Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2.: THE INTELLECTUAL-PRINCIPLE - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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2.: THE INTELLECTUAL-PRINCIPLE - 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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This Divine-Thought is, of course, a Real-Being, the first “thing” of whom existence may, if only in some vaguer sense, be affirmed: it is an Intelligence, or rather is the Universal-Intelligence. As the act, offspring and image of The First, it is a sort of mediation to us of the Unknowable One. It is in the Greek named ho Noûs, which has often, perhaps not very happily, been translated Divine-Mind, sometimes Divine Intelligence or Divine-Intellection: in the present translation it is most often conveyed by the rather clumsy term, found in practice, expressive and convenient, “The Intellectual-Principle.”
In the English, it must be noted, as in the Greek, the same term is used for the parallel Principle and Act in man: in both realms, the divine and human, the Intellectual-Principle connotes the highest really knowable: often therefore to absorb the full mystical or religious suggestion of a passage the reader will find it expedient to re-translate, i.e. to substitute temporarily for the term “Intellectual-Principle,” the term Spirit, or despite the awkward clash, even the term “Supreme-Soul.”
With this Noûs, or Divine-Mind or Divine-Intellection, or Divine-Intellectual-Principle, begins the existence of Plurality or Complexity, or Multiplicity: the Divine Mind contains, or rather is, ta Noeta = the Intellectual-Universe or Intelligible-Universe, often known as The Intelligible or The Intelligibles.
The Intellectual or Intelligible-Universe is the Totality of the Divine-Thoughts, generally known, in the phrase familiar in Platonism, as The Ideas.
The Ideas, or Divine-Thoughts, are Real-Beings, Intelligences, Powers: they are the eternal Originals, Archetypes, Intellectual-Forms of all that exists in the lower spheres. In certain aspects this sphere of the Intelligibles would be best named The Spiritual Universe: Principal Caird agrees with Whittaker in finding it closely like Dante’s conception of the circle of angels and blessed spirits gathered in contemplation and service round the throne of God.
The Intellectual or Intelligible Universe contains, or even in some sense is, all particular minds or intelligences and these in their kinds are images, representations, phantasms, “shadows” of this Universal or Divine Mind. All the phases of existence—down even to Matter, the ultimate, the lowest faintest image of Real-Being—all are “ideally” present from eternity in this Realm of the divine Thoughts, this Totality of the Supreme Wisdom or “Mentation.”
The Supreme Intellectual-Principle cannot be unproductive: accompanying its Act of Thought there is what we may, coarsely, indicate as an Act of Act: the Divine-Thinking “engenders a power apt to the realisation of its Thought,” apt that is to “Creation”: This engendered power is the Third Hypostasis of the Divine Triad.