Front Page Titles (by Subject) FOURTH TRACTATE Problems of the Soul (II) - Ethical Treatises; the Books of the Fourth Ennead
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
FOURTH TRACTATE Problems of the Soul (II) - Plotinus, Ethical Treatises; the Books of the Fourth Ennead [253 AD]
Ethical Treatises; the Books of the Fourth Ennead, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
What, then, will be the Soul’s discourse, what its memories in the Intellectual Realm, when at last it has won its way to that Essence?
Obviously from what we have been saying, it will be in contemplation of that order, and have its Act upon the things among which it now is; failing such Contemplation and Act, its being is not there. Of things of earth it will know nothing; it will not, for example, remember an act of philosophic virtue, or even that in its earthly career it had contemplation of the Supreme.
When we seize anything in the direct intellectual act there is room for nothing else than to know and to contemplate the object; and in the knowing there is not included any previous knowledge; all such assertion of stage and progress belongs to the lower and is a sign of the altered; this means that, once purely in the Intellectual, no one of us can have any memory of our experience here. Further; if all intellection is timeless—as appears from the fact that the Intellectual beings are of eternity not of time—there can be no memory in the intellectual world, not merely none of earthly things but none whatever: all is presence There; for nothing passes away, there is no change from old to new.
This, however, does not alter the fact that distinction exists in that realm—downwards from the Supreme to the Ideas, upward from the Ideas to the Universal and to the Supreme. Admitting that the Highest, as a self-contained unity, has no outgoing effect, that does not prevent the soul which has attained to the Supreme from exerting its own characteristic Act: it certainly may have the intuition, not by stages and parts, of that Being which is without stage and part.
But that would be in the nature of grasping a pure unity?
No: in the nature of grasping all the intellectual facts of a many that constitutes a unity. For since the object of vision has variety (distinction within its essential oneness) the intuition must be multiple and the intuitions various, just as in a face we see at the one glance eyes and nose and all the rest.
But is not this impossible when the object to be thus divided and treated as a thing of grades, is a pure unity?
No: there has already been discrimination within the Intellectual-Principle; the Act of the soul is little more than a reading of this.
First and last is in the Ideas not a matter of time, and so does not bring time into the soul’s intuition of earlier and later among them. There is a grading by order as well: the ordered disposition of some growing thing begins with root and reaches to topmost point, but, to one seeing the plant as a whole, there is no other first and last than simply that of the order.
Still, the soul (in this intuition within the divine) looks to what is a unity; next it entertains multiplicity, all that is: how explain this grasping first of the unity and later of the rest?
The explanation is that the unity of this power (the Supreme) is such as to allow of its being multiple to another principle (the soul), to which it is all things and therefore does not present itself as one indivisible object of intuition: its activities do not (like its essence) fall under the rule of unity; they are for ever multiple in virtue of that abiding power, and in their outgoing they actually become all things.
For with the Intellectual or Supreme—considered as distinct from the One—there is already the power of harbouring that Principle of Multiplicity, the source of things not previously existent in its superior.
Enough on that point: we come now to the question of memory of the personality?
There will not even be memory of the personality; no thought that the contemplator is the self—Socrates, for example—or that it is Intellect or Soul. In this connection it should be borne in mind that, in contemplative vision, especially when it is vivid, we are not at the time aware of our own personality; we are in possession of ourselves, but the activity is towards the object of vision with which the thinker becomes identified; he has made himself over as matter to be shaped; he takes ideal form under the action of the vision while remaining, potentially, himself. This means that he is actively himself when he has intellection of nothing.
Or, if he is himself (pure and simple), he is empty of all: if, on the contrary, he is himself (by the self-possession of contemplation) in such a way as to be identified with what is all, then by the act of self-intellection he has the simultaneous intellection of all: in such a case self-intuition by personal activity brings the intellection, not merely of the self, but also of the total therein embraced; and similarly the intuition of the total of things brings that of the personal self as included among all.
But such a process would appear to introduce into the Intellectual that element of change against which we ourselves have only now been protesting?
The answer is that, while unchangeable identity is essential to the Intellectual-Principle, the soul, lying so to speak on the borders of the Intellectual Realm, is amenable to change; it has, for example, its inward advance, and obviously anything that attains position near to something motionless does so by a change directed towards that unchanging goal and is not itself motionless in the same degree. Nor is it really change to turn from the self to the constituents of self or from those constituents to the self; and in this case the contemplator is the total; the duality has become unity.
None the less the soul, even in the Intellectual Realm, is under the dispensation of a variety confronting it and a content of its own?
No: once pure in the Intellectual, it too possesses that same unchangeableness: for it possesses identity of essence; when it is in that region it must of necessity enter into oneness with the Intellectual-Principle by the sheer fact of its self-orientation, for by that intention all interval disappears; the soul advances and is taken into unison, and in that association becomes one with the Intellectual-Principle—but not to its own destruction: the two are one, and two. In such a state there is no question of stage and change: the soul, without motion (but by right of its essential being) would be intent upon its intellectual act, and in possession, simultaneously, of its self-awareness; for it has become one simultaneous existence with the Supreme.
But it leaves that conjunction; it cannot suffer that unity; it falls in love with its own powers and possessions, and desires to stand apart; it leans outward so to speak: then, it appears to acquire a memory of itself.
In this self-memory a distinction is to be made; the memory dealing with the Intellectual Realm upbears the soul, not to fall; the memory of things here bears it downwards to this universe; the intermediate memory dealing with the heavenly sphere holds it there too; and, in all its memory, the thing it has in mind it is and grows to; for this bearing-in-mind must be either intuition (i.e. knowledge with identity) or representation by image: and the imaging in the case of the soul is not a taking in of something (as of an impression) but is vision and condition—so much so, that, in its very sense-sight, it is the lower in the degree in which it penetrates the object. Since its possession of the total of things is not primal but secondary, it does not become all things perfectly (in becoming identical with the All in the Intellectual); it is of the boundary order, situated between two regions, and has tendency to both.
In that realm it has also vision, through the Intellectual-Principle, of The Good which does not so hold to itself as not to reach the soul; what intervenes between them is not body and therefore is no hindrance—and, indeed, where bodily forms do intervene there is still access in many ways from the primal to the tertiaries.
If, on the contrary, the soul gives itself to the inferior, the same principle of penetration comes into play, and it possesses itself, by memory and imagination, of the thing it desired: and hence the memory, even dealing with the highest, is not the highest. Memory, of course, must be understood not merely of what might be called the sense of remembrance, but so as to include a condition induced by the past experience or vision. There is such a thing as possessing more powerfully without consciousness than in full knowledge; with full awareness the possession is of something quite distinct from the self; unconscious possession runs very close to identity, and any such approach to identification with the lower means the deeper fall of the soul.
If the soul, on abandoning its place in the Supreme, revives its memories of the lower, it must have in some form possessed them even there though the activity of the beings in that realm kept them in abeyance: they could not be in the nature of impressions permanently adopted—a notion which would entail absurdities—but were no more than a potentiality realised after return. When that energy of the Intellectual world ceases to tell upon the soul, it sees what it saw in the earlier state before it revisited the Supreme.
But this power which determines memory, is it also the principle by which the Supreme becomes effective in us?
At any time when we have not been in direct vision of that sphere, memory is the source of its activity within us; when we have possessed that vision, its presence is due to the principle by which we enjoyed it: this principle awakens where it wakens; and it alone has vision in that order; for this is no matter to be brought to us by way of analogy, or by the syllogistic reasoning whose grounds lie elsewhere; the power which, even here, we possess of discoursing upon the Intellectual Beings is vested, as we show, in that principle which alone is capable of their contemplation. That, we must awaken, so to speak, and thus attain the vision of the Supreme, as one, standing on some lofty height and lifting his eyes, sees what to those that have not mounted with him is invisible.
Memory, by this account, commences after the soul has left the higher spheres; it is first known in the celestial period.
A soul that has descended from the Intellectual region to the celestial and there comes to rest, may very well be understood to recognise many other souls known in its former state—supposing that, as we have said, it retains recollection of much that it knew here. This recognition would be natural if the bodies with which those souls are vested in the celestial must reproduce the former appearance; supposing the spherical form (of the stars inhabited by souls in the mid-realm) means a change of appearance, recognition would go by character, by the distinctive quality of personality: this is not fantastic; conditions changing need not mean a change of character. If the souls have mutual conversation, this too would mean recognition.
But those whose descent from the Intellectual is complete, how is it with them?
They will recall their memories, of the same things, but with less force than those still in the celestial, since they have had other experiences to remember, and the lapse of time will have utterly obliterated much of what was formerly present to them.
But what way of remembering the Supreme is left if the souls have turned to the sense-known kosmos, and are to fall into this sphere of process?
They need not fall to the ultimate depth: their downward movement may be checked at some one moment of the way; and as long as they have not touched the lowest of the region of process (the point at which non-being begins) there is nothing to prevent them rising once more.
Souls that descend, souls that change their state—these, then, may be said to have memory; which deals with what has come and gone; but what subjects of remembrance can there be for souls whose lot is to remain unchanged?
The question touches memory in the stars in general, and also in the sun and moon and ends by dealing with the soul of the All, even by audaciously busying itself with the memories of Zeus himself. The enquiry entails the examination and identification of acts of understanding and of reasoning in these beings, if such acts take place.
Now if, immune from all lack, they neither seek nor doubt, and never learn, nothing being absent at any time from their knowledge—what reasonings, what processes of rational investigation, can take place in them, what acts of the understanding?
Even as regards human concerns they have no need for observation or method; their administration of our affairs and of earth’s in general does not go so; the right ordering, which is their gift to the universe, is effected by methods very different.
In other words, they have seen God and they do not remember?
Ah, no: it is that they see God still and always, and that as long as they see, they cannot tell themselves they have had the vision; such reminiscence is for souls that have lost it.
Well but can they not tell themselves that yesterday, or last year, they moved round the earth, that they lived yesterday or at any given moment in their lives?
Their living is eternal, and eternity is an unchanging unity. To identify a yesterday or a last year in their movement would be like isolating the movement of one of the feet, and finding a this or a that and an entire series in what is a single act. The movement of the celestial beings is one movement: it is our measuring that presents us with many movements, and with distinct days determined by intervening nights: There all is one day; series has no place; no yesterday, no last year.
Still: the space traversed is different; there are the various sections of the Zodiac: why, then, should not the soul say “I have traversed that section and now I am in this other?” If, also, it looks down over the concerns of men, must it not see the changes that befall them, that they are not as they were, and, by that observation, that the beings and the things concerned were otherwise formerly? And does not that mean memory?
But, we need not record in memory all we see; mere incidental concomitants need not occupy the imagination; when things vividly present to intuition, or knowledge, happen to occur in concrete form, it is not necessary—unless for purposes of a strictly practical administration—to pass over that direct acquaintance, and fasten upon the partial sense-presentation, which is already known in the larger knowledge, that of the Universe.
I will take this point by point:—
First: it is not essential that everything seen should be laid up in the mind; for when the object is of no importance, or of no personal concern, the sensitive faculty, stimulated by the differences in the objects present to vision, acts without accompaniment of the will, and is alone in entertaining the impression. The soul does not take into its deeper recesses such differences as do not meet any of its needs, or serve any of its purposes. Above all, when the soul’s act is directed towards another order, it must utterly reject the memory of such things, things over and done with now, and not even taken into knowledge when they were present.
On the second point: circumstances, purely accidental, need not be present to the imaging faculty, and if they do so appear they need not be retained or even observed, and in fact the impression of any such circumstance does not entail awareness. Thus in local movement, if there is no particular importance to us in the fact that we pass through first this and then that portion of air, or that we proceed from some particular point, we do not take notice, or even know it as we walk. Similarly, if it were of no importance to us to accomplish any given journey, mere movement in the air being the main concern, we would not trouble to ask at what particular point of place we were, or what distance we had traversed; if we have to observe only the act of movement and not its duration, nothing to do which obliges us to think of time, the minutes are not recorded in our minds.
And finally, it is of common knowledge that, when the understanding is possessed of the entire act undertaken and has no reason to foresee any departure from the normal, it will no longer observe the detail; in a process unfailingly repeated without variation, attention to the unvarying detail is idleness.
So it is with the stars. They pass from point to point, but they move on their own affairs and not for the sake of traversing the space they actually cover; the vision of the things that appear on the way, the journey by, nothing of this is their concern; their passing this or that is of accident not of essence, and their intention is to greater objects: moreover each of them journeys, unchangeably, the same unchanging way; and again, there is no question to them of the time they spend in any given section of the journey, even supposing time division to be possible in the case. All this granted, nothing makes it necessary that they should have any memory of places or times traversed. Besides this life of the ensouled stars is one identical thing (since they are one in the All-Soul) so that their very spatial movement is pivoted upon identity and resolves itself into a movement not spatial but vital, the movement of a single living being whose act is directed to itself, a being which to anything outside is at rest, but is in movement by dint of the inner life it possesses, the eternal life. Or we may take the comparison of the movement of the heavenly bodies to a choral dance; if we think of it as a dance which comes to rest at some given period, the entire dance, accomplished from beginning to end, will be perfect while at each partial stage it was imperfect: but if the dance is a thing of eternity, it is in eternal perfection. And if it is in eternal perfection, it has no points of time and place at which it will achieve perfection; it will, therefore, have no concern about attaining to any such points: it will, therefore, make no measurements of time or place; it will have, therefore, no memory of time and place.
If the stars live a blessed life in their vision of the life inherent in their souls, and if, by force of their souls’ tendency to become one, and by the light they cast from themselves upon the entire heavens, they are like the strings of a lyre which, being struck in tune, sing a melody in some natural scale . . . if this is the way the heavens, as one, are moved, and the component parts in their relation to the whole—the sidereal system moving as one, and each part in its own way, to the same purpose, though each too hold its own place—then our doctrine is all the more surely established; the life of the heavenly bodies is the more clearly an unbroken unity.
But Zeus—ordering all, governor, guardian and disposer, possessor for ever of the kingly soul and the kingly intellect, bringing all into being by his providence, and presiding over all things as they come, administering all under plan and system, unfolding the periods of the kosmos, many of which stand already accomplished—would it not seem inevitable that, in this multiplicity of concern, Zeus should have memory of all the periods, their number and their differing qualities? Contriving the future, co-ordinating, calculating for what is to be, must he not surely be the chief of all in remembering, as he is chief in producing?
Even this matter of Zeus’ memory of the kosmic periods is difficult; it is a question of their being numbered, and of his knowledge of their number. A determined number would mean that the All had a beginning in time (which is not so); if the periods are unlimited, Zeus cannot know the number of his works.
The answer is that he will know all to be one thing existing in virtue of one life for ever: it is in this sense that the All is unlimited, and thus Zeus’ knowledge of it will not be as of something seen from outside but as of something embraced in true knowledge, for this unlimited thing is an eternal indweller within himself—or, to be more accurate, eternally follows upon him—and is seen by an indwelling knowledge; Zeus knows his own unlimited life, and, in that knowledge, knows the activity that flows from him to the kosmos; but he knows it in its unity not in its process.
The ordering principle is twofold; there is the principle known to us as the Demiurge and there is the Soul of the All; we apply the appellation Zeus sometimes to the Demiurge and sometimes to the principle conducting the universe.
When under the name of Zeus we are considering the Demiurge we must leave out all notions of stage and progress, and recognise one unchanging and timeless life.
But the life in the kosmos, the life which carries the leading principle of the universe, still needs elucidation; does it operate without calculation, without searching into what ought to be done?
Yes: for what must be stands shaped before the kosmos, and is ordered without any setting in order: the ordered things are merely the things that come to be; and the principle that brings them into being is Order itself; this production is an act of a soul linked with an unchangeably established wisdom whose reflection in that soul is Order. It is an unchanging wisdom, and there can therefore be no changing in the soul which mirrors it, not sometimes turned towards it, and sometimes away from it—and in doubt because it has turned away—but an unremitting soul performing an unvarying task.
The leading principle of the universe is a unity—and one that is sovran without break, not sometimes dominant and sometimes dominated. What source is there for any such multiplicity of leading principles as might result in contest and hesitation? And this governing unity must always desire the one thing: what could bring it to wish now for this and now for that, to its own greater perplexing? But observe: no perplexity need follow upon any development of this soul essentially a unity. The All stands a multiple thing no doubt, having parts, and parts clashing with parts, but that does not imply that it need be in doubt as to its conduct: that soul does not take its essence from its ultimates or from its parts, but from the Primals; it has its source in the First and thence, along an unhindered path, it flows into a total of things, conferring grace, and, because it remains one same thing occupied in one task, dominating. To suppose it pursuing one new object after another is to raise the question whence that novelty comes into being: the soul, besides, would be in doubt as to its action; its very work, the kosmos, would be the less well done by reason of the hesitancy which such calculations would entail.
The administration of the kosmos is to be thought of as that of a living unit: there is the action determined by what is external, and has to do with the parts, and there is that determined by the internal and by the principle: thus a doctor basing his treatment on externals and on the parts directly affected will often be baffled and obliged to all sorts of calculation, while Nature will act on the basis of principle and need no deliberation. And in so far as the kosmos is a conducted thing, its administration and its administrator will follow not the way of the doctor but the way of Nature.
And in the case of the universe, the administration is all the less complicated from the fact that the soul actually circumscribes, as parts of a living unity, all the members which it conducts. For all the Kinds included in the universe are dominated by one Kind, upon which they follow, fitted into it, developing from it, growing out of it, just as the Kind manifested in the bough is related to the Kind in the tree as a whole.
What place, then, is there for reasoning, for calculation, what place for memory, where wisdom and knowledge are eternal, unfailingly present, effective, dominant, administering in an identical process?
The fact that the product contains diversity and difference does not warrant the notion that the producer must be subject to corresponding variations. On the contrary, the more varied the product, the more certain the unchanging identity of the producer: even in the single animal the events produced by Nature are many and not simultaneous; there are the age periods, the developments at fixed epochs—horns, beard, maturing breasts, the acme of life, procreation—but the principles which initially determined the nature of the being are not thereby annulled; there is process of growth, but no diversity in the initial principle. The identity underlying all the multiplicity is confirmed by the fact that the principle constituting the parent is exhibited unchanged, undiminished, in the offspring. We have reason, then, for thinking that one and the same wisdom envelops both, and that this is the unalterable wisdom of the kosmos taken as a whole; it is manifold, diverse and yet simplex, presiding over the most comprehensive of living beings, and in no wise altered within itself by this multiplicity, but stably one Reason-Principle, the concentrated totality of things: if it were not thus all things, it would be a wisdom of the later and partial, not the wisdom of the Supreme.
It may be urged that all the multiplicity and development are the work of Nature, but that, since there is wisdom within the All, there must be also, by the side of such natural operation, acts of reasoning and of memory.
But this is simply a human error which assumes wisdom to be what in fact is unwisdom, taking the search for wisdom to be wisdom itself. For what can reasoning be but a struggle, the effort to discover the wise course, to attain the principle which is true and derives from real-being? To reason is like playing the cithara for the sake of achieving the art, like practising with a view to mastery, like any learning that aims at knowing. What reasoners seek, the wise hold: wisdom, in a word, is a condition in a being that possesses repose. Think what happens when one has accomplished the reasoning process: as soon as we have discovered the right course, we cease to reason: we rest because we have come to wisdom. If then we are to range the leading principle of the All among learners, we must allow it reasonings, perplexities and those acts of memory which link the past with the present and the future: if it is to be considered as a knower, then the wisdom within it consists in a rest possessing the object (absolved, therefore, from search and from remembrance).
Again, if the leading principle of the universe knows the future—as it must—then obviously it will know by what means that future is to come about; given this knowledge, what further need is there of its reasoning towards it, or confronting past with present? And, of course, this knowledge of things to come—admitting it to exist—is not like that of the diviners; it is that of the actual causing principles holding the certainty that the thing will exist, the certainty inherent in the all-disposers, above perplexity and hesitancy; the notion is constituent and therefore unvarying. The knowledge of future things is, in a word, identical with that of the present; it is a knowledge in repose and thus a knowledge transcending the processes of cogitation.
If the leading principle of the universe does not know the future which it is of itself to produce, it cannot produce with knowledge or to purpose; it will produce just what happens to come, that is to say by haphazard. As this cannot be, it must create by some stable principle; its creations, therefore, will be shaped in the model stored up in itself; there can be no varying, for, if there were, there could also be failure.
The produced universe will contain difference, but its diversities spring not from its own action but from its obedience to superior principles which, again, spring from the creating power, so that all is guided by Reason-Principles in their series; thus the creating power is in no sense subjected to experimenting, to perplexity, to that preoccupation which to some minds makes the administration of the All seem a task of difficulty. Preoccupation would obviously imply the undertaking of alien tasks, some business—that would mean—not completely within the powers; but where the power is sovran and sole, it need take thought of nothing but itself and its own will, which means its own wisdom, since in such a being the will is wisdom. Here, then, creating makes no demand, since the wisdom that goes to it is not sought elsewhere, but is the creator’s very self, drawing on nothing outside—not, therefore, on reasoning or on memory, which are handlings of the external.
But what is the difference between the Wisdom thus conducting the universe and the principle known as Nature?
This Wisdom is a first (within the All-Soul) while Nature is a last: for Nature is an image of that Wisdom, and, as a last in the soul, possesses only the last of the Reason-Principle: we may imagine a thick waxen seal, in which the imprint has penetrated to the very uttermost film so as to show on both sides, sharp cut on the upper surface, faint on the under. Nature, thus, does not know, it merely produces: what it holds it passes, automatically, to its next; and this transmission to the corporeal and material constitutes its making power: it acts as a thing warmed communicating to what lies in next contact to it the principle of which it is the vehicle so as to make that also warm in some less degree.
Nature being thus a mere communicator, does not possess even the imaging act. There is (within the Soul) intellection, superior to imagination; and there is imagination standing midway between that intellection and the impression of which alone Nature is capable. For Nature has no perception or consciousness of anything; imagination (the imaging faculty) has consciousness of the external, for it enables that which entertains the image to have knowledge of the experience encountered, while Nature’s function is to engender—of itself though in an act derived from the active principle (of the soul).
Thus the Intellectual-Principle possesses: the Soul of the All eternally receives from it; this is the soul’s life; its consciousness is its intellection of what is thus eternally present to it; what proceeds from it into Matter and is manifested there is Nature, with which—or even a little before it—the series of real being comes to an end, for all in this order are the ultimates of the intellectual order and the beginnings of the imitative.
There is also the decided difference that Nature operates toward soul, and receives from it: soul, near to Nature but superior, operates towards Nature but without receiving in turn; and there is the still higher phase (the purely Intellectual) with no action whatever upon body or upon Matter.
Of the corporeal thus brought into being by Nature the elemental materials of things are its very produce, but how do animal and vegetable forms stand to it?
Are we to think of them as containers of Nature present within them?
Light goes away and the air contains no trace of it, for light and air remain each itself, never coalescing: is this the relation of Nature to the formed object?
It is rather that existing between fire and the object it has warmed: the fire withdrawn, there remains a certain warmth, distinct from that in the fire, a property, so to speak, of the object warmed. For the shape which Nature imparts to what it has moulded must be recognised as a form quite distinct from Nature itself, though it remains a question to be examined whether besides this (specific) form there is also an intermediary, a link connecting it with Nature, the general principle.
The difference between Nature and the Wisdom described as dwelling in the All has been sufficiently dealt with.
But there is a difficulty affecting this entire settlement: Eternity is characteristic of the Intellectual-Principle, time of the soul—for we hold that time has its substantial being in the activity of the soul, and springs from soul—and, since time is a thing of division and (unlike eternity) comports a past, it would seem that the activity producing it must also be a thing of division, and that its attention to that past must imply that even the All-Soul has memory? We repeat, identity belongs to the eternal, time must be the medium of diversity; otherwise there is nothing to distinguish them, especially since we deny that the activities of the soul can themselves experience change.
Can we escape by the theory that, while human souls—receptive of change, even to the change of imperfection and lack—are in time, yet the Soul of the All, as the author of time, is itself timeless? But if it is not in time, what causes it to engender time rather than eternity?
The answer must be that the realm it engenders is not that of eternal things but a realm of things enveloped in time: it is just as the souls (under, or included in, the All-Soul) are not in time, but some of their experiences and productions are. For a soul is eternal, and is before time; and what is in time is of a lower order than time itself: time is folded around what is in time exactly as—we read—it is folded about what is in place and in number.
But if in the soul thing follows thing, if there is earlier and later in its productions, if it engenders or creates in time, then it must be looking towards the future; and if towards the future, then towards the past as well?
No: prior and past are in the things it produces; in itself nothing is past; all, as we have said, is one simultaneous grouping of Reason-Principles. In the engendered, dissimilarity is not compatible with unity, though in the Reason-Principles supporting the engendered such unity of dissimilars does occur—hand and foot are in unity in the Reason-Principle (of man), but apart in the realm of sense. Of course, even in that ideal realm there is apartness, but in a characteristic mode, just as in a mode, there is priority.
Now, apartness may be explained as simply differentiation: but how account for priority unless on the assumption of some ordering principle arranging from above, and in that disposal necessarily affirming a serial order?
There must be such a principle, or all would exist simultaneously; but the indicated conclusion does not follow unless order and ordering principle are distinct; if the ordering principle is Primal Order, there is no such affirmation of series; there is simply making, the making of this thing after that thing. The affirmation would imply that the ordering principle looks away towards Order and therefore is not, itself, Order.
But how are Order and this orderer one and the same?
Because the ordering principle is no conjoint of matter and idea but is soul, pure idea, the power and energy second only to the Intellectual-Principle: and because the succession is a fact of the things themselves, inhibited as they are from this comprehensive unity. The ordering soul remains august, a circle, as we may figure it, in complete adaptation to its centre, widening outward, but fast upon it still, an outspreading without interval.
The total scheme may be summarised in the illustration of The Good as a centre, the Intellectual-Principle as an unmoving circle, the Soul as a circle in motion, its moving being its aspiration: the Intellectual-Principle possesses and has ever embraced that which is beyond being; the soul must seek it still: the sphere of the universe, by its possession of the soul thus aspirant, is moved to the aspiration which falls within its own nature; this is no more than such power as body may have, the mode of pursuit possible where the object pursued is debarred from entrance; it is the motion of coiling about, with ceaseless return upon the same path—in other words, it is circuit.
But how comes it that the intuitions and the Reason-Principles of the soul are not in the same timeless fashion within ourselves, but that here the later of order is converted into a later of time—bringing in all these doubts?
Is it because in us the governing and the answering principles are many and there is no sovran unity?
That condition; and, further, the fact that our mental acts fall into a series according to the succession of our needs, being not self-determined but guided by the variations of the external: thus the will changes to meet every incident as each fresh need arises and as the external impinges in its successive things and events.
A variety of governing principles must mean variety in the images formed upon the representative faculty, images not issuing from one internal centre, but, by difference of origin and of acting-point, strange to each other, and so bringing compulsion to bear upon the movements and efficiencies of the self.
When the desiring faculty is stirred, there is a presentment of the object—a sort of sensation, in announcement and in picture, of the experience—calling us to follow and to attain: the personality, whether it resists or follows and procures, is necessarily thrown out of equilibrium. The same disturbance is caused by passion urging revenge and by the needs of the body; every other sensation or experience effects its own change upon our mental attitude; then there is the ignorance of what is good and the indecision of a soul (a human soul) thus pulled in every direction; and, again, the interaction of all these perplexities gives rise to yet others.
But do variations of judgement affect that very highest in us?
No: the doubt and the change of standard are of the Conjoint (of the soul-phase in contact with body); still, the right reason of that highest is weaker by being given over to inhabit this mingled mass: not that it sinks in its own nature: it is much as amid the tumult of a public meeting the best adviser speaks but fails to dominate; assent goes to the roughest of the brawlers and roarers, while the man of good counsel sits silent, ineffectual, overwhelmed by the uproar of his inferiors.
The lowest human type exhibits the baser nature; the man is a compost calling to mind some inferior political organisation: in the mid-type we have a citizenship in which some better section sways a demotic constitution not out of control: in the superior type the life is aristocratic; it is the career of one emancipated from what is base in humanity and tractable to the better; in the finest type, where the man has brought himself to detachment, the ruler is one only, and from this master principle order is imposed upon the rest, so that we may think of a municipality in two sections, the superior city and, kept in hand by it, the city of the lower elements.
There remains the question whether the body possesses any force of its own—so that, with the incoming of the soul, it lives in some individuality—or whether all it has is this Nature we have been speaking of, the superior principle which enters into relations with it.
Certainly the body, container of soul and of nature, cannot even in itself be as a soulless form would be: it cannot even be like air traversed by light; it must be like air storing heat: the body holding animal or vegetive life must hold also some shadow of soul; and it is body thus modified that is the seat of corporeal pains and pleasures which appear before us, the true human being, in such a way as to produce knowledge without emotion. By “us, the true human being” I mean the higher soul for, in spite of all, the modified body is not alien but attached to our nature and is a concern to us for that reason: “attached,” for this is not ourselves nor yet are we free of it; it is an accessory and dependent of the human being; “we” means the master-principle; the conjoint, similarly is in its own way an “ours”; and it is because of this that we care for its pain and pleasure, in proportion as we are weak rather than strong, gripped rather than working towards detachment.
The other, the most honourable phase of our being, is what we think of as the true man and into this we are penetrating.
Pleasure and pain and the like must not be attributed to the soul alone, but to the modified body and to something intermediary between soul and body and made up of both. A unity is independent: thus body alone, a lifeless thing, can suffer no hurt—in its dissolution there is no damage to the body, but merely to its unity—and soul in similar isolation cannot even suffer dissolution, and by its very nature is immune from evil.
But when two distinct things become one in an artificial unity, there is a probable source of pain to them in the mere fact that they were inapt to partnership. This does not, of course, refer to two bodies; that is a question of one nature; and I am speaking of two natures. When one distinct nature seeks to associate itself with another, a different, order of being—the lower participating in the higher, but unable to take more than a faint trace of it—then the essential duality becomes also a unity, but a unity standing midway between what the lower was and what it cannot absorb, and therefore a troubled unity; the association is artificial and uncertain, inclining now to this side and now to that in ceaseless vacillation; and the total hovers between high and low, telling, downward bent, of misery but, directed to the above, of longing for unison.
Thus what we know as pleasure and pain may be identified: pain is our perception of a body despoiled, deprived of the image of the soul; pleasure our perception of the living frame in which the image of the soul is brought back to harmonious bodily operation. The painful experience takes place in that living frame; but the perception of it belongs to the sensitive phase of the soul, which, as neighbouring the living body, feels the change and makes it known to the principle, the imaging faculty, into which the sensations finally merge; then the body feels the pain, or at least the body is affected: thus in an amputation, when the flesh is cut the cutting is an event within the material mass; but the pain felt in that mass is there felt because it is not a mass pure and simple, but a mass under certain (non-material) conditions; it is to that modified substance that the sting of the pain is present, and the soul feels it by an adoption due to what we think of as proximity.
And, itself unaffected, it feels the corporeal conditions at every point of its being, and is thereby enabled to assign every condition to the exact spot at which the wound or pain occurs. Being present as a whole at every point of the body, if it were itself affected the pain would take it at every point, and it would suffer as one entire being, so that it could not know, or make known, the spot affected; it could say only that at the place of its presence there existed pain—and the place of its presence is the entire human being. As things are, when the finger pains the man is in pain because one of his members is in pain; we class him as suffering, from his finger being painful, just as we class him as fair from his eyes being blue.
But the pain itself is in the part affected unless we include in the notion of pain the sensation following upon it, in which case we are saying only that distress implies the perception of distress. But (this does not mean that the soul is affected) we cannot describe the perception itself as distress; it is the knowledge of the distress and, being knowledge, is not itself affected, or it could not know and convey a true message: a messenger, affected, overwhelmed by the event, would either not convey the message or not convey it faithfully.
As with bodily pain and pleasure so with the bodily desires; their origin, also, must be attributed to what thus stands midway, to that Nature we described as the corporeal.
Body undetermined cannot be imagined to give rise to appetite and purpose, nor can pure soul be occupied about sweet and bitter: all this must belong to what is specifically body but chooses to be something else as well, and so has acquired a restless movement unknown to the soul and by that acquisition is forced to aim at a variety of objects, to seek, as its changing states demand, sweet or bitter, water or warmth, with none of which it could have any concern if it remained untouched by life.
In the case of pleasure and pain we showed how upon distress follows the knowledge of it, and that the soul, seeking to alienate what is causing the condition, inspires a withdrawal which the member primarily affected has itself indicated, in its own mode, by its contraction. Similarly in the case of desire: there is the knowledge in the sensation (the sensitive phase of the soul) and in the next lower phase, that described as the “Nature” which carries the imprint of the soul to the body; that Nature knows the fully formed desire which is the culmination of the less formed desire in body; sensation knows the image thence imprinted upon the Nature; and from the moment of the sensation the soul, which alone is competent, acts upon it, sometimes procuring, sometimes on the contrary resisting, taking control and paying heed neither to that which originated the desire nor to that which subsequently entertained it.
But why, thus, two phases of desire; why should not the body as a determined entity (the living total) be the sole desirer?
Because there are (in man) two distinct things, this Nature and the body, which, through it, becomes a living being: the Nature precedes the determined body which is its creation, made and shaped by it; it cannot originate the desires; they must belong to the living body meeting the experiences of this life and seeking in its distress to alter its state, to substitute pleasure for pain, sufficiency for want: this Nature must be like a mother reading the wishes of a suffering child, and seeking to set it right and to bring it back to herself; in her search for the remedy she attaches herself by that very concern to the sufferer’s desire and makes the child’s experience her own.
In sum, the living body may be said to desire of its own motion in a fore-desiring with, perhaps, purpose as well; Nature desires for, and because of, that living body; granting or withholding belongs to another again, the higher soul.
That this is the phase of the human being in which desire takes its origin is shown by observation of the different stages of life: in childhood, youth, maturity, the bodily desires differ; health or sickness also may change them, while the (psychic) faculty is of course the same through all: the evidence is clear that the variety of desire in the human being results from the fact that he is a corporeal entity, a living body subject to every sort of vicissitude.
The total movement of desire is not always stirred simultaneously with what we call the impulses to the satisfaction even of the lasting bodily demands; it may refuse assent to the idea of eating or drinking until reason gives the word: this shows us desire—the degree of it existing in the living body—advancing towards some object, with Nature (the lower soul-phase) refusing its co-operation and approval, and as sole arbiter between what is naturally fit and unfit, rejecting what does not accord with the natural need.
We may be told that the changing state of the body is sufficient explanation of the changing desires in the faculty; but that would require the demonstration that the changing condition of a given entity could effect a change of desire in another, in one which cannot itself gain by the gratification; for it is not the desiring faculty that profits by food, liquid, warmth, movement, or by any relief from over-plenty or any filling of a void; all such services touch the body only.
And as regards vegetal forms? Are we to imagine beneath the leading principle (the “Nature” phase) some sort of corporeal echo of it, something that would be tendency or desire in us and is growth in them? Or are we to think that, while the earth (which nourishes them) contains the principle of desire by virtue of containing soul, the vegetal realm possesses only this latter reflection of desire?
The first point to be decided is what soul is present in the earth.
Is it one coming from the sphere of the All, a radiation upon earth from that which Plato seems to represent as the only thing possessing soul primarily? Or are we to go by that other passage where he describes earth as the first and oldest of all the gods within the scope of the heavens, and assigns to it, as to the other stars, a soul peculiar to itself?
It is difficult to see how earth could be a god if it did not possess a soul thus distinct: but the whole matter is obscure since Plato’s statements increase or at least do not lessen the perplexity. It is best to begin by facing the question as a matter of reasoned investigation.
That earth possesses the vegetal soul may be taken as certain from the vegetation upon it. But we see also that it produces animals; why then should we not argue that it is itself animated? And, animated, no small part of the All, must it not be plausible to assert that it possesses an Intellectual-Principle by which it holds its rank as a god? If this is true of every one of the stars, why should it not be so of the earth, a living part of the living All? We cannot think of it as sustained from without by an alien soul and incapable of containing one appropriate to itself.
Why should those fiery globes be receptive of soul and the earthly globe not? The stars are equally corporeal, and they lack the flesh, blood, muscle, and pliant material of earth, which besides, is of more varied content and includes every form of body. If the earth’s immobility is urged in objection, the answer is that this refers only to spatial movement.
But how can perception and sensation (implied in ensoulment) be supposed to occur in the earth?
How (we return) do they occur in the stars? Feeling does not belong to fleshy matter: soul to have perception does not require body; body, on the contrary, requires soul to maintain its being and its efficiency, judgement (the foundation of perception) belongs to the soul which overlooks the body, and, from what is experienced there, forms its decisions.
But, we will be asked to say what are the experiences, within the earth, upon which the earth-soul is thus to form its decisions: certainly vegetal forms, in so far as they belong to earth have no sensation or perception: in what then, and through what, does such sensation take place, for (we will be told) sensation without organs is too rash a notion. Besides, what would this sense-perception profit the soul? It could not be necessary to knowledge: surely the consciousness of wisdom suffices to beings which have nothing to gain from sensation?
This argument is not to be accepted: it ignores the consideration that, apart from all question of practical utility, objects of sense provide occasion for a knowing which brings pleasure: thus we ourselves take delight in looking upon sun, stars, sky, landscape, for their own sake. But we will deal with this point later: for the present we ask whether the earth has perceptions and sensations, and if so through what vital members these would take place and by what method: this requires us to examine certain difficulties, and above all to decide whether earth could have sensation without organs, and whether this would be directed to some necessary purpose even when incidentally it might bring other results as well.
A first principle is that the knowing of sensible objects is an act of the soul, or of the living conjoint, becoming aware of the quality of certain corporeal entities, and appropriating the ideas present in them.
This apprehension must belong either to the soul isolated, self-acting, or to soul in conjunction with some other entity.
Isolated, self-acting, how is it possible? Self-acting, it has knowledge of its own content, and this is not perception but intellection: if it is also to know things outside itself it can grasp them only in one of two ways: either it must assimilate itself to the external objects, or it must enter into relations with something that has been so assimilated.
Now as long as it remains self-centred it cannot assimilate: a single point cannot assimilate itself to an external line: even line cannot adapt itself to line in another order, line of the intellectual to line of the sensible, just as fire of the intellectual and man of the intellectual remain distinct from fire and man of the sensible. Even Nature, the soul-phase which brings man into being, does not come to identity with the man it shapes and informs: it has the faculty of dealing with the sensible, but it remains isolated, and, its task done, ignores all but the intellectual as it is itself ignored by the sensible and utterly without means of grasping it.
Suppose something visible lying at a distance: the soul sees it; now, admitting to the full that at first only the pure idea of the thing is seized—a total without discerned part—yet in the end it becomes to the seeing soul an object whose complete detail of colour and form is known: this shows that there is something more here than the outlying thing and the soul; for the soul is immune from experience; there must be a third, something not thus exempt; and it is this intermediate that accepts the impressions of shape and the like.
This intermediate must be able to assume the modifications of the material object so as to be an exact reproduction of its states, and it must be of the one elemental-stuff: it, thus, will exhibit the condition which the higher principle is to perceive; and the condition must be such as to preserve something of the originating object, and yet not be identical with it: the essential vehicle of knowledge is an intermediary which, as it stands between the soul and the originating object, will, similarly, present a condition midway between the two spheres, of sense and the intellectual—linking the extremes, receiving from one side to exhibit to the other, in virtue of being able to assimilate itself to each. As an instrument by which something is to receive knowledge, it cannot be identical with either the knower or the known: but it must be apt to likeness with both—akin to the external object by its power of being affected, and to the internal, the knower, by the fact that the modification it takes becomes an idea.
If this theory of ours is sound, bodily organs are necessary to sense-perception, as is further indicated by the reflection that the soul entirely freed of body can apprehend nothing in the order of sense.
The organ must be either the body entire or some member set apart for a particular function; thus touch for one, vision for another. The tools of craftsmanship will be seen to be intermediaries between the judging worker and the judged object, disclosing to the experimenter the particular character of the matter under investigation: thus a ruler, representing at once the straightness which is in the mind and the straightness of a plank, is used as an intermediary by which the operator proves his work.
Some questions of detail remain for consideration elsewhere: Is it necessary that the object upon which judgement or perception is to take place should be in contact with the organ of perception, or can the process occur across space upon an object at a distance? Thus, is the heat of a fire really at a distance from the flesh it warms, the intermediate space remaining unmodified; is it possible to see colour over a sheer blank intervening between the colour and the eye, the organ of vision reaching to its object by its own power?
For the moment we have one certainty, that perception of things of sense belongs to the embodied soul and takes place through the body.
The next question is whether perception is concerned only with need.
The soul, isolated, has no sense-perception; sensations go with the body; sensation itself therefore must occur by means of the body to which the sensations are due; it must be something brought about by association with the body.
Thus either sensation occurs in a soul compelled to follow upon bodily states—since every graver bodily experience reaches at last to soul—or sensation is a device by which a cause is dealt with before it becomes so great as actually to injure us or even before it has begun to make contact.
At this, sense-impressions would aim at utility. They may serve also to knowledge, but that could be service only to some being not living in knowledge but stupefied as the result of a disaster, and the victim of a Lethe calling for constant reminding: they would be useless to any being free from either need or forgetfulness. This reflection enlarges the enquiry: it is no longer a question of earth alone, but of the whole star-system, all the heavens, the kosmos entire. For it would follow that, in the sphere of things not exempt from modification, sense-perception would occur in every part having relation to any other part: in a whole, however—having relation only to itself, immune, universally self-directed and self-possessing—what perception could there be?
Granted that the percipient must act through an organ and that this organ must be different from the object perceived, then the universe, as an All, can have (no sensation since it has) no organ distinct from object: it can have self-awareness, as we have; but sense-perception, the constant attendant of another order, it cannot have.
Our own apprehension of any bodily condition apart from the normal is the sense of something intruding from without: but besides this, we have the apprehension of one member by another; why then should not the All, by means of what is stationary in it, perceive that region of itself which is in movement, that is to say the earth and the earth’s content?
Things of earth are certainly affected by what passes in other regions of the All; what, then, need prevent the All from having, in some appropriate way, the perception of those changes? In addition to that self-contemplating vision vested in its stationary part, may it not have a seeing power like that of an eye able to announce to the All-Soul what has passed before it? Even granted that it is entirely unaffected by its lower, why, still, should it not see like an eye, ensouled as it is, all lightsome?
Still: “eyes were not necessary to it,” we read. If this meant simply that nothing is left to be seen outside of the All, still there is the inner content, and there can be nothing to prevent it seeing what constitutes itself: if the meaning is that such self-vision could serve to no use, we may think that it has vision not as a main intention for vision’s sake but as a necessary concomitant of its characteristic nature: it is difficult to conceive why such a body should be incapable of seeing.
But the organ is not the only requisite to vision or to perception of any kind: there must be a state of the soul inclining it towards the sphere of sense.
Now it is the soul’s character to be ever in the Intellectual sphere, and even though it were apt to sense-perception, this could not accompany that intention towards the highest; to ourselves when absorbed in the Intellectual, vision and the other acts of sense are in abeyance for the time; and, in general, any special attention blurs every other. The desire of apprehension from part to part—a subject examining itself—is merely curiosity even in beings of our own standing, and, unless for some definite purpose, is waste of energy: and the desire to apprehend something external—for the sake of a pleasant sight—is the sign of suffering or deficiency.
Smelling, tasting flavours (and such animal perceptions) may perhaps be described as mere accessories, distractions of the soul, while seeing and hearing would belong to the sun and the other heavenly bodies as incidentals to their being. This would not be unreasonable if seeing and hearing are means by which they apply themselves to their function.
But if they so apply themselves, they must have memory; it is impossible that they should have no remembrance if they are to be benefactors, their service could not exist without memory.
Their knowledge of our prayers is due to what we may call an enlinking, a determined relation of things fitted into a system; so, too, the fulfilment of the petitions; in the art of magic all looks to this enlinkment: prayer and its answer, magic and its success, depend upon the sympathy of enchained forces.
This seems to oblige us to accord sense-perception to the earth.
But what perception?
Why not, to begin with, that of contact-feeling, the apprehension of part by part, the apprehension of fire by the rest of the entire mass in a sensation transmitted upwards to the earth’s leading principle? A corporeal mass (such as that of the earth) may be sluggish but is not utterly inert. Such perceptions, of course, would not be of trifles, but of the graver movement of things.
But why even of them?
Because those gravest movements could not possibly remain unknown where there is an immanent soul.
And there is nothing against the idea that sensation in the earth exists for the sake of the human interests furthered by the earth. They would be served by means of the sympathy that has been mentioned; petitioners would be heard and their prayers met, though in a way not ours. And the earth, both in its own interest and in that of beings distinct from itself, might have the experiences of the other senses also—for example, smell and taste where, perhaps, the scent of juices or sap might enter into its care for animal life, as in the constructing or restoring of their bodily part.
But we need not demand for earth the organs by which we, ourselves, act: not even all the animals have these; some, without ears perceive sound.
For sight it would not need eyes—though if light is indispensable how can it see?
That the earth contains the principle of growth must be admitted; it is difficult not to allow in consequence that, since this vegetal principle is a member of spirit, the earth is primarily of the spiritual order; and how can we doubt that in a spirit all is lucid? This becomes all the more evident when we reflect that, besides being as a spirit lightsome, it is physically illuminated moving in the light of the kosmic revolution.
There is, thus, no longer any absurdity or impossibility in the notion that the soul in the earth has vision: we must, further, consider that it is the soul of no mean body; that in fact it is a god since certainly soul must be everywhere good.
If the earth transmits the generative soul to growing things—or retains it while allowing a vestige of it to constitute the vegetal principle in them—at once the earth is ensouled, as our flesh is, and any generative power possessed by the plant world is of its bestowing: this phase of the soul is immanent in the body of the growing thing, and transmits to it that better element by which it differs from the broken off part no longer a thing of growth but a mere lump of material.
But does the entire body of the earth similarly receive anything from the soul?
Yes: for we must recognise that earthly material broken off from the main body differs from the same remaining continuously attached; thus stones increase as long as they are embedded, and, from the moment they are separated, stop at the size attained.
We must conclude, then, that every part and member of the earth carries its vestige of this principle of growth, an under-phase of that entire principle which belongs not to this or that member but to the earth as a whole: next in order is the nature (the soul-phase), concerned with sensation, this not interfused (like the vegetal principle) but in contact from above: then the higher soul and the Intellectual-Principle, constituting together the being known as Hestia (Earth-Mind) and Demeter (Earth-Soul)—a nomenclature indicating the human intuition of these truths, asserted in the attribution of a divine name and nature.
Thus much established, we may return on our path: we have to discuss the seat of the passionate element in the human being.
Pleasures and pains—the conditions, that is, not the perception of them—and the nascent stage of desire, we assigned to the body as a determined thing, the body brought, in some sense, to life: are we entitled to say the same of the nascent stage of passion? Are we to consider passion in all its forms as vested in the determined body or in something belonging to it, for instance in the heart or the bile necessarily taking condition within a body not dead? Or are we to think that just as that which bestows the vestige of the soul is a distinct entity, so we may reason in this case—the passionate element being one distinct thing, itself, and not deriving from any passionate or percipient faculty?
Now in the first case the soul-principle involved, the vegetal, pervades the entire body, so that pain and pleasure and nascent desire for the satisfaction of need are present all over it—there is possibly some doubt as to the sexual impulse, which, however, it may suffice to assign to the organs by which it is executed—but in general the region about the liver may be taken to be the starting point of desire, since it is the main acting point of the vegetal principle which transmits the vestige phase of the soul to the liver and body—the seat, because the spring.
But in this other case, of passion, we have to settle what it is, what form of soul it represents: does it act by communicating a lower phase of itself to the regions round the heart, or is it set in motion by the higher soul-phase impinging upon the Conjoint (the animate-total), or is there, in such conditions no question of soul-phase, but simply passion itself producing the act or state of (for example) anger?
Evidently the first point for enquiry is what passion is.
Now we all know that we feel anger not only over our own bodily suffering, but also over the conduct of others, as when some of our associates act against our right and due, and in general over any unseemly conduct. It is at once evident that anger implies some subject capable of sensation and of judgement: and this consideration suffices to show that the vegetal nature is not its source, that we must look for its origin elsewhere.
On the other hand, anger follows closely upon bodily states; people in whom the blood and the bile are intensely active are as quick to anger as those of cool blood and no bile are slow; animals grow angry though they pay attention to no outside combinations except where they recognise physical danger; all this forces us again to place the seat of anger in the strictly corporeal element, the principle by which the animal organism is held together. Similarly, that anger or its first stirring depends upon the condition of the body follows from the consideration that the same people are more irritable ill than well, fasting than after food: it would seem that the bile and the blood, acting as vehicles of life, produce these emotions.
Our conclusion (reconciling with these corporeal facts the psychic or mental element indicated) will identify, first, some suffering in the body answered by a movement in the blood or in the bile: sensation ensues and the soul, brought by means of the representative faculty to partake in the condition of the affected body, is directed towards the cause of the pain: the reasoning soul, in turn, from its place above—the phase not inbound with body—acts in its own mode when the breach of order has become manifest to it: it calls in the alliance of that ready passionate faculty which is the natural combatant of the evil disclosed.
Thus anger has two phases; there is firstly that which, rising apart from all process of reasoning, draws reason to itself by the medium of the imaging faculty, and secondly that which, rising in reason, touches finally upon the specific principle of the emotion. Both these depend upon the existence of that principle of vegetal life and generation by which the body becomes an organism aware of pleasure and pain: this principle it was that made the body a thing of bile and bitterness and thus it leads the indwelling soul-phase to corresponding states—churlish and angry under stress of environment—so that being wronged itself, it tries, as we may put it, to return the wrong upon its surroundings, and bring them to the same condition.
That this soul-vestige, which determines the movements of passion is of one essence (consubstantial) with the other is evident from the consideration that those of us less avid of corporeal pleasures, especially those that wholly repudiate the body, are the least prone to anger and to all experiences not rising from reason.
That this vegetal principle, underlying anger, should be present in trees and yet passion be lacking in them cannot surprise us since they are not subject to the movements of blood and bile. If the occasions of anger presented themselves where there is no power of sensation there could be no more than a physical ebullition with something approaching to resentment (an unconscious reaction); where sensation exists there is at once something more; the recognition of wrong and of the necessary defence carries with it the intentional act.
But the division of the unreasoning phase of the soul into a desiring faculty and a passionate faculty—the first identical with the vegetal principle, the second being a lower phase of it acting upon the blood or bile or upon the entire living organism—such a division would not give us a true opposition, for the two would stand in the relation of earlier phase to derivative.
This difficulty is reasonably met by considering that both faculties are derivatives and making the division apply to them in so far as they are new productions from a common source; for the division applies to movements of desire as such, not to the essence from which they rise.
That essence is not, of its own nature, desire; it is, however, the force which by consolidating itself with the active manifestation proceeding from it makes the desire a completed thing. And that derivative which culminates in passion may not unreasonably be thought of as a vestige-phase lodged about the heart, since the heart is not the seat of the soul, but merely the centre to that portion of the blood which is concerned in the movements of passion.
But—keeping to our illustration, by which the body is warmed by soul and not merely illuminated by it—how is it that when the higher soul withdraws there is no further trace of the vital principle?
For a brief space there is; and, precisely, it begins to fade away immediately upon the withdrawal of the other, as in the case of warmed objects when the fire is no longer near them: similarly hair and nails still grow on the dead; animals cut to pieces wriggle for a good time after; these are signs of a life force still indwelling.
Besides, simultaneous withdrawal would not prove the identity of the higher and lower phases: when the sun withdraws there goes with it not merely the light emanating from it, guided by it, attached to it, but also at once that light seen upon obliquely situated objects, a light secondary to the sun’s and cast upon things outside of its path (reflected light showing as colour); the two are not identical and yet they disappear together.
But is this simultaneous withdrawal or frank obliteration?
The question applies equally to this secondary light and to the corporeal life, that life which we think of as being completely sunk into body.
No light whatever remains in the objects once illuminated; that much is certain: but we have to ask whether it has sunk back into its source or is simply no longer in existence.
How could it pass out of being, a thing that once has been?
But what really was it? We must remember that what we know as colour belongs to bodies by the fact that they throw off light, yet when corruptible bodies are transformed the colour disappears and we no more ask where the colour of a burned-out fire is than where its shape is.
Still: the shape is merely a configuration, like the lie of the hands clenched or spread; the colour is no such accidental but is more like, for example, sweetness: when a material substance breaks up, the sweetness of what was sweet in it, and the fragrance of what was fragrant may very well not be annihilated, but enter into some other substance, passing unobserved there because the new habitat is not such that the entrant qualities now offer anything solid to perception.
May we not think that, similarly, the light belonging to bodies that have been dissolved remains in being while the solid total, made up of all that is characteristic, disappears?
It might be said that the seeing is merely the sequel to some law (of our own nature), so that what we call qualities do not actually exist in the substances.
But this is to make the qualities indestructible and not dependent upon the composition of the body; it would no longer be the Reason-Principles within the sperm that produce, for instance, the colours of a bird’s variegated plumage; these principles would merely blend and place them, or if they produced them would draw also on the full store of colours in the sky, producing in the sense, minly, of showing in the formed bodies something very different from what appears in the heavens.
But whatever we may think on this doubtful point, if, as long as the bodies remain unaltered, the light is constant and unsevered, then it would seem natural that, on the dissolution of the body, the light—both that in immediate contact and any other attached to that—should pass away at the same moment, unseen in the going as in the coming.
But in the case of the soul it is a question whether the secondary phases follow their priors—the derivatives their sources—or whether every phase is self-governing, isolated from its predecessors and able to stand alone; in a word, whether no part of the soul is sundered from the total, but all the souls are simultaneously one soul and many, and, if so, by what mode; this question, however, is treated elsewhere.
Here we have to enquire into the nature and being of that vestige of the soul actually present in the living body: if there is truly a soul, then, as a thing never cut off from its total, it will go with soul as soul must: if it is rather to be thought of as belonging to the body, as the life of the body, we have the same question that rose in the case of the vestige of light; we must examine whether life can exist without the presence of soul, except of course in the sense of soul living above and acting upon the remote object.
We have declared acts of memory unnecessary to the stars, but we allow them perceptions, hearing as well as seeing; for we said that prayers to them were heard—our supplications to the sun, and those, even, of certain other men to the stars. It has moreover been the belief that in answer to prayer they accomplish many human wishes, and this so light-heartedly that they become not merely helpers towards good but even accomplices in evil. Since this matter lies in our way it must be considered, for it carries with it grave difficulties that very much trouble those who cannot think of divine beings as, thus, authors or auxiliaries in unseemliness even including the connections of loose carnality.
In view of all this it is especially necessary to study the question with which we began, that of memory in the heavenly bodies.
It is obvious that, if they act on our prayers and if this action is not immediate, but with delay and after long periods of time, they remember the prayers men address to them. This is something that our former argument did not concede; though it appeared plausible that, for their better service of mankind, they might have been endowed with such a memory as we ascribed to Demeter and Hestia—or to the latter alone if only the earth is to be thought of as beneficent to man.
We have, then, to attempt to show: firstly, how acts implying memory in the heavenly bodies are to be reconciled with our system as distinguished from those others which allow them memory as a matter of course; secondly, what vindication of those gods of the heavenly spheres is possible in the matter of seemingly anomalous acts—a question which philosophy cannot ignore—then too, since the charge goes so far, we must ask whether credence is to be given to those who hold that the entire heavenly system can be put under spell by man’s skill and audacity: our discussion will also deal with the spirit-beings and how they may be thought to minister to these ends—unless indeed the part played by the Celestials prove to be settled by the decision upon the first questions.
Our problem embraces all act and all experience throughout the entire kosmos—whether due to nature, in the current phrase, or effected by art. The natural proceeds, we must hold, from the All towards its members and from the members to the All, or from member to other member: the artificial either remains, as it began, within the limit of the art—attaining finality in the artificial product alone—or is the expression of an art which calls to its aid natural forces and agencies, and so sets up act and experience within the sphere of the natural.
When I speak of the act and experience of the All I mean the total effect of the entire kosmic circuit upon itself and upon its members: for by its motion it sets up certain states both within itself and upon its parts, upon the bodies that move within it, and upon all that it communicates to those other parts of it, the things of our earth.
The action of part upon part is manifest; there are the relations and operations of the sun, both towards the other spheres and towards the things of earth; and again relations among elements of the sun itself, of other heavenly bodies, of earthly things and of things in the other stars, demand investigation.
As for the arts: Such as look to house building and the like are exhausted when that object is achieved; there are again those—medicine, farming, and other serviceable pursuits—which deal helpfully with natural products, seeking to bring them to natural efficiency; and there is a class—rhetoric, music and every other method of swaying mind or soul, with their power of modifying for better or for worse—and we have to ascertain what these arts come to and what kind of power lies in them.
On all these points, in so far as they bear on our present purpose, we must do what we can to work out some approximate explanation.
It is abundantly evident that the Circuit is a cause; it modifies, firstly, itself and its own content, and undoubtedly also it tells on the terrestrial, not merely in accordance with bodily conditions but also by the states of the soul it sets up; and each of its members has an operation upon the terrestrial and in general upon all the lower.
Whether there is a return action of the lower upon the higher need not trouble us now: for the moment we are to seek, as far as discussion can exhibit it, the method by which action takes place; and we do not challenge the opinions universally or very generally entertained.
We take the question back to the initial act of causation. It cannot be admitted that either heat or cold and the like—what are known as the primal qualities of the elements—or any admixture of these qualities, should be the first causes we are seeking; equally inacceptable, that while the sun’s action is all by heat, there is another member of the Circuit operating wholly by cold—incongruous in the heavens and in a fiery body—nor can we think of some other star operating by liquid fire.
Such explanations do not account for the differences of things, and there are many phenomena which cannot be referred to any of these causes. Suppose we allow them to be the occasion of moral differences—determined, thus, by bodily composition and constitution under a reigning heat or cold—does that give us a reasonable explanation of envy, jealousy, acts of violence? Or, if it does, what, at any rate, are we to think of good and bad fortune, rich men and poor, gentle blood, treasure trove?
An immensity of such examples might be adduced, all leading far from any corporeal quality that could enter the body and soul of a living thing from the elements: and it is equally impossible that the will of the stars, a doom from the All, any deliberation among them, should be held responsible for the fate of each and all of their inferiors. It is not to be thought that such beings engage themselves in human affairs in the sense of making men thieves, slave-dealers, burglars, temple-strippers, or debased effeminates practising and lending themselves to disgusting actions: that is not merely unlike gods; it is unlike mediocre men; it is, perhaps, beneath the level of any existing being where there is not the least personal advantage to be gained.
If we can trace neither to material agencies (blind elements) nor to any deliberate intention the influences from without which reach to us and to the other forms of life and to the terrestrial in general, what cause satisfactory to reason remains?
The secret is: firstly, that this All is one universally comprehensive living being, encircling all the living beings within it, and having a soul, one soul, which extends to all its members in the degree of participant membership held by each; secondly, that every separate thing is an integral part of this All by belonging to the total material fabric—unrestrictedly a part by bodily membership, while, in so far as it has also some participation in the All-Soul, it possesses in that degree spiritual membership as well, perfect where participation is in the All-Soul alone, partial where there is also a union with a lower soul.
But, with all this gradation, each several thing is affected by all else in virtue of the common participation in the All, and to the degree of its own participation.
This One-All, therefore, is a sympathetic total and stands as one living being; the far is near; it happens as in one animal with its separate parts: talon, horn, finger, and any other member are not continuous and yet are effectively near; intermediate parts feel nothing, but at a distant point the local experience is known. Correspondent things not side by side but separated by others placed between, the sharing of experience by dint of like condition—this is enough to ensure that the action of any distant member be transmitted to its distant fellow. Where all is a living thing summing to a unity there is nothing so remote in point of place as not to be near by virtue of a nature which makes of the one living being a sympathetic organism.
Where there is similarity between a thing affected and the thing affecting it, the affection is not alien; where the affecting cause is dissimilar the affection is alien and unpleasant.
Such hurtful action of member upon member within one living being need not seem surprising: within ourselves, in our own activities, one constituent can be harmed by another; bile and animal spirit seem to press and goad other members of the human total: in the vegetal realm one part hurts another by sucking the moisture from it. And in the All there is something analogous to bile and animal spirit, as to other such constituents. For visibly it is not merely one living organism; it is also a manifold. In virtue of the unity the individual is preserved by the All: in virtue of the multiplicity of things having various contacts, difference often brings about mutual hurt; one thing, seeking its own need, is detrimental to another; what is at once related and different is seized as food; each thing, following its own natural path, wrenches from something else what is serviceable to itself, and destroys or checks in its own interest whatever is becoming a menace to it: each, occupied with its peculiar function, assists no doubt anything able to profit by that, but harms or destroys what is too weak to withstand the onslaught of its action, like fire withering things round it or greater animals in their march thrusting aside or trampling under foot the smaller.
The rise of all these forms of being and their modification, whether to their loss or gain, all goes to the fulfilment of the natural unhindered life of that one living being: for it was not possible for the single thing to be as if it stood alone; the final purpose could not serve to that only end, intent upon the partial: the concern must be for the whole to which each item is member: things are different both from each other and in their own stages, therefore cannot be complete in one unchanging form of life; nor could anything remain utterly without modification if the All is to be durable; for the permanence of an All demands varying forms.
The Circuit does not go by chance but under the Reason-Principle of the living whole; therefore there must be a harmony between cause and caused; there must be some order ranging things to each other’s purpose, or in due relation to each other: every several configuration within the Circuit must be accompanied by a change in the position and condition of things subordinate to it, which thus by their varied rhythmic movement make up one total dance-play.
In our dance-plays there are outside elements contributing to the total effect—fluting, singing, and other linked accessories—and each of these changes in each new movement: there is no need to dwell on these; their significance is obvious. But besides this there is the fact that the limbs of the dancer cannot possibly keep the same positions in every figure; they adapt themselves to the plan, bending as it dictates, one lowered, another raised, one active, another resting as the set pattern changes. The dancer’s mind is on his own purpose; his limbs are submissive to the dance-movement which they accomplish to the end, so that the connoisseur can explain that this or that figure is the motive for the lifting, bending, concealment, effacing, of the various members of the body; and in all this the executant does not choose the particular motions for their own sake; the whole play of the entire person dictates the necessary position to each limb and member as it serves to the plan.
Now this is the mode in which the heavenly beings (the diviner members of the All) must be held to be causes wherever they have any action, and, when they do not act, to indicate.
Or, a better statement: the entire kosmos puts its entire life into act, moving its major members with its own action and unceasingly setting them in new positions; by the relations thus established, of these members to each other and to the whole, and by the different figures they make together, the minor members in turn are brought under the system as in the movements of some one living being, so that they vary according to the relations, positions, configurations: the beings thus co-ordinated are not the causes; the cause is the co-ordinating All; at the same time it is not to be thought of as seeking to do one thing and actually doing another, for there is nothing external to it since it is the cause by actually being all: on the one side the configurations, on the other the inevitable effects of those configurations upon a living being moving as a unit and, again, upon a living being (an All) thus by its nature conjoined and concomitant and, of necessity, at once subject and object to its own activities.
For ourselves, while whatever in us belongs to the body of the All should be yielded to its action, we ought to make sure that we submit only within limits, realising that the entire man is not thus bound to it: intelligent servitors yield a part of themselves to their masters but in part retain their personality, and are thus less absolutely at beck and call, as not being slaves, not utterly chattels.
The changing configurations within the All could not fail to be produced as they are, since the moving bodies are not of equal speed.
Now the movement is guided by a Reason-Principle; the relations of the living whole are altered in consequence; here in our own realm all that happens reacts in sympathy to the events of that higher sphere: it becomes, therefore, advisable to ask whether we are to think of this realm as following upon the higher by agreement, or to attribute to the configurations the powers underlying the events, and whether such powers would be vested in the configurations simply or in the relations of the particular items.
It will be said that one position of one given thing has by no means an identical effect—whether of indication or of causation—in its relation to another and still less to any group of others, since each several being seems to have a natural tendency (or receptivity) of its own.
The truth is that the configuration of any given group means merely the relationship of the several parts, and, changing the members, the relationship remains the same.
But, this being so, the power will belong, not to the positions but to the beings holding those positions?
To both taken together. For as things change their relations, and as any one thing changes place, there is a change of power.
But what power? That of causation or of indication?
To this double thing—the particular configuration of particular beings—there accrues often the two-fold power, that of causation and that of indication, but sometimes only that of indication. Thus we are obliged to attribute powers both to the configuration and to the beings entering into them. In mime dancers each of the hands has its own power, and so with all the limbs; the relative positions have much power; and, for a third power, there is that of the accessories and concomitants; underlying the action of the performers’ limbs, there are such items as the clutched fingers and the muscles and veins following suit.
But we must give some explanation of these powers. The matter requires a more definite handling. How can there be a difference of power between one triangular configuration and another?
How can there be the exercise of power from man to man; under what law, and within what limits?
The difficulty is that we are unable to attribute causation either to the bodies of the heavenly beings or to their wills: their bodies are excluded because the product transcends the causative power of body, their will because it would be unseemly to suppose divine beings to produce unseemliness.
Let us keep in mind what we have laid down:—
The being we are considering is a living unity, and therefore necessarily self-sympathetic: it is under a law of reason and therefore the unfolding process of its life must be self-accordant: that life has no haphazard, but knows only harmony and ordinance: all the groupings follow reason: all single beings within it, all the members of this living whole in their choral dance are under a rule of Number.
Holding this in mind we are forced to certain conclusions: in the expressive act of the All are comprised equally the configurations of its members and these members themselves, minor as well as major entering into the configurations. This is the mode of life of the All; and its powers work together to this end under the Nature in which the producing agency within the Reason-Principles has brought them into being. The groupings (within the All) are themselves in the nature of Reason-Principles since they are the out-spacing of a living-being, its reason-determined rhythms and conditions, and the entities thus spaced-out and grouped to pattern are its various members: then again there are the powers of the living being—distinct these, too—which may be considered as parts of it, always excluding deliberate will which is external to it, not contributory to the nature of the living All.
The will of any organic thing is one; but the distinct powers which go to constitute it are far from being one: yet all the several wills look to the object aimed at by the one will of the whole: for the desire which the one member entertains for another is a desire within the All: a part seeks to acquire something outside itself, but that external is another part of which it feels the need: the anger of a moment of annoyance is directed to something alien, growth draws on something outside, all birth and becoming has to do with the external; but all this external is inevitably something included among fellow members of the system: through these its limbs and members, the All is bringing this activity into being while in itself it seeks—or better, contemplates—The Good. Right will, then, the will which stands above accidental experience, seeks The Good and thus acts to the same end with it. When men serve another, many of their acts are done under order, but the good servant is the one whose purpose is in union with his master’s.
In all the efficacy of the sun and other stars upon earthly matters we can but believe that though the heavenly body is intent upon the Supreme yet—to keep to the sun—its warming of terrestrial things, and every service following upon that, all springs from itself, its own act transmitted in virtue of soul, the vastly efficacious soul of Nature. Each of the heavenly bodies, similarly, gives forth a power, involuntary, by its mere radiation: all things become one entity, grouped by this diffusion of power, and so bring about wide changes of condition; thus the very groupings have power since their diversity produces diverse conditions; that the grouped beings themselves have also their efficiency is clear since they produce differently according to the different membership of the groups.
That configuration has power in itself is within our own observation here. Why else do certain groupments, in contradistinction to others, terrify at sight though there has been no previous experience of evil from them? If some men are alarmed by a particular groupment and others by quite a different one, the reason can be only that the configurations themselves have efficacy, each upon a certain type—an efficacy which cannot fail to reach anything naturally disposed to be impressed by it, so that in one groupment things attract observation which in another pass without effect.
If we are told that beauty is the motive of attraction, does not this mean simply that the power of appeal to this or that mind depends upon pattern, configuration? How can we allow power to colour and none to configuration? It is surely untenable that an entity should have existence and yet have no power to effect: existence carries with it either acting or answering to action, some beings having action alone, others both.
At the same time there are powers apart from pattern: and, in things of our realm, there are many powers dependent not upon heat and cold but upon forces due to differing properties, forces which have been shaped to ideal-quality by the action of Reason-Principles and communicate in the power of Nature: thus the natural properties of stones and the efficacy of plants produce many astonishing results.
The Universe is immensely varied, the container of all the Reason-Principles and of infinite and diverse efficacies. In man, we are told, the eye has its power, and the bones have their varied powers, and so with each separate part of hand and of foot; and there is no member or organ without its own definite function, some separate power of its own—a diversity of which we can have no notion unless our studies take that direction. What is true of man must be true of the universe, and much more, since all this order is but a representation of the higher: it must contain an untellably wonderful variety of powers, with which, of course, the bodies moving through the heavens will be most richly endowed.
We cannot think of the universe as a soulless habitation, however vast and varied, a thing of materials easily told off, kind by kind—wood and stone and whatever else there be, all blending into a kosmos: it must be alert throughout, every member living by its own life, nothing that can have existence failing to exist within it.
And here we have the solution of the problem, “How an ensouled living form can include the soulless”: for this account allows grades of living within the whole, grades to some of which we deny life only because they are not perceptibly self-moved: in the truth, all of these have a hidden life; and the thing whose life is patent to sense is made up of things which do not live to sense, but, none the less, confer upon their resultant total wonderful powers towards living. Man would never have reached to his actual height if the powers by which he acts were the completely soulless elements of his being; similarly the All could not have its huge life unless its every member had a life of its own; this however does not necessarily imply a deliberate intention; the All has no need of intention to bring about its acts: it is older than intention, and therefore its powers have many servitors.
We must not rob the universe of any factor in its being. If any of our theorists of to-day seek to explain the action of fire—or of any other such form, thought of as an agent—they will find themselves in difficulties unless they recognise the act to be the object’s function in the All, and give a like explanation of other natural forces in common use.
We do not habitually examine or in any way question the normal: we set to doubting and working out identifications when we are confronted by any display of power outside everyday experience: we wonder at a novelty and we wonder at the customary when anyone brings forward some single object and explains to our ignorance the efficacy vested in it.
Some such power, not necessarily accompanied by reason, every single item possesses; for each has been brought into being and into shape within a universe; each in its kind has partaken of soul through the medium of the ensouled All, as being embraced by that definitely constituted thing: each then is a member of an animate being which can include nothing that is less than a full member (and therefore a sharer in the total of power)—though one thing is of mightier efficacy than another, and, especially members of the heavenly system than the objects of earth, since they draw upon a purer nature—and these powers are widely productive. But productivity does not comport intention in what appears to be the source of the thing accomplished: there is efficacy, too, where there is no will: even attention is not necessary to the communication of power; the very transmission of soul may proceed without either.
A living being, we know, may spring from another without any intention, and as without loss so without consciousness in the begetter: in fact any intention the animal exercised could be a cause of propagation only on condition of being identical with the animal (i.e. the theory would make intention a propagative animal, not a mental act?)
And, if intention is unnecessary to the propagation of life, much more so is attention.
Whatever springs automatically from the All out of that distinctive life of its own, and, in addition to that self-moving activity, whatever is due to some specific agency—for example, to prayers, simple or taking the form of magic incantations—this entire range of production is to be referred, not to each such single cause, but to the nature of the thing produced (i.e. to a certain natural tendency in the product to exist with its own quality).
All that forwards life or some other useful purpose is to be ascribed to the transmission characteristic of the All; it is something flowing from the major of an integral to its minor. Where we think we see the transmission of some force unfavourable to the production of living beings, the flaw must be found in the inability of the subject to take in what would serve it: for what happens does not happen upon a void; there is always specific form and quality; anything that could be affected must have an underlying nature definite and characterised. The inevitable blendings, further, have their constructive effect, every element adding something contributory to the life. Then again some influence may come into play at the time when the forces of a beneficent nature are not acting: the co-ordination of the entire system of things does not always allow to each several entity everything that it needs: and further we ourselves add a great deal to what is transmitted to us.
None the less all entwines into a unity and there is something wonderful in the agreement holding among these various things of varied source, even of sources frankly opposite; the secret lies in a variety within a unity. When by the standard of the better kind among things of process anything falls short—the reluctance of its material substratum having prevented its perfect shaping under idea—it may be thought of as being deficient in that noble element whose absence brings to shame: the thing is a blend, something due to the high beings, an alloy from the underlying nature, something added by the self.
Because all is ever being knit, all brought to culmination in unity, therefore all events are indicated; but this does not make virtue a matter of compulsion; its spontaneity is equally inwoven into the ordered system by the general law that the things of this sphere are pendant from the higher, that the content of our universe lies in the hands of the diviner beings in whom our world is participant.
We cannot, then, refer all that exists to Reason-Principles inherent in the seed of things (Spermatic Reasons); the universe is to be traced further back, to the more primal forces, to the principles by which that seed itself takes shape. Such spermatic principles cannot be the containers of things which arise independently of them, such as what enters from Matter (the reasonless) into membership of the All, or what is due to the mere interaction of existences.
No: the Reason-Principle of the universe would be better envisaged as a wisdom uttering order and law to a state, in full knowledge of what the citizens will do and why, and in perfect adaptation of law to custom; thus the code is made to thread its way in and out through all their conditions and actions with the honour or infamy earned by their conduct; and all coalesces by a kind of automatism.
The signification which exists is not a first intention; it arises incidentally by the fact that in a given collocation the members will tell something of each other: all is unity sprung of unity and therefore one thing is known by way of another other, a cause in the light of the caused, the sequent as rising from its precedent, the compound from the constituents which must make themselves known in the linked total.
If all this is sound, at once our doubts fall and we need no longer ask whether the transmission of any evil is due to the gods.
For, in sum: Firstly, intentions are not to be considered as the operative causes; necessities inherent in the nature of things account for all that comes from the other realm; it is a matter of the inevitable relation of parts, and, besides, all is the sequence to the living existence of a unity. Secondly, there is the large contribution made by the individual. Thirdly, each several communication, good in itself, takes another quality in the resultant combination. Fourthly, the life in the kosmos does not look to the individual but to the whole. Finally, there is Matter, the under-lie, which being given one thing receives it as something else, and is unable to make the best of what it takes.
But magic spells; how can their efficacy be explained?
By the reigning sympathy and by the fact in Nature that there is an agreement of like forces and an opposition of unlike, and by the diversity of those multitudinous powers which converge in the one living universe.
There is much drawing and spell-binding dependent on no interfering machination; the true magic is internal to the All, its attractions and, not less, its repulsions. Here is the primal mage and sorcerer—discovered by men who thenceforth turn those same ensorcellations and magic arts upon one another.
Love is given in Nature; the qualities inducing love induce mutual approach: hence there has arisen an art of magic love-drawing whose practitioners, by the force of contact implant in others a new temperament, one favouring union as being informed with love; they knit soul to soul as they might train two separate trees towards each other. The magician too draws on these patterns of power, and by ranging himself also into the pattern is able tranquilly to possess himself of these forces with whose nature and purpose he has become identified. Supposing the mage to stand outside the All, his evocations and invocations would no longer avail to draw up or to call down; but as things are he operates from no outside standground, he pulls knowing the pull of everything towards any other thing in the living system.
The tune of an incantation, a significant cry, the mien of the operator, these too have a natural leading power over the soul upon which they are directed, drawing it with the force of mournful patterns or tragic sounds—for it is the reasonless soul, not the will or wisdom, that is beguiled by music, a form of sorcery which raises no question, whose enchantment, indeed, is welcomed, exacted, from the performers. Similarly with regard to prayers; there is no question of a will that grants; the powers that answer to incantations do not act by will; a human being fascinated by a snake has neither perception nor sensation of what is happening; he knows only after he has been caught, and his highest mind is never caught. In other words, some influence falls from the being addressed upon the petitioner—or upon someone else—but that being itself, sun or star, perceives nothing of it all.
The prayer is answered by the mere fact that part and other part are wrought to one tone like a musical string which, plucked at one end, vibrates at the other also. Often, too, the sounding of one string awakens what might pass for a perception in another, the result of their being in harmony and tuned to one musical scale; now, if the vibration in a lyre affects another by virtue of the sympathy existing between them, then certainly in the All—even though it is constituted in contraries—there must be one melodic system; for it contains its unisons as well, and its entire content, even to those contraries, is a kinship.
Thus, too, whatever is hurtful to man—the passionate spirit, for example, drawn by the medium of the gall into the principle seated in the liver—comes with no intention of hurt; it is simply as one transferring fire to another might innocently burn him: no doubt, since he actually set the other on fire he is a cause, but only as the attacking fire itself is a cause, that is by the merely accidental fact that the person to whom the fire was being brought blundered in taking it.
It follows that, for the purposes which have induced this discussion, the stars have no need of memory or of any sense of petitions addressed to them; they give no such voluntary attention to prayers as some have thought: it is sufficient that, in virtue simply of the nature of parts and of parts within a whole, something proceeds from them whether in answer to prayer or without prayer. We have the analogy of many powers—as in some one living organism—which, independently of plan or as the result of applied method, act without any collaboration of the will: one member or function is helped or hurt by another in the mere play of natural forces; and the art of doctor or magic healer will compel some one centre to purvey something of its own power to another centre. Just so the All: it purveys spontaneously, but it purveys also under spell; some entity (acting like the healer) is concerned for a member situated within itself and summons the All which, then, pours in its gift; it gives to its own part by the natural law we have cited since the petitioner is no alien to it. Even though the suppliant be a sinner, the answering need not shock us; sinners draw from the brooks; and the giver does not know of the gift but simply gives—though we must remember that all is one woof and the giving is always consonant with the order of the universe. There is, therefore, no necessity by ineluctable law that one who has helped himself to what lies open to all should receive his deserts then and there.
In sum, we must hold that the All cannot be affected; its leading principle remains for ever immune whatsoever happens to its members; the affection is really present to them, but since nothing existent can be at strife with the total of existence, no such affection conflicts with its impassivity.
Thus the stars, in so far as they are parts, can be affected and yet are immune on various counts; their will, like that of the All, is untouched, just as their bodies and their characteristic natures are beyond all reach of harm; if they give by means of their souls, their souls lose nothing; their bodies remain unchanged or, if there is ebb or inflow, it is of something going unfelt and coming unawares.
And the Proficient (the Sage), how does he stand with regard to magic and philtre-spells?
In the soul he is immune from magic; his reasoning part cannot be touched by it, he cannot be perverted. But there is in him the unreasoning element which comes from the (material) All, and in this he can be affected, or rather this can be affected in him. Philtre-Love, however, he will not know, for that would require the consent of the higher soul to the trouble stirred in the lower. And, just as the unreasoning element responds to the call of incantation, so the adept himself will dissolve those horrible powers by counter-incantations. Death, disease, any experience within the material sphere, these may result, yes; for anything that has membership in the All may be affected by another member, or by the universe of members; but the essential man is beyond harm.
That the effects of magic should be not instantaneous but developed is only in accord with Nature’s way.
Even the Celestials, the Daimones, are not on their unreasoning side immune: there is nothing against ascribing acts of memory and experiences of sense to them, in supposing them to accept the traction of methods laid up in the natural order, and to give hearing to petitioners; this is especially true of those of them that are closest to this sphere, and in the degree of their concern about it.
For everything that looks to another is under spell to that: what we look to, draws us magically. Only the self-intent go free of magic. Hence every action has magic as its source, and the entire life of the practical man is a bewitchment: we move to that only which has wrought a fascination upon us. This is indicated where we read “for the burgher of great-hearted Erechtheus has a pleasant face (but you should see him naked; then you would be cautious).” For what conceivably turns a man to the external? He is drawn, drawn by the arts not of magicians but of the natural order which administers the deceiving draught and links this to that, not in local contact but in the fellowship of the philtre.
Contemplation alone stands untouched by magic; no man self-gathered falls to a spell; for he is one, and that unity is all he perceives, so that his reason is not beguiled but holds the due course, fashioning its own career and accomplishing its task.
In the other way of life, it is not the essential man that gives the impulse; it is not the reason; the unreasoning also acts as a principle, and this is the first condition of the misfortune. Caring for children, planning marriage—everything that works as bait, taking value by dint of desire—these all tug obviously: so it is with our action, sometimes stirred, not reasonably, by a certain spirited temperament, sometimes as foolishly by greed; political interests, the siege of office, all betray a forth-summoning lust of power; action for security springs from fear; action for gain, from desire; action undertaken for the sake of sheer necessities—that is, for supplying the insufficiency of nature—indicates, manifestly, the cajoling force of nature to the safeguarding of life.
We may be told that no such magic underlies good action, since, at that, Contemplation itself, certainly a good action, implies a magic attraction.
The answer is that there is no magic when actions recognised as good are performed upon sheer necessity with the recollection that the veritable good is elsewhere; this is simply knowledge of need; it is not a bewitchment binding the life to this sphere or to any thing alien; all is permissible under duress of human nature, and in the spirit of adaptation to the needs of existence in general—or even to the needs of the individual existence, since it certainly seems reasonable to fit oneself into life rather than to withdraw from it.
When, on the contrary, the agent falls in love with what is good in those actions, and, cheated by the mere track and trace of the Authentic Good makes them his own, then, in his pursuit of a lower good, he is the victim of magic. For all dalliance with what wears the mask of the authentic, all attraction towards that mere semblance, tells of a mind misled by the spell of forces pulling towards unreality.
The sorcery of Nature is at work in this; to pursue the non-good as a good, drawn in unreasoning impulse by its specious appearance: it is to be led unknowing down paths unchosen; and what can we call that but magic?
Alone in immunity from magic is he who, though drawn by the alien parts of his total being, withholds his assent to their standards of worth, recognising the good only where his authentic self sees and knows it, neither drawn nor pursuing, but tranquilly possessing and so never charmed away.
From this discussion it becomes perfectly clear that the individual member of the All contributes to that All in the degree of its kind and condition; thus it acts and is acted upon. In any particular animal each of the limbs and organs, in the measure of its kind and purpose, aids the entire being by service performed and counts in rank and utility: it gives what is in it its gift and takes from its fellows in the degree of receptive power belonging to its kind; there is something like a common sensitiveness linking the parts, and in the orders in which each of the parts is also animate, each will have, in addition to its rank as part, the very particular functions of a living being.
We have learned, further, something of our human standing; we know that we too accomplish within the All a work not confined to the activity and receptivity of body in relation to body; we know that we bring to it that higher nature of ours, linked as we are by affinities within us towards the answering affinities outside us; becoming by our soul and the conditions of our kind thus linked—or, better, being linked by Nature—with our next highest in the celestial or daemonic realm, and thence onwards with those above the Celestials, we cannot fail to manifest our quality. Still, we are not all able to offer the same gifts or to accept identically: if we do not possess good, we cannot bestow it; nor can we ever purvey any good thing to one that has no power of receiving good. Anyone that adds his evil to the total of things is known for what he is and, in accordance with his kind, is pressed down into the evil which he has made his own, and hence, upon death, goes to whatever region fits his quality—and all this happens under the pull of natural forces.
For the good man, the giving and the taking and the changes of state go quite the other way; the particular tendencies of the nature, we may put it, transpose the cords (so that we are moved by that only which, in Plato’s metaphor of the puppets, draws towards the best).
Thus this universe of ours is a wonder of power and wisdom, everything by a noiseless road coming to pass according to a law which none may elude—which the base man never conceives though it is leading him, all unknowingly, to that place in the All where his lot must be cast—which the just man knows, and, knowing, sets out to the place he must, understanding, even as he begins the journey, where he is to be housed at the end, and having the good hope that he will be with gods.
In a living being of small scope the parts vary but slightly, and have but a faint individual consciousness, and, unless possibly in a few and for a short time, are not themselves alive. But in a living universe, of high expanse, where every entity has vast scope and many of the members have life, there must be wider movement and greater changes. We see the sun and the moon and the other stars shifting place and course in an ordered progression. It is therefore within reason that the souls, also, of the All should have their changes, not retaining unbrokenly the same quality, but ranged in some analogy with their action and experience—some taking rank as head and some as foot in a disposition consonant with the Universal Being which has its degrees in better and less good. A soul, which neither chooses the highest that is here, nor has lent itself to the lowest, is one which has abandoned another, a purer, place, taking this sphere in free election.
The punishments of wrong-doing are like the treatment of diseased parts of the body—here, medicines to knit sundered flesh; there, amputations; elsewhere, change of environment and condition—and the penalties are planned to bring health to the All by settling every member in the fitting place: and this health of the All requires that one man be made over anew and another, sick here, be taken hence to where he shall be weakly no longer.