Front Page Titles (by Subject) SEVENTH TRACTATE How the Multiplicity of the Ideal-Forms came into Being and Upon The Good - On the One and Good; being the Treatises of the Sixth Ennead
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SEVENTH TRACTATE How the Multiplicity of the Ideal-Forms came into Being and Upon The Good - Plotinus, On the One and Good; being the Treatises of the Sixth Ennead [253 AD]
On the One and Good; being the Treatises of the Sixth Ennead, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
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God, or some one of the gods, in sending the souls to their birth, placed eyes in the face to catch the light and allotted to each sense the appropriate organ, providing thus for the safety which comes by seeing and hearing in time and seeking or avoiding under guidance of touch.
But what led to this provision?
It cannot be that other forms of being were produced first and that, these perishing in the absence of the senses, the maker at last supplied the means by which men and other living beings might avert disaster.
We may be told that it lay within the divine knowledge that animal life would be exposed to heat and cold and other such experiences incident to body and that in this knowledge he provided the senses and the organs apt to their activity in order that the living total might not fall an easy prey.
Now, either he gave these organs to souls already possessing the sensitive powers or he gave senses and organs alike.
But if the souls were given the powers as well as the organs, then, souls though they were, they had no sensation before that giving. If they possessed these powers from the moment of being souls and became souls in order to their entry into process, then it is of their very nature to belong to process, unnatural to them to be outside of process and within the Intellectual: they were made in the intent that they should belong to the alien and have their being amid evil; the divine provision would consist in holding them to their disaster; this is God’s reasoned purpose, this the plan entire.
Now what is the foundation of reasoned plan?
Precedent planning, it may be; but still we are forced back to some thing or things determining it. What would these be here?
Either sense-perception or intellect. But sense-perception it cannot in this case be: intellect is left; yet, starting from intellect, the conclusion will be knowledge, not therefore the handling of the sensible; what begins with the intellectual and proceeds to the intellectual can certainly not end in dealings with the sensible. Providence, then, whether over living beings or over any part of the universe was never the outcome of plan.
There is in fact no planning There; we speak of reasoned purpose in the world of things only to convey that the universe is of the character which in the later order would point to a wise purposing; Providence implies that things are as in the later order a competent foreplanning would produce them. Reasoning serves, in beings not of the order above that need, to supply for the higher power; foresight is necessary in the lack of power which could dispense with it; it labours towards some one occurrence in preference to another and it goes in a sort of dread of the unfitting; where only the fitting can occur, there is no foreseeing. So with planning; where one only of two things can be, what place is there for plan? The alone and one and utterly simplex cannot involve a “this to avert that”: if the “this” could not be, the “that” must; the serviceable thing appeared and at once approved itself so.
But surely this is foreseeing, deliberating: are we not back at what was said at the beginning, that God did to this end give both the senses and the powers, however perplexing that giving be?
No: all turns on the necessary completeness of Act; we cannot think anything belonging to God to be other than a whole and all and therefore in anything of God’s that all must be contained; God therefore must take in the future, present beforehand. Certainly there is no later in the divine; what is There as present is future for elsewhere. If then the future is present, it must be present as having been fore-conceived for later coming to be; at that divine stage therefore it lacks nothing and therefore can never lack; all existed, eternally and in such a way that at the later stage any particular thing may be said to exist for this or that purpose; the All, in its extension and so to speak unfolding, is able to present succession while yet it is simultaneous; this is because it contains the cause of all as inherent to itself.
Thus we have even here the means of knowing the nature of the Intellectual-Principle, though, seeing it more closely than anything else, we still see it at less than its worth. We know that it exists but its cause we do not see, or, if we do, we see that cause as something apart. We see a man—or an eye, if you like—but this is an image or part of an image; what is in that Principle is at once Man and the reason of his being; for There man—or eye—must be, itself, an intellective thing and a cause of its being; it could not exist at all unless it were that cause, whereas here, everything partial is separate and so is the cause of each. In the Intellectual all is at one so that the thing is identical with the cause.
Even here the thing and its cause are often identical—an eclipse furnishes an example—what then is there to prevent other things too being identical with their cause and this cause being the essence of the thing? It must be so; and by this search after the cause the thing’s essence is reached, for the essence of a thing is its cause. I am not here saying that the informing Idea is the cause of the thing—though this is true—but that the Idea itself, unfolded, reveals the cause inherent in it.
A thing of inactivity, even though alive, cannot include its own cause; but where could a Forming-Idea, a member of the Intellectual-Principle, turn in quest of its cause? We may be answered “In the Intellectual-Principle”; but the two are not distinct; the Idea is the Intellectual-Principle; and if that Principle must contain the Ideas complete, their cause must be contained in them. The Intellectual-Principle itself contains every cause of the things of its content; but these of its content are identically Intellectual-Principle, each of them Intellectual-Principle; none of them, thus, can lack its own cause; each springs into being carrying with it the reason of its being. No result of chance, each must rise complete with its cause; it is an integral and so includes the excellence bound up with the cause. This is how all participants in the Idea are put into possession of their cause.
In our universe, a coherent total of multiplicity, the several items are linked each to the other, and by the fact that it is an all every cause is included in it: even in the particular thing the part is discernibly related to the whole, for the parts do not come into being separately and successively but are mutually cause and caused at one and the same moment. Much more in the higher realm must all the singles exist for the whole and each for itself: if then that world is the conjoint reality of all, of an all not chance-ruled and not sectional, the caused There must include the causes: every item must hold, in its very nature, the uncaused possession of its cause; uncaused, independent and standing apart from cause, they must be self-contained, cause and all.
Further, since nothing There is chance-sprung, and the multiplicity in each comprehends the entire content, then the cause of every member can be named; the cause was present from the beginning, inherent, not a cause but a fact of the being; or, rather, cause and manner of being were one. What could an Idea have, as cause, over and above the Intellectual-Principle? It is a thought of that Principle and cannot, at that, be considered as anything but a perfect product. If it is thus perfect we cannot speak of anything in which it is lacking nor cite any reason for such lack. That thing must be present and we can say why. The why is inherent, therefore, in the entity, that is to say in every thought and activity of the Intellectual-Principle. Take for example the Idea of Man; Man entire is found to contribute to it; he is in that Idea in all his fulness including everything that from the beginning belonged to Man. If Man were not complete There, so that there were something to be added to the Idea, that additional must belong to a derivative: but Man exists from eternity and must therefore be complete; the man born is the derivative.
What then is there to prevent man having been the object of planning There?
No: all stands in that likeness, nothing to be added or taken away; this planning and reasoning is based only on an assumption; things are taken to be in process and this suggests planning and reasoning; insist on the eternity of the process and planning falls to the ground. There can be no planning over the eternal; that would imply forgetfulness of a first state; further, if the second state were better, things stood ill at first; if they stood well, so they must remain.
Only in conjunction with their causes are things good; even in this sphere a thing is good in virtue of being complete; form means that the thing is complete, the Matter duly controlled; this control means that nothing has been left crude; but something is so left if anything belonging to the shape be missing—eye, or other part. Thus to state cause is to state the thing complete. Why eyes or eye-brows? For completion: if you say For preservation, you affirm an indwelling safeguard of the essence, something contributory to the being: the essence, then, preceded the safeguard and the cause was inbound with the essence; distinct, this cause is in its nature a part of the essence.
All parts, thus, exist in regard to each other: the essence is all-embracing, complete, entire; the excellency is inbound with the cause and embraced by it; the being, the essence, the cause, all are one.
But, at this, sense-perception—even in its particular modes—is involved in the Idea by eternal necessity, in virtue of the completeness of the Idea; Intellectual-Principle, as all-inclusive, contains in itself all by which we are brought, later, to recognise this perfection in its nature; the cause, There, was one total, all-inclusive; thus Man in the Intellectual was not purely intellect, sense-perception being an addition made upon his entry into birth: all this would seem to imply a tendance in that great Principle towards the lower, towards this sphere.
But how could that Principle have such perception, be aware of things of sense? Surely it is untenable on the one hand that sense-perception should exist There, from eternity, and on the other that only upon the debasement of the soul should there be sense-perception here and the accomplishment in this realm of the Act of what was always a power in that?
To meet the difficulty we must make a close examination of the nature of Man in the Intellectual; perhaps, though it is better to begin with the man of this plane lest we be reasoning to Man There from a misconception of Man here. There may even be some who deny the difference.
We ask first whether man as here is a Reason-Principle different to that soul which produces him as here and gives him life and thought; or is he that very soul or, again, the (yet lower) soul using the human body?
Now if man is a reasonable living being and by living being is meant a conjoint of soul and body, the Reason-Principle of man is not identical with soul. But if the conjoint of soul and body is the reason-principle of man, how can man be an eternal reality, seeing that it is only when soul and body have come together that the Reason-Principle so constituted appears?
That Reason-Principle will be the foreteller of the man to be, not the Man Absolute with which we are dealing but more like his definition, and not at that indicating his nature since what is indicated is not the Idea that is to enter Matter but only that of the known thing, the conjoint. We have not yet found the Man we are seeking, the equivalent of the Reason-Principle.
But—it may be said—the Reason-Principle of such beings must be some conjoint, one element in another.
This does not define the principle of either. If we are to state with entire accuracy the Reason-Principles of the Forms in Matter and associated with Matter, we cannot pass over the generative Reason-Principle, in this case that of Man, especially since we hold that a complete definition must cover the essential manner of being.
What, then, is this essential of Man? What is the indwelling, inseparable something which constitutes Man as here? Is the Reason-Principle itself a reasoning living being or merely a maker of that reasoning life-form? and what is it apart from that act of making?
The living being corresponds to a reasoning life in the Reason-Principle; man therefore is a reasoning life: but there is no life without soul; either, then, the soul supplies the reasoning life—and man therefore is not an essence but simply an activity of the soul—or the soul is the man.
But if reasoning soul is the man, why does it not constitute man upon its entry into some other animal form?
Man, thus, must be some Reason-Principle other than soul. But why should he not be some conjoint—a soul in a certain Reason-Principle—the Reason-Principle being, as it were, a definite activity which however could not exist without that which acts?
This is the case with the Reason-Principles in seed which are neither soulless nor entirely soul. For these productive principles cannot be devoid of soul and there is nothing surprising in such essences being Reason-Principles.
But these principles producing other forms than man, of what phase of soul are they activities? Of the vegetal soul? Rather of that which produces animal life, a brighter soul and therefore one more intensely living.
The soul of that order, the soul that has entered into Matter of that order, is man by having, apart from body, a certain disposition; within body it shapes all to its own fashion, producing another form of Man, man reduced to what body admits, just as an artist may make a reduced image of that again.
It is soul, then, that holds the pattern and Reason-Principles of Man, the natural tendencies, the dispositions and powers—all feeble since this is not the Primal Man—and it contains also the Ideal-Forms of other senses, Forms which themselves are senses, bright to all seeming but images, and dim in comparison with those of the earlier order.
The higher Man, above this sphere, rises from the more godlike soul, a soul possessed of a nobler humanity and brighter perceptions. This must be the Man of Plato’s definition (“Man is Soul,”) where the addition “Soul as using body” marks the distinction between the soul which uses body directly and the soul, poised above, which touches body only through that intermediary.
The Man of the realm of birth has sense-perception: the higher soul enters to bestow a brighter life, or rather does not so much enter as simply impart itself; for soul does not leave the Intellectual but maintaining that contact holds the lower life as pendant from it, blending with it by the natural link of Reason-Principle to Reason-Principle: and man, the dimmer, brightens under that illumination.
But how can that higher soul have sense-perception?
It is the perception of what falls under perception There, sensation in the mode of that realm: it is the source of the soul’s perception of the sense-realm in its correspondence with the Intellectual. Man as sense-percipient becomes aware of that correspondence and accomodates the sense-realm to the lowest extremity of its counterpart There, proceeding from the fire Intellectual to the fire here which becomes perceptible by its analogy with that of the higher sphere. If material things existed There, the soul would perceive them; Man in the Intellectual, Man as Intellectual soul, would be aware of the terrestrial. This is how the secondary Man, copy of Man in the Intellectual, contains the Reason-Principles in copy; and Man in the Intellectual-Principle contained the Man that existed before any man. The diviner shines out upon the secondary and the secondary upon the tertiary; and even the latest possesses them all—not in the sense of actually living by them all but as standing in under-parallel to them. Some of us act by this lowest; in another rank there is a double activity, a trace of the higher being included; in yet another there is a blending of the third grade with the others: each is that Man by which he acts while each too contains all the grades, though in some sense not so. On the separation of the third life and third Man from the body, then if the second also departs—of course not losing hold on the Above—the two, as we are told, will occupy the same place. No doubt it seems strange that a soul which has been the Reason-Principle of a man should come to occupy the body of an animal: but the soul has always been all, and will at different times be this and that.
Pure, not yet fallen to evil, the soul chooses man and is man, for this is the higher and it produces the higher. It produces also the still loftier beings, the Celestials (Daimons), who are of one Form with the soul that makes Man: higher still stands that Man more entirely of the Celestial rank, almost a god, reproducing God, a Celestial closely bound to God as a man is to Man. For that Being into which man develops is not to be called a god; there remains the difference which distinguishes souls, all of the same race though they be. This is taking “Celestial” (“Daimon”) in the sense of Plato.
When a soul which in the human state has been thus attached chooses animal nature and descends to that, it is giving forth the Reason-Principle—necessarily in it—of that particular animal: this lower it contained and the activity has been to the lower.
But if it is by becoming evil and inferior that the soul produces the animal nature, the making of ox or horse was not at the outset in its character; the reason-principle of the animal, and the animal itself, must lie outside of the natural plan?
Inferior, yes; but outside of nature, no. The thing There (Soul in the Intellectual) was in some sense horse and dog from the beginning; given the condition, it produces the higher kind; let the condition fail, then since produce it must it produces what it may: it is like a skilful craftsman competent to create all kinds of works of art but reduced to making what is ordered and what the aptitude of his material indicates.
The power of the All-Soul, as Reason-Principle of the universe, may be considered as laying down a pattern before the effective separate powers go forth from it: this plan would be something like a tentative illumining of Matter; the elaborating soul would give minute articulation to these representations of itself; every separate effective soul would become that towards which it tended, assuming that particular form as the choral dancer adapts himself to the action set down for him.
But this is to anticipate: our enquiry was How there can be sense-perception in man without the implication that the Divine addresses itself to the realm of process. We maintained, and proved, that the Divine does not look to this realm but that things here are dependent upon those and represent them and that man here holding his powers from Thence is directed Thither, so that, while sense makes the environment of what is of sense in him, the Intellectual in him is linked to the Intellectual.
What we have called the perceptibles of that realm enter into cognisance in a way of their own, since they are not material, while the sensible sense here—so distinguished as dealing with corporeal objects—is fainter than the perception belonging to that higher world; the man of this sphere has sense-perception because existing in a less true degree and taking only enfeebled images of things There—perceptions here are Intellections of the dimmer order, and the Intellections There are vivid perceptions.
So much for the thing of sense; but it would appear that the prototype There of the living form, the universal horse, must look deliberately towards this sphere; and, that being so, the idea of horse must have been worked out in order there be a horse here?
Yet what was that there to present the idea of the horse it was desired to produce? Obviously the idea of horse must exist before there was any planning to make a horse; it could not be thought of in order to be made; there must have been horse unproduced before that which was later to come into being. If then the thing existed before it was produced—if it cannot have been thought of in order to its production—the Being that held the horse as There held it in presence without any looking to this sphere; it was not with intent to set horse and the rest in being here that they were contained There; it is that, the universal existing, the reproduction followed of necessity since the total of things was not to halt at the Intellectual. Who was there to call a halt to a power capable at once of self-concentration and of outflow?
But how come these animals of earth to be There? What have they to do within God? Reasoning beings, all very well; but this host of the unreasoning, what is there august in them? Surely the very contrary?
The answer is that obviously the unity of our universe must be that of a manifold since it is subsequent to that unity-absolute; otherwise it would be not next to that but the very same thing. As a next it could not hold the higher rank of being more perfectly a unity; it must fall short: since the best is a unity, inevitably there must be something more than unity, for deficiency involves plurality.
But why should it not be simply a dyad?
Because neither of the constituents could ever be a pure unity, but at the very least a duality and so progressively (in an endless dualisation). Besides, in that first duality of the hypothesis there would be also movement and rest, Intellect and the life included in Intellect, all-embracing Intellect and life complete. That means that it could not be one Intellect; it must be Intellect agglomerate including all the particular intellects, a thing therefore as multiple as all the Intellects and more so; and the life in it would not be that of one soul but of all the souls with the further power of producing the single souls: it would be the entire living universe containing much besides man; for if it contained only man, man would be alone here.
Admitted, then—it will be said—for the nobler forms of life; but how can the divine contain the mean, the unreasoning? The mean is the unreasoning since value depends upon reason and the worth of the intellective implies worthlessness where intellection is lacking. Yet how can there be question of the unreasoning or unintellective when all particulars exist in the divine and come forth from it?
In taking up the refutation of these objections, we must insist upon the consideration that neither man nor animals here can be thought of as identical with the counterparts in the higher realm; those ideal forms must be taken in a larger way. And again the reasoning thing is not of that realm: here the reasoning, There the pre-reasoning.
Why then does man alone reason here, the others remaining reasonless?
Degrees of reasoning here correspond to degrees of Intellection in that other sphere, as between man and the other living beings There; and those others do in some measure act by understanding.
But why are they not at man’s level of reason: why also the difference from man to man?
We must reflect that since the many forms of lives are movements—and so with the Intellections—they cannot be identical: there must be different lives, distinct intellections, degrees of lightsomeness and clarity: there must be firsts, seconds, thirds, determined by nearness to the Firsts. This is how some of the Intellections are gods, others of a secondary order having what is here known as reason, while others again belong to the so-called unreasoning: but what we know here as unreasoning was There a Reason-Principle; the unintelligent was an Intellect; the Thinker of Horse was Intellect and the Thought, Horse, was an Intellect.
But (it will be objected) if this were a matter of mere thinking we might well admit that the intellectual concept, remaining concept, should take in the unintellectual, but where concept is identical with thing how can the one be an Intellection and the other without intelligence? Would not this be Intellect making itself unintelligent?
No: the thing is not unintelligent; it is Intelligence in a particular mode, corresponding to a particular aspect of Life; and just as life in whatever form it may appear remains always life, so Intellect is not annulled by appearing in a certain mode. Intellectual-Principle adapted to some particular living being does not cease to be the Intellectual-Principle of all, including man: take it where you will, every manifestation is the whole, though in some special mode; the particular is produced but the possibility is of all. In the particular we see the the Intellectual-Principle in realisation; the realised is its latest phase; in one case the last aspect is horse; at horse ended the progressive outgoing towards the lesser forms of life, as in another case it will end at something lower still. The unfolding of the powers of this Principle is always attended by some abandonment in regard to the highest; the outgoing is by loss and by this loss the powers become one thing or another according to the deficiency of the life-form produced by the failing principle; it is then that they find the means of adding various requisites; the safeguards of the life becoming inadequate, there appear nail, talon, fang, horn. Thus the Intellectual-Principle by its very descent is directed towards the perfect sufficiency of the natural constitution, finding there within itself the remedy of the failure.
But failure There? What can defensive horns serve to There? To sufficiency as living form, to completeness. That principle must be complete as living form, complete as Intellect, complete as life so that if it is not to be one thing it may be another. Its characteristic difference is in this power of being now this, now that, so that, summing all, it may be the completest life-form, Intelligence complete, life in the greatest fulness with each of the particulars complete in its degree while yet, over all that multiplicity, unity reigns.
If all were one identity, the total could not contain this variety of forms; there would be nothing but a self-sufficing unity. Like every compound it must consist of things progressively differing in form and safeguarded in that form. This is in the very nature of shape and Reason-Principle; a shape, that of man let us suppose, must include a certain number of differences of part but all dominated by a unity; there will be the noble and the inferior, eye and finger, but all within a unity; the part will be inferior in comparison with the total but best in its place. The Reason-Principle, too, is at once the living form and something else, something distinct from the being of that form. It is so with virtue also; it contains at once the universal and the particular; and the total is good because the universal is not differentiated.
The very heavens, patently multiple, cannot be thought to disdain any form of life since this universe holds everything. Now how do these things come to be here? Does the higher realm contain all of the lower?
All that has been shaped by Reason-Principle and conforms to Idea.
But, having fire (warmth) and water, it will certainly have vegetation; how does vegetation exist There? Earth, too? either these are alive or they are There as dead things and then not everything There has life. How in sum can the things of this realm be also There?
Vegetal life we can well admit, for the plant is a Reason-Principle established in life. If in the plant the Reason-Principle, entering Matter and constituting the plant, is a certain form of life, a definite soul, then, since every Reason-Principle is a unity, then either this of plant-life is the primal or before it there is a primal plant, source of its being: that first plant would be a unity; those here, being multiple, must derive from a unity. This being so, that primal must have much the truer life and be the veritable plant, the plants here deriving from it in the secondary and tertiary degree and living by a vestige of its life.
But earth; how is there earth There: what is the being of earth and how are we to represent to ourselves the living earth of that realm?
First, what is it, what the mode of its being?
Earth, here and There alike, must possess shape and a Reason-Principle. Now in the case of the vegetal, the Reason-Principle of the plant here was found to be living in that higher realm: is there such a Reason-Principle in our earth?
Take the most earthy of things found shaped in earth and they exhibit, even they, the indwelling earth-principle. The growing and shaping of stones, the internal moulding of mountains as they rise, reveal the working of an ensouled Reason-Principle fashioning them from within and bringing them to that shape: this, we must take it, is the creative earth-principle corresponding to what we call the specific principle of a tree; what we know as earth is like the wood of the tree; to cut out a stone is like lopping a twig from a tree, except of course that there is no hurt done, the stone remaining a member of the earth as the twig, uncut, of the tree.
Realising thus that the creative force inherent in our earth is life within a Reason-Principle, we are easily convinced that the earth There is much more primally alive, that it is a reasoned Earth-Livingness, the earth of Real-Being, earth primally, the source of ours.
Fire, similarly, with other such things, must be a Reason-Principle established in Matter: fire certainly does not originate in the friction to which it may be traced; the friction merely brings out a fire already existent in the scheme and contained in the materials rubbed together. Matter does not in its own character possess this fire-power: the true cause is something informing the Matter, that is to say, a Reason-Principle, obviously therefore a soul having the power of bringing fire into being; that is, a life and a Reason-Principle in one.
It is with this in mind that Plato says there is soul in everything of this sphere. That soul is the cause of the fire of the sense-world; the cause of fire here is a certain Life of fiery character, the more authentic fire. That transcendent fire being more truly fire will be more veritably alive; the fire absolute possesses life. And the same principles apply to the other elements, water and air.
Why, then, are water and air not ensouled as earth is?
Now, it is quite certain that these are equally within the living total, parts of the living all; life does not appear visibly in them; but neither does it in the case of the earth where its presence is inferred by what earth produces: but there are living things in fire and still more manifestly in water and there are systems of life in the air. The particular fire, rising only to be quenched, eludes the soul animating the universe; it slips away from the magnitude which would manifest the soul within it; so with air and water. If these Kinds could somehow be fastened down to magnitude they would exhibit the soul within them, now concealed by the fact that their function requires them to be loose or flowing. It is much as in the case of the fluids within ourselves; the flesh and all that is formed out of the blood into flesh show the soul within, but the blood itself, not bringing us any sensation, seems not to have soul; yet it must; the blood is not subject to blind force; its nature obliges it to abstain from the soul which nonetheless is indwelling in it. This must be the case with the three elements; it is the fact that the living beings formed from the close conglomeration of air (the stars) are not susceptible to suffering. But just as air, so long as it remains itself, eludes the light which is and remains unyielding, so too, by the effect of its circular movement, it eludes soul—and, in another sense, does not. And so with fire and water.
Or take it another way:—Since in our view this universe stands to that as copy to original, the living total must exist There beforehand; that is the realm of complete Being and everything must exist There.
The sky There must be living and therefore not bare of stars, here known as the heavens—for stars are included in the very meaning of the word. Earth too will be There, and not void but even more intensely living and containing all that lives and moves upon our earth and the plants obviously rooted in life; sea will be There and all waters with the movement of their unending life and all the living things of the water; air too must be a member of that universe with the living things of air as here.
The content of that living thing must surely be alive—as in this sphere—and all that lives must of necessity be There. The nature of the major parts determines that of the living forms they comprise; by the being and content of the heaven There are determined all the heavenly forms of life; if those lesser forms were not There, that heaven itself would not be.
To ask how those forms of life come to be There is simply asking how that heaven came to be; it is asking whence comes life, whence the All-Life, whence the All-soul, whence collective Intellect: and the answer is that There no indigence or impotence can exist but all must be teeming, seething, with life. All flows, so to speak, from one fount not to be thought of as some one breath or warmth but rather as one quality englobing and safeguarding all qualities—sweetness with fragrance, wine-quality and the savours of everything that may be tasted, all colours seen, everything known to touch, all that ear may hear, all melodies, every rhythm.
For Intellectual-Principle is not a simplex, nor is the soul that proceeds from it: on the contrary things include variety in the degree of their simplicity, that is to say in so far as they are not compounds but Principles and Activities; the activity of the lowest is simple in the sense of being a fading-out, that of the First as the total of all activity. Intellectual-Principle is moved in a movement unfailingly true to one course but its unity and identity are not those of the partial; they are those of its universality; and indeed the partial itself is not a unity but divides to infinity.
We know that Intellectual-Principle has a source and advances to some term as its ultimate; now, is the intermediate between source and term to be thought of as a line or as some distinct kind of body uniform and unvaried?
Where at that would be its worth? it had no change, if no differentiation woke it into life, it would not be a Force; that condition would in no way differ from mere absence of power and, even calling it movement, it would still be the movement of a life not all-varied but indiscriminate; now it is of necessity that life be all-embracing, covering all the realms, and that nothing fail of life. Intellectual-Principle therefore must move in every direction upon all, or more precisely must ever have so moved.
A simplex moving retains its character; either there is no change, movement has been null, or if there has been advance it still remains a simplex and at once there is a permanent duality: if the one member of this duality is identical with the other, then it is still as it was, there has been no advance; if one member differs from the other, it has advanced with differentiation, and, out of a certain identity and difference, it has produced a third unity. This production, based on Identity and Difference, must be in its nature identical and different; it will be not some particular different thing but Collective Difference, as its Identity is Collective Identity.
Being, thus, at once Collective Identity and Collective Difference, Intellectual-Principle must reach over all different things; its very nature then is to modify itself into a universe. If the realm of different things existed before it, these different things must have modified it from the beginning; if they did not, this Intellectual-Principle produced all, or rather was all.
Beings could not exist save by the activity of Intellectual-Principle; wandering down every way it produces thing after thing, but wandering always within itself in such self-bound wandering as authentic Intellect may know; this wandering permitted to its nature is among real beings which keep pace with its movement; but it is always itself; this is a stationary wandering, a wandering within the Meadow of Truth from which it does not stray.
It holds and covers the universe which it has made the space, so to speak, of its movement, itself being also that universe which is space to it. And this Meadow of Truth is varied so that movement through it may be possible; suppose it not always and everywhere varied, the failing of diversity is a failure of movement; failure in movement would mean a failing of the Intellectual Act; halting, it has ceased to exercise its Intellectual Act; this ceasing, it ceases to be.
The Intellectual-Principle is the Intellectual Act; its movement is complete, filling Being complete; And the entire of Being is the Intellectual Act entire, comprehending all life and the unfailing succession of things. Because this Principle contains Identity and Difference its division is ceaselessly bringing the different things to light. Its entire movement is through life and among living things. To a traveller over land all is earth but earth abounding in difference: so in this journey the life through which Intellectual-Principle passes is one life but, in its ceaseless changing, a varied life.
Throughout this endless variation it maintains the one course because it is not, itself, subject to change but on the contrary is present as identical and unvarying Being to the rest of things. For if there be no such principle of unchanging identity to things, all is dead, activity and actuality exist nowhere. These “other things” through which it passes are also Intellectual-Principle itself; otherwise it is not the all-comprehending principle: if it is to be itself, it must be all-embracing; failing that, it is not itself. If it is complete in itself, complete because all-embracing, and there is nothing which does not find place in this total, then there can be nothing belonging to it which is not different; only by difference can there be such co-operation towards a total. If it knew no otherness but was pure identity its essential Being would be the less for that failure to fulfil the specific nature which its completion requires.
On the nature of the Intellectual-Principle we get light from its manifestations; they show that it demands such diversity as is compatible with its being a monad. Take what principle you will, that of plant or animal: if this principle were a pure unity and not a specifically varied thing, it could not so serve as principle; its product would be Matter, the principle not having taken all those forms necessary if Matter is to be permeated and utterly transformed. A face is not one mass; there are nose and eyes; and the nose is not a unity but has the differences which make it a nose; as bare unity it would be mere mass.
There is infinity in Intellectual-Principle since, of its very nature, it is a multiple unity, not with the unity of a house but with that of a Reason-Principle, multiple in itself: in the one Intellectual design it includes within itself, as it were in outline, all the outlines, all the patterns. All is within it, all the powers and intellections; the division is not determined by a boundary but goes ever inward; this content is held as the living universe holds the natural forms of the living creatures in it from the greatest to the least, down even to the minutest powers where there is a halt at the individual form. The discrimination is not of items huddled within a sort of unity; this is what is known as the Universal Sympathy, not of course the sympathy known here which is a copy and prevails amongst things in separation; that authentic Sympathy consists in all being a unity and never discriminate.
That Life, the various, the all-including, the primal and one, who can consider it without longing to be of it, disdaining all the other?
All other life is darkness, petty and dim and poor; it is unclean and polluting the clean for if you do but look upon it you no longer see nor live this life which includes all living, in which there is nothing that does not live and live in a life of purity void of all that is ill. For evil is here where life is in copy and Intellect in copy; There is the archetype, that which is good in the very Idea—we read—as holding The Good in the pure Idea. That Archetype is good; Intellectual-Principle is good as holding its life by contemplation of the archetype; and it sees also as good the objects of its contemplation because it holds them in its act of contemplating the Principle of Good. But these objects come to it not as they are There but in accord with its own condition, for it is their source; they spring thence to be here, and Intellectual-Principle it is that has produced them by its vision There. In the very law, never, looking to That, could it fail of Intellectual Act; never, on the other hand, could it produce what is There; of itself it could not produce; Thence it must draw its power to bring forth, to teem with offspring of itself; from the Good it takes what itself did not possess. From that Unity came multiplicity to Intellectual-Principle; it could not sustain the power poured upon it and therefore broke it up; it turned that one power into variety so as to carry it piecemeal.
All its production, effected in the power of The Good contains goodness; it is good, itself, since it is constituted by these things of good; it is Good made diverse. It might be likened to a living sphere teeming with variety, to a globe of faces radiant with faces all living, to a unity of souls, all the pure souls, not the faulty but the perfect, with Intellect enthroned over all so that the place entire glows with Intellectual splendour.
But this would be to see it from without, one thing seeing another; the true way is to become Intellectual-Principle and be, our very selves, what we are to see.
But even there we are not to remain always, in that beauty of the multiple; we must make haste yet higher, above this heaven of ours and even that; leaving all else aside we ask in awe Who produced that realm and how. Everything There is a single Idea in an individual impression and, informed by The Good, possesses the universal good transcendent over all. Each possessing that Being above, possesses also the total Living-Form in virtue of that transcendent life, possesses, no doubt, much else as well.
But what is the Nature of this Transcendent in view of which and by way of which the Ideas are good?
The best way of putting the question is to ask whether when Intellectual-Principle looked towards The Good it had Intellection of that unity as a multiplicity and, itself a unity, applied its Act by breaking into parts what it was too feeble to know as a whole.
No: that would not be Intellection looking upon the Good; it would be a looking void of Intellection. We must think of it not as looking but as living; dependent upon That, it kept itself turned Thither; all the tendance taking place There and upon That must be a movement teeming with life and must so fill the looking Principle; there is no longer bare Act, there is a filling to saturation. Forthwith Intellectual-Principle becomes all things, knows that fact in virtue of its self-knowing and at once becomes Intellectual-Principle, filled so as to hold within itself that object of its vision, seeing all by the light from the Giver and bearing that Giver with it.
In this way the Supreme may be understood to be the cause at once of essential reality and of the knowing of reality. The sun, cause of the existence of sense-things and of their being seen, is indirectly the cause of sight, without being either the faculty or the object: similarly this Principle, The Good, cause of Being and Intellectual-Principle, is a light appropriate to what is to be seen There and to their seer; neither the Beings nor the Intellectual-Principle, it is their source and by the light it sheds upon both makes them objects of Intellection. This filling procures the existence; after the filling the being; the existence achieved, the seeing followed: the beginning is that state of not yet having been filled, though there is, also, the beginning which means that the Filling Principle was outside and by that act of filling gave shape to the filled.
But in what mode are these secondaries, and Intellectual-Principle itself, within the First? They are not in the Filling Principle; they are not in the filled since before that moment it did not contain them.
Giving need not comport possessing; in this order we are to think of a giver as a greater and of a gift as a lower; this is the meaning of origin among real Beings. First there must be an actualised thing; its laters must be potentially their own priors; a first must transcend its derivatives; the giver transcends the given, as a superior. If therefore there is a prior to actuality, that prior transcends Activity and so transcends Life. Our sphere containing life, there is a Giver of Life, a principle of greater good, of greater worth than Life; this possessed Life and had no need to look for it to any giver in possession of Life’s variety.
But the Life was a vestige of that Primal not a life lived by it; Life, then, as it looked towards That was undetermined; having looked it had determination though That had none. Life looks to unity and is determined by it, taking bound, limit, form. But this form is in the shaped, the shaper had none; the limit was not external as something drawn about a magnitude; the limit was that of the multiplicity of the Life There, limitless itself as radiated from its great Prior; the Life itself was not that of some determined being, or it would be no more than the life of an individual. Yet it is defined; it must then have been defined as the Life of a unity including multiplicity; certainly too each item of the multiplicity is determined, determined as multiple by the multiplicity of Life but as a unity by the fact of limit.
As what, then, is its unity determined?
As Intellectual-Principle: determined Life is Intellectual-Principle. And the multiplicity?
As the multiplicity of Intellectual-Principles: all its multiplicity resolves itself into Intellectual-Principles—on the one hand the collective Principle, on the other the particular Principles.
But does this collective Intellectual-Principle include each of the particular Principles as identical with itself?
No: it would be thus the container of only the one thing; since there are many Intellectual-Principles within the collective, there must be differentiation.
Once more, how does the particular Intellect come to this differentiation?
It takes its characteristic difference by becoming entirely a unity within the collective whose totality could not be identical with any particular.
Thus the Life in the Supreme was the collectivity of power; the vision taking place There was the potentiality of all; Intellectual-Principle, thus arising, is manifested as this universe of Being. It stands over the Beings not as itself requiring base but that it may serve as base to the Form of the Firsts, the Formless Form. And it takes position towards the soul, becoming a light to the soul as itself finds its light in the First; whenever Intellectual-Principle becomes the determinant of soul it shapes it into Reasoning Soul, by communicating a trace of what itself has come to possess.
Thus Intellectual-Principle is a vestige of the Supreme; but since the vestige is a Form going out into extension, into plurality, that Prior, as the source of Form, must be itself without shape and Form: if the Prior were a Form, the Intellectual-Principle itself could be only a Reason-Principle. It was necessary that The First be utterly without multiplicity, for otherwise it must be again referred to a prior.
But in what way is the content of Intellectual-Principle participant in good? Is it because each member of it is an Idea or because of their beauty or how?
Anything coming from The Good carries the image and type belonging to that original or deriving from it, as anything going back to warmth or sweetness carries the memory of those originals: Life entered into Intellectual-Principle from The Supreme, for its origin is in the Activity streaming Thence; Intellectual-Principle springs from the Supreme, and with it the beauty of the Ideas; at once all these, Life, Intellectual-Principle, Idea, must inevitably have goodness.
But what is the common element in them? Derivation from the First is not enough to procure identical quality; there must be some element held in common by the things derived: one source may produce many differing things as also one outgoing thing may take difference in various recipients: what enters into the First Act is different from what that Act transmits and there is difference, again, in the effect here. Nonetheless every item may be good in a degree of its own. To what, then, is the highest degree due?
But first we must ask whether Life is a good, bare Life, or only the Life streaming Thence, very different from the Life known here? Once more, then, what constitutes the goodness of Life?
The Life of The Good, or rather not its Life but that given forth from it.
But if in that higher Life there must be something from That, something which is the Authentic Life, we must admit that since nothing worthless can come Thence Life in itself is good; so too we must admit in the case of Authentic Intellectual-Principle that its Life because good derives from that First; thus it becomes clear that every Idea is good and informed by the Good. The Ideas must have something of good whether as a common property or as a distinct attribution or as held in some distinct measure.
Thus it is established that the particular Idea contains in its essence something of good and thereby becomes a good thing; for Life we found to be good not in the bare being but in its derivation from the Authentic, the Supreme whence it sprung: and the same is true of Intellectual-Principle: we are forced therefore to admit a certain identity.
When, with all their differences, things may be affirmed to have a measure of identity, the matter of the identity may very well be established in their very essence and yet be mentally abstracted; thus life in man or horse yields the notion of animal; from water or fire we may get that of warmth; the first case is a definition of Kind, the other two cite qualities, primary and secondary respectively. Both or one part of Intellect, then, would be called by the one term good.
Is The Good, then, inherent in the Ideas essentially? Each of them is good but the goodness is not that of the Unity-Good. How, then, is it present?
By the mode of parts.
But The Good is without parts?
No doubt The Good is a unity; but here it has become particularised. The First Activity is good and anything determined in accord with it is good as also is any resultant. There is the good that is good by origin in The First, the good that is an ordered system derived from that earlier, and the good that is in the actualisation (in the thing participant). Derived, then, not identical—like the speech and walk and other characteristics of one man, each playing its due part.
Here, it is obvious, goodness depends upon order, rhythm, but what equivalent exists There?
We might answer that in the case of the sense-order, too, the good is imposed since the ordering is of things different from the Orderer but that There the very things are good.
But why are they thus good in themselves? We cannot be content with the conviction of their goodness on the ground of their origin in that realm: we do not deny that things deriving Thence are good but our subject demands that we discover the mode by which they come to possess that goodness.
Are we to rest all on pursuit and on the soul? Is it enough to put faith in the soul’s choice and call that good which the soul pursues, never asking ourselves the motive of its choice? We marshal demonstration as to the nature of everything else; is the good to be dismissed as choice?
Several absurdities would be entailed. The good becomes a mere attribute of things; objects of pursuit are many and different so that mere choice gives no assurance that the thing chosen is the best; in fact we cannot know the best until we know the good.
Are we to determine the good by the respective values of things?
This is to make Idea and Reason-Principle the test: all very well; but arrived at these, what explanation have we to give as to why Idea and Reason-Principle themselves are good? In the lower we recognise goodness—in its less perfect form—by comparison with what is poorer still; we are without a standard There where no evil exists, the Bests holding the field, alone. Reason demands to know what constitutes goodness; those principles are good in their own nature and we are left in perplexity because cause and fact are identical: and even though we should state a cause, the doubt still remains until our reason claims its rights There. But we need not abandon the search; another path may lead to the light.
Since we are not entitled to make desire the test by which to decide on the nature and quality of the good, we may perhaps have recourse to judgement.
We would apply the opposition of things—order, disorder; symmetry, irregularity; health, illness; form, shapelessness; real-being, decay: in a word continuity against dissolution. The first in each pair, no one could doubt, belong to the concept of good and therefore whatever tends to produce them must be ranged on the good side.
Thus virtue and Intellectual-Principle and life and soul—reasoning soul, at least—belong to the idea of good and so therefore does all that a reasoned life aims at.
Why not halt, then—it will be asked—at Intellectual-Principle and make that The Good? Soul and life are traces of Intellectual-Principle; that principle is the Term of Soul which on judgement sets itself towards Intellectual-Principle, pronouncing right preferable to wrong and virtue in every form to vice, and thus ranking by its choosing.
The soul aiming only at that Principle would need a further lessoning; it must be taught that Intellectual-Principle is not the ultimate, that not all things look to that while all do look to the good. Not all that is outside of Intellectual-Principle seeks to attain it; what has attained it does not halt there but looks still towards good. Besides, Intellectual-Principle is sought upon motives of reasoning, the good before all reason. And in any striving towards life and continuity of existence and activity, the object is aimed at not as Intellectual-Principle but as good, as rising from good and leading to it: life itself is desirable only in view of good.
Now what in all these objects of desire is the fundamental making them good?
We must be bold:—
Intellectual-Principle and that life are of the order of good and hold their desirability, even they, in virtue of belonging to that order; they have their goodness, I mean, because Life is an Activity in The Good,—or rather, streaming from The Good—while Intellectual-Principle is an Activity already defined Therein; both are of radiant beauty and, because they come Thence and lead Thither, they are sought after by the soul—sought, that is, as things congenial though not veritably good while yet, as belonging to that order not to be rejected; the related if not good is shunned in spite of that relationship and even remote and ignobler things may at times prove attractive.
The intense love called forth by Life and Intellectual-Principle is due not to what they are but to the consideration of their nature as something apart, received from above themselves.
Material forms containing light incorporated in them need still a light apart from them that their own light may be manifest; just so the Beings of that sphere, all lightsome, need another and a lordlier light or even they would not be visible to themselves and beyond.
That light known, then indeed we are stirred towards those Beings in longing and rejoicing over the radiance about them, just as earthly love is not for the material form but for the Beauty manifested upon it. Every one of those Beings exists for itself but becomes an object of desire by the colour cast upon it from The Good, source of those graces and of the love they evoke. The soul taking that outflow from the divine is stirred; seized with a Bacchic passion, goaded by these goads, it becomes Love. Before that, even Intellectual-Principle with all its loveliness did not stir the soul; for that beauty is dead until it take the light of The Good, and the soul lies supine, cold to all, unquickened even to Intellectual-Principle there before it. But when there enters into it a glow from the divine, it gathers strength, awakens, spreads true wings, and however urged by its nearer environing, speeds its buoyant way elsewhere, to something greater to its memory: so long as there exists anything loftier than the near, its very nature bears it upwards, lifted by the giver of that love. Beyond Intellectual-Principle it passes but beyond The Good it cannot, for nothing stands above That. Let it remain in Intellectual-Principle and it sees the lovely and august, but it is not there possessed of all it sought; the face it sees is beautiful no doubt but not of power to hold its gaze because lacking in the radiant grace which is the bloom upon beauty.
Even here we have to recognise that beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself and is that which truly calls out our love.
Why else is there more of the glory of beauty upon the living and only some faint trace of it upon the dead though the face yet retains all its fulness and symmetry? Why are the most living portraits the most beautiful, even though the others happen to be more symmetric? Why is the living ugly more attractive than the sculptured handsome? It is that the one is more nearly what we are looking for, and this because there is soul there, because there is more of the Idea of The Good, because there is some glow of the light of The Good and this illumination awakens and lifts the soul and all that goes with it so that the whole man is won over to goodness, and in the fullest measure stirred to life.
That which soul must quest, that which sheds its light upon Intellectual-Principle, leaving its mark wherever it falls, surely we need not wonder that it be of power to draw to itself, calling back from every wandering to rest before it. From it came all and so there is nothing mightier; all is feeble before it. Of all things the best, must it not be The Good? If by The Good we mean the principle most wholly self-sufficing, utterly without need of any other, what can it be but this? Before all the rest it was what it was, when evil had yet no place in things.
If evil is a Later, there found where there is no trace of This—among the very ultimates, so that on the downward side evil has no beyond—then to This evil stands full contrary with no linking intermediate: This therefore is The Good: either good there is none, or if there must be, This and no other is it.
And to deny the good would be to deny evil also; there can then be no difference in objects coming up for choice: but that is untenable.
To This looks all else that passes for good; This, to nothing.
What then does it effect out of its greatness?
It has produced Intellectual-Principle, it has produced Life, the souls which Intellectual-Principle sends forth and everything else that partakes of Reason, of Intellectual-Principle or of Life. Source and spring of so much, how describe its goodness and greatness?
But what does it effect now?
Even now it is preserver of what it produced; by it the Intellectual Beings have their Intellection and the living their life; it breathes Intellect in, breathes Life in and, where life is impossible, existence.
But ourselves—how does it touch us?
We may recall what we have said of the nature of the light shining from it into Intellectual-Principle and so by participation into the soul. But for the moment let us leave that aside and put another question:—
Does The Good hold that nature and name because some outside thing finds it desirable? May we put it that a thing desirable to one is good to that one and that what is desirable to all is to be recognised as The Good?
No doubt this universal questing would make the goodness evident but still there must be in the nature something to earn that name.
Further, is the questing determined by the hope of some acquisition or by sheer delight? If there is acquisition, what is it? If it is a matter of delight, why here rather than in something else?
The question comes to this:—Is goodness in the appropriate or in something apart, and is The Good good as regards itself also or good only as possessed?
Any good is such, necessarily, not for itself but for something outside.
But to what nature is This good? There is a nature to which nothing is good.
And we must not overlook what some surly critic will surely bring up against us:—
What’s all this: you scatter praises here, there and everywhere: Life is good, Intellectual-Principle is good: and yet The Good is above them; how then can Intellectual-Principle itself be good? Or what do we gain by seeing the Ideas themselves if we see only a particular Idea and nothing else (nothing “substantial”)? If we are happy here we may be deceived into thinking life a good when it is merely pleasant; but suppose our lot unhappy, why should we speak of good? Is mere personal existence good? What profit is there in it? What is the advantage in existence over utter non-existence—unless goodness is to be founded upon our love of self? It is the deception rooted in the nature of things and our dread of dissolution that lead to all the “goods” of your positing.
It is in view, probably, of this difficulty that Plato in the Philebus makes pleasure an element in the Term; the good is not defined as a simplex or set in Intellectual-Principle alone; while he rightly refrains from identifying the good with the pleasant, yet he does not allow Intellectual-Principle, foreign to pleasure, to be The Good, since he sees no attractive power in it. He may also have had in mind that the good, to answer to its name, must be a thing of delight and that an object of pursuit must at least hold some pleasure for those that acquire and possess it, so that where there is no joy the good too is absent, further that pleasure, implying pursuit, cannot pertain to the First and that therefore good cannot.
All this was very well; there the enquiry was not as to the Primal Good but as to ours; the good dealt with in that passage pertains to very different beings and therefore is a different good; it is a good falling short of that higher; it is a mingled thing; we are to understand that good does not hold place in the One and Alone whose being is too great and different for that.
The good must, no doubt, be a thing pursued, not, however, good because it is pursued but pursued because it is good.
The solution, it would seem, lies in priority:—
To the lowest of things the good is its immediate higher; each step represents the good to what stands lower so long as the movement does not tend awry but advances continuously towards the superior: thus there is a halt at the Ultimate, beyond which no ascent is possible: that is the First Good, the authentic, the supremely sovran, the source of good to the rest of things.
Matter would have Forming-Idea for its good, since were it conscious it would welcome that; body would look to soul, without which it could not be or endure; soul must look to virtue; still higher stands Intellectual-Principle; above that again is the principle we call the Primal. Each of these progressive priors must have act upon those minors to which they are, respectively, the good: some will confer order and place, others life, others wisdom and the good life: Intellectual-Principle will draw upon the Authentic Good which we hold to be coterminous with it, both as being an Activity put forth from it and as even now taking light from it. This good we will define later.
Any conscious being if the good come to him will know the good and affirm his possession of it.
But what if one be deceived?
In that case there must be some resemblance to account for the error: the good will be the original which the delusion counterfeited and whenever the true presents itself we turn from the spurious.
All the striving, all the pain, show that to everything something is a good: the lifeless finds its share in something outside itself; where there is life the longing for good sets up pursuit; the very dead are cared for and mourned for by the living; the living plan for their own good. The witness of attainment is betterment, cleaving to state, satisfaction, settlement, suspension of pursuit. Here pleasure shows itself inadequate: its choice does not hold; repeated, it is no longer the same; it demands endless novelty. The good, worthy of the name, can be no such tasting of the casual; anyone that takes this kind of thing for the good goes empty, carrying away nothing but an emotion which the good might have produced. No one could be content to take his pleasure thus in an emotion over a thing not possessed any more than over a child not there; I cannot think that those setting their good in bodily satisfactions find table-pleasure without the meal or love-pleasure without intercourse with their chosen or any pleasure where nothing is done.
But what is that whose entry supplies every such need?
Some Idea, we maintain. There is a Form to which Matter aspires: to soul moral excellence is this Form.
But is this Form a good to the thing as being apt to it, does the striving aim at the apt?
No: the aptest would be the most resemblant to the thing itself, but that, however sought and welcomed, does not suffice for the good: the good must be something more: to be a good to another a thing must have something beyond aptness; that only can be adopted as the good which represents the apt in its better form and is best to what is best in the quester’s self, to that which the quester tends potentially to be.
A thing is potentially that to which its nature looks; this, obviously, it lacks; what it lacks, of its better, is its good. Matter is of all the most in need; its next is the lowest Form; Form at lowest is just one grade higher than Matter. If a thing is a good to itself, much more must its perfection, its Form, its better, be a good to it; this better, good in its own nature, must be good also to the quester whose good it procures.
But why should the Form which makes a thing good be a good to that thing? As being most appropriate?
No: but because it is, itself, a portion of the Good. This is why the least alloyed and nearest to the good are most at peace within themselves.
It is surely out of place to ask why a thing good in its own nature should be a good; we can hardly suppose it dissatisfied with its own goodness so that it must strain outside its essential quality to the good which it effectually is.
There remains the question with regard to the Simplex: where there is utter absence of distinction does this self-aptness constitute the good to that Simplex?
If thus far we have been right, the striving of the lower possesses itself of the good as of a thing resident in a certain Kind and it is not the striving that constitutes the good but the good that calls out the striving: where the good is attained something is acquired and on this acquisition there follows pleasure. But the thing must be chosen even though no pleasure ensued; it must be desirable for its own sake.
Now to see what all this reasoning has established:—
Universally what approaches as a good is a Form; Matter itself contains this good which is Form: are we to conclude that if Matter had will it would desire to be Form unalloyed?
No: that would be desiring its own destruction for the good seeks to subject everything to itself. But perhaps Matter would not wish to remain at its own level but would prefer to attain Being and, this acquired, to lay aside its evil.
If we are asked how the evil thing can have tendency towards the good, we answer that we have not attributed tendency to Matter; our argument needed the hypothesis of sensation in Matter—in so far as possible consistently with retention of its character—and we asserted that the entry of Form, that dream of the Good, must raise it to a nobler order. If then Matter is Evil, there is no more to be said; if it is something else—a wrong thing, let us say—then in the hypothesis that its essence acquire sensation would not the appropriate upon the next or higher plane be its good, as in the other cases? But not what is evil in Matter would be the quester of good but that element in it (lowest Form) which in it is associated with evil.
But if Matter by very essence is evil how could it choose the good?
This question implies that if Evil were self-conscious it would admire itself: but how can the unadmirable be admired; and did we not discover that the good must be apt to the nature?
There that question may rest. But if universally the good is Form and the higher the ascent the more there is of Form—Soul more truly Form than body is and phases of soul progressively of higher Form and Intellectual-Principle standing as Form to soul collectively—then the Good advances by the opposite of Matter and, therefore, by a cleansing and casting away to the utmost possible at each stage: and the greatest good must be there where all that is of Matter has disappeared. The Principle of Good rejecting Matter entirely—or rather never having come near it at any point or in any way—must hold itself aloft with that Formless in which Primal Form takes its origin. But we will return to this.
Suppose, however, that pleasure did not result from the good but there were something preceding pleasure and accounting for it, would not this be a thing to be embraced?
But when we say “to be embraced” we say “pleasure.”
But what if accepting its existence, we think of that existence as leaving still the possibility that it were not a thing to be embraced?
This would mean the good being present and the sentient possessor failing, nonetheless, to perceive it.
It would seem possible, however, to perceive and yet be unmoved by the possession; this is quite likely in the case of the wiser and least dependent—and indeed it is so with the First, immune not merely because simplex, but because pleasure by acquisition implies lack.
But all this will become clear on the solution of our remaining difficulties and the rebuttal of the argument brought up against us. This takes the form of the question: What gain is there in the Good to one who, fully conscious, feels nothing when he hears of these things, whether because he has no grasp of them but takes merely the words or because he holds to false values, perhaps being all in search of sense, finding his good in money or such things.
The answer is that even in his disregard of the good proposed he is with us in setting a good before him but fails to see how the good we define fits into his own conception. It is impossible to say “Not that” if one is utterly without experience or conception of the “That”; there will generally have been, even, some inkling of the good beyond Intellection. Besides, one attaining or approaching the good but not recognising it may assure himself in the light of its contraries; otherwise he will not even hold ignorance an evil though everyone prefers to know and is proud of knowing so that our very sensations seek to ripen into knowledge.
If the knowing principle—and specially primal Intellectual-Principle—is valuable and beautiful, what must be present to those of power to see the Author and Father of Intellect? Anyone thinking slightingly of this principle of Life and Being brings evidence against himself and all his state: of course distaste for the life that is mingled with death does not touch that Life Authentic.
Whether pleasure must enter into the good, so that life in the contemplation of the divine things and especially of their source remains still imperfect, is a question not to be ignored in any enquiry into the nature of the good.
Now to found the good upon the Intellect and upon that state of soul or mind which springs from wisdom does not imply that the end or the absolute good is the conjunction (of Intellect and state): it would follow merely that Intellect is the good and that we feel happy in possession of that good. That is one theory; another associates pleasure with Intellect in the sense that the Good is taken to be some one thing founded upon both but depending upon our attaining or at least contemplating an Intellect so modified; this theory would maintain that the isolated and unrelated could be the good, could be an object of desire.
But how could Intellect and pleasure combine into one mutually complementary nature?
Bodily pleasure no one, certainly, would think capable of blending in with Intellect; the unreasoning satisfactions of soul (or lower mind) are equally incompatible with it.
Every activity, state and life, will be followed and as it were escorted by the overdwelling consciousness; sometimes as these take their natural course they will be met by hindrance and by intrusion of the conflicting so that the life is the less self-guided; sometimes the natural activity is unmixed, wholly free, and then the life goes brilliantly; this last state is judged the pleasantest, the most to be chosen; so, for lack of an accurate expression, we hear of “Intellect in conjunction with pleasure.” But this is no more than metaphor, like a hundred others drawn by the poets from our natural likings—“Drunk with nectar,” “To banquet and feast,” “The Father smiled.” No: the veritably pleasant lies away in that other realm, the most to be loved and sought for, not something brought about and changing but the very principle of all the colour and radiance and brightness found here. This is why we read of “Truth introduced into the Mixture” and of the “measuring standard as a prior condition” and are told that the symmetry and beauty necessary to the Mixture come Thence into whatever has beauty; it is in this way that we have our share in Beauty; but in another way, also, we achieve the truly desirable, that is by leading our selves up to what is best within us; this best is what is symmetry, beauty, collective Idea, life clear, Intellective and good.
But since Thence come the beauty and light in all, it is Thence that Intellectual-Principle took the brilliance of the Intellectual Energy which flashed Nature into being; Thence soul took power towards life, in virtue of that fuller life streaming into it. Intellectual-Principle was raised thus to that Supreme and remains with it, happy in that presence. Soul too, that soul which as possessing knowledge and vision was capable, clung to what it saw; and as its vision so its rapture; it saw and was stricken; but having in itself something of that principle it felt its kinship and was moved to longing like those stirred by the image of the beloved to desire of the veritable presence. Lovers here mould themselves to the beloved; they seek to increase their attraction of person and their likeness of mind; they are unwilling to fall short in moral quality or in other graces lest they be distasteful to those possessing such merit—and only among such can true love be. In the same way the soul loves the Supreme Good, from its very beginnings stirred by it to love. The soul which has never strayed from this love waits for no reminding from the beauty of our world: holding that love—perhaps unawares—it is ever in quest, and, in its longing to be borne Thither, passes over what is lovely here and with one glance at the beauty of the universe dismisses all; for it sees that all is put together of flesh and Matter, befouled by its housing, made fragmentary by corporal extension, not the Authentic Beauty which could never venture into the mud of body to be soiled, annulled.
By only noting the flux of things it knows at once that from elsewhere comes the beauty that floats upon them and so it is urged Thither, passionate in pursuit of what it loves: never—unless someone robs it of that love—never giving up till it attain.
There indeed all it saw was beautiful and veritable; it grew in strength by being thus filled with the life of the True; itself becoming veritable Being and attaining veritable knowledge, it enters by that neighbouring into conscious possession of what it has long been seeking.
Where, then? where exists the author of this beauty and life, the begetter of the veritable?
You see the splendour over the things of the universe with all the variety begotten of the Ideas; well might we linger here: but amid all these things of beauty we cannot but ask whence they come and whence the beauty. This source can be none of the beautiful objects; were it so, it too would be a thing of parts. It can be no shape, no power, nor the total of powers and shapes that have had the becoming that has set them here; it must stand above all the powers, all the patterns. The origin of all this must be the formless—formless not as lacking shape but as the very source of even shape Intellectual.
In the realm of process anything coming to be must come to be something; to every thing its distinctive shape: but what shape can that have which no one has shaped? It can be none of existing things; yet it is all: none, in that beings are later; all, as the wellspring from which they flow. That which can make all can have, itself, no extension; it must be limitless and so without magnitude; magnitude itself is of the Later and cannot be an element in that which is to bring it into being. The greatness of the Authentic cannot be a greatness of quantity; all extension must belong to the subsequent: the Supreme is great in the sense only that there can be nothing mightier, nothing to equal it, nothing with anything in common with it: how then could anything be equal to any part of its content? Its eternity and universal reach entail neither measure nor measurelessness; given either, how could it be the measure of things? So with shape: granted beauty, the absence of shape or form to be grasped is but enhancement of desire and love; the love will be limitless as the object is, an infinite love.
Its beauty, too, will be unique, a beauty above beauty: it cannot be beauty since it is not a thing among things. It is lovable and the author of beauty; as the power to all beautiful shape, it will be the ultimate of beauty, that which brings all loveliness to be; it begets beauty and makes it yet more beautiful by the excess of beauty streaming from itself, the source and height of beauty. As the source of beauty it makes beautiful whatsoever springs from it. And this conferred beauty is not itself in shape; the thing that comes to be is without shape, though in another sense shaped; what is denoted by shape is, in itself, an attribute of something else, shapeless at first. Not the beauty but its participant takes the shape.
When therefore we name beauty, all such shape must be dismissed; nothing visible is to be conceived, or at once we descend from beauty to what but bears the name in virtue of some faint participation. This formless Form is beautiful as Form, beautiful in proportion as we strip away all shape even that given in thought to mark difference, as for instance the difference between Justice and Sophrosyny, beautiful in their difference.
The Intellectual-Principle is the less for seeing things as distinct even in its act of grasping in unity the multiple content of its Intellectual realm; in its knowing of the particular it possesses itself of one Intellectual shape; but, even thus, in this dealing with variety as unity, it leaves us still with the question how we are to envisage that which stands beyond this all-lovely, beyond this principle at once multiple and above multiplicity, the Supreme for which the soul hungers though unable to tell why such a being should stir its longing—reason, however, urging that This at last is the Authentic Term because the Nature best and most to be loved may be found there only where there is no least touch of Form. Bring something under Form and present it so before the mind; immediately we ask what Beyond imposed that shape; reason answers that while there exists the giver having shape to give—a giver that is shape, idea, an entirely measured thing—yet this is not alone, is not adequate in itself, is not beautiful in its own right but is a mingled thing. Shape and idea and measure will always be beautiful, but the Authentic Beauty and the Beyond-Beauty cannot be under measure and therefore cannot have admitted shape or be Idea: the primal existent, The First, must be without Form; the beauty in it must be, simply, the Nature of the Intellectual Good.
Take an example from love: so long as the attention is upon the visible form, love has not entered: when from that outward form the lover elaborates within himself, in his own partless soul, an immaterial image, then it is that love is born, then the lover longs for the sight of the beloved to make that fading image live again. If he could but learn to look elsewhere, to the more nearly formless, his longing would be for that: his first experience was loving a great luminary by way of some thin gleam from it.
Shape is an impress from the unshaped; it is the unshaped that produces shape not shape the unshaped; and Matter is needed for the producing; Matter, in the nature of things, is the furthest away, since of itself it has not even the lowest degree of shape. Thus lovableness does not belong to Matter but to that which draws upon Form: the Form upon Matter comes by way of soul; soul is more nearly Form and therefore more lovable; Intellectual Principle, nearer still, is even more to be loved: by these steps we are led to know that the First Principle, principle of Beauty, must be formless.
No longer can we wonder that the principle evoking such longing should be utterly free from shape. The very soul, once it has conceived the straining love towards this, lays aside all the shape it has taken, even to the Intellectual shape that has informed it. There is no vision, no union, for those handling or acting by any thing other; the soul must see before it neither evil nor good nor anything else, that alone it may receive the Alone.
Suppose the soul to have attained: the highest has come to her, or rather has revealed its presence; she has turned away from all about her and made herself apt, beautiful to the utmost, brought into likeness with the divine—by those preparings and adornings which come unbidden to those growing ready for the vision—she has seen that presence suddenly manifesting within her, for there is nothing between: here is no longer a duality but a two in one; for, so long as the presence holds, all distinction fades: it is as lover and beloved here, in a copy of that union, long to blend; the soul has now no further awareness of being in body and will give herself no foreign name, not man, not living being, not being, not all; any observation of such things falls away; the soul has neither time nor taste for them; This she sought and This she has found and on This she looks and not upon herself; and who she is that looks she has not leisure to know. Once There she will barter for This nothing the universe holds; not though one would make over the heavens entire to her; than This there is nothing higher, nothing of more good; above This there is no passing; all the rest however lofty lies on the downgoing path: she is of perfect judgement and knows that This was her quest, that nothing higher is. Here can be no deceit; where could she come upon truer than the truth? and the truth she affirms, that she is, herself; but all the affirmation is later and is silent. In this happiness she knows beyond delusion that she is happy; for this is no affirmation of an excited body but of a soul become again what she was in the time of her early joy. All that she had welcomed of old,—office, power, wealth, beauty, knowledge—of all she tells her scorn as she never could had she not found their better; linked to This she can fear no disaster nor even know it; let all about her fall to pieces, so she would have it that she may be wholly with This, so huge the happiness she has won to.
Such in this union is the soul’s temper that even the act of Intellect once so intimately loved she now dismisses; Intellection is movement and she has no wish to move she has nothing to say of this very Intellectual-Principle by means of which she has attained the vision, herself made over into Intellectual-Principle and becoming that principle so as to be able to take stand in that Intellectual space. Entered there and making herself over to that, she at first contemplates that realm, but once she sees that higher still she leaves all else aside. Thus when a man enters a house rich in beauty he might gaze about and admire the varied splendour before the master appears; but, face to face with that great person—no thing of ornament but calling for the truest attention—he would ignore everything else and look only to the master. In this state of absorbed contemplation there is no longer question of holding an object: the vision is continuous so that seeing and seen are one thing; object and act of vision have become identical; of all that until then filled the eye no memory remains. And our comparison would be closer if instead of a man appearing to the visitor who had been admiring the house it were a god, and not a god manifesting to the eyes but one filling the soul.
Intellectual-Principle, thus, has two powers, first that of grasping intellectively its own content, the second that of an advancing and receiving whereby to know its transcendent; at first it sees, later by that seeing it takes possession of Intellectual-Principle, becoming one only thing with that: the first seeing is that of Intellect knowing, the second that of Intellect loving; stripped of its wisdom in the intoxication of the nectar, it comes to love; by this excess it is made simplex and is happy; and to be drunken is better for it than to be too staid for these revels.
But is its vision parcelwise, thing here and thing there?
No; reason unravelling gives process; Intellectual-Principle has unbroken knowledge and has, moreover, an Act unattended by knowing, a vision by another approach. In this seeing of the Supreme it becomes pregnant and at once knows what has come to be within it; its knowledge of its content is what is designated by its Intellection; its knowing of the Supreme is the virtue of that power within it by which, in a later (lower) stage it is to become “Intellective.”
As for soul, it attains that vision by—so to speak—confounding and annulling the Intellectual-Principle within it; or rather that Principle immanent in soul sees first and thence the vision penetrates to soul and the two visions become one.
The Good spreading out above them and adapting itself to that union which it hastens to confirm is present to them as giver of a blessed sense and sight; so high it lifts them that they are no longer in space or in that realm of difference where everything is rooted in some other thing; for The Good is not in place but is the container of the Intellectual place; The Good is in nothing but itself.
The soul now knows no movement since the Supreme knows none; it is now not even soul since the Supreme is not in life but above life; it is no longer Intellectual-Principle for the Supreme has not Intellection and the likeness must be perfect; this grasping is not even by Intellection for the Supreme is not known Intellectively.
We need not carry this matter further; we turn to a question already touched but demanding still some brief consideration.
Knowledge of The Good or contact with it, is the all-important: this—we read—is the grand learning, the learning we are to understand, not of looking towards it but attaining, first, some knowledge of it. We come to this learning by analogies, by abstractions, by our understanding of its subsequents, of all that is derived from The Good, by the upward steps towards it. Purification has The Good for goal; so the virtues, all right ordering, ascent within the Intellectual, settlement therein, banqueting upon the divine—by these methods one becomes, to self and to all else, at once seen and seer; identical with Being and Intellectual-Principle and the entire living all, we no longer see the Supreme as an external; we are near now, the next is That and it is close at hand, radiant above the Intellectual.
Here, we put aside all the learning; disciplined to this pitch, established in beauty, the quester holds knowledge still of the ground he rests on but, suddenly, swept beyond it all by the very crest of the wave of Intellect surging beneath, he is lifted and sees, never knowing how; the vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not a light showing some other object, the light is itself the vision. No longer is there thing seen and light to show it, no longer Intellect and object of Intellection; this is the very radiance that brought both Intellect and Intellectual object into being for the later use and allowed them to occupy the quester’s mind. With This he himself becomes identical, with that radiance whose Act is to engender Intellectual-Principle, not losing in that engendering but for ever unchanged, the engendered coming to be simply because that Supreme exists. If there were no such principle above change no derivative could rise.
Those ascribing Intellection to the First have not supposed him to know the lesser, the emanant—though, indeed, some have thought it impossible that he should not know everything. But those denying his knowing of the lesser have still attributed self-knowing to him, because they find nothing nobler; we are to suppose that so he is the more august, as if Intellection were something nobler than his own manner of being not something whose value derives from him.
But we ask in what must his grandeur lie, in his Intellection or in himself. If in the Intellection, he has no worth or the less worth; if in himself, he is perfect before the Intellection not perfected by it. We may be told that he must have Intellection because he is an Act, not a potentiality. Now if this means that he is an essence eternally intellective, he is represented as a duality—essence and Intellective Act—he ceases to be a simplex; an external has been added: it is just as the eyes are not the same as their sight though the two are inseparable. If on the other hand by this actualisation it is meant that he is Act and Intellection, then as being Intellection he does not exercise it, just as movement is not itself in motion.
But do not we ourselves assert that the Beings There are essence and Act?
The Beings, yes, but they are to us manifold and differentiated: the First we make a simplex; to us Intellection begins with the emanant in its seeking of its essence, of itself, of its author; bent inward for this vision and having a present thing to know, there is every reason why it should be a principle of Intellection; but that which, never coming into being, has no prior but is ever what it is, how could that have motive to Intellection? As Plato rightly says it is above Intellect.
An Intelligence not exercising Intellection would be unintelligent; where the nature demands knowing, not to know is to fail of intelligence; but where there is no function, why import one and declare a defect because it is not performed? We might as well complain because the Supreme does not act as a physician. He has no task, we hold, because nothing can present itself to him to be done; he is sufficient; he need seek nothing beyond himself, he who is over all; to himself and to all he suffices by simply being what he is.
And yet this “He Is” does not truly apply: the Supreme has no need of Being: even “He is good” does not apply since it indicates Being: the “is” should not suggest something predicated of another thing; it is to state identity. The word “good” used of him is not a predicate asserting his possession of goodness; it conveys an identification. It is not that we think it exact to call him either good or The Good: it is that sheer negation does not indicate; we use the term The Good to assert identity without the affirmation of Being.
But how admit a Principle void of self-knowledge, self-awareness; surely the First must be able to say “I possess Being?”
But he does not possess Being.
Then, at least he must say “I am good?”
No: once more, that would be an affirmation of Being.
But surely he may affirm merely the goodness, adding nothing: the goodness would be taken without the being and all duality avoided?
No: such self-awareness as good must inevitably carry the affirmation “I am the Good”; otherwise there would be merely the unattached conception of goodness with no recognition of identity; any such intellection would inevitably include the affirmation “I am.”
If that intellection were the Good, then the intellection would not be self-intellection but intellection of the Good; not the Supreme but that intellection would be the Good: if on the contrary that intellection of the Good is distinct from the Good, at once the Good exists before its knowing; all-sufficiently good in itself, it needs none of that knowing of its own nature.
Thus the Supreme does not know itself as Good.
As what then?
No such foreign matter is present to it: it can have only an immediate intuition self-directed.
Since the Supreme has no interval, no self-differentiation, what can have this intuitional approach to it but itself? Therefore it quite naturally assumes difference at the point where Intellectual-Principle and Being are differentiated.
Intellect, to act at all, must inevitably comport difference with identity; otherwise it could not distinguish itself from its object by standing apart from it, nor could it ever be aware of the realm of things whose existence demands otherness, nor could there be so much as a duality.
Again, if the Supreme is to have intellection it cannot know only itself; that would not be intellection, for, if it did know itself, nothing could prevent it knowing all things; but this is impossible. With self-intellection it would no longer be simplex; any intellection, even in the Supreme, must be aware of something distinct; as we have been saying, the inability to see the self as external is the negation of intellection. That act requires a manifold—agent, object, movement and all the other conditions of a thinking principle. Further we must remember what has been indicated elsewhere that, since every intellectual act in order to be what it must be requires variety, every movement simple and the same throughout, though it may comport some form of contact, is devoid of the intellective.
It follows that the Supreme will know neither itself nor anything else but will hold an august repose. All the rest is later; before them all, This was what This was; any awareness of that other would be acquired, the shifting knowledge of the instable. Even in knowing the stable he would be manifold for it is not possible that, while in the act of knowing the laters possess themselves of their object, the Supreme should know only in some unpossessing observation.
As regards Providence, that is sufficiently saved by the fact that This is the source from which all proceeds; the dependent he cannot know when he has no knowledge of himself but keeps that august repose. Plato dealing with essential Being allows it intellection but not this august repose: intellection then belongs to Essential Being; this august repose to the Principle in which there is no intellection. Repose, of course, is used here for want of a fitter word; we are to understand that the most august, the truly so, is That which transcends (the movement of) Intellection.
That there can be no intellection in the First will be patent to those that have had such contact; but some further confirmation is desirable, if indeed words can carry the matter; we need overwhelming persuasion.
It must be borne in mind that all intellection rises in some principle and takes cognisance of an object. But a distinction is to be made:—
There is the intellection that remains within its place of origin; it has that source as substratum but becomes a sort of addition to it in that it is an activity of that source perfecting the potentiality there, not by producing anything but as being a completing power to the principle in which it inheres. There is also the intellection inbound with Being—Being’s very author—and this could not remain confined to the source since there it could produce nothing; it is a power to production; it produces therefore of its own motion and its act is Real-Being and there it has its dwelling. In this mode the intellection is identical with Being; even in its self-intellection no distinction is made save the logical distinction of thinker and thought with, as we have often observed, the implication of plurality.
This is a first activity and the substance it produces is Essential Being; it is an image, but of an original so great that the very copy stands a reality. If instead of moving outward it remained with the First, it would be no more than some appurtenance of that First, not a self-standing existent.
As the earliest activity and earliest intellection it can be preceded by no act or intellection: if we pass beyond this being and this intellection we come not to more being and more intellection but to what overpasses both, to the wonderful which has neither, asking nothing of these products and standing its unaccompanied self.
That all-transcending cannot have had an activity by which to produce this activity—acting before act existed—or have had thought in order to produce thinking—applying thought before thought exists—all intellection, even of the Good, is beneath it.
In sum, this intellection of the Good is impossible: I do not mean that it is impossible to have intellection of the Good—we may admit the possibility but there can be no intellection by The Good itself, for this would be to include the inferior with the Good.
If intellection is the lower, then it will be bound up with Being; if intellection is the higher, its object is lower. Intellection, then, does not exist in the Good; as a lesser, taking its worth through that Good, it must stand apart from it, leaving the Good unsoiled by it as by all else. Immune from intellection the Good remains incontaminably what it is, not impeded by the presence of the intellectual act which would annual its purity and unity.
Anyone making the Good at once Thinker and Thought identifies it with Being and with the Intellection vested in Being so that it must perform that act of intellection: at once it becomes necessary to find another principle, one superior to that Good: for either this act, this intellection, is a completing power of some such principle, serving as its ground, or it points, by that duality, to a prior principle having intellection as a characteristic. It is because there is something before it that it has an object of intellection; even in its self-intellection it may be said to know its content by its vision of that prior.
What has no prior and no external accompaniment could have no intellection, either of itself or of anything else. What could it aim at, what desire? To essay its power of knowing? But this would make the power something outside itself; there would be, I mean, the power it grasped and the power by which it grasped: if there is but the one power, what is there to grasp at?
Intellection seems to have been given as an aid to the diviner but weaker beings, an eye to the blind. But the eye itself need not see Being since it is itself the light; what must take the light through the eye needs the light because of its darkness. If then intellection is the light and light does not need the light, surely that brilliance (The First) which does not need light can have no need of intellection, will not add this to its nature.
What could it do with intellection? What could even intellection need and add to itself for the purpose of its act? It has no self-awareness; there is no need. It is no duality but, rather, a manifold, consisting of itself, its intellective act, distinct from itself, and the inevitable third, the object of intellection. No doubt since knower, knowing and known are identical, all merges into a unity: but the distinction has existed and, once more, such a unity cannot be the First; we must put away all otherness from the Supreme which can need no such support; anything we add is so much lessening of what lacks nothing.
To us intellection is a boon since the soul needs it; to the Intellectual-Principle it is appropriate as being one thing with the very essence of the principle constituted by the Intellectual Act so that principle and act coincide in a continuous self-consciousness carrying the assurance of identity, of the unity of the two. But pure unity must be independent, in need of no such assurance.
“Know yourself” is a precept for those who, being manifold, have the task of appraising themselves so as to become aware of the number and nature of their constituents, some or all of which they ignore as they ignore their very principle and their manner of being. The First on the contrary if it have content must exist in a way too great to have any knowledge, intellection, perception of it. To itself it is nothing; accepting nothing, self-sufficing, it is not even a good to itself: to others it is good for they have need of it; but it could not lack itself: it would be absurd to suppose The Good standing in need of goodness.
It does not see itself: seeing aims at acquisition: all this it abandons to the subsequent: in fact nothing found elsewhere can be There; even Being cannot be There. Nor therefore has it intellection which is a thing of the lower sphere where the first intellection, the only true, is identical with Being. Reason, perception, intelligence, none of these can have place in that Principle in which no presence can be affirmed.
Faced by the difficulty of placing these powers, you must in reason allocate to the secondaries what you count august: secondaries must not be foisted upon the First or tertiaries upon the secondaries. Secondaries are to be ranged under the First, tertiaries under the secondaries: this is giving everything its place, the later dependent on their priors, those priors free.
This is included in that true saying “About the King of All, all has being and in view of Him all is”: we are to understand from the attribution of all things to Him, and from the words “in view of Him” that He is their cause and they reach to Him as to something differing from them all and containing nothing that they contain: for certainly His very nature requires that nothing of the later be in Him.
Thus, Intellectual-Principle, finding place in the universe, cannot have place in Him. Where we read that He is the cause of all beauty we are clearly to understand that beauty depends upon the Forms, He being set above all that is beautiful here. The Forms are in that passage secondaries, their sequels being attached to them as dependent thirds: it is clear thus that by the products of the thirds is meant this world, dependent upon soul.
Soul dependent upon Intellectual-Principle and Intellectual-Principle upon the Good, all is linked to the Supreme by intermediaries, some close, some nearing those of the closer attachment, while the order of sense stands remotest, dependent upon soul.