Ennead 5.1. The Three Principal Hypostases, or Forms of Existence.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.2. Of Generation, and of the Order of things that Rank Next After the First.


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.3. The Self-Consciousnesses, and What is Above Them.


1. Must thought, and self-consciousness imply being composed of different parts, and on their mutual contemplation? Must that which is absolutely simple be unable to turn towards itself, to know itself? ls it, on the contrary, possible that for that which is not composite to know itself? Self-consciousness, indeed, does not necessarily result from a thing’s knowing itself because it is composite, and that one of its parts grasps the other; as, for instance, by sensation we perceive the form and nature of our body. In this case the whole will not be known, unless the part that knows the others to which it is united also knows itself; otherwise, we would find the knowledge of one entity, through another, instead of one entity through itself.


While, therefore, asserting that a simple principle does know itself, we must examine into the possibility of this. Otherwise, we would have to give up hope of real self-knowledge. But to resign this would imply many absurdities; for if it be absurd to deny that the soul possesses self-knowledge, it would be still more absurd to deny it of intelligence. How could intelligence have knowledge of other beings, if it did not possess the knowledge and science of itself? Indeed, exterior things are perceived by sensation, and even, if you insist, by discursive reason and opinion; but not by intelligence. It is indeed worth examining whether intelligence does, or does not have knowledge of such external things. Evidently, intelligible entities are known by intelligence. Does intelligence limit itself to knowledge of these entities, or does it, while knowing intelligible entities, also know itself? In this case, does it know that it knows only intelligible entities, without being able to know what itself is? While knowing that it knows what belongs to it, is it unable to know what itself, the knower, is? Or can it at the same time know what belongs to it, and also know itself? Then how does this knowledge operate, and how far does it go? This is what we must examine.


2. Let us begin by a consideration of the soul. Does she possess self-consciousness? By what faculty? And how does she acquire it? It is natural for the sense-power to deal only with exterior objects; for even in the case in which it feels occurrences in the body, it is still perceiving things that are external to it, since it perceives passions experienced by the body over which it presides.


Besides the above, the soul possesses the discursive reason, which judges of sense-representations, combining and dividing them. Under the form of images, she also considers the conceptions received from intelligence, and operates on these images as on images furnished by sensation. Finally, she still is the power of understanding, since she distinguishes the new images from the old, and harmonizes them by comparing them; whence, indeed, our reminiscences are derived.


That is the limit of the intellectual power of the soul. Is it, besides, capable of turning upon itself, and cognizing itself, or must this knowledge be sought for only within intelligence? If we assign this knowledge to the intellectual part of the soul; we will be making an intelligence out of it; and we will then have to study in what it differs from the superior Intelligence. If again, we refuse this knowledge to this part of the soul, we will, by reason, rise to Intelligence, and we will have to examine the nature of self-consciousness. Further, if we attribute this knowledge both to the inferior and to the superior intelligences, we shall have to distinguish self-consciousness according as it belongs to the one or to the other; for if there were no difference between these two kinds of intelligence, discursive reason would be identical with pure Intelligence. Does discursive reason, therefore, turn upon itself? Or does it limit itself to the comprehension of the types received from both (sense and intelligence); and, in the latter case, how does it achieve such comprehension? This latter question is the one to be examined here.


3. Now let us suppose that the senses have perceived a man, and have furnished an appropriate image thereof to discursive reason. What will the latter say? It may say nothing, limiting itself to taking notice of him. However, it may also ask itself who this man is; and, having already met him, with the aid of memory, decide that he is Socrates. If then discursive reason develop the image of Socrates, then it divides what imagination has furnished. If discursive reason add that Socrates is good, it still deals with things known by the senses; but that which it asserts thereof, namely, his goodness, it has drawn from itself, because within itself it possesses the rule of goodness. But how does it, within itself, possess goodness? Because it conforms to the Good, and receives the notion of it from the Intelligence that enlightens itself; for (discursive reason), this part of the soul, is pure, and receives impressions from Intelligence.


But why should this whole (soul-) part that is superior to sensation be assigned to the soul rather than to intelligence? Because the power of the soul consists in reasoning, and because all these operations belong to the discursive reason. But why can we not simply assign to it, in addition, self-consciousness, which would immediately clear up this inquiry? Because the nature of discursive reason consists in considering exterior things, and in scrutinizing their diversity, while to intelligence we attribute the privilege of contemplating itself, and of contemplating its own contents. But what hinders discursive reason, by some other faculty of the soul, from considering what belongs to it? Because, in this case, instead of discursive reason and reasoning, we would have pure Intelligence. But what then hinders the presence of pure Intelligence within the soul? Nothing, indeed. Shall we then have a right to say that pure Intelligence is a part of the soul? No indeed; but still we would have the right to call it “ours.” It is different from, and higher than discursive reason; and still it is “ours,” although we cannot count it among the parts of the soul. In one respect it is “ours,” and in another, is not “ours;” for at times we make use of it, and at other times we make use of discursive reason; consequently, intelligence is “ours” when we make use of it; and it is not “ours” when we do not make use of it. But what is the meaning of “making use of intelligence”? Does it mean becoming intelligence, and speaking in that character, or does it mean speaking in conformity with intelligence? For we are not intelligence; we speak in conformity with intelligence by the first part of discursive reason, the part that receives impressions from Intelligence. We feel through sensation, and it is we who feel. Is it also we who conceive and who simultaneously are conceived? Or is it we who reason, and who conceive the intellectual notions which enlighten discursive reason? We are indeed essentially constituted by discursive reason. The actualizations of Intelligence are superior to us, while those of sensation are inferior; as to us, “we” are the principal part of the soul, the part that forms a middle power between these two extremes, now lowering ourselves towards sensation, now rising towards Intelligence. We acknowledge sensibility to be ours because we are continually feeling. It is not as evident that intelligence is ours, because we do not make use of it continuously, and because it is separated, in this sense, that it is not intelligence that inclines towards us, but rather we who raise our glances towards intelligence. Sensation is our messenger, Intelligence is our king.


4. We ourselves are kings when we think in conformity with intelligence. This, however, can take place in two ways. Either we have received from intelligence the impressions and rules which are, as it were, engraved within us, so that we are, so to speak, filled with intelligence; or we can have the perception and intuition of it, because it is present with us. When we see intelligence, we recognize that by contemplation of it we ourselves are grasping other intelligible entities. This may occur in two ways; either because, by the help of this very power, we grasp the power which cognizes intelligible entities; or because we ourselves become intelligence. The man who thus knows himself is double. Either he knows discursive reason, which is characteristic of the soul, or, rising to a superior condition, he cognizes himself and is united with intelligence. Then, by intelligence, that man thinks himself; no more indeed as being man, but as having become superior to man, as having been transported into the intelligible Reason, and drawing thither with himself the best part of the soul, the one which alone is capable of taking flight towards thought, and of receiving the fund of knowledge resulting from his intuition. But does discursive reason not know that it is discursive reason, and that its domain is the comprehension of external objects? Does it not, while doing so, know that it judges? Does it not know that it is judging by means of the rules derived from intelligence, which itself contains? Does it not know that above it is a principle which possesses intelligible entities, instead of seeking (merely) to know them? But what would this faculty be if it did not know what it is, and what its functions are? It knows, therefore, that it depends on intelligence, that it is inferior to intelligence, and that it is the image of intelligence, that it contains the rules of intelligence as it were engraved within itself, such as intelligence engraves them, or rather, has engraved them on it.


Will he who thus knows himself content himself therewith? Surely not. Exercising a further faculty, we will have the intuition of the intelligence that knows itself; or, seizing it, inasmuch as it is “ours” and we are “its,” we will thus cognize intelligence, and know ourselves. This is necessary for our knowledge of what, within intelligence, self-consciousness is. The man becomes intelligence when, abandoning his other faculties, he by intelligence sees Intelligence, and he sees himself in the same manner that Intelligence sees itself.


5. Does pure Intelligence know itself by contemplating one of its parts by means of another part? Then one part will be the subject, and another part will be the object of contemplation; intelligence will not know itself. It may be objected that if intelligence be a whole composed of absolutely similar parts, so that the subject and the object of contemplation will not differ from each other; then, by the virtue of this similitude, on seeing one of its parts with which it is identical, intelligence will see itself; for, in this case, the subject does not differ from the object. To begin with, it is absurd to suppose that intelligence is divided into several parts. How, indeed, would such a division be carried out? Not by chance, surely. Who will carry it out? Will it be the subject or object? Then, how would the subject know itself if, in contemplation, it located itself in the object, since contemplation does not belong to that which is the object? Will it know itself as object rather than as subject? In that case it will not know itself completely and in its totality (as subject and object); for what it sees is the object, and not the subject of contemplation; it sees not itself, but another. In order to attain complete knowledge of itself it will, besides, have to see itself as subject; now, if it see itself as subject, it will, at the same time, have to see the contemplated things. But is it the (Stoic ) “types” (or impressions) of things, or the things themselves, that are contained in the actualization of contemplation? If it be these impressions, we do not possess the things themselves. If we do possess these things, it is not because we separate ourselves (into subject and object). Before dividing ourselves in this way, we already saw and possessed these things. Consequently, contemplation must be identical with that which is contemplated, and intelligence must be identical with the intelligible. Without this identity, we will never possess the truth. Instead of possessing realities, we will never possess any more than their impressions, which will differ from the realities; consequently, this will not be the truth. Truth, therefore, must not differ from its object; it must be what it asserts.


On one hand, therefore, intelligence, and on the other the intelligible and existence form but one and the same thing, namely, the primary existence and primary Intelligence, which possesses realities, or rather, which is identical with them. But if the thought-object and the thought together form but a single entity, how will the thinking object thus be able to think itself? Evidently thought will embrace the intelligible, or will be identical therewith; but we still do not see how intelligence is to think itself. Here we are: thought and the intelligible fuse into one because the intelligible is an actualization and not a simple power; because life is neither alien nor incidental to it; because thought is not an accident for it, as it would be for a brute body, as for instance, for a stone; and, finally, because the intelligible is primary “being.” Now, if the intelligible be an actualization, it is the primary actualization, the most perfect thought, or, “substantial thought.” Now, as this thought is supremely true, as it is primary Thought, as it possesses existence in the highest degree, it is primary Intelligence. It is not, therefore, mere potential intelligence; there is no need to distinguish within it the potentiality from the actualization of thought; otherwise, its substantiality would be merely potential. Now since intelligence is an actualization, and as its “being” also is an actualization, it must fuse with its actualization. But existence and the intelligible also fuse with their actualization. Therefore intelligence, the intelligible, and thought will form but one and the same entity. Since the thought of the intelligible is the intelligible, and as the intelligible is intelligence, intelligence will thus think itself. Intelligence will think, by the actualization of the thought to which it is identical, the intelligible to which it also is identical. It will think itself, so far as it is thought; and in so far as it is the intelligible which it thinks by the thought to which it is identical.


6. Reason, therefore, demonstrates that there is a principle which must essentially know itself. But this self-consciousness is more perfect in intelligence than in the soul. The soul knows herself in so far as she knows that she depends on another power; while intelligence, by merely turning towards itself, naturally cognizes its existence and “being.” By contemplating realities, it contemplates itself; this contemplation is an actualization, and this actualization is intelligence; for intelligence and thought form but a single entity. The entire intelligence sees itself entire, instead of seeing one of its parts by another of its parts. Is it in the nature of intelligence, such as reason conceives of it, to produce within us a simple conviction? No. Intelligence necessarily implies (certitude), and not mere persuasion; for necessity is characteristic of intelligence, while persuasion is characteristic of the soul. Here below, it is true, we rather seek to be persuaded, than to see truth by pure Intelligence. When we were in the superior region, satisfied with intelligence, we used to think, and to contemplate the intelligible, reducing everything to unity. It was Intelligence which thought and spoke about itself; the soul rested, and allowed Intelligence free scope to act. But since we have descended here below, we seek to produce persuasion in the soul, because we wish to contemplate the model in its image.


We must, therefore, teach our soul how Intelligence contemplates itself. This has to be taught to that part of our soul which, because of its intellectual character, we call reason, or discursive intelligence, to indicate that it is a kind of intelligence, that it possesses its power by intelligence, and that it derives it from intelligence. This part of the soul must, therefore, know that it knows what it sees, that it knows what it expresses, and that, if it were identical with what it describes, it would thereby know itself. But since intelligible entities come to it from the same principle from which it itself comes, since it is a reason, and as it receives from intelligence entities that are kindred, by comparing them with the traces of intelligence it contains, it must know itself. This image it contains must, therefore, be raised to true Intelligence, which is identical with the true intelligible entities, that is, to the primary and really true Beings; for it is impossible that this intelligence should originate from itself. If then intelligence remain in itself and with itself, if it be what it is (in its nature) to be, that is, intelligence—for intelligence can never be unintelligent—it must contain within it the knowledge of itself, since it does not issue from itself, and since its function and its “being” (or, true nature) consist in being no more than intelligence. It is not an intelligence that devotes itself to practical action, obliged to consider what is external to it, and to issue from itself to become cognizant of exterior things; for it is not necessary that an intelligence which devotes itself to action should know itself. As it does not give itself to action—for, being pure, it has nothing to desire—it operates a conversion towards itself, by virtue of which it is not only probable, but even necessary for it to know itself. Otherwise, what would its life consist of, inasmuch as it does not devote itself to action, and as it remains within itself?


7. It may be objected that the Intelligence contemplates the divinity. If, however, it be granted, that the Intelligence knows the divinity, one is thereby forced to admit that it also knows itself; for it will know what it derives from the divinity, what it has received from Him, and what it still may hope to receive from Him. By knowing this, it will know itself, since it is one of the entities given by the divinity; or rather, since it is all that is given by the divinity. If then, it know the divinity, it knows also the powers of the divinity, it knows that itself proceeds from the divinity, and that itself derives its powers from the divinity. If Intelligence cannot have a clear intuition of the divinity, because the subject and object of an intuition must be the same, this will turn out to be a reason why Intelligence will know itself, and will see itself, since seeing is being what is seen. What else indeed could we attribute to Intelligence? Rest, for instance? For Intelligence, rest does not consist in being removed from itself, but rather to act without being disturbed by anything that is alien. The things that are not troubled by anything alien need only to produce their own actualization, especially when they are in actualization, and not merely potential. That which is in actualization, and which cannot be in actualization for anything foreign, must be in actualization for itself. When thinking itself, Intelligence remains turned towards itself, referring its actualization to itself. If anything proceed from it, it is precisely because it remains turned towards itself that it remains in itself. It had, indeed, to apply itself to itself, before applying itself to anything else, or producing something else that resembled it; thus fire must first be fire in itself, and be fire in actualization, in order later to impart some traces of its nature to other things. Intelligence, in itself, therefore, is an actualization. The soul, on turning herself towards Intelligence, remains within herself; on issuing from Intelligence, the soul turns towards external things. On turning towards Intelligence, she becomes similar to the power from which she proceeds; on issuing from Intelligence, she becomes different from herself. Nevertheless, she still preserves some resemblance to Intelligence, both in her activity and productiveness. When active, the soul still contemplates Intelligence; when productive, the soul produces forms, which resemble distant thoughts, and are traces of thought and Intelligence, traces that conform to their archetype; and which reveal a faithful imitation thereof, or which, at least, still preserve a weakened image thereof, even if they do occupy only the last rank of beings.


8. What qualities does Intelligence display in the intelligible world? What qualities does it discover in itself by contemplation? To begin with, we must not form of Intelligence a conception showing a figure, or colors, like bodies. Intelligence existed before bodies. The “seminal reasons” which produce figure and color are not identical with them; for “seminal reasons” are invisible. So much the more are intelligible entities invisible; their nature is identical with that of the principles in which they reside, just as “seminal reasons” are identical with the soul that contains them. But the soul does not see the entities she contains, because she has not begotten them; even she herself, just like the “reasons,” is no more than an image (of Intelligence). The principle from which she comes possesses an evident existence, that is genuine, and primary; consequently, that principle exists of and in itself. But this image (which is in the soul) is not even permanent unless it belong to something else, and reside therein. Indeed, the characteristic of an image is that it resides in something else, since it belongs to something else, unless it remain attached to its principle. Consequently, this image does not contemplate, because it does not possess a light that is sufficient; and even if it should contemplate, as it finds its perfection in something else, it would be contemplating something else, instead of contemplating itself. The same case does not obtain in Intelligence; there the contemplated entity and contemplation co-exist, and are identical. Who is it, therefore, that declares the nature of the intelligible? The power that contemplates it, namely, Intelligence itself. Here below our eyes see the light because our vision itself is light, or rather because it is united to light; for it is the colors that our vision beholds. On the contrary, Intelligence does not see through something else, but through itself, because what it sees is not outside of itself. It sees a light with another light, and not by another light; it, is therefore, a light that sees another; and, consequently, it sees itself. This light, on shining in the soul, illuminates her; that is, intellectualizes her; assimilates her to the superior light (namely, in Intelligence). If, by the ray with which this light enlightens the soul, we judge of the nature of this light and conceive of it as still greater, more beautiful, and more brilliant, we will indeed be approaching Intelligence and the intelligible world; for, by enlightening the soul, Intelligence imparts to her a clearer life. This life is not generative, because Intelligence converts the soul towards Intelligence; and, instead of allowing the soul to divide, causes the soul to love the splendor with which she is shining. Neither is this life one of the senses, for though the senses apply themselves to what is exterior, they do not, on that account, learn anything beyond (themselves). He who sees that superior light of the verities sees much better things that are visible, though in a different manner. It remains, therefore, that the Intelligence imparts to the soul the intellectual life, which is a trace of her own life; for Intelligence possesses the realities. It is in the life and the actualization which are characteristic of Intelligence that here consists the primary Light, which from the beginning, illumines itself, which reflects on itself, because it is simultaneously enlightener and enlightened; it is also the true intelligible entity, because it is also at the same time thinker and thought. It sees itself by itself, without having need of anything else; it sees itself in an absolute manner, because, within it, the known is identical with the knower. It is not otherwise in us; it is by Intelligence that we know intelligence. Otherwise, how could we speak of it? How could we say that it was capable of clearly grasping itself, and that, by it, we understand ourselves? How could we, by these reasonings, to Intelligence reduce our soul which recognizes that it is the image of Intelligence, which considers its life a faithful imitation of the life of Intelligence, which thinks that, when it thinks, it assumes an intellectual and divine form? Should one wish to know which is this Intelligence that is perfect, universal and primary, which knows itself essentially, the soul has to be reduced to Intelligence; or, at least, the soul has to recognize that the actualization by which the soul conceives the entities of which the soul has the reminiscence is derived from Intelligence. Only by placing herself in that condition, does the soul become able to demonstrate that inasmuch as she is the image of Intelligence she, the soul, can by herself, see it; that is, by those of her powers which most exactly resemble Intelligence (namely, by pure thought); which resembles Intelligence in the degree that a part of the soul can be assimilated to it.


9. We must, therefore, contemplate the soul and her divinest part in order to discover the nature of Intelligence. This is how we may accomplish it: From man, that is from yourself, strip off the body; then that power of the soul that fashions the body; then sensation, appetite, and anger, and all the lower passions that incline you towards the earth. What then remains of the soul is what we call the “image of intelligence,” an image that radiates from Intelligence, as from the immense globe of the sun radiates the surrounding luminary sphere. Of course, we would not say that all the light that radiates from the sun remains within itself around the sun; only a part of this light remains around the sun from which it emanates; another part, spreading by relays, descends to us on the earth. But we consider light, even that which surrounds the sun, as located in something else, so as not to be forced to consider the whole space between the sun and us as empty of all bodies. On the contrary, the soul is a light which remains attached to Intelligence, and she is not located in any space because Intelligence itself is not spatially located. While the light of the sun is in the air, on the contrary the soul, in the state in which we consider her here, is so pure that she can be seen in herself by herself, and by any other soul that is in the same condition. The soul needs to reason, in order to conceive of the nature of Intelligence according to her own nature; but Intelligence conceives of itself without reasoning because it is always present to itself. We, on the contrary, are present both to ourselves and to Intelligence when we turn towards it, because our life is divided into several lives. On the contrary, Intelligence has no need of any other life, nor of anything else; what Intelligence gives is not given to itself, but to other things; neither does Intelligence have any need of what is inferior to it; nor could Intelligence give itself anything inferior, since Intelligence possesses all things; instead of possessing in itself the primary images of things (as in the case of the soul), Intelligence is these things themselves.


If one should find himself unable to rise immediately to pure thought, which is the highest, or first, part of the soul, he may begin by opinion, and from it rise to Intelligence. If even opinion be out of the reach of his ability, he may begin with sensation, which already represents general forms; for sensation which contains the forms potentially may possess them even in actualization. If, on the contrary, the best he can do is to descend, let him descend to the generative power, and to the things it produces; then, from the last forms, one may rise again to the higher forms, and so on to the primary forms.


10. But enough of this. If the (forms) contained by Intelligence are not created forms—otherwise the forms contained in us would no longer, as they should, occupy the lowest rank—if these forms in intelligence really be creative and primary, then either these creative forms and the creative principle fuse into one single entity, or intelligence needs some other principle. But does the transcendent Principle, that is superior to Intelligence (the One), itself also need some other further principle? No, because it is only Intelligence that stands in need of such an one. Does the Principle superior to Intelligence (the transcendent One) not see Himself? No. He does not need to see Himself. This we shall study elsewhere.


Let us now return to our most important problem. Intelligence needs to contemplate itself, or rather, it continually possesses this contemplation. It first sees that it is manifold, and then that it implies a difference, and further, that it needs to contemplate, to contemplate the intelligible, and that its very essence is to contemplate. Indeed, every contemplation implies an object; otherwise, it is empty. To make contemplation possible there must be more than an unity; contemplation must be applied to an object, and this object must be manifold; for what is simple has no object on which it could apply its action, and silently remains withdrawn in its solitude. Action implies some sort of difference. Otherwise, to what would action apply itself? What would be its object? The active principle, must, therefore, direct its action on something else than itself, or must itself be manifold to direct its action on itself. If, indeed, it direct its action on nothing, it will be at rest; and if at rest, it will not be thinking. The thinking principle, therefore, when thinking, implies duality. Whether the two terms be one exterior to the other, or united, thought always implies both identity and difference. In general, intelligible entities must simultaneously be identical with Intelligence, and different from Intelligence. Besides, each of them must also contain within itself identity and difference. Otherwise, if the intelligible does not contain any diversity, what would be the object of thought? If you insist that each intelligible entity resembles a (“seminal) reason,” it must be manifold. Every intelligible entity, therefore, knows itself to be a compound, and many-colored eye. If intelligence applied itself to something single and absolutely simple, it could not think. What would it say? What would it understand? If the indivisible asserted itself it ought first to assert what it is not; and so, in order to be single it would have to be manifold. If it said, “I am this,” and if it did not assert that “this” was different from itself, it would be uttering untruth. If it asserted it as an accident of itself, it would assert of itself a multitude. If it says, “I am; I am; myself; myself;” then neither these two things will be simple, and each of them will be able to say, “me;” or there will be manifoldness, and, consequently, a difference; and, consequently, number and diversity. The thinking subject must, therefore, contain a difference, just as the object thought must also reveal a diversity, because it is divided by thought. Otherwise, there will be no other thought of the intelligible, but a kind of touch, of unspeakable and inconceivable contact, prior to intelligence, since intelligence is not yet supposed to exist, and as the possessor of this contact does not think. The thinking subject, therefore, must not remain simple, especially, when it thinks itself; it must split itself, even were the comprehension of itself silent. Last, that which is simple (the One) has no need of occupying itself with itself. What would it learn by thinking? Is it not what it is before thinking itself? Besides, knowledge implies that some one desires, that some one seeks, and that some one finds. That which does not within itself contain any difference, when turned towards itself, rests without seeking anything within itself; but that which develops, is manifold.


11. Intelligence, therefore, becomes manifold when it wishes to think the Principle superior to it. By wishing to grasp Him in his simplicity, it abandons this simplicity, because it continues to receive within itself this differentiated and multiplied nature. It was not yet Intelligence when it issued from Unity; it found itself in the state of sight when not yet actualized. When emanating from Unity, it contained already what made it manifold. It vaguely aspired to an object other than itself, while simultaneously containing a representation of this object. It thus contained something that it made manifold; for it contained a sort of impress produced by the contemplation (of the One); otherwise it would not receive the One within itself. Thus Intelligence, on being born of Unity, became manifold, and as it possessed knowledge, it contemplated itself. It then became actualized sight. Intelligence is really intelligence only when it possesses its object, and when it possesses it as intelligence. Formerly, it was only an aspiration, only an indistinct vision. On applying itself to the One, and grasping the One, it becomes intelligence. Now its receptivity to Unity is continuous, and it is continuously intelligence, “being,” thought, from the very moment it begins to think. Before that, it is not yet thought, since it does not possess the intelligible, and is not yet Intelligence, since it does not think.


That which is above these things is their principle, without being inherent in them. The principle from which these things proceed cannot be inherent in them; that is true only of the elements that constitute them. The principle from which all things proceed (the One) is not any of them; it differs from all of them. The One, therefore, is not any of them; it differs from all of them. The One, therefore, is not any of the things of the universe: He precedes all these things, and consequently, He precedes Intelligence, since the latter embraces all things in its universality. On the other hand, as the things that are posterior to Unity are universal, and as Unity thus is anterior to universal things, it cannot be any one of them. Therefore, it should not be called either intelligence or good, if by “good” you mean any object comprised within the universe; this name suits it only, if it indicate that it is anterior to everything. If Intelligence be intelligence only because it is manifold; if thought, though found within Intelligence, be similarly manifold, then the First, the Principle that is absolutely simple, will be above Intelligence; for if He think, He would be Intelligence; and if He be Intelligence, He would be manifold.


12. It may be objected, that nothing would hinder the existence of manifoldness in the actualization of the First, so long as the “being,” or nature, remain unitary. That principle would not be rendered composite by any number of actualizations. This is not the case for two reasons. Either these actualizations are distinct from its nature (“being”), and the First would pass from potentiality to actuality; in which case, without doubt, the First is not manifold, but His nature would not become perfect without actualization. Or the nature (“being”) is, within Him identical to His actualization; in which case, as the actualization is manifold, the nature would be such also. Now we do indeed grant that Intelligence is manifold, since it thinks itself; but we could not grant that the Principle of all things should also be manifold. Unity must exist before the manifold, the reason of whose existence is found in unity; for unity precedes all number. It may be objected that this is true enough for numbers which follow unity, because they are composite; but what is the need of a unitary principle from which manifoldness should proceed when referring (not to numerals, but) to beings? This need is that, without the One, all things would be in a dispersed condition, and their combinations would be no more than a chaos.


Another objection is, that from an intelligence that is simple, manifold actualizations can surely proceed. This then admits the existence of something simple before the actualizations. Later, as these actualizations become permanent, they form hypostatic forms of existence. Being such, they will have to differ from the Principle from which they proceed, since the Principle remains simple, and that which is born of it must in itself be manifold, and be dependent thereon. Even if these actualizations exist only because the Principle acted a single time, this already constitutes manifoldness. Though these actualizations be the first ones, if they constitute second-rank (nature), the first rank will belong to the Principle that precedes these actualizations; this Principle abides in itself, while these actualizations constitute that which is of second rank, and is composed of actualizations. The First differs from the actualizations He begets, because He begets them without activity; otherwise, Intelligence would not be the first actualization. Nor should we think that the One first desired to beget Intelligence, and later begat it, so that this desire was an intermediary between the generating principle and the generated entity. The One could not have desired anything; for if He had desired anything, He would have been imperfect, since He would not yet have possessed what He desired. Nor could we suppose that the One lacked anything; for there was nothing towards which He could have moved. Therefore, the hypostatic form of existence which is beneath Him received existence from Him, without ceasing to persist in its own condition. Therefore, if there is to be a hypostatic form of existence beneath Him He must have remained within Himself in perfect tranquility; otherwise, He would have initiated movement; and we would have to conceive of a movement before the first movement, a thought before the first thought, and its first actualization would be imperfect, consisting in no more than a mere tendency. But towards what can the first actualization of the One tend, and attain, if, according to the dictates of reason, we conceive of that actualization originating from Him as light emanates from the sun? This actualization, therefore, will have to be considered as a light that embraces the whole intelligible world; at the summit of which we shall have to posit, and over whose throne we shall have to conceive the rule of the immovable One, without separating Him from the Light that radiates from Him. Otherwise, above this Light we would have to posit another one, which, while remaining immovable, should enlighten the intelligible. Indeed the actualization that emanates from the One, without being separated from Him, nevertheless, differs from Him. Neither is its nature non-essential, or blind; it, therefore, contemplates itself, and knows itself; it is, consequently, the first knowing principle. As the One is above Intelligence, it is also above consciousness; as it needs nothing, neither has it any need of knowing anything. Cognition (or, consciousness), therefore, belongs only to the second-rank nature. Consciousness is only an individual unity, while the One is absolute unity; indeed individual unity is not absolute Unity, because the absolute is (or, “in and for itself”), precedes the (“somehow determined,” or) individual.


13. This Principle, therefore, is really indescribable. We are individualizing it in any statement about it. That which is above everything, even above the venerable Intelligence, really has no name, and all that we can state about Him is, that He is not anything. Nor can He be given any name, since we cannot assert anything about Him. We refer to Him only as best we can. In our uncertainty we say, “What does He not feel? is He not self-conscious? does He not know Himself?” Then we must reflect that by speaking thus we are thinking of things, that are opposed to Him of whom we are now thinking. When we suppose that He can be known, or that He possesses self-consciousness, we are already making Him manifold. Were we to attribute to Him thought, it would appear that He needed this thought. If we imagine thought as being within Him, thought seems to be superfluous. For of what does thought consist? Of the consciousness of the totality formed by the two terms that contribute to the act of thought, and which fuse therein. That is thinking oneself, and thinking oneself is real thinking; for each of the two elements of thought is itself an unity to which nothing is lacking. On the contrary, the thought of objects exterior (to Intelligence) is not perfect, and is not true thought. That which is supremely simple and supremely absolute stands in need of nothing. The absolute that occupies the second rank needs itself, and, consequently, needs to think itself. Indeed, since Intelligence needs something relatively to itself, it succeeds in satisfying this need, and consequently, in being absolute, only by possessing itself entirely. It suffices itself only by uniting all the elements constituting its nature (“being”), only by dwelling within itself, only by remaining turned towards itself while thinking; for consciousness is the sensation of manifoldness, as is indicated by the etymology of the word “con-sciousness,” or, “conscience.” If supreme Thought occur by the conversion of Intelligence towards itself, it evidently is manifold. Even if it said no more than “I am existence,” Intelligence would say it as if making a discovery, and Intelligence would be right, because existence is manifold. Even though it should apply itself to something simple, and should say, “I am existence,” this would not imply successful grasp of itself or existence. Indeed, when Intelligence speaks of existence in conformity with reality, intelligence does not speak of it as of a stone, but, merely, in a single word expresses something manifold. The existence that really and essentially deserves the name of existence, instead of having of it only a trace which would not be existence, and which would be only an image of it, such existence is a multiple entity. Will not each one of the elements of this multiple entity be thought? No doubt you will not be able to think it if you take it alone and separated from the others; but existence itself is in itself something manifold. Whatever object you name, it possesses existence. Consequently, He who is supremely simple cannot think Himself; if He did, He would be somewhere, (which is not the case). Therefore He does not think, and He cannot be grasped by thought.


14. How then do we speak of Him? Because we can assert something about Him, though we cannot express Him by speech. We could not know Him, nor grasp Him by thought. How then do we speak of Him, if we cannot grasp Him? Because though He does escape our knowledge, He does not escape us completely. We grasp Him enough to assert something about Him without expressing Him himself, to say what He is not, without saying what He is; that is why in speaking of Him we use terms that are suitable to designate only lower things. Besides we can embrace Him without being capable of expressing Him, like men who, transported by a divine enthusiasm, feel that they contain something superior without being able to account for it. They speak of what agitates them, and they thus have some feeling of Him who moves them, though they differ therefrom. Such is our relation with Him; when we rise to Him by using our pure intelligence, we feel that He is the foundation of our intelligence, the principle that furnishes “being” and other things of the kind; we feel that He is better, greater, and more elevated than we, because He is superior to reason, to intelligence, and to the senses, because He gives these things without being what they are.


15. How does He give them? Is it because He possesses them, or because He does not possess them? If it be because He does not possess them, how does He give what He does not possess? If it be because He does possess them, He is no longer simple. If He give what He does not possess, how is multiplicity born of Him? It would seem as if only one single thing could proceed from Him, unity; and even so one might wonder how anything whatever could be born of that which is absolutely one. We answer, in the same way as from a light radiates a luminous sphere (or, fulguration ). But how can the manifold be born from the One? Because the thing that proceeds from Him must not be equal to Him, and so much the less, superior; for what is superior to unity, or better than Him? It must, therefore, be inferior to Him, and, consequently, be less perfect. Now it cannot be less perfect, except on condition of being less unitary, that is, more manifold. But as it must aspire to unity, it will be the “manifold one.” It is by that which is single that that which is not single is preserved, and is what it is; for that which is not one, though composite, cannot receive the name of existence. If it be possible to say what each thing is, it is only because it is one and identical. What is not manifold is not one by participation, but is absolute unity; it does not derive its unity from any other principle; on the contrary it is the principle to which other things owe that they are more or less single, according as they are more or less close to it. Since the characteristic of that which is nearest to unity is identity, and is posterior to unity, evidently the manifoldness contained therein, must be the totality of things that are single. For since manifoldness is therein united with manifoldness, it does not contain parts separated from each other, and all subsist together. Each of the things, that proceed therefrom, are manifold unity, because they cannot be universal unity. Universal unity is characteristic only of their principle (the intelligible Being), because itself proceeds from a great Principle which is one, essentially, and genuinely. That which, by its exuberant fruitfulness, begets, is all; on the other hand, as this totality participates in unity, it is single; and, consequently, it is single totality (universal unity).


We have seen that existence is “all these things;” now, what are they? All those of which the One is the principle. But how can the One be the principle of all things? Because the One preserves their existence while effecting the individuality of each of them. Is it also because He gives them existence? And if so, does He do so by possessing them? In this case, the One would be manifold. No, it is by containing them without any distinction yet having arisen among them. On the contrary, in the second principle they are distinguished by reason; that is, they are logically distinguished, because this second principle is an actualization, while the first Principle is the power-potentiality of all things; not in the sense in which we say that matter is potential in that it receives, or suffers, but in the opposite sense that the One produces. How then can the One produce what it does not possess, since unity produces that neither by chance nor by reflection? We have already said that what proceeds from unity must differ from it; and, consequently, cannot be absolutely one; that it must be duality, and, consequently, multitude, since it will contain (the categories, such as) identity, and difference, quality, and so forth. We have demonstrated that that which is born of the One is not absolutely one. It now remains for us to inquire whether it will be manifold, such as it is seen to be in what proceeds from the One. We shall also have to consider why it necessarily proceeds from the One.


16. We have shown elsewhere that something must follow the One, and that the One is a power, and is inexhaustible; and this is so, because even the last-rank entities possess the power of begetting. For the present we may notice that the generation of things reveals a descending procession, in which, the further we go, the more does manifoldness increase; and that the principle is always simpler than the things it produces. Therefore, that which has produced the sense world is not the sense-world itself, but Intelligence and the intelligible world; and that which has begotten Intelligence and the intelligible world is neither Intelligence nor the intelligible world, but something simpler than them. Manifoldness is not born of manifoldness, but of something that is not manifold. If That which was superior to Intelligence were manifold, it would no longer be the (supreme) Principle, and we would have to ascend further. Everything must, therefore, be reduced to that which is essentially one, which is outside of all manifoldness; and whose simplicity is the greatest possible. But how can manifold and universal Reason be born of the One, when very evidently the One is not a reason? As it is not a reason, how can it beget Reason? How can the Good beget a hypostatic form of existence, which would be good in form? What does this hypostatic form of existence possess? Is it identity? But what is the relation between identity and goodness? Because as soon as we possess the Good, we seek identity and permanence; and because the Good is the principle from which we must not separate; for if it were not the Good, it would be better to give it up. We must, therefore, wish to remain united to the Good. Since that is the most desirable for Intelligence, it need seek nothing beyond, and its permanence indicates its satisfaction with the entities it possesses. Enjoying, as it does, their presence in a manner such that it fuses with them, it must then consider life as the most precious entity of all. As Intelligence possesses life in its universality and fullness, this life is the fullness and universality of the Soul and Intelligence. Intelligence, therefore, is self-sufficient, and desires nothing; it contains what it would have desired if it had not already possessed such desirable object. It possesses the good that consists in life and intelligence, as we have said, or in some one of the connected entities. If Life and Intelligence were the absolute Good, there would be nothing above them. But if the absolute Good be above them, the good of Intelligence is this Life, which relates to the absolute Good, which connects with it, which receives existence from it, and rises towards it, because it is its principle. The Good, therefore, must be superior to Life and Intelligence. On this condition only does the life of Intelligence, the image of Him from whom all life proceeds, turn towards Him; on this condition only does Intelligence, the imitation of the contents of the One, whatever be His nature, turn towards Him.


17. What better thing is there then than this supremely wise Life, exempt from all fault or error? What is there better than the Intelligence that embraces everything? In one word, what is there better than universal Life and universal Intelligence? If we answer that what is better than these things is the Principle that begat them, if we content ourselves with explaining how it begat them, and to show that one cannot discover anything better, we shall, instead of progressing in this discussion, ever remain at the same point. Nevertheless, we need to rise higher. We are particularly obliged to do this, when we consider that the principle that we seek must be considered as the “Self-sufficient supremely independent of all things;” for no entity is able to be self-sufficient, and all have participated in the One; and since they have done so, none of them can be the One. Which then is this principle in which all participate, which makes Intelligence exist, and is all things? Since it makes Intelligence exist, and since it is all things, since it makes its contained manifoldness self-sufficient by the presence of unity, and since it is thus the creative principle of “being” and self-sufficiency, it must, instead of being “being,” be super-“being” and super-existence.


Have we said enough, and can we stop here? Or does our soul still feel the pains of parturition? Let her, therefore, produce (activity), rushing towards the One, driven by the pains that agitate her. No, let us rather seek to calm her by some magic charm, if any remedy therefor exist. But to charm the soul, it may perhaps be sufficient to repeat what we have already said. To what other charm, indeed, would it suffice to have recourse? Rising above all the truths in which we participate, this enchantment evanesces the moment we speak, or even think. For, in order to express something, discursive reason is obliged to go from one thing to another, and successively to run through every element of its object. Now what can be successively scrutinized in that which is absolutely simple? It is, therefore, sufficient to reach Him by a sort of intellectual contact. Now at the moment of touching the One, we should neither be able to say anything about Him, nor have the leisure to speak of Him; only later is it possible to argue about Him. We should believe that we have seen Him when a sudden light has enlightened the soul; for this light comes from Him, and is Himself. We should believe that He is present when, as another (lower) divinity, He illumines the house of him who calls on this divinity, for it remains obscure without the illumination of the divinity. The soul, therefore, is without light when she is deprived of the presence of this divinity, when illumined by this divinity, she has what she sought. The true purpose of the soul is to be in contact with this light, to see this light in the radiance of this light itself, without the assistance of any foreign light, to see this principle by the help of which she sees. Indeed, it is the principle by which she is enlightened that she must contemplate as one gazes at the sun only through its own light. But how shall we succeed in this? By cutting off everything else.

Ennead 5.4. How What is After the First Proceeds Therefrom; of the One.


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.5. That Intelligible Entities Are Not External to the Intelligence of the Good.

[The subject of the quarrel between Amelius and Porphyry.]


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


6. Whatever be the value of these etymologies, as begotten being is a form—for it would be impossible to give any other designation to that which has been begotten by the One—as it is, not a particular form, but all form, without exception, it evidently results that the One is formless. As it possesses no form, it cannot be “being,” for this must be something individual, or determinate. Now the One could not be conceived of as something determined; for then He would no longer be a principle; He would only be the determined thing attributed to Him. If all things be in that which has been begotten, none of them could be unity. If the One be none of them, He cannot be what is above them; consequently, as these things are “essences and essence,” the One must be above essence. Indeed, the mere statement that the One is above essence, does not imply any determinateness on His part, affirms nothing concerning Him and does not even undertake to give Him a name. It merely states that He is not this or that. It does not pretend to embrace Him, for it would be absurd to attempt to embrace an infinite nature. Mere attempt to do so would amount to withdrawing from Him, and losing the slight trace of Him thereby implied. To see intelligible Being, and to contemplate that which is above the images of the sense-objects, none of these must remain present to the mind. Likewise, to contemplate Him who is above the intelligible, even all intelligible entities must be left aside to contemplate the One. In this manner we may attain knowledge of His existence, without attempting to determine what He is. Besides, when we speak of the One, it is not possible to indicate His nature without expressing its opposite. It would indeed be impossible to declare what is a principle of which it is impossible to say that it is this or that. All that we human beings can do is to have doubts poignant enough to resemble pangs of childbirth. We do not know how to name this Principle. We merely speak of the unspeakable, and the name we give Him is merely (for the convenience of) referring to Him as best we can. The name “One” expresses no more than negation of the manifold. That is why the Pythagoreans were accustomed, among each other, to refer to this principle in a symbolic manner, calling him Apollo, which name means denial of manifoldness. An attempt to carry out the name of “One” in a positive manner would only result in a greater obscuration of the name and object, than if we abstained from considering the name of “One” as the proper name of the first Principle. The object of the employment of this name is to induce the mind that seeks the first Principle first to give heed to that which expresses the greatest simplicity, and consequently to reject this name which has been proposed as only the best possible. Indeed, this name is not adequate to designate this nature, which can neither be grasped by hearing, nor be understood by any who hears it named. If it could be grasped by any sense, it would be by sight; though even so there must be no expectation of seeing any form; for thus one would not attain the first Principle.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.6. The Superessential Principle Does Not Think; Which is the First Thinking Principle, and Which is the Second?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.7. Do Ideas of Individuals Exist?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.8. Concerning Intelligible Beauty.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead 5.9. Of Intelligence, Ideas and Essence.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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