Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1.: the one - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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1.: the one - Plotinus, The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead [253 AD]
The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead, with Porphry’s Life of Plotinus, and the Preller-Ritter Extracts forming a Conspectus of the Plotinian System, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
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The First Hypostasis of the Supreme Divine Triad is variously named: often it is simply “The First.” Envisaged logically, or dialectically, it is The One. Morally seen, it is The Good: in various other uses or aspects it is The Simple, The Absolute, The Transcendence, The Infinite, The Unconditioned: it is sometimes The Father.
It is unknowable: its nature—or its Super-Nature, its Supra-Existence—is conveyed theoretically by the simple statement that it transcends all the knowable, practically most often by negation of all Quality: thus if we call it the Good, we do not intend any formal affirmation of a quality within itself; we mean only that it is the Goal or Term to which all aspires. When we affirm existence of it, we mean no more than that it does not fall within the realm of non-existents; it transcends even the quality of Being.
It is not the Creator: it is scarcely even to be rightly called the First-Cause: its lonely majesty rejects all such predication of action: in this realm of the unknowable the First-Cause is, strictly, a lower principle than The First, which is not to be spoken of in any terms of human thought.
We may utter no more of it—and then under infinite reserve, appealing always to a deep sense behind the words—than, that in an ineffable, Supra-Existence, it exists, that in an ineffable Super-Act, it acts, that it is everywhere, in the sense that without its Supra-Existence nothing could be, that it is nowhere in that it is loftily alien from all else. In so far as language and all the unconquerable force of human thought drive us to speak of it as a Cause, we must keep in mind that it is so only in that its Perfection implies an Act, a production, or, in a metaphor basic with Plotinus, a “generation” of something other than Itself: for Existence or Supra-Existence comports expressive Act. The most perfect form of expressive Act is Thought or Intellection: the Divine Existence, or Supra-Existence, produces, therefore, a Divine-Thought or Intellection.