the intelligible world.
MEMORY OF SOUL IN THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
Will she have no memory of things here below? Will she not, for instance, remember that she devoted herself to philosophy; and that, during her residence on the earth, she contemplated the intelligible world? No: for an intelligence entirely devoted to the object of its thought, cannot simultaneously contemplate the intelligible and think something else. The act of thought does not imply the memory of having thought.
IN THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD ALL THINGS ARE SIMULTANEOUS; HENCE NOT REMEMBERED.
But this memory is posterior to thought! In this case, the mind in which it occurs has changed condition. It is therefore impossible that he who is entirely devoted to the pure contemplation of the intelligible should simultaneously remember the things that formerly happened to him here below. If, as it seems, thought is outside of time, because all the intelligible essences, being eternal, have no relation with time, it is evidently impossible that the intelligence which has raised itself to the intelligible world should have any memory of the things here below, or even have absolutely any memory whatever; for each (of the essences of the intelligible world) are always present to the intelligence which is not obliged to go through them successively, passing from one to the other.
INTELLIGENCE UNITES AS IT RISES TO THE INTELLIGIBLE.
Will not the intelligence divide itself in descending (from the genera) to the species (or forms)? No: for she reascends to the universal and the superior Principle.
NOT EVEN THE ASCENDED SOUL NEED BE DIVIDED.
Granting then that there is no division in the intelligence which possesses everything simultaneously; will there not at least be division in the soul which has risen to the intelligible world? Nothing however forbids that the totality of the united intelligibles be grasped by an intuition equally unitary and total.
THE UNITY OF APPERCEPTION IS MANIFOLD.
Is this intuition similar to the intuition of an object grasped in its entirety by a single glance, or does it contain all the thoughts of the intelligibles contemplated simultaneously? Since the intelligibles offer a varied spectacle, the thought which grasps them must evidently be equally multiple and varied, comprehending several thoughts, like the perception of a single sense-object, as for instance that of a face comprehends several perceptions because the eye, on perceiving the face, simultaneously sees the nose and the other features.
IN THE INTELLIGIBLE ANTERIORITY REFERS TO ORDER, NOT TO TIME.
It may be objected that it may happen that the soul will divide and develop something which was unitary. This thing must then already have been divided in intelligence, but such a division is more like an impression. As anteriority or posteriority in ideas does not refer to time, so also will the mental conception of anteriority and posteriority not be subject to temporal conditions, but refer to order (which presides over intelligible things). For instance, on considering a tree’s order that extends from the roots to the tree-top, priority and posteriority exists only under the relation of order, inasmuch as the whole plant is perceived at one single glance.
INTELLIGENCE IS NOT A UNITY; BUT ITS MANIFOLD IS PRODUCED BY A UNITY.
How can things be prior or posterior, if the soul that contemplates the One embrace all things? The potentiality which is One is one in such a manner that it is multiple when it is contemplated by another principle (Intelligence), because then it is not simultaneously all things in one single thought. Indeed, the actualizations (of Intelligence) are not a unity; but they are all produced by an ever permanent potentiality; they therefore become multiple in the other principles (the intelligibles); for Intelligence, not being unity itself, can receive within its breast the nature of the multiple which did not formerly exist (in the One).
THE SOUL DOES NOT EVEN REMEMBER HERSELF.
2. Granted. But does the soul remember herself? Probably not. He who contemplates the intelligible world does not remember who he is; that, for instance, he is Socrates, that he is a soul or an intelligence. How indeed would he remember it? Entirely devoted to the contemplation of the intelligible world, he does not by thought reflect back upon himself; he possesses himself, but he applies himself to the intelligible, and becomes the intelligible, in respect to which he plays the part of matter. He assumes the form of the object he is contemplating, and he then is himself only potentially. Actually, he is himself only when he thinks the intelligible. When he is himself only, he is empty of all things, because he does not think the intelligible; but if by nature he is such that he is all things, in thinking himself, he thinks all things. In this state, seeing himself actually by the glance he throws on himself, he embraces all things in this intuition; on the other hand, by the glance he throws on all things, he embraces himself in the intuition of all things.
IN THE INTELLIGIBLE SELF-DIRECTION OF THOUGHT IS NOT CHANGEABLENESS.
Under the above circumstances, the soul changes thoughts—something that we above refused to admit. Intelligence is indeed immutable; but the soul, situated on the extremities of the intelligible world, may undergo some change when she reflects upon herself. Indeed, what applies to the immutable necessarily undergoes some change in respect to it, because it does not always remain applied to it. To speak exactly, there is no change when the soul detaches herself from the things that belong to her to turn towards herself, and conversely; for the soul is all things, and the soul forms but one thing with the intelligible. But when the soul is in the intelligible world, she becomes estranged from herself and from all that belongs to her; then, living purely in the intelligible world, she participates in its immutability, and she becomes all that it is; for, as soon as she has raised herself to this superior region, she must necessarily unite herself to Intelligence, towards which she has turned, and from which she is no longer separated by an intermediary. On rising towards intelligence, the soul attunes herself to it, and consequently unites herself with it durably, in a manner such that both are simultaneously single and double. In this state the soul cannot change; she is immutably devoted to thought, and she simultaneously has self-consciousness, because she forms a unity with the intelligible world.
THE SOUL BECOMES WHAT SHE REMEMBERS.
3. When the soul departs from the intelligible world; when instead of continuing to form a unity with it, she wishes to become independent, to become distinct, and to belong to herself; when she inclines towards the things here below, then she remembers herself. The memory of intelligible things hinders her from falling, that of terrestrial things makes her descend here below, and that of celestial things makes her dwell in heaven. In general, the soul is and becomes what she remembers. Indeed, to remember is to think or imagine; now, to imagine is not indeed to possess a thing, but to see it and to conform to it. If the soul see sense-things, by the very act of looking at them she somehow acquires some extension. As she is things other than herself only secondarily, she is none of them perfectly. Placed and established on the confines of the sense and intelligible worlds, she may equally move towards either.
MEMORY IS NOT AS HIGH AS UNREFLECTIVE IDENTIFICATION.
4. In the intelligible world, the soul sees the Good by intelligence; for intelligence does not hinder her from arriving to the Good. Between the soul and the Good, the intermediary is not the body, which could be no more than an obstacle; for if the bodies can ever serve as intermediaries, it would only be in the process of descending from the first principles to third rank entities. When the soul occupies herself with inferior objects, she possesses what she wished to possess conformably to her memory and imagination. Consequently memory, even should it apply itself to the very best things, is not the best thing possible; for it consists not only in feeling that one remembers, but also in finding oneself in a disposition conformable to the affections, to the earlier intuitions which are remembered. Now it may happen that a soul possesses something unconsciously, so that she possesses it better than if she were conscious thereof. In fact, when she is conscious thereof, she possesses it like something foreign to her, and from which she is keeping herself distinct; when, on the contrary, she is unconscious of it she becomes what she possesses; and it is especially this latter kind of memory which can most thoroughly effect her degradation (when she conforms herself to sense-objects, by applying her imagination thereto).
INTELLIGIBLE ENTITIES ARE NOT MERELY IMAGES, BUT POTENTIALITIES FOR MEMORY.
That the soul, on leaving the intelligible world, brings away with her memories thereof, implies that even in the (intelligible) world she to a certain degree already possessed memory; but this potentiality was eclipsed by the thought of the intelligible entities. It would be absurd to insist that the latter existed in the soul in the condition of simple images; on the contrary, they there constituted an (intellectual) potentiality which later passed into the condition of actualization. Whenever the soul happens to cease applying herself to the contemplation of intelligible entities she no longer sees what she formerly saw (that is, sense-objects).
INTELLIGIBLE ENTITIES RETURN, NOT BY MEMORY, BUT BY FURTHER VISION.
5. Are our notions of intellectual entities actualized by the potentiality which constitutes memory? If these notions be not intuitions, it is by memory that they become actualized; if they are intuitions, it is by the potentiality which has given them to us on high. This power awakes in us every time that we rise to intelligible things, in it is that which sees what we later talk about. We do not perceive intelligible entities by imagination or reasoning, which itself is forced to draw its principles from elsewhere; it is by our faculty of contemplation, which alone enables us to speak of them while we are here below. We see them by awaking in ourselves here below the same potentiality which we are to arouse when we are in the intelligible world. We resemble a man who, climbing the peak of a rock, should, by his glance, discover objects invisible for those who have not climbed with him.
WHEN SOULS DESCEND FROM THE INTELLIGIBLE TO THE HEAVENS, THEY RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER.
Reasonable arguments therefore clearly demonstrate that memory manifests in the soul only when she has descended from the intelligible world into the (earthly) heavens. Likewise, it would not surprise us if, when she had risen from here below to the heavens, and had dwelt there, she should remember a great number of things from here below, of which we have already spoken, and that she would recognize many souls which she had known earlier, since these latter must necessarily be joined to bodies with similar countenances. Even though the souls should change the shapes of their bodies, making them spherical, they would still be recognizable by their habits and individual character. There is nothing incredible in this, for in admitting that these souls have purified themselves from all these passions, nothing hinders them from preserving their character. Besides, if they can converse with each other, they have this as an additional means of recognizing each other.
TRAINING HERE BELOW WILL HELP THE SOULS TO REMEMBER WHEN BEYOND.
What happens when souls descend from the intelligible world into the (earthly) heavens? They then recover memory, but they possess it in a degree less than the souls who have always occupied themselves with the same objects. Besides, they have many other things to remember, and a long space of time has made them forget many actions.
FALL INTO GENERATION MAY BE PARTIAL; AND MAY BE RECOVERED FROM, BEFORE RUIN.
But if, after having descended into the sense-world they fall (from the heavens) into generation, what will be the time when they will remember? It is not necessary that the souls (which depart from the intelligible world) should fall into the lowest regions. It is possible that, after having descended only a little from the intelligible world their movement may be arrested, and nothing hinders them from returning on high before they have become degraded in the lower regions of generation.
MEMORY IS LIMITED TO SOULS THAT CHANGE THEIR CONDITION.
6. It may therefore be fearlessly affirmed that the souls which exercise their discursive reason, and which change condition, remember; for memory is the characteristic of things that were, but no more are.
DO THE WORLD-SOUL AND THE STAR-SOULS EXERCISE MEMORY?
But evidently the souls which dwell in the same state could not exercise memory; for what would they have to remember? If (ignoring our arguments above) human reason should wish to attribute memory to the souls of all the stars, especially to that of the moon and the sun, there is nothing to hinder it from doing the same with regard to the universal Soul, and it would dare to attribute even to Jupiter memories which would occupy him with a thousand different things. As soon as it will have entered into this order of ideas, reason would proceed to speculate about the conceptions and ratiocinations of the star-souls—that is, granting that they reason at all. (But that is a gratuitous assumption); for if these souls have nothing to discover, if they do not doubt, if they have no need of anything, if they do not learn things that they have ignored before, what use would they make of reasoning, of arguments, or of the conceptions of discursive reason? They have no need of seeking mechanical means of governing human affairs and events; for they enforce order in the universe in a totally different manner.
THESE SOULS DO NOT REMEMBER GOD; FOR THEY CONTINUE TO SEE HIM.
7. Will these souls not even remember that they have seen the divinity? (They have no need of doing so, for) they see Him all the time; as long as they continue to see Him they cannot say that they have seen Him, because such a statement would imply that they see Him no more.
MEMORY IS IMPOSSIBLE TO THESE SOULS, FOR TO THEM THERE IS NO TIME, BUT ONE SINGLE DAY.
Will they not even remember that they performed their revolution yesterday, or the year before, that they lived yesterday, and since have lived a long while? They still live continuously; now, what remains the same, is one. To try to distinguish yesterday and last year in the movement of the stars, is to do like a man who would divide into several parts the movement which forms one step, who would wish to reduce unity to multiplicity. Indeed, the movement of the stars is one, although it is by us subjected to a measure, as if it were multiple; so we count the days different one from the other because the nights separate them from each other. But since there is but one single day in the heavens, how could one count several? How could there be a “last year”?
BUT WHY COULD THE STAR-SOULS NOT BE CONSCIOUS OF OUR CHANGES?
It may be objected that the space transversed (by planets) is not a unity, but contains several parts, as notably in the zodiac. Why then could the celestial Soul not say, “I have passed this part, I have now arrived at another”? Besides, if the star-souls consider human things, how would they not see that there are changes here below, that the men existing to-day have succeeded others? If so, they must know that other men have already existed, that there have been other facts. They therefore possess memory.
MANY NEW THINGS ARE UNNOTICED; NOTHING FORCES THE PERCEPTION OF NEW THINGS.
8. It is not necessary to remember all one sees, nor by imagination to represent to oneself all the things that follow fortuitously. Besides, when the mind possesses a knowledge and a clear conception of certain objects which later come to offer themselves to his senses, nothing forces him to abandon the knowledge he has acquired by intelligence, to look at the particular sense-object which is in front of him, unless he be charged to administer some of the particular things contained in the notion of the all.
MEMORY IS NOT COMPULSORY.
Now, to enter into details, let us first say that one does not necessarily retain all one has seen. When something is neither interesting nor important, the senses, impressed by the diversity of objects without our voluntary direction of consciousness, are alone affected; the soul does not perceive the impressions because there is no utility in them for her. When the soul is turned towards herself, or towards other objects, and when she applies herself to them entirely, she could not remember these indifferent things, for she does not even perceive them when they are present. Neither is it necessary that the imagination should represent to itself what is accidental; nor, if it does represent them to itself, that it should retain them faithfully. It is easy to be convinced that a sense-impression of this kind is not perceived, on the ground of the following arguments. In the act of walking we divide, or rather traverse the air, without any conscious purpose; consequently we neither notice it, nor think of it, while we press forward. Likewise, if we had not decided to take some particular road, and unless we could fly through the air, we would not think of the region of the earth where we are, nor of the distance we have traveled. This is proved by the fact that when the mind possesses the general knowledge of what occurs, and is sure that the things will occur as planned, a man no longer attends to details. Besides, if a person continues to do the same thing, it would be useless to continue to observe the similar details. Consequently if the stars, while following their courses, carry out their duties without attending to the occurrence of what goes on; and unless their chief duty is to observe occurrences or the occurrence itself; and if their progress is nothing more than accidental, while their attention is held by other and greater objects; and if they regularly continue to pass through the same orbit without considering the calculation of time, even if it had already been divided (under these four conditions); there is no need to suppose that these stars would have a memory of the places they pass by, or of their periods. Their life would be uniform; because they always travel through the same places, so that their movement is, so to speak, more vital than local, because it is produced by a single living being (the universe), which, realizing it within itself, is exteriorly at rest and interiorly in motion by its eternal life.
STAR-MOTIONS COMPARED TO A BALLET-CHORUS.
The movement of the stars might be compared to that of a choric ballet. Let us suppose that it had but a limited duration; its motion would be considered perfect, if viewed as a totality, from beginning to end; but if considered in its parts only, it would be imperfect. Now if we suppose that it exists always; then will it always be perfect. If it be always perfect, there will be neither time nor place where it is becoming perfect; consequently, it will not even have any desire, and it will measure nothing, neither by time nor place; and therefore will not remember either.
STARS HAVE NO MEMORY BECAUSE THEY ARE UNIFORMLY BLISSFUL.
Besides, the stars enjoy a blissful life because they contemplate the real life in their own souls; because they all aspire to the One, and, radiating into the entire heavens, like cords that vibrate in unison, they produce a kind of symphony by their natural harmony. Last, the entire heavens revolve; so also do their parts, which, in spite of the diversity of their motions, and of their positions, all gravitate towards a same center Now all these facts support the theory we have advanced, since they show that the life of the universe is one system, and is uniform.
QUESTION: DOES JUPITER’S ROYAL ADMINISTRATION IMPLY A USE OF MEMORY?
9. Jupiter, who governs the world, and endues it with order and beauty, possesses from all eternity a royal soul and intelligence; he produces things by his providence, and regulates them by his power; in an orderly manner he disposes everything in the development and achievement of the numerous periods of the stars. Do not such acts on Jupiter’s part imply use of memory by which he may know what periods have already been accomplished, and busy himself with the preparation of others by his combinations, his calculations, and reasonings? His being the most skillful administrator in the world would seem to imply that he uses memory.
THE INFINITY OF JUPITER’S LIFE OPPOSES HIS USE OF MEMORY.
We might well, in respect to the memory of these periods, examine the number of these periods, and whether it is known to Jupiter; for if it be a finite number, the universe will have had a commencement within time; but if it be infinite, Jupiter will not have been able to know how many things he has done. (To solve this problem) we must admit that Jupiter ever enjoys knowledge, in a single and unitary life. It is in this sense that he must be infinite and possess unity, not by a knowledge come to him from without, but interiorly, by his very nature, because the infinite ever remains entire in him, is inherent in him, is contemplated by him, and is not, for him, simply the object of an accidental knowledge. Indeed, while knowing the infinity of his life, Jupiter simultaneously knows that the influence he exercises on the universe is single; but his knowledge thereof is not due to his exercising it on the universe.
JUPITER MAY BE TAKEN IN A DOUBLE SENSE.
10. The principle which presides over the order of the universe is double; from one point of view he is the demiurge; from the other, the universal Soul. By the name of Jupiter, therefore, we designate both the demiurge, and the “Governor of the universe.” As to the demiurge, we must dismiss all notions of past or future, and attribute to him nothing but a life that is uniform, immutable, and independent, of time. But the life of the governor of the universe (which is the universal Soul), raises the question whether she be also free from any necessity of reasoning, and of planning what is to be done? Surely, for the order which is to rule has already been devised and decided, and that without having been ordered; for that which is in order was that which became, and the process of becoming eventuates in order. The latter is the activity of the Soul which depends from an abiding wisdom, a wisdom whose image is the order existing within the soul. As the wisdom contemplated by the soul does not change, neither does its action. Indeed, the Soul contemplates wisdom perpetually; if she ceased, she would lapse into incertitude, for the soul is as unitary as her work. This unitary principle that governs the world dominates perpetually, and not only occasionally; for whence should there be several powers, to struggle among each other, or get into uncertainties? The principle that administers the universe is therefore unitary, and ever wills the same. Why, indeed, should she desire now one thing, and then another, and thus involve herself in uncertainties? Still, even if she altered herself under unitary conditions, she would not be involved in difficulties. That the universe contains a great number and kinds of parts opposed to each other is no reason that the Soul does not with certainty know how to arrange them. She does not begin by objects of lowest rank, nor by parts; she directs by the principles. Starting from these, she easily succeeds in putting everything in order. She dominates because she persists in a single and identical function. What would induce her to wish first one thing, and then another? Besides, in such a state of affairs, she would hesitate about what she ought to do, and her action would be weakened, and this would result in a weakness of her activities, while deliberating about still undecided plans.
RATIOCINATION HAS NO PLACE IN THE WORLD-SOUL.
11. The world is administered like a living being, namely, partly from the outside, and from the resulting members, and partly from within, and from the principle. The art of the physician works from outside in, deciding which organ is at fault, operating only with hesitation and after groping around experimentally. Nature, however, starting within from the principle, has no need to deliberate. The power which administers the universe proceeds not like the physician, but like nature. It preserves its simplicity so much the better as it comprises everything in its breast, inasmuch as all things are parts of the living being which is one. Indeed, nature, which is unitary, dominates all individual natures; these proceed from it, but remain attached thereto, like branches of an immense tree, which is the universe. What would be the utility of reasoning, calculation, and memory in a principle that possesses an ever present and active wisdom, and which, by this wisdom, dominates the world and administers it in an immutable manner? That its works are varied and changefull, does not imply that this principle must itself participate in their mutability. It remains immutable even while producing different things. Are not several stages produced successively in each animal, according to its various ages? Are not certain parts born and increased at determinate periods, such as the horns, the beard, and the breasts? Does one not see each being begetting others? Thus, without the degeneration of the earlier (“seminal) reasons,” others develop in their turn. This is proved by the (“seminal) reason” subsisting identical and entire within the same living being.
THIS UNIVERSAL WISDOM IS PERMANENT BECAUSE TIMELESS.
We are therefore justified in asserting the rule of one and the same wisdom. This wisdom is universal; it is the permanent wisdom of the world; it is multiple and varied, and at the same time it is one, because it is the wisdom of the living Being which is one, and is the greatest of all. It is invariable, in spite of the multiplicity of its works; it constitutes the Reason which is one, and still is all things simultaneously. If it were not all things, it would, instead of being the wisdom of the universe, be the wisdom of only the latter and individual things.
WISDOM, IN THE WORLD-SOUL DOES NOT IMPLY REASONING AND MEMORY.
12. It may perhaps be objected that this might be true of nature, but that whereas the Soul-of-the-universe contains wisdom, this implies also reasoning and memory. This objection could be raised only by persons who by “wisdom” understand that which is its absence, and mistake the search for wisdom for reasonable thinking. For what can reasoning be but the quest of wisdom, the real reason, the intelligence of the real essence? He who exercises reason resembles a man who plays the lyre to exercise himself, to acquire the habit of playing it, and, in general, to a man who learns in order to know. He seeks indeed to acquire science, whose possession is the distinguishing characteristic of a sage. Wisdom consists therefore in a stable condition. This is seen even in the conduct of the reasoner; as soon as he has found what he sought, he ceases to reason, and rests in the possession of wisdom.
OMNISCIENT INTUITION MAKES MEMORY AND REASONING SUPERFLUOUS.
Therefore, if the governing Power of the world seems to resemble those who learn, it will be necessary to attribute to it reasoning, reflection, and memory, so that it may compare the past with the present or the future. But if, on the contrary, its knowledge be such as to have nothing more to learn, and to remain in a perfectly stable condition, it evidently possesses wisdom by itself. If it know future things—a privilege that could not be denied it under penalty of absurdity—why would it not also know how they are to occur? Knowing all this, it would have no further need of comparing the past with the present. Besides, this knowledge of its future will not resemble the prevision of the foretellers, but to the certitude entertained by makers about their handiwork. This certitude admits no hesitation, no ambiguity; it is absolute; as soon as it has obtained assent, it remains immutable. Consequently, the wisdom about the future is the same as about the present, because it is immutable; that is, without ratiocination. If, however, it did not know the future things it was to produce, it would not know how to produce them, and it would produce them without rule, accidentally, by chance. In its production, it remains immutable; consequently, it produces without changing, at least as far as permitted by the model borne within it. Its action is therefore uniform, ever the same; otherwise, the soul might err. If its work was to contain differences, it does not derive these from itself, but from the (“seminal) reasons” which themselves proceed from the creating principle. Thus the created things depend from the series of reasons, and the creating principle has no need to hesitate, to deliberate, neither to support a painful work, as was thought by some philosophers who considered the task of regulating the universe wearisome. It would indeed be a tiresome task to handle a strange matter, that is, one which is unmanageable. But when a power by itself dominates (what it forms), it cannot have need of anything but itself and its counsel; that is, its wisdom, for in such a power the counsel is identical with wisdom. It therefore needs nothing for creation, since the wisdom it possesses is not a borrowed wisdom. It needs nothing (extraneous or) adventitious; consequently, neither reasoning nor memory, which faculties yield us nothing but what is adventitious.
IN THE WORLD-SOUL WISDOM IS THE HIGHEST AND NATURE THE LOWEST.
13. How would such a wisdom differ from so-called nature? (In the Soul) wisdom occupies the first rank, and nature the last. Nature is only the image of wisdom; now, if nature occupy no more than the last rank, she must also have only the last degree of the reason that enlightens the Soul. As illustration, take a piece of wax, on which the figure impressed on one side penetrates to the other; and whose well-marked traits on the upper face appear on the lower face only in a confused manner. Such is the condition of nature. She does not know, she only produces, blindly she transmits to matter the form she possesses, just as some warm object transmits to another, but in a lesser degree, the heat it itself possesses. Nature does not even imagine: for the act of imagining, inferior as it is to that of thinking, is nevertheless superior to that of impressing a form, as nature does it. Nature can neither grasp nor understand anything; while imagination seizes the adventitious object and permits the one who is imaging to know what he has experienced. As to nature, all it knows is to beget; it is the actualization of the active potentiality (of the universal Soul). Consequently, Intelligence possesses intelligible forms; the (universal) Soul has received them, and ceaselessly receives them from her; that is what her life consists of; the clearness which shines in her is the consciousness she has of her thought. The reflection which (the Soul herself projects on matter is nature, which terminates the series of essences, and occupies the last rank in the intelligible world; after her, there is nothing but imitations (of beings). Nature, while acting on matter is passive in respect (to the Soul). The (Soul), superior to nature, acts without suffering. Finally, the supreme (Intelligence) does not (itself) act on the bodies or on matter.
THERE IS CONTINUITY BETWEEN NATURE AND THE ELEMENTS.
14. The bodies begotten by nature are the elements. As to the animals and the plants, do they possess nature as the air possesses the light which when retiring does not injure the air, because it never mingled with the air, and remained separate from it? Or is nature’s relation to animals and plants the same as that of the fire with a heated body, to which, on retiring, it leaves a warmth which is different from the heat characteristic of the fire, and which constitutes a modification of the heated body? Surely this. To the essence which it molds, nature gives a shape, which is different from the form proper to nature herself. We might however still consider whether there be any intermediary between nature and the essence which she molds However, we have sufficiently determined the difference that exists between nature and the wisdom which presides over the universe.
HOW CAN TIME BE DIVIDED WITHOUT IMPLYING DIVISION OF THE SOUL’S ACTION?
15. We still have to solve one question bearing on the above discussion. If eternity relate to Intelligence, and time to the Soul—for we have stated that the existence of time is related to the actualization of the Soul, and depends therefrom—how can time be divided, and have a past, without the Soul’s action itself being divided, without her reflection on the past constituting memory in her? Indeed, eternity implies identity, and time implies diversity; otherwise, if we suppose there is no change in the actualizations of the Soul, time will have nothing to distinguish it from eternity. Shall we say that our souls, being subject to change and imperfection, are in time, while the universal Soul begets time without herself being in it?
IN TIME ARE ACTIONS AND REACTIONS OF THE SOUL; BUT NOT THE SOUL HERSELF.
Let us admit that the universal Soul is not in time; why should she beget time rather than eternity? Because the things she begets are comprised within time, instead of being eternal. Neither are the other souls within time; nothing of them, except their “actions and reactions” (Stoic terms). Indeed, the souls themselves are eternal; and therefore time is subsequent to them. On the other hand, what is in time is less than time, since time must embrace all that is within it, as Plato says, that time embraces all that is in number and place.
QUESTION: EVEN THE PRIORITY OF ORDER IMPLIES A TEMPORAL CONCEPTION.
16. It may however be objected that if the (universal Soul) contain things in the order in which they were successively produced, she thereby contains them as earlier and later. Then, if she produce them within time, she inclines towards the future, and consequently, also conversely to the past.
EARLIER AND LATER EXIST ONLY IN WHAT IS BEGOTTEN; NOT IN THEIR SEMINAL REASON.
It may be answered that the conceptions of earlier and later apply only to things which are becoming; in the Soul, on the contrary, there is no past; all the (“seminal) reasons” are simultaneously present to her, as has already been said. On the contrary, in begotten things, the parts do not exist simultaneously, because they do not all exist together, although they all exist together within the (“seminal) reasons.” For instance, the feet or the hands exist together in the (“seminal) reasons,” but in the body they are separate. Nevertheless, these parts are equally separated, but in a different manner, in the (“seminal) reason,” as they are equally anterior to each other in a different manner. If however they be thus separate in the (“seminal) reason,” they then differ in nature.
THINGS WHICH ARE ANTERIOR CAN BE ONLY IN LOWER PRINCIPLES.
But how are they anterior to each other? It must be because here he who commands is identical with him who is commanded. Now in commanding he expresses one thing after another; for why are all things not together? (Not so). If the command and he who commands were separate entities, the things would have been produced in the same manner as they have been expressed (by speech); but as the commander is himself the first command, he does not express things (by speech), he only produces them one after the other. If he were (by speech) to express what he actually does, he would have to consider the order; consequently, he would have to be separate from it. Is it asked, how can the commander be identical with the command? He is not simultaneously form and matter, but form alone (that is, the totality of the reasons which are simultaneously present to him). Thus, the Soul is both the potentiality and the actualization which occupy the second rank after Intelligence. To have parts some of which are prior to others suits only such objects as cannot be everything simultaneously.
DIAGRAM OF THE UNIVERSE.
The Soul, such as we are considering her here, is something venerable; she resembles a circle which is united to the center, and which develops without leaving (its base of operations, the center), thus forming an undivided extension. To gain a conception of the order of the three principles, the Good may be considered as a center, the Intelligence as an immovable circle, and the Soul as an external movable circle impelled by desire.
CIRCULAR MOVEMENT OF THE SOUL.
Indeed, intelligence possesses and embraces the Good immediately; while the Soul can only aspire to (the Good), which is located above the Intelligence. The whole world-sphere possessing the Soul which thus aspires (to the Good), is moved by the promptings of its natural aspirations. Its natural aspiration, however, is to rise in bodily aspiration to the principle on the outside of which it is; namely, to extend around it, to turn, and consequently to move in a circle.
THE INTELLECTUAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE WORLD-SOUL, AND SOULS OF STARS, EARTH AND MEN.
17. Why are the thoughts and rational aspirations in us different (from what they are in the universal Soul)? Why is there in us posteriority in respect to time (as we conceive things in a successive manner, while the universal Soul conceives them simultaneously)? Why do we have to question ourselves (about this)? Is it because several forces are active in us, and contend for mastery, and there is no single one which alone commands? Is it because we successively need various things to satisfy our needs, because our present is not determined by itself, but refers to things which vary continually, and which are outside of ourselves? Yes, that is the reason why our determinations change according to the present occasion and need. Various things come from the outside to offer themselves to us successively. Besides, as several forces dominate in us, our imagination necessarily has representations that are various, transient, modified by each other, and hindering the movements and actions characteristic of each power of the soul. Thus, when lust arises in us, imagination represents to us the desired object, warns us, and instructs us about the passion born of lust, and at the same time begs of us to listen to it, and to satisfy it. In this state, the soul floats in uncertainty, whether it grant to the appetite the desired satisfaction, or whether she refuse it. Anger, for instance, excites us to vengeance, and thereby produces the same uncertainty. The needs and passions of the body also suggest to us varying actions and opinions; as do also the ignorance of the true goods, the soul’s inability to give a certain judgment, while in this hesitating condition, and the consequences which result from the mingling of the things we have just mentioned. Still our own highest part makes judgments more certain than those reached by the part common (to the soul and to the body), a part that is very uncertain, being a prey to diversity of opinions.
SOULS, ACCORDING TO MORALIZATION, RESEMBLE VARIOUS FORMS OF GOVERNMENT.
Right reason, on descending from the higher realms of the soul into the common part, is by this mingling weakened, although it is not naturally weak; thus, in the tumult of a numerous assembly, it is not the wisest counsellor whose word carries weight; but on the contrary, that of the most turbulent and quarrelsome, and the tumult they make forces the wise man to stay seated, powerless and vanquished, by the noise. In the perverse man, it is the animal part that rules; the diversity of influences which overcome this man represents the worst of governments (the rule of the mob). In the commonplace man, things happen as in a republic where some good element dominates the remainder, which does not refuse to obey. In the virtuous man, there is a life which resembles the aristocracy, because he manages to withdraw from the influence of the commonplace part, and because he listens to what is best in himself. Finally, in the best man, completely separated from the common part, reigns one single principle from which proceeds the order to which the remainder is subject. It would seem therefore that there were two cities, the one superior, and the other inferior, which latter derives its order from the former. We saw that the universal Soul was a single identical principle which commands uniformly; but other souls, as we have just explained, are in a very different condition. Enough of this.
THE BODY IS NOT US, BUT OURS.
18. Does the body, thanks to the presence of the soul that vivifies it, possess something which becomes characteristically its own, or is its possession nothing more than its nature, and is this the only thing added to the body? Evidently, the body which enjoys the presence of the soul, and of nature, would not resemble a corpse. It will be in the condition of the air, not when the air is penetrated by the sun-light (for then it really receives nothing), but when it participates in the heat. Therefore, plant and animal bodies that possess “a nature,” find that it consists of the shadow of a soul. It is to this body, thus vivified by nature, that sufferings and pleasures relate; but it is for us to experience these sufferings and pleasures without ourselves suffering. By us is here meant the reasonable soul, from which the body is distinct, without however being foreign to it, since it is ours (since it belongs to us). Only because of this, that it is ours, do we care for it. We are not the body; but we are not entirely separated from it; it is associated with us, it depends on us. When we say “we,” we mean by this word what constitutes the principal part of our being; the body also is “ours”: but in another sense. Therefore its sufferings and pleasures are not indifferent to us; the weaker we are, the more we occupy ourselves with it. In it, so to speak, is plunged the most precious part of ourselves, which essentially constitutes the personality, the man.
THE SOUL AND BODY TOGETHER FORM A FUSION OF BOTH.
The passions do not really belong to the soul, but to the living body, which is the common part, or the fusion (of both, or the compound). The body and soul, each taken separately, are self-sufficient. Isolated and inanimate, the body does not suffer. It is not the body that is dissolved, it is the unification of its parts. Isolated, the soul is impassible, indivisible, and by her condition escapes all affections. But the unification of two things is sure to be more or less unstable, and on its occurrence, it often happens that it is tested; hence the pain. I say, “two things,” not indeed two bodies, because two bodies have the same nature; the present is a case where one kind of being is to be united to one of a different kind, where the inferior being receives something from the superior being, but receives only a trace of that something, because of its inability to receive her entirely. Then the whole comprises two elements, but nevertheless forms only a unity; which, becoming something intermediary between what it was, and what it has not been able to become, becomes seriously embarrassed, because it has formed an unfortunate alliance, not very solid, always drawn into opposite directions by contrary influences. Thus it is at one time elated, and at another, dejected; when it is dejected, it manifests its suffering; when it is elated, it aspires to communion between the body and the soul.
THE SOUL FEELS THE PASSIONS WITHOUT EXPERIENCING THEM.
19. That is why there is pleasure and pain. That is why grief is said to be a perception of dissolution, when the body is threatened with the loss of the image of the soul (of being disorganized by losing the irrational soul). That is why it is said that pleasure is a perception produced in the animal when the image of the soul reassumes its sway over the body. It is the body which undergoes passion; but it is the sense-potentiality of the soul which perceives the passion by its relation with the organs; it is she to which all the sensations ultimately report themselves. The body alone is injured and suffers; for example, when one member is cut, it is the mass of the body which is cut; the soul feels pain not merely as a mass, but as a living mass. It is likewise with a burn: the soul feels it, because the sense-potentiality as it were receives its reaction by its relations with the organs. The soul entire feels the passion produced in the body without however herself experiencing it.
UNLESS THE SOUL WERE IMPASSIBLE SHE COULD NOT LOCALIZE AND MANAGE PAIN.
Indeed, as the whole soul feels, she localizes the passion in the organ which has received the blow, and which suffers. If she herself experienced the suffering, as the whole of her is present in the whole body, she could not localize the suffering in one organ; the whole of her would feel the suffering; she would not relate it to any one part of the body, but to all in general: for she is present everywhere in the body. The finger suffers, and the man feels this suffering, because it is his finger. It is generally said that the man suffers in his finger, just as it is said that he is blond, because his eyes are blue. It is therefore the same entity that undergoes passion and suffering, unless the word “suffering” should not here designate both the passion, and the sensation which follows it; in this case no more is meant than that the state of suffering is accompanied by sensation. The sensation itself is not the suffering, but the knowledge of the suffering. The potentiality which knows must be impassible to know well, and well to indicate what is perceived. For if the faculty which is to indicate the passions itself suffer, it will either not indicate them, or it will indicate them badly.
THE APPETITES ARE LOCATED NEITHER IN BODY NOR SOUL, BUT IN THEIR COMBINATION.
20. Consequently, it may be said that the origin of the desires should be located in the common (combination) and in the physical nature. To desire and seek something would not be characteristic of a body in any state whatever (which would not be alive). On the other hand, it is not the soul which seeks after sweet or bitter flavors, but the body. Now the body, by the very fact that it is not simply a body (that it is a living body), moves much more than the soul, and is obliged to seek out a thousand objects to satisfy its needs: at times it needs sweet flavors, at others, bitter flavors; again humidity, and later, heat; all of them being things about which it would not care, were it alone. As the suffering is accompanied by knowledge, the soul, to avoid the object which causes the suffering, makes an effort which constitutes flight, because she perceives the passion experienced by the organ, that contracts to escape the harmful object. Thus everything that occurs in the body is known by sensation, and by that part of the soul called nature, and which gives the body a trace of the soul. On one hand, desire, which has its origin in the body, and reaches its highest degree in nature, attaches itself thereto. On the other hand, sensation begets imagination, as a consequence of which the soul satisfies her need, or abstains, and restrains herself; without listening to the body which gave birth to desire, nor the faculty which later felt its reaction.
TWO KINDS OF DESIRES: OF THE BODY; AND OF THE COMBINATION, OR NATURE.
Why therefore should we recognize two kinds of desires, instead of acknowledging only one kind in the living body? Because nature differs from the body to which it gives life. Nature is anterior to the body because it is nature that organizes the body by molding it, and shaping it; consequently, the origin of desire is not in nature, but in the passions of the living body. If the latter suffer, it aspires to possess things contrary to those that make it suffer, to make pleasure succeed pain, and satisfaction succeed need. Nature, like a mother, guesses the desires of the body that has suffered, tries to direct it, and to lure it back. While thus trying to satisfy it, she thereby shares in its desires, and she proposes to accomplish the same ends. It might be said that the body, by itself, possesses desires and inclinations; that nature has some only as a result of the body, and because of it; that, finally the soul is an independent power which grants or refuses what is desired by the organism.
DESIRES ARE PHYSICAL, BECAUSE CHANGEABLE IN HARMONY WITH THE BODY.
21. The observation of the different ages shows that it is indeed the organism which is the origin of desires. Indeed, these change according as the man is a child or a youth, sick or well. Nevertheless that part of the soul which is the seat of desires ever remains the same. Consequently the variations of desire must be traced back to the variations of the organism. But this desiring faculty of the soul is not always entirely wakened by the excitation of the body, although this subsists to the end. Often even before having deliberated, the soul will forbid the body to drink or eat, although the organism desires it as keenly as possible. Nature herself also often forbids the satisfaction of the bodily desire, because such desire may not seem to it natural, and because she alone has the right to decide what things are harmonious to or contrary to nature. The theory that the body, by its different states suggests different desires to the soul’s faculty of desire, does not explain how the different states of the body can inspire different desires in the soul’s faculty of desire, since then it is not itself that it seeks to satisfy. For it is not for itself, but for the organism, that the soul’s faculty of desire seeks foods, humidity or heat, motion, agitation, or the satisfaction of hunger.
RELATION OF DESIRE-FUNCTION TO THE VEGETATIVE POWERS.
22. It is possible, even in plant-life, to distinguish something which is the characteristic property of their bodies, and a power that imparts it to them. What in us in the soul’s faculty of desire, is in plant-life the natural element (or, vegetative power).
PLATO IS IN DOUBT ABOUT THE EARTH’S SOUL; WHETHER SHE IS LIKE THOSE OF STARS.
The earth also possesses a soul; and therefore also such a potentiality; and it is from the earth that the plants derive their vegetative potentiality. One might reasonably first ask which is this soul that resides in the earth. Does she proceed from the sphere of the universe (to which alone Plato seems to attribute a soul from the very first), so as to make of her an irradiation of this sphere upon the earth? Or should we on the contrary, attribute to the earth a soul similar to that of the stars, as Plato does when he calls the earth the first and most ancient of the divinities contained within the interior of the heavens? Could it, in this case, be a divinity, if it did not have a soul? It is therefore difficult to determine the exact state of affairs, and the very words of Plato here instead of diminishing our embarrassment, only increase it.
At first, how will we manage to form a reasonable opinion on this subject? Judging from what the earth causes to grow, one might conjecture that it possesses the vegetative potentiality. As many living beings are seen to grow from the earth, why would it itself not be a living being? Being besides a great living being, and a considerable part of the world, why should the earth not possess intelligence, and be a divinity? Since we consider every star as a living being, why would we not similarly consider the earth, which is a part of the universal living being? It would, indeed, be impossible to admit that it was exteriorly contained by a foreign soul, and that interiorly it would have no soul, as if it were the only being incapable of having an individual soul. Why should we grant animation to the (starry) bodies of fire, while not to the earthly body of our earth? Indeed, bodies could as easily be of earth as of fire. Not in the stars, any more than in the earth, is there any nose, flesh, blood, or humors, although the earth is more varied than the stars, and although it be composed of all the other living bodies. As to its inability to move, this can be said only in reference to local motion. (For it is capable of motion in the respect that it can feel.)
THE EARTH CAN FEEL AS WELL AS ANY OF THE STARS.
It will be asked, But how can the earth feel? We shall answer in turn, How can stars feel? It is not the flesh that feels; a soul is not dependent for feeling on a body; but the body is dependent on the soul for self-preservation. As the soul possesses judgment, she should be able to judge the passions of the body whenever she applies her attention thereto.
QUESTION: WHAT PASSIONS WOULD BE SUITABLE TO THE EARTH?
It may however still be asked, What are the passions characteristic of the earth, and which may be objects of judgment for the soul? It may besides be objected that the plants, considered in the terrestrial element that constitutes them, do not feel.
SENSATION WILL FIRST HAVE TO BE EXAMINED.
Let us now examine to what beings sensation belongs, and whereby it operates. Let us see whether sensation can take place even without organs. Of what use to the earth could sensation be? For it does not serve the earth as means of knowledge; the knowledge which consists in wisdom suffices for the beings to whom sensation is of no use. This consideration might however be denied, for the knowledge of sense-objects offers, besides utility, some of the charms of the Muses. Such is, for example, the knowledge of the sun and the other stars, whose contemplation itself is agreeable. This problem will therefore demand solution.
RESTATEMENT OF PROBLEMS INVOLVED.
We must therefore first investigate if the earth possess senses, to what animals sensation naturally belongs, and how sensation operates. It will be necessary to begin by discussing the doubtful points that we have indicated, and to examine in general if sensation can operate without organs, and if the senses have been given for utility, admitting even that they can procure some other advantage.
CONCEPTIVE THOUGHT DEMANDS THE INTERMEDIARY PROCESS OF SENSATION.
23. Conception of sense-objects occurs when the soul or the living being experiences perceptions by grasping the bodies’ inherent qualities, and by representing their forms to itself. The soul must therefore perceive sense-objects either with or without the body. How could the soul do so alone? Pure and isolated, she can conceive only what she has within herself; she can only think. But for conception of objects other than herself, she must previously have grasped them, either by becoming assimilated to them, or by finding herself united to something which may have become similar to them.
THE PURE SOUL WOULD REMAIN ISOLATED.
It is impossible for the soul to become similar to sense-objects (in order to grasp them), by remaining pure. How indeed could a point become similar to a line? The intelligible line itself could not become conformed to the sense-line, any more than intelligible fire to the sense-fire, or the intelligible man to the sense-man. Nature herself which begets man could not be identical with the begotten man. The isolated soul, even if she could grasp sense-objects, will finish by applying herself to the intuition of intelligible objects, because, having nothing by which to grasp the former, she will let them escape. Indeed, when the soul perceives from far a visible object, although only the form reaches her, nevertheless what first began by being for her indivisible, finally constitutes a subject, whether it be color or a figure, whose size is determined by the soul.
SENSATION DEPENDS ON THE SENSE-SHAPE, WHICH, LIKE TOOLS, IS INTERMEDIATE.
The soul and the exterior object do not therefore suffice (to explain sensation); for there would be nothing that suffers. There must therefore be a third term that suffers, that is, which receives the sense-form, or, shape. This third term must “sympathize,” or, share the passion of the exterior object, it must also experience the same passion, and it must be of the same matter; and, on the other hand, its passion must be known by another principle; last, passion must keep something of the object which produces it, without however being identical with it. The organ which suffers must therefore be of a nature intermediary between the object which produces the passion and the soul, between the sensible and the intelligible, and thus play the part of a term intermediary between the two extremes, being receptive on one side, making announcements on the other, and becoming equally similar to both. The organ that is to become the instrument of knowledge must be identical neither with the subject that knows, nor with the object that is known. It must become similar to both of them; to the exterior object because it suffers, and to the cognizing soul because the passion which it experiences becomes a form. Speaking more accurately, the sensations operate by the organs. This results from the principle asserted above, that the soul isolated from the body can grasp nothing in the sense-world. As used here, the word “organ” either refers to the whole body, or to some part of the body fitted to fulfill some particular function; as in the case of touch or sight. Likewise, it is easy to see that tools of artisans play a part intermediary between the mind which judges, and the object which is judged; and that they serve to discover the properties of substances. For instance, a (foot) rule, which is equally conformed to the idea of straightness in the mind, and to the property of straightness in the wood, serves the artisan’s mind as intermediary to judge if the wood he works be straight.
EXCLUSION OF OTHER SIDE ISSUES.
We have just demonstrated that sensation belongs exclusively to an embodied soul, and that this implies organs. But we have nothing to do with the question whether the perceived object must be in contact with the organ, or whether the sensation can take place at a distance from the sense-object, by means of an intermediary; as the case of the fire which is located at a distance from our body, without the intermediary’s suffering in any manner. It happens again where, empty space serving as intermediary between the eye and the color, one may well ask whether, to see, it suffice to possess the potentiality proper to that organ. But it is sure that sensation is some activity of the soul in a body, or through a body.
ARE THE SENSES GIVEN US ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF UTILITY?
24. Whether the senses were given us for the sake of utility must be examined as follows. If the soul were separated from the body, she would not feel; she feels only when united to a body; therefore she feels by and for the body. It is from the soul’s intimacy with the body that sensation results, either because all passions, when keen enough, reach the soul; or whether the senses were made for us to take care that no object approaches too near us, or exercises on our organs an action strong enough to destroy them. If so, the senses were given us for the sake of utility. Even if the senses do serve to acquire knowledge and information, they would be of no use to a being who possesses knowledge, but only to one who needs to learn he has the misfortune of being ignorant, or who needs to remember, because he is subject to forgetfulness. They are therefore not found in the being who has no need to learn, and who does not forget.
ARE SENSES GIVEN THE STARS FOR UTILITY?
Let us consider what consequences may be drawn therefrom for the earth, the stars, and especially for the heavens and the whole world. From what we have seen, the parts of the world which suffer may possess sensation in their relation with other parts. But is the entire world, capable of feeling, as it is entirely impassible in its relations with itself? If sensation demand on one hand an organ, and on the other the sense-object, the world which includes everything, can have neither organ to perceive, nor exterior object to be perceived. We may therefore ascribe to the world a sort of intimate sensation, such as we ourselves possess, and deny to it the perception of other objects. When we feel something unusual in our bodies, we perceive it as being external. Now as we perceive not only exterior objects, but even some part of our body through some other part of the body itself, similarly the world might very well perceive the sphere of the planets by means of the sphere of the fixed stars; and perceive the earth with all the objects it contains by means of the sphere of the planets? If these beings (the stars and the planets) do not feel the passions felt by other beings, why might they not also possess different senses? Might not the sphere of the planets not only by itself possess sight by itself, but in addition be the eye destined to transmit what it sees to the universal Soul? Since she is luminous and animated, she might see as does an eye, supposing that she did not feel the other passions. (Plato), however, said, “that the heavens have no need of eyes.” Doubtless the heavens have nothing outside of themselves to see; and consequently, they may not have need of eyes, as we have; but they contain something to contemplate, namely, themselves. If it should be objected that it is useless for them to see themselves, it may be answered that they were not made principally for this purpose, and that if they see themselves, it is only a necessary consequence of their natural constitution. Nothing therefore hinders them from seeing, as their body is diaphanous.
IF SENSATION IS A SOUL-DISTRACTION, THE STARS A WOULD NOT INDULGE THEREIN.
25. It would seem that in order to see, and in general to feel, mere possession of the necessary organs by the soul, is not enough; the soul must also be disposed to direct her attention to things of sense. But it is usual for the (universal) Soul to be ever applied to the contemplation of intelligible things; and mere possession of the faculty of sensation would not necessarily imply its exercise, because it would be entirely devoted to objects of a higher nature. So when we apply ourselves to the contemplation of intelligible things, we notice neither the sensation of sight, nor those of other senses; and, in general, the attention that we give to one thing hinders us from seeing the others. Even among us human beings, to wish to perceive one of our members through another, as, for instance, looking at ourselves, is both superfluous and vain, unless this has some very good purpose. Moreover, it is a characteristic of an imperfect and fallible being to contemplate some external thing, merely because it is beautiful. It may therefore well be said that if to feel, hear and taste are distractions of a soul that attaches herself to outer objects, the sun and the other stars cannot see or hear, except accidentally. It would however not be unreasonable to admit that they turn towards us through the exercise of the senses of sight or hearing. Now, if they turn towards us, they must be mindful of human affairs. It would be absurd that they should not remember the men to whom they do so much good; how indeed would they do good, if they had no memory?
THE EARTH FEELS AND DIRECTS BY THE LAWS OF SYMPATHETIC HARMONY.
26. The stars know our desires through the agreement and sympathy established between them and us by the harmony reigning in the universe. Our desires are granted by the same method. Likewise, magic is founded on the harmony of the universe; it acts by means of the forces which are interconnected by sympathy. If so, why should we not attribute to the earth the faculty of sensation? Granting this, what sort of sensations would we attribute to it? To begin with, why should we not attribute to it touch, whether by one part feeling the condition of another, and by the transmission of the sensation to the governing power, or by the whole earth feeling the fire, and other similar things; for if the terrestrial element is inert, it certainly is not insensible. The earth will therefore feel the great things, and not those of minor importance. Why should it feel? Surely if the earth have a soul, she will not ignore the strongest motions therein. The earth must also be supposed to feel, in order to dispose all that depends on her for the benefit of humanity. All these things she will suitably dispose by the laws of harmony. She can hear and grant the prayers addressed to her, but in a manner other than we ourselves would do. Besides, she might exercise other senses in her relations, either with herself, or with foreign things; as, for example, to have the sensations of taste and smell perceived by other beings. Perhaps even she has need to perceive the odors of the liquids to fulfill her providential functions in respect to animals, and to take care of her own body.
THE EARTH’S SENSES MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM OURS.
We must however not insist on her organs being the same as ours. Not even in all animals are the senses similar. Thus, for instance, not all have similar ears, and even those who have no ears at all nevertheless will perceive sounds. How could the earth see, if light be necessary for her vision? Nor must we claim for her the necessity of having eyes. We have already above granted that she possesses the vegetative power; we should therefore thence draw the deduction that this power is primitively by its essence a sort of spirit. What objection then could there be to assume that this spirit might be resplendent and transparent? Arguing merely from its nature of being a spirit, we should (potentially at least) conclude that it is transparent; and that it is actually transparent because it is illuminated by the celestial sphere. It is therefore neither impossible nor incredible that the soul of the earth should possess sight. Besides, we must remember that this soul is not that of a vile body, and that consequently, she must be a goddess. In any case, this soul must be eternally good.
ANALYSIS OF THE EARTH’S PSYCHOLOGY.
27. If the earth communicate to plant-life the power of begetting and growing, it possesses this power within itself, and gives only a trace of it to the plants which derive from it all their fruitfulness, and as it were are the living flesh of its body. It gives to them what is best in them; this can be seen in the difference between a plant growing in the soil, and of a branch cut from it; the former is a real plant, the latter is only a piece of wood. What is communicated to the body of the earth by the Soul which presides over it? To see this it is sufficient to notice the difference between some earth resting within the soil, and a piece that is detached therefrom. It is likewise easy to recognize that stones increase in size as long as they are in the bosom of the earth, while they remain in the same state when they have been plucked out therefrom. Everything therefore bears within itself a trace of the universal vegetative (power) shed abroad over the whole earth, and belonging particularly to no one of its parts. As to the earth’s power of sensation, it is not (like its vegetative power) mingled with the body of the earth; it only hovers above and guides it. Moreover, the earth possesses also, higher than the above powers, a soul and an intelligence. They bear respectively the names of Ceres and Vesta, according to the revelations of men of prophetic nature, who allow themselves to be inspired by the divine.
DOES THE IRASCIBLE POWER ALSO ORIGINATE IN THE BODY?
28. Enough of this. Let us return to the question from which we digressed. We granted that the desires, pains and pleasures (considered not only as sentiments, but as passions), originate in the constitution of the organized and living body. Must the same origin be assigned to the irascible (power)? Were this so, we would have several questions to ask: Does anger belong to the entire organism, or only to a particular organ, such as the heart when so disposed, or to the bile, as long as it is part of a living body? Is anger different from the principle which gives the body a trace of the soul, or is it an individual power, which depends on no other power, whether irascible or sensitive?
THE LIVER IS THE SEAT OF THE SOUL’S FACULTY OF DESIRE.
The vegetative power present in the whole body communicates to every part thereof a trace of the soul. It is therefore to the entire body that we must refer suffering, pleasure, and the desire of food. Though nothing definite is ascertained about the seat of sexual desire, let us grant that their seat is in the organs destined to its satisfaction. Further, be it granted that the liver is the seat of the soul’s faculty of desire, because that organ is particularly the theater of the activities of the vegetative power which impresses a trace of the soul on the body; and further, because it is from the liver that the action it exercises starts.
THE HEART IS THE SEAT OF ANGER.
As to anger, we shall have to examine its nature, what power of the soul it constitutes, whether it be anger that imparts to the heart a trace of its own power; if there exist another force capable of producing the movement revealed in the animal; and finally, if it be not a trace of anger, but anger itself which resides in the heart.
ANGER ORIGINATES IN THE VEGETATIVE AND GENERATIVE POWER, AS TRACE OF THE SOUL.
First, what is the nature of anger? We grow irritated at maltreatment of ourselves or of a person dear to us; in general, when we witness some outrage. Therefore anger implies a certain degree of sensation, or even intelligence, and we should have to suppose that anger originates in some principle other than the vegetative power. Certain bodily conditions, however, predispose us to anger; such as being of a fiery disposition, and being bilious; for people are far less disposed to anger if of a cold-blooded nature. Besides, animals grow irritated especially by the excitement of this particular part, and by threats of harm to their bodily condition. Consequently we would once more be led to refer anger to the condition of the body and to the principle which presides over the constitution of organism. Since men are more irritable when sick than when well, when they are hungry, more than when well satisfied, anger or its principle should evidently be referred to the organized and living body; evidently, attacks of anger are excited by the blood or the bile, which are living parts of the animal. As soon as the body suffers, the blood as well as the bile boils, and there arises a sensation which arouses the imagination; the latter then instructs the soul of the state of the organism, and disposes the soul to attack what causes this suffering. On the other hand, when the reasonable soul judges that we have been injured, she grows excited, even if there were no disposition to anger in the body. This affection seems therefore to have been given to us by nature to make us, according to the dictates of our reasons, repel and threatens us. (There are then two possible states of affairs.) Either the irascible power first is moved in us without the aid of reason, and later communicates its disposition to reason by means of the imagination; or, reason first enters into action, and then reason communicates its impulse to that part of our being which is disposed to anger. In either case, anger arises in the vegetative and generative power, which, in organizing the body, has rendered it capable to seek out what is agreeable, and to avoid what is painful; diffusing the bitter bile through the organism, imparting to it a trace of the soul, thus communicating to it the faculty of growing irritated in the presence of harmful objects, and, after having been harmed, of harming other things, and to render them similar to itself. Anger is a trace of the soul, of the same nature as the soul’s faculty of desire, because those least seek objects agreeable to the body, and who even scorn the body, are least likely to abandon themselves to the blind transports of anger. Although plant-life possesses the vegetative power, it does not possess the faculty of anger because it has neither blood nor bile. These are the two things which, in the absence of sensation, leads one to boil with indignation. When however sensation joins these two elements, there arises an impulse to fight against the harmful object. If the irrational part of the soul were to be divided into the faculty of desire, and that of anger, and if the former were to be considered the vegetative power, and the other, on the contrary, as a trace of the vegetative power, residing in either the heart or blood, or in both; this division would not consist of opposed members, because the second would proceed from the first. But there is an alternative: both members of this division, the faculties of desire and anger, might be considered two powers derived from one and the same principle (the vegetative power). Indeed, when the appetites are divided, it is their nature, and not the being from which they depend, that is considered. This essence itself, however, is not the appetite, but completes it, harmonizing with it the actions proceeding from the appetite. It is also reasonable to assign the heart as seat of the trace of the soul which constitutes anger; for the heart is not the seat of the soul, but the source of the (arterially) circulating blood.
WHEN THE SOUL LEAVES THE BODY, SHE LEAVES A TRACE OF LIFE.
29. If the body resemble an object warmed rather than illuminated, why does nothing vital remain after the reasonable soul has abandoned it? It does preserve some vital element, but only for a short time; this trace soon disappears, as vanishes the heat of an object when it is removed from the fire. After death, some trace of life still remains. This is proved by the growth of hair and nails on corpses; and it is well known that animals, even after being cut in pieces, still move for some time. Besides, the disappearance of the (vegetative) life simultaneously with the reasonable soul, does not prove their identity, and that they (the reasonable soul, and the vegetative soul) are not different. When the sun disappears, it causes the disappearance not only of the light that surrounds it immediately, and as it were depends from it, but also of the brilliance which these objects receive from this light, and which completely differs from it.
DOES THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THESE THINGS NECESSARILY IMPLY THEIR DESTRUCTION?
But does that which disappears merely depart, or does it perish? Such is the question which applies both to the light which inheres in the illuminated objects (and colors them), as well as to the life inherent in the body, and which we call the characteristically bodily life. Evidently, there remains no light left in the objects which were illuminated. But the question is to decide whether the light that inhered in them returns to its source, or is annihilated. Annihilation is impossible if anteriorly it was something real. What was it really? So-called color must depend on the very bodies from which light also emanates; and when these bodies perish, their coloring perishes with them; nobody indeed asks after the fate of the color of the fire that has gone out any more than one troubles oneself about what has become of its appearance. It may be objected that the appearance is only a condition, such as holding the hand open or closed, while the color, on the contrary, is the same sort of a quality as sweetness. Now, is there nothing to hinder the sweet or the fragrant body from perishing, without affecting the existence of the sweetness and fragrance? Could they subsist in other bodies without being felt, because the bodies which participate in the qualities, are such as not to allow the qualities they possess to be felt? What would hinder the unaffected existence of the light after the destruction of the body it colored, if it merely ceased to be reflected, unless one’s mind should see that those qualities subsist in no subject? If we were to admit this opinion, we would also be obliged to admit that qualities are indestructible, that they are not produced in the constitution of the bodies, that their colors are not produced by the reasons in seed; that, as happens with the changing plumage of certain birds, the (“seminal) reasons” not only gather or produce the colors of the objects, but they besides make use of those that still fill the air, and that they remain in the air without being such as they appear to us when in bodies. Enough of this.
THREE POSSIBLE INTERRELATIONS OF THE SOUL’S SUPERIOR AND INFERIOR BODIES.
It may still be asked whether, if while the bodies subsist, the light that colors them remains united to them, and does not separate from them, why then would not both it, together with its immediate emanations, move along with the body in which it inheres, although it cannot be seen going away any more than it is seen approaching? We shall therefore have to examine elsewhere if the second-rank powers of the soul always remain attached to the higher ones, and so on; or if each of them subsist by itself, and can continue to subsist in itself when it is separated from the higher ones; or if, inasmuch as no part of the soul can be separated from the others, all together form a soul which is simultaneously one and manifold, but in some still undetermined manner.
CAN THE PHYSICAL LIFE EXIST WITHOUT THE SOUL?
What becomes of this trace of life that the soul impresses on the body, and that the latter appropriates? If it belong to the soul, it will follow the latter, since it is not separated from the being of the soul. If it be the life of the body, it must be subject to the same conditions as the luminous color of the bodies (and perish with them). Indeed, it will be well to examine if the life can subsist without the soul, or if, on the contrary, the life exists no earlier than the soul is present, and acts on the body.
STARS, AS WELL AS THE SUN, HAVE PRAYERS ADDRESSED TO THEM.
30. We have shown that memory is useless to the stars; we have agreed that they have senses, namely, sight and hearing, and the power to hear the prayers addressed to the sun, and also those by many people addressed to the other stars, because these people are persuaded that they receive from them many benefits; they think even that they will obtain them so easily that these men ask the stars to co-operate in actions not only such as are just, but even such as are unjust. Questions raised by the latter point must still be considered.
BENEFITS ARE GRANTED TO MEN THROUGH THE WORLD-SOUL’S MEDIATION.
Here arise important questions which have been frequently considered especially by such as will not allow the divinities to be regarded as the accomplices or authors of shameful deeds, such as love-adventures and adulteries. For this reason, as well as on account of what was said above about the memory of the stars, we shall have to examine the nature of the influence they exercise. Indeed, if they grant our petitions, though not immediately, and give us what we ask after a time that sometimes is very long, they must necessarily exercise memory of the prayers addressed to them; now, we have above denied that they could have memory. As to the benefits that they grant to men, it has been said that it seemed as if they had been granted by Vesta, that is, the earth, unless indeed it should be insisted that the earth alone granted benefits to men.
STATEMENT OF THREE QUESTIONS.
We have therefore two points to examine: we first have to explain that if we do attribute memory to the stars, it is only in a sense agreeing with our former statements, and not for the reason advanced by other people; we shall later have to show that it is a mistake to attribute evil actions to them. In view of this, we shall try, as is the duty of the philosopher, to refute the complaints formed against the divinities which reside in the heavens, and against the universe which is equally accused, in the case that any credence whatever is to be attached to such as pretend that heaven can be magically swayed by the arts of audacious men; last, we shall explain the administration of the ministry of guardians, unless the latter point have been explained incidentally to the solution of the former problems.
NATURAL ACTIONS ARE BOTH ON WHOLES AND ON PARTS.
31. Let us in general consider the actions and reactions produced in the universe either by nature or by art. In the works of nature, there is an action of the whole on the parts, of the parts on the whole, and of the parts on the parts. In the works of art, art either alone accomplishes what it has undertaken, or depends on natural forces to effect certain natural operations. We may call actions of the universe, all that the total circular expanse affects on itself or its part. For in fact, the heavens by moving themselves, somehow effect themselves and their parts, both those in its own revolutions, or on the earth. The mutual reactions and passions of the parts of the universe are easy to recognize, such as the positions taken up by the sun, and the influence the sun exercises on the other stars, and especially in regard to the earth; further, the processes in its own elements, as well as in those of the other constellations, and of objects on earth—all of which deserve separate consideration.
MOST OF THE ARTS ACHIEVE THEIR OWN ENDS.
Architecture and the fine arts, fulfill themselves in such an object. Medicine, agriculture and similar professions, however, are auxiliary arts, and obey the laws of nature, assisting their efficient production so as to make them as natural as possible. As to rhetoric, music, and other arts of refinement, which serve the education of souls in improving or degrading men, it remains an open question how many there are of them, and what power they possess. In all these things, we will have to examine what may be of use to us for the questions we are treating, and we will have to discover the cause of the facts, as far as possible.
ABSURDITY OF PTOLEMEAN ASTROLOGY.
It is evident that the revolution of the stars exercises an influence first by disposing them in different arrangement; then the things contained within its spheres; then terrestrial beings, not only in body, but in soul; further, each part of the heavens exercises influence on terrestrial and inferior things. We shall indeed inquire whether the lower things in turn exercise some influence on the superior ones. For the present, however, granting that the facts admitted by all, or at least a majority, are what they seem to be, we shall have to try to explain how they are produced, by following them up to their origins. We must indeed not say that all things are caused exclusively by heat or cold, with possibly the other qualities named the “primary qualities of the elements,” or with those that derive from their mixture; neither should we assert that the sun produces everything by the heat, or some other star (like Saturn), by cold. For indeed what would cold amount to in the heavens, which are a fiery body, or in fire, which has no humidity? Moreover, in this manner it would be impossible to recognize the difference of the stars. Then there are many facts that could not be traced to their influence. If the influence of the stars is to be made to account for the differences of human character, which are supposed to correspond to mixtures of corporeal elements, producing a temperament in which there is an excess of cold or heat, to which such causes would one trace hate, envy, and malice? Granting even that this were possible, how would one then by the same causes explain good and bad fortune, poverty and wealth, nobility of fathers and children, and the discovery of treasures? A thousand facts equally as foreign to the influence exercised by the physical qualities of the elements on the bodies or souls of animals, could be cited.
NO CRIMES SHOULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE INFLUENCE OF SUBLUNARY DIVINITIES.
Neither should the things which happen to sublunary beings be attributed to either a voluntary decision, or to deliberations of the universe, or the stars. It is not permissible to imagine that the divinities sway events in a manner such that some should become thieves, others should enslave their fellow-beings, or capture cities, or commit sacrilege in temples, or be cowards, effeminate in their conduct, or infamous in their morals. To favor such crimes would be unworthy of men of the most commonplace virtue, let alone divinities. Besides, what beings would be likely to busy themselves favoring vices and outrages from which they were not to reap any advantage?
HAVING CONFUTED ASTROLOGY AND DEVILTRY, WORLD INFLUENCE IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE WORLD-SOUL.
32. Since the influence exteriorly exercised by the heavens on us, on animals, and on human affairs generally has been excluded from physical causes (of astrology) and from voluntary decisions of divinities, it remains for us to find some cause to which it may reasonably be attributed. First, we will have to admit that this universe is a single living being, which contains within its own organism all living beings; and that it contains a single Soul, which is communicated to all its parts; namely, to all beings that form part of the universe. Now every being that is contained in the sense-world is a part of the universe. First, and unrestrictedly, it is a part of the universe by its body. Then, it is again part of the universe by its soul, but only so far as it participates (in the natural and vegetative power) of the universal Soul. The beings which only participate in (the natural and vegetative power) of the universal Soul are completely parts of the universe. Those who participate in another soul (the superior power of the universal Soul), are not completely parts of the universe (because they are independent by their rational souls); but they experience passions by the actions of the other beings, as far as they have something of the universe (so far as by their irrational souls, they participate in the natural and vegetative power of the universe), and in the proportion in which they possess some part of the universe. This universe is therefore a single living being that is self-sympathetic. The parts that seem distant are not any the less near, as, in each animal, the horns, nails, fingers, the organs at distance from each other, feel, in spite of the interval which separates them, the affection experienced by any other one of them. In fact, as soon as the parts are similar, even when they are separated by an interval instead of being placed by each others’ side, they sympathize by virtue of this their similarity, and the action of the distant one is felt by all the others. Now in this universe which is a single living being, and which forms a single organism, there is nothing distant enough in place not to be near because of the nature of this being whose unity makes it self-sympathetic. When the suffering being resembles the acting one, it experiences a passion conformable to its nature; when on the contrary it differs, it experiences a passion that is foreign to its nature, and painful. It is therefore not surprising that though the universe be single, one of its parts can exert on another a harmful influence, since it often happens to ourselves that one of our parts wounds another by its action; as for instance, that the bile, setting anger in motion, should crush and tear some other part of the body. Now something analogous to this bile which excites anger, and to other parts that form the human body, is discovered in the universe. Even in plants there are certain things which form obstacles to others, and even destroy them. Now the world forms not only a single animal, but also a plurality of animals; each of them, as far as it has a share in the singleness of the universe, is preserved thereby; but, in so far as this animal enters into the multiplicity of some other animal, he can wound it, or be wounded by it, make use of it, or feed on it, because it differs from itself as much as it resembles itself; because the natural desire of self-preservation leads us to appropriate what is suitable to itself, and in its own interest to destroy what is contrary thereto. Finally, each being, fulfilling its part in the universe, is useful to those that can profit by its action, and wounds or destroys those who cannot support it; thus plants are scorched by the passage of fire, and the little animals are dragged along or trampled by the greater. This generation and this corruption, this betterment and deterioration of things render easy and natural the life of the universe considered as a single living being. Indeed, it would not otherwise have been possible that the particular beings it contains should have lived as if they were alone, should possess their ends in themselves, and should live only for themselves; since they are only parts, they must, as such, concur in the ends of the whole of which they are parts; and, so far as they are different, they could not each preserve its own life, because they are contained in the unity of the universal life; neither could they entirely remain in the same state, because the universe must possess permanence, and because of the universe, permanence consists in ever remaining in motion.
THE STARS’ MOTIONS COMPARED TO A PREARRANGED DANCE.
33. As the circular movement of the world has nothing fortuitous, inasmuch as it is produced conformably to the reason of this great animal, a perfect symphonic (co-operation) between what “acts” and what “reacts” must exist within it; and there must also have been an order which would co-ordinate things one with another, so that at each of the phases of the circular movement of the world there might be a correspondence between the various beings subject to it, as if, in a varied choric ballet the dancers formed a single figure. As to our own modern dances, it is easy to explain the eternal things which contribute thereto, and which differ for every motion, like the sounds of the flute, the songs, and the other circumstances which are thereto related. It is not however as easy to conceive the motions of a person who conforms himself strictly to each figure, who accompanies, who raises one limb, or lowers another, who moves this limb, or holds the other limb motionless in a different attitude. The dancer’s eyes are doubtless fixed on some further aim while his limbs are still responding to the motions inspired by the music, by co-operating in expressing them, and in completing them symmetrically. Likewise, a man learned in the art of dancing could explain the reason that, in such a figure, such a limb is raised, such a limb is bent, while others are hidden or lowered; not indeed that the dancer deliberates about these different attitudes, but because in the general movement of his body he considers such a posture suitable to such a limb to fulfill its proper part in the dance. Likewise do the stars produce certain facts, and announce other ones. The entire world realizes its universal life by causing the motion of the greater parts it comprises, by ceaselessly changing the figures, so that the different positions of the parts, and their mutual relations may determine the rest, and that things may occur as in a movement executed by a single moving living organism. Thus such a state is produced by such an attitude, such positions, such figures; while some other state is produced by some other kind of figures, and so forth. Consequently, the real authors of what is occurring do not seem to be those who carry out the figures, but He who commands them; and He who plans the figures does not do one thing while busying Himself with another, because He is not acting on something different from Himself; He himself is all the things that are done; He here is the figures (formed by the universal movement), He himself there is the resultant passions in the animal so moved and constituted by nature, simultaneously “active” and “passive” as the result of necessary laws.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE UNIVERSE SHOULD BE PARTIAL ONLY.
34. Granting that men are influenced by the universe through one of the elements of their being, it must be by (their body), that which forms part of the body of the universe, not by all those of which they are constituted. Consequently, the surrounding universe should exercise on them only a limited influence. In this respect they resemble wise servants who know how to carry out the orders of their masters without interfering with their own liberty, so that they are treated in a manner less despotic, because they are not slaves, and do not entirely cease to belong to themselves.
ASTROLOGICAL INFLUENCE MERELY INDICATION.
As to the difference found in the figures formed by the stars, it could not be other than it is, because the stars do not advance in their course with equal swiftness. As they move according to the laws of reason, and as their relative positions constitute the different attitudes of this great organism (which is the world), and as all the things that occur here below are, by the laws of sympathy related to those that occur on high, it would be proper to inquire whether terrestrial things are the consequences of the celestial things to which they are similar, or whether the figures possess an efficacious power; and in the latter case, whether all figures possess this power, or if figures are formed by stars only; for the same figure does not bear the same significance, and does not exert the same action in different things, because each being seems to have its own proper nature. It may be said that the configuration of certain things amounts to no more than the mere disposition of things; and that the configuration of other things is the same disposition with another figure. If so, influence should be attributed not to the figures, but to the prefigured realities; or rather, to things identical by their essence, and different by their figures; a different influence will also have to be attributed to the object which differs from the others only by the place it occupies.
ASTROLOGICAL INFLUENCE MAY BE PARTLY ACTION; PARTLY MERE SIGNIFICANCE.
But of what does this influence consist? In significance, or in (genuine effective) action? In many cases, the combination, or thing figured, may be said to have both an action, and a significance; in other cases, however, a significance merely. In second place, both the figures and the things figured should be credited with the powers suitable to each; as with dancers, the hand exerts an influence similar to that of the other members; and, returning to figures, these would exert an influence far greater than a hand in dancing. Last, the third (or lowest) degree of power pertains to those things which follow the lead of the figures, carrying out (their significance); just as, returning to the dance-illustrations, the dancer’s limbs, and the parts of those limbs, ultimately do follow the dance-figures; or (taking a more physiological example), as when the nerves and veins of the hand are contracted by the hand’s motions, and participate therein.
EARTHLY EVENTS SHOULD NOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE STARS’ BODY OR WILL.
35. How then do these powers exert themselves?—for we have to retrace our steps to give a clear explanation. What difference is exhibited by the comparison of one triangle with another? What action does the one exert on another, how is it exerted, and how far does it go? Such are the questions we have to study, since we do not refer the production of things here below to the stars, neither to their body, nor to their will; not to their bodies, because the things which happen are not simple physical effects; nor to their will, because it is absurd that divinities should by their will produce absurd things.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS CONSISTS IN THEIR CONTEMPLATION OF THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
Let us now recall what has already been established. The universe is a single living being by virtue of its unity being sympathetic with itself. The course of its life is regulated by reason; it is entirely in agreement with itself; it has nothing fortuitous, it offers a single order, and a single harmony. Besides, all the (star) figures are each conformed to a reason and to a determinate number. The parts of the universal living beings which constitute this kind of a dance—we mean the figures produced in it, of the parts figured therein, as well as the things derived therefrom—are the very actualization of the universe. Thus the universe lives in the manner we have determined, and its powers contribute to this state according to the nature they have received from the reason that has produced them. The figures are, in some way, the reasons of the universal Living being, the intervals or contrasts (of the parts) of the Living being, the attitudes they take according to the laws of rhythm, and according to the reason of the universe. The beings which by their relative distances produce these figures are the divers members of this living being. The different powers of this living being act without deliberation, as its members, because deliberation is a process foreign to the nature of themselves or to this living being. Aspiration to a single aim is the characteristic of the single living being; but it includes manifold powers. All these different wills aspire to the same end as the single will of the organism, for each part desires some one of the different objects that it contains. Each wishes to possess something of the other’s possessions, and to obtain what it lacks; each experiences a feeling of anger against another, when it is excited against that other; each increases at the expense of another, and begets another. The universe produces all these actions in its parts, but at the same time it seeks the Good, or rather, it contemplates it. It is always the Good that is sought by the right will, which is above passions, and thus accords with the will of the universe. Similarly, servants ascribe many of their actions to the orders received from their master; but the desire of the Good carries them where their own master is carried. Consequently, the sun and the other stars exert what influence they do exert on things here below through contemplation of the intelligible world.
STAR INFLUENCE IS EXPLAINED BY THEIR NATURAL RADIATION OF GOOD.
We shall limit ourselves to the above illustration, which may easily be applied to the rest. The sun does not limit itself to warming terrestrial beings. It makes them also participate in its soul, as far as possible; for it possesses a powerful physical soul. Likewise, the other stars, involuntarily, by a kind of irradiation, transmit to inferior beings somewhat of the (natural) power they possess. Although therefore all things (in the universe) form but a single thing of a particular figure, they offer manifold different dispositions; which different figures themselves each have a characteristic power; for each disposition results in appropriate action.
SPECIAL FIGURES HAVE INDIVIDUAL EFFECTS, DUE TO THEIR CHARACTERISTICS.
Things which appear as a figure themselves possess a characteristic influence, which changes according to the people with which they are brought in contact. Examples of this may be seen daily. Why do certain figures or appearances inspire us with terror, although they have never done us any harm, while others do not produce the same effect on us? Why are some people frightened by certain figures or appearances, while others are frightened by different ones? Because the former’s constitution specially acts on the former people, and the latter on the latter; they could only produce effects in harmony with their nature. One object attracts attention by a particular appearance, and would yet attract attention by a different constitution. If it was its beauty that exerted the power of arousing emotion, why then would this beautiful object move one man, while the other object would move another, if there be no potency in the difference of figure or appearance? It would be unreasonable to admit that colors have a characteristic influence and action, yet deny the same power to figures or appearances. It would, besides, be absurd, to admit the existence of something, but to refuse it all potency. Every being, because of his mere existence, must “act” or “suffer.” Some indeed “act” exclusively, while others both “act” and “suffer.” Substances contain influences independent of their figure or appearance. Terrestrial beings also possess many forces which are derived neither from heat nor cold. The reason is that these beings are endowed with different qualities, that they receive their forms from (“seminal) reasons,” and participate in the powers of nature; such are the peculiar virtues of natural stones, and the surprising effects produced by plants.
NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS ENTIRELY INANIMATE.
36. The universe is full of variety; it contains all the “reasons,” and an infinite number of different powers. So, in the human body, the eye, the bones, and the other organs each have their characteristic power; as, the bone in the hand does not have the same strength as the bone in the foot; and in general, each part has a power different from that possessed by every other part. But unless we observe very carefully, this diversity escapes us in the case of (natural) objects. Much more would it escape us in the world; for the forces that we see in it are (but) the traces of those that exist in the superior region. There must then be in the world an inconceivable and admirable variety of powers, especially in the stars that wander through the heavens. The universe is not a great and vast edifice, inanimate, and composed of things of which it would be easy to catalogue the different kinds, such as stones, lumber, and ornamental structures; it is a wakeful being, living in all its parts, though differently so in each; in short, it includes all that can ever be. This solves the problem, how inanimate matter can exist within an animated living being. Our discussions have therefore taught us that in the universe (nothing is inanimate; that, on the contrary) everything it contains is alive; but each in a different manner. We deny that there is life in objects that we do not see moving; but nevertheless they do live, though only with a latent life. Those whose life is visible are composed of those whose life is invisible, but which nevertheless contribute to the life of this animal by furnishing it with admirable powers. It would therefore be equally impossible that the universe should be alive unless each of the things it contained lived with its own life. Nevertheless the acts of the universe do not depend on choice; it acts without needing to choose, because it precedes any choice. Thus many things obey its forces.
CONSCIOUSNESS DEPENDS ON CHOOSING; EVERYTHING HAS POWERS, THOUGH HIDDEN.
37. The universe therefore (contains all that it needs), and rejects (or wastes) nothing. Study, therefore, the fire, and all the other things considered capable of action. Satisfactory investigation of their action would demand recognition that these things derive their power from the universe, and a similar admission for all that belongs to the domain of experience. But we do not usually examine the objects to which we are accustomed, nor raise questions about them. We investigate the nature of a power only when it seems unusual, when its novelty excites our astonishment. Nevertheless we would not be any less astonished at the objects that we see so often if their power were explained to us at a time when we were not yet so thoroughly accustomed to it. Our conclusion therefore is that every thing has a secret (sub-conscious) power inasmuch as it is molded by, and receives a shape in the universe; participating in the Soul of the universe, being embraced by her, as being a part of this animated All; for there is nothing in this All which is not a part thereof. It is true that there are parts, both on the earth and in the heavens, that act more efficiently than do others; the heavenly things are more potent because they enjoy a better developed nature. These powers produce many things devoid of choice, even in beings that seem to act (purposively); though they are also active in beings that lack that ability to choose. (Even these powers themselves act unconsciously): they do not even turn (towards themselves) while communicating power, when some part of their own soul is emanating (to that which they are begetting). Similarly animals beget other animals without implying an act of choice, without any weakening on the part of the generator, and even without self-consciousness. Otherwise, if this act was voluntary, it would consist of a choice, or the choice would not be effective. If then an animal lack the faculty of choice, much less will it have self-consciousness.
PRODUCTION IS DUE TO SOME PHYSICAL SOUL, NOT TO ANY ASTROLOGICAL POWER.
38. Things which arise from the universe without the incitation of somebody are generally caused by the vegetative life of the universe. As to the things whose production is due to somebody, either by simple wishes, or by cunning enchantments, they should be ascribed not to some star, but to the very nature of that which is produced. 1. Of course, the necessaries of life, or what serves some other use, should be attributed to the goodness of the stars; it is a gift made by a stronger part to a weaker one. Any harmful effect on the generation of animals exercised by the stars must depend on their substance’s inability to receive what has been given them; for the effect is not produced absolutely, but relatively to some subject or condition, for that which “suffers” or is to “suffer” must have a determinate nature. 2. Mixtures also exert a great influence, because each being furnishes something useful to life. Moreover, something good might happen to a person without the assistance of beings which by nature would seem useful. 3. The co-ordination of the universe does not always give to each person what he desires. 4. Besides, we ourselves add much to what has been given to us. 5. All things are not any the less embraced in a same unity; they form an admirable harmony; besides, they are derived from each other, though originating from contraries; for indeed all things are parts of a single animal. If any one of these begotten things is imperfect because it is not completely formed, the fact is that matter not being entirely subdued, the begotten thing degenerates and falls into deformity. Thus some things are produced by the stars, others are derived from the nature of substance, while others are added by the beings themselves.
ASTROLOGICAL SIGNS ARE ONLY CONCATENATIONS FROM UNIVERSAL REASON.
39. Since all things are always co-ordinated in the universe, and since all trend to one single and identical aim, it is not surprising that all (events) are indicated by (astrological) signs. “Virtue has no master,” as Plato said; “she attaches herself to all who honor her, and abandons those who neglect her; God is innocent.” Nevertheless, her works are bound up with the universal order; for all that is here below depends on a divine and superior principle, and even the universe participates therein. Thus all that happens in the universe is caused not only by the (“seminal) reasons,” but by reasons of a higher order, far superior to those (that is, the ideas). Indeed, the seminal reasons contain the reasons of nothing produced outside of seminal reasons, neither of what is derived from matter, nor from the actions of begotten things exercised on each other. The Reason of the universe resembles a legislator who should establish order in a city. The latter, knowing the probable actions of the citizens, and what motives they would probably obey, regulates his institutions thereupon, intimately connects his laws with the conduct of the individuals subject to them, establishes rewards and punishments for their deeds, so that automatically all things conspire in mutual harmony by an inerrant current. Each therefore is indicated by (astrological) signs, without this indication being an essential purpose of nature; it is only the result of their concatenation. As all these things form but a single one, each of them is known by another, the cause by the effect, the consequent by the antecedent, the compound by its elements.
THE GODS CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR ILLS.
The above consideration would clear up the problem set above. The gods (that is, the stars), cannot be held responsible for our ills because, 1. things produced by the gods do not result from a free choice, but from a natural necessity; because, as parts of the universe, the gods act on other parts of the universe, and contribute to the life of the universal organism. 2. Terrestrial beings themselves add very much to the things that are derived from the stars; 3. the things given us by the stars are not evil, but are altered by being mingled; 4. the life of the universe is not regulated (in advance) for the individual, but only for the totality; 5. matter does not experience modifications completely corresponding to the impressions it receives, and cannot entirely submit to the form given to it.
MAGIC OCCURS BY LOVE WORKING AS SYMPATHY.
40. But how shall we explain the enchantments of magic? By the sympathy that things have for each other, the accord of those that are similar, the struggle of those that are contrary, the variety of the powers of the various beings which contribute to the formation of a single organism; for many things are attracted towards each other and are mutually enchanted, without the intervention of a magician. The real magic is the Love that reigns in the universe, with its contrary of Hate. The first magician, him whom men consult to act by the means of his philtres and enchantments, is Love; for it is from the natural mutual love of all things, and from the natural power they have to compel each others’ love, that is derived the efficaciousness of the art of inspiring love by employing enchantments. By this art, magicians bring together the natures which have an innate love for each other; they unite one soul to another as one cross-fertilizes distant plants; by employing (symbolic) figures which possess special virtues; by themselves taking certain attitudes, they noiselessly attract the powers of other beings, and induce them to conspire to unity so much the easier as they themselves are in unity. A being of the same disposition, but located outside of the universe, could neither by magic attractions fascinate, nor by his influence enchain any of the things contained in the world; on the contrary, from the moment that he is not a stranger to the world, he can attract towards himself other beings, knowing their mutual relations and attractions within the universal organism. There are indeed invocations, songs, words, (symbolic) figures, and, for instance, certain sad attitudes and plaintive tones which exert a natural attraction. Their influence extends even to the soul—I mean, the irrational soul; for neither the will nor the reason permit themselves to be subdued by the charms of music. This magic of music does not arouse any astonishment; nevertheless those who play or sing, charm and inspire love unintentionally. Nor does the virtue of prayers depend on their being heard by Beings that make free decisions; for these invocations do not address themselves to free-will. Thus when a man is fascinated by a serpent, he neither feels nor understands the influence exerted on him; he perceives what he has felt only after having experienced it—the governing part of the soul cannot anyway experience anything of the kind. Consequently when an invocation is addressed to a Being, some thing results; either for him who makes this invocation, or for some other person.
HOW PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED.
41. Neither the sun, nor any other star hears the prayers addressed to it. If they are granted, it is only by the sympathy felt by each part of the universe for every other; just as all parts of a cord are caused to vibrate by excitation of any one part; or, just as causing one string of a lyre to vibrate would cause all the others to vibrate in unison, because they all belong to the same system of harmony. If sympathy can go as far as making one lyre respond to the harmonies of another, so much the more must this sympathy be the law of the universe, where reigns one single harmony, although its register contains contraries, as well as similar and analogous parts. The things which harm men, like anger, which, together with the bile, relate to the liver, were not created for the purpose of harming men. It is as if a person, in the act of taking fire from a hearth accidentally wounded another. This person is doubtless the author of the wound because he transferred the fire from one place to another; but the wound occurred only because the fire could not be contained by the being to whom it had been transmitted.
AS THE STARS ANSWER PRAYERS UNCONSCIOUSLY, THEY DO NOT NEED MEMORIES THEREFOR.
42. The stars therefore have no need of memory to remember our prayers, nor senses to receive them; thus is solved the problem considered above. Nor even, if our prayers are answered, is this due, as some think, to any free will on their part. Whether or not we address prayers to them, they exercise over us a certain influence by the mere fact that, along with us, they form part of the universe.
THE PRAYERS OF EVEN THE EVIL ARE ANSWERED, IF MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH NATURAL LAW.
There are many forces that are exercised involuntarily, either automatically, without any invitation, or with the assistance of skill. Thus, in an animal, one part is naturally favorable or harmful to another; that is why both physician and magician, each by his characteristic arts, force one thing to communicate its power to another. Likewise, the universe communicates to its parts something of its own power, either automatically, or as a result of the attraction exercised by the individual. This is a natural process, since he who asks is not foreign to it. Neither should we be astonished if even an evil individual obtains his requests; for do not the evil drink from the same streams as do the good? In this case, the granting is done unconsciously; it grants simply, and what is granted harmonizes with the order of the universe. Consequently, if an evil individual asks and obtains what is within reach of all, there is no reason why he should be punished.
THE WORLD-SOUL AND STARS ARE IMPASSIBLE.
It is therefore wrong to hold that the universe is subject to experiencing passions. In the first place, the governing Soul is entirely impassible; then, if there be any passions in her, they are experienced only by her parts; as to her, being unable to experience anything contrary to her nature, she herself remains impassible. To experience passions seems suitable to stars considered as parts of the universe; but, considered in themselves, they are impassible, because their wills are impassible, and their bodies remain as unalterable as their nature, because their soul loses nothing, and their bodies remain the same, even if, by their soul, they communicate something of themselves to inferior beings. If something issues from them, they do not notice it; if some increase happens, they pay no attention.
HOW THE WISE MAN ESCAPES ALL ENCHANTMENTS.
43. How will the worthy man be able to escape the action of the enchantments and the philtres employed by magic? His soul escapes them entirely; his reason is impassible, and cannot be led to change opinions. The worthy man, therefore, can suffer only through the irrational part that he receives from the universe; this part alone “suffers.” Nor will he be subdued by the loves inspired by philtres, because love presupposes a soul’s inclination to experience what another soul experiences. As enchantments act on the irrational part of the soul, their power will be destroyed by fighting them; and by resisting them by other enchantments. As a result of enchantments, therefore, it is possible to experience sicknesses, and even death; and, in general, all the affections relative to the body. Every part of the universe is subject to experiencing an affection caused in it by another part or by the universe itself (with the exception of the wise man, who remains impassible); without there being anything contrary to nature it can also feel this affection only at the end of some time.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GUARDIANS.
The guardians themselves can “suffer” through their irrational part. They must have memory and senses, by nature they must be susceptible to enchantments, of being induced to commit certain acts, and to hear the prayers addressed to them. The guardians subjected to this influence are those who approach men, and they are the more subdued thereby as they approach to men closer.
AN ACTIVE LIFE MAKES MEN MORE LIABLE TO ENCHANTMENTS.
Every being that has some relation with another can be bewitched by him; he is bewitched and attracted by the being with whom he is in relations. Only the being concentrated in himself (by the contemplation of the intelligible world) cannot be bewitched. Magic exercises its influence on every action, and on every active life; for active life trends towards the things which charm it. Hence the (Platonic) expression, “The subjects of the magnanimous Erechtheus are remarkable by the beauty of their countenances.” What indeed does one being feel in his relations with another? He is drawn towards him, not by the art of magic, but by the seduction exerted by nature, which harmonizes and unites two beings joining them one to the other, not by locality, but by the power of the philtres employed.
MAGIC HAS POWER OVER MAN BY HIS AFFECTIONS AND WEAKNESSES.
44. Only the man devoted to contemplation can defy enchantments, inasmuch as none can be bewitched by himself. The man who contemplates has become unified; he has become what he contemplates, his reason is sheltered from all seductive influences. He does what he ought to do, he accomplishes his life and his proper function. As to the remainder of humanity, the soul does not fulfill her characteristic function, nor does reason determine its action; the irrational soul becomes the principle of action, and the passions furnish men with directions. The influence of a magic attraction manifests in the disposition to marriage, in the care we take of our children, and, in general, in all that the bait of pleasure leads us to do. Amidst our actions there are some that are provoked by an irrational power, either by anger, or the general faculty of desire of the soul. Other actions relate to political life, like the desire of obtaining office, and they spring from a desire to command. Those actions in which we propose to avoid some evil, are inspired by fear; while those actions in relating to the desire to possess more than others, are inspired by cupidity. Last, those actions relating to utility, and to the satisfaction of our needs, show with what force nature has attached us to life.
HONESTY ESCAPES MAGIC ONLY BECAUSE IT RESULTS FROM CONTEMPLATION OF THE INTELLIGIBLE.
It may perhaps be said that the actions whose aim is noble and honest escape the influences of magic; otherwise contemplation itself would be subject thereto. This is true, that the man who performs deeds of honesty as being inevitable, with his eyes fixed on true Beauty, could never be bewitched. He knows duty, and the aim of his life (which would limit his efforts) is not anything on earth or in the (universe). It may indeed be objected that he is bewitched and attached here below by the magic force of human nature, which binds him to the lives of others and of himself. It would even be reasonable to say that we should not separate ourselves from the body because of the attachment for him inspired by some magic charm. As to the man who (to contemplation) prefers practical activity, and who contents himself with the beauty discovered therein, he is evidently misled by the deceptive traces of the Beautiful, since he seeks beauty in inferior things. Every activity unfolded in the domain of what has nothing but the appearance of truth, every inclination for this kind of thing supposes that the soul is deceived by what attracts it. That is the way in which the magic power of nature is exercised.
HOW TO AVOID MAGIC ENCHANTMENTS.
Indeed, to follow what is not Good as if it was the Good, to let oneself be misled by its appearance, and by irrational inclinations, that is the characteristic of a man who in spite of himself is led whither he does not wish to go. Now does this not really amount to yielding to a magic charm? He alone escapes every magic charm who, though he be carried away by the lower faculties of his soul, considers good none of the objects that seem such to these faculties, who calls good only what he by himself knows to be such, without being misled by any deceptive appearance; and who regards as good not what he has to seek, but what he possesses veritably. Then only could he in no way be misled by any magic charm.
EVERY BEING THEREFORE IS A SPECIALIZED ORGAN OF THE UNIVERSE.
45. This discussion teaches us that each one of the beings contained in the universe contributes to the purpose of the universe by its “actions” and “passions” according to its nature and dispositions, as, in an organism, each organ contributes to the final purpose of the entire body, by fulfilling the function assigned to it by its nature and constitution. From this each organ derives its place and role, and besides communicates something else to the other organs, and from them receives all that its nature would allow. Somehow, all the organs feel what is going on in the others, and if each of them became an organism, it would be quite ready to fulfill the function of an organism, which function differs from that of being merely an organ.
HUMAN NATURE IS INTERMEDIATE, SUFFERING WITH THE WHOLE, BUT ALSO ACTING ON IT.
We are thus shown our condition. On the one hand, we exercise a certain action on the whole; on the other, we not only experience the passions that it is natural for our body to experience in its relations with other bodies, but we also introduce into these relations the soul which constitutes us, bound as we are to the kindred things which surround us by our natural resemblance to them. Indeed, by our souls and dispositions we become, or rather, we already are similar on one hand to the inferior beings of the demonic world, and on the other, to the superior beings of the intelligible world. Our nature cannot be ignored, therefore. Not all of us receive, not all of us give the same thing. How indeed could we communicate to others the good, if we do not possess it? or receive it, if our nature was not capable of it?
BY A SECRET ROAD EACH ONE IS LED TO DIVINE RETRIBUTION.
Thus the evil man shows what he is, and he is by his nature impelled towards what already dominates him, both while he is here below, or after he has left this place; when he passes into the place towards which his inclinations draw him. The virtuous man, on the contrary, has, in all these respects, a different fate. Each one is thus driven by his nature, as by some occult force, towards the place whither he is to go. In this universe, therefore, there obtains an admirable power and order, since, by a secret, and hidden path, each one is led to the unescapable condition assigned to him by divine justice. The evil man does not know this, and is, in spite of himself, conducted to the place in the universe which he is to occupy. The wise man knows it, and himself proceeds to his destined abode. Before leaving this life, he knows what residence inevitably awaits him, and the hope of dwelling there some day in company with the divinities fills his life with happiness.
EXISTENCE OF HEAVEN; HELL’S TORMENTS ARE REFORMATORY.
The parts of each small organism undergo changes and sympathetic affections which are not much felt, because these parts are not individual organisms (and they exist only for some time, and in some kinds of organisms). But in the universal organism, where the parts are separated by so great distances, where each one follows its own inclinations, where there is a multitude of different animals, the movements and change of place must be more considerable. Thus the sun, the moon and the other stars are seen successively to occupy different places, and to revolve regularly. It is not unreasonable therefore to suppose that souls would change location, as they change character, and that they would dwell in a place suitable to their dispositions. They would thus contribute to the order of the universe by occupying some, a place analogous to the head in the human body; and others, a place analogous to the human feet; for the universe admits of place for all degrees of perfection. When a soul does not choose the best (actions), and yet does not attach herself to what is worst, she would naturally pass into some other place, which is indeed pure, but yet proportioned to the mediocrity she has chosen. As to the punishments, they resemble the remedies applied by physicians to sickly organs. On some the physician lays certain substances; in some he makes incisions, or he changes the condition of some others, to reestablish the health of the whole system, by giving to each organ the special treatment suitable to it. Likewise, the health of the universe demands that the one (soul) be changed; that another be taken away from the locality where she languishes, and be located where she would recover from the disease.
Ennead 4.5. Psychological Questions—III. About the Process of Vision and Hearing.
IT IS UNCERTAIN WHETHER AN INTERMEDIARY BODY BE IMPLIED BY VISION.
1. Above we suggested the question whether it be possible to see without some medium such as the air or a diaphanous body; we shall now try to consider it. It has already been asserted that in general the soul cannot see or feel without the intermediation of some body; for, when completely separated from the body (the soul dwells in the intelligible world). But, as touch consists of perception, not indeed of intelligible entities, but only of sense-objects, the soul cannot see or feel without the intermediation of some body; for when completely separated from some body, the soul dwells in the intelligible world. But, as touch consists of perception, not indeed of intelligible entities, but only of sense-object, the soul in order to come in contact with these sense-objects, must enter into cognitive or affective relation with them by the means of intermediaries which must possess an analogous nature; and that is why the knowledge of bodies must be acquired by the means of corporeal organs. Through these organs which are so interrelated as to form a sort of unity, the soul approaches sense-objects in a manner such as to establish effective communion. That contact between the organ and the cognized object must be established is evident enough for tangible objects, but is doubtful for visible objects. Whether contact be necessary for hearing is a question we shall have to discuss later. Here we shall first discuss whether sight demand a medium between the eye and color.
REFUTATION OF ARISTOTLE’S INSISTENCE ON A MEDIUM OF SIGHT.
If a medium of sight exist, it exists only by accident, and in no way contributes to sight. Since opaque and earthy bodies hinder sight, and as we see so much the better as the medium is more subtle, it may be said, indeed, that mediums contribute to sight, or at least, if they do not contribute such thereto, they may be hindrances as slight (as possible); but evidently a medium, however refined, is some sort of an obstacle, however slight.
THOUGH THE MEDIUM EXPERIENCE AFFECTION, THE ORGANS FEEL IT BETTER WITHOUT THE MEDIUM.
(There is an opinion that) the medium first receives and then transmits the affection, and impression. For instance, if some one stand in front of us, and directs his gaze at some color, he also sees it; but the color would not reach us unless the medium had experienced the affection. To this it may be answered that there is no necessity for the affections to be experienced by the medium, inasmuch as the affection is already experienced by the eye, whose function consists precisely in being affected by color; or at least, if the medium be affected, its affection differs from that of the eye. For instance, a reed interposed between the hand and the fish called the “torpedo,” or “electric ray,” does not feel the same numbness which it nevertheless communicates to the holding hand; still, the hand would not be affected with numbness unless the reed formed a communication between the fish and the hand. However, the matter is not beyond discussion, for (even without any intermediary, if for instance) the fisher were in (direct contact) with the “ray” inside of the net, he would also feel the electric numbness. This communication therefore seems based on sympathetic affections. That, by virtue of its nature, one being can be sympathetically affected by some other being, does not necessarily imply that the medium, if different, shares that affection; at least (it is certain that) it is not affected in the same manner. In such a case, the organ destined to experience the affection experiences it far better when there is no medium, even when the medium itself is susceptible to some affection.
NECESSITY OF A MEDIUM IN THE THEORIES OF VARIOUS PHILOSOPHERS.
2. If vision presupposes the union of the “light of the eye,” with the light interposed (between the eye) and the sense-object itself, the interposed medium is the light, and this medium is necessary, on this hypothesis. (On the theory of Aristotle) the colored substance produces a modification in the medium; but nothing here would hinder this modification from reaching the eye itself, even when there is no medium. For, in this case, the medium is necessarily modified before the eye is. (The Platonic philosophers) teach that vision operates by an effusion of the light of the eye. They have no need to postulate a medium, unless indeed they should fear that the ray of the eye should lose its way; but this ray is luminous, and the light travels in a straight line. (The Stoics) explain vision by the resistance experienced by the visual ray. They cannot do without a medium. (The Atomists and) the believers in “images” (such as Epicurus), insist that these images move in emptiness, thereby implying the existence of a free space to avoid hindering the images. Consequently as they will be hindered in a direct ratio to the existence of a medium, this opinion does not run counter to our own hypothesis (that there is no medium).
A COSMOLOGICAL MEDIUM IS NECESSARY, BUT IT AFFECTS SIGHT ONLY ACCIDENTALLY.
Those who (with Plotinus himself) teach that vision operates by sympathy, assert that vision is poorer through a medium, because this medium hinders, fetters, and weakens sympathy. In this case, indeed, the medium necessarily weakens sympathy even though it shared the same nature (as the eye and the object), and was affected in the same manner. (It acts like the integument) of some body that is deeply burned by fire applied to it; the interior parts are less affected because they are protected by the exterior parts. There is no doubt that the parts of one and the same animal will be less affected in experiencing sympathy because of the existence of a medium. The affection will be weakened according to the nature of the medium, because such a medium would hinder excess of affection, unless indeed that which is transmitted (by one part to another) is not such as to fail to affect the medium. But if the universe sympathize with itself because it constitutes a single organism, and if we are affected because we are contained within this single organism, and form part of it, why should any continuity be necessary for us to feel a distant object? The single organism, indeed, could not be continuous without the continuity of some medium; this continuous medium is affected only by accident; but otherwise we would have to admit that all can be affected by all. But if these two objects are affected in one manner, and other two objects are affected in another manner, there might not always be need of a medium. Whoever asserts the need of a medium for vision will have to advance a very good argument, inasmuch as that which traverses the air does not always affect the air, and often limits itself to dividing the air. Thus when a stone falls the only thing that happens to the air is that it fails to support the stone. As falling is part of the stone’s nature, it would be unreasonable to assert that its falling was due to the reaction exerted by the ambient air. Otherwise we would have to assert that it is this same reaction of the ambient air that makes fire ascend, which is absurd; because the fire, by the rapidity of its motion, forestalls this reaction. That, by the very rapidity of the motion, reaction is accelerated, takes place only by accident, and has no relation to the upward impulsion; for trees grow from above without receiving any (upward) impulsion. Even we, when walking, divide the air without being pushed by the reaction of the air; the air behind us limits itself to filling the void we have created. If then the air allow itself to be divided by bodies without being affected by them, what would hinder the air from permitting free transit for the images to reach the eye, without being thereby divided?
IMAGES DO NOT REACH US BY EFFLUENCE.
If these images do not reach us by some sort of effluence, why should the air be affected, and why should we ourselves be affected only as a result of the affection experienced by the air? If we felt only because the air had been affected before us, we would attribute the sensation of sight not to the visible object, but to the air located near us, as occurs with heat. In the latter case it is not the distant fire, but the air located near us which, being heated, then warms us; for the sensation of heat presupposes contact, which does not occur with vision. We see, not because the sense-object is imposed on the eye (but because the medium is illuminated); now it is necessary for the medium to be illuminated because the air by itself is dark. If the air were not dark, it would have no need of light; for (to effectuate vision) the obscurity, which forms an obstacle to vision, must be overcome by light. That is perhaps the reason why an object placed very near the eye is not seen; for it brings with it the darkness of the air, together with its own.
USELESSNESS OF AIR AS TRANSMITTING MEDIUM PROVED FROM SIGHT OF OBJECTS AT NIGHT.
3. A strong proof that the forms of sense-objects are not seen merely because the air, on being affected, transmits them by relays from point to point, is that even in darkness the fire, the stars, and their forms may be seen. In this case no one would claim that the forms of the objects, being impressed on the obscure air, are transmitted to the eye; otherwise, there would be no obscurity, as the fire, while transmitting its form, would illuminate. Indeed, in the profound obscurity in which the light of the stars is not seen, the fire of signals and of light-houses may be perceived. Should any one, in opposition to the testimony of his senses, claim that even in this case the fire penetrates the air, he should be answered by having it pointed out to him that in that case human vision should distinguish the smallest objects which are in the air, instead of being limited to the perception of the fire. If then we see what is beyond a dark medium, it would be much better seen without any medium whatever.
ABSENCE OF MEDIUM WOULD INTERFERE WITH VISION ONLY BY DESTROYING SYMPATHY.
It might indeed be objected that without medium, vision ceases. This occurs not because of the lack of medium, but because the sympathy of the (universal) organism is in such a case destroyed since a medium presupposes that all the parts of this organism together form but a single being. It would indeed seem to be a general condition necessary for sensation that the universal organism be sympathetic with itself; otherwise, no one thing could participate in the power of any other thing that might happen to be very distant.
VISION IS NOT DEPENDENT ON THE AFFECTION OF THE MEDIUM.
Here is another important (related) question. If there existed another world and organism which had no relation with our world, and if on the surface of the sky was an eye that was looking, would it perceive this other world at a moderate distance, or would it have no relation thereto? This question will be considered later. Now however we shall give a further proof that the medium has nothing to do with vision. If the air were affected, it would experience a material affection, similar to the figure impressed on wax. In this case, a certain part of the object would be impressed on a certain part of the air; and consequently, the part of the air nearest to the eye would receive a part of the visible object, and this part would be of a size equal to that of the pupil. Now a visible object is seen in its entirety, and all those who are in the air equally see it, whether they behold it from the front, or side, or whether they be one behind the other, without however forming mutual obstacles. This proves that every part of the air contains the entire visible object. This cannot be explained by any corporeal affection, but by higher laws, suitable to the soul, and to the (universal) organism which everywhere responds to itself.
MUTUAL RELATION OF THE EYE’S LIGHT AND THE OBJECTIVE LIGHT.
4. What is the mutual relation between the light that emanates from the eye, and the light which is exterior to the eye, and which extends between the eye and the object? Light has no need of air as a medium, unless indeed somebody should undertake to say that there is no light without air, in which case air would be a medium only accidentally. Light itself, however, is an unaffected medium, for there is no necessity here for an affection, but only for a medium; consequently, if light be not a body, there is no need of a body (to act as medium). It might be objected that sight has no need either of a foreign light nor of a medium to see near by, but has need of them for vision at a distance. Later we shall consider whether or not light without air be possible. Now let us consider the first point.
INTERMEDIARY LIGHT IS UNNECESSARY, PARTLY BEING AN OBSTACLE.
If the light which is contiguous to the eye should become animated, and if the soul should, so to speak, interpenetrate it, uniting with it as she unites with the interior light, there would be no need of intermediary light for the perception of the visible object. Sight resembles touch; it operates in light by somehow transferring itself to the object, without the medium experiencing any affection. Now consider: does the sight transfer itself to the visible object because of the existence of an interval between them, or because of the existence of some body in the interval? In the latter case, vision would occur by removing this obstacle. If, on the other hand, it be because of the existence of a mere interval, then the nature of the visible object must seem inert and entirely inactive. This is however impossible; not only does touch announce and experience the neighboring object but, by the affection it experiences, it proclaims the differences of the tangible object, and even perceives it from a distance, if nothing oppose it; for we perceive the fire at the same time as the air that surrounds us, and before this air has been heated by the fire. A solid body heats better than does the air; and consequently it receives heat through the air, rather than by the intermediation of air. If then the visible object have the power to act, and if the organ have the power of experiencing (or suffering), why should sight need any intermediary (besides light) to exert its power? This would really be needing an obstacle! When the light of the sun reaches us, it does not light up the air before lighting us, but lights both simultaneously; even before it has reached the eye, while it is still elsewhere, we have already seen, just as if the air was not affected at all; that is the case, probably, because the medium has undergone no modification, and because light has not yet presented itself to our view. Under this hypothesis (which asserts that the air receives and transmits an affection) it would be difficult to explain why during the night we see the stars and, in general, any kind of fire.
NOT EVEN THE LIGHT OF THE EYE IS TO BE CONSIDERED AS MEDIUM.
On the hypothesis that the soul remains within herself, while making use of the light (emanated from the eye) as a rod to reach the visible object, a very sharp perception would be caused by the resistance experienced by the light in its tension and sense-color. In so far as it is color, the light itself would possess the property of reflecting light. In this case, the contact would take place by a medium. But already before this the light has reached the object without any medium; so that the later contact operated by a medium would produce cognition by a sort of memory or reasoning—which is not the case.
THE OBJECTIVE LIGHT DOES NOT TRANSMIT THE IMAGE BY RELAYS.
The hypothesis that the light contiguous to the visible object is affected, and transmits this affection by relays from point to point into the eye, is essentially identical with that theory which supposes that the medium must be preliminarily modified by the visible object; a hypothesis that has already been discussed above.
NEITHER FOR HEARING IS THE AIR NECESSARY AS A MEDIUM.
5. As to hearing, there are several theories. One is that the air is first set in motion, and that this motion, being transmitted unaltered from point to point from the (location of the) sound-producing air as far as the ear, causes the sound to arrive to the sense. Again, another theory is that the medium is here affected accidentally, and only because it happens to be interposed; so that, if the medium were annihilated, we would feel the sound immediately on its production by the shock of two bodies. We might think that the air must first be set in motion, but the medium interposed (between the first moved air and the ear) plays a different part. The air here seems to be the sovereign condition of the production of sound; for, at the origin of the sound, the shock of two bodies would produce no sound if the air, compressed and struck by their rapid concussion did not transmit the motion from point to point as far as the ear. But if the production of the sound depend on the impulsion impressed on the air, the (qualitative) difference between voices and (instrumental) sounds will challenge explanation; for there is great difference (of “timbre”) between metal struck by metal of the same kind, or another. These differences are not merely quantitative, and cannot be attributed to the air which (everywhere) is the same, nor to the force of the stimulus (which may be equal in intensity). Another theory (of Aristotle’s) is that the production of voices and sound is due to the air, because the impulsion impressed on the air is sonorous. (To this it should be answered that) air, in so far as it is air, is not the cause of sound; for it resounds only in so far as it resembles some solid body, remaining in its situation, before it dilates, as if it were something solid. The (cause of the sound) then is the shock between objects, which forms the sound that reaches the sense of hearing. This is demonstrated by the sounds produced in the interior of animals, without the presence of any air, whenever one part is struck by some other. Such is the sound produced by certain articulations when they are bent (as, the knee); or certain bones, when they are struck against each other, or when they break; in this case air has nothing to do with the production of the sound. These considerations compel a theory of hearing similar to our conclusions about sight. The perception of audition, like that of vision, therefore consists in a repercussion (an affection sympathetically felt) in the universal organism.
THE RELATION OF THE AIR TO THE LIGHT.
6. Could light exist without air, if the sun illuminated the surface of bodies, and if there were a void in the interval which is accidentally illuminated by virtue of its location (between the sun and the bodies)? It is certain that if the other things were affected because the air itself was affected, and if light were nothing more than an affection of the air, that is, its substance; then indeed this affection could not exist without the experiencing subject (the air). But (in our view) light is not essentially characteristic of air as such; for all fiery and brilliant bodies, among which are precious stones, possess a luminous color. Could that which passes from a brilliant body into some other body exist without that other body? If light be but a simple quality of an object, and as every quality implies a subject on which it depends, light will have to be sought in the body in which it resides. If, on the contrary, light be only an actualization produced by some other thing, and if there be no body contiguous to the luminous object, and it be entirely surrounded by a void, why could light not exist, and radiate upwards (as well as downwards, and in every direction)? Since light radiates, why should it not radiate without hindrance? If its nature be to fall, it will spontaneously descend; for neither the air nor any illuminated body will make it issue from the illuminating body, nor can force it to advance, since it is neither an accident that implies a subject, nor an affection that implies an affected object. Otherwise, the light would remain (in the illuminated body) when the object from which it emanates should happen to withdraw; but since the light withdraws with it, it radiates. In what direction does light radiate? (Its radiation) demands no more than the existence of sufficient space; otherwise the body of the sun would lose its actualization; that is, the light it radiates. In this case light would not be the quality of a subject, but the actualization that emanates from a subject, but which does not pass into any other subject (as a kind of undulation); but if another subject be present, it will suffer an affection. As life, which constitutes an actualization of the soul, affects the body if it be present, and does not any the less constitute an actualization if the body be absent, likewise light constitutes an actualization subject to the same conditions. It is not the obscurity of the air that begets light, nor obscurity mingled with the earth which produces an impure light; otherwise one might produce something sweet by mingling some thing with what is bitter. The statement that light is a modification of the air, is incomplete without the addition that the air must itself be modified by this modification, and that the obscurity of the air is no longer obscure after having undergone that change. The air itself, however, remains what it was, just as if it had not been affected. The affection belongs only to that which has been affected. Color therefore does not belong to the air, but subsists in itself; the air’s only function is its presence. But enough of this.
DOES THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE LUMINOUS SOURCE ABANDON THE LIGHT TO DESTRUCTION; OR DOES THE LIGHT FOLLOW IT?
7. It might be asked whether the withdrawal of the object from which light emanates abandons the light to destruction, or does the light follow the source into withdrawal? This question is related to the former one; (and it may be said that) if the light inhere in the illuminated body in a manner such as to have become characteristic of it, the light perishes with it. The light is an immanent actualization, for otherwise it would surround the object from which it emanates, and remain within it, accumulating there. If this were so, the light could not vanish so long as the object from which it emanates itself continues to subsist. If this object pass from one place to another, light would pass thither also, not because it turns back on itself or changes locality, but because the actualization of the luminous object exists and is present as soon as nothing opposes it. If the distance from the sun to the earth were much more considerable than it really is, the light of the sun would nevertheless reach us, providing no obstacle were interposed. On the one hand, there is in the luminous body an actualization, a kind of superabundant life, a principle and source of activity; on the other hand, beyond the limits of the luminous body, exists a second actualization which is the image of the actualization characteristic of this body, and which never separates itself from the body. Every being has an actualization which is its image; so that, as soon as the being exists, its actualization exists also; and so long as the being subsists, its actualization radiates nearer or further. Actualizations (differ indeed); some are feeble and obscure, others are secret or hidden, others are powerful and radiate afar. When an actualization radiates at a distance it must be admitted to exist there where it acts, where it exercises and manifests its power. Consequently one can see light shine from the eyes of animals whose eyes are naturally brilliant; likewise when the animals that exert a concentrated interior fire happen to open their eyelids, they radiate rays of light into the darkness; while, when they close their eyes, no more light exists outside them. The light therefore does not perish; only, it is no longer produced exteriorly. It does not re-enter into the animal but merely ceases to exist exteriorly, for the visual fire does not pass outside, remaining inside. Is light itself then within? At least this light remains within; but (when the eye is closed) the eyelid forms an obstacle to its diffusion.
LIGHT AS ACTUALIZATION IS THE BEING OF THE LUMINOUS BODY, AND IS INCORPOREAL.
Thus the light that emanates from bodies is the actualization of the luminous body which is active exteriorly. The light in the bodies whose original nature is such, is the formal being of the originally luminous body. When such a body has been mingled with matter, it produces color. The actualization alone does not suffice to give color; it produces only the hue, because the actualization is the property of a subject, and depends on it, so that nothing can be withdrawn from the subject without simultaneously being withdrawn from its actualization. Light is entirely incorporeal, though it be the actualization of a body. It could not therefore properly be said of light that it withdraws or is present. The true state of affairs is entirely different; for the light, so far as it is the actualization of the luminous body, is its very being. The image produced in a mirror is therefore an actualization of the visible object, which acts on anything that is passive (that can suffer, or experience), without letting any of its substance escape by any wastage. If the object be present, the image appears in the mirror; it is as it were the image of the color that possesses some particular figure. When the object withdraws, the diaphanous body no longer possesses what it possessed while the visible object was acting on the mirror. A similar condition is that of the soul; her actualization dwells within the (world’s) body so long as this soul herself dwells within it.
LIFE AND LIGHT DO NOT PERISH, BUT ARE NO MORE THERE.
(Curiosity might lead some one to ask about) a force that were not the actualization of the Soul, but which only proceeded from this actualization, such as the life which we say is proper to the body. Is the case of such a force similar to that of the light characteristic of bodies? We said that the light inheres in colored bodies, so far as that which produces the colors inheres in the bodies. As to the life proper to the bodies, we think that the body possesses it so far as the soul is present; for nothing can be inanimate. When the body perishes, and when it is no longer assisted by the soul which communicated life to it, nor by the actualization of this soul, how should life remain in the body? What! Has this life perished? No: this life itself has not perished, for it is only the image of an irradiation; it would not be correct to say more than that it is no more there.
A WORLD OUTSIDE OF OUR WORLD WOULD NOT BE VISIBLE.
8. If there were a body outside of our world, and if an eye observed it from here without any obstacle, it is doubtful that the eye could see that body, because the eye would have no affection common to it; for community of affection is caused by the coherence of the single organism (that is, the unity of the world). Since this community of affection (or, sympathy), supposes that sense-objects and that the senses belong to the single organism, a body located outside of the world would not be felt, unless it were part of the world. In this case, it would be felt. If it were not a part of the world, but yet by its color and other qualities it was conformed to the organ that was to cognize it, would it be felt? No, it would not be felt, that is, if such a hypothesis (of a body located outside of the world) were at all admissible. If however, anyone should refuse to admit such a hypothesis, he would pretend that it is absurd that the eye should not see the color located in front of it, and that the other senses do not perceive the qualities before them. That is the reason of its absurdity. For we are active or passive only because we are integral parts of the single organism, and are located within it. Is anything still left to be considered? If what we have said suffices, our demonstration is finished; otherwise we shall have to give still further proofs to support our proposition.
SENSATION IS LIMITED TO COMMON INTEGRAL PARTS OF THE UNIVERSE.
Every organism is coherent (that is, is sympathetic with itself). In the case of a single organism, our demonstration suffices, and all things will experience common affections so far as they constitute parts of the single organism. The plea that a body exterior to the world could be felt because of its resemblance (is ill-founded because perception is characteristic of an organism and because it is the organism that possesses perception. For its organ resembles (the perceived object); thus sensation would be the perception presented to the soul by means of organs similar to the perceived objects. If then the organism feel not only its contents, but also objects resembling them, it will perceive these things by virtue of its organic nature; and these things will be perceived not because they are contents thereof, but by virtue of their resemblance thereto. It seems rather that perceived objects must be perceived in the measure of their resemblance, because the soul has familiarized herself with them, and has assimilated them to herself. If then the soul which has assimilated these objects to herself differ from them, the things which were supposed to have become assimilated to her will remain entirely foreign to her. The absurdity of this consequence shows us that there is a flaw in the hypothesis; for it affirms simultaneously that the soul exists, and does not exist, that the things are both conformable and different, similar and dissimilar. Since then this hypothesis implies contradictories, it is not admissible; for it supposes that the soul exists in this world, as a result of the world, both being and not being universal, both being and not being different, both being and not being perfect. The above hypothesis must therefore be abandoned; and since it implies a contradiction, no reasonable consequence could be deduced therefrom.
Ennead 4.6. Of Sensation and Memory.
STOIC DOCTRINES OF SENSATIONS AND MEMORIES HANG TOGETHER.
If we deny that sensations are images impressed on the soul, similar to the impression of a seal, we shall also, for the sake of consistency, have to deny that memories are notions or sensations preserved in the soul by the permanence of the impression, inasmuch as, according to our opinion, the soul did not originally receive any impression. The two questions, therefore, hang together. Either we shall have to insist that sensation consists in an image impressed on the soul, and memory, in its preservation; or, if either one of these opinions be rejected, the other will have to be rejected also. However, since we regard both of them as false, we shall have to consider the true operation of both sensation and memory; for we declare that sensation is as little the impression of an image as memory is its permanence. The true solution of the question, on the contrary, will be disclosed by an examination of the most penetrating sense, and then by induction transferring the same laws to the other senses.
A. OF SENSATION.
THE SENSE OF SIGHT DOES NOT POSSESS THE IMAGE SEEN WITHIN ITSELF.
In general the sensation of sight consists of perception of the visible object, and by sight we attain it in the place where the object is placed before our eyes, as if the perception operated in that very place, and as if the soul saw outside of herself. This occurs, I think, without any image being produced nor producing itself outside of the soul, without the soul receiving any impression similar to that imparted by the seal to the wax. Indeed, if the soul already in herself possessed the image of the visible object, the mere possession of this image (or type) would free her from the necessity of looking outside of herself. The calculation of the distance of the object’s location, and visibility proves that the soul does not within herself contain the image of the object. In this case, as the object would not be distant from her, the soul would not see it as located at a distance. Besides, from the image she would receive from within herself, the soul could not judge of the size of the object, or even determine whether it possessed any magnitude at all. For instance, taking as an example the sky, the image which the soul would develop of it would not be so great (as it is, when the soul is surprised at the sky’s extent). Besides, there is a further objection, which is the most important of all. If we perceive only the images of the objects we see, instead of seeing the objects themselves, we would see only their appearances or adumbrations. Then the realities would differ from the things that we see. The true observation that we cannot discern an object placed upon the pupil, though we can see it at some little distance, applies with greater cogency to the soul. If the image of the visible object be located within her, she will not see the object that yields her this image. We have to distinguish two things, the object seen, and the seeing subject; consequently, the subject that sees the visible object must be distinct from it, and see it as located elsewhere than within itself. The primary condition of the act of vision therefore is, not that the image of the object be located in the soul, but that it be located outside of the soul.
SENSATIONS ARE NOT EXPERIENCES, BUT RELATIVE ACTUALIZATIONS.
2. After denying that sensation consists of such an operation, it is our duty to point out the true state of affairs. Though it be objected that thus the soul would be considered as judging of things she does not possess, it is nevertheless plain that it is the characteristic of a power, not to experience or suffer, but to develop its force, to carry out the function to which it is destined. If the soul is to discern a visible or audible object the latter must consist of neither images nor experiences, but actualizations relative to the objects which naturally belong to the domain of these actualizations of the soul. Those who deny that any faculty can know its object without receiving some impulsion from it imply that the faculty suffers, without really cognizing the object before it; for this soul-faculty should dominate the object instead of being thereby dominated.
THIS IS TRUE NOT ONLY OF SIGHT BUT OF HEARING, TASTE AND SMELL.
The case of hearing is similar to that of sight. The impression is in the air; the sounds consist in a series of distinct vibrations, similar to letters traced by some person who is speaking. By virtue of her power and her being, the soul reads the characters traced in the air, when they present themselves to the faculty which is suitable to reception of them. As to taste and smell also, we must distinguish between the experience and the cognition of it; this latter cognition constitutes sensation, or a judgment of the experience, and differs therefrom entirely.
COGNITION OF INTELLIGIBLE OBJECTS STILL LESS ADMITS OF AN IMPRESSION.
The cognition of intelligible things still less admits of an experience or impression; for the soul finds the intelligible things within herself, while it is outside of herself that she contemplates sense-objects. Consequently the soul’s notions of intelligible entities are actualizations of a nature superior to those of sense-objects, being the actualizations of the soul herself, that is, spontaneous actualizations. We shall however have to relegate to another place the question whether the soul sees herself as double, contemplating herself as another object, so to speak, and whether she sees intelligence as single in a manner such that both herself and intelligence seem but one.
B. OF MEMORY.
MEMORY ACTS THROUGH THE SYMPATHY OF THE SOUL’S HIGHEST SELF.
3. Treating of memory, we must begin by attributing to the soul a power which, though surprising, is perhaps really neither strange nor incredible. The soul, without receiving anything, nevertheless perceives the things she does not have. The (secret of this) is that by nature the soul is the reason of all things, the last reason of intelligible entities, and the first reason of sense-objects. Consequently the soul is in relation with both (spheres); by the intelligible things the soul is improved and vivified; but she is deceived by the resemblance which sense-objects bear to intelligible entities, and the soul descends here below as if drawn by her alluring charm. Because she occupies a position intermediary between intelligible entities and sense-objects, the soul occupies a position intermediary between them. She is said to think intelligible entities when, by applying herself to them, she recalls them. She cognizes them because, in a certain manner, she actually constitutes these entities; she cognizes them, not because she posits them within herself, but because she somehow possesses them, and has an intuition of them; because, obscurely constituting these things, she awakes, passing from obscurity to clearness, and from potentiality to actualization. For sense-objects she acts in the same way. By relating them to what she possesses within herself, she makes them luminous, and has an intuition of them, possessing as she does a potentiality suitable to (a perception of) them; and, so to speak, to begetting them. When the soul has applied the whole force of her attention to one of the objects that offer themselves to her, she, for a long while, thereby remains affected as if this object were present; and the more attentively she considers it, the longer she sees it. That is why children have a stronger memory; they do not quickly abandon an object, but lingeringly fix their gaze upon it; instead of allowing themselves to be distracted by a crowd of objects, they direct their attention exclusively to some one of them. On the contrary, those whose thought and faculties are absorbed by a variety of objects, do not rest with any one, and do no more than look them over.
MEMORY IS NOT AN IMAGE, BUT THE REAWAKENING OF A FACULTY.
If memory consisted in the preservation of images, their numerousness would not weaken memory. If memory kept these images stored within itself, it would have no need of reflection to recall them, nor could memory recall them suddenly after having forgotten them. Further, exercise does not weaken, but increases the energy and force of memory, just as the purpose of exercise of our feet or hands is only to put ourselves in a better condition more easily to accomplish certain things which are neither in our feet nor our hands, but to which these members become better adapted by habit.
Besides (if memory be only storage of images), why then does one not remember a thing when it has been heard but once or twice? Why, when it has been heard often, is it long remembered, although it was not retained at first? This can surely not be because at first only some part of the images had been retained; for in that case those parts would be easily recalled. On the contrary, memory is produced suddenly as a result of the last hearing or reflection This clearly proves that, in the soul, we are only awaking the faculty of memory, only imparting to it new energy, either for all things in general, or for one in particular.
Again, memory does not bring back to us only the things about which we have reflected; (by association of ideas) memory suggests to us besides a multitude of other memories through its habit of using certain indices any one of which suffices easily to recall all the remainder; how could this fact be explained except by admitting that the faculty of memory had become strengthened?
Once more, the preservation of images in the soul would indicate weakness rather than strength, for the reception of several impressions would imply an easy yielding to all forms. Since every impression is an experience, memory would be measured by passive receptivity; which, of course, is the very contrary of the state of affairs. Never did any exercise whatever render the exercising being more fitted to suffering (or, receptive experience).
Still another argument: in sensations, it is not the weak and impotent organ which perceives by itself; it is not, for instance, the eye that sees, but the active potentiality of the soul. That is why old people have both sensations and memories that are weaker. Both sensation and memory, therefore, imply some energy.
Last, as we have seen that sensation is not the impression of an image in the soul, memory could not be the storage-place of images it could not have received.
MEMORY NEEDS TRAINING AND EDUCATION.
It may be asked however, why, if memory be a “faculty” (a potentiality) or disposition, we do not immediately remember what we have learned, and why we need some time to recall it? It is because we need to master our own faculty, and to apply it to its object. Not otherwise is it with our other faculties, which we have to fit to fulfill their functions, and though some of them may react promptly, others also may need time to gather their forces together. The same man does not always simultaneously exercise memory and judgment, because it is not the same faculty that is active in both cases. Thus there is a difference between the wrestler and the runner. Different dispositions react in each. Besides, nothing that we have said would militate against distinguishing between the man of strong and tenacious soul who would be inclined to read over what is recalled by his memory, while he who lets many things escape him would by his very weakness be disposed to experience and preserve passive affections. Again, memory must be a potentiality of the soul, inasmuch as the soul has no extension (and therefore could not be a storage-place for images which imply three dimensions).
SOUL EVENTS OCCUR VERY DIFFERENTLY FROM WHAT IS SUPPOSED BY THE UNOBSERVANT OR UNREFLECTIVE.
In general all the processes of the soul occur in a manner very different from that conceived by unobservant men. Psychic phenomena occur very differently from sense-phenomena, the analogy of which may lead to very serious errors. Hence the above unobservant men imagine that sensations and memories resemble characters inscribed on tablets or sheets of paper. Whether they consider the soul material (as do the Stoics), or as immaterial (as do the Peripatetics), they certainly do not realize the absurd consequences which would result from the above hypothesis.
Ennead 4.7. Of the Immortality of the Soul: Polemic Against Materialism.
IS THE SOUL IMMORTAL?
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.
THE BODY AS THE INSTRUMENT OF THE SOUL.
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. This is how we must distinguish the soul from the body, and determine the nature and manner of existence (“being”) of each of them.
THE BODY IS COMPOSITE, AND THEREFORE PERISHABLE.
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. Besides, as they contain extension, the bodies can be cut, divided into infinitely small parts, and thus perish. Therefore if our body is a part of ourselves, 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 IS THE INDIVIDUALITY, AS ITS FORM, AND AS A SKILLED WORKMAN.
The soul, which is the principal part of man, and which constitutes man himself, should bear to the body the relation of form to matter, or of a workman to his tool; in both cases the soul is the man himself.
IF THE SOUL IS INCORPOREAL, WE MUST STUDY INCORPOREALITY.
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 way.
A.—THE SOUL IS NOT CORPOREAL (AS THE STOICS THOUGHT).
(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, Stobæus? ) 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.
NEITHER MIXTURE NOR ITS PRINCIPLE WILL EXPLAIN LIFE AS A BODY.
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 ) the existence of a principle which produces order, and which should be the cause of mixture or, temperament, 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. But surely a (seminal) reason could proceed from nowhere except a soul.
NO ATOMIC AGGREGATION COULD PRODUCE A SELF-HARMONIZING UNITY.
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. ) To refute this error, we have to examine the nature of sympathy (or community of affection, a Stoic characteristic of a living being, ) and juxtaposition. 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?
SOUL IS A SIMPLE SUBSTANCE, WHILE EVERY BODY IS COMPOSED OF MATTER AND FORM.
(c.) (Every body is a composite of matter and form, while the soul is a simple substance.) Inasmuch as matter possesses no quality, 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.
IF SOUL IS ONLY AN AFFECTION OF MATTER, WHENCE THAT AFFECTION?
(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. 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 nature.
NO BODY COULD SUBSIST WITHOUT THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSAL SOUL.
(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 ). Every body, indeed, is in a perpetual flow and movement (as thought Heraclitus, in Plato, Cratylus ), 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, 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.
IF THE SOUL IS NOT SIMPLE MATTER, SHE MUST BE A SUBSTANTIAL FORM.
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, Stobæus ). 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,” 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).
THE BODY EXERTS A UNIFORM ACTION, WHILE THE SOUL EXERTS A VARIED ONE.
(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.
THREE MORE PROOFS OF THE INCORPOREITY OF THE SOUL.
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.
BODIES CAN LOSE PARTS, NOT SO THE SOUL.
(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.
THE SOUL IS EVERYWHERE ENTIRE; THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH THE BODY.
(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; 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.
THE BODY COULD NOT POSSESS SENSATION.
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.
IMPOSSIBILITY FOR THE BODY TO HAVE SENSATION.
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 center, and the individual sensations are like radii which from the circumference radiate towards the center 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 ). Facts, therefore, demonstrate that sensations center in one and the same principle; as visible images are centered 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 center in the (Stoic) “directing principle” 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.)
AGAINST THE STOICS, SENSATIONS ARE NOT IMPRESSIONS OF A SEAL ON WAX.
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. 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.
SENSATION CANNOT BE RELAYED FROM SENSE-ORGAN TO DIRECTING PRINCIPLE.
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. 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). 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.
THE BODY CANNOT THINK.
8. If, in any sense whatever, the soul were a body, we could not think. Here is the proof. If feeling 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 ). 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). 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.
THE BODY CANNOT POSSESS VIRTUE.
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), would be no more than a certain disposition of the spirit, or blood (as Empedocles also thought). 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?
IF VIRTUE WERE CORPOREAL IT WOULD BE PERISHABLE.
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.
BODIES ARE ACTIVE ONLY BY MEANS OF INCORPOREAL POWERS.
(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.
WHY BODIES ARE ACTIVATED BY INCORPOREAL POWERS.
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 ). 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, 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; 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). Besides, neither spirit nor blood are distributed to every part of the body.
THE SOUL CAN PENETRATE THE BODY; BUT TWO BODIES CANNOT PENETRATE EACH OTHER.
(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, 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 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 Nemesius).
THE STOIC DEVELOPMENT FROM HABIT TO SOUL AND INTELLIGENCE WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT ARISE FROM THE IMPERFECT, AN IMPOSSIBILITY.
(11). (If, as Stoics claim, man first was a certain nature called habit, 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; 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). 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).
II. THE SOUL IS NEITHER THE HARMONY NOR ENTELECHY OF THE BODY—THE SOUL IS THE HARMONY OF THE BODY; AGAINST THE PYTHAGOREANS.
(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.
WHY THE SOUL IS NOT A HARMONY.
As has already been said above 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.
THE SOUL IS NOT THE ENTELECHY OF THE BODY (POLEMIC AGAINST ARISTOTLE). ARISTOTLE’S STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
(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.
IF THE SOUL IS AN ENTELECHY, SHE IS A DIFFERENT ONE THAN ARISTOTLE’S.
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. 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.
IF AN ENTELECHY BE GRANTED, IT IS INSEPARABLE FROM THE BODY.
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.
NEITHER COULD THE SOUL OF GROWTH BE AN ENTELECHY.
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, 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.
THE ENTELECHY IS NOT A FORM OF THE BODY, AS THE SOUL TRANSMIGRATES.
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.
THE SOUL IS AN INCORPOREAL AND IMMORTAL ESSENCE. THE SOUL BEING NONE OF CORPOREAL POSSIBILITIES, MUST BE INCORPOREAL.
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.
THE PERSISTENCE OF THE CHANGEABLE IMPLIES THE ETERNAL IN THE BACKGROUND.
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 Phædrus); 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 Phædo ).
THE SOUL IS INCORPOREAL BECAUSE OF HER KINSHIP WITH THE DIVINE.
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 ). 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 skeptic 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.
THE SOUL, LIKE OTHER THINGS, SHOULD BE JUDGED IN HER PUREST CONDITION.
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. 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. Then (like Empedocles, in Diog. Laertes ), 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.
EVEN ON THE STOIC HYPOTHESIS THE SOUL MUST BE IMMORTAL.
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 Phædo ), but there is only a single nature that possesses life in actualization.
THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE WAY IN WHICH SOUL COULD PERISH.
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.
DESCENT INTO THE BODY NEED NOT CONFLICT WITH THE ETERNITY OF SOUL.
13. (18). If intelligible entities are separated from sense objects, how does it happen that the soul descends into a body? 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 ), 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 impassible.
THE SOUL AS THE ARTIST OF THE UNIVERSE.
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.
ALL SOULS HAVE IMMORTALITY, EVEN IF SUNK INTO ANIMALS OR PLANTS.
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. 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”).
EVEN IF THE SOUL HAS DIFFERENT PARTS, THE ORIGINAL PARTS SURVIVE.
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, ) 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 annihilated.
THE HISTORIC EVIDENCE FOR IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
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. 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, and to the rites observed by all towards those who live no more; 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. By revelation of the future; 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.
Ennead 4.8. Of the Descent of the Soul into the Body.
THE EXPERIENCE OF ECSTASY LEADS TO QUESTIONS.
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, THE ORIGINATOR OF THESE QUESTIONS, ANSWERS THEM OBSCURELY.
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, AS A POET, TELLS OF PYTHAGOREAN MYTHS.
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.
PLATO SAYS MANY CONTRADICTORY THINGS THAT ARE BEAUTIFUL AND TRUE.
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 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. What Plato calls the “cavern” and Empedocles calls the “grotto,” means no doubt the sense-world. To break her chains, and to issue from the cavern, means the soul’s rising to the intelligible world. In the Phædrus, 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; 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 Timæus, 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. 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.
QUESTIONS RAISED BY PLATO’S THEORIES.
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 act without meeting any obstacle, or is it with him as with our souls?
HUMAN BODIES ARE MORE DIFFICULT TO MANAGE THAN THE WORLD-BODY.
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. 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. 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. 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 perfection.
HOW THE TWO-FOLD SOUL EXERTS A TWO-FOLD PROVIDENCE.
In the universe there are, indeed, two kinds of providences. 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. Now as the divine Soul (or, the principal power, 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.
STAR-SOULS, LIKE UNINCARNATE SOULS, GOVERN THE WORLD UNTROUBLEDLY.
(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, 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.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HUMAN AND COSMIC INCARNATION.
3. Consider now the human soul which 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, 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 RATIONAL SOUL POSSESSES ALSO AN INDIVIDUALITY.
THE RATIONAL SOUL POSSESSES ALSO AN INDIVIDUALITY.
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.
INCARNATE SOULS WEAKEN BECAUSE THEY CONTEMPLATE THE INDIVIDUAL.
4. There are individual souls which, in their conversion 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.
THIS PROCESS EXPLAINS THE CLASSIC EXPRESSIONS ABOUT HER CONDITION.
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; for even after her fall she always preserves something superior to the body.
SOULS AS AMPHIBIANS.
Souls therefore are necessarily amphibians; 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 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, 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.
SOULS DESCENDING TO HELP ARE SENT BY GOD.
5. Without any inherent contradiction it may therefore be asserted either, 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. 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.
THE TWO POSSIBLE FAULTS OF THE SOUL.
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.
PROMPT FLIGHT HERE BELOW LEAVES THE SOUL UNHARMED BY HER STAY HERE.
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, 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.
CONTINUOUS PROCESSION NECESSARY TO THE SUPREME.
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; 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. 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 self-enclosed.
SENSE-OBJECTS ARE NECESSARY AS REVEALERS OF THE ETERNAL.
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.
THE SOUL’S NATURE IS OF AN INTERMEDIATE KIND.
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. Since she occupies only an intermediate rank, she must not feel wronged at not being the best of beings. 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.
THE PROCESSION OF INTELLIGENCE IS AN EXCURSION DOWNWARDS AND UPWARDS.
The procession of intelligence consists in descending to things that occupy the lowest rank, and which have an inferior nature, 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 natures.
THE UNIVERSAL SOUL, HOWEVER, IS NOT DISTURBED BY THE URGENCIES BELOW HER.
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.
THE SOUL DOES NOT ENTIRELY ENTER INTO THE BODY.
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, 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.
Ennead 4.9. Whether All Souls Form a Single One?
IF ALL SOULS BE ONE IN THE WORLD-SOUL, WHY SHOULD THEY NOT TOGETHER FORM 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.
SOULS MAY NOT FORM A NUMERIC UNITY, BUT MAY FORM A GENERIC UNITY.
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.
THE UNITY OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SEVERAL SOULS NEED NOT IMPLY THEIR BEING IDENTICAL.
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.
SYMPATHY DOES NOT FORCE IDENTITY OF SENSATION.
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.
UNITY OF ALL BEINGS IMPLIED BY SYMPATHY, LOVE, AND MAGIC ENCHANTMENT.
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.
WHAT OF THE DIFFERENCES OF RATIONALITY, IF THE SOUL BE ONE?
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.
THE POWERS OF THE SOUL ARE NOT EXERCISED EVERYWHERE BECAUSE THEY DIFFER.
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.
THE BODY’S POWER OF GROWTH IS DERIVED FROM THE WHOLE, AND THE SOUL; BUT NOT FROM OUR SOUL.
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 them.
THE UNITY OF THE SOULS IS A CONDITION OF THEIR MULTIPLICITY.
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.
THE SOUL CAN BEGET MANY BECAUSE SHE IS AN INCORPOREAL ESSENCE.
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.
HOW AN ESSENCE CAN BE ONE IN A MULTITUDE OF SOULS IS ILLUSTRATED BY SEED.
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.
THIS MIRACLE IS EXPLAINED BY THE USE OF THE CONCEPTION OF POTENTIALITY.
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.
DIFFICULT AS THESE EXPLANATIONS ARE, THEY ARE CLEAR INTELLIGIBLY.
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.