Front Page Titles (by Subject) Matter - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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Matter - 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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As in Man before the organisation or shaping by the All-Soul, is the same as Matter everywhere else: there is a certain tendency to think of Matter as being “material,” e.g. in man as flesh or clay, in the world at large as some sort of powdery beginning or residue of things: this misconception must be carefully guarded out. “Matter,” says Jules Simon, “is rather a demand of thought than a reality of existence”: this is perhaps to state the case rashly, but it is certainly nearer to the true conception than is the notion the word conveys to the uninstructed mind.
Matter is the last, lowest and least emanation of the creative power of the All-Soul, or rather it is a little lower than that even: it is, to speak roughly, the point at which the creative or generative power comes to a halt; it is the Ultimate Possible, it is almost Non-Being; it would be Non-Being except that Absolute Non-Being is non-existent, impossible in a world emanating from the bounty of Being: often no doubt it is called Non-Being but this is not in strict definition but as a convenient expression of its utter, all-but infinite, remoteness from the Authentic-Existence to which, in the long line of descent, it owes its origin.
We are to think of it—as is indicated in the tract on Evil (I. 8)—as invisible, imperceptible to any sense, unknowable by any reach of the mind except by its negation of all that the mind can however feebly grasp, as utterly outside of the realm of form except in so far as feebly it stretches towards some determination in the universal pining of all things towards the Goodness and Wisdom from which however remotely all have sprung.