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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).
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Table of Contents
Do ċum glóire Dé & onóra na n-Éireann,
Stíofán mac-Enna.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE FOURTH ENNEAD[Back to Table of Contents]
In the Intellectual Kosmos dwells Authentic Essence, with the Intellectual-Principle (Divine Mind) as the noblest of its content, but containing also souls, since every soul in this lower sphere has come thence: that is the world of unembodied spirits while to our world belong those that have entered body and undergone bodily division.
There the Intellectual-Principle is a concentrated all—nothing of it distinguished or divided—and in that kosmos of unity all souls are concentrated also, with no spatial discrimination.
But there is a difference:—
The Intellectual-Principle is for ever repugnant to distinction and to partition. Soul, there without distinction and partition, has yet a nature lending itself to divisional existence: its division is secession, entry into body.
In view of this seceding and the ensuing partition we may legitimately speak of it as a partible thing.
But if so, how can it still be described as indivisible?
In that the secession is not of the soul entire; something of it holds its ground, that in it which recoils from separate existence.
The entity, therefore, described as “consisting of the undivided soul and of the soul divided among bodies,” contains a soul which is at once above and below, attached to the Supreme and yet reaching down to this sphere, like a radius from a centre.
Thus it is that, entering this realm, it possesses still the vision inherent to that superior phase in virtue of which it unchangingly maintains its integral nature. Even here it is not exclusively the partible soul: it is still the impartible as well: what in it knows partition is parted without partibility; undivided as giving itself to the entire body, a whole to a whole, it is divided as being effective in every part.[Back to Table of Contents]
In our attempt to elucidate the Essence of the soul, we show it to be neither a material fabric nor, among immaterial things, a harmony. The theory that it is some final development, some entelechy, we pass by, holding this to be neither true as presented nor practically definitive.
No doubt we make a very positive statement about it when we declare it to belong to the Intellectual Kind, to be of the divine order; but a deeper penetration of its nature is demanded.
In that allocation we were distinguishing things as they fall under the Intellectual or the sensible, and we placed the soul in the former class; now, taking its membership of the Intellectual for granted, we must investigate by another path the more specific characteristics of its nature.
There are, we hold, things primarily apt to partition, tending by sheer nature towards separate existence: they are things in which no part is identical either with another part or with the whole, while, also their part is necessarily less than the total and whole: these are magnitudes of the realm of sense, masses, each of which has a station of its own so that none can be identically present in entirety at more than one point at one time.
But to that order is opposed Essence (Real-Being); this is in no degree susceptible of partition; it is unparted and impartible; interval is foreign to it, cannot enter into our idea of it: it has no need of place and is not, in diffusion or as an entirety, situated within any other being: it is poised over all beings at once, and this is not in the sense of using them as a base but in their being neither capable nor desirous of existing independently of it; it is an essence eternally unvaried: it is common to all that follows upon it: it is like the circle’s centre to which all the radii are attached while leaving it unbrokenly in possession of itself, the starting point of their course and of their essential being, the ground in which they all participate: thus the indivisible is the principle of these divided existences and in their very outgoing they remain enduringly in contact with that stationary essence.
So far we have the primarily indivisible—supreme among the Intellectual and Authentically Existent—and we have its contrary, the Kind definitely divisible in things of sense; but there is also another Kind, of earlier rank than the sensible yet near to it and resident within it—an order, not, like body, primarily a thing of part, but becoming so upon incorporation. The bodies are separate, and the ideal form which enters them is correspondingly sundered while, still, it is present as one whole in each of its severed parts, since amid that multiplicity in which complete individuality has entailed complete partition, there is a permanent identity; we may think of colour, qualities of all kinds, some particular shape, which can be present in many unrelated objects at the one moment, each entire and yet with no community of experience among the various manifestations. In the case of such ideal-forms we may affirm complete partibility.
But, on the other hand, that first utterly indivisible Kind must be accompanied by a subsequent Essence, engendered by it and holding indivisibility from it but, in virtue of the necessary outgo from source, tending firmly towards the contrary, the wholly partible; this secondary Essence will take an intermediate place between the first substance, the undivided, and that which is divisible in material things and resides in them. Its presence, however, will differ in one respect from that of colour and quantity; these, no doubt, are present identically and entire throughout diverse material masses, but each several manifestation of them is as distinct from every other as the mass is from the mass.
The magnitude present in any mass is definitely one thing, yet its identity from part to part does not imply any such community as would entail common experience; within that identity there is diversity, for it is a condition only, not (as in the case of soul) the actual Essence.
The Essence, very near to the impartible, which we assert to belong to the Kind we are now dealing with, is at once an Essence and an entrant into body; upon embodiment, it experiences a partition unknown before it thus bestowed itself.
In whatsoever bodies it occupies—even the vastest of all, that in which the entire universe is included—it gives itself to the whole without abdicating its unity.
This unity of an Essence is not like that of body, which is a unit by the mode of continuous extension, the mode of distinct parts each occupying its own space. Nor is it such a unity as we have dealt with in the case of quality.
The nature, at once divisible and indivisible, which we affirm to be soul has not the unity of an extended thing: it does not consist of separate sections; its divisibility lies in its presence at every point of the recipient, but it is indivisible as dwelling entire in the total and entire in any part.
To have penetrated this idea is to know the greatness of the soul and its power, the divinity and wonder of its being, as a nature transcending the sphere of Things.
Itself devoid of mass, it is present to all mass: it exists here and yet is There, and this not in distinct phases but with unsundered identity: thus it is “parted and not parted,” or, better, it has never known partition, never become a parted thing, but remains a self-gathered integral, and is “parted among bodies” merely in the sense that bodies, in virtue of their own sundered existence, cannot receive it unless in some partitive mode; the partition, in other words, is an occurrence in body not in soul.
It can be demonstrated that soul must necessarily be of just this nature, and that there can be no other soul than such a being, one neither wholly partible but both at once.
If it had the nature of body it would consist of isolated members each unaware of the conditions of every other; there would be a particular soul—say a soul of the finger—answering as a distinct and independent entity to every local experience; in general terms, there would be a multiplicity of souls administering each individual; and, moreover, the universe would be governed not by one soul but by an incalculable number, each standing apart to itself. But without a dominant unity, continuity is meaningless.
The theory that “Impressions reach the leading-principle by progressive stages” must be dismissed as mere illusion.
In the first place, it affirms without investigation a “leading” phase of the soul.
What can justify this assigning of parts to the soul, and distinguishing one part from another? What quantity, or what difference of quality, can apply to a thing defined as a self-consistent whole of unbroken unity?
Again, would perception be vested in that leading principle alone, or in the other phases as well?
If a given experience bears only on that “leading principle,” it would not be felt as lodged in any particular members of the organism; if, on the other hand, it fastens on some other phase of the soul—one not constituted for sensation—that phase cannot transmit any experience to the leading principle, and there can be no sensation.
Again, suppose sensation vested in the “leading-principle” itself: then, a first alternative, it will be felt in some one part of that (some specifically sensitive phase), the other part excluding a perception which could serve no purpose; or, in the second alternative, there will be many distinct sensitive phases, an infinite number, with difference from one to another. In that second case, one sensitive phase will declare “I had this sensation primarily”; others will have to say “I felt the sensation that rose elsewhere”; but either the site of the experience will be a matter of doubt to every phase except the first, or each of the parts of the soul will be deceived into allocating the occurrence within its own particular sphere.
If, on the contrary, the sensation is vested not merely in the “leading principle,” but in any and every part of the soul, what special function raises the one rather than the other into that leading rank, or why is the sensation to be referred to it rather than elsewhere? And how, at this, account for the unity of the knowledge brought in by diverse senses, by eyes, by ears?
On the other hand, if the soul is a perfect unity—utterly strange to part, a self-gathered whole—if it continuously eludes all touch of multiplicity and divisibility—then, no whole taken up into it can ever be ensouled; soul will stand as circle-centre to every object (remote on the circumference), and the entire mass of a living being is soulless still.
There is, therefore, no escape: soul is, in the degree indicated, one and many, parted and impartible. We cannot question the possibility of a thing being at once a unity and multi-present, since to deny this would be to abolish the principle which sustains and administers the universe: there must be a Kind which encircles and supports all and conducts all with wisdom, a principle which is multiple since existence is multiple, and yet is one soul always since a container must be a unity: by the multiple unity of its nature, it will furnish life to the multiplicity of the series of an all; by its impartible unity, it will conduct a total to wise ends.
In the case of things not endowed with intelligence, the “leading-principle” is their mere unity—a lower reproduction of the soul’s efficiency.
This is the deeper meaning of the profound passage (in the Timaeus), where we read “By blending the impartible, eternally unchanging essence with that in division among bodies, he produced a third form of essence partaking of both qualities.”
Soul, therefore, is, in this definite sense, one and many; the Ideal-Form resident in body is many and one; bodies themselves are exclusively many; the Supreme is exclusively one.[Back to Table of Contents]
The soul: what dubious questions concerning it admit of solution, or where we must abide our doubt—with, at least, the gain of recognising the problem that confronts us—this is matter well worth attention. On what subject can we more reasonably expend the time required by minute discussion and investigation? Apart from much else, it is enough that such an enquiry illuminates two grave questions:—of what sphere the soul is the principle and whence the soul itself springs. Moreover, we will be only obeying the ordinance of the God who bade us know ourselves.
Our general instinct to seek and learn, our longing to possess ourselves of whatsoever is lovely in the vision will, in all reason, set us enquiring into the nature of the instrument with which we search.
Now even in the universal Intellect (Divine Mind) there was duality, so that we would expect differences of condition in things of part: how some things rather than others come to be receptacles of the divine beings will need to be examined; but all this we may leave aside until we are considering the mode in which soul comes to occupy body. For the moment we return to our argument against those who maintain our souls to be offshoots from the soul of the universe (parts and not an identity modally parted).
Our opponents will probably deny the validity of our arguments against the theory that the human soul is a mere segment of the All-Soul—the considerations, namely, that it is of identical scope, and that it is intellective in the same degree, supposing them, even, to admit that equality of intellection.
They will object that parts must necessarily fall under one ideal-form with their wholes. And they will adduce Plato as expressing their view where, in demonstrating that the All is ensouled, he says “As our body is a portion of the body of the All, so our soul is a portion of the soul of the All.” It is admitted on clear evidence that we are borne along by the Circuit of the All; we will be told that—taking character and destiny from it, strictly inbound with it—we must derive our souls, also, from what thus bears us up, and that as within ourselves every part absorbs from our soul so, analogically, we, standing as parts to the universe, absorb from the Soul of the All as parts of it. They will urge also that the dictum “The collective soul cares for all the unensouled,” carries the same implication and could be uttered only in the belief that nothing whatever of later origin stands outside the soul of the universe, the only soul there can be there to concern itself with the unensouled.
To this our first answer is that to place certain things under one identical class—by admitting an identical range of operation—is to make them of one common species, and puts an end to all mention of part; the reasonable conclusion would be, on the contrary, that there is one identical soul, every separate manifestation being that soul complete.
Our opponents after first admitting the unity go on to make our soul dependent on something else, something in which we have no longer the soul of this or that, even of the universe, but a soul of nowhere, a soul belonging neither to the kosmos, nor to anything else, and yet vested with all the function inherent to the kosmic soul and to that of every ensouled thing.
The soul considered as an entirety cannot be a soul of any one given thing—since it is an Essence (a divine Real-Being)—or, at least, there must be a soul which is not exclusively the soul of any particular thing, and those attached to particulars must so belong merely in some mode of accident.
In such questions as this it is important to clarify the significance of “part.”
Part, as understood of body—uniform or varied—need not detain us; it is enough to indicate that, when part is mentioned in respect of things whose members are alike, it refers to mass and not to ideal-form (specific idea): take for example, whiteness: the whiteness in a portion of milk is not a part of the whiteness of milk in general: we have the whiteness of a portion not a portion of whiteness; for whiteness is utterly without magnitude; has nothing whatever to do with quantity.
That is all we need say with regard to part in material things; but part in the unembodied may be taken in various ways. We may think of it in the sense familiar in numbers, “two” a part of the standard “ten”—in abstract numbers of course—or as we think of a segment of a circle, or line (abstractly considered), or, again, of a section or branch of knowledge.
In the case of the units of reckoning and of geometrical figure, exactly as in that of corporeal masses, partition must diminish the total; the part must be less than the whole; for these are things of quantity, and have their being as things of quantity; and—since they are not the ideal-form Quantity—they are subject to increase and decrease.
Now in such a sense as this, part cannot be affirmed of the soul.
The soul is not a thing of quantity; we are not to conceive of the All-Soul as some standard ten with particular souls as its constituent units.
Such a conception would entail many absurdities:—
The Ten could not be (essentially) a unity (the Soul would be an aggregation, not a self-standing Real-Being) and, further—unless every one of the single constituents were itself an All-Soul—the All-Soul would be formed of non-souls.
Again, it is admitted that the particular soul—this “part of the All-Soul”—is of one ideal-form with it, but this does not entail the relation of part to whole, since in objects formed of continuous parts there is nothing inevitably making any portion uniform with the total: take, for example, the parts of a circle or square; we may divide it in different ways so as to get our part; a triangle need not be divided into triangles; all sorts of different figures are possible: yet an absolute uniformity is admitted to reign throughout soul.
In a line, no doubt, the part is inevitably a line; but even here there is a necessary difference in size; and if, in the case of the soul we similarly called upon magnitude as the distinction between constituents and collective soul, then soul, thus classed by magnitude becomes quantitative, and is simply body.
But it is admitted that all souls are alike, and are entireties; clearly, soul is not subject to part in the sense in which magnitudes are: our opponents themselves would not consent to the notion of the All-Soul being whittled down into fragments, yet this is what they would be doing, annulling the All-Soul—if any collective soul existed at all—making it a mere piece of terminology, thinking of it like wine separated into many portions, each portion, in its jar, being described as a portion of the total thing, wine.
Next there is the conception of the individual soul as a part in the sense in which we speak of some single proposition as a part of the science entire.
The theorem is separate, but the science stands as one undivided thing, the expression and summed efficiency (energy) of each constituent notion: this is partition without severance; each item potentially includes the whole science, which itself remains an unbroken total.
Is this the appropriate parallel?
No; in such a relationship the All-Soul, of which the particular souls are to be a part, would not be the soul of any definite thing, but an entity standing aloof; that means that it would not even be the soul of the Kosmos; it would, in fact, be, itself, one of those partial souls; thus all alike (kosmic soul and particular souls) would be partial and of one nature; and, at that, there would be no reason for making any such distinction.
Is it a question of part in the sense that, taking one living being, the soul in a finger might be called a part of the soul entire?
This would carry the alternative that either there is no soul outside of body, or that—no soul being within body—the thing described as the soul of the universe is, none the less, outside the body of the universe. That is a point to be investigated, but for the present we must consider what kind of soul this parallel would give us.
If the particular soul is a part of the All-Soul only in the sense that this bestows itself upon all living things of the partial sphere, such a self-bestowal does not imply division; on the contrary, it is the identical soul that is present everywhere, the one complete thing, multi-present at the one moment: there is no longer question of a soul that is a part against a soul that is an all—especially where an identical power is present. Even difference of function, as in eyes and ears, cannot warrant the assertion of distinct parts concerned in each separate act—with other parts again making allotment of faculty—all is met by the notion of one identical thing, but a thing in which a distinct power operates in each separate function. All the powers are present either in seeing or in hearing; the difference in impression received is due to the difference in the organs concerned; all the varying impressions are our various responses to Ideal-forms that can be taken in a variety of modes.
A further proof (of the unity of soul) is that perception demands a common gathering place; every organ has its distinct function, and is competent only upon its own material, and must interpret each several experience in its own fashion; the judgement upon these impressions must, then, be vested in some one principle, a judge informed upon all that is said and done.
But again: “Everywhere, Unity”: in the variety of functions if each “part of the soul” were as distinct as are the entrant sensations, none of those parts could have knowledge; awareness would belong only to that judging faculty—or, if local, every such act of awareness would stand quite unrelated to any other. But since the soul is a rational soul, by the very same title by which it is an All-Soul, and is called the rational soul, in the sense of being a whole (and so not merely “reasoning locally”), then what is thought of as a part must in reality be no part but the identity of an unparted thing.
But if this is the true account of the unity of soul, we must be able to meet the problems that ensue: firstly, the difficulty of one thing being present at the same moment in all things; and, secondly, the difficulty of soul in body as against soul not embodied.
We might be led to think that all soul must always inhabit body; this would seem especially plausible in the case of the soul of the universe, not thought of as ever leaving its body as the human soul does: there exists, no doubt, an opinion that even the human soul, while it must leave the body, can not become an utterly disembodied thing; but, assuming its complete disembodiment, how comes it that the human soul can go free of the body but the All-Soul not, though they are one and the same?
There is no such difficulty in the case of the Intellectual-Principle; by the primal differentiation, this separates, no doubt, into partial things of widely varying nature, but eternal unity is secured by virtue of the eternal identity of that Essence: it is not so easy to explain how, in the case of the soul described as separate among bodies, such differentiated souls can still remain one thing.
A possible solution may be offered:—
The unit soul (it may be conceived) holds aloof, not actually falling into body; the differentiated souls—the All-Soul, with the others—issue from the unity while still constituting, within certain limits, an association. They are one soul by the fact that they do not belong unreservedly to any particular being; they meet, so to speak, fringe to fringe; they strike out here and there, but are held together at the source much as light is a divided thing upon earth, shining in this house, and that, and yet remains uninterruptedly one identical substance.
The All-Soul would always remain above, since essentially it has nothing to do with descent or with the lower, or with any tendency towards this sphere: the other souls would become ours (become “partial,” individual in us) because their lot is cast for this sphere, and because they are solicited by a thing (the body) which invites their care.
The one—the lowest soul in the total of the All-Soul—would correspond to that in some great growth, silently, unlaboriously conducting the whole; our own lowest soul might be compared to the insect life in some rotted part of the growth—for this is the ratio of the animated body to the universe—while the other soul in us, of one ideal nature with the higher parts of the All-Soul, may be imaged as the gardener concerned about the insects lodged in the tree and anxiously working to amend what is wrong; or we may contrast a healthy man living with the healthy and, by his thought or by his act, lending himself to the service of those about him, with, on the other side, a sick man intent upon his own care and cure, and so living for the body, body-bound.
But what place is left for the particular souls, yours and mine and another’s?
May we suppose the Soul to be appropriated on the lower ranges to some individual, but to belong on the higher to that other sphere?
At this there would be a Socrates as long as Socrates’ soul remained in body; but Socrates ceases to exist, precisely on attainment of the highest.
Now nothing of Real Being is ever annulled.
In the Supreme, the Intellectual-Principles are not annulled, for in their differentiation there is no bodily partition, no passing of each separate phase into a distinct unity; every such phase remains in full possession of that identical being. It is exactly so with the souls.
By their succession they are linked to the several Intellectual-Principles, for they are the expression, the Logos, of the Intellectual-Principles, of which they are the unfolding; brevity has opened out to multiplicity; by that point of their being which least belongs to the partial order, they are attached each to its own Intellectual original: they have already chosen the way of division; but to the extreme they cannot go; thus they keep, at once, identification and difference; each soul is permanently a unity (a self) and yet all are, in their total, one being.
Thus the gist of the matter is established: one soul the source of all; those others, as a many founded in that one, are, on the analogy of the Intellectual-Principle, at once divided and undivided; that Soul which abides in the Supreme is the one expression or Logos of the Intellectual-Principle, and from it spring other Reason-Principles, partial but immaterial, exactly as in the differentiation of the Supreme.
But how comes it that while the All-Soul has produced a kosmos, the soul of the particular has not, though it is of the one ideal Kind and contains, it too, all things in itself?
We have indicated that a thing may enter and dwell at the same time in various places; this ought to be explained, and the enquiry would show how an identity resident simultaneously here and there may, in its separate appearances, act or react—or both—after distinct modes; but the matter deserves to be examined in a special discussion.
To return, then: how and why has the All-Soul produced a kosmos, while the particular souls simply administer some one part of it?
In the first place, we are not surprised when men of identical knowledge differ greatly in effective power.
But the reason, we will be asked.
The answer might be that there is an even greater difference among these souls, the one never having fallen away from the All-Soul, but dwelling within it and assuming body therein, while the others received their allotted spheres when the body was already in existence, when their sister soul was already in rule and, as it were, had already prepared habitations for them. Again, the reason may be that the one (the creative All-Soul) looks towards the universal Intellectual-Principle (the exemplar of all that can be) while the others are more occupied with the Intellectual within themselves, that which is already of the sphere of part; perhaps, too, these also could have created, but that they were anticipated by that originator—the work accomplished before them—an impediment inevitable whichsoever of the souls were first to operate.
But it is safer to account for the creative act by nearer connection with the over-world; the souls whose tendency is exercised within the Supreme have the greater power; immune in that pure seat they create securely; for the greater power takes the least hurt from the material within which it operates; and this power remains enduringly attached to the over-world: it creates, therefore, self gathered and the created things gather round it; the other souls, on the contrary, themselves go forth; that can mean only that they have deserted towards the abyss; a main phase in them is drawn downward and pulls them with it in the desire towards the lower.
The “secondary and tertiary souls,” of which we hear, must be understood in the sense of closer or remoter position: it is much as in ourselves the relation to the Supreme is not identical from soul to soul; some of us are capable of becoming Uniate, others of striving and almost attaining, while a third rank is much less apt; it is a matter of the degree or powers of the soul by which our expression is determined—the first degree dominant in the one person, the second, the third (the merely animal life) in others while, still, all of us contain all the powers.
So far, so good: but what of the passage in the Philebus taken to imply that the other souls are parts of the All-Soul?
The statement there made does not bear the meaning read into it; it expresses only, what the author was then concerned with, that the heavens are ensouled—a teaching which he maintains in the observation that it is preposterous to make the heavens soulless when we, who contain a part of the body of the All, have a soul; how, he asks, could there be soul in the part and none in the total.
He makes his teaching quite clear in the Timaeus, where he shows us the other souls brought into existence after the All-Soul, but “compounded from the same mixing bowl”; secondary and tertiary are duly marked off from the primal but every form of soul is presented as being of identical ideal-nature with the All-Soul.
As for the saying of the Phaedrus, “All that is soul cares for all that is soulless,” this simply tells us that the corporeal kind cannot be controlled—fashioned, set in place or brought into being—by anything but the Soul. And we cannot think that there is one soul whose nature includes this power and another without it. “The perfect soul, that of the All,” we read, “going its lofty journey, operates upon the kosmos not by sinking into it, but, as it were, by brooding over it”; and “every perfect soul exercises this governance”; he distinguishes the other, the soul in this sphere (not as a part, or as a different being, but) as “the soul when its wing is broken.”
As for our souls being entrained in the kosmic circuit, and taking character and condition thence; this is no indication that they are parts: soul-nature may very well take some tincture from even the qualities of place, from water and from air; residence in this city or in that, and the varying make-up of the body may have their influence (upon our human souls which, yet, are no parts of place or of body).
We have always admitted that as members of the universe we take over something from the All-Soul; we do not deny the influence of the Kosmic Circuit; but against all this we oppose another soul in us (the Intellectual as distinguished from the merely vitalising) proven to be distinct by that power of opposition.
As for our being begotten children of the kosmos, we answer that in motherhood the entrant soul is distinct, is not the mother’s.
These considerations, amounting to the settlement of the question, are not countered by the phenomenon of sympathy; the response between soul and soul is due to the mere fact that all spring from that self-same soul (the next to Divine Mind) from which springs the Soul of the All.
We have already stated that the one soul is also multiple; and we have dealt with the different forms of relationship between part and whole: we have investigated the different degrees existing within soul; we may now add, briefly, that differences might be induced, also, by the bodies with which the soul has to do, and, even more, by the character and mental operations carried over from the conduct of the previous lives. “The life-choice made by a soul has a correspondence”—we read—“with its former lives.”
As regards the nature of soul in general, the differences have been defined in the passage in which we mentioned the secondary and tertiary orders and laid down that, while all souls are all-comprehensive, each ranks according to its operative phase—one becoming Uniate in the achieved fact, another in knowledge, another in desire, according to the distinct orientation by which each is, or tends to become, what it looks upon. The very fulfilment and perfectionment attainable by souls cannot but be different.
But, if in the total the organisation in which they have their being is compact of variety—as it must be since every Reason-Principle is a unity of multiplicity and variety, and may be thought of as a psychic animated organism having many shapes at its command—if this is so and all constitutes a system in which being is not cut adrift from being, if there is nothing chance-borne among beings as there is none even in bodily organisms, then it follows that Number must enter into the scheme; for, once again, Being must be stable; the members of the Intellectual must possess identity, each numerically one; this is the condition of individuality. Where, as in bodily masses, the Idea is not essentially native, and the individuality is therefore in flux, existence under ideal form can rise only out of imitation of the Authentic Existences; these last, on the contrary, not rising out of any such conjunction (as the duality of Idea and dead Matter) have their being in that which is numerically one, that which was from the beginning, and neither becomes what it has not been nor can cease to be what it is.
Even supposing Real-Beings (such as soul) to be produced by some other principle, they are certainly not made from Matter; or, if they were, the creating principle must infuse into them, from within itself, something of the nature of Real-Being; but, at this, it would itself suffer change, as it created more or less. And, after all, why should it thus produce at any given moment rather than remain for ever stationary?
Moreover the produced total, variable from more to less, could not be an eternal: yet the soul, it stands agreed, is eternal.
But what becomes of the soul’s infinity if it is thus fixed?
The infinity is a matter of power: there is question, not of the soul’s being divisible into an infinite number of parts, but of an infinite possible effectiveness: it is infinity in the sense in which the Supreme God, also, is free of all bound.
This means that it is no external limit that defines the individual being or the extension of souls any more than of God; on the contrary each in right of its own power is all that it chooses to be: and we are not to think of it as going forth from itself (losing its unity by any partition): the fact is simply that the element within it, which is apt to entrance into body, has the power of immediate projection any whither: the soul is certainly not wrenched asunder by its presence at once in foot and in finger. Its presence in the All is similarly unbroken; over its entire range it exists in every several part of everything having even vegetal life, even in a part cut off from the main; in any possible segment it is as it is at its source. For the body of the All is a unit, and soul is everywhere present to it as to one thing.
When some animal rots and a multitude of others spring from it, the Life-Principle now present is not the particular soul that was in the larger body; that body has ceased to be receptive of soul, or there would have been no death; what happens is that whatsoever in the product of the decay is apt material for animal existence of one kind or another becomes ensouled by the fact that soul is nowhere lacking, though a recipient of soul may be. This new ensouling does not mean however an increase in the number of souls: all depend from the one or, rather, all remains one: it is as with ourselves; some elements are shed, others grow in their place; the soul abandons the discarded and flows into the newcoming as long as the one soul of the man holds its ground; in the All the one soul holds its ground for ever; its distinct contents now retain soul and now reject it, but the total of spiritual beings is unaffected.
But we must examine how soul comes to inhabit the body—the manner and the process—a question certainly of no minor interest.
The entry of soul into body takes place under two forms.
Firstly, there is the entry—metensomatosis—of a soul present in body by change from one (wholly material) frame to another or the entry—not known as metensomatosis, since the nature of the earlier habitacle is not certainly definable—of a soul leaving an aerial or fiery body for one of earth.
Secondly, there is the entry from the wholly bodiless into any kind of body; this is the earliest form of any dealing between body and soul, and this entry especially demands investigation.
What then can be thought to have happened when soul, utterly clean from body, first comes into commerce with the bodily nature?
It is reasonable, necessary even, to begin with the Soul of the All. Notice that if we are to explain and to be clear, we are obliged to use such words as “entry” and “ensoulment,” though never was this All unensouled, never did body subsist with soul away, never was there Matter unelaborate; we separate, the better to understand; there is nothing illegitimate in the verbal and mental sundering of things which must in fact be co-existent.
The true doctrine may be stated as follows:—
In the absence of body, soul could not have gone forth, since there is no other place to which its nature would allow it to descend. Since go forth it must, it will generate a place for itself; at once body, also, exists.
While the Soul (as an eternal, a Divine Being) is at rest—in rest firmly based on Repose, the Absolute—yet, as we may put it, that huge illumination of the Supreme pouring outwards comes at last to the extreme bourne of its light and dwindles to darkness; this darkness, now lying there beneath, the soul sees and by seeing brings to shape; for in the law of things this ultimate depth, neighbouring with soul, may not go void of whatsoever degree of that Reason-Principle it can absorb, the dimmed reason of reality at its faintest.
Imagine that a stately and varied mansion has been built; it has never been abandoned by its Architect, who, yet, is not tied down to it; he has judged it worthy in all its length and breadth of all the care that can serve to its Being—as far as it can share in Being—or to its beauty, but a care without burden to its director, who never descends, but presides over it from above: this gives the degree in which the kosmos is ensouled, not by a soul belonging to it, but by one present to it; it is mastered not master; not possessor but possessed. The soul bears it up, and it lies within, no fragment of it unsharing.
The kosmos is like a net which takes all its life, as far as ever it stretches, from being wet in the water, and has no act of its own; the sea rolls away and the net with it, precisely to the full of its scope, for no mesh of it can strain beyond its set place: the soul is of so far-reaching a nature—a thing unbounded—as to embrace the entire body of the All in the one extension; so far as the universe extends, there soul is; and if the universe had no existence, the extent of soul would be the same; it is eternally what it is. The universe spreads as broad as the presence of soul; the bound of its expansion is the point at which, in its downward egression from the Supreme, it still has soul to bind it in one: it is a shadow as broad as the Reason-Principle proceeding from soul; and that Reason-Principle is of scope to generate a kosmic bulk as vast as lay in the purposes of the Idea (the Divine forming power) which it conveys.
In view of all this we must now work back from the items to the unit, and consider the entire scheme as one enduring thing.
We ascend from air, light, sun—or, moon and light and sun—in detail, to these (and such) things as constituting a total—though a total of degrees, primary, secondary, tertiary. Thence we come to the (kosmic) Soul, always the one undiscriminated entity. At this point in our survey we have before us the over-world and all that follows upon it. That suite (the lower and material world) we take to be the very last effect that has penetrated to its furthest reach.
Our knowledge of the first is gained from the ultimate of all, from the very shadow cast by the fire, because this ultimate (the material world) itself receives its share of the general light, something of the nature of the Forming-Idea hovering over the outcast that at first lay in blank obscurity. It is brought under the scheme of reason by the efficacy of soul whose entire extension latently holds this rationalising power. As we know, the Reason-Principles carried in animal seed fashion and shape living beings into so many universes in the small. For whatsoever touches soul is moulded to the nature of soul’s own Real-Being.
We are not to think that the Soul acts upon the object by conformity to any external judgement; there is no pause for willing or planning: any such procedure would not be an act of sheer nature, but one of applied art: but art is of later origin than soul; it is an imitator, producing dim and feeble copies—toys, things of no great worth—and it is dependent upon all sorts of mechanism by which alone its images can be produced. The soul, on the contrary, is sovran over material things by might of Real-Being; their quality is determined by its lead, and those elementary things cannot stand against its will. On the later level, things are hindered one by the other, and thus often fall short of the characteristic shape at which their unextended Reason-Principle must be aiming; in that other world (under the soul but above the material) the entire shape (as well as the idea) comes from soul, and all that is produced takes and keeps its appointed place in a unity, so that the engendered thing, without labour as without clash, becomes all that it should be. In that world the soul has elaborated its creation, the images of the gods, dwellings for men, each existing to some peculiar purpose.
Soul could produce none but the things which truly represent its powers: fire produces warmth; another source produces cold; soul has a double efficacy, its act within itself, and its act from within outwards towards the new production.
In soulless entities, the outgo (natural to everything) remains dormant, and any efficiency they have is to bring to their own likeness whatever is amenable to their act. All existence has this tendency to bring other things to likeness; but the soul has the distinction of possessing at once an action of conscious attention within itself, and an action towards the outer. It has thus the function of giving life to all that does not live by prior right, and the life it gives is commensurate with its own; that is to say, living in reason, it communicates reason to the body—an image of the reason within itself, just as the life given to the body is an image of Real-Being—and it bestows, also, upon that material the appropriate shapes of which it contains the Reason-Forms.
The content of the creative soul includes the Ideal shapes of gods and of all else: and hence it is that the kosmos contains all.
I think, therefore, that those ancient sages, who sought to secure the presence of divine beings by the erection of shrines and statues, showed insight into the nature of the All; they perceived that, though this Soul is everywhere tractable, its presence will be secured all the more readily when an appropriate receptacle is elaborated, a place especially capable of receiving some portion or phase of it, something reproducing it, or representing it, and serving like a mirror to catch an image of it.
It belongs to the nature of the All to make its entire content reproduce, most felicitously, the Reason-Principles in which it participates; every particular thing is the image within matter of a Reason-Principle which itself images a pre-material Reason-Principle: thus every particular entity is linked to that Divine Being in whose likeness it is made, the divine principle which the soul contemplated and contained in the act of each creation. Such mediation and representation there must have been since it was equally impossible for the created to be without share in the Supreme, and for the Supreme to descend into the created.
The Intellectual-Principle in the Supreme has ever been the sun of that sphere—let us accept that as the type of the creative Logos—and immediately upon it follows the Soul depending from it, stationary Soul from stationary Intelligence. But the Soul borders also upon the sun of this sphere, and it becomes the medium by which all is linked to the over-world; it plays the part of an interpreter between what emanates from that sphere down to this lower universe, and what rises—as far as, through soul, anything can—from the lower to the highest.
Nothing, in fact, is far away from anything; things are not remote: there is, no doubt, the aloofness of difference and of mingled natures as against the unmingled; but selfhood has nothing to do with spatial position, and in unity itself there may still be distinction.
These Beings (the Reason-Principles of this sphere) are divine in virtue of cleaving to the Supreme, because, by the medium of the Soul thought of as descending, they remain linked with the Primal Soul, and through it are veritably what they are called and possess the vision of the Intellectual Principle, the single object of contemplation to that soul in which they have their being.
The souls of men, seeing their images in the mirror of Dionysus as it were, have entered into that realm in a leap downward from the Supreme: yet even they are not cut off from their origin, from the divine Intellect; it is not that they have come bringing the Intellectual Principle down in their fall; it is that though they have descended even to earth, yet their higher part holds for ever above the heavens.
Their initial descent is deepened since that mid-part of theirs is compelled to labour in care of the care-needing thing into which they have entered. But Zeus, the father, takes pity on their toils and makes the bonds in which they labour soluble by death and gives respite in due time, freeing them from the body, that they too may come to dwell there where the Universal Soul, unconcerned with earthly needs, has ever dwelt.
For the container of the total of things must be a self-sufficing entity and remain so: in its periods it is wrought out to purpose under its Reason-Principles which are perdurably valid; by these periods it reverts unfailingly, in the measured stages of defined life-duration, to its established character; it is leading the things of this realm to be of one voice and plan with the Supreme. And thus the kosmic content is carried forward to its purpose, everything in its co-ordinate place, under one only Reason-Principle operating alike in the descent and return of souls and to every purpose of the system.
We may know this also by the concordance of the Souls with the ordered scheme of the kosmos; they are not independent, but, by their descent, they have put themselves in contact, and they stand henceforth in harmonious association with the kosmic circuit—to the extent that their fortunes, their life experiences, their choosing and refusing, are announced by the patterns of the stars—and out of this concordance rises as it were one musical utterance: the music, the harmony, by which all is described is the best witness to this truth.
Such a consonance can have been procured in one only way:—
The All must, in every detail of act and experience, be an expression of the Supreme, which must dominate alike its periods and its stable ordering and the life-careers varying with the movement of the souls as they are sometimes absorbed in that highest, sometimes in the heavens, sometimes turned to the things and places of our earth. All that is Divine Intellect will rest eternally above, and could never fall from its sphere but, poised entire in its own high place, will communicate to things here through the channel of Soul. Soul in virtue of neighbourhood is more closely modelled upon the Idea uttered by the Divine Intellect, and thus is able to produce order in the movement of the lower realm, one phase (the World-Soul) maintaining the unvarying march (of the kosmic circuit) the other (the soul of the Individual) adopting itself to times and season.
The depth of the descent, also, will differ—sometimes lower, sometimes less low—and this even in its entry into any given Kind: all that is fixed is that each several soul descends to a recipient indicated by affinity of condition; it moves towards the thing which it There resembled, and enters, accordingly, into the body of man or animal.
The Ineluctable, the Kosmic Law is, thus, rooted in a natural principle under which each several entity is overruled to go, duly and in order, towards that place and Kind to which it characteristically tends, that is towards the image of its primal choice and constitution.
In that archetypal world every form of soul is near to the image (the thing in the world of copy) to which its individual constitution inclines it; there is therefore no need of a sender or leader acting at the right moment to bring it at the right moment whether into body or into a definitely appropriate body: of its own motion it descends at the precisely true time and enters where it must. To every Soul its own hour; when that strikes it descends and enters the body suitable to it as at the cry of a herald; thus all is set stirring and advancing as by a magician’s power or by some mighty traction; it is much as, in any living thing, the soul itself effects the fulfilment of the natural career, stirring and bringing forth, in due season, every element—beard, horn, and all the successive stages of tendency and of output—or, as it leads a tree through its normal course within set periods.
The Souls go forth neither under compulsion nor of freewill; or, at least, freedom, here, is not to be regarded as action upon preference; it is more like such a leap of the nature as moves men to the instinctive desire of sexual union, or, in the case of some, to fine conduct; the motive lies elsewhere than in the reason: like is destined unfailingly to like, and each moves hither or thither at its fixed moment.
Even the Intellectual-Principle, which is before all the kosmos, has, it also, its destiny, that of abiding intact above, and of giving downwards: what it sends down is the particular whose existence is implied in the law (or decreed system) of the universal; for the universal broods closely over the particular; it is not from without that the law derives the power by which it is executed; on the contrary the law is given in the entities upon whom it falls; these bear it about with them. Let but the moment arrive, and what it decrees will be brought to act by those beings in whom it resides; they fulfil it because they contain it; it prevails because it is within them; it becomes like a heavy burden, and sets up in them a painful longing to enter the realm to which they are bidden from within.
Thus it comes about that this kosmos, lit with many lights, gleaming in its souls, receives still further graces, gifts from here and from there, from the gods of the Supreme, and from those other Intellectual-Principles whose nature it is to ensoul. This is probably the secret of the myth in which, after Prometheus had moulded woman, the other gods heaped gifts upon her, Hephaistos “blending the clay with moisture and bestowing the human voice and the form of a goddess”; Aphrodite bringing her gifts, and the Graces theirs, and other gods other gifts, and finally calling her by the name (Pandora) which tells of gift and of all giving—for all have added something to this formation brought to being by a Promethean, a fore-thinking power. As for the rejection of Prometheus’ gift by after-thought, Epimetheus, what can this signify but that the wiser choice is to remain in the Intellectual realm? Pandora’s creator is fettered, to signify that he is in some sense held by his own creation; such a fettering is external and the release by Hercules tells that there is power in Prometheus, so that he need not remain in bonds.
Take the myth as we may, it is certainly such an account of the bestowal of gifts upon the kosmos as harmonises with our explanation of the universal system.
The souls peering forth from the Intellectual Realm descend first to the heavens and there put on a body; this becomes at once the medium by which as they reach out more and more towards magnitude (physical extension) they proceed to bodies progressively more earthy. Some even plunge from heaven to the very lowest of corporeal forms; others pass, stage by stage, too feeble to lift towards the higher the burden they carry, weighed downwards by their heaviness and forgetfulness.
As for the differences among them, these are due to variation in the bodies entered, or to the accidents of life, or to upbringing, or to inherent peculiarities of temperament, or to all these influences together, or to specific combinations of them.
Then again some have fallen unreservedly into the power of the destiny ruling here: some yielding betimes are betimes too their own: there are those who, while they accept what must be borne, have the strength of self-mastery in all that is left to their own act; they have given themselves to another dispensation: they live by the code of the aggregate of beings, the code which is woven out of the Reason-Principles and all the other causes ruling in the kosmos, out of soul-movements and out of laws springing in the Supreme; a code, therefore, consonant with those higher existences, founded upon them, linking their sequents back to them, keeping unshakeably true all that is capable of holding itself set towards the divine nature, and leading round by all appropriate means whatsoever is less natively apt.
In fine all diversity of condition in the lower spheres is determined by the descendent beings themselves.
The punishment justly overtaking the wicked must therefore be ascribed to the kosmic order which leads all in accordance with the right.
But what of chastisements, poverty, illness, falling upon the good outside of all justice? These events, we will be told, are equally interwoven into the world order and fall under prediction, and must consequently have a cause in the general reason: are they therefore to be charged to past misdoing?
No: such misfortunes do not answer to reasons established in the nature of things; they are not laid up in the master-facts of the universe, but were merely accidental sequents: a house falls, and anyone that chances to be underneath is killed, no matter what sort of man he be: two objects are moving in perfect order—or one if you like—but anything getting in the way is wounded or trampled down. Or we may reason that the underserved stroke can be no evil to the sufferer in view of the beneficent interweaving of the All or again, no doubt, that nothing is unjust that finds justification in a past history.
We may not think of some things being fitted into a system with others abandoned to the capricious; if things must happen by cause, by natural sequences, under one Reason-Principle and a single set scheme, we must admit that the minor equally with the major is fitted into that order and pattern.
Wrong-doing from man to man is wrong in the doer and must be imputed, but, as belonging to the established order of the universe is not a wrong even as regards the innocent sufferer; it is a thing that had to be, and, if the sufferer is good, the issue is to his gain. For we cannot think that this ordered combination proceeds without God and justice; we must take it to be precise in the distribution of due, while, yet, the reasons of things elude us, and to our ignorance the scheme presents matter of censure.
Various considerations explain why the Souls going forth from the Intellectual proceed first to the heavenly regions. The heavens, as the noblest portion of sensible space, would border with the least exalted of the Intellectual, and will, therefore, be first ensouled, first to participate as most apt; while what is of earth is at the very extremity of progression, least endowed towards participation, remotest from the unembodied.
All the souls, then, shine down upon the heavens and spend there the main of themselves and the best; only their lower phases illuminate the lower realms; and those souls which descend deepest show their light furthest down—not themselves the better for the depth to which they have penetrated.
There is, we may put it, something that is centre; about it, a circle of light shed from it; round centre and first circle alike, another circle, light from light; outside that again, not another circle of light but one which, lacking light of its own, must borrow.
The last we may figure to ourselves as a revolving circle, or rather a sphere, of a nature to receive light from that third realm, its next higher, in proportion to the light which that itself receives. Thus all begins with the great light, shining self-centred; in accordance with the reigning plan (that of emanation) this gives forth its brilliance; the later (divine) existents (souls) add their radiation—some of them remaining above, while there are some that are drawn further downward, attracted by the splendour of the object they illuminate. These last find that their charges need more and more care: the steersman of a storm-tossed ship is so intent on saving it that he forgets his own interest and never thinks that he is recurrently in peril of being dragged down with the vessel; similarly the souls are intent upon contriving for their charges and finally come to be pulled down by them; they are fettered in bonds of sorcery, gripped and held by their concern for the realm of Nature.
If every living being were of the character of the All-perfect, self-sufficing, in peril from no outside influence—the soul now spoken of as indwelling would not occupy the body; it would infuse life while clinging, entire, within the Supreme.
There remains still something to be said on the question whether the soul uses deliberate reason before its descent and again when it has left the body.
Reasoning is for this sphere; it is the act of the soul fallen into perplexity, distracted with cares, diminished in strength: the need of deliberation goes with the less self-sufficing intelligence; craftsmen faced by a difficulty stop to consider; where there is no problem their art works on by its own forthright power.
But if souls in the Supreme operate without reasoning, how can they be called reasoning souls?
One answer might be that they have the power of deliberating to happy issue, should occasion arise: but all is met by repudiating the particular kind of reasoning intended (the earthly and discursive type); we may represent to ourselves a reasoning that flows uninterruptedly from the Intellectual-Principle in them, an inherent state, an enduring activity, an assertion that is real; in this way they would be users of reason even when in that over-world. We certainly cannot think of them, it seems to me, as employing words when, though they may occupy bodies in the heavenly region, they are essentially in the Intellectual: and very surely the deliberation of doubt and difficulty which they practise here must be unknown to them There; all their act must fall into place by sheer force of their nature; there can be no question of commanding or of taking counsel; they will know, each, what is to be communicated from another, by present consciousness. Even in our own case here, eyes often know what is not spoken; and There all is pure, every being is, as it were, an eye, nothing is concealed or sophisticated, there is no need of speech, everything is seen and known. As for the Celestials (the Daimones) and souls in the air, they may well use speech; for all such are simply Animate=Beings.
Are we to think of the indivisible phase of the soul and the divided as making one thing in a coalescence; or is the indivisible in a place of its own and under conditions of its own, the divisible being a sequent upon it, a separate part of it, as distinct as the reasoning phase is from the unreasoning?
The answer to this question will emerge when we make plain the nature and function to be attributed to each.
The indivisible phase is mentioned (in the passage of Plato) without further qualification; but not so the divisible; “that soul” we read “which becomes divisible in bodies”—and even this last is presented as becoming partible, not as being so once for all.
“In bodies”: we must, then, satisfy ourselves as to what form of soul is required to produce life in the corporeal, and what there must be of soul present throughout such a body, such a completed organism.
Now, every sensitive power—by the fact of being sensitive throughout—tends to become a thing of parts: present at every distinct point of sensitiveness, it may be thought of as divided. In the sense, however, that it is present as a whole at every such point, it cannot be said to be wholly divided; it “becomes divisible in body.” We may be told that no such partition is implied in any sensations but those of touch; but this is not so; where the participant is body (of itself insensitive and non-transmitting) that divisibility in the sensitive agent will be a condition of all other sensations, though in less degree than in the case of touch. Similarly the vegetative function in the soul, with that of growth, indicates divisibility; and, admitting such locations as that of desire at the liver and emotional activity at the heart, we have the same result. It is to be noted, however, as regards these (the less corporeal) sensations, that the body may possibly not experience them as a fact of the conjoint thing but in another mode, as rising within some one of the elements of which it has been participant (as inherent, purely, in some phase of the associated soul): reasoning and the act of the intellect, for instance, are not vested in the body; their task is not accomplished by means of the body which in fact is detrimental to any thinking on which it is allowed to intrude.
Thus the indivisible phase of the soul stands distinct from the divisible; they do not form a unity, but, on the contrary, a whole consisting of parts, each part a self-standing thing having its own peculiar virtue. None the less, if that phase which becomes divisible in body holds indivisibility by communication from the superior power, then this one same thing (the soul in body) may be at once indivisible and divisible; it will be, as it were, a blend, a thing made up of its own divisible self with, in addition, the quality that it derives from above itself.
Here a question rises to which we must find an answer:—whether these and the other powers which we call “parts” of the Soul are situated, all, in place; or whether some have place and standpoint, others not; or whether again none are situated in place.
The matter is difficult: if we do not allot to each of the parts of the Soul some form of place, but leave all unallocated—no more within the body than outside it—we leave the body soulless, and are at a loss to explain plausibly the origin of acts performed by means of the bodily organs: if, on the other hand, we suppose some of those phases to be (capable of situation) in place but others not so, we will be supposing that those parts to which we deny place are ineffective in us, or, in other words, that we do not possess our entire soul.
This simply shows that neither the soul entire nor an NA may be considered to be within the body as in a space: space is a container, a container of body; it is the home of such things as consist of isolated parts, things, therefore, in which at no point is there an entirety; now, the soul is not a body and is no more contained than containing.
Neither is it in body as in some vessel: whether as vessel or as place of location, the body would remain, in itself, unensouled. If we are to think of some passing-over from the soul—that self-gathered thing—to the containing vessel, then soul is diminished by just as much as the vessel takes.
Space, again, in the strict sense is unembodied, and is not, itself, body; why, then, should it need soul?
Besides (if the soul were contained as in space) contact would be only at the surface of the body, not throughout the entire mass.
Many other considerations equally refute the notion that the soul is in body as (an object) in space; for example, this space would be shifted with every movement, and a thing itself would carry its own space about.
Of course if by space we understand the interval separating objects, it is still less possible that the soul be in body as in space: such a separating interval must be a void; but body is not a void; the void must be that in which body is placed; body (not soul) will be in the void.
Nor can it be in the body as in some substratum: anything in a substratum is a condition affecting that—a colour, a form—but the soul (is no condition of something else), is a separate existence.
Nor is it present as a part in the whole; soul is no part of body. If we are asked to think of soul as a part in the living total we are faced with the old difficulty:—How it is in that whole. It is certainly not there as the wine is in the wine jar, or as the jar in the jar, or as some absolute is self-present.
Nor can the presence be that of a whole in its part: It would be absurd to think of the soul as a total of which the body should represent the parts.
It is not present as Form is in Matter; for the Form as in Matter is inseparable, and, further, is something superimposed upon an already existent thing; soul, on the contrary, is that which engenders the Form residing within the Matter and therefore is not the Form. If the reference is not to the Form actually present, but to Form as a thing existing apart from all formed objects, it is hard to see how such an entity has found its way into body, and at any rate this makes the soul separable.
How comes it then that everyone speaks of soul as being in body?
Because the soul is not seen and the body is: we perceive the body, and by its movement and sensation we understand that it is ensouled, and we say that it possesses a soul; to speak of residence is a natural sequence. If the soul were visible, an object of the senses, radiating throughout the entire life, if it were manifest in full force to the very outermost surface, we would no longer speak of soul as in body; we would say the minor was within the major, the contained within the container, the fleeting within the perdurable.
What does all this come to? What answer do we give to any who, with no opinion of his own to assert, asks us to explain this presence? And what do we say to the question whether there is one only mode of presence of the entire soul or different modes, phase and phase?
Of the modes currently accepted for the presence of one thing in another, none really meets the case of the soul’s relation to the body. Thus we are given as a parallel the steersman in the ship; this serves adequately to indicate that the soul is potentially separable, but the mode of presence, which is what we are seeking, it does not exhibit.
We can imagine it within the body in some incidental way—for example, as a voyager in a ship—but scarcely as the steersman: and, of course, too, the steersman is not omnipresent to the ship as the soul is to the body.
May we, perhaps, compare it to the science or skill that acts through its appropriate instruments—through a helm, let us say, which should happen to be a live thing—so that the soul effecting the movements dictated by seamanship is an indwelling directive force?
No: the comparison breaks down, since the science is something outside of helm and ship.
Is it any help to adopt the illustration of the steersman taking the helm, and to station the soul within the body as the steersman may be thought to be within the material instrument through which he works? Soul, whenever and wherever it chooses to operate, does in much that way move the body.
No; even in this parallel we have no explanation of the mode of presence within the instrument; we cannot be satisfied without further search, a closer approach.
May we think that the mode of the soul’s presence to body is that of the presence of light to the air?
This certainly is presence with distinction: the light penetrates through and through, but nowhere coalesces; the light is the stable thing, the air flows in and out; when the air passes beyond the lit area it is dark; under the light it is lit: we have a true parallel to what we have been saying of body and soul, for the air is in the light quite as much as the light in the air.
Plato therefore is wise when, in treating of the All he puts the body in its soul and not its soul in the body, and says that while there is a region of that soul which contains body, there is another region to which body does not enter—certain powers, that is, with which body has no concern. And what is true of the All-Soul is true of the others.
There are, therefore, certain soul-powers whose presence to body must be denied.
The phases present are those which the nature of body demands: they are present without being resident—either in any parts of the body or in the body as a whole.
For the purposes of sensation the sensitive phase of the soul is present to the entire sensitive being: for the purposes of act, differentiation begins; every soul phase operates at a point peculiar to itself.
I explain:—A living body is illuminated by soul: each organ and member participates in soul after some manner peculiar to itself; the organ is adapted to a certain function, and this fitness is the vehicle of the soul-faculty under which the function is performed; thus the seeing faculty acts through the eyes, the hearing faculty through the ears, the tasting faculty through the tongue, the faculty of smelling through the nostrils, and the faculty of sentient touch is present throughout, since in this particular form of perception the entire body is an instrument in the soul’s service.
The vehicles of touch are mainly centred in the nerves—which moreover are vehicles of the faculty by which the movements of the living being are affected—in them the soul-faculty concerned makes itself present; the nerves start from the brain. The brain therefore has been considered as the centre and seat of the principle which determines feeling and impulse and the entire act of the organism as a living thing; where the instruments are found to be linked, there the operating faculty is assumed to be situated. But it would be wiser to say only that there is situated the first activity of the operating faculty: the power to be exercised by the operator—in keeping with the particular instrument—must be considered as concentrated at the point at which the instrument is to be first applied; or, since the soul’s faculty is of universal scope the sounder statement is that the point of origin of the instrument is the point of origin of the act.
Now, the faculty presiding over sensation and impulse is vested in the sensitive and representative soul; it draws upon the Reason-Principle immediately above itself; downward, it is in contact with an inferior of its own: on this analogy the uppermost member of the living being was taken by the ancients to be obviously its seat; they lodged it in the brain, or not exactly in the brain but in that sensitive part which is the medium through which the Reason-Principle impinges upon the brain. They saw that something must be definitely allocated to body—at the point most receptive of the act of reason—while something, utterly isolated from body must be in contact with that superior thing which is a form of soul (and not merely of the vegetative or other quasicorporeal forms but) of that soul apt to the appropriation of the perceptions originating in the Reason-Principle.
Such a linking there must be, since in perception there is some element of judging, in representation something intuitional, and since impulse and appetite derive from representation and reason. The reasoning faculty, therefore, is present where these experiences occur, present not as in a place but in the fact that what is there draws upon it. As regards perception we have already explained in what sense it is local.
But every living being includes the vegetal principle, that principle of growth and nourishment which maintains the organism by means of the blood; this nourishing medium is contained in the veins; the veins and blood have their origin in the liver: from observation of these facts the power concerned was assigned a place; the phase of the soul, which has to do with desire, was allocated to the liver. Certainly what brings to birth and nourishes and gives growth must have the desire of these functions. Blood—subtle, light, swift, pure—is the vehicle most apt to animal spirit: the heart, then, its well-spring, the place where such blood is sifted into being, is taken as the fixed centre of the ebullition of the passionate nature.
Now comes the question of the soul leaving the body; where does it go?
It cannot remain in this world where there is no natural recipient for it; and it cannot remain attached to anything not of a character to hold it: it can be held here when only it is less than wise, containing within itself something of that which lures it.
If it does contain any such alien element it gives itself, with increasing attachment, to the sphere to which that element naturally belongs and tends.
The space open to the soul’s resort is vast and diverse; the difference will come by the double force of the individual condition and of the justice reigning in things. No one can ever escape the suffering entailed by ill deeds done: the divine law is ineluctable, carrying bound up, as one with it, the fore-ordained execution of its doom. The sufferer, all unaware, is swept onward towards his due, hurried always by the restless driving of his errors, until at last wearied out by that against which he struggled, he falls into his fit place and, by self-chosen movement, is brought to the lot he never chose. And the law decrees, also, the intensity and the duration of the suffering while it carries with it, too, the lifting of chastisement and the faculty of rising from those places of pain—all by power of the harmony that maintains the universal scheme.
Souls, body-bound, are apt to body-punishment; clean souls no longer drawing to themselves at any point any vestige of body are, by their very being, outside the bodily sphere; body-free, containing nothing of body—there where Essence is, and Being, and the Divine within the Divinity, among Those, within That, such a soul must be.
If you still ask Where, you must ask where those Beings are—and in your seeking, seek otherwise than with the sight, and not as one seeking for body.
Now comes the question, equally calling for an answer, whether those souls that have quitted the places of earth retain memory of their lives—all souls or some, of all things, or of some things, and, again, for ever or merely for some period not very long after their withdrawal.
A true investigation of this matter requires us to establish first what a remembering principle must be—I do not mean what memory is, but in what order of beings it can occur. The nature of memory has been indicated, laboured even, elsewhere; we still must try to understand more clearly what characteristics are present where memory exists.
Now a memory has to do with something brought into ken from without, something learned or something experienced; the Memory-Principle, therefore, cannot belong to such beings as are immune from experience and from time.
No memory, therefore, can be ascribed to any divine being, or to the Authentic-Existent or the Intellectual-Principle: these are intangibly immune; time does not approach them; they possess eternity centred around Being; they know nothing of past and sequent; all is an unbroken state of identity, not receptive of change. Now a being rooted in unchanging identity cannot entertain memory, since it has not and never had a state differing from any previous state, or any new intellection following upon a former one, so as to be aware of contrast between a present perception and one remembered from before.
But what prevents such a being (from possessing memory in the sense of) perceiving, without variation in itself, such outside changes as, for example, the kosmic periods?
Simply the fact that following the changes of the revolting kosmos it would have perception of earlier and later: intuition and memory are distinct.
We cannot hold its self-intellections to be acts of memory; this is no question of something entering from without, to be grasped and held in fear of an escape; if its intellections could slip away from it (as a memory might) its very Essence (as the Hypostasis of inherent Intellection) would be in peril.
For the same reason memory, in the current sense, cannot be attributed to the soul in connection with the ideas inherent in its essence: these it holds not as a memory but as a possession, though, by its very entrance into this sphere, they are no longer the mainstay of its Act.
The Soul-action which is to be observed seems to have induced the Ancients to ascribe memory, and “Recollection,” (the Platonic Anamnesis) to souls bringing into outward manifestation the ideas they contain: we see at once that the memory here indicated is another kind; it is a memory outside of time.
But, perhaps, this is treating too summarily a matter which demands minute investigation. It might be doubted whether that recollection, that memory, really belongs to the highest soul and not rather to another, a dimmer, or even to the Couplement, the Living-Being. And if to that dimmer soul, when and how has it come to be present; if to the Couplement, again when and how?
We are driven thus to enquire into these several points: in which of the constituents of our nature is memory vested—the question with which we started—if in the soul, then in what power or part; if in the Animate or Couplement—which has been supposed, similarly to be the seat of sensation—then by what mode it is present, and how we are to define the Couplement; finally whether sensation and intellectual acts may be ascribed to one and the same agent, or imply two distinct principles.
Now if sensations of the active order depend upon the Couplement of soul and body, sensation must be of that double nature. Hence it is classed as one of the shared acts: the soul, in the feeling, may be compared to the workman in such operations as boring or weaving, the body to the tool employed: the body is passive and menial; the soul is active, reading such impressions as are made upon the body or discerned by means of the body, perhaps entertaining only a judgement formed as the result of the bodily experiences.
In such a process it is at once clear that the sensation is a shared task; but the memory is not thus made over to the Couplement, since the soul has from the first taken over the impression, either to retain or to reject.
It might be ventured that memory, no less than sensation, is a function of the Couplement, on the ground that bodily constitution determines our memories good or bad; but the answer would come that, whether the body happens or not to be a hindrance, the act of remembering would still be an act of the soul. And in the case of matters learned (and not merely felt, as corporeal experiences), how can we think of the Couplement of soul and body as the remembering principle? Here, surely, it must be soul alone?
We may be told that the living-being is a Couplement in the sense of something entirely distinct formed from the two elements (so that it might have memory though neither soul nor body had it). But, to begin with, it is absurd to class the living-being as neither body nor soul; these two things cannot so change as to make a distinct third, nor can they blend so utterly that the soul shall become a mere faculty of the animate whole. And, further, supposing they could so blend, memory would still be due to the soul just as in honey-wine all the sweetness will be due to the honey.
It may be suggested the while the soul is perhaps not in itself a remembering principle, yet that, having lost its purity and acquired some degree of modification by its presence in body, it becomes capable of reproducing the imprints of sensible objects and experiences, and that, seated, as roughly speaking it is, within the body—it may reasonably be thought capable of accepting such impressions, and in such a manner as to retain them (thus in some sense possessing memory.)
But, to begin with, these imprints are not magnitudes (are not of corporeal nature at all); there is no resemblance to seal impressions, no stamping of a resistant matter, for there is neither the down-thrust (as of the seal) nor (the acceptance) as in the wax: the process is entirely of the intellect, though exercised upon things of sense; and what kind of resistance (or other physical action) can be affirmed in matters of the intellectual order, or what need can there be of body or bodily quality as a means?
Further there is one order of which the memory must obviously belong to the soul; it alone can remember its own movements, for example its desires and those frustrations of desire in which the coveted thing never came to the body: the body can have nothing to tell about things which never approached it, and the soul cannot use the body as a means to the remembrance of what the body by its nature cannot know.
If the soul is to have any significance—to be a definite principle with a function of its own—we are forced to recognise two orders of fact, an order in which the body is a means but all culminates in soul, and an order which is of the soul alone. This being admitted, aspiration will belong to soul, and so, as a consequence, will that memory of the aspiration and of its attainment or frustration, without which the soul’s nature would fall into the category of the unstable (that is to say of the undivine, unreal). Deny this character of the soul and at once we refuse it perception, consciousness, any power of comparison, almost any understanding. Yet these powers of which, embodied, it becomes the source cannot be absent from its own nature. On the contrary; it possesses certain activities to be expressed in various functions whose accomplishment demands bodily organs; at its entry it brings with it (as vested in itself alone) the powers necessary for some of these functions, while in the case of others it brings the very activities themselves.
Memory, in point of fact, is impeded by the body: even as things are, addition often brings forgetfulness; with thinning and clearing away, memory will often revive. The soul is a stability; the shifting and fleeting thing which body is can be a cause only of its forgetting not of its remembering—Lethe stream may be understood in this sense—and memory is a fact of the soul.
But of what soul; of that which we envisage as the more divine, by which we are human beings, or that other which springs from the All?
Memory must be admitted in both of these, personal memories and shared memories; and when the two souls are together, the memories also are as one; when they stand apart, assuming that both exist and endure, each soon forgets the other’s affairs, retaining for a longer time its own. Thus it is that the Shade of Hercules in the lower regions—this “Shade,” as I take it, being the characteristically human part—remembers all the action and experience of the life, since that career was mainly of the hero’s personal shaping; the other souls (soul-phases) going to constitute the joint-being could, for all their different standing, have nothing to recount but the events of that same life, doings which they knew from the time of their association: perhaps they would add also some moral judgement.
What the Hercules standing outside the Shade spoke of we are not told: what can we think that other, the freed and isolated, soul would recount?
The soul, still a dragged captive, will tell of all the man did and felt; but upon death there will appear, as time passes, memories of the lives lived before, some of the events of the most recent life being dismissed as trivial. As it grows away from the body, it will revive things forgotten in the corporeal state, and if it passes in and out of one body after another, it will tell over the events of the discarded life, it will treat as present that which it has just left, and it will remember much from the former existence. But with lapse of time it will come to forgetfulness of many things that were mere accretion.
Then, free and alone at last, what will it have to remember?
The answer to that question depends on our discovering in what faculty of the soul memory resides.
Is memory vested in the faculty by which we perceive and learn? Or does it reside in the faculty by which we set things before our minds as objects of desire or of anger, the passionate faculty?
This will be maintained on the ground that there could scarcely be both a first faculty in direct action and a second to remember what that first experiences. It is certain that the desiring faculty is apt to be stirred by what it has once enjoyed; the object presents itself again; evidently, memory is at work; why else, the same object with the same attraction?
But, at that, we might reasonably ascribe to the desiring faculty the very perception of the desired objects and then the desire itself to the perceptive faculty, and so on all through, and in the end conclude that the distinctive names merely indicate the function which happens to be uppermost.
Yet the perception is very different from faculty to faculty; certainly it is sight and not desire that sees the object; desire is stirred merely as a result of the seeing, by a transmission; its act is not in the nature of an identification of an object seen; all is simply blind response (automatic reaction). Similarly with rage; sight reveals the offender and the passion leaps; we may think of a shepherd seeing a wolf at his flock, and a dog, seeing nothing, who springs to the scent or the sound.
In other words the desiring faculty has had the emotion, but the trace it keeps of the event is not a memory; it is a condition, something passively accepted: there is another faculty that was aware of the enjoyment and retains the memory of what has happened. This is confirmed by the fact that many satisfactions which the desiring faculty has enjoyed are not retained in the memory: if memory resided in the desiring faculty, such forgetfulness could not be.
Are we, then, to refer memory to the perceptive faculty and so make one principle of our nature the seat of both awareness and remembrance?
Now supposing the very Shade, as we were saying in the case of Hercules, has memory, then the perceptive faculty is twofold.
[(And if (on the same supposition) the faculty that remembers is not the faculty that perceives, but some other thing, then the remembering faculty is two-fold.)]
And further if the perceptive faculty (=the memory) deals with matters learned (as well as with matters of observation and feeling) it will be the faculty for the processes of reason also: but these two orders certainly require two separate faculties.
Must we then suppose a common faculty of apprehension (one covering both sense perceptions and ideas) and assign memory in both orders to this?
The solution might serve if there were one and the same percipient for objects of sense and objects of the Intellectual-Kind; but if these stand in definite duality, then, for all we can say or do, we are left with two separate principles of memory; and, supposing each of the two orders of soul to possess both principles, then we have four.
And, on general grounds, what compelling reason is there that the principle by which we perceive should be the principle by which we remember, that these two acts should be vested in the one faculty? Why must the seat of our intellectual action be also the seat of our remembrance of that action? The most powerful thought does not always go with the readiest memory; people of equal perception are not equally good at remembering; some are especially gifted in perception, others, never swift to grasp, are strong to retain.
But, once more, admitting two distinct principles, something quite separate remembering what sense-perception has first known—still this something must have felt what it is required to remember?
No; we may well conceive that where there is to be memory of a sense-perception, this perception becomes a mere presentment, and that to this image-grasping power, a distinct thing, belongs the memory, the retention of the object: for in this imaging faculty the perception culminates; the impression passes away but the vision remains present to the imagination.
By the fact of harbouring the presentment of an object that has disappeared, the imagination is, at once, a seat of memory: where the persistence of the image is brief, the memory is poor; people of powerful memory are those in whom the image-holding power is firmer, not easily allowing the record to be jostled out of its grip.
Remembrance, thus, is vested in the imaging faculty; and memory deals with images. Its differing quality or degree from man to man, we would explain by difference or similarity in the strength of the individual powers, by conduct like or unlike, by bodily conditions present or absent, producing change and disorder or not—a point this, however, which need not detain us here.
But what of the memory of mental acts: do these also fall under the imaging faculty?
If every mental act is accompanied by an image we may well believe that this image, fixed and like a picture of the thought, would explain how we remember the object of knowledge once entertained. But if there is no such necessary image, another solution must be sought. Perhaps memory would be the reception, into the image-making faculty, of the Reason-Principle which accompanies the mental conception: this mental conception—an indivisible thing, and one that never rises to the exterior of the consciousness—lies unknown below; the Reason-Principle—the revealer, the bridge between the concept and the image-taking faculty—exhibits the concept as in a mirror; the apprehension by the image-taking faculty would thus constitute the enduring presence of the concept, would be our memory of it.
This explains, also, another fact:—the soul is unfailingly intent upon intellection; only when it acts upon this image-making faculty does its intellection become a human perception: intellection is one thing, the perception of an intellection is another: we are continuously intuitive but we are not unbrokenly aware: the reason is that the recipient in us receives from both sides, absorbing not merely intellections but also sense-perceptions.
But if each of the two phases of the soul, as we have said, possesses memory, and memory is vested in the imaging faculty, there must be two such faculties. Now that is all very well as long as the two souls stand apart; but, when they are at one in us, what becomes of the two faculties, and in which of them is the imaging faculty vested?
If each soul has its own imaging faculty the images must in all cases be duplicated, since we cannot think that one faculty deals only with intellectual objects, and the other with objects of sense, a distinction which inevitably implies the co-existence in man of two life-principles utterly unrelated.
And if both orders of image act upon both orders of soul, what difference is there in the souls; and how does the fact escape our knowledge?
The answer is that, when the two souls chime each with each, the two imaging faculties no longer stand apart; the union is dominated by the more powerful of the faculties of the soul, and thus the image perceived is as one; the less powerful is like a shadow attending upon the dominant, like a minor light merging into a greater: when they are in conflict, in discord, the minor is distinctly apart, a self-standing thing—though its isolation is not perceived, for the simple reason that the separate being of the two souls escapes observation.
The two have run into a unity in which, yet, one is the loftier: this loftier knows all; when it breaks from the union, it retains some of the experiences of its companion, but dismisses others; thus we accept the talk of our less valued associates, but, on a change of company, we remember little from the first set and more from those in whom we recognise a higher quality.
But the memory of friends, children, wife? Country too, and all that the better sort of man may reasonably remember?
All these, the one (the lower man) retains with emotion, the authentic man passively: for the experience, certainly, was first felt in that lower phase from which, however, the best of such impressions pass over to the graver soul in the degree in which the two are in communication.
The lower soul must be always striving to attain to memory of the activities of the higher: this will be especially so when it is itself of a fine quality, for there will always be some that are better from the beginning and bettered here by the guidance of the higher.
The loftier, on the contrary, must desire to come to a happy forgetfulness of all that has reached it through the lower: for one reason, there is always the possibility that the very excellence of the lower prove detrimental to the higher, tending to keep it down by sheer force of vitality. In any case the more urgent the intention towards the Supreme, the more extensive will be the soul’s forgetfulness, unless indeed, when the entire living has, even here, been such that memory has nothing but the noblest to deal with: in this world itself, all is best when human interests have been held aloof; so, therefore, it must be with the memory of them. In this sense we may truly say that the good soul is the forgetful. It flees multiplicity; it seeks to escape the unbounded by drawing all to unity, for only thus is it free from entanglement, light-footed, self-conducted. Thus it is that even in this world the soul which has the desire of the other is putting away, amid its actual life, all that is foreign to that order. It brings there very little of what it has gathered here; as long as it is in the heavenly regions only, it will have more than it can retain.
The Hercules of the heavenly regions would still tell of his feats: but there is the other man to whom all of that is trivial; he has been translated to a holier place; he has won his way to the Intellectual Realm; he is more than Hercules, proven in the combats in which the combatants are the wise.[Back to Table of Contents]
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.[Back to Table of Contents]
(Also entitled ON Sight)
We undertook to discuss the question whether sight is possible in the absence of any intervening medium, such as air or some other form of what is known as transparent body: this is the time and place.
It has been explained that seeing and all sense-perception can occur only through the medium of some bodily substance, since in the absence of body the soul is utterly absorbed in the Intellectual Sphere. Sense-perception being the gripping not of the Intellectual but of the sensible alone, the soul, if it is to form any relationship of knowledge, or of impression, with objects of sense, must be brought in some kind of contact with them by means of whatever may bridge the gap.
The knowledge, then, is realised by means of bodily organs: through these, which (in the embodied soul) are almost of one growth with it, being at least its continuations, it comes into something like unity with the alien, since this mutual approach brings about a certain degree of identity (which is the basis of knowledge).
Admitting, then, that some contact with an object is necessary for knowing it, the question of a medium falls to the ground in the case of things identified by any form of touch; but in the case of sight—we leave hearing over for the present—we are still in doubt; is there need of some bodily substance between the eye and the illumined object?
No: such an intervening material may be a favouring circumstance, but essentially it adds nothing to seeing power.
Dense bodies, such as clay, actually prevent sight; the less material the intervening substance is, the more clearly we see; the intervening substance, then, is a hindrance, or, if not that, at least not a help.
It will be objected that vision implies that whatever intervenes between seen and seer must first (and progressively) experience the object and be, as it were, shaped to it; we will be reminded that (vision is not a direct and single relation between agent and object, but is the perception of something radiated since) anyone facing to the object from the side opposite to ourselves sees it equally; we will be asked to deduce that if all the space intervening between seen and seer did not carry the impression of the object we could not receive it.
But all the need is met when the impression reaches that which is adapted to receive it; there is no need for the intervening space to be impressed. If it is, the impression will be of quite another order: the rod between the fisher’s hand and the torpedo fish is not affected in the same way as the hand that feels the shock. And yet there too, if rod and line did not intervene, the hand would not be affected—though even that may be questioned, since after all the fisherman, we are told, is numbed if the torpedo merely lies in his net.
The whole matter seems to bring us back to that sympathy of which we have treated. If a certain thing is of a nature to be sympathetically affected by another in virtue of some similitude between them, then anything intervening, not sharing in that similitude, will not be affected, or at least not similarly. If this be so, anything naturally disposed to be affected will take the impression more vividly in the absence of intervening substance, even of some substance capable, itself, of being affected.
If sight depends upon the linking of the light of vision with the light leading progressively to the illumined object, then by the very hypothesis one intervening substance, the light, is indispensable: but if the illuminated body, which is the object of vision, serves as an agent operating certain changes, some such change might very well impinge immediately upon the eye, requiring no medium; this all the more, since as things are the intervening substance, which actually does exist, is in some degree changed at the point of contact with the eye (and so cannot be in itself a requisite to vision).
Those who have made vision a forth-going act (and not an in-coming from the object) need not postulate an intervening substance—unless, indeed, to provide against the ray from the eye failing on its path—but this is a ray of light and light flies straight. Those who make vision depend upon resistance are obliged to postulate an intervening substance.
The champions of the image, with its transit through a void, are seeking the way of least resistance; but since the entire absence of intervenient gives a still easier path they will not oppose that hypothesis.
So, too, those that explain vision by sympathy must recognise that an intervening substance will be a hindrance as tending to check or block or enfeeble that sympathy; this theory, especially, requires the admission that any intervenient, and particularly one of kindred nature, must blunt the perception by itself absorbing part of the activity. Apply fire to a body continuous through and through, and no doubt the core will be less affected than the surface: but where we are dealing with the sympathetic parts of one living being, there will scarcely be less sensation because of the intervening substance, or, if there should be, the degree of sensation will still be proportionate to the nature of the separate part, with the intervenient acting merely as a certain limitation; this, though, will not be the case where the element introduced is of a kind to overleap the bridge.
But this is saying that the sympathetic quality of the universe depends upon its being one living thing, and that our amenability to experience depends upon our belonging integrally to that unity; would it not follow that continuity is a condition of any perception of a remote object?
The explanation is that continuity and its concomitant, the bridging substance, come into play because a living being must be a continuous thing, but that, none the less, the receiving of impression is not an essentially necessary result of continuity; if it were, everything would receive such impression from everything else, and if thing is affected by thing in various separate orders, there can be no further question of any universal need of intervening substance.
Why it should be specially requisite in the act of seeing would have to be explained: in general, an object passing through the air does not affect it beyond dividing it; when a stone falls, the air simply yields; nor is it reasonable to explain the natural direction of movement by resistance; to do so would bring us to the absurdity that resistance accounts for the upward movement of fire, which, on the contrary, overcomes the resistance of the air by its own essentially quick energy. If we are told that the resistance is brought more swiftly into play by the very swiftness of the ascending body, that would be a mere accidental circumstance, not a cause of the upward motion: in trees the upthrust from the root depends on no such external propulsion; we, too, in our movements cleave the air and are in no wise forwarded by its resistance; it simply flows in from behind to fill the void we make.
If the severance of the air by such bodies leaves it unaffected, why must there be any severance before the images of sight can reach us?
And, further, once we reject the theory that these images reach us by way of some outstreaming from the objects seen, there is no reason to think of the air being affected and passing on to us, in a progression of impression, what has been impressed upon itself.
If our perception is to depend upon previous impressions made upon the air, then we have no direct knowledge of the object of vision, but know it only as through an intermediary, in the same way as we are aware of warmth where it is not the distant fire itself that warms us, but the warmed intervening air. That is a matter of contact; but sight is not produced by contact: the application of an object to the eye would not produce sight; what is required is the illumination of the intervening medium; for the air in itself is a dark substance. If it were not for this dark substance there would probably be no reason for the existence of light: the dark intervening matter is a barrier, and vision requires that it be overcome by light. Perhaps also the reason why an object brought close to the eye cannot be seen is that it confronts us with a double obscuration, its own and that of the air.
For the most convincing proof that vision does not depend upon the transmission of impressions of any kind made upon the air, we have only to consider that in the darkness of night we can see a fire and the stars and their very shapes.
No one will pretend that these forms are reproduced upon the darkness and come to us in linked progression; if the fire thus rayed out its own form, there would be an end to the darkness. In the blackest night, when the very stars are hidden and show no gleam of their light, we can see the fire of the beacon-stations and of maritime signal-towers.
Now if, in defiance of all that the senses tell us, we are to believe that in these examples the fire (as light) traverses the air, then, in so far as anything is visible, it must be that dimmed reproduction in the air, not the fire itself. But if an object can be seen on the other side of some intervening darkness, much more would it be visible with nothing intervening.
We may hold one thing certain: the impossibility of vision without an intervening substance does not depend upon that absence in itself: the sole reason is that, with that absence, there would be an end to the sympathy reigning in the living whole and relating the parts to each other in an existent unity.
Perception of every kind seems to depend on the fact that our universe is a whole sympathetic to itself: that it is so, appears from the universal participation in power from member to member, and especially in remote power.
No doubt it would be worth enquiry—though we pass it for the present—what would take place if there were another kosmos, another living whole having no contact with this one, and the far ridges of our heavens had sight: would our sphere see that other as from a mutually present distance, or could there be no dealing at all from this to that?
To return; there is a further consideration showing that sight is not brought about by this alleged modification of the intervenient.
Any modification of the air substance would necessarily be corporeal: there must be such an impression as is made upon sealing wax. But this would require that each part of the object of vision be impressed on some corresponding portion of the intervenient: the intervenient, however, in actual contact with the eye would be just that portion whose dimensions the pupil is capable of receiving. But as a matter of fact the entire object appears before the pupil; and it is seen entire by all within that air space for a great extent, in front, sideways, close at hand, from the back, as long as the line of vision is not blocked. This shows that any given portion of the air contains the object of vision, in face view so to speak, and, at once, we are confronted by no merely corporeal phenomena; the facts are explicable only as depending upon the greater laws, the spiritual, of a living being one and self-sensitive.
But there is the question of the linked light that must relate the visual organ to its object.
Now, firstly: since the intervening air is not necessary—unless in the purely accidental sense that air may be necessary to light—the light that acts as intermediate in vision will be unmodified: vision depends upon no modification whatever. This one intermediate, light, would seem to be necessary, but, unless light is corporeal, no intervening body is requisite: and we must remember that intervenient and borrowed light is essential not to seeing in general but to distant vision; the question whether light absolutely requires the presence of air we will discuss later. For the present one matter must occupy us:—
If in the act of vision that linked light becomes ensouled, if the soul or mind permeates it and enters into union with it, as it does in its more inward acts such as understanding—which is what vision really is—then the intervening light is not a necessity: the process of seeing will be like that of touch; the visual faculty of the soul will perceive by the fact of having entered into the light; all that intervenes remains unaffected, serving simply as the field over which the vision ranges.
This brings up the question whether the sight is made active over its field by the sheer presence of a distance spread before it, or by the presence of a body of some kind within that distance.
If by the presence of such a body, then there will be vision though there be no intervenient; if the intervenient is the sole attractive agent, then we are forced to think of the visible object as being a Kind utterly without energy, performing no act. But so inactive a body cannot be: touch tells us that, for it does not merely announce that something is by and is touched: it is acted upon by the object so that it reports distinguishing qualities in it, qualities so effective that even at a distance touch itself would register them but for the accidental that it demands proximity.
We catch the heat of a fire just as soon as the intervening air does; no need to wait for it to be warmed: the denser body, in fact, takes in more warmth than the air has to give; in other words, the air transmits the heat but is not the source of our warmth.
When on the one side, that of the object, there is the power in any degree of an outgoing act, and on the other, that of the sight, the capability of being acted upon, surely the object needs no medium through which to be effective upon what it is fully equipped to affect: this would be needing not a help but a hindrance.
Or, again, consider the Dawn: there is no need that the light first flood the air and then come to us; the event is simultaneous to both: often, in fact, we see (in the distance) when the light is not as yet round our eyes at all but very far off, before, that is, the air has been acted upon: here we have vision without any modified intervenient, vision before the organ has received the light with which it is to be linked.
It is difficult to reconcile with this theory the fact of seeing stars or any fire by night.
If (as by the theory of an intervenient) the percipient mind or soul remains within itself and needs the light only as one might need a stick in the hand to touch something at a distance, then the perception will be a sort of tussle: the light must be conceived as something thrusting, something aimed at a mark, and similarly, the object, considered as an illuminated thing, must be conceived to be resistant; for this is the normal process in the case of contact by the agency of an intervenient.
Besides, even on this explanation, the mind must have previously been in contact with the object in the entire absence of intervenient; only if that has happened could contact through an intervenient bring knowledge, a knowledge by way of memory, and, even more emphatically, by way of reasoned comparison (ending in identification): but this process of memory and comparison is excluded by the theory of first knowledge through the agency of a medium.
Finally, we may be told that the impinging light is modified by the thing to be seen and so becomes able to present something perceptible before the visual organ; but this simply brings us back to the theory of an intervenient changed midway by the object, an explanation whose difficulties we have already indicated.
But some doubt arises when we consider the phenomena of hearing.
Perhaps we are to understand the process thus: the air is modified by the first movement; layer by layer it is successively acted upon by the object causing the sound; it finally impinges in that modified form upon the sense, the entire progression being governed by the fact that all the air from starting point to hearing point is similarly affected.
Perhaps, on the other hand, the intervenient is modified only by the accident of its midway position, so that, failing any intervenient, whatsoever sound two bodies in clash might make would impinge without medium upon our sense?
Still air is necessary; there could be no sound in the absence of the air set vibrating in the first movement, however different be the case with the intervenient from that onwards to the perception point.
The air would thus appear to be the dominant in the production of sound: two bodies would clash without even an incipient sound, but that the air, struck in their rapid meeting and hurled outward, passes on the movement successively till it reaches the ears and the sense of hearing.
But if the determinant is the air, and the impression is simply of air-movements, what accounts for the differences among voices and other sounds? The sound of bronze against bronze is different from that of bronze against some other substance: and so on; the air and its vibration remain the one thing, yet the difference in sounds is much more than a matter of greater or less intensity.
If we decide that sound is caused by a percussion upon the air, then obviously nothing turning upon the distinctive nature of air is in question: it sounds at a moment in which it is simply a solid body, until (by its distinctive character) it is sent pulsing outwards: thus air in itself is not essential to the production of sound; all is done by clashing solids as they meet and that percussion, reaching the sense, is the sound. This is shown also by the sounds formed within living beings not in air but by the friction of parts; for example, the grinding of teeth and the crunching of bones against each other in the bending of the body, cases in which the air does not intervene.
But all this may now be left over; we are brought to the same conclusion as in the case of sight; the phenomena of hearing arise similarly in a certain co-sensitiveness inherent in a living whole.
We return, then, to the question whether there could be light if there were no air, the sun illuminating corporeal surfaces across an intermediate void which, as things are, takes the light accidentally by the mere fact of being in the path. Supposing air to be the cause of the rest of things being thus affected, the substantial existence of light is due to the air; light becomes a modification of the air, and of course if the thing to be modified did not exist neither could the modification.
The fact is that primarily light is no appanage of air, and does not depend upon the existence of air: it belongs to every fiery and shining body, it constitutes even the gleaming surface of certain stones.
Now if, thus, it enters into other substances from something gleaming, could it exist in the absence of its container?
There is a distinction to be made: if it is a quality, some quality of some substance, then light, equally with other qualities, will need a body in which to lodge: if, on the contrary, it is an activity rising from something else, we can surely conceive it existing, though there be no neighbouring body but, if that is possible, a blank void which it will overleap and so appear on the further side: it is powerful, and may very well pass over unhelped. If it were of a nature to fall, nothing would keep it up, certainly not the air or anything that takes its light; there is no reason why they should draw the light from its source and speed it onwards.
Light is not an accidental to something else, requiring therefore to be lodged in a base; nor is it a modification, demanding a base in which the modification occurs: if this were so, it would vanish when the object or substance disappeared; but it does not; it strikes onward; so, too (requiring neither air nor object) it would always have its movement.
But movement, where?
Is space, pure and simple, all that is necessary?
With unchecked motion of the light outward, the material sun will be losing its energy, for the light is its expression.
Perhaps; and (from this untenable consequence) we may gather that the light never was an appanage of anything, but is the expressive Act proceeding from a base (the sun) but not seeking to enter into a base, though having some operation upon any base that may be present.
Life is also an Act, the Act of the soul, and it remains so when anything—the human body, for instance—comes in its path to be affected by it; and it is equally an Act though there be nothing for it to modify: surely this may be true of light, one of the Acts of whatever luminary source there be (i.e. light, affecting things, may be quite independent of them and require no medium, air or other). Certainly light is not brought into being by the dark thing, air, which on the contrary tends to gloom it over with some touch of earth so that it is no longer the brilliant reality: as reasonable to talk of some substance being sweet because it is mixed with something bitter.
If we are told that light is a mode of the air, we answer that this would necessarily imply that the air itself is changed to produce the new mode; in other words, its characteristic darkness must change into non-darkness; but we know that the air maintains its character, in no wise affected: the modification of a thing is an experience within that thing itself: light therefore is not a modification of the air, but a self-existent in whose path the air happens to be present.
On this point we need dwell no longer; but there remains still a question.
Our investigation may be furthered by enquiring: Whether light finally perishes or simply returns to its source.
If it be a thing requiring to be caught and kept, domiciled within a recipient, we might think of it finally passing out of existence: if it be an Act not flowing out and away—but in circuit, with more of it within than is in outward progress from the luminary of which it is the Act—then it will not cease to exist as long as that centre is in being. And as the luminary moves, the light will reach new points—not in virtue of any change of course in or out or around, but simply because the act of the luminary exists and where there is no impediment is effective. Even if the distance of the sun from us were far greater than it is, the light would be continuous all that further way, as long as nothing checked or blocked it in the interval.
We distinguish two forms of activity; one is gathered within the luminary and is comparable to the life of the shining body; this is the vaster and is, as it were, the foundation or wellspring of all the act; the other lies next to the surface, the outer image of the inner content, a secondary activity though inseparable from the former. For every existent has an Act which is in its likeness: as long as the one exists, so does the other; yet while the original is stationary the activity reaches forth, in some things over a wide range, in others less far. There are weak and faint activities, and there are some, even, that do not appear; but there are also things whose activities are great and far-going; in the case of these the activity must be thought of as being lodged, both in the active and powerful source and in the point at which it settles. This may be observed in the case of an animal’s eyes where the pupils gleam: they have a light which shows outside the orbs. Again there are living things which have an inner fire that in darkness shines out when they expand themselves and ceases to ray outward when they contract: the fire has not perished; it is a mere matter of it being rayed out or not.
But has the light gone inward?
No: it is simply no longer on the outside because the fire (of which it is the activity) is no longer outward going but has withdrawn towards the centre.
But surely the light has gone inward too?
No: only the fire, and when that goes inward the surface consists only of the non-luminous body; the fire can no longer act towards the outer.
The light, then, raying from bodies is an outgoing activity of a luminous body; the light within luminous bodies—understand, such as are primarily luminous—is the essential being embraced under the idea of that body. When such a body is brought into association with Matter, its activity produces colour: when there is no such association it does not give colour—it gives merely an incipient on which colour might be formed—for it belongs to another being (primal light) with which it retains its link, unabble to desert from it, or from its (inner) activity.
And light is incorporeal even when it is the light of a body; there is therefore no question, strictly speaking, of its withdrawal or of its being present—these terms do not apply to its modes—and its essential existence is to be an activity. As an example: the image upon a mirror may be described as an activity exercised by the reflected object upon the potential recipient: there is no outgoing from the object (or ingoing into the reflecting body); it is simply that, as long as the object stands there, the image also is visible, in the form of colour shaped to a certain pattern, and when the object is not there, the reflecting surface no longer holds what it held when the conditions were favourable.
So it is with the soul considered as the activity of another and prior soul: as long as that prior retains its place, its next, which is its activity, abides.
But what of a soul which is not an activity but the derivative of an activity—as we maintained the life-principle domiciled in the body to be—is its presence similar to that of the light caught and held in material things?
No; for in those things the colour is due to an actual intermixture of the active element (the light being alloyed with Matter); whereas the life-principle of the body is something that holds from another soul closely present to it.
But when the body perishes—by the fact that nothing without part in soul can continue in being—when the body is perishing, no longer supported by that primal life-giving soul, or by the presence of any secondary phase of it, it is clear that the life-principle can no longer remain; but does this mean that the life perishes?
No: not even it; for it, too, is an image of that first out-shining; it is merely no longer where it was.
Imagine that beyond the heavenly system there existed some solid mass, and that from this sphere there was directed to it a vision utterly unimpeded and unrestricted: it is a question whether that solid form could be perceived by what has no sympathetic relation with it, since we have held that sympathetic relation comes about in virtue of the nature inherent in some one living being.
Obviously, if the sympathetic relationship depends upon the fact that percipients and things perceived are all members of one living being, no acts of perception could take place: that far body could be known only if it were a member of this living universe of ours—which condition being met, it certainly would be. But what if, without being thus in membership, it were a corporeal entity, exhibiting light and colour and the qualities by which we perceive things, and belonging to the same ideal category as the organ of vision?
If our supposition (of perception by sympathy) is true, there would still be no perception—though we may be told that the hypothesis is clearly untenable since there is absurdity in supposing that sight can fail in grasping an illuminated object lying before it, and that the other senses in the presence of their particular objects remain unresponsive.
(The following passage, to nearly the end, is offered tentatively as a possible help to the interpretation of an obscure and corrupt place.)
[But why does such a failing appear impossible to us? We answer, because here and now in all the act and experience of our senses, we are within a unity, and members of it. What the conditions would be otherwise, remains to be considered: if living sympathy suffices the theory is established; if not, there are other considerations to support it.
That every living being is self-sensitive allows of no doubt; if the universe is a living being, no more need be said; and what is true of the total must be true of the members, as inbound in that one life.
But what if we are invited to accept the theory of knowledge by likeness (rejecting knowledge by the self-sensitiveness of a living unity?)
Awareness must be determined by the nature and character of the living being in which it occurs; perception, then, means that the likeness demanded by the hypothesis is within this self-identical living being (and not in the object)—for the organ by which the perception takes place is in the likeness of the living being (is merely the agent adequately expressing the nature of the living being): thus perception is reduced to a mental awareness by means of organs akin to the object.
If, then, something that is a living whole perceives not its own content but things like to its content, it must perceive them under the conditions of that living whole; this means that, in so far as it has perception, the objects appear not as its content but as related to its content.
And the objects are thus perceived as related because the mind itself has related them in order to make them amenable to its handling: in other words the causative soul or mind in that other sphere is utterly alien, and the things there, supposed to be related to the content of this living whole, can be nothing to our minds.]
This absurdity shows that the hypothesis contains a contradiction which naturally leads to untenable results. In fact, under one and the same heading, it presents mind and no mind, it makes things kin and no kin, it confuses similar and dissimilar: containing these irreconcilable elements, it amounts to no hypothesis at all. At one and the same moment it postulates and denies a soul, it tells of an All that is partial, of a something which is at once distinct and not distinct, of a nothingness which is no nothingness, of a complete thing that is incomplete: the hypothesis therefore must be dismissed; no deduction is possible where a thesis cancels its own propositions.[Back to Table of Contents]
Perceptions are no imprints, we have said, are not to be thought of as seal-impressions on soul or mind: accepting this statement, there is one theory of memory which must be definitely rejected.
Memory is not to be explained as the retaining of information in virtue of the lingering of an impression which in fact was never made; the two things stand or fall together; either an impression is made upon the mind and lingers when there is remembrance, or, denying the impression, we cannot hold that memory is its lingering. Since we reject equally the impression and the retention we are obliged to seek for another explanation of perception and memory, one excluding the notions that the sensible object striking upon soul or mind makes a mark upon it, and that the retention of this mark is memory.
If we study what occurs in the case of the most vivid form of perception, we can transfer our results to the other cases, and so solve our problem.
In any perception we attain by sight, the object is grasped there where it lies in the direct line of vision; it is there that we attack it; there, then, the perception is formed; the mind looks outward; this is ample proof that it has taken and takes no inner imprint, and does not see in virtue of some mark made upon it like that of the ring on the wax; it need not look outward at all if, even as it looked, it already held the image of the object, seeing by virtue of an impression made upon itself. It includes with the object the interval, for it tells at what distance the vision takes place: how could it see as outlying an impression within itself, separated by no interval from itself? Then, the point of magnitude: how could the mind, on this hypothesis, define the external size of the object or perceive that it has any—the magnitude of the sky, for instance, whose stamped imprint would be too vast for it to contain? And, most convincing of all, if to see is to accept imprints of the objects of our vision, we can never see these objects themselves; we see only vestiges they leave within us, shadows: the things themselves would be very different from our vision of them. And, for a conclusive consideration, we cannot see if the living object is in contact with the eye; we must look from a certain distance; this must be more applicable to the mind; supposing the mind to be stamped with an imprint of the object, it could not grasp as an object of vision what is stamped upon itself. For vision demands a duality, of seen and seeing: the seeing agent must be distinct and act upon an impression outside it, not upon one occupying the same point with it: sight can deal only with an object not inset but outlying.
But if perception does not go by impression, what is the process?
The mind affirms something not contained within it: this is precisely the characteristic of a power—not to accept impression but, within its allotted sphere, to act.
Besides, the very condition of the mind being able to exercise discrimination upon what it is to see and hear is not, of course, that these objects be equally impressions made upon it; on the contrary, there must be no impressions, nothing to which the mind is passive; there can be only acts of that in which the objects become known.
Our tendency is to think of any of the faculties as unable to know its appropriate object by its own uncompelled act; to us it seems to submit to its environment rather than simply to perceive it, though in reality it is the master, not the victim.
As with sight, so with hearing. It is the air which takes the impression, a kind of articulated stroke which may be compared to letters traced upon it by the object causing the sound; but it belongs to the faculty, and the soul-essence, to read the imprints thus appearing before it, as they reach the point at which they become matter of its knowledge.
In taste and smell also we distinguish between the impressions received and the sensations and judgements; these last are mental acts, and belong to an order apart from the experiences upon which they are exercised.
The knowing of the things belonging to the Intellectual is not in any such degree attended by impact or impression: they come forward, on the contrary, as from within, unlike the sense-objects known as from without: they have more emphatically the character of acts; they are acts in the stricter sense, for their origin is in the soul, and every concept of this Intellectual order is the soul about its Act.
Whether, in this self-vision, the soul is a duality and views itself as from the outside—while seeing the Intellectual-Principle as a unity, and itself with the Intellectual-Principle as a unity—this question is investigated elsewhere.
With this prologue we come to our discussion of Memory.
That the soul, or mind, having taken no imprint, yet achieves perception of what it in no way contains need not surprise us; or rather, surprising though it is, we cannot refuse to believe in this remarkable power.
The Soul is the Reason-Principle of the universe, ultimate among the Intellectual Beings—its own essential Nature is one of the Beings of the Intellectual Realm—but it is the primal Reason-Principle of the entire realm of sense.
Thus it has dealings with both orders—benefited and quickened by the one, but by the other beguiled, falling before resemblances, and so led downwards as under spell. Poised midway, it is aware of both spheres.
Of the Intellectual it is said to have intuition by memory upon approach, for it knows them by a certain natural identity with them; its knowledge is not attained by besetting them, so to speak, but by in a definite degree possessing them; they are its natural vision; they are itself in a more radiant mode, and it rises from its duller pitch to that greater brilliance in a sort of awakening, a progress from its latency to its act.
To the sense-order it stands in a similar nearness and to such things it gives a radiance out of its own store and, as it were, elaborates them to visibility: the power is always ripe and, so to say, in travail towards them, so that, whenever it puts out its strength in the direction of what has once been present in it, it sees that object as present still; and the more intent its effort the more durable is the presence. This is why, it is agreed, children have long memory; the things presented to them are not constantly withdrawn but remain in sight; in their case the attention is limited but not scattered: those whose faculty and mental activity are busied upon a multitude of subjects pass quickly over all, lingering on none.
Now, if memory were a matter of seal-impressions retained, the multiplicity of objects would have no weakening effect on the memory. Further, on the same hypothesis, we would have no need of thinking back to revive remembrance; nor would we be subject to forgetting and recalling; all would lie engraved within.
The very fact that we train ourselves to remember shows that what we get by the process is a strengthening of the mind: just so, exercises for feet and hands enable us to do easily acts which are in no sense contained or laid up in those members, but to which they may be fitted by persevering effort.
How else can it be explained that we forget a thing heard once or twice but remember what is often repeated, and that we recall a long time afterwards what at first hearing we failed to hold?
It is no answer to say that the parts present themselves sooner than the entire imprint—why should they too be forgotten?—(there is no question of parts, for) the last hearing, or our effort to remember, brings the thing back to us in a flash.
All these considerations testify to an evocation of that faculty of the soul, or mind, in which remembrance is vested: the mind is strengthened, either generally or to this particular purpose.
Observe these facts: memory follows upon attention; those who have memorised much, by dint of their training in the use of leading indications (suggestive words and the like), reach the point of being easily able to retain without such aid: must we not conclude that the basis of memory is the soul-power brought to full strength?
The lingering imprints of the other explanation would tell of weakness rather than power; for to take imprint easily is to be yielding. An impression is something received passively; the strongest memory, then, would go with the least active nature. But what happens is the very reverse: in no pursuit do technical exercises tend to make a man less the master of his acts and states. It is as with sense-perception; the advantage is not to the weak, the weak eye for example, but to that which has the fullest power towards its exercise. In the old, it is significant, the senses are dulled and so is the memory.
Sensation and memory, then, are not passivity but power.
And, once it is admitted that sensations are not impressions, the memory of a sensation cannot consist in the retention of an impression that was never made.
Yes: but if it is an active power of the mind, a fitness towards its particular purpose, why does it not come at once—and not with delay—to the recollection of its unchanging objects?
Simply because the power needs to be poised and prepared: in this it is only like all the others, which have to be readied for the task to which their power reaches, some operating very swiftly, others only after a certain self-concentration.
Quick memory does not in general go with quick wit: the two do not fall under the same mental faculty; runner and boxer are not often united in one person; the dominant idea differs from man to man.
Yet there could be nothing to prevent men of superior faculty from reading impressions on the mind; why should one thus gifted be incapable of what would be no more than a passive taking and holding?
That memory is a power of the Soul (not a capacity for taking imprint) is established at a stroke by the consideration that the soul is without magnitude.
And—one general reflection—it is not extraordinary that everything concerning soul should proceed in quite other ways than appears to people who either have never enquired, or have hastily adopted delusive analogies from the phenomena of sense, and persist in thinking of perception and remembrance in terms of characters inscribed on plates or tablets; the impossibilities that beset this theory escape those that make the soul incorporeal equally with those to whom it is corporeal.[Back to Table of Contents]
Whether every human being is immortal or we are wholly destroyed, or whether something of us passes over to dissolution and destruction, while something else, that which is the true man, endures for ever—this question will be answered here for those willing to investigate our nature.
We know that man is not a thing of one only element; he has a soul and he has, whether instrument or adjunct in some other mode, a body: this is the first distinction; it remains to investigate the nature and essential being of these two constituents.
Reason tells us that the body as, itself too, a composite, cannot for ever hold together; and our senses show us it breaking up, wearing out, the victim of destructive agents of many kinds, each of its constituents going its own way, one part working against another, perverting, wrecking, and this especially when the material masses are no longer presided over by the reconciling soul.
And when each single constituent is taken as a thing apart, it is still not a unity; for it is divisible into shape and matter, the duality without which bodies at their very simplest cannot cohere.
The mere fact that, as material forms, they have bulk means that they can be lopped and crushed and so come to destruction.
If this body, then, is really a part of us, we are not wholly immortal; if it is an instrument of ours, then, as a thing put at our service for a certain time, it must be in its nature passing.
The sovran principle, the authentic man, will be as Form to this Matter or as agent to this instrument, and thus, whatever that relation be, the soul is the man.
But of what nature is this sovran principle?
If material, then definitely it must fall apart; for every material entity, at least, is something put together.
If it is not material but belongs to some other Kind, that new substance must be investigated in the same way or by some more suitable method.
But our first need is to discover into what this material form, since such the soul is to be, can dissolve.
Now: of necessity life is inherent to soul: this material entity, then, which we call soul must have life ingrained within it; but (being a composite as by hypothesis, material) it must be made up of two or more bodies; that life, then, will be vested, either in each and all of those bodies or in one of them to the exclusion of the other or others; if this be not so, then there is no life present anywhere.
If any one of them contains this ingrained life, that one is the soul. But what sort of an entity have we there; what is this body which of its own nature possesses soul?
Fire, air, water, earth, are in themselves soulless—whenever soul is in any of them, that life is borrowed—and there are no other forms of body than these four: even the school that believes there are has always held them to be bodies, not souls, and to be without life.
None of these, then, having life, it would be extraordinary if life came about by bringing them together; it is impossible, in fact, that the collocation of material entities should produce life, or mindless entities mind.
No one, moreover, would pretend that a mere chance mixing could give such results: some regulating principle would be necessary, some Cause directing the admixture: that guiding principle would be—soul.
Body—not merely because it is a composite, but even were it simplex—could not exist unless there were soul in the universe, for body owes its being to the entrance of a Reason-Principle into Matter, and only from soul can a Reason-Principle come.
Anyone who rejects this view, and holds that either atoms or some entities void of part coming together produce soul, is refuted by the very unity of soul and by the prevailing sympathy as much as by the very coherence of the constituents. Bodily materials, in nature repugnant to unification and to sensation, could never produce unity or self-sensitiveness, and soul is self-sensitive. And, again, constituents void of part could never produce body or bulk.
Perhaps we will be asked to consider body as a simple entity (disregarding the question of any constituent elements): they will tell us, then, that no doubt, as purely material, it cannot have a self-springing life—since matter is without quality—but that life is introduced by the fact that the Matter is brought to order under Forming-Idea. But if by this Forming-Idea they mean an essential, a real being, then it is not the conjoint of body and idea that constitutes soul: it must be one of the two items and that one, being (by hypothesis) outside of the Matter, cannot be body: to make it body would simply force us to repeat our former analysis.
If on the contrary they do not mean by this Forming-Idea a real being, but some condition or modification of the Matter, they must tell us how and whence this modification, with resultant life, can have found the way into the Matter: for very certainly Matter does not mould itself to pattern or bring itself to life.
It becomes clear that since neither Matter nor body in any mode has this power, life must be brought upon the stage by some directing principle external and transcendent to all that is corporeal.
In fact, body itself could not exist in any form if soul-power did not: body passes; dissolution is in its very nature; all would disappear in a twinkling if all were body. It is no help to erect some one mode of body into soul; made of the same Matter as the rest, this soul-body would fall under the same fate: of course it could never really exist: the universe of things would halt at the material, failing something to bring Matter to shape.
Nay more: Matter itself could not exist: the totality of things in this sphere is dissolved if it be made to depend upon the coherence of a body which, though elevated to the nominal rank of “soul,” remains air, fleeting breath (the Stoic pneuma, rarefied matter, “spirit” in the lower sense), whose very unity is not drawn from itself.
All bodies are in ceaseless process of dissolution; how can the kosmos be made over to any one of them without being turned into a senseless haphazard drift? This pneuma—orderless except under soul—how can it contain order, reason, intelligence? But: given soul, all these material things become its collaborators towards the coherence of the kosmos and of every living being, all the qualities of all the separate objects converging to the purposes of the universe: failing soul in the things of the universe, they could not even exist, much less play their ordered parts.
Our opponents themselves are driven by stress of fact to admit the necessity of a prior to body, a higher thing, some phase or form of soul; their “pneuma” (finer-body or spirit) is intelligent, and they speak of an “intellectual fire”; this “fire” and “spirit” they imagine to be necessary to the existence of the higher order which they conceive as demanding some base, though the real difficulty, under their theory, is to find a base for material things whose only possible base is, precisely, the powers of soul.
Besides, if they make life and soul no more than this “pneuma,” what is the import of that repeated qualification of theirs “in a certain state,” their refuge when they are compelled to recognise some acting principle apart from body? If not every pneuma is a soul, but thousands of them soulless, and only the pneuma in this “certain state” is soul, what follows? Either this “certain state,” this shaping or configuration of things, is a real being or it is nothing.
If it is nothing, only the pneuma exists, the “certain state” being no more than a word; this leads imperatively to the assertion that Matter alone exists, Soul and God mere words, the lowest alone is.
If on the contrary this “configuration” is really existent—something distinct from the underlie or Matter, something residing in Matter but itself immaterial as not constructed out of Matter, then it must be a Reason-Principle, incorporeal, a separate Nature.
There are other equally cogent proofs that the soul cannot be any form of body.
Body is either warm or cold, hard or soft, liquid or solid, black or white, and so on through all the qualities by which one is different from another; and again if a body is warm it diffuses only warmth, if cold it can only chill, if light its presence tells against the total weight which if heavy it increases; black, it darkens; white, it lightens; fire has not the property of chilling or a cold body that of warming.
Soul, on the contrary, operates diversely in different living beings, and has quite contrary effects in any one: its productions contain the solid and the soft, the dense and the sparse, bright and dark, heavy and light. If it were material, its quality—and the colour it must have—would produce one invariable effect and not the variety actually observed.
Again, there is movement: all bodily movement is uniform; failing an incorporeal soul, how account for diversity of movement? Predilections, reasons, they will say; that is all very well, but these already contain that variety and therefore cannot belong to body which is one and simplex, and, besides, is not participant in reason—that is, not in the sense here meant, but only as it is influenced by some principle which confers upon it the qualities of, for instance, being warm or cold.
Then there is growth under a time-law, and within a definite limit: how can this belong strictly to body? Body can indeed be brought to growth, but does not itself grow except in the sense that in the material mass a capacity for growing is included as an accessory to some principle whose action upon the body causes growth.
Supposing the soul to be at once a body and the cause of growth, then, if it is to keep pace with the substance it augments, it too must grow; that means it must add to itself a similar bodily material. For the added material must be either soul or soulless body: if soul, whence and how does it enter, and by what process is it adjoined (to the soul which by hypothesis is body); if soulless, how does such an addition become soul, falling into accord with its precedent, making one thing with it, sharing the stored impressions and notions of that initial soul instead, rather, of remaining an alien ignoring all the knowledge laid up before?
Would not such a soulless addition be subject to just such loss and gain of substance, in fact to the non-identity, which marks the rest of our material mass?
And if this were so how explain our memories or our recognition of familiar things when we have no stably identical soul?
Assume soul to be a body: now in the nature of body, characteristically divisible, no one of the parts can be identical with the entire being; soul, then, is a thing of defined size, and if curtailed must cease to be what it is; in the nature of a quantitative entity this must be so, for if a thing of magnitude on diminution retains its identity in virtue of its quality, this is only saying that bodily and quantitatively it is different even if its identity consists in a quality quite independent of quantity.
What answer can be made by those declaring soul to be corporeal? Is every part of the soul, in any one body, soul entire, soul perfectly true to its essential being? and may the same be said of every part of the part? If so, the magnitude makes no contribution to the soul’s essential nature, as it must if soul (as corporeal) were a definite magnitude: it is, as body cannot be, an “all-everywhere,” a complete identity present at each and every point, the part all that the whole is.
To deny that every part is soul is to make soul a compound from soulless elements. Further, if a definite magnitude, the double limit of larger or smaller, is to be imposed upon each separate soul, then anything outside those limits is no soul.
Now, a single coition and a single sperm suffice to a twin birth or in the animal order to a litter; there is a splitting and diverging of the seed, every diverging part being obviously a whole: surely no honest mind can fail to gather that a thing in which part is identical with whole has a nature which transcends quantity, and must of necessity be without quantity: only so could it remain identical when quantity is filched from it, only by being indifferent to amount or extension, by being in essence something apart. Thus the Soul and the Reason-Principles are without quantity.
It is easy to show that if the Soul were a corporeal entity, there could be no sense-perception, no mental act, no knowledge, no moral excellence, nothing of all that is noble.
There can be no perception without a unitary percipient whose identity enables it to grasp an object as an entirety.
The several senses will each be the entrance point of many diverse perceptions; in any one object there may be many characteristics; any one organ may be the channel of a group of objects, as for instance a face is known not by a special sense for separate features, nose, eyes, etc., but by one sense observing all in one act.
When sight and hearing gather their varying information, there must be some central unity to which both report. How could there be any statement of difference unless all sense-impressions appeared before a common identity able to take the sum of all?
This there must be, as there is a centre to a circle; the sense-impressions converging from every point of occurrence will be as lines striking from a circumference to what will be a true centre of perception as being a veritable unity.
If this centre were to break into separate points—so that the sense-impressions fell upon the two ends of a line—then, either it must reknit itself to unity and identity, perhaps at the mid-point of the line, or all remains unrelated, every end receiving the report of its particular field exactly as you and I have our distinct sense experiences.
Suppose the sense-object be such a unity as a face: all the points of observation must be brought together in one visual total, as is obvious since there could be no panorama of great expanses unless the detail were compressed to the capacity of the pupils.
Much more must this be true in the case of thoughts, partless entities as they are, impinging upon the centre of consciousness which (to receive them) must itself be void of part.
Either this or—supposing the centre of consciousness to be a thing of quantity and extension the sensible object will coincide with it point by point of their co-expansion so that any given point in the faculty will perceive solely what coincides with it in the object: and thus nothing in us could perceive any thing as a whole.
This cannot be: the faculty entire must be a unity; no such dividing is possible; this is no matter in which we can think of equal sections coinciding; the centre of consciousness has no such relation of equality with any sensible object. The only possible ratio of divisibility would be that of the number of diverse elements in the impinging sensation: are we then to suppose that each part of the soul, and every part of each part, will have perception? Or will the part of the parts have none? That is impossible: every part, then, has perception; the (hypothetical) magnitude, of soul and each part of soul, is infinitely divisible; there will therefore be in each part an infinite number of perceptions of the object, and therefore an infinitude of representations of it at our centre of consciousness.
If the sentient be a material entity (as we are invited to believe) sensation could only be of the order of seal-impressions struck by a ring on wax, in this case by sensible objects on the blood or on the intervenient air.
If, at this, the impression is like one made in liquids—as would be reasonable—it will be confused and wavering as upon water, and there can be no memory. If the impressions are permanent then either no fresh ones can be stamped upon the occupied ground—and there can be no change of sensations—or, others being made, the former will be obliterated; and all record of the past is done away with.
If memory implies fresh sensations imposed upon former ones, the earlier not barring their way, the soul cannot be a material entity.
We come to the same result by examining the sense of pain. We say there is pain in the finger: the trouble is doubtless in the finger, but our opponents must admit that the sensation of the pain is in the centre of consciousness. The suffering member is one thing, the sense of suffering is another: how does this happen?
By transmission, they will say: the psychic pneuma (= the semi-material principle of life) stationed at the finger suffers first; and stage by stage the trouble is passed on until at last it reaches the centre of consciousness.
But on this theory, there must be a sensation in the spot first suffering pain, and another sensation at a second point of the line of transmission, another in the third and so on; many sensations, in fact an unlimited series, to deal with one pain; and at the last moment the centre of consciousness has the sensation of all these sensations and of its own sensation to boot. Or to be exact, these serial sensations will not be of the pain in the finger: the sensation next in succession to the suffering finger will be of pain at the joint, a third will tell of a pain still higher up: there will be a series of separate pains: The centre of consciousness will not feel the pain seated at the finger, but only that impinging upon itself: it will know this alone, ignore the rest and so have no notion that the finger is in pain.
Thus: Transmission would not give sensation of the actual condition at the affected spot: it is not in the nature of body that where one part suffers there should be knowledge in another part—for body is a magnitude, and the parts of every magnitude are distinct parts—; therefore we need, as the sentient, something of a nature to be identical to itself at any and every spot; this property can belong only to some other form of being than body.
It can be shown also that the intellectual act would similarly be impossible if the soul were any form of body.
If sensation is apprehension by means of the soul’s employment of the body, intellection cannot be a similar use of the body or it would be identical with sensation. If then intellection is apprehension apart from body, much more must there be a distinction between the body and the intellective principle: sensation for objects of sense, intellection for the intellectual object. And even if this be rejected, it must still be admitted that there do exist intellections of intellectual objects and perceptions of objects not possessing magnitude: how, we may then ask, can a thing of magnitude know a thing that has no magnitude, or how can the partless be known by means of what has parts? We will be told “By some partless part.” But, at this, the intellective will not be body: for contact does not need a whole; one point suffices. If then it be conceded—and it cannot be denied—that the primal intellections deal with objects completely incorporeal, the principle of intellection itself must know by virtue of being, or becoming, free from body. Even if they hold that all intellection deals with the ideal forms in Matter, still it always takes place by abstraction from the bodies (in which these forms appear) and the separating agent is the Intellectual-Principle. For assuredly the process by which we abstract circle, triangle, line or point, is not carried through by the aid of flesh or Matter of any kind; in all such acts the soul or mind must separate itself from the material: at once we see that it cannot be itself material. Similarly it will be agreed that, as beauty and justice are things without magnitude, so must be the intellective act that grasps them.
When such non-magnitudes come before the soul, it receives them by means of its partless phase and they will take position there in partless wise.
Again: if the Soul is a body, how can we account for its virtues—moral excellence (Sophrosyne), justice, courage and so forth? All these could be only some kind of rarefied body (pneuma), or blood in some form; or we might see courage as a certain resisting power in that pneuma; moral quality would be its happy blending; beauty would lie wholly in the agreeable form of impressions received, such comeliness as leads us to describe people as attractive and beautiful from their bodily appearance. No doubt strength and grace of form go well enough with the idea of rarefied body; but what can this rarefied body want with moral excellence? On the contrary its interest would lie in being comfortable in its environments and contacts, in being warmed or pleasantly cool, in bringing everything smooth and caressing and soft around it: what could it care about a just distribution?
Then consider the objects of the soul’s contemplation, virtue and the other Intellectual forms with which it is occupied; are these eternal or are we to think that virtue rises here or there, helps, then perishes? These things must have an author and a source and there, again, we are confronted by something perdurable: the soul’s contemplation, then, must be of the eternal and unchanging, like the concepts of geometry: if eternal and unchanging, these objects are not bodies: and that which is to receive them must be of equivalent nature: it cannot therefore be body, since all body-nature lacks permanence, is a thing of flux.
8, A. (sometimes appearing as 9.)
There are those who insist on the activities observed in bodies—warming, chilling, thrusting, pressing—and class soul with body, as it were to assure its efficacy. This ignores the double fact that the very bodies themselves exercise such efficiency by means of the incorporeal powers operating in them, and that these are not the powers we attribute to soul: intellection, perception, reasoning, desire, wise and effective action in all regards, these point to a very different form of being.
In transferring to bodies the powers of the unembodied, this school leaves nothing to that higher order. And yet that it is precisely in virtue of bodiless powers that bodies possess their efficiency is clear from certain reflections:—
It will be admitted that quality and quantity are two different things, that body is always a thing of quantity but not always a thing of quality: matter is not qualified. This admitted, it will not be denied that quality, being a different thing from quantity, is a different thing from body. Obviously quality could not be body when it has not quantity as (by the admission) all body must; and, again, as we have said, body, any thing of mass, on being reduced to fragments ceases to be what it was, but the quality it possessed remains intact in every particle—for instance the sweetness of honey is still sweetness in each speck—this shows that sweetness and all other qualities are not body.
Further: if the powers in question were bodies, then necessarily the stronger powers would be large masses and those less efficient small masses: but if there are large masses with small powers while not a few of the smaller masses manifest great powers, then the efficiency must be vested in something other than magnitude; efficacy, thus, belongs to non-magnitude. Again; Matter, they tell us, remains unchanged as long as it is body, but produces variety upon accepting qualities; is not this proof enough that the entrants (with whose arrival the changes happen) are Reason-Principles and not of the bodily order?
They must not remind us that when pneuma and blood are no longer present, animals die: these are necessary no doubt to life, but so are many other things of which none could possibly be soul: and neither pneuma nor blood is present throughout the entire being; but soul is.
8, B. (10.)
If the soul is body and permeates the entire body-mass, still even in this entire permeation the blending must be in accord with what occurs in all cases of bodily admixing.
Now: if in the admixing of bodies neither constituent can retain its efficacy, the soul too could no longer be effective within the bodies; it could but be latent; it will have lost that by which it is soul, just as in an admixture of sweet and bitter the sweet disappears: we have, thus, no soul.
Two bodies (i.e. by hypothesis, the soul and the human body) are blended, each entire through the entirety of the other; where the one is, the other is also; each occupies an equal extension and each the whole extension; no increase of size has been caused by the juncture: the one body thus inblended can have left in the other nothing undivided. This is no case of mixing in the sense of considerable portions alternating; that would be described as collocation: no; the incoming entity goes through the other to the very minutest point—an impossibility, of course; the less becoming equal to the greater; still, all is traversed throughout and divided throughout. Now if, thus, the inblending is to occur point by point, leaving no undivided material anywhere, the division of the body concerned must have been a division into (geometrical) points: an impossibility. The division is an infinite series—any material particle may be cut in two—and the infinities are not merely potential, they are actual.
Therefore body cannot traverse anything as a whole traversing a whole. But soul does this. It is therefore incorporeal.
8, C. (11.)
We come to the theory that this pneuma is an earlier form, one which on entering the cold and being tempered by it develops into soul by growing finer under that new condition. This is absurd at the start, since many living beings rise in warmth and have a soul that has been tempered by cold: still that is the theory—the soul has an earlier form, and develops its true nature by force of external accidents. Thus these teachers make the inferior precede the higher, and before that inferior they put something still lower, their “Habitude.” It is obvious that the Intellectual-Principle is last and has sprung from the soul, for if it were first of all, the order of the series must be, second the soul, then the nature-principle, and always the later inferior, as the system actually stands.
If they treat God as they do the Intellectual-Principle—as later, engendered and deriving intellection from without—soul and intellect and God may prove to have no existence: this would follow if a potentiality could not come to existence, or does not become actual, unless the corresponding actuality exists. And what could lead it onward if there were no separate being in previous actuality? Even on the absurd supposition that the potentially existent brings itself to actuality, it must be looking to some Term, and that must be no potentiality but actual.
No doubt the eternally self-identical may have potentiality and be self-led to self-realisation, but even in this case the being considered as actualised is of higher order than the being considered as merely capable of actualisation and moving towards a desired Term.
Thus the higher is the earlier, and it has a nature other than body, and it exists always in actuality: Intellectual-Principle and Soul precede Nature: thus, Soul does not stand at the level of pneuma or of body.
These arguments are sufficient in themselves, though many others have been framed, to show that the soul is not to be thought of as a body.
8, D. (12.)
Soul belongs, then, to another Nature: What is this? Is it something which, while distinct from body, still belongs to it, for example a harmony or accord?
The Pythagorean school holds this view thinking that the soul is, with some difference, comparable to the accord in the strings of a lyre. When the lyre is strung a certain condition is produced upon the strings, and this is known as accord: in the same way our body is formed of distinct constituents brought together, and the blend produces at once life and that soul which is the condition existing upon the bodily total.
That this opinion is untenable has already been shown at length. The soul is a prior (to body), the accord is a secondary to the lyre. Soul rules, guides and often combats the body; as an accord of body it could not do these things. Soul is a real being, accord is not. That due blending (or accord) of the corporeal materials which constitute our frame would be simply health. Each separate part of the body, entering as a distinct entity into the total, would require a distinct soul (its own accord or note), so that there would be many souls to each person. Weightiest of all; before this soul there would have to be another soul to bring about the accord as, in the case of the musical instrument, there is the musician who produces the accord upon the strings by his own possession of the principle on which he tunes them: neither musical strings nor human bodies could put themselves in tune.
Briefly, the soulless is treated as ensouled, the unordered becomes orderly by accident, and instead of order being due to soul, soul itself owes its substantial existence to order—which is self-caused. Neither in the sphere of the partial, nor in that of Wholes could this be true. The soul, therefore, is not a harmony or accord.
8, E. (13.)
We come to the doctrine of the Entelechy, and must enquire how it is applied to soul.
It is thought that in the Conjoint of body and soul the soul holds the rank of Form to the Matter which here is the ensouled body—not, then, Form to every example of body or to body as merely such, but to a natural organic body having the potentiality of life.
Now; if the soul has been so injected as to be assimilated into the body as the design of a statue is worked into the bronze, it will follow that, upon any dividing of the body, the soul is divided with it, and if any part of the body is cut away a fragment of soul must go with it. Since an Entelechy must be inseparable from the being of which it is the accomplished actuality, the withdrawal of the soul in sleep cannot occur; in fact sleep itself cannot occur. Moreover if the soul is an Entelechy, there is an end to the resistance offered by reason to the desires; the total (of body and Entelechy-Soul) must have one uniform experience throughout, and be aware of no internal contradiction. Sense-perception might occur; but intellection would be impossible. The very upholders of the Entelechy are thus compelled to introduce another soul, the Intellect, to which they ascribe immortality. The reasoning soul, then, must be an Entelechy—if the word is to be used at all—in some other mode.
Even the sense-perceiving soul, in its possession of the impressions of absent objects, must hold these without aid from the body; for otherwise the impression must be present in it like shape and images, and that would mean that it could not take in fresh impressions: the perceptive soul, then, cannot be described as this Entelechy inseparable from the body. Similarly the desiring principle, dealing not only with food and drink but with things quite apart from body; this also is no inseparable Entelechy.
There remains the vegetal principle which might seem to suggest the possibility that, in this phase, the soul may be the inseparable Entelechy of the doctrine. But it is not so. The principle of every growth lies at the root; in many plants the new springing takes place at the root or just above it: it is clear that the life-principle, the vegetal soul, has abandoned the upper portions to concentrate itself at that one spot: it was therefore not present in the whole as an inseparable Entelechy. Again, before the plant’s development the life-principle is situated in that small beginning: if, thus, it passes from large growth to small and from the small to the entire growth, why should it not pass outside altogether?
An Entelechy is not a thing of parts; how then could it be present partwise in the partible body?
An identical soul is now the soul of one living being now of another: how could the soul of the first become the soul of the latter if soul were the Entelechy of one particular being? Yet that this transference does occur is evident from the facts of animal metasomatosis.
The substantial existence of the soul, then, does not depend upon serving as Form to anything: it is an Essence which does not come into being by finding a seat in body; it exists before it becomes also the soul of some particular, for example, of a living being, whose body would by this doctrine be the author of its soul.
What, then, is the soul’s Being? If it is neither body nor a state or experience of body, but is act and creation: if it holds much and gives much, and is an existence outside of body; of what order and character must it be? Clearly it is what we describe as Veritable Essence. The other order, the entire corporeal Kind, is process; it appears and it perishes; in reality it never possesses Being, but is merely protected, in so far as it has the capacity, by participating in what authentically is.
Over against that body, stands the principle which is self-caused, which is all that neither enters into being nor passes away, the principle whose dissolution would mean the end of all things never to be restored if once this had ceased to be, the sustaining principle of things individually, and of this kosmos, which owes its maintenance and its ordered system to the soul.
This is the starting point of motion and becomes the leader and provider of motion to all else: it moves by its own quality, and every living material form owes life to this principle, which of itself lives in a life that, being essentially innate, can never fail.
Not all things can have a life merely at second hand; this would give an infinite series: there must be some nature which, having life primally, shall be of necessity indestructible, immortal, as the source of life to all else that lives. This is the point at which all that is divine and blessed must be situated, living and having being of itself, possessing primal being and primal life, and in its own essence rejecting all change, neither coming to be nor passing away.
Whence could such a being arise or into what could it disappear: the very word, strictly used, means that the thing is perdurable. Similarly white, the colour, cannot be now white and now not white: if this “white” were a real being it would be eternal as well as being white: the colour is merely white but whatsoever possesses being, indwelling by nature and primal, will possess also eternal duration. In such an entity this primal and eternal Being cannot be dead like stone or plank: it must be alive, and that with a life unalloyed as long as it remains self-gathered: when the primal Being blends with an inferior principle, it is hampered in its relation to the highest, but without suffering the loss of its own nature since it can always recover its earliest state by turning its tendency back to its own.
That the soul is of the family of the diviner nature, the eternal, is clear from our demonstration that it is not material: besides it has neither shape or colour nor is it tangible. But there are other proofs.
Assuming that the divine and the authentically existent possesses a life beneficent and wise, we take the next step and begin with working out the nature of our own soul.
Let us consider a soul, not one that has appropriated the unreasoned desires and impulses of the bodily life, or any other such emotion and experience, but one that has cast all this aside, and as far as possible has no commerce with the bodily. Such a soul demonstrates that all evil is accretion, alien, and that in the purged soul the noble things are immanent, wisdom and all else that is good, as its native store.
If this is the soul once it has returned to its self, how deny that it is of the nature we have identified with all the divine and eternal? Wisdom and authentic virtue are divine, and could not be found in the chattel mean and mortal: what possesses these must be divine by its very capacity of the divine, the token of kinship and of identical substance.
Hence, too, any one of us that exhibits these qualities will differ but little as far as soul is concerned from the Supernals; he will be less than they only to the extent in which the soul is, in him, associated with body.
This is so true that, if every human being were at that stage, or if a great number lived by a soul of that degree, no one would be so incredulous as to doubt that the soul in man is immortal. It is because we see everywhere the spoiled souls of the great mass that it becomes difficult to recognise their divinity and immortality.
To know the nature of a thing we must observe it in its unalloyed state, since any addition obscures the reality. Clear, then look: or, rather, let a man first purify himself and then observe: he will not doubt his immortality when he sees himself thus entered into the pure, the Intellectual. For, what he sees is an Intellectual-Principle looking on nothing of sense, nothing of this mortality, but by its own eternity having intellection of the eternal: he will see all things in this Intellectual substance, himself having become an Intellectual Kosmos and all lightsome, illuminated by the truth streaming from The Good, which radiates truth upon all that stands within that realm of the divine.
Thus he will often feel the beauty of that word “Farewell: I am to you an immortal God,” for he has ascended to the Supreme, and is all one strain to enter into likeness with it.
If the purification puts the human into knowledge of the highest, then, too, the science latent within becomes manifest, the only authentic knowing. For it is not by running hither and thither outside of itself that the soul understands morality and right conduct: it learns them of its own nature, in its contact with itself, in its intellectual grasp of itself, seeing deeply impressed upon it the images of its primal state; what was one mass of rust from long neglect it has restored to purity.
Imagine living gold: it files away all that is earthy about it, all that kept it in self-ignorance preventing it from knowing itself as gold; seen now unalloyed it is at once filled with admiration of its worth and knows that it has no need of any other glory than its own, triumphant if only it be allowed to remain purely to itself.
What intelligent mind can doubt the immortality of such a value, one in which there is a life self-springing and therefore not to be destroyed?
This is at any rate a life not imported from without, not present in the mode of the heat in fire—for if heat is characteristic of the fire proper, it certainly is adventitious to the Matter underlying the fire; or fire, too, would be everlasting—it is not in any such mode that the soul has life: this is no case of a Matter underlying and a life brought into that Matter and making it into soul (as heat comes into matter and makes it fire).
Either life is Essential Reality, and therefore self-living—the very thing we have been seeking—and undeniably immortal: or it, too, is a compound and must be traced back through all the constituents until an immortal substance is reached, something deriving movement from itself, and therefore debarred from accepting death.
Even supposing life could be described as a condition imposed upon Matter, still the source from which this condition entered the Matter must necessarily be admitted to be immortal simply by being unable to take into itself the opposite of the life which it conveys.
Of course, life is no such mere condition, but an independent principle, effectively living.
A further consideration is that if every soul is to be held dissoluble the universe must long since have ceased to be: if it is pretended that one kind of soul, our own for example, is mortal, and another, that of the All, let us suppose, is immortal, we demand to know the reason of the difference alleged.
Each is a principle of motion, each is self-living, each touches the same sphere by the same tentacles, each has intellection of the celestial order and of the super-celestial, each is seeking to win to what has essential being, each is moving upwards to the primal source.
Again: the soul’s understanding of the Absolute Forms by means of the visions stored up in it is effected within itself; such perception is reminiscence; the soul then must have its being before embodiment, and drawing on an eternal science, must itself be eternal.
Every dissoluble entity, that has come to be by way of groupment, must in the nature of things be broken apart by that very mode which brought it together: but the soul is one and simplex, living not in the sense of potential reception of life but by its own energy; and this can be no cause of dissolution.
But, we will be told, it tends to destruction by having been divided (in the body) and so becoming fragmentary.
No: the soul, as we have shown, is not a mass, not a quantity.
May not it change and so come to destruction?
No: the change that destroys annuls the form but leaves the underlying substance: and that could not happen to anything except a compound.
If it can be destroyed in no such ways it is necessarily indestructible.
But how does the soul enter into body from the aloofness of the Intellectual?
There is the Intellectual-Principle which remains among the intellectual beings, living the purely intellective life; and this, knowing no impulse or appetite, is for ever stationary in that Realm. But immediately following upon it, there is that which has acquired appetite and, by this accruement, has already taken a great step outward; it has the desire of elaborating order on the model of what it has seen in the Intellectual-Principle: pregnant by those Beings, and in pain to the birth, it is eager to make, to create. In this new zest it strains towards the realm of sense: thus, while this primal soul in union with the Soul of the All transcends the sphere administered, it is inevitably turned outward, and has added the universe to its concern: yet in choosing to administer the partial and exiling itself to enter the place in which it finds its appropriate task, it still is not wholly and exclusively held by body: it is still in possession of the unembodied; and the Intellectual-Principle in it remains immune. As a whole it is partly in body, partly outside: it has plunged from among the primals and entered this sphere of tertiaries: the process has been an activity of the Intellectual-Principle, which thus, while itself remaining in its identity, operates throughout the soul to flood the universe with beauty and penetrant order—immortal mind, eternal in its unfailing energy, acting through immortal soul.
As for the souls of the other living beings, fallen to the degree of entering brute bodies, these too must be immortal. And if there is in the animal world any other phase of soul, its only possible origin, since it is the life-giver, is, still, that one principle of life: so too with the soul in the vegetal order.
All have sprung from one source, all have life as their own, all are incorporeal, indivisible, all are real-beings.
If we are told that man’s soul being tripartite must as a compound entity be dissolved, our answer shall be that pure souls upon their emancipation will put away all that has fastened to them at birth, all that increment which the others will long retain.
But even that inferior phase thus laid aside will not be destroyed as long as its source continues to exist, for nothing from the realm of real being shall pass away.
Thus far we have offered the considerations appropriate to those asking for demonstration: those whose need is conviction by evidence of the more material order are best met from the abundant records relevant to the subject: there are also the oracles of the Gods ordering the appeasing of wronged souls and the honouring of the dead as still sentient, a practice common to all mankind: and again, not a few souls, once among men, have continued to serve them after quitting the body and by revelations, practically helpful, make clear, as well, that the other souls, too, have not ceased to be.[Back to Table of Contents]
Many times it has happened: Lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a marvellous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order; enacting the noblest life, acquiring identity with the divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity; poised above whatsoever within the Intellectual is less than the Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it happens that I can now be descending, and how did the soul ever enter into my body, the soul which, even within the body, is the high thing it has shown itself to be.
Heraclitus, who urges the examination of this matter, tells of compulsory alternation from contrary to contrary, speaks of ascent and descent, says that “change reposes,” and that “it is weariness to keep toiling at the same things and always beginning again”; but he seems to teach by metaphor, not concerning himself about making his doctrine clear to us, probably with the idea that it is for us to seek within ourselves as he sought for himself and found.
Empedocles—where he says that it is law for faulty souls to descend to this sphere, and that he himself was here because he turned a deserter, wandered from God, in slavery to a raving discord—reveals neither more nor less than Pythagoras and his school seem to me to convey on this as on many other matters; but in his case, versification has some part in the obscurity.
We have to fall back on the illustrious Plato, who uttered many noble sayings about the soul, and has in many places dwelt upon its entry into body so that we may well hope to get some light from him.
What do we learn from this philosopher?
We will not find him so consistent throughout that it is easy to discover his mind.
Everywhere, no doubt, he expresses contempt for all that is of sense, blames the commerce of soul with body as an enchainment, an entombment, and upholds as a great truth the saying of the Mysteries that the soul is here a prisoner. In the Cavern of Plato and in the Cave of Empedocles, I discern this universe, where the breaking of the fetters and the ascent from the depths are figures of the wayfaring toward the Intellectual Realm.
In the Phaidros he makes a failing of the wings the cause of the entry to this realm: and there are Periods which send back the soul after it has risen; there are judgements and lots and fates and necessities driving other souls down to this order.
In all these explanations he finds guilt in the arrival of the soul at body. But treating, in the Timaeus, of our universe he exalts the kosmos and entitles it a blessed god, and holds that the soul was given by the goodness of the creator to the end that the total of things might be possessed of intellect, for thus intellectual it was planned to be, and thus it cannot be except through soul. There is a reason, then, why the soul of this All should be sent into it from God: in the same way the soul of each single one of us is sent, that the universe may be complete; it was necessary that all beings of the Intellectual should be tallied by just so many forms of living creatures here in the realm of sense.
Enquiring, then, of Plato as to our own soul, we find ourselves forced to enquire into the nature of soul in general—to discover what there can be in its character to bring it into partnership with body, and, again, what this kosmos must be in which, willing unwilling or in any way at all, soul has its activity.
We have to face also the question as to whether the Creator has planned well or ill . . . . . . like our souls, which it may be, are such that governing their inferior, the body, they must sink deeper and deeper into it if they are to control it.
No doubt the individual body—though in all cases appropriately placed within the universe—is of itself in a state of dissolution, always on the way to its natural terminus, demanding much irksome forethought to save it from every kind of outside assailant, always gripped by need, requiring every help against constant difficulty: but the body inhabited by the World-Soul—complete, competent, self-sufficing, exposed to nothing contrary to its nature—this needs no more than a brief word of command, while the governing soul is undeviatingly what its nature makes it wish to be, and, amenable neither to loss nor to addition, knows neither desire nor distress.
This is how we come to read that our soul, entering into association with that complete soul and itself thus made perfect, walks the lofty ranges, administering the entire kosmos, and that as long as it does not secede and is neither inbound to body nor held in any sort of servitude, so long it tranquilly bears its part in the governance of the All, exactly like the world-soul itself; for in fact it suffers no hurt whatever by furnishing body with the power to existence, since not every form of care for the inferior need wrest the providing soul from its own sure standing in the highest.
The soul’s care for the universe takes two forms: there is the supervising of the entire system, brought to order by deedless command in a kingly presidence, and there is that over the individual, implying direct action, the hand to the task, one might say, in immediate contact: in the second kind of care the agent absorbs much of the nature of its object.
Now in its comprehensive government of the heavenly system, the soul’s method is that of an unbroken transcendence in its highest phases, with penetration by its lower power: at this, God can no longer be charged with lowering the All-Soul, which has not been deprived of its natural standing and from eternity possesses and will unchangeably possess that rank and habit which could never have been intruded upon it against the course of nature but must be its characteristic quality, neither failing ever nor ever beginning.
Where we read that the souls or stars stand to their bodily forms as the All to the material forms within it—for these starry bodies are declared to be members of the soul’s circuit—we are given to understand that the star-souls also enjoy the blissful condition of transcendence and immunity that becomes them.
And so we might expect: commerce with the body is repudiated for two only reasons, as hindering the soul’s intellective act and as filling it with pleasure, desire, pain; but neither of these misfortunes can befall a soul which has never deeply penetrated into the body, is not a slave but a sovereign ruling a body of such an order as to have no need and no shortcoming and therefore to give ground for neither desire nor fear.
There is no reason why it should be expectant of evil with regard to such a body nor is there any such preoccupied concern, bringing about a veritable descent, as to withdraw it from its noblest and most blessed vision; it remains always intent upon the Supreme, and its governance of this universe is effected by a power not calling upon act.
The Human Soul, next:—
Everywhere we hear of it as in bitter and miserable durance in body, a victim to troubles and desires and fears and all forms of evil, the body its prison or its tomb, the kosmos its cave or cavern.
Now this does not clash with the first theory (that of the impassivity of soul as in the All); for the descent of the human Soul has not been due to the same causes (as that of the All-Soul).
All that is Intellectual-Principle has its being—whole and all—in the place of Intellection, what we call the Intellectual Kosmos: but there exist, too, the intellective powers included in its being, and the separate intelligences—for the Intellectual-Principle is not merely one; it is one and many. In the same way there must be both many souls and one, the one being the source of the differing many just as from one genus there rise various species, better and worse, some of the more intellectual order, others less effectively so.
In the Intellectual-Principle a distinction is to be made: there is the Intellectual-Principle itself, which like some huge living organism contains potentially all the other forms; and there are the forms thus potentially included now realised as individuals. We may think of it as a city which itself has soul and life, and includes, also, other forms of life; the living city is the more perfect and powerful, but those lesser forms, in spite of all, share in the one same living quality: or, another illustration, from fire, the universal, proceed both the great fire and the minor fires; yet all have the one common essence, that of fire the universal, or, more exactly, participate in that from which the essence of the universal fire proceeds.
No doubt the task of the soul, in its more emphatically reasoning phase, is intellection: but it must have another as well, or it would be undistinguishable from the Intellectual-Principle. To its quality of being intellective it adds the quality by which it attains its particular manner of being: remaining, therefore, an Intellectual-Principle, it has thenceforth its own task too, as everything must that exists among real beings.
It looks towards its higher and has intellection; towards itself and conserves its peculiar being; towards its lower and orders, administers, governs.
The total of things could not have remained stationary in the Intellectual Kosmos, once there was the possibility of continuous variety, of beings inferior but as necessarily existent as their superiors.
So it is with the individual souls; the appetite for the divine Intellect urges them to return to their source, but they have, too, a power apt to administration in this lower sphere; they may be compared to the light attached upwards to the sun, but not grudging its presidency to what lies beneath it. In the Intellectual, then, they remain with soul-entire, and are immune from care and trouble; in the heavenly sphere, absorbed in the soul-entire, they are administrators with it just as kings, associated with the supreme ruler and governing with him, do not descend from their kingly stations: the souls indeed (as distinguished from the kosmos) are thus far in the one place with their overlord; but there comes a stage at which they descend from the universal to become partial and self-centred; in a weary desire of standing apart they find their way, each to a place of its very own. This state long maintained, the soul is a deserter from the All; its differentiation has severed it; its vision is no longer set in the Intellectual; it is a partial thing, isolated, weakened, full of care, intent upon the fragment; severed from the whole, it nestles in one form of being; for this, it abandons all else, entering into and caring for only the one, for a thing buffeted about by a worldful of things: thus it has drifted away from the universal and, by an actual presence, it administers the particular; it is caught into contact now, and tends to the outer to which it has become present and into whose inner depths it henceforth sinks far.
With this comes what is known as the casting of the wings, the enchaining in body: the soul has lost that innocency of conducting the higher which it knew when it stood with the All-Soul, that earlier state to which all its interest would bid it hasten back.
It has fallen: it is at the chain: debarred from expressing itself now through its intellectual phase, it operates through sense; it is a captive; this is the burial, the encavernment, of the Soul.
But in spite of all it has, for ever, something transcendent: by a conversion towards the intellective act, it is loosed from the shackles and soars—when only it makes its memories the starting point of a new vision of essential being. Souls that take this way have place in both spheres, living of necessity the life there and the life here by turns, the upper life reigning in those able to consort more continuously with the divine Intellect, the lower dominant where character or circumstances are less favourable.
All this is indicated by Plato, without emphasis, where he distinguishes those of the second mixing-bowl, describes them as “parts,” and goes on to say that, having in this way become partial, they must of necessity experience birth.
Of course, where he speaks of God sowing them, he is to be understood as when he tells of God speaking and delivering orations; what is rooted in the nature of the All is figuratively treated as coming into being by generation and creation: stage and sequence are transferred, for clarity of exposition, to things whose being and definite form are eternal.
It is possible to reconcile all these apparent contradictions—the divine sowing to birth, as opposed to a voluntary descent aiming at the completion of the universe; the judgement and the cave; necessity and free choice—in fact the necessity includes the choice—embodiment as an evil; the Empedoclean teaching of a flight from God, a wandering away, a sin bringing its punishment; the “solace by flight” of Heraclitus; in a word a voluntary descent which is also involuntary.
All degeneration is no doubt involuntary, yet when it has been brought about by an inherent tendency, that submission to the inferior may be described as the penalty of an act.
On the other hand these experiences and actions are determined by an external law of nature, and they are due to the movement of a being which in abandoning its superior is running out to serve the needs of another: hence there is no inconsistency or untruth in saying that the soul is sent down by God; final results are always to be referred to the starting point even across many intervening stages.
Still there is a two-fold flaw: the first lies in the motive of the Soul’s descent (its audacity, its Tolma), and the second in the evil it does when actually here: the first is punished by what the soul has suffered by its descent: for the faults committed here, the lesser penalty is to enter into body after body—and soon to return—by judgement according to desert, the word judgement indicating a divine ordinance; but any outrageous form of ill-doing incurs a proportionately greater punishment administered under the surveillance of chastising daimons.
Thus, in sum, the soul, a divine being and a dweller in the loftier realms, has entered body: it is a god, a later phase of the divine: but, under stress of its powers and of its tendency to bring order to its next lower, it penetrates to this sphere in a voluntary plunge: if it turns back quickly all is well; it will have taken no hurt by acquiring the knowledge of evil and coming to understand what sin is, by bringing its forces into manifest play, by exhibiting those activities and productions which, remaining merely potential in the unembodied, might as well never have been even there, if destined never to come into actuality, so that the soul itself would never have known that suppressed and inhibited total.
The act reveals the power, a power hidden, and we might almost say obliterated or non-existent, unless at some moment it became effective: in the world as it is, the richness of the outer stirs us all to the wonder of the inner whose greatness is displayed in acts so splendid.
Something besides a unity there must be or all would be indiscernibly buried, shapeless within that unbroken whole: none of the real beings (of the Intellectual Kosmos) would exist if that unity remained at halt within itself: the plurality of these beings, offspring of the unity, could not exist without their own nexts taking the outward path; these are the beings holding the rank of souls.
In the same way the outgoing process could not end with the souls, their issue stifled: every Kind must produce its next; it must unfold from some concentrated central principle as from a seed, and so advance to its term in the varied forms of sense. The prior in its being will remain unalterably in the native seat; but there is the lower phase, begotten to it by an ineffable faculty of its being, native to soul as it exists in the Supreme.
To this power we cannot impute any halt, any limit of jealous grudging; it must move for ever outward until the universe stands accomplished to the ultimate possibility. All, thus, is produced by an inexhaustible power giving its gift to the universe, no part of which it can endure to see without some share in its being.
There is, besides, no principle that can prevent anything from partaking, to the extent of its own individual receptivity, in the Nature of Good. If therefore Matter has always existed, that existence is enough to ensure its participation in the being which, according to each receptivity, communicates the supreme good universally: if on the contrary, Matter has come into being as a necessary sequence of the causes preceding it, that origin would similarly prevent it standing apart from the scheme as though it were out of reach of the principle to whose grace it owes its existence.
In sum: The loveliness that is in the sense-realm is an index of the nobleness of the Intellectual sphere, displaying its power and its goodness alike: and all things are for ever linked; the one order Intellectual in its being, the other of sense; one self-existent, the other eternally taking its being by participation in that first, and to the full of its power reproducing the Intellectual nature.
The Kind, then, with which we are dealing is twofold, the Intellectual against the sensible: better for the soul to dwell in the Intellectual, but, given its proper nature, it is under compulsion to participate in the sense-realm also. There is no grievance in its not being, through and through, the highest; it holds mid-rank among the authentic existences, being of divine station but at the lowest extreme of the Intellectual and skirting the sense-known nature; thus, while it communicates to this realm something of its own store, it absorbs in turn whenever—instead of employing in its government only its safeguarded phase—it plunges in an excessive zeal to the very midst of its chosen sphere; then it abandons its status as whole soul with whole soul, though even thus it is always able to recover itself by turning to account the experience of what it has seen and suffered here, learning, so, the greatness of rest in the Supreme, and more clearly discerning the finer things by comparison with what is almost their direct antithesis. Where the faculty is incapable of knowing without contact, the experience of evil brings the clearer perception of Good.
The outgoing that takes place in the Intellectual-Principle is a descent to its own downward ultimate: it cannot be a movement to the transcendent; operating necessarily outwards from itself, wherein it may not stay inclosed, the need and law of Nature bring it to its extreme term, to soul—to which it entrusts all the later stages of being while itself turns back on its course.
The soul’s operation is similar: its next lower act is this universe: its immediate higher is the contemplation of the Authentic Existences. To individual souls such divine operation takes place only at one of their phases and by a temporal process when from the lower in which they reside they turn towards the noblest; but that soul, which we know as the All-Soul, has never entered the lower activity, but, immune from evil, has the property of knowing its lower by inspection, while it still cleaves continuously to the beings above itself; thus its double task becomes possible; it takes thence and, since as soul it cannot escape touching this sphere, it gives hither.
And—if it is desirable to venture the more definite statement of a personal conviction clashing with the general view—even our human soul has not sunk entire; something of it is continuously in the Intellectual Realm, though if that part, which is in this sphere of sense, hold the mastery, or rather be mastered here and troubled, it keeps us blind to what the upper phase holds in contemplation.
The object of the Intellectual Act comes within our ken only when it reaches downward to the level of sensation: for not all that occurs at any part of the soul is immediately known to us; a thing must, for that knowledge, be present to the total soul; thus desire locked up within the desiring faculty remains unknown except when we make it fully ours by the central faculty of perception, or by the individual choice or by both at once. Once more, every soul has something of the lower on the body side and something of the higher on the side of the Intellectual-Principle.
The Soul of the All, as an entirety, governs the universe through that part of it which leans to the body side, but since it does not exercise a will based on calculation as we do—but proceeds by purely intellectual act as in the execution of an artistic conception—its ministrance is that of a labourless overpoising, only its lowest phase being active upon the universe it embellishes.
The souls that have gone into division and become appropriated to some thing partial have also their transcendent phase, but are preoccupied by sensation, and in the mere fact of exercising perception they take in much that clashes with their nature and brings distress and trouble since the object of their concern is partial, deficient, exposed to many alien influences, filled with desires of its own and taking its pleasure, that pleasure which is its lure.
But there is always the other, that which finds no savour in passing pleasure, but holds its own even way.[Back to Table of Contents]
That the Soul of every individual is one thing we deduce from the fact that it is present entire at every point of the body—the sign of veritable unity—not some part of it here and another part there. In all sensitive beings the sensitive soul is an omnipresent unity, and so in the forms of vegetal life the vegetal soul is entire at each several point throughout the organism.
Now are we to hold similarly that your soul and mine and all are one, and that the same thing is true of the universe, the soul in all the several forms of life being one soul, not parcelled out in separate items, but an omnipresent identity?
If the soul in me is a unity, why need that in the universe be otherwise seeing that there is no longer any question of bulk or body? And if that, too, is one soul and yours, and mine, belongs to it, then yours and mine must also be one: and if, again, the soul of the universe and mine depend from one soul, once more all must be one.
What then in itself is this one soul?
First we must assure ourselves of the possibility of all souls being one as that of any given individual is.
It must, no doubt, seem strange that my soul and that of any and everybody else should be one thing only: it might mean my feelings being felt by someone else, my goodness another’s too, my desire, his desire, all our experience shared with each other and with the (one-souled) universe, so that the very universe itself would feel whatever I felt.
Besides how are we to reconcile this unity with the distinction of reasoning soul and unreasoning, animal soul and vegetal?
Yet if we reject that unity, the universe itself ceases to be one thing and souls can no longer be included under any one principle.
Now to begin with, the unity of soul, mine and another’s, is not enough to make the two totals of soul and body identical. An identical thing in different recipients will have different experiences; the identity Man, in me as I move and you at rest, moves in me and is stationary in you: there is nothing stranger, nothing impossible, in any other form of identity between you and me; nor would it entail the transference of my emotion to any outside point: when in any one body a hand is in pain, the distress is felt not in the other but in the hand as represented in the centralising unity.
In order that my feelings should of necessity be yours, the unity would have to be corporeal: only if the two recipient bodies made one, would the souls feel as one.
We must keep in mind, moreover, that many things that happen even in one same body escape the notice of the entire being, especially when the bulk is large: thus in huge sea-beasts, it is said, the animal as a whole will be quite unaffected by some membral accident too slight to traverse the organism.
Thus unity in the subject of any experience does not imply that the resultant sensation will be necessarily felt with any force upon the entire being and at every point of it: some transmission of the experience may be expected, and is indeed undeniable, but a full impression on the sense there need not be.
That one identical soul should be virtuous in me and vicious in someone else is not strange: it is only saying that an identical thing may be active here and inactive there.
We are not asserting the unity of soul in the sense of a complete negation of multiplicity—only of the Supreme can that be affirmed—we are thinking of soul as simultaneously one and many, participant in the nature divided in body, but at the same time a unity by virtue of belonging to that Order which suffers no division.
In myself some experience occurring in a part of the body may take no effect upon the entire man but anything occurring in the higher reaches would tell upon the partial: in the same way any influx from the All upon the individual will have manifest effect since the points of sympathetic contact are numerous—but as to any operation from ourselves upon the All there can be no certainty.
Yet, looking at another set of facts, reflection tells us that we are in sympathetic relation to each other, suffering, overcome, at the sight of pain, naturally drawn to forming attachments; and all this can be due only to some unity among us.
Again, if spells and other forms of magic are efficient even at a distance to attract us into sympathetic relations, the agency can be no other than the one soul.
A quiet word induces changes in a remote object, and makes itself heard at vast distances—proof of the oneness of all things within the one soul.
But how reconcile this unity with the existence of a reasoning soul, an unreasoning, even a vegetal soul?
(It is a question of powers): the indivisible phase is classed as reasoning because it is not in division among bodies, but there is the later phase, divided among bodies, but still one thing and distinct only so as to secure sense-perception throughout; this is to be classed as yet another power; and there is the forming and making phase which again is a power. But a variety of powers does not conflict with unity; seed contains many powers and yet it is one thing, and from that unity rises, again, a variety which is also a unity.
But why are not all the powers of this unity present everywhere?
The answer is that even in the case of the individual soul described, similarly, as permeating its body, sensation is not equally present in all the parts, reason does not operate at every point, the principle of growth is at work where there is no sensation—and yet all these powers join in the one soul when the body is laid aside.
The nourishing faculty as dependent from the All belongs also to the All-Soul: why then does it not come equally from ours?
Because what is nourished by the action of this power is a member of the All, which itself has sensation passively; but the perception, which is an intellectual judgement, is individual and has no need to create what already exists, though it would have done so had the power not been previously included, of necessity, in the nature of the All.
These reflections should show that there is nothing strange in that reduction of all souls to one. But it is still necessary to enquire into the mode and conditions of the unity.
Is it the unity of origin in a unity? And if so, is the one divided or does it remain entire and yet produce variety? and how can an essential being, while remaining its one self, bring forth others?
Invoking God to become our helper, let us assert, that the very existence of many souls makes certain that there is first one from which the many rise.
Let us suppose, even, the first soul to be corporeal.
Then (by the nature of body) the many souls could result only from the splitting up of that entity, each an entirely different substance: if this body-soul be uniform in kind, each of the resultant souls must be of the one kind; they will all carry the one Form undividedly and will differ only in their volumes. Now, if their being souls depended upon their volumes they would be distinct; but if it is ideal-form that makes them souls, then all are, in virtue of this Idea, one.
But this is simply saying that there is one identical soul dispersed among many bodies, and that, preceding this, there is yet another not thus dispersed, the source of the soul in dispersion which may be thought of as a widely repeated image of the soul in unity—much as a multitude of seals bear the impression of one ring. By that first mode the soul is a unit broken up into a variety of points: in the second mode it is incorporeal. Similarly if the soul were a condition or modification of body, we could not wonder that this quality (the condition or modification)—this one thing from one source—should be present in many objects. The same reasoning would apply if soul were an effect (or manifestation) of the Conjoint.
We, of course, hold it to be bodiless, an essential existence.
How then can a multitude of essential beings be really one?
Obviously either the one essence will be entire in all, or the many will rise from a one which remains unaltered and yet includes the one-many in virtue of giving itself, without self-abandonment, to its own multiplication.
It is competent thus to give and remain, because while it penetrates all things it can never itself be sundered: this is an identity in variety.
There is no reason for dismissing this explanation: we may think of a science with its constituents standing as one total, the source of all those various elements: again, there is the seed, a whole, producing those new parts in which it comes to its division; each of the new growths is a whole while the whole remains undiminished: only the material element is under the mode of part, and all the multiplicity remains an entire identity still.
It may be objected that in the case of science the constituents are not each the whole.
But even in the science, while the constituent selected for handling to meet a particular need is present actually and takes the lead, still all the other constituents accompany it in a potential presence, so that the whole is in every part: only in this sense (of particular attention) is the whole science distinguished from the part: all, we may say, is here simultaneously effected: each part is at your disposal as you choose to take it; the part invites the immediate interest, but its value consists in its approach to the whole.
The detail cannot be considered as something separate from the entire body of speculation: so treated it would have no technical or scientific value; it would be childish divagation. The one detail, when it is matter of science, potentially includes all. Grasping one such constituent of his science, the expert deduces the rest by force of sequence.
(As a further illustration of unity in plurality) the geometrician, in his analysis, shows that the single proposition includes all the items that go to constitute it and all the propositions which can be developed from it.
It is our feebleness that leads to doubt in these matters; the body obscures the truth, but There all stands out clear and separate.