Ennead 6.1. Of the Ten Aristotelian and Four Stoic Categories.


1. Very ancient philosophers have investigated the number and kinds of essences. Some said there was but one; others, that there was a limited number of them; others still, an infinite number. Besides, those who recognized but a single (essence) have advanced opinions very different, as is also the case with those who recognized a limited or unlimited number of essences. As the opinions of these philosophers have been sufficiently examined by their successors, we shall not busy ourselves therewith. We shall study the doctrine of those who, after having examined the opinions of their predecessors, decided on determinate numbers (of essences); admitting neither a single essence, because they recognized that there was a multiplicity even in the intelligibles; nor an infinite number of essences, because such an infinity could not exist, and would render all science impossible; but who, classifying the essences whose number is limited, and seeing that these classifications could not be considered elements, looked on them as “kinds.” Of these, some (the Peripatetic Aristotelians) proposed ten, while others proposed a lesser number (the Stoics taught four), or a greater number (the Pythagorean “oppositions,” for instance). As to the kinds, there is also difference of opinions: some looked upon the kinds as principle (Plotinus himself); while others (Aristotle) held that they formed classes.



Let us first examine the doctrine that classifies essence into ten (kinds). We shall have to investigate whether it be necessary to acknowledge that its partisans recognize ten kinds, all of which bear the name of essence, or ten categories; for they say that essence is not synonymous in everything, and they are right.


Let us begin by asking these philosophers whether the ten kinds apply equally to sense-(essences), and intelligible (essences), or whether they all apply to the sense-(essences), and some only to the intelligible (essences); for here there are no longer mutual relations. We must therefore inquire which of those ten kinds apply to intelligible essences, and see whether intelligible essences can be reduced to one single kind, that would also apply to sense-essences; and whether the word “being” can be applied simultaneously to intelligible and sense-entities, as a “homonymous” label. For if “being” be a homonym, there are several different kinds. If, however, it be a synonym (or, name of common qualities) it would be absurd that this word should bear the same meaning in the essences which possess the highest degree of existence, and in those which possess its lower degree; for the things among which it is possible to distinguish both primary and lower degrees could not belong to a common kind. But these (Aristotelian) philosophers do not, in their division, regard the (Platonic) intelligible entities. They therefore did not mean to classify all beings; they passed by those that possess the highest degree of existence.


2. Let us further examine if these ten divisions be kinds, and how being could form a kind; for we are forced to begin our study here.


We have just said that intelligible being and sense-being could not form a single kind. Otherwise, above both intelligible being, and sense-being, there might be some third entity which would apply to both, being neither corporeal nor incorporeal; for if it were incorporeal, the body would be incorporeal; and if it were corporeal, the incorporeal would be corporeal.


In the first place, what common element is there in matter, form, and the concretion of matter and form? The (Aristotelians) give the name of “being” alike to these three entities, though recognizing that they are not “being” in the same degree. They say that form is more being than is matter, and they are right; they would not insist (as do the Stoics) that matter is being in the greater degree. Further, what element is common to the primary and secondary beings, since the secondary owe their characteristic title of “being” to the primary ones?


In general, what is being? This is a question to which the (Aristotelians) could find no answer; for such mere indication of properties is not an essential definition of what it is, and it would seem that the property of being a thing that is susceptible of successively admitting their contraries, while remaining identical, and numerically one, could not apply to all (intelligible) beings.

3. Can we assert that “being” is a category that embraces simultaneously intelligible being, matter, form, and the concretion of form and matter, on the same justification that one may say that the race of the Heraclidæ form a kind, not because all its members possess a common characteristic, but because they are all descended from a common ancestry? In such case, the first degree thereof will belong to this being (from which all the rest is derived), and the second degree to the other things which are less beings. What then hinders that all things form a single category, since all other things of which one may say, “they subsist,” owe this property to “being?”

Might it then be said that the other things are affections (or, modifications), and that the beings are (hierarchically) subordinated to each other in a different manner? In this case, however, we could not stop at (the conception of) “being,” and determine its fundamental property so as to deduce from it other beings. Beings would thus be of the same kind, but then would possess something which would be outside of the other beings. Thus the secondary substance would be attributed to something else, and leave no meaning to “whatness” (quiddity or quality), “determinate form” (thatness), “being a subject,” “not being a subject,” “being in no subject,” and “being attributed to nothing else,” (as, when one says, whiteness is a quality of the body, quantity is something of substance, time is something of movement, and movement is something of mobility), since the secondary “being” is attributed to something else. Another objection would be, that the secondary being is attributed to the primary Being, in another sense (than quality is to being), as “a kind,” as “constituting a part,” as “being thus the essence of the subject,” while whiteness would be attributed to something else in this sense that it is in a subject. Our answer would be that these things have properties which distinguish them from the others; they will consequently be gathered into a unity, and be called beings. Nevertheless, no kind could be made up out of them, nor thus arrive at a definition of the notion and nature of being. Enough about this; let us pass to quantity.


4. The Aristotelians call quantity first “number,” then “continuous size,” “space,” and “time.” To these concepts they apply the other kinds of quantity; as for instance, they say that movement is a quantity measured by time. It might also be said reciprocally, that time receives its continuity from movement.


If continuous quantity be quantity as far as it is continuous, then definite quantity will no longer be quantity. If, on the contrary, continuous quantity be quantity only accidentally, then there is nothing in common between continuous and definite quantity. We will grant that numbers are quantities, although if their nature of being quantities were plain, one would not see why they should be given that name. As to the line, the surface, and the body, they are called sizes and not quantities; and the latter name is given them only when they are estimated numerically; as when, for instance, they are measured by two or three feet. A body is a quantity only in so far as it is measured, just as space is a quantity only by accident, and not by its spatiality. We must here not consider what is quantity by accident, but by its quantitativeness, quantity itself. Three oxen are not a quantity; in this case, the quantity is the number found in them. Indeed, three oxen belong already to two categories. The case is similar with the line, and the surface, both of which possess such quantity. But if the quantity of surface be quantity itself, why would surface itself be a quantity? It is no doubt only when determined by three or four lines that the surface is called a quantity.


Shall we then say that numbers alone are quantity? Shall we attribute this privilege to Numbers in themselves, which are beings, because they exist in themselves? Shall we grant the same privilege to numbers existing in things which participate in them, and which serve to number, not unities, but ten oxen, for example, or ten horses? First, it would seem absurd that these numbers should not be beings, if the former ones be such. Then, it will seem equally absurd that they should exist within the things they measure, without existing outside them, as the rules and instruments which serve to measure exist outside of the objects they measure. On the other hand, if these numbers that exist in themselves serve to measure, and nevertheless do not exist within the objects that they measure, the result will be that these objects will not be quantities since they will not participate in quantity itself.


Why should these numbers be considered quantities? Doubtless because they are measures. But are these measures quantities, or quantity itself? As they are in the order of beings, even if they should not apply to any of the other things, the numbers will nevertheless remain what they are, and they will be found in quantity. Indeed, their unity designates an object, since it applies to another; then the number expresses how many objects there are, and the soul makes use of number to measure plurality. Now, when measuring thus, the soul does not measure the “whatness” (or, quality) of the object, since she says “one,” “two,” whatever be their objects, even if of opposite nature; she does not determine the character of each thing, for instance, if it be warm or beautiful; she limits herself to estimating its quantity. Consequently, whether we take Number in itself, or in the objects which participate therein, quantity exists not in these objects, but in the number; quantity finds itself not in the object three feet long, but in the number three.


Why then should sizes also be quantities? Probably because they approximate quantities, and because we call quantities all objects that contain quantities, even though we do not measure them with quantity in itself. We call large what numerically participates in much; and small what participates in little. Greatness and smallness are quantities, not absolute, but relative; nevertheless the Aristotelians say that they are relative quantities so far as they seem to be quantities. That is a question to be studied; for, in this doctrine, number is a kind apart, while sizes would hold second rank; it is not exactly a kind, but a category which gathers things which are near each other, and which may hold first or second rank. As to us, we shall have to examine if the Numbers which exist in themselves be only substances, or if they be also quantities. In either case, there is nothing in common between the Numbers of which we speak, and those which exist in things which participate therein.


5. What relation to quantity exists in speech, time, and movement?

First, let us consider speech. It can be measured. In this respect, speech is a quantity, but not in so far as it is speech, whose nature is to be significant, as the noun, or the verb. The vocal air is the matter of the word, as it also is of the noun and the verb, all which constitute the language. The word is principally an impulse launched on the air, but it is not a simple impulse; because it is articulated it somehow fashions the air; consequently it is a deed, but a significant one. It might be reasonably said that this movement and impulse constitute a deed, and that the movement which follows is a modification, or rather that the first movement is the deed, and the second movement is the modification of another, or rather that the deed refers to the subject, and the modification is in the subject. If the word consisted not in the impulse, but in the air, there would result from the significant characteristic of the expressive impulse two distinct entities, and no longer a single category.


Let us pass to time. If it exist in what measures, that which measures must be examined; it is doubtless the soul, or the present instant. If it exist in what is measured, it is a quantity so far as it has a quantity; as, for instance, it may be a year. But, so far as it is time, it has another nature; for what has such a quantity, without (essentially) being a quantity, is not any the less such a quantity.


As to (Aristotle’s) assertion that the property of quantity is to be both equal and unequal, this property belongs to quantity itself, and not to the objects which participate in quantity, unless it be by accident, so far as one does not consider these objects in themselves. A three foot object, for instance, is a quantity so far as it is taken in its totality; but it does not form a kind with quantity itself; only, along with it, it is traced back to a kind of unity, a common category.


6. Let us now consider relation. Let us see whether, in relative matters, there be something common that constitutes a kind, or which is a point of union in any other manner. Let us, before everything else, examine whether relation (as, for example, left and right, double and half, and so forth) be a kind of “hypostasis,” or substantial act, or an habituation; or, whether it be a kind of hypostatic existence in certain things, while in others it is not so; or whether it be this under no circumstances. What is there indeed that is particular in relations such as double and half; surpasser and surpassed; in possession, and in disposition; lying down, standing, sitting; in the relation of father and son; of master and slave; in the like and different; the equal and unequal; the active and passive; measurer and measured; sensation and knowledge? Knowledge, for instance, relates to the object which can be known, and sensation to sense-object; for the relation of knowledge to the object which can be known has a kind of hypostatic existence in the actualization relative to the form of the object which can be known; likewise with the relation of sensation to the sense-object. The same may be said about the relation of the “active” to the “passive,” which results in a single actualization, as well as about the relation between the measure and the measured object, from which results mensuration. But what results from the relation of the similar to the similar? If in this relation there be nothing begotten, one can at least discover there something which is its foundation, namely, the identity of quality; nevertheless, neither of these two terms would then have anything beside their proper quality. The same may be said of equal things, because the identity of quantity precedes the manner of being of both things; this manner of being has no foundation other than our judgment, when we say, This one or that one are of the same size; this one has begotten that one, this one surpasses that one. What are standing and sitting outside of him who stands or sits? As to the possession, if it apply to him who possesses, it rather signifies the fact of possession; if it apply to what is possessed, it is a quality. As much can be said of disposition. What then exists outside of the two relative terms, but the comparison established by our judgment? In the relation of the thing which surpasses the thing which is surpassed, the first is some one size, and the second is some other size; those are two independent things, while as to the comparison, it does not exist in them, except in our judgment. The relation of left to right and that of the former to the latter consist in the different positions. It is we who have imagined the distinction of right to left; there is nothing in the objects themselves that answers thereto. The former and the latter are two relations of time, but it is we who have established that distinction.


7. If, when we speak of things, we utter nothing true, then there is nothing real in the relation, and this kind of being has no foundation. But if, when we compare two moments, we say, This one is anterior, and that one is posterior, we speak truly, then we conceive that the anterior and the posterior are something independent of the subjects in which they exist. Likewise with the left and the right, as well as with sizes; we admit that in these, besides the quantity which is suitable to them, there is a certain habituation, as far as the one surpasses and the other is surpassed. If, without our enunciating or conceiving anything, it be real that such a thing is the double of another; if the one possess while the other is possessed, even if we had known nothing about it; if the objects had been equal before we had noticed them; if they be likewise identical in respect of quality; finally if, in all relative things, there be a habituation which is independent of the subjects in which it is found; and if we limit ourselves to noticing its existence (without creating it); if the same circumstances obtain in the relation of knowledge to what can be known, a relation which evidently constitutes a real habituation; if it be so, there is nothing left to do but to ask whether this habituation (named a relation) be something real. We shall have to grant, however, that this habituation subsists in certain subjects as long as these subjects remain such as they were, and even if they were separate; while, in other subjects, this habituation is born only when they are brought together. We shall also have to grant that, in the very subjects that remain, there are some in which this habituation is annihilated or altered (such as, for example, the left direction, or proximity). This has led people to believe that in all these relations there is nothing real. This point having been granted, we shall have to seek what common element there is in all these relations, and to examine whether what is common to them all constitutes a kind, or an accident; and last, we shall have to consider how far that which we have discovered corresponds to reality.


We should call relative not what is said absolutely of another thing, such as, for instance, the habits of the soul and the body; nor what belongs to such a thing, nor what is in such a thing (as for instance the soul is said to be the soul of such an individual, or to be in such a subject), but what wholly derives its existence from this habit (called relation). By “hypostatic existence” I here mean not the existence which is proper to subjects, but the existence which is called relative; as, for instance, the double causes the (correlative) existence of the half; while it does not cause the existence of the two foot object, nor of two in general, nor the one foot object, nor one in general. The manner of existence of these objects consists in that this one is two, and that one one. As a result of this, when these objects exist, the first is called double, and is such in reality; and the second is half. These two objects have therefore simultaneously and spontaneously effected that the one was double, and the other half. They have been correlatively begotten. Their only existence lies in their correlation, so that the existence of the double lies in its surpassing the half, and the half derives its existence from its being surpassed by the double. Consequently these two objects are not, the one anterior, and the other posterior, but simultaneous. We might also examine whether or not other things do not also possess this simultaneity of existence, as happens with father and son, and other similar cases. The son continues to exist, indeed, even after the death of the father; brother also survives brother, since we often say that some one person resembles some other deceased person.


8. The above digression gives us the opportunity of investigating why there should be a difference between these relations, and those of which we spoke above. However, we should be glad to have the Aristotelians first state what community of existence obtains in this correlation. It would be impossible to claim that this community was anything corporeal. If then it be corporeal, it must exist either within the very subjects, or without them. If such a habituation be identical among all, it is a synonym. If it be a habituation which differs according to the subjects in which it exists, it is a homonym; for the mere name of “habituation” (in different things) does not always correspond to the existence of any genuine similarity. Should we then divide the habituations into two classes, recognizing that certain objects have an inert and inactive habituation, implying simultaneity of existence, and that other objects have a habituation always implying “potentiality” and “actualization,” so that before “actualizing” the “potentiality” be already ready to exert itself, and to pass from “potentiality” to “actualization” in the approximation of relative conditions? Must we assert that in general certain things actualize, while others limit themselves to existing? Must we also assert that that which limits itself to existence only gives its correlative a name, while that which actualizes gives it existence? Of this latter kind of things are the father and son, the “active” and “passive,” for such things exert a kind of life and action. Must we then divide habituation in several kinds, not as possessing something similar and common in the differences, but as having a nature different in each member of the division, and thus constituting a “homonym” (or, mere verbal label)? In this case, we would apply to the active habituation the names of “doing” and “suffering,” because both imply an identical action. Further, we will have to posit another “habituation” which, without itself actualizing, implies something which acts in two relative terms. For example, there is equality; which equates two objects; for it is equality which renders things equal, just as identity makes them identical; just as the names “great” and “small” are derived one from the presence of greatness, and the other from that of smallness. But if we should consider greatness and smallness in the individuals which participate therein, it must be acknowledged that such individual is greater by the act of greatness which manifests in him, and that another is smaller because of the inherent act of littleness.


9. It must therefore be granted that in the things of which we first spoke, such as knowing and doing (active being), there is an actualization, an habituation, and an actualizing reason; while in the other things there is a participation in form and reason. For indeed, if the bodies were the only essences, the relative habituations would bear no reality. If, on the contrary, we assign the first rank in existence to incorporeal things, and to the reasons, and if we define the habituations as reasons that participate in the forms, we should say that what is double has the double for its cause, and what is half, has the half as its cause; and that other things are what they are named because of the presence of the same, or of the contrary form. Now either two things simultaneously receive one the double, and the other the half, and one greatness, and the other smallness; or contraries such as resemblance and dissimilarity are to be found in each thing, as well as identity and difference; and everything finds itself simultaneously similar and dissimilar, identical and different. It might be objected that if one object were ugly, and another uglier still, they are such because they participate in a form. Not so; for if these two objects be equally ugly, they are equal in the absence of the form. If they be unequally ugly, the least ugly is such because it participates in a form which does not sufficiently subdue matter, and the uglier is such because it participates in a form which does so still less. They could, besides, be judged from the standpoint of deprivation, comparing them to each other as if they contained some form. The sensation is a form that results from two things (of that which feels, and that which is felt); so also with knowledge. In respect to the thing possessed, possession is an act which contains, which has a kind of efficacy. As to mensuration, which is an actualization of measure, in respect of the measured object, it consists in a reason.


If then, considering the constitution of the relative relations as a generic form, it be admitted that it constitutes an unity, it forms a classification; consequently it constitutes an existence and a form in all things. But if the reasons (or, relations) be opposed to each other, if the above-mentioned differences obtain among them, they do not constitute a class, and everything must be reduced to a resemblance, or category. Now, even if we admit that the things of which we have spoken can be reduced to a unity, it does not follow that all the things gathered under the same category by the Aristotelians, could be reduced to a single sort. Indeed, they lump together into the same classification, both objects and mere statements of their absence, as well as the objects which derive their appellation from them; as, for instance, doubleness itself, and the double object. Now how is it possible to reduce to the same classification both a thing and the mere lack of it, as, for instance, doubleness and the non-double, the relative and the non-relative? This is as absurd as it would be to gather into the same classification the living “being,” and the non-living “being.” Worse yet, how could one assort together duplication and the double object, whiteness and the white object? Such things could not possibly be identical.


10. We are now to consider quality, on account of which a being is said to be “such.” What can be the nature of this quality that it exerts the power of deciding of the phenomena of objects? Is there a same, single quality which is something common to all qualities, and which, by its differences, forms classifications? Or are the qualities so different that they could not constitute one and the same classification? What is there in common between capacity and disposition (that is, the physical power), the affective quality, the figure, and the exterior form?


What shall be said of thickness and thinness, of fatness and leanness? If the element common to these conceptions be a power belonging to the capacities, dispositions, and physical powers, which gives to each object the power it possesses, the statements of the absence of power will no longer be classified along with (the powers). Besides, in what sense can we call the figure and form of each thing a “power?” Further, essence would have been deprived of all powers that were essential, retaining only those it might have received. Then, quality would comprehend all actualizations of the beings, which, properly, are actualizations only so far as they act spontaneously; and also all actualizations of these properties, but only so far as they really exist. But quality consists in (unessential) powers (such as habituations and dispositions) classified below beings. For instance, boxing ability does not belong among necessary human qualifications, such as rational functions. The latter would not be called a quality (as we would speak of boxing ability); and reasoning would be considered a quality only figuratively.


A quality is therefore a power which adds (essential) characteristics to already existing beings. These characteristics which differentiate beings can therefore be called qualities only figuratively. Qualities are, rather, actualizations and reasons, or parts of reasons, which proclaim the “whatness,” though the latter seem to qualify being. As to the qualities which really deserve this name, which “qualify” things, which we generally call “potentialities,” they are the reasons and shapes, either of the soul or the body, such as beauty or ugliness.


How can all qualities be potentialities? It is easy to see that beauty and health are qualities. But how could ugliness and sickness, weakness and general impotence, be qualities? Is it because they qualify certain things? But what hinders the qualified things from being called such by mere nomenclature, as homonyms, and not because of a single (all-sufficient) reason? Besides, what would hinder them from being considered not only according to one of the four modes, but even after each one of the four, or at least after any two of them? First, the quality does not consist in “acting” and “experiencing”; so that it is only by placing oneself at different viewpoints that one could call what “acts” and “experiences” a quality, in the same sense as health and sickness, disposition and habitude, force and weakness. Thus power is no longer the common element in these qualities, and we shall have to seek something else possessing this characteristic, and the qualities will no longer all be reasons. How indeed could a sickness, become a habituation, or be a reason?


Shall the affections which consist in the forms and powers, and their contraries, the privations, be called qualities? If so, one kind will no longer exist; and we shall have to reduce these things to a unity, or category; that is why knowledge is called a form and a power, and ignorance a privation and impotence. Must we also consider impotence and sickness a form, because sickness and vice can and do accomplish many things badly? Not so, for in this case he who missed his aim would be exerting a power. Each one of these things exerts its characteristic activity in not inclining towards the good; for it could not do what was not in its power. Beauty certainly does have some power; is it so also with triangularity? In general, quality should not be made to consist in power, but rather in the disposition, and to consider it as a kind of form of character. Thus the common element in all qualities is found to be this form, this classification, which no doubt is inherent in being, but which certainly is derivative from it.


What part do the powers (or, potentialities) play here? The man who is naturally capable of boxing owes it to a certain disposition. It is so also with somebody who is unskillful in something. In general, quality consists in a non-essential characteristic; what seems to contribute to the being, or to add to it, as color, whiteness, and color in general, contributes to the beings as far as it constitutes something distinct therefrom, and is its actualization; but it occupies a rank inferior to being; and though derived therefrom, it adds itself thereto as something foreign, as an image and adumbration.


If quality consist in a form, in a character and a reason, how could one thus explain impotence and ugliness? We shall have to do so by imperfect reasons, as is generally recognized in the case of ugliness. But how can a “reason” be said to explain sickness? It contains the reason of health, but somewhat altered. Besides, it is not necessary to reduce everything to a reason; it is sufficient to recognize, as common characteristic, a certain disposition foreign to being, such that what is added to being be a quality of the subject. Triangularity is a quality of the subject in which it is located, not by virtue of its triangularity, but of its location in this subject, and of enduing it with its form. Humanity has also given to man his shape, or rather, his being.


11. If this be so, why should we recognize several kinds of qualities? Why should we distinguish capacity and disposition? Whether quality be durable or not, it is always the same; for any kind of a disposition is sufficient to constitute a quality; permanence, however, is only an accident, unless it should be held that simple dispositions are imperfect forms, and that capacities are perfect forms. But if these forms be imperfect, they are not qualities; if they be already qualities, permanence is but an accident.


How can physical powers form a secondary kind of qualities? If they be qualities only so far as they are powers, this definition would not suit all qualities, as has been said above. If boxing ability be a quality as far as it is a disposition, it is useless to attribute to it a power, since power is implied in habituation. Further, how should we distinguish the natural boxing ability from that which is scientifically acquired? If both be qualities, they do not imply any difference so far as one is natural, and the other acquired; that is merely an accident, since the capacity of boxing is the same form in both cases.


What does it matter that certain qualities are derived from an affection, and that others are not derived therefrom? The origin of qualities contributes nothing to their distinction or difference. If certain qualities be derived from an affection, and if others do not derive therefrom, how could they be classified as one kind? If it be said that some imply “experiencing” while others imply “action,” they can both be called qualities merely by similarity of appellation (homonymy).


What could be said of the shape of every thing? If we speak of the shape as far as something has a specific form, that has no regard to quality; if it be spoken of in respect to beauty or ugliness, together with the form of the subject, we there have a reason.


As to rough, united, rare and dense these could not be called qualities; for they do not consist only in a relative separation or reapproximation of the parts of a body, and do not proceed everywhere from the inequality or equality of position; if they did, they might be regarded as qualities. Lightness and weight, also, could be correctly classified, if carefully studied. In any case, lightness is only a verbal similarity (a “homonym”) unless it be understood to mean diminution of weight. In this same class might also be found leanness and slimness, which form a class different from the four preceding ideas.


12. What other scheme of analysis of quality could we find, if the above were declared unsatisfactory? Must we distinguish first the qualities of the soul from those of the body, and then analyze the latter according to the senses, relating them to sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch?

To begin with, how can the qualities of the soul be divided? Will they be related to the faculty of desire, to anger, or reason? Will they be divided according to their suitable operations, or according to their useful or harmful character? In this case, would we distinguish several ways of being useful or harmful? Should we then likewise divide the properties of the bodies according to the difference of their effects, or according to their useful or harmless character, since this character is a property of quality? Surely; to be useful or harmful seems to be the property of both the quality, and the thing qualified. Otherwise, we should have to seek some other classification.


How can the thing qualified by a quality refer to the quality? This must be studied, because the thing qualified and the quality do not belong to a common kind. If the man capable of boxing be related to the quality, why should not the same quality obtain between the active man and activity? If then the active man be something qualified, “activity” and “passivity” should not be referred to relation. It would seem preferable to relate the active man to the quality if he be active by virtue of a power, for a power is a quality; but if the power be essential, in so far as it is a power, it is not something relative, nor even something qualified. We should not consider that activity corresponds to increase; for the increase, so far as it increases, stands in relation only to the less; while activity is such by itself. To the objection that activity, so far as it is such, is something qualified, it might be answered that, at the same time, as far as it can act on something else, and that it is thus called active, it is something relative. In this case the man capable of boxing and the art of boxing itself must be in relation. For the art of boxing implies a relation; all the knowledge it imparts is relative to something else. As to the other arts, or at least, as to the greater number of other arts, it may, after examination, be said that they are qualities, so far as they give a disposition to the soul; as far as they act, they are active, and, from this standpoint, they refer to something else, and are relative; and besides, they are relative in the sense that they are habituations.


Will we therefore have to admit that activity, which is activity only because it is a quality, is something substantially different from quality? In animated beings, especially in those capable of choice because they incline towards this or that thing, activity has a really substantial nature. What is the nature of the action exercised by the inanimate powers that we call qualities? Is it participation in their qualities by whatever approaches them? Further, if the power which acts on something else simultaneously experiences (or “suffers”), how can it still remain active? For the greater thing, which by itself is three feet in size, is great or small only by the relation established between it, and something else (smaller). It might indeed be objected that the greater thing and the smaller thing become such only by participation in greatness or smallness. Likewise, what is both “active” and “passive” becomes such in participating in “activity” and “passivity.”


Can the qualities seen in the sense-world, and those that exist in the intelligible world, be classified together in one kind? This question demands an answer from those who claim that there are also qualities in the intelligible world. Should it also be asked of those who do not admit of the existence on high of kinds, but who limit themselves to attributing some habit to Intelligence? It is evident that Wisdom exists in Intelligence; if this Wisdom be homonymous (similar in name only) with the wisdom which we know here below, it is not reckoned among sense-things; if, on the contrary it be synonymous (similar in nature also) with the wisdom which we know here below, quality would be found in intelligible entities, as well as in sense-things (which is false); unless indeed it be recognized that all intelligible things are essences, and that thought belongs among them.

Besides, this question applies also to the other categories. In respect to each of them it might be asked whether the sensible and the intelligible form two different kinds, or belong to a single classification.

4. WHEN.

13. As to the category of time, “when,” the following thoughts are suggested.


If to-morrow, to-day, and yesterday, as well as other similar divisions of time, be parts of time, why should they not be classed in the same classification as time itself, along with the ideas “it has been,” “it is,” and “it will be?” As they are kinds of time, it seems proper that they should be classified along with time itself. Now time is part of quantity. What then is the use of another category? If the Aristotelians say that not only “it has been” and “it will be” are time-concepts, but “yesterday” and “formerly,” which are varieties of “there has been” are also time-concepts (for these terms are subordinated to “there has been”), that it is not only “now” that is time, but that “when” is such also, they will be forced to answer as follows: First, if “when” be time, time exists; then, as “yesterday” is past time, it will be something composite, if the past be something else than time; we will have to erect two categories, not merely a simple category. For instance, they say both that “when” is in time, without being time, and say that “when” is that which is in time. An example of this would be to say that Socrates existed “formerly,” whereby Socrates would really be outside of (present) time. Therefore they are no longer expressing something single. But what is meant by Socrates “being in time,” and that some fact “is in time?” Does it mean that they are “part of time?” If, in saying “a part of time,” and “so far as it is a part of time,” the Aristotelians believe that they are not speaking of time absolutely, but only of a past part of time, they are really expressing several things. For this “part,” so far as it is a part, is by them referred to something; and for them the past will be some thing added (to Time), or it will become identified with “there has been,” which is a kind of time. But if they say that there is a difference, because “there has been” is indeterminate, while “formerly” and “yesterday” are determinate, we shall be deciding something about “there has been;” then “yesterday” will be the determination of “there has been,” so that “yesterday” will be determined time. Now, that is a quantity of time; so that if time be a quantity, each one of these two things will be a determined quantity. But, if, when they say “yesterday” they mean thereby that such an event has happened in a determined past time, they are still expressing several things. Therefore, if some new category is to be introduced whenever one thing acts in another, as here happened of what occurred in time, we might have to introduce many additional categories, for in a different thing the action is different. This will, besides, become clearer in what is to follow on the category of place.



14. The Aristotelians (while treating of this category) say, Where? For instance, “to the Lyceum,” or, “to the Academy.” The Academy and the Lyceum are then places and parts of places, as the “top,” the “bottom,” and “here” are parts or classes of place. The only difference consists in a greater determination. If then the top, the bottom, and the middle be places, as, for instance, “Delphi is the middle of the earth,” and, “the Lyceum and other countries are near the middle of the earth,” what else but place do we have to seek, since we have just said that each of these things denotes a place? If, when we say “where?” we assert that one thing is in another place, we are not expressing something single and simple. Besides, each time that we affirm that such a man is there, we are creating a double relation, namely, the relation of the man who is there, with the place where he is, and the relation of the containing place and the contained man. Why therefore should we not reduce this to the class of relations, since the relation of both terms with each other produces something? Besides, what is the difference between “here” and “at Athens?” The Aristotelians grant that “here” indicates the place; consequently, the same is true of “in Athens.” If, “in Athens” be equivalent to “being in Athens,” this latter expression contains two categories, that of place, and that of being. Now, this should not be the case; for as one should not say “Quality exists,” but only, “quality.” Besides, if being in place and being in time presuppose categories other than place and time, why would “being in a vase” not also constitute a separate category? Why would it not be so with “being in matter,” with “being in the subject,” and in general of a part “being in the whole,” or the “whole in the parts,” the “genus in the species,” and the “species in the genus?” In this manner we would have a far greater number of categories.


The subject of action gives rise to the following considerations.


15. The Aristotelians hold that number and quantity, and other things referring to being should be subordinated to being; thus they classify quantity as in a genus different from being. Quality also refers to being, it also is erected into a separate genus. Consequently, as action also refers to being, it is also considered a separate genus. Must then “acting,” or rather “action,” from which “acting” is derived, be considered a separate genus, as we consider that quality, from which qualification is derived, is a separate genus? (As to these derivations), it might be asked whether there were no distinction between “action,” “to act,” and “active,” or between “to act,” and “action?” “To act” expresses the idea of “active,” while “action” does not express it. “To act” means “to be in some action;” or rather, “in actualization.” Consequently, “actualization” expresses a category rather than “action;” since actualization is predicated of being, like quality, as was said above; and actualization, like movement, also relates to being; but movement necessarily constitutes a class of essence. How indeed could we admit that quantity, quality and relation each form a genus, in respect to being, and yet refuse to movement, which equally refers to being, the privilege of also forming a genus of being?


16. It may be objected that movement is an imperfect actualization. In that case actualization should be given the first rank; and under that genus would follow the species of movement, with the quality of imperfection, by saying that movement is an actualization, and adding (the specific difference) that it is imperfect. To say that movement is an imperfect actualization does not deprive it of being an actualization, but implies that though it be actualization, there is in it succession, not to arrive at being actualization, (which it is already), but to accomplish something from which it is yet entirely distinct. Then (when that goal is reached), it is not the movement that becomes perfect, but the thing which was the goal. For instance, walking is walking from the very first step; but if there be a mile to go, and the mile be not yet finished, what is lacking of the mile is not lacking to the walking or to movement (taken absolutely), but to that particular walk. For the walk was walking and movement from the very first step; consequently, he who is moving has already moved, and he who cuts has already cut. Just as actualization, movement has no need of time; it needs time only to become such an action. If then actualization be outside of time, movement, taken absolutely, must also be outside of time. The objection that movement is in time because it implies continuity (proves too much; for in that case) intuition itself, if prolonged, would also imply continuity, and therefore would be in time. Reasoning by induction, it may be seen, 1, that one can always distinguish parts in any kind of movement; 2, that it would be impossible to determine when and since when the movement began, or to assign the definite point of departure; 3, that it is always possible to divide movement by following it up to its origin, so that in this manner movement that has just begun would find itself to have begun since infinite time, and, 4, that movement would be infinite in regard to its beginning. The fact is that the Aristotelians distinguish movement from actualization; they affirm that actualization is outside of time, but that time is necessary to movement; not indeed to some particular movement, but to movement in itself, because, according to their views, it is a quantity. Nevertheless, they themselves acknowledge that movement is a quantity only by accident, as, for instance, when it is a daily movement, or when it has some particular duration. Just as actualization is outside of time, nothing hinders movement from having begun outside of time, and time from being connected with movement only because the movement has a certain duration. Indeed, it is generally granted that changes occur outside of time, for it is usual to say, The changes occur either suddenly or successively. Now if change can occur outside of time, why should it not be so also with movement? We here speak of change, and not of “having changed;” for change does not necessarily have to be accomplished (while “having changed” signifies an accomplished fact, and consequently implies the notion of time).


17. It may be objected that actualization and movement do not, by themselves, form a genus, but belong to the genus of relation, because actualization exists through the power of something active, and movement exists by the power of some motor, as such. We might answer that relative conceptions are produced by habituation (the manner of being) even of things, and not only through the relation established between them by the mind. As the habituation is a mode of “hypostatic” existence, although it be the “thing of something else,” or although it refer to something else, it nevertheless possesses its nature before being a relation. Now this actualization, this movement, this habituation, which is the “thing of some other thing” nevertheless possesses the property of existing and of being conceived by itself before being a relation; otherwise, all things would be relative conceptions; for there is nothing, not excluding the soul herself, which does not bear some relation to something else. Moreover, why are “action” and “acting” not relatives? For they necessarily are either a movement or an actualization. If the Aristotelians consider “action” a relative, and make a genus of “acting,” why then do they not also place “movement” among the relatives, and make a genus of “moving?” They might, indeed, have subsumed under the genus “movement” the two species “action” and “reaction” (or, “suffering”); but they have no right to make two distinct genera of “acting” and “reacting,” as they generally do.


18. We must further examine if the Aristotelians have the right to say that acting contains both actualizations and movements, the actualizations producing themselves instantaneously, and the movements successively; as, for instance, dividing implies time. Or will they say that all actualizations are movements, or, at least, are accompanied by movements? Will they trace all actions to “experiencing” (or, reactions), or will they acknowledge absolute actions, like walking or speaking? Or will they distinguish all actions that relate to “experiencing” as movements, and all absolute actions as actualizations? Or will they place actions of both kinds among movements, and among actualizations? They would no doubt classify walking, which is an absolute thing, as movement; and thinking, which is a verb without passive voice, as an actualization. Otherwise the Aristotelians will be obliged to insist that there is nothing active in walking or thinking. But if walking and thinking do not belong to the category of acting, it will be necessary to explain to what they do belong. Will it be said that thinking relates to the thinkable (the intelligible), as intellection does, because sensation relates to the sense-object? If sensation be related to the sense-object, why do they not equally relate “sensing” (feeling) to the sense-object? Sensation, relating to something else, has a relation with that thing; but, besides that relation, it has the property of being an “action” or an “experience” (or, reaction). If therefore reaction (or, suffering), besides belonging to something else, or depending on something else, has the property of itself being something, like actualization, then walking, besides belonging to something else (to the feet), and depending on something else (on the motive power), nevertheless by itself possesses the property of being movement. In this case, it will have to be recognized that intellection, besides being a relation, by itself also is a movement or an actualization.


19. Let us now examine if certain actualizations seem to be imperfect when they are not joined to time, thus identifying themselves with movements, as life identifies itself with living. For (according to the Aristotelians) the life of each (being) is accomplished in a perfect time, and happiness is an actualization; not an individual one, indeed, but a sort of movement. Consequently we will have to call life and happiness movements, and movement will have to be made a genus, though recognizing that movement forms a genus very different from quantity and quality; and, like them, relates to being. This genus could be divided into two species, movements of body and movements of soul, or movements spontaneous and communicated; or again, movements proceeding from the beings themselves, or movements proceeding from others. In this case, the movements proceeding from the beings themselves are actions, whether they communicate to others, or remain absolute in themselves (and not communicating to others, like speaking and walking); and the movements proceeding from others are “reactions” though the communicated movements seem to be identical with the movements proceeding from others. For example, division is one and the same thing, whether it be considered within him who divides, or in that which is divided; nevertheless dividing is something different from being divided. Or again, division is not one and the same thing according as it proceeds from him who divides, or as it is received by him who is divided; to divide means to cause in the divided thing another movement, which is the result of the dividing action or movement. Perhaps, indeed, the difference does not lie in the very fact of being divided, but in the movement which results from the division, as for instance, in suffering; for this is what constitutes reaction (or “passion”).

What are we to say if there be no suffering? We might answer that the actualization of him who acts is simply present in such a thing (without correlative reaction). There are thus two manners of acting; to act within oneself, and to act outside of oneself. No more will it then be said that the first mode is proper acting, and the second reacting, but that there are two ways of acting outside of oneself, acting and reacting. For instance, writing is an operation in which one acts on something else without a correlative reaction, because in writing one produces nothing but the very actualization of writing, and not something else, like experiencing; for the quality of writing that has been produced is nothing that reacts (or, experiences). As to walking, though the earth be stepped on by the feet, it does not react (or, experience) as a consequence. On the contrary, if it be the body of an animal that is trod under feet, it may be conceived that there is reaction, because one then thinks of the suffering endured by the animal thus trod on, and not of the walking; otherwise, this reaction would have been conceived before (the notion of this reaction would have been implied in the very notion of walking).


Thus, in everything, acting forms but a single genus along with reacting, which (by the Aristotelians) is considered its opposite. Reacting is what follows acting, without being its contrary; to be burnt, for instance, follows burning, but is not its contrary. In this case, the reaction is what results in the object itself from the fact of burning, or of being burnt, which form but one (process), whether the result be suffering, or something else, as, for instance, depreciation. It might be objected, When one (being) makes another suffer, is it not true that the one acts, and the other reacts? Here from a single actualization result two facts, an action, and a reaction. Besides, it is not necessary to include in the action the will to cause suffering; it has only produced something else as a result of which it causes suffering, something which occurring in the being that suffers, and being one single (occurrence), that causes suffering. What then is this one identical thing which is anterior to the suffering? When there is no suffering, is there not nevertheless a reaction in him in whom is the modification? For instance, in him who hears? No: to hear is not to react, and sensation is not really a reaction; but to suffer is to experience a reaction, and the reaction is not the contrary of the action (in the sense we have explained).


20. Let it be granted, then, that reaction is not the contrary of action. Nevertheless, as it differs therefrom, it could not share the same genus. If both reaction and action be movements, they share the same genus, that of alteration, which is a movement, as respects quality. When alteration proceeds from the being endowed with quality, is there any action, though this being remain impassible? Yes, for though impassible, it is active. It may be asked, is this being no longer active when it acts on some other object, as, for instance, by striking it, and then reacts? The answer is, that it would be active and passive simultaneously. If it be active, when it reacts—when, for instance, it rubs—why is it considered active rather than passive? Because it reacts in being rubbed while it rubs. Could we say that, because it is moved while moving, there were in it two movements? But how could there be two movements in it? Shall we assert that there is but one? In this case, how could the same movement be action and reaction simultaneously? Doubtless, it will be considered action, in so far as it proceeds from the mover; and reaction, inasmuch as it passes from the mover into the moved; and this, without ceasing to be one and the same thing. Would you say that reaction was a movement of a kind different from action? How then would the altering movement in a certain manner modify what reacts without an equal reaction in what is acting? But how (can we conceive) of reaction in that which acts on another object? Is the mere presence of the movement in the moved sufficient to constitute reaction? But if, on one hand, the (“seminal) reason” of the swan whitens, and on the other hand the swan that is being born becomes white, shall we say that the swan is passive in becoming what it is his nature to be? If he becomes white even after his birth, is he still passive? If one thing increase, and another thing be increased, will we admit that the thing that increases reacts? Will we rather attribute reaction to the thing qualified? If one thing be embellished, and another thing embellishes it, could we say that the embellished thing reacts? If however, the embellishing thing decreases, and, like tin, tarnishes, or on the contrary, like copper, takes on polish; shall we say that the tin acts, and the copper reacts (that is, “suffers”)? Besides, it would be impossible to say that that which learns is passive (suffering)? Would this be because the action of him who acts passes into him? But how could there be any reaction (“suffering”) since there is nothing there but an act? This action, no doubt, is not a reaction (“suffering”); but he who receives it is passive, because he participates in passivity. Indeed, from the fact that the learner does not himself act, it does not necessarily result that he is passive; for learning is not being struck, but grasping and discerning, as takes place with the process of vision.


21. How may we define the fact of “reaction”? We do not approve of the definition that it is the passing of the actualization from one being into another, if its receiver appropriate it. Shall we say that a (being) reacts when there is no actualization, but only an effective experience? But is it not possible that the being that reacts becomes better; while, on the contrary, the one who acts, loses? A (being) may also act in an evil manner, and exercise on another a harmful influence; and the actualization may be shameful, and the affective experience be honorable. What distinction shall we then establish (between action and reaction)? Shall we say that an action is to cause (an actualization) to pass from self into others, and that reaction is to receive in oneself (an action) from someone else? But then what about the (actualizations) produced in oneself which do not pass into others, such as thought and opinion? One can even excite oneself by a reflection or opinion of emotive value, without this emotion having been aroused by anybody else. We shall therefore define an action as a spontaneous movement, whether this movement remain in the being who produces it, or whether it pass into somebody else.

What then are the faculty of desire, and desire in general? If desire be excited by the desired thing (it is an experience, or passion), even if we should not take into consideration the cause of its excitement, and even if we only noticed that it arose later than the object; for this desire does not differ from an impression or an impulsion.

Shall we then, among desires, distinguish actions when they proceed from intelligence, and experiences when they invoke and draw (on the soul), so that the being be less passive by what it receives from others, than by what it receives from itself? Doubtless a being can act upon itself. (We can then define) an affective experience, and a being’s experience, as follows. They consist of undergoing, without any contribution from oneself, a modification which does not contribute to “being,” and which, on the contrary, alters, or at least, does not improve.

To this (definition) it may be objected that if warming oneself consist in receiving such heat as partially contributes to the subject’s being, and partly does not do so, then we have here one and the same thing which both is, and is not an experience. To this it may be answered that there are two ways of warming oneself. Besides, even when the heating contributes to the being, it does so only in the degree that some other object experiences. For instance, the metal will have to be heated, and undergo an experience, for the production of the being called statue, although this statue itself be heated only incidentally. If then the metal become more beautiful by the effect of that which heats it, or by the effect of the heating itself, it undergoes an experience; for there are two manners of (undergoing an experience, or) suffering: the one consists in becoming worse, and the other in becoming better—or at least, in not altering.


22. The cause that a being undergoes an experience is that it contains the kind of movement called alteration, whichever way it modify him; on the contrary, action means to have in oneself a definite movement, derived from oneself, or a movement which has its goal in some other being, and its origin in self. In both cases there is movement; but with this distinction: that action, so far as it is action, is impassible; while an experience consists in the experiencer’s reception of a disposition new to him, without the reception of anything that contributes towards his being; so as to avoid (the case of the statue, above, where) the experience happened to one being (the metal), while it was another being that was produced (the statue). Consequently, the same thing will in one state be an action, and in other, an experience. Thus the same movement will in one being be an action, because it is considered from a certain viewpoint; and from another it will be an experience, because it is disposed some other way. Action and experience seem therefore to be relative, if one consider the action in its relation with experience, since the same thing is action in the one, and experience in the other. Also, because neither of these two can be considered in itself, but only in him who acts, or experiences, when the one moves, and the other is moved. Each of these terms therefore implies two categories; one gives the movement, the other receives it; consequently we have transmission and reception, which result in relation. If he who received the movement possesses it as he possesses color, why could it not also be said that he possessed movement? Absolute movements, such as walking (and thinking) possess steps and thought.


Let us now consider whether prediction be an action, and whether adapting one’s course to the prediction of somebody else would constitute experiencing; for prediction comes from one being and applies to another. However, although prediction apply to some other, we would not consider prediction an action, nor being directed by the prediction of somebody else an experience. In general, not even thought is an action; thought, indeed, does not pass in to the object thought, but functions within itself; it is not at all an action. Actualizations are not at all actions, and not all of them perform actions; indeed, they may do so only accidentally. It might be objected that a man who was walking would certainly impress on the ground the trace of his steps, and would thereby perform an action. Such an action would be the consequence of something else, or the man would act accidentally; and it would be accidental, because the man was not thinking of it. It is in this way that even inanimate things perform some action, that fire heats, and medicine cures. But enough of this.


23. Let us now examine the category of “having” (possession).


If the verb “to have” be used in several senses, why might we not apply to this category all the various uses of the word; for instance, quantity, because quantity has size; quality, because it has color; the father, because he has a son; the son, because he has a father; and, in general, all kinds of possession? Will it be said that the other things that can be possessed have already been classified under the categories considered above, and that the category of “having” comprises only arms, foot-wear, and clothing? This might be answered by the question why “having” these objects should constitute a category, and why burning them, cutting them, burying them, or throwing them away, would not equally constitute one or more categories? If the answer be that all these things form one category because they refer to the body, this would then also make another category if we placed a garment over a litter; or likewise if someone were covered with clothing. If another answer be that the category of “having” consists in the “manner of containing,” and in possession, then all things which are possessed will have to be reduced to this category, which will thus contain all possession, whatever it be, since the nature of the possessed object could not here prevail to form some distinction. On the other hand, if the category of “having” must exclude having a quantity or quality, because the latter ideas already form their own categories; nor having parts, because of the category of being (which includes parts); why should this category contain having arms, when arms, as well as foot-wear, belong to the category of being? In any case, how could the statement, “He has arms” be considered something simple, which could be reduced to any one category? That statement expresses the same idea as “He is armed.” Can this expression (“he has arms”) refer only to a man, or even to his statue? The living man possesses very differently from possession by a statue, and the verb “to have” is used only as a verbal label (a homonym), just as the verb “to stand up” would mean something very different according as it referred to a man or a statue. Besides, is it reasonable to make a generic category of some merely incidental characteristic?


24. As to the category of situation, it contains also such incidental characteristics as being raised, or seated. Here the Aristotelians do not make a category of situation, by itself, but of the kind of situation, as when it is said, “He is placed in such a posture”—a phrase in which “to be placed” and “in such a posture” express two entirely different ideas—or again, “he is in such a place.” Now, as posture and location have already been studied, what is the use in here combining two categories into one? If, on the other hand, the expression “he is seated” indicate an action or an experience, must it not then be reduced to the category of action or experience? It would moreover amount to the same thing to say “he is raised,” as to say, “he is situated above;” just as we say he is situated in the middle, or, he is situated below. Besides, being seated has already been treated of under the category of relation; why should, “being raised” not also be a relative entity, since the category of relation includes the thing to the left, and the thing to the right, as well as the left and right hand themselves?

Enough of these reflections (about Aristotelian categories).


25. Let us now pass to the (Stoic) philosophers who, recognizing four categories only, divide everything into “substances,” “qualities,” “modes,” and “relations;” and who, attributing to all (beings) something common, thus embrace them into a single genus.


This doctrine raises a great number of objections, especially in that it attributes to all beings something in common, and thus embraces them in a single class. Indeed, this “something” of which they speak is quite incomprehensible; as also is how it could adapt itself equally to bodies and to incorporeal beings, between which they do not allow for sufficient distinction to establish a distinction in this “something.” Besides, this something either is, or is not an essence; if it be an essence, it must be a form; if it be not an essence, there result a thousand absurdities, among which would be that essence is not an essence. Let us therefore leave this point, and devote ourselves to the division into four categories.


The Stoics assign the first rank to substances, and place matter before the other substances. From this it results that the Stoics assign to the same rank their first Principle, and with it the things which are inferior thereto. First, they reduce to a single class both anterior and posterior things, though it be impossible to combine them in this manner. In fact, every time that things differ from each other in that some are anterior, and others posterior, those which are posterior owe their essence to those which are anterior. On the contrary, when things are comprised within one and the same class, all equally owe their essence to this class, since a class is “what is affirmed of kinds of things in regard to essence.” The Stoics themselves recognize this by saying that all things derive their essence from matter.

Besides, when they count but a single substance, they do not enumerate the beings themselves, but they seek their principles. Now there is a great difference between treating of principles and treating of beings. If the Stoics recognize no essence other than matter, and think that other things are modifications of matter, they are wrong in reducing essence and other things to a common class; they should rather say that essence is being, and that other things are modifications, and then distinguish between these modifications. Further, it is absurd to assert that (among essences), some should be substances, and others should be other things (such as qualities, modes and relations); for the Stoics recognize but a single substance, which does not contain any difference, unless by division as of mass into parts; besides, they should not attribute divisibility to their substance, because they teach that it is continuous. They should therefore say, “substance” (and not “substances”).


26. What is most shocking in the Stoic doctrine, is that they assign the first rank to what is only a potentiality, matter, instead of placing actualization before potentiality. It is impossible for the potential to pass to actualization if the potential occupy the first rank among beings. Indeed, the potential could never improve itself; and it implies the necessary anteriority of actualization; in which case potentiality is no longer a principle. Or, if it be insisted that actualization and potentiality must be simultaneous, both principles will be found depending on chance. Besides, even if actualization be contemporaneous with potentiality, why should not the first rank be assigned to actualization? Why should this (matter) be an essence, rather than those (forms)? Whoever asserts that form is posterior bears the burden of proof; for matter does not beget form, and quality could not arise from what has no quality; nor actualization from what is potential; otherwise, actualization would have existed anteriorly, even in the system of the Stoics. According to them, even God is no longer simple: He is posterior to matter; for He is a body constituted by form and matter. Whence then does He derive His form? If the divinity exist without matter, He is incorporeal, by virtue of His being principle and reason, and the active principle would thus be incorporeal. If, even without having matter, the divinity be composite in essence, by virtue of His body, the Stoics will have to postulate some other kind of matter which may better suit the divinity.


Besides, how could matter be the first Principle, if it be a body? If the body of which the Stoics speak be of another nature, then matter can be called a body only figuratively. If they say that the common property of the body is to have three dimensions, they are speaking of the mathematical body. If on the contrary they join impenetrability to the three dimensions, they are no more talking about something simple. Besides, impenetrability is a quality, or is derived from a quality; but what is the source of impenetrability? Whence comes tri-dimensional extension? Who endued matter with extension? Matter, indeed, is not contained in the idea of tri-dimensional extension any more than the latter is contained in the notion of matter. Consequently, since matter thus participates in size, it is no longer a “simple” matter.


Moreover, whence is derived the unification of matter? Matter is not unity, but it participates in unity. They would have had to realize that the material mass is not anterior to everything, and that the first rank pertains to what is not one mass, to Unity itself. Then they would have to descend from Unity to multiplicity, from what is size-less to actual sizes; since, if size be one, it is not because it is Unity itself, but only because it participates in unity. We must therefore recognize that what possesses primary and absolute existence is anterior to what exists contingently. But how does contingency itself exist? What is its mode of existence? If the Stoics had examined this point, they would have finally hit upon (the absolute Unity) which is not unity merely contingently. By this expression is here meant what is not one by itself, but by others.


27. The Stoics did well, indeed, to assign the principle of everything to the first rank; but they should not have recognized as principle, and accepted as “being” what was shapeless, passive, devoid of life and intelligence, dark, and indefinite. Because of the universe’s beauty, they are forced to introduce within it a divinity; but the latter derives His very essence from matter; He is composite and posterior (to matter); rather, He is no more than “modified matter.” Consequently, if matter be the subject, there must necessarily be outside of it some other principle which, acting upon matter, makes of it the subject of the qualities which He imparts thereto. If this principle resided in matter, and Himself were the subject; if, in other words, He were contemporaneous with matter, He could not reduce matter to the state of a subject. Now it is entirely impossible (for this principle) to constitute a subject concurrently with matter; for in such a case both would have to serve as subject to something higher; and what could it be, since there could be no further principle to make a subject of them, if all things had already been absorbed into this (concurrent) subject? A subject is necessarily subject to something; not to what it has in itself, but to that whose action it undergoes. Now, it undergoes the action of that which itself is not subject by itself; consequently, of that which is outside of itself. This point has evidently been overlooked by the Stoics.


On the other hand, if matter and the active principle need nothing exterior, if the subject that they constitute can itself become all things by assuming different forms, as a dancer, who can assume all possible attitudes, this subject would no longer be a subject, but He will be all things. Just as the dancer is not the subject of the attitudes (for they are his actualizations), likewise the “matter” of the Stoics will no longer be the subject of all things, if all things proceed from matter; or rather, the other things will no longer really exist, they will be nothing but “modified matter,” just as the attitudes are nothing but the “modified dancer.” Now if the other things no longer really exist, matter is no longer a subject; it is no longer the matter of the essences, but is matter exclusively. It will no longer even be matter, because what is matter must be matter of something; but that which refers to something else belongs to the same classification as that thing, just as half belongs to the same classification as the double, and is not the being of the double. But how could non-essence, except by accident, refer to essence? But the absolute Essence and matter itself refer to essence by virtue of being essence. Now if that which is to be is a simple potentiality, it cannot constitute “being,” which consequently matter could not be.


Consequently, the Stoics, who reproach other philosophers (such as Plato) for making up beings out of non-beings, themselves make up a non-being out of a being. Indeed (in the system of the Stoics), the world, such as it is, is not being. It is certainly unreasonable to insist that matter, which is a subject, should nevertheless be “being,” and that bodies should not, any more than matter be “being”; but it is still more unreasonable to insist that the world is “being,” not by itself, but only by one of its parts (namely, matter); that the organism does not owe its being to the soul, but only to matter; and last, that the soul is only a modification of matter, and is something posterior to others. From whom then did matter receive animation? Whence comes the hypostatic existence of the soul? How does, matter receive form? For, since matter becomes the bodies, the soul is something else than matter. If the form came from something else than the soul, quality, on uniting to matter, would produce not the soul, but inanimate bodies. If something fashion matter and create the soul, the created soul would have to be preceded by a “creating soul.”


28. The Stoic theory raises numberless further objections; but we halt here lest we ourselves incur ridicule in combating so evident an absurdity. It suffices if we have demonstrated that these philosophers mistake non-essence for absolute essence; (putting the cart before the horse), they assign the First rank to what should occupy the last. The cause of their error is that they have chosen sensation as guide, and have consulted nothing else in determining both their principles, and consequences. Being persuaded that the bodies are genuine essences, and refusing to believe that they transform themselves into each other, they believed that what subsisted in them (in the midst of their changes) is the real essence, just as one might imagine that place, because it is indestructible, is more essential than (metabolic) bodies. Although in the system of the Stoics place remain unaltered, these philosophers should not have regarded as essence that which subsists in any manner soever; they should, first, have considered what are the characteristics necessarily possessed by essence, the presence of which (characteristics) makes it subsist without undergoing any alteration. Let us indeed suppose that a shadow would continuously subsist by following something which changes continuously; the shadow, however, would not be no more real than the object it follows. The sense-world, taken together with its multiple objects, is more of an essence than the things it contains, merely because it is their totality. Now if this subject, taken in its totality, be non-essence, how could it be a subject? The most surprising thing, however, is that the (Stoics), in all things following the testimony of sensation, should not also have affirmed that essence can be perceived by sensation; for, to matter, they do not attribute impenetrability, because it is a quality (and because, according to them, matter has no quality). If they insist that matter is perceived by intelligence, it could only be an irrational intelligence which would consider itself inferior to matter, and attribute to it, rather than to itself, the privilege of constituting genuine essence. Since in their system intelligence is non-essence, how could any credibility attach to that intelligence when it speaks of things superior to it, and with which it possesses no affinity? But we have said enough of the nature of these subjects, elsewhere.



29. Since the Stoics speak of qualities, they must consider these as distinct from subjects; otherwise, they would not assign them to the second rank. Now, to be anything else than the subjects, qualities must be simple, and consequently, not composite; that is, they must not, in so far as they are qualities, contain any matter. In this case, the qualities must be incorporeal and active; for, according to the Stoics, matter is a passive subject. If, on the contrary, the qualities themselves be passive, the division into subjects and qualities is absurd, because it would classify separately simple and composite things, and then reunite them into one single classification. Further, it is faulty in that it locates one of the species in another (matter in the qualities), as if science were divided into two kinds, of which one would comprise grammar, and the other grammar with something additional.


If the Stoics say that the qualities are “qualified matter,” then their (“seminal) reasons” being not merely united to nature, but (fully) material, will no doubt form a composite; but before forming this composite they themselves will already be composed of matter and forms; they themselves will therefore be neither reasons nor forms.


If the (Stoics) say that the “reasons” are only modified matter, they then admit that qualities are modes, and the (Stoics) should locate the reasons in the fourth category, of relation. If however relation be something different from modality, in what does that difference consist? Is it that modality here possesses greater reality? But if modality, taken in itself, be not a reality, why then make of it a category? Surely it would be impossible to gather in a single category both essence and non-essence. In what then does this modification of matter consist? It must be either essence or non-essence. If it be essence, it is necessarily incorporeal. If it be non-essence, it is nothing but a word, and matter alone exists. In this case, quality is nothing real, and modality still less. As to the fourth category, relation, absolutely no reality whatever will inhere in it. This Stoic system, therefore, contains nothing else but matter.


But on whose authority do we learn this? Surely, not on that of matter itself, unless that, because of its modification, it becomes intelligence; but this (alleged) modification is but a meaningless addition; it must therefore be matter which perceives these things, and expresses them. If we should ask whether matter utter sensible things, we might indeed ask ourselves how matter thinks and fulfills the functions of the soul, although matter lacks both soul and intelligence. If, on the contrary, matter utter something nonsensical, insisting that it is what it is not, and what it could not be, to whom should this silly utterance be ascribed? Surely only to matter, if it could speak. But matter does not speak; and he who speaks thus does so only because he has borrowed much from matter, that he has become its slave, though he have a soul. The fact is that he is ignorant of himself, as well as of the nature of the faculty which can divulge the truth about this subject (intelligence).



30. It is absurd to assign the third rank to modalities, and even assign to them any place whatever; for all modalities refer to matter. It may however be objected to this that there are differences between the modalities; the various modifications that matter undergoes are not the same thing as the modalities; the qualities are doubtless modalities of matter, but the modalities, in the strict sense of the word, refer to qualities. (The answer to this is that) since the qualities are only modalities of matter, the technical modalities mentioned by the (Stoics) themselves reduce to matter, and necessarily relate thereto. In view of the many differences obtaining between them, how otherwise could modalities form a category? How could one reduce to a single classification the length of three feet, and whiteness—since one is a quantity, and the other a quality? How could time and place be reduced thereto? Besides, how would it be possible to consider as modalities such expressions as “yesterday,” “formerly,” “in the Lyceum,” and, “in the Academy”? How could time be explained as a modality? Neither time, nor things which are in time, nor place, nor the things which are in place, could be modalities. How is “to act” a modality, since he who acts is not himself a modality, but rather acts within some modality, or even, acts simply? Nor is he who undergoes an experience any more of a modality; he experiences something rather in a modality, or rather, he undergoes some experience in such a manner. Modality rather suits the (Aristotelian) categories of situation and possession; and as to possession, no man even possesses “in such or such a modality,” but possesses purely and simply.


31. If the Stoics did not, along with the other discussed categories, reduce relation to a common kind, there might be good grounds to examine whether they attributed substantial (or, hypostatic) reality to these manners of “being”; for often, they do not attribute to them any. But what is to be said of their confusing things new and anterior in one same classification? This is evidently an absurdity; for surely one and two must exist before the half or the double.

As to the philosophers (Plato, for instance), who have taught other opinions about essences and their principles, considered as finite or infinite, corporeal or incorporeal, or both simultaneously corporeal or incorporeal, we will examine each of these opinions separately, considering also the historic objections of the ancient (philosophers).

Ennead 6.2. The Categories of Plotinus.

1. After having discussed the doctrine of the ten categories (of Aristotle), and spoken of the (Stoics) who reduce all things to a single genus, and then distribute them in four species, we must still set forth our own opinion on the subject, striving however to conform ourselves to the doctrine of Plato.


If it were our opinion that essence was one, we would not need to study whether there was one single genus for all things, whether all genera could not be reduced to a single one; whether there were principles; whether the genera were at the same time principles; or whether all principles are genera, without saying conversely that all genera are principles; or, if we must distinguish between them, say that some principles are simultaneously genera, or some genera are principles, or, finally, whether all principles be genera without the genera being principles, and conversely. But, since we do not acknowledge that essence is one, the reasons for which were advanced by Plato and other philosophers, we find ourselves forced to treat all these questions, and first to explain why we recognize genera of essences, and what number we decide on.


As we are going to treat of essence or essences, we must before everything else clear up the significance of essence, which we are now considering, and distinguish it from what other people mean by that word, which we would more likely call that which becomes, what is never genuine essence. And besides, it must be clearly understood that in making this distinction, we do not intend to divide a genus in species of the same nature; as Plato tried to do. For it would be ridiculous to subsume under the same genus both essence and non-essence, or Socrates, and the image of Socrates. The kind of divisions here attempted will therefore only consist in separating things essentially different, as, for instance, explaining that apparent essence is not the same as the veritable Essence, by demonstrating that the latter’s nature is entirely different. To clarify this its nature, it will be necessary to add to the idea of essence that of eternity, and thus to demonstrate that the nature of being could never be deceptive. It is of this kind of essence (that is, of the intelligible Essence), that we are going to treat, admitting that it is not single. Later we shall speak of generation, of what becomes, and of the sense-world.


2. Holding as we do that the world-Essence is not one, we must face the question whether the number of beings is determinate, or infinite. To say that world-Essence is not one, however, is to say that it is both one and multiple, a varied unity that embraces a multitude. It is therefore necessary that the One, so conceived, be one so far as it forms a single genus, containing as species the essences by which it is simultaneously one and multiple; or there must be several genera, but that they all be subsumed under the single one; or again, that there be several genera which however be not mutually subsumed, of which each, being independent of the others, may contain what is below it, consisting of less extended genera, or species below which there are no more than individuals; so that all these things may contribute to the constitution of a single nature, together making up the organization of the intelligible world, which we call world-Essence (or “being”).


Under these circumstances, the divisions that we establish are no more only genera, they are simultaneously the very principles of world-Essence; on the one hand they are genera, because they contain less extended genera, beneath which are species, which end in individuals; they are also principles, because world-Essence is composed of multiple elements, and because these elements constitute the totality of Essence. If it were only stated that world-Essence is composed of several elements, and that these elements, by co-operation, constitute the All, without adding that they branch out into lower species, our divisions would indeed be principles, but they would no longer be genera. For instance, if it be said that the sense-world is composed of four elements, such as fire, or other elements, these elements are indeed principles, but not genera, unless this name be used as a verbal similarity (or, homonym, or pun).


Admitting therefore the existence of certain genera, which are simultaneously principles, we must still consider whether they should be conceived so that these genera, along with the things contained by each of them, commingle, fuse, and form the whole by their blending. If so, the genera would exist potentially, but not in actualization; none would have anything characteristic. Further, granting the distinctness of the genera, can we grant that the individuals blend? But what then would become of the genera themselves? Will they subsist by themselves, and will they remain pure, without mutual destruction of the mingled individuals? Later we shall indicate how such things could take place.


Now that we have explained the existence of genera, which, besides, are principles of being, and that from another point of view there are principles (or elements), and compounds, we shall have to set forth the criterion by which we constitute these genera; we shall have to ask how they may be distinguished from each other, instead of reducing them to a single (principle), as if they had been united by chance, although it does indeed seem more rational to reduce them to a single (principle). It would be possible to reduce them in this way if all things were species of essence, if the individuals were contained within these species, and if there were nothing outside of these species. But such a supposition would destroy the species—for such species would no longer be species, or forms;—and from that moment there would be no further need for reducing plurality to unity, and everything forming a single unity; so that, all things belonging to this One, no being outside of the One would exist, as far as it was something else.

How indeed could the One have become manifold, and how could it have begotten the species, if nothing but it existed? For it would not be manifold if there were not something to divide it, such as a size; now that which divides is other than that which is divided. The mere fact that it divides itself, or imparts itself to others, shows that it was already divisible before the division.


For this and other reasons, therefore, we must take good care to avoid assertion of a single genus; for it would be impossible to apply to everything the denominations of “being” and essence. If indeed there be very different objects called essence, this is only accidentally, just as if one called the color white a being; for strictly we cannot apply “being” to white, as considered alone.


3. We therefore assert the existence of several genera, and that this plurality is not accidental. These divers genera, however, depend from the One. But even though they do depend from the One, if the One be not something which may be affirmed of each of them as considered in its being, then nothing hinders each of them, having nothing similar to the others, from constituting a genus apart. We also grant that the One, existing outside of the genera which are begotten of Him, is their cause, although the other essences considered in their being do not proclaim this. Yes indeed, the One is outside of the other essences. Besides, He is above them; so much so, that He is not counted as one of them; for it is through Him that the other essences exist, which, so far as they are genera, are equal.


Still, it will be asked, Of what nature is the One which does not count among the genera? This (absolute One) is outside of our present consideration; for we are not studying Him who is above essence, but the essences themselves. We must therefore pass by the absolute One, and seek the one which is counted among the genera.


To begin with (if we consider the related One from this point of view), it will seem astonishing to see the cause numbered along with the effects. It would indeed be unreasonable to cram into a single genus both superior and inferior things. If nevertheless, on counting the one amidst the essences of which He is the cause, He was to be considered as a genus to which the other essences were to be subordinated, and from which they differed; if, besides, the one was not to be predicated of the other essences either as genus, or in any other respect, it would still be necessary that the genera which possessed essence subsume species under them; since, for instance, by moving, you produce walking, and yet walking cannot be considered a genus subordinate to you; but above the walking there existed nothing else that could, in respect to it, operate as a genus; and if nevertheless there existed things beneath walking, walking would, in respect to them, be a genus of the essences.


Perhaps, instead of saying that the one is the cause of the other things, we would have to admit that these things are as parts and elements of the one; and that all things form a single nature in which only our thought establishes divisions; so that, by virtue of its admirable power, this nature be unity distributed in all things, appearing and becoming manifold, as if it were in movement, and that the one should cease being unity as a result of the fruitfulness of its nature. If we were to enumerate successively the parts of such a nature, we would grant to each of them a separate existence, ignoring that we had not seen the whole together. But after thus having separated the parts, we would soon reapproximate them, not for long being able to keep apart the isolated elements which tend to reunite. That is why we could not help making a whole out of them, letting them once more become unity, or rather, be unity. Besides, this will be easier to understand when we shall know what these essences are, and how many are the genera of essences; for we shall then be able to conceive their mode of existence. And as, in these matters, it is not well to limit oneself to negations, but to aim at positive knowledge, and at the full intelligence of the subject here treated, we shall have to make this inquiry.


4. If, on occupying ourselves with this sense-world, we wished to determine the nature of bodies, would we not begin by studying some part thereof, such as a stone? We could then distinguish therein substance, quantity—such as dimension—and quality, such as color; and after having discovered these same elements in other bodies, we could say that the elements of the corporeal nature are being, quantity, and quality; but that these three coexist; and that, though thought distinguish them, all three form but one and the same body. If, besides, we were to recognize that movement is proper to this same organization, would we not add it to the three elements already distinguished? These four elements, however, would form but a single one, and the body, though one, would, in its nature, be the reunion of all four. We shall have to take the same course with our present subject, intelligible Being, and its genera and principles. Only, in this comparison, we shall have to make abstraction of all that is peculiar to bodies, such as generation, sense-perception, and extension. After having established this separation, and having thus distinguished essentially different things, we shall arrive at the conception of a certain intelligible existence, which possesses real essence, and unity in a still higher degree. From this standpoint, one might be surprised how the (substance which is thus) one can be both one and many. In respect to bodies, it is generally recognized that the same thing is both one and many; the body can indeed be divided infinitely; color and appearance, for instance, are therein very differing properties, since they are separated here below. But in respect to the soul, if she be conceived as one, without extent, dimension and absolutely simple, as it appears at first sight, how could we, after that, believe that the soul were manifold? We should have here expected to reach unity, all the more as, after having divided the animal in body and soul, and after having demonstrated that the body is multiform, composite and diverse, one might well, on the contrary, have expected to find the soul simple; and to have accepted this conclusion as final, as the end of our researches. We would thus have taken the soul as a sample of the intelligible world, just as the body represents the sense-world. Having thus considered this soul, let us examine how this unity can be manifold; how, in its turn, the manifold can be unity; not indeed a composite formed of separable parts, but a single nature simultaneously one and manifold. For, as we have already said, it is only by starting from this point and demonstrating it, that we will establish solidly the truth about the genera of essence.


5. The first consideration that meets us is that each body, whether of animals or plants, is multiple, by virtue of its colors, forms, dimensions, the kinds of parts, and diversity of their position; and that nevertheless all things derive from unity, whether from the absolutely simple Unity, or from the habituation of the universal Unity, or from some principle having more unity—and consequently more essence—than the things it produces; because, the further the distance from unity, the less the essence. The principle which forms the bodies must therefore be one, without either being absolutely one, nor identical with the One; otherwise, it would not produce a plurality that was distant from unity; consequently, it must be a plural-unity. Now this principle is the soul; therefore she must be a plural unity. This plurality, however, consists of the (“seminal) reasons” which proceed from the soul. The reasons, indeed, are not other than the soul; for the soul herself is reason, being the principle of the reasons; the reasons are the actualization of the soul which acts according to her being; and this being is potentiality of the reasons. The soul is therefore plurality simultaneously with unity; which is clearly demonstrated by the action she exerts on other things.


But what is the soul considered apart from all action, if we examine in her the part which does not work at formation of the bodies? Will not a plurality of powers still be found therein? As to world-Essence, nobody even thinks of depriving the soul of it. But is her acknowledged essence the same as that predicated of a stone? Surely not. Besides, even in the essence of the stone, “being” and “being a stone” are inseparable concepts, just as “being” and “being a soul” are, in the soul, but one and the same thing. Must we then regard as different in her essence on one side, and on the other the remainder (what constitutes the being); so that it would be the difference (proper to being) which, by being added to her, constituted the soul? No: the soul is no doubt a determinate essence; not as a “white man,” but only as a particular being; in other words, she has what she has by her very being.


6. However, could we not say that the soul does not have all that she has through her being, in this sense, that in her we must distinguish on one hand essence, and on the other some kind of essence? If the soul possess such a kind of essence, and if this kind of essence come to her from without, the whole will no longer be the being of the soul so far as she is soul; only partially will it be the being of the soul, and not in totality. Besides, what would be the essence of the soul without the other things which constitute her being? Will the essence be the same for the soul as for the stone? Will we not rather have to insist that this essence of the soul derives from her very being; that this essence is her source and principle; or rather, that it is all that the soul is, and consequently is life; and finally that in the soul life and essence fuse?


Shall we say that this unity resembles that of a “reason” (of a form)? No. The substance of the soul is one; but such unity does not exclude duality or even plurality; for it admits of all the attributes essential to the soul.


Should we say that the soul is both being and life, or that she possesses life? To say that the soul possesses life would mean that the possessor is not inherently alive, or that life does not inhere in her “being.” If then we cannot say that one of the two possesses the other, we shall have to recognize that both are identical, or that the soul is both one and manifold, in her unity embracing all that appears in her; that in herself she is one, but manifold in respect to other things; that, although she be one by herself, she makes herself multiple by her movement; that, while forming a whole which is one, she seeks to consider herself in her multiplicity. So Essence also does not remain unitary, because its potentiality extends to all it has become. It is contemplation that makes it appear manifold, the necessary thought has multiplied it. If it appear as one only, it is only because it has not yet thought, and it really is still only one.


7. What and how much can be seen in the soul? Since we have found in the soul both being and life, and as both being and life are what is common in every soul, and as life resides in intelligence, recognizing that there is (besides the soul and her being) intelligence and its life, we shall posit as a genus what is common in all life; namely, movement; consequently, being and movement, which constitute primary life, will be our first two categories. Although (in reality) they fuse, they are distinguished by thought, which is incapable of approaching unity exclusively; and whose exercise compels this distinction. Besides, it is possible, you can, in other objects, clearly see essence, as distinct from movement or life, although their essence be not real, and only shadowy or figurative. Just as the image of a man lacks several things, and, among others, the most important, life; likewise, the essence of sense-objects is only an adumbration of the veritable essence, lacking as it does the highest degree of essence, namely, vitality, which appears in its archetype. So you see it is quite easy to distinguish, on one hand, essence from life, and, on the other, life from essence. Essence is a genus, and contains several species; now movement must not be subsumed under essence, nor be posited within essence, but should be equated with essence. When we locate movement within essence, it is not that we consider life is the subject of movement, but because movement is life’s actualization; only in thought can either exist separately. These two natures, therefore, form but a single one; for essence exists not in potentiality, but in actualization; and if we conceive of these two genera as separated from each other it will still be seen that movement is within essence, and essence within movement. In the unity of essence, the two elements, when considered separately, imply each other reciprocally; but thought affirms their duality, and shows that each of the two series is a double unity.


Since then it is in the sphere of essence that movement appears, and since movement manifests its perfection far rather than it divides its being; and since essence, in order to carry out the nature here assigned to it, must always persevere in movement, it would be still more absurd to deny it stability, than to refuse it movement. The notion and the conception of stability are still more in harmony with the nature of essence than are those of movement; for it is in essence that may be found what is called “remaining in the same state,” “existing in the same manner,” and “being uniform.” Let us therefore assert that stability is a genus different from movement, of which it seems to be the opposite.


In many ways it can be shown that stability must be kept apart from essence. In the first place, if stability were identical with essence, why should it be so, rather than movement, which is life, the actualization of being, and of essence itself? Since we have distinguished between movement and essence, and since we have said that it is both identical therewith, and still at the same time different from it; and because essence and movement are different from each other from one viewpoint, but from another, are identical; we must also (in thought) distinguish stability from essence without separating it (in existence); and by separating it in thought, we shall be making a distinct genus of it. Indeed, if stability and essence were to be confused together in a perfect union, if we were to acknowledge no difference between them, we would still be obliged to identify stability with movement by the intermediation of essence; in this way stability and movement would together form but one and the same thing.


8. We must posit these three genera (essence, movement, and stability) because intelligence thinks each of them separately. By thinking them simultaneously, Intelligence posits them; and, as soon as Intelligence thinks them, they are (in existence). The things whose existence (“essence”) implies matter do not exist in Intelligence; for otherwise they would be immaterial. On the contrary, immaterial things come into existence by merely being thought. So then contemplate pure Intelligence, instead of seeking it with your bodily eyes, fix on it your interior gaze. Then will you see the hearth of “Being,” where shines an unsleeping light; you will see therein how essences subsist as simultaneously divided and united; you will see in it an abiding life, the thought which applies not to the future, but to the present; which possesses it already, and possesses it for ever; which thinks what is intimate to it, and not what is foreign. Intelligence thinks: and you have actualization and movement. Intelligence thinks what is in itself: and you have “being” and essence; for, by merely existing, Intelligence thinks: Intelligence thinks itself as existing, and the object to which Intelligence applies its thought exists also. The actualization of Intelligence on itself is not “being”; but the object to which it refers, the Principle from which it derives, is essence. Essence, indeed, is the object of intuition, but not intuition itself; the latter exists (has “essence”) only because it starts from, and returns thereto. Now as essence is an actualization, and not a potentiality, it unites both terms (existence and intuition, object and subject), and, without separating them, it makes of intuition essence, and of essence intuition. Essence is the unshakable foundation of all things, and support of their existence; it derives its possessions from no foreign source, holding them from itself, and within itself. It is simultaneously the goal of thought, because it is stability that never needed a beginning, and the principle from which thought was born, because it is unborn stability; for movement can neither originate from, nor tend towards movement. The idea also belongs to the genus of stability, because it is the goal (or limit) of intelligence; but the intellectual actualization by which it is thought constitutes movement. Thus all these things form but one thing; and movement, stability, and the things which exist in all essences constitute genera (or classifications). Moreover, every essence posterior to these genera is, in its turn, also definite essence, definite stability, and definite movement.


Summing up what we have discovered about the nature of Essence, we find first three genera. Then, these three, Essence, Movement and Stability were contemplated respectively by the essence, movement and stability within ourselves, which we also harmonized with those intelligibles. Then again we lost the power of distinguishing them by uniting, confusing, and blending these three genera. But a little later we divided, extricated and distinguished them so as again to see essence, movement and stability; three things, of which each exists apart. The result of this process then is that they are regarded as different, discerning them by their differences, and recognizing difference in essence by positing three things each of which exists apart. On the other hand, if they be considered in their relation with unity and in unity, if they be all reduced to being something single and identical, one may see the arising, or rather the existing of identity. To the three genera already recognized, therefore, we shall have to add identity or difference, or (in Platonic language), “sameness and other-ness.” These two classifications added to the three others, will in all make five genera for all things. Identity and difference (are genuine genera, indeed, because they) also communicate their characteristics to inferior (beings), each of which manifests some such element.


These five genera that we thus recognize are primary, because nothing can be predicated of them in the category of existence (being). No doubt, because they are essences, essence might be predicated of them; but essence would not be predicated of them because “being” is not a particular essence. Neither is essence to be predicated of movement or stability, for these are species of essence. Neither does essence participate in these four genera as if they were superior genera under which essence itself would be subsumed; for stability, movement, identity and difference do not protrude beyond the sphere of essence, and are not anterior thereto.


9. These and similar (Platonic) arguments demonstrate that those are genuinely primary genera; but how are we to prove they are exclusive? Why, for example, should not unity, quantity, quality, relation, and further (Aristotelian) categories, be added thereto?


Unity (may mean two things). The absolute Unity, to which nothing may be added, neither Soul, nor Intelligence, nor anything else, cannot be predicated as attribute of anything, and therefore cannot be a genus. But if we are referring to the unity which we attribute to essence, when we say that essence is one, it is no longer the original Unity. Besides, how could the absolute One, which within itself admits of no difference, beget species? If it cannot do this, it cannot be a genus. How indeed could you divide unity? By dividing it, you would multiply it; and thus Unity-in-itself would be manifold, and in aspiring to become a genus it would annihilate itself. Besides, in order to divide this unity into species, you would have to add something to unity, because it does not contain differences such as exist in being. Intelligence might well admit differences between essences, but this could not possibly be the case with unity. The moment you add a single difference, you posit duality, and consequently destroy unity; for everywhere the addition of a single unity causes any previously posited number to disappear.


It may be objected that the unity which is in essence, in movement, and the remainder of the genera, is common to all of them, and that one might therefore identify unity with essence. It must then be answered that, just as essence was not made a genus of other things because they were not what was essence, but that they were called essences in another sense, here likewise unity could not be a common attribute of other things, because there must be a primary Unity, and a unity taken in a secondary sense. If, on the other hand, it be said that unity should not be made a genus of all things, but something which exists in itself like the others, if afterwards unity be identified with essence, then, as essence has already been listed as one of the genera, we would be merely uselessly introducing a superfluous name. Distinguishing between unity and essence is an avowal that each has its separate nature; the addition of “something” to “one” makes a “certain one”; addition of nothing, on the other hand, allows unity to remain absolute, which cannot be predicated of anything. But why could this unity not be the First Unity, ignoring the absolute Unity? For we use “first Unity” as a designation of the essence which is beneath the “absolute Unity.” Because the Principle anterior to the first Essence (that is, the first and absolute Unity) is not essence; otherwise, the essence below Him would no longer be the first Essence; here, on the contrary, the unity which is above this unity is the absolute Unity. Besides, this unity which would be separated from essence only in thought, would not admit of any differences.

Besides, there are three alternatives. Either this unity alleged to inhere in essence will be, just like all other essences, a consequence of the existence of essence; and consequently, would be posterior to it. Or, it will be contemporaneous with essence and the other (categories); but a genus cannot be contemporaneous with the things of which it is the genus. The third possibility is that it may be anterior to essence; in which case its relation to Essence will be that of a principle, and no longer a genus containing it. If then unity be not a genus in respect to essence, neither can it be a genus in respect of other things; otherwise, we would have to say of essence also that it was a genus embracing everything else.


Considering unity according to its essence, it seems to fuse and coincide with absolute Essence, for essence, so far as it trends towards unity, is a single essence; but in so far as it is posterior to unity, it becomes all things it can be, and becomes manifold. Now, so far as essence remains one and does not divide, it could not constitute a genus.


10. In what sense, therefore, could each of the elements of essence be called “one”? In that it is something unitary, without being unity itself; for what is a “certain one” is already manifold. No species is “one” except figuratively; for in itself it is manifold. It is in the same sense that, in this sense-world, we say that an army, or a choric ballet, constitute a unity. Not in such things is absolute unity; and therefore it may not be said that unity is something common. Neither does unity reside in essence itself, nor in the individual essences; therefore, it is not a genus. When a genus is predicated of something, it is impossible to predicate of the same thing contrary properties; but of each of the elements of universal essence it is possible to assert both unity and its opposite. Consequently (if we have called unity a genus), after having predicated of some essence unity as a genus, we would have affirmed, of the same essence, that unity was not a genus. Unity, therefore, could not be considered one of the primary genera; for essence is no more one than it is manifold. As to the other genera, none of them is one without being manifold; much less could unity be predicated of the secondary genera of which each is quite manifold. Besides, no genus, considered in its totality, is unitary; so that if unity were a genus, it would merely thereby cease being unity; for unity is not a number, and nevertheless it would become a number in becoming a genus. Of course, numbers include an alleged unity, as soon as we try to erect it into a genus, it is no longer a unity, in a strict sense. Among numbers unity is not applied to them as would have been a genus; of such unity it is merely said that it is among numbers, not that it is a genus; likewise, if unity were among the essences, it would not be there as genus of essence, nor of anything else, nor of all things. Again, just as the simple is the principle of the composite without being considered a genus in respect to it—then it would be simultaneously simple and composite—so, if one were considered to be a principle, it could not be a genus in respect to things subsumed under it; and therefore will be a genus neither for essence, nor for other (categories or things).


If unity were to be considered a genus, it could be that only in respect to the things of which each is said to be one; as if, for instance, one should, from “being,” deduce the unity contained within it. Unity would then be the genus of certain things; for just as essence is a genus, not in respect to all things, but in respect to those species that possess essence, so unity would be a genus in respect to the species that possess unity. This, however, is impossible; for things do not differ in respect to unity, as they do in respect to essence.

It might further be objected that if the same divisions which were applied to essence were applied to unity, and if essence be a genus because it divides itself, and manifests itself as the same in a number of things, why then should unity also not be a genus, since it appears in as many things as essence, and similarly divides itself? Mere recurrence of something in several essences is no proof it is a genus; whether in respect to the essences in which it occurs, or to others. Merely being common to several essences by no means constitutes a genus. No one will claim that a point is a genus for lines or for anything else, though points be found in all lines. As said, unity is found in every number, and nevertheless it is not a genus for any number, or for anything else. The formation of a genus demands that what is common to several things show specific differences, constituting species, and be predicated of what exists. But what are the specific differences within unity? What species does it form? If to this it be answered that it forms the same species as essence, then it blends with essence, and (unity) is (as said above), only another name for essence; and essence, as category, suffices.


11. The questions here to be solved are, how unity subsists within essence, how they both divide, and in general how any genera divide; and whether their two divisions be identical, or different. To solve these questions, we shall first have to ask how in general any thing whatever is said to be one, and is one; then, if it can be said in the same sense that essence is one, in what sense this is said. Evidently, unity is not the same for everything. It cannot even be understood in the same sense in respect to sense-things, and intelligible things; not any more than essence is identical for these two order of (beings), or even for sense-things compared to each other. The idea of unity is not the same in reference to a choric ballet, an army, a vessel or a house; it is even less so in respect of one of these things, and when it deals with continuous objects. And nevertheless, by their unity all these things imitate the same archetype, some from far, some from near. Intelligence, surely, is assuredly that which most approaches absolute Unity; for although the soul already possess unity, Intelligence possesses it far more intensely; for it is the one essence.


Is the expression of the essence of something simultaneously the expression of its unity, so that it possesses as much unity as it possesses essence? Or does this simultaneousness exist without any direct proportion between the amount of unity and essence? Yes; for it is possible that something have less unity without, on that account, having any the less essence; an army, a choric ballet have not less essence than a house, though far less unity. The unity present in each thing seems therefore to aspire to the Good, which has the most unity; for the closer something approaches the Good, the greater unity does it achieve; that is the criterion of greater or less unity. Indeed, every (being) desires not only merely to be (alive), but to enjoy the Good. That is why everything, so far as it can, hastens to become one, and those (beings) which by nature possess unity naturally trend towards Him by desiring to unite with themselves. For every (being) hastens not to separate from others, but on the contrary their tendency is to tend towards each other and themselves. That is why all souls, while preserving their individual nature, would like to fuse into a single soul. The One reigns everywhere in the sense-world, as well as in the Intelligible. It is from Him that everything originates, it is towards Him that everything trends. In Him do all (beings) seek their principle and their goal; for only therein do they find their good; only by that does each (being) subsist, and occupies its place in the universe; once that it exists, no (being) could help trending towards the One. This occurs not only in nature, but even in the arts; where each art seeks, to the extent of its ability, to conform its works to unity, to the extent of its ability, and to the possibilities of its works. But that which succeeds best, is Essence itself, which is quite close to unity.


Consequently, in speaking of (beings) other than (essence itself), as, for instance, of man, we say simply “man” (without adding to it the idea of unity); if however we say “a man,” it is to distinguish him from two; if however we use the word one in still another sense, it is by adding to it “some” (as, “someone”). Not so is it with essence; we say, “being one,” conceiving of “being” (“essence”) and one, as if forming a single whole, and in positing essence as one, we emphasize its narrow affinity with the Good. Thus conceived, essence becomes one; and in the one finds its origin and goal. Nevertheless it is not one as unity itself, but rather in a different manner, in this sense that the (unity of essence) admits priority and posteriority. What then is (the unity of essence)? Must it not then be considered similar in all the parts (of essence), as something common to all (and consequently, as forming a genus)? But in the first place, the point is also something common to all the lines, and nevertheless it is not a genus; in the numbers, unity is something common to all, and is not any more of a genus. Indeed, the unity which is found in the monad, in the dyad (or pair), and in other numbers, cannot be confused with unity in itself. Then, nothing hinders there being in essence some anterior, and other posterior parts, both simple and compound ones (which would be impossible for the One in itself). Even if the unity found everywhere in all the parts of essence were everywhere identical, by the mere fact that it would offer no difference, it could not give rise to species, and consequently, it could not be a genus.


12. We therefore assert (that by moving towards unity everything moves towards the Good). How can it be, however, that Goodness should consist in coming closer to unity, even for number, which is inanimate? This question might as well be asked about any inanimate object whatever. If we were told that such (beings) do not enjoy (existence), we might answer that we are here treating of beings according to their proximity to unity only. If, for instance, we were asked how a point can participate in the Good, we might answer by a retort, asking whether we are dealing with the Point in itself. Then we would answer by the observation that the state of affairs was the same for all things of the same kind. If however we were pressed about the point considered as existing in some object, as, for instance, in the circle, we would answer that for such a point, the Good is the good of the circle (of which it forms part); that such is the Good towards which it aspires, and that it seeks that as far as possible through the intermediation of the circle.


But how could we realize such genera? Are all these genera susceptible of division, or do they lie entire within each of the objects they comprehend? If so, how does this unity find itself? Unity exists therein as a genus, just as the whole exists within the plurality.

Does unity exist only in the objects that participate therein? Not only in these objects, but also in itself. This point will be studied later.


13. Now why should we not posit quantity among the primary genera? And why not also quality? Quantity is not one of the primary genera like those we have posited, because the primary genera coexist with essence (which is not the case with quantity). Indeed, movement is inseparable from essence; being its actualization and life. Stability is implied in being; while identity and difference are still more inseparable from essence; so that all these (categories) appear to us simultaneously. As to number (which is discrete quantity), it is something posterior. As to (mathematical) numbers, far more are they posterior both to these genera, and themselves; for the numbers follow each other; the second depends on the first, and so forth; the last are contained within the first. Number, therefore, cannot be posited among the primary genera. Indeed, it is permissible to doubt whether quantity may be posited as any kind of a genus. More even than number, extension (which is continuous quantity), shows the characteristics of compositeness, and of posteriority. Along with number, the line enters into the idea of extension. This would make two elements. Then comes surface, which makes three. If then it be from number that continuous dimension derives its quantitativeness, how could this dimension be a genus, when number is not? On the other hand, anteriority and posteriority exist in dimension as well as in numbers. But if both kinds of quantities have in common this, that they are quantities, it will be necessary to discover the nature of quantity. When this will have been found, we shall be able to make of it a secondary genus; but it could not rank with the primary genera. If, then, quantity be a genus without being a primary one, it will still remain for us to discover to which higher genus, whether primary or secondary, it should be subsumed.


It is evident that quantity informs us of the amount of a thing, and permits us to measure this; therefore itself must be an amount. This then is the element common to number (the discrete quantity), and to continuous dimension. But number is anterior, and continuous dimension proceeds therefrom; number consists in a certain blending of movement and stability; continuous dimension is a certain movement or proceeds from some movement; movement produces it in its progress towards infinity, but stability arrests it in its progress, limits it, and creates unity. Besides, we shall in the following explain the generation of number and dimension; and, what is more, their mode of existence, and how to conceive of it rightly. It is possible that we might find that number should be posited among the primary genera, but that, because of its composite nature, continuous dimension should be posited among the posterior or later genera; that number is to be posited among stable things, while dimension belongs among those in movement. But, as said above, all this will be treated of later.


14. Let us now pass on to quality. Why does quality also fail to appear among the primary genera? Because quality also is posterior to them; it does indeed follow after being. The first Being must have these (quantity and quality) as consequences, though being is neither constituted nor completed thereby; otherwise, being would be posterior to them. Of course, as to the composite beings, formed of several elements, in which are both numbers and qualities, they indeed are differentiated by those different elements which then constitute qualities, though they simultaneously contain common (elements). As to the primary genera, however, the distinction to be established does not proceed from simpleness or compositeness, but of simpleness and what completes being. Notice, I am not saying, “of what completes ‘some one’ being”; for if we were dealing with some one being, there would be nothing unreasonable in asserting that such a being was completed by a quality, since this being would have been in existence already before having the quality, and would receive from the exterior only the property of being such or such. On the contrary, absolute Being must essentially possess all that constitutes it.


Besides, we have elsewhere pointed out that what is a complement of being is called a quality figuratively only; and that what is genuinely quality comes from the exterior, posteriorly to being. What properly belongs to being is its actualization; and what follows it is an experience (or, negative modification). We now add that what refers to some being, cannot in any respect be the complement of being. There is no need of any addition of “being” (existence) to man, so far as he is a man, to make of him a (human) being. Being exists already in a superior region before descending to specific difference; thus the animal exists (as being) before one descends to the property of being reasonable, when one says: “Man is a reasonable animal.”


15. However, how do four of these genera complete being, without nevertheless constituting the suchness (or, quality) of being? for they do not form a “certain being.” The primary Essence has already been mentioned; and it has been shown that neither movement, difference, nor identity are anything else. Movement, evidently, does not introduce any quality in essence; nevertheless it will be wise to study the question a little more definitely. If movement be the actualization of being, if essence, and in general all that is in the front rank be essentially an actualization, movement cannot be considered as an accident. As it is, however, the actualization of the essence which is in actualization, it can no longer be called a simple complement of “being,” for it is “being” itself. Neither must it be ranked amidst things posterior to “being,” nor amidst the qualities; it is contemporaneous with “being,” for you must not suppose that essence existed first, and then moved itself (these being contemporaneous events). It is likewise with stability; for one cannot say that essence existed first, and then later became stable. Neither are identity or difference any more posterior to essence; essence was not first unitary, and then later manifold; but by its essence it is one manifold. So far as it is manifold, it implies difference; while so far as it is a manifold unity, it implies identity. These categories, therefore, suffice to constitute “being.” When one descends from the intelligible world to inferior things, he meets other elements which indeed no longer constitute absolute “being,” but only a “certain being,” that possesses some particular quantity or quality; these are indeed genera, but genera inferior to the primary genera.


16. As to relation, which, so to speak, is only an offshoot or appendage, it could certainly not be posited amidst the primary genera. Relation can exist only between one thing and another; it is nothing which exists by itself; every relation presupposes something foreign.


The categories of place and time are just as unable to figure among the primary genera. To be in a place, is to be in something foreign; which implies two consequences: a genus must be single, and admits of no compositeness. Place, therefore, is no primary genus. For here we are dealing only with veritable essences.

As to time, does it possess a veritable characteristic? Evidently not. If time be a measure, and not a measure pure and simple, but the measure of movement, it also is something double, and consequently composite. (This, as with place, would debar it from being ranked among the primary genera, which are simple). Besides, it is something posterior to movement; so that it could not even be ranked along with movement.


Action and experience equally depend on movement. Now, as each of them is something double, each of them, consequently, is something composite. Possession also is double. Location, which consists in something’s being in some definite way in something else, actually comprises three elements. (Therefore possession and location, because composite, are not simple primary genera).


17. But why should not the Good, beauty, virtues, science, or intelligence be considered primary genera? If by “good” we understand the First, whom we call the Good itself, of whom indeed we could not affirm anything, but whom we call by this name, because we have none better to express our meaning, He is not a genus; for He cannot be affirmed of anything else. If indeed there were things of which He could be predicated, each of them would be the Good Himself. Besides, the Good does not consist in “being,” and therefore is above it. But if by “good” we mean only the quality (of goodness), then it is evident that quality cannot be ranked with primary genera. Does this imply that Essence is not good? No; it is good, but not in the same manner as the First, who is good, not by a quality, but by Himself.

It may however be objected that, as we saw above, essence contains other genera, and that each of these is a genus because it has something in common, and because it is found in several things. If then the Good be found in each part of “being” or essence, or at least, in the greater number of them, why would not also the Good be a genus, and one of the first genera? Because the Good is not the same in all parts of Essence, existing within it in the primary or secondary degree; and because all these different goods are all subordinate to each other, the last depending on the first, and all depending from a single Unity, which is the supreme Good; for if all participate in the Good, it is only in a manner that varies according to the nature of each.


If you insist that the Good must be genus, we will grant it, as a posterior genus; for it will be posterior to being. Now the existence of (the Aristotelian) “essence,” although it be always united to Essence, is the Good itself; while the primary genera belong to Essence for its own sake, and form “being.” Hence we start to rise up to the absolute Good, which is superior to Essence; for it is impossible for essence and “being” not to be manifold; essence necessarily includes the above-enumerated primary genera; it is the manifold unity.


But if by Good we here mean the unity which lies in Essence, we would not hesitate to acknowledge that the actualization by which Essence aspires to Unity is its true good, and that that is the means by which it receives the form of Good. Then the good of Essence is the actualization by which it aspires to the Good; that act constitutes its life; now this actualization is a movement, and we have already ranked movement among the primary genera. (It is therefore useless to make a new genus of “Good conceived as unity”).


18. As to the beautiful, if that be taken to mean the primary and supreme Beauty, we would answer as about the Good, or at least, we would make an analogous answer. If however we mean only the splendor with which the Idea shines, it may be answered that that splendor is not the same everywhere; and that, besides, it is something posterior. If the beautiful be considered as absolute Being, it is then already comprised with the “Being” already considered (and consequently does not form a separate genus). If it be considered in respect to us human beings, who are spectators, and if it be explained as producing in us a certain emotion, such an actualization is a movement; but if, on the contrary, it be explained as that tendency which draws us to the beautiful, this still is a movement.


Knowledge is pre-eminently movement; for it is the intuition of essence; it is an actualization, and not a simple habit. It should, therefore, also be reduced to movement. It may also be reduced to stability (if considered as a durable actualization); or rather, it belongs to both genera. But if it belong to two different genera, it is something of a blend; but anything blended is necessarily posterior (to the elements which enter into the blend, and it cannot therefore either be a primary genus).


Intelligence is thinking essence, a composite of all genera, and not a single genus. Veritable Intelligence is indeed essence connected with all things; consequently it is all essence. As to essence considered alone, it constitutes a genus, and is an element of Intelligence. Last, justice, temperance, and in general all the virtues are so many actualizations of Intelligence. They could not, therefore, rank amidst the primary genera. They are posterior to a genus, and constitute species.


19. Since these four categories (which complete essence, namely, movement, stability, identity and difference) (with Essence as a fifth) constitute the primary genera, it remains to be examined whether each of them, by itself, can beget species; for instance, whether Essence, entirely by itself, could admit divisions in which the other categories would have no share whatever. No: for, in order to beget species, the genus would have to admit differences derived from outside; these differences would have to be properties belonging to Essence as such, without however being Essence. But from where then would Essence have derived them? Impossibly from what does not exist. If then they were necessarily derived from that which exists, as only three other genera of essences remain, evidently, Essence must have derived its differences from these genera, which associate themselves with Essence, while yet enjoying a simultaneous existence. But from this very fact that these genera enjoy an existence simultaneous (with Essence), they serve to constitute it, as it is composed of the gathering of these elements. How then could they be different from the whole that they constitute? How do these genera make species out of all (these beings)? How, for instance, could pure movement produce species of movement? The same question arises in connection with the other genera. Besides, we must avoid (two dangers:) losing each genus in its species, and, on the other hand, reducing it to the state of a simple predicate, by considering it only in its species. The genus must exist both in its species and in itself. While blending (with the species), it must in itself remain pure and unblended; for, if it should contribute to “being” otherwise (by blending with its species), it would annihilate itself. Such are the questions that must be examined.


Now, we have above posited certain premises. Intelligence, and even every intelligence, includes within itself all (essences). We ranked (Essence or Being) above all species that are parts thereof. Essence is not yet Intelligence. From these it results that already developed Intelligence is already something posterior. We shall therefore make use of this study to achieve the goal we had set ourselves (namely, to determine the relation of the genus to its contained species). We shall therefore make use of Intelligence as an example to extend our knowledge of this subject.


20. Let us, therefore, suppose that Intelligence was in a state in which it did not yet attach itself to anything in particular, so that it had not yet become an individual intelligence. Let us conceive it similar to knowledge considered by itself before the notions of the particular species, or to the knowledge of a species taken before the notions of the contained parts. Universal Knowledge, without (in actualization) being any particular notion, potentially lies within all notions, and reciprocally, each particular notion is one single thing in actualization, but all things in potentiality; likewise with universal Knowledge. The notions which thus refer to a species exist potentially in universal Knowledge, because, while applying itself to a species, they potentially are also universal Knowledge. Universal Knowledge is predicated of each particular notion, without the particular notion being predicated of universal Knowledge; but universal Knowledge must none the less subsist in itself without blending (with anything else).


The case is similar with Intelligence. There is a kind of existence of universal Intelligence, which is located above the particular actualized intelligences, and is different from that of the particular intelligences. These are filled with universal notions: universal Intelligence furnishes to the particular intelligences the notions they possess. It is the potentiality of these intelligences all of which it contains in its universality; on their side, these, in their particularity, contain universal Intelligence just as a particular science implies universal science. The great Intelligence exists in itself, and the particular intelligences also exist in themselves; they are implied in universal Intelligence, just as this one is implied in the particular intelligences. Each one of the particular intelligences exists simultaneously in itself, and in something else (in the universal Intelligence), just as universal Intelligence exists simultaneously in itself and in all the others. In universal Intelligence, which exists in itself, all particular intelligences exist potentially, because it actually is all the intelligences, and potentially each of them separately. On the contrary, these are actualizations of the particular intelligences, and potentially universal Intelligence. Indeed, so far as they are what is predicated of them, they are actualizations of what is predicated; so far as they exist in the genus that contains them, they are this genus potentially. Genus, as such, is potentially all the species it embraces; it is none of them in actuality; but all are implied therein. So far as genus is in actualization what exists before the species, it is the actualization of the things which are not particular. As occurs in the species, these particular things achieve such actualization only by the actualization which emanates from the genus, and which, with regard to them, acts as cause.


21. How then does Intelligence, though remaining one, by Reason produce particular things? This really amounts to asking how the inferior genera derive from the four Genera. We shall then have to scrutinize how this great and ineffable Intelligence, which does not make use of speech, but which is entire intelligence, intelligence of all, universal, and not particular or individual intelligence, contains all the things which proceed therefrom.

(Of the essences it contains) it possesses the number, as it is both one and many. It is many, that is, (it is) many potentialities, which are admirable powers, full of force and greatness, because they are pure; powers that are vigorous and veritable because they have no goal at which they are forced to stop; consequently being infinite, that is, supreme Infinity, and Greatness. If then we were to scrutinize this greatness and beauty of being, if by the splendor and light which surround it, we were to distinguish what Intelligence contains, then would we see the efflorescing of quality. With the continuity of actualization we would behold greatness, in quiescent condition. As we have seen one (number), two (quality), and three (greatness), greatness, as the third thing, presents itself with universal quantity. Now, as soon as quality and quantity show themselves to us, they unite, blend into one and the same figure (outward appearance). Then comes difference, which divides quality and quantity, whence arise different qualities, and differences of figure. The presence of identity produces equality, and that of difference, inequality, both in quantity, number, and dimension; hence the circle, the quadrilateral, and the figures composed of unequal things; hence numbers that are similar, and different, even and uneven.


Thus intellectual Life, which is the perfect actualization, embraces all the things that our mind now conceives, and all intellectual operations. In its potentiality it contains all things as essences, in the same manner as Intelligence does. Now Intelligence possesses them by thought, a thought which is not discursive (but intuitive). The intellectual life therefore possesses all the things of which there are “reasons” (that is, ideas); itself is a single Reason, great, perfect, which contains all reasons, which examines them in an orderly fashion, beginning with the first, or rather, which has ever examined them, so that one could never really tell that it was examining them. For all things that we grasp by ratiocination, in whatever part soever of the universe they may be located, are found as intuitively possessed by Intelligence. It would seem as if it was Essence itself which, (being identical with Intelligence), had made Intelligence reason thus (by producing its conceptions), as appears to happen in the (“seminal) reasons” which produce the animals. In the (ideas, that is in the “seminal) reasons” which are anterior to ratiocination, all things are found to possess a constitution such that the most penetrating intelligence would have considered best, by reasoning. We should therefore expect (great and wonderful things) of these Ideas, superior and anterior to Nature and (“seminal) reasons.” There Intelligence fuses with “Being;” neither in essence nor intelligence is there anything adventitious. There everything is smoothly perfect, since everything there is conformable to intelligence. All Essence is what Intelligence demands; it is consequently veritable primary Essence; for if it proceeded from some other (source), this also would be Intelligence.


Thus Essence reveals within itself all the Forms and universality. This could not have been particular; for it could not be single, the double presence of difference and identity demanding it to be simultaneously one and many. Since, from its very origin, Essence is one and many, all the species it contains must consequently simultaneously contain unity and plurality, revealing dimensions, qualities, and different figures; for it is impossible that Essence should lack anything, or should not be complete universality; for it would no longer be universal, if it were not complete. Life, therefore, penetrates every thing; is everywhere present within it. Hence results that from that Life must have been born all living organisms, for since matter and quality are found within their bodies, these also are not lacking. Now, as all living organisms are born within it, and have ever subsisted within it, they were essentially embraced within eternity, yet, taken separately, each of them is a different essence. Taken together they form a unity. Consequently, the complex and synthetic totality of all these living organisms is Intelligence, which, thus containing all (beings), is the perfect and essential living Organism. When Intelligence allows itself to be contemplated by what derives existence from it, Intelligence appears thereto as the intelligible, and receives this predicate properly and truly.


22. This was what Plato meant, when he said, enigmatically, “Intelligence contemplates the Ideas contained within the perfect living Organism; it sees what they are, and to how many they amount.” Indeed, the (universal) Soul, which ranks immediately after Intelligence, possesses the Ideas in herself inasmuch as she is a soul; but she sees them better in the Intelligence which is above her. Likewise, our own intelligence, which also contains the ideas, sees them better when it contemplates them in the superior Intelligence; for, in itself, it can only see; but in the superior Intelligence it sees that it sees. Now this intelligence that contemplates the ideas is not separated from the superior Intelligence, for it proceeds therefrom; but as it is the plurality that has proceeded from the unity, because it adds difference (to identity), it becomes manifold unity. Being thus both unity and plurality, Intelligence, by virtue of its multiple nature, produces the plurality (of beings). Besides, it would be impossible to discover therein anything that was numerically unitary, or anything that might be called individual. Whatever be contemplated in it, it is always a form, for it contains no matter. That is why, again, Plato, referring to this truth, said that “being” was divided to infinity. Descending from genus to species, we have not yet arrived at infinity; for that which thus arises is defined by the species that have been begotten by a genus; the name of infinity applies better to the last species, which can no longer be divided into species. That is why (as Plato teaches), “when one has arrived at individuals, they must be abandoned to infinity.” Thus, the individuals are infinite so far as they are considered in themselves; but, in so far as they are embraced by unity, they are reduced to a number.

Intelligence therefore embraces what comes after it, the Soul; so that the Soul, till the last of her powers, is contained by a number; as to the last power (matter), it is entirely infinite Considered in this condition (where, turning towards what is below it, it begets the Soul), Intelligence is a part (because it applies itself to something particular), though it possess all things, and though, in itself, it be universal; the intelligences which compose it are each a part (each constituting a particular intelligence by virtue of the actualization of Intelligence which exists (and thus exists in itself). As to the Soul, she is the part of a part (that is, a part of the Intelligence which itself is a part, as has just been said), but exists by virtue of the actualization of the Intelligence which acts outside of itself. Indeed, when Intelligence acts in itself, the actualizations it produces are the other intelligences; when it acts outside of itself, it produces the Soul. When in her turn, the Soul acts as genus or species, she begets the other souls which are her species. These souls themselves have two actualizations; the one, directed towards what is above them, constitutes their intelligence; the other, directed towards what is below them, gives birth to the other rational powers, and even to a last power which is in contact with matter, and which fashions it. The inferior part of the soul does not hinder the whole remainder from remaining in the superior region. Besides, this inferior part is only the very image of the soul; it is not separated from her, but it resembles the image reflected by a mirror, an image which persists only so long as the model remains before the mirror. What should be our conception of the model placed before the mirror? Down through what is immediately above the image (that is, down through the soul herself), we have the intelligible world, composed of all the intelligible entities, where everything is perfect. The sense-world is no more than the imitation thereof, and it imitates that intelligible world so far as it can, in that it itself is a living organism which is the image of the perfect living Organism. The sense-world imitates it as the portrait that is painted, or reflected by the surface of water reproduces the person situated before the painter, or above the water. This portrait obtained by the painting, or reflected by the surface of the water is not the image of the composite which constitutes the man (the soul and body), but of one or two parts only, the body which was fashioned by the soul. Likewise, therefore, the sense-world, which was made to resemble the intelligible world, offers us images, not of its creator, but of the (essences) contained within its creator, among which is man, along with all other animals. Now, in common with its creator, each living organism possesses life, though each possess it differently; both, besides, equally form part of the intelligible world.

Ennead 6.3. Plotinus’s Own Sense-Categories.


1. We have thus declared our views about (intelligible) Being, and shown how they agree with the doctrines of Plato. Now we have to study the “other nature” (the Being of the sense-world); and we shall have to consider whether it be proper to establish here the same genera as for the intelligible world, or to posit a greater number, by adding some to those already recognized; or whether the genera differ in each being entirely, or only partially, some remaining identical, while others differ. If any of them be identical in both beings, that can be understood only by analogy; that is what will become evident when each of these beings are fully understood.


This is by what we must begin. Having to speak of sense-objects, and knowing that all of them are contained in this world here below, we must first scrutinize this world, establish within it divisions according to the nature of the (beings) which compose it, and then distribute them into genera, just as we would do if we had to analyze the voice whose nature is infinite (by the diversity of sounds it produces), reducing it to a definite number of kinds. Observing the elements common to many sounds, we would reduce them to one unity, then, to a superior unity, further to a supreme unity, in which these sounds appear as a small number of classes. Then, the elements common to these individuals would be called “species,” and that common to various species would be called a genus. As to the voice, it is easy enough to discover each species, to reduce all the species to unity, and to predicate of all of them (as highest genus or category) the general element, the voice. But an analysis as summary as this is impossible with the (more complicated universe). In the sense-world we will have to recognize several genera, which will differ from those of the intelligible world, since the sense-world itself differs from the intelligible world so much that it is not its counterpart, but only its image, whose only element common (to its model) is the name.


As here below in the “mixture” (or blend, the soul), and the composition (the body) (which form our nature) there are two parts, soul and body, the totality of which forms the living organism; as the nature of the soul belongs to the intelligible world, and consequently does not belong to the same order of things as the sense-world, we shall, however difficult it may be, have to separate the soul from the sense-objects which we are here alone to consider. (We shall illustrate this by a parable). He who would wish to classify the inhabitants of a town according to their dignities and professions, would have to leave aside the foreign residents. As to the passions which arise from the union of the soul with the body, or, that the soul experiences because of the body, we shall later examine how they should be classified. This however must follow our study of the sense-objects.


2. First let us consider what mundane name “Being” must be applied to. To begin with, it must be explained that physical nature can receive the name of “being” only as a figure of speech; or rather, should not receive it at all, since it implies the idea of perpetual flowing (that is, change); so, the more suitable denomination would be “generation.” We shall also have to acknowledge that the things that belong to generation are very different; nevertheless all bodies, some simple (such, as elements), the others composite as mixtures), together with their accidents and effects, must, during the process of classification, be reduced to a single genus.

In bodies, one may besides distinguish on one hand matter, on the other, the form imprinted thereon; and we designate each of these separately as a genus, or subsume both under a unity, inasmuch as we designate both by the common label of “being,” or rather, “generation.” But what is the common element in matter and form? In what manner, and of what is matter a genus? For what difference inheres in matter? In what sequence could we incorporate that which is composed of both? But in the case that that which is composed of both be itself corporeal being, while neither of the two is a body, how then could either be incorporated in a single genus, or within the same genus along with the compound of both? How (could this incorporation into a single genus be effected with) the elements of some object and the object itself? To answer that we should begin by the (composite) bodies: which would be tantamount to learning to read by beginning with syllables (and not with letters).


Let us now grant that symmetrical analysis by individual objects is impossible. Might we not, as a means of classification, then employ analogy? In this case the (intelligible, higher) “being” would here be represented by matter; and movement above, by form here, which would thus quicken and perfect matter. The inertia of matter would correspond to rest above, while the (intelligible) identity and difference would correspond to our earthly manifold resemblance and differences. (Such an analogic method would misrepresent the state of affairs in this world). To begin with, matter does not receive form as its life or actualization, but (form) approaches and informs (matter) as something foreign (form deriving from being, while matter is only a deception; so that there is no kinship between them). Then in the (intelligible world) form is an actualization and motion, while here below movement is different, being accidental; we might far rather call form the halting or rest of matter, for form defines that which in itself is indefinite (unlimited). There (in the intelligible world) identity and difference refer to a single essence, which is both identical and different. Here below, essence differs only relatively, by participation (in the difference) for it is something identical and different, not by consequence, as above, but here below, by nature. As to stability, how could it be attributed to matter, which assumes all dimensions, which receives all its forms from without, without itself ever being able to beget anything by means of these forms? Such a division, therefore, will have to be given up.


3. What classification shall we adopt? There is first matter, then form, and further the combination which results from their blending. Then we have a number of conceptions which refer to the three preceding classes, and are predicated of them; the first, simply, as attributes; the others, besides, as accidents. Among the latter, some are contained within the things, while others contain them; some of them are actions, and the others experiences (passions) or their consequences.


Matter is something common which is found in all things; nevertheless it does not form a genus because it does not admit of any differences, unless its differences consist in appearing in different forms; as, here, fire, and there, air. Philosophers who consider that matter is a genus base this opinion on the fact that matter is common to all the things in which it exists, or that it stands in the relation of the whole to the parts of particular objects (or, “matters”). In this case, however, the term “genus” would be used in a sense differing from the one it bears usually. It would then be no more than an only or single element, if we admit that an element can be a genus. If, conceiving that matter is united to matter, or exists within it, we add form to matter, matter would thereby be differentiated from the other forms, but it will not comprehend every being-like form. Were we to call the generating principle of being “form,” and were we to call the reason which constitutes the form “being-like reason,” we shall not yet have clearly defined the nature of “being.” Finally, if we give the name of “being” only to the combination of matter and form, the result will be that neither of these two (matter or form taken separately) will themselves be “being.” If, however, we were to assert that not only their combination, but also each of them separately were “being,” we then would be faced with the problem of what is common to all three.


As to the things which are simply posited as attributes, they should, as principles or elements, be classified under relation. Among the accidents of things, some, like quantity and quality, are contained within them; while others contain them, as time and place. Then there are actions and experiences, as movements; then their consequences, as “being in time,” and “being in place”; the latter is the consequence of the combination, the former is the consequence of movement.


We decide, therefore, that the three first things (matter, form, and their combination) contribute to the formation of a single genus, which, by a figure of speech, we call (“corporeal) Being,” a genus which is common to them, and whose name applies to all three. Then come the other genera; such as relation, quantity and quality; the (relation of) being “contained in place,” and “in time”; movement; and place and time. But as the category of “time” and “place” would render superfluous that of “being in place” and of “being in time,” we should limit ourselves to the recognition of five genera, of which the first (“being”) comprises matter, form and the combination. If, however, we should not count matter, form and combination as a single genus, our analysis will assume the following shape: matter, form, combination, relation, quantity, quality, and movement. Otherwise, the latter three might be subsumed under relation, which possesses more extension than they.


4. What is the common element in these three things (matter, form and their combination)? What constitutes their (sublunary, mundane or) earthly “being”? Is it because matter, form and their combination form a foundation for other things? In that case, as matter is the foundation, or seat of form, then form will not be in the genus of “being.” But, as the combination also forms foundation for other things, then form united to matter will be the subject of the combinations, or rather, of all the things which are posterior to the combination, as quantity, quality, and movement.


It would seem that (physical) “being” is that which is not predicated of anything else; for whiteness and blackness may, for instance, be predicated of some white or black subject. Likewise with the idea of “doubleness”;—I mean here not the doubleness which is the opposite of one half, but the doubleness predicated of some subject, as when one says “this wood is double.” So also paternity, and science, are attributes of another subject, of which that is said. So space is that which limits, and time that which measures something else. But fire, or wood considered as such, are not attributes. Neither are Socrates, nor composite being (composed of matter and form), nor form which is in the “being,” because it is not a modification of any other subject. Indeed, form is not an attribute of matter; it is an element of the combination. “Man” and “form of man” are one and the same thing. Matter also is an element of the combination; under this respect, it may be predicated of a subject, but this subject is identical with itself. On the contrary, whiteness, considered in itself, exists only in the subject of which it may be predicated. Consequently, the thing which exists only in the subject of which it is predicated is not (physical) “being.” “Being,” on the contrary, is that which is what it is by itself. In case it form part of some subject, then it completes the combination; whose elements exist each in itself, and which are predicated of the combination only in a condition other than that of existing in it. Considered as a part, “being” is relative to something other than itself; but considered in itself, in its nature, in what it is, it is not predicable of anything.


To be a subject is then a property common to matter, to form, and to the combination. But this function of subject is fulfilled differently by matter in respect to form, and by form in respect to the modifications, and by the combination; or rather, matter is not a subject in respect to form; form is the complement which completes it when it still is only matter, and when it exists only potentially. To speak strictly, form is not in matter; for when one thing forms only a unity with something else, one cannot say that one is in the other (as some accident in its subject). Only when both are taken together do matter and form form a subject for other things; thus Man in general, and a particular man constitute the subject of passive modifications; they are anterior to the actions and consequences which relate to them. “Being” therefore is the principle from which all other things derive, and by which they exist; that to which all passive modifications relate, and from which all actions proceed.


5. Such are the characteristics of sense-being. If in any way they also suit intelligible “being,” it is only by analogy, or by figure of speech (homonymy). So, for instance, the “first” is so called in respect of the remainder; for it is not absolutely first, but only in respect to the things which hold an inferior rank; far more, the things which follow the first are also called first in respect to those which follow. Likewise, in speaking of intelligible things, the word “subject” is used in a different sense. It may also be doubted that they suffer (“experience”), and it is evident that if they do suffer, it is in an entirely different manner.


Not to be in a subject is then the common characteristic of all “being,” if, by “not being in a subject,” we mean “not to form part of any subject,” and “not to contribute to the formation of a unity therewith.” Indeed, that which contributes to the formation of a composite being, with something else, could not be in that thing as in a subject; form therefore is not in matter as in a subject, and neither is “man” in Socrates as in a subject, because “man” forms part of Socrates. Thus, “being” is that which is not in a subject. If we add that “being” is not predicated of any subject, we must also add, “insofar as this subject is something different from itself;” otherwise “man,” predicated of some one man, would not be comprised within the definition of “being,” if (in asserting that “being” is not predicated of any subject), we did not add, “so far as this subject is something different from itself.” When I say, “Socrates is a man,” I am practically saying, “White is white,” and not, “wood is white.” While actually asserting that “Socrates is a man,” I am asserting that a particular man is a man, and to say “The man who is in Socrates is a man,” amounts to saying “Socrates is Socrates,” or, “that particular reasonable living organism is a living organism.”


It might however be objected that the property of “being” does not consist in being a subject; for the difference (as, for instance, a biped), is also one of those things which are not in a subject. If “biped” be considered as a part of being, we are compelled to recognize that “biped” is not in a subject; but if by “biped” we do not mean some particular “being” but the property of being a biped, then we are no longer speaking of a being, but of a quality, and “biped” will be in a subject.

But time and place do not seem to be in a subject! If we define time as “the measure of movement,” (there are two possibilities). First, time might be measured movement; and then it will be in movement as in a subject, while movement itself will be in the moved thing. Or, time will be what measures (the soul, or the present moment), and then it will be in what measures as in a subject. As to space, as it is the limit of what contains, it will also reside in what contains. It is otherwise with the “being” that we are here considering. “Being,” then, will have to be considered as consisting in either one, or in several, or in all the properties of which we are speaking; because these properties simultaneously suit matter, form, and the combination.


6. It may perhaps be objected that we have here indicated the properties of “being,” but we have not described its nature. Such a request amounts to asking to see what sense-being is; now sense-being is, and “being” is not something which can be seen.

What then? Are fire and water not beings? Doubtless, they are. But are they beings merely because they are visible? No. Is it because they contain matter? No. Is it because they have a form? No. Is it because they are combinations? No. They are “beings,” because they “are.”

But one can also say that quantity, as well as that quality “is!” Yes, doubtless, but if we speak thus about quantity and quality, it is only by a figure of speech.,,

Then, in what consists the being of earth, fire, and other similar things? What is the difference between the being of these things and of others? The essence of the earth, of the fire, and so forth, exists in an absolute manner, while the essence of other things (is relative) and for instance, means merely being white. “Is” added to white is not the same thing as “essence” taken absolutely; is it? Certainly not. Essence taken absolutely is essence in the first degree; “to be” added to white, is essence by participation, essence in the second degree; for “to be,” added to white, makes white an essence; and white added to essence makes the being white; that is why white is an accident for essence, and “to be” an accident to white. It is not the same thing as if we said, Socrates is white, and, the White is Socrates; for in both cases Socrates is the same being; but it is not thus with whiteness; for, in the second case, Socrates is contained in the white, and in the first case, white is a pure accident. When we say, the being is white, the white is an accident of being; but when we say, the White is essence, the white contains essence. In short, white possesses existence only because it refers to “being,” and is in “being.” It is therefore from “being” that it receives its existence. On the contrary, essence draws its existence from itself; and from white it receives whiteness, not because it is in the white, but because the white is within it. As the essence which is in the sense-world is not Essence by itself, we must say that it draws its existence from the veritable Essence, in itself; and, finally, the White in itself possesses essence because it participates in the intelligible Essence.


7. If somebody should object that material things derive their essence from matter, we should have to ask from whence matter itself draws its essence and existence; for we have elsewhere demonstrated that matter does not hold the first rank.

If, however, it be further objected, that the other things could not exist without being in matter, we will answer that that is true only for sense-things. But if matter be anterior to sense-things, that does not hinder itself being posterior to many other things, and to all intelligible things; for the existence of matter is far more obscure than the things in matter, if these things be (“seminal) reasons,” which participate deeper in essence, while matter is completely irrational, being an adumbration, and a decay of reason.

It may further be objected that matter gives essence to material things, as Socrates gives essence to the white that is in him. We will answer that what possesses a superior degree of Essence may well confer a lesser degree of essence to what possesses a still inferior degree thereof, but that the reciprocal or converse condition is impossible. Now, as form is more essence than matter, essence cannot be predicated equally of matter and form, and “being” is not a genus whose species is matter, form and the combination. These three things have several common characteristics, as we have already said, but they differ in respect to essence; for when something which possesses a superior degree of essence approaches something which possesses an inferior degree (as when form approaches matter), this thing, although anterior in (the ontological) order, is posterior in respect to being; consequently, if matter, form and the combination be not “beings” equally, no longer is being for them something common, like a genus. Nevertheless, “being” will be in a less narrow relation with things which are posterior to matter, to form, and to the combination, though it gives each of them the property of belonging to themselves. It is thus that life has different degrees, one stronger, the other weaker, and that the images of a same object are some more lively, others more obscure. If essence be measured by a lower degree of essence, and if the superior degree which exists in other things be omitted, essence thus considered will be a common element. But that is not a good way of procedure. Indeed, each whole differs from the others, and the lesser degree of essence does not constitute something that was common to all; just as, for life, there is not something common to vegetative life, to sensitive life, and rational life.


Consequently, essence differs both in matter and in form; and these two (entities) depend from a third (intelligible Being), which communicates itself to them unequally. The anterior Being possesses a better nature (“essence”) than any posterior being, not only when the second proceeds from the first, and the third from the second; but when two things proceed from one and the same thing, the same (condition of affairs) may be observed. Thus does the clay (when fashioned by the potter) become a tile not only according as it participates in the fire more or less (is more or less thoroughly baked). Besides, matter and form do not proceed from the same intelligible principle; for the intelligibles also differ among each other.


8. Besides, it is not necessary to divide the combination in form and matter, now that we speak of sense-being, a “being” which has to be perceived by the senses, rather than by reason. Neither is it necessary to add of what this being is composed; for the elements which compose it are not beings, or at least not sense-beings. What has to be done here is to embrace in a single genus what is common to stone, to earth, to water, and to the things compounded of them; namely, to plants and animals so far as they respond to sensation. In this way, we shall consider both form and matter; for sense-being contains them both. Thus fire, earth, and their intermediaries are both matter and form; as to the combinations, they contain several beings united together. What then is the common characteristic of all these beings, which separates them from other things? They serve as subjects to other things, and are not contained in one subject, and do not belong to something else; in short, all the characteristics we have enumerated above suit sense-being.


But how shall we separate the accidents from sense-being, if it have no existence without dimension or quality? Of what will sense-being consist, if we remove from it dimension, figure (or outward appearance), color, dryness, and humidity? For sense-beings are qualified. The qualities which change simple into qualified “being” refer to something. Thus, it is not the entire fire which is being, but something of the fire, one of its parts. Now what is this part, if it be not matter? Sense-being, therefore, consists in the reunion of quality and matter; and being is constituted by the totality of these things blended in a single matter. Each thing taken separately will be quality or quantity, and so forth; but the thing whose absence makes “being” incomplete is a part of that being. As to the thing which is added to already complete being, it has its own place; and it is not lost in the blending which constitutes “being.” I do not say that such a thing, taken with others, is a being when it completes a matter of some particular size and quality, and that it is no more than a quality when it does not complete this mass; I say that even here below not everything is “being,” and that only the totality which embraces everything is “being.” Let none complain that we are constituting “being” as of that which is not being; for even the totality is not a veritable “being.” (Here this word is used in both sensual and intelligible senses, as a pun), and only offers the image of the veritable (Being), which possesses essence independently of all that refers to it, and itself produces the other things because it possesses veritable (Existence). Here below the substrate possesses essence only incompletely, and, far from producing other things, is sterile; it is only an adumbration, and onto this adumbration are reflected images which have only the appearance (instead of real existence.)


9. So much then for what we had to say of sense-being, and the genus it constitutes. It remains to analyze it into species. Every sense-being is a body; but there are elementary and organized bodies; the former are fire, earth, water and air; the organized bodies are those of plants and animals, which are distinguished from each other by their forms. The earth and the other elements may be divided into species. Plants and bodies of animals may be classified according to their forms; or we could classify apart the terrestrial animals, that inhabit the earth, and those which belong to some other element. We might also analyze bodies into those that are light, heavy, or intermediary; the heavy bodies remaining in the middle of the world, the light bodies in the superior region which surrounds the world, and the intermediary bodies dwelling in the intermediary region. In each one of these regions the bodies are distinguished by their exterior appearance (or, figure); thus there exist the bodies of the (stars, or) celestial bodies, and then those that belong to particular elements. After having distributed the bodies according to the four elements, they could be blended together in some other manner, and thus beget their mutual differences of location, forms, and mixtures. Bodies could also be distinguished as fiery, terrestrial, and so forth, according to their predominating element.


As to the distinction drawn between primary and secondary being, it must be admitted that some particular fire, and the universal Fire differ from each other in this, that the one is individual, and the other universal; but the difference between them does not seem to be essential. Indeed, does the genus of quality contain both White, and a particular white; or Grammar, and some particular grammatical science? How far does Grammatical science then have less reality than some particular grammatical science, and Science, than some particular science? Grammatical science is not posterior to some particular grammatical science; Grammatical science must already have existed before the existence of the grammatical science in you, since the latter is some grammatical science because it is found in you; it is besides identical with universal Grammatical science. Likewise, it is not Socrates that caused him who was not a man to become a man; it is rather the universal Man who enabled Socrates to be a man; for the individual man is man by participation in the universal Man. What then is Socrates, if not some man? In what does such a man contribute to render “being” more “being”? If the answer be that he contributes thereto by the fact that the universal Man is only a form, while a particular man is a form in matter, the result will only be that a particular man will be less of a man; for reason (that is, essence) is weaker when it is in matter. If the universal Man consist not only in form itself, but is also in matter, in what will he be inferior to the form of the man who is in matter, since it will be the reason of the man which is in matter? By its nature the universal is anterior, and consequently the form is anterior to the individual. Now that which by its nature is anterior is an absolute anterior. How then would the universal be less in being? Doubtless the individual, being better known to us, is anterior for us; but no difference in the things themselves results. Besides, if we were to admit the distinction between primary and secondary beings, the definition of “being” would no longer be one; for that which is first and that which is second are not comprised under one single definition, and do not form a single and same genus.


10. Bodies may also be distinguished by heat or dryness, wetness or cold, or in any other desired manner, by taking two qualities simultaneously, then considering these things as a composition and mixture, and ceasing at the combination thereof. Or, bodies may be divided in terrestrial bodies, that dwell on the earth, or distribute them according to their forms, and the differences of animals; by classifying not the animals themselves, but their bodies, which are their instruments, as it were. It is proper to establish a classification according to the forms, as it is equally reasonable to classify bodies according to their qualities, such as heat, cold, and so forth. If it be objected that bodies are constituted rather by their qualities, it may be answered that they are just as much classified by their blends, their colors, and their figures. When analyzing sense-being, it is not unreasonable to classify it according to the differences that appear to the senses. This (“being”) does not possess absolute (Essence); it is the totality of the matter and qualities which constitutes the sense-being, since we have said that its hypostatic existence consists in the union of the things perceived by the senses, and that it is according to the testimony of their senses that men believe in the existence of things.


The composition of the bodies being varied, they may also be classified according to the specific forms of the animals. Such, for instance, would be the specific form of a man united to a body; for this form is a quality of body, and it is reasonable to analyze it according to the qualities. If it should be objected that we have said above that some bodies are simple, while others are composite, thus contrasting the simple and the composite, we shall answer that, without regarding their composition, we have also said that they are either brute or organized. The classification of bodies should not be founded on the contrast between the simple and the composite, but, as we first did, we may classify the simple bodies in the first rank. Then, by considering their blendings, one may start from another principle to determine the differences offered by the composites under the respect of their figure or their location; thus, for instance, bodies might be classified in celestial and terrestrial. This may close our consideration of sense-being, or generation.


11. Let us now pass to quantity and quantitatives. When treating of quantity, we have already said that it consists in number and dimension, in so far as some thing possesses such a quantity, that is, in the number of material things, and in the extension of the subject. Here indeed we are not treating of abstract quantity, but of a quantity which causes a piece of wood to measure three feet, or that horses are five in number. Consequently, as we have said, we should call extension and number (considered from the concrete viewpoint) “quantitatives”; but this name could could be applied neither to time nor space; time, being the measure of movement, re-enters into relation; and place, being that which contains the body, consists of a manner of being, and consequently, in a relation. (So much the less should we call time and place “quantitatives,” as) movement, though continuous, does not either belong to the genus of quantity.


Should “large” and “small” be classified within the genus of quantity? Yes: for the large is large by a certain dimension, and dimension is not a relation. As to “greater” and “smaller,” they belong to relation; for a thing is greater or smaller in relation to something else, just as when it is double. Why then do we sometimes say that a mountain is large, and that a grain of millet is small? When we say that a mountain is small, we use the latter term instead of smaller; for they who use this expression themselves acknowledge that they call a mountain small only by comparing it to other mountains, which implies that here “little” stands for “smaller.” Likewise, when we say that a grain of millet is large, this does not mean “large” in any absolute sense, but large only for a grain of millet; which implies that one compares it to things of the same kind, and that here “large” means “larger.”


Why then do we not also classify the beautiful among the relatives? Because beauty is such by itself, because it constitutes a quality, while “more beautiful” is a relative. Nevertheless the thing which is called beautiful would sometimes appear ugly, if it were compared to some other, as, for instance, if we were to contrast the beauty of men with that of the gods; hence the expression (of Heraclitus’s): “The most beautiful of monkeys would be ugly if compared with an animal of a different kind.” When beauty is predicated of something, it is considered in itself; it might perhaps be called more beautiful or more ugly if it were compared to another. Hence it results that, in the genus of which we are treating, an object is in itself great because of the presence of greatness, but not in respect to some other. Otherwise, we would be obliged to deny that a thing was beautiful because of the existence of some more beautiful one. Neither therefore must we deny that a thing is great because there is only one greater than it; for “greater” could not exist without “great,” any more than “more beautiful” without “beautiful.”


12. It must therefore be admitted that quantity admits of contraries. Even our thought admits of contraries when we say “great” and “small,” since we then conceive of contraries, as when we say, “much and little”; for much and little are in the same condition as great and small. Sometimes it is said, “At home there are many people,” and by this is intended a (relatively) great number; for in the latter case it is a relative. Likewise it is said, “There are few people in the theater,” instead of saying, “there are less people,” (relatively); but when one uses the word “many” a great multitude in number must be understood.


How then is multitude classified among relatives? It forms part of relatives in that multitude is an extension of number, while its contrary is a contraction. Likewise is it with continuous dimension; we conceive of it as prolonged. Quantity therefore has a double origin: progression of unity, and of the point. If either progression cease promptly, the first one produces “little,” and the second, “small.” If both be prolonged, they produce “much,” and “large.” What then is the limit that determines these things? The same question may be asked about the beautiful, and about warmth; for there is also “warmer”; only, the latter is a relative, while Warm, taken absolutely, is a quality. As there is a “reason” of the beautiful (a reason that would produce and determine the beautiful), likewise there must be a reason for the Great, a reason by participation in which an object becomes great, as the reason of the Beautiful makes beautiful. Such are the things for which quantity admits contraries.


For space, there is no contrary, because strictly space does not belong to the genus of quantity. Even if space were part of quantity, “high” would not be the contrary of anything unless the universe contained also “low.” The terms high and low, applied to parts, signify only higher and lower than something else. It is so also with right and left, which are relatives.


Syllables and speech are quantitatives; they might be subjects in respect to quantity, but only so by accident. Indeed, the voice, by itself, is a movement, it must therefore be reduced to movement and action.


13. We have already explained that discrete quantity is clearly distinguished from continuous quantity, both by its own definition, and the general definition (for quantity). We may add that numbers are distinguished from each other by being even and odd. If besides there be other differences amidst the even and odd numbers, these differences will have to be referred to the objects in which are the numbers, or to the numbers composed of unities, and not any more to those which exist in sense-beings. If reason separate sense-things from the numbers they contain, nothing hinders us then from attributing to these numbers the same differences (as to the numbers composed of unities).


What distinctions are admitted by continuous quantity? There is the line, the surface, and the solid; for extension may exist in one, two or three dimensions (and thus count the numerical elements of continuous size) instead of establishing species. In numbers thus considered as anterior or posterior to each other, there is nothing in common, which would constitute a genus. Likewise in the first, second and third increases (of a line, surface, and solid) there is nothing in common; but as far as quantity is found, there is also equality (and inequality), although there be no extension which is quantitative more than any other. However, one may have dimensions greater than another. It is therefore only in so far as they are all numbers, that numbers can have anything in common. Perhaps, indeed, it is not the monad that begets the pair, nor the pair that begets the triad, but it may be the same principle which begets all the numbers. If numbers be not derivative, but exist by themselves, we may, at least within our own thought, consider them as begotten (or, derivative). We conceive of the smaller number as the anterior, the greater as posterior. But numbers, as such, may all be reduced to unity.


The method of classification adopted for numbers may be applied to sizes, and thus distinguish the line, the surface, and the solid or body, because those are sizes which form different species. If besides each of these species were to be divided, lines might be subdivided into straight, curved and spiral; surfaces into straight and curved; solids into round or polyhedral bodies. Further, as geometers do, may come the triangle, the quadrilateral, and others.


14. But what about the straight line? Is it not a magnitude? Possibly; but if it be a magnitude, it is a qualified one. It is even possible that straightness constitutes a difference of the (very nature of the) line, as line, for straightness refers solely to a line; and besides, we often deduce the differences of “Essence” from its qualities. That a straight line is a quantity added to a difference does not cause its being composed of the line, and of the property of straightness; for, were it thus composed, straightness would be its chief difference.


Now let us consider the triangle, which is formed of three lines. Why should it not belong to quantity? Would it be so, because it is not constituted by three lines merely, but by three lines arranged in some particular manner? But a quadrilateral would also be constituted by four lines arranged in some particular manner. (But being arranged in some particular manner does not hinder a figure from being a quantity). The straight line, indeed, is arranged in some particular manner, and is none the less a quantity. Now if the straight line be not simply a quantity, why could this not also be said of a limited line? For the limit of the line is a point, and the point does not belong to any genus other than the line. Consequently, a limited surface is also a quantity, because it is limited by lines, which even more belong to quantity. If then the limited surface be contained in the genus of quantity, whether the surface be a triangle, a quadrilateral, a hexagon, or any other polygon, all figures whatever will belong to the genus of quantity. But if we assigned the triangle or quadrilateral to the genus of quality merely because we are speaking of some one definite triangle or quadrilateral, nothing would hinder one and the same thing from being subsumed under several categories. A triangle would then be a quantity so far as it was both a general and particular magnitude, and would be a quality by virtue of its possessing a particular form. The same might be predicated of the Triangle in itself because of its possessing a particular form; and so also with the sphere. By following this line of argument, geometry would be turned into a study of qualities, instead of that of quantities, which of course it is. The existing differences between magnitudes do not deprive them of their property of being magnitudes, just as the difference between essences does not affect their essentiality. Besides, every surface is limited, because an infinite surface is impossible. Further, when I consider a difference that pertains to essence, I call it an essential difference. So much the more, on considering figures, I am considering differences of magnitude. For if the differences were not of magnitude, of what would they be differences? If then they be differences of magnitude, the different magnitudes which are derived from differences of magnitude should be classified according to the species constituted by them (when considered in the light of being magnitudes).


15. But how can you qualify the properties of quantity so as to call them equal or unequal? Is it not usual to say of two triangles that they are similar? Could we not also predicate similarity of two magnitudes? Doubtless, for what is called similarity, does not conflict with similarity or dissimilarity in the genus of quantity. Here, indeed, the word “similarity” is applied to magnitudes in a sense other than to quality. Besides, if (Aristotle) said that the property characteristic of quantities is to enable them to be called equal or unequal, this does not conflict with predicating similarity of some of them. But as it has been said that the special characteristic of qualities is to admit of being called similar or dissimilar, we must, as has already been explained, understand similarity in a sense other than when it is applied to magnitudes. If similar magnitudes be identical, we must then consider the other properties of quantity and quality which might be present in them (so as clearly to contrast their differences). It may also be said that the term “similarity” applies to the genus of quantity so far as this contains differences (which distinguish from each other similar magnitudes).


In general, the differences which complete a being should be classified along with that of which they are the differences, especially when a difference belongs to a single subject. If a difference complete the being of a subject, and do not complete the being of another, this difference should be classified along with the subject whose being it completes, leaving that whose being it does not complete for separate consideration. By this we do not mean completing the Being in general, but completing some particular being, so that the subject spoken of as a particular one admits no further essential addition. We therefore have the right to say that triangles, or that quadrilaterals, as well as surfaces and solids, are equal, and to predicate equality or inequality of quantitative entities. But we yet have to study whether quality only can be said to be similar or dissimilar.


When we were treating of things that were qualified, we had already explained that matter, united to quantity, and taken with other things, constitutes sense-being; that this “being” seems to be a composite of several things, that it is not properly a “whatness,” but rather qualification (or, qualified thing). The (“seminal) reason,” for instance that of fire, has more of a reference to “whatness,” while the form that the reason begets is rather a qualification. Likewise, the (“seminal) reason” of man is a “whatness,” whilst the form that this reason gives to the body, being only an image of reason, is rather a qualification. Thus if the Socrates that we see was the genuine Socrates, his mere portrait composed of no more than colors would also be called Socrates. Likewise, although this (“seminal) reason” of Socrates be that which constitutes the genuine Socrates, we nevertheless also apply the name of Socrates to the man that we see; yet the colors, or the figure of the Socrates we see, are only the image of those which are contained by his (“seminal) reason.” Likewise, the reason of Socrates is itself only an image of the veritable reason (of the idea) of the man. This is our solution of the problem.


16. When we separately consider each of the things which compose sense-being and when we wish to designate the quality which exists among them, we must not call it “whatness,” any more than quantity or movement, but rather name it a characteristic, employing the expressions “such,” “as,” and “this kind.” We are thus enabled to indicate beauty and ugliness, such as they are in the body. Indeed, sense-beauty is no more than a figure of speech, in respect to intelligible beauty; it is likewise with quality, since black and white are also completely different (from their “reason,” or their idea).


Is the content of (“seminal) reason” and of a particular reason, identical with what appears, or does it apply thereto only by a figure of speech? Should it properly be classified among the intelligible, or the sense-objects? Sensual beauty of course evidently differs from intelligible beauty; but what of ugliness—in which classification does it belong? Must virtue be classified among intelligible or sensual qualities, or should we locate some in each class? (All this uncertainty is excusable, inasmuch) as it may be asked whether even the arts, which are “reasons,” should be classified among sense-qualities? If these reasons be united to a matter, they must have matter as their very soul. But what is their condition here below, when united to some matter? These reasons are in a case similar to song accompanied by a lyre; this song, being uttered by a sense-voice, is in relation with the strings of the lyre, while simultaneously being part of the art (which is one of these “seminal reasons”). Likewise, it might be said that virtues are actualizations, and not parts (of the soul). Are they sense-actualizations? (This seems probable), for although the beauty contained in the body be incorporeal, we still classify it among the things which refer to the body, and belong to it. As to arithmetic, and geometry, two different kinds must be distinguished: the first kind deals with visible objects, and must be classified among sense-objects; but the second kind deals with studies suitable to the soul, and should therefore be classified among intelligible entities. Plato considers that music and astronomy are in the same condition.


Thus the arts which relate to the body, which make use of the organs, and which consult the senses, are really dispositions of the soul, but only of the soul as applied to corporeal objects; and consequently, they should be classified among sense-qualities. Here also belong practical virtues, such as are implied by civil duties, and which, instead of raising the soul to intelligible entities, fructify in the actions of political life, and refer to them, not as a necessity of our condition, but as an occupation preferable to everything else. Among these qualities we shall have to classify the beauty contained in the (“seminal) reason,” and, so much the more, black and white.


But is the soul herself a sense-being, if she be disposed in a particular way, and if she contain particular “reasons” (that is, faculties, virtues, sciences and arts, all of which refer to the body, and which have been classified as sense-qualities)? It has already been explained that these “reasons” themselves are not corporeal; but that they have been classified among sense-qualities only because they referred to the body, and to the actions thereby produced. On the other hand, as sense-quality has been defined as the meeting of all the above enumerated entities, it is impossible to classify incorporeal Being in the same genus as the sensual being. As to the qualities of the soul, they are all doubtless incorporeal, but as they are experiences (or, sufferings, or, passions) which refer to terrestrial things, they must be classified in the genus of quality, just as the reasons of the individual soul. Of the soul we must therefore predicate experience, however dividing the latter in two elements, one of which would refer to the object to which it is applied, and the other to the subject in which it exists. Though then these experiences cannot be considered as corporeal qualities, yet it must be admitted they relate to the body. On the other hand, although we classify these experiences in the genus of quality, still the soul herself should not be reduced to the rank of corporeal being. Last, when we conceive of the soul as without experiences, and without the “reasons” above-mentioned, we are thereby classifying her along with the World from which she descends, and we leave here below no intelligible being, of any kind whatever.


17. Qualities, therefore, should be classified as of the body, and of the soul. Even though all the souls, as well as their immaterial qualities, be considered as existing on high, yet their inferior qualities must be divided according to the senses, referring these qualities either to sight, hearing, feeling, taste, or smell. Under sight, we will classify the differences of colors; under hearing, that of the sounds; and likewise, with the other senses. As to the sounds, inasmuch as they have but a single quality, they will have to be classified according to their being soft, harsh, agreeable, and the like.


It is by quality that we distinguish the differences which inhere in being, as well as the actualizations, the beautiful or ugly actions, and in general, all that is particular. Only very rarely do we discover in quantity differences which constitute species; so much is this the case, that it is generally divided by its characteristic qualities. We must therefore leave quantity aside, and that leads us to wonder how we may divide quality itself (since it is made use of to distinguish other things).


What sort of differences, indeed, might we use to establish such divisions, and from what genus would we draw them? It seems absurd to classify quality by quality itself. This is just as if the difference of “beings” were to be called “beings.” By what indeed could one distinguish white from black, and colors from tastes and sensations of touch? If we distinguish the difference of these qualities by the sense-organs, these differences would no longer exist in the subjects. How indeed could one and the same sense distinguish the difference of the qualities it perceives? Is it because certain things exercise an action that is constructive or destructive on the eyes, or the tongue? We would then have to ask what is the constructive or destructive element in the sensations thus excited? Yet, even were this answered, such an answer would not explain wherein these things differ.


A further possibility is that these things should be classified according to their effects, and that it is reasonable to do so with invisible entities, such as sciences; but this would not be applicable to sense-objects. When indeed we divide sciences by their effects, and when, in general, we classify them according to the powers of the soul, by concluding from the diversity of their effects that they differ, our mind grasps the difference of these powers, and it determines not only with what objects they deal, but it also defines their reason (or, essence). Let us admit that it is easy to distinguish arts according to their reasons, and according to the notions they include; but is it possible to divide corporeal qualities in that manner? Even when one studies the intelligible world, there is room for doubt as to how the different reasons distinguish themselves from each other; it is easy enough to see that white differs from black; but in what does it do so?


18. All the questions we have asked show that we doubtless must seek to discover the differences of the various (beings), so as to distinguish them from each other; but that it is as impossible as it is unreasonable to inquire what are the differences of the differences themselves. Being of beings, quantities of quantities, qualities of qualities, differences of differences cannot be discovered; but we should, wherever possible, classify exterior objects, either according to their effects, or according to salient characteristics. When this is impossible, objects should be distinguished, as for instance dark from light green.

But how is white distinguished from black? Sensation or intelligence tell us that those things are different without informing us of their reason; either sensation, because its function is not to set forth the reason of things, but only to bring them somehow to our attention; or intelligence, because it discerns things that are simple by intuition, without having to resort to ratiocination, and limits itself to the statement that something is such or such. Besides, in each one of the operations of intelligence there is a difference (a special distinctive characteristic) which enables it to distinguish different things, without this difference (which is proper to each of the operations of intelligence) itself having need to be discerned by the help of some other difference.


Are all qualities differences, or not? Whiteness, colors, qualities perceived by touch and taste, may become differences between different objects, though they themselves be species. But how do the sciences of grammar or of music constitute differences? The science of grammar renders the mind grammatical, and the science of music renders the mind musical, especially if they be untaught; and these thus become specific differences. Besides, we have to consider whether a difference be drawn from the same genus (from which the considered things are drawn), or from some other genus. If it be drawn from the same genus, it fulfills, for the things of this genus, the same function as does a quality to the quality to which it serves as difference. Such are virtue and vice; virtue is a particular habit, and vice is also a particular habit; consequently, as habits are qualities, the differences of these habits (either of virtue or vice) will be qualities. It may perhaps be objected that a habit without difference is not a quality, and that it is the difference alone which constitutes the quality. We will answer that it is (commonly) said that sweet is good, and that bitter is bad; this then implies a recognition of their difference by a habit (a manner of being), and not by a quality.

What if sweet be said to be “crude,” or thick and bitter, thin or refined? The answer is that coarseness does not inform us of the nature of sweetness, but indicates a manner of being of what is sweet; and similarly, with what is refined.


There remains for us to examine if a difference of a quality never be a quality, as that of a being is not a being, nor that of a quantity, a quantity. Does five differ from three by two? No: five does not differ from three, it only exceeds it by two. How indeed could five differ from three by two, when five contains two? Likewise, a movement does not differ from a movement by a movement. As to virtue and vice, here is one whole opposed to another whole, and it is thus that the wholes are distinguished. If a distinction were drawn from the same genus, that is, from quality, instead of founding itself on another genus; as, for instance, if one said that such a vice referred to pleasures, some other to anger, some other to acquisitiveness, and if one were to admit that such a classification was good; it would evidently result that there are differences that are not qualities.


19. As has been indicated above, the genus of quality contains the (beings) which are said to be qualified (qualitative entities), inasmuch as they contain some quality (as, for instance, the handsome man, so far as he is endowed with beauty). These (beings) however do not properly belong to this genus, for otherwise there would here be two categories. It suffices to reduce them to the quality which supplies their name.

So non-whiteness, if it indicate some color other than white, is a quality; if it express merely a negation, or an enumeration, it is only a word, or a term which recalls the object; if it be a word, it constitutes a movement (so far as it is produced by the vocal organ); if it be a name or a term, it constitutes, so far as it is a significative, a relative. If things be classed not only by genera, if it be admitted that each assertion and expression proclaim a genus, our answer must be that some affirm things by their mere announcement, and that others deny them. It may perhaps be best not to include negations in the same genus as things themselves, since, to avoid mingling several genera, we often do not include affirmations.

As to privations, it may be remarked that if the things of which there are privations are qualities, then the privations themselves are qualities, as “toothless,” or “blind.” But “naked” and (its contrary) “clothed” are neither of them qualities; they rather constitute habits, and thus belong among relatives.

Passion, at the moment it is felt, does not constitute a quality, but a movement; when it has been experienced, and has become durable, it forms a quality; further, if the (being) which has experienced the passion have kept none of it, it will have to be described as having been moved, which amounts to the same thing as really being moved. However, in this case, the conception of time will have to be abstracted from that of movement; for we must not add the conception of the present to that of movement.

Finally, (the adverb) “well,” and the other analogous terms may be reduced to the simple notion of the genus of quality.

It remains to examine if we must refer to the genus of quality “being red” without also doing so for “reddening” for “blushing” does not belong to it, because he who blushes suffers (experiences), or is moved. But as soon as he ceases blushing, if he have already blushed, this is a quality; for quality does not depend on time, but consists in being such or such; whence it follows that “having blushed” is a quality. Therefore we shall regard as qualities only habits, and not mere dispositions; being warm, for instance, and not warming up; being sick, but not becoming sick.


20. Does every quality have an opposite? As to vice and virtue, there is, between the extremes, an intermediary quality which is the opposite of both, but, with colors, the intermediaries are not contraries. This might be explained away on the ground that the intermediary colors are blends of the extreme colors. However, we ought not to have divided colors in extremes and intermediaries, and opposed them to each other; but rather have divided the genus of color into black and white, and then have shown that other colors are composed of these two, or differentiated another color that would be intermediate, even though composite. If it be said that intermediary colors are not opposite to the extremes because opposition is not composed of a simple difference, but of a maximal difference, it will have to be answered that this maximal difference results from having interposed intermediaries; if these were removed, the maximal difference would have no scale of comparison. To the objection that yellow approximates white more than black, and that the sense of sight supports this contention; that it is the same with liquids where there is no intermediary between cold and hot; it must be answered that white and yellow and other colors compared to each other similarly likewise differ completely; and, because of this their difference, constitute contrary qualities; they are contrary, not because they have intermediaries, but because of their characteristic nature. Thus health and sickness are contraries, though they have no intermediaries. Could it be said that they are contraries because their effects differ maximally? But how could this difference be recognized as maximal since there are no intermediaries which show the same characteristics at a less degree? The difference between health and sickness could not therefore be demonstrated to be maximal. Consequently, oppositeness will have to be analyzed as something else than maximal difference. Does this mean only a great difference? Then we must in return ask whether this “great” mean “greater by opposition to something smaller,” or “great absolutely”? In the first case, the things which have no intermediary could not be opposites; in the second, as it is easily granted that there is a great difference between one nature and another, and as we have nothing greater to serve as measure for this distance, we shall have to examine by what characteristics oppositeness might be recognized.


To begin with, resemblance does not mean only belonging to the same genus, nor mere confusion from more or less numerous characteristics, as, for instance, by their forms. Things that possess resemblance, therefore, are not opposites. Only things which have nothing identical in respect to species are opposites; though we must add that they must belong to the same genus of quality. Thus, though they have no intermediaries, we can classify as opposites the things which betray no resemblance to each other; in which are found only characteristics which do not approximate each other, and bear no kind of analogy to each other. Consequently, objects which have something in common in the respect of colors could not be contraries. Besides, not everything is the contrary of every other thing; but one thing is only the contrary of some other; and this is the case with tastes as well as with colors. But enough of all this.


Does a quality admit of more or less? Evidently the objects which participate in qualities participate therein more or less. But the chief question is whether there be degrees in virtue or justice? If these habits possess a certain latitude, they have degrees. If they have no latitude, they are not susceptible of more or less.


21. Let us pass to movement. Admittedly movement is a genus with the following characteristics: first, movement cannot be reduced to any other genus; then, nothing higher in the scale of being can be predicated of it; last, it reveals a great number of differences which constitute species.


To what genus could (movement) be reduced? It constitutes neither the being nor the quality of the (being) in which it exists. It is not even reducible to action, for in passion (or, experience) there are several kinds of movements; and it is the actions and passions which are reducible to movement. Further, movement need not necessarily be a relative merely because movement does not exist in itself, that it belongs to some being, and that it exists in a subject; otherwise, we should have to classify quality also as a relation; for quality belongs to some (being) and exists in a subject; it is not so however, with a quantity. It might be objected that, though each of them exist in some subject, the one by virtue of its being a quality, and the other, of being a quantity, they themselves are not any the less species of essences. The same argument would apply to movement; though it belong to some subject, it is something before belonging to a subject, and we must consider what it is in itself. Now what is relative is not at first something by itself, and then the predicate of something else; but what is born of the relation existing between two objects, is nothing else outside the relation to which it owes its name; thus the double, so far as it is called doubleness, is neither begotten, nor exists except in the comparison established between it and a half, since, not being conceived of before, it owes its name and its existence to the comparison thus established.


What then is movement? While belonging to a subject, it is something by itself before belonging to a subject, as are quality, quantity, and being. To begin with, nothing is predicated before it, and of it, as a genus. Is change anterior to movement? Here change is identical with movement, or if change is to be considered a genus, it will form a genus to be added to those already recognized. Besides, it is evident that, on this hypothesis, movement will become a species, and to it will be opposed, as another species, “generation,” as, for instance, “generation” is a change, but not a movement. Why then should generation not be a movement? Is it because what is generated does not yet exist, and because movement could not exist in non-being? Consequently, neither will generation be a change. Or is this so because generation is an alteration and increase, and because it presupposes that certain things are altered, and increase? To speak thus is to busy ourselves with things that precede generation. Generation presupposes production of some other form; for generation does not consist in an alteration passively undergone, such as being warmed, or being whitened; such effects could be produced before realization of the generation. What then occurs in generation? There is alteration. Generation consists in the production of an animal or plant, in the reception of a form. Change is much more reasonably to be considered a species, than movement; because the word change means that one thing takes the place of another, while movement signifies the actualization by which a being passes from what is proper to it, to what is not, as in the translation from one place to another. If that be not admitted (to define movement), it will at least have to be acknowledged that the action of studying it, as that of playing the lyre, and in general, all the movements that modify a habit, would be subsumed within our definition. Alteration therefore could not be anything else but a species of movement; since it is a movement which produces passage from one state to another.


22. Granting that alteration is the same thing as movement, so far as the result of movement is to render something other than it was, (we still have to ask) what then is movement? To indulge in a figurative expression, it is the passage of potentiality to the actualization of which it is the potentiality.


Let us, indeed, suppose, that something which formerly was a potentiality succeeds in assuming a form, as “potentiality that becomes a statue,” or that passes to actualization, as a man’s walk. In the case where the metal becomes a statue, this passage is a movement; in the case of the walking, the walk itself is a movement, like the dance, with one who is capable of it. In the movement of the first kind, where the metal passes into the condition of being a statue, there is the production of another form which is realized by the movement. The movement of the second kind, the dance, is a simple form of the potentiality, and, when it has ceased, leaves nothing that subsists after it.


We are therefore justified in calling movement “an active form that is aroused,” by opposition to the other forms which remain inactive. (They may be so named), whether or not they be permanent. We may add that it is “the cause of the other forms,” when it results in producing something else. This (sense-) movement may also be called the “life of bodies.” I say “this movement,” because it bears the same name as the movements of the intelligence, and those of the soul.


What further proves that movement is a genus, is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to grasp it by a definition. But how can it be called a form when its result is deterioration, or something passive? It may then be compared to the warming influence of the rays of the sun, which exerts on some things an influence that makes them grow, while other things it shrivels. In both cases, the movement has something in common, and is identical, so far as it is a movement; the difference of its results is due to the difference of the beings in which it operates. Are then growing sick and convalescence identical? Yes, so far as they are movements. Is their difference then due to their subjects, or to anything else? This question we will consider further on, while studying alteration. Now let us examine the elements common to all movements; in that way we shall be able to prove that movement is a genus.


First, the word “movement” can be used in different senses, just as essence, when considered a genus. Further, as we have already said, all the movements by which one thing arrives at a natural state, or produces an action suitable to its nature, constitute so many species. Then, the movements by which one thing arrives at a state contrary to its nature, have to be considered as analogous to that to which they lead.

But what common element is there in alteration, growth and generation, and their contraries? What is there in common between these movements, and the displacement in space, when you consider the four movements, as such? The common element is that the moved thing, after the movement, is no longer in the former state; that it no more remains quiet, and does not rest so long as the movement lasts. It ceaselessly passes to another state, alters, and does not remain what it was; for the movement would be vain if it did not make one thing other than it was. Consequently “otherness” does not consist in one thing becoming other than it was, and then persisting in this other state, but in ceaseless alteration. Thus, time is always different from what it was because it is produced by movement; for it is movement measured in its march and not in its limit of motion, or stopping point; it follows, carried away in its course. Further, one characteristic common to all kinds of movement is that it is the march (or process) by which potentiality and possibility pass into actualization; for every object in movement, whatever be the nature of this movement, succeeds in moving only because it formerly possessed the power of producing an action, or of experiencing the passion of some particular nature.


23. For sense-objects, which receive their impulse from without, movement is a stimulus which agitates them, excites them, presses them, prevents them from slumbering in inertia, from remaining the same, and makes them present an image of life by their agitation and continual mutations. Besides, one must not confuse the things that move with movement; walking is not the feet, but an actualization of the power connected with the feet. Now as this power is invisible, we perceive only the agitation of the feet; we see that their present state is quite different from that in which they would have been, had they remained in place, and that they have some addition, which however, is invisible. Thus, being united to objects other than itself, the power is perceived only accidentally, because one notices that the feet change place, and do not rest. Likewise, alteration in the altered object, is recognized only by failure to discover in it the same quality as before.


What is the seat of a movement acting on an object by passing from internal power to actualization? Is it in the motor? How will that which is moved and which suffers be able to receive it? Is it in the movable element? Why does it not remain in the mover? Movement must therefore be considered as inseparable from the mover, although not exclusively; it must pass from the mover into the mobile (element) without ceasing to be connected with the mover, and it must pass from the mover to the moved like a breath (or influx). When the motive power produces locomotion, it gives us an impulse and makes us change place ceaselessly; when it is calorific, it heats; when, meeting matter, it imparts thereto its natural organization, and produces increase; when it removes something from an object, this object decreases because it is capable thereof; last, when it is the generative power which enters into action, generation occurs; but if this generative power be weaker than the destructive power, there occurs destruction, not of what is already produced, but of what was in the process of production. Likewise, convalescence takes place as soon as the force capable of producing health acts and dominates; and sickness occurs, when the opposite power produces a contrary effect. Consequently, movement must be studied not only in the things in which it is produced, but also in those that produce it or transmit it. The property of movement consists therefore in being a movement endowed with some particular quality, or being something definite in a particular thing.


24. As to movement of displacement, we may ask if ascending be the opposite of descending, in what the circular movement differs from the rectilinear movement, what difference obtains in throwing an object at the head or at the feet. The difference is not very clear, for in these cases the motive power is the same. Shall we say that there is one power which causes raising, and another that lowers, especially if these movements be natural, and if they be the result of lightness or heaviness? In both cases, there is something in common, namely, direction towards its natural place, so that the difference is derived from exterior circumstances. Indeed, in circular and rectilinear movement, if someone move the same object in turn circularly and in a straight line, what difference is there in the motive power? The difference could be derived only from the figure (or outward appearance) of the movement, unless it should be said that the circular movement is composite, that it is not a veritable movement, and that it does not produce any change by itself. In all of these cases, the movement of displacement is identical, and presents only adventitious differences.


25. Of what do composition (blending, or mixture) and decomposition consist? Do they constitute other kinds of movement than those already noticed, generation and destruction, growth and decrease, movement of displacement and alteration? Shall composition and decomposition be reduced to some one of these kinds of motion, or shall we look at this process inversely? If composition consist in approximating one thing to another, and in joining them together; and if, on the other hand, decomposition consist in separating the things which were joined, we have here only two movements of displacement, a uniting, and a separating one. We should be able to reduce composition and decomposition to one of the above recognized kinds of motion, if we were to acknowledge that this composition was mingling, combination, fusion, and union—a union which consists in two things uniting, and not in being already united. Indeed, composition includes first the movement of displacement, and then an alteration; just as, in increase, there was first the movement of displacement, and then movement in the kind of the quality. Likewise, here there is first the movement of displacement, then the composition or decomposition, according as things approximate or separate. Often also decomposition is accompanied or followed by a movement of displacement, but the things which separate undergo a modification different from the movement of displacement; similarly, composition is a modification which follows the movement of displacement, but which has a different nature.


Shall we have to admit that composition and decomposition are movements which exist by themselves, and analyze alteration into them? Condensation is explained as undergoing an alteration; that means, as becoming composite. On the other hand, rarefaction is also explained as undergoing an alteration, namely, that of decomposition; when, for instance, one mingles water and wine, each of these two things becomes other than it was, and it is the composition which has operated the alteration. We will answer that here composition and decomposition no doubt precede certain alterations, but these alterations are something different than compositions and decompositions. Other alterations (certainly) are not compositions and decompositions, for neither can condensation nor rarefaction be reduced to these movements, nor are they composed of them. Otherwise, it would be necessary to acknowledge the (existence of) emptiness. Besides, how could you explain blackness and whiteness, as being composed of composition and decomposition? This doctrine would destroy all colors and qualities, or at least, the greater part of them; for if all alteration, that means, all change of quality, consisted in a composition or decomposition, the result would not be the production of a quality, but an aggregation or disaggregation. How indeed could you explain the movements of teaching and studying by mere “composition”?


26. Let us now examine the different kinds of movements. Shall we classify movements of displacement in movements upwards and downwards, rectilinear or curvilinear, or in movements of animate and inanimate beings? There is indeed a difference between the movement of inanimate beings, and that of animate beings; and these latter have different kinds of motion, such as walking, flying, and swimming. Their movements could also be analyzed in two other ways, according as it was conformable to, or against their nature; but this would not explain the outer differences of movements. Perhaps the movements themselves produce these differences, and do not exist without them; nevertheless, it is nature that seems to be the principle of the movements, and of their exterior differences. It would further be possible to classify movements as natural, artificial, and voluntary; of the natural, there are alteration and destruction; of the artificial, there are the building of houses, and construction of vessels; of the voluntary, there are meditation, learning, devoting oneself to political occupations, and, in general, speaking and acting. Last, we might, in growth, alteration and generation, distinguish the natural movement, and that contrary to nature; or even establish a classification founded on the nature of the subjects in which these movements occur.


27. Let us now study stability or stillness, which is the contrary of movement. Are we to consider it itself a genus, or to reduce it to some one of the known genera? First, stability rather suits the intelligible world, and stillness the sense-world. Let us now examine stillness. If it be identical with stability, it is useless to look for it here below where nothing is stable, and where apparent stability is in reality only a slower movement. If stillness be different from stability, because the latter refers to what is completely immovable, and stillness to what is actually fixed, but is naturally movable even when it does not actually move, the following distinction should be established. If stillness here below be considered, this rest is a movement which has not yet ceased, but which is imminent; if by stillness is understood the complete cessation of movement in the moved, it will be necessary to examine whether there be anything here below that is absolutely without movement. As it is impossible for one thing to possess simultaneously all the species of movement, and as there are necessarily movements that are not realized in it—since it is usual to say that some particular movement is in something—when something undergoes no displacement, and seems still in respect to this movement, should one not say about it that in this respect it is not moving? Stillness is therefore the negation of movement. Now no negation constitutes a genus. The thing we are considering is at rest only in respect to local movement; stillness expresses therefore only the negation of this movement.


It may perhaps be asked, why is movement not rather the negation of rest? We shall then answer that movement (is something positive), that it brings something with it; that it has some efficiency, that it communicates an impulsion to the subject, that produces or destroys many things; stillness, on the contrary, is nothing outside of the subject which is still, and means no more than that the latter is still.


But why should we not regard the stability of intelligible things also as a negation of movement? Because stability is not the privation of movement; it does not begin to exist when movement ceases, and it does not hinder it from simultaneous existence with it. In intelligible being, stability does not imply the cessation of movement of that whose nature it is to move. On the contrary, so far as intelligible being is contained in (or, expressed by) stability, it is stable; so far as it moves, it will ever move; it is therefore stable by stability, and movable by movement. The body, however, is no doubt moved by movement, but it rests only in the absence of movement, when it is deprived of the movement that it ought to have. Besides, what would stability be supposed to imply (if it were supposed to exist in sense-objects)? When somebody passes from sickness to health, he enters on convalescence. What kind of stillness shall we oppose to convalescence? Shall we oppose to it that condition from which that man had just issued? That state was sickness, and not stability. Shall we oppose to it the state in which that man has just entered? That state is health, which is not identical with stability. To say that sickness and health are each of them a sort of stability, is to consider sickness and health as species of stability, which is absurd. Further, if it were said that stability is an accident of health, it would result that before stability health would not be health. As to such arguments, let each reason according to his fancy!


28. We have demonstrated that acting and experiencing were movements; that, among the movements, some are absolute, while others constitute actions or passions.

We have also demonstrated that the other things that are called genera must be reduced to the genera we have set forth.

We have also studied relation, defining it as a habit, a “manner of being” of one thing in respect of another, which results from the co-operation of two things; we have explained that, when a habit of being constitutes a reference, this thing is something relative, not so much as it is being, but as far as it is a part of this being, as are the hand, the head, the cause, the principle, or the element. The relatives might be divided according to the scheme of the ancient (philosophers), by saying that some of them are efficient causes, while others are measures, that the former distinguish themselves by their resemblances and differences, while the latter consist in excess or in lack.

Such are our views about the (categories, or) genera (of existence).

Ennead 6.4. The One Identical Essence is Everywhere Entirely Present.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Ennead VI.5. The One Identical Essence is Everywhere Entirely Present.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

Ennead 6.6. Of Numbers.


1. Does manifoldness consist in distance from unity? Is infinity this distance carried to the extreme, because it is an innumerable manifoldness? Is then infinity an evil, and are we ourselves evil when we are manifold? (That is probable); or every being becomes manifold when, not being able to remain turned towards itself, it blossoms out; it extends while dividing; and thus losing all unity in its expansion, it becomes manifoldness, because there is nothing that holds its parts mutually united. If, nevertheless, there still remain something that holds its parts mutually united, then, though blossoming out, (the essence) remains, and becomes manifoldness.


But what is there to be feared in magnitude? If (the essence) that has increased could feel (it would feel that which in itself has become evil; for) it would feel that it had issued from itself, and had even gone to a great distance (from itself). No (essence), indeed, seeks that which is other than itself; every (essence) seeks itself. The movement by which (an essence) issues from itself is caused either by “audacity,” or necessity. Every (being) exists in the highest degree not when it becomes manifold or great, but when it belongs to itself; now this occurs when it concentrates upon itself. That which desires to become great in some other manner is ignorant of that in which true greatness consists; instead of proceeding towards its legitimate goal, it turns towards the outside. Now, on the contrary, to turn towards oneself, is to remain in oneself. The demonstration of this may be seen in that which participates in greatness; if (the being) develop itself so that each of its parts exist apart, each part will indeed exist, but (the being) will no longer be what it originally was. To remain what it is, all its parts must converge towards unity; so that, to be what it was in its being, it should not be large, but single. When it possesses magnitude, and quantity inheres in it, it is destroyed, while when it possesses unity, it possesses itself. Doubtless the universe is both great and beautiful; but it is beautiful only so far as the unity holds it in from dissipating into infinity. Besides, if it be beautiful, it is not because it is great, but because it participates in beauty; now, if it need participation in beauty, it is only because it has become so large. Indeed, isolated from beauty, and considered in itself as great, it is ugly. From this point of view, what is great is with beauty in the relation obtaining between matter and form, because what needs adornment is manifold; consequently, what is great has so much more need of being adorned and is so much more ugly (as it is great).


2. What opinion should we hold of that which is called the number of infinity? We must begin by examining how it can be a number, if it be infinite. Indeed, sense-objects are not infinite; consequently, the number which inheres in them could not be infinite, and he who numbers them, does not number infinity. Even if they were multiplied by two, or by more, they still could always be determined; if they were multiplied in respect of the past or the future, they would still be determined. It might be objected that number is not infinite in an absolute manner, but only (in a relative manner) in this sense, that it is always possible to add thereto. But he who numbers does not create numbers; they were already determined, and they existed (before being conceived by him who was numbering them). As beings in the intelligible world are determined, their number is also determined by the quantity of beings. Just as we make man manifold by adding to him the beautiful, and other things of the kind, we can make an image of number correspond to the image of every intelligible being. Just as, in thought, we can multiply a town that does not exist, so can we multiply numbers. When we number the parts of time, we limit ourselves to applying to them the numbers that we have in ourselves, and which, merely on that account, do not cease remaining in us.


3. How did the infinite, in spite of its infiniteness, reach existence? For the things which have arrived at existence, and which subsist, have been preparatorily contained in a number. Before answering this question, we must examine whether, when it forms part of veritable essences, multitude can be evil. On high, the manifoldness remains united, and is hindered from completely being manifoldness, because it is the one essence; but this is inferior to unity by this very condition that it is manifoldness, and thus, is imperfect in respect to unity. Therefore, though not having the same nature as the One, but a nature somewhat degraded (in comparison with unity), manifoldness is inferior to unity; but, by the effect of the unity which it derives from the One (since it is the one essence), it still possesses a venerable character, reduces to unity the manifold it contains, and makes it subsist in an immutable manner.


How can infinity subsist in the intelligible world? Either it exists among the genuine essences, and then is determined; or it is not determined, and then it does not exist among the veritable essences, but it must be classified among the things which exist in perpetual becoming, such as time. The infinite is determinate, but it is not any the less infinite; for it is not the limit which receives the determination, but the infinite; and between the boundary and the infinite there is no intermediary that could receive the determination. This infinite acts as if it were the idea of the boundary, but it is contained by what embraces it exteriorly. When I say that it flees, I do not mean that it passes from one locality to another, for it has no locality; but I mean that space has existed from the very moment that this infinite was embraced. We must not imagine that what is called the movement of the infinite consists in a displacement, nor admit that the infinite by itself possesses any other of the things that could be named; thus the infinite could neither move, nor remain still. Where indeed would it halt, since the place indicated by the word “where” is posterior to infinity? Movement is attributed to infinity only to explain that the infinite has no permanency. Should we believe that the infinite exists on high in one only and single place, or that it arises there, and descends here below? No: for it is in respect to one only and single place that we are enabled to conceive both what has risen and does not descend, as well as that which descends.


How then can we conceive the infinite? By making abstraction of form by thought. How will it be conceived? We may conceive of the infinite as simultaneously being the contraries, and not being them. It will have to be conceived as being simultaneously great and small; for the infinite becomes both of these. It may also be conceived as both being moved, and being stable; for the infinite becomes these two things also. But before the infinite becomes these two contraries, it is neither of them in any determinate manner; otherwise, you would have determined it. By virtue of its nature, the infinite is these things therefore in an indeterminate and infinite manner; only on this condition will it appear to be these contrary things. If, by applying your thought to the infinite, you do not entice it into a determination, as into a net, you will see the infinite escaping you, and you will not find anything in it that would be a unity; otherwise, you would have determined it. If you represented to yourself the infinite as a unity, it would seem to you manifold; if you say that it is manifold, it will again make game of you; for, all things do not form a manifold where no one thing is one. From still another standpoint, the nature of the infinite is movement, and according to another nature, stability; for its property of being invisible by itself constitutes a movement which distinguishes it from intelligence; its property of not being able to escape, of being exteriorly embraced, of being circumscribed within an unescapable circle constitutes a sort of stability. Movement therefore cannot be predicated of infinity, without also attributing stability to it.


4. Let us now examine how the numbers form part of the intelligible world. Are they inherent in the other forms? Or are they, since all eternity, the consequences of the existence of these forms? In the latter case, as the very essence possessed primary existence, we would first conceive the monad; then, as movement and stability emanated from it, we would have the triad; and each one of the remaining intelligible entities would lead to the conception of some of the other numbers. If it were not so, if a unity were inherent in each intelligible entity, the unity inherent in the first Essence would be the monad; the unity inherent in what followed it, if there be an order in the intelligible entities, would be the “pair”; last, the unity inhering in some other intelligible entity, such as, for instance, in ten, would be the decad. Nevertheless this could not yet be so, each number being conceived as existing in itself. In this case, will we be compelled to admit that number is anterior to the other intelligible entities, or posterior thereto? On this subject Plato says that men have arrived to the notion of number by the succession of days and nights, and he thus refers the conception of number to the diversity of (objective) things. He therefore seems to teach that it is first the numbered objects that by their diversity produce numbers, that number results from movement of the soul, which passes from one object to another, and that it is thus begotten when the soul enumerates; that is, when she says to herself, Here is one object, and there is another; while, so long as she thinks of one and the same object, she affirms nothing but unity. But when Plato says that being is in the veritable number, and that the number is in the being, he intends to teach that by itself number possesses a hypostatic substantial existence, that it is not begotten in the soul which enumerates, but that the variety of sense-objects merely recalls to the soul the notion of number.


5. What then is the nature of number? Is it a consequence, and partially an aspect of each being, like man and one-man, essence and one-essence? Can the same be said for all the intelligibles, and is that the origin of all numbers? If so, how is it that on high (in the intelligible world) the pair and triad exist? How are all things considered within unity, and how will it be possible to reduce number to unity, since it has a similar nature? There would thus be a multitude of unities, but no other number would be reduced to unity, except the absolute One. It might be objected that a pair is the thing, or rather the aspect of the thing which possesses two powers joined together, such as is a composite reduced to unity, or such as the Pythagoreans conceived the numbers, which they seem to have predicated of other objects, by analogy. For instance, they referred to justice as the (Tetrad, or) group-of-four, and likewise for everything else. Thus a number, as for instance a group-of-ten, would be considered as a single (group of) unity, and would be connected with the manifold contained in the single object. This, however, is an inadequate account of our conception of “ten”; we speak of the objects after gathering (ten) separate objects. Later, indeed, if these ten objects constitute a new unity, we call the group a “decad.” The same state of affairs must obtain with intelligible Numbers. If such were the state of affairs (answers Plotinus), if number were considered only within objects, would it possess hypostatic existence? It might be objected, What then would hinder that, though we consider white within things, that nevertheless the White should (besides) have a hypostatic substantial existence? For movement is indeed considered within essence, and yet (it is agreed that) movement possesses a “hypostatic” substantial existence within essence. The case of number, however, is not similar to that of movement; for we have demonstrated that movement thus considered in itself is something unitary. Moreover, if no more than such a hypostatic substantial existence be predicated of number, it ceases to be a being, and becomes an accident, though it would not even then be a pure accident; for what is an accident must be something before becoming the accident (of some substance). Though being inseparable therefrom, it must possess its own individual nature in itself, like whiteness; and before being predicated of something else, it already is what it is posited. Consequently, if one be in every (being), one man is not identical with man; if “one” be something different from “man” and from every other (being), if it be something common to all (beings), one must be anterior to all men and to all other (beings), so that man and all other beings may be one. The one is therefore anterior to movement, since movement is one, and likewise anterior to essence, to allow for essence also being one. This of course does not refer to the absolute Unity that is recognized as superior to essence, but of the unity which is predicated of every intelligible form. Likewise, above that of which the decad is predicated subsists the “Decad in itself,” for that in which the decad is recognized could not be the Decad in itself.


Does unity therefore inhere in essences, and does it subsist with them? If it inhere in essences, or if it be an accident, as health is an accident of man, it must be something individual (like health). If unity be an element of the composite, it will first have to exist (individually), and be an unity in itself, so as to be able to unify itself to something else; then, being blended with this other thing that it has unified, it will not longer remain really one, and will thereby even become double. Besides, how would that apply to the decad? What need of the (intelligible) Decad has that which is already a decad, by virtue of the power it possesses? Will it receive its form from that Decad? If it be its matter, if it be ten and decad only because of the presence of the Decad, the Decad will have first to exist in itself, in the pure and simple state of (being a) Decad.


6. But if, independently of the things themselves, there be an One in itself, and a Decad in itself; and if the intelligible entities be unities, pairs, or triads, independently of what they are by their being, what then is the nature of these Numbers? What is their constitution? It must be admitted that a certain Reason presides over the generation of these Numbers. It is therefore necessary clearly to understand that in general, if intelligible forms at all exist, it is not because the thinking principle first thought each of them, and thereby gave them hypostatic existence. Justice, for instance, was not born because the thinking principle thought what justice was; nor movement, because it thought what movement was. Thus thought had to be posterior to the thing thought, and the thought of justice to justice itself. On the other hand, thought is anterior to the thing that owes its existence to thought, since this thing exists only because it is thought. If then justice were identical with such a thought, it would be absurd that justice should be nothing else than its definition; for in this case, the thinking of justice or movement, would amount to a conception of these objects (by a definition). Now this would be tantamount to conceiving the definition of a thing that did not exist, which is impossible.


The statement that in what is immaterial, knowledge and the known thing coincide, must not be understood to mean that it is the knowledge of the thing which is the thing itself, nor that the reason which contemplates an object is this object itself, but rather, conversely, that it is the thing which, existing without matter, is purely intelligible and intellection. I do not here mean the intellection which is neither a definition nor an intuition of a thing; but I say that the thing itself, such as it exists in the intelligible world, is exclusively intelligence and knowledge. It is not (the kind of) knowledge that applies itself to the intelligible, it is the (actual) thing itself which keeps that knowledge (thereof possessed by reason) from remaining different from it, just as the knowledge of a material object remains different from that object; but it is a veritable (kind of) knowledge, that is, a knowledge which is not merely a simple image of the known thing, but really is the thing itself. It is not therefore the thought of the movement which produced movement in itself, but the movement in itself which produced the thought, so that the thought thinks itself as movement, and as thought. On the one hand, intelligible movement is thought by the intelligible Essence; on the other hand, it is movement in itself because it is first—for there is no movement anterior thereto; it is real movement, because it is not the accident of a subject, but because it is the actualization of the essence which moves, and possesses actualized (existence); it is therefore “being,” though it be conceived as different from essence. Justice, for instance, is not the simple thought of justice; it is a certain disposition of Intelligence, or rather it is an actualization of a determinate nature. The face of Justice is more beautiful than the evening or morning stars, and than all visible beauty. Justice may be imagined as an intellectual statue which has issued from itself and which has manifested itself such as it is in itself; or rather, which subsists essentially in itself.


7. We must, in fact, conceive intelligible essences as subsisting in one nature, and one single nature as possessing and embracing all (things). There no one thing is separated from the others, as in the sense-world, where the sun, moon, and other objects each occupy a different locality; but all things exist together in one unity; such is the nature of intelligence. The (universal) Soul imitates it, in this respect, as does also the power called Nature, conformably to which, and by virtue of which individuals are begotten each in a different place, while she remains in herself. But, although all things exist together (in the unity of Intelligence), each of them is none the less different from the others. Now, these things which subsist in Intelligence and “being,” are seen by the Intelligence that possesses them, not because it observes them, but because it possesses them without feeling the need of distinguishing them from each other; because from all eternity they have dwelt within it distinct from each other. We believe in the existence of these things on the faith of those who admire them, because they have participated therein. As to the magnitude and beauty of the intelligible world, we can judge of it by the love which the Soul feels for it, and if other things feel love for the Soul, it is because she herself possesses an intellectual nature, and that by her the other things can, to some extent, become assimilated to Intelligence. How indeed could we admit that here below was some organism gifted with beauty, without recognizing that the Organism itself (the intelligible world) possesses an admirable and really unspeakable beauty? Further, the perfect Organism is composed of all the organisms; or rather it embraces all the organisms; just as our Universe is one, yet simultaneously is visible, because it contains all the things which are in the visible universe.


8. Since then the (universal) Organism possesses primary existence, since it is simultaneously organism, intelligence, and veritable “Being”; and as we state that it contains all organisms, numbers, justice, beauty, and the other similar beings—for we mean something different by the Man himself, and Number itself, and Justice itself—we have to determine, so far as it is possible in such things, what is the condition and nature of each intelligible entity.


(To solve this problem) let us begin by setting aside sensation, and let us contemplate Intelligence by our intelligence exclusively. Above all, let us clearly understand that, as in us life and intelligence do not consist of a corporeal mass, but in a power without mass, likewise veritable “Being” is deprived of all corporeal extension, and constitutes a power founded on itself. It does not indeed consist in something without force, but in a power sovereignly vital and intellectual, which possesses life in the highest degree, intelligence, and being. Consequently, whatever touches this power participates in the same characteristics according to the manner of its touch; in a higher degree, if the touch be close; in a lower degree, if the touch be distant. If existence be desirable, the completest existence (or, essence) is more desirable still. Likewise, if intelligence deserve to be desired, perfect Intelligence deserves to be desired above everything; and the same state of affairs prevails in respect to life. If then we must grant that the Essence is the first, and if we must assign the first rank to Essence, the second to Intelligence, and the third to the Organism, as the latter seems already to contain all things, and Intelligence justly occupies the second rank, because it is the actualization of “Being”—then number could not enter into the Organism, for before the organism already existed one and two (“Being” and Intelligence). Nor could number exist in Intelligence, for before Intelligence was “Being,” which is both one and manifold. (Number therefore must exist, or originate, in the primary Being.)


9. It remains for us to discover whether it were “Being,” in the process of division, that begat number, or whether it be the number that divided “Being.” (This is the alternative:) either “being,” movement, stability, difference and identity produced number, or it is number that produced all these (categories, or) genera. Our discussion must start thus. Is it possible that number should exist in itself, or must we contemplate two in two objects, three in three objects, and so forth? The same question arises about unity as considered within numbers; for if number can exist in itself independently of numbered things, it can also exist previously to the essences. Can number therefore exist before the essences? It might be well preliminarily to assert that number is posterior to the Essence, and proceeds therefrom. But then if essence be one essence, and if two essences be two essences, one will precede essence, and the other numbers will precede the essences. (Would number then precede the essences) only in thought and conception, or also in the hypostatic existence? We should think as follows. When you think of a man as being one, or the beautiful as being one, the one that is thus conceived in both (beings) is something that is thought only afterward. Likewise, when you simultaneously consider a dog and a horse, here also two is evidently something posterior. But if you beget the man, if you beget the horse or the dog, or if you produce them outside when they already exist in you, without begetting them, nor producing them by mere chance (of seeing them), you will say, “We should go towards one (being), then pass to another, and thus get two; then make one more being, by adding my person.” Likewise, (beings) were not numbered after they were created, but before they were created, when (the creator) decided how many should be created.


The universal Number therefore existed before the essences (were created); consequently, Number was not the essences. Doubtless, Number was in Essence; but it was not yet the number of Essence; for Essence still was one. But the power of Number, hypostatically existing within it, divided it, and made it beget the manifold. Number is either the being or actualization (of Essence); the very Organism and Intelligence are number. Essence is therefore the unified number, while the essences are developed number; Intelligence is the number which moves itself, and the Organism is the number that contains. Since therefore Essence was born from Unity, Essence, as it existed within Unity, must be Number. That is why (the Pythagoreans) called the ideas unities and numbers.


Such then is “essential” Number (number that is “Being”). The other kind of number, which is called a number composed of digits, or “unities,” is only an image of the former. The essential Number is contemplated in the intelligible forms, and assists in producing them; on the other hand, it exists primitively in essence, with essence, and before the essences. The latter find therein their foundation, source, root and principle. Indeed, Number is the principle of Essence, and rests in it, otherwise it would split up. On the contrary, the One does not rest upon essence; otherwise essence would be one before participating in the One; likewise, what participates in the decad would be the decad already before participating in the decad.


10. Subsisting therefore in the manifold, Essence therefore became Number when it was aroused to multiplicity, because it already contained within itself a sort of preformation or representation of the essences which it was ready to produce, offering the essences, as it were, a locality for the things whose foundation they were to be. When we say, “so much gold,” or, “so many other objects,” gold is one, and one does not thereby intend to make gold out of the number, but to make a number out of the gold; it is because one already possesses the number that one seeks to apply it to gold, so as to determine its quality. If essences were anterior to Number, and if Number were contemplated in them when the enumerating power enumerates the objects, the number of the (beings), whatever it is, would be accidental, instead of being determined in advance. If this be not the case, then must number, preceding (the beings) determine how many of them must exist; which means that, by the mere fact of the primitive existence of the Number, the (beings) which are produced undergo the condition of being so many, and each of them participates in unity whenever they are one. Now every essence comes from Essence because essence, by itself, is Essence; likewise, the One is one by itself. If every (being) be one, and if the multitude of (beings) taken together form the unity that is in them, they are one as the triad is one, and all beings also are one; not as is the Monad (or Unity), but as is a thousand, or any other number. He who, while enumerating, produced things, proclaims that there are a thousand of them, claims to do no more than to tell out what he learns from the things, as if he was indicating their colors, while really he is only expressing a condition of his reason; without which, he would not know how much of a multitude was present there. Why then does he speak so? Because he knows how to enumerate; which indeed he knows if he know the number, and this he can know only if the number exist. But not to know what is the number, at least under the respect of quantity, would be ridiculous, and even impossible.


When one speaks of good things, one either designates objects which are such by themselves, or asserts that the good is their attribute. If one designate the goods of the first order, one is speaking of the first Hypostasis, or rank of existence; if one designate the things of which the good is the attribute, this implies the existence of a nature of the good which has been attributed to them, or which produces this characteristic within them, or which is the Good in itself, or which, producing the good, nevertheless dwells in its own nature. Likewise, when, in connection with (beings), we speak of a decad, (or, group of ten), one is either referring to the Decad in itself, or, referring to the things of which the decad is an attribute, one is forced to recognize the existence of a Decad in itself, whose being is that of a decad. Consequently, the conferring of the name “decad” implies either that these (beings) are the Decad in itself, or above them in another Decad whose being is that of being a Decad in itself.


In general, everything which is predicated of an object either comes to it from without, or is its actualization. Unless by nature it be inconstant, being present now, and absent then, if it be always present, it is a being when the object is a being. If it be denied that its nature were that of a being, it will surely be granted that it is a part of the essences, and that it is an essence. Now, if the object can be conceived without the thing which is its actualization, this thing nevertheless exists contemporaneously with it, even though in thought it be conceived posteriorily. If the object cannot be conceived without this thing, as man cannot be conceived of without one, in this case one is not posterior to man, but is simultaneous, or even anterior, since the man’s subsistence is entirely dependent thereon. As to us, we recognize that Unity and Number precede (Essence and the essences).


11. It may be objected that the decad is nothing else than ten unities. If the existence of the One be granted, why should we not also grant the existence of ten unities? Since the supreme Unity (the unity of the first Essence), possesses hypostatic existence, why should the case not be the same with the other unities (the complex unities contained within each of the essences)? It must not be supposed that the supreme Unity is bound up with a single essence; for in this case each of the other (beings) would no longer be one. If each of the other (beings) must be one, then unity is common to all the (beings); that is that single nature which may be predicated of the multiple (beings), and which must, as we have explained it, subsist in itself (in the primary essence) before the unity which resides in the multiple (beings).


As unity is seen in some one (being), and then in some other, if the second unity possess hypostatic existence also, then the supreme Unity (of the first Essence) will not alone possess hypostatic existence, and there will be thus a multitude of unities (as there is a multitude of beings). If the hypostatic existence of the first Unity be alone acknowledged, this will exist either in the Essence in itself, or in the One in itself. If it exist in the Essence in itself, the other unities (which exist in the other beings) will then be such merely by figure of speech, and will no longer be subordinated to the primary unity; or number will be composed of dissimilar unities, and the unities will differ from each other in so far as they are unities. If the primary unity exist already in the Unity in itself, what need would that Unity in itself have of that unity to be one? If all that be impossible, we shall have to recognize the existence of the One which is purely and simply one, which, by its “being” is entirely independent of all the other beings, which is named the chief Unity, and is conceived of as such. If unity exist on high (in the intelligible world) without any object that may be called one, why might not another One (the one of the first Being) subsist on high also? Why would not all the (beings), each being a separate unity, not constitute a multitude of unities, which might be the “multiple unity”? As the nature (of the first Being) begets, or rather, as it has begotten (from all eternity); or at least, as it has not limited itself to one of the things it has begotten, thus rendering the unity (of the first Being) somewhat continuous; if it circumscribe (what it produces) and promptly ceases in its procession, it begets small numbers; if it advance further, moving alone not in foreign matters, but in itself, it begets large numbers. It thus harmonizes every plurality and every being with every number, knowing well that, if each of the (beings) were not in harmony with some number, either they would not exist, or they would bear neither proportion, measure, nor reason.


12. (Aristotle) objects that “One” and “Unity” have no hypostatic (or, genuine) existence. Everywhere the One is something that is one. That is nothing but a simple modification experienced in our soul in presence of each essence. We might as easily affirm that when we assert “essence,” this is but a simple modification of our soul, Essence (in itself) being absolutely nothing. If it be insisted that Essence exists because it excites and strikes our soul, which then represents it to herself, we see that the soul is equally impressed by the One, and represents Him to herself. Besides, we should ask (Aristotle) if this modification or conception of our soul do not bear to us the aspect of unity or the manifold? So much the more, we often say that an object is not one; evidently we then are not deriving the notion of unity from the object, because we are affirming that there is no unity in it. Unity therefore dwells within us, and it is in us without the object of which we predicate that it is some one thing.


It may be objected that having this unity in our soul depends on receiving from the exterior object a notion and an image, which is a conception furnished by this object. As the philosophers who profess this opinion do not differentiate the species of one and of number, and as they allow them no other hypostatic existence (than to be conceived by our soul), if they (practically do) allow them any sort of hypostatic existence, it will be very interesting to scrutinize the opinions of these. They then say that the notion or conception that we have of the one or of the number derives from the objects themselves, is a notion as much “a posteriori” as those of “that,” “something,” “crowd,” “festival,” “army,” or of “multitude”; for, just as the manifold is nothing without the multiple objects, nor a festival without the men gathered to celebrate the religious ceremony, thus “the One” is nothing without the one object, when we posit the one, conceiving it alone, having made an abstraction of everything else. The partisans of this opinion will cite many examples of the same kind, as the “right hand side,” “the upper part,” and their contraries. What reality indeed (to speak as they do), can the “right hand side” possess outside of a person who stands or sits here or there? The case is similar with “the upper side,” which refers to a certain part of the universe, and the “lower side” to another. Our first answer to this argument is that we will allow that there is a certain kind of existence in the things themselves of which we have just spoken; but that this mode of existence is not identical in all things, considered either in respect to each other, or each in respect to the One which is in all. Further, we intend to refute one by one these arguments that have been opposed to us.


13. To begin with, it is unreasonable to insist that the notion of the subject one comes to us from the subject itself (which is one), from the visible man, for instance, or from some other animal, or even some stone. Evidently the visible man and the One are things entirely different, which could not be identified; otherwise, our judgment would not be able (as it is) to predicate unity of the non-man. Besides, as the judgment does not operate on emptiness for the right side, and other such things, seeing a difference of position when it tells us that an object is here, or there; likewise, it also sees something when it says that an object is one; for it does not experience there an affection that is vain, and it does not affirm unity without some foundation. It cannot be believed that the judgment says that an object is one because it sees that it is alone, and that there is no other; for, while saying that there is no other, the judgment implicitly asserts that the other is one. Further, the notions of “other” and “different” are notions posterior to that of unity; if the judgment did not rise to unity, it would not assert either the “other” nor the “different”; when it affirms that an object is alone, it says, “there is one only object”; and therefore predicates unity before “only.” Besides, the judgment which affirms is itself a substantial (being) before affirming unity of some other (being); and the (being) of which it speaks is one likewise before the judgment either asserts or conceives anything about it. Thus (being) must be one or many; if it be many, the one is necessarily anterior, since, when the judgment asserts that plurality is present, it evidently asserts that there is more than one; likewise, when it says that an army is a multitude, it conceives of the soldiers as arranged in one single corps. By this last example, it is plain that the judgment (in saying one body), does not let the multitude remain multitude, and that it thus reveals the existence of unity; for, whether by giving to the multitude a unity which it does not possess, or by rapidly revealing unity in the arrangement (which makes the body of the multitude), the judgment reduces multitude to unity. It does not err here about unity, any more than when it says of a building formed by a multitude of stones that it is a unity; for, besides, a building is more unified than an army. If, further, unity inhere in a still higher degree in that which is continuous, and in a degree still higher in what is not divisible, evidently that occurs only because the unity has a real nature, and possesses existence; for there is no greater or less in that which does not exist.


Just as we predicate being of every sense-thing, as well as of every intelligible thing, we predicate it in a higher degree of intelligible things, attributing a higher degree (of substantiality) to the (beings that are veritable than to sense-objects), and to sense-objects than to other genera (of physical objects); likewise, clearly seeing unity in sense-objects in a degree higher than in the intelligible (essences), we recognize the existence of unity in all its modes, and we refer them all to Unity in itself. Besides, just as “being and essence” are nothing sensual, though sense-objects participate therein, so unity, though by participation it inhere in sense-objects, is not any the less an intelligible Unity. Judgment grasps it by an intellectual conception; by seeing one thing (which is sensual) it also conceives another which it does not see (because it is intelligible); it therefore knew this thing in advance; and if judgment knew it in advance, judgment was this thing, and was identical with that whose existence it asserted. When it says, “a certain” object, it asserts the unity, as, when it speaks of “certain” objects, it says that they are two or more. If then one cannot conceive of any object whatever without “one,” “two,” or some other number, it becomes possible to insist that the thing without which nothing can be asserted or conceived, does not at all exist. We cannot indeed deny existence to the thing without whose existence we could not assert or conceive anything. Now that which is everywhere necessary to speak and to conceive must be anterior to speech and conception, so as to contribute to their production. If, besides, this thing be necessary to the hypostatic existence of every essence—for there is no essence that lacks unity—it must be anterior to being, and being must be begotten by it. That is why we say “an essence” instead of first positing “essence,” and “a” only thereafter, for there must be “one” in essence, to make “several” possible; but (the converse is not true; for) unity does not contain essence, unless unity itself produce it by applying itself to the begetting of it. Likewise, the word “that” (when employed to designate an object) is not meaningless; for instead of naming the object, it proclaims its existence, its presence, its “being,” or some other of its kinds of “essence.” The word “that” does not therefore express something without reality, it does not proclaim an empty conception, but it designates an object as definitely as some proper name.


14. As to those who consider unity as relative, they might be told that unity could not lose its proper nature merely as a result of the affection experienced by some other being without itself being affected. It cannot cease being one without experiencing the privation of unity by division into two or three. If, on being divided, a mass become double without being destroyed in respect to its being a mass, evidently, besides the subject, there existed unity; and the mass lost it because the unity was destroyed by the division. So this same thing which now is present, and now disappears, should be classified among essences wherever it be found; and we must recognize that, though it may be an accident of other objects, it nevertheless exists by itself, whether it manifest in sense-objects, or whether it be present in intelligent entities; it is only an accident in posterior (beings, namely, the sense-objects); but it exists in itself in the intelligible entities, especially in the first Essence, which is One primarily, and only secondarily essence.


The objection that unity, without itself experiencing anything, by the mere addition of something else, is no longer one, but becomes double, is a mistake. The one has not become two, and is not that which has been added to it, nor that to which something has been added. Each of them remains one, such as it was; but two can be asserted of their totality, and one of each of them separately. Two therefore, not any more than “pair,” is by nature a relation. If the pair consisted in the union (of two objects), and if “being united” were identical with “to duplicate,” in this case the union, as well as the pair, would constitute two. Now a “pair” appears likewise in a state contrary (to that of the reunion of two objects); for two may be produced by the division of a single object. Two, therefore, is neither reunion nor division, as it would have to be in order to constitute a relation.


What then is the principal cause (by virtue of which objects participate in numbers)? A being is one by the presence of one; double, because of the presence of the pair; just as it is white because of the presence of whiteness; beautiful, because of the presence of beauty; and just by that of justice. If that be not admitted, we shall be reduced to asserting that whiteness, beauty and justice are nothing real, and that their only causes are simple relations; that justice consists in some particular relation with some particular being; that beauty has no foundation other than the affection that we feel; that the object which seems beautiful possesses nothing capable of exciting this affection either by nature, or by acquirement. When you see an object that is one, and that you call single, it is simultaneously great, beautiful, and susceptible of receiving a number of other qualifications. Now why should unity not inhere in the object as well as greatness and magnitude, sweetness and bitterness, and other qualities? We have no right to admit that quality, whatever it be, forms part of the number of beings, whilst quantity is excluded; nor to limit quantity to continuous quantity, while discrete quantity is excluded from the conception of quantity; and that so much the less as continuous quantity is measured by discrete quantity. Thus, just as an object is great because of the presence of magnitude, as it is one by the presence of unity; so is it double because of the presence of being a pair, and so forth.


Should we be asked to describe the operation of the participation of objects in unity and in numbers, we shall answer that this question connects with the more general problem of the participation of objects in intelligible forms. Besides, we shall have to admit that the decad presents itself under different aspects, according as it is considered to exist either in discrete quantities, or in continuous quantities, or in the reduction of many great forces to unity, or, last, into the intelligible entities to which we are later raised. It is among them, indeed, that are found the veritable Numbers (spoken of by Plato,) which, instead of being considered as discovered in other (beings), exist within themselves; such is the Decad-in-itself, which exists by itself, instead of simply being a decad composed of some intelligible entities.


15. (From the above discussion about the intelligibility of numbers) let us now return to what we said in the beginning. The universal (Being) is veritable Essence, Intelligence, and perfect living Organism; and at the same time contains also all the living organisms. Our universe, which also is an organism, by its unity imitates so far as it can the unity of the perfect living Organism. I say, to the extent of its capacity, because, by its nature, the sense-world has departed from the unity of the intelligible world; otherwise, it would not be the sense-world. Moreover, the universal living Organism must be the universal Number; for if it were not a perfect number, it would lack some number; and if it did not contain the total number of living organisms, it would not be the perfect living Organism. Number therefore exists before every living organism, and before the universal living Organism. Man and the other living organisms are in the intelligible world; so far as they are living organisms, and so far as the intelligible world is the universal living Organism; for man, even here below, is a part of the living Organism, so far as itself is a living organism, and as the living Organism is universal; the other living organisms are also in the living Organism, so far as each of them is a living organism.


Likewise, Intelligence, as such, contains all the individual intelligences as its parts. These, however, form a number. Consequently, the number which is in the Intelligence does not occupy the first degree. So far as the number is in Intelligence, it is equal to the quantity of the actualizations of Intelligence. Now, these actualizations are wisdom, justice, and the other virtues, science, and all the (ideas) whose possession characterizes it as veritable Intelligence. (If then science exist in the Intelligence) how does it happen that it is not there in some principle other than itself? In Intelligence the knower, the known, and science are one and the same thing; and with everything else within it. That is why every (entity) exists in the intelligible world in its highest degree. For instance, within it, Justice is no accident, though it be one in the soul, as such; for intelligible entities are in the soul (only in) potential condition (so long as she remains no more than soul); and they are actualized when the soul rises to Intelligence and dwells with it.


Besides Intelligence, and anterior thereto, exists Essence. It contains Number, with which it begets (beings); for it begets them by moving according to number, determining upon the numbers before giving hypostatic existence to the (beings), just as the unity (of essence) precedes its (existence), and interrelates it with the First (or, absolute Unity). Numbers interrelate nothing else to the First; it suffices for Essence to be interrelated with Him, because Essence, on becoming Number, attaches all (beings) to itself. Essence is divided not so far as it is a unity (for its unity is permanent); but having divided itself conformably to its nature in as many things as it decided on, it saw into how many things it had divided itself; and through this (process) it begat the number that exists within itself; for it divided itself by virtue of the potentialities of number, and it begat as many (beings) as number comported.


The first and veritable Number is therefore the source and principle of hypostatic existence for beings. That is the reason that even here below, the classified both discrete and continuous quantity and, with a different number, it is some other thing that is begotten, or nothing more can be begotten. Such are the primary Numbers, so far as they can be numbered. The numbers that subsist in other things play two parts. So far as they proceed from the First, they can be numbered; so far as they are below them, they measure other things, they serve to enumerate both numbers and things which can be enumerated. How indeed could you even say “ten” without the aid of numbers within yourself?


16. The first objection might be, Where do you locate, or how do you classify these primary and veritable Numbers? All the philosophers (who follow Aristotle) classify numbers in the genus of quantity. It seems that we have above treated of quantity, and classified both discrete and continuous quantity among other “beings.” Here however we seem to say that these Numbers form part of the primary Essences, and add that there are, in addition, numbers that serve for enumerations. We are now asked how we make these statements agree, for they seem to give rise to several questions. Is the unity which is found among sense-beings a quantity? Or is unity a quantity when repeated, while, when considered alone and in itself, it is the principle of quantity, but not a quantity itself? Besides, if unity be the principle of quantity, does it share the nature of quantity, or has it a different nature? Here are a number of points we ought to expound. We shall answer these questions, and here is what we consider our starting-point.


When, considering visible objects, by which we ought to begin, we combine one (being) with another, as for instance, a horse and a dog, or two men, and say that they form two; or, when considering a greater number of men we say they are ten, and form a group of ten, this number does not constitute being, nor an (accident) among sense-objects; it is purely and simply a quantity. Dividing this group of ten by unity, and making unity of its parts, you obtain and constitute the principle of quantity (unity) for a unity thus derived from a group of ten.


But when you say that the Man considered in himself is a number, as, for instance, a pair, because he is both animal and reasonable, we have here no more than a simple modality. For, while reasoning and enumerating we produce a quantity; but so far as there are here two things (animal and reasonable), and as each of them is one, as each completes the being of the man, and possesses unity; we are here using and proclaiming another kind of number, the essential Number. Here the pair is not posterior to things; it does not limit itself to expressing a quantity which is exterior to essence; it expresses what is in the very being of this essence, and contains its nature.


Indeed, it is not you who here below produce number when you by discursive reason range through things that exist by themselves, and which do not depend for their existence on your enumeration; for you add nothing to the being of a man by enumerating him with another. That is no unity, as in a “choric ballet.” When you say, ten men, “ten” exists only in you who are enumerating. We could not assert that “ten” exists in the ten men you are enumerating, because these men are not co-ordinated so as to form a unity; it is you yourself who produce ten by enumerating this group of ten, and by making up a quantity. But when you say, a “choric ballet,” an “army,” there is something which exists outside of these objects, and within yourself. How are we to understand that the number exists in you? The number which existed in you before you made the enumeration has another mode (of existence) (than the number that you produce by enumeration). As to the number which manifests itself in exterior objects and refers to the number within yourself, it constitutes an actualization of the essential numbers, or, is conformable to the essential Numbers; for, while enumerating you produce a number, and by this actualization you give hypostatic existence to quantity, as in walking you did to movement.


In what sense does the number which is within us (before we enumerate) have a mode (of existence) other (than the one we produce in enumeration)? Because it is the number constitutive of our being, which, as Plato says, participates in number and harmony, and is a number and harmony; for the soul is said to be neither a body nor an extension; she therefore is a number, since she is a being. The number of the body is a being of the same nature as the body; the number of the soul consists in the beings which are incorporeal like souls. Then, for the intelligible entities, if the animal itself be plurality, if it be a triad, the triad that exists in the animal is essential. As to the triad which subsists, not in the animal, but in essence, it is the principle of being. If you enumerate the animal and the beautiful, each of these two in itself is a unity; but (in enumerating them), you beget number in yourself, and you conceive a certain quantity, the pair. If (like the Pythagoreans) you say that virtue is a group of four, or tetrad, it is one so far as its parts (justice, prudence, courage, and temperance) contribute to the formation of a unity; you may add that this group of four, or tetrad, is a unity, so far as it is a kind of substrate; as to you, you connect this tetrad with the one that is inside of you.


17. As the reasons here advanced would seem to imply that every number is limited, we may ask in which sense may a number be said to be infinite? This conclusion is right, for it is against the nature of number to be infinite. Why do people then often speak of a number as infinite? Is it in the same sense that one calls a line infinite? A line is said to be infinite, not that there really exists an infinite line of this kind, but to imply the conception of a line as great as possible, greater than any given line. Similarly with number. When we know which is the number (of certain objects), we can double it by thought, without, on that account, adding any other number to the first. How indeed would it be possible to add to exterior objects the conception of our imagination, a conception that exists in ourselves exclusively? We shall therefore say that, among intelligible entities, a line is infinite; otherwise, the intelligible line would be a simple quantative expression. If however the intelligible line be not this, it must be infinite in number; but we then understand the word “infinite” in a sense other than that of having no limits that could not be transcended. In what sense then is the word “infinite” here used? In the sense that the conception of a limit is not implied in the being of a line in itself.


What then is the intelligible line, and where does it exist? It is posterior to number; for unity appears in the line, since this starts from the unity (of the point), and because it has but one dimension (length); now the measure of dimension is not a quantative (entity). Where then does the intelligible Line exist? It exists only in the intelligence that defines it; or, if it be a thing, it is but something intellectual. In the intelligible world, in fact, everything is intellectual, and such as the thing itself is. It is in this same world, likewise, where is made the decision where and how the plane, the solid, and all other figures are to be disposed. For it is not we who create the figures by conceiving them. This is so because the figure of the world is anterior to us, and because the natural figures which are suitable to the productions of nature, are necessarily anterior to the bodies, and in the intelligible world exist in the state of primary figures, without determining limits, for these forms exist in no other subjects; they subsist by themselves, and have no need of extension, because the extension is the attribute of a subject.


Everywhere, therefore, in essence, is a single (spherical) figure, and each of these figures (which this single figure implicitly contained) has become distinct, either in, or before the animal. When I say that each figure has become distinct, I do not mean that it has become an extension, but that it has been assigned to some particular animal; thus, in the intelligible world, each body has been assigned its own characteristic figure, as, for instance, the pyramid to the fire. Our world seeks to imitate this figure, although it cannot accomplish this, because of matter. There are other figures here below that are analogous to the intelligible figures.


But are the figures in the living Organism as such, or, if it cannot be doubted that they are in the living Organism, do they anteriorly exist in the Intelligence? If the Organism contained Intelligence, the figures would be in the first degree in the Organism. But as it is the Intelligence that contains the Organism, they are in the first degree in Intelligence. Besides, as the souls are contained in the perfect living Organism, it is one reason more for the priority of the Intelligence. But Plato says, “Intelligence sees the Ideas comprised within the perfect living Organism.” Now, if it see the Ideas contained in the perfect living Organism, Intelligence must be posterior to the latter. By the words “it sees” it should be understood that the existence of the living Organism itself is realized in this vision. Indeed, the Intelligence which sees is not something different from the Organism which is seen; but (in Intelligence) all things form but one. Only, thought has a pure and simple sphere, while the Organism has an animated sphere.


18. Thus, in the intelligible world, every number is finite. But we can conceive of a number greater than any assigned number, and thus it is that our mind, while considering the numbers, produces the (notion of the) infinite. On the contrary, in the intelligible world, it is impossible to conceive a number greater than the Number conceived (by divine Intelligence); for on high Number exists eternally; no Number is lacking, or could ever lack, so that one could never add anything thereto.


Nevertheless, the intelligible Number might be called infinite in the sense that it is unmeasured. By what, indeed, could it be measured? The Number that exists on high is universal, simultaneous one and manifold, constituting a whole circumscribed by no limit (a whole that is infinite); it is what it is by itself. None of the intelligible beings, indeed, is circumscribed by any limit. What is really limited and measured is what is hindered from losing itself in the infinite, and demands measure. But all of the intelligible (beings) are measures; whence it results that they are all beautiful. So far as it is a living organism, the living Organism in itself is beautiful, possessing an excellent life, and lacking no kind of life; it does not have a life mingled with death, it contains nothing mortal nor perishable. The life of the living Organism in itself has no fault; it is the first Life, full of vigor and energy, a primary Light whose rays vivify both the souls that dwell on high, and those that descend here below. This Life knows why it lives; it knows its principle and its goal; for its principle is simultaneously its goal. Besides, universal Wisdom, the universal Intelligence, which is intimately united to the living Organism, which subsists in it and with it, still improves it; heightening its hues as it were by the splendor of its wisdom, and rendering its beauty more venerable. Even here below, a life full of wisdom is that which is most venerable and beautiful, though we can hardly catch a glimpse of such a life. On high, however, the vision of life is perfectly clear; the (favored initiate) receives from Life both capacity to behold and increased vitality; so that, thanks to a more energetic life, the beholder receives a clearer vision, and he becomes what he sees. Here below, our glance often rests on inanimate things, and even when it turns towards living beings, it first notices in them that which lacks life. Besides, the life which is hidden in them is already mingled with other things. On high, on the contrary, all the (beings) are alive, entirely alive, and their life is pure. If at the first aspect you should look on something as deprived of life, soon the life within it would burst out before your eyes.


Contemplate therefore the Being that penetrates the intelligibles, and which communicates to them an immutable life; contemplate the Wisdom and Knowledge that resides within them, and you will not be able to keep from deriding this inferior nature to which the vulgar human beings attribute genuine “being.” It is in this supreme “Being” that dwell life and intelligence, and that the essences subsist in eternity. There, nothing issues (from Essence), nothing changes or agitates it; for there is nothing outside of it that could reach it; if a single thing existed outside of (“being”), (“being”) would be dependent on it. If anything opposed to (essence) existed, this thing would escape the action of (“being”); it would no longer owe its existence to (“being”), but would constitute a common principle anterior to it, and would be essence. Parmenides therefore was right in saying that the Essence was one; that it was immutable, not because there was nothing else (that could modify it), but because it was essence. Alone, therefore, does Essence possess self-existence. How then could one, to Essence, refuse to attribute existence, or any of the things of which it is an actualization, and which it constitutes? So long as it exists, it gives them to itself; and since it exists always, these things therefore eternally subsist within it.


Such are the power and beauty of Essence that it (charms and) attracts all things, holding them as it were suspended, so that these are delighted to possess even a trace of its perfection, and seek nothing beyond, except the Good. For Essence is anterior to the Good in respect to us (when we climb up from here below to the intelligible world). The entire intelligible world aspires to the Life and Wisdom so as to possess existence; all the souls, all the intelligences likewise aspire to possess it; Essence alone is fully self-sufficient.

Ennead 6.7. How Ideas Multiplied, and the Good.



1. When the (higher) Divinity, or (some lower) divinity, sent souls down into generation, He gave to the face of man eyes suitable to enlighten him, and placed in the body the other organs suited to the senses, foreseeing that (a living organism) would be able to preserve itself only on condition of seeing, hearing and touching contiguous objects, to enable it to select some, and to avoid others.


But can you explain this divine foresight? You must not believe that He would have begun by making (animals) who perished for lack of senses, and that later (the divinity) gave senses to man and other animals so that they could preserve themselves from death.


It might, indeed, be objected that (the divinity) knew that the living organism would be exposed to heat, cold, and other physical conditions; and that as a result of this knowledge, to keep them from perishing, He granted them, as tools, senses and organs. In our turn we shall ask whether the divinity gave the organs to the living organisms that already possessed the senses, or whether, He endowed souls with senses and organs simultaneously. In the latter case, though they were souls, they did not previously possess the sensitive faculties. But if the souls possessed the sensitive faculties since the time they were produced, and if they were produced (with these faculties) in order to descend into generation, then it was natural for them to do so. In this case it seems that it must be contrary to their nature to avoid generation, and to dwell in the intelligible world. They would seem made to belong to the body, and to live in evil. Thus divine Providence would retain them in evil, and the divinity would arrive at this result by reasoning; in any case, He would have reasoned.


If the divinity reason, we are forced to wonder what are the principles of this reasoning; for, if it were objected that these principles are derived from some other reasoning, we shall, nevertheless, in the process of ascending, have to find something anterior to all reasoning; namely, a point of departure. Now from whence are the principles of reasoning derived? Either from the senses or the intelligence. (Could the divinity have made use of principles derived from the senses?) (When God created) there were no senses in existence yet; therefore (the divinity must have reasoned) from principles derived from Intelligence. But if the premises were conceptions of Intelligence, then it was impossible for knowledge and reasoning to have some sense-thing as object, as reasoning that has intelligible principles and conclusion could not result in producing a conception of the sense-(world). Therefore the foresight which presided over the creation of a living being or of a whole world could not have been the result of reasoning.


There is indeed no reasoning in the divinity. When we speak of it, in connection with the divinity, it is only to explain that He has regulated everything as might have been done by some wise man, who would have reasoned about results. Attributing foresight to the divinity indicates merely that He has disposed everything as might have been done by some wise man who had foreseen results. Indeed the only use of reasoning is to put in order things whose existence is not anterior to that of reasoning, every time that that (Intelligence), the power superior to reasoning, is not strong enough. Likewise, prevision is necessary in this case, because he who makes use of it does not possess a power that would enable him to forego or do without it. Prevision proposes to effect some one thing instead of another, and seems to fear that that which it desires might not occur. But, for a (being) which can do but one thing, both foresight and the reasoning that decides between contraries, are useless; for there is no need of reasoning when, of two contrary courses of action, one only is possible. How would the Principle which is single, unitary and simple, have need to reflect that He must do one thing, so that some other might not take place, or to judge that the second would occur as alternative to the first? How could He say that experience has already demonstrated the utility of some one thing, and that it is well to make use of it? If the divinity acted thus, then indeed would He have had recourse to prevision, and consequently, to reasoning. It is on this hypothesis that we said above that the divinity gave animals senses and faculties; but it is quite a problem to know what and how He really gave them.


Indeed, if it be admitted that in the divinity no actualization is imperfect, if it be impossible to conceive in Him anything that is not total or universal, each one of the things that He contains comprises within Himself all things. Thus as, to the divinity, the future is already present, there could not be anything posterior to Him; but what is already present in Him becomes posterior in some other (being). Now if the future be already present in the divinity, it must be present in Him as if what will happen were already known; that is, it must be so disposed as to find itself sufficiently provided for, so as not to stand in need of anything. Therefore, as all things existed already within the divinity (when living beings were created), they had been there from all eternity; and that in a manner such that it would later be possible to say, “this occurred after that.” Indeed, when the things that are in the divinity later develop and reveal themselves, then one sees that the one is after the other; but, so far as they exist all together, they constitute the universal (Being), that is, the principle which includes its own cause.


2. (By this process) we also know the nature of Intelligence, which we see still better than the other things, though we cannot grasp its magnitude. We admit, in fact, that it possesses the whatness (essence), of everything, but not its “whyness” (its cause); or, if we grant (that this “cause” be in Intelligence), we do not think that it is separated (from its “whatness” (or, essence). Let us suppose that, for instance, the man, or, if possible, the eye, should offer itself to our contemplation (in the intelligible world) as a statue, or as a part of it, would do. The man that we see on high is both essence and cause. As well as the eye, he must be intellectual, and contain his cause. Otherwise, he could not exist in the intelligible world. Here below, just as each part is separated from the others, so is the cause separated (from the essence). On high, on the contrary, all things exist in unity, and each thing is identical with its cause. This identity may often be noticed even here below, as for instance, in eclipses. It would therefore seem probable that in the intelligible world everything would, besides the rest, possess its cause, and that its cause constitutes its essence. This must be admitted; and that is the reason why those who apply themselves to grasp the characteristic of each being succeed (in also grasping its cause). Indeed that which each (being) is, depends on the “cause of such a form.” To repeat: not only is a (being’s) form its cause, (which is incontestable), but yet, if one analyses each form considered in itself, its cause will be found. The only things which do not contain their causes are those whose life is without reality, and whose existence is shadowy.


What is the origin of the cause of what is a form, which is characteristic of Intelligence? It is not from Intelligence, because the form is not separable from Intelligence, combining with it to form one single and same thing. If then Intelligence possess the forms in their fullness, this fullness of forms implies that they contain their cause. Intelligence contains the cause of each of the forms it contains. It consists of all these forms taken together, or separately. None of them needs discovery of the cause of its production, for simultaneously with its production, it has contained the cause of its hypostatic existence. As it was not produced by chance, it contains all that belongs to its cause; consequently, it also possesses the whole perfection of its cause. Sense-things which participate in form do not only receive their nature from it, but also the cause of this nature. If all the things of which this universe is composed be intimately concatenated; and if the universe, containing all things, also contain the cause of each of them; if its relation with them be the same as that of the body with its organs, which do not mature successively, but which, towards each other, are mutually related as cause and effect; so much the more, in the intelligible world, must things have their “causes,” all of them in general in respect to the totality, and each independently in respect to itself.


Since all intelligible (entities) have a hypostatic consubstantial existence affording no room for chance; and as they are not separated from each other, things that are caused must bear these their causes within themselves, and each of them has some sort of a cause, though without really possessing one. If there be no cause for the existence of the intelligibles; and if, though isolated from all causes, they be self-sufficient; it can only be because they carry their cause along with them, when they are considered in themselves. As they contain nothing fortuitous, and as each of them is manifold, and as its cause is all that they contain, we might assign this cause to themselves. Thus in the intelligible world “being” is preceded, or rather accompanied by its cause, which is still more “being” than cause, or rather which becomes identified with it. What superfluousness, indeed, could there be in intelligence, unless its conceptions resemble imperfect productions? If its conceptions be perfect, one could neither discover what they lack, nor define their cause, and, since they possess everything, they also possess their cause. There, “being” and cause are united; the presence of both is recognized in each conception, in each actualization of intelligence. Let us, for instance, consider the intelligible Man; he seems complete, in his totality; all his attributes were his simultaneously from the beginning; he was always entirely complete. It is the characteristic of that which is generated not always to be what it ought to be, and to need to acquire something. The intelligible Man is eternal; he is therefore always complete; but that which becomes man must be generated (being).


3. But why could Intelligence not have deliberated before producing the sense-man? The (man we know by our senses) was (created) by similitude to the (intelligible Man), nothing can be added to him, nothing subtracted. It is a mere supposition to say that Intelligence deliberates and reasons. The theory that things were created, implies preliminary deliberation and reasoning; but (the latter becomes impossible) in the case of eternal generation, for that which originates eternally, cannot be the object of a deliberation. Intelligence could not deliberate without having forgotten the course it had followed before; it cannot improve later on without implying that its beginnings were not perfectly beautiful; had they been this, they would have remained so. If things be beautiful, it is that they represent their cause well; for even here below an object is beautiful only if it possess all its legitimate possessions; that is, if it possess its proper form. It is the form that contains everything; the form contains the matter, in the sense that it fashions matter, and leaves nothing formless therein. But it would contain something formless if a man lacked some part, as, for instance, an organ such as the eye.


Thus, a thing is fully explained by the clearing up of its cause. Why should there be eyebrows above the eye? That it may possess all that is implied in its being. Were these parts of the body given to man to protect him from dangers? That would be to establish within being a principle charged to watch over being. The things of which we speak are implied in the being that existed before them. Consequently, being contains within itself the cause which, if distinct from being, is nevertheless inseparable therefrom. All things are implied in each other; taken together, they form the total, perfect and universal Being; their perfection is bound up with, and is inherent in their cause; thus a (creature’s) “being,” its “characteristic” (to ti ên einai), and its “cause” (why-ness) fall together. (Before asking an important question we must premiss that) in the intelligible world the cause that is complementary to a being is ultimately united to it. We must also premiss that, by virtue of its perfection, divine Intelligence contains the causes (as well as the beings), so that it is only “a posteriori” that we observe that things are well regulated. If then the possession of senses, and indeed of particular ones, be implied in the form of man by the eternal necessity and perfection of divine Intelligence, then the intelligible Man was by no means mere intelligence, receiving the senses when descending into generation. (If then having senses be implied in the form of man), does not Intelligence incline towards the things here below? In what do these senses (which are attributed to the intelligible Man) consist? Are these senses the potentiality of perceiving sense-objects? But it would be absurd that, on high, man should from all eternity possess the potentiality of feeling, yet feel only here below, and that this potentiality should pass to actualization only when the soul became less good (by its union to the body).


4. To answer these questions, we would have to go back to the nature of the intelligible Man. Before defining the latter, however, it would indeed be far better to begin by determining the nature of the sense-man, on the supposition that we know the latter very well, while perhaps of the former, we have only a very inexact notion.


But there are some (Aristotelians or Peripatetics) who might think that the intelligible Man and the sense-man form but one. Let us first discuss this point. Does the sense-man have a being different from the soul which produces him, and makes him live and reason? Is he the soul that is disposed in some special manner? Is he the soul that uses the body in some particular way? If man be a reasonable living organism, and if the latter be composed of soul and body, this definition of man will not be identical with that of the soul. If the man be defined as being the composite of the reasonable soul and the body, how can he be an immortal hypostatic existence? This definition suits the sense-man only from the moment that the union of the soul and the body has occurred; it expresses what will be, instead of setting forth what we call the Man-in-himself; rather than being a real determination of his characteristics, it would be only a description which would not reveal the original being. Instead of defining form engaged in matter, it indicates what is the composite of soul and body, after the union has occurred. In this case, we do not yet know what is man considered in his being, which is intelligible. To the claim that the definition of sense-things should express something composite, it might be answered, that we do acknowledge that we must not determine the consistence of each thing. Now if it be absolutely necessary to define the forms engaged in matter, we must also define the being that constitutes the man; that is necessary especially for those (Peripateticians) who, by a definition, mean a statement of a being’s original “characteristics.”


What then is the “being” of man? This really is asking for the “man-ness” of a man, something characteristic of him, and inseparable from him. Is the genuine definition of a man that “he is a reasonable animal”? Would not this rather be the definition of the composite man? What is the being that produces the reasonable animal? In the above definition of man, “reasonable animal” means “reasonable life”; consequently, man may be called the “reasonable life.” But can life exist without a soul? (No), for the soul will give the man reasonable life; and in this case, instead of being a substance, man will be only an actualization of the soul; or even, the man will be the soul herself. But if man be the reasonable soul, what objection will there be to his remaining man even when his soul should happen to pass into a different body (as that of a brute animal)?


5. Man must therefore have as “reason” (or, as essence), something else than the soul. Still, in this case, man might be something composite; that is, the soul would subsist in a particular “reason,” admitting that this “reason” was a certain actualization of the soul, though this actualization could not exist without its producing principle. Now such is the nature of the “seminal reasons.” They do not exist without the soul; for the generating reasons are not inanimate; and nevertheless they are not the soul purely and simply. There is therefore nothing surprising in the statement that these (human) beings are (“seminal) reasons.”


Of which soul are these reasons, which do not beget the man (though they do beget the animal), then the actualization? Not of the vegetative soul; they are the actualizations of the (reasonable) soul which begets the animal, which is a more powerful, and therefore a more living soul. Man is constituted by the soul disposed in some manner, when present to matter disposed in some particular fashion—since the soul is some particular thing, according as she is in some particular disposition—even in the body. In the bodies, she fashions a resembling form. So far as the nature of the body allows it, she thus produces an image of the man, as the painter himself makes an image of the body; she produces, I repeat, an inferior man (the sense-man, the animal), which possesses the form of man, his reasons, morals, dispositions, faculties, although in an imperfect manner, because he is not the first man (the intellectual man). He has sensations of another kind; sensations which, though they seem clear, are obscure, if they be compared to the superior sensations of which they are the images. The superior man (the reasonable man) is better, has a diviner soul, and clearer sensations. It is he doubtless to whom Plato refers (when he says, Man is the soul); in his definition he adds, “which makes use of the body,” because the diviner man dominates the soul which uses the body, and thus uses the body only in an indirect manner.


In fact, the soul attaches herself to the thing begotten by the soul, because she was capable of feeling. The soul does this by vivifying it more; or rather, the soul does not attach herself thereto, but draws it to herself. She does not depart from the intelligible world, but even while remaining in contact with it, she holds the inferior soul (which constitutes the sense-man) suspended to herself; and by her reason she blends herself with this reason (or, she unites herself to this being by her “being”). That is why this man (known by the senses), who by himself is obscure, is enlightened by this illumination.


6. What is the relation of the sense-power within the superior Soul (or, in the rational soul)? Intelligible sensation perceives (intelligible) objects that, speaking strictly, are not sensible, and corresponds to the (intelligible) manner in which they are perceivable. Thus (by this intelligible sense-power) the Soul perceives the supersensual harmony and also the sensual, but in a manner such as the sense-man perceives it, relating it so far as possible to the superior harmony, just as he relates the earthly fire to the intelligible Fire, which is above, and which the superior Soul felt in a manner suitable to the nature of this fire. If the bodies which are here below were up there also, the superior Soul would feel them and perceive them. The man who exists on high is a Soul disposed in some particular manner, capable of perceiving these objects; hence the man of the last degree (the sense-man) being the image of the intelligible Man, has reasons (faculties) which are also images (faculties possessed by the superior Man). The man who exists in the divine Intelligence constitutes the Man superior to all men. He illuminates the second (the reasonable man), who in his turn illuminates the third (the sense-man). The man of this last degree somewhat possesses the two others; he is not produced by them, he is rather united to them. The man who constitutes us actualizes himself as the man of the last degree. The third receives something of the second; and the second is the actualization of the first. Each man’s nature depends on the “man” according to whom he acts (the man is intellectual, reasonable, or sensual according as he exercises intelligence, discursive reason, or sensibility). Each one of us possesses the three men in one sense (potentially); and does not possess them in another (in actualization; that is, he does not simultaneously exercise intellect, reason, or sense).


When the third life (the sense-power) which constitutes the third man, is separated from the body, if the life that precedes it (the discursive reason) accompany it without nevertheless being separated from the intelligible world, then one may say that the second is everywhere the third is. It might seem surprising that the latter, when passing into the body of a brute, should drag along that part which is the being of man. This being was all beings (potentially); only, at different times, it acts through different faculties. So far as it is pure, and is not yet depraved, it wishes to constitute a man, and it is indeed a man that it constitutes; for to form a man is better (than to form a brute), and it does what is best. It also forms guardians of the superior order, but such as are still conformable to the being constituent of manhood. The (intellectual) Man, who is anterior to this being, is of a nature still more like that of the guardians, or rather, he is already a divinity. The guardian attached to a divinity is an image of him, as the sense-man is the image of the intellectual man from whom he depends; for the principle to which man directly attaches himself must not be considered as his divinity. There is a difference here, similar to that existing between the souls, though they all belong to the same order. Besides, those guardians whom Plato simply calls “guardians” (demons), should be called guardian-like, or “demonic” beings. Last, when the superior Soul accompanies the inferior soul which has chosen the condition of a brute, the inferior soul which was bound to the superior soul—even when she constituted a man—develops the (“seminal) reason” of the animal (whose condition she has chosen); for she possesses that “reason” in herself; it is her inferior actualization.


7. It may however be objected that if the soul produce the nature of a brute only when she is depraved and degraded, she was not originally destined to produce an ox or a horse; then the (“seminal) reason” of the horse, as well as the horse itself, will be contrary to the nature (of the soul). No: they are inferior to her nature, but they are not contrary to her. From her very origin, the soul was (potentially) the (“seminal) reason” of a horse or a dog. When permitted, the soul which was to beget an animal, produces something better; when hindered, she (only) produces what accords with the circumstances. She resembles the artists who, knowing how to produce several figures, create either the one they have received the order to create, or the one that is most suited to the material at hand. What hinders the (natural and generative) power of the universal Soul, in her quality of universal (“seminal) Reason,” from sketching out the outlines of the body, before the soul powers (or, individual souls) should descend from her into matter? What hinders this sketch from being a kind of preliminary illumination of matter? What would hinder the individual soul from finishing (fashioning the body sketched by the universal Soul), following the lines already traced, and organizing the members pictured by them, and becoming that which she approached by giving herself some particular figure, just as, in a choric ballet, the dancer confines himself to the part assigned to him?


Such considerations have been arrived at merely as result of scrutiny of the consequences of the principles laid down. Our purpose was to discover how sensibility occurs in the man himself, without intelligible things falling into generation. We recognized and demonstrated that intelligible things do not incline towards sense-things, but that, on the contrary, it is the latter that aspire and rise to the former, and imitate them; that the sense-man derives from the intellectual man the power of contemplating intelligible entities, though the sense-man remain united to sense-things, as the intellectual man remains united to the intelligible entities. Indeed, intelligible things are in some respects sensual; and we may call them such because (ideally) they are Bodies, but they are perceived in a manner different from bodies. Likewise, our sensations are less clear than the perception which occurs in the intelligible world, and that we also call Sensation, because it refers to Bodies (which exist on high only in an ideal manner). Consequently, we call the man here below sensual because he perceives less well things which themselves are less good; that is, which are only images of intelligible things. We might therefore say that sensations here below are obscure thoughts, and that the Thoughts on high are distinct Sensations. Such are our views about sensibility.


8. (Now let us pass to the other question we asked). How does it happen that all the Animals who, like the Horse itself, are contained in divine Intelligence, do not incline towards the things here below (by generating them)? Doubtless, to beget a horse, or any other animal here below, divine Intelligence must hold its conception; nevertheless it must not be believed that it first had the volition of producing the horse, and only later its conception. Evidently, it could not have wished to produce the horse, but because it already had the conception thereof; and it could not have had the conception thereof but because it had to produce the horse. Consequently, the Horse who was not begotten preceded the horse who later was to be begotten. Since the first Horse has been anterior to all generation, and was not conceived to be begotten, it is not because the divine Intelligence inclines towards the things here below, nor because it produces them, that it contains the intelligible Horse and the other beings. The intelligible entities existed already in Intelligence (before it begat) and the sense-things were later begotten by necessary consequence; for it was impossible that the procession should cease with the intelligibles. Who indeed could have stopped this power of the (Intelligence) which is capable of simultaneous procession, and of remaining within itself?


But why should these Animals (devoid of reason) exist in the divine Intelligence? We might understand that animals endowed with reason might be found within it; but does this multitude of irrational animals seem at all admirable? Does it not rather seem something unworthy of the divine Intelligence? Evidently the essence which is one must be also manifold, since it is posterior to the Unity which is absolutely simple; otherwise, instead of being inferior to it, it would fuse with it. Being posterior to that Unity, it could not be more simple, and must therefore be less so. Now as the unity was the One who is excellent, essence had to be less unitary, since multiplicity is the characteristic of inferiority. But why should essence not be merely the “pair” (instead of the manifold)? Neither of the elements of the Pair could any longer be absolutely one, and each would itself become a further pair; and we might point out the same thing of each of the new elements (in which each element of the primary Pair would have split up). Besides, the first Pair contains both movement and stability; it is also intelligence and perfect life. The character of Intelligence is not to be one, but to be universal; it therefore contains all the particular intelligences; it is all the intelligences, and at the same time it is something greater than all. It possesses life not as a single soul, but as a universal Soul, having the superior power of producing individual souls. It is besides the universal living Organism (or, Animal); consequently, it should not contain man alone (but also all the other kinds of animals); otherwise, man alone would exist upon the earth.


9. It may be objected that Intelligence might (well) contain the ideas of animals of a higher order. But how can it contain the ideas of animals that are vile, or entirely without reason? For we should consider vile every animal devoid of reason and intelligence, since it is to these faculties that those who possess them owe their nobility. It is doubtless difficult to understand how things devoid of reason and intelligence can exist in the divine Intelligence, in which are all beings, and from which they all proceed. But before beginning the discussion of this question, let us assume the following verities as granted: Man here below is not what is man in the divine Intelligence, any more than the other animals. Like them, in a higher form, he dwells within (the divine Intelligence); besides, no being called reasonable may be found within it, for it is only here below that reason is employed; on high the only acts are those superior to discursive reason.

Why then is man here below the only animal who makes use of reason? Because the intelligence of Man, in the intelligible world, is different from that of other animals, and so his reason here below must differ from their reason; for it can be seen that many actions of other animals imply the use of judgment.

(In reply, it might be asked) why are not all animals equally rational? And why are not all men also equally rational? Let us reflect: all these lives, which represent as many movements; all these intelligences, which form a plurality; could not be identical. Therefore they had to differ among each other, and their difference had to consist in manifesting more or less clearly life and intelligence; those that occupy the first rank are distinguished by primary differences; those that occupy the second rank, by secondary differences; and so forth. Thus, amidst intelligences, some constitute the divinities, others the beings placed in the second rank, and gifted with reason; further, other beings that we here call deprived of reason and intelligence really were reason and intelligence in the intelligible world. Indeed, he who thinks the intelligible Horse, for instance, is Intelligence, just as is the very thought of the horse. If nothing but thought existed, there would be nothing absurd in that this thought, while being intellectual, might, as object, have a being devoid of intelligence. But since thought and the object thought fuse, how could thought be intellectual unless the object thought were so likewise? To effect this, Intelligence would, so to speak, have to render itself unintelligent. But it is not so. The thing thought is a determinate intelligence, just as it is a determinate life. Now, just as no life, whatever it be, can be deprived of vitality, so no determinate intelligence can be deprived of intellectuality. The very intelligence which is proper to an animal, such as, for instance, man, does not cease being intelligence of all things; whichever of its parts you choose to consider, it is all things, only in a different manner; while it is a single thing in actualization, it is all things in potentiality. However, in any one particular thing, we grasp only what it is in actualization. Now what is in actualization (that is, a particular thing), occupies the last rank. Such, in Intelligence, for instance, is the idea of the Horse. In its procession, Intelligence continues towards a less perfect life, and at a certain degree constitutes a horse, and at some inferior degree, constitutes some animal still inferior; for the greater the development of the powers of Intelligence, the more imperfect these become. At each degree in their procession they lose something; and as it is a lower degree of essence that constitutes some particular animal, its inferiority is redeemed by something new. Thus, in the measure that life is less complete in the animal, appear nails, claws, or horns, or teeth. Everywhere that Intelligence diminishes on one side, it rises on another side by the fullness of its nature, and it finds in itself the resources by which to compensate for whatever it may lack.


10. But how can there be anything imperfect in the intelligible world? Why does the intelligible Animal have horns? Is it for its defense? To be perfect and complete. It is to be perfect as an animal, perfect as intelligence, and perfect as life; so that, if it lack one quality, it may have a substitute. The cause of the differences, is that what belongs to one being finds itself replaced in another being by something else; so that the totality (of the beings) may result in the most perfect Life, and Intelligence, while all the particular beings which are thus found in the intelligible essence are perfect so far as they are particular.


The essence must be simultaneously one and manifold. Now it cannot be manifold if all the things that exist within it be equal; it would then be an absolute unity. Since therefore (essence) forms a composite unity, it must be constituted by things which bear to each other specific differences, such that its unity shall allow the existence of particular things, such as forms and reasons (beings). The forms, such as those of man, must contain all the differences that are essential to them. Though there be a unity in all these forms, there are also things more or less delicate (or highly organized), such as the eye or the finger. All these organs, however, are implied in the unity of the animal, and they are inferior only relatively to the totality. It was better that things should be such. Reason (the essence of the animal) is animal, and besides, is something different from the animal. Virtue also bears a general character, and an individual one. The totality (of the intelligible world) is beautiful, because what is common (to all beings), does not offer any differences.


11. (The Timæus of Plato) states that heaven has not scorned to receive any of the forms of the animals, of which we see so great a number. The cause must be that this universe was to contain the universality of things. Whence does it derive all the things it contains? From on high? Yes, it received from above all the things that were produced by reason, according to an intelligible form. But, just as it contains fire and water, it must also contain plant-life. Now, how could there be plant-life in the intelligible world? Are earth and fire living entities within it? For they must be either living or dead entities; in the latter case, not everything would be alive in the intelligible world. In what state then do the above-mentioned objects find themselves on high (in the intelligible world)?

First it can be demonstrated that plants contain nothing opposed to reason; since, even here below, a plant contains a “reason” which constitutes its life. But if the essential “reason” of the plant, which constitutes it, is a life of a particular kind, and a kind of soul, and if this “reason” itself be a unity, is it the primary Plant? No: the primary Plant, from which the particular plant is derived, is above that “reason.” The primary Plant is unity; the other is multiple, and necessarily derives from this unity. If so, the primary Plant must possess life in a still higher degree, and be the Plant itself from which the plants here below proceed, which occupy the second or third rank, and which derive from the primary Plant the traces of the life they reveal.


But how does the earth exist in the intelligible world? What is its essence? How can the earth in the intelligible world be alive there? Let us first examine our earth, that is, inquire what is its essence? It must be some sort of a shape, and a reason; for the reason of the plant is alive, even here below. Is there then a living (“seminal) reason” in the earth also? To discover the nature of the earth, let us take essentially terrestrial objects, which are begotten or fashioned by it. The birth of the stones, and their increase, the interior formation of mountains, could not exist unless an animated reason produced them by an intimate and secret work. This reason is the “form of the earth,” a form that is analogous to what is called nature in trees. The earth might be compared to the trunk of a tree, and the stone that can be detached therefrom to the branch that can be separated from the trunk. Consideration of the stone which is not yet dug out of the earth, and which is united to it as the uncut branch is united to the tree, shows that the earth’s nature, which is a productive force, constitutes a life endowed with reason; and it must be evident that the intelligible earth must possess life at a still higher degree, that the rational life of the earth is the Earth-in-itself, the primary Earth, from which proceeds the earth here below.


If fire also be a reason engaged in matter, and in this respect resemble the earth, it was not born by chance. Whence would it come? Lucretius thought it came from rubbing (sticks or stones). But fire existed in the universe before one body rubbed another; bodies already possess fire when they rub up against one another; for it must not be believed that matter possesses fire potentially, so that it is capable of producing it spontaneously. But what is fire, since the principle which produces the fire, giving it a form, must be a “reason”? It is a soul capable of producing the fire, that is, a “reason” and a life, which (fuse) into one thing. That is why Plato says that in every object there is a soul; that is, a power capable of producing the sense-fire. Thus the principle which produces the fire in our world is a “fiery life,” a fire that is more real than ours. Since then the intelligible Fire is a fire more real than ours, it also possesses a moral life. The Fire-in-itself therefore possesses life. There is a similar “reason” in the other elements, air and water. Why should not these things be as animated as earth is? They are evidently contained in the universal living Organism, and they constitute parts thereof. Doubtless life is not manifest in them, any more than in the earth; but it can be recognized in them, as it is recognized in the earth, by its productions; for living beings are born in the fire, and still more in the water, as is better known; others also are formed in the air. The flames that we daily see lit and extinguished do not manifest in the universal Soul (because of the shortness of their duration); her presence is not revealed in the fire, because she does not here below succeed in reaching a mass of sufficient permanency.


It is not otherwise with water and air. If by their nature these elements were more consistent, they would reveal the universal Soul; but as their essence is dispersed, they do not reveal the power that animates them. In a similar case are the fluids occurring in our body, as, for instance, the blood; the flesh, which seems animated, is formed at the expense of the blood. The latter must therefore enjoy the presence of the soul, though it seem deprived of the (soul) because (the blood) manifests no sensibility, opposes no resistance, and by its fluidity easily separates itself from the soul that vivifies it, as happens to the three elements already mentioned. Likewise the animals which Nature forms out of condensed air feel without suffering. As fixed and permanent light penetrates the air so long as the air itself is permanent, the soul also penetrates the atmosphere surrounding her without being absorbed by it. Other elements are in the same case.


12. We therefore repeat that since we admit that our universe is modeled on the intelligible World, we should so much the more recognize that the latter is the universal living Organism, which constitutes all things because it consists of perfect essence. Consequently in the intelligible world, the heavens also are an animated being, not even lacking what here below are called the stars; indeed the latter are what constitutes the heavens’ essence. Neither is the Earth on high something dead; for it is alive, containing all the Animals that walk on the ground, and that are named terrestrial, as well as Vegetation whose foundation is life. On high exist also the Sea and the Water in universal condition, in permanent fluidity and animation, containing all the Animals that dwell in the water. Air also forms part of the intelligible world, with the Animals that inhabit the air, and which on high possess a nature in harmony with it. How indeed could the things contained in a living being not also themselves be living beings? Consequently they are also such here below. Why indeed should not all the animals necessarily exist in the intelligible World? The nature of the great parts of this world indeed necessarily determines the nature of the animals that these parts contain. Thus from the “having” and “being” (existence and nature) of the intelligible world is derived that of all the beings contained therein. These things imply each other. To ask the reason for the existence of the Animals contained in the intelligible world, is to ask why exists this very world itself, or the universal living Organism, or, what amounts to the same thing, why exist the universal Life, the universal Soul, in which are found no fault, no imperfection, and from which everywhere overflows the fullness of life.


All these things derive from one and the same source; it is neither a breath nor a single heat; but rather a single quality, which contains and preserves within itself all the qualities, the sweetness of the most fragrant perfumes, the flavor of the wine, and of the finest tasty juices, the gleam of the most flashing colors, the softness of the objects which flatter touch with the greatest delicacy, the rhythm and harmony of all the kinds of sounds which can charm the hearing.


13. Neither Intelligence, nor the Soul that proceeds therefrom, are simple; both contain the universality of things with their infinite variety, so far as these are simple, meaning that they are not composite, but that they are principles and actualizations; for, in the intelligible world, the actualization of what occupies the last rank is simple; the actualization of what occupies the first rank is universal. Intelligence, in its uniform movement, always trends towards similar and identical things; nevertheless, each of them is identical and single, without being a part; it is on the contrary universal, because what, in the intelligible world, is a part, is not a simple unit, but a unity that is infinitely divisible. In this movement, Intelligence starts from one object, and goes to another object which is its goal. But does all that is intermediary resemble a straight line, or to a uniform and homogeneous body? There would be nothing remarkable about that; for if Intelligence did not contain differences, if no diversity awoke it to life, it would not be an actualization; its state would not differ from inactivity. If its movement were determined in a single manner, it would possess but a single kind of (restricted) life, instead of possessing the universal Life. Now it should contain an universal and omnipresent Life; consequently, it must move, or rather have been moved towards all (beings). If it were to move in a simple and uniform manner, it would possess but a single thing, would be identical with it, and no longer proceed towards anything different. If however it should move towards something different, it would have to become something different, and be two things. If these two things were then to be identical, Intelligence would still remain one, and there would be no progress left; if, on the contrary, these two things were to be different, it would be proceeding with this difference, and it would, by virtue of this difference joined to its divinity, beget some third thing. By its origin, the latter is simultaneously identical and different; not of some particular difference, but of all kinds of difference, because the identity it contains is itself universal. Thus being universal difference as well as universal identity, this thing possesses all that is said to be different; for its nature is to be universal differentiation (to spread over everything, to become everything else). If all these differences preceded this (Intelligence), the latter would be modified by them. If this be not the case, Intelligence must have begotten all the differences, or rather, be their universality.


Essences (“beings”) therefore cannot exist without an actualization of Intelligence. By this actualization, after having produced some (“being”), Intelligence always produces some other one, somehow carrying out the career which it is natural for veritable Intelligence to carry out within itself; this career is that of the beings, of which each corresponds to one of its evolutions, (or, it roams around among beings, so that through its roaming around these beings unite and form.) Since Intelligence is everywhere identical, its evolutions imply permanence, and they make it move around the “field of truth” without ever issuing therefrom. It occupies this whole field, because Intelligence has made itself the locality where its evolutions operate, a locality which is identical with what it contains. This field is varied enough to offer a career to be fulfilled; if it were not universally and eternally varied, there would be a stopping-place where variety would cease; and, were Intelligence to stop, it would not think; and if it had never stopped, it would have existed without thought (or, it would not exist). This however, is not the case; therefore thought exists, and its universal movement produces the fullness of universal “Being.” Universal “Being,” however, is the thought that embraces universal Life, and which, after each thing, ever conceives some other; because, since that which within it is identical is all so different. It continually divides and ever finds something different from the others. In its march, Intelligence ever progresses from life to life, from animated (beings) to animated (beings); just as some traveller, advancing on the earth, finds all that he travels through to be earth, whatever variations thereof there may have been. In the intelligible world, the life whose field one traverses is always self-identical, but it is also always different. The result is that (this sphere of operations) does not seem the same to us, because in its evolution, which is identical, life experiences (or, traverses) things which are not the same. That however does not change this life, for it passes through different things in a uniform and identical manner. If this uniformity and identity of Intelligence were not applied to different things, Intelligence would remain idle; it would no longer exist in actualization, and no more be actualization. Now these different things constitute Intelligence itself. Intelligence is therefore universal, because this universality forms its very nature. Being thus universal, Intelligence is all things; there is nothing in it which does not contribute to its universality; and everything is different, so as to be able still to contribute to totality, by its very difference. If there were no difference, if everything in it were identical, the being of Intelligence would be diminished, inasmuch as its nature would no more co-operate towards its harmonic consummation.


14. By intellectual examples we can understand the nature of Intelligence, and see that it could not be a unity which does not admit any kind of difference. As example, consider the (“seminal) reason” of a plant, and that of an animal. If it be only a unity, without any kind of variety, it is not even a “reason,” and what is born will be no more than matter. This “reason” must therefore contain all the organs; and, while embracing all matter, it must not leave any part of it to remain identical with any other. For instance, the face does not form a single mass; it contains the nose and the eyes. Nor is even the nose something simple; it contains different parts whose variety make of it an organ; if it were reduced to a state of absolute simplicity, it would be no more than a mass. Thus Intelligence contains the infinite, because it is simultaneously one and manifold; not indeed like a house, but as is a (“seminal) reason” which is manifold interiorly. It contains within, therefore, a sort of figure (or scheme) or even a picture, on which are interiorly drawn or inscribed its powers and thoughts; their division does not take place exteriorly, for it is entirely interior. Thus the universal living Organism embraces other living beings, within which may be discovered still smaller living beings, and still smaller powers, and so on till we arrive at the “atomic form.” All these forms are distinguished from each other by their division, without ever having been confounded together, though they all occur in the constitution of a single unity. Thus exists in the intelligible world that union (by Empedocles) called “friendship”; but such union is very different from that which exists in the sense-world. In fact, the latter is only the image of the first, because it is formed of completely disparate elements. Veritable union however consists in forming but a single (thing) without admitting of any separation between (elements). Here below, however, objects are separated from each other.



15. Who then will be able to contemplate this multiple and universal Life, primary and one, without being charmed therewith, and without scorning every other kind of life? For our lives here below, that are so weak, impotent, incomplete, whose impurity soils other lives, can be considered as nothing but tenebrous. As soon as you consider these lives, you no longer see the others, you no longer live with these other lives in which everything is living; which are relieved of all impurity, and of all contact with evil. Indeed, evil reigns here below only; here where we have but a trace of Intelligence and of the intelligible life. On the contrary, in the intelligible world exists “that archetype which is beneficent (which possesses the form of Good”), as says Plato, because it possesses good by the forms (that is, by the ideas). Indeed, the absolute Good is something different from the Intelligence which is good only because its life is passed in contemplating the Good. The objects contemplated by Intelligence are the essences which have the form of Good, and which it possesses from the moment it contemplates the Good. Intelligence receives the Good, not such as the Good is in itself, but such as Intelligence is capable of receiving it. The Good is indeed the supreme principle. From the Good therefore, Intelligence derives its perfection; to the Good Intelligence owes its begetting of all the intelligible entities; on the one hand, Intelligence could not consider the Good without thinking it; on the other, it must not have seen in the Good the intelligible entities, otherwise, Intelligence itself could not have begotten them. Thus Intelligence has, from the Good, received the power to beget, and to fill itself with that which it has begotten. The Good does not Himself possess the things which He thus donates; for He is absolutely one, and that which has been given to Intelligence is manifold. Incapable in its plenitude to embrace, and in its unity to possess the power it was receiving, Intelligence split it up, thus rendering it manifold, so as to possess it at least in fragments. Thus everything begotten by Intelligence proceeds from the power derived from the Good, and bears its form; as intelligence itself is good, and as it is composed of things that bear the form of Good, it is a varied good. The reader may be assisted in forming a conception of it by imagining a variegated living sphere, or a composite of animated and brilliant faces. Or again, imagine pure souls, pure and complete (in their essence), all united by their highest (faculties), and then universal Intelligence seated on this summit, and illuminating the whole intelligible region. In this simile, the reader who imagines it considers it as something outside of himself; but (to contemplate Intelligence) one has to become Intelligence, and then give oneself a panorama of oneself.


16. Instead of stopping at this multiple beauty, it must be abandoned to rise (to the Good), the supreme principle. By reasoning not according to the nature of our world, but according to that of the universal Intelligence, we should with astonishment ask ourselves which is the principle that has begotten it, and how it did so. Each one (of the essences contained in the Intelligence) is a (particular) form, and somehow has its own type. As their common characteristic is to be assimilated to the Good, the consequence is that Intelligence contains all the things conformable to the Good. It possesses therefore the essence which is in all things; it contains all the animals, as well as the universal Life within them, and all the rest.


Why must these things be considered as goods, when considered from this point of view? The solution of this problem may be arrived at from the following consideration. When for the first time Intelligence contemplated the Good, this its contemplation split the Good’s unity into multiplicity. Though itself were a single being, this its thought divided the unity because of its inability to grasp it in its entirety. To this it may be answered that Intelligence was not yet such the first time it contemplated the Good. Did it then contemplate the Good without intelligence? Intelligence did not yet see the Good; but Intelligence dwelt near it, was dependent on it, and was turned towards it. Having arrived at its fullness, because it was operating on high, and was trending towards the Good, the movement of Intelligence itself led it to its fullness; since then it was, no longer a single movement, but a movement perfect and complete. It became all things, and possessing self-consciousness, it recognized that itself was all things. It thus became intelligence, which possesses its fullness so as to contain what it should see, and which sees by the light that it receives from Him from whom it derives what it sees. That is why the Good is said to be not only the cause of “being,” but rather the cause of the vision of “being.” As for sense-objects, the sun is the cause that makes them exist, and renders them visible, as it is also the cause of vision, and as however the sun is neither the vision nor the visible objects, likewise the Good is the cause of being and of intelligence, it is a light in respect of the beings that are seen and the Intelligence that sees them; but it is neither the beings nor the Intelligence; it is only their cause; it produces thought by shedding its light on the beings and on Intelligence. It is thus that Intelligence has arrived to fullness, and that on arriving at fullness it has become perfect and has seen. That which preceded its fullness is its principle. But it has another principle (which is the Good), which is somewhat exterior to it, and which gave it its fullness, and while giving it this fullness impressed on it the form (of itself, the Good).


17. How can (these beings) exist within Intelligence, and constitute it, if they were neither in that which has given, nor in that which has received this fullness, since, before receiving its fullness from the Good, Intelligence had not yet received (these beings)? It is not necessary that a principle should itself possess what it gives; in intelligible things, it suffices to consider the giver superior, and the receiver inferior; that (giving and receiving) is the content of generation in the order of veritable beings. What occupies the front rank must be in actualization; posterior things must be in potentiality of what precedes them. What occupies the front rank is superior to what occupies the second rank; the giver, likewise is superior to the gift, because it is better. If then there be a Principle anterior to actualization, it must be superior both to actualization and to life; and because it gave life to Intelligence it is more beautiful, still more venerable than Life. Thus Intelligence received life, without necessity for the principle from which it received life having had to contain any variety. Life is the impress of Him who gave it, but it is not his life. When Intelligence glanced towards Him, it was indeterminate; as soon as it fixed its glance on Him, it was determined by Him, although He himself had no determination. As soon indeed as Intelligence contemplated the One, Intelligence was determined by Him, and from Him it received its determination, limit and form. The form exists in the receiver; the giver has none of it. This determination has not been imposed from without on Intelligence as is the case for the limit imposed on some magnitude; it is the determination characteristic of that Life, which is universal, multiple and infinite, because it has radiated from the supreme Nature. That Life was not yet the life of any particular principle; otherwise, it would have been determined as an individual life. Nevertheless it has been determined, and by virtue of that determination it is the life of a multiple unity. Each one of the things that constitute its multiplicity has likewise been determined. Indeed, life has been determined as multiplicity (of beings) because of its own multiplicity; as unity, because of the very determination it has received. What has been determined as unity? Intelligence, because it is the determined life. What was determined as multiplicity? The multiplicity of intelligences. Everything therefore is intelligence; only, the Intelligence that is one is universal; while the intelligences which form multiplicity are individual.


If universal Intelligence comprises all the individual intelligences, might not the latter all be identical? No, for then there would be but one of them. The multiplicity of the intelligences implies therefore a difference between them. But how does each differ from the others? Its difference resides in its being one; for there is no identity between the universal Intelligence, and any particular intelligence. Thus, in Intelligence, life is universal power; the vision which emanates from it is the power of all things; and then Intelligence itself, when it is formed, manifests all these things to us. He who is seated above all of them is their principle, though they do not serve Him as foundation; for, on the contrary, He is the foundation of the form of the first forms, without Himself having any forms. In respect to the Soul, Intelligence plays the part that the First plays in respect to Intelligence; Intelligence sheds its light on the Soul, and, to determine her, rationalizes her by communicating that of which itself is the trace. The Intellect, therefore, is the trace of the First; and while it is a form which develops in plurality, the First has no shape nor form, so as to give form to all the rest. If itself were a form, Intelligence would be nothing more than the “reason” (the soul). That is why the First could not have contained any multiplicity; otherwise, its multiplicity itself would have had to be traced to some superior principle.


18. In what respects do the (entities) which are contained by Intelligence seem to bear the form of the Good? Is it because each of them is a form, or because each is beautiful, or perhaps for some other reason? All that proceeds from the Good bears its characteristics or impressions, or at least bears something derived from it, just as that which is derived from the fire bears a trace of the fire, and as that which is derived from sweetness somehow betrays it. Now that, which, in Intelligence, is derived from the Good is life, for life is born from the actualization of the Good, and from Him again is derived the beauty of forms. Therefore all these things, life, intelligence, and idea will bear the form of Good.


But what element is common to them? It does not suffice for them to proceed from the Good to have something identical; they must also have some common characteristic; for a same principle may give rise to different things; or again, one and the same thing may become different while passing from the giving principle into the receivers; for there is a difference between that which constitutes the first actualization, and that which is given thereby. Thus, that which is in the things of which we speak is already different. Nothing hinders the characteristic of all these things (in life, intelligence and idea) from being the form of Good, but this form exists at different degrees in each of them.


In which of these things does the form of the Good inhere in the highest degree? The solution of this problem depends on the following one. Is life a good merely as such, even if it were life pure and simple? Should we not rather limit that word “life” to the life which derives from the Good, so that mere proceeding from the Good be a sufficient characterization of life? What is the nature of this life? Is it the life of the Good? No: life does not belong to the Good; it only proceeds therefrom. If the characteristic of life be proceeding from the Good, and if it be real life, evidently the result would be that nothing that proceeds from the Good would deserve scorn, that life as life should be considered good, that the same condition of affairs obtains with the primary and veritable Intelligence, and that finally each form is good and bears the form of Good. In this case, each of these (life, intelligence and idea) possess a good which is either common, or different, or which is of a different degree. Since we have admitted that each of the above-mentioned things contains a good in its being, then it is good chiefly because of this good. Thus life is a good, not in so far as it is merely life, but in so far as it is real life and proceeds from the Good. Intelligence likewise is a good so far as it essentially is intelligence; there is therefore some common element in life and intelligence. Indeed, when one and the same attribute is predicated of different beings, although it form an integral part of their being, it may be abstracted therefrom by thought; thus from “man” and “horse” may be abstracted “animal”; from “water” and “fire,” “heat”; but what is common in these beings is a genus, while what is common in intelligence and life, is one and the same thing which inheres in one in the first degree, and in the other in the second.


Is it by a mere play on words that life, intelligence and ideas are called good? Does the good constitute their being, or is each good taken in its totality? Good could not constitute the being of each of them. Are they then parts of the Good? The Good, however, is indivisible. The things that are beneath it are good for different reasons. The primary actualization (that proceeds from the Good) is good; likewise, the determination it receives is good, and the totality of both things is good. The actualization is good because it proceeds from the Good; the determination, because it is a perfection that has emanated from the Good; and the combination of actualization and determination because it is their totality. All these things thus are derived from one and the same principle, but nevertheless they are different. Thus (in a choric ballet) the voice and the step proceed from one and the same person, in that they are all perfectly regulated. Now they are well regulated because they contain order and rhythm. What then is the content in the above-mentioned things that would make them good? But perhaps it may be objected that if the voice and step are well regulated, each one of them entirely owes it to some external principle, since the order is here applied to the things that differ from each other. On the contrary, the things of which we speak are each of them good in itself. And why are they good? It does not suffice to say that they are good because they proceed from the Good. Doubtless we shall have to grant that they are precious from the moment that they proceed from the Good, but reason demands that we shall determine that of which their goodness consists.


19. Shall the decision of what is good be entrusted to the desire of the soul? If we are to trust this affection of the soul, we shall be declaring that whatever is desirable for her is good; but we would not be seeking why the Good is desired. Thus, while we use demonstrations to explain the nature of every entity, we would be trusting to desire for the determination of the Good. Such a proceeding would land us in several absurdities. First, the Good would only be an attribute. Then, since our soul has several desires, and each of the latter has different objects, we would not be able to decide which of these objects would be the best, according to desire. It would be impossible to decide what would be better before we know what is good.


Shall we then define the good as the virtue characteristic of each being (as say the Stoics)? In this case, by strictly following (the course of dialectics) we would reduce the Good to being a form and a reason. But, having arrived there, what should we answer if we were asked on what grounds these things themselves are good? In imperfect things, it seems easy to distinguish the good, even though it be not pure; but in intelligible things we may not immediately succeed in discovering the Good by comparison with the inferior things. As there is no evil on high (in the intelligible world), and as excellent things exist in themselves, we find ourselves embarrassed. Perhaps we are embarrassed only because we seek the cause (“whyness”) (of the good), whereas the cause (“whyness”) is here identical with the nature (“whatness”), as intelligible entities are good in themselves. Nor would we have solved the problem if we were to assign some other cause (of the Good), such as the divinity, to which our reason has not yet forced us to repair. However, we cannot retire, and we must seek to arrive by some other road to something satisfactory.


20. Since therefore we have given up desires as forms in the determination of the nature and quality (of the good), shall we have recourse to other rules, such as, for instance (the Pythagorean) “oppositions,” such as order and disorder, proportion and disproportion, health and sickness, form and formlessness, being and destruction, consistence and its lack? Who indeed would hesitate to attribute to the form of good those characteristics which constitute the first member of each of these opposition-pairs? If so, the efficient causes of these characteristics will also have to be traced to the good; for virtue, life, intelligence and wisdom are comprised within the form of good, as being things desired by the soul that is wise.


It will further be suggested (by followers of Aristotle) that we stop at Intelligence, predicating goodness of it. For life and soul are images of Intelligence. It is to Intelligence that the soul aspires, it is according to Intelligence that the soul judges, it is on Intelligence that the soul regulates herself, when she pronounces that justice is better than injustice, in preferring every kind of virtue to every kind of vice, and in holding in high estimation what she considers preferable. Unfortunately, the soul does not aspire to Intelligence exclusively. As might be demonstrated in a long discussion, Intelligence is not the supreme goal to which we aspire, and not everything aspires to Intelligence, whilst everything aspires to the Good. The (beings) which do not possess intelligence do not all seek to possess it, while those who do possess it, do not limit themselves to it. Intelligence is sought only as the result of a train of reasoning, whilst Good is desired even before reason comes into play. If the object of desire be to live, to exist always, and to be active, this object is not desired because of Intelligence, but because of its being good, inasmuch as the Good is its principle and its goal. It is only in this respect that life is desirable.


21. What then is the one and only cause to whose presence is due the goodness (of life, intelligence and idea)? Let us not hesitate to say: Intelligence and primary Life bear the form of Good; it is on this account alone that they are desirable; they bear the form of Good in this respect, that the primary Life is the actualization of the Good, or rather the actualization that proceeds from the Good, and that intelligence is determination of this actualization. (Intelligence and primary Life) are fascinating, and the soul seeks them because they proceed from the Good; nevertheless the soul aspires to them (only) because they fit her, and not because they are good in themselves. On the other hand, the soul could not disdain them because they bear the form of good; though we can disdain something even though it be suitable to us, if it be not a good besides. It is true that we permit ourselves to be allured by distant and inferior objects, and may even feel for them a passionate love; but that occurs only when they have something more than their natural condition, and when some perfection descends on them from on high. Just as the bodies, while containing a light mingled with their (substance), nevertheless need illumination by some other light to bring out their colors, so the intelligible entities, in spite of the light that they contain, need to receive some other more powerful light, so as to become visible, both for themselves, and for others.


22. When the soul perceives the light thus shed by the Good on the intelligible entities, she flies towards them, tasting an indescribable bliss in the contemplation of the light that illuminates them. Likewise here below, we do not like the bodies for themselves, but for the beauty that shimmers in them. Each intelligible entity owes its nature to none but to itself; but it only becomes desirable when the Good, so to speak, illuminates and colors it, breathing grace into the desired object, and inspiring love into the desiring heart. As soon as the soul reacts to the influence of the Good, she feels emotion, swells with fancy, is stung by desire, and love is born within her. Before reacting to the influence of good she feels no transports when facing the beauty of Intelligence; for this beauty is dead so long as it is not irradiated by the Good. Consequently the soul still remains depressed and bowed down, cold and torpid, in front of Intelligence. But as soon as she feels the gentle warmth of the Good, she is refreshed, she awakes, and spreads her wings; and instead of stopping to admire the Intelligence in front of her, she rises by the aid of reminiscence to a still higher principle (the First). So long as there is anything superior to what she possesses, she rises, allured by her natural leaning for the Inspirer of love; so she passes through the region of Intelligence, and stops at the Good because there is nothing beyond. So long as she contemplates Intelligence, she surely enjoys a noble and magnificent spectacle, but she does not yet fully possess the object of her search. Such would be a human countenance, which, in spite of its beauty, is not attractive, for lack of the charm of grace. Beauty is, indeed, rather the splendor that enhalos proportion, than proportion itself; and it is properly this splendor which challenges love. Why indeed does beauty shine radiantly on the face of a living person, and yet leave hardly a trace after death, even when the complexion and features are not yet marred? Why, among different statues, do the most life-like ones seem more beautiful than others that may be better proportioned? Why is a living being, though ugly, more beautiful than a pictured one, even though the latter were the most handsome imaginable? The secret is that the living form seems to us most desirable, because it possesses a living soul, because it is most assimilated to the Good; because the soul is colored by the light of the Good, and because, enlightened by the Good she is more wakeful and lighter, and because in her turn she lightens the burdens, awakes, and causes participation of the Good, so far as she may be able, in the body within which she resides.


23. Since it is this Principle which the soul pursues, which illuminates Intelligence, and whose least trace arouses in us so great an emotion, there is no ground for astonishment if it possess the power of exerting its fascination on all beings, and if all rest in Him without seeking anything beyond. If indeed everything proceeds from this principle, then there is nothing better, and everything else is below Him. Now, how could the best of beings fail to be the Good? If the Good be entirely self-sufficient, and have need of nothing else, what could it be except the One who was what He is before all other things, when evil did not yet exist? If all evils be posterior to Him, if they exist only in the objects that in no way participate in the Good, and which occupy the last rank, if no evil exist among the intelligibles, and if there be nothing worse than evil (just as there is nothing better than the Good), then evils are in complete opposition to this principle, and it could be nothing else. To deny the existence of the Good, we would also have to deny the existence of evil; and the result would be a complete indifference of choice between any two particular things; which is absurd. All other things called good refer to Him, while He refers to nothing else.


But if this be the nature of the Good, what does He do? He made Intelligence, and life. By the intermediation of Intelligence, He made the souls and all the other beings that participate in Intelligence, in Reason, or in Life. Moreover, who could express the goodness of Him who is their source and principle? But what is He doing at the present time? He preserves what He has begotten, He inspires the thought in those who think, He vivifies the living, by His spirit, He imparts to all (beings) intelligence and life, and to those who are unable to receive life, at least existence.


24. And what is He doing for us? To answer this question, we would still have to explain the light by which Intelligence is illuminated, and in which the Soul participates. But we shall have to postpone this discussion, and mention various other questions which may be asked. Is the Good goodness, and does it receive this name because it is desirable for some being? Is that which is desirable for some being the good of this being, and do we call the Good that which is desirable for all beings? Is being desirable not rather a simple characteristic of the Good, and must not that which is desirable have a nature such that it would deserve the name of Good? Besides, do the beings that desire the Good desire it because they receive from it something, or merely because possession thereof causes bliss? If they do receive something from it, what does it consist of? If the possession of the Good give them joy, why should their joy come from possession of the Good, rather than from possession of anything else? ls the Good such by what is characteristic of it, or by something else? Is the Good an attribute of some other being, or is the Good good for itself? Must not the Good rather be good for others, without being good for itself? For whom anyway is the Good good? For there is a certain nature (matter) for which nothing is good.


Nor can we ignore an objection raised by an opponent who is difficult to convince (Plato’s Philebus): “Well, my friends, what then is this entity that you celebrate in such pompous terms, ceaselessly repeating that life and intelligence are goods, although you said that the Good is above them? What sort of a good might the Intellect be? What sort of a good should (a man) have, who thinks the Ideas themselves, contemplating everything in itself? Perhaps, indeed, a man, when he enjoys these (Ideas and contemplations), might be deceived into calling them a good merely because he happened to be in pleasant circumstances; but should these circumstances become unpleasant, on what grounds would he call them a good? Merely because they (possess) existence? But what pleasure or benefit could this afford him? If he did not consider self-love as the foundation thereof, what difference could there be for him between existence and non-existence? It is therefore to this natural physical error (of self-love), and to the fear of death, that we must trace the cause of the ascription of good to intelligence and life.”


25. Plato therefore mingled the Good with pleasure, and did not posit the Good exclusively in Intelligence, as he wrote in the Philebus. Appreciating this difficulty, he very rightly decided on one hand that good did not consist in pleasure alone, and on the other, that it did not consist in intelligence alone, inasmuch as he failed to discover in it anything to arouse our desire. Perhaps Plato had still another motive (in calling the Good a mixture), because he thought that, with such a nature, the Good is necessarily full of charm, desirable both for the seeker and the finder; whence it would result that he who is not charmed has not found the Good, and that, if he who desires be not happy, he evidently does not yet possess the Good. It is not without a reason (that Plato formed this conception of the Good); for he was not seeking to determine the universal Good, but the good of man; and as such human good refers to (man, who is) a being different from the absolute Good, then it becomes for him something different from the Good in itself; and would therefore be defective and composite. That is why (according to Plato), that which is alone and single has no good, but is good in another and a higher sense.


The good must then be desirable; but it is good not because it is desirable, but it is desirable because it is good. Thus in the order of beings, rising from the last to the First, it will be found that the good of each of them is in the one immediately preceding, so long as this ascending scale remain proportionate and increasing. Then we will stop at Him who occupies the supreme rank, beyond which there is nothing more to seek. That is the First, the veritable, the sovereign Good, the author of all goodness in other beings. The good of matter is form; for if matter became capable of sensation it would receive it with pleasure. The good of the body is the soul; for without her it could neither exist nor last. The good of the soul is virtue; and then higher (waits), Intelligence. Last, the good of Intelligence is the principle called the Primary nature. Each of these goods produces something within the object whose good it is. It confers order and beauty (as form does on matter); or life (as the soul does on the body); or wisdom and happiness (as intelligence does on soul). Last, the Good communicates to Intelligence its influx, and actualization emanating from the Good, and shedding on Intelligence what has been called the light of the Good. The nature of this we shall study later.


26. Recognition of goodness and so-called “possession” thereof consist of enjoyment of the presence of good by the being who has received from nature the faculty of sensation. How could it make a mistake about the matter? The possibility of its being deceived implies the existence of some counterfeit; in this case, the error of this being was caused by that which resembled its good; for this being withdraws from what had deceived it as soon as the Good presents itself. The existence of a particular good for each being is demonstrated by its desire and inclination. Doubtless, the inanimate being receives its good from without; but, in the animated being, the desire spontaneously starts to pursue the Good. That is why lifeless bodies are the objects of solicitude and care of living beings, while the living beings watch over themselves.


Now when a being has attained the good it was pursuing it is sure of possessing it as soon as it feels that it is better, feels no regret, is satisfied, takes pleasure therein, and seeks nothing beyond. What shows the insufficiency of pleasure is that one does not always like the same thing; doubtless pleasure ever charms, but the object which produces it is not the same; it is always the newest object that pleases most. Now the good to which we aspire must not be a simple affection, existing only in him who feels it; for he who mistakes this affection for the Good remains unsatisfied, he has nothing but an affection that somebody else might equally feel in presence of the Good. Consequently no one will succeed in making himself enjoy a pleasure he has not achieved; such as, for instance, rejoicing in the presence of an absent son; or, for a glutton to relish imaginary food; or, for a lover, to tremble at the touch of his absent mistress, or (to thrill in a theoretic) orgasm.


27. What is the essential of a being’s nature? Form. Matter achieves (recognition) through its form; and a soul’s destiny is realized by the virtue which is its form. Next we may ask whether this form be a good for a being merely because it suits its (nature)? Does desire pursue that which is suitable to it, or not? No: a being is suited by its like; now, though a being seek and love its like, its possession does not imply the possession of its good. Are we then not implying that something is suitable to a being, on the strength of its being the good of that being? The determination of what is suitable to a being belongs to the superior Being of whom the lower being is a potentiality. When a being is the potentiality of some other, the being needs the other; now the Being which it needs because it is superior is, by that very fact, its good. Of all things matter is the most indigent, and the form suitable to it is the last of all; but, above it, one may gradually ascend. Consequently, if a being be good for itself, so much the more will it consider good what is its perfection and form, namely, the being that is better than it, because of a superior nature, and of supplying the good (of the lower being). But why should that which a being receives from a superior Being be its good? Is it not this because it is eminently suited to it? No: It is so merely because it is a portion of the Good. That is why the purest and best Beings are those that have most intimacy with themselves. Besides it is absurd to seek the cause why what is good, is good for itself; as if, by the mere fact of its being good, it should betray its own nature and not love itself. Nevertheless, speaking of simple beings, it might be asked whether a being which does not contain several things different from each other either possesses intimacy with itself, or can be good for itself.


Now, if all that has been said be right, it is only a gradual upward analysis that reveals the good that is suitable to the nature of any being. Desire does not constitute the good, but is born from its presence. Those who acquire the good receive something from it. Pleasure accompanies the acquirement of good; but even should pleasure not accompany the good, the good should, none the less be chosen, and sought for its own sake.


28. Let us consider the implications of the principles we have studied. If that which a being receives as good be everywhere a form, if the good of matter be a form, we might ask ourselves whether matter, granting it here the faculty of volition, would even wish to be a form? Such a wish would be tantamount to a wish to be destroyed. (But matter could not wish this), for every being seeks its own good. But perhaps matter might not wish to be matter, but simply to be essence; possessing which, matter would wish to free itself from all the evil within it. But how can that which is evil (for such is the nature of matter) desire the good? Besides, we are not attributing desire to matter itself. It was only to meet the exigencies of the discussion that we employed the hypothesis which accorded sensibility to matter, if indeed it can be granted to matter without destroying its nature. We have at least shown that when form has come, as a dream of the Good, to unite itself to matter, the latter found itself in a better condition.


All we have said above goes on the assumption that matter is the evil. But if it were something else, as, for instance, malice, and if the essence of matter were to receive sensation, would intimacy with what is better still be the good of matter? But if it were not the malice itself of matter which choose the good, it was what had become evil in matter. If the essence (of matter) were identical with evil, how could matter wish to possess this good? Would evil love itself, if it had self-consciousness? But how could that which is not lovable be loved? For we have demonstrated that a being’s good does not consist in that which is suitable to it. Enough about this, however.


But if the good be everywhere a form; if, in the measure that one rises (along the ladder of beings), there is a progression in the form—for the soul is more of a form than the form of the body; in the soul herself there are graduated forms, and intelligence is more of a form than the soul—the good follows a progression evidently inverse to that of matter; the Good exists in that which is purified and freed from matter, and exists there in proportion to its purity (from matter); so it exists in the highest degree in that which lays aside all materiality. Finally, the Good in itself, being entirely separated from all matter; or rather, never having had any contact with it, constitutes a nature which has no kind of form, and from which proceeds the first form (Intelligence). But of this more later.


29. Supposing then that the pleasure does not accompany the good, but that anterior to pleasure there have existed something which would have naturally given rise to it (because of its goodness); why then might not the good be considered lovable? But the mere assertion that good is lovable, already implies that it is accompanied by pleasure. But supposing now that the good could exist without being lovable (and consequently not accompanied by pleasure). In that case, even in presence of the good, the being that possesses sensibility will not know that the good is present. What would however hinder a being from knowing the presence of the good without feeling any emotion at its possession, which would exactly represent the case of the temperate man who lacks nothing? The result would be that pleasure could not be suitable to the First (being), not only because He is simple, but also because pleasure results from the acquisition of what is lacking (and the First lacks nothing, therefore could not feel pleasure).


But, in order that this truth may appear in its full light, we shall first have to clear away all the other opinions, and especially have to refute the teaching opposite to ours. This is the question asked of us: “What will be the fruit gathered by him who has the intelligence necessary to acquire one of these goods (such as existence and life), if on hearing them named, he be not impressed thereby, because he does not understand them, either because they seem to him no more than words, or because his conception of each of these things should differ (from our view of them), or because in his search for the Good he seeks some sense-object, such as wealth, or the like?” The person who thus scorns these things (existence and life), thereby implicitly recognizes that there is within him a certain good, but that, without knowing in what it consists, he nevertheless values these things according to his own notion of the Good; for it is impossible to say, “that is not the good,” without having some sort of knowledge of the good, or acquaintance therewith. The above speaker seems to betray a suspicion that the Good in itself is above Intelligence. Besides, if in considering the Good in itself, or the good which most approaches it, he do not discern it, he will nevertheless succeed in getting a conception of it by its contraries; otherwise, he would not even know that the lack of intelligence is an evil, though every man desire to be intelligent, and glory in being such, as is seen by the sensations which aspire to become notions. If intelligence, and especially primary Intelligence, be beautiful and venerable, what admiration might not then be felt by him who could contemplate the generating principle, the Father of Intelligence? Consequently, he who affects to scorn existence and life receives a refutation from himself and from all the affections he feels. They who are disgusted of life are those who consider not the true life, but the life which is mingled with death.


30. Now, rising in thought to the Good, we must examine whether pleasure must be mingled with the Good to keep life from remaining imperfect, even if we should, besides, contemplate the divine things, and even Him who is their principle. When (Plato) seems to believe that the good is composed of intelligence, as subject, and also of affection which wisdom makes the soul experience, he is not asserting that this blend (of intelligence and pleasure) is either the goal (of the soul), or the Good in itself. He only means that intelligence is the good, and that we enjoy its possession. This is a first interpretation of (Plato’s) opinion about the Good. Another interpretation is that to mingle intelligence with pleasure is to make a single subject of both of them, so that in acquiring or in contemplating such an intelligence we possess the good; for (according to the partisans of this opinion), one of these things could not exist in isolation, nor, supposing that it could so exist, it would not be desirable as a good. But (shall we ask them), how can intelligence be mingled with pleasure so as to form a perfect fusion therewith? Nobody could be made to believe that the pleasure of the body could be mingled with Intelligence; such pleasure is incompatible even with the joys of the soul.


The element of truth in all this, however, is that every action, disposition and life is joined by some accessory (pleasure or pain) that unites with it. Indeed, sometimes action meets an obstacle to its natural accomplishment, and life is affected by the mixture of a little of its contrary, which limits its independence; sometimes, however, action is produced without anything troubling its purity and serenity, and then life flows along a tranquil course. Those who consider that this state of intelligence is desirable, and preferable to everything else, in their inability to express their thoughts more definitely, say that it is mingled with pleasure. Such likewise is the meaning of expressions used by those who apply to divine things terms intended to express joy here below, and who say, “He is intoxicated with nectar! Let us to the banquet! Jupiter smiles!” This happy state of intelligence is that which is the most agreeable, the most worthy of our wishes, and of our love; nor is it transitory, and does not consist in a movement; its principle is that which colors intelligence, illumines it, and makes it enjoy a sweet serenity. That is why Plato adds to the mixture truth, and puts above it that which gives measure. He also adds that the proportion and the beauty which are in the mixture pass from there into the beautiful. That is the good that belongs to us, that is the fate that awaits us. That is the supreme object of desire, an object that we will achieve on condition of drawing ourselves up to that which is best in us. Now this thing full of proportion and beauty, this form composed (of the elements of which we have spoken), is nothing else but a life full of radiance, intelligence and beauty.


31. Since all things have been embellished by Him who is above them, and have received their light from Him; since Intelligence derives from Him the splendor of its intellectual actualization; by which splendor it illuminates nature; since from Him also the soul derives her vital power, because she finds in Him an abundant source of life; consequently, Intelligence has risen to Him, and has remained attached to Him, satisfied in the bliss of His presence; consequently also the soul, to the utmost of her ability, turned towards Him, for, as soon as she has known Him and seen Him, she was, by her contemplation, filled with bliss; and, so far as she could see Him, she was overwhelmed with reverence. She could not see Him without being impressed with the feeling that she had within herself something of Him; it was this disposition of hers that led her to desire to see Him, as the image of some lovable object makes one wish to be able to contemplate it oneself. Here below, lovers try to resemble the beloved object, to render their body more gracious, to conform their soul to their model, by temperance and the other virtues to remain as little inferior as possible to Him whom they love, for fear of being scorned by Him; and thus they succeed in enjoying intimacy with Him. Likewise, the soul loves the Good, because, from the very beginning she is provoked to love Him. When she is ready to love, she does not wait for the beauties here below to give her the reminiscence of the Good; full of love, even when she does not know what she possesses, she is ever seeking; and inflamed with the desire to rise to the Good, she scorns the things here below. Considering the beauties presented by our universe, she suspects that they are deceptive, because she sees them clothed upon with flesh, and united to our bodies, soiled by the matter where they reside, divided by extension, and she does not recognize them as real beauties, for she cannot believe that the latter could plunge into the mire of these bodies, soiling and obscuring themselves. Last, when the soul observes that the beauties here below are in a perpetual flux, she clearly recognizes that they derive this splendor with which they shine, from elsewhere. Then she rises to the intelligible world; being capable of discovering what she loves, she does not stop before having found it, unless she be made to lose her love. Having arrived there, she contemplates all the true beauties, the true realities; she refreshes herself by filling herself up with the life proper to essence. She herself becomes genuine essence. She fuses with the Intelligible which she really possesses, and in its presence she has the feeling (of having found) what she was seeking so long.


32. Where then is He who has created this venerable beauty, and this perfect life? Where is He who has begotten “being”? Do you see the beauty that shines in all these forms so various? It is well to dwell there; but when one has thus arrived at beauty, one is forced to seek the source of these essences and of their beauty. Their author Himself cannot be any of them; for then He would be no more than some among them, and a part of the whole. He is therefore none of the particular forms, nor a particular power, nor all of the forms, nor all the powers that are, or are becoming, in the universe; He must be superior to all the forms and all the powers. The supreme Principle therefore has no form; not indeed that He lacks any; but because He is the principle from which all intellectual shapes are derived. Whatever is born—that is, if there be anything such as birth—must, at birth, have been some particular being, and have had its particular shape; but who could have made that which was not made by anybody? He therefore is all beings, without being any of them; He is none of the other beings because He is anterior to all of them; He is all other beings because He is their author. What greatness shall be attributed to the Principle who can do all things? Will He be considered infinite? Even if He be infinite, He will have no greatness, for magnitude occurs only among beings of the lowest rank. The creator of magnitude could not himself have any magnitude; and even what is called magnitude in “being” is not a quantity. Magnitude can be found only in something posterior to being. The magnitude of the Good is that there be nothing more powerful than He, nothing that even equals Him. How indeed could any of the beings dependent on Him ever equal Him, not having a nature identical with His? Even the statement that God is always and everywhere does not attribute to Him any measure, nor even, a lack of measure—otherwise, He might be considered as measuring the rest; nor does it attribute to Him any figure (or, outward appearance).


Thus the Divinity, being the object of desire, must be the most desired and the most loved, precisely because He has no figure nor shape. The love He inspires is immense; this love is limitless, because of the limitlessness of its object. He is infinite, because the beauty of its object surpasses all beauty. Not being any essence, how indeed could the (divinity) have any determinate beauty? As supreme object of love, He is the creator of beauty. Being the generating power of all that is beautiful, He is at the same time the flower in which beauty blooms: for He produces it, and makes it more beautiful still by the superabundance of beauty which He sheds on her. He is therefore simultaneously the principle and goal of beauty. As principle of beauty, He beautifies all that of which He is the principle. It is not however by shape that He beautifies; what He produces has no shape, or, to speak more accurately, He has a shape in a sense different from the habitual meaning of this term. The shape which is no more than a shape is a simple attribute of some substance, while the Shape that subsists in itself is superior to shape. Thus, that which participates in beauty was a shape; but beauty itself has none.


33. When we speak of absolute Beauty, we must therefore withdraw from all determinate shape, setting none before the eyes (of our mind); otherwise, we would expose ourselves to descending from absolute beauty to something which does not deserve the name of beauty but by virtue of an obscure and feeble participation; while absolute Beauty is a shapeless form, if it be at all allowed to be an idea (or form). Thus you may approach the universal Shape only by abstraction. Abstract even the form found in the reason (that is, the essence), by which we distinguish one action from another. Abstract, for instance, the difference that separates temperance from justice, though both be beautiful. For by the mere fact that intelligence conceives an object as something proper, the object that it conceives is diminished, even though this object were the totality of intelligible entities; and, on the other hand, if each of them, taken apart, have a single form, nevertheless all taken together will offer a certain variety.


We still have to study the proper conception of Him who is superior to the Intelligence that is so universally beautiful and varied, but who Himself is not varied. To Him the soul aspires without knowing why she wishes to possess Him; but reason tells us He is essential beauty, since the nature of Him who is excellent and sovereignly lovable cannot absolutely have any form. That is why the soul, whatever object you may show her in your process of reducing an object to a form, ever seeks beyond the shaping principle. Now reason tells us in respect to anything that has a shape, that as a shape or form is something measured (or limited), (anything shaped) cannot be genuinely universal, absolute, and beautiful in itself, and that its beauty is a mixture. Therefore though the intelligible entities be beautiful (they are limited); while He who is essential beauty, or rather the super-beautiful, must be unlimited, and consequently have no shape or form. He who then is beauty in the first degree, and primary Beauty, is superior to form, and the splendor of the intelligible (world) is only a reflection of the nature of the Good.


This is proved by what happens to lovers; so far as their eyes remain fixed on a sense-object, they do not yet love genuinely. Love is born only when they rise above the sense-object, and arrive at representing in their indivisible soul an image which has nothing more of sensation. To calm the ardor that devours them they do indeed still desire to contemplate the beloved object; but as soon as they come to understand that they have to rise to something beyond the form, they desire the latter; for since the very beginning they felt within themselves the love for a great light inspired by a feeble glow. The Shape indeed is the trace of the shapeless. Without himself having any shape, He begets shape whenever matter approaches Him. Now matter must necessarily be very distant from Him, because matter does not possess forms of even the last degree. Since form inherent in matter is derived from the soul, not even mere form-fashioned matter is lovable in itself, as matter; and as the soul herself is a still higher form, but yet is inferior to and less lovable than intelligence, there is no escape from the conclusion that the primary nature of the Beautiful is superior to form.


34. We shall not be surprised that the soul’s liveliest transports of love are aroused by Him, who has no form, not even an intelligible one, when we observe that the soul herself, as soon as she burns with love for Him, lays aside all forms soever, even if intelligible; for it is impossible to approach Him so long as one considers anything else. The soul must therefore put aside all evil, and even all good; in a word, everything, of whatever nature, to receive the divinity, alone with the alone. When the soul obtains this happiness, and when (the divinity) comes to her, or rather, when He manifests His presence, because the soul has detached herself from other present things, when she has embellished herself as far as possible, when she has become assimilated to Him by means known only to the initiated, she suddenly sees Him appear in her. No more interval between them, no more doubleness; the two fuse in one. It is impossible to distinguish the soul from the divinity, so much does she enjoy His presence; and it is the intimacy of this union that is here below imitated by those who love and are loved, when they consummate union. In this condition the soul no longer feels (her body); she no more feels whether she be alive, human, essence, universality, or anything else. Consideration of objects would be a degradation, and the soul then has neither the leisure nor the desire to busy herself with them. When, after having sought the divinity, she finds herself in His presence, she rushes towards Him, and contemplates Him instead of herself. What is her condition at the time? She has not the leisure to consider it; but she would not exchange it for anything whatever, not even for the whole heaven; for there is nothing superior or better; she could not rise any higher. As to other things, however elevated they be, she cannot at that time stoop to consider them. It is at this moment that the soul starts to move, and recognizes that she really possesses what she desired; she at last affirms that there is nothing better than Him. No illusion could occur there; for where could she find anything truer than truth itself? The soul then is what she affirms; (or rather), she asserts it (only), later, and then she asserts it by keeping silence. While tasting this beatitude she could not err in the assertion that she tastes it. If she assert that she tastes it, it is not that her body experiences an agreeable titillation, for she has only become again what she formerly used to be when she became happy. All the things that formerly charmed her, such as commanding others, power, wealth, beauty, science, now seem to her despicable; she could not scorn them earlier, for she had not met anything better. Now she fears nothing, so long as she is with Him, and contemplates Him. Even with pleasure would she witness the destruction of everything, for she would remain alone with Him; so great is her felicity.


35. Such, then, is the state of the soul that she no longer values even thought, which formerly excited her admiration; for thought is a movement, and the soul would prefer none. She does not even assert that it is Intelligence that she sees, though she contemplate only because she has become intelligence, and has, so to speak, become intellectualized, by being established in the intelligible place. Having arrived to Intelligence, and having become established therein, the soul possesses the intelligible, and thinks; but as soon as she achieves the vision of the supreme Divinity, she abandons everything else. She behaves as does the visitor who, on entering into a palace, would first admire the different beauties that adorn its interior, but who regards them no longer as soon as she perceives the master; for the master, by his (living) nature, which is superior to all the statues that adorn the palace, monopolizes the consideration, and alone deserves to be contemplated; consequently the spectator, with his glance fixed on Him, henceforward observes Him alone. By dint of continual contemplation of the spectacle in front of him, the spectator sees the master no longer; in the spectator, vision confuses with the visible object. What for the spectator first was a visible object, in him becomes vision, and makes him forget all that he saw around himself. To complete this illustration, the master here presenting himself to the visitor must be no man, but a divinity; and this divinity must not content Himself with appearing to the eyes of him who contemplates Him, but He must penetrate within the human soul, and fill her entirely.


Intelligence has two powers: by the first, which is her own power of thinking, she sees what is within her. By the other she perceives what is above her by the aid of a kind of vision and perception; by the vision, she first saw simply; then, by (perceptive) seeing, she received intellection and fused with the One. The first kind of contemplation is suitable to the intelligence which still possesses reason; the second is intelligence transported by love. Now, it is when the nectar intoxicates her, and deprives her of reason, that the soul is transported with love, and that she blossoms into a felicity that fulfills all her desires. It is better for her to abandon herself to this intoxication than to remain wise. In this state does intelligence successively see one thing, and then another? No: methods of instruction (or, constructive speech) give out everything successively; but it is eternally that intelligence possesses the power of thought, as well as the power not to think; that is, to see the divinity otherwise than by thought. Indeed, while contemplating Him, she received within herself germs, she felt them when they were produced and deposited within her breast; when she sees them, she is said to think; but when she sees the divinity, it is by that superior power by virtue of which she was to think later.


As to the soul, she sees the divinity only by growing confused, as it were by exhausting the intelligence which resides in her; or rather, it is her first intelligence that sees; but the vision the latter has of the divinity reaches down to the soul, which then fuses with intelligence. It is the Good, extending over intelligence and the soul, and condescending to their level, which spreads over them, and fuses them; hovering above them, it bestows on them the happy vision, and the ineffable feeling of itself. It raises them so high that they are no more in any place, nor within anything whatever, in any of the senses in which one thing is said to be within another. For the Good is not within anything; the intelligible location is within it, but it is not in anything else. Then the soul moves no more, because the divinity is not in motion. To speak accurately, she is no longer soul, because the divinity does not live, but is above life; neither is she intelligence, because the divinity is above intelligence; because there must be complete assimilation (between the soul and the divinity). Finally, the soul does not think even the divinity, because in this condition she does not think at all.


36. The remainder is plain. As to the last point, it has already been discussed. Still it may be well to add something thereto, starting from the point reached, and proceeding by arguments. Knowledge, or, if it may be so expressed, the “touch of the Good,” is the greatest thing in the world. Plato calls it the greatest of sciences, and even so he here applies this designation not to the vision itself of the Good, but to the science of the Good that may be had before the vision. This science is attained by the use of analogies, by negations (made about the Good), by the knowledge of things that proceed from it, and last by the degrees that must be taken (or, upward steps that must be climbed to reach up to Him.) (These then are the degrees) that lead up (to the divinity): purifications, virtues that adorn the soul, elevation to the intelligible, settling in the intelligible, and then the banquet at which nectar feeds him who becomes simultaneously spectator and spectacle, either for himself, or for others. Having become Being, Intelligence, and universal living Organism, (the initiate) no longer considers these things as being outside of him; having arrived at that condition, she approaches Him who is immediately above all the intelligible entities, and who already sheds His radiance over them. (The initiate) then leaves aside all the science that has led him till there; settled in the beautiful, he thinks, so long as he does not go beyond that (sphere of) being. But there, as it were raised by the very flood of intelligence, and carried away by the wave that swells, without knowing how, he suddenly sees. The contemplation which fills his eye with light does not reveal to him anything exterior; it is the light itself that he sees. It is not an opposition between light on one side, and the visible object on the other; nor is there on one side intelligence, and on the other the intelligible entity; there is only the (radiation) which later begets these entities, and permits them to exist within it. (The divinity) is no more than the radiation that begets intelligence, begetting without being consumed, and remaining within itself. This radiation exists, and this existence alone begets something else. If this radiation were not what it was, neither would the latter thing subsist.


37. They who attributed thought to the First Principle have at least not attributed to Him the thought of things that are inferior to Him, or which proceed from Him. Nevertheless some of them claimed that it was absurd to believe that the divinity ignored other things. As to the former, finding nothing greater than the Good, they attributed to (the divinity) the thought of Himself, as if this could add to His majesty, as if even for Him, thinking were more than being what He is, and it were not the Good Himself which communicates His sublimity to intelligence. But from whom then will the Good derive His greatness? Would it come from thought, or from Himself? If He derive it from thought, He is not great by himself; or at least, He is no more sovereignly great. If it be from Himself that He derives His greatness, He is perfectly anterior to thought, and it is not thought that renders Him perfect. Is He forced to think because He is actualization, and not merely potentiality? If He is a being that ever thinks, and if this be the meaning of actualization, we would be attributing to the Good two things simultaneously: “being” and thought; instead of conceiving of Him as a simple Principle, something foreign is added to Him, as to eyes is added the actualization of sight, even admitting that they see continually. (The divinity) is in actualization, in the sense that He is both actualization and thought, is He not? No, for being thought itself, He must not be thinking, as movement itself does not move. But do not you yourselves say that (the divinity) is both being and actualization? We think that being and actualization are multiple and different things, whilst the First is simple. To the principle that proceeds from the First alone belongs thought, a certain seeking out of its being, of itself, and of its origin. It deserves the name of intelligence only by turning towards (the First) in contemplation, and in knowing Him. As to the unbegotten Principle, who has nothing above Him, who is eternally what He is, what reason might He have to think?


That is why Plato rightly says that the Good is above Intelligence. To speak of an “unthinking” intelligence would be a self-contradiction; for the principle whose nature it is to think necessarily ceases to be intelligent if it does not think. But no function can be assigned to a principle that has none, and we cannot blame it for idleness because it does not fulfill some function; this would be as silly as to reproach it for not possessing the art of healing. To the first Principle then should be assigned no function, because there is none that would suit Him. He is (self) sufficient, and there is nothing outside of Him who is above all; for, in being what He is, He suffices Himself and everything else.


38. Of the First we may not even say, “He is.” (He does not need this), since we do not either say of Him, “He is good.” “He is good” is said of the same principle to which “He is” applies. Now “He is” suits the (divinity) only on the condition that He be given no attribute, limiting oneself to the assertion of His existence. He is spoken of as the Good, not as predicating an attribute or quality of Him, but to indicate that He is the Good itself. We do not even approve of this expression, “He is the Good,” because we think that not even the article should be prefixed thereto; but inasmuch as our language would fail to express an entire negation or deprivation, then, to avoid introducing some diversity in it, we are forced to name it, but there is no need to say “it is,” we simply call it, “the Good.”


But how could we admit (the existence of) a nature without feeling or consciousness of itself? We might answer this, What consciousness of self can (the divinity) have? Can He say, “I am?” But (in the above-mentioned sense), He is not. Can He say, “I am the Good”? Then He would still be saying of Himself “I am” (whereas we have just explained that this He cannot do). What then will He add (to his simplicity) by limiting Himself to saying, “The Good”? For it is possible to think “the Good” apart from “He is” so long as the Good is not, as an attribute, applied to some other being. But whoever thinks himself good will surely say “I am the good”; if not, he will think the predicate “good,” but he will not be enabled to think that he is so himself. Thus, the thought of good will imply this thought, “I am the good.” If this thought itself be the Good, it will not be the thought of Him, but of the good, and he will not be the Good, but the thought. If the thought of good is different from the Good itself, the Good will be prior to the thought of the good. If the Good be self-sufficient before the thought, it suffices to itself to be the Good; and in this respect has no need of the thought that it is the Good.


39. Consequently, the Good does not think itself either as good, nor as anything else; for it possesses nothing different from itself. It only has “a simple perception of itself in respect to itself”; but as there is no distance or difference in this perception it has of itself, what could this perception be but itself? That is why it perceives a difference where being and intelligence appear. In order to think, intelligence must admit identity and difference simultaneously. On the one hand, without the relation between the Intelligible and itself, the (mind) will not distinguish itself from (the intelligible); and on the other, without the arising of an “otherness” which would enable it to be everything, it would not contemplate all (earthly) entities. (Without this difference), intelligence would not even be a “pair.” Then, since intelligence thinks, if it think really, it will not think itself alone, for why should it not think all things? (Would it not do so) because it was impotent to do so? In short, the principle which thinks itself ceases to be simple, because in thinking itself it must think itself as something different, which is the necessary condition of thinking itself. We have already said that intelligence cannot think itself without contemplating itself as something different. Now in thinking, intelligence becomes manifold (that is, fourfold): intelligible object (thing thought) and intelligent subject (thinker); movement (or, moved), and everything else that belongs to intelligence. Besides, it must be noticed, as we have pointed out elsewhere, that, to be thought, any thought, must offer variety; but (in the divinity) this movement is so simple and identical that it may be compared to some sort of touch, and partakes in nothing of intellectual actualization (therefore, thought cannot be attributed to the divinity). What? Will (the divinity) know neither others nor Himself, and will He remain immovable in His majesty? (Surely). All things are posterior to Him; He was what He is before them. The thought of these things is adventitious, changeable, and does not apply to permanent objects. Even if it did apply to permanent objects, it would still be multiple, for we could not grant that in inferior beings thought was joined to being, while the thoughts of intelligence would be empty notions. The existence of Providence is sufficiently accounted for by its being that from which proceed all (beings). How then (in regard to all the beings that refer to Him) could (the divinity) think them, since He does not even think Himself, but remains immovable in His majesty? That is why Plato, speaking of “being,” says that it doubtless thinks, but that it does not remain immovable in its majesty. By that he means that, no doubt, “being” thinks, but that that which does not think remains immovable in its majesty; using this expression for lack of a better one. Thus Plato considers the Principle which is superior to thought as possessing more majesty, nay, sovereign majesty.


40. That thought is incompatible with the first Principle is something well known by all those who have (in ecstasy) risen to Him. To what we have already said, we shall however add several arguments, if indeed we succeed in expressing thought comprehensibly; for conviction should be fortified by demonstration. In the first place, observe that all thought exists within a subject, and proceeds from some object. Thought that is connected with the object from which it is derived, has the being to which it belongs, as subject. It inheres in him because it is his actualization, and completes his potentiality, without, itself, producing anything; for it belongs exclusively to the subject whose complement it is. Thought that is hypostatically united with “being,” and which underlies its existence, could not inhere in the object from which it proceeds; for, had it remained in him, it would not have produced anything. Now, having the potentiality of producing, it produced within itself; its actualization was “being,” and it was united thereto. Thus thought is not something different from “being”; so far as this nature thinks itself, it does not think itself as being something different; for the only multiplicity therein is that which results from the logical distinction of intelligent subject (thinker) and intelligible object (the being thought), as we have often pointed out. That is the first actualization which produced a hypostasis (or, form of existence), while constituting “being”; and this actualization is the image of a Principle so great that itself has become “being.” If thought belonged to the Good, instead of proceeding therefrom, it would be no more than an attribute; it would not, in itself, be a hypostatic form of existence. Being the first actualization and the first thought, this thought has neither actualization nor thought above it. Therefore, by rising above this “being” and this thought, neither further “being” nor thought will be met with; we would arrive to the Principle superior to “being,” and thought, an admirable principle, which contains neither thought nor being, which in solitary guise dwells within itself, and which has no need of the things which proceed from Him. He did not first act, and then produce an actualization (he did not begin by thinking in order later to produce thought); otherwise, he would have thought before thought was born. In short, thought, being the thought of good, is beneath Him, and consequently does not belong to Him. I say: “does not belong to Him,” not denying that the Good can be thought (for this, I admit); but because thought could not exist in the Good; otherwise, the Good and that which is beneath it—namely, the thought of Good—would fuse. Now, if the good be something inferior, it will simultaneously be thought and being; if, on the contrary, good be superior to thought, it must likewise belong to the Intelligible.


Since therefore thought does not exist in the Good, and since, on the contrary, it is inferior to the Good, and since it must thus worship its majesty, (thought) must constitute a different principle, and leaves the Good pure and disengaged from it, as well as from other things. Independent of thought, the Good is what it is without admixture. The presence of the Good does not hinder it from being pure and single. If we were to suppose that Good is both thinking subject and thought object (thinker and thought) or “being,” and thought connected with “being,” if thus we make it think itself, it will need something else, and thus things will be above it. As actualization and thought are the complement or the consubstantial hypostasis (or, form of existence) of another subject, thought implies above it another nature to which it owes the power of thinking; for thought cannot think anything without something above it. When thought knows itself, it knows what it received by the contemplation of this other nature. As to Him who has nothing above Him, who derives nothing from any other principle, what could He think, and how could He think himself? What would He seek, and what would He desire? Would He desire to know the greatness of His power? But by the mere fact of His thinking it, it would have become external to Him; I call it exterior, if the cognizing power within Him differed from that which would be known; if on the contrary they fuse, what would He seek?


41. It would seem that thought was only a help granted to natures which, though divine, nevertheless do not occupy the first rank; it is like an eye given to the blind. But what need would the eye have to see essence, if itself were light? To seek light is the characteristic of him who needs it, because he finds in himself nothing but darkness. Since thought seeks light, while the light does not seek the light, the primary Nature, not seeking the light (since it is light itself), could not any more seek thought (since it is thought that seeks light); thinking could not suit it, therefore. What utility or advantage would thought bring him, inasmuch as thought itself needs aid to think? The Good therefore has not self-consciousness, not having need thereof; it is not doubleness; or rather, it is not double as is thought which implies (besides intelligence) a third term, namely, the intelligible (world). If thought, the thinking subject (the thinker) and the thought object (the thought) be absolutely identical, they form but one, and are absolutely indistinguishable; if they be distinct, they differ, and can no more be the Good. Thus we must put everything aside when we think of this “best Nature,” which stands in need of no assistance. Whatever you may attribute to this Nature, you diminish it by that amount, since it stands in need of nothing. For us, on the contrary, thought is a beautiful thing, because our soul has need of intelligence. It is similarly a beautiful thing for intelligence, because thought is identical with essence, and it is thought that gave existence to intelligence.


Intelligence must therefore fuse with thought, and must always be conscious of itself, knowing that each of the two elements that constitute it is identical with the other, and that both form but a single one. If it were only unity, it would be self-sufficient, and would have no further need of receiving anything. The precept “know thyself” applies only to natures which, because of their multiplicity, need to give an account of themselves, to know the number and the quality of their component elements, because they either do not know them entirely, or even not at all; not knowing what power in them occupies the first rank, and constitutes their being. But if there be a Principle which is one by itself, it is too great to know itself, to think itself, to be self-conscious, because it is nothing determinate for itself. It receives nothing within itself, sufficing itself. It is therefore the Good not for itself, but for other natures; these indeed need the Good, but the Good has no need of itself; it would be ridiculous, and would fail to stand up to itself. Nor does it view itself; for, from this look something would arise, or exist for Him. All such things He left to the inferior natures, and nothing that exists in them is found in Him; thus (the Good) is not even “being.” Nor does (the Good) possess thought, since thought is united to being, and as primary and supreme thought coexisted with essence. Therefore, one can not (as says Plato), express (the divinity) by speech, nor have perception nor science of Him, since no attribute can be predicated of Him.


42. When you are in doubt about this matter, and when you wonder how you should classify these attributes to which reasoning has brought you, reject from among the things of the second order what seems venerable; attribute to the First none of the things that belong to the second order; neither attribute to those of the second order (that is, to Intelligence), what belongs to those of the third (that is, to the Soul); but subsume under the first Principle the things of the second order, and under the second principle the things of the third. That is the true means of allowing each being to preserve its nature, and at the same time to point out the bond that connects the lower things with the higher, and showing thus that the inferior things depend on the superior ones, while the superior ones remain in themselves. That is why (Plato) was right in saying, “All things surround the King of all, and exist on his account.” “All things” means “all beings.” “All things exist on his account” means that He is the cause of their existence, and the object of their desire, because His nature is different from theirs, because in Him is nothing that is in them, since they could not exist if the First possessed some attribute of what is inferior to Him. Therefore, if Intelligence be comprised within what is meant by “all things,” it could not belong to the First. When (in the same place Plato calls the divinity) “the cause of all beauty,” he seems to classify beauty among the Ideas, and the Good above the universal beauty. After thus having assigned the intelligible (entities) to the second rank, he classifies, as dependent on them, the things of the third order, which follow them. Last, to that which occupies the third rank, to the universal Soul, he subsumes the world that is derived therefrom. As the Soul depends on the Intelligence, and as Intelligence depends on the Good, all things thus depend from the Good in different degrees, mediately or immediately. In this respect, the things which are the most distant from the Good are the objects of sense, which are subsumed under the Soul.

Ennead 6.8. Of the Will of the One.



1. Do the divinities themselves possess free will, or is this limited to human beings, because of their many weaknesses and uncertainties? (For we assume that) the divinities possess omnipotence, so that it would seem likely that their actions were free and absolutely without petty restrictions. Or must we hold that the (supreme) One alone possesses omnipotence, and unhampered free will, while in other beings (free will and opportunity) either ignore each other, or conflict? We shall therefore have to determine the nature of free will in first rank beings (the divinities) and also the supreme Principle (the One), although we acknowledge that both of them are omnipotent. Besides, in respect to this omnipotence, we shall have to distinguish possibility from actualization, present or future.


Before attacking these questions, we must, as is usual, begin by examining whether we ourselves possess freedom of will. First then, in what sense do we possess free will (or, responsibility, “that something depends on us”); or rather, what conception we should form of it? To answer this question will be the only means of arriving at a conclusion about whether or not freedom of will should be ascribed to the divinities, let alone (the supreme) Divinity. Besides, while attributing to them freedom of will, we shall have to inquire to what it applies, either in the other beings, or in the Beings of the first rank.


What are our thoughts when we inquire whether something depends on us? Under what circumstances do we question this responsibility? We ask ourselves whether we are anything, and whether really anything depends on us when undergoing the buffets of fortune, of necessity, of violent passions that dominate our souls, till we consider ourselves mastered, enslaved, and carried away by them? Therefore we consider as dependent on ourselves what we do without the constraint of circumstances, necessity, or violence of passions—that is, voluntarily, and without an obstacle to our will. Hence the following definition: We are responsible for that which depends on our will, which happens or which is omitted according to our volition. We indeed call voluntary what we unconstrainedly do and consciously. On us depends only that of which we are the masters to do or not to do. These two notions are usually connected, though they differ theoretically. There are cases when one of them is lacking; one might, for instance, have the power to commit a murder; and nevertheless if it were one’s own father that he had ignorantly killed, it would not be a voluntary act. In this case, the action was free, but not voluntary. The voluntariness of an action depends on the knowledge, not only of the details, but also of the total relations of the act. Otherwise, why should killing a friend, without knowing it, be called a voluntary action? Would not the murder be equally involuntary if one did not know that he was to commit it? On the contrary hypothesis, it may be answered that one had been responsible for providing oneself with the necessary information; but nevertheless it is not voluntarily that one is ignorant, or that one was prevented from informing oneself about it.


2. But to which part of ourselves should we refer free will? To appetite or desire, to anger or sex passion, for instance? Or shall it be to the reason, engaged in search after utility, and accompanied by desire? If to anger or sex passion, we should be supposed to grant freedom of will to brutes, to children, to the angry, to the insane, to those misled by magic charms, or suggestions of the imagination, though none of such persons be master of himself? If again (we are to ascribe freedom of will) to reason accompanied by desire, does this mean to reason even when misled, or only to right reason, and right desire? One might even ask whether reason be moved by desire, or desire by reason. For, admitting that desires arise naturally, a distinction will nevertheless have to be established: if they belong to the animal part, and to the combination (of soul and body), the soul will obey the necessity of nature; if they belong to the soul alone, many things which are generally attributed to the domain of our free will will have to be withdrawn therefrom. Besides, passions are always preceded by some sort of abstract reasoning. Further, how can imagination itself—which constrains us; and desire—which drags us whither Necessity compels, make us “masters of ourselves” under these circumstances? Besides, how can we be “masters of ourselves” in general when we are carried away? That faculty of ours which necessarily seeks to satisfy its needs, is not mistress of the things towards which it is compelled to move. How should we attribute freedom of will to (a soul) that depends on something else? (To a soul) which, in this thing, holds the principle of her own determinations? (To a soul) that regulates her life thereby, and derives therefrom her nature? (To a soul) that lives according to the instructions received therefrom? Freedom of will would then have to be acknowledged even in inanimate things; for even fire acts according to its inborn nature.


Some person might try to establish a distinction founded on the fact that the animal and the soul do not act unconsciously. If they know it by mere sensation, how far does that sensation contribute to the freedom of will? For sensation, limiting itself to perception, does not yield the percipient mastery over anything. If they know it by knowledge, and if this knowledge contain only the accomplished fact, their actions are then determined by some other principle. If, even independently of desire, reason or knowledge make us perform certain actions, or dominate us, to what faculty shall the action be ascribed, and how does it occur? If reason produce another desire, how does it do so? If reason manifest itself and liberate us by the process of calming our desires, the free will lies no longer in the action, but in intelligence; for every action, however much directed by reason, would then be something mixed, not revealing an unconfused free will.


3. The question must be examined carefully, for it will later be applied to the divinities. Responsibility has been traced to the will, and this to reason first, and later to right reason. Better, to reason enlightened by knowledge; for freedom of will is not possessed incontestably if one be ignorant of why his decision or action is good, if one have been led to do the right thing by chance, or by some sensible representation. Since the latter is not within our power, we could not impute to free will the actions it inspired. By “sensible representation,” or, “phantasy,” we mean the imagination excited within us by the passions of the body; for it offers us different images according as the body has need of food, of drink, or of sensual pleasures. Those who act according to the “sensible representations” excited within them by divers qualities of the humors of the body are not wholly responsible for their actions. That is why depraved men, who usually act according to these images, do not, according to us, perform actions that are free and voluntary. We ascribe free will only to him who, enfranchised from the passions of the body, performs actions determined solely by intelligence. We refer liberty, therefore, to the noblest principle, to the action of the intelligence; we regard as free only the decisions whose principle it is, and as voluntary, only the desires it inspires. This freedom is that which we ascribe to the divinities, who live in conformity with Intelligence, and with the Desire of which it is the principle.


4. We might ask how that which is produced by a desire could be autocratically free, since the desire implies a need, and drags us towards something exterior; for whoever desires really yields to an inclination, even though the latter should lead him to the Good. We might further ask whether intelligence, doing that which is in its nature to do, in a manner conformable to its nature, is free and independent, since it could have done the opposite. Further, we may ask whether we have the right to attribute free will to that which does not do any deeds; last, whether that which does a deed, is not, by the mere fact that every action has a purpose, subject to an external necessity. How indeed could one attribute freedom to a being that obeys its nature?

We (might answer), how can one say of this being that it obeys, if it be not constrained to follow something external? How would the being that directs itself towards the Good be constrained, if its desire be voluntary, if it direct itself towards the Good, knowing that it is such? Only involuntarily does a being depart from the Good, only by constraint does it direct itself towards that which is not its good; that is the very nature of servitude, not to be able to reach one’s own good, and to be thwarted by a superior power to which obedience is compulsory. Servitude displeases us, not because it deprives us of the liberty to do evil, but because it hinders us going towards our own, from ensuing our own good, forced as we are to work at the good of someone else. When we speak of “obeying our nature,” we distinguish (in the being that obeys its nature) two principles, the one which commands, and the other which obeys.

But when a principle has a simple nature, when it is a single actualization, when it is not other in potentiality than it is in actualization, how would it not be free? It cannot be said to be acting conformably to its nature, because its actualization is not different from its being, and because, within it, essence and action coincide. It surely is free, if it act neither for another, nor in dependence on another. If the word “independent” be not suitable here, if it be too weak, we must at least understand that this Principle does not depend on any other, does not recognize it as the ruler of its actions, any more than of its being, since it itself is principle.

Indeed, if Intelligence depend upon a further principle, at least this one is not external, but is the Good itself. If then it be in the Good itself that it finds its welfare, so much the more does it itself possess independence and liberty, since it seeks them only in view of the Good. When therefore Intelligence acts in conformity with the Good, it has a higher degree of independence; for it possesses already the “conversion to the Good,” inasmuch as it proceeds from the Good, and the privilege of being in itself, because Intelligence is turned towards the Good; now it is better for Intelligence to remain within itself, since it is thus turned towards the Good.


5. Do autocratic freedom and independence inhere in pure and thinking Intelligence exclusively, or are they also found in the soul which applies its contemplative activity to intelligence, and its practical activity to virtue? If we grant liberty to the practical activity of the soul, we will not extend it to its results; for of this we are not always masters. But if liberty is attributed to the soul which does good, and which, in everything acts by herself, we are near the truth.

How would that depend on us? As it depends on us to be courageous when there is a war. Nevertheless, admitting that it then depends on us to be courageous, I observe that, if there were no war, we could not perform any action of this nature. Likewise, in all other virtuous deeds, virtue always depends on accidental circumstances which force us to do some particular thing. Now if we were to give virtue the liberty of deciding whether it desired a war, so as to be able to offer a proof of courage; or desired injustices, as opportunities to define and to respect rights; or wished that people might be poor to be able to show forth its liberality; or whether it preferred to remain at rest, because everything was in order; might virtue not prefer to remain inactive in case nobody needed her services. Similarly a good physician, such as Hippocrates, for instance, would wish that his professional services should not be needed by anybody. If then virtue when applied to actions be forced to engage in such activities, how could it possess independence in all its purity? Should we not say that actions are subject to Necessity, whilst the preliminary volition and reasoning are independent? If this be so, and since we locate free will in that which precedes its execution, we shall also have to locate autocratic freedom and independence of virtue outside of the (actual) deed.


What shall we now say of virtue considered as “habit” or disposition? Does it not occupy itself with regulating and moderating the passions and desires when the soul is not healthy? In what sense do we then say that it depends on us to be good, and that “virtue has no master?” In this sense, that it is we who will and choose; more, in the sense that virtue, by its assistance, yields us liberty and independence, and releases us from servitude. If then virtue be another kind of intelligence, “a habit that intellectualizes the soul,” even in this respect must liberty be sought not in practical activity, but in the intelligence divorced from activity.


6. How then did we previously refer liberty to volition, saying that “that which depends on us, our responsibility, is that which occurs according to our will”? Yes, but we added, “or does not occur.” If indeed we be right, and if we continue to support our former opinion, we shall have to recognize that virtue and intelligence are their own mistresses, and that it is to them that we must refer our free will and independence. Since they have no master, we shall admit that (our) intelligence remains within itself, that virtue must equally remain calm in itself, regulating the soul so as to make her good, and that in this respect it itself is both free, and enfranchises the soul. If passions or necessary actions arise, (virtue) directs them automatically; nevertheless she still preserves her independence (or, freedom) by getting into relations with everything. For instance, (virtue) does not engage in exterior things to save the body in times of danger; on the contrary, she abandons it, if it seem advisable; she orders the man to renounce even life, wealth, children, and fatherland; for her object is to be honorable, relinquishing anything beneath her dignity. This evidently shows that our liberty of action and independence do not refer to practical matters, nor to external occupations, but to interior activity, to thought, to the contemplation of virtue itself. This virtue must be considered as a kind of intelligence, and must not be confused with the passions that dominate and govern reason; for these, as (Plato) says, seem to derive something from the body, though trained by exercise and habit.


Liberty therefore belongs to the immaterial principle, and to this should be traced our free will. This principle is the volition which rules itself, and which remains within itself; even when by necessity compelled to take some resolution affecting external affairs. All that proceeds from (the immaterial principle) and exists by it, depends on us, and is free; what is outside of it, and with it; what it itself wills and carries out unhindered, also constitutes what primarily depends on us. The contemplative and primary Intelligence therefore possesses independence, because in the accomplishment of its function it depends on no other being, because fulfilling (its function, Intelligence) remains entirely turned towards itself, exclusively engaged with itself, resting in the Good, living according to its will, satisfied, and without needs. Besides, will is nothing more than thought; but it was called “will” because it was conformed to intelligence; for will imitates what conforms to intelligence. On the one hand, will desires the Good; on the other, for Intelligence to think truly, is to abide within the Good. Intelligence therefore possesses what the will desires, and, in attaining these its desires, will becomes thought. Since, therefore, we define liberty as the will’s achievement of the Good, why should not liberty also be predicated of the Intelligence which is founded on (the Good) that is the object of the desire of our will? If, however, there should still be objection to ascribing liberty to intelligence, this could be the case only by ascribing it to something still higher (namely, super-Intelligence).


7. The soul therefore becomes free when, by the aid of intelligence, she defies all obstacles in her ascent to the Good; and whatever she does for the sake of the Good is responsible action. Intelligence, however, is free by itself.


(Let us now consider the free will of the Good.)


8. The nature of the Good is that which is desirable for its own sake. It is by the Good that the Soul and Intelligence exercise liberty when the Soul can attain the Good without obstacle, and when Intelligence can enjoy its possession. Now since the Good’s empire extends over all lower treasures; since He occupies the front rank; since He is the Principle to which all beings wish to rise, on whom they all depend, and from whom all derive their power and liberty; it would be difficult to attribute to Him a liberty similar to our human freedom of will, when we can hardly, with propriety, predicate such a human liberty of Intelligence.


Here some rash person, drawing his arguments from some other school of thought, may object that, “If the Good be indeed good, this occurs only by chance. A man is not master of what he is (that is, of his own nature), because his own nature does not depend on himself (that is, is not due to self-determination). Consequently, he enjoys neither freedom nor independence, as he acts or withholds action as he is forced by necessity.” Such an assertion is gratuitous, and even self-contradictory. It destroys all conception of will, liberty and independence, reducing these terms to being labels, and illusions. He who advances such an opinion is forced to maintain not only that it is not within the power of anybody to do or not to do some thing, but also that the word “liberty” arouses no conception in his mind, and is meaningless. If however he insist that he does understand it, he will soon be forced to acknowledge that the conception of liberty bears a conformity with the reality which he at first denied. The conception of a thing exerts no interference on its substance (“being”); it can do nothing by itself, nor can it lead to hypostatic existence. It is limited to pointing out to us which being obeys others, which being possesses free will, which being depends on no other, but is master of its own action, a privilege characteristic of eternal beings so far as they are eternal, or to beings which attain the Good without obstacle (like the Soul), or possess it (like Intelligence). It is therefore absurd to say that the Good, which is above them, seeks other higher good beyond itself.


Nor is it any more accurate to insist that the Good exists by chance. Chance occurs only in the lower and multiple things. We on the contrary insist that the First does not exist by chance, and that one cannot say that He is not master of His birth, since He was not born. It is not any less absurd to assert that He is not free because He acts according to His nature; for such an assertion would seem to imply that freedom consists in actions contrary to one’s nature. Last, His solitariness (or, unity) does not deprive Him of liberty, because this unity does not result from His being hindered by anybody else (from having anything else), but from His being what He is, from His satisfying (or, pleasing) Himself, as He could not be any better; otherwise, it would be implied that one would lose one’s liberty on attaining the Good. If such an assertion be absurd, is it not the summit of absurdity to refuse to predicate autocratic liberty of the Good because of His being good, because He remains within Himself and because since all beings aspire towards Him, He Himself aspires to nothing else than Himself, and has no need of anything? As His higher hypostatic existence is simultaneously His higher actualization—for in Him these two aspects fuse into one, since they do so even in Intelligence—His essence is no more conformed to His actualization, than His actualization to His essence. He cannot be said to actualize according to His nature, nor that His actualization and His higher life are traced up into His higher being (so to speak). But as His higher being and His higher (actualization) are intimately united, and coexist since all eternity, the result is that these two entities constitute a single Principle, which depends on itself, and nothing else.


8. We conceive of the self-rule as no accident of the Good; but, from the self-rule proper to (all) beings, we rise, by abstraction of the contraries, to Him who Himself is liberty and independence, thus applying to this Principle the lower attributes that we borrow from inferior beings (that is, the Soul and Intelligence), because of our impotence to speak properly of Him. Such indeed are the terms that we could use in referring to Him, though it would be absolutely impossible to find the proper expression, not only to predicate anything of Him, but even to say anything whatever about Him. For the most beautiful and venerable things do no more than imitate Him, who is their principle. Nevertheless, from another standpoint, He is not their principle, since this their imitation must be denied, and we must withdraw, as too inferior, even the terms “liberty” and “self-rule,” for these terms seem to imply a tendency towards something else, an obstacle, even if only to avoid it; the coexistence of other beings, even if only to imitate Him uninterruptedly. Now no tendency should be attributed to the Good. He is what He is before all other things, since we do not even say of Him, “He is,” so as not to establish any connection between Him and “beings.” Neither can we say of Him, “according to His nature”; for this expression indicates some later relation. It is indeed applied to intelligible entities, but only so far as they proceed from some other principle; that is why it is applied to “being,” because it is born of the (Good). But if we refer “nature” to temporal things, it could not be predicated of “being”; for to say that “being” does not exist by itself would be to affect its existence; to say that it derives its existence from something else is equivalent to asserting that it does not exist by itself. Nor should we say of the Good that “His nature is accidental,” nor speak of contingency in connection with (the Divinity); for He is contingent neither for Himself nor for other beings; contingency is found only in the multiple beings which, already being one thing, have accidentally become some other. How indeed could the First exist accidentally? for He did not reach His present condition fortuitously enough to enable us even to ask, “How did He become what He is?” No chance led Him (to become His present self), nor led Him to hypostatic existence; for chance and luck did not exist anteriorly to Him, since even they proceed from a cause, and exist only in things that grow (or, “become”).


9. If however anybody applied the term “contingency” to the Divinity, we should not dispute about the word, but go back of it to its underlying meaning. Do you, by it, mean that the First is a principle of particular nature and power; and that if He had had a different nature, He would still, as principle, have conformed to the nature He would have had? Also, that if He had been less perfect, He would still have actualized in conformity with His being? We should answer such an assertion thus: it was impossible for the higher Principle of all things to be contingent; or to be less perfect accidentally, or good in some other manner, as some higher thing that was less complete. As the principle of all things must be better than they, He must be determinate; and by this is here meant that He exists in an unique manner. This, however, not by necessity; for necessity did not exist before Him. Necessity exists only in the beings that follow the first Principle, though the latter impose no constraint upon them. It is by Himself that the First exists uniquely. He could not be anything but what He is; He is what He ought to have been; and not by accident. He is that; He had to be what He was. So “He who is what He ought to have been” is the principle of the things that ought to exist. Not by accident, nor contingently, therefore, is He what He is; He is what He had to be; though here the term “had to be” is improper. (If we be permitted to explain what we mean by an illustration, we may say that) the other beings have to await the appearance of their king—which means, that He shall posit Himself as what He really is, the true King, the true Principle, the true Good. Of Him it must not even be said that He actualizes in conformity with the Good, for then He would seem subordinate to some other principle; we must say only that He is what He is. He is not conformed to the Good, because He is the Good itself.


Besides, there is nothing contingent, even in (that which is beneath the First), namely, Essence-in-itself; for if any contingency inhered in it, it itself would be contingent. But Essence cannot be contingent, for not fortuitously is it what it is; nor does it derive what it is from anything else, because the very nature of Essence is to be Essence. This being the case, how could “He who is above Essence” be considered as being what He is fortuitously? For He begat Essence, and Essence is not what it is fortuitously, since it exists in the same manner as “Being,” which is what is “Being” and Intelligence—otherwise, one might even say that Intelligence was contingent, as if it could have been anything but what is its nature. Thus He who does not issue from Himself, and does not incline towards anything whatever, is what He is in the most special sense.


What now could be said (to look down) from some (peak) overhanging (Essence and Intelligence), upon (their principle)? Could you describe what you saw from there as being what it is fortuitously? Certainly not! Neither His nature nor His manner would be contingent. He is merely (an absolute, unexplainable) existence (a “thus”). Even this term “thus,” however, would be improper, for, on applying it to the First, it would become determinate, and become “such a thing.” Whoever has seen the First would not say He was, or was not that; otherwise, you would be reducing Him to the class of things which may be designated as this or that; but the First is above all these things. When you shall have seen Him who is infinite (“indefinite”), you will be able to name all the things that are after Him (you will be able to name Him whom all things follow); but you must not classify Him among these. Consider Him as the universal Power essentially master (of himself), which is what He wishes; or rather, who has imposed His will upon (all) beings, but who Himself is greater than all volition, and who classifies volition as below Himself. (To speak strictly therefore) He did not even will to be what He is (he did not even say, I shall be that); and no other principle made Him be what He is.


10. He (Strato the Peripatetic?) who insists that the Good is what it is by chance, should be asked how he would like to have it demonstrated to him that the hypothesis of chance is false—in case it be false—and how chance could be made to disappear from the universe? If there be a nature (such as the nature of the one Unity), which makes (chance) disappear, it itself could not be subject to chance. If we subject to chance the nature which causes other beings not to be what they are by chance, nothing will be left that could have been derived from chance. But the principle of all beings banishes chance from the universe by giving to each (being) a form, a limitation, and a shape; and it is impossible to attribute to chance the production of beings thus begotten in a manner conforming to reason. A cause exists there. Chance reigns only in things that do not result from a plan, which are not concatenated, which are accidental. How indeed could we attribute to chance the existence of the principle of all reason, order, and determination? Chance no doubt sways many things; but it could not control the production of intelligence, reason, and order. Chance, in fact, is the contrary of reason; how then could (chance) produce (reason)? If chance do not beget Intelligence, so much the more could it not have begotten the still superior and better Principle; for chance had no resources from which to produce this principle; chance itself did not exist; and it would not have been in any manner able to impart eternal (qualities). Thus, since there is nothing anterior to the (Divinity), and as He is the First, we shall have to halt our inquiry about this Principle, and say nothing more about Him, rather examining the production of the beings posterior to Him. As to Him himself, there is no use considering how He was produced, as He really was not produced.


Since He was not produced, we must suppose that He is the master of His own being. Even if He were not master of His own being, and if, being what He is, He did not endow Himself with “hypostatic” form of existence, and limited Himself to utilizing His resources, the consequence is that He is what He is necessarily, and that He could not have been different from what He is. He is what He is, not because He could have been otherwise, but because His nature is excellent. Indeed, even if one be sometimes hindered from becoming better, no one is ever hindered by any other person from becoming worse. Therefore, if He did not issue from Himself, He owes it to Himself, and not to any outside hindrance; He must essentially be that which has not issued from itself. The impossibility of becoming worse is not a mark of impotence, because, if (the Divinity) do not degenerate, He owes it to Himself, (and derives it) from Himself. His not aspiring to anything other than Himself constitutes the highest degree of power, since He is not subjected to necessity, but constitutes the law and necessity of other beings. Has necessity then caused its own (hypostatic) existence? No, it has not even reached there, inasmuch as all that is after the First achieved (hypostatic) existence on His account. How then could He who is before (hypostatic) existence (or, which has achieved a form of existence), have derived His existence from any other principle, or even from Himself?


11. What then is the Principle which one cannot even say that it is (hypostatically) existent? This point will have to be conceded without discussion, however, for we cannot prosecute this inquiry. What indeed would we be seeking, when it is impossible to go beyond, every inquiry leading to some one principle, and ceasing there? Besides, all questions refer to one of four things: existence, quality, cause and essence. From the beings that follow Him, we conclude to the essence of the First, in that sense in which we say He exists. Seeking the cause of His existence, however, would amount to seeking an (ulterior) principle, and the Principle of all things cannot Himself have a principle. An effort to determine His quality would amount to seeking what accident inheres in Him in whom is nothing contingent; and there is still more clearly no possible inquiry as to His existence, as we have to grasp it the best we know how, striving not to attribute anything to Him.


(Habitually) we are led to ask these questions about the nature (of the divinity) chiefly because we conceive of space and location as a chaos, into which space and location, that is either presented to us by our imagination, or that really exists, we later introduce the first Principle. This introduction amounts to a question whence and how He came. We then treat Him as a stranger, and we wonder why He is present there, and what is His being; we usually assume He came up out of an abyss, or that He fell from above. In order to evade these questions, therefore, we shall have to remove from our conception (of the divinity) all notion of locality, and not posit Him within anything, neither conceiving of Him as eternally resting, and founded within Himself, nor as if come from somewhere. We shall have to content ourselves with thinking that He exists in the sense in which reasoning forces us to admit His existence, or with persuading ourselves that location, like everything else, is posterior to the Divinity, and that it is even posterior to all things. Thus conceiving (of the Divinity) as outside of all place, so far as we can conceive of Him, we are not surrounding Him as it were within a circle, nor are we undertaking to measure His greatness, nor are we attributing to Him either quantity or quality; for He has no shape, not even an intelligible one; He is not relative to anything, since His hypostatic form of existence is contained within Himself, and before all else.


Since (the Divinity) is such, we certainly could not say that He is what He is by chance. Such an assertion about Him is impossible, inasmuch as we can speak of Him only by negations. We shall therefore have to say, not that He is what He is by chance; but that, being what He is, He is not that by chance, since there is within Him absolutely nothing contingent.


12. Shall we not even refuse to say that (the divinity) is what He is, and is the master of what He is, or of that which is still superior? Our soul still moots this problem, because she is not yet entirely convinced by what we have said. Our considerations thereof are as follows. By his body, each one of us is far separated from “being”; but by his soul, by which he is principally constituted, he participates in “being,” and is a certain being; that is, he is a combination of “difference” and “being.” Fundamentally, we are therefore not a “being”; we are not even “being”; consequently, we are not masters of our “being”; “being” itself rather is master of us, since it furnishes us with “difference” (which, joined with “being,” constitutes our nature). As, in a certain degree, we are nevertheless the “being” that is master of us, we may, in this respect, even here below, be called masters of ourselves. As to the Principle which absolutely is what He is, which is “Being” itself, so that He and His being fuse, He is master of Himself, and depends on nothing, either in His existence or “being.” He does not even need to be master of Himself since (He is being), and since all that occupies the first rank in the intelligible world is classified as “being.”


As to Him who made “being” (equivalent to) freedom, whose nature it is to make free beings, and who (therefore) might be called the “author of liberty”—excuse the expression—to what could He be enslaved? It is His being (or, nature) to be free; or rather, it is from Him that being derives its freedom; for (we must not forget that) “being” is posterior to Him, who Himself (being beyond it), “has” none. If then there be any actualization in Him, if we were to consider that He was constituted by an actualization, He would nevertheless contain no difference, He will be master of His own self that produces the actualization, because He Himself and the actualization fuse (and are identical). But if we acknowledge no actualization whatever (in the Divinity), if we predicate actualization only of the things that tend towards Him, and from Him derive their hypostatic existence, we should still less recognize in Him any element that is master, or that masters. We should not even say that He was master of Himself, nor that He had a master, but because we have already predicated of “being” what is meant by being master of oneself. We therefore classify (the Divinity) in a rank higher still.

But how can there be a principle higher than the one that is master of Himself? In the Principle which is master of Himself, as being and actualization are two (separate) entities, it is actualization that furnishes the notion of being master of oneself. As however we saw that actualization was identical with “being,” in order to be called master of itself, actualization must have differentiated itself from being. Therefore (the Divinity), which is not constituted by two things fused into unity, but by absolute Unity, being either only actualization, or not even mere actualization, could not be called “master of Himself.”


13. Although the above expressions, when applied to the (divinity), are really not exact, we are nevertheless forced to use them in connection with this disquisition. We therefore repeat what was above rightly stated, that no doubleness, not even if merely logical, should be admitted to our idea of the Divinity. Nevertheless, that we may be better understood, we shall for a moment lay aside the strictness of language demanded by reason.


Now supposing the existence of actualizations in the divinity, and that these actualizations depend on His will—for he could not actualize involuntarily—and that simultaneously they constitute His being; in this case, His will and His being will be identical (that is, will fuse). Such as He wished to be, He is. That He wills and actualizes in conformity to His nature, will not be said in preference to this, that His being conforms to His will and His actualization. He is absolutely master of Himself, because His very essence depends on Himself.


Here arises another consideration. Every being, that aspires to the Good, wishes to be the Good far more than to be what it is; and thinks itself as existing most, the more it participates in the Good. Its preference is to be in such a state, to participate in the Good as much as possible, because the nature of the Good is doubtless preferable in itself. The greater the portion of good possessed by a being, the freer and more conformable to its will is its nature (being); then it forms but one and the same thing with its will, and by its will achieves hypostatic existence (or, a form of existence). So long as a being does not possess the Good, it wishes to be different from what it is; so soon as the being possesses it, the being wishes to be what it is. This union, or presence of the Good in a being, is not fortuitous; its “being” is not outside of the Will (of the Good); by this presence of the Good it is determined, and on that account, belongs to itself. If then this presence of the Good cause every being to make and determine itself, then evidently (the Divinity) is primarily and particularly the principle through which the rest may be itself. The “being” (of the Good) is intimately united with the will (the Divinity) has to be such as He is—if I may be permitted to speak thus—and He cannot be understood unless He wishes to be what He is. As in Him everything concurs (in a consummation), He wishes to be, and is what He wishes; His will and Himself form but one (are identical, or, fuse). He is not any the less one, for He finds that He is precisely what He may have wished to be. What indeed could He have wished to be, if not what He is?


Now supposing that (the divinity) were given the chance to choose what He would like to be, and that He were permitted to change His nature, He would not desire to become different from what He is; He would not find in Himself anything that displeased Him, as if He had been forced to be what He is; for He as ever willed, and still wills to be what He is. The nature of Good is really His will; He has neither yielded to a lure, nor (blindly) followed his own nature, but He preferred Himself, because there was nothing different that He could have wished to be. With this, contrast that other beings do not find implied in their own being the reason of pleasing themselves, and that some of them are even dissatisfied with themselves. In the hypostatic existence of the Good, however, is necessarily contained self-choice, and self-desire; otherwise, there would be nothing in the whole universe that could please itself, since one pleases himself only inasmuch as he participates in the Good, and possesses an image of it within oneself.


We must, however, ask indulgence for our language; when speaking of the (divinity) we are, by the necessity of being understood, obliged to make use of words which a meticulous accuracy would question. Each of them should be prefixed by a (warning) particle, (meaning “somewhat,” or) “higher.”


The subsistence of the Good implies that of choice and will, because He could not exist without these two. But (in the Divinity) (these three, choice, being and will) do not form a multiplicity; they must be considered as having fused. Since He is the author of will, He must evidently also be the author of what is called self-direction (“being for oneself”). This leads us to say that He made Himself; for, since He is the author of will, and as this will is more or less His work, and as it is identical with His essence, (we may say that) He gave himself the form of (hypostatic) existence. Not by chance therefore is He what He is; He is what He is because He wished to be such.


14. Here is still another point of view from which the subject under discussion may be regarded. Each one of the beings that are said to be existent, is either identical with its essence, or differs from it. Thus, some particular man differs from the Man-essence, only participating therein. On the contrary, the soul is identical with the Soul-essence, when she is simple, and when she is not predicated of anything else. Likewise, the Man-in-himself is identical with the Man-essence. The man who is other than the Man-essence is contingent; but the Man-essence is not contingent; the Man-in-himself exists in himself. If then the essence of man exist by itself, if it be neither fortuitous nor contingent, how could contingency be predicated of Him who is superior to Man in himself, and who begat him, from whom all beings are derived, since His is a nature simpler than the Man-essence, and even of essence in general? If, in ascending towards greater simplicity, contingency decreases, so much the more impossible is it that contingency could extend to the Nature that is the simplest (namely, the Good).


Let us also remember that each of the beings which exist genuinely, as we have said, and which have received their form of hypostatic existence from the Good, likewise owe it to Him that they are individual, as are the similarly situated sense-beings. By such individual beings is here meant having in one’s own being the cause of his hypostatic existence. Consequently, He who then contemplates things can give an account of each of their details, to give the cause of the individuality of eyes or feet, to show that the cause of the generation of each part is found in its relations with the other parts, and that they have all been made for each other. Why are the feet of a particular length? Because some other organ is “such”; for instance, the face being such, the feet themselves must be such. In one word, the universal harmony is the cause on account of which all things were made for each other. Why is the individual such a thing? Because of the Man-essence. Therefore the essence and the cause coincide. They issued from the same source, from the Principle which, without having need of reasoning, produced together the essence and the cause. Thus the source of the essence and the cause produces them both simultaneously. Such then are begotten things, such is their principle, but in a much superior and truer manner; for in respect of excellence, it possesses an immense superiority over them. Now since it is not fortuitously, neither by chance, nor contingently, that the things which bear their cause in themselves, are what they are; since, on the other hand, (the Divinity) possesses all the entities of which He is the principle, evidently, being the Father of reason, of cause, and of causal being—all of them entities entirely free from contingence—he is the Principle and type of all things that are not contingent, the Principle which is really and in the highest degree independent of chance, of fortune, and of contingency; He is the cause of Himself, He is He by virtue of Himself; for He is Self in a primary and transcendent manner.


15. He is simultaneously the lovable and love; He is love of himself; for He is beautiful only by and in Himself. He coexists with Himself only on condition that the thing, which exists in Himself, is identical with Him. Now as in Him the thing that coexists is identical with Him, and as in Him also that which desires, and that which is desirable play the part of hypostasis and subject, here once more appears the identity of desire and “being.” If this be so, it is evidently again He who is the author of Himself, and the master of Himself; consequently, He was made not such as some other being desired it, but He is such as He Himself desires.


When we assert that (the Divinity) Himself receives nothing, and is received by no other being, we thereby in another way prove that He is what He is, not by chance. This is the case because He isolates Himself, and preserves Himself uninfected from all things. Besides, we sometimes see that our nature possesses something similar, when it finds itself disengaged from all that is attached to us, and subjects us to the sway of fortune and fatality—for all the things that we call ours are dependent, and undergo the law of fortune, happening to us fortuitously. Only in this manner is one master of himself, possessing free will, by virtue of an actualization of the light which has the form of the Good, of an actualization of the Good, which is superior to intelligence; of an actualization which is not adventitious, and which is above all thought. When we shall have risen thither, when we shall have become that alone, leaving all the rest, shall we not say that we are then above even liberty and free will? Who then could subject us to chance, to fortune, to contingency, since we shall have become the genuine life, or rather, since we shall be in Him who derives nothing from any other being, who is solely himself? When other beings are isolated, they do not suffice themselves; but He is what He is, even when isolated.


The first hypostatic form of existence does not consist in an inanimate entity or in an irrational life; for an irrational life is but weak in essence, being a dispersion of reason, and something indeterminate. On the contrary, the closer life approaches reason, the further is it from contingency, for that which is rational has nothing to do with chance. Ascending then (to the Divinity) He does not seem to us to be Reason, but what is still more beautiful than Reason; so far is He from having arisen by chance! Indeed, He is the very root of Reason, for it is the goal at which all things find their consummation. He is the principle and foundation of an immense Tree which lives by reason; He remains in Himself, and imparts essence to the Tree by the reason He communicates.


16. As we assert, and as it seems evident that (the Divinity) is everywhere and nowhere, it is necessary thoroughly to grasp and understand this conception, as it applies to the subject of our studies. Since (the Divinity) is nowhere, He is nowhere fortuitously; since He is everywhere, He is everywhere what He is. He himself is therefore what is named omnipresence, and universality. He is not contained within omnipresence, but is omnipresence itself, and He imparts essence to all the other beings because they are all contained within Him who is everywhere. Possessing the supreme rank, or rather Himself being supreme, He holds all things in obedience to Himself. For them He is not contingent; it is they that are contingent to Him, or rather, that connect with Him; for it is not He who contemplates them, but they who look at Him. On His part, He, as it were, moves towards the most intimate depths within Himself, loving Himself, loving the pure radiance of which He is formed, Himself being what He loves, that is, giving Himself a hypostatic form of existence, because He is an immanent actualization, and what is most lovable in Him constitutes the higher Intelligence. This Intelligence being an operation, He himself is an operation; but as He is not the operation of any other principle, He is the operation of Himself; He therefore is not what chance makes of Him, but what He actualizes. He is the author of Himself, inasmuch as He exists particularly because He is His own foundation, because He contemplates Himself, because, so to speak, He passes His existence in contemplating Himself. He therefore is, not what He fortuitously found Himself to be, but what He himself wishes to be, and as His will contains nothing fortuitous, He is even in this respect independent of contingency. For, since His will is the will of the Best that is in the universe, it could not be fortuitous. If one were to imagine an opposite movement, one will easily recognize that His inclination towards Himself, which is His actualization, and His immanence in Himself make of Him what He is. Indeed, should (the divinity) incline towards what is outside of Himself, He would cease being what He is. His actualization, in respect to Himself, is to be what He is; for He and that actualization coincide. He therefore gives Himself a hypostatic form of existence, because the actualization that He produces is inseparable from Himself. If then the actualization of (the divinity) did not merely commence, but if, on the contrary, it dated from all eternity; if it consist in an exciting action, identical to Him who is excited; and if, besides this exciting action, He be ever-being super-intellection, then (the divinity) is what He makes himself by His exciting action. The latter is superior to “Being,” to Intelligence, and to the Life of Wisdom; it is Himself. He therefore is an actualization superior to Life, Intelligence and Wisdom; these proceed from Him, and from Him alone. He therefore derives essence from Himself, and by Himself; consequently, He is, not what He fortuitously found Himself to be, but what He willed to be.


17. Here is another proof of it. We have stated that the world and the “being” it contains are what they would be if their production had been the result of a voluntary determination of their author, what they would still be if the divinity exercising a prevision and prescience based on reasoning, had done His work according to Providence. But as (these beings) are or become what they are from all eternity, there must also, from eternity—within the coexistent beings, exist (“seminal) reasons” which subsist in a plan more perfect (than that of our universe); consequently, the intelligible entities are above Providence, and choice; and all the things which exist in Essence subsist eternally there, in an entirely intellectual existence. If the name “Providence” be applied to the plan of the universe, then immanent Intelligence certainly is anterior to the plan of the universe, and the latter proceeds from immanent Intelligence, and conforms thereto.


Since Intelligence is thus anterior to all things, and since all things are (rooted) in such an Intelligence as principle, Intelligence cannot be what it is as a matter of chance. For, if on one hand, Intelligence be multiple, on the other hand it is in perfect agreement with itself, so that, by co-ordination of the elements it contains, it forms a unity. Once more, such a principle that is both multiple and co-ordinated manifoldness, which contains all (“seminal) reasons” by embracing them within its own universality, could not be what it is as a result of fortune or chance. This principle must have an entirely opposite nature, as much differing from contingency, as reason from chance, which consists in the lack of reason. If the above Intelligence be the (supreme) Principle, then Intelligence, such as it has been here described, is similar to this Principle, conforms to it, participates in it, and is such as is wished by it and its power. (The Divinity) being indivisible, is therefore a (single) Reason that embraces everything, a single (unitary) Number, and a single (Divinity) that is greater and more powerful than the generated (universe); than He, none is greater or better. From none other, therefore, can He have derived His essence or qualities. What He is for and in Himself, is therefore derived from Himself; without any relation with the outside, nor with any other being, but entirely turned towards Himself.


18. If then you seek this (Principle), do not expect to find anything on the outside of Him; in Him seek all that is after Him, but do not seek to penetrate within Him; for He is what is outside (of everything), the comprehension of all things, and their measure. Simultaneously, He is the internal, being the most intimate depth of all things; (in which case) the external would be (represented by) Reason and Intelligence, which like a circumference fit around Him and depend from Him. Indeed, Intelligence is such only because it touches Him, and so far as it touches Him, and depends from Him; for it is its dependence from Him that constitutes its intelligence. It resembles a circle which is in contact with its center It would be universally acknowledged that such a circle would derive all its power from the center, and would, in a higher sense, be centriform. Thus the radii of such a circle unite in a single center by extremities similar to the distal and originating (extremities). These (distal) extremities, though they be similar to the centric ones, are nevertheless but faint traces thereof; for the latter’s potentiality includes both the radii and their (distal) extremities; it is everywhere present in the radii, manifests its nature therein, as an immature development. This is an illustration how Intelligence and Essence were born from (the divinity) as by effusion or development; and by remaining dependent from the intellectual nature of the Unity, it thereby manifests an inherent higher Intelligence, which (speaking strictly), is not intelligence, since it is the absolute Unity. A center, even without radii or circumference, is nevertheless the “father” of the circumference and the radii, for it reveals traces of its nature, and by virtue of an immanent potency, and individual force, it begets the circumference and the radii which never separate from it. Similarly, the One is the higher archetype of the intellectual power which moves around Him, being His image. For in the Unity there is a higher Intelligence which, so to speak, moving in all directions and manners, thereby becomes Intelligence; while the Unity, dwelling above Intelligence, begets it by its power. How then could fortune, contingency and chance approach this intelligence-begetting Power, a power that is genuinely and essentially creative? Such then is what is in Intelligence, and such is what is in Unity, though that which is in Him is far superior.


(As illustration), consider the radiance shed afar by some luminous source that remains within itself; the radiation would represent the image, while the source from which it issues would be the genuine light. Nevertheless, the radiation, which represents the intelligence, is not an image that has a form foreign (to its principle), for it does not exist by chance, being reason and cause in each of its parts. Unity then is the cause of the cause; He is, in the truest sense, supreme causality, simultaneously containing all the intellectual causes He is to produce; this, His offspring, is begotten not as a result of chance, but according to His own volition. His volition, however, was not irrational, fortuitous, nor accidental; and as nothing is fortuitous in Him, His will was exactly suitable. Therefore Plato called it the “suitable,” and the “timely,” to express as clearly as possible that the (Divinity) is foreign to all chance, and that He is that which is exactly suitable. Now if He be exactly suitable, He is so not irrationally. If He be timely, He must (by a Greek pun), also be “supremely sovereign” over the (beings) beneath Him. So much the more will He be timely for Himself. Not by chance therefore is He what He is, for He willed to be what He is; He wills suitable things, and in Him that which is suitable, and the actualization thereof, coincide. He is the suitable, not as a subject, but as primary actualization manifesting Him such as it was suitable for Him to be. That is the best description we can give of Him, in our impotence to express ourselves about Him as we should like.


19. By the use of the above indications (it is possible), to ascend to Him. Having done so, grasp Him. Then you will be able to contemplate Him, and you will find no terms to describe His (greatness). When you shall see Him, and resign any attempt at spoken description, you will proclaim that He exists by Himself in a way such that, if He had any being, it would be His servant, and would be derived from Him. No one who has ever seen Him would have the audacity to maintain that He is what He is by chance; nor even to utter such a blasphemy, for He would be confounded by his own temerity. Having ascended to Him, the (human observer) could not even locate His presence, as it were rising up everywhere before the eyes of his soul. Whichever way the soul directs her glances, she sees Him, unless, on considering some other object, she abandons the divinity by ceasing to think of Him.


The ancient (philosophers), in enigmatical utterances, said that (the divinity) is above “being.” This must be understood to mean not only that He begets being, but because He is not dependent on “being” or on Himself. Not even His own “being” is to Him a principle; for He himself is the principle of “being.” Not for Himself did he make it; but, having made it, He left it outside of Himself, because He has no need of essence, since He himself made it. Thus, even though He exist, He does not produce that which is meant by that verb.


20. It will be objected that the above implies the existence (of the Divinity) before He existed; for, if He made Himself, on the one hand, He did not yet exist, if it was Himself that He made; and on the other, so far as it was He who made, He already existed before Himself, since what has been made was Himself. However, (the Divinity) should be considered not so much as “being made” but as “making,” and we should realize that the actualization by which He created Himself is absolute; for His actualization does not result in the production of any other “being.” He produces nothing but Himself, He is entirely Himself; we are not dealing here with two things, but with a single entity. Neither need we hesitate to admit that the primary actualization has no “being”; but that actualization should be considered as constituting His hypostatic form of existence. If within Him these two were to be distinguished, the superlatively perfect Principle would be incomplete and imperfect. To add actualization to Him would be to destroy His unity. Thus, since the actualization is more perfect than His being, and since that which is primary is the most perfect, that which is primary must necessarily be actualization. He is what He is as soon as He actualizes. He cannot be said to have existed before He made Himself; for before He made Himself He did not exist; but (from the first actualization) He already existed in entirety. He therefore is an actualization which does not depend on being, (an actualization) that is clearly free; and thus He (originates) from Himself. If, as to His essence, He were preserved by some other principle, He himself would not be the first proceeding from Himself. He is said to contain Himself because He produces (and parades) Himself; since it is from the very beginning that He caused the existence of what He naturally contains. Strictly, we might indeed say, that He made Himself, if there existed a time when He himself began to exist. But since He was what He is before all times, the statement that He made Himself means merely that “having made” and “himself” are inseparable; for His essence coincides with His creative act, and, if I may be permitted to speak thus, with his “eternal generation.”


Likewise, the statement that the (divinity) commands Himself may be taken strictly, if in Him be two entities (the commander and the commanded); but if (we may not distinguish such a pair of entities) there is only one entity within Him, and He is only the commander, containing nothing that obeys. How then, if He contain nothing that was commanded, could He command Himself? The statement that He commands Himself means that, in this sense, there is nothing above Him; in which case He is the First, not on account of the numerical order, but by His authority and perfectly free power. If He be perfectly free, He cannot contain anything that is not free; He must therefore be entirely free within Himself. Does He contain anything that is not Himself, that He does not do, that is not His work? If indeed He contained anything that was not His work, He would be neither perfectly free nor omnipotent; He would not be free, because He would not dominate this thing; nor would He be omnipotent, because the thing whose making would not be in His power would even thereby evade His dominion.


21. Could (the divinity) have made Himself different from what He made Himself? (If he could not, He would not have been omnipotent). If you remove from Him the power of doing evil, you thereby also remove the power of doing good. (In the divinity), power does not consist in the ability to make contraries; it is a constant and immutable power whose perfection consisted precisely in not departing from unity; for the power to make contraries is a characteristic of a being incapable of continuously persisting in the best. Self-creation (the actualization by which the divinity created Himself) exists once for all, for it is perfect. Who indeed could change an actualization produced by the will of the Divinity, an actualization that constitutes His very will? But how then was this actualization produced by the volition (of the divinity) which did not yet exist?

What could be meant by the “volition of (the Divinity”) if He had not yet willed hypostatic form of existence (for Himself)? Whence then came His will? Would it have come from His being (which, according to the above objection) was not yet actualized? But His will was already within His “being.” In the (Divinity), therefore, there is nothing which differs from His “being.” Otherwise, there would have been in Him something that would not have been His will. Thus, everything in Him was will; there was in Him nothing that did not exercise volition; nothing which, therefore, was anterior to His volition. Therefore, from the very beginning, the will was He; therefore, the (Divinity) is as and such as He willed it to be. When we speak of what was the consequence of the will (of the Divinity), of what His will has produced, (we must indeed conclude that) His will produced nothing that He was not already. The statement that (the Divinity) contains Himself means (no more than that) all the other beings that proceed from Him are by Him sustained. They indeed exist by a sort of participation in Him, and they relate back to Him. (The Divinity) Himself does not need to be contained or to participate; He is all things for Himself; or rather, He is nothing for Himself, because He has no need of all the other things in respect to Himself.


Thus, whenever you wish to speak of (the Divinity), or to gain a conception of Him, put aside all the rest. When you will have made abstraction of all the rest, and when you will thus have isolated (the Divinity), do not seek to add anything to Him; rather examine whether, in your thought, you have not omitted to abstract something from Him. Thus you can rise to a Principle of whom you could not later either assert or conceive anything else. Classify in the supreme rank, therefore, none but He who really is free, because He is not even dependence on Himself; and because he merely is Himself, essentially Himself, while each of the other beings is itself, and something else besides.

Ennead 6.9. Of the Good and the One.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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