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Plotinus, On the One and Good; being the Treatises of the Sixth Ennead [253]

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Plotinus, On the One and Good; being the Treatises of the Sixth Ennead, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).

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About this Title:

Plotinus is primarily remembered for his teachings, which were collected by Porphyry into a volume called the Enneads. This work gives Plotinus’s accounts of the religions and cults of his age. He was interested in the occult but only in a detached and speculative way. He was indifferent to traditional paganism but critical of the Gnostic Christian heretics who preached the mystical dualism of the divine, which he regarded as antiphilosophical, un-Greek, and emotional superstition. His own religious beliefs inclined toward the idea that one could achieve a spiritual union with the good (understood as the Platonic idea of a perfect realm of the ideal) through philosophic reflection.

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The text is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents:

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Do ċum glóire Dé & onóra na n-Éireann,

Stíofán mac-Enna.

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  • I. On the Kinds of Being (1) page 1
  • II. On the Kinds of Being (2) 40
  • III. On the Kinds of Being (3) 68
  • IV. On the Integral Omnipresence of the Authentic Existent (1) 106
  • V. On the Integral Omnipresence of the Authentic Existent (2) 125
  • VI. On Numbers 138
  • VII. On the Origin of Multiplicity in the Ideal Realm and on the Good 162
  • VIII. On Free-Will and the Will of the One 212
  • IX. On the Good, or The One 237
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On the Kinds of Being: First Treatise


Philosophy at a very early stage investigated the number and character of the Existents. Various theories resulted: some declared for one Existent, others for a finite number, others again for an infinite number, while as regards the nature of the Existents—one, numerically finite, or numerically infinite—there was a similar disagreement. These theories, in so far as they have been adequately examined by later workers, may be passed over here; our attention must be directed upon the results of those whose examination has led them to posit on their own account certain well-defined genera.

These thinkers rejected pure unity on the ground of the plurality observed even in the Intellectual world; they rejected an infinite number as not reconcilable with the facts and as defying knowledge: considering the foundations of being to be “genera” rather than elements strictly so called, they concluded for a finite number. Of these “genera” some found ten, others less, others no doubt more.

But here again there is a divergence of views. To some the genera are first-principles; to others they indicate only a generic classification of the Existents themselves.

Let us begin with the well-known tenfold division of the Existents, and consider whether we are to understand ten genera ranged under the common name of Being, or ten categories. That the term Being has not the same sense in all ten is rightly maintained.

But a graver problem confronts us at the outset:—Are the ten found alike in the Intellectual and in the Sensible realms? Or are all Edition: current; Page: [2] found in the Sensible and some only in the Intellectual? All in the Intellectual and some in the Sensible is manifestly impossible.

At this point it would be natural to investigate which of the ten belong to both spheres, and whether the Existents of the Intellectual are to be ranged under one and the same genus with the Existents in the Sensible, or whether the term “Existence” (or Substance) is equivocal as applied to both realms. If the equivocation exists, the number of genera will be increased: if there is no equivocation, it is strange to find the one same “Existence” applying to the primary and to the derivative Existents when there is no common genus embracing both primal and secondary.

These thinkers are however not considering the Intellectual realm in their division, which was not intended to cover all the Existents; the Supreme they overlooked.


But are we really obliged to posit the existence of such genera?

Take Substance—for Substance must certainly be our starting-point: what are the grounds for regarding Substance as one single genus?

It has been remarked that Substance cannot be a single entity common to both the Intellectual and the Sensible worlds. We may add that such community would entail the existence of something prior to Intellectual and Sensible Substance alike, something distinct from both as predicated of both; and this prior would be neither body nor unembodied; for if it were one or the other, body would be unembodied, or the unembodied would be the body.

This conclusion must not however prevent our seeking in the actual substances of the Sensible world an element held in common by Matter, by Form and by their Composite, all of which are designated as substances, though it is not maintained that they are Substance in an equal degree; Form is usually held to be Substance in a higher degree than Matter, and rightly so, in spite of those who would have Matter to be the more truly real.

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There is further the distinction drawn between what are known as First and Second Substances. But what is their common basis, seeing that the First are the source from which the Second derive their right to be called substances?

But, in sum, it is impossible to define Substance: determine its property, and still you have not attained to its essence. Even the definition, “That which, numerically one and the same, is receptive of contraries,” will hardly be applicable to all substances alike.


But perhaps we should rather speak of some single category (as distinct from a genus), embracing Intellectual Substance, Matter, Form, and the Composite of Matter and Form. One might refer to the family of the Heraclids as a unity in the sense, not of a common element in all its members, but of a common origin: similarly, Intellectual Substance would be Substance in the first degree, the others being substances by derivation and in a lower degree.

But (pursuing this principle) what is the objection to including everything in a single category, all else of which existence is predicated being derived from that one thing, Existence or Substance? Because, granted that things be no more than modifications of Substance, there is a distinct grading of substances themselves. Moreover, the single category does not put us in a position to build on Substance, or to grasp it in its very truth as the plausible source of the other substances.

Supposing we grant that all things known as substances are homogeneous as possessing something denied to the other genera, what precisely is this something, this individuality, this subject which is never a predicate, this thing not present in any thing as in a subject, this thing which does not owe its essential character to any other thing, as a quality takes character from a body and a quantity from a substance, as time is related to motion and motion to the moved?

The Second Substance is, it is true, a predicate. But predication in this case signifies a different relation from that just considered; it reveals the genus inherent in the subject and the subject’s essential Edition: current; Page: [4] character, whereas whiteness is predicated of a thing in the sense of being present in the thing.

The properties adduced may indeed be allowed to distinguish Substance from the other Existents. They afford a means of grouping substances together and calling them by a common name. They do not however establish the unity of a genus, and they do not bring to light the concept and the nature of Substance.

These considerations are sufficient for our purpose: let us now proceed to investigate the nature of Quantity.


We are told that number is Quantity in the primary sense, number together with all continuous magnitude, space and time: these are the standards to which all else that is considered as Quantity is referred, including motion which is Quantity because its time is quantitative—though perhaps, conversely, the time takes its continuity from the motion.

If it is maintained that the continuous is a Quantity by the fact of its continuity, then the discrete will not be a Quantity. If, on the contrary, the continuous possesses Quantity as an accident, what is there common to both continuous and discrete to make them quantities?

Suppose we concede that numbers are quantities: we are merely allowing them the name of quantity; the principle which gives them this name remains obscure.

On the other hand, line and surface and body are not called quantities; they are called magnitudes: they become known as quantities only when they are rated by number—two yards, three yards. Even the natural body becomes a quantity when measured, as does the space which it occupies; but this is quantity accidental, not quantity essential; what we seek to grasp is not accidental quantity but Quantity independent and essential, Quantity-Absolute. Three oxen is not a quantity; it is their number, the three, that is Quantity; for in three oxen we are dealing with two categories. So too with a line of a stated length, a surface of a given area; the area will be a quantity but not the surface, which Edition: current; Page: [5] only comes under that category when it constitutes a definite geometric figure.

Are we then to consider numbers, and numbers only, as constituting the category of Quantity? If we mean numbers in themselves, they are (not quantities but) substances, for the very good reason that they exist independently. If we mean numbers displayed in the objects participant in number, the numbers which give the count of the objects—ten horses or ten oxen, and not ten units—then we have a paradoxical result: first, the numbers in themselves, it would appear, are substances but the numbers in objects are not; and secondly, the numbers inhere in the objects as measures (of extension or weight), yet as standing outside the objects they have no measuring power, as do rulers and scales. If however their existence is independent, and they do not inhere in the objects, but are simply called in for the purpose of measurement, the objects will be quantities only to the extent of participating in Quantity.

So with the numbers themselves: how can they (in these circumstances) constitute the category of Quantity? They are measures; but how do measures come to be quantities or Quantity? Doubtless in that, existing as they do among the Existents and not being adapted to any of the other categories, they find their place under the influence of verbal suggestion and so are referred to the so-called category of Quantity. We see the unit mark off one measurement and then proceed to another; and number thus reveals the amount of a thing, and the mind measures by availing itself of the total figure.

It follows that in measuring it is not measuring essence; it pronounces its “one” or “two,” whatever the character of the objects, even summing contraries. It does not take count of condition—hot, handsome; it simply notes how many.

Number then, whether regarded in itself or in the participant objects, belongs to the category of Quantity, but the participant objects do not. “Three yards long” does not fall under the category of Quantity, but only the three.

Why then are magnitudes classed as quantities? Not because they are so in the strict sense, but because they approximate to Quantity, Edition: current; Page: [6] and because objects in which magnitudes inhere are themselves designated as quantities. We call a thing great or small from its participation in a high number or a low. True, greatness and smallness are not claimed to be quantities, but relations: but it is by their apparent possession of quantity that they are thought of as relations. All this, however, needs more careful examination.

In sum, we hold that there is no single genus of Quantity. Only number is Quantity, the rest (magnitudes, space, time, motion) quantities only in a secondary degree. We have therefore not strictly one genus, but one category grouping the approximate with the primary and the secondary.

We have however to enquire in what sense the abstract numbers are substances. Can it be that they are also in a manner quantitative? Into whatever category they fall, the other numbers (those inherent in objects) can have nothing in common with them but the name.


Speech, time, motion—in what sense are these quantities?

Let us begin with speech. It is subject to measurement, but only in so far as it is sound; it is not a quantity in its essential nature, which nature is that it be significant, as noun and verb are significant. The air is (not its essence but) its Matter, as it is Matter to verb and noun, the components of speech.

To be more precise, we may define speech as an impact (made upon the outer air by the breath), though it is not so much the impact as the impression which the impact produces and which as it were imposes Form (upon the air). Speech, thus, is rather an action than a quantity—an action with a significance. Though perhaps it would be truer to say that while this motion, this impact, is an action, the counter-motion is an experience (or Passion); or each may be from different points of view either an action or an experience: or we may think of speech as action upon a substrate (air) and experience within that substrate.

If however voice is not characteristically impact, but is simply air, two categories will be involved: voice is significant, and the one category Edition: current; Page: [7] will not be sufficient to account for this significance without associating with a second.

With regard to time, if it is to be thought of as a measure, we must determine what it is that applies this measure. It must clearly be either Soul or the Present Moment. If on the contrary we take time to be something measured and regard it as being of such and such extension—a year, for example—then we may consider it as a quantity: essentially however time is of a different nature; the very fact that we can attribute this or that length to it shows us that it is not length: in other words, time is not Quantity. Quantity in the strict sense is the Quantity not inbound with things; if things became quantities by mere participation in Quantity, then (not only time but) Substance itself would be identical with Quantity.

Equality and inequality must be regarded as properties of Quantity-Absolute, not of the participants, or of them not essentially but only accidentally: such participants as “three yards’ length,” which becomes a quantity, not as belonging to a single genus of Quantity, but by being subsumed under the one head, the one category.


In considering Relation we must enquire whether it possesses the community of a genus, or whether it may on other grounds be treated as a unity.

Above all, has Relation—for example, that of right and left, double and half—any actuality? Has it, perhaps, actuality in some cases only, as for instance in what is termed “posterior” but not in what is termed “prior”? Or is its actuality in no case conceivable?

What meaning, then, are we to attach to double and half and all other cases of less and more; to habit and disposition, reclining, sitting, standing; to father, son, master, slave; to like, unlike, equal, unequal; to active and passive, measure and measured; or again to knowledge and sensation, as related respectively to the knowable and the sensible?

Knowledge, indeed, may be supposed to entail in relation to the known object some actual entity corresponding to that object’s Ideal Form, Edition: current; Page: [8] and similarly with sensation as related to the sense-object. The active will perform some constant function in relation to the passive, as will the measure in relation to the measured.

But what will emerge from the relation of like to like? Nothing will emerge. Likeness is the inherence of qualitative identity; its entire content is the quality present in the two objects.

From equality, similarly, nothing emerges. The relation merely presupposes the existence of a quantitative identity; it is nothing but our judgment comparing objects essentially independent and concluding, “This and that have the same magnitude, the same quality; this has produced that; this is superior to that.”

Again, what meaning can sitting and standing have apart from sitter and stander? The term “habit” either implies a having, in which case it signifies possession, or else it arises from something had, and so denotes quality; and similarly with disposition.

What then in these instances can be the meaning of correlatives apart from our conception of their juxtaposition? “Greater” may refer to very different magnitudes; “different” to all sorts of objects: the comparison is ours; it does not lie in the things themselves.

Right and left, before and behind, would seem to belong less to the category of Relation than to that of Situation. Right means “situated at one point,” left means “situated at another.” But the right and left are in our conception, nothing of them in the things themselves.

Before and after are merely two times; the relation is again of our making.


Now if we do not mean anything by Relation but are victims of words, none of the relations mentioned can exist: Relation will be a notion void of content.

Suppose however that we do possess ourselves of objective truth when in comparing two points of time we pronounce one prior, or posterior, to the other, that priority does entail something distinct from the objects to which it refers; admit an objective truth behind Edition: current; Page: [9] the relation of left and right: does this apply also to magnitudes, and is the relation exhibiting excess and deficiency also something distinct from the quantities involved?

Now one thing is double of another quite apart from our speech or thought; one thing possesses and another is possessed before we notice the fact; equals do not await our comparison but—and this applies to Quality as well as Quantity—rest upon an identity existing between the objects compared: in all the conditions in which we assert Relation the mutual relation exists over and above the objects; we perceive it as already existent; our knowledge is directed upon a thing, there to be known—a clear testimony to the reality of Relation.

In these circumstances we can no longer put the question of its existence. We have simply to distinguish: sometimes the relation subsists while the objects remain unaltered and even apart; sometimes it depends upon their combination; sometimes, while they remain unchanged, the relation utterly ceases, or, as happens with right and near, becomes different. These are the facts which chiefly account for the notion that Relation has no reality in such circumstances.

Our task, thus, is to give full value to this elusive character of Relation, and then to enquire what there is that is constant in all these particular cases and whether this constant is generic or accidental; and having found this constant, we must discover what sort of actuality it possesses.

It need hardly be said that we are not to affirm Relation where one thing is simply an attribute of another, as a habit is an attribute of a soul or of a body; it is not Relation when a soul belongs to this individual or dwells in that body. Relation enters only when the actuality of the relationships is derived from no other source than Relation itself; the actuality must be, not that which is characteristic of the substances in question, but that which is specifically called relative. Thus double with its correlative half gives actuality neither to two yards’ length or the number two, nor to one yard’s length or the number one; what happens is that when these quantities are viewed in their relation, they are found to be not merely two and one respectively, but to produce Edition: current; Page: [10] the assertion and to exhibit the fact of standing one to the other in the condition of double and half. Out of the objects in a certain conjunction this condition of being double and half has issued as something distinct from either; double and half have emerged as correlatives, and their being is precisely this of mutual dependence; the double exists by its superiority over the half, and the half by its inferiority; there is no priority to distinguish double from half; they arise simultaneously.

It is another question whether they endure simultaneously. Take the case of father and son, and such relationships; the father dies, but the other is still his son, and so with brothers. Moreover, we see likeness where one of the like people is dead.


But we are digressing: we must resume our enquiry into the cause of dissimilarity among relations. Yet we must first be informed what reality, common to all cases, is possessed by this Existence derived from mutual conditions.

Now the common principle in question cannot be a body. The only alternative is that, if it does exist, it be something bodiless, either in the objects thus brought together or outside of them.

Further, if Relation always takes the same form, the term is univocal (and specific differentiation is impossible); if not, that is if it differs from case to case, the term is equivocal, and the same reality will not necessarily be implied by the mere use of the term Relation.

How then shall we distinguish relations? We may observe that some things have an inactive or dormant relation, with which their actuality is entirely simultaneous; others, combining power and function with their relation, have the relation in some mode always even though the mode be merely that of potentiality, but attain to actual being only in contact with their correlatives. Or perhaps all distinctions may be reduced to that between producer and product, where the product merely gives a name to the producer of its actuality: an example of this is the relation of father to son, though here both producer and product have a sort of actuality, which we call life.

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Are we thus, then, to divide Relation, and thereby reject the notion of an identical common element in the different kinds of Relation, making it a universal rule that the relation takes a different character in either correlative? We must in this case recognise that in our distinction between productive and non-productive relations we are overlooking the equivocation involved in making the terms cover both action and passion as though these two were one, and ignoring the fact that production takes a different form in the two correlatives. Take the case of equality, producing equals: nothing is equal without equality, nothing identical without identity. Greatness and smallness both entail a presence—the presence of greatness and smallness respectively. When we come to greater and smaller, the participants in these relations are greater and smaller only when greatness and smallness are actually observed in them.


It follows that in the cases specified above—agent, knowledge and the rest—the relation must be considered as in actual operation, and the Act and the Reason-Principle in the Act must be assumed to be real: in all other cases there will be simply participation in an Ideal-Form, in a Reason-Principle.

If Reality implied embodiment, we should indeed be forced to deny Reality to these conditions called relative; if however we accord the pre-eminent place to the unembodied and to the Reason-Principles, and at the same time maintain that relations are Reason-Principles and participate in Ideal-Forms, we are bound to seek their causes in that higher sphere. Doubleness, it is clear, is the cause of a thing being double, and from it is derived halfness.

Some correlatives owe their designations to the same Form, others to opposite Forms; it is thus that two objects are simultaneously double and half of each other, and one great and the other small. It may happen that both correlatives exist in one object—likeness and unlikeness, and, in general, identity and difference, so that the same thing will be at once like and unlike, identical and different.

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The question arises here whether sharing in the same Form could make one man depraved and another more depraved. In the case of total depravity, clearly the two are made equal by the absence of a Form. Where there is a difference of degree, the one has participated in a Form which has failed to predominate, the other in a Form which has failed still more: or, if we choose the negative aspect, we may think of them both as failing to participate in a Form which naturally belonged to them.

Sensation may be regarded as a Form of double origin (determined both by the sense-organ and by the sensible object); and similarly with knowledge.

Habit is an Act directed upon something had (some experience produced by habit) and binding it as it were with the subject having (experiencing), as the Act of production binds producer and product.

Measurement is an Act of the measurer upon the measured object: it too is therefore a kind of Reason-Principle.

Now if the condition of being related is regarded as a Form having a generic unity, Relation must be allowed to be a single genus owing its reality to a Reason-Principle involved in all instances. If however the Reason-Principles (governing the correlatives) stand opposed and have the differences to which we have referred, there may perhaps not be a single genus, but this will not prevent all relatives being expressed in terms of a certain likeness, and falling under a single category.

But even if the cases of which we have spoken can be subsumed under a single head, it is nevertheless impossible to include in a single genus all that goes with them in the one common category: for the category includes negations and derivatives—not only, for example, double but also its negative, the resultant doubleness and the act of doubling. But we cannot include in one genus both the thing and its negative—double and not-double, relative and not-relative—any more than in dealing with the genus animal we can insert in it the non-animal. Moreover, doubleness and doubling have only the relation to double that whiteness has to white; they cannot be classed as identical with it.

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As regards Quality, the source of what we call a “quale,” we must in the first place consider what nature it possesses in accordance with which it produces the “qualia,” and whether, remaining one and the same in virtue of that common ground, it has also differences whereby it produces the variety of species. If there is no common ground and the term Quality involves many connotations, there cannot be a single genus of Quality.

What then will be the common ground in habit, disposition, passive quality, figure, shape? In light, thick and lean?

If we hold this common ground to be a power adapting itself to the forms of habits, dispositions and physical capacities, a power which gives the possessor whatever capacities he has, we have no plausible explanation of incapacities. Besides, how are figure and the shape of a given thing to be regarded as a power?

Moreover, at this, Being will have no power qua Being but only when Quality has been added to it; and the activities of those substances which are activities in the highest degree, will be traceable to Quality, although they are autonomous and owe their essential character to powers wholly their own!

Perhaps, however, qualities are conditioned by powers which are posterior to the substances as such (and so do not interfere with their essential activities). Boxing, for example, is not a power of man qua man; reasoning is: therefore reasoning, on this hypothesis, is not quality but a natural possession of the mature human being; it therefore is called a quality only by analogy. Thus, Quality is a power which adds the property of being qualia to substances already existent.

The differences distinguishing substances from each other are called qualities only by analogy; they are, more strictly, Acts and Reason-Principles, or parts of Reason-Principles, and though they may appear merely to qualify the substance, they in fact indicate its essence.

Qualities in the true sense—those, that is, which determine qualia—being in accordance with our definition powers, will in virtue of this common ground be a kind of Reason-Principle; they will also be in a Edition: current; Page: [14] sense Forms, that is, excellences and imperfections whether of soul or of body.

But how can they all be powers? Beauty or health of soul or body, very well: but surely not ugliness, disease, weakness, incapacity. In a word, is powerlessness a power?

It may be urged that these are qualities in so far as qualia are also named after them: but may not the qualia be so called by analogy, and not in the strict sense of the single principle? Not only may the term be understood in the four ways (of Aristotle), but each of the four may have at least a twofold significance.

In the first place, Quality is not merely a question of action and passion, involving a simple distinction between the potentially active (quality) and the passive: health, disposition and habit, disease, strength and weakness are also classed as qualities. It follows that the common ground is not power, but something we have still to seek.

Again, not all qualities can be regarded as Reason-Principles: chronic disease cannot be a Reason-Principle. Perhaps, however, we must speak in such cases of privations, restricting the term Quantities to Ideal-Forms and powers. Thus we shall have, not a single genus, but reference only to the unity of a category. Knowledge will be regarded as a Form and a power, ignorance as a privation and powerlessness.

On the other hand, powerlessness and disease are a kind of Form; disease and vice have many powers though looking to evil.

But how can a mere failure be a power? Doubtless the truth is that every quality performs its own function independently of a standard; for in no case could it produce an effect outside of its power.

Even beauty would seem to have a power of its own. Does this apply to triangularity?

Perhaps, after all, it is not a power we must consider, but a disposition. Thus, qualities will be determined by the forms and characteristics of the object qualified: their common element, then, will be Form and ideal type, imposed upon Substance and posterior to it.

But then, how do we account for the powers? We may doubtless remark that even the natural boxer is so by being constituted in a Edition: current; Page: [15] particular way; similarly, with the man unable to box: to generalise, the quality is a characteristic non-essential. Whatever is seen to apply alike to Being and to non-Being, as do heat and whiteness and colours generally, is either different from Being—is, for example, an Act of Being—or else is some secondary of Being, derived from it, contained in it, its image and likeness.

But if Quality is determined by formation and characteristic and Reason-Principle, how explain the various cases of powerlessness and deformity? Doubtless we must think of Principles imperfectly present, as in the case of deformity. And disease—how does that imply a Reason-Principle? Here, no doubt, we must think of a principle disturbed, the Principle of health.

But it is not necessary that all qualities involve a Reason-Principle; it suffices that over and above the various kinds of disposition there exist a common element distinct from Substance, and it is what comes after the substance that constitutes Quality in an object.

But triangularity is a quality of that in which it is present; it is however no longer triangularity as such, but the triangularity present in that definite object and modified in proportion to its success in shaping that object.


But if these considerations are sound, why has Quality more than one species? What is the ground for distinguishing between habit and disposition, seeing that no differentia of Quality is involved in permanence and non-permanence? A disposition of any kind is sufficient to constitute a quality; permanence is a mere external addition. It might however be urged that dispositions are but incomplete “forms”—if the term may pass—habits being complete ones. But incomplete, they are not qualities; if already qualities, the permanence is an external addition.

How do physical powers form a distinct species? If they are classed as qualities in virtue of being powers, power, we have seen, is not a necessary concomitant of qualities. If, however, we hold that the natural Edition: current; Page: [16] boxer owes his quality to a particular disposition, power is something added and does not contribute to the quality, since power is found in habits also.

Another point: why is natural ability to be distinguished from that acquired by learning? Surely, if both are qualities, they cannot be differentiæ of Quality: gained by practice or given in nature, it is the same ability; the differentia will be external to Quality; it cannot be deduced from the Ideal Form of (say) boxing. Whether some qualities as distinguished from others are derived from experience is immaterial; the source of the quality makes no difference—none, I mean, pointing to variations and differences of Quality.

A further question would seem to be involved:—If certain qualities are derived from experience but there is a discrepancy in the manner and source of the experience, how are they to be included in the same species? And again, if some create the experience, others are created by it, the term Quality as applied to both classes will be equivocal.

And what part is played by the individual form? If it constitutes the individual’s specific character, it is not a quality; if, however, it is what makes an object beautiful or ugly after the specific form has been determined, then it involves a Reason-Principle.

Rough and smooth, tenuous and dense may rightly be classed as qualities. It is true that they are not determined by distances and approximations, or in general by even or uneven dispositions, of parts; though, were they so determined, they might well even then be qualities.

Knowledge of the meaning of light and heavy will reveal their place in the classification. An ambiguity will however be latent in the term “light,” unless it be determined by comparative weight: it would then implicate leanness and fineness, and involve another species distinct from the four (of Aristotle).


If then we do not propose to divide Quality in this (fourfold) manner, what basis of division have we?

We must examine whether qualities may not prove to be divisible Edition: current; Page: [17] on the principle that some belong to the body and others to the soul. Those of the body would be subdivided according to the senses, some being attributed to sight, others to hearing and taste, others to smell and touch. Those of the soul would presumably be allotted to appetite, emotion, reason; though, again, they may be distinguished by the differences of the activities they condition, in so far as activities are engendered by these qualities; or according as they are beneficial or injurious, the benefits and injuries being duly classified. This last is applicable also to the classification of bodily qualities, which also produce differences of benefit and injury: these differences must be regarded as distinctively qualitative; for either the benefit and injury are held to be derived from Quality and the quale, or else some other explanation must be found for them.

A point for consideration is how the quale, as conditioned by Quality, can belong to the same category: obviously there can be no single genus embracing both.

Further, if “boxer” is in the category of Quality, why not “agent” as well? And with agent goes “active.” Thus “active” need not go into the category of Relation; nor again need “passive,” if “patient” is a quale. Moreover, “agent” is perhaps better assigned to the category of Quality for the reason that the term implies power and power is Quality. But if power as such were determined by Substance (and not by Quality), the agent, though ceasing to be a quale, would not necessarily become a relative. Besides, “active” is not like “greater”: the greater, to be the greater, demands a less, whereas “active” stands complete by the mere possession of its specific character.

It may however be urged that while the possession of that character makes it a quale, it is a relative in so far as it directs upon an external object the power indicated by its name. Why, then, is not “boxer” a relative, and “boxing” as well? Boxing is entirely related to an external object; its whole theory pre-supposes this external. And in the case of the other arts—or most of them—investigation would probably warrant the assertion that in so far as they affect the soul they are qualities, while in so far as they look outward they are active and as Edition: current; Page: [18] being directed to an external object are relatives. They are relatives in the other sense also that they are thought of as habits.

Can it then be held that there is any distinct reality implied in activity, seeing that the active is something distinct only according as it is a quale? It may perhaps be held that the tendency towards action of living beings, and especially of those having freewill, implies a reality of activity (as well as a reality of Quality).

But what is the function of the active in connection with those non-living powers which we have classed as qualities? Doubtless to recruit any object it encounters, making the object a participant in its content.

But if one same object both acts and is acted upon, how do we then explain the active? Observe also that the greater—in itself perhaps a fixed three yards’ length—will present itself as both greater and less according to its external contacts.

It will be objected that greater and less are due to participation in greatness and smallness; and it might be inferred that a thing is active or passive by participation in activity or passivity.

This is the place for enquiring also whether the qualities of the Sensible and Intellectual realms can be included under one head,—a question intended only for those who ascribe qualities to the higher realm as well as the lower. And even if Ideal Forms of qualities are not posited, yet once the term “habit” is used in reference to Intellect, the question arises whether there is anything common to that habit and the habit we know in the lower.

Wisdom too is generally admitted to exist There. Obviously, if it shares only its name with our wisdom, it is not to be reckoned among things of this sphere; if, however, the import is in both cases the same, then Quality is common to both realms—unless, of course, it be maintained that everything There, including even intellection, is Substance.

This question, however, applies to all the categories: are the two spheres irreconcilable, or can they be co-ordinated within a unity?

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With regard to Date:—

If “yesterday,” “to-morrow,” “last year” and similar terms denote parts of time, why should they not be included in the same genus as time? It would seem only reasonable to range under time the past, present and future, which are its species. But time is referred to Quantity; what then is the need for a separate category of Date?

If we are told that past and future—including under past such definite dates as yesterday and last year which must clearly be subordinate to past time—and even the present “now” are not merely time but time-when, we reply, in the first place, that the notion of time-when involves time; that further, if “yesterday” is time-gone-by, it will be a composite, since time and gone-by are distinct notions: we have two categories instead of the single one required.

But suppose that Date is defined not as time but as that which is in time; if by that which is in time is meant the subject—Socrates in the proposition “Socrates existed last year”—that subject is external to the notion of time, and we have again a duality.

Consider, however, the proposition “Socrates—or some action—exists at this time”; what can be the meaning here other than “in a part of time”? But if, admitted that Date is “a part of time,” it be felt that the part requires definition and involves something more than mere time, that we must say (for example) the part of time gone by, several notions are massed in the proposition: we have the part which qua part is a relative; and we have “gone-by” which, if it is to have any import at all, must mean the past: but this “past,” we have shown, is a species of time.

It may be urged that “the past” is in its nature indefinite, while “yesterday” and “last year” are definite. We reply, first, that we demand some place in our classification for the past: secondly, that “yesterday,” as definite past, is necessarily definite time. But definite time implies a certain quantity of time: therefore, if time is quantitative, each of the terms in question must signify a definite quantity.

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Again, if by “yesterday” we are expected to understand that this or that event has taken place at a definite time gone by, we have more notions than ever. Besides, if we must introduce fresh categories because one thing acts in another—as in this case something acts in time—we have more again from its acting upon another in another. This point will be made plain by what follows in our discussion of Place.


The Academy and the Lyceum are places, and parts of Place, just as “above,” “below,” “here” are species or parts of Place; the difference is of minuter delimitation.

If then “above,” “below,” “the middle” are places—Delphi, for example, is the middle (of the earth)—and “near-the-middle” is also a place—Athens, and of course the Lyceum and the other places usually cited, are near the middle—what need have we to go further and seek beyond Place, admitting as we do that we refer in every instance to a place?

If, however, we have in mind the presence of one thing in another, we are not speaking of a single entity, we are not expressing a single notion.

Another consideration: when we say that a man is here, we present a relation of the man to that in which he is, a relation of the container to the contained. Why then do we not class as a relative whatever may be produced from this relation?

Besides, how does “here” differ from “at Athens”? The demonstrative “here” admittedly signifies place; so, then, does “at Athens”: “at Athens” therefore belongs to the category of Place.

Again, if “at Athens” means “is at Athens,” then the “is” as well as the place belongs to the predicate; but this cannot be right: we do not regard “is a quality” as predicate, but “a quality.”

Furthermore, if “in time,” “in place” are to be ranged under a category other than that applying to time and place, why not a separate category for “in a vessel”? Why not distinct categories for “in Matter,” “in a subject,” “a part in a whole,” “a whole in its parts,” “a genus Edition: current; Page: [21] in its species,” “a species in a genus”? We are certainly on the way to a goodly number of categories.


The “category of Action”:—

The quantum has been regarded as a single genus on the ground that Quantity and Number are attributes of Substance and posterior to it; the quale has been regarded as another genus because Quality is an attribute of Substance: on the same principle it is maintained that since activity is an attribute of Substance, Action constitutes yet another genus.

Does then the action constitute the genus, or the activity from which the action springs, in the same way as Quality is the genus from which the quale is derived? Perhaps activity, action and agent should all be embraced under a single head? But, on the one hand, the action—unlike activity—tends to comport the agent; and on the other, it signifies being in some activity and therefore Being-in-Act (actual as distinct from potential Being). Consequently the category will be one of Act rather than of Action.

Act moreover incontestably manifests itself in Substance, as was found to be the case with Quality: it is connected with Substance as being a form of motion. But Motion is a distinct genus: for, seeing that Quality is a distinct attribute of Substance, and Quantity a distinct attribute, and Relative takes its being from the relation of one substance to another, there can be no reason why Motion, also an attribute of Substance, should not also constitute a distinct genus.


If it be urged that Motion is but imperfect Act, there would be no objection to giving priority to Act and subordinating to it Motion with its imperfection as a species: Act would thus be predicated of Motion, but with the qualification “imperfect.”

Motion is thought of as imperfect, not because it is not an Act, but because, entirely an Act, it yet entails repetition (lacks finality). Edition: current; Page: [22] It repeats, not in order that it may achieve actuality—it is already actual,—but that it may attain a goal distinct from itself and posterior: it is not the motion itself that is then consummated but the result at which it aims. Walking is walking from the outset; when one should traverse a racecourse but has not yet done so, the deficiency lies not in the walking—not in the motion—but in the amount of walking accomplished; no matter what the amount, it is walking and motion already: a moving man has motion and a cutter cuts before there is any question of Quantity. And just as we can speak of Act without implying time, so we can of Motion, except in the sense of motion over a defined area; Act is timeless, and so is Motion pure and simple.

Are we told that Motion is necessarily in time, inasmuch as it involves continuity? But, at this, sight, never ceasing to see, will also be continuous and in time. Our critic, it is true, may find support in that principle of proportion which states that you may make a division of no matter what motion, and find that neither the motion nor its duration has any beginning but that the division may be continued indefinitely in the direction of the motion’s origin: this would mean that a motion just begun has been in progress from an infinity of time, that it is infinite as regards its beginning.

Such then is the result of separating Act from Motion: Act, we aver, is timeless; yet we are forced to maintain not only that time is necessary to quantitative motion, but, unreservedly, that Motion is quantitative in its very nature; though indeed, if it were a case of motion occupying a day or some other quantity of time, the exponents of this view would be the first to admit that Quantity is present to Motion only by way of accident.

In sum, just as Act is timeless, so there is no reason why Motion also should not primarily be timeless, time attaching to it only in so far as it happens to have such and such an extension.

Timeless change is sanctioned in the expression, “as if change could not take place all at once”; if then change is timeless, why not Motion also?—Change, be it noted, is here distinguished from the result of change, the result being unnecessary to establish the change itself.

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We may be told that neither Act nor Motion requires a genus for itself, but that both revert to Relation, Act belonging to the potentially active, Motion to the potentially motive. Our reply is that Relation produces relatives as such, and not the mere reference to an external standard; given the existence of a thing, whether attributive or relative, it holds its essential character prior to any relationship: so then must Act and Motion, and even such an attribute as habit; they are not prevented from being prior to any relationship they may occupy, or from being conceivable in themselves. Otherwise, everything will be relative; for anything you think of—even Soul—bears some relationship to something else.

But, to return to activity proper and the action, is there any reason why these should be referred to Relation? They must in every instance be either Motion or Act.

If however activity is referred to Relation and the action made a distinct genus, why is not Motion referred to Relation and the movement made a distinct genus? Why not bisect the unity, Motion, and so make Action and Passion two species of the one thing, ceasing to consider Action and Passion as two genera?


There are other questions calling for consideration:—

First: Are both Acts and motions to be included in the category of Action, with the distinction that Acts are momentary while Motions, such as cutting, are in time? Or will both be regarded as motions or (at least) as involving Motion?

Secondly: Will all activities be related to passivity, or will some—for example, walking and speaking—be considered as independent of it?

Thirdly: Will all those related to passivity be classed as motions and the independent as Acts, or will the two classes overlap? Walking, for instance, which is an independent, would, one supposes, be a motion; thinking, which also does not essentially involve “passivity,” an Act: Edition: current; Page: [24] otherwise we must hold that thinking and walking are not even actions. But if they are not in the category of Action, where then in our classification must they fall?

It may perhaps be urged that the act of thinking, together with the faculty of thought, should be regarded as relative to the thought object; for is not the faculty of sensation treated as relative to the sensible object? If then, we may ask, in the analogue the faculty of sensation is treated as relative to the sensible object, why not the sensory act as well? The fact is that even sensation, though related to an external object, has something besides that relation: it has, namely, its own status of being either an Act or a Passion. Now the Passion is separable from the condition of being attached to some object and caused by some object: so, then, is the Act a distinct entity. Walking is similarly attached and caused, and yet has besides the status of being a motion. It follows that thought, in addition to its relationship, will have the status of being either a motion or an Act.


We have to ask ourselves whether there are not certain Acts which without the addition of a time-element will be thought of as imperfect and therefore classed with motions. Take for instance living and life. The life of a definite person implies a certain adequate period, just as his happiness is no merely instantaneous thing. Life and happiness are, in other words, of the nature ascribed to Motion: both therefore must be treated as motions, and Motion must be regarded as a unity, a single genus; besides the quantity and quality belonging to Substance we must take count of the motion manifested in it.

We may further find desirable to distinguish bodily from psychic motions, or spontaneous motions from those induced by external forces, or the original from the derivative, the original motions being activities whether externally related or independent, while the derivative will be Passions.

But surely the motions having external tendency are actually identical with those of external derivation: the cutting issuing from Edition: current; Page: [25] the cutter and that effected in the object are one, though to cut is not the same as to be cut.

Perhaps however the cutting issuing from the cutter and that which takes place in the cut object are in fact not one, but “to cut” implies that from a particular Act and motion there results a different motion in the object cut. Or perhaps the difference (between Action and Passion) lies not in the fact of being cut, but in the distinct emotion supervening, pain for example: passivity has this connotation also.

But when there is no pain, what occurs? Nothing, surely, but the Act of the agent upon the patient object: this is all that is meant in such cases by Action. Action, thus, becomes twofold: there is that which occurs in the external, and that which does not. The duality of Action and Passion, suggested by the notion that Action (always) takes place in an external, is abandoned.

Even writing, though taking place upon an external object, does not call for passivity, since no effect is produced upon the tablet beyond the Act of the writer, nothing like pain; we may be told that the tablet has been inscribed, but this does not suffice for passivity.

Again, in the case of walking there is the earth trodden upon, but no one thinks of it as having experienced Passion (or suffering). Treading on a living body, we think of suffering, because we reflect not upon the walking but upon the ensuing pain: otherwise we should think of suffering in the case of the tablet as well.

It is so in every case of Action: we cannot but think of it as knit into a unity with its opposite, Passion. Not that this later “Passion” is the opposite of Action in the way in which being burned is the opposite of burning: by Passion in this sense we mean the effect supervening upon the combined facts of the burning and the being burned, whether this effect be pain or some such process as withering.

Suppose this Passion to be treated as of itself producing pain: have we not still the duality of agent and patient, two results from the one Act? The Act may no longer include the will to cause pain; but it produces something distinct from itself, a pain-causing medium which enters into the object about to experience pain: this medium, Edition: current; Page: [26] while retaining its individuality, produces something yet different, the feeling of pain.

What does this suggest? Surely that the very medium—the act of hearing, for instance—is, even before it produces pain or without producing pain at all, a Passion of that into which it enters.

But hearing, with sensation in general, is in fact not a Passion. Yet to feel pain is to experience a Passion—a Passion however which is not opposed to Action.


But though not opposed, it is still different from Action and cannot belong to the same genus as activity; though if they are both Motion, it will so belong, on the principle that alteration must be regarded as qualitative motion.

Does it follow that whenever alteration proceeds from Quality, it will be activity and Action, the quale remaining impassive? It may be that if the quale remains impassive, the alteration will be in the category of Action; whereas if, while its energy is directed outwards, it also suffers—as in beating—it will cease to belong to that category: or perhaps there is nothing to prevent its being in both categories at one and the same moment.

If then an alteration be conditioned by Passivity alone, as is the case with rubbing, on what ground is it assigned to Action rather than to Passivity? Perhaps the Passivity arises from the fact that a counter-rubbing is involved. But are we, in view of this counter-motion, to recognise the presence of two distinct motions? No: one only.

How then can this one motion be both Action and Passion? We must suppose it to be Action in proceeding from an object, and Passion in being directed upon another—though it remains the same motion throughout.

Suppose however Passion to be a different motion from Action: how then does its modification of the patient object change that patient’s character without the agent being affected by the patient? For obviously an agent cannot be passive to the operation it performs Edition: current; Page: [27] upon another. Can it be that the fact of motion existing elsewhere creates the Passion, which was not Passion in the agent?,

If the whiteness of the swan, produced by its Reason-Principle, is given at its birth, are we to affirm Passion of the swan on its passing into being? If, on the contrary, the swan grows white after birth, and if there is (as before) a cause of that growth and the corresponding result, are we to say that the growth is a Passion? Or must we confine Passion to purely qualitative change?

One thing confers beauty and another takes it: is that which takes beauty to be regarded as patient? If then the source of beauty—tin, suppose—should deteriorate or actually disappear, while the recipient—copper—improves, are we to think of the copper as passive and the tin active?

Take the learner: how can he be regarded as passive, seeing that the Act of the agent passes into him (and becomes his Act)? How can the Act, necessarily a simple entity, be both Act and Passion? No doubt the Act is not in itself a Passion; nonetheless, the learner coming to possess it will be a patient by the fact of his appropriation of an experience from outside: he will not, of course, be a patient in the sense of having himself performed no Act; learning—like seeing—is not analogous to being struck, since it involves the acts of apprehension and recognition.


How then are we to recognise Passivity, since clearly it is not to be found in the Act from outside which the recipient in turn makes his own? Surely we must look for it in cases where the patient remains without Act, the passivity pure.

Imagine a case where an agent improves, though its Act tends towards deterioration. Or, say, a man’s activity is guided by evil and is allowed to dominate another’s without restraint. In these cases the Act is clearly wrong, the Passion blameless.

What then is the real distinction between Action and Passion? Is it that Action starts from within and is directed upon an outside Edition: current; Page: [28] object, while Passion is derived from without and fulfilled within? What, then, are we to say of such cases as thought and opinion which originate within but are not directed outwards? Again, the Passion “being heated” rises within the self, when that self is provoked by an opinion to reflection or to anger, without the intervention of any external. Still it remains true that Action, whether self-centred or with external tendency, is a motion rising in the self.

How then do we explain desire and other forms of aspiration? Aspiration must be a motion having its origin in the object aspired to,—though some might disallow “origin” and be content with saying that the motion aroused is subsequent to the object; in what respect, then, does aspiring differ from taking a blow or being borne down by a thrust?

Perhaps, however, we should divide aspirations into two classes, those which follow intellect being described as Actions, the merely impulsive being Passions. Passivity now will not turn on origin, without or within—within there can only be deficiency; but whenever a thing, without itself assisting in the process, undergoes an alteration not directed to the creation of Being but changing the thing for the worse or not for the better, such an alteration will be regarded as a Passion and as entailing passivity.

If however “being heated” means acquiring heat, and is sometimes found to contribute to the production of Being and sometimes not, passivity will be identical with impassivity: besides, “being heated” must then have a double significance (according as it does or does not contribute to Being).

The fact is, however, that “being heated,” even when it contributes to Being, involves the presence of a patient (distinct from the being produced). Take the case of the bronze which has to be heated and so is a patient; the being is a statue, which is not heated except accidentally (by the accident of being contained in the bronze). If then the bronze becomes more beautiful as a result of being heated and in the same proportion, it certainly becomes so by passivity; for passivity must, clearly, take two forms: there is the passivity which tends Edition: current; Page: [29] to alteration for better or for worse, and there is the passivity which has neither tendency.


Passivity, thus, implies the existence within of a motion functioning somehow or other in the direction of alteration. Action too implies motion within, whether the motion be aimless or whether it be driven by the impulse comported by the term “Action” to find its goal in an external object. There is Motion in both Action and Passion, but the differentia distinguishing Action from Passion keeps Action impassive, while Passion is recognised by the fact that a new state replaces the old, though nothing is added to the essential character of the patient; whenever Being (essential Being) is produced, the patient remains distinct.

Thus, what is Action in one relation may be Passion in another. One same motion will be Action from the point of view of A, Passion from that of B; for the two are so disposed that they might well be consigned to the category of Relation—at any rate in the cases where the Action entails a corresponding Passion: neither correlative is found in isolation; each involves both Action and Passion, though A acts as mover and B is moved: each then involves two categories.

Again, A gives motion to B, B receives it, so that we have a giving and a receiving—in a word, a relation.

But a recipient must possess what it has received. A thing is admitted to possess its natural colour: why not its motion also? Besides, independent motions such as walking and thought do, in fact, involve the possession of the powers respectively to walk and to think.

We are reminded to enquire whether (thought in the form of) providence constitutes Action; to be subject to providence is apparently Passion, for such thought is directed to an external, the object of the providential arrangement. But it may well be that neither is the exercise of providence an action, even though the thought is concerned with an external, nor subjection to it a Passion. Thought itself need not be an action, for it does not go outward towards its object but remains self-gathered. It is not always an activity; all Acts need not be definable Edition: current; Page: [30] as activities, for they need not produce an effect; activity belongs to Act only accidentally.

Does it follow (conversely) that if a man as he walks produces footprints, he cannot be considered to have performed an action? Certainly as a result of his existing something distinct from himself has come into being. Yet perhaps we should regard both action and Act as merely accidental, because he did not aim at this result: it would be as we speak of Action even in things inanimate—“fire heats,” “the drug worked.”

So much for Action and Passion.


As for Possession, if the term is used comprehensively, why are not all its modes to be brought under one category? Possession, thus, would include the quantum as possessing magnitude, the quale as possessing colour; it would include fatherhood and the complementary relationships, since the father possesses the son and the son possesses the father: in short, it would include all belongings.

If, on the contrary, the category of Possession comprises only the things of the body, such as weapons and shoes, we first ask why this should be so, and why their possession produces a single category, while burning, cutting, burying or casting them out do not give another or others. If it is because these things are carried on the person, then one’s mantle lying on a couch will come under a different category from that of the mantle covering the person. If the ownership of possession suffices, then clearly one must refer to the one category of Possession all objects identified by being possessed, every case in which possession can be established; the character of the possessed object will make no difference.

If however Possession is not to be predicated of Quality because Quality stands recognised as a category, nor of Quantity because the category of Quantity has been received, nor of parts because they have been assigned to the category of Substance, why should we predicate Possession of weapons, when they too are comprised in the accepted category of Substance? Shoes and weapons are clearly substances.

How, further, is “He possesses weapons,” signifying as it does Edition: current; Page: [31] that the action of arming has been performed by a subject, to be regarded as an entirely simple notion, assignable to a single category?

Again, is Possession to be restricted to an animate possessor, or does it hold good even of a statue as possessing the objects above mentioned? The animate and inanimate seem to possess in different ways, and the term is perhaps equivocal. Similarly, “standing” has not the same connotation as applied to the animate and the inanimate.

Besides, how can it be reasonable for what is found only in a limited number of cases to form a distinct generic category?


There remains Situation, which like Possession is confined to a few instances such as reclining and sitting.

Even so, the term is not used without qualification: we say “they are placed in such and such a manner,” “he is situated in such and such a position.” The position is added from outside the genus.

In short, Situation signifies “being in a place”; there are two things involved, the position and the place: why then must two categories be combined into one?

Moreover, if sitting signifies an Act, it must be classed among Acts; if a Passion, it goes under the category to which belong Passions complete and incomplete.

Reclining is surely nothing but “lying up,” and tallies with “lying down” and “lying midway.” But if the reclining belongs thus to the category of Relation, why not the recliner also? For as “on the right” belongs to the Relations, so does “the thing on the right”; and similarly with “the thing on the left.”


There are those who lay down four categories and make a fourfold division into Substrates, Qualities, States, and Relative States, and find in these a common Something, and so include everything in one genus.

Against this theory there is much to be urged, but particularly against this posing of a common Something and a single all-embracing Edition: current; Page: [32] genus. This Something, it may be submitted, is unintelligible to themselves, is indefinable, and does not account either for bodies or for the bodiless. Moreover, no room is left for a differentia by which this Something may be distinguished. Besides, this common Something is either existent or non-existent: if existent, it must be one or other of its (four) species; if non-existent, the existent is classed under the non-existent.—But the objections are countless; we must leave them for the present and consider the several heads of the division.

To the first genus are assigned Substrates, including Matter, to which is given a priority over the others; so that what is ranked as the first principle comes under the same head with things which must be posterior to it since it is their principle.

First, then: the prior is made homogeneous with the subsequent. Now this is impossible: in this relation the subsequent owes its existence to the prior, whereas among things belonging to one same genus each must have, essentially, the equality implied by the genus; for the very meaning of genus is to be predicated of the species in respect of their essential character. And that Matter is the basic source of all the rest of things, this school, we may suppose, would hardly deny.

Secondly: since they treat the Substrate as one thing, they do not enumerate the Existents; they look instead for principles of the Existents. There is however a difference between speaking of the actual Existents and of their principles.

If Matter is taken to be the only Existent, and all other things as modifications of Matter, it is not legitimate to set up a single genus to embrace both the Existent and the other things; consistency requires that Being (Substance) be distinguished from its modifications and that these modifications be duly classified.

Even the distinction which this theory makes between Substrates and the rest of things is questionable. The Substrate is (necessarily) one thing and admits of no differentia—except perhaps in so far as it is split up like one mass into its various parts; and yet not even so, since the notion of Being implies continuity: it would be better, therefore, to speak of the Substrate, in the singular.

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But the error in this theory is fundamental. To set Matter the potential above everything, instead of recognising the primacy of actuality, is in the highest degree perverse. If the potential holds the primacy among the Existents, its actualisation becomes impossible; it certainly cannot bring itself into actuality: either the actual exists previously, and so the potential is not the first-principle, or, if the two are to be regarded as existing simultaneously, the first-principles must be attributed to hazard. Besides, if they are simultaneous, why is not actuality given the primacy? Why is the potential more truly real than the actual?

Supposing however that the actual does come later than the potential, how must the theory proceed? Obviously Matter does not produce Form: the unqualified does not produce Quality, nor does actuality take its origin in the potential; for that would mean that the actual was inherent in the potential, which at once becomes a dual thing.

Furthermore, God becomes a secondary to Matter, inasmuch as even he is regarded as a body composed of Matter and Form—though how he acquires the Form is not revealed. If however he be admitted to exist apart from Matter in virtue of his character as a principle and a rational law (logos), God will be bodiless, the Creative Power bodiless. If we are told that he is without Matter but is composite in essence by the fact of being a body, this amounts to introducing another Matter, the Matter of God.

Again, how can Matter be a first-principle, seeing that it is body? Body must necessarily be a plurality, since all bodies are composite of Matter and Quality. If however body in this case is to be understood in some different way, then Matter is identified with body only by an equivocation.

If the possession of three dimensions is given as the characteristic of body, then we are dealing simply with mathematical body. If resistance is added, we are no longer considering a unity: besides, resistance is a quality or at least derived from Quality.

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And whence is this resistance supposed to come? Whence the three dimensions? What is the source of their existence? Matter is not comprised in the concept of the three-dimensional, nor the three-dimensional in the concept of Matter; if Matter partakes thus of extension, it can no longer be a simplex.

Again, whence does Matter derive its unifying power? It is assuredly not the Absolute Unity, but has only that of participation in Unity.

We inevitably conclude that Mass or Extension cannot be ranked as the first of things; Non-Extension and Unity must be prior. We must begin with the One and conclude with the Many, proceed to magnitude from that which is free from magnitude: a One is necessary to the existence of a Many, Non-Magnitude to that of Magnitude. Magnitude is a unity not by being Unity-Absolute, but by participation and in an accidental mode: there must be a primary and absolute preceding the accidental, or the accidental relation is left unexplained.

The manner of this relation demands investigation. Had this been undertaken, the thinkers of this school would probably have lighted upon that Unity which is not accidental but essential and underived.


On other grounds also it is indefensible not to have reserved the high place for the true first-principle of things but to have set up in its stead the formless, passive and lifeless, the irrational, dark and indeterminate, and to have made this the source of Being. In this theory God is introduced merely for the sake of appearance: deriving existence from Matter he is a composite, a derivative, or worse, a mere state of Matter.

Another consideration is that if Matter is a substrate, there must be something outside it, which, acting on it and distinct from it, makes it the substrate of what is poured into it. But if God is lodged in Matter and by being involved in Matter is himself no more than a substrate, he will no longer make Matter a substrate nor be himself a substrate in conjunction with Matter. For of what will they be substrates, when Edition: current; Page: [35] that which could make them substrates is eliminated? This so-called substrate turns out to have swallowed up all that is; but a substrate must be relative, and relative not to its content but to something which acts upon it as upon a datum.

Again, the substrate comports a relation to that which is not substrate; hence, to something external to it: there must, then, be something apart from the substrate. If nothing distinct and external is considered necessary, but the substrate itself can become everything and adopt every character like the versatile dancer in the pantomime, it ceases to be a substrate: it is, essentially, everything. The mime is not a substrate of the characters he puts on; these are in fact the realisation of his own personality: similarly, if the Matter with which this theory presents us comports in its own being all the realities, it is no longer the substrate of all: on the contrary, the other things can have no reality whatever, if they are no more than states of Matter in the sense that the poses of the mime are states through which he passes.

Then, those other things not existing, Matter will not be a substrate, nor will it have a place among the Existents; it will be Matter bare, and for that reason not even Matter, since Matter is a relative. The relative is relative to something else: it must, further, be homogeneous with that something else: double is relative to half, but not Substance to double.

How then can an Existent be relative to a Non-existent, except accidentally? But (by this theory) the True-Existent, or Matter, is related (to what emerges from it) as Existent to Non-existent. For if potentiality is that which holds the promise of existence and that promise does not constitute Reality, the potentiality cannot be a Reality. In sum, these very teachers who deprecate the production of Realities from Non-realities, themselves produce Non-reality from Reality; for to them the universe as such is not a Reality.

But is it not a paradox that while Matter, the Substrate, is to them an existence, bodies should not have more claim to existence, the universe yet more, and not merely a claim grounded on the reality of one of its parts?

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It is no less paradoxical that the living form should owe existence not to its soul but to its Matter only, the soul being but an affection of Matter and posterior to it. From what source then did Matter receive ensoulment? Whence, in short, is soul’s entity derived? How does it occur that Matter sometimes turns into bodies, while another part of it turns into Soul? Even supposing that Form might come to it from elsewhere, that accession of Quality to Matter would account not for Soul, but simply for organised body soulless. If, on the contrary, there is something which both moulds Matter and produces Soul, then prior to the produced there must be Soul the producer.


Many as are the objections to this theory, we pass on for fear of the ridicule we might incur by arguing against a position itself so manifestly ridiculous. We may be content with pointing out that it assigns the primacy to the Non-existent and treats it as the very summit of Existence: in short, it places the last thing first. The reason for this procedure lies in the acceptance of sense-perception as a trustworthy guide to first-principles and to all other entities.

This philosophy began by identifying the Real with body; then, viewing with apprehension the transmutations of bodies, decided that Reality was that which is permanent beneath the superficial changes—which is much as if one regarded space as having more title to Reality than the bodies within it, on the principle that the space does not perish with them. They found a permanent in space, but it was a fault to take mere permanence as in itself a sufficient definition of the Real; the right method would have been to consider what properties must characterise Reality, by the presence of which properties it has also that of unfailing permanence. Thus if a shadow had permanence, accompanying an object through every change, that would not make it more real than the object itself. The sensible universe, as including the Substrate and a multitude of attributes, will thus have more claim to be Reality entire than has any one of its component entities (such as Matter): and if the sensible were in very truth the whole of Edition: current; Page: [37] Reality, Matter, the mere base and not the total, could not be that whole.

Most surprising of all is that, while they make sense-perception their guarantee of everything, they hold that the Real cannot be grasped by sensation; for they have no right to assign to Matter even so much as resistance, since resistance is a quality. If however they profess to grasp Reality by Intellect, is it not a strange Intellect which ranks Matter above itself, giving Reality to Matter and not to itself? And as their “Intellect” has, thus, no Real-Existence, how can it be trustworthy when it speaks of things higher than itself, things to which it has no affinity whatever?

But an adequate treatment of this entity (Matter) and of substrates will be found elsewhere.


Qualities must be for this school distinct from Substrates. This in fact they acknowledge by counting them as the second category. If then they form a distinct category, they must be simplex; that is to say they are not composite; that is to say that as qualities, pure and simple, they are devoid of Matter: hence they are bodiless and active, since Matter is their substrate—a relation of passivity.

If however they hold Qualities to be composite, that is a strange classification which first contrasts simple and composite qualities, then proceeds to include them in one genus, and finally includes one of the two species (simple) in the other (composite); it is like dividing knowledge into two species, the first comprising grammatical knowledge, the second made up of grammatical and other knowledge.

Again, if they identify Qualities with qualifications of Matter, then in the first place even their Seminal Principles (Logoi) will be material, and will not have to reside in Matter to produce a composite, but prior to the composite thus produced they will themselves be composed of Matter and Form: in other words, they will not be Forms or Principles. Further, if they maintain that the Seminal Principles are nothing but Matter in a certain state, they evidently identify Qualities with States, Edition: current; Page: [38] and should accordingly classify them in their fourth genus. If this is a state of some peculiar kind, what precisely is its differentia? Clearly the state by its association with Matter receives (on this theory) an accession of Reality: yet if that means that when divorced from Matter it is not a Reality, how can State be treated as a single genus or species? Certainly one genus cannot embrace the Existent and the Non-existent.

And what is this state implanted in Matter? It is either real, or unreal: if real, absolutely bodiless: if unreal, it is introduced to no purpose; Matter is all there is; Quality therefore is nothing. The same is true of State, for that is even more unreal; the alleged Fourth Category more so.

Matter then is the sole Reality. But how do we come to know this? Certainly not from Matter itself. How, then? From Intellect? But Intellect is merely a state of Matter, and even the “state” is an empty qualification. We are left after all with Matter alone competent to make these assertions, to fathom these problems. And if its assertions were intelligent, we must wonder how it thinks and performs the functions of Soul without possessing either Intellect or Soul. If, then, it were to make foolish assertions, affirming itself to be what it is not and cannot be, to what should we ascribe this folly? Doubtless to Matter, if it was in truth Matter that spoke. But Matter does not speak; anyone who says that it does proclaims the predominance of Matter in himself; he may have a soul, but he is utterly devoid of Intellect, and lives in ignorance of himself and of the faculty alone capable of uttering the truth in these things.


With regard to States:—

It may seem strange that States should be set up as a third class—or whatever class it is,—since all States are referable to Matter. We shall be told that there is a difference among States, and that a State as in Matter has definite characteristics distinguishing it from all other States and further that, whereas Qualities are States of Matter, Edition: current; Page: [39] States properly so-called belong to Qualities. But if Qualities are nothing but States of Matter, States (in the strict sense of the term) are ultimately reducible to Matter, and under Matter they must be classed.

Further, how can States constitute a single genus, when there is such manifold diversity among them? How can we group together “three yards long” and “white”—Quantity and Quality respectively? Or again Time and Place? How can “yesterday,” “last year,” “in the Lyceum,” “in the Academy,” be States at all? How can Time be in any sense a State? Neither is Time a State nor the events in Time, neither the objects in Space nor Space itself.

And how can Action be a State? One acting is not in a state of being but in a state of Action, or rather in Action simply: no state is involved. Similarly, what is predicated of the patient is not a state of being but a state of Passion, or, strictly, Passion unqualified by state.

But it would seem that State was the right category at least for cases of Situation and Possession: yet Possession does not imply possession of some particular state, but is Possession absolute.

As for the Relative State, if the theory does not include it in the same genus as the other States, another question arises: we must enquire whether any actuality is attributed to this particular type of relation, for to many types actuality is denied.

It is, moreover, absurd that an entity which depends upon the prior existence of other entities should be classed in the same genus with those priors: one and two must, clearly, exist, before half and double can.

The various speculations on the subject of the Existents and the principles of the Existents, whether they have entailed an infinite or a finite number, bodily or bodiless, or even supposed the Composite to be the Authentic Existent, may well be considered separately with the help of the criticisms made by the ancients upon them.

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On the Kinds of Being: Second Treatise


We have examined the proposed “ten genera”: we have discussed also the theory which gathers the total of things into one genus and to this subordinates what may be thought of as its four species. The next step is, naturally, to expound our own views and to try to show the agreement of our conclusions with those of Plato.

Now if we were obliged to consider Being as a unity, the following questions would be unnecessary:—

Is there one genus embracing everything, or are there genera which cannot be subsumed under such a unity? Are there first-principles? Are first-principles to be identified with genera, or genera with first-principles? Or is it perhaps rather the case that while not all genera are first-principles, all first-principles are at the same time genera? Or is the converse true? Or again, do both classes overlap, some principles being also genera, and some genera also principles? And do both the sets of categories we have been examining imply that only some principles are genera and some genera principles? or does one of them presuppose that all that belongs to the class of genera belongs also to the class of principles?

Since, however, we affirm that Being is not a unity—the reason for this affirmation is stated by Plato and others—these questions become imperative, once we are satisfied as to the number of genera to be posited and the grounds for our choice.

The subject of our enquiry, then, is the Existent or Existents, and it presents immediately two problems demanding separate analysis:—

What do we mean by the Existent?—This is naturally the first question to be examined.

What is that which, often taken for Being (for the Existent), is in our view Becoming and never really Being?—Note however that these concepts are not to be taken as distinguished from each other Edition: current; Page: [41] in the sense of belonging to a genus, Something, divided into Being and Becoming; and we must not suppose that Plato took this view. It would be absurd to assign Being to the same genus as non-Being: this would be to make one genus of Socrates and his portrait. The division here (between what has Being and what is in Becoming) means a definite marking-off, a setting asunder, leading to the assertion that what takes the appearance of Being is not Being and implying that the nature of True Being has been quite misapprehended. Being, we are taught, must have the attribute of eternity, must be so constituted as never to belie its own nature.

This, then, is the Being of which we shall treat, and in our investigation we shall assume that it is not a unity: subsequently we ask leave to say something on the nature of Becoming and on what it is that comes to be, that is, on the nature of the world of Sense.


In asserting that Being is not a unity we do not mean to imply a definite number of existences; the number may well be infinite: we mean simply that it is many as well as one, that it is, so to speak, a diversified unity, a plurality in unity.

It follows that either the unity so regarded is a unity of genus under which the Existents, involving as they do plurality as well as unity, stand as species; or that while there are more genera than one, yet all are subordinate to a unity; or there may be more genera than one, though no one genus is subordinate to any other, but all with their own subordinates—whether these be lesser genera, or species with individuals for their subordinates—all are elements in one entity, and from their totality the Intellectual realm—that which we know as Being—derives its constitution.

If this last is the truth, we have here not merely genera, but genera which are at the same time principles of Being. They are genera because they have subordinates—other genera, and successively species and individuals; they are also principles, since from this plurality Being takes its rise, constituted in its entirety from these its elements.

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Suppose, however, a greater number of origins which by their mere totality comprised, without possessing any subordinates, the whole of Being; these would be first-principles but not genera: it would be as if one constructed the sensible world from the four elements—fire and the others; these elements would be first principles, but they would not be genera, unless the term “genus” is to be used equivocally.

But does this assertion of certain genera which are at the same time first-principles imply that by combining the genera, each with its subordinates, we find the whole of Being in the resultant combination? But then, taken separately, their existence will not be actual but only potential, and they will not be found in isolation.

Suppose, on the other hand, we ignore the genera and combine the particulars: what then becomes of the ignored genera? They will, surely, exist in the purity of their own isolation, and the mixtures will not destroy them. The question of how this result is achieved may be postponed.

For the moment we take it as agreed that there are genera as distinct from principles of Being and that, on another plane, principles (elements) are opposed to compounds. We are, thus, obliged to show in what relation we speak of genera and why we distinguish them instead of summing them under a unity; for otherwise we imply that their coalescence into a unity is fortuitous, whereas it would be more plausible to dispense with their separate existence.

If all the genera could be species of Being, all individuals without exception being immediately subordinate to these species, then such a unification becomes feasible. But that supposition bespeaks annihilation for the genera: the species will no longer be species; plurality will no longer be subordinated to unity; everything must be the unity, unless there exist some thing or things outside the unity. The One never becomes many—as the existence of species demands—unless there is something distinct from it: it cannot of itself assume plurality, unless we are to think of it as being broken into pieces like some extended body: but even so, the force which breaks it up must be distinct from Edition: current; Page: [43] it: if it is itself to effect the breaking up—or whatever form the division may take—then it is itself previously divided.

For these and many other reasons we must abstain from positing a single genus, and especially because neither Being nor Substance can be the predicate of any given thing. If we do predicate Being, it is only as an accidental attribute; just as when we predicate whiteness of a substance, we are not predicating the Absolute Whiteness.


We assert, then, a plurality of Existents, but a plurality not fortuitous and therefore a plurality deriving from a unity.

But even admitting this derivation from a unity—a unity however not predicated of them in respect of their essential being,—there is, surely, no reason why each of these Existents, distinct in character from every other, should not in itself stand as a separate genus.

Is, then, this unity external to the genera thus produced, this unity which is their source though it cannot be predicated of them in respect of their essence? It is indeed external; the One is beyond; it cannot, therefore, be included among the genera: it is the (transcendent) source, while they stand side by side as genera. Yet surely the one must somehow be included (among the genera)? No: it is the Existents we are investigating, not that which is beyond Existence.

We pass on, then, to consider that which is included, and find to our surprise the cause included with the things it causes: it is surely strange that causes and effects should be brought into the same genus.

But if the cause is included with its effects only in the sense in which a genus is included with its subordinates, the subordinates being of a different order, so that it cannot be predicated of them whether as their genus or in any other relation, these subordinates are obviously themselves genera with subordinates of their own: you may, for example, be the cause of the operation of walking, but the walking is not subordinate to you in the relation of species to genus; and if walking had nothing prior to it as its genus, but had posteriors, then it would be a (primary) genus and rank among the Existents.

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Perhaps, however, it must be utterly denied that unity is even the cause of other things; they should be considered rather as its parts or elements—if the terms may be allowed,—their totality constituting a single entity which our thinking divides. All unity though it be, it goes by a wonderful power out into everything; it appears as many and becomes many when there is motion; the fecundity of its nature causes the One to be no longer one, and we, displaying what we call its parts, consider them each as a unity and make them into “genera,” unaware of our failure to see the whole at once. We display it, then, in parts, though, unable to restrain their natural tendency to coalesce, we bring these parts together again, resign them to the whole and allow them to become a unity, or rather to be a unity.

All this will become clearer in the light of further consideration—when, that is to say, we have ascertained the number of the genera; for thus we shall also discover their causes. it is not enough to deny; we must advance by dint of thought and comprehension. The way is clear:—


If we had to ascertain the nature of body and the place it holds in the universe, surely we should take some sample of body, say stone, and examine into what constituents it may be divided. There would be what we think of as the substrate of stone, its quantity—in this case, a magnitude; its quality—for example, the colour of stone. As with stone, so with every other body: we should see that in this thing, body, there are three distinguishable characteristics—the pseudosubstance, the quantity, the quality—though they all make one and are only logically trisected, the three being found to constitute the unit thing, body. If motion were equally inherent in its constitution, we should include this as well, and the four would form a unity, the single body depending upon them all for its unity and characteristic nature.

The same method must be applied in examining the Intellectual Substance and the genera and first-principles of the Intellectual sphere.

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But we must begin by subtracting what is peculiar to body, its coming-to-be, its sensible nature, its magnitude—that is to say, the characteristics which produce isolation and mutual separation. It is an Intellectual Being we have to consider, an Authentic Existent, possessed of a unity surpassing that of any sensible thing.

Now the wonder comes how a unity of this type can be many as well as one. In the case of body it was easy to concede unity-with-plurality; the one body is divisible to infinity; its colour is a different thing from its shape, since in fact they are separated. But if we take Soul, single, continuous, without extension, of the highest simplicity—as the first effort of the mind makes manifest,—how can we expect to find multiplicity here too? We believed that the division of the living being into body and soul was final: body indeed was manifold, composite, diversified; but in soul we imagined we had found a simplex, and boldly made a halt, supposing that we had come to the limit of our course.

Let us examine this soul, presented to us from the Intellectual realm as body from the Sensible. How is its unity a plurality? How is its plurality a unity? Clearly its unity is not that of a composite formed from diverse elements, but that of a single nature comprising a plurality.

This problem attacked and solved, the truth about the genera comprised in Being will thereby, as we asserted, be elucidated also.


A first point demanding consideration:—

Bodies—those, for example, of animals and plants—are each a multiplicity founded on colour and shape and magnitude, and on the forms and arrangement of parts: yet all these elements spring from a unity. Now this unity must be either Unity-Absolute or some unity less thorough-going and complete, but necessarily more complete than that which emerges, so to speak, from the body itself; this will be a unity having more claim to reality than the unity produced from it, for divergence from unity involves a corresponding divergence from Edition: current; Page: [46] Reality. Since, thus, bodies take their rise from unity, but not “unity” in the sense of the complete unity or Unity-Absolute—for this could never yield discrete plurality—it remains that they be derived from a unity pluralised. But the creative principle (in bodies) is Soul: Soul therefore is a pluralised unity.

We then ask whether the plurality here consists of the Reason-Principles of the things of process. Or is this unity not something different from the mere sum of these Principles? Certainly Soul itself is one Reason-Principle, the chief of the Reason-Principles, and these are its Act as it functions in accordance with its essential being; this essential being, on the other hand, is the potentiality of the Reason-Principles. This is the mode in which this unity is a plurality, its plurality being revealed by the effect it has upon the external.

But, to leave the region of its effect, suppose we take it at the higher non-effecting part of Soul; is not plurality of powers to be found in this part also? The existence of this higher part will, we may presume, be at once conceded.

But is this existence to be taken as identical with that of the stone? Surely not. Being in the case of the stone is not Being pure and simple, but stone-being: so here; Soul’s being denotes not merely Being but Soul-being.

Is then that “being” distinct from what else goes to complete the essence (or substance) of Soul? Is it to be identified with Being (the Absolute), while to some differentia of Being is ascribed the production of Soul? No doubt Soul is in a sense Being, and this not as a man “is” white, but from the fact of its being purely an essence: in other words, the being it possesses it holds from no source external to its own essence.


But must it not draw on some source external to its essence, if it is to be conditioned, not only by Being, but by being an entity of a particular character? But if it is conditioned by a particular character, and this character is external to its essence, its essence does not comprise Edition: current; Page: [47] all that makes it Soul; its individuality will determine it; a part of Soul will be essence, but not Soul entire.

Furthermore, what being will it have when we separate it from its other components? The being of a stone? No: the being must be a form of Being appropriate to a source, so to speak, and a first-principle, or rather must take the forms appropriate to all that is comprised in Soul’s being: the being here must, that is, be life, and the life and the being must be one.

One, in the sense of being one Reason-Principle? No; it is the substrate of Soul that is one, though one in such a way as to be also two or more—as many as are the Primaries which constitute Soul. Either, then, it is life as well as Substance, or else it possesses life.

But if life is a thing possessed, the essence of the possessor is not inextricably bound up with life. If, on the contrary, this is not possession, the two, life and Substance, must be a unity.

Soul, then, is one and many—as many as are manifested in that oneness,—one in its nature, many in those other things. A single Existent, it makes itself many by what we may call its motion: it is one entire, but by its striving, so to speak, to contemplate itself, it is a plurality; for we may imagine that it cannot bear to be a single Existent, when it has the power to be all that it in fact is. The cause of its appearing as many is this contemplation, and its purpose is the Act of the Intellect; if it were manifested as a bare unity, it could have no intellection, since in that simplicity it would already be identical with the object of its thought.


What, then, are the several entities observable in this plurality?

We have found Substance (Essence) and life simultaneously present in Soul. Now, this Substance is a common property of Soul, but life, common to all souls, differs in that it is a property of Intellect also.

Having thus introduced Intellect and its life we make a single genus of what is common to all life, namely, Motion. Substance and the Motion which constitutes the highest life we must consider as two genera; Edition: current; Page: [48] for even though they form a unity, they are separable to thought which finds their unity not a unity; otherwise, it could not distinguish them.

Observe also how in other things Motion or life is clearly separated from Being—a separation impossible, doubtless, in True Being, but possible in its shadow and namesake. In the portrait of a man much is left out, and above all the essential thing, life: the “Being” of sensible things is just such a shadow of True Being, an abstraction from that Being complete which was life in the Archetype; it is because of this incompleteness that we are able in the Sensible world to separate Being from life and life from Being.

Being, then, containing many species, has but one genus. Motion, however, is to be classed as neither a subordinate nor a supplement of Being but as its concomitant; for we have not found Being serving as substrate to Motion. Motion is Being’s Act; neither is separated from the other except in thought; the two natures are one; for Being is inevitably actual, not potential.

No doubt we observe Motion and Being separately, Motion as contained in Being and Being as involved in Motion, and in the individual they may be mutually exclusive; but the dualism is an affirmation of our thought only, and that thought sees either form as a duality within a unity.

Now Motion, thus manifested in conjunction with Being, does not alter Being’s nature—unless to complete its essential character—and it does retain for ever its own peculiar nature: at once, then, we are forced to introduce Stability. To reject Stability would be more unreasonable than to reject Motion; for Stability is associated in our thought and conception with Being even more than with Motion; unalterable condition, unchanging mode, single Reason-Principle—these are characteristics of the higher sphere.

Stability, then, may also be taken as a single genus. Obviously distinct from Motion and perhaps even its contrary, that it is also distinct from Being may be shown by many considerations. We may especially observe that if Stability were identical with Being, so also would Motion Edition: current; Page: [49] be, with equal right. Why identity in the case of Stability and not in that of Motion, when Motion is virtually the very life and Act both of Substance and of Absolute Being? However, on the very same principle on which we separated Motion from Being with the understanding that it is the same and not the same—that they are two and yet one—we also separate Stability from Being, holding it, yet, inseparable; it is only a logical separation entailing the inclusion among the Existents of this other genus. To identify Stability with Being, with no difference between them, and to identify Being with Motion, would be to identify Stability with Motion through the mediation of Being, and so to make Motion and Stability one and the same thing.


We cannot indeed escape positing these three, Being, Motion, Stability, once it is the fact that the Intellect discerns them as separates; and if it thinks of them at all, it posits them by that very thinking; if they are thought, they exist. Things whose existence is bound up with Matter have no being in the Intellect: these three principles are however free of Matter; and in that which goes free of Matter to be thought is to be.

We are in the presence of Intellect undefiled. Fix it firmly, but not with the eyes of the body. You are looking upon the hearth of Reality, within it a sleepless light: you see how it holds to itself, and how it puts apart things that were together, how it lives a life that endures and keeps a thought acting not upon any future but upon that which already is, upon an eternal present—a thought self-centred, bearing on nothing outside of itself.

Now in the Act of Intellect there are energy and motion; in its self-intellection Substance and Being. In virtue of its Being it thinks, and it thinks of itself as Being, and of that as Being, upon which it is, so to speak, pivoted. Not that its Act self-directed ranks as Substance, but Being stands as the goal and origin of that Act, the object of its contemplation though not the contemplation itself: and yet this Act too involves Being, which is its motive and its term. By the fact that Edition: current; Page: [50] its Being is actual and not merely potential, Intellect bridges the dualism (of agent and patient) and abjures separation: it identifies itself with Being and Being with itself.

Being, the most firmly set of all things, that in virtue of which all other things receive Stability, possesses this Stability not as from without but as springing within, as inherent. Stability is the goal of intellection, a Stability which had no beginning, and the state from which intellection was impelled was Stability, though Stability gave it no impulsion; for Motion neither starts from Motion nor ends in Motion. Again, the Form-Idea has Stability, since it is the goal of Intellect: intellection is the Form’s Motion.

Thus all the Existents are one, at once Motion and Stability; Motion and Stability are genera all-pervading, and every subsequent is a particular being, a particular stability and a particular motion.

We have caught the radiance of Being, and beheld it in its three manifestations: Being, revealed by the Being within ourselves; the Motion of Being, revealed by the motion within ourselves; and its Stability revealed by ours. We accommodate our being, motion, stability to those (of the Archetypal), unable however to draw any distinction but finding ourselves in the presence of entities inseparable and, as it were, interfused. We have, however, in a sense, set them a little apart, holding them down and viewing them in isolation; and thus we have observed Being, Stability, Motion—these three, of which each is a unity to itself; in so doing, have we not regarded them as being different from each other? By this posing of three entities, each a unity, we have, surely, found Being to contain Difference.

Again, inasmuch as we restore them to an all-embracing unity, identifying all with unity, do we not see in this amalgamation Identity emerging as a Real Existent?

Thus, in addition to the other three (Being, Motion, Stability), we are obliged to posit the further two, Identity and Difference, so that we have in all five genera. In so doing, we shall not withhold Identity and Difference from the subsequents of the Intellectual order: the thing of Sense has, it is clear, a particular identity and a particular Edition: current; Page: [51] difference, but Identity and Difference have the generic status independently of the particular.

They will, moreover, be primary genera, because nothing can be predicated of them as denoting their essential nature. Nothing, of course we mean, but Being; but this Being is not their genus, since they cannot be identified with any particular being as such. Similarly, Being will not stand as genus to Motion or Stability, for these also are not its species. Beings (or Existents) comprise not merely what are to be regarded as species of the genus Being, but also participants in Being. On the other hand, Being does not participate in the other four principles as its genera: they are not prior to Being; they do not even attain to its level.


The above considerations—to which others, doubtless, might be added—suffice to show that these five are primary genera. But that they are the only primary genera, that there are no others, how can we be confident of this? Why do we not add unity to them? Quantity? Quality? Relation, and all else included by our various forerunners?

As for unity:—If the term is to mean a unity in which nothing else is present, neither Soul nor Intellect nor anything else, this can be predicated of nothing, and therefore cannot be a genus. If it denotes the unity present in Being, in which case we predicate Being of unity, this unity is not primal.

Besides, unity, containing no differences, cannot produce species, and not producing species, cannot be a genus. You cannot so much as divide unity: to divide it would be to make it many. Unity, aspiring to be a genus, becomes a plurality and annuals itself.

Again, you must add to it to divide it into species; for there can be no differentiæ in unity as there are in Substance. The mind accepts differences of Being, but differences within unity there cannot be. Every differentia introduces a duality destroying the unity; for the addition of any one thing always does away with the previous quantity.

It may be contended that the unity which is implicit in Being and Edition: current; Page: [52] in Motion is common to all other things, and that therefore Being and unity are inseparable. But we rejected the idea that Being is a genus comprising all things, on the ground that these things are not beings in the sense of the Absolute Being, but beings in another mode: in the same way, we assert, unity is not a genus, the Primary Unity having a character distinct from all other unities.

Admitted that not everything suffices to produce a genus, it may yet be urged that there is an Absolute or Primary Unity corresponding to the other primaries. But (we reply) if Being and unity are identified, then since Being has already been included among the genera, it is but a name that is introduced in unity: if, however, they are both unity, some principle is implied: if there is anything in addition (to this principle), unity is predicated of this added thing; if there is nothing added, the reference is again to that unity predicated of nothing. If however the unity referred to is that which accompanies Being, we have already decided that it is not unity in the primary sense.

But is there any reason why this less complete unity should not still possess Primary Being, seeing that even its posterior we rank as Being, and “Being” in the sense of the Primary Being? The reason is that the prior of this Being cannot itself be Being—or else, if the prior is Being, this is not Primary Being: but the prior is unity; (therefore unity is not Being).

Furthermore, unity, abstracted from Being, has no differentiæ.

Again, even taking it as bound up with Being:—If it is a consequent of Being, then it is a consequent of everything, and therefore the latest of things: but the genus takes priority. If it is simultaneous with Being, it is simultaneous with everything: but a genus is not thus simultaneous. If it is prior to Being, it is of the nature of a Principle, and therefore will belong only to Being; but if it serves as Principle to Being, it is not its genus: if it is not genus to Being, it is equally not a genus of anything else; for that would make Being a genus of all other things.

In sum, the unity exhibited in Being on the one hand approximates to Unity-Absolute and on the other tends to identify itself with Being: Edition: current; Page: [53] Being is a unity in relation to the Absolute, is Being by virtue of its sequence upon that Absolute: it is indeed potentially a plurality, and yet it remains a unity and rejecting division refuses thereby to become a genus.


In what sense is the particular manifestation of Being a unity? Clearly, in so far as it is one thing, it forfeits its unity; with one and thing we have already plurality. No species can be a unity in more than an equivocal sense: a species is a plurality, so that the “unity” here is that of an army or a chorus. The unity of the higher order does not belong to species; unity is, thus, ambiguous, not taking the same form in Being and in particular beings.

It follows that unity is not a genus. For a genus is such that whereever it is affirmed its opposites cannot also be affirmed; anything of which unity and its opposites are alike affirmed—and this implies the whole of Being—cannot have unity as a genus. Consequently unity can be affirmed as a genus neither of the primary genera—since the unity of Being is as much a plurality as a unity, and none of the other (primary) genera is a unity to the entire exclusion of plurality—nor of things posterior to Being, for these most certainly are a plurality. In fact, no genus with all its items can be a unity; so that unity to become a genus must forfeit its unity. The unit is prior to number; yet number it must be, if it is to be a genus.

Again, the unit is a unit from the point of view of number: if it is a unit generically, it will not be a unit in the strict sense.

Again, just as the unit, as appearing in numbers, is not regarded as a genus predicated of them, but is thought of as inherent in them, so also unity, though present in Being, cannot stand as genus to Being or to the other genera or to anything whatever.

Further, as the simplex must be the principle of the non-simplex, though not its genus—for then the non-simplex too would be simplex,—so it stands with unity; if unity is a Principle, it cannot be a genus to its subsequents, and therefore cannot be a genus of Being or of other Edition: current; Page: [54] things. If it is nevertheless to be a genus, everything of which it is a genus must be taken as a unit—a notion which implies the separation of unity from substance: it will not, therefore, be all-embracing. Just as Being is not a genus of everything but only of species each of which is a being, so too unity will be a genus of species each of which is a unity. But that raises the question of what difference there is between one thing and another in so far as they are both units, corresponding to the difference between one being and another.

Unity, it may be suggested, is divided in its conjunction with Being and Substance; Being because it is so divided is considered a genus—the one genus manifested in many particulars; why then should not unity be similarly a genus, inasmuch as its manifestations are as many as those of Substance and it is divided into as many particulars?

In the first place, the mere fact that an entity inheres in many things is not enough to make it a genus of those things or of anything else: in a word, a common property need not be a genus. The point inherent in a line is not a genus of lines, or a genus at all; nor again, as we have observed, is the unity latent in numbers a genus either of the numbers or of anything else: genus demands that the common property of diverse objects involve also differences arising out of its own character, that it form species, and that it belong to the essence of the objects. But what differences can there be in unity? What species does it engender? If it produces the same species as we find in connection with Being, it must be identical with Being: only the name will differ, and the term Being may well suffice.


We are bound however to enquire under what mode unity is contained in Being. How is what is termed the “dividing” effected—especially the dividing of the genera Being and unity? Is it the same division, or is it different in the two cases?

First then:—In what sense, precisely, is any given particular called and known to be a unity? Secondly:—Does unity as used of Being carry the same connotation as in reference to the Absolute?

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Unity is not identical in all things; it has a different significance according as it is applied to the Sensible and the Intellectual realms—Being too, of course, comports such a difference—and there is a difference in the unity affirmed among sensible things as compared with each other; the unity is not the same in the cases of chorus, camp, ship, house; there is a difference again as between such discrete things and the continuous. Nevertheless, all are representations of the one exemplar, some quite remote, others more effective: the truer likeness is in the Intellectual; Soul is a unity, and still more is Intellect a unity and Being a unity.

When we predicate Being of a particular, do we thereby predicate of it unity, and does the degree of its unity tally with that of its being? Such correspondence is accidental: unity is not proportionate to Being; less unity need not mean less Being. An army or a choir has no less Being than a house, though less unity.

It would appear, then, that the unity of a particular is related not so much to Being as to a standard of perfection: in so far as the particular attains perfection, so far it is a unity; and the degree of unity depends on this attainment. The particular aspires not simply to Being, but to Being-in-perfection: it is in this strain towards their perfection that such beings as do not possess unity strive their utmost to achieve it.

Things of nature tend by their very nature to coalesce with each other and also to unify each within itself; their movement is not away from but towards each other and inwards upon themselves. Souls, moreover, seem to desire always to pass into a unity over and above the unity of their own substance. Unity in fact confronts them on two sides: their origin and their goal alike are unity; from unity they have arisen, and towards unity they strive. Unity is thus identical with Goodness (is the universal standard of perfection); for no being ever came into existence without possessing, from that very moment, an irresistible tendency towards unity.

From natural things we turn to the artificial. Every art in all its operation aims at whatsoever unity its capacity and its models permit, though Being most achieves unity since it is closer at the start.

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That is why in speaking of other entities we assert the name only, for example man; when we say “one man,” we have in mind more than one; and if we affirm unity of him in any other connection, we regard it as supplementary (to his essence): but when we speak of Being as a whole we say it is one Being without presuming that it is anything but a unity; we thereby show its close association with Goodness.

Thus for Being, as for the others, unity turns out to be, in some sense, Principle and Term, not however in the same sense as for things of the physical order—a discrepancy leading us to infer that even in unity there are degrees of priority.

How, then, do we characterise the unity (thus diverse) in Being? Are we to think of it as a common property seen alike in all its parts? In the first place (we observe) the point is common to lines and yet is not their genus, and this unity we are considering may also be common to numbers and not be their genus—though, we need hardly say, the unity of Unity-Absolute is not that of the numbers, one, two and the rest. Secondly, in Being there is nothing to prevent the existence of prior and posterior, simple and composite: but unity, even if it be identical in all the manifestations of Being, having no differentiæ can produce no species; but producing no species it cannot be a genus.


Enough upon that side of the question. But how does the perfection (goodness) of numbers, lifeless things, depend upon their particular unity? Just as all other inanimates find their perfection in their unity.

If it should be objected that numbers are simply non-existent, we should point out that our discussion is concerned (not with units as such, but) with beings considered from the aspect of their unity.

We may again be asked how the point—supposing its independent existence granted—participates in perfection. If the point is chosen as an inanimate object, the question applies to all such objects: but perfection does exist in such things, for example in a circle: the Edition: current; Page: [57] perfection of the circle will be perfection for the point; it will aspire to this perfection and strive to attain it, as far as it can, through the circle.

But how are the five genera to be regarded? Do they form particulars by being broken up into parts? No; the genus exists as a whole in each of the things whose genus it is.

But how, at that, can it remain a unity? The unity of a genus must be considered as a whole-in-many.

Does it exist then only in the things participating in it? No; it has an independent existence of its own as well.—But this will, no doubt, become clearer as we proceed.


We turn to ask why Quantity is not included among the primary genera, and Quality also.

Quantity is not among the primaries, because these are permanently associated with Being. Motion is bound up with Actual Being (Being-in-Act), since it is its life; with Motion Stability too gained its foothold in Reality; with these are associated Difference and Identity, so that they also are seen in conjunction with Being. But number (the basis of Quantity) is a posterior. It is posterior not only with regard to these genera but also within itself; in number the posterior is divided from the prior; this is a sequence in which the posteriors are latent in the priors (and do not appear simultaneously). Number therefore cannot be included among the primary genera; whether it constitutes a genus at all remains to be examined.

Magnitude (extended quantity) is in a still higher degree posterior and composite, for it contains within itself number, line and surface. Now if continuous magnitude derives its quantity from number, and number is not a genus, how can magnitude hold that status? Besides, magnitudes, like numbers, admit of priority and posteriority.

If, then, Quantity be constituted by a common element in both number and magnitude, we must ascertain the nature of this common element, and consider it, once discovered, as a posterior genus, not as Edition: current; Page: [58] one of the Primaries: thus failing of primary status, it must be related, directly or indirectly, to one of the Primaries.

We may take it as clear that it is the nature of Quantity to indicate a certain quantum, and to measure the quantum of the particular; Quantity is moreover, in a sense, itself a quantum. But if the quantum is the common element in number and magnitude, either we have number as a primary with magnitude derived from it, or else number must consist of a blending of Motion and Stability, while magnitude will be a form of Motion or will originate in Motion, Motion going forth to infinity and Stability creating the unit by checking that advance.

But the problem of the origin of number and magnitude, or rather of how they subsist and are conceived, must be held over. It may, thus, be found that number is among the primary genera, while magnitude is posterior and composite; or that number belongs to the genus Stability, while magnitude must be consigned to Motion.—But we propose to discuss all this at a later stage.


Why is Quality, again, not included among the Primaries? Because like Quantity it is a posterior, subsequent to Substance. Primary Substance must necessarily contain Quantity and Quality as its consequents; it cannot owe its subsistence to them, or require them for its completion: that would make it posterior to Quality and Quantity.

Now in the case of composite substances—those constituted from diverse elements—number and qualities provide a means of differentiation: the qualities may be detached from the common core around which they are found to group themselves. But in the primary genera there is no distinction to be drawn between simples and composites; the difference is between simples and those entities which complete not a particular substance but Substance as such. A particular substance may very well receive completion from Quality, for though it already has Substance before the accession of Quality, its particular character is external to Substance. But in Substance itself all the elements are substantial.

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Nevertheless, we ventured to assert elsewhere that while the complements of Substance are only by analogy called qualities, yet accessions of external origin and subsequent to Substance are really qualities; that, further, the properties which inhere in substances are their activities (Acts), while those which are subsequent are merely modifications (or Passions): we now affirm that the attributes of the particular substance are never complementary to Substance (as such); an accession of Substance does not come to the substance of man qua man; he is, on the contrary, Substance in a higher degree before he arrives at differentiation, just as he is already “living being” before he passes into the rational species.


How then do the four genera (we have posited) complete Substance without qualifying it or even particularising it?

It has been observed that Being is primary, and it is clear that none of the four—Motion, Stability, Difference, Identity—is distinct from it. That this Motion does not produce Quality is doubtless also clear, but a word or two will make it clearer still.

If Motion is the Act of Substance, and Being and the Primaries in general are its Act, then Motion is not an accidental attribute: as the Act of what is necessarily actual (what necessarily involves Act), it is no longer to be considered as the complement of Substance but as Substance itself. For this reason, then, it has not been assigned to a posterior class, or referred to Quality, but has been made contemporary with Being.

The truth is not that Being first is and then takes Motion, first is and then acquires Stability: neither Stability nor Motion is a mere modification of Being. Similarly, Identity and Difference are not later additions: Being did not grow into plurality; its very unity was a plurality; but plurality implies Difference, and unity-in-plurality involves Identity.

Substance (Real Being) requires no more than these five constituents; but when we have to turn to the lower sphere, we find other principles Edition: current; Page: [60] giving rise no longer to Substance (as such) but to quantitative Substance and qualitative: these other principles may be regarded as genera but not primary genera.


As for Relation, manifestly an offshoot, how can it be included among primaries? Relation is of thing ranged against thing; it is not self-pivoted, but looks outward.

Place and Date are still more remote from Being. Place denotes the presence of one entity within another, so that it involves a duality; but a genus must be a unity, not a composite. Besides, Place does not exist in the higher sphere, and the present discussion is concerned with the realm of True Being.

Whether time is There, remains to be considered. Apparently it has less claim than even Place. If it is a measurement, and that a measurement of Motion, we have two entities; the whole is a composite and posterior to Motion; therefore it is not on an equal footing with Motion in our classification.

Action and Passivity presuppose Motion; if, then, they exist in the higher sphere, they each involve a duality; neither is a simplex.

Possession is a duality, while Situation, as signifying one thing situated in another, is a threefold conception.


Why are not beauty, goodness and the virtues, together with knowledge and intelligence, included among the primary genera?

If by goodness we mean The First—what we call the Principle of Goodness, the Principle of which we can predicate nothing, giving it this name only because we have no other means of indicating it,—then goodness, clearly, can be the genus of nothing: this principle is not affirmed of other things; if it were, each of these would be Goodness itself. The truth is that it is prior to Substance, not contained in it. If, on the contrary, we mean goodness as a quality, no quality can be ranked among the primaries.

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Does this imply that the nature of Being is not good? Not good, to begin with, in the sense in which The First is good, but in another sense of the word: moreover, Being does not possess its goodness as a quality but as a constituent.

But the other genera too, we said, are constituents of Being, and are regarded as genera because each is a common property found in many things. If then goodness is similarly observed in every part of Substance or Being, or in most parts, why is goodness not a genus, and a primary genus? Because it is not found identical in all the parts of Being, but appears in degrees, first, second and subsequent, whether it be because one part is derived from another—posterior from prior—or because all are posterior to the transcendent Unity, different parts of Being participating in it in diverse degrees corresponding to their characteristic natures.

If however we must make goodness a genus as well (as a transcendent source), it will be a posterior genus, for goodness is posterior to Substance and posterior to what constitutes the generic notion of Being, however unfailingly it be found associated with Being: but the Primaries, we decided, belong to Being as such, and go to form Substance.

This indeed is why we posit that which transcends Being, since Being and Substance cannot but be a plurality, necessarily comprising the genera enumerated and therefore forming a one-and-many.

It is true that we do not hesitate to speak of “the goodness inherent in Being” when we are thinking of that Act by which Being tends, of its nature, towards the One: thus, we affirm goodness of it in the sense that it is thereby moulded into the likeness of The Good. But if this “goodness inherent in Being” is an Act directed toward The Good, it is the life of Being: but this life is Motion, and Motion is already one of the genera.


To pass to the consideration of beauty:—

If by beauty we mean the primary Beauty, the same or similar arguments will apply here as to goodness: and if the beauty in the Edition: current; Page: [62] Ideal-Form is, as it were, an effulgence (from that primary Beauty), we may observe that it is not identical in all participants and that an effulgence is necessarily a posterior.

If we mean the beauty which identifies itself with Substance, this has been covered in our treatment of Substance.

If, again, we mean beauty in relation to ourselves as spectators in whom it produces a certain experience, this Act (of production) is Motion,—and none the less Motion by being directed towards Absolute Beauty.

Knowledge, again, is Motion originating in the self; it is the observation of Being—an Act, not a State: hence it too falls under Motion, or perhaps more suitably under Stability, or even under both; if under both, knowledge must be thought of as a complex, and if a complex, is posterior.

Intelligence, since it connotes intelligent Being and comprises the total of existence, cannot be one of the genera: the true Intelligence (or Intellect) is Being taken with all its concomitants (with the other four genera); it is actually the sum of all the Existents: Being on the contrary, stripped of its concomitants, may be counted as a genus and held to be an element in Intelligence.

Justice and self-control (sophrosyny), and virtue in general—these are all various Acts of Intelligence: they are consequently not primary genera; they are posterior to a genus, that is to say, they are species.


Having established our four primary genera, it remains for us to enquire whether each of them of itself alone produces species. And especially, can Being be divided independently, that is without drawing upon the other genera? Surely not: the differentiæ must come from outside the genus differentiated: they must be differentiæ of Being proper, but cannot be identical with it.

Where then is it to find them? Obviously not in non-beings. If then in beings, and the three genera are all that is left, clearly it must Edition: current; Page: [63] find them in these, by conjunction and couplement with these, which will come into existence simultaneously with itself.

But if all come into existence simultaneously, what else is produced but that amalgam of all the Existents which we have just considered (Intellect)? How can other things exist over and above this all-including amalgam? And if all the constituents of this amalgam are genera, how do they produce species? How does Motion produce species of Motion? Similarly with Stability and the other genera.

A word of warning must here be given against sinking the various genera in their species; and also against reducing the genus to a mere predicate, something merely seen in the species. The genus must exist at once in itself and in its species; it blends, but it must also be pure; in contributing along with other genera to form Substance, it must not destroy itself.—There are problems here that demand investigation.

But since we identified the amalgam of the Existents (or primary genera) with the particular intellect, Intellect as such being found identical with Being or (in the sense of) Substance, and therefore prior to all the Existents, which may be regarded as its species or members, we may infer that the intellect, considered as completely unfolded, is a subsequent.

Our treatment of this problem may serve to promote our investigation; we will take it as a kind of example, and with it embark upon our enquiry.


We may thus distinguish two phases of Intellect, in one of which it may be taken as having no contact whatever with particulars and no Act upon anything; thus it is kept apart from being a particular intellect. In the same way science is prior to any of its constituent species, and the specific science is prior to any of its component parts: being none of its particulars it is the potentiality of all; each particular, on the other hand, is actually itself, but potentially the sum of all the particulars: and as with the specific science, so with science as a whole. The specific sciences lie in potentiality in science the total; even in Edition: current; Page: [64] their specific character they are potentially the whole; they have the whole predicated of them and not merely a part of the whole. At the same time, science must exist as a thing in itself, unharmed by its divisions.

So with Intellect. Intellect as a whole must be thought of as prior to the intellects actualised as individuals; but when we come to the particular intellects, we find that what subsists in the particulars must be maintained from the totality. The Intellect subsisting in the totality is a provider for the particular intellects, is the potentiality of them: it involves them as members of its universality, while they in turn involve the universal Intellect in their particularity, just as the particular science involves science the total.

The great Intellect, we maintain, exists in itself and the particular intellects in themselves; yet the particulars are embraced in the whole, and the whole in the particulars. The particular intellects exist by themselves and in another, the universal by itself and in those. All the particulars exist potentially in that self-existent universal, which actually is the totality, potentially each isolated member: on the other hand, each particular is actually what it is (its individual self), potentially the totality. In so far as what is predicated of them is their essence, they are actually what is predicated of them; but where the predicate is a genus, they are that only potentially. On the other hand, the universal in so far as it is a genus is the potentiality of all its subordinate species, though none of them in actuality; all are latent in it, but because its essential nature exists in actuality before the existence of the species, it does not submit to be itself particularised. If then the particulars are to exist in actuality—to exist, for example, as species—the cause must lie in the Act radiating from the universal.


How then does the universal Intellect produce the particulars while, in virtue of its Reason-Principle, remaining a unity? In other words, how do the various grades of Being, as we call them, arise from the four primaries? Here is this great, this infinite Intellect, not given to idle utterance but to sheer intellection, all-embracing, integral, no Edition: current; Page: [65] part, no individual: how, we ask, can it possibly be the source of all this plurality?

Number at all events it possesses in the objects of its contemplation: it is thus one and many, and the many are powers, wonderful powers, not weak but, being pure, supremely great and, so to speak, full to overflowing—powers in very truth, knowing no limit, so that they are infinite, infinity, Magnitude-Absolute.

As we survey this Magnitude with the beauty of Being within it and the glory and light around it, all contained in Intellect, we see, simultaneously, Quality already in bloom, and along with the continuity of its Act we catch a glimpse of Magnitude at Rest. Then, with one, two and three in Intellect, Magnitude appears as of three dimensions, with Quantity entire. Quantity thus given and Quality, both merging into one and, we may almost say, becoming one, there is at once shape. Difference slips in to divide both Quantity and Quality, and so we have variations in shape and differences of Quality. Identity, coming in with Difference, creates equality, Difference meanwhile introducing into Quantity inequality, whether in number or in magnitude: thus are produced circles and squares, and irregular figures, with number like and unlike, odd and even.

The life of Intellect is intelligent, and its activity (Act) has no failing-point: hence it excludes none of the constituents we have discovered within it, each one of which we now see as an intellectual function, and all of them possessed by virtue of its distinctive power and in the mode appropriate to Intellect.

But though Intellect possesses them all by way of thought, this is not discursive thought: nothing it lacks that is capable of serving as Reason-Principle, while it may itself be regarded as one great and perfect Reason-Principle, holding all the Principles as one and proceeding from its own Primaries, or rather having eternally proceeded, so that “proceeding” is never true of it. It is a universal rule that whatever reasoning discovers to exist in Nature is to be found in Intellect apart from all ratiocination: we conclude that Being has so created Intellect that its reasoning is after a mode similar to that of the Principles which Edition: current; Page: [66] produce living beings; for the Reason-Principles, prior to reasoning though they are, act invariably in the manner which the most careful reasoning would adopt in order to attain the best results.

What conditions, then, are we to think of as existing in that realm which is prior to Nature and transcends the Principles of Nature? In a sphere in which Substance is not distinct from Intellect, and neither Being nor Intellect is of alien origin, it is obvious that Being is best served by the domination of Intellect, so that Being is what Intellect wills and is: thus alone can it be authentic and primary Being; for if Being is to be in any sense derived, its derivation must be from Intellect.

Being, thus, exhibits every shape and every quality; it is not seen as a thing determined by some one particular quality; there could not be one only, since the principle of Difference is there; and since Identity is equally there, it must be simultaneously one and many. And so Being is; such it always was: unity-with-plurality appears in all its species, as witness all the variations of magnitude, shape and quality. Clearly nothing may legitimately be excluded (from Being), for the whole must be complete in the higher sphere which, otherwise, would not be the whole.

Life too burst upon Being, or rather was inseparably bound up with it; and thus it was that all living things of necessity came to be. Body too was there, since Matter and Quality were present.

Everything exists forever, unfailing, involved by very existence in eternity. Individuals have their separate entities, but are at one in the (total) unity. The complex, so to speak, of them all, thus combined, is Intellect; and Intellect, holding all existence within itself, is a complete living being, and the essential Idea of Living Being. In so far as Intellect submits to contemplation by its derivative, becoming an Intelligible, it gives that derivative the right also to be called “living being.”


We may here adduce the pregnant words of Plato: “Inasmuch as Intellect perceives the variety and plurality of the Forms present in the complete Living Being. . . .” The words apply equally to Soul; Edition: current; Page: [67] Soul is subsequent to Intellect, yet by its very nature it involves Intellect in itself and perceives more clearly in that prior. There is Intellect in our intellect also, which again perceives more clearly in its prior, for while of itself it merely perceives, in the prior it also perceives its own perception.

This intellect, then, to which we ascribe perception, though not divorced from the prior in which it originates, evolves plurality out of unity and has bound up with it the principle of Difference: it therefore takes the form of a plurality-in-unity. A plurality-in-unity, it produces the many intellects by the dictate of its very nature.

It is certainly no numerical unity, no individual thing; for whatever you find in that sphere is a species, since it is divorced from Matter. This may be the import of the difficult words of Plato, that Substance is broken up into an infinity of parts. So long as the division proceeds from genus to species, infinity is not reached; a limit is set by the species generated: the lowest species, however,—that which is not divided into further species—may be more accurately regarded as infinite. And this is the meaning of the words: “to relegate them once and for all to infinity and there abandon them.” As for particulars, they are, considered in themselves, infinite, but come under number by being embraced by the (total) unity.

Now Soul has Intellect for its prior, is therefore circumscribed by number down to its ultimate extremity; at that point infinity is reached. The particular intellect, though all-embracing, is a partial thing, and the collective Intellect and its various manifestations (all the particular intellects) are in actuality parts of that part. Soul too is a part of a part, though in the sense of being an Act (actuality) derived from it. When the Act of Intellect is directed upon itself, the result is the manifold (particular) intellects; when it looks outwards, Soul is produced.

If Soul acts as a genus or a species, the various (particular) souls must act as species. Their activities (Acts) will be twofold: the activity upward is Intellect; that which looks downward constitutes the other powers imposed by the particular Reason-Principle (the Reason-Principle Edition: current; Page: [68] of the being ensouled); the lowest activity of Soul is in its contact with Matter to which it brings Form.

This lower part of Soul does not prevent the rest from being entirely in the higher sphere: indeed what we call the lower part is but an image of Soul: not that it is cut off from Soul; it is like the reflection in the mirror, depending upon the original which stands outside of it.

But we must keep in mind what this “outside” means. Up to the production of the image, the Intellectual realm is wholly and exclusively composed of Intellectual Beings: in the same way the Sensible world, representing that in so far as it is able to retain the likeness of a living being, is itself a living being: the relation is like that of a portrait or reflection to the original which is regarded as prior to the water or the painting reproducing it.

The representation, notice, in the portrait or on the water is not of the dual being, but of the one element (Matter) as formed by the other (Soul). Similarly, this likeness of the Intellectual realm carries images, not of the creative element, but of the entities contained in that creator, including Man with every other living being: creator and created are alike living beings, though of a different life, and both coexist in the Intellectual realm.

On the Kinds of Being: Third Treatise


We have now explained our conception of Reality (True Being) and considered how far it agrees with the teaching of Plato. We have still to investigate the opposed principle (the principle of Becoming).

There is the possibility that the genera posited for the Intellectual sphere will suffice for the lower also; possibly with these genera others will be required; again, the two series may differ entirely; or perhaps some of the sensible genera will be identical with their intellectual prototypes, and others different—“identical,” however, being understood Edition: current; Page: [69] to mean only analogous and in possession of a common name, as our results will make clear.

We must begin on these lines:—

The subject of our discussion is the Sensible realm: Sensible Existence is entirely embraced by what we know as the Universe: our duty, then, would seem to be clear enough—to take this Universe and analyse its nature, classifying its constituent parts and arranging them by species. Suppose that we were making a division of speech: we should reduce its infinity to finite terms, and from the identity appearing in many instances evolve a unity, then another and another, until we arrived at some definite number; each such unit we should call a species if imposed upon individuals, a genus if imposed upon species. Thus, every species of speech—and similarly all phenomena—might be referred to a unity; speech—or element—might be predicated of them all.

This procedure however is, as we have already shown, impossible in dealing with the subject of our present enquiry. New genera must be sought for this Universe—genera distinct from those of the Intellectual, inasmuch as this realm is different from that, analogous indeed but never identical, a mere image of the higher. True, it involves the parallel existence of Body and Soul, for the Universe is a living form: essentially however Soul is of the Intellectual and does not enter into the structure of what is called Sensible Being.

Remembering this fact, we must—however great the difficulty—exclude Soul from the present investigation, just as in a census of citizens, taken in the interests of commerce and taxation, we should ignore the alien population. As for the experiences to which Soul is indirectly subject in its conjunction with Body and by reason of Body’s presence, their classification must be attempted at a later stage, when we enquire into the details of Sensible Existence.


Our first observations must be directed to what passes in the Sensible realm for Substance. It is, we shall agree, only by analogy that the nature manifested in bodies is designated as Substance, and by no Edition: current; Page: [70] means because such terms as Substance or Being tally with the notion of bodies in flux; the proper term would be Becoming.

But Becoming is not a uniform nature; bodies comprise under the single head simples and composites, together with accidentals or consequents, these last themselves capable of separate classification.

Alternatively, Becoming may be divided into Matter and the Form imposed upon Matter. These may be regarded each as a separate genus, or else both may be brought under a single category and receive alike the name of Substance.

But what, we may ask, have Matter and Form in common? In what sense can Matter be conceived as a genus, and what will be its species? What is the differentia of Matter? In which genus, Matter or Form, are we to rank the composite of both? It may be this very composite which constitutes the Substance manifested in bodies, neither of the components by itself answering to the conception of Body: how, then, can we rank them in one and the same genus as the composite? How can the elements of a thing be brought within the same genus as the thing itself? Yet if we begin with bodies, our first-principles will be compounds.

Why not resort to analogy? Admitted that the classification of the Sensible cannot proceed along the identical lines marked out for the Intellectual: is there any reason why we should not for Intellectual-Being substitute Matter, and for Intellectual Motion substitute Sensible Form, which is in a sense the life and consummation of Matter? The inertia of Matter would correspond with Stability, while the Identity and Difference of the Intellectual would find their counterparts in the similarity and diversity which obtain in the Sensible realm.

But, in the first place, Matter does not possess or acquire Form as its life or its Act; Form enters it from without, and remains foreign to its nature. Secondly, Form in the Intellectual is an Act and a motion; in the Sensible Motion is different from Form and accidental to it: Form in relation to Matter approximates rather to Stability than to Motion; for by determining Matter’s indetermination it confers upon it a sort of repose.

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In the higher realm Identity and Difference presuppose a unity at once identical and different: a thing in the lower is different only by participation in Difference and in relation to some other thing; Identity and Difference are here predicated of the particular, which is not, as in that realm, a posterior.

As for Stability, how can it belong to Matter, which is distorted into every variety of mass, receiving its forms from without, and even with the aid of these forms incapable of offspring?

This mode of division must accordingly be abandoned.


How then do we go to work?

Let us begin by distinguishing Matter, Form, the Mixture of both, and the Attributes of the Mixture. The Attributes may be subdivided into those which are mere predicates, and those serving also as accidents. The accidents may be either inclusive or included; they may, further, be classified as activities, experiences, consequents.

Matter will be found common to all substances, not however as a genus, since it has no differentiæ—unless indeed differentiæ be ascribed to it on the ground of its taking such various forms as fire and air.

It may be held that Matter is sufficiently constituted a genus by the fact that the things in which it appears hold it in common, or in that it presents itself as a whole of parts. In this sense Matter will indeed be a genus, though not in the accepted sense of the term. Matter, we may remark, is also a single element, if the element as such is able to constitute a genus.

Further, if to a Form be added the qualification “bound up with, involved in Matter,” Matter separates that Form from other Forms: it does not however embrace the whole of Substantial Form (as, to be the genus of Form, it must).

We may, again, regard Form as the creator of Substance and make the Reason-Principle of Substance dependent upon Form: yet we do not come thereby to an understanding of the nature of Substance.

We may, also, restrict Substance to the Composite. Matter and Edition: current; Page: [72] Form then cease to be substances. If they are Substance equally with the Composite, it remains to enquire what there is common to all three.

The “mere predicates” fall under the category of Relation: such are cause and element. The accidents included in the composite substances are found to be either Quality or Quantity; those which are inclusive are of the nature of Space and Time. Activities and experiences comprise Motions; consequents Space and Time, which are consequents respectively of the Composites and of Motion.

The first three entities (Matter, Form, Composite) go, as we have discovered, to make a single common genus, the Sensible counterpart of Substance. Then follow in order Relation, Quantity, Quality, Time-during-which, Place-in-which, Motion; though, with Time and Space already included (under Relation), Time-during-which and Place-in-which become superfluous.

Thus we have five genera, counting the first three entities as one. If the first three are not massed into a unity, the series will be Matter, Form, Composite, Relation, Quantity, Quality, Motion. The last three may, again, be included in Relation, which is capable of bearing this wider extension.


What, then, we have to ask, is the constant element in the first three entities? What is it that identifies them with their inherent Substance?

Is it the capacity to serve as a base? But Matter, we maintain, serves as the base and seat of Form: Form, thus, will be excluded from the category of Substance. Again, the Composite is the base and seat of attributes: hence, Form combined with Matter will be the basic ground of Composites, or at any rate of all posteriors of the Composite—Quantity, Quality, Motion, and the rest.

But perhaps we may think Substance validly defined as that which is not predicated of anything else. White and black are predicated of an object having one or other of these qualities; double presupposes something distinct from itself—we refer not to the half, but to the length of wood of which doubleness is affirmed; father qua father is a predicate; Edition: current; Page: [73] knowledge is predicated of the subject in whom the knowledge exists; space is the limit of something, time the measure of something. Fire, on the other hand, is predicated of nothing; wood as such is predicated of nothing; and so with man, Socrates, and the composite substance in general.

Equally the Substantial Form is never a predicate, since it never acts as a modification of anything. Form is not an attribute of Matter (hence, is not predicable of Matter); it is simply a constituent of the Couplement. On the other hand, the Form of a man is not different from the man himself (and so does not “modify” the Couplement).

Matter, similarly, is part of a whole, and belongs to something else only as to a whole and not as to a separate thing of which it is predicated. White, on the contrary, essentially belongs to something distinct from itself.

We conclude that nothing belonging to something else and predicated of it can be Substance. Substance is that which belongs essentially to itself, or, in so far as it is a part of the differentiated object, serves only to complete the Composite. Each or either part of the Composite belongs to itself, and is only affirmed of the Composite in a special sense: only qua part of the whole is it predicated of something else; qua individual it is never in its essential nature predicated of an external.

It may be claimed as a common element in Matter, Form and the Couplement that they are all substrates. But the mode in which Matter is the substrate of Form is different from that in which Form and the Couplement are substrates of their modifications.

And is it strictly true to say that Matter is the substrate of Form? Form is rather the completion which Matter’s nature as pure potentiality demands.

Moreover, Form cannot be said to reside in Matter (as in a substrate). When one thing combines with another to form a unity, the one does not reside in the other; both alike are substrates of a third: thus, Man (the Form) and a man (the Composite) are substrates of their experiences, and are prior to their activities and consequents.

Substance, then, is that from which all other things proceed and to Edition: current; Page: [74] which they owe their existence; it is the centre of passivity and the source of action.


These are incontrovertible facts in regard to the pseudo-substance of the Sensible realm: if they apply also in some degree to the True Substance of the Intellectual, the coincidence is, doubtless, to be attributed to analogy and ambiguity of terms.

We are aware that “the first” is so called only in relation to the things which come after it: “first” has no absolute significance; the first of one series is subsequent to the last of another. “Substrate,” similarly, varies in meaning (as applied to the higher and to the lower), while as for passivity its very existence in the Intellectual is questionable; if it does exist there, it is not the passivity of the Sensible.

It follows that the fact of “not being present in a subject (or substrate)” is not universally true of Substance, unless presence in a subject be stipulated as not including the case of the part present in the whole or of one thing combining with another to form a distinct unity; a thing will not be present as in a subject in that with which it co-operates in the formation of a composite substance. Form, therefore, is not present in Matter as in a subject, nor is Man so present in Socrates, since Man is part of Socrates.

Substance, then, is that which is not present in a subject. But if we adopt the definition “neither present in a subject nor predicated of a subject,” we must add to the second “subject” the qualification “distinct,” in order that we may not exclude the case of Man predicated of a particular man. When I predicate Man of Socrates, it is as though I affirmed, not that a piece of wood is white, but that whiteness is white; for in asserting that Socrates is a man, I predicate Man (the universal) of a particular man, I affirm Man of the manhood in Socrates; I am really saying only that Socrates is Socrates, or that this particular rational animal is an animal.

It may be objected that non-presence in a subject is not peculiar to Substance, inasmuch as the differentia of a substance is no more Edition: current; Page: [75] present in a subject than the substance itself; but this objection results from taking a part of the whole substance, such as “two-footed” in our example, and asserting that this part is not present in a subject: if we take, not “two-footed” which is merely an aspect of Substance, but “two-footedness” by which we signify not Substance but Quality, we shall find that this “two-footedness” is indeed present in a subject.

We may be told that neither Time nor Place is present in a subject. But if the definition of Time as the measure of Motion be regarded as denoting something measured, the “measure” will be present in Motion as in a subject, while Motion will be present in the moved: if, on the contrary, it be supposed to signify a principle of measurement, the “measure” will be present in the measurer.

Place is the limit of the surrounding space, and thus is present in that space.

The truth is, however, that the “Substance” of our enquiry may be apprehended in directly opposite ways: it may be determined by one of the properties we have been discussing, by more than one, by all at once, according as they answer to the notions of Matter, Form and the Couplement.


Granted, it may be urged, that these observations upon the nature of Substance are sound, we have not yet arrived at a statement of its essence. Our critic doubtless expects to see this “Sensible”: but its essence, its characteristic being, cannot be seen.

Do we infer that fire and water (being visible) are not Substance? They certainly are not Substance because they are visible. Why, then? Because they possess Matter? No. Or Form? No. Nor because they involve a Couplement of Matter and Form. Then why are they Substance? By existing. But does not Quantity exist, and Quality? This anomaly is to be explained by an equivocation in the term “existence.”

What, then, is the meaning of “existence” as applied to fire, earth and the other elements? What is the difference between this existence Edition: current; Page: [76] and existence in the other categories? It is the difference between being simply—that which merely is—and being white. But surely the being qualified by “white” is the same as that having no qualification? It is not the same: the latter is Being in the primary sense, the former is Being only by participation and in a secondary degree. Whiteness added to Being produces a being white; Being added to whiteness produces a white being: thus, whiteness becomes an accident of Being, and Being an accident of whiteness.

The case is not equivalent to predicating white of Socrates and Socrates of white; for Socrates remains the same, though white would appear to have a different meaning in the two propositions, since in predicating Socrates of white we include Socrates in the (whole) sphere of whiteness, whereas in the proposition “Socrates is white” whiteness is plainly an attribute of Socrates.

“Being is white” implies, similarly, that Being possesses whiteness as an attribute, while in the proposition “whiteness is Being (or, is a being)” Being is regarded as comprising whiteness in its own extension.

In sum, whiteness has existence because it is bound up with Being and present in it: Being is, thus, the source of its existence. Being is Being on its own account, but the white is due to whiteness—not because it is “present in” whiteness, but because whiteness is present in it.

The Being of the Sensible resembles the white in not originating in itself. It must therefore be regarded as dependent for its being upon the Authentic Being, as white is dependent upon the Authentic Whiteness, and the Authentic Whiteness dependent for its whiteness upon participation in that Supreme Being whose existence is underived.


But Matter, it may be contended, is the source of existence to the Sensible things implanted in it. From what source, then, we retort, does Matter itself derive existence and being?

That Matter is not a Primary we have established elsewhere. If it be urged that other things can have no subsistence without being implanted in Matter, we admit the claim for Sensible things. But though Edition: current; Page: [77] Matter be prior to these, it is not thereby precluded from being posterior to many things—posterior, in fact, to all the beings of the Intellectual sphere. Its existence is but a pale reflection, and less complete than that of the things implanted in it. These are Reason-Principles and more directly derived from Being: Matter has of itself no Reason-Principle whatever; it is but a shadow of a Principle, a vain attempt to achieve a Principle.

But, our critic may pursue, Matter gives existence to the things implanted in it, just as Socrates gives existence to the whiteness implanted in himself? We reply that the higher being gives existence to the lower, the lower to the higher never.

But once concede that Form is higher in the scale of Being than Matter, and Matter can no longer be regarded as a common ground of both, nor Substance as a genus embracing Matter, Form and the Couplement. True, these will have many common properties, to which we have already referred, but their being (or existence) will nonetheless be different. When a higher being comes into contact with a lower, the lower, though first in the natural order, is yet posterior in the scale of Reality: consequently, if Being does not belong in equal degrees to Matter, to Form and to the Couplement, Substance can no longer be common to all three in the sense of being their genus: to their posteriors it will bear a still different relation, serving them as a common base by being bound up with all alike. Substance, thus, resembles life, dim here, clearer there, or portraits of which one is an outline, another more minutely worked. By measuring Being by its dim manifestation and neglecting a fuller revelation elsewhere, we may come to regard this dim existence as a common ground.

But this procedure is scarcely permissible. Every being is a distinct whole. The dim manifestation is in no sense a common ground, just as there is no common ground in the vegetal, the sensory and the intellectual forms of life.

We conclude that the term “Being” must have different connotations as applied to Matter, to Form and to both conjointly, in spite of the single source pouring into the different streams.

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Take a second derived from a first and a third from the second: it is not merely that the one will rank higher and its successor be poorer and of lower worth; there is also the consideration that, even deriving from the same source, one thing, subjected in a certain degree to fire, will give us an earthen jar, while another, taking less of the heat, does not produce the jar.

Perhaps we cannot even maintain that Matter and Form are derived from a single source; they are clearly in some sense different.


The division into elements must, in short, be abandoned, especially in regard to Sensible Substance, known necessarily by sense rather than by reason. We must no longer look for help in constituent parts, since such parts will not be substances, or at any rate not sensible substances.

Our plan must be to apprehend what is constant in stone, earth, water and the entities which they compose—the vegetal and animal forms, considered purely as sensibles—and to confine this constant within a single genus. Neither Matter nor Form will thus be overlooked, for Sensible Substance comports them; fire and earth and the two intermediaries consist of Matter and Form, while composite things are actually many substances in one. They all, moreover, have that common property which distinguishes them from other things: serving as subjects to these others, they are never themselves present in a subject nor predicated of any other thing. Similarly, all the characteristics which we have ascribed to Substance find a place in this classification.

But Sensible Substance is never found apart from magnitude and quality: how then do we proceed to separate these accidents? If we subtract them—magnitude, figure, colour, dryness, moistness—what is there left to be regarded as Substance itself? All the substances under consideration are, of course, qualified.

There is, however, something in relation to which whatever turns Substance into qualified Substance is accidental: thus, the whole of fire is not Substance, but only a part of it—if the term “part” be allowed.

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What then can this “part” be? Matter may be suggested. But are we actually to maintain that the particular sensible substance consists of a conglomeration of qualities and Matter, while Sensible Substance as a whole is merely the sum of these coagulations in the uniform Matter, each one separately forming a quale or a quantum or else a thing of many qualities? Is it true to say that everything whose absence leaves subsistence incomplete is a part of the particular substance, while all that is accidental to the substance already existent takes independent rank and is not submerged in the mixture which constitutes this so-called substance?

I decline to allow that whatever combines in this way with anything else is Substance if it helps to produce a single mass having quantity and quality, whereas taken by itself and divorced from this complementary function it is a quality: not everything which composes the amalgam is Substance, but only the amalgam as a whole.

And let no one take exception on the ground that we produce Sensible Substance from non-substances. The whole amalgam itself is not True Substance; it is merely an imitation of that True Substance which has Being apart from its concomitants, these indeed being derived from it as the possessor of True Being. In the lower realm the case is different: the underlying ground is sterile, and from its inability to produce fails to attain to the status of Being; it remains a shadow, and on this shadow is traced a sketch—the world of Appearance.


So much for one of the genera—the “Substance,” so called, of the Sensible realm.

But what are we to posit as its species? how divide this genus?

The genus as a whole must be identified with body. Bodies may be divided into the characteristically material and the organic: the material bodies comprise fire, earth, water, air; the organic the bodies of plants and animals, these in turn admitting of formal differentiation.

The next step is to find the species of earth and of the other elements, and in the case of organic bodies to distinguish plants according to their Edition: current; Page: [80] forms, and the bodies of animals either by their habitations—on the earth, in the earth, and similarly for the other elements—or else as light, heavy and intermediate. Some bodies, we shall observe, stand in the middle of the universe, others circumscribe it from above, others occupy the middle sphere: in each case we shall find bodies different in shape, so that the bodies of the living beings of the heavens may be differentiated from those of the other elements.

Once we have classified bodies into the four species, we are ready to combine them on a different principle, at the same time intermingling their differences of place, form and constitution; the resultant combinations will be known as fiery or earthy on the basis of the excess or predominance of some one element.

The distinction between First and Second Substances, between Fire and a given example of fire, entails a difference of a peculiar kind—the difference between universal and particular. This however is not a difference characteristic of Substance; there is also in Quality the distinction between whiteness and the white object, between grammar and some particular grammar.

The question may here be asked: what deficiency has grammar compared with a particular grammar, and science as a whole in comparison with a science? Grammar is certainly not posterior to the particular grammar: on the contrary, the grammar as in you depends upon the prior existence of grammar as such: the grammar as in you becomes a particular by the fact of being in you; it is otherwise identical with grammar the universal.

Turn to the case of Socrates: it is not Socrates who bestows manhood upon what previously was not Man, but Man upon Socrates; the individual man exists by participation in the universal.

Besides, Socrates is merely a particular instance of Man; this particularity can have no effect whatever in adding to his essential manhood.

We may be told that Man (the universal) is Form alone, Socrates Form in Matter. But on this very ground Socrates will be less fully Man than the universal; for the Reason-Principle will be less effectual Edition: current; Page: [81] in Matter. If, on the contrary, Man is not determined by Form alone, but presupposes Matter, what deficiency has Man in comparison with the material manifestation of Man, or the Reason-Principle in isolation as compared with its embodiment in a unit of Matter?

Besides, the more general is by nature prior; hence, the Form-Idea is prior to the individual: but what is prior by nature is prior unconditionally. How then can the Form take a lower rank? The individual, it is true, is prior in the sense of being more readily accessible to our cognisance; this fact, however, entails no objective difference.

Moreover, such a difference, if established, would be incompatible with a single Reason-Principle of Substance; First and Second Substances could not have the same Principle, nor be brought under a single genus.


Another method of division is possible: substances may be classed as hot-dry, dry-cold, cold-moist, or however we choose to make the coupling. We may then proceed to the combination and blending of these couples, either halting at that point and going no further than the compound, or else subdividing by habitation—on the earth, in the earth—or by form and by the differences exhibited by living beings, not qua living, but in their bodies viewed as instruments of life.

Differentation by form or shape is no more out of place than a division based on qualities—heat, cold and the like. If it be objected that qualities go to make bodies what they are, then, we reply, so do blendings, colours, shapes. Since our discussion is concerned with Sensible Substance, it is not strange that it should turn upon distinctions related to sense-perception: this Substance is not Being pure and simple, but the Sensible Being which we call the Universe.

We have remarked that its apparent subsistence is in fact an assemblage of Sensibles, their existence guaranteed to us by sense-perception. But since their combination is unlimited, our division must be guided by the Form-Ideas of living beings, as for example the Form-Idea of Man implanted in Body; the particular Form acts as a Edition: current; Page: [82] qualification of Body, but there is nothing unreasonable in using qualities as a basis of division.

We may be told that we have distinguished between simple and composite bodies, even ranking them as opposites. But our distinction, we reply, was between material and organic bodies, and raised no question of the composite. In fact, there exists no means of opposing the composite to the simple; it is necessary to determine the simples in the first stage of division, and then, combining them on the basis of a distinct underlying principle, to differentiate the composites in virtue of their places and shapes, distinguishing for example the heavenly from the earthly.

These observations will suffice for the Being (Substance), or rather the Becoming, which obtains in the Sensible realm.


Passing to Quantity and the quantum, we have to consider the view which identifies them with number and magnitude on the ground that everything quantitative is numbered among Sensible things or rated by the extension of its substrate: we are here, of course, discussing not Quantity in isolation, but that which causes a piece of wood to be three yards long and gives the five in “five horses.”

Now we have often maintained that number and magnitude are to be regarded as the only true qualities, and that Space and Time have no right to be conceived as quantitative: Time as the measure of Motion should be assigned to Relation, while Space, being that which circumscribes Body, is also a relative and falls under the same category; though continuous, it is, like Motion, not included in Quantity.

On the other hand, why do we not find in the category of Quantity “great” and “small”? It is some kind of Quantity which gives greatness to the great; greatness is not a relative, though greater and smaller are relatives, since these, like doubleness, imply an external correlative.

What is it, then, which makes a mountain small and a grain of millet large? Surely, in the first place, “small” is equivalent to Edition: current; Page: [83] “smaller.” It is admitted that the term is applied only to things of the same kind, and from this admission we may infer that the mountain is “smaller” rather than “small,” and that the grain of millet is not large in any absolute sense but large for a grain of millet. In other words, since the comparison is between things of the same kind, the natural predicate would be a comparative.

Again, why is not beauty classed as a relative? Beauty, unlike greatness, we regard as absolute and as a quality; “more beautiful” is the relative. Yet even the term “beautiful” may be attached to something which in a given relation may appear ugly: the beauty of man, for example, is ugliness when compared with that of the gods; “the most beautiful of monkeys,” we may quote, “is ugly in comparison with any other type.” Nonetheless, a thing is beautiful in itself; as related to something else it is either more or less beautiful.

Similarly, an object is great in itself, and its greatness is due, not to any external, but to its own participation in the Absolute Great.

Are we actually to eliminate the beautiful on the pretext that there is a more beautiful? No more then must we eliminate the great because of the greater: the greater can obviously have no existence whatever apart from the great, just as the more beautiful can have no existence without the beautiful.


It follows that we must allow contrariety to Quantity: whenever we speak of great and small our notions acknowledge this contrariety by evolving opposite images, as also when we refer to many and few; indeed, “few” and “many” call for similar treatment to “small” and “great.”

“Many,” predicated of the inhabitants of a house, does duty for “more”: “few” people are said to be in the theatre instead of “less.”

“Many,” again, necessarily involves a large numerical plurality. This plurality can scarcely be a relative; it is simply an expansion of number, its contrary being a contraction.

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The same applies to the continuous (magnitude), the notion of which entails prolongation to a distant point.

Quantity, then, appears whenever there is a progression from the unit or the point: if either progression comes to a rapid halt, we have respectively “few” and “small”; if it goes forward and does not quickly cease, “many” and “great.”

What, we may be asked, is the limit of this progression? What, we retort, is the limit of beauty, or of heat? Whatever limit you impose, there is always a “hotter”; yet “hotter” is accounted a relative, “hot” a pure quality.

In sum, just as there is a Reason-Principle of Beauty, so there must be a Reason-Principle of greatness, participation in which makes a thing great, as the Principle of beauty makes it beautiful.

To judge from these instances, there is contrariety in Quantity. Place we may neglect as not strictly coming under the category of Quantity; if it were admitted, “above” could only be a contrary if there were something in the universe which was “below”: as referring to the partial, the terms “above” and “below” are used in a purely relative sense, and must go with “right” and “left” into the category of Relation.

Syllable and discourse are only indirectly quantities or substrates of Quantity; it is voice that is quantitative: but voice is a kind of Motion; it must accordingly in any case (quantity or no quantity) be referred to Motion, as must activity also.


It has been remarked that the continuous is effectually distinguished from the discrete by their possessing the one a common, the other a separate limit.

The same principle gives rise to the numerical distinction between odd and even; and it holds good that if there are differentiæ found in both contraries, they are either to be abandoned to the objects numbered, or else to be considered as differentiæ of the abstract numbers, and not of the numbers manifested in the sensible objects. If the numbers are Edition: current; Page: [85] logically separable from the objects, that is no reason why we should not think of them as sharing the same differentiæ.

But how are we to differentiate the continuous, comprising as it does line, surface and solid? The line may be rated as of one dimension, the surface as of two dimensions, the solid as of three, if we are only making a calculation and do not suppose that we are dividing the continuous into its species; for it is an invariable rule that numbers, thus grouped as prior and posterior, cannot be brought into a common genus; there is no common basis in first, second and third dimensions. Yet there is a sense in which they would appear to be equal—namely, as pure measures of Quantity: of higher and lower dimensions, they are not however more or less quantitative.

Numbers have similarly a common property in their being numbers all; and the truth may well be, not that One creates two, and two creates three, but that all have a common source.

Suppose, however, that they are not derived from any source whatever, but merely exist; we at any rate conceive them as being derived, and so may be assumed to regard the smaller as taking priority over the greater: yet, even so, by the mere fact of their being numbers they are reducible to a single type.

What applies to numbers is equally true of magnitudes; though here we have to distinguish between line, surface and solid—the last also referred to as “body”—on the ground that, while all are magnitudes, they differ specifically.

It remains to enquire whether these species are themselves to be divided: the line into straight, circular, spiral; the surface into rectilinear and circular figures; the solid into the various solid figures—sphere and polyhedra: whether these last should be subdivided, as by the geometers, into those contained by triangular and quadrilateral planes: and whether a further division of the latter should be performed.


How are we to classify the straight line? Shall we deny that it is a magnitude?

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The suggestion may be made that it is a qualified magnitude. May we not, then, consider straightness as a differentia of “line”? We at any rate draw on Quality for differentiæ of Substance.

The straight line is, thus, a quantity plus a differentia; but it is not on that account a composite made up of straightness and line: if it be a composite, the composite possesses a differentia of its own.

But (if the line is a quantity) why is not the product of three lines included in Quantity? The answer is that a triangle consists not merely of three lines but of three lines in a particular disposition, a quadrilateral of four lines in a particular disposition: even the straight line involves disposition as well as quantity.

Holding that the straight line is not mere quantity, we should naturally proceed to assert that the line as limited is not mere quantity, but for the fact that the limit of a line is a point, which is in the same category, Quantity. Similarly, the limited surface will be a quantity, since lines, which have a far better right than itself to this category, constitute its limits. With the introduction of the limited surface—rectangle, hexagon, polygon—into the category of Quantity, this category will be brought to include every figure whatsoever.

If however by classing the triangle and the rectangle as qualia we propose to bring figures under Quality, we are not thereby precluded from assigning the same object to more categories than one: in so far as it is a magnitude—a magnitude of such and such a size—it will belong to Quantity; in so far as it presents a particular shape, to Quality.

It may be urged that the triangle is essentially a particular shape. Then what prevents our ranking the sphere also as a quality?

To proceed on these lines would lead us to the conclusion that geometry is concerned not with magnitudes but with Quality. But this conclusion is untenable; geometry is the study of magnitudes. The differences of magnitudes do not eliminate the existence of magnitudes as such, any more than the differences of substances annihilate the substances themselves.

Moreover, every surface is limited; it is impossible for any surface to be infinite in extent.

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Again, when I find Quality bound up with Substance, I regard it as substantial quality: I am not less, but far more, disposed to see in figures or shapes (qualitative) varieties of Quantity. Besides, if we are not to regard them as varieties of magnitude, to what genus are we to assign them?

Suppose, then, that we allow differences of magnitude; we commit ourselves to a specific classification of the magnitudes so differentiated.


How far is it true that equality and inequality are characteristic of Quantity?

Triangles, it is significant, are said to be similar rather than equal. But we also refer to magnitudes as similar, and the accepted connotation of similarity does not exclude similarity or dissimilarity in Quantity. It may, of course, be the case that the term “similarity” has a different sense here from that understood in reference to Quality.

Furthermore, if we are told that equality and inequality are characteristic of Quantity, that is not to deny that similarity also may be predicated of certain quantities. If, on the contrary, similarity and dissimilarity are to be confined to Quality, the terms as applied to Quantity must, as we have said, bear a different meaning.

But suppose similarity to be identical in both genera; Quantity and Quality must then be expected to reveal other properties held in common.

May the truth be this: that similarity is predicable of Quantity only in so far as Quantity possesses (qualitative) differences? But as a general rule differences are grouped with that of which they are differences, especially when the difference is a difference of that thing alone. If in one case the difference completes the substance and not in another, we inevitably class it with that which it completes, and only consider it as independent when it is not complementary: when we say “completes the substance,” we refer not to Substance as such but to the differentiated substance; the particular object is to be thought of as receiving an accession which is non-substantial.

We must not however fail to observe that we predicate equality Edition: current; Page: [88] of triangles, rectangles, and figures generally, whether plane or solid: this may be given as a ground for regarding equality and inequality as characteristic of Quantity.

It remains to enquire whether similarity and dissimilarity are characteristic of Quality.

We have spoken of Quality as combining with other entities, Matter and Quantity, to form the complete Sensible Substance; this Substance, so called, may be supposed to constitute the manifold world of Sense, which is not so much an essence as a quale. Thus, for the essence of fire we must look to the Reason-Principle; what produces the visible aspect is, properly speaking, a quale.

Man’s essence will lie in his Reason-Principle; that which is perfected in the corporeal nature is a mere image of the Reason-Principle, a quale rather than an essence.

Consider: the visible Socrates is a man, yet we give the name of Socrates to that likeness of him in a portrait, which consists of mere colours, mere pigments: similarly, it is a Reason-Principle which constitutes Socrates, but we apply the name Socrates to the Socrates we see: in truth, however, the colours and shapes which make up the visible Socrates are but reproductions of those in the Reason-Principle, while this Reason-Principle itself bears a corresponding relation to the truest Reason-Principle of Man.—But we need not elaborate this point.


When each of the entities bound up with the pseudo-substance is taken apart from the rest, the name of Quality is given to that one among them, by which without pointing to essence or quantity or motion we signify the distinctive mark, the type or aspect of a thing—for example, the beauty or ugliness of a body. This beauty—need we say?—is identical in name only with Intellectual Beauty: it follows that the term “Quality” as applied to the Sensible and the Intellectual is necessarily equivocal; even blackness and whiteness are different in the two spheres.

But the beauty in the germ, in the particular Reason-Principle—is this the same as the manifested beauty, or do they coincide only in Edition: current; Page: [89] name? Are we to assign this beauty—and the same question applies to deformity in the soul—to the Intellectual order, or to the Sensible?—That beauty is different in the two spheres is by now clear.—If it be embraced in Sensible Quality, then virtue must also be classed among the qualities of the lower. But surely some virtues will take rank as Sensible, others as Intellectual, qualities.

It may even be doubted whether the arts, as Reason-Principles, can fairly be classed among Sensible qualities; Reason-Principles, it is true, may reside in Matter, but “matter” for them means Soul. On the other hand, their being found in company with Matter commits them in some degree to the lower sphere. Take the case of lyrical music: it is performed upon strings; melody, which may be termed a part of the art, is sensuous sound—though, perhaps, we should speak here not of parts but of manifestations (Acts): yet, called manifestations, they are nonetheless sensuous. The beauty inherent in body is similarly bodiless; but we have assigned it to the order of things bound up with body and subordinate to it.

Geometry and arithmetic are, we shall maintain, of a twofold character: in their earthly types they rank with Sensible Quality, but in so far as they are functions of pure Soul, they necessarily belong to that other world in close proximity to the Intellectual. This, too, is in Plato’s view the case with music and astronomy.

The arts concerned with material objects and making use of perceptible instruments and sense-perception must be classed with Sensible Quality, even though they are dispositions of the Soul, attendant upon its apostasy.

There is also every reason for consigning to this category the practical virtues whose function is directed to a social end: these do not isolate Soul by inclining it towards the higher; their manifestation makes for beauty in this world, a beauty regarded not as necessary but as desirable.

On this principle, the beauty in the germ, and still more the blackness and whiteness in it, will be included among Sensible Qualities.

Are we, then, to rank the individual soul, as containing these Reason-Principles, Edition: current; Page: [90] with Sensible Substance? But we do not even identify the Principles (much less Soul) with body; we merely include them in Sensible Quality on the ground that they are connected with body and are activities of body. The constituents of Sensible Substance have already been specified; we have no intention whatever of adding to them Substance bodiless.

As for Qualities, we hold that they are invariably bodiless, being affections arising within Soul; but, like the Reason-Principles of the individual soul, they are associated with Soul in its apostasy, and are accordingly counted among the things of the lower realm: such affections, torn between two worlds by their objects and their abode, we have assigned to Quality, which is indeed not bodily but manifested in body.

But we refrain from assigning Soul to Sensible Substance, on the ground that we have already referred to Quality (which is Sensible) those affections of Soul which are related to body. On the contrary, Soul, conceived apart from affection and Reason-Principle, we have restored to its origin, leaving in the lower realm no substance which is in any sense Intellectual.


This procedure, if approved, will entail a distinction between psychic and bodily qualities, the latter belonging specifically to body.

If we decide to refer all souls to the higher, we are still at liberty to perform for Sensible qualities a division founded upon the senses themselves—the eyes, the ears, touch, taste, smell; and if we are to look for further differences, colours may be subdivided according to varieties of vision, sounds according to varieties of hearing, and so with the other senses: sounds may also be classified qualitatively as sweet, harsh, soft.

Here a difficulty may be raised: we divide the varieties of Substance and their functions and activities, fair or foul or indeed of any kind whatsoever, on the basis of Quality, Quantity rarely, if ever, entering into the differences which produce species; Quantity, again, we divide Edition: current; Page: [91] in accordance with qualities of its own: how then are we to divide Quality itself into species? what differences are we to employ, and from what genus shall we take them? To take them from Quality itself would be no less absurd than setting up substances as differences of substances.

How, then, are we to distinguish black from white? how differentiate colours in general from tastes and tangible qualities? By the variety of sense-organs? Then there will be no difference in the objects themselves.

But, waiving this objection, how deal with qualities perceived by the same sense-organ? We may be told that some colours integrate, others disintegrate the vision, that some tastes integrate, others disintegrate the tongue: we reply that, first, it is the actual experiences (of colour and taste, and not the sense-organs) that we are discussing and it is to these that the notions of integration and disintegration must be applied; secondly, a means of differentiating these experiences has not been offered.

It may be suggested that we divide them by their powers, and this suggestion is so far reasonable that we may well agree to divide the non-sensuous qualities, the sciences for example, on this basis; but we see no reason for resorting to their effects for the division of qualities sensuous. Even if we divide the sciences by their powers, founding our division of their processes upon the faculties of the mind, we can only grasp their differences in a rational manner if we look not only to their subject-matter but also to their Reason-Principles.

But, granted that we may divide the arts by their Reason-Principles and theorems, this method will hardly apply to embodied qualities. Even in the arts themselves an explanation would be required for the differences between the Reason-Principles themselves. Besides, we have no difficulty in seeing that white differs from black; to account for this difference is the purpose of our enquiry.


These problems at any rate all serve to show that, while in general it is necessary to look for differences by which to separate things from Edition: current; Page: [92] each other, to hunt for differences of the differences themselves is both futile and irrational. We cannot have substances of substances, quantities of quantities, qualities of qualities, differences of differences; differences must, where possible, be found outside the genus, in creative powers and the like: but where no such criteria are present, as in distinguishing dark-green from pale-green, both being regarded as derived from white and black, what expedient may be suggested?

Sense-perception and intelligence may be trusted to indicate diversity but not to explain it: explanation is outside the province of sense-perception, whose function is merely to produce a variety of information; while, as for intelligence, it works exclusively with intuitions and never resorts to explanations to justify them; there is in the movements of intelligence a diversity which separates one object from another, making further differentiation unnecessary.

Do all qualities constitute differentiæ, or not? Granted that whiteness and colours in general and the qualities dependent upon touch and taste can, even while they remain species (of Quality), become differentiæ of other things, how can grammar and music serve as differentiæ? Perhaps in the sense that minds may be distinguished as grammatical and musical, especially if the qualities are innate, in which case they do become specific differentiæ.

It remains to decide whether there can be any differentia derived from the genus to which the differentiated thing belongs, or whether it must of necessity belong to another genus? The former alternative would produce differentiæ of things derived from the same genus as the differentiæ themselves—for example, qualities of qualities. Virtue and vice are two states differing in quality: the states are qualities, and their differentiæ qualities—unless indeed it be maintained that the state undifferentiated is not a quality, that the differentia creates the quality.

But consider the sweet as beneficial, the bitter as injurious: then bitter and sweet are distinguished, not by Quality, but by Relation. We might also be disposed to identify the sweet with the thick, and the pungent with the thin: “thick” however hardly reveals the essence Edition: current; Page: [93] but merely the cause of sweetness—an argument which applies equally to pungency.

We must therefore reflect whether it may be taken as an invariable rule that Quality is never a differentia of Quality, any more than Substance is a differentia of Substance, or Quantity of Quantity.

Surely, it may be interposed, five differs from three by two. No: it exceeds it by two; we do not say that it differs: how could it differ by a “two” in the “three”? We may add that neither can Motion differ from Motion by Motion. There is, in short, no parallel in any of the other genera.

In the case of virtue and vice, whole must be compared with whole, and the differentiation conducted on this basis. As for the differentia being derived from the same genus as themselves, namely, Quality, and from no other genus, if we proceed on the principle that virtue is bound up with pleasure, vice with lust, virtue again with the acquisition of food, vice with idle extravagance, and accept these definitions as satisfactory, then clearly we have, here too, differentiæ which are not qualities.


With Quality we have undertaken to group the dependent qualia, in so far as Quality is bound up with them; we shall not however introduce into this category the qualified objects (qua objects), that we may not be dealing with two categories at once; we shall pass over the objects to that which gives them their (specific) name.

But how are we to classify such terms as “not white”? If “not white” signifies some other colour, it is a quality. But if it is merely a negation or an enumeration of things not white, it will be either a meaningless sound, or else a name or definition of something actual: if a sound, it is a kind of motion; if a name or definition, it is a relative, inasmuch as names and definitions are significant. But if not only the things enumerated are in some one genus, but also the propositions and terms in question must be each of them significative of some genus, then we shall assert that negative propositions and terms posit certain things within a restricted field and deny others. Perhaps, however, it Edition: current; Page: [94] would be better, in view of their composite nature, not to include the negations in the same genus as the affirmations.

What view, then, shall we take of privations? If they are privations of qualities, they will themselves be qualities: “toothless” and “blind,” for example, are qualities. “Naked” and “clothed,” on the other hand, are neither of them qualities but states: they therefore comport a relation to something else.

(With regard to passive qualities:)

Passivity, while it lasts, is not a quality but a motion; when it is a past experience remaining in one’s possession, it is a quality; if one ceases to possess the experience then regarded as a finished occurrence, one is considered to have been moved—in other words, to have been in Motion. (Such is the theory.) But in none of these cases is it necessary to conceive of anything but Motion; the idea of time should be excluded; even present time has no right to be introduced.

“Well” and similar adverbial expressions are to be referred to the single generic notion (of Quality).

It remains to consider whether blushing should be referred to Quality, even though the person blushing is not included in this category. The fact of becoming flushed is rightly not referred to Quality; for it involves passivity—in short, Motion. But if one has ceased to become flushed and is actually red, this is surely a case of Quality, which is independent of time. How indeed are we to define Quality but by the aspect which a substance presents? By predicating of a man redness, we clearly ascribe to him a quality.

We shall accordingly maintain that states alone, and not dispositions, constitute qualities: thus, “hot” is a quality but not “growing hot,” “ill” but not “turning ill.”


We have to ascertain whether there is not to every quality a contrary. In the case of virtue and vice even the mean appears to be contrary to the extremes.

But when we turn to colours, we do not find the intermediates so Edition: current; Page: [95] related. If we regard the intermediates as blendings of the extremes, we must not posit any contrariety other than that between black and white, but must show that all other colours are combinations of these two. Contrariety however demands that there be some one distinct quality in the intermediates, though this quality may be seen to arise from a combination.

It may further be suggested that contraries not only differ from each other, but also entail the greatest possible difference. But “the greatest possible difference” would seem to presuppose that intermediates have already been established: eliminate the series, and how will you define “the greatest possible”? Sight, we may be told, will reveal to us that grey is nearer than black to white; and taste may be our judge when we have hot, cold and no intermediate.

That we are accustomed to act upon these assumptions is obvious enough; but the following considerations may perhaps commend themselves:—

White and yellow are entirely different from each other—a statement which applies to any colour whatsoever as compared with any other; they are accordingly contrary qualities. Their contrariety is independent of the presence of intermediates: between health and disease no intermediate intrudes, and yet they are contraries.

It may be urged that the products of a contrariety exhibit the greatest diversity. But “the greatest diversity” is clearly meaningless, unless we can point to lower degrees of diversity in the means. Thus, we cannot speak of “the greatest diversity” in reference to health and disease. This definition of contrariety is therefore inadmissible.

Suppose that we say “great diversity” instead of “the greatest”: if “great” is equivalent to greater and implies a less, immediate contraries will again escape us; if, on the other hand, we mean strictly “great” and assume that every quality shows a great divergence from every other, we must not suppose that the divergence can be measured by a comparative.

Nonetheless, we must endeavour to find a meaning for the term “contrary.” Can we accept the principle that when things have a Edition: current; Page: [96] certain similarity which is not generic nor in any sense due to admixture, but a similarity residing in their forms—if the term be permitted—they differ in degree but are not contraries; contraries being rather those things which have no specific identity? It would be necessary to stipulate that they belong to the same genus, Quality, in order to cover those immediate contraries which (apparently) have nothing conducing to similarity, inasmuch as there are no intermediates looking both ways, as it were, and having a mutual similarity to each other; some contraries are precluded by their isolation from similarity.

If these observations be sound, colours which have a common ground will not be contraries. But there will be nothing to prevent, not indeed every colour from being contrary to every other, but any one colour from being contrary to any other; and similarly with tastes.—This will serve as a statement of the problem.

As for Degree (subsisting in Quality), it was given as our opinion that it exists in the objects participating in Quality, though whether it enters into qualities as such—into health and justice—was left open to question. If indeed these qualities possess an extension quite apart from their participants, we must actually ascribe to them degrees: but in truth they belong to a sphere where each entity is the whole and does not admit of degree.


The claim of Motion to be established as a genus will depend upon three conditions: first, that it cannot rightly be referred to any other genus; second, that nothing higher than itself can be predicated of it in respect of its essence; third, that by assuming differences it will produce species. These conditions satisfied, we may consider the nature of the genus to which we shall refer it.

Clearly it cannot be identified with either the Substance or the Quality of the things which possess it. It cannot, further, be consigned to Action, for Passivity also comprises a variety of motions; nor again to Passivity itself, because many motions are actions: on the contrary, actions and passions are to be referred to Motion.

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Furthermore, it cannot lay claim to the category of Relation on the mere ground that it has an attributive and not a self-centred existence: on this ground Quality too would find itself in that same category; for Quality is an attribute and contained in an external: and the same is true of Quantity.

If we are agreed that Quality and Quantity, though attributive, are real entities, and on the basis of this reality distinguishable as Quality and Quantity respectively: then, on the same principle, since Motion, though an attribute, has a reality prior to its attribution, it is incumbent upon us to discover the intrinsic nature of this reality. We must never be content to regard as a relative something which exists prior to its attribution, but only that which is engendered by Relation and has no existence apart from the relation to which it owes its name: the double, strictly so called, takes birth and actuality in juxtaposition with a yard’s length, and by this very process of being juxtaposed with a correlative acquires the name and exhibits the fact of being double.

What, then, is that entity, called Motion, which, though attributive, has an independent reality, which makes its attribution possible—the entity corresponding to Quality, Quantity and Substance?

But first, perhaps, we should make sure that there is nothing prior to Motion and predicated of it as its genus.

Change may be suggested as a prior. But, in the first place, either it is identical with Motion, or else, if change be claimed as a genus, it will stand distinct from the genera so far considered: secondly, Motion will evidently take rank as a species and have some other species opposed to it—becoming, say—which will be regarded as a change but not as a motion.

What, then, is the ground for denying that becoming is a motion? The fact, perhaps, that what comes to be does not yet exist, whereas Motion has no dealings with the non-existent. But, on that ground, becoming will not be a change either. If however it be alleged that becoming is merely a type of alteration or growth since it takes place when things alter and grow, the antecedents of becoming are being confused with becoming itself. Yet becoming, entailing as it does these Edition: current; Page: [98] antecedents, must necessarily be a distinct species; for the event and process of becoming cannot be identified with merely passive alteration, like turning hot or white: it is possible for the antecedents to take place without becoming as such being accomplished, except in so far as the actual alteration (implied in the antecedents) has “come to be”; where, however, an animal or a vegetal life is concerned, becoming (or birth) takes place only upon its acquisition of a Form.

The contrary might be maintained: that change is more plausibly ranked as a species than is Motion, because change signifies merely the substitution of one thing for another, whereas Motion involves also the removal of a thing from the place to which it belongs, as is shown by locomotion. Even rejecting this distinction, we must accept as types of Motion knowledge and musical performance—in short, changes of condition: thus, alteration will come to be regarded as a species of Motion—namely, motion displacing.


But suppose that we identify alteration with Motion on the ground that Motion itself results in difference: how then do we proceed to define Motion?

It may roughly be characterised as the passage from the potentiality to its realisation. That is potential which can either pass into a Form—for example, the potential statue—or else pass into actuality—such as the ability to walk: whenever progress is made towards the statue, this progress is Motion; and when the ability to walk is actualised in walking, this walking is itself Motion: dancing is, similarly, the motion produced by the potential dancer taking his steps.

In the one type of Motion a new Form comes into existence created by the motion; the other constitutes, as it were, the pure Form of the potentiality, and leaves nothing behind it when once the motion has ceased. Accordingly, the view would not be unreasonable which, taking some Forms to be active, others inactive, regarded Motion as a dynamic Form in opposition to the other Forms which are static, and further as the cause of whatever new Form ensues upon it. To proceed to identify Edition: current; Page: [99] this bodily motion with life would however be unwarrantable; it must be considered as identical only in name with the motions of Intellect and Soul.

That Motion is a genus we may be all the more confident in virtue of the difficulty—the impossibility even—of confining it within a definition.

But how can it be a Form in cases where the motion leads to deterioration, or is purely passive? Motion, we may suggest, is like the heat of the sun causing some things to grow and withering others. In so far as Motion is a common property, it is identical in both conditions; its apparent difference is due to the objects moved.

Is, then, becoming ill identical with becoming well? As motions they are identical. In what respect, then, do they differ? In their substrates? or is there some other criterion?

This question may however be postponed until we come to consider alteration: at present we have to discover what is the constant element in every motion, for only on this basis can we establish the claim of Motion to be a genus.

Perhaps the one term covers many meanings; its claim to generic status would then correspond to that of Being.

As a solution of the problem we may suggest that motions conducing to the natural state or functioning in natural conditions should perhaps, as we have already asserted, be regarded as being in a sense Forms, while those whose direction is contrary to nature must be supposed to be assimilated to the results towards which they lead.

But what is the constant element in alteration, in growth and birth and their opposites, in local change? What is that which makes them all motions? Surely it is the fact that in every case the object is never in the same state before and after the motion, that it cannot remain still and in complete inactivity but, so long as the motion is present, is continually urged to take a new condition, never acquiescing in Identity but always courting Difference; deprived of Difference, Motion perishes.

Thus, Difference may be predicated of Motion, not merely in the sense that it arises and persists in a difference of conditions, but in the sense of Edition: current; Page: [100] being itself perpetual difference. It follows that Time, as being created by Motion, also entails perpetual difference: Time is the measure of unceasing Motion, accompanying its course and, as it were, carried along its stream.

In short, the common basis of all Motion is the existence of a progression and an urge from potentiality and the potential to actuality and the actual: everything which has any kind of motion whatsoever derives this motion from a pre-existent potentiality within itself of activity or passivity.


The Motion which acts upon Sensible objects enters from without, and so shakes, drives, rouses and thrusts its participants that they may neither rest nor preserve their identity,—and all to the end that they may be caught into that restlessness, that flustering excitability which is but an image of Life.

We must avoid identifying Motion with the objects moved: by walking we do not mean the feet but the activity springing from a potentiality in the feet. Since the potentiality is invisible, we see of necessity only the active feet,—that is to say, not feet simply, as would be the case if they were at rest, but something besides feet, something invisible but indirectly seen as an accompaniment by the fact that we observe the feet to be in ever-changing positions and no longer at rest. We infer alteration, on the other hand, from the qualitative change in the thing altered.

Where, then, does Motion reside, when there is one thing that moves and another that passes from an inherent potentiality to actuality? In the mover? How then will the moved, the patient, participate in the motion? In the moved? Then why does not Motion remain in it, once having come? It would seem that Motion must neither be separated from the active principle nor allowed to reside in it; it must proceed from agent to patient without so inhering in the latter as to be severed from the former, passing from one to the other like a breath of wind.

Now, when the potentiality of Motion consists in an ability to walk, Edition: current; Page: [101] it may be imagined as thrusting a man forward and causing him to be continually adopting a different position; when it lies in the capacity to heat, it heats; when the potentiality takes hold of Matter and builds up the organism, we have growth; and when another potentiality demolishes the structure, the result is decay, that which has the potentiality of demolition experiencing the decay. Where the birth-giving principle is active, we find birth; where it is impotent and the power to destroy prevails, destruction takes place—not the destruction of what already exists, but that which intervenes upon the road to existence.

Health comes about in the same way—when the power which produces health is active and predominant; sickness is the result of the opposite power working in the opposite direction.

Thus, Motion is conditioned, not only by the objects in which it occurs, but also by its origins and its course, and it is a distinctive mark of Motion to be always qualified and to take its quality from the moved.


With regard to locomotion: if ascending is to be held contrary to descending, and circular motion different (in kind) from motion in a straight line, we may ask how this difference is to be defined—the difference, for example, between throwing over the head and under the feet.

The driving power is one,—though indeed it might be maintained that the upward drive is different from the downward, and the downward passage of a different character from the upward, especially if it be a natural motion, in which case the up-motion constitutes lightness, the down-motion heaviness.

But in all these motions alike there is the common tendency to seek an appointed place, and in this tendency we seem to have the differentia which separates locomotion from the other species.

As for motion in a circle and motion in a straight line, if the former is in practice indistinguishable from the latter, how can we regard them as different? The only difference lies in the shape of the course, unless Edition: current; Page: [102] the view be taken that circular motion is “impure,” as not being entirely a motion, not involving a complete surrender of identity.

However, it appears in general that locomotion is a definite unity, taking its differences from externals.


The nature of integration and disintegration calls for scrutiny. Are they different from the motions above mentioned, from coming-to-be and passing-away, from growth and decay, from change of place and from alteration? or must they be referred to these? or, again, must some of these be regarded as types of integration and disintegration?

If integration implies that one element proceeds towards another, implies in short an approach, and disintegration, on the other hand, a retreat into the background, such motions may be termed local; we have clearly a case of two things moving in the direction of unity, or else making away from each other.

If however the things achieve a sort of fusion, mixture, blending, and if a unity comes into being, not when the process of combination is already complete, but in the very act of combining, to which of our specified motions shall we refer this type? There will certainly be locomotion at first, but it will be succeeded by something different; just as in growth locomotion is found at the outset, though later it is supplanted by quantitative motion. The present case is similar: locomotion leads the way, but integration or disintegration does not inevitably follow; integration takes place only when the impinging elements become intertwined, disintegration only when they are rent asunder by the contact.

On the other hand, it often happens that locomotion follows disintegration, or else occurs simultaneously, though the experience of the disintegrated is not conceived in terms of locomotion: so too in integration a distinct experience, a distinct unification, accompanies the locomotion and remains separate from it.

Are we then to posit a new species for these two motions, adding to them, perhaps, alteration? A thing is altered by becoming dense—in Edition: current; Page: [103] other words, by integration; it is altered again by being rarefied—that is, by disintegration. When wine and water are mixed, something is produced different from either of the pre-existing elements: thus, integration takes place, resulting in alteration.

But perhaps we should recall a previous distinction, and while holding that integrations and disintegrations precede alterations, should maintain that alterations are nonetheless distinct from either; that, further, not every alteration is of this type (presupposing, that is to say, integration or disintegration), and, in particular, rarefaction and condensation are not identical with disintegration and integration, nor in any sense derived from them: to suppose that they were would involve the admission of a vacuum.

Again, can we use integration and disintegration to explain blackness and whiteness? But to doubt the independent existence of these qualities means that, beginning with colours, we may end by annihilating almost all qualities, or rather all without exception; for if we identify every alteration, or qualitative change, with integration and disintegration, we allow nothing whatever to come into existence; the same elements persist, nearer or farther apart.

Finally, how is it possible to class learning and being taught as integrations?


We may now take the various specific types of Motion, such as locomotion, and once again enquire for each one whether it is not to be divided on the basis of direction, up, down, straight, circular—a question already raised; whether the organic motion should be distinguished from the inorganic—they are clearly not alike; whether, again, organic motions should be subdivided into walking, swimming and flight.

Perhaps we should also distinguish in each species natural from unnatural motions: this distinction would however imply that motions have differences which are not external. It may indeed be the case that motions create these differences and cannot exist without Edition: current; Page: [104] them; but Nature may be supposed to be the ultimate source of motions and differences alike.

Motions may also be classed as natural, artificial and purposive: “natural” embracing growth and decay; “artificial” architecture and shipbuilding; “purposive” enquiry, learning, government, and, in general, all speech and action.

Again, with regard to growth, alteration and birth, the division may proceed from the natural and unnatural, or, speaking generally, from the characters of the moved objects.


What view are we to take of that which is opposed to Motion, whether it be Stability or Rest? Are we to consider it as a distinct genus, or to refer it to one of the genera already established? We should, no doubt, be well advised to assign Stability to the Intellectual, and to look in the lower sphere for Rest alone.

First, then, we have to discover the precise nature of this Rest. If it presents itself as identical with Stability, we have no right to expect to find it in the sphere where nothing is stable and the apparently stable has merely a less strenuous motion.

Suppose the contrary: we decide that Rest is different from Stability, inasmuch as Stability belongs to the utterly immobile, Rest to the stationary which, though of a nature to move, does not move. Now, if Rest means coming to rest, it must be regarded as a motion which has not yet ceased but still continues; but if we suppose it to be incompatible with Motion, we have first to ask whether there is in the Sensible world anything without motion.

Yet nothing can experience every type of motion; certain motions must be ruled out in order that we may speak of the moving object as existing: may we not, then, say of that which has no locomotion and is at rest as far as pertains to that specific type of motion, simply that it does not move?

Rest, accordingly, is the negation of Motion: in other words, it has no generic status. It is in fact related only to one type of motion, Edition: current; Page: [105] namely, locomotion; it is therefore the negation of this motion that is meant.

But, it may be asked, why not regard Motion as the negation of Stability? We reply that Motion does not appear alone; it is accompanied by a force which actualises its object, forcing it on, as it were, giving it a thousand forms and destroying them all: Rest, on the contrary, comports nothing but the object itself, and signifies merely that the object has no motion.

Why, then, did we not in discussing the Intellectual realm assert that Stability was the negation of Motion? Because it is not indeed possible to consider Stability as an annulling of Motion, for when Motion ceases Stability does not exist, but requires for its own existence the simultaneous existence of Motion; and what is of a nature to move is not stationary because the Stability of that realm is motionless, but because Stability has taken hold of it; in so far as it has Motion, it will never cease to move: thus, it is stationary under the influence of Stability, and moves under the influence of Motion. In the lower realm, too, a thing moves in virtue of Motion, but its Rest is caused by a deficiency; it has been deprived of its due motion.

What we have to observe is the essential character of this Sensible counterpart of Stability.

Consider sickness and health. The convalescent moves in the sense that he passes from sickness to health. What species of rest are we to oppose to this convalescence? If we oppose the condition from which he departs, that condition is sickness, not Stability; if that into which he passes, it is health, again not the same as Stability.

It may be declared that health or sickness is indeed some form of Stability: we are to suppose, then, that Stability is the genus of which health and sickness are species; which is absurd.

Stability may, again, be regarded as an attribute of health: according to this view health will not be health before possessing Stability.

These questions may however be left to the judgment of the individual.

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We have already indicated that Activity and Passivity are to be regarded as motions, and that it is possible to distinguish absolute motions, actions, passions.

As for the remaining so-called genera, we have shown that they are reducible to those which we have posited.

With regard to the relative, we have maintained that Relation belongs to one object as compared with another, that the two objects coexist simultaneously, and that Relation is found whenever a substance is in such a condition as to produce it; not that the substance is a relative, except in so far as it constitutes part of a whole—a hand, for example, or head or cause or principle or element.

We may also adopt the ancient division of relatives into creative principles, measures, excesses and deficiencies, and those which in general separate objects on the basis of similarities and differences.

Our investigation into the kinds of Being is now complete.

On the Integral Omnipresence of the Authentic Existent (1)


How are we to explain the omnipresence of the soul? Does it depend upon the definite magnitude of the material universe coupled with some native tendency in soul to distribute itself over material mass, or is it a characteristic of soul apart from body?

In the latter case, soul will not appear just where body may bring it; body will meet soul awaiting it everywhere; wheresoever body finds place, there soul lay before ever body was; the entire material mass of the universe has been set into an existent soul.

But if soul spread thus wide before material extension existed, then as covering all space it would seem to be of itself a thing of magnitude, and in what mode could it exist in the All before the All was in being, Edition: current; Page: [107] before there was any All? And who can accept a soul described as partless and massless and yet, for all that absence of extension, extending over a universe? We may perhaps be told that, though extended over the corporeal, it does not itself become so: but thus to give it magnitude as an accidental attribute leaves the problem still unsolved: precisely the same question must in all reason arise: How can the soul take magnitude even in the move of accident?

We cannot think of soul being diffused as a quality is, say sweetness or colour, for while these are actual states of the masses affected so that they show that quality at every point, none of them has an independent existence; they are attributes of body and known only as in body; such quality is necessarily of a definite extension. Further, the colour at any point is independent of that at any other; no doubt the Form, White, is the same all over, but there is not arithmetical identity; in soul there is; it is one soul in foot and in hand, as the facts of perception show. And yet in the case of qualities the one is observably distributed part for part; in the soul the identity is undistributed; what we sometimes call distribution is simply omnipresence.

Obviously, we must take hold of the question from the very beginning in the hope of finding some clear and convincing theory as to how soul, immaterial and without magnitude, can be thus broad-spread, whether before material masses exist or as enveloping them. Of course, should it appear that this omnipresence may occur apart from material things, there is no difficulty in accepting its occurrence within the material.


Side by side exist the Authentic All and its counterpart, the visible universe. The Authentic is contained in nothing, since nothing existed before it; of necessity anything coming after it must, as a first condition of existence, be contained by this All, especially since it depends upon the Authentic and without that could have neither stability nor movement.

We may be reminded that the universe cannot be contained in the Authentic as in a place, where place would mean the boundaries of Edition: current; Page: [108] some surrounding extension considered as an envelope, or some space formerly a part of the Void and still remaining unoccupied even after the emergence of the universe, that it can only support itself, as it were, upon the Authentic and rest in the embrace of its omnipresence; but this objection is merely verbal and will disappear if our meaning is grasped; we mention it for another purpose; it goes to enforce our real assertion, that the Authentic All, at once primal and veritable, needs no place and is in no way contained. The All, as being an integral, cannot fall short of itself; it must ever have fulfilled its own totality, ever reached to its own equivalence; as far as the sum of entities extends, there this is; for this is the All.

Inevitably, also, anything other than this All that may be stationed therein must have part in the All, merge into it, and hold by its strength; it is not that the thing detaches a portion of the All but that within itself it finds the All which has entered into it while still unbrokenly self-abiding, since Being cannot lodge in non-Being, but, if anything, non-Being within Being.

Being, then, is present to all Being; an identity cannot tear itself asunder; the omnipresence asserted of it must be presence within the realm of Being; that is, it must be a self-presence. And it is in no way strange that the omnipresence should be at once self-abiding and universal; this is merely saying omnipresence within a unity.

It is our way to limit Being to the sense-known and therefore to think of omnipresence in terms of the concrete; in our overestimate of the sensible, we question how that other Nature can reach over such vastness; but our great is small, and this, small to us, is great; it reaches integrally to every point of our universe—or, better, our universe, moving from every side and in all its members towards this, meets it everywhere as the omnipresent All ever stretching beyond.

The universe in all its reach can attain nothing further—that would mean overpassing the total of Being—and therefore is content to circle about it; not able to encompass or even to fill the All, it is content to accept place and subordination, for thus it preserves itself in neighbouring Edition: current; Page: [109] the higher present to it—present and yet absent; self-holding, whatever may seek its presence.

Wherever the body of the universe may touch, there it finds this All; it strives for no further advance, willing to revolve in that one circle, since to it that is the All and in that movement its every part embraces the All.

If that higher were itself in place there would be the need of seeking that precise place by a certain right path; part of seeker must touch part of sought, and there would be far and near. But since there is no far and near there must be, if presence at all, presence entire. And presence there indubitably is; this highest is present to every being of those that, free of far and near, are of power to receive.


But are we to think of this Authentic Being as, itself, present, or does it remain detached, omnipresent in the sense only that powers from it enter everywhere?

Under the theory of presence by powers, souls are described as rays; the source remains self-locked and these are flung forth to impinge upon particular living things.

Now, in beings whose unity does not reproduce the entire nature of that principle, any presence is presence of an emanant power: even this, however, does not mean that the principle is less than integrally present; it is not sundered from the power which it has uttered; all is offered, but the recipient is able to take only so much. But in Beings in which the plenitude of these powers is manifested, there clearly the Authentic itself is present, though still as remaining distinct; it is distinct in that, becoming the informing principle of some definite thing, it would abdicate from its standing as the total and from its uttermost self-abiding and would belong, in some mode of accident, to another thing as well. Still it is not the property of what may seek to join with it; it chooses where it will and enters as the participant’s power may allow, but it does not become a chattel; it remains the quested and so in another sense never passes over. There is nothing disquieting in omnipresence Edition: current; Page: [110] after this mode where there is no appropriation: in the same accidental way, we may reasonably put it, soul concurs with body, but it is soul self-holding, not inbound with Matter, free even of the body which it has illuminated through and through.

Nor does the placelessness of Being make it surprising that it be present universally to things of place; on the contrary, the wonder would be—the more than wonder, the impossibility—if from a place of its own it were present to other things in their place, or if having place it were present at all—and, especially present, as we assert, integrally.

But set it outside of place, and reason tells us that it will be present entire where it is present at all and that, present to the total, it must be present in the same completeness to every several unity; otherwise something of it is here and something there and at once it is fragmentary, it is body.

How can we so dispart Being? We cannot break Life into parts; if the total was Life, the fragment is not. But do we not thus sunder Intelligence, one intelligence in this man, another in that? No; such a fragment would not be Intelligence. But the Being of the individual? Once more, if the total thing is Being, then a fragment could not be. Are we told that in a body, a total of parts, every member is also a body? But here we are dividing not body but a particular quantity of body, each of those divisions being described as body in virtue of possessing the Form or Idea that constitutes body; and this Idea has no magnitude, is incapable of magnitude.


But how explain beings by the side of Being, and the variety of intelligences and of souls, when Being has the unity of omnipresent identity and not merely that of a species, and when intellect and soul are likewise numerically one? We certainly distinguish between the soul of the All and the particular souls.

This seems to conflict with our view which, moreover, for all its logical necessity, scarcely carries conviction against our mental reluctance to the notion of unity identically omnipresent. It would appear more Edition: current; Page: [111] plausible to suppose a partition of the All—the original remaining undiminished—or, in a more legitimate phrase, an engendering from the All.

Thus the Authentic would be left self-gathered, while what we think of as the parts—the separate souls—would come into being to produce the multiple total of the universe.

But if the Authentic Being is to be kept unattached in order to remove the difficulty of integral omnipresence, the same considerations must apply equally to the souls; we would have to admit that they cannot be integrally omnipresent in the bodies they are described as occupying; either, soul must be distributed, part to body’s part, or it is lodged entire at some one point in the body giving forth some of its powers to the other points; and these very powers, again, present the same difficulty.

A further objection is that some one spot in the body will hold the soul, the others no more than a power from it.

Still, how account for the many souls, many intelligences, the beings by the side of Being?

No doubt the beings proceed from the Priors in the mode only of numerical distinction and not as concrete masses, but the difficulty remains as to how they come to constitute the plenitude of the material universe.

This explanation by progression does not clear the problem.

We are agreed that diversity within the Authentic depends not upon spatial separation but sheerly upon differentiation; all Being, despite this plurality, is a unity still; “Being neighbours Being”; all holds together; and thus the Intellectual-Principle (which is Being and the Beings) remains an integral, multiple by differentiation, not by spatial distinction.

Soul too? Souls too. That principle distributed over material masses we hold to be in its own nature incapable of distribution; the magnitude belongs to the masses; when this soul-principle enters into them—or rather they into it—it is thought of as distributable only because, within the discrimination of the corporeal, the animating force Edition: current; Page: [112] is to be recognised at any and every point. For soul is not articulated, section of soul to section of body; there is integral omnipresence manifesting the unity of that principle, its veritable partlessness.

Now as in soul unity does not debar variety, so with Being and the Beings; in that order multiplicity does not conflict with unity. Multiplicity. This is not due to the need of flooding the universe with life; nor is the extension of the corporeal the cause of the multiplicity of souls; before body existed, soul was one and many; the many souls fore-existed in the All not potentially but each effectively; that one collective soul is no bar to the variety; the variety does not abrogate the unity; the souls are apart without partition, present each to all as never having been set in opposition; they are no more hedged off by boundaries than are the multiple items of knowledge in one mind; the one soul so exists as to include all souls; the nature of such a principle must be utterly free of boundary.


Herein lies its greatness, not in mass; mass is limited and may be whittled down to nothingness; in that order no such paring off is possible—nor, if it were, could there be any falling short. Where limitation is unthinkable, what fear can there be of absence at any point? Nowhere can that principle fail which is the unfailing, the everlasting, the undwindling; suppose it in flux and it must at some time flow to its end; since it is not in flux—and, besides (as the All), it has nowhere to flow to—it lies spread over the universe; in fact it is the universe, too great to be held by body, giving, therefore, to the material universe but little of itself, the little which that participant can take.

We may not make this principle the lesser, or if in the sense of mass we do, we must not begin to mistrust the power of that less to stretch to the greater. Of course, we have in fact no right to affirm it less or to measure the thing of magnitude against that which has none; as well talk of a doctor’s skill being smaller than his body. This greatness is not to be thought of in terms of quantity; the greater and less of body have nothing to do with soul.

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The nature of the greatness of soul is indicated by the fact that as the body grows, the larger mass is held by the same soul that sufficed to the smaller; it would be in many ways absurd to suppose a corresponding enlargement in the soul.


But why does not one same soul enter more than one body?

Because any second body must approach, if it might; but the first has approached and received and keeps.

Are we to think that this second body, in keeping its soul with a like care, is keeping the same soul as the first?

Why not: what difference is there? Merely some additions (from the experiences of life, none in the soul itself).

We ask further why one soul in foot and hand and not one soul in the distinct members of the universe.

Sensations no doubt differ from soul to soul but only as do the conditions and experiences; this is difference not in the judging principle but in the matters coming to judgement; the judge is one and the same soul pronouncing upon various events, and these not its own but belonging to a particular body; it is only as a man pronounces simultaneously upon a pleasant sensation in his finger and a pain in his head.

But why is not the soul in one man aware, then, of the judgement passed by another?

Because it is a judgement made, not a state set up; besides, the soul that has passed the judgement does not pronounce but simply judges: similarly a man’s sight does not report to his hearing, though both have passed judgement; it is the reason above both that reports, and this is a principle distinct from either. Often, as it happens, reason does become aware of a verdict formed in another reason and takes to itself an alien experience: but this has been dealt with elsewhere.


Let us consider once more how it is possible for an identity to extend over a universe. This comes to the question how each variously Edition: current; Page: [114] placed entity in the multiplicity of the sense order can have its share in one identical Principle.

The solution is in the reasons given for refusing to distribute that principle; we are not to parcel it out among the entities of the multiple; on the contrary, we bring the distributed multiples to the unity. The unity has not gone forth to them: from their dispersion we are led to think of it as broken up to meet them, but this is to distribute the controller and container equally over the material handled.

A hand may very well control an entire mass, a long plank, or anything of that sort; the control is effective throughout and yet is not distributed, unit for unit, over the object of control: the power is felt to reach over the whole area, though the hand is only hand-long, not taking the extension of the mass it wields; lengthen the object and, provided that the total is within the strength, the power handles the new load with no need of distributing itself over the increased area. Now let us eliminate the corporeal mass of the hand, retaining the power it exerted: is not that power, the impartible, present integrally over the entire area of control?

Or imagine a small luminous mass serving as centre to a transparent sphere, so that the light from within shows upon the entire outer surface, otherwise unlit: we surely agree that the inner core of light, intact and immobile, reaches over the entire outer extension; the single light of that small centre illuminates the whole field. The diffused light is not due to any bodily magnitude of that central point which illuminates not as body but as body lit, that is by another kind of power than corporeal quality: let us then abstract the corporeal mass, retaining the light as power: we can no longer speak of the light in any particular spot; it is equally diffused within and throughout the entire sphere. We can no longer even name the spot it occupied so as to say whence it came or how it is present; we can but seek, and wonder as the search shows us the light simultaneously present at each and every point in the sphere. So with the sunlight: looking to the corporeal mass you are able to name the source of the light shining through all the air, but what you see is one identical light in integral omnipresence. Consider too the refraction of light by which it is thrown Edition: current; Page: [115] away from the line of incidence; yet, direct or refracted, it is one and the same light. And supposing, as before, that the sun were simply an unembodied illuminant, the light would no longer be fixed to any one definite spot: having no starting point, no centre of origin, it would be an integral unity omnipresent.


The light of our world can be allocated because it springs from a corporeal mass of known position, but conceive an immaterial entity, independent of body as being of earlier nature than all body, a nature firmly self-based or, better, without need of base: such a principle, incorporeal, autonomous, having no source for its rising, coming from no place, attached to no material mass, this cannot be allotted part here and part there: that would be to give it both a previous position and a present attachment. Finally, anything participating in such a principle can participate only as entirety with entirety; there can be no allotment and no partition.

A principle attached to body might be exposed, at least by way of accident, to such partition and so be definable as passive and partible in view of its close relationship with the body of which it is so to speak a state or a Form; but that which is not inbound with body, which on the contrary body must seek, will of necessity go utterly free of every bodily modification and especially of the very possibility of partition which is entirely a phenomenon of body, belonging to its very essence. As partibility goes with body, so impartibility with the bodiless: what partition is possible where there is no magnitude? If a thing of magnitude participates to any degree in what has no magnitude, it must be by a participation without division; divisibility implies magnitude.

When we affirm unity in multiplicity we do not mean that the unity has become the multiples; we link the variety in the multiples with the unity which we discern, undivided, in them; and the unity must be understood as for ever distinct from them, from separate item and from total; that unity remains true to itself, remains itself, and so long as it remains itself cannot fail within its own scope (and therefore does reach Edition: current; Page: [116] over the multiple), yet it is not to be thought of as coextensive with the material universe or with any member of the All; utterly outside of the quantitative, it cannot be coextensive with anything.

Extension is of body; what is not of body, but of the opposed order, must be kept free of extension; but where there is no extension there is no spatial distinction, nothing of the here and there which would end its freedom of presence. Since, then, partition goes with place—each part occupying a place of its own—how can the placeless be parted? The unity must remain self-concentrated, immune from part, however much the multiple aspire or attain to contact with it. This means that any movement towards it is movement towards its entirety, and any participation attained is participation in its entirety. Its participants, then, link with it as with something unparticipated, something never appropriated: thus only can it remain intact within itself and within the multiples in which it is manifested. And if it did not remain thus intact, it would cease to be itself; any participation, then, would not be in the object of quest but in something never quested.


If in such a partition of the unity, that which entered into each participant were an entire—always identical with the first—then, in the progressive severance, the firsts would become numerous, each particular becoming a first: and then what prevents these many firsts from reconstituting the collective unity? Certainly not the bodies they have entered, for those firsts cannot be present in the material masses as their Forms if they are to remain identical with the First from which they come. On the other hand, taking the part conceived as present in the multiple to be simply a power (emanating from the First), at once such a part ceases to be the unity; we have then to ask how these powers come to be cut off, to have abandoned their origin; they certainly have not moved away with no purpose in their movement.

Again, are those powers, entering the universe of sense, still within the First or not?

If they are not, we have the absurdity that the First has been Edition: current; Page: [117] lessened, disempowered, stripped of power originally possessed. Besides, how could powers thus cut off subsist apart from the foundations of their being? Suppose these powers to be at once within the First and elsewhere; then the universe of sense contains either the entire powers or parts of them; if parts of powers, the other parts are There; if entires, then either the powers There are present here also undivided—and this brings us back to an identity omnipresent in integral identity—or they are each an entire which has taken division into a multiplicity of similars so that attached to every essence there is one power only—that particularly appropriated to it—the other powers remaining powers unattached: yet power apart from Being is as impossible as Being apart from power; for There power is Being or something greater than Being.

Or, again, suppose the powers coming Thence are other than their source—lesser, fainter, as a bright light dwindles to a dim—but each attached to its essence as a power must always be: such secondary powers would be perfectly uniform and at once we are forced to admit the omnipresence of the one same power or at the least the presence—as in one and the same body—of some undivided identity integral at every point.

And if this is the case with a particular body, why not with the entire universe?

If we think of the single power as being endlessly divided, it is no longer a power entire; partition means lessening of power; and, with part of power for part of body, the conditions of consciousness cease.

Further, a vestigial cut off from its source disappears—for example, a reflected light—and in general an emanant loses its quality once it is severed from the original which it reproduces: just so the powers derived from that source must vanish if they do not remain attached to it.

This being so, where these powers appear, their source must be present with them; thus, once more, that source must itself be omnipresent as an undivided whole.


We may be told that an image need not be thus closely attached to its archetype, that we know images holding in the absence of their Edition: current; Page: [118] archetype and that a warmed object may retain its heat when the fire is withdrawn.

To begin with the image and archetype:—If we are reminded of an artist’s picture we observe that here the image was produced by the artist, not by his subject; even in the case of a self-portrait, the picture is no “image of archetype,” since it is not produced by the painter’s body, the original represented: the reproduction is due to the effective laying on of the colours.

Nor is there strictly any such making of image as we see in water or in mirrors or in a shadow; in these cases the original is the cause of the image which, at once, springs from it and cannot exist apart from it. Now, it is in this sense that we are to understand the weaker powers to be images of the Priors. As for the illustration from the fire and the warmed object, the warmth cannot be called an image of the fire unless we think of warmth as containing fire so that the two are separate things. Besides, the fire removed, the warmth does sooner or later disappear, leaving the object cold.

If we are told that these powers fade out similarly, we are left with only one imperishable: the souls, the Intellectual-Principle, become perishable; then since Being (identical with the Intellectual-Principle) becomes transitory, so also must the Beings, its productions. Yet the sun, so long as it holds its station in the universe, will pour the same light upon the same places; to think its light may be lessened is to hold its mass perishable. But it has been abundantly stated that the emanants of the First are not perishable, that the souls, and the Intellectual-Principle with all its content, cannot perish.


Still, this integral omnipresence admitted, why do not all things participate in the Intellectual Order in its entirety? Why has it a first participant, a second, and so on?

We can but see that presence is determined by the fitness of the participant so that, while Being is omnipresent to the realm of Being, never falling short of itself, yet only the competent possess themselves Edition: current; Page: [119] of that presence which depends not upon situation but upon adequacy; the transparent object and the opaque answer very differently to the light. These firsts, seconds, thirds, of participance are determined by rank, by power, not by place but by differentiation; and difference is no bar to coexistence, witness soul and Intellectual-Principle: similarly our own knowledge, the trivial next the gravest; one and the same object yields colour to our sight, fragrance to smell, to every sense a particular experience, all presented simultaneously.

But would not this indicate that the Authentic is diverse, multiple?

That diversity is simplex still; that multiple is one; for it is a Reason-Principle, which is to say a unity in variety: all Being is one; the differing being is still included in Being; the differentiation is within Being, obviously not within non-Being. Being is bound up with the unity which is never apart from it; wheresoever Being appears, there appears its unity; and the unity of Being is self-standing, for presence in the sensible does not abrogate independence: things of sense are present to the Intellectual—where this occurs—otherwise than as the Intellectual is present within itself; so too body’s presence to soul differs from that of knowledge to soul; one item of knowledge is present in a different way than another; a body’s presence to body is, again, another form of relation.


Think of a sound passing through the air and carrying a word; an ear within range catches and comprehends; and the sound and word will strike upon any other ear you may imagine within the intervening void, upon any that attends; from a great distance many eyes look to the one object and all take it fully; all this, because eye and ear exist. In the same way what is apt for soul will possess itself of soul, while from the one identical presence another will derive something else.

Now the sound was diffused throughout the air not in sections but as one sound, entire at every point of that space. So with sight: if the Edition: current; Page: [120] air carries a shape impressed upon it this is one undivided whole; for, wherever there be an eye, there the shape will be grasped; even to such as reject this particular theory of sight, the facts of vision still stand as an example of participation determined by an identical unity.

The sound is the clearer illustration: the form conveyed is an entirety over all the air space, for unless the spoken word were entire at every point, for every ear to catch the whole alike, the same effect could not be made upon every listener; the sound, evidently, is not strung along the air, section to section. Why, then, need we hesitate, to think of soul as a thing not extended in broken contact, part for part, but omnipresent within the range of its presence, indwelling in totality at every point throughout the All?

Entered into such bodies as are apt to it, the soul is like the spoken sound present in the air, before that entry, like the speaker about to speak—though even embodied it remains at once the speaker and the silent.

No doubt these illustrations are imperfect, but they carry a serviceable similitude: the soul belongs to that other Kind, and we must not conceive a part of it embodied and a part intact; it is at once a self-enclosed unity and a principle manifested in diversity.

Further, any newcoming entity achieving soul receives mysteriously that same principle which was equally in the previously ensouled; for it is not in the dispensation that a given part of soul situate at some given point should enter here and there; what is thought of as entering was always a self-enclosed entire and, for all the seeming entry, so remains: no real entry is conceivable. If, then, the soul never entered and yet is now seen to be present—present without waiting upon the participant—clearly it is present, here too, without breach of its self-inclusion. This can mean only that the participant came to soul; it lay outside the veritable reality but advanced towards it and so established itself in the kosmos of life. But this kosmos of life is a self-gathered entire, not divisible into constituent masses but prior to mass; in other words, the participation is of entire in entire. Any newcomer into that kosmos of life will participate in it entire. Admitting, then, that this kosmos of Edition: current; Page: [121] life is present entire in the universe, it must be similarly entire in each several entity; an identity numerically one, it must be an undivided entire, omnipresent.


But how account, at this, for its extension over all the heavens and all living beings?

There is no such extension. Sense-perception, by insistence upon which we doubt, tells of Here and There; but reason certifies that the Here and There do not attach to that principle; the extended has participated in that kosmos of life which itself has no extension.

Clearly no participant can participate in itself; self-participation would be merely identity. Body, then, as participant does not participate in body; body it has; its participation must be in what is not body. So too magnitude does not participate in magnitude; it has it: not even in addition of quantity does the initial magnitude participate in magnitude: the two cubits do not themselves become three cubits; what occurs is that an object totalling to a certain quantity now totals to another: for magnitude to participate in magnitude the actual two cubits must themselves become the new three (which cannot occur).

If, then, the divided and quantitatively extended is to participate in another Kind, is to have any sort of participation, it can participate only in something undivided, unextended, wholly outside of quantity. Therefore, that which is to be introduced by the participation must enter as itself an omnipresent indivisible.

This indivisibility must, of course, not be taken in any sense of littleness: littleness would be still divisible, could not cover the extension of the participant and could not maintain integral presence against that expansion. Nor is it the indivisibility of a geometric point: the participant mass is no single point but includes an infinity of points; so that on the theory this principle must be an infinity of points, not a simultaneous entire, and so, again, will fail to cover the participant.

If, then, the participant mass in its entirety is to contain that principle entire, the universe must hold that one soul present at its every point.

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But, admitting this one soul at every point, how is there a particular soul of the individual and how the good soul and the bad?

The one soul reaches to the individual but nonetheless contains all souls and all intelligences; this, because it is at once a unity and an infinity; it holds all its content as one yet with each item distinct, though not to the point of separation. Except by thus holding all its content as one—life entire, soul entire, all intelligence—it could not be infinite; since the individualities are not fenced off from each other, it remains still one thing. It was to hold life not single but infinite and yet one life, one in the sense not of an aggregate built up but of the retention of the unity in which all rose. Strictly, of course, it is a matter not of the rising of the individuals but of their being eternally what they are; in that order, as there is no beginning, so there is no apportioning except as an interpretation by the recipient. What is of that realm is the ancient and primal; the relation to it of the thing of process must be that of approach and apparent merging with always dependence.

But we ourselves, what are We?

Are we that higher or the participant newcomer, the thing of beginnings in time?

Before we had our becoming Here we existed There, men other than now, some of us gods: we were pure souls, Intelligence inbound with the entire of reality, members of the Intellectual, not fenced off, not cut away, integral to that All. Even now, it is true, we are not put apart; but upon that primal Man there has intruded another, a man seeking to come into being and finding us there, for we were not outside of the universe. This other has wound himself about us, foisting himself upon the Man that each of us was at first. Then it was as if one voice sounded, one word was uttered, and from every side an ear attended and received and there was an effective hearing, possessed through and through of what was present and active upon it: now we have lost that first simplicity; we are become the dual thing, sometimes indeed no more than that later foisting, with the primal nature dormant and in a sense no longer present.

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But how did this intruder find entrance?

It had a certain aptitude and it grasped at that to which it was apt. In its nature it was capable of soul: but what is unfitted to receive soul entire—present entire but not for it—takes what share it may; such are the members of the animal and vegetal order. Similarly, of a significant sound some forms of being take sound and significance together, others only the sound, the blank impact.

A living thing comes into existence containing soul, present to it from the Authentic, and by soul is inbound with Reality entire; it possesses also a body; but this body is not a husk having no part in soul, not a thing that earlier lay away in the soulless; the body had its aptitude and by this draws near: now it is not body merely, but living body. By this neighbouring it is enhanced with some impress of soul—not in the sense of a portion of soul entering into it, but that it is warmed and lit by soul entire: at once there is the ground of desire, pleasure, pain: the body of the living form that has come to be was certainly no unrelated thing.

The soul, sprung from the divine, lay self-enclosed at peace, true to its own quality; but its neighbour, in uproar through weakness, instable of its own nature and beaten upon from without, cries, at first to itself and afterwards upon the living total, spreading the disorder at large. Thus, at an assembly the Elders may sit in tranquil meditation, but an unruly populace, crying for food and casting up a host of grievances, will bring the whole gathering into ugly turmoil; when this sort of people hold their peace so that a word from a man of sense may reach them, some passable order is restored and the baser part ceases to prevail; otherwise the silence of the better allows the rabble to rule, the distracted assembly unable to take the word from above.

This is the evil of state and of council: and this is the evil of man; man includes an inner rabble—pleasures, desires, fears—and these become masters when the man, the manifold, gives them play.

But one that has reduced his rabble and gone back to the Man he Edition: current; Page: [124] was, lives to that and is that Man again, so that what he allows to the body is allowed as to something separate.

There is the man, too, that lives partly in the one allegiance and partly in the other; he is a blend of the good that is himself with the evil that is alien.


But if that Principle can never fall to evil and we have given a true account of the soul’s entry or presence to body, what are we to say of the periodic Descents and Returns, the punishments, the banishment into animal forms? That teaching we have inherited from those ancient philosophers who have best probed into soul and we must try to show that our own doctrine is accordant with it, or at least not conflicting.

We have seen that the participation of things here in that higher means not that the soul has gone outside of itself to enter the corporeal, but that the corporeal has approached soul and is now participant in it; the coming affirmed by the ancients can be only that approach of the body to the higher by which it partakes of life and of soul; this has nothing to do with local entry but is some form of communion; by the descent and embodiment of current phrasing must be understood not that soul becomes an appanage of body but that it gives out to it something of itself; similarly, the soul’s departure is the complete cessation of that communion.

The various rankings of the universe will determine various degrees of the communion; soul, ultimate of the Intellectual, will give forth freely to body as being more nearly of the one power and standing closer, as distance holds in that order.

The soul’s evil will be this association, its good the release. Why? Because, even unmerged, a soul in any way to be described as attached to this universe is in some degree fallen from the All into a state of partition; essentially belonging to the All, it no longer directs its act Thither: thus, a man’s knowledge is one whole, but he may guide himself by no more than some single item of it, where his good would lie in living not by some such fragment but by the total of his knowing.

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That One Soul—member of the Intellectual kosmos and there merging what it has of partial into the total—has broken away, so to speak, from the All to the part and to that devotes itself becoming partial with it; thus fire that might consume everything may be set to ply its all-power upon some trifle. So long as the soul remains utterly unattached it is soul not singled out; when it has accepted separation—not that of place but that of act determining individualities—it is a part, no longer the soul entire, or at least not entire in the first sense; when, on the contrary, it exercises no such outward control it is perfectly the All-Soul, the partial in it latent.

As for the entry into the World of the Shades, if this means into the unseen that is its release; if into some lower place, there is nothing strange in that, since even here the soul is taken to be where the body is, in place with the body.

But on the dissolution of the body?

So long as the image-soul has not been discarded, clearly the higher will be where that is; if, on the contrary, the higher has been completely emancipated by philosophic discipline, the image-soul may very well go alone to that lower place, the authentic passing uncontaminated into the Intellectual, separated from that image but nonetheless the soul entire.

Let the image—offspring of the individuality—fare as it may, the true soul when it turns its light upon itself, chooses the higher and by that choice blends into the All, neither acting now nor extinct.

But it is time to return to our main theme:—

On the Integral Omnipresence of the Authentic Existent (2)


The integral omnipresence of a unity numerically identical is in fact universally received; for all men instinctively affirm the god in each of us to be one, the same in all. It would be taken as certain if no one Edition: current; Page: [126] asked How or sought to bring the conviction to the test of reasoning; with this effective in their thought, men would be at rest, finding their stay in that oneness and identity, so that nothing would wrench them from this unity. This principle, indeed, is the most solidly established of all, proclaimed by our very souls; we do not piece it up item by item, but find it within beforehand; it precedes even the principle by which we affirm unquestionably that all things seek their good; for this universal quest of good depends on the fact that all aim at unity and possess unity and that universally effort is towards unity.

Now this unity in going forth, so far as it may, towards the Other Order must become manifest as multiplicity and in some sense become multiple; but the primal nature and the appetition of the good, which is appetition of unity, lead back to what is authentically one; to this every form of Being is urged in a movement towards its own reality. For the good to every nature possessing unity is to be self-belonging, to be itself, and that means to be a unity.

In virtue of that unity the Good may be regarded as truly inherent. Hence the Good is not to be sought outside; it could not have fallen outside of what is; it cannot possibly be found in non-Being; within Being the Good must lie, since it is never a non-Being.

If that Good has Being and is within the realm of Being, then it is present, self-contained, in everything: we, therefore, need not look outside of Being; we are in it; yet that Good is not exclusively ours: therefore all beings are one.


Now the reasoning faculty which undertakes this problem is not a unity but a thing of parts; it brings the bodily nature into the enquiry, borrowing its principles from the corporeal: thus it thinks of the Essential Existence as corporeal and as a thing of parts; it baulks at the unity because it does not start from the appropriate principles. We, however, must be careful to bring the appropriately convincing principles to the discussion of the Unity, of perfect Being: we must hold to the Intellectual principles which alone apply to the Intellectual Order and to Real Being.

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On the one hand there is the unstable, exposed to all sorts of change, distributed in place, not so much Being as Becoming: on the other, there is that which exists eternally, not divided, subject to no change of state, neither coming into being nor falling from it, set in no region or place or support, emerging from nowhere, entering into nothing, fast within itself.

In dealing with that lower order we would reason from its own nature and the characteristics it exhibits; thus, on a plausible foundation, we achieve plausible results by a plausible system of deduction: similarly, in dealing with the Intellectual, the only way is to grasp the nature of the essence concerned and so lay the sure foundations of the argument, not forgetfully straying over into that other order but basing our treatment on what is essential to the Nature with which we deal.

In every entity the essential nature is the governing principle and, as we are told, a sound definition brings to light many even of the concomitants: where the essential nature is the entire being, we must be all the more careful to keep to that, to look to that, to refer all to that.


If this principle is the Authentic Existent and holds unchanging identity, does not go forth from itself, is untouched by any process of becoming or, as we have said, by any situation in place, then it must be always self-gathered, never in separation, not partly here and partly there, not giving forth from itself: any such instability would set it in thing after thing or at least in something other than itself: then it would no longer be self-gathered; nor would it be immune, for anything within which it were lodged would affect it; immune, it is not in anything. If, then, not standing away from itself, not distributed by part, not taking the slightest change, it is to be in many things while remaining a self-concentrated entire, there is some way in which it has multipresence; it is at once self-enclosed and not so: the only way is to recognise that while this principle itself is not lodged in anything, all other things participate in it—all that are apt and in the measure of their aptitude.

Thus, we either cancel all that we have affirmed and the principles Edition: current; Page: [128] laid down, and deny the existence of any such Nature, or, that being impossible, we return to our first position:—

The One, numerically identical, undistributed, an unbroken entire, yet stands remote from nothing that exists by its side; but it does not, for that, need to pour itself forth: there is no necessity either that certain portions of it enter into things or again that, while it remains self-abiding, something produced and projected from it enter at various points into that other order. Either would imply something of it remaining there while the emanant is elsewhere: thus separated from what has gone forth, it would experience local division. And would those emanants be, each in itself, whole or part? If part, the One has lost its nature, that of an entire, as we have already indicated; if whole, then either the whole is broken up to coincide point for point with that in which it is become present or we are admitting that an unbroken identity can be omnipresent.

This is a reasoning, surely, founded on the thing itself and its essential nature, not introducing anything foreign, anything belonging to the Other Order.


Then consider this god (in man) whom we cannot think to be absent at some point and present at another. All that have insight into the nature of the divine beings hold the omnipresence of this god and of all the gods, and reason assures us that so it must be.

Now all-pervasion is inconsistent with partition; that would mean no longer the god throughout but part of the god at one point and part at another; the god ceases to be one god, just as a mass cut up ceases to be a mass, the parts no longer giving the first total. Further, the god becomes corporeal.

If all this is impossible, the disputed doctrine presents itself again; holding the god to pervade the Being of man, we hold the omnipresence of an integral identity.

Again, if we think of the divine nature as infinite—and certainly it is confined by no bounds—this must mean that it nowhere fails; its Edition: current; Page: [129] presence must reach to everything; at the point to which it does not reach, there it has failed; something exists in which it is not.

Now, admitting any sequent to the absolute unity, that sequent must be bound up with the absolute; any third will be about that second and move towards it, linked to it as its offspring. In this way all participants in the Later will have share in the First. The Beings of the Intellectual are thus a plurality of firsts and seconds and thirds attached like one sphere to one centre, not separated by interval but mutually present; where, therefore, the Intellectual tertiaries are present the secondaries and firsts are present too.


Often for the purpose of exposition—as a help towards stating the nature of the produced multiplicity—we use the example of many lines radiating from one centre; but while we provide for individualisation we must carefully preserve mutual presence. Even in the case of our circle we need not think of separated radii; all may be taken as forming one surface: where there is no distinction even upon the one surface but all is power and reality undifferentiated, all the beings may be thought of as centres uniting at one central centre: we ignore the radial lines and think of their terminals at that centre, where they are at one. Restore the radii; once more we have lines, each touching a generating centre of its own, but that centre remains coincident with the one first centre; the centres all unite in that first centre and yet remain what they were, so that they are as many as are the lines to which they serve as terminals; the centres themselves appear as numerous as the lines starting from them and yet all those centres constitute a unity.

Thus we may liken the Intellectual Beings in their diversity to many centres coinciding with the one centre and themselves at one in it but appearing multiple on account of the radial lines—lines which do not generate the centres but merely lead to them. The radii, thus, afford a serviceable illustration for the mode of contact by which the Intellectual Unity manifests itself as multiple and multipresent.

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The Intellectual Beings, thus, are multiple and one; in virtue of their infinite nature their unity is a multiplicity, many in one and one over many, a unit-plurality. They act as entire upon entire; even upon the partial thing they act as entire; but there is the difference that at first the partial accepts this working only partially though the entire enters later. Thus, when Man enters into human form there exists a particular man who, however, is still Man. From the one thing Man—man in the Idea—material man has come to constitute many individual men: the one identical thing is present in multiplicity, in multi-impression, so to speak, from the one seal.

This does not mean that Man Absolute, or any Absolute, or the Universe in the sense of a Whole, is absorbed by multiplicity; on the contrary, the multiplicity is absorbed by the Absolute, or rather is bound up with it. There is a difference between the mode in which a colour may be absorbed by a substance entire and that in which the soul of the individual is identically present in every part of the body: it is in this latter mode that Being is omnipresent.


To Real Being we go back, all that we have and are; to that we return as from that we came. Of what is There we have direct knowledge, not images or even impressions; and to know without image is to be; by our part in true knowledge we are those Beings; we do not need to bring them down into ourselves, for we are There among them. Since not only ourselves but all other things also are those Beings, we all are they; we are they while we are also one with all: therefore we and all things are one.

When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is the one head. If a man could but be turned about—by his own motion or by the happy pull of Athene—he would see at once God and himself and the All. At first no doubt all will not be seen as one whole, but when we find no stop at which to declare a limit to our being we cease to rule Edition: current; Page: [131] ourselves out from the total of reality; we reach to the All as a unity—and this not by any stepping forward, but by the fact of being and abiding there where the All has its being.


For my part I am satisfied that anyone considering the mode in which Matter participates in the Ideas will be ready enough to accept this tenet of omnipresence in identity, no longer rejecting it as incredible or even difficult. This because it seems reasonable and imperative to dismiss any notion of the Ideas lying apart with Matter illumined from them as from somewhere above—a meaningless conception, for what have distance and separation to do here?

This participation cannot be thought of as elusive or very perplexing; on the contrary, it is obvious, accessible in many examples.

Note, however, that when we sometimes speak of the Ideas illuminating Matter this is not to suggest the mode in which material light pours down on a material object; we use the phrase in the sense only that, the material being image while the Ideas are archetypes, the two orders are distinguished somewhat in the manner of illuminant and illuminated. But it is time to be more exact.

We do not mean that the Idea, locally separate, shows itself in Matter like a reflection in water; the Matter touches the Idea at every point, though not in a physical contact, and, by dint of neighbourhood—nothing to keep them apart—is able to absorb thence all that lies within its capacity, the Idea itself not penetrating, not approaching, the Matter, but remaining self-locked.

We take it, then, that the Idea, say of Fire—for we had best deal with Matter as underlying the elements—is not in the Matter. The Ideal Fire, then, remaining apart, produces the form of fire throughout the entire enfired mass. Now let us suppose—and the same method will apply to all the so-called elements—that this Fire in its first material manifestation is a multiple mass. That single Fire is seen producing an image of itself in all the sensible fires; yet it is not spatially separate; it does not, then, produce that image in the manner of our visible light; Edition: current; Page: [132] for in that case all this sensible fire, supposing that it were a whole of parts (as the analogy would necessitate), must have generated spatial positions out of itself, since the Idea or Form remains in a non-spatial world; for a principle thus pluralised must first have departed from its own character in order to be present in that many and participate many times in the one same Form.

The Idea, impartible, gives nothing of itself to the Matter; its unbreaking unity, however, does not prevent it shaping that multiple by its own unity and being present to the entirety of the multiple, bringing it to pattern not by acting part upon part but by presence entire to the object entire. It would be absurd to introduce a multitude of Ideas of Fire, each several fire being shaped by a particular idea; the Ideas of fire would be infinite. Besides, how would these resultant fires be distinct, when fire is a continuous unity? and if we apply yet another fire to certain matter and produce a greater fire, then the same Idea must be allowed to have functioned in the same way in the new matter as in the old; obviously there is no other Idea.


The elements in their totality, as they stand produced, may be thought of as one spheric figure; this cannot be the piecemeal product of many makers each working from some one point on some one portion. There must be one cause; and this must operate as an entire, not by part executing part; otherwise we are brought back to a plurality of makers. The making must be referred to a partless unity, or, more precisely, the making principle must be a partless unity not permeating the sphere but holding it as one dependent thing. In this way the sphere is enveloped by one identical life in which it is inset; its entire content looks to the one life: thus all the souls are one, a one, however, which yet is infinite.

It is in this understanding that the soul has been taken to be a numerical principle, while others think of it as in its nature a self-increasing number; this latter notion is probably designed to meet the consideration that the soul at no point fails but, retaining its distinctive Edition: current; Page: [133] character, is ample for all, so much so that were the kosmos vaster yet the virtue of soul would still compass it—or rather the kosmos still be sunk in soul entire.

Of course, we must understand this adding of extension not as a literal increase but in the sense that the soul, essentially a unity, becomes adequate to omnipresence; its unity sets it outside of quantitative measurement, the characteristic of that other order which has but a counterfeit unity, an appearance by participation.

The essential unity is no aggregate to be annulled upon the loss of some one of the constituents; nor is it held within any allotted limits, for so it would be the less for a set of things, more extensive than itself, outside its scope; or it must wrench itself asunder in the effort to reach to all; besides, its presence to things would be no longer as whole to all but by part to part; in vulgar phrase, it does not know where it stands; dismembered, it no longer performs any one single function.

Now if this principle is to be a true unity—where the unity is of the essence—it must in some way be able to manifest itself as including the contrary nature, that of potential multiplicity, while by the fact that this multiplicity belongs to it not as from without but as from and by itself, it remains authentically one, possessing boundlessness and multiplicity within that unity; its nature must be such that it can appear as a whole at every point; this, as encircled by a single self-embracing Reason-Principle, which holds fast about that unity, never breaking with itself but over all the universe remaining what it must be.

The unity is in this way saved from the local division of the things in which it appears; and, of course, existing before all that is in place, it could never be founded upon anything belonging to that order of which, on the contrary, it is the foundation; yet, for all that they are based upon it, it does not cease to be wholly self-gathered; if its fixed seat were shaken, all the rest would fall with the fall of their foundation and stay; nor could it be so unintelligent as to tear itself apart by such a movement and, secure within its own being, trust itself to the insecurity of place which, precisely, looks to it for safety.

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It remains, then, poised in wisdom within itself; it could not enter into any other; those others look to it and in their longing find it where it is. This is that “Love Waiting at the Door,” ever coming up from without, striving towards the beautiful, happy when to the utmost of its power it attains. Even here the lover does not so much possess himself of the beauty he has loved as wait before it; that Beauty is abidingly self-enfolded but its lovers, the Many, loving it as an entire, possess it as an entire when they attain, for it was an entire that they loved. This seclusion does not prevent it sufficing to all, but is the very reason for its adequacy; because it is thus entire for all it can be The Good to all.

Similarly wisdom is entire to all; it is one thing; it is not distributed parcelwise; it cannot be fixed to place; it is not spread about like a colouring, for it is not corporeal; in any true participation in wisdom there must be one thing acting as unit upon unit. So must it be in our participation in the One; we shall not take our several portions of it, nor you some separate entire and I another. Think of what happens in Assemblies and all kinds of meetings; the road to sense is the road to unity; singly the members are far from wise; as they begin to grow together, each, in that true growth, generates wisdom while he recognises it. There is nothing to prevent our intelligences meeting at one centre from their several positions; all one, they seem apart to us as when without looking we touch one object or sound one string with different fingers and think we feel several. Or take our souls in their possession of good; it is not one good for me and another for you; it is the same for both and not in the sense merely of distinct products of an identical source, the good somewhere above with something streaming from it into us; in any real receiving of good, giver is in contact with taker and gives not as to a recipient outside but to one in intimate contact.

The Intellectual giving is not an act of transmission; even in the case of corporeal objects, with their local separation, the mutual giving (and taking) is of things of one order and their communication, every effect they produce, is upon their like; what is corporeal in Edition: current; Page: [135] the All acts and is acted upon within itself, nothing external impinging upon it. Now if in body, whose very nature is partition, there is no incursion of the alien, how can there be any in the order in which no partition exists?

It is therefore by identification that we see the good and touch it, brought to it by becoming identical with what is of the Intellectual within ourselves. In that realm exists what is far more truly a kosmos of unity; otherwise there will be two sensible universes, divided into correspondent parts; the Intellectual sphere, if a unity only as this sphere is, will be undistinguishable from it—except, indeed, that it will be less worthy of respect since in the nature of things extension is appropriate in the lower while the Intellectual will have wrought out its own extension with no motive, in a departure from its very character.

And what is there to hinder this unification? There is no question of one member pushing another out as occupying too much space, any more than happens in our own minds where we take in the entire fruit of our study and observation, all uncrowded.

We may be told that this unification is not possible in Real Beings; it certainly would not be possible, if the Reals had extension.


But how can the unextended reach over the defined extension of the corporeal? How can it, so, maintain itself as a unity, an identity?

This is a problem often raised and reason calls vehemently for a solution of the difficulties involved. The fact stands abundantly evident but there is still the need of intellectual satisfaction.

We have, of course, no slight aid to conviction, indeed the very strongest, in the exposition of the character of that principle. It is not like a stone, some vast block lying where it lies, covering the space of its own extension, held within its own limits, having a fixed quantity of mass and of assigned stone-power. It is a First Principle, measureless, not bounded within determined size—such measurement belongs to another order—and therefore it is all-power, nowhere under limit. Being so, it is outside of Time.

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Time in its ceaseless onward sliding produces parted interval; Eternity stands in identity, pre-eminent, vaster by unending power than Time with all the vastness of its seeming progress; Time is like a radial line running out apparently to infinity but dependent upon that, its centre, which is the pivot of all its movement; as it goes it tells of that centre, but the centre itself is the unmoving principle of all the movement.

Time stands, thus, in analogy with the principle which holds fast in unchanging identity of essence: but that principle is infinite not only in duration but also in power: this infinity of power must also have its counterpart, a principle springing from that infinite power and dependent upon it; this counterpart will, after its own mode, run a course—corresponding to the course of Time—in keeping with that stationary power which is its greater as being its source: and in this too the source is present throughout the full extension of its lower correspondent.

This secondary of Power, participating as far as it may in that higher, must be identified.

Now the higher power is present integrally but, in the weakness of the recipient material, is not discerned at every point; it is present as an identity everywhere not in the mode of the material triangle—identical though, in many representations, numerically multiple, but in the mode of the immaterial, ideal triangle which is the source of the material figures. If we are asked why the omnipresence of the immaterial triangle does not entail that of the material figure, we answer that not all Matter enters into the participation necessary; Matter accepts various forms and not all Matter is apt for all form; the First Matter, for example, does not lend itself to all but is for the First Kinds first and for the others in due order, though these, too, are omnipresent.


To return: How is that Power present to the universe?

As a One Life.

Consider the life in any living thing; it does not reach only to some fixed point, unable to permeate the entire being; it is omnipresent. If on this again we are asked How, we appeal to the character of this power, Edition: current; Page: [137] not subject to quantity but such that though you divide it mentally for ever you still have the same power, infinite to the core; in it there is no Matter to make it grow less and less according to the measured mass.

Conceive it as a power of an ever-fresh infinity, a principle unfailing, inexhaustible, at no point giving out, brimming over with its own vitality. If you look to some definite spot and seek to fasten on some definite thing, you will not find it. The contrary is your only way; you cannot pass on to where it is not; you will never halt at a dwindling point where it fails at last and can no longer give; you will always be able to move with it—better, to be in its entirety—and so seek no further; denying it, you have strayed away to something of another order and you fall; looking elsewhere you do not see what stands there before you.

But supposing you do thus “seek no further,” how do you experience it?

In that you have entered into the All, no longer content with the part; you cease to think of yourself as under limit but, laying all such determination aside, you become an All. No doubt you were always that, but there has been an addition and by that addition you are diminished; for the addition was not from the realm of Being—you can add nothing to Being—but from non-Being. It is not by some admixture of non-Being that one becomes an entire, but by putting non-Being away. By the lessening of the alien in you, you increase. Cast it aside and there is the All within you; engaged in the alien, you will not find the All. Not that it has to come and so be present to you; it is you that have turned from it. And turn though you may, you have not severed yourself; it is there; you are not in some far region: still there before it, you have faced to its contrary.

It is so with the lesser gods; of many standing in their presence it is often one alone that sees them; that one alone was alone in the power to see. These are the gods who “in many guises seek our cities”; but there is That Other whom the cities seek, and all the earth and heaven, everywhere with God and in Him, possessing through Him their Being and the Real Beings about them, down to soul and life, all bound to Him and so moving to that unity which by its very lack of extension is infinite.

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On Numbers


It is suggested that multiplicity is a falling away from The Unity, infinity (limitlessness) being the complete departure, an innumerable multiplicity, and that this is why unlimit is an evil and we evil at the stage of multiplicity.

A thing, in fact, becomes a manifold when, unable to remain self-centred, it flows outward and by that dissipation takes extension: utterly losing unity it becomes a manifold since there is nothing to bind part to part; when, with all this outflowing, it becomes something definite, there is a magnitude.

But what is there so grievous in magnitude?

Given consciousness, there will be, since the thing must feel its exile, its sundrance from its essence. Everything seeks not the alien but itself; in that outward moving there is frustration or compulsion; a thing most exists not when it takes multiplicity or extension but when it holds to its own being, that is when its movement is inward. Desire towards extension is ignorance of the authentically great, a movement not on the appropriate path but towards the strange; to the possession of the self the way is inward.

Consider the thing that has taken extension; broken into so many independent items, it is now those several parts and not the thing it was; if that original is to persist, the members must stand collected to their total; in other words, a thing is itself not by being extended but by remaining, in its degree, a unity: through expansion and in the measure of the expansion, it is less itself; retaining unity, it retains its essential being.

Yet the universe has at once extension and beauty?

Yes; because it has not been allowed to slip away into the limitless but is held fast by unity; and it has beauty in virtue of Beauty not of Magnitude; it needed Beauty to parry that magnitude; in the degree Edition: current; Page: [139] of its extension it was void of beauty and to that degree ugly. Thus extension serves as Matter to Beauty since what calls for its ordering is a multiplicity. The greater the expansion, the greater the disorder and ugliness.


What, then, of the “Number of the Infinite”?

To begin with, how is Number consistent with infinity?

Objects of sense are not unlimited and therefore the Number applying to them cannot be so. Nor is an enumerator able to number to infinity; though we double, multiply over and over again, we still end with a finite number; though we range over past and future, and consider them, even, as a totality, we still end with the finite.

Are we then to dismiss absolute limitlessness and think merely that there is always something beyond?

No; that more is not in the reckoner’s power to produce; the total stands already defined.

In the Intellectual the Beings are determined and with them Number, the number corresponding to their total; in this sphere of our own—as we make a man a multiple by counting up his various characteristics, his beauty and the rest—we take each image of Being and form a corresponding image of number; we multiply a non-existent in and so produce multiple numbers; if we number years we draw on the numbers in our own minds and apply them to the years; these numbers are still our possession.


And there is the question How can the infinite (the limitless) have existence and remain unlimited: whatever is in actual existence is by that very fact determined numerically.

But, first, if multiplicity holds a true place among Beings, how can it be an evil?

As existent it possesses unity; it is a unit-multiple, saved from stark multiplicity; but it is of a lessened unity and, by that inwoven Edition: current; Page: [140] multiplicity, it is evil in comparison with unity pure. No longer steadfast in that nature, but fallen, it is the less, while in virtue of the unity thence retained it keeps some value; multiplicity has value in so far as it tends to return to unity.

But how explain the unlimited? It would seem that either it is among beings and so is limited or, if unlimited, is not among beings but, at best, among things of process such as Time. To be brought to limit it must be unlimited; not the limited but the unlimited is the subject of limitation, since between the limited and the unlimited there is no intermediate to accept the principle of limitation. The unlimited recoils by very nature from the Idea of limit, though it may be caught and held by it from without: the recoil, of course, is not from one place to another; the limitless can have nothing to do with place which arises only with the limiting of the unlimited. Hence what is known as the flux of the unlimited is not to be understood as local change; nor does any other sort of recognisable motion belong to it in itself; therefore the limitless cannot move: neither can it be at rest: in what, since all place is later? Its movement means little more than that it is not fixed in rest.

Is it, then, suspended at some one point, or rocking to and fro?

No; any such poising, with or without side motion, could be known only by place (which Matter precedes).

How, then, are we to form any conception of its being?

We must fasten on the bare notion and take what that gives us—opposites that still are not opposed: we think of large and small and the unlimited becomes either, of stationary and moving, and it will be either of these. But primarily it can be neither in any defined degree, or at once it is under limit. Limitless in this unlimited and undefined way, it is able to appear as either of a pair of opposites: draw near, taking care to throw no net of limit over it, and you have something that slips away; you come upon no unity for so it would be defined; approach the thing as a unit and you find it manifold; call it a manifold and again you falsify, for when the single thing is not a unity neither is the total Edition: current; Page: [141] a manifold. In one manifestation it takes the appearance of movement, in another of rest, as the mind envisages it.

And there is movement in its lack of consciousness; it has passed out of Intellectual-Principle, slid away. That it cannot break free but is under compulsion from without to keep to its circling with no possibility of advance, in this would be its rest. Thus it is not true to speak of Matter as being solely in flux.


We have to enquire into the existence of the Numbers in the Intellectual. Are they Ideas added to the other Ideas? Or are they no more than necessary concomitants to the Ideas?

In the latter case, Being, as the first (in the Intellectual) would give us the conception of the Monad; then since Being produces motion and rest, Three exists; and so on for all the other members of the realm of Being. Or perhaps there is one monad for each member, or a monad for the first, with a dyad for its next, since there exists a series, and a corresponding number for every successive total, dekad for ten, and so on.

If, on the contrary, Number is a direct production of the Intellectual-Principle (an Idea in itself), there is the question whether it preceded or followed the other Ideas.

Plato, where he says that men arrived at the conception of Number by way of the changes of day and night—thus making the concept depend upon variation among things—seems to hold that the things numerable precede and by their differences produce number: Number then would consist in a process within the human mind passing onwards from thing to thing; it results by the fact that the mind takes count, that is when the mind traverses things and reports their differences; observing pure identity unbroken by difference, it says One. But there is the passage where he tells us that the veritable Number has Being, is a Being; this is the opposed view that Number is no product of the reckoning mind but a reality in itself, the concept of which is reawakened in the mind by changes in things of sense.

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What then is the veritable nature of Number?

Is it an accompaniment upon each substance, something seen in the things as in a man we see one man, in a being one being and in the total of presentations the total of number?

But how explain the dyad and triad? How comes the total to be unitary and any particular number to be brought under unity? The theory offers a multiplicity of units, and no number is reducible to unity but the simple “one.” It might be suggested that a dyad is that thing—or rather what is observed upon that thing—which has two powers combined, a compound thing related to a unity: or numbers might be what the Pythagoreans seem to hold them in their symbolic system in which Justice, for example, is a Tetrad: but this is rather to add the number, a number of manifold unity like the dekad, to the multiplicity of the thing which yet is one thing. Now it is not so that we treat the ten things; we bring them together and apply the figure ten to the several items. Or rather in that case we say ten, but when the several items form a unity we say dekad. This would apply in the Intellectual as in the sensible.

But how then can number, observed upon things, rank among Real Beings?

One answer might be that whiteness is similarly observed upon things and yet is real, just as movement is observed upon things and there is still a real existence of movement. But movement is not on a par with number: it is because movement is an entity that unity can be observed upon it. Besides, the kind of real existence thus implied annuls the reality of number, making it no more than an attribute; but that cannot be since an attribute must exist before it can be attributed; it may be inseparable from the subject but still must in itself be something, some entity as whiteness is; to be a predicate it must be that which is to be predicated. Thus if unity is observed in every subject, and “one man” says more than “man”—the oneness being different from the manness and common to all things—then this oneness must be something prior to man and to all the rest: only so can the Edition: current; Page: [143] unity come to apply to each and to all: it must therefore be prior also to even movement, prior to Being, since without unity these could not be each one thing: of course what is here meant is not the unity postulated as transcending Being but the unity predicable of the Ideas which constitute each several thing. So too there is a dekad prior to the subject in which we affirm it; this prior would be the dekad absolute, for certainly the thing in which the dekad is observed is not that absolute.

Is this unity, then, connate and coexistent to the Beings? Suppose it coexistent merely as an accidental like health in man it still must exist of itself; suppose it present as an element in a compound, there must first exist unity and the unity absolute that can thus enter into composition; moreover if it were compounded with an object brought into being by its agency it would make that object only spuriously a unity; its entry would produce a duality.

But what of the dekad? Where lies the need of dekad to a thing which, by totalling to that power, is dekad already?

The need may be like that of Form to Matter; ten and dekad may exist by its virtue; and, once more, the dekad must previously exist of its own existence, dekad unattached.


Granted, then, that there exist, apart from things, a unity absolute and a dekad absolute—in other words, that the Intellectual beings, together with their characteristic essence have also their order, Henads, Dyads, Triads, what is the nature of these numerical entities and how does it come into being? We cannot but think that some reason accounts for their origin.

As a beginning, what is the origin of the Ideas in general? It is not that the thinking principle thought of each Idea and by that act of thought procured their several existences; not because Justice and Movement were thus thought did they come to be; that would imply that while the thought is later than the thing—the concept of Justice must be later than Justice itself—yet the thought precedes what, as founded on the thinking, owes its existence to it. Besides, if Justice Edition: current; Page: [144] is only a certain definite thought we have the absurdity that Justice is nothing more than a definition of Justice. Thinking of Justice or Movement is but grasping their nature; this would mean grasping the non-existent, an impossibility.

We may be reminded that in immaterial objects the knowledge is identical with the thing; but we must not misapply that statement; it does not say that the knowledge is the thing known, or that the reason surveying the thing is the thing, but that the immaterial thing, being an Intellectual object is also a thought; this does not imply a definition or conception of the object; the thing itself, as belonging to the Intellectual, can be nothing else than Intellect or knowledge. This is not a case of knowledge self-directed; it is that the thing in the Intellectual transmutes the knowledge, which is not fixed like the knowledge of material things; in other words it makes it true knowledge, that is to say no image of the thing but the thing directly.

Thus it is not the conception of movement that brings movement to be; movement absolute produces that conception; it produces itself as at once movement and the concept of movement, for movement as it exists There, bound up with Being, is a concept. It is movement absolute because it is the first movement—there can be none till this exist—and it is the authentic Movement since it is not accidental to something else but is the activity of actual Being in motion. Thus it is a real existent though the notion of Being is different.

Justice therefore is not the thought of Justice but, as we may put it, a state of the Intellectual-Principle, or rather an activity of it—an appearance so lovely that neither evening nor dawn is so fair, nor anything else in all the realm of sense, an Intellectual manifestation self-rising, self-seen, or, rather, self-being.


It is inevitably necessary to think of all as contained within one nature; one nature must hold and encompass all; there cannot be as in the realm of sense thing apart from thing, here a sun and elsewhere something else; all must be mutually present within a unity. This is Edition: current; Page: [145] the very nature of the Intellectual-Principle as we may know from soul which reproduces it and from what we call Nature under which and by which the things of process are brought into their disjointed being while that Nature itself remains indissolubly one.

But within the unity There, the several entities have each its own distinct existence; the all-embracing Intellect sees what is in it, what is within Being; it need not look out upon them since it contains them, need not separate them since they stand for ever distinct within it.

Against doubters we cite the fact of participation; the greatness and beauty of the Intellectual-Principle we know by the soul’s longing towards it; the longing of the rest towards soul is set up by its likeness to its higher and to the possibility open to them of attaining resemblance through it.

It is surely inconceivable that any living thing be beautiful failing a Life-Absolute of a wonderful, an ineffable, beauty: this must be the Collective Life, made up of all living things, or embracing all, forming a unity coextensive with all, as our universe is a unity embracing all the visible.


As then there is a Life-Form primal—which therefore is the Life-Form Absolute—and there is Intellectual-Principle or Being, Authentic Being, these, we affirm, contain all living things and all Number, and Absolute Justice and Beauty and all of that order; for we ascribe an existence of their own to Absolute Man, Absolute Number, Absolute Justice. It remains to discover, in so far as such knowledge is possible, how these distinct entities come to be and what is the manner of their being.

At the outset we must lay aside all sense-perception; by Intellectual-Principle we know Intellectual-Principle. We reflect that within ourselves there is life, there is intellect, not in extension but as power without magnitude, issue of Authentic Being which is power self-existing, no vacuity but a thing most living and intellective,—nothing more living, more intelligent, more real—and producing its effect by contact and Edition: current; Page: [146] in the ratio of the contact, closely to the close, more remotely to the remote. If Being is to be sought, then most to be sought is Being at its intensest; so too the intensest of Intellect if the Intellectual act has worth; and so, too, of Life.

First, then, we take Being as first in order; then Intellectual-Principle; then the Living-Form considered as containing all things: Intellectual-Principle, as the Act of Real Being, is a second.

Thus it is clear that Number cannot be dependent upon the Living-Form since unity and duality existed before that; nor does it rise in the Intellectual-Principle since before that there existed Real Being which is both one and numerous.


It remains then to consider whether Being by its distinction produced Number or Number produced that distinction. It is certain that either Number was the cause of Being, movement, rest, identity and difference, or these the cause of Number.

The first question is whether Number can exist in and of itself or is dependent upon things—Two being something observed in two things, Three in three; and so of the arithmetical One, for if this could exist apart from numbered objects it could exist also before the divisions of Being.

But could it precede Being itself?

For the present we must take it that Being precedes Number, is its source. But if One means one being and the duality two beings, then unity precedes Being, and Number precedes the Beings.

Mentally, to our approach? Yes: and in reality of existence as well.

Let us consider:—When we think of the existence and the fine appearance of a man as forming one thing, that unity is certainly thought of as subsequent to a precedent duality; when we group a horse with a dog, the duality is obviously the subsequent. But think of that which brings man or horse or dog into being or produces them, with full intention from where they lie latent within itself: the producer must say “I Edition: current; Page: [147] begin with a first, I pass on to a second; that makes two; counting myself there are three.” Of course there was no such numbering even of Beings for their production since the due number was known from the very beginning; but this consideration serves to show that all Number precedes the very Beings themselves.

But if Number thus preceded the Beings, then it is not included among them?

The truth is that it existed within the Authentic Being but not as applying to it, for Being was still unparted; the potentiality of Number existed and so produced the division within Being, put in travail with multiplicity; Number must be either the substance of Being or its Activity; the Life-Form as such and the Intellectual-Principle must be Number. Clearly Being is to be thought of as Number Collective, while the Beings are Number unfolded: the Intellectual-Principle is Number moving within itself, while the Living-Form is Number container of the universe. Even Being is the outcome of the Unity and since the prior is unity the secondary must be Number.

Hence it is that the Forms have been described as Henads and Numbers. This is the authentic Number; the other, the “monadic” is its image. The Authentic is that made manifest in the Forms and helping to bring them to be; primally it is the Number in the Authentic Being, inherent to it and preceding the Beings, serving to them as root, fount, first principle.

For the Unity is source to Being; Being’s Being is stayed upon the Unity as its safeguard from dissolution; the Unity cannot rest upon Being which at that would be a unity before possessing unity; and so with the dekad before possessing dekadhood.


When it takes lot with multiplicity, Being becomes Number by the fact of awakening to manifoldness; before, it was a preparation, so to speak, of the Beings, their fore-promise, a total of henads offering a stay for what was to be based upon them.

Here with us a man will say “I wish I had such and such a quantity Edition: current; Page: [148] of gold”—or “such and such a number of houses.” Gold is one thing: the wish is not to bring the numerical quantity into gold but to bring the gold to quantity; the quantity, already present in the mind, is to be passed on to the gold so that it acquire that numerical value.

If the Beings preceded the number and this were discerned upon them at the stirring, to such and such a total, of the numbering principle, then the actual number of the Beings would be a chance not a choice; since that total is not a matter of chance, Number is a causing principle preceding that determined total.

Number then preexists and is the cause by which produced things participate in quantity.

The single thing derives its unity by participation in Unity-Absolute; its being it derives from Being-Absolute, which holds its Being from itself alone; a unity is a unity in virtue of Being; the particular unity—where the unity is a multiple unity—is one thing only as the Triad is; the collective Being is a unity of this kind, the unity not of the monad but of the myriad or any such collective number.

Take a man affirming the presence of ten thousand things; it is he that produces the number; he does not tell us that the ten thousand have uttered it; they merely exhibit their several forms; the enumerator’s mind supplies the total which would never be known if the mind kept still.

How does the mind pronounce?

By being able to enumerate; that is by knowing Number: but in order to this, Number must be in existence and that that Principle should not know its own total content is absurd, impossible.

It is with Number as with Good. When we pronounce things to be good either we mean that they are in their own nature so or we affirm goodness as an accidental in them. Dealing with the primals, the goodness we have in mind is that First Hypostasis; where the goodness is an accidental we imply the existence of a Principle of Good as a necessary condition of the accidental presence; there must be some source of that good which is observed elsewhere, whether this source be an Absolute Good or something that of its own nature produces the good. Edition: current; Page: [149] Similarly with number; in attributing the dekad to things we affirm either the truly existent dekad or, where the dekadhood is accidental, we necessarily posit the self-subsistent dekad, dekad not associated; if things are to be described as forming a dekad, then either they must be of themselves the dekad or be preceded by that which has no other being than that of dekadhood.

It must be urged as a general truth that anything affirmed of a subject not itself either found its way in from outside or is the characteristic Act of that subject; and supposing the predicated attribute to show no variation of presence and absence but to be always present, then, if the subject is a Real Being so also is the accidental in an equal degree; or, failing Real Being, it at least belongs to the existents, it exists. In the case when the subject can be thought of as remaining without its Act, yet that Act is inbound with it even though to our minds it appears as a later; when on the contrary the subject cannot be conceived without the attribute—man, for example, without unity—then the attribute is either not later but concomitant or, being essential to the existence, is precedent. In our view, Unity and Number are precedent.


It may be suggested that the dekad is nothing more than so many henads; admitting the one henad why should we reject the ten? As the one is a real existence why not the rest? We are certainly not compelled to attach that one henad to some one thing and so deprive all the rest of the means to unity: since every existent must be one thing, the unity is obviously common to all. This means one principle applying to many, the principle whose existence within itself we affirmed to be presupposed by its manifestation outside.

But if a henad exists in some given object and further is observed in something else, then that first henad being real, there cannot be only one henad in existence; there must be a multiplicity of henads.

Supposing that first henad alone to exist, it must obviously be lodged either in the thing of completest Being or at all events in the thing most Edition: current; Page: [150] completely a unity. If in the thing of completest Being, then the other henads are but nominal and cannot be ranked with the first henad, or else Number becomes a collection of unlike monads and there are differences among monads (an impossibility). If that first henad is to be taken as lodged in the thing of completest unity, there is the question why that most perfect unity should require the first henad to give it unity.

Since all this is impossible, then, before any particular can be thought of as a unit, there must exist a unity bare, unrelated by very essence. If in that realm also there must be a unity apart from anything that can be called one thing, why should there not exist another unity as well?

Each particular, considered in itself, would be a manifold of monads, totalling to a collective unity. If however Nature produces continuously—or rather has produced once for all—not halting at the first production but bringing a sort of continuous unity into being, then it produces the minor numbers by the sheer fact of setting an early limit to its advance: outgoing to a greater extent—not in the sense of moving from point to point but in its inner changes—it would produce the larger numbers; to each number so emerging it would attach the due quantities and the appropriate thing, knowing that without this adaptation to Number the thing could not exist or would be a stray, something outside, at once, of both Number and Reason.


We may be told that unity and monad have no real existence, that the only unity is some definite object that is one thing, so that all comes to an attitude of the mind towards things considered singly.

But, to begin with, why at this should not the affirmation of Being pass equally as an attitude of mind so that Being too must disappear? No doubt Being strikes and stings and gives the impression of reality; but we find ourselves just as vividly struck and impressed in the presence of unity. Besides, is this attitude, this concept itself, a unity or a manifold? When we deny the unity of an object, clearly the unity mentioned is not supplied by the object since we are saying it has none; the unity Edition: current; Page: [151] therefore is within ourselves, something latent in our minds independently of any concrete one thing.

[An objector speaks:—] “But the unity we thus possess comes by our acceptance of a certain idea or impression from things external; it is a notion derived from an object. Those that take the notion of numbers and of unity to be but one species of the notions held to be inherent in the mind must allow to numbers and to unity the reality they ascribe to any of the others and upon occasion they must be met; but no such real existence can be posited when the concept is taken to be an attitude or notion rising in us as a by-product of the objects; this happens when we say This, What, and still more obviously in the affirmations “Crowd, Festival, Army, Multiplicity.” As multiplicity is nothing apart from certain constituent items and the festival nothing apart from the people gathered happily at the rites, so when we affirm unity we are not thinking of some Oneness self-standing, unrelated. And there are many other such cases; for instance “on the right,” “Above” and their opposites; what is there of reality about this “On-the-right-ness” but the fact that two different positions are occupied? So with “Above”: “Above” and “Below” are a mere matter of position and have no significance outside of this sphere.

Now in answer to this series of objections our first remark is that there does exist an actuality implicit in each one of the relations cited; though this is not the same for all or the same for correlatives or the same for every reference to unity.

But these objections must be taken singly.


It cannot reasonably be thought that the notion of unity is derived from the object since this is physical—man, animal, even stone, a presentation of that order is something very different from unity (which must be a thing of the Intellectual); if that presentation were unity, the mind could never affirm unity unless of that given thing, man, for example.

Then again, just as in the case of “On the right” or other such Edition: current; Page: [152] affirmation of relation, the mind does not affirm in some caprice but from observation of contrasted position, so here it affirms unity in virtue of perceiving something real; assuredly the assertion of unity is not a bare attitude towards something non-existent. It is not enough that a thing be alone and be itself and not something else: and that very “something else” tells of another unity. Besides Otherness and Difference are later; unless the mind has first rested upon unity it cannot affirm Otherness or Difference; when it affirms Aloneness it affirms unity-with-aloneness; thus unity is presupposed in Aloneness.

Besides, that in us which asserts unity of some object is first a unity, itself; and the object is a unity before any outside affirmation or conception.

A thing must be either one thing or more than one, manifold: and if there is to be a manifold there must be a precedent unity. To talk of a manifold is to talk of what has something added to unity; to think of an army is to think of a multitude under arms and brought to unity. In refusing to allow the manifold to remain manifold, the mind makes the truth clear; it draws a separate many into one, either supplying a unity not present or keen to perceive the unity brought about by the ordering of the parts; in an army, even, the unity is not a fiction but as real as that of a building erected from many stones, though of course the unity of the house is more compact.

If, then, unity is more pronounced in the continuous, and more again where there is no separation by part, this is clearly because there exists, in real existence, something which is a Nature or Principle of Unity. There cannot be a greater and less in the non-existent: as we predicate Substance of everything in sense, but predicate it also of the Intellectual order and more strictly there—since we hold that the greater and more sovran substantiality belongs to the Real Beings and that Being is more marked in Substance, even sensible Substance, than in the other Kinds—so, finding unity to exhibit degree of more and less, differing in sense-things as well as in the Intellectual, we must similarly admit that Unity exists under all forms though still by reference, only, to that primal Unity.

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As Substance and Real Being, despite the participation of the sensible, are still of the Intellectual and not the sensible order, so too the unity observed present in things of sense by participation remains still an Intellectual and to be grasped by an Intellectual Act. The mind, from a thing present to it, comes to knowledge of something else, a thing not presented; that is, it has a prior knowledge. By this prior knowledge it recognises Being in a particular being; similarly when a thing is one it can affirm unity as it can affirm also duality and multiplicity.

It is impossible to name or conceive anything not making one or two or some number; equally impossible that the thing should not exist without which nothing can possibly be named or conceived; impossible to deny the reality of that whose existence is a necessary condition of naming or affirming anything; what is a first need, universally, to the formation of every concept and every proposition must exist before reasoning and thinking; only as an existent can it be cited to account for the stirring of thought. If Unity is necessary to the substantial existence of all that really is—and nothing exists which is not one—Unity must precede Reality and be its author. It is, therefore, an existent Unity, not an existent that develops Unity; considered as Being-with-Unity it would be a manifold, whereas in the pure Unity there is no Being save in so far as Unity attends to producing it. As regards the word This, it is not a bare word; it affirms an indicated existence without using the name, it tells of a certain presence whether a substance or some other existent; any This must be significant; it is no attitude of the mind applying itself to a non-existent; the This shows a thing present, as much as if we used the strict name of the object.


To the argument touching relation we have an answer surely legitimate:—

The Unity is not of a nature to lose its own manner of being only because something else stands in a state which it does not itself share; Edition: current; Page: [154] to stray from its unity it must itself suffer division into duality or the still wider plurality.

If by division the one identical mass can become a duality without loss of quantity, clearly the unity it possessed and by this destructive division lost was something distinct. What may be alternatively present and absent to the same subject must be classed among Real-Beings, regardless of position; an accidental elsewhere, it must have reality in itself whether it be manifested in things of sense or in the Intellectual—an accidental in the Laters but self-existent in the higher, especially in the First in its aspect of Unity developing into Being. We may be told that Unity may lose that character without change in itself, becoming duality by association with something else; but this is not true; unity does not become two things; neither the added nor what takes the addition becomes two; each remains the one thing it was; the duality is predicable of the group only, the unity remaining unchanged in each of those unchanged constituents.

Two and the Dyad are not essentially relative: if the only condition to the construction of duality were meeting and association such a relation might perhaps constitute Twoness and Duality; but in fact we see Duality produced by the very opposite process, by the splitting apart of a unity. This shows that duality—or any other such numerical form—is no relation produced either by scission or association. If one configuration produces a certain thing it is impossible that the opposite should produce the same so that the thing may be identified with the relation.

What then is the actual cause?

Unity is due to the presence of Unity; duality to that of Duality; it is precisely as things are white by Whiteness, just by Justice, beautiful by Beauty. Otherwise we must reject these universals and call in relation here also: Justice would arise from a certain attitude in a given situation, Beauty from a certain pattern of the person with nothing present able to produce the beauty, nothing coming from without to effect that agreeable appearance.

You see something which you pronounce to be a unity; that thing Edition: current; Page: [155] possesses also size, form, and a host of other characteristics you might name; size, bulk, sweetness, bitterness and other Ideas are actually present in the thing; it surely cannot be thought that, while every conceivable quality has Real-Being, quantity (Number) has not and that while continuous quantity exists, discrete quantity does not—and this though continuous quantity is measured by the discrete. No: as size by the presence of Magnitude, and Oneness by the presence of Unity, so with Duality and all the other numerical modes.

As to the How of participation, the enquiry is that of all participation in Ideal Forms; we must note, however, that the presence of the Dekad (for instance) in the looser totals is different from its presence in the continuous; there is difference again in its presence within many powers where multiplicity is concentred in unity; arrived at the Intellectuals, there too we discover Number, the Authentic Number, no longer entering the alien, Dekad-Absolute not Dekad of some particular Intellectual group.


We must repeat:—The Collective Being, the Authentic, There, is at once Being and Intellectual-Principle and the Complete Living Form; thus it includes the total of living things; the Unity There is reproduced by the unity of this living universe in the degree possible to it—for the sense-nature as such cannot compass that transcendental unity—thus that Living-All is inevitably Number-Entire: if the Number were not complete, the All would be deficient to the extent of some number, and if every number applicable to living things were not contained in it, it would not be the all-comprehending Life-Form. Therefore, Number exists before every living thing, before the collective Life-Form.

Again:—Man exists in the Intellectual and with him all other living things, both by possession of Real-Being and because that is the Life-Form Complete. Even the man of this sphere is a member of the Intellectual since that is the Life-Form Complete; every living thing by virtue of having life, is There, There in the Life-form, and man is Edition: current; Page: [156] There also, in the Intellectual, in so far as he is intellect, for all intelligences are severally members of That. Now all this means Number There. Yet even in Intellect Number is not present primally; its presence There is the reckoning of the Acts of Intellectual-Principle; it tallies with the Justice in Intellectual-Principle, its moral wisdom, its virtues, its knowledge, all whose possession makes That Principle what it is.

But knowledge—must not this imply presence to the alien? No; knowledge, known and knower are an identity; so with all the rest; every member of Intellectual-Principle is therefore present to it primally; justice, for example, is not accidental to it as to soul in its character as soul, where these virtues are mainly potential becoming actual by the intention towards Intellectual-Principle and association with it.

Next we come to Being, fully realised, and this is the seat of Number; by Number Being brings forth the Beings; its movement is planned to Number; it establishes the numbers of its offspring before bringing them to be, in the same way as it establishes its own unity by linking pure Being to the First: the numbers do not link the lower to the First; it suffices that Being is so linked; for Being, in taking form as Number, binds its members to itself. As a unity, it suffers no division, remaining self-constant; as a thing of division, containing its chosen total of members, it knows that total and so brings forth Number, a phase therefore of its content: its development of part is ruled by the powers of Number, and the Beings it produces sum to that Number. Thus Number, the primal and true, is Principle and source of actuality to the Beings.

Hence it is that in our sphere, also, Number accompanies the coming to be of particular things and to suppose another number than the actual is to suppose the production of something else or of nothing.

These then are the primal numbers; they are numerable; the numbers of the other order are of a double character; as derived from the first numbers they are themselves numerable but as acting for those first they are measures of the rest of things, numbering numbers and numerables. For how could they declare a Dekad save in the light of numbers within themselves?

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But here we may be questioned about these numbers which we describe as the primal and authentic:—

“Where do you place these numbers, in what genus among Beings? To everyone they seem to come under Quantity and you have certainly brought Quantity in, where you say that discrete Quantity equally with the continuous holds place among Beings; but you go on to say that there are the numbers belonging to the Firsts and then talk of other numbers quite distinct, those of reckoning; tell us how you arrange all this, for there is difficulty here. And then, the unity in sense-things—is that a quantity or is quantity here just so many units brought together, the unity being the starting-point of quantity but not quantity itself? And, if the starting-point, is it a kindred thing or of another genus? All this you owe it to us to make clear.”

Be it so; we begin by pointing out a distinction:—

You take one thing with another—for we must first deal with objects of sense—a dog and a man, or two men; or you take a group and affirm ten, a dekad of men: in this case the number affirmed is not a Reality, even as Reality goes in the sphere of sense, but is purely Quantity: similarly when you resolve into units, breaking up the dekad, those units are your principle of Quantity since the single individual is not a unity absolute.

But the case is different when you consider one man in himself and affirm a certain number, duality, for example, in that he is at once living and reasoning.

By this analysis and totalling you get quantity; but there are two objects under consideration and each of these is one; each of the unities contributes to the complete being and the oneness is inherent in each; this is another kind of number, number essential; even the duality so formed is no posterior; it does not signify a quantity apart from the thing but the quantity in the essence which holds the thing together. The number here is no mere result of your detailing; the things exist of themselves and are not brought together by your reckoning, but what has it to do with essential reality that you count one man in with another? There is here no resultant unity such as that of a Edition: current; Page: [158] choir; the dekad is real only to you who count the ten; in the ten of your reckoning there cannot be a dekad without a unitary basis; it is you that make the ten by your counting, by fixing that tenness down to quantity; in choir and army there is something more than that, something not of your placing.

But how do you come to have a number to place?

The Number inherent apart from any enumeration has its own manner of being, but the other, that resulting upon the appearance of an external to be appraised by the Number within yourself, is either an Act of these inherent numbers or an Act in accordance with them; in counting we produce number and so bring quantity into being just as in walking we bring a certain movement into being.

But what of that “Number within us having its own manner of being?”

It is the Number of our essence. “Our essence” we read “partakes of Number and harmony and, also, is Number and harmony.” “Neither body nor magnitude,” someone says: soul, then, is Number since it is essence. The number belonging to body is an essence of the order of body; the number belonging to soul constitutes the essences of souls.

In the Intellectuals, all, if the Absolute Living-Form, there is a multiple—a triad, let us say—that Triad of the Living-Form is of the nature of essence: and the Triad prior to any living thing, Triad in the realm of Being, is a principle of essence.

When you enumerate two things—say, animal and beauty—each of these remains one thing; the number is your production; it lay within yourself; it is you that elaborate quantity, here the dyad. But when you declare virtue to be a Tetrad, you are affirming a Tetrad which does actually exist; the parts, so to speak, make one thing; you are taking as the object of your act a Unity-Tetrad to which you accommodate the Tetrad within yourself.


But what of the Infinite Number we hear of; does not all this reasoning set it under limit?

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And rightly so if the thing is to be a number; limitlessness and number are in contradiction.

How, then, do we come to use the term? Is it that we think of Number as we think of an infinite line, not with the idea that any such line exists but that even the very greatest,—that of the (path of the) universe, for example—may be thought of as still greater? So it might be with number; let it be fixed, yet we still are free to think of its double, though not of course to produce the doubled quantity since it is impossible to join to the actual what is no more than a conception, a phantasm, private to ourselves.

It is our view that there does exist an infinite line, among the Intellectual Beings: for There a line would not be quantitative and being without quantity could be numerically infinite. This however would be in another mode than that of limitless extension. In what mode, then? In that the conception of the Absolute Line does not include the conception of limit.

But what sort of thing is the Line in the Intellectual and what place does it hold?

It is later than Number since unity is observed in it; it rises at one point and traverses one course and simply lacks the quantity that would be the measure of the distance.

But where does this thing lie? Is it existent only in the defining thought, so to speak?

No; it is also a thing, though a thing of the Intellectual. All that belongs to that order is at once an Intellectual and in some degree the concrete thing. There is a position, as well as a manner of being, for all configurations, for surface, for solid. And certainly the configurations are not of our devising; for example, the configurations of the universe are obviously antecedent to ourselves; so it must be with all the configurations of the things of nature; before the bodily reproductions all must exist There, without configuration, primal configurations. For these primals are not shapes in something; self-belonging they are perfect without extension; only the extended needs the external. In the sphere of Real-Being the configuration is always a unity; it becomes Edition: current; Page: [160] discrete either in the Living-Form or immediately before: I say becomes discrete not in the sense that it takes magnitude There but that it is broken apart for the purposes of the Living-Form and is allotted to the bodies within that Form—for instance, to Fire There, the Intellectual Pyramid. And because the Ideal-Form is There, the fire of this sphere seeks to produce that configuration against the check of Matter: and so of all the rest as we read in the account of the realm of sense.

But does the Life-Form contain the configurations by the mere fact of its life?

They are in the Intellectual-Principle previously but they also exist in the Living-Form; if this be considered as including the Intellectual-Principle, then they are primally in the Life-Form, but if that Principle comes first than they are previously in that. And if the Life-Form entire contains also souls, it must certainly be subsequent to the Intellectual-Principle.

No doubt there is the passage “Whatever Intellect sees in the entire Life-Form”; thus seeing, must not the Intellectual-Principle be the later?

No; the seeing may imply merely that the reality comes into being by the fact of that seeing; the Intellectual-Principle is not external to the Life-Form; all is one; the Act of the Intellectual-Principle possesses itself of bare sphere, while the Life-Form holds the sphere as sphere of a living total.


It appears then that Number in that realm is definite; it is we that can conceive the “More than is present”; the infinity lies in our counting: in the Real is no conceiving more than has been conceived; all stands entire; no number has been or could be omitted to make addition possible. It might be described as infinite in the sense that it has not been measured—who is there to measure it?—but it is solely its own, a concentrated unit, entire, not ringed round by any boundary; its manner of being is settled for it by itself alone. None of the Real-Beings is under limit; what is limited, measured, is what needs measure Edition: current; Page: [161] to prevent it running away into the unbounded. There every being is Measure; and therefore it is that all is beautiful. Because that is a living thing it is beautiful, holding the highest life, the complete, a life not tainted towards death, nothing mortal there, nothing dying. Nor is the life of that Absolute Living-Form some feeble flickering; it is primal, the brightest, holding all that life has of radiance; it is that first light which the souls There draw upon for their life and bring with them when they come here. It knows for what purpose it lives, towards What it lives, from Whence it lives; for the Whence of its life is the Whither. . . . and close above it stands the wisdom of all, the collective Intellectual-Principle, knit into it, one with it, colouring it to a higher goodness, by kneading wisdom into it, making its beauty still more august. Even here the august and veritably beautiful life is the life in wisdom, here dimly seen, There purely. For There wisdom gives sight to the seer and power for the fuller living and in that tenser life both to see and to become what is seen.

Here attention is set for the most part upon the unliving and, in the living, upon what is lifeless in them; the inner life is taken only with alloy: There, all are Living Beings, living wholly, unalloyed; however you may choose to study one of them apart from its life, in a moment that life is flashed out upon you: once you have known the Essence that pervades them, conferring that unchangeable life upon them, once you perceive the judgement and wisdom and knowledge that are theirs, you can but smile at all the lower nature with its pretention to Reality.

In virtue of this Essence it is that life endures, that the Intellectual-Principle endures, that the Beings stand in their eternity; nothing alters it, turns it, moves it; nothing, indeed, is in being beside it to touch it; anything that is must be its product; anything opposed to it could not affect it. Being itself could not make such an opposite into Being; that would require a prior to both and that prior would then be Being; so that Parmenides was right when he taught the identity of Being and Unity. Being is thus beyond contact not because it stands alone but because it is Being. For Being alone has Being in its own right.

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How then can we deny to it either Being or anything at all that may exist effectively, anything that may derive from it?

As long as it exists it produces: but it exists for ever; so, therefore, do its products. And so great is it in power and beauty that it remains the allurer, all things of the universe depending from it and rejoicing to hold their trace of it and through that to seek their good. To us existence is before the good; all this world desires life and wisdom in order to Being; every soul and every intellect seeks to be its Being but Being is sufficient to itself.

How the Multiplicity of the Ideal-Forms came into Being and Upon The Good


God, or some one of the gods, in sending the souls to their birth, placed eyes in the face to catch the light and allotted to each sense the appropriate organ, providing thus for the safety which comes by seeing and hearing in time and seeking or avoiding under guidance of touch.

But what led to this provision?

It cannot be that other forms of being were produced first and that, these perishing in the absence of the senses, the maker at last supplied the means by which men and other living beings might avert disaster.

We may be told that it lay within the divine knowledge that animal life would be exposed to heat and cold and other such experiences incident to body and that in this knowledge he provided the senses and the organs apt to their activity in order that the living total might not fall an easy prey.

Now, either he gave these organs to souls already possessing the sensitive powers or he gave senses and organs alike.

But if the souls were given the powers as well as the organs, then, souls though they were, they had no sensation before that giving. If they possessed these powers from the moment of being souls and became Edition: current; Page: [163] souls in order to their entry into process, then it is of their very nature to belong to process, unnatural to them to be outside of process and within the Intellectual: they were made in the intent that they should belong to the alien and have their being amid evil; the divine provision would consist in holding them to their disaster; this is God’s reasoned purpose, this the plan entire.

Now what is the foundation of reasoned plan?

Precedent planning, it may be; but still we are forced back to some thing or things determining it. What would these be here?

Either sense-perception or intellect. But sense-perception it cannot in this case be: intellect is left; yet, starting from intellect, the conclusion will be knowledge, not therefore the handling of the sensible; what begins with the intellectual and proceeds to the intellectual can certainly not end in dealings with the sensible. Providence, then, whether over living beings or over any part of the universe was never the outcome of plan.

There is in fact no planning There; we speak of reasoned purpose in the world of things only to convey that the universe is of the character which in the later order would point to a wise purposing; Providence implies that things are as in the later order a competent foreplanning would produce them. Reasoning serves, in beings not of the order above that need, to supply for the higher power; foresight is necessary in the lack of power which could dispense with it; it labours towards some one occurrence in preference to another and it goes in a sort of dread of the unfitting; where only the fitting can occur, there is no foreseeing. So with planning; where one only of two things can be, what place is there for plan? The alone and one and utterly simplex cannot involve a “this to avert that”: if the “this” could not be, the “that” must; the serviceable thing appeared and at once approved itself so.

But surely this is foreseeing, deliberating: are we not back at what was said at the beginning, that God did to this end give both the senses and the powers, however perplexing that giving be?

No: all turns on the necessary completeness of Act; we cannot think anything belonging to God to be other than a whole and all and Edition: current; Page: [164] therefore in anything of God’s that all must be contained; God therefore must take in the future, present beforehand. Certainly there is no later in the divine; what is There as present is future for elsewhere. If then the future is present, it must be present as having been fore-conceived for later coming to be; at that divine stage therefore it lacks nothing and therefore can never lack; all existed, eternally and in such a way that at the later stage any particular thing may be said to exist for this or that purpose; the All, in its extension and so to speak unfolding, is able to present succession while yet it is simultaneous; this is because it contains the cause of all as inherent to itself.


Thus we have even here the means of knowing the nature of the Intellectual-Principle, though, seeing it more closely than anything else, we still see it at less than its worth. We know that it exists but its cause we do not see, or, if we do, we see that cause as something apart. We see a man—or an eye, if you like—but this is an image or part of an image; what is in that Principle is at once Man and the reason of his being; for There man—or eye—must be, itself, an intellective thing and a cause of its being; it could not exist at all unless it were that cause, whereas here, everything partial is separate and so is the cause of each. In the Intellectual all is at one so that the thing is identical with the cause.

Even here the thing and its cause are often identical—an eclipse furnishes an example—what then is there to prevent other things too being identical with their cause and this cause being the essence of the thing? It must be so; and by this search after the cause the thing’s essence is reached, for the essence of a thing is its cause. I am not here saying that the informing Idea is the cause of the thing—though this is true—but that the Idea itself, unfolded, reveals the cause inherent in it.

A thing of inactivity, even though alive, cannot include its own cause; but where could a Forming-Idea, a member of the Intellectual-Principle, turn in quest of its cause? We may be answered “In the Edition: current; Page: [165] Intellectual-Principle”; but the two are not distinct; the Idea is the Intellectual-Principle; and if that Principle must contain the Ideas complete, their cause must be contained in them. The Intellectual-Principle itself contains every cause of the things of its content; but these of its content are identically Intellectual-Principle, each of them Intellectual-Principle; none of them, thus, can lack its own cause; each springs into being carrying with it the reason of its being. No result of chance, each must rise complete with its cause; it is an integral and so includes the excellence bound up with the cause. This is how all participants in the Idea are put into possession of their cause.

In our universe, a coherent total of multiplicity, the several items are linked each to the other, and by the fact that it is an all every cause is included in it: even in the particular thing the part is discernibly related to the whole, for the parts do not come into being separately and successively but are mutually cause and caused at one and the same moment. Much more in the higher realm must all the singles exist for the whole and each for itself: if then that world is the conjoint reality of all, of an all not chance-ruled and not sectional, the caused There must include the causes: every item must hold, in its very nature, the uncaused possession of its cause; uncaused, independent and standing apart from cause, they must be self-contained, cause and all.

Further, since nothing There is chance-sprung, and the multiplicity in each comprehends the entire content, then the cause of every member can be named; the cause was present from the beginning, inherent, not a cause but a fact of the being; or, rather, cause and manner of being were one. What could an Idea have, as cause, over and above the Intellectual-Principle? It is a thought of that Principle and cannot, at that, be considered as anything but a perfect product. If it is thus perfect we cannot speak of anything in which it is lacking nor cite any reason for such lack. That thing must be present and we can say why. The why is inherent, therefore, in the entity, that is to say in every thought and activity of the Intellectual-Principle. Take for example the Idea of Man; Man entire is found to contribute to it; he is in that Idea in all his fulness including everything that from the beginning Edition: current; Page: [166] belonged to Man. If Man were not complete There, so that there were something to be added to the Idea, that additional must belong to a derivative: but Man exists from eternity and must therefore be complete; the man born is the derivative.


What then is there to prevent man having been the object of planning There?

No: all stands in that likeness, nothing to be added or taken away; this planning and reasoning is based only on an assumption; things are taken to be in process and this suggests planning and reasoning; insist on the eternity of the process and planning falls to the ground. There can be no planning over the eternal; that would imply forgetfulness of a first state; further, if the second state were better, things stood ill at first; if they stood well, so they must remain.

Only in conjunction with their causes are things good; even in this sphere a thing is good in virtue of being complete; form means that the thing is complete, the Matter duly controlled; this control means that nothing has been left crude; but something is so left if anything belonging to the shape be missing—eye, or other part. Thus to state cause is to state the thing complete. Why eyes or eye-brows? For completion: if you say For preservation, you affirm an indwelling safeguard of the essence, something contributory to the being: the essence, then, preceded the safeguard and the cause was inbound with the essence; distinct, this cause is in its nature a part of the essence.

All parts, thus, exist in regard to each other: the essence is all-embracing, complete, entire; the excellency is inbound with the cause and embraced by it; the being, the essence, the cause, all are one.

But, at this, sense-perception—even in its particular modes—is involved in the Idea by eternal necessity, in virtue of the completeness of the Idea; Intellectual-Principle, as all-inclusive, contains in itself all by which we are brought, later, to recognise this perfection in its nature; the cause, There, was one total, all-inclusive; thus Man in the Edition: current; Page: [167] Intellectual was not purely intellect, sense-perception being an addition made upon his entry into birth: all this would seem to imply a tendance in that great Principle towards the lower, towards this sphere.

But how could that Principle have such perception, be aware of things of sense? Surely it is untenable on the one hand that sense-perception should exist There, from eternity, and on the other that only upon the debasement of the soul should there be sense-perception here and the accomplishment in this realm of the Act of what was always a power in that?


To meet the difficulty we must make a close examination of the nature of Man in the Intellectual; perhaps, though it is better to begin with the man of this plane lest we be reasoning to Man There from a misconception of Man here. There may even be some who deny the difference.

We ask first whether man as here is a Reason-Principle different to that soul which produces him as here and gives him life and thought; or is he that very soul or, again, the (yet lower) soul using the human body?

Now if man is a reasonable living being and by living being is meant a conjoint of soul and body, the Reason-Principle of man is not identical with soul. But if the conjoint of soul and body is the reason-principle of man, how can man be an eternal reality, seeing that it is only when soul and body have come together that the Reason-Principle so constituted appears?

That Reason-Principle will be the foreteller of the man to be, not the Man Absolute with which we are dealing but more like his definition, and not at that indicating his nature since what is indicated is not the Idea that is to enter Matter but only that of the known thing, the conjoint. We have not yet found the Man we are seeking, the equivalent of the Reason-Principle.

But—it may be said—the Reason-Principle of such beings must be some conjoint, one element in another.

This does not define the principle of either. If we are to state with Edition: current; Page: [168] entire accuracy the Reason-Principles of the Forms in Matter and associated with Matter, we cannot pass over the generative Reason-Principle, in this case that of Man, especially since we hold that a complete definition must cover the essential manner of being.

What, then, is this essential of Man? What is the indwelling, inseparable something which constitutes Man as here? Is the Reason-Principle itself a reasoning living being or merely a maker of that reasoning life-form? and what is it apart from that act of making?

The living being corresponds to a reasoning life in the Reason-Principle; man therefore is a reasoning life: but there is no life without soul; either, then, the soul supplies the reasoning life—and man therefore is not an essence but simply an activity of the soul—or the soul is the man.

But if reasoning soul is the man, why does it not constitute man upon its entry into some other animal form?


Man, thus, must be some Reason-Principle other than soul. But why should he not be some conjoint—a soul in a certain Reason-Principle—the Reason-Principle being, as it were, a definite activity which however could not exist without that which acts?

This is the case with the Reason-Principles in seed which are neither soulless nor entirely soul. For these productive principles cannot be devoid of soul and there is nothing surprising in such essences being Reason-Principles.

But these principles producing other forms than man, of what phase of soul are they activities? Of the vegetal soul? Rather of that which produces animal life, a brighter soul and therefore one more intensely living.

The soul of that order, the soul that has entered into Matter of that order, is man by having, apart from body, a certain disposition; within body it shapes all to its own fashion, producing another form of Man, man reduced to what body admits, just as an artist may make a reduced image of that again.

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It is soul, then, that holds the pattern and Reason-Principles of Man, the natural tendencies, the dispositions and powers—all feeble since this is not the Primal Man—and it contains also the Ideal-Forms of other senses, Forms which themselves are senses, bright to all seeming but images, and dim in comparison with those of the earlier order.

The higher Man, above this sphere, rises from the more godlike soul, a soul possessed of a nobler humanity and brighter perceptions. This must be the Man of Plato’s definition (“Man is Soul,”) where the addition “Soul as using body” marks the distinction between the soul which uses body directly and the soul, poised above, which touches body only through that intermediary.

The Man of the realm of birth has sense-perception: the higher soul enters to bestow a brighter life, or rather does not so much enter as simply impart itself; for soul does not leave the Intellectual but maintaining that contact holds the lower life as pendant from it, blending with it by the natural link of Reason-Principle to Reason-Principle: and man, the dimmer, brightens under that illumination.


But how can that higher soul have sense-perception?

It is the perception of what falls under perception There, sensation in the mode of that realm: it is the source of the soul’s perception of the sense-realm in its correspondence with the Intellectual. Man as sense-percipient becomes aware of that correspondence and accomodates the sense-realm to the lowest extremity of its counterpart There, proceeding from the fire Intellectual to the fire here which becomes perceptible by its analogy with that of the higher sphere. If material things existed There, the soul would perceive them; Man in the Intellectual, Man as Intellectual soul, would be aware of the terrestrial. This is how the secondary Man, copy of Man in the Intellectual, contains the Reason-Principles in copy; and Man in the Intellectual-Principle contained the Man that existed before any man. The diviner shines out upon the secondary and the secondary upon the tertiary; and even the latest possesses them all—not in the sense of actually living by them all but Edition: current; Page: [170] as standing in under-parallel to them. Some of us act by this lowest; in another rank there is a double activity, a trace of the higher being included; in yet another there is a blending of the third grade with the others: each is that Man by which he acts while each too contains all the grades, though in some sense not so. On the separation of the third life and third Man from the body, then if the second also departs—of course not losing hold on the Above—the two, as we are told, will occupy the same place. No doubt it seems strange that a soul which has been the Reason-Principle of a man should come to occupy the body of an animal: but the soul has always been all, and will at different times be this and that.

Pure, not yet fallen to evil, the soul chooses man and is man, for this is the higher and it produces the higher. It produces also the still loftier beings, the Celestials (Daimons), who are of one Form with the soul that makes Man: higher still stands that Man more entirely of the Celestial rank, almost a god, reproducing God, a Celestial closely bound to God as a man is to Man. For that Being into which man develops is not to be called a god; there remains the difference which distinguishes souls, all of the same race though they be. This is taking “Celestial” (“Daimon”) in the sense of Plato.

When a soul which in the human state has been thus attached chooses animal nature and descends to that, it is giving forth the Reason-Principle—necessarily in it—of that particular animal: this lower it contained and the activity has been to the lower.


But if it is by becoming evil and inferior that the soul produces the animal nature, the making of ox or horse was not at the outset in its character; the reason-principle of the animal, and the animal itself, must lie outside of the natural plan?

Inferior, yes; but outside of nature, no. The thing There (Soul in the Intellectual) was in some sense horse and dog from the beginning; given the condition, it produces the higher kind; let the condition fail, then since produce it must it produces what it may: it is like a Edition: current; Page: [171] skilful craftsman competent to create all kinds of works of art but reduced to making what is ordered and what the aptitude of his material indicates.

The power of the All-Soul, as Reason-Principle of the universe, may be considered as laying down a pattern before the effective separate powers go forth from it: this plan would be something like a tentative illumining of Matter; the elaborating soul would give minute articulation to these representations of itself; every separate effective soul would become that towards which it tended, assuming that particular form as the choral dancer adapts himself to the action set down for him.

But this is to anticipate: our enquiry was How there can be sense-perception in man without the implication that the Divine addresses itself to the realm of process. We maintained, and proved, that the Divine does not look to this realm but that things here are dependent upon those and represent them and that man here holding his powers from Thence is directed Thither, so that, while sense makes the environment of what is of sense in him, the Intellectual in him is linked to the Intellectual.

What we have called the perceptibles of that realm enter into cognisance in a way of their own, since they are not material, while the sensible sense here—so distinguished as dealing with corporeal objects—is fainter than the perception belonging to that higher world; the man of this sphere has sense-perception because existing in a less true degree and taking only enfeebled images of things There—perceptions here are Intellections of the dimmer order, and the Intellections There are vivid perceptions.


So much for the thing of sense; but it would appear that the prototype There of the living form, the universal horse, must look deliberately towards this sphere; and, that being so, the idea of horse must have been worked out in order there be a horse here?

Yet what was that there to present the idea of the horse it was desired to produce? Obviously the idea of horse must exist before there was any planning to make a horse; it could not be thought of in order Edition: current; Page: [172] to be made; there must have been horse unproduced before that which was later to come into being. If then the thing existed before it was produced—if it cannot have been thought of in order to its production—the Being that held the horse as There held it in presence without any looking to this sphere; it was not with intent to set horse and the rest in being here that they were contained There; it is that, the universal existing, the reproduction followed of necessity since the total of things was not to halt at the Intellectual. Who was there to call a halt to a power capable at once of self-concentration and of outflow?

But how come these animals of earth to be There? What have they to do within God? Reasoning beings, all very well; but this host of the unreasoning, what is there august in them? Surely the very contrary?

The answer is that obviously the unity of our universe must be that of a manifold since it is subsequent to that unity-absolute; otherwise it would be not next to that but the very same thing. As a next it could not hold the higher rank of being more perfectly a unity; it must fall short: since the best is a unity, inevitably there must be something more than unity, for deficiency involves plurality.

But why should it not be simply a dyad?

Because neither of the constituents could ever be a pure unity, but at the very least a duality and so progressively (in an endless dualisation). Besides, in that first duality of the hypothesis there would be also movement and rest, Intellect and the life included in Intellect, all-embracing Intellect and life complete. That means that it could not be one Intellect; it must be Intellect agglomerate including all the particular intellects, a thing therefore as multiple as all the Intellects and more so; and the life in it would not be that of one soul but of all the souls with the further power of producing the single souls: it would be the entire living universe containing much besides man; for if it contained only man, man would be alone here.


Admitted, then—it will be said—for the nobler forms of life; but how can the divine contain the mean, the unreasoning? The mean is Edition: current; Page: [173] the unreasoning since value depends upon reason and the worth of the intellective implies worthlessness where intellection is lacking. Yet how can there be question of the unreasoning or unintellective when all particulars exist in the divine and come forth from it?

In taking up the refutation of these objections, we must insist upon the consideration that neither man nor animals here can be thought of as identical with the counterparts in the higher realm; those ideal forms must be taken in a larger way. And again the reasoning thing is not of that realm: here the reasoning, There the pre-reasoning.

Why then does man alone reason here, the others remaining reasonless?

Degrees of reasoning here correspond to degrees of Intellection in that other sphere, as between man and the other living beings There; and those others do in some measure act by understanding.

But why are they not at man’s level of reason: why also the difference from man to man?

We must reflect that since the many forms of lives are movements—and so with the Intellections—they cannot be identical: there must be different lives, distinct intellections, degrees of lightsomeness and clarity: there must be firsts, seconds, thirds, determined by nearness to the Firsts. This is how some of the Intellections are gods, others of a secondary order having what is here known as reason, while others again belong to the so-called unreasoning: but what we know here as unreasoning was There a Reason-Principle; the unintelligent was an Intellect; the Thinker of Horse was Intellect and the Thought, Horse, was an Intellect.

But (it will be objected) if this were a matter of mere thinking we might well admit that the intellectual concept, remaining concept, should take in the unintellectual, but where concept is identical with thing how can the one be an Intellection and the other without intelligence? Would not this be Intellect making itself unintelligent?

No: the thing is not unintelligent; it is Intelligence in a particular mode, corresponding to a particular aspect of Life; and just as life in whatever form it may appear remains always life, so Intellect is not Edition: current; Page: [174] annulled by appearing in a certain mode. Intellectual-Principle adapted to some particular living being does not cease to be the Intellectual-Principle of all, including man: take it where you will, every manifestation is the whole, though in some special mode; the particular is produced but the possibility is of all. In the particular we see the the Intellectual-Principle in realisation; the realised is its latest phase; in one case the last aspect is horse; at horse ended the progressive outgoing towards the lesser forms of life, as in another case it will end at something lower still. The unfolding of the powers of this Principle is always attended by some abandonment in regard to the highest; the outgoing is by loss and by this loss the powers become one thing or another according to the deficiency of the life-form produced by the failing principle; it is then that they find the means of adding various requisites; the safeguards of the life becoming inadequate, there appear nail, talon, fang, horn. Thus the Intellectual-Principle by its very descent is directed towards the perfect sufficiency of the natural constitution, finding there within itself the remedy of the failure.


But failure There? What can defensive horns serve to There? To sufficiency as living form, to completeness. That principle must be complete as living form, complete as Intellect, complete as life so that if it is not to be one thing it may be another. Its characteristic difference is in this power of being now this, now that, so that, summing all, it may be the completest life-form, Intelligence complete, life in the greatest fulness with each of the particulars complete in its degree while yet, over all that multiplicity, unity reigns.

If all were one identity, the total could not contain this variety of forms; there would be nothing but a self-sufficing unity. Like every compound it must consist of things progressively differing in form and safeguarded in that form. This is in the very nature of shape and Reason-Principle; a shape, that of man let us suppose, must include a certain number of differences of part but all dominated by a unity; there will be the noble and the inferior, eye and finger, but all within a unity; Edition: current; Page: [175] the part will be inferior in comparison with the total but best in its place. The Reason-Principle, too, is at once the living form and something else, something distinct from the being of that form. It is so with virtue also; it contains at once the universal and the particular; and the total is good because the universal is not differentiated.


The very heavens, patently multiple, cannot be thought to disdain any form of life since this universe holds everything. Now how do these things come to be here? Does the higher realm contain all of the lower?

All that has been shaped by Reason-Principle and conforms to Idea.

But, having fire (warmth) and water, it will certainly have vegetation; how does vegetation exist There? Earth, too? either these are alive or they are There as dead things and then not everything There has life. How in sum can the things of this realm be also There?

Vegetal life we can well admit, for the plant is a Reason-Principle established in life. If in the plant the Reason-Principle, entering Matter and constituting the plant, is a certain form of life, a definite soul, then, since every Reason-Principle is a unity, then either this of plant-life is the primal or before it there is a primal plant, source of its being: that first plant would be a unity; those here, being multiple, must derive from a unity. This being so, that primal must have much the truer life and be the veritable plant, the plants here deriving from it in the secondary and tertiary degree and living by a vestige of its life.

But earth; how is there earth There: what is the being of earth and how are we to represent to ourselves the living earth of that realm?

First, what is it, what the mode of its being?

Earth, here and There alike, must possess shape and a Reason-Principle. Now in the case of the vegetal, the Reason-Principle of the plant here was found to be living in that higher realm: is there such a Reason-Principle in our earth?

Take the most earthy of things found shaped in earth and they exhibit, even they, the indwelling earth-principle. The growing and Edition: current; Page: [176] shaping of stones, the internal moulding of mountains as they rise, reveal the working of an ensouled Reason-Principle fashioning them from within and bringing them to that shape: this, we must take it, is the creative earth-principle corresponding to what we call the specific principle of a tree; what we know as earth is like the wood of the tree; to cut out a stone is like lopping a twig from a tree, except of course that there is no hurt done, the stone remaining a member of the earth as the twig, uncut, of the tree.

Realising thus that the creative force inherent in our earth is life within a Reason-Principle, we are easily convinced that the earth There is much more primally alive, that it is a reasoned Earth-Livingness, the earth of Real-Being, earth primally, the source of ours.

Fire, similarly, with other such things, must be a Reason-Principle established in Matter: fire certainly does not originate in the friction to which it may be traced; the friction merely brings out a fire already existent in the scheme and contained in the materials rubbed together. Matter does not in its own character possess this fire-power: the true cause is something informing the Matter, that is to say, a Reason-Principle, obviously therefore a soul having the power of bringing fire into being; that is, a life and a Reason-Principle in one.

It is with this in mind that Plato says there is soul in everything of this sphere. That soul is the cause of the fire of the sense-world; the cause of fire here is a certain Life of fiery character, the more authentic fire. That transcendent fire being more truly fire will be more veritably alive; the fire absolute possesses life. And the same principles apply to the other elements, water and air.

Why, then, are water and air not ensouled as earth is?

Now, it is quite certain that these are equally within the living total, parts of the living all; life does not appear visibly in them; but neither does it in the case of the earth where its presence is inferred by what earth produces: but there are living things in fire and still more manifestly in water and there are systems of life in the air. The particular fire, rising only to be quenched, eludes the soul animating the universe; it slips away from the magnitude which would manifest the soul within Edition: current; Page: [177] it; so with air and water. If these Kinds could somehow be fastened down to magnitude they would exhibit the soul within them, now concealed by the fact that their function requires them to be loose or flowing. It is much as in the case of the fluids within ourselves; the flesh and all that is formed out of the blood into flesh show the soul within, but the blood itself, not bringing us any sensation, seems not to have soul; yet it must; the blood is not subject to blind force; its nature obliges it to abstain from the soul which nonetheless is indwelling in it. This must be the case with the three elements; it is the fact that the living beings formed from the close conglomeration of air (the stars) are not susceptible to suffering. But just as air, so long as it remains itself, eludes the light which is and remains unyielding, so too, by the effect of its circular movement, it eludes soul—and, in another sense, does not. And so with fire and water.


Or take it another way:—Since in our view this universe stands to that as copy to original, the living total must exist There beforehand; that is the realm of complete Being and everything must exist There.

The sky There must be living and therefore not bare of stars, here known as the heavens—for stars are included in the very meaning of the word. Earth too will be There, and not void but even more intensely living and containing all that lives and moves upon our earth and the plants obviously rooted in life; sea will be There and all waters with the movement of their unending life and all the living things of the water; air too must be a member of that universe with the living things of air as here.

The content of that living thing must surely be alive—as in this sphere—and all that lives must of necessity be There. The nature of the major parts determines that of the living forms they comprise; by the being and content of the heaven There are determined all the heavenly forms of life; if those lesser forms were not There, that heaven itself would not be.

To ask how those forms of life come to be There is simply asking Edition: current; Page: [178] how that heaven came to be; it is asking whence comes life, whence the All-Life, whence the All-soul, whence collective Intellect: and the answer is that There no indigence or impotence can exist but all must be teeming, seething, with life. All flows, so to speak, from one fount not to be thought of as some one breath or warmth but rather as one quality englobing and safeguarding all qualities—sweetness with fragrance, wine-quality and the savours of everything that may be tasted, all colours seen, everything known to touch, all that ear may hear, all melodies, every rhythm.


For Intellectual-Principle is not a simplex, nor is the soul that proceeds from it: on the contrary things include variety in the degree of their simplicity, that is to say in so far as they are not compounds but Principles and Activities; the activity of the lowest is simple in the sense of being a fading-out, that of the First as the total of all activity. Intellectual-Principle is moved in a movement unfailingly true to one course but its unity and identity are not those of the partial; they are those of its universality; and indeed the partial itself is not a unity but divides to infinity.

We know that Intellectual-Principle has a source and advances to some term as its ultimate; now, is the intermediate between source and term to be thought of as a line or as some distinct kind of body uniform and unvaried?

Where at that would be its worth? it had no change, if no differentiation woke it into life, it would not be a Force; that condition would in no way differ from mere absence of power and, even calling it movement, it would still be the movement of a life not all-varied but indiscriminate; now it is of necessity that life be all-embracing, covering all the realms, and that nothing fail of life. Intellectual-Principle therefore must move in every direction upon all, or more precisely must ever have so moved.

A simplex moving retains its character; either there is no change, movement has been null, or if there has been advance it still remains a simplex and at once there is a permanent duality: if the one member Edition: current; Page: [179] of this duality is identical with the other, then it is still as it was, there has been no advance; if one member differs from the other, it has advanced with differentiation, and, out of a certain identity and difference, it has produced a third unity. This production, based on Identity and Difference, must be in its nature identical and different; it will be not some particular different thing but Collective Difference, as its Identity is Collective Identity.

Being, thus, at once Collective Identity and Collective Difference, Intellectual-Principle must reach over all different things; its very nature then is to modify itself into a universe. If the realm of different things existed before it, these different things must have modified it from the beginning; if they did not, this Intellectual-Principle produced all, or rather was all.

Beings could not exist save by the activity of Intellectual-Principle; wandering down every way it produces thing after thing, but wandering always within itself in such self-bound wandering as authentic Intellect may know; this wandering permitted to its nature is among real beings which keep pace with its movement; but it is always itself; this is a stationary wandering, a wandering within the Meadow of Truth from which it does not stray.

It holds and covers the universe which it has made the space, so to speak, of its movement, itself being also that universe which is space to it. And this Meadow of Truth is varied so that movement through it may be possible; suppose it not always and everywhere varied, the failing of diversity is a failure of movement; failure in movement would mean a failing of the Intellectual Act; halting, it has ceased to exercise its Intellectual Act; this ceasing, it ceases to be.

The Intellectual-Principle is the Intellectual Act; its movement is complete, filling Being complete; And the entire of Being is the Intellectual Act entire, comprehending all life and the unfailing succession of things. Because this Principle contains Identity and Difference its division is ceaselessly bringing the different things to light. Its entire movement is through life and among living things. To a traveller over land all is earth but earth abounding in difference: so in this journey Edition: current; Page: [180] the life through which Intellectual-Principle passes is one life but, in its ceaseless changing, a varied life.

Throughout this endless variation it maintains the one course because it is not, itself, subject to change but on the contrary is present as identical and unvarying Being to the rest of things. For if there be no such principle of unchanging identity to things, all is dead, activity and actuality exist nowhere. These “other things” through which it passes are also Intellectual-Principle itself; otherwise it is not the all-comprehending principle: if it is to be itself, it must be all-embracing; failing that, it is not itself. If it is complete in itself, complete because all-embracing, and there is nothing which does not find place in this total, then there can be nothing belonging to it which is not different; only by difference can there be such co-operation towards a total. If it knew no otherness but was pure identity its essential Being would be the less for that failure to fulfil the specific nature which its completion requires.


On the nature of the Intellectual-Principle we get light from its manifestations; they show that it demands such diversity as is compatible with its being a monad. Take what principle you will, that of plant or animal: if this principle were a pure unity and not a specifically varied thing, it could not so serve as principle; its product would be Matter, the principle not having taken all those forms necessary if Matter is to be permeated and utterly transformed. A face is not one mass; there are nose and eyes; and the nose is not a unity but has the differences which make it a nose; as bare unity it would be mere mass.

There is infinity in Intellectual-Principle since, of its very nature, it is a multiple unity, not with the unity of a house but with that of a Reason-Principle, multiple in itself: in the one Intellectual design it includes within itself, as it were in outline, all the outlines, all the patterns. All is within it, all the powers and intellections; the division is not determined by a boundary but goes ever inward; this content is held as the living universe holds the natural forms of the living creatures Edition: current; Page: [181] in it from the greatest to the least, down even to the minutest powers where there is a halt at the individual form. The discrimination is not of items huddled within a sort of unity; this is what is known as the Universal Sympathy, not of course the sympathy known here which is a copy and prevails amongst things in separation; that authentic Sympathy consists in all being a unity and never discriminate.


That Life, the various, the all-including, the primal and one, who can consider it without longing to be of it, disdaining all the other?

All other life is darkness, petty and dim and poor; it is unclean and polluting the clean for if you do but look upon it you no longer see nor live this life which includes all living, in which there is nothing that does not live and live in a life of purity void of all that is ill. For evil is here where life is in copy and Intellect in copy; There is the archetype, that which is good in the very Idea—we read—as holding The Good in the pure Idea. That Archetype is good; Intellectual-Principle is good as holding its life by contemplation of the archetype; and it sees also as good the objects of its contemplation because it holds them in its act of contemplating the Principle of Good. But these objects come to it not as they are There but in accord with its own condition, for it is their source; they spring thence to be here, and Intellectual-Principle it is that has produced them by its vision There. In the very law, never, looking to That, could it fail of Intellectual Act; never, on the other hand, could it produce what is There; of itself it could not produce; Thence it must draw its power to bring forth, to teem with offspring of itself; from the Good it takes what itself did not possess. From that Unity came multiplicity to Intellectual-Principle; it could not sustain the power poured upon it and therefore broke it up; it turned that one power into variety so as to carry it piecemeal.

All its production, effected in the power of The Good contains goodness; it is good, itself, since it is constituted by these things of good; it is Good made diverse. It might be likened to a living sphere teeming with variety, to a globe of faces radiant with faces all living, Edition: current; Page: [182] to a unity of souls, all the pure souls, not the faulty but the perfect, with Intellect enthroned over all so that the place entire glows with Intellectual splendour.

But this would be to see it from without, one thing seeing another; the true way is to become Intellectual-Principle and be, our very selves, what we are to see.


But even there we are not to remain always, in that beauty of the multiple; we must make haste yet higher, above this heaven of ours and even that; leaving all else aside we ask in awe Who produced that realm and how. Everything There is a single Idea in an individual impression and, informed by The Good, possesses the universal good transcendent over all. Each possessing that Being above, possesses also the total Living-Form in virtue of that transcendent life, possesses, no doubt, much else as well.

But what is the Nature of this Transcendent in view of which and by way of which the Ideas are good?

The best way of putting the question is to ask whether when Intellectual-Principle looked towards The Good it had Intellection of that unity as a multiplicity and, itself a unity, applied its Act by breaking into parts what it was too feeble to know as a whole.

No: that would not be Intellection looking upon the Good; it would be a looking void of Intellection. We must think of it not as looking but as living; dependent upon That, it kept itself turned Thither; all the tendance taking place There and upon That must be a movement teeming with life and must so fill the looking Principle; there is no longer bare Act, there is a filling to saturation. Forthwith Intellectual-Principle becomes all things, knows that fact in virtue of its self-knowing and at once becomes Intellectual-Principle, filled so as to hold within itself that object of its vision, seeing all by the light from the Giver and bearing that Giver with it.

In this way the Supreme may be understood to be the cause at once of essential reality and of the knowing of reality. The sun, cause of the Edition: current; Page: [183] existence of sense-things and of their being seen, is indirectly the cause of sight, without being either the faculty or the object: similarly this Principle, The Good, cause of Being and Intellectual-Principle, is a light appropriate to what is to be seen There and to their seer; neither the Beings nor the Intellectual-Principle, it is their source and by the light it sheds upon both makes them objects of Intellection. This filling procures the existence; after the filling the being; the existence achieved, the seeing followed: the beginning is that state of not yet having been filled, though there is, also, the beginning which means that the Filling Principle was outside and by that act of filling gave shape to the filled.


But in what mode are these secondaries, and Intellectual-Principle itself, within the First? They are not in the Filling Principle; they are not in the filled since before that moment it did not contain them.

Giving need not comport possessing; in this order we are to think of a giver as a greater and of a gift as a lower; this is the meaning of origin among real Beings. First there must be an actualised thing; its laters must be potentially their own priors; a first must transcend its derivatives; the giver transcends the given, as a superior. If therefore there is a prior to actuality, that prior transcends Activity and so transcends Life. Our sphere containing life, there is a Giver of Life, a principle of greater good, of greater worth than Life; this possessed Life and had no need to look for it to any giver in possession of Life’s variety.

But the Life was a vestige of that Primal not a life lived by it; Life, then, as it looked towards That was undetermined; having looked it had determination though That had none. Life looks to unity and is determined by it, taking bound, limit, form. But this form is in the shaped, the shaper had none; the limit was not external as something drawn about a magnitude; the limit was that of the multiplicity of the Life There, limitless itself as radiated from its great Prior; the Life itself was not that of some determined being, or it would be no more than the life of an individual. Yet it is defined; it must then Edition: current; Page: [184] have been defined as the Life of a unity including multiplicity; certainly too each item of the multiplicity is determined, determined as multiple by the multiplicity of Life but as a unity by the fact of limit.

As what, then, is its unity determined?

As Intellectual-Principle: determined Life is Intellectual-Principle. And the multiplicity?

As the multiplicity of Intellectual-Principles: all its multiplicity resolves itself into Intellectual-Principles—on the one hand the collective Principle, on the other the particular Principles.

But does this collective Intellectual-Principle include each of the particular Principles as identical with itself?

No: it would be thus the container of only the one thing; since there are many Intellectual-Principles within the collective, there must be differentiation.

Once more, how does the particular Intellect come to this differentiation?

It takes its characteristic difference by becoming entirely a unity within the collective whose totality could not be identical with any particular.

Thus the Life in the Supreme was the collectivity of power; the vision taking place There was the potentiality of all; Intellectual-Principle, thus arising, is manifested as this universe of Being. It stands over the Beings not as itself requiring base but that it may serve as base to the Form of the Firsts, the Formless Form. And it takes position towards the soul, becoming a light to the soul as itself finds its light in the First; whenever Intellectual-Principle becomes the determinant of soul it shapes it into Reasoning Soul, by communicating a trace of what itself has come to possess.

Thus Intellectual-Principle is a vestige of the Supreme; but since the vestige is a Form going out into extension, into plurality, that Prior, as the source of Form, must be itself without shape and Form: if the Prior were a Form, the Intellectual-Principle itself could be only a Reason-Principle. It was necessary that The First be utterly without multiplicity, for otherwise it must be again referred to a prior.

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But in what way is the content of Intellectual-Principle participant in good? Is it because each member of it is an Idea or because of their beauty or how?

Anything coming from The Good carries the image and type belonging to that original or deriving from it, as anything going back to warmth or sweetness carries the memory of those originals: Life entered into Intellectual-Principle from The Supreme, for its origin is in the Activity streaming Thence; Intellectual-Principle springs from the Supreme, and with it the beauty of the Ideas; at once all these, Life, Intellectual-Principle, Idea, must inevitably have goodness.

But what is the common element in them? Derivation from the First is not enough to procure identical quality; there must be some element held in common by the things derived: one source may produce many differing things as also one outgoing thing may take difference in various recipients: what enters into the First Act is different from what that Act transmits and there is difference, again, in the effect here. Nonetheless every item may be good in a degree of its own. To what, then, is the highest degree due?

But first we must ask whether Life is a good, bare Life, or only the Life streaming Thence, very different from the Life known here? Once more, then, what constitutes the goodness of Life?

The Life of The Good, or rather not its Life but that given forth from it.

But if in that higher Life there must be something from That, something which is the Authentic Life, we must admit that since nothing worthless can come Thence Life in itself is good; so too we must admit in the case of Authentic Intellectual-Principle that its Life because good derives from that First; thus it becomes clear that every Idea is good and informed by the Good. The Ideas must have something of good whether as a common property or as a distinct attribution or as held in some distinct measure.

Thus it is established that the particular Idea contains in its essence Edition: current; Page: [186] something of good and thereby becomes a good thing; for Life we found to be good not in the bare being but in its derivation from the Authentic, the Supreme whence it sprung: and the same is true of Intellectual-Principle: we are forced therefore to admit a certain identity.

When, with all their differences, things may be affirmed to have a measure of identity, the matter of the identity may very well be established in their very essence and yet be mentally abstracted; thus life in man or horse yields the notion of animal; from water or fire we may get that of warmth; the first case is a definition of Kind, the other two cite qualities, primary and secondary respectively. Both or one part of Intellect, then, would be called by the one term good.

Is The Good, then, inherent in the Ideas essentially? Each of them is good but the goodness is not that of the Unity-Good. How, then, is it present?

By the mode of parts.

But The Good is without parts?

No doubt The Good is a unity; but here it has become particularised. The First Activity is good and anything determined in accord with it is good as also is any resultant. There is the good that is good by origin in The First, the good that is an ordered system derived from that earlier, and the good that is in the actualisation (in the thing participant). Derived, then, not identical—like the speech and walk and other characteristics of one man, each playing its due part.

Here, it is obvious, goodness depends upon order, rhythm, but what equivalent exists There?

We might answer that in the case of the sense-order, too, the good is imposed since the ordering is of things different from the Orderer but that There the very things are good.

But why are they thus good in themselves? We cannot be content with the conviction of their goodness on the ground of their origin in that realm: we do not deny that things deriving Thence are good but our subject demands that we discover the mode by which they come to possess that goodness.

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Are we to rest all on pursuit and on the soul? Is it enough to put faith in the soul’s choice and call that good which the soul pursues, never asking ourselves the motive of its choice? We marshal demonstration as to the nature of everything else; is the good to be dismissed as choice?

Several absurdities would be entailed. The good becomes a mere attribute of things; objects of pursuit are many and different so that mere choice gives no assurance that the thing chosen is the best; in fact we cannot know the best until we know the good.

Are we to determine the good by the respective values of things?

This is to make Idea and Reason-Principle the test: all very well; but arrived at these, what explanation have we to give as to why Idea and Reason-Principle themselves are good? In the lower we recognise goodness—in its less perfect form—by comparison with what is poorer still; we are without a standard There where no evil exists, the Bests holding the field, alone. Reason demands to know what constitutes goodness; those principles are good in their own nature and we are left in perplexity because cause and fact are identical: and even though we should state a cause, the doubt still remains until our reason claims its rights There. But we need not abandon the search; another path may lead to the light.


Since we are not entitled to make desire the test by which to decide on the nature and quality of the good, we may perhaps have recourse to judgement.

We would apply the opposition of things—order, disorder; symmetry, irregularity; health, illness; form, shapelessness; real-being, decay: in a word continuity against dissolution. The first in each pair, no one could doubt, belong to the concept of good and therefore whatever tends to produce them must be ranged on the good side.

Thus virtue and Intellectual-Principle and life and soul—reasoning Edition: current; Page: [188] soul, at least—belong to the idea of good and so therefore does all that a reasoned life aims at.

Why not halt, then—it will be asked—at Intellectual-Principle and make that The Good? Soul and life are traces of Intellectual-Principle; that principle is the Term of Soul which on judgement sets itself towards Intellectual-Principle, pronouncing right preferable to wrong and virtue in every form to vice, and thus ranking by its choosing.

The soul aiming only at that Principle would need a further lessoning; it must be taught that Intellectual-Principle is not the ultimate, that not all things look to that while all do look to the good. Not all that is outside of Intellectual-Principle seeks to attain it; what has attained it does not halt there but looks still towards good. Besides, Intellectual-Principle is sought upon motives of reasoning, the good before all reason. And in any striving towards life and continuity of existence and activity, the object is aimed at not as Intellectual-Principle but as good, as rising from good and leading to it: life itself is desirable only in view of good.


Now what in all these objects of desire is the fundamental making them good?

We must be bold:—

Intellectual-Principle and that life are of the order of good and hold their desirability, even they, in virtue of belonging to that order; they have their goodness, I mean, because Life is an Activity in The Good,—or rather, streaming from The Good—while Intellectual-Principle is an Activity already defined Therein; both are of radiant beauty and, because they come Thence and lead Thither, they are sought after by the soul—sought, that is, as things congenial though not veritably good while yet, as belonging to that order not to be rejected; the related if not good is shunned in spite of that relationship and even remote and ignobler things may at times prove attractive.

The intense love called forth by Life and Intellectual-Principle Edition: current; Page: [189] is due not to what they are but to the consideration of their nature as something apart, received from above themselves.

Material forms containing light incorporated in them need still a light apart from them that their own light may be manifest; just so the Beings of that sphere, all lightsome, need another and a lordlier light or even they would not be visible to themselves and beyond.


That light known, then indeed we are stirred towards those Beings in longing and rejoicing over the radiance about them, just as earthly love is not for the material form but for the Beauty manifested upon it. Every one of those Beings exists for itself but becomes an object of desire by the colour cast upon it from The Good, source of those graces and of the love they evoke. The soul taking that outflow from the divine is stirred; seized with a Bacchic passion, goaded by these goads, it becomes Love. Before that, even Intellectual-Principle with all its loveliness did not stir the soul; for that beauty is dead until it take the light of The Good, and the soul lies supine, cold to all, unquickened even to Intellectual-Principle there before it. But when there enters into it a glow from the divine, it gathers strength, awakens, spreads true wings, and however urged by its nearer environing, speeds its buoyant way elsewhere, to something greater to its memory: so long as there exists anything loftier than the near, its very nature bears it upwards, lifted by the giver of that love. Beyond Intellectual-Principle it passes but beyond The Good it cannot, for nothing stands above That. Let it remain in Intellectual-Principle and it sees the lovely and august, but it is not there possessed of all it sought; the face it sees is beautiful no doubt but not of power to hold its gaze because lacking in the radiant grace which is the bloom upon beauty.

Even here we have to recognise that beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself and is that which truly calls out our love.

Why else is there more of the glory of beauty upon the living and only some faint trace of it upon the dead though the face yet retains all Edition: current; Page: [190] its fulness and symmetry? Why are the most living portraits the most beautiful, even though the others happen to be more symmetric? Why is the living ugly more attractive than the sculptured handsome? It is that the one is more nearly what we are looking for, and this because there is soul there, because there is more of the Idea of The Good, because there is some glow of the light of The Good and this illumination awakens and lifts the soul and all that goes with it so that the whole man is won over to goodness, and in the fullest measure stirred to life.


That which soul must quest, that which sheds its light upon Intellectual-Principle, leaving its mark wherever it falls, surely we need not wonder that it be of power to draw to itself, calling back from every wandering to rest before it. From it came all and so there is nothing mightier; all is feeble before it. Of all things the best, must it not be The Good? If by The Good we mean the principle most wholly self-sufficing, utterly without need of any other, what can it be but this? Before all the rest it was what it was, when evil had yet no place in things.

If evil is a Later, there found where there is no trace of This—among the very ultimates, so that on the downward side evil has no beyond—then to This evil stands full contrary with no linking intermediate: This therefore is The Good: either good there is none, or if there must be, This and no other is it.

And to deny the good would be to deny evil also; there can then be no difference in objects coming up for choice: but that is untenable.

To This looks all else that passes for good; This, to nothing.

What then does it effect out of its greatness?

It has produced Intellectual-Principle, it has produced Life, the souls which Intellectual-Principle sends forth and everything else that partakes of Reason, of Intellectual-Principle or of Life. Source and spring of so much, how describe its goodness and greatness?

But what does it effect now?

Even now it is preserver of what it produced; by it the Intellectual Edition: current; Page: [191] Beings have their Intellection and the living their life; it breathes Intellect in, breathes Life in and, where life is impossible, existence.


But ourselves—how does it touch us?

We may recall what we have said of the nature of the light shining from it into Intellectual-Principle and so by participation into the soul. But for the moment let us leave that aside and put another question:—

Does The Good hold that nature and name because some outside thing finds it desirable? May we put it that a thing desirable to one is good to that one and that what is desirable to all is to be recognised as The Good?

No doubt this universal questing would make the goodness evident but still there must be in the nature something to earn that name.

Further, is the questing determined by the hope of some acquisition or by sheer delight? If there is acquisition, what is it? If it is a matter of delight, why here rather than in something else?

The question comes to this:—Is goodness in the appropriate or in something apart, and is The Good good as regards itself also or good only as possessed?

Any good is such, necessarily, not for itself but for something outside.

But to what nature is This good? There is a nature to which nothing is good.

And we must not overlook what some surly critic will surely bring up against us:—

What’s all this: you scatter praises here, there and everywhere: Life is good, Intellectual-Principle is good: and yet The Good is above them; how then can Intellectual-Principle itself be good? Or what do we gain by seeing the Ideas themselves if we see only a particular Idea and nothing else (nothing “substantial”)? If we are happy here we may be deceived into thinking life a good when it is merely pleasant; but suppose our lot unhappy, why should we speak of good? Is mere personal existence good? What profit is there in it? What is the advantage in existence over utter non-existence—unless goodness is to be founded upon our love of self? It is the deception rooted in the nature Edition: current; Page: [192] of things and our dread of dissolution that lead to all the “goods” of your positing.


It is in view, probably, of this difficulty that Plato in the Philebus makes pleasure an element in the Term; the good is not defined as a simplex or set in Intellectual-Principle alone; while he rightly refrains from identifying the good with the pleasant, yet he does not allow Intellectual-Principle, foreign to pleasure, to be The Good, since he sees no attractive power in it. He may also have had in mind that the good, to answer to its name, must be a thing of delight and that an object of pursuit must at least hold some pleasure for those that acquire and possess it, so that where there is no joy the good too is absent, further that pleasure, implying pursuit, cannot pertain to the First and that therefore good cannot.

All this was very well; there the enquiry was not as to the Primal Good but as to ours; the good dealt with in that passage pertains to very different beings and therefore is a different good; it is a good falling short of that higher; it is a mingled thing; we are to understand that good does not hold place in the One and Alone whose being is too great and different for that.

The good must, no doubt, be a thing pursued, not, however, good because it is pursued but pursued because it is good.

The solution, it would seem, lies in priority:—

To the lowest of things the good is its immediate higher; each step represents the good to what stands lower so long as the movement does not tend awry but advances continuously towards the superior: thus there is a halt at the Ultimate, beyond which no ascent is possible: that is the First Good, the authentic, the supremely sovran, the source of good to the rest of things.

Matter would have Forming-Idea for its good, since were it conscious it would welcome that; body would look to soul, without which it could not be or endure; soul must look to virtue; still higher stands Intellectual-Principle; above that again is the principle we call the Primal. Edition: current; Page: [193] Each of these progressive priors must have act upon those minors to which they are, respectively, the good: some will confer order and place, others life, others wisdom and the good life: Intellectual-Principle will draw upon the Authentic Good which we hold to be coterminous with it, both as being an Activity put forth from it and as even now taking light from it. This good we will define later.


Any conscious being if the good come to him will know the good and affirm his possession of it.

But what if one be deceived?

In that case there must be some resemblance to account for the error: the good will be the original which the delusion counterfeited and whenever the true presents itself we turn from the spurious.

All the striving, all the pain, show that to everything something is a good: the lifeless finds its share in something outside itself; where there is life the longing for good sets up pursuit; the very dead are cared for and mourned for by the living; the living plan for their own good. The witness of attainment is betterment, cleaving to state, satisfaction, settlement, suspension of pursuit. Here pleasure shows itself inadequate: its choice does not hold; repeated, it is no longer the same; it demands endless novelty. The good, worthy of the name, can be no such tasting of the casual; anyone that takes this kind of thing for the good goes empty, carrying away nothing but an emotion which the good might have produced. No one could be content to take his pleasure thus in an emotion over a thing not possessed any more than over a child not there; I cannot think that those setting their good in bodily satisfactions find table-pleasure without the meal or love-pleasure without intercourse with their chosen or any pleasure where nothing is done.


But what is that whose entry supplies every such need?

Some Idea, we maintain. There is a Form to which Matter aspires: to soul moral excellence is this Form.

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But is this Form a good to the thing as being apt to it, does the striving aim at the apt?

No: the aptest would be the most resemblant to the thing itself, but that, however sought and welcomed, does not suffice for the good: the good must be something more: to be a good to another a thing must have something beyond aptness; that only can be adopted as the good which represents the apt in its better form and is best to what is best in the quester’s self, to that which the quester tends potentially to be.

A thing is potentially that to which its nature looks; this, obviously, it lacks; what it lacks, of its better, is its good. Matter is of all the most in need; its next is the lowest Form; Form at lowest is just one grade higher than Matter. If a thing is a good to itself, much more must its perfection, its Form, its better, be a good to it; this better, good in its own nature, must be good also to the quester whose good it procures.

But why should the Form which makes a thing good be a good to that thing? As being most appropriate?

No: but because it is, itself, a portion of the Good. This is why the least alloyed and nearest to the good are most at peace within themselves.

It is surely out of place to ask why a thing good in its own nature should be a good; we can hardly suppose it dissatisfied with its own goodness so that it must strain outside its essential quality to the good which it effectually is.

There remains the question with regard to the Simplex: where there is utter absence of distinction does this self-aptness constitute the good to that Simplex?

If thus far we have been right, the striving of the lower possesses itself of the good as of a thing resident in a certain Kind and it is not the striving that constitutes the good but the good that calls out the striving: where the good is attained something is acquired and on this acquisition there follows pleasure. But the thing must be chosen even though no pleasure ensued; it must be desirable for its own sake.

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Now to see what all this reasoning has established:—

Universally what approaches as a good is a Form; Matter itself contains this good which is Form: are we to conclude that if Matter had will it would desire to be Form unalloyed?

No: that would be desiring its own destruction for the good seeks to subject everything to itself. But perhaps Matter would not wish to remain at its own level but would prefer to attain Being and, this acquired, to lay aside its evil.

If we are asked how the evil thing can have tendency towards the good, we answer that we have not attributed tendency to Matter; our argument needed the hypothesis of sensation in Matter—in so far as possible consistently with retention of its character—and we asserted that the entry of Form, that dream of the Good, must raise it to a nobler order. If then Matter is Evil, there is no more to be said; if it is something else—a wrong thing, let us say—then in the hypothesis that its essence acquire sensation would not the appropriate upon the next or higher plane be its good, as in the other cases? But not what is evil in Matter would be the quester of good but that element in it (lowest Form) which in it is associated with evil.

But if Matter by very essence is evil how could it choose the good?

This question implies that if Evil were self-conscious it would admire itself: but how can the unadmirable be admired; and did we not discover that the good must be apt to the nature?

There that question may rest. But if universally the good is Form and the higher the ascent the more there is of Form—Soul more truly Form than body is and phases of soul progressively of higher Form and Intellectual-Principle standing as Form to soul collectively—then the Good advances by the opposite of Matter and, therefore, by a cleansing and casting away to the utmost possible at each stage: and the greatest good must be there where all that is of Matter has disappeared. The Principle of Good rejecting Matter entirely—or rather never having come near it at any point or in any way—must hold itself aloft with that Formless in which Primal Form takes its origin. But we will return to this.

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Suppose, however, that pleasure did not result from the good but there were something preceding pleasure and accounting for it, would not this be a thing to be embraced?

But when we say “to be embraced” we say “pleasure.”

But what if accepting its existence, we think of that existence as leaving still the possibility that it were not a thing to be embraced?

This would mean the good being present and the sentient possessor failing, nonetheless, to perceive it.

It would seem possible, however, to perceive and yet be unmoved by the possession; this is quite likely in the case of the wiser and least dependent—and indeed it is so with the First, immune not merely because simplex, but because pleasure by acquisition implies lack.

But all this will become clear on the solution of our remaining difficulties and the rebuttal of the argument brought up against us. This takes the form of the question: What gain is there in the Good to one who, fully conscious, feels nothing when he hears of these things, whether because he has no grasp of them but takes merely the words or because he holds to false values, perhaps being all in search of sense, finding his good in money or such things.

The answer is that even in his disregard of the good proposed he is with us in setting a good before him but fails to see how the good we define fits into his own conception. It is impossible to say “Not that” if one is utterly without experience or conception of the “That”; there will generally have been, even, some inkling of the good beyond Intellection. Besides, one attaining or approaching the good but not recognising it may assure himself in the light of its contraries; otherwise he will not even hold ignorance an evil though everyone prefers to know and is proud of knowing so that our very sensations seek to ripen into knowledge.

If the knowing principle—and specially primal Intellectual-Principle—is valuable and beautiful, what must be present to those of power to see the Author and Father of Intellect? Anyone thinking slightingly of this principle of Life and Being brings evidence against himself and Edition: current; Page: [197] all his state: of course distaste for the life that is mingled with death does not touch that Life Authentic.


Whether pleasure must enter into the good, so that life in the contemplation of the divine things and especially of their source remains still imperfect, is a question not to be ignored in any enquiry into the nature of the good.

Now to found the good upon the Intellect and upon that state of soul or mind which springs from wisdom does not imply that the end or the absolute good is the conjunction (of Intellect and state): it would follow merely that Intellect is the good and that we feel happy in possession of that good. That is one theory; another associates pleasure with Intellect in the sense that the Good is taken to be some one thing founded upon both but depending upon our attaining or at least contemplating an Intellect so modified; this theory would maintain that the isolated and unrelated could be the good, could be an object of desire.

But how could Intellect and pleasure combine into one mutually complementary nature?

Bodily pleasure no one, certainly, would think capable of blending in with Intellect; the unreasoning satisfactions of soul (or lower mind) are equally incompatible with it.

Every activity, state and life, will be followed and as it were escorted by the overdwelling consciousness; sometimes as these take their natural course they will be met by hindrance and by intrusion of the conflicting so that the life is the less self-guided; sometimes the natural activity is unmixed, wholly free, and then the life goes brilliantly; this last state is judged the pleasantest, the most to be chosen; so, for lack of an accurate expression, we hear of “Intellect in conjunction with pleasure.” But this is no more than metaphor, like a hundred others drawn by the poets from our natural likings—“Drunk with nectar,” “To banquet and feast,” “The Father smiled.” No: the veritably pleasant lies away in that other realm, the most to be loved and sought for, not something brought about and changing but the very principle of Edition: current; Page: [198] all the colour and radiance and brightness found here. This is why we read of “Truth introduced into the Mixture” and of the “measuring standard as a prior condition” and are told that the symmetry and beauty necessary to the Mixture come Thence into whatever has beauty; it is in this way that we have our share in Beauty; but in another way, also, we achieve the truly desirable, that is by leading our selves up to what is best within us; this best is what is symmetry, beauty, collective Idea, life clear, Intellective and good.


But since Thence come the beauty and light in all, it is Thence that Intellectual-Principle took the brilliance of the Intellectual Energy which flashed Nature into being; Thence soul took power towards life, in virtue of that fuller life streaming into it. Intellectual-Principle was raised thus to that Supreme and remains with it, happy in that presence. Soul too, that soul which as possessing knowledge and vision was capable, clung to what it saw; and as its vision so its rapture; it saw and was stricken; but having in itself something of that principle it felt its kinship and was moved to longing like those stirred by the image of the beloved to desire of the veritable presence. Lovers here mould themselves to the beloved; they seek to increase their attraction of person and their likeness of mind; they are unwilling to fall short in moral quality or in other graces lest they be distasteful to those possessing such merit—and only among such can true love be. In the same way the soul loves the Supreme Good, from its very beginnings stirred by it to love. The soul which has never strayed from this love waits for no reminding from the beauty of our world: holding that love—perhaps unawares—it is ever in quest, and, in its longing to be borne Thither, passes over what is lovely here and with one glance at the beauty of the universe dismisses all; for it sees that all is put together of flesh and Matter, befouled by its housing, made fragmentary by corporal extension, not the Authentic Beauty which could never venture into the mud of body to be soiled, annulled.

By only noting the flux of things it knows at once that from elsewhere Edition: current; Page: [199] comes the beauty that floats upon them and so it is urged Thither, passionate in pursuit of what it loves: never—unless someone robs it of that love—never giving up till it attain.

There indeed all it saw was beautiful and veritable; it grew in strength by being thus filled with the life of the True; itself becoming veritable Being and attaining veritable knowledge, it enters by that neighbouring into conscious possession of what it has long been seeking.


Where, then? where exists the author of this beauty and life, the begetter of the veritable?

You see the splendour over the things of the universe with all the variety begotten of the Ideas; well might we linger here: but amid all these things of beauty we cannot but ask whence they come and whence the beauty. This source can be none of the beautiful objects; were it so, it too would be a thing of parts. It can be no shape, no power, nor the total of powers and shapes that have had the becoming that has set them here; it must stand above all the powers, all the patterns. The origin of all this must be the formless—formless not as lacking shape but as the very source of even shape Intellectual.

In the realm of process anything coming to be must come to be something; to every thing its distinctive shape: but what shape can that have which no one has shaped? It can be none of existing things; yet it is all: none, in that beings are later; all, as the wellspring from which they flow. That which can make all can have, itself, no extension; it must be limitless and so without magnitude; magnitude itself is of the Later and cannot be an element in that which is to bring it into being. The greatness of the Authentic cannot be a greatness of quantity; all extension must belong to the subsequent: the Supreme is great in the sense only that there can be nothing mightier, nothing to equal it, nothing with anything in common with it: how then could anything be equal to any part of its content? Its eternity and universal reach entail neither measure nor measurelessness; given either, how could it be the measure of things? So with shape: granted beauty, the absence of shape or Edition: current; Page: [200] form to be grasped is but enhancement of desire and love; the love will be limitless as the object is, an infinite love.

Its beauty, too, will be unique, a beauty above beauty: it cannot be beauty since it is not a thing among things. It is lovable and the author of beauty; as the power to all beautiful shape, it will be the ultimate of beauty, that which brings all loveliness to be; it begets beauty and makes it yet more beautiful by the excess of beauty streaming from itself, the source and height of beauty. As the source of beauty it makes beautiful whatsoever springs from it. And this conferred beauty is not itself in shape; the thing that comes to be is without shape, though in another sense shaped; what is denoted by shape is, in itself, an attribute of something else, shapeless at first. Not the beauty but its participant takes the shape.


When therefore we name beauty, all such shape must be dismissed; nothing visible is to be conceived, or at once we descend from beauty to what but bears the name in virtue of some faint participation. This formless Form is beautiful as Form, beautiful in proportion as we strip away all shape even that given in thought to mark difference, as for instance the difference between Justice and Sophrosyny, beautiful in their difference.

The Intellectual-Principle is the less for seeing things as distinct even in its act of grasping in unity the multiple content of its Intellectual realm; in its knowing of the particular it possesses itself of one Intellectual shape; but, even thus, in this dealing with variety as unity, it leaves us still with the question how we are to envisage that which stands beyond this all-lovely, beyond this principle at once multiple and above multiplicity, the Supreme for which the soul hungers though unable to tell why such a being should stir its longing—reason, however, urging that This at last is the Authentic Term because the Nature best and most to be loved may be found there only where there is no least touch of Form. Bring something under Form and present it so before the mind; immediately we ask what Beyond imposed that shape; Edition: current; Page: [201] reason answers that while there exists the giver having shape to give—a giver that is shape, idea, an entirely measured thing—yet this is not alone, is not adequate in itself, is not beautiful in its own right but is a mingled thing. Shape and idea and measure will always be beautiful, but the Authentic Beauty and the Beyond-Beauty cannot be under measure and therefore cannot have admitted shape or be Idea: the primal existent, The First, must be without Form; the beauty in it must be, simply, the Nature of the Intellectual Good.

Take an example from love: so long as the attention is upon the visible form, love has not entered: when from that outward form the lover elaborates within himself, in his own partless soul, an immaterial image, then it is that love is born, then the lover longs for the sight of the beloved to make that fading image live again. If he could but learn to look elsewhere, to the more nearly formless, his longing would be for that: his first experience was loving a great luminary by way of some thin gleam from it.

Shape is an impress from the unshaped; it is the unshaped that produces shape not shape the unshaped; and Matter is needed for the producing; Matter, in the nature of things, is the furthest away, since of itself it has not even the lowest degree of shape. Thus lovableness does not belong to Matter but to that which draws upon Form: the Form upon Matter comes by way of soul; soul is more nearly Form and therefore more lovable; Intellectual Principle, nearer still, is even more to be loved: by these steps we are led to know that the First Principle, principle of Beauty, must be formless.


No longer can we wonder that the principle evoking such longing should be utterly free from shape. The very soul, once it has conceived the straining love towards this, lays aside all the shape it has taken, even to the Intellectual shape that has informed it. There is no vision, no union, for those handling or acting by any thing other; the soul must see before it neither evil nor good nor anything else, that alone it may receive the Alone.

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Suppose the soul to have attained: the highest has come to her, or rather has revealed its presence; she has turned away from all about her and made herself apt, beautiful to the utmost, brought into likeness with the divine—by those preparings and adornings which come unbidden to those growing ready for the vision—she has seen that presence suddenly manifesting within her, for there is nothing between: here is no longer a duality but a two in one; for, so long as the presence holds, all distinction fades: it is as lover and beloved here, in a copy of that union, long to blend; the soul has now no further awareness of being in body and will give herself no foreign name, not man, not living being, not being, not all; any observation of such things falls away; the soul has neither time nor taste for them; This she sought and This she has found and on This she looks and not upon herself; and who she is that looks she has not leisure to know. Once There she will barter for This nothing the universe holds; not though one would make over the heavens entire to her; than This there is nothing higher, nothing of more good; above This there is no passing; all the rest however lofty lies on the downgoing path: she is of perfect judgement and knows that This was her quest, that nothing higher is. Here can be no deceit; where could she come upon truer than the truth? and the truth she affirms, that she is, herself; but all the affirmation is later and is silent. In this happiness she knows beyond delusion that she is happy; for this is no affirmation of an excited body but of a soul become again what she was in the time of her early joy. All that she had welcomed of old,—office, power, wealth, beauty, knowledge—of all she tells her scorn as she never could had she not found their better; linked to This she can fear no disaster nor even know it; let all about her fall to pieces, so she would have it that she may be wholly with This, so huge the happiness she has won to.


Such in this union is the soul’s temper that even the act of Intellect once so intimately loved she now dismisses; Intellection is movement and she has no wish to move she has nothing to say of this very Edition: current; Page: [203] Intellectual-Principle by means of which she has attained the vision, herself made over into Intellectual-Principle and becoming that principle so as to be able to take stand in that Intellectual space. Entered there and making herself over to that, she at first contemplates that realm, but once she sees that higher still she leaves all else aside. Thus when a man enters a house rich in beauty he might gaze about and admire the varied splendour before the master appears; but, face to face with that great person—no thing of ornament but calling for the truest attention—he would ignore everything else and look only to the master. In this state of absorbed contemplation there is no longer question of holding an object: the vision is continuous so that seeing and seen are one thing; object and act of vision have become identical; of all that until then filled the eye no memory remains. And our comparison would be closer if instead of a man appearing to the visitor who had been admiring the house it were a god, and not a god manifesting to the eyes but one filling the soul.

Intellectual-Principle, thus, has two powers, first that of grasping intellectively its own content, the second that of an advancing and receiving whereby to know its transcendent; at first it sees, later by that seeing it takes possession of Intellectual-Principle, becoming one only thing with that: the first seeing is that of Intellect knowing, the second that of Intellect loving; stripped of its wisdom in the intoxication of the nectar, it comes to love; by this excess it is made simplex and is happy; and to be drunken is better for it than to be too staid for these revels.

But is its vision parcelwise, thing here and thing there?

No; reason unravelling gives process; Intellectual-Principle has unbroken knowledge and has, moreover, an Act unattended by knowing, a vision by another approach. In this seeing of the Supreme it becomes pregnant and at once knows what has come to be within it; its knowledge of its content is what is designated by its Intellection; its knowing of the Supreme is the virtue of that power within it by which, in a later (lower) stage it is to become “Intellective.”

As for soul, it attains that vision by—so to speak—confounding Edition: current; Page: [204] and annulling the Intellectual-Principle within it; or rather that Principle immanent in soul sees first and thence the vision penetrates to soul and the two visions become one.

The Good spreading out above them and adapting itself to that union which it hastens to confirm is present to them as giver of a blessed sense and sight; so high it lifts them that they are no longer in space or in that realm of difference where everything is rooted in some other thing; for The Good is not in place but is the container of the Intellectual place; The Good is in nothing but itself.

The soul now knows no movement since the Supreme knows none; it is now not even soul since the Supreme is not in life but above life; it is no longer Intellectual-Principle for the Supreme has not Intellection and the likeness must be perfect; this grasping is not even by Intellection for the Supreme is not known Intellectively.


We need not carry this matter further; we turn to a question already touched but demanding still some brief consideration.

Knowledge of The Good or contact with it, is the all-important: this—we read—is the grand learning, the learning we are to understand, not of looking towards it but attaining, first, some knowledge of it. We come to this learning by analogies, by abstractions, by our understanding of its subsequents, of all that is derived from The Good, by the upward steps towards it. Purification has The Good for goal; so the virtues, all right ordering, ascent within the Intellectual, settlement therein, banqueting upon the divine—by these methods one becomes, to self and to all else, at once seen and seer; identical with Being and Intellectual-Principle and the entire living all, we no longer see the Supreme as an external; we are near now, the next is That and it is close at hand, radiant above the Intellectual.

Here, we put aside all the learning; disciplined to this pitch, established in beauty, the quester holds knowledge still of the ground he rests on but, suddenly, swept beyond it all by the very crest of the wave of Intellect surging beneath, he is lifted and sees, never knowing how; Edition: current; Page: [205] the vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not a light showing some other object, the light is itself the vision. No longer is there thing seen and light to show it, no longer Intellect and object of Intellection; this is the very radiance that brought both Intellect and Intellectual object into being for the later use and allowed them to occupy the quester’s mind. With This he himself becomes identical, with that radiance whose Act is to engender Intellectual-Principle, not losing in that engendering but for ever unchanged, the engendered coming to be simply because that Supreme exists. If there were no such principle above change no derivative could rise.


Those ascribing Intellection to the First have not supposed him to know the lesser, the emanant—though, indeed, some have thought it impossible that he should not know everything. But those denying his knowing of the lesser have still attributed self-knowing to him, because they find nothing nobler; we are to suppose that so he is the more august, as if Intellection were something nobler than his own manner of being not something whose value derives from him.

But we ask in what must his grandeur lie, in his Intellection or in himself. If in the Intellection, he has no worth or the less worth; if in himself, he is perfect before the Intellection not perfected by it. We may be told that he must have Intellection because he is an Act, not a potentiality. Now if this means that he is an essence eternally intellective, he is represented as a duality—essence and Intellective Act—he ceases to be a simplex; an external has been added: it is just as the eyes are not the same as their sight though the two are inseparable. If on the other hand by this actualisation it is meant that he is Act and Intellection, then as being Intellection he does not exercise it, just as movement is not itself in motion.

But do not we ourselves assert that the Beings There are essence and Act?

The Beings, yes, but they are to us manifold and differentiated: the First we make a simplex; to us Intellection begins with the emanant Edition: current; Page: [206] in its seeking of its essence, of itself, of its author; bent inward for this vision and having a present thing to know, there is every reason why it should be a principle of Intellection; but that which, never coming into being, has no prior but is ever what it is, how could that have motive to Intellection? As Plato rightly says it is above Intellect.

An Intelligence not exercising Intellection would be unintelligent; where the nature demands knowing, not to know is to fail of intelligence; but where there is no function, why import one and declare a defect because it is not performed? We might as well complain because the Supreme does not act as a physician. He has no task, we hold, because nothing can present itself to him to be done; he is sufficient; he need seek nothing beyond himself, he who is over all; to himself and to all he suffices by simply being what he is.


And yet this “He Is” does not truly apply: the Supreme has no need of Being: even “He is good” does not apply since it indicates Being: the “is” should not suggest something predicated of another thing; it is to state identity. The word “good” used of him is not a predicate asserting his possession of goodness; it conveys an identification. It is not that we think it exact to call him either good or The Good: it is that sheer negation does not indicate; we use the term The Good to assert identity without the affirmation of Being.

But how admit a Principle void of self-knowledge, self-awareness; surely the First must be able to say “I possess Being?”

But he does not possess Being.

Then, at least he must say “I am good?”

No: once more, that would be an affirmation of Being.

But surely he may affirm merely the goodness, adding nothing: the goodness would be taken without the being and all duality avoided?

No: such self-awareness as good must inevitably carry the affirmation “I am the Good”; otherwise there would be merely the unattached conception of goodness with no recognition of identity; any such intellection would inevitably include the affirmation “I am.”

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If that intellection were the Good, then the intellection would not be self-intellection but intellection of the Good; not the Supreme but that intellection would be the Good: if on the contrary that intellection of the Good is distinct from the Good, at once the Good exists before its knowing; all-sufficiently good in itself, it needs none of that knowing of its own nature.

Thus the Supreme does not know itself as Good.

As what then?

No such foreign matter is present to it: it can have only an immediate intuition self-directed.


Since the Supreme has no interval, no self-differentiation, what can have this intuitional approach to it but itself? Therefore it quite naturally assumes difference at the point where Intellectual-Principle and Being are differentiated.

Intellect, to act at all, must inevitably comport difference with identity; otherwise it could not distinguish itself from its object by standing apart from it, nor could it ever be aware of the realm of things whose existence demands otherness, nor could there be so much as a duality.

Again, if the Supreme is to have intellection it cannot know only itself; that would not be intellection, for, if it did know itself, nothing could prevent it knowing all things; but this is impossible. With self-intellection it would no longer be simplex; any intellection, even in the Supreme, must be aware of something distinct; as we have been saying, the inability to see the self as external is the negation of intellection. That act requires a manifold—agent, object, movement and all the other conditions of a thinking principle. Further we must remember what has been indicated elsewhere that, since every intellectual act in order to be what it must be requires variety, every movement simple and the same throughout, though it may comport some form of contact, is devoid of the intellective.

It follows that the Supreme will know neither itself nor anything Edition: current; Page: [208] else but will hold an august repose. All the rest is later; before them all, This was what This was; any awareness of that other would be acquired, the shifting knowledge of the instable. Even in knowing the stable he would be manifold for it is not possible that, while in the act of knowing the laters possess themselves of their object, the Supreme should know only in some unpossessing observation.

As regards Providence, that is sufficiently saved by the fact that This is the source from which all proceeds; the dependent he cannot know when he has no knowledge of himself but keeps that august repose. Plato dealing with essential Being allows it intellection but not this august repose: intellection then belongs to Essential Being; this august repose to the Principle in which there is no intellection. Repose, of course, is used here for want of a fitter word; we are to understand that the most august, the truly so, is That which transcends (the movement of) Intellection.


That there can be no intellection in the First will be patent to those that have had such contact; but some further confirmation is desirable, if indeed words can carry the matter; we need overwhelming persuasion.

It must be borne in mind that all intellection rises in some principle and takes cognisance of an object. But a distinction is to be made:—

There is the intellection that remains within its place of origin; it has that source as substratum but becomes a sort of addition to it in that it is an activity of that source perfecting the potentiality there, not by producing anything but as being a completing power to the principle in which it inheres. There is also the intellection inbound with Being—Being’s very author—and this could not remain confined to the source since there it could produce nothing; it is a power to production; it produces therefore of its own motion and its act is Real-Being and there it has its dwelling. In this mode the intellection is identical with Being; even in its self-intellection no distinction is made save the logical distinction of thinker and thought with, as we have often observed, the implication of plurality.

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This is a first activity and the substance it produces is Essential Being; it is an image, but of an original so great that the very copy stands a reality. If instead of moving outward it remained with the First, it would be no more than some appurtenance of that First, not a self-standing existent.

As the earliest activity and earliest intellection it can be preceded by no act or intellection: if we pass beyond this being and this intellection we come not to more being and more intellection but to what overpasses both, to the wonderful which has neither, asking nothing of these products and standing its unaccompanied self.

That all-transcending cannot have had an activity by which to produce this activity—acting before act existed—or have had thought in order to produce thinking—applying thought before thought exists—all intellection, even of the Good, is beneath it.

In sum, this intellection of the Good is impossible: I do not mean that it is impossible to have intellection of the Good—we may admit the possibility but there can be no intellection by The Good itself, for this would be to include the inferior with the Good.

If intellection is the lower, then it will be bound up with Being; if intellection is the higher, its object is lower. Intellection, then, does not exist in the Good; as a lesser, taking its worth through that Good, it must stand apart from it, leaving the Good unsoiled by it as by all else. Immune from intellection the Good remains incontaminably what it is, not impeded by the presence of the intellectual act which would annual its purity and unity.

Anyone making the Good at once Thinker and Thought identifies it with Being and with the Intellection vested in Being so that it must perform that act of intellection: at once it becomes necessary to find another principle, one superior to that Good: for either this act, this intellection, is a completing power of some such principle, serving as its ground, or it points, by that duality, to a prior principle having intellection as a characteristic. It is because there is something before it that it has an object of intellection; even in its self-intellection it may be said to know its content by its vision of that prior.

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What has no prior and no external accompaniment could have no intellection, either of itself or of anything else. What could it aim at, what desire? To essay its power of knowing? But this would make the power something outside itself; there would be, I mean, the power it grasped and the power by which it grasped: if there is but the one power, what is there to grasp at?


Intellection seems to have been given as an aid to the diviner but weaker beings, an eye to the blind. But the eye itself need not see Being since it is itself the light; what must take the light through the eye needs the light because of its darkness. If then intellection is the light and light does not need the light, surely that brilliance (The First) which does not need light can have no need of intellection, will not add this to its nature.

What could it do with intellection? What could even intellection need and add to itself for the purpose of its act? It has no self-awareness; there is no need. It is no duality but, rather, a manifold, consisting of itself, its intellective act, distinct from itself, and the inevitable third, the object of intellection. No doubt since knower, knowing and known are identical, all merges into a unity: but the distinction has existed and, once more, such a unity cannot be the First; we must put away all otherness from the Supreme which can need no such support; anything we add is so much lessening of what lacks nothing.

To us intellection is a boon since the soul needs it; to the Intellectual-Principle it is appropriate as being one thing with the very essence of the principle constituted by the Intellectual Act so that principle and act coincide in a continuous self-consciousness carrying the assurance of identity, of the unity of the two. But pure unity must be independent, in need of no such assurance.

“Know yourself” is a precept for those who, being manifold, have the task of appraising themselves so as to become aware of the number and nature of their constituents, some or all of which they ignore as they ignore their very principle and their manner of being. The First Edition: current; Page: [211] on the contrary if it have content must exist in a way too great to have any knowledge, intellection, perception of it. To itself it is nothing; accepting nothing, self-sufficing, it is not even a good to itself: to others it is good for they have need of it; but it could not lack itself: it would be absurd to suppose The Good standing in need of goodness.

It does not see itself: seeing aims at acquisition: all this it abandons to the subsequent: in fact nothing found elsewhere can be There; even Being cannot be There. Nor therefore has it intellection which is a thing of the lower sphere where the first intellection, the only true, is identical with Being. Reason, perception, intelligence, none of these can have place in that Principle in which no presence can be affirmed.


Faced by the difficulty of placing these powers, you must in reason allocate to the secondaries what you count august: secondaries must not be foisted upon the First or tertiaries upon the secondaries. Secondaries are to be ranged under the First, tertiaries under the secondaries: this is giving everything its place, the later dependent on their priors, those priors free.

This is included in that true saying “About the King of All, all has being and in view of Him all is”: we are to understand from the attribution of all things to Him, and from the words “in view of Him” that He is their cause and they reach to Him as to something differing from them all and containing nothing that they contain: for certainly His very nature requires that nothing of the later be in Him.

Thus, Intellectual-Principle, finding place in the universe, cannot have place in Him. Where we read that He is the cause of all beauty we are clearly to understand that beauty depends upon the Forms, He being set above all that is beautiful here. The Forms are in that passage secondaries, their sequels being attached to them as dependent thirds: it is clear thus that by the products of the thirds is meant this world, dependent upon soul.

Soul dependent upon Intellectual-Principle and Intellectual-Principle upon the Good, all is linked to the Supreme by intermediaries, some close, some nearing those of the closer attachment, while the order of sense stands remotest, dependent upon soul.

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On Free-Will and the Will of The One


Can there be question as to whether the gods have voluntary action? Or are we to take it that while we may well enquire in the case of men with their combination of powerlessness and hesitating power, the gods must be declared omnipotent, not merely some things but all lying at their nod? Or is power entire, freedom of action in all things, to be reserved to one alone, of the rest some being powerful, others powerless, others again a blend of power and impotence?

All this must come to the test: we must dare it even of the Firsts and of the All-Transcendent and if we find omnipotence possible work out how far freedom extends. The very notion of power must be scrutinised lest in this ascription we be really making power identical with Essential Act, and even with Act not yet achieved.

But for the moment we may pass over these questions to deal with the traditional problem of freedom of action in ourselves.

To begin with, what must be intended when we assert that something is in our power; what is the conception here?

To establish this will help to show whether we are to ascribe freedom to the gods and still more to God, or to refuse it, or again, while asserting it, to question still, in regard both to the higher and lower, the mode of its presence.

What then do we mean when we speak of freedom in ourselves and why do we question it?

My own reading is that, moving as we do amid adverse fortunes, compulsions, violent assaults of passion crushing the soul, feeling ourselves mastered by these experiences, playing slave to them, going where they lead, we have been brought by all this to doubt whether we are anything at all and dispose of ourselves in any particular.

This would indicate that we think of our free act as one which we execute of our own choice, in no servitude to chance or necessity or Edition: current; Page: [213] overmastering passion, nothing thwarting our will; the voluntary is conceived as an event amenable to will and occurring or not as our will dictates. Everything will be voluntary that is produced under no compulsion and with knowledge; our free act is what we are masters to perform.

Differing conceptually, the two conditions will often coincide but sometimes will clash. Thus a man would be master to kill but the act will not be voluntary if in the victim he had failed to recognise his own father. Perhaps however that ignorance is not compatible with real freedom: for the knowledge necessary to a voluntary act cannot be limited to certain particulars but must cover the entire field. Why for example should killing be involuntary in the failure to recognise a father and not so in the failure to recognise the wickedness of murder? If because the killer ought to have learned, still ignorance of the duty of learning and the cause of that ignorance remain alike involuntary.


A cardinal question is where are we to place the freedom of action ascribed to us.

It must be founded in impulse or in some appetite, as when we act or omit in lust or rage or upon some calculation of advantage accompanied by desire.

But if rage or desire implied freedom we must allow freedom to animals, infants, maniacs, the distraught, the victims of malpractice producing incontrollable delusions. And if freedom turns on calculation with desire, does this include faulty calculation? Sound calculation, no doubt, and sound desire; but then comes the question whether the appetite stirs the calculation or the calculation the appetite.

Where the appetites are dictated by the very nature they are the desires of the conjoint of soul and body and then soul lies under physical compulsions: if they spring in the soul as an independent, then much that we take to be voluntary is in reality outside of our free act. Further, every emotion is preceded by some meagre reasoning; how then can Edition: current; Page: [214] a compelling imagination, an appetite drawing us where it will, be supposed to leave us masters in the ensuing act? Need, inexorably craving satisfaction, is not free in face of that to which it is forced: and how at all can a thing have efficiency of its own when it rises from an extern, has an extern for very principle, thence taking its Being as it stands? It lives by that extern, lives as it has been moulded: if this be freedom, there is freedom in even the soulless; fire acts in accordance with its characteristic being.

We may be reminded that the Living Form and the soul know what they do. But if this is knowledge by perception it does not help towards the freedom of the act; perception gives awareness, not mastery: if true knowing is meant, either this is the knowing of something happening—once more awareness—with the motive-force still to seek, or the reasoning and knowledge have acted to quell the appetite; then we have to ask to what this repression is to be referred and where it has taken place. If it is that the mental process sets up an opposing desire we must assure ourselves how; if it merely stills the appetite with no further efficiency and this is our freedom, then freedom does not depend upon act but is a thing of the mind—and in truth all that has to do with act, the very most reasonable, is still of mixed value and cannot carry freedom.


All this calls for examination; the enquiry must bring us close to the solution as regards the gods.

We have traced self-disposal to will, will to reasoning and, next step, to right reasoning; perhaps to right reasoning we must add knowledge, for however sound opinion and act may be they do not yield true freedom when the adoption of the right course is the result of hazard or of some presentment from the fancy with no knowledge of the foundations of that rightness.

Taking it that the presentment of fancy is not a matter of our will and choice, how can we think those acting at its dictation to be free agents? Fancy strictly, in our use, takes it rise from conditions of the Edition: current; Page: [215] body; lack of food and drink sets up presentments and so does the meeting of these needs; similarly with seminal abundance and other humours of the body. We refuse to range under the principle of freedom those whose conduct is directed by such fancy: the baser sort, therefore, mainly so guided, cannot be credited with self-disposal or voluntary act. Self-disposal, to us, belongs to those who, through the activities of the Intellectual-Principle, live above the states of the body. The spring of freedom is the activity of Intellectual-Principle, the highest in our being; the proposals emanating thence are freedom; such desires as are formed in the exercise of the Intellectual act cannot be classed as involuntary; the gods, therefore, that live in this state, living by Intellectual-Principle and by desire conformed to it, possess freedom.


It will be asked how act rising from desire can be voluntary since desire pulls outward and implies need; to desire is still to be drawn, even though towards the good.

Intellectual-Principle itself comes under the doubt; having a certain nature and acting by that nature can it be said to have freedom and self-disposal—in an act which it cannot leave unenacted? It may be asked, also, whether freedom may strictly be affirmed of such beings as are not engaged in action.

However that may be, where there is such act there is compulsion from without, since failing motive, act will not be performed. These higher beings, too, obey their own nature; where then is their freedom?

But, on the other hand, can there be talk of constraint where there is no compulsion to obey an extern; and how can any movement towards a good be counted compulsion? Effort is free once it is towards a fully recognised good; the involuntary is, precisely, motion away from a good and towards the enforced, towards something not recognised as a good; servitude lies in being powerless to move towards one’s good, being debarred from the preferred path in a menial obedience. Hence the shame of slavedom is incurred not when one is held from the hurtful but when the personal good must be yielded in favour of another’s.

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Further, this objected obedience to the characteristic nature would imply a duality, master and mastered; but an undivided Principle, a simplex Activity, where there can be no difference of potentiality and act, must be free; there can be no thought of “action according to the nature,” in the sense of any distinction between the being and its efficiency, there where being and act are identical. Where act is performed neither because of another nor at another’s will, there surely is freedom. Freedom may of course be an inappropriate term: there is something greater here: it is self-disposal in the sense, only, that there is no disposal by the extern, no outside master over the act.

In a principle, act and essence must be free. No doubt Intellectual-Principle itself is to be referred to a yet higher; but this higher is not extern to it; Intellectual-Principle is within the Good; possessing its own good in virtue of that indwelling, much more will it possess freedom and self-disposal which are sought only for the sake of the good. Acting towards the good, it must all the more possess self-disposal for by that Act it is directed towards the Principle from which it proceeds, and this its act is self-centred and must entail its very greatest good.


Are we, however, to make freedom and self-disposal exclusive to Intellectual-Principle as engaged in its characteristic Act, Intellectual-Principle unassociated, or do they belong also to soul acting under that guidance and performing act of virtue?

If freedom is to be allowed to soul in its Act, it certainly cannot be allowed in regard to issue, for we are not master of events: if in regard to fine conduct and all inspired by Intellectual-Principle, that may very well be freedom; but is the freedom ours?

Because there is war, we perform some brave feat; how is that our free act since had there been no war it could not have been performed? So in all cases of fine conduct; there is always some impinging event leading out our quality to show itself in this or that act. And suppose virtue itself given the choice whether to find occasion for its exercise—war evoking courage; wrong, so that it may establish justice and good Edition: current; Page: [217] order; poverty that it may show independence—or to remain inactive, everything going well, it would choose the peace of inaction, nothing calling for its intervention, just as a physician like Hippocrates would prefer no one to stand in need of his skill.

If thus virtue whose manifestation requires action becomes inevitably a collaborator under compulsion, how can it have untrammelled self-disposal?

Should we, perhaps, distinguish between compulsion in the act and freedom in the preceding will and reasoning?

But in setting freedom in those preceding functions, we imply that virtue has a freedom and self-disposal apart from all act; then we must state what is the reality of the self-disposal attributed to virtue as state or disposition. Are we to put it that virtue comes in to restore the disordered soul, taming passions and appetites? In what sense, at that, can we hold our goodness to be our own free act, our fine conduct to be uncompelled? In that we will and adopt, in that this entry of virtue prepares freedom and self-disposal, ending our slavery to the masters we have been obeying. If then virtue is, as it were, a second Intellectual-Principle, and heightens the soul to Intellectual quality, then, once more, our freedom is found to lie not in act but in Intellectual-Principle immune from act.


How then did we come to place freedom in the will when we made out free action to be that produced—or as we also indicated, suppressed—at the dictate of will?

If what we have been saying is true and our former statement is consistent with it, the case must stand thus:—

Virtue and Intellectual-Principle are sovran and must be held the sole foundation of our self-disposal and freedom; both then are free; Intellectual-Principle is self-confined: Virtue in its government of the soul which it seeks to lift into goodness would wish to be free; in so far as it does so it is free and confers freedom; but inevitably experiences and actions are forced upon it by its governance: these it has not planned Edition: current; Page: [218] for, yet when they do arise it will watch still for its sovranty calling these also to judgement. Virtue does not follow upon occurrences as a saver of the emperilled; at its discretion it sacrifices a man; it may decree the jettison of life, means, children, country even; it looks to its own high aim and not to the safeguarding of anything lower. Thus our freedom of act, our self-disposal, must be referred not to the doing, not to the external thing done but to the inner activity, to the Intellection, to virtue’s own vision.

So understood, virtue is a mode of Intellectual-Principle, a mode not involving any of the emotions or passions controlled by its reasonings, since such experiences, amenable to morality and discipline, touch closely—we read—on body.

This makes it all the more evident that the unembodied is the free; to this our self-disposal is to be referred; herein lies our will which remains free and self-disposing in spite of any orders which it may necessarily utter to meet the external. All then that issues from will and is the effect of will is our free action; and in the highest degree all that lies outside of the corporeal is purely within the scope of will, all that will adopts and brings, unimpeded, into existence.

The contemplating Intellect, the first or highest, has self-disposal to the point that its operation is utterly independent; it turns wholly upon itself; its very action is itself; at rest in its good it is without need, complete, and may be said to live to its will; there the will is intellection: it is called will because it expresses the Intellectual-Principle in the willing-phase and, besides, what we know as will imitates this operation taking place within the Intellectual-Principle. Will strives towards the good which the act of Intellectual-Principle realises. Thus that principle holds what will seeks, that good whose attainment makes will identical with Intellection.

But if self-disposal is founded thus on the will aiming at the good, how can it possibly be denied to that principle permanently possessing the good, sole object of the aim?

Any one scrupulous about setting self-disposal so high may find some loftier word.

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Soul becomes free when it moves, through Intellectual-Principle, towards The Good; what it does in that spirit is its free act; Intellectual-Principle is free in its own right. That principle of Good is the sole object of desire and the source of self-disposal to the rest, to soul when it fully attains, to Intellectual-Principle by connate possession.

How then can the sovran of all that august sequence—the first in place, that to which all else strives to mount, all dependent upon it and taking from it their powers even to this power of self-disposal—how can This be brought under the freedom belonging to you and me, a conception applicable only by violence to Intellectual-Principle itself?

It is rash thinking drawn from another order that would imagine a First Principle to be chance-made what it is, controlled by a manner of being imposed from without, void therefore of freedom or self-disposal, acting or refraining under compulsion. Such a statement is untrue to its subject and introduces much difficulty; it utterly annuls the principle of free-will with the very conception of our own voluntary action, so that there is no longer any sense in discussion upon these terms, empty names for the non-existent. Anyone upholding this opinion would be obliged to say not merely that free act exists nowhere but that the very word conveys nothing to him. To admit understanding the word is to be easily brought to confess that the conception of freedom does apply where it is denied. No doubt a concept leaves the reality untouched and unappropriated, for nothing can produce itself, bring itself into being; but thought insists upon distinguishing between what is subject to others and what is independent, bound under no allegiance, lord of its own act.

This state of freedom belongs in the absolute degree to the Eternals in right of that eternity and to other beings in so far as without hindrance they possess or pursue The Good which, standing above them all, must manifestly be the only good they can reasonably seek.

To say that The Good exists by chance must be false; chance belongs to the later, to the multiple; since the First has never come to be we cannot speak of it either as coming by chance into being or as not master Edition: current; Page: [220] of its being. Absurd also the objection that it acts in accordance with its being if this is to suggest that freedom demands act or other expression against the nature. Neither does its nature as the unique annul its freedom when this is the result of no compulsion but means only that The Good is no other than itself, is self-complete and has no higher.

The objection would imply that where there is most good there is least freedom. If this is absurd, still more absurd to deny freedom to The Good on the ground that it is good and self-concentred, not needing to lean upon anything else but actually being the Term to which all tends, itself moving to none.

Where—since we must use such words—the essential act is identical with the being—and this identity must obtain in The Good since it holds even in Intellectual-Principle—there the act is no more determined by the Being than the Being by the Act. Thus “acting according to its nature” does not apply; the Act, the Life, so to speak, cannot be held to issue from the Being; the Being accompanies the Act in an eternal association: from the two (Being and Act) it forms itself into The Good, self-springing and unspringing.


But it is not, in our view, as an attribute that this freedom is present in the First. In the light of free acts, from which we eliminate the contraries, we recognise There self-determination self-directed and, failing more suitable terms, we apply to it the lesser terms brought over from lesser things and so tell it as best we may: no words could ever be adequate or even applicable to that from which all else—the noble, the august—is derived. For This is principle of all, or, more strictly, unrelated to all and, in this consideration, cannot be made to possess such laters as even freedom and self-disposal, which in fact indicate manifestation upon the extern—unhindered but implying the existence of other beings whose opposition proves ineffective.

We cannot think of the First as moving towards any other; He holds his own manner of being before any other was; even Being we withhold and therefore all relation to beings.

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Nor may we speak of any “conforming to the nature”; this again is of the later; if the term be applicable at all in that realm it applies only to the secondaries—primally to Essential Existence as next to this First. And if a “nature” belongs only to things of time, this conformity to nature does not apply even to Essential Existence. On the other hand, we are not to deny that it is derived from Essential Existence for that would be to take away its existence and would imply derivation from something else.

Does this mean that the First is to be described as happening to be?

No; that would be just as false; nothing “happens” to the First; it stands in no such relationship; happening belongs only to the multiple where, first, existence is given and then something is added. And how could the Source “happen to be?” There has been no coming so that you can put it to the question “How does this come to be? What chance brought it here, gave it being?” Chance did not yet exist; there was no “automatic action”: these imply something before themselves and occur in the realm of process.


If we cannot but speak of Happening we must not halt at the word but look to the intention. And what is that? That the Supreme by possession of a certain nature and power is the Principle. Obviously if its nature were other it would be that other and if the difference were for the worse it would manifest itself as that lesser being. But we must add in correction that as Principle of All, it could not be some chance product; it is not enough to say that it could not be inferior; it could not even be in some other way good, for instance in some less perfect degree; the Principle of All must be of higher quality than anything that follows it. It is therefore in a sense determined—determined, I mean, by its uniqueness and not in any sense of being under compulsion; compulsion did not co-exist with the Supreme but has place only among secondaries and even there can exercise no tyranny; this uniqueness is not from outside.

This, then, it is; This and no other; simply what it must be; Edition: current; Page: [222] it has not “happened” but is what by a necessity prior to all necessities it must be. We cannot think of it as a chance existence; it is not what it chanced to be but what it must be—and yet without a “Must.”

All the rest waits for the appearing of the king to hail him for himself, not a being of accident and happening but authentically king, authentically Principle, The Good authentically, not a being that acts in conformity with goodness—and so, recognisably, a secondary—but the total unity that he is, no moulding upon goodness but the very Good itself.

Even Being is exempt from happening: of course anything happening happens to Being, but Being itself has not happened nor is the manner of its Being a thing of happening, of derivation; it is the very nature of Being to be; how then can we think that this happening can attach to the Transcendent of Being, That in whose power lay the very engendering of Being?

Certainly this Transcendent never happened to be what it is; it is so, just as Being exists in complete identity with its own essential nature and that of Intellectual-Principle. Certainly that which has never passed outside of its own orbit, unbendingly what it is, its own unchangeably, is that which may most strictly be said to possess its own being: what then are we to say when we mount and contemplate that which stands yet higher; can we conceivably say “Thus, as we see it, thus has it happened to be?” Neither thus nor in any mode did it happen to be; there is no happening; there is only a “Thus and No Otherwise than Thus.” And even “Thus” is false; it would imply limit, a defined form: to know This is to be able to reject both the “Thus” and the “Not-Thus,” either of which classes among Beings to which alone Manner of Being can attach.

A “Thus” is something that attaches to everything in the world of things: standing before the indefinable you may name any of these sequents but you must say This is none of them: at most it is to be conceived as the total power towards things, supremely self-concentred, being what it wills to be or rather projecting into existence what it wills, itself higher than all will, will a thing beneath it. In a word it Edition: current; Page: [223] neither willed its own “Thus”—as something to conform to—nor did any other make it “Thus.”


The upholder of Happening must be asked how this false happening can be supposed to have come about, taking it that it did, and how the happening, then, is not universally prevalent. If there is to be a natural scheme at all, it must be admitted that this happening does not and cannot exist: for if we attribute to chance the Principle which is to eliminate chance from all the rest, how can there ever be anything independent of chance? And this Nature does take away the chanced from the rest, bringing in form and limit and shape. In the case of things thus conformed to reason the cause cannot be identified with chance but must lie in that very reason; chance must be kept for what occurs apart from choice and sequence and is purely concurrent. When we come to the source of all reason, order and limit, how can we attribute the reality there to chance? Chance is no doubt master of many things but is not master of Intellectual-Principle, of reason, of order, so as to bring them into being. How could chance, recognised as the very opposite of reason, be its Author? And if it does not produce Intellectual-Principle, then certainly not that which precedes and surpasses that Principle. Chance, besides, has no means of producing, has no being at all, and, assuredly, none in the Eternal.

Since there is nothing before Him who is the First, we must call a halt; there is nothing to say; we may enquire into the origin of his sequents but not of Himself who has no origin.

But perhaps, never having come to be but being as He is, He is still not master of his own essence: not master of his essence but being as He is, not self-originating but acting out of his nature as He finds it, must He not be of necessity what He is, inhibited from being otherwise?

No: What He is, He is not because He could not be otherwise but because so is best. Not everything has power to move towards the better though nothing is prevented by any external from moving towards Edition: current; Page: [224] the worse. But that the Supreme has not so moved is its own doing: there has been no inhibition; it has not moved simply because it is That which does not move; in this stability the inability to degenerate is not powerlessness; here permanence is very Act, a self-determination. This absence of declination comports the fulness of power; it is not the yielding of a being held and controlled but the Act of one who is necessity, law, to all.

Does this indicate a Necessity which has brought itself into existence? No: there has been no coming into being in any degree; This is that by which being is brought to all the rest, its sequents. Above all origins, This can owe being neither to an extern nor to itself.


But this Unoriginating, what is it?

We can but withdraw, silent, hopeless, and search no further. What can we look for when we have reached the furthest? Every enquiry aims at a first and, that attained, rests.

Besides, we must remember that all questioning deals with the nature of a thing, its quality, its cause or its essential being. In this case the being—in so far as we can use the word—is knowable only by its sequents: the question as to cause asks for a principle beyond, but the principle of all has no principle; the question as to quality would be looking for an attribute in that which has none: the question as to nature shows only that we must ask nothing about it but merely take it into the mind if we may, with the knowledge gained that nothing can be permissibly connected with it.

The difficulty this Principle presents to our mind in so far as we can approach to conception of it may be exhibited thus:—

We begin by posing space, a place, a Chaos; into this existing container, real or fancied, we introduce God and proceed to enquire: we ask, for example, whence and how He comes to be there: we investigate the presence and quality of this new-comer projected into the midst of things here from some height or depth. But the difficulty disappears if we eliminate all space before we attempt to conceive God: He must Edition: current; Page: [225] not be set in anything either as enthroned in eternal immanence or as having made some entry into things: He is to be conceived as existing alone, in that existence which the necessity of discussion forces us to attribute to Him, with space and all the rest as later than Him—space latest of all. Thus we conceive as far as we may, the spaceless; we abolish the notion of any environment: we circumscribe Him within no limit; we attribute no extension to Him; He has no quality since no shape, even shape Intellectual; He holds no relationship but exists in and for Himself before anything is.

How can we think any longer of that “Thus He happened to be”? How make this one assertion of Him of whom all other assertion can be no more than negation? it is on the contrary nearer the truth to say “Thus He has happened not to be”: that contains at least the utter denial of his happening.


Yet, is not God what He is? Can He, then, be master of being what He is or master to stand above Being? The mind utterly reluctant returns to its doubt: some further considerations, therefore, must be offered:—

In us the individual, viewed as body, is far from reality; by soul which especially constitutes the being we participate in reality, are in some degree real. This is a compound state, a mingling of Reality and Difference, not, therefore reality in the strictest sense, not reality pure. Thus far we are not masters of our being; in some sense the reality in us is one thing and we another. We are not masters of our being; the real in us is the master since that is the principle establishing our characteristic difference; yet we are again in some sense that which is sovran in us and so even on this level might in spite of all be described as self-disposing.

But in That which is wholly what it is—self-existing reality, without distinction between the total thing and its essence—the being is a unit and is sovran over itself; neither the being nor the essence is to be referred to any extern. Besides, the very question as to self-disposal Edition: current; Page: [226] falls in the case of what is First in reality; if it can be raised at all, we must declare that there can be no subjection whatever in That to which reality owes its freedom, That in whose nature the conferring of freedom must clearly be vested, preeminently to be known as the liberator.

Still, is not this Principle subject to its essential Being? On the contrary, it is the source of freedom to Being.

Even if there be Act in the Supreme—an Act with which it is to be identified—this is not enough to set up a duality within it and prevent it being entirely master of that self from which the Act springs; for the Act is not distinct from that self. If we utterly deny Act in it—holding that Act begins with others moving about it—we are all the less able to allow either self-mastery or subjection in it: even self-mastery is absent here, not that anything else is master over it but that self-mastery begins with Being while the Supreme is to be set in a higher order.

But what can there be higher than that which is its own master?

Where we speak of self-mastery there is a certain duality, Act against essence; from the exercise of the Act arises the conception of the mastering principle—though one identical with the essence—hence arises the separate idea of mastery, and the being concerned is said to possess self-mastery. Where there is no such duality joining to unity but solely a unity pure—either because the Act is the whole being or because there is no Act at all—then we cannot strictly say that the being has this mastery of self.


Our enquiry obliges us to use terms not strictly applicable: we insist, once more, that not even for the purpose of forming the concept of the Supreme may we make it a duality; if now we do, it is merely for the sake of conveying conviction, at the cost of verbal accuracy.

If, then, we are to allow Activities in the Supreme and make them depend upon will—and certainly Act cannot There be will-less—and these Activities are to be the very essence, then will and essence in the Supreme must be identical. This admitted, as He willed to be so He is; Edition: current; Page: [227] it is no more true to say that He wills and acts as His nature determines than that His essence is as He wills and acts. Thus He is wholly master of Himself and holds His very being at His will.

Consider also that every being in its pursuit of its good seeks to be that good rather than what it is; it judges itself most truly to be when it partakes of its good: in so far as it thus draws on its good its being is its choice: much more then must the very Principle, The Good, be desirable in itself when any fragment of it is very desirable to the extern and becomes the chosen essence promoting that extern’s will and identical with the will that gave the existence?

As long as a thing is apart from its good it seeks outside itself; when it holds its good it accepts itself as it is: and this is no matter of chance; the essence now is not outside of the will; by the good it is determined, by the good it is in self-possession.

If then this Principle is the means of determination to everything else, we see at once that self-possession must belong primally to it, so that through it others in their turn may be self-belonging: what we must call its essence comports its will to possess such a manner of being; we can form no idea of it without including in it the will towards itself as it is. It must be a consistent self willing its being and being what it wills; its will and itself must be one thing, all the more one from the absence of distinction between a given nature and one which would be preferred. What could The Good have wished to be other than what it is? Suppose it had the choice of being what it preferred, power to alter the nature, it could not prefer to be something else; it could have no fault to find with anything in its nature, as if that nature were imposed by force; The Good is what from always it wished and wishes to be. For the really existent Good is a willing towards itself, towards a good not gained by any wiles or even attracted to it by force of its nature; The Good is what it chose to be and, in fact, there was never anything outside it to which it could be drawn.

It may be added that nothing else contains in its essence the principle of its own satisfaction; there will be inner discord: but this hypostasis of the Good must necessarily have self-option, the will towards the Edition: current; Page: [228] self; if it had not, it could not bring satisfaction to the beings whose contentment demands participation in it or imagination of it.

Once more, we must be patient with language; we are forced to apply to the Supreme terms which strictly are ruled out; everywhere we must read “So to speak.” The Good, then, exists; it holds its existence through choice and will, conditions of its very being: yet it cannot be a manifold; therefore the will and the essential being must be taken as one identity; the act of the will must be self-determined and the being self-caused; thus reason shows the Supreme to be its own Author. For if the act of will springs from God Himself and is as it were His operation and the same will is identical with His essence, He must be self-established. He is not, therefore, “what He has happened to be” but what He has willed to be.


Another approach:—Everything to which existence may be attributed is either one with its essence or distinct from it. Thus any given man is distinct from essential man though belonging to the order Man: a soul and a soul’s essence are the same—that is, in the case of soul pure and unmingled—Man as type is the same as man’s essence; where the thing, man, and the essence are different, the particular man may be considered as accidental; but man, the essence, cannot be so; the type, Man, has Real Being. Now if the essence of man is real, not chanced or accidental, how can we think That to be accidental which transcends the order man, author of the type, source of all being, a principle more nearly simplex than man’s being or being of any kind? As we approach the simplex, accident recedes; what is utterly simplex accident never touches at all.

Further we must remember what has been already said, that where there is true being, where things have been brought to reality by that Principle—and this is true of whatsoever has determined condition within the order of sense—all that reality is brought about in virtue of something emanating from the divine. By things of determined condition I mean such as contain, inbound with their essence, the reason Edition: current; Page: [229] of their being as they are, so that, later, an observer can state the use for each of the constituent parts—why the eye, why feet of such and such a kind to such and such a being—and can recognise that the reason for the production of each organ is inherent in that particular being and that the parts exist for each other. Why feet of a certain length? Because another member is as it is: because the face is as it is, therefore the feet are what they are: in a word the mutual determinant is mutual adaptation and the reason of each of the several forms is that such is the plan of man.

Thus the essence and its reason are one and the same. The constituent parts arise from the one source not because that source has so conceived each separately but because it has produced simultaneously the plan of the thing and its existence. This therefore is author at once of the existence of things and of their reasons, both produced at the one stroke. It is in correspondence with the things of process but far more nearly archetypal and authentic and in a closer relation with the Better, their source, than they can be.

Of things carrying their causes within, none arises at hazard or without purpose; this “So it happened to be” is applicable to none. All that they have comes from The Good; the Supreme itself, then, as author of reason, of causation, and of causing essence—all certainly lying far outside of chance—must be the Principle and as it were the exemplar of things, thus independent of hazard: it is the First, the Authentic, immune from chance, from blind effect and happening: God is cause of Himself; for Himself and of Himself He is what He is, the first self, transcendently The Self.


Lovable, very love, the Supreme is also self-love in that He is lovely no otherwise than from Himself and in Himself. Self-presence can hold only in the identity of associated with associating; since, in the Supreme, associated and associating are one, seeker and sought one—the sought serving as Hypostasis and substrate of the seeker—once more God’s being and his seeking are identical: once Edition: current; Page: [230] more, then, the Supreme is the self-producing, sovran of Himself, not happening to be as some extern willed but existing as He wills it.

And when we say that neither does He absorb anything nor anything absorb Him, thus again we are setting Him outside of all happening—not only because we declare Him unique and untouched by all but in another way also. Suppose we found such a nature in ourselves; we are untouched by all that has gathered round us subjecting us to happening and chance; all that accrument was of the servile and lay exposed to chance: by this new state alone we acquire self-disposal and free act, the freedom of that light which belongs to the order of the good and is good in actuality, greater than anything Intellectual-Principle has to give, an actuality whose advantage over Intellection is no adventitious superiority. When we attain to this state and become This alone, what can we say but that we are more than free, more than self-disposing? And who then could link us to chance, hazard, happening, when thus we are become veritable Life, entered into That which contains no alloy but is purely itself?

Isolate anything else and the being is inadequate; the Supreme in isolation is still what it was. The First cannot be in the soulless or in an unreasoning life; such a life is too feeble in being; it is reason dissipated, it is indetermination; only in the measure of approach towards reason is there liberation from happening; the rational is above chance. Ascending we come upon the Supreme, not as reason but as reason’s better: thus God is far removed from all happening: the root of reason is self-springing.

The Supreme is the Term of all; it is like the principle and ground of some vast tree of rational life; itself unchanging, it gives reasoned being to the growth into which it enters.


We maintain, and it is evident truth, that the Supreme is everywhere and yet nowhere; keeping this constantly in mind let us see how it bears on our present enquiry.

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If God is nowhere, then not anywhere has He “happened to be”; as also everywhere, He is everywhere in entirety: at once, He is that everywhere and everywise: He is not in the everywhere but is the everywhere as well as the giver to the rest of things of their being in that everywhere. Holding the supreme place—or rather no holder but Himself the Supreme—all lies subject to Him; they have not brought Him to be but happen, all, to Him—or rather they stand there before Him looking upon Him, not He upon them. He is borne, so to speak, to the inmost of Himself in love of that pure radiance which He is, He Himself being that which He loves. That is to say, as self-dwelling Act and Intellectual-Principle, the most to be loved, He has given Himself existence. Intellectual-Principle is the issue of Act: God therefore is issue of Act, but since no other has generated Him He is what He made Himself: He is not, therefore, “as He happened to be” but as He acted Himself into being.

Again; if He preeminently is because He holds firmly, so to speak, towards Himself, looking towards Himself, so that what we must call his being is this self-looking, He must again, since the word is inevitable, make Himself: thus, not “as He happens to be” is He but as He Himself wills to be. Nor is this will a hazard, a something happening; the will adopting the Best is not a thing of chance.

That his being is constituted by this self-originating self-tendance—at once Act and repose—becomes clear if we imagine the contrary; inclining towards something outside of Himself, He would destroy the identity of his being. This self-directed Act is therefore his peculiar being, one with Himself. If then his act never came to be but is eternal—a waking without an awakener, an eternal wakening and a supra-Intellection—He is as He waked Himself to be. This awakening is before being, before Intellectual-Principle, before rational life, though He is these; He is thus an Act before Intellectual-Principle and consciousness and life; these come from Him and no other; his being, then, is a self-presence, issuing from Himself. Thus not “as He happened to be” is He but as He willed to be.

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Or consider it another way:—We hold the universe, with its content entire, to be as all would be if the design of the maker had so willed it, elaborating it with purpose and prevision by reasonings amounting to a Providence. All is always so and all is always so reproduced: therefore the reason-principles of things must lie always within the producing powers in a still more perfect form; these beings of the divine realm must therefore be previous to Providence and to preference; all that exists in the order of being must lie for ever There in their Intellectual mode. If this regime is to be called Providence it must be in the sense that before our universe there exists, not expressed in the outer, the Intellectual-Principle of all the All, its source and archetype.

Now if there is thus an Intellectual-Principle before all things, their founding principle, this cannot be a thing lying subject to chance—multiple, no doubt, but a concordance, ordered so to speak into oneness. Such a multiple—the co-ordination of all particulars and consisting of all the Reason-Principles of the universe gathered into the closest union—this cannot be a thing of chance, a thing “happening so to be.” It must be of a very different nature, of the very contrary nature, separated from the other by all the difference between reason and reasonless chance. And if the Source is precedent even to this, it must be continuous with this reasoned secondary so that the two be correspondent; the secondary must participate in the prior, be an expression of its will, be a power of it: that higher therefore (as above the ordering of reason) is without part or interval (implied by reasoned arrangement), is a one-all Reason-Principle, one number, a One greater than its product, more powerful, having no higher or better. Thus the Supreme can derive neither its being nor the quality of its being. God Himself, therefore, is what He is, self-related, self-tending; otherwise He becomes outward-tending, other-seeking—He who cannot but be wholly self-poised.


Seeking Him, seek nothing of Him outside; within is to be sought what follows upon Him; Himself do not attempt. He is, Himself, Edition: current; Page: [233] that outer, He the encompassment and measure of all things; or rather He is within, at the innermost depth; the outer, circling round Him, so to speak, and wholly dependent upon Him, is Reason-Principle and Intellectual-Principle—or becomes Intellectual-Principle by contact with Him and in the degree of that contact and dependence; for from Him it takes the being which makes it Intellectual-Principle.

A circle related in its path to a centre must be admitted to owe its scope to that centre; it has something of the nature of that centre in that the radial lines converging on that one central point assimilate their impinging ends to that point of convergence and of departure, the dominant of radii and terminals: the terminals are of one nature with the centre, separate reproductions of it, since the centre is, in a certain sense, the total of terminals and radii impinging at every point upon it; these lines reveal the centre; they are the development of that undeveloped.

In the same way we are to take Intellectual-Principle and Being. This combined power springs from the Supreme, an outflow and as it were development from That and remaining dependent upon that Intellective nature, showing forth That which, in the purity of its oneness, is not Intellectual-Principle since it is no duality. No more than in the circle are the lines or circumference to be identified with that Centre which is the source of both: radii and circle are images given forth by indwelling power and, as products of a certain vigour in it, not cut off from it.

Thus the Intellective power circles in its multiple unity around the Supreme which stands to it as archetype to image; the image in its movement round about its prior has produced the multiplicity by which it is constituted Intellectual-Principle: that prior has no movement; it generates Intellectual-Principle by its sheer wealth.

Such a power, author of Intellectual-Principle, author of being—how does it lend itself to chance, to hazard, to any “So it happened”?

What is present in Intellectual-Principle is present, though in a far transcendent mode, in the One: so in a light diffused afar from one light shining within itself, the diffused is vestige, the source is the true Edition: current; Page: [234] light; but Intellectual-Principle, the diffused and image light, is not different in kind from its prior; and it is not a thing of chance but at every point is reason and cause.

The Supreme is cause of the cause: it is cause preeminently, cause as containing cause in the deepest and truest mode; for in it lie the Intellective causes which are to be unfolded from it, author as it is not of the chance-made but of what the divine willed: and this willing was not apart from reason, was not in the realm of hazard and of what happened to present itself.

Thus Plato seeking the best account of the necessary and appropriate says they are far removed from hazard and that what exists is what must exist: if thus the existence is as it must be it does not exist without reason: if its manner of being is the fitting, it is the utterly self-disposing in comparison with its sequents and, before that, in regard to itself: thus it is not “as it happened to be” but as it willed to be: all this, on the assumption that God wills what should be and that it is impossible to separate right from realisation and that this Necessary is not to God an outside thing but is, itself, His first Activity manifesting outwardly in the exactly representative form. Thus we must speak of God since we cannot tell Him as we would.


Stirred to the Supreme by what has been told, a man must strive to possess it directly; then he too will see, though still unable to tell it as he would wish.

One seeing That as it really is will lay aside all reasoning upon it and simply state it as the self-existent, such that if it had essence that essence would be subject to it and, so to speak, derived from it; none that has seen would dare to talk of its “happening to be,” or indeed be able to utter word. With all his courage he would stand astounded, unable at any venture to speak of This, with the vision everywhere before the eyes of the soul so that, look where one may, there it is seen unless one deliberately look away, ignoring God, thinking no more upon Him. So we are to understand the Beyond-Essence darkly indicated Edition: current; Page: [235] by the ancients: it is not merely that He generated Essence but that He is subject neither to Essence nor to Himself; His essence is not His Principle; He is Principle to Essence and not for Himself did He make it; producing it He left it outside of Himself: He had no need of being who brought it to be. Thus His making of being is no “action in accordance with His being.”


The difficulty will be raised that God would seem to have existed before thus coming into existence; if He makes Himself, then in regard to the self which He makes He is not yet in being and as maker He exists before this Himself thus made.

The answer is that we utterly must not speak of Him as made but sheerly as maker; the making must be taken as absolved from all else; no new existence is established; the Act here is not directed to an achievement but is God Himself unalloyed: here is no duality but pure unity. Let no one suspect us of asserting that the first Activity is without Essence; on the contrary the Activity is the very reality. To suppose a reality without activity would be to make the Principle of all principles deficient; the supremely complete becomes incomplete. To make the Activity something superadded to the essence is to shatter the unity. If then Activity is a more perfect thing than essence and the First is all perfect, then the Activity is the First.

By having acted, He is what He is and there is no question of “existing before bringing Himself into existence”; when He acted He was not in some state that could be described as “before existing.” He was already existent entirely.

Now assuredly an Activity not subjected to essence is utterly free; God’s selfhood, then, is of his own Act. If his being has to be ensured by something else, He is no longer the self-existent First: if it be true to say that He is his own container, then He inducts Himself; for all that He contains is his own production from the beginning since from the beginning He caused the being of all that by nature He contains.

If there had been a moment from which He began to be, it would Edition: current; Page: [236] be possible to assert his self-making in the literal sense; but since what He is He is from before all time, his self-making is to be understood as simultaneous with Himself; the being is one and the same with the making and eternal “coming into existence.”

This is the source also of his self-disposal—strictly applicable if there were a duality, but conveying, in the case of a unity, a disposing without a disposed, an abstract disposing. But how a disposer with nothing to dispose? In that there is here a disposer looking to a prior when there is none: since there is no prior, This is the First—but a First not in order but in sovranty, in power purely self-controlled. Purely; then nothing can be There that is under any external disposition; all in God is self-willing. What then is there of his content that is not Himself, what that is not in Act, what not his work? Imagine in Him anything not of his Act and at once His existence ceases to be pure; He is not self-disposing, not all-powerful: in that at least of whose doing He is not master He would be impotent.


Could He then have made Himself otherwise than as He did?

If He could we must deny Him the power to produce goodness for He certainly cannot produce evil. Power, There, is no producer of the inapt; it is that steadfast constant which is most decidedly power by inability to depart from unity: ability to produce the inapt is inability to hold by the fitting; that self-making must be definite once for all since it is the right: besides, who could upset what is made by the will of God and is itself that will?

But whence does He draw that will seeing that essence, source of will, is inactive in Him?

The will was included in the essence; they were identical: or was there something, this will for instance, not existing in Him? All was will, nothing unwilled in Him. There is then nothing before that will: God and will were primally identical.

God, therefore, is what He willed, is such as He willed; and all Edition: current; Page: [237] that ensued upon that willing was what that definite willing engendered: but it engendered nothing new; all existed from the first.

As for his “self-containing,” this rightly understood can mean only that all the rest is maintained in virtue of Him by means of a certain participation; all traces back to the Supreme; God Himself, self-existing always, needs no containing, no participating; all in Him belongs to Him or rather He needs nothing from them in order to being Himself.

When therefore you seek to state or to conceive Him, put all else aside; abstracting all, keep solely to Him; see that you add nothing; be sure that your theory of God does not lessen Him. Even you are able to take contact with Something in which there is no more than That Thing itself to affirm and know, Something which lies away above all and is—it alone—veritably free, subject not even to its own law, solely and essentially That One Thing, while all else is thing and something added.

On The Good, or The One


It is in virtue of unity that beings are beings.

This is equally true of things whose existence is primal and of all that are in any degree to be numbered among beings. What could exist at all except as one thing? Deprived of unity, a thing ceases to be what it is called: no army unless as a unity: a chorus, a flock, must be one thing. Even house and ship demand unity, one house, one ship; unity gone neither remains: thus even continuous magnitudes could not exist without an inherent unity; break them apart and their very being is altered in the measure of the breach of unity.

Take plant and animal; the material form stands a unity; fallen from that into a litter of fragments, the things have lost their being; what was is no longer there; it is replaced by quite other things—as many others, precisely, as possess unity.

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Health, similarly, is the condition of a body acting as a co-ordinate unity. Beauty appears when limbs and features are controlled by this principle, unity. Moral excellence is of a soul acting as a concordant total, brought to unity.

Come thus to soul—which brings all to unity, making, moulding, shaping, ranging to order—there is a temptation to say “Soul is the bestower of unity; soul therefore is the unity.” But soul bestows other characteristics upon material things and yet remains distinct from its gift: shape, Ideal-Form and the rest are all distinct from the giving soul: so, clearly, with this gift of unity; soul to make things unities looks out upon the unity just as it makes man by looking upon Man, realising in the man the unity belonging to Man.

Anything that can be described as a unity is so in the precise degree in which it holds a characteristic being; the less or more the degree of the being, the less or more the unity. Soul while distinct from unity’s very self, is a thing of the greater unity in proportion as it is of the greater, the authentic, being. Absolute unity it is not: it is soul and one soul, the unity in some sense a concomitant; there are two things, soul and soul’s unity as there is body with body’s unity. The looser aggregates such as a choir are furthest from unity, the more compact are the nearer; soul is nearer yet but still a participant.

Is soul to be identified with unity on the ground that unless it were one thing it could not be soul? No; unity is equally necessary to every other thing, yet unity stands distinct from them; body and unity are not identical; body, too, is still a participant.

Besides, the soul, even the collective soul for all its absence of part, is a manifold: it has diverse powers—reasoning, desiring, perceiving—all held together by this chain of unity. Itself a unity, soul confers unity, but also accepts it.


It may be suggested that, while in the unities of the partial order the essence and the unity are distinct, yet in collective existence, in Real Being, they are identical, so that when we have grasped Being Edition: current; Page: [239] we hold unity; Real Being would coincide with Unity. Thus, taking the Intellectual-Principle as Essential Being, that principle and the Unity Absolute would be at once Primal Being and Pure Unity, purveying, accordingly, to the rest of things something of Being and something, in proportion, of the unity which is itself.

There is nothing (we may be told) with which the unity would be more plausibly identified than with Being; either it is Being as a given man is man or it will correspond to the Number which rules in the realm of the particular; it will be a number applying to a certain unique thing as the number two applies to others.

Now if Number is a thing among things, then clearly so this unity must be; we would have to discover what thing of things it is. If Number is not a thing but an operation of the mind moving out to reckon, then the unity will not be a thing.

We found that anything losing unity loses its being; we are therefore obliged to enquire whether the unity in particulars is identical with the being, and unity absolute identical with collective being.

Now the being of the particular is a manifold; unity cannot be a manifold; there must therefore be a distinction between Being and Unity. Thus a man is at once a reasoning living being and a total of parts; his variety is held together by his unity; man therefore and unity are different—man a thing of parts against unity partless. Much more must Collective Being, as container of all existence, be a manifold and therefore distinct from the unity in which it is but participant.

Again, Collective Being contains life and intelligence—it is no dead thing—and so, once more, is a manifold.

If Being is identical with Intellectual-Principle, even at that it is a manifold; all the more so when count is taken of the Ideal Forms in it; for the Idea, particular or collective is, after all, a numerable agglomeration whose unity is that of a kosmos.

Above all, unity is The First: but Intellectual-Principle, Ideas and Being, cannot be so; for any member of the realm of Forms is an aggregation, a compound, and therefore—since components must precede their compound—is a later.

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Other considerations also go to show that the Intellectual-Principle cannot be the First. Intellect must be about the Intellectual Act: at least in its higher phase, that not concerned with the outer universe, it must be intent upon its Prior; its introversion is a conversion upon the Principle.

Considered as at once Thinker and Object of its Thought, it is dual, not simplex, not The Unity: considered as looking beyond itself, it must look to a better, to a prior: looking simultaneously upon itself and upon its Transcendent, it is, once more, not a First.

There is no other way of stating Intellectual-Principle than as that which, holding itself in the presence of The Good and First and looking towards That, is self-present also, self-knowing and Knowing itself as All-Being: thus manifold, it is far from being The Unity.

In sum:—The Unity cannot be the total of beings for so its oneness is annulled; it cannot be the Intellectual-Principle for so it would be that total which the Intellectual-Principle is; nor is it Being, for Being is the manifold of things.


What then must The Unity be, what nature is left for it?

No wonder that to state it is not easy; even Being and Form are not easy, though we have a way, an approach through the Ideas.

The soul or mind reaching towards the formless finds itself incompetent to grasp where nothing bounds it or to take impression where the impinging reality is diffuse; in sheer dread of holding to nothingness, it slips away. The state is painful; often it seeks relief by retreating from all this vagueness to the region of sense, there to rest as on solid ground, just as the sight distressed by the minute rests with pleasure on the bold.

Soul must see in its own way; this is by coalescence, unification; but in seeking thus to know the Unity it is prevented by that very unification from recognising that it has found; it cannot distinguish itself from the object of this intuition. Nonetheless, this is our one resource if our philosophy is to give us knowledge of The Unity.

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We are in search of unity; we are to come to know the principle of all, the Good and First; therefore we may not stand away from the realm of Firsts and lie prostrate among the lasts: we must strike for those Firsts, rising from things of sense which are the lasts. Cleared of all evil in our intention towards The Good, we must ascend to the Principle within ourselves; from many, we must become one; only so do we attain to knowledge of that which is Principle and Unity. We shape ourselves into Intellectual-Principle; we make over our soul in trust to Intellectual-Principle and set it firmly in That; thus what That sees the soul will waken to see: it is through the Intellectual-Principle that we have this vision of The Unity; it must be our care to bring over nothing whatever from sense, to allow nothing even of soul to enter into Intellectual-Principle: with Intellect pure, and with the summit of Intellect, we are to see the All-Pure.

If the quester has the impression of extension or shape or mass attaching to That Nature he has not been led by Intellectual-Principle which is not of the order to see such things; the activity has been of sense and of the judgement following upon sense: only Intellectual-Principle can inform us of the things of its scope; its competence is upon its priors, its content and its issue: but even its content is outside of sense; and still purer, still less touched by multiplicity, are its priors, or rather its Prior.

The Unity, then, is not Intellectual-Principle but something higher still: Intellectual-Principle is still a being but that First is no being but precedent to all Being: it cannot be a being for a being has what we may call the shape of its reality but The Unity is without shape, even shape Intellectual.

Generative of all, The Unity is none of all; neither thing nor quantity nor quality nor intellect nor soul; not in motion, not at rest, not in place, not in time: it is the self-defined, unique in form or, better, formless, existing before Form was, or Movement or Rest, all of which are attachments of Being and make Being the manifold it is.

But how, if not in movement, can it be otherwise than at rest?

The answer is that movement and rest are states pertaining to Edition: current; Page: [242] Being, which necessarily has one or the other or both. Besides, anything at rest must be so in virtue of Rest as something distinct: Unity at rest becomes the ground of an attribute and at once ceases to be a simplex.

Note, similarly, that when we speak of this First as Cause we are affirming something happening not to it but to us, the fact that we take from this Self-Enclosed: strictly we should put neither a This nor a That to it; we hover, as it were, about it, seeking the statement of an experience of our own, sometimes nearing this Reality, sometimes baffled by the enigma in which it dwells.


The main of the difficulty is that awareness of this Principle comes neither by knowing nor by the Intellection that discovers the Intellectual Beings but by a presence overpassing all knowledge. In knowing, soul or mind abandons its unity; it cannot remain a simplex: knowing is taking account of things; that accounting is multiple; the mind thus plunging into number and multiplicity departs from unity.

Our way then takes us beyond knowing; there may be no wandering from unity; knowing and knowable must all be left aside; every object of thought, even the highest, we must pass by, for all that is good is later than This and derives from This as from the sun all the light of the day.

“Not to be told; not to be written”: in our writing and telling we are but urging towards it: out of discussion we call to vision: to those desiring to see, we point the path; our teaching is of the road and the travelling; the seeing must be the very act of one that has made this choice.

There are those that have not attained to see. The soul has not come to know the splendour There; it has not felt and clutched to itself that love-passion of vision known to the lover come to rest where he loves. Or struck perhaps by that authentic light, all the soul lit by the nearness gained, we have gone weighted from beneath; the vision is frustrate; we should go without burden and we go carrying that which can but keep us back; we are not yet made over into unity.

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From none is that Principle absent and yet from all: present, it remains absent save to those fit to receive, disciplined into some accordance, able to touch it closely by their likeness and by that kindred power within themselves through which, remaining as it was when it came to them from the Supreme, they are enabled to see in so far as God may at all be seen.

Failure to attain may be due to such impediment or to lack of the guiding thought that establishes trust; impediment we must charge against ourselves and strive by entire renunciation to become emancipate; where there is distrust for lack of convincing reason, further considerations may be applied:—


Those to whom existence comes about by chance and automatic action and is held together by material forces have drifted far from God and from the concept of unity; we are not here addressing them but only such as accept another nature than body and have some conception of soul.

Soul must be sounded to the depths, understood as an emanation from Intellectual-Principle and as holding its value by a Reason-Principle thence infused. Next this Intellect must be apprehended, an Intellect other than the reasoning faculty known as the rational principle; with reasoning we are already in the region of separation and movement: our sciences are Reason-Principles lodged in soul or mind, having manifestly acquired their character by the presence in the soul of Intellectual-Principle, source of all knowing.

Thus we come to see Intellectual-Principle almost as an object of sense: the Intellectual Kosmos is perceptible as standing above soul, father to soul: we know Intellectual-Principle as the motionless, not subject to change, containing, we must think, all things; a multiple but at once indivisible and comporting difference. It is not discriminate as are the Reason-Principles, which can in fact be known one by one: yet its content is not a confusion; every item stands forth distinctly, just as in a science the entire content holds as an indivisible and yet each item is a self-standing verity.

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Now a plurality thus concentrated like the Intellectual Kosmos is close upon The First—and reason certifies its existence as surely as that of soul—yet, though of higher sovranty than soul, it is not The First since it is not a unity, not simplex as unity, principle over all multiplicity, must be.

Before it there is That which must transcend the noblest of the things of Being: there must be a prior to this Principle which aiming towards unity is yet not unity but a thing in unity’s likeness. From this highest it is not sundered; it too is self-present: so close to the unity, it cannot be articulated: and yet it is a principle which in some measure has dared secession.

That awesome Prior, The Unity, is not a being, for so its unity would be vested in something else: strictly no name is apt to it, but since name it we must there is a certain rough fitness in designating it as unity with the understanding that it is not the unity of some other thing.

Thus it eludes our knowledge so that the nearer approach to it is through its offspring, Being: we know it as cause of existence to Intellectual-Principle, as fount of all that is best, as the efficacy which, self-perduring and undiminishing, generates all beings and is not to be counted among these its derivatives to all of which it must be prior.

This we can but name The Unity, indicating it to each other by a designation that points to the concept of its partlessness while we are in reality striving to bring our own minds to unity. We are not to think of such unity and partlessness as belong to point or monad; the veritable unity is the source of all such quantity which could not exist unless first there existed Being and Being’s Prior: we are not, then, to think in the order of point and monad but to use these—in their rejection of magnitude and partition—as symbols for the higher concept.


In what sense, then, do we assert this Unity and how is it to be adjusted to our mental processes?

Its oneness must not be belittled to that of monad and point: Edition: current; Page: [245] for these the mind abstracts extension and numerical quantity and rests upon the very minutest possible, ending no doubt in the partless but still in something that began as a partible and is always lodged in something other than itself. The Unity was never in any other and never belonged to the partible: nor is its impartibility that of extreme minuteness; on the contrary it is great beyond anything, great not in extension but in power, sizeless by its very greatness as even its immediate sequents are impartible not in mass but in might. We must therefore take the Unity as infinite not in measureless extension or numerable quantity but in fathomless depths of power.

Think of The One as Mind or as God, you think too meanly; use all the resources of understanding to conceive this Unity and, again, it is more authentically one than God, even though you reach for God’s unity beyond the unity the most perfect you can conceive. For This is utterly a self-existent, with no concomitant whatever. This self-sufficing is the essence of its unity. Something there must be supremely adequate, autonomous, all-transcending, most utterly without need.

Any manifold, anything beneath The Unity, is dependent: combined from various constituents, its essential nature goes in need of unity; but unity cannot need itself; it stands unity accomplished. Again, a manifold depends upon all its factors; and furthermore each of those factors in turn—as necessarily inbound with the rest and not self-standing—sets up a similar need both to its associates and to the total so constituted.

The sovranly self-sufficing principle will be Unity-Absolute, for only in this unity is there a nature above all need whether within itself or in regard to the rest of things. Unity seeks nothing towards its being or its well-being or its safehold upon existence; cause to all, how can it acquire its character outside of itself or know any good outside? The good of its being can be no borrowing: This is The Good. Nor has it station; it needs no standing ground as if inadequate to its own sustaining; what calls for such underpropping is the soulless, some material mass that must be based or fall. This is base to all, cause of universal existence and of ordered station. All that demands place is Edition: current; Page: [246] in need; a First cannot go in need of its sequents: all need is effort towards a first principle; the First, principle to all, must be utterly without need. If the Unity be seeking, it must inevitably be seeking to be something other than itself; it is seeking its own destroyer. Whatever may be said to be in need of a good is needing a preserver; nothing can be a good to The Unity, therefore.

Neither can it have will to anything; it is a Beyond-Good, not even to itself a good but to such beings only as may be of quality to have part with it. Nor has it Intellection; that would comport diversity: nor Movement; it is prior to Movement as to Intellection.

To what could its Intellection be directed? To itself? But that would imply a previous ignorance; it would be dependent upon that Intellection in order to knowledge of itself; but it is the self-sufficing. Yet this absence of self-knowing does not comport ignorance; ignorance is of something outside—a knower ignorant of a knowable—but in the Solitary there is neither knowing nor anything unknown. Unity, self-present, it has no need of self-intellection: indeed this “self-presence” were better left out, the more surely to preserve the unity; we must eliminate all knowing and all association, all intellection whether internal or external. It is not to be thought of as having but as being Intellection; Intellection does not itself perform the intellective act but is the cause of the act in something else and cause is not to be identified with caused: most assuredly the cause of all is not a thing within that all.

This Principle is not, therefore, to be identified with the good of which it is the source; it is good in the unique mode of being The Good above all that is good.


If the mind reels before something thus alien to all we know, we must take our stand on the things of this realm and strive thence to see. But in the looking beware of throwing outward; this Principle does not lie away somewhere leaving the rest void; to those of power to reach, it is present; to the inapt, absent. In our daily affairs we cannot hold an object in mind if we have given ourselves elsewhere, occupied Edition: current; Page: [247] upon some other matter; that very thing must be before us to be truly the object of observation. So here also; preoccupied by the impress of something else, we are withheld under that pressure from becoming aware of The Unity; a mind gripped and fastened by some definite thing cannot take the print of the very contrary. As Matter, it is agreed, must be void of quality in order to accept the types of the universe, so and much more must the soul be kept formless if there is to be no infixed impediment to prevent it being brimmed and lit by the Primal Principle.

In sum, we must withdraw from all the extern, pointed wholly inwards; no leaning to the outer; the total of things ignored, first in their relation to us and later in the very idea; the self put out of mind in the contemplation of the Supreme; all the commerce so closely There that, if report were possible, one might become to others reporter of that communion.

Such converse, we may suppose, was that of Minos, thence known as the Familiar of Zeus; and in that memory he established the laws which report it, enlarged to that task by his vision There. Some, on the other hand, there will be to disdain such citizen service, choosing to remain in the higher: these will be those that have seen much.

God—we read—is outside of none, present unperceived to all; we break away from Him, or rather from ourselves; what we turn from we cannot reach; astray ourselves, we cannot go in search of another; a child distraught will not recognise its father; to find ourselves is to know our source.


Every soul that knows its history is aware, also, that its movement, unthwarted, is not that of an outgoing line; its natural course may be likened to that in which a circle turns not upon some external but on its own centre, the point to which it owes its rise. The soul’s movement will be about its source; to this it will hold, poised intent towards that unity to which all souls should move and the divine souls always move, divine in virtue of that movement; for to be a god is to be integral with the Supreme; what stands away is man still multiple, or beast.

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Is then this “centre” of our souls the Principle for which we are seeking?

We must look yet further: we must admit a Principle in which all these centres coincide: it will be a centre by analogy with the centre of the circle we know. The soul is not a circle in the sense of the geometric figure but in that it at once contains the Primal Nature (as centre) and is contained by it (as circumference), that it owes its origin to such a centre and still more that the soul, uncontaminated, is a self-contained entity.

In our present state—part of our being weighed down by the body, as one might have the feet under water with all the rest untouched—we bear ourselves aloft by that intact part and, in that, hold through our own centre to the centre of all the centres, just as the centres of the great circles of a sphere coincide with that of the sphere to which all belong. Thus we are secure.

If these circles were material and not spiritual, the link with the centres would be local; they would lie round it where it lay at some distant point: since the souls are of the Intellectual, and the Supreme still loftier, we understand that contact is otherwise procured, that is by those powers which connect Intellectual agent with Intellectual Object; this all the more, since the Intellect grasps the Intellectual object by the way of similarity, identity, in the sure link of kindred. Material mass cannot blend into other material mass: unbodied beings are not under this bodily limitation; their separation is solely that of otherness, of differentiation; in the absence of otherness, it is similars mutually present.

Thus the Supreme as containing no otherness is ever present with us; we with it when we put otherness away. It is not that the Supreme reaches out to us seeking our communion: we reach towards the Supreme; it is we that become present. We are always before it: but we do not always look: thus a choir, singing set in due order about the conductor, may turn away from that centre to which all should attend; let it but face aright and it sings with beauty, present effectively. We are ever before the Supreme—cut off is utter dissolution; we can no longer Edition: current; Page: [249] be—but we do not always attend: when we look, our Term is attained; this is rest; this is the end of singing ill; effectively before Him, we lift a choral song full of God.


In this choiring, the soul looks upon the wellspring of Life, wellspring also of Intellect, beginning of Being, fount of Good, root of Soul. It is not that these are poured out from the Supreme lessening it as if it were a thing of mass. At that the emanants would be perishable; but they are eternal; they spring from an eternal principle, which produces them not by its fragmentation but in virtue of its intact identity: therefore they too hold firm; so long as the sun shines, so long there will be light.

We have not been cut away; we are not separate, what though the body-nature has closed about us to press us to itself; we breathe and hold our ground because the Supreme does not give and pass but gives on for ever, so long as it remains what it is.

Our being is the fuller for our turning Thither; this is our prosperity; to hold aloof is loneliness and lessening. Here is the soul’s peace, outside of evil, refuge taken in the place clean of wrong; here it has its Act, its true knowing; here it is immune. Here is living, the true; that of to-day, all living apart from Him, is but a shadow, a mimicry. Life in the Supreme is the native activity of Intellect; in virtue of that converse it brings forth gods, brings forth beauty, brings forth righteousness, brings forth all moral good; for of all these the soul is pregnant when it has been filled with God. This state is its first and its final, because from God it comes, its good lies There, and, once turned to God again, it is what it was. Life here, with the things of earth, is a sinking, a defeat, a failing of the wing.

That our good is There is shown by the very love inborn with the soul; hence the constant linking of the Love-God with the Psyches in story and picture; the soul, other than God but sprung of Him, must needs love. So long as it is There, it holds the heavenly love; here its love is the baser; There the soul is Aphrodite of the heavens; Edition: current; Page: [250] here, turned harlot, Aphrodite of the public ways: yet the soul is always an Aphrodite. This is the intention of the myth which tells of Aphrodite’s birth and Eros born with her.

The soul in its nature loves God and longs to be at one with Him in the noble love of a daughter for a noble father; but coming to human birth and lured by the courtships of this sphere, she takes up with another love, a mortal, leaves her father and falls.

But one day coming to hate her shame, she puts away the evil of earth, once more seeks the father, and finds her peace.

Those to whom all this experience is strange may understand by way of our earthly longings and the joy we have in winning to what we most desire—remembering always that here what we love is perishable, hurtful, that our loving is of mimicries and turns awry because all was a mistake, our good was not here, this was not what we sought; There only is our veritable love and There we may hold it and be with it, possess it in its verity no longer submerged in alien flesh. Any that have seen know what I have in mind: the soul takes another life as it approaches God; thus restored it feels that the dispenser of true life is There to see, that now we have nothing to look for but, far otherwise, that we must put aside all else and rest in This alone, This become, This alone, all the earthly environment done away, in haste to be free, impatient of any bond holding us to the baser, so that with our being entire we may cling about This, no part in us remaining but through it we have touch with God.

Thus we have all the vision that may be of Him and of ourselves; but it is of a self wrought to splendour, brimmed with the Intellectual light, become that very light, pure, buoyant, unburdened, raised to Godhood or, better, knowing its Godhood, all aflame then—but crushed out once more if it should take up the discarded burden.


But how comes the soul not to keep that ground?

Because it has not yet escaped wholly: but there will be the time of vision unbroken, the self hindered no longer by any hindrance of Edition: current; Page: [251] body. Not that those hindrances beset that in us which has veritably seen; it is the other phase of the soul that suffers and that only when we withdraw from vision and take to knowing by proof, by evidence, by the reasoning processes of the mental habit. Such logic is not to be confounded with that act of ours in the vision; it is not our reason that has seen; it is something greater than reason, reason’s Prior, as far above reason as the very object of that thought must be.

In our self-seeing There, the self is seen as belonging to that order, or rather we are merged into that self in us which has the quality of that order. It is a knowing of the self restored to its purity. No doubt we should not speak of seeing; but we cannot help talking in dualities, seen and seer, instead of, boldly, the achievement of unity. In this seeing, we neither hold an object nor trace distinction; there is no two. The man is changed, no longer himself nor self-belonging; he is merged with the Supreme, sunken into it, one with it: centre coincides with centre, for on this higher plane things that touch at all are one; only in separation is there duality; by our holding away, the Supreme is set outside. This is why the vision baffles telling; we cannot detach the Supreme to state it; if we have seen something thus detached we have failed of the Supreme which is to be known only as one with ourselves.


This is the purport of that rule of our Mysteries: Nothing Divulged to the Uninitiate: the Supreme is not to be made a common story, the holy things may not be uncovered to the stranger, to any that has not himself attained to see. There were not two; beholder was one with beheld; it was not a vision compassed but a unity apprehended. The man formed by this mingling with the Supreme must—if he only remember—carry its image impressed upon him: he is become the Unity, nothing within him or without inducing any diversity; no movement now, no passion, no outlooking desire, once this ascent is achieved; reasoning is in abeyance and all Intellection and even, to dare the word, the very self: caught away, filled with God, he has in perfect stillness attained isolation; all the being calmed, he turns neither to this side nor to that, Edition: current; Page: [252] not even inwards to himself; utterly resting he has become very rest. He belongs no longer to the order of the beautiful; he has risen beyond beauty; he has overpassed even the choir of the virtues; he is like one who, having penetrated the inner sanctuary, leaves the temple images behind him—though these become once more first objects of regard when he leaves the holies; for There his converse was not with image, not with trace, but with the very Truth in the view of which all the rest is but of secondary concern.

There, indeed, it was scarcely vision, unless of a mode unknown; it was a going forth from the self, a simplifying, a renunciation, a reach towards contact and at the same time a repose, a meditation towards adjustment. This is the only seeing of what lies within the holies: to look otherwise is to fail.

Things here are signs; they show therefore to the wiser teachers how the supreme God is known; the instructed priest reading the sign may enter the holy place and make real the vision of the inaccessible.

Even those that have never found entry must admit the existence of that invisible; they will know their source and Principle since by principle they see principle and are linked with it, by like they have contact with like and so they grasp all of the divine that lies within the scope of mind. Until the seeing comes they are still craving something, that which only the vision can give; this Term, attained only by those that have overpassed all, is the All-Transcending.

It is not in the soul’s nature to touch utter nothingness; the lowest descent is into evil and, so far, into non-being: but to utter nothing, never. When the soul begins again to mount, it comes not to something alien but to its very self; thus detached, it is not in nothingness but in itself; self-gathered it is no longer in the order of being; it is in the Supreme.

There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows Being, becomes identical with the Transcendent of Being. The self thus lifted, we are in the likeness of the Supreme: if from that heightened self we pass still higher—image to archetype—we have won the Term of all our journeying. Fallen back again, we waken the virtue within Edition: current; Page: [253] until we know ourselves all order once more; once more we are lightened of the burden and move by virtue towards Intellectual-Principle and through the Wisdom in That to the Supreme.

This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary.