Front Page Titles (by Subject) III: The Soul in Relation to its Prior, to The Intellectual-Principle - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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III: The Soul in Relation to its Prior, to 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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The Soul in Relation to its Prior, to The Intellectual-Principle
V. 1, 3. Since your Soul is so exalted a power, so divine, be confident that in virtue of its possession you are close to God. Begin, therefore, with the help of this Principle, to make your way to Him: you have not far to go; there is not much between. Lay hold of that which is more divine than this godlike thing, lay hold of that Summit of the Soul which borders on the Supreme from which the Soul immediately derives, the Intellectual-Principle of which the Soul, glorious Principle though we have shown it to be, is but an image.
For as the spoken thought is an image of the thought that was in the Soul, so the Soul is an image (or thought) of the Intellectual-Principle and is the entire activity by which the Intellectual-Principle sends forth life to the producing of later forms of Being: fire contains a warmth ever within itself and a warmth which it sends forth to do its work (and so Divine-Mind both has its own inner Act and sends forth a creative force, the Soul).
We are to take the Soul now in its loftier phase, not as an emanation, merely, but as eternally a member of the Supreme, even though in part it operates, also, elsewhere.
Springing from the Intellectual-Principle (n) it is intellective, operating in the sphere of the Divine Reason: it draws its perfection from this superior Principle which is like a cherishing father who has given it Existence though not a nature as perfect as his own.
The Soul’s substantial-existence springs from the Divine Intellect, and its expression in characteristic Act is effected by virtue of its vision of this Divine Intellect, for, as its vision penetrates into This, it possesses within itself, for its very own, what it sees no less than what it effects; nothing can be called an Act of the Soul but what it does after the mode of its intellective nature and, so, entirely in its own character: all that is lower than such act has another origin and is an accidental experience, merely.
The Soul becomes yet more divine through the Intellectual-Principle because This is at once its Father and its ever-present companion. Nothing separates the Soul and the Divine-Mind but that they are not one and identical, that the Soul is a subsequent and a recipient while the other is the Divine thing received: what serves as Matter to the Intellectual-Principle must be noble; it is itself intellective and simplex (n).
In fine, nothing more clearly shows the grandeur of Divine-Mind than that it is nobler than so noble a being as the Soul.
“Springing from the Intellectual-Principle”:—Many metaphors are used to indicate how the universe rises from its principles—cast down like light from the sun, flowing forth like water from a well, branching out like a tree from the root. That from which the Emanation takes place remains ever complete, undiminished:—
III. 8, 9. “Imagine a spring which has no commencement, giving itself to all the rivers, never exhausted by what they take, ever tranquilly its full self.”
Such is the exuberance of the First that it gives forth its Emanations without premeditation.
V. 2, 1. “The One is not a Being but the source of Being which is its first offspring. The One is perfect, that is it has nothing, seeks nothing, needs nothing, but, as we may say, it overflows, and this overflowing is creative: the engendered entity . . . looks towards the One and becomes The Intellectual-Principle; resting within itself, this offspring of the One is Being.”
No idea of time or of any motion or change may be admitted in reference to this Generative Act:—
V. 1, 6. Far from our thought be any generation in time when we treat of the Ever-Existents. . . . Nor may we attribute action to the Generator. If there were action this very action would have to be counted among the Divine Principles and the engendered Hypostasis (The Intellectual-Principle) would be a Third, not a Second. The First is immobile; any second must spring from it without any assent in It, apart from Its will, without any movement in It. . . . And all things that have Being, as long as that Being inheres to them, must by the virtue that is in them, give forth from their essence an hypostasis belonging to them but going forth to the outer while still closely linked to them, an image, as it were, of this original and archetype: fire thus gives forth its heat; snow does not keep its inner cold to itself; perfumes, too, may serve in illustration; as long as they exist they spread abroad something of themselves to the pleasure of all that are near.
All that has reached its perfection produces; The Eternally Perfect produces an eternal product, though a product of less perfection than Itself.
“Matter to the Intellectual-Principle”:— The Intelligible (or Intellectual)-Matter in the Divine Mind is explained in—
II. 4, 4. “If, then, the Divine Thought-Forms (The Ideas) are many, there must of necessity be something common to all and something peculiar to each to differentiate them: this particularity or specific difference is the individual shape; but if there is shape there must be something that has taken the shape . . . that is to say there is a foundation, substratum, a Matter. Further, if there is an Intellectual Kosmos of which our Kosmos is an image, and if ours is compound and includes Matter, there must be a Matter in the Intellectual Kosmos as well.