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The Six Enneads (c. 250 CE)

250 AD
                                THE SIX ENNEADS
                                  by Plotinus
                 translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page
                        THE FIRST ENNEAD.

                         FIRST TRACTATE.

                     THE ANIMATE AND THE MAN.

    1. Pleasure and distress, fear and courage, desire and aversion,
where have these affections and experiences their seat?
    Clearly, either in the Soul alone, or in the Soul as employing the
body, or in some third entity deriving from both. And for this third
entity, again, there are two possible modes: it might be either a
blend or a distinct form due to the blending.
    And what applies to the affections applies also to whatsoever
acts, physical or mental, spring from them.
    We have, therefore, to examine discursive-reason and the
ordinary mental action upon objects of sense, and enquire whether
these have the one seat with the affections and experiences, or
perhaps sometimes the one seat, sometimes another.
    And we must consider also our acts of Intellection, their mode and
their seat.
    And this very examining principle, which investigates and
decides in these matters, must be brought to light.
    Firstly, what is the seat of Sense-Perception? This is the obvious
beginning since the affections and experiences either are sensations
of some kind or at least never occur apart from sensation.
    2. This first enquiry obliges us to consider at the outset the
nature of the Soul- that is whether a distinction is to be made
between Soul and Essential Soul [between an individual Soul and the
Soul-Kind in itself]. *

    * All matter shown in brackets is added by the translator for
clearness' sake and, therefore, is not canonical. S.M.

    If such a distinction holds, then the Soul [in man] is some sort
of a composite and at once we may agree that it is a recipient and- if
only reason allows- that all the affections and experiences really
have their seat in the Soul, and with the affections every state and
mood, good and bad alike.
    But if Soul [in man] and Essential Soul are one and the same, then
the Soul will be an Ideal-Form unreceptive of all those activities
which it imparts to another Kind but possessing within itself that
native Act of its own which Reason manifests.
    If this be so, then, indeed, we may think of the Soul as an
immortal- if the immortal, the imperishable, must be impassive, giving
out something of itself but itself taking nothing from without
except for what it receives from the Existents prior to itself from
which Existents, in that they are the nobler, it cannot be sundered.
    Now what could bring fear to a nature thus unreceptive of all
the outer? Fear demands feeling. Nor is there place for courage:
courage implies the presence of danger. And such desires as are
satisfied by the filling or voiding of the body, must be proper to
something very different from the Soul, to that only which admits of
replenishment and voidance.
    And how could the Soul lend itself to any admixture? An
essential is not mixed. Or of the intrusion of anything alien? If it
did, it would be seeking the destruction of its own nature. Pain
must be equally far from it. And Grief- how or for what could it
grieve? Whatever possesses Existence is supremely free, dwelling,
unchangeable, within its own peculiar nature. And can any increase
bring joy, where nothing, not even anything good, can accrue? What
such an Existent is, it is unchangeably.
    Thus assuredly Sense-Perception, Discursive-Reasoning; and all our
ordinary mentation are foreign to the Soul: for sensation is a
receiving- whether of an Ideal-Form or of an impassive body- and
reasoning and all ordinary mental action deal with sensation.
    The question still remains to be examined in the matter of the
intellections- whether these are to be assigned to the Soul- and as to
Pure-Pleasure, whether this belongs to the Soul in its solitary state.
    3. We may treat of the Soul as in the body- whether it be set
above it or actually within it- since the association of the two
constitutes the one thing called the living organism, the Animate.
    Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an
instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body's
experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the
tools with which he is working.
    It may be objected that the Soul must however, have
Sense-Perception since its use of its instrument must acquaint it with
the external conditions, and such knowledge comes by way of sense.
Thus, it will be argued, the eyes are the instrument of seeing, and
seeing may bring distress to the soul: hence the Soul may feel
sorrow and pain and every other affection that belongs to the body;
and from this again will spring desire, the Soul seeking the mending
of its instrument.
    But, we ask, how, possibly, can these affections pass from body to
Soul? Body may communicate qualities or conditions to another body:
but- body to Soul? Something happens to A; does that make it happen to
B? As long as we have agent and instrument, there are two distinct
entities; if the Soul uses the body it is separate from it.
    But apart from the philosophical separation how does Soul stand to
    Clearly there is a combination. And for this several modes are
possible. There might be a complete coalescence: Soul might be
interwoven through the body: or it might be an Ideal-Form detached
or an Ideal-Form in governing contact like a pilot: or there might
be part of the Soul detached and another part in contact, the
disjoined part being the agent or user, the conjoined part ranking
with the instrument or thing used.
    In this last case it will be the double task of philosophy to
direct this lower Soul towards the higher, the agent, and except in so
far as the conjunction is absolutely necessary, to sever the agent
from the instrument, the body, so that it need not forever have its
Act upon or through this inferior.
    4. Let us consider, then, the hypothesis of a coalescence.
    Now if there is a coalescence, the lower is ennobled, the nobler
degraded; the body is raised in the scale of being as made participant
in life; the Soul, as associated with death and unreason, is brought
lower. How can a lessening of the life-quality produce an increase
such as Sense-Perception?
    No: the body has acquired life, it is the body that will
acquire, with life, sensation and the affections coming by
sensation. Desire, then, will belong to the body, as the objects of
desire are to be enjoyed by the body. And fear, too, will belong to
the body alone; for it is the body's doom to fail of its joys and to
    Then again we should have to examine how such a coalescence
could be conceived: we might find it impossible: perhaps all this is
like announcing the coalescence of things utterly incongruous in kind,
let us say of a line and whiteness.
    Next for the suggestion that the Soul is interwoven through the
body: such a relation would not give woof and warp community of
sensation: the interwoven element might very well suffer no change:
the permeating soul might remain entirely untouched by what affects
the body- as light goes always free of all it floods- and all the more
so, since, precisely, we are asked to consider it as diffused
throughout the entire frame.
    Under such an interweaving, then, the Soul would not be
subjected to the body's affections and experiences: it would be
present rather as Ideal-Form in Matter.
    Let us then suppose Soul to be in body as Ideal-Form in Matter.
Now if- the first possibility- the Soul is an essence, a
self-existent, it can be present only as separable form and will
therefore all the more decidedly be the Using-Principle [and therefore
    Suppose, next, the Soul to be present like axe-form on iron: here,
no doubt, the form is all important but it is still the axe, the
complement of iron and form, that effects whatever is effected by
the iron thus modified: on this analogy, therefore, we are even more
strictly compelled to assign all the experiences of the combination to
the body: their natural seat is the material member, the instrument,
the potential recipient of life.
    Compare the passage where we read* that "it is absurd to suppose
that the Soul weaves"; equally absurd to think of it as desiring,
grieving. All this is rather in the province of something which we may
call the Animate.

    * "We read" translates "he says" of the text, and always indicates
a reference to Plato, whose name does not appear in the translation
except where it was written by Plotinus. S.M.

    5. Now this Animate might be merely the body as having life: it
might be the Couplement of Soul and body: it might be a third and
different entity formed from both.
    The Soul in turn- apart from the nature of the Animate- must be
either impassive, merely causing Sense-Perception in its
yoke-fellow, or sympathetic; and, if sympathetic, it may have
identical experiences with its fellow or merely correspondent
experiences: desire for example in the Animate may be something
quite distinct from the accompanying movement or state in the desiring
    The body, the live-body as we know it, we will consider later.
    Let us take first the Couplement of body and Soul. How could
suffering, for example, be seated in this Couplement?
    It may be suggested that some unwelcome state of the body produces
a distress which reaches to a Sensitive-Faculty which in turn merges
into Soul. But this account still leaves the origin of the sensation
    Another suggestion might be that all is due to an opinion or
judgement: some evil seems to have befallen the man or his
belongings and this conviction sets up a state of trouble in the
body and in the entire Animate. But this account leaves still a
question as to the source and seat of the judgement: does it belong to
the Soul or to the Couplement? Besides, the judgement that evil is
present does not involve the feeling of grief: the judgement might
very well arise and the grief by no means follow: one may think
oneself slighted and yet not be angry; and the appetite is not
necessarily excited by the thought of a pleasure. We are, thus, no
nearer than before to any warrant for assigning these affections to
the Couplement.
    Is it any explanation to say that desire is vested in a
Faculty-of-desire and anger in the Irascible-Faculty and,
collectively, that all tendency is seated in the Appetitive-Faculty?
Such a statement of the facts does not help towards making the
affections common to the Couplement; they might still be seated either
in the Soul alone or in the body alone. On the one hand if the
appetite is to be stirred, as in the carnal passion, there must be a
heating of the blood and the bile, a well-defined state of the body;
on the other hand, the impulse towards The Good cannot be a joint
affection, but, like certain others too, it would belong necessarily
to the Soul alone.
    Reason, then, does not permit us to assign all the affections to
the Couplement.
    In the case of carnal desire, it will certainly be the Man that
desires, and yet, on the other hand, there must be desire in the
Desiring-Faculty as well. How can this be? Are we to suppose that,
when the man originates the desire, the Desiring-Faculty moves to
the order? How could the Man have come to desire at all unless through
a prior activity in the Desiring-Faculty? Then it is the
Desiring-Faculty that takes the lead? Yet how, unless the body be
first in the appropriate condition?
    6. It may seem reasonable to lay down as a law that when any
powers are contained by a recipient, every action or state
expressive of them must be the action or state of that recipient, they
themselves remaining unaffected as merely furnishing efficiency.
    But if this were so, then, since the Animate is the recipient of
the Causing-Principle [i.e., the Soul] which brings life to the
Couplement, this Cause must itself remain unaffected, all the
experiences and expressive activities of the life being vested in
the recipient, the Animate.
    But this would mean that life itself belongs not to the Soul but
to the Couplement; or at least the life of the Couplement would not be
the life of the Soul; Sense-Perception would belong not to the
Sensitive-Faculty but to the container of the faculty.
    But if sensation is a movement traversing the body and culminating
in Soul, how the soul lack sensation? The very presence of the
Sensitive-Faculty must assure sensation to the Soul.
    Once again, where is Sense-Perception seated?
    In the Couplement.
    Yet how can the Couplement have sensation independently of
action in the Sensitive-Faculty, the Soul left out of count and the
    7. The truth lies in the Consideration that the Couplement
subsists by virtue of the Soul's presence.
    This, however, is not to say that the Soul gives itself as it is
in itself to form either the Couplement or the body.
    No; from the organized body and something else, let us say a
light, which the Soul gives forth from itself, it forms a distinct
Principle, the Animate; and in this Principle are vested
Sense-Perception and all the other experiences found to belong to
the Animate.
    But the "We"? How have We Sense-Perception?
    By the fact that We are not separate from the Animate so
constituted, even though certainly other and nobler elements go to
make up the entire many-sided nature of Man.
    The faculty of perception in the Soul cannot act by the
immediate grasping of sensible objects, but only by the discerning
of impressions printed upon the Animate by sensation: these
impressions are already Intelligibles while the outer sensation is a
mere phantom of the other [of that in the Soul] which is nearer to
Authentic-Existence as being an impassive reading of Ideal-Forms.
    And by means of these Ideal-Forms, by which the Soul wields single
lordship over the Animate, we have Discursive-Reasoning,
Sense-Knowledge and Intellection. From this moment we have
peculiarly the We: before this there was only the "Ours"; but at
this stage stands the WE [the authentic Human-Principle] loftily
presiding over the Animate.
    There is no reason why the entire compound entity should not be
described as the Animate or Living-Being- mingled in a lower phase,
but above that point the beginning of the veritable man, distinct from
all that is kin to the lion, all that is of the order of the
multiple brute. And since The Man, so understood, is essentially the
associate of the reasoning Soul, in our reasoning it is this "We" that
reasons, in that the use and act of reason is a characteristic Act
of the Soul.
    8. And towards the Intellectual-Principle what is our relation? By
this I mean, not that faculty in the soul which is one of the
emanations from the Intellectual-Principle, but The
Intellectual-Principle itself [Divine-Mind].
    This also we possess as the summit of our being. And we have It
either as common to all or as our own immediate possession: or again
we may possess It in both degrees, that is in common, since It is
indivisible- one, everywhere and always Its entire self- and severally
in that each personality possesses It entire in the First-Soul [i.e.
in the Intellectual as distinguished from the lower phase of the
    Hence we possess the Ideal-Forms also after two modes: in the
Soul, as it were unrolled and separate; in the Intellectual-Principle,
concentrated, one.
    And how do we possess the Divinity?
    In that the Divinity is contained in the Intellectual-Principle
and Authentic-Existence; and We come third in order after these two,
for the We is constituted by a union of the supreme, the undivided
Soul- we read- and that Soul which is divided among [living] bodies.
For, note, we inevitably think of the Soul, though one undivided in
the All, as being present to bodies in division: in so far as any
bodies are Animates, the Soul has given itself to each of the separate
material masses; or rather it appears to be present in the bodies by
the fact that it shines into them: it makes them living beings not
by merging into body but by giving forth, without any change in
itself, images or likenesses of itself like one face caught by many
    The first of these images is Sense-Perception seated in the
Couplement; and from this downwards all the successive images are to
be recognized as phases of the Soul in lessening succession from one
another, until the series ends in the faculties of generation and
growth and of all production of offspring- offspring efficient in
its turn, in contradistinction to the engendering Soul which [has no
direct action within matter but] produces by mere inclination
towards what it fashions.
    9. That Soul, then, in us, will in its nature stand apart from all
that can cause any of the evils which man does or suffers; for all
such evil, as we have seen, belongs only to the Animate, the
    But there is a difficulty in understanding how the Soul can go
guiltless if our mentation and reasoning are vested in it: for all
this lower kind of knowledge is delusion and is the cause of much of
what is evil.
    When we have done evil it is because we have been worsted by our
baser side- for a man is many- by desire or rage or some evil image:
the misnamed reasoning that takes up with the false, in reality fancy,
has not stayed for the judgement of the Reasoning-Principle: we have
acted at the call of the less worthy, just as in matters of the
sense-sphere we sometimes see falsely because we credit only the lower
perception, that of the Couplement, without applying the tests of
the Reasoning-Faculty.
    The Intellectual-Principle has held aloof from the act and so is
guiltless; or, as we may state it, all depends on whether we ourselves
have or have not put ourselves in touch with the Intellectual-Realm
either in the Intellectual-Principle or within ourselves; for it is
possible at once to possess and not to use.
    Thus we have marked off what belongs to the Couplement from what
stands by itself: the one group has the character of body and never
exists apart from body, while all that has no need of body for its
manifestation belongs peculiarly to Soul: and the Understanding, as
passing judgement upon Sense-Impressions, is at the point of the
vision of Ideal-Forms, seeing them as it were with an answering
sensation (i.e, with consciousness) this last is at any rate true of
the Understanding in the Veritable Soul. For Understanding, the
true, is the Act of the Intellections: in many of its manifestations
it is the assimilation and reconciliation of the outer to the inner.
    Thus in spite of all, the Soul is at peace as to itself and within
itself: all the changes and all the turmoil we experience are the
issue of what is subjoined to the Soul, and are, as have said, the
states and experiences of this elusive "Couplement."
    10. It will be objected, that if the Soul constitutes the We
[the personality] and We are subject to these states then the Soul
must be subject to them, and similarly that what We do must be done by
the Soul.
    But it has been observed that the Couplement, too- especially
before our emancipation- is a member of this total We, and in fact
what the body experiences we say We experience. This then covers two
distinct notions; sometimes it includes the brute-part, sometimes it
transcends the brute. The body is brute touched to life; the true
man is the other, going pure of the body, natively endowed with the
virtues which belong to the Intellectual-Activity, virtues whose
seat is the Separate Soul, the Soul which even in its dwelling here
may be kept apart. [This Soul constitutes the human being] for when it
has wholly withdrawn, that other Soul which is a radiation [or
emanation] from it withdraws also, drawn after it.
    Those virtues, on the other hand, which spring not from
contemplative wisdom but from custom or practical discipline belong to
the Couplement: to the Couplement, too, belong the vices; they are its
repugnances, desires, sympathies.
    And Friendship?
    This emotion belongs sometimes to the lower part, sometimes to the
interior man.
    11. In childhood the main activity is in the Couplement and
there is but little irradiation from the higher principles of our
being: but when these higher principles act but feebly or rarely
upon us their action is directed towards the Supreme; they work upon
us only when they stand at the mid-point.
    But does not the include that phase of our being which stands
above the mid-point?
    It does, but on condition that we lay hold of it: our entire
nature is not ours at all times but only as we direct the mid-point
upwards or downwards, or lead some particular phase of our nature from
potentiality or native character into act.
    And the animals, in what way or degree do they possess the
    If there be in them, as the opinion goes, human Souls that have
sinned, then the Animating-Principle in its separable phase does not
enter directly into the brute; it is there but not there to them; they
are aware only of the image of the Soul [only of the lower Soul] and
of that only by being aware of the body organised and determined by
that image.
    If there be no human Soul in them, the Animate is constituted
for them by a radiation from the All-Soul.
    12. But if Soul is sinless, how come the expiations? Here surely
is a contradiction; on the one side the Soul is above all guilt; on
the other, we hear of its sin, its purification, its expiation; it
is doomed to the lower world, it passes from body to body.
    We may take either view at will: they are easily reconciled.
    When we tell of the sinless Soul, we make Soul and
Essential-Soul one and the same: it is the simple unbroken Unity.
    By the Soul subject to sin we indicate a groupment, we include
that other, that phase of the Soul which knows all the states and
passions: the Soul in this sense is compound, all-inclusive: it
falls under the conditions of the entire living experience: this
compound it is that sins; it is this, and not the other, that pays
    It is in this sense that we read of the Soul: "We saw it as
those others saw the sea-god Glaukos." "And," reading on, "if we
mean to discern the nature of the Soul we must strip it free of all
that has gathered about it, must see into the philosophy of it,
examine with what Existences it has touch and by kinship to what
Existences it is what it is."
    Thus the Life is one thing, the Act is another and the Expiator
yet another. The retreat and sundering, then, must be not from this
body only, but from every alien accruement. Such accruement takes
place at birth; or rather birth is the coming-into-being of that other
[lower] phase of the Soul. For the meaning of birth has been indicated
elsewhere; it is brought about by a descent of the Soul, something
being given off by the Soul other than that actually coming down in
the declension.
    Then the Soul has let this image fall? And this declension is it
not certainly sin?
    If the declension is no more than the illuminating of an object
beneath, it constitutes no sin: the shadow is to be attributed not
to the luminary but to the object illuminated; if the object were
not there, the light could cause no shadow.
    And the Soul is said to go down, to decline, only in that the
object it illuminates lives by its life. And it lets the image fall
only if there be nothing near to take it up; and it lets it fall,
not as a thing cut off, but as a thing that ceases to be: the image
has no further being when the whole Soul is looking toward the
    The poet, too, in the story of Hercules, seems to give this
image separate existence; he puts the shade of Hercules in the lower
world and Hercules himself among the gods: treating the hero as
existing in the two realms at once, he gives us a twofold Hercules.
    It is not difficult to explain this distinction. Hercules was a
hero of practical virtue. By his noble serviceableness he was worthy
to be a God. On the other hand, his merit was action and not the
Contemplation which would place him unreservedly in the higher
realm. Therefore while he has place above, something of him remains
    13. And the principle that reasons out these matters? Is it We
or the Soul?
    We, but by the Soul.
    But how "by the Soul"? Does this mean that the Soul reasons by
possession [by contact with the matters of enquiry]?
    No; by the fact of being Soul. Its Act subsists without
movement; or any movement that can be ascribed to it must be utterly
distinct from all corporal movement and be simply the Soul's own life.
    And Intellection in us is twofold: since the Soul is intellective,
and Intellection is the highest phase of life, we have Intellection
both by the characteristic Act of our Soul and by the Act of the
Intellectual-Principle upon us- for this Intellectual-Principle is
part of us no less than the Soul, and towards it we are ever rising.
                        SECOND TRACTATE.

                           ON VIRTUE.

    1. Since Evil is here, "haunting this world by necessary law," and
it is the Soul's design to escape from Evil, we must escape hence.
    But what is this escape?
    "In attaining Likeness to God," we read. And this is explained
as "becoming just and holy, living by wisdom," the entire nature
grounded in Virtue.
    But does not Likeness by way of Virtue imply Likeness to some
being that has Virtue? To what Divine Being, then, would our
Likeness be? To the Being- must we not think?- in Which, above all,
such excellence seems to inhere, that is to the Soul of the Kosmos and
to the Principle ruling within it, the Principle endowed with a wisdom
most wonderful. What could be more fitting than that we, living in
this world, should become Like to its ruler?
    But, at the beginning, we are met by the doubt whether even in
this Divine-Being all the virtues find place- Moral-Balance
[Sophrosyne], for example; or Fortitude where there can be no danger
since nothing is alien; where there can be nothing alluring whose lack
could induce the desire of possession.
    If, indeed, that aspiration towards the Intelligible which is in
our nature exists also in this Ruling-Power, then need not look
elsewhere for the source of order and of the virtues in ourselves.
    But does this Power possess the Virtues?
    We cannot expect to find There what are called the Civic
Virtues, the Prudence which belongs to the reasoning faculty; the
Fortitude which conducts the emotional and passionate nature; the
Sophrosyne which consists in a certain pact, in a concord between
the passionate faculty and the reason; or Rectitude which is the due
application of all the other virtues as each in turn should command or
    Is Likeness, then, attained, perhaps, not by these virtues of
the social order but by those greater qualities known by the same
general name? And if so do the Civic Virtues give us no help at all?
    It is against reason, utterly to deny Likeness by these while
admitting it by the greater: tradition at least recognizes certain men
of the civic excellence as divine, and we must believe that these
too had in some sort attained Likeness: on both levels there is virtue
for us, though not the same virtue.
    Now, if it be admitted that Likeness is possible, though by a
varying use of different virtues and though the civic virtues do not
suffice, there is no reason why we should not, by virtues peculiar
to our state, attain Likeness to a model in which virtue has no place.
    But is that conceivable?
    When warmth comes in to make anything warm, must there needs be
something to warm the source of the warmth?
    If a fire is to warm something else, must there be a fire to
warm that fire?
    Against the first illustration it may be retorted that the
source of the warmth does already contain warmth, not by an infusion
but as an essential phase of its nature, so that, if the analogy is to
hold, the argument would make Virtue something communicated to the
Soul but an essential constituent of the Principle from which the Soul
attaining Likeness absorbs it.
    Against the illustration drawn from the fire, it may be urged that
the analogy would make that Principle identical with virtue, whereas
we hold it to be something higher.
    The objection would be valid if what the soul takes in were one
and the same with the source, but in fact virtue is one thing, the
source of virtue quite another. The material house is not identical
with the house conceived in the intellect, and yet stands in its
likeness: the material house has distribution and order while the pure
idea is not constituted by any such elements; distribution, order,
symmetry are not parts of an idea.
    So with us: it is from the Supreme that we derive order and
distribution and harmony, which are virtues in this sphere: the
Existences There, having no need of harmony, order or distribution,
have nothing to do with virtue; and, none the less, it is by our
possession of virtue that we become like to Them.
    Thus much to show that the principle that we attain Likeness by
virtue in no way involves the existence of virtue in the Supreme.
But we have not merely to make a formal demonstration: we must
persuade as well as demonstrate.
    2. First, then, let us examine those good qualities by which we
hold Likeness comes, and seek to establish what is this thing which,
as we possess it, in transcription, is virtue but as the Supreme
possesses it, is in the nature of an exemplar or archetype and is
not virtue.
    We must first distinguish two modes of Likeness.
    There is the likeness demanding an identical nature in the objects
which, further, must draw their likeness from a common principle:
and there is the case in which B resembles A, but A is a Primal, not
concerned about B and not said to resemble B. In this second case,
likeness is understood in a distinct sense: we no longer look for
identity of nature, but, on the contrary, for divergence since the
likeness has come about by the mode of difference.
    What, then, precisely is Virtue, collectively and in the
particular? The clearer method will be to begin with the particular,
for so the common element by which all the forms hold the general name
will readily appear.
    The Civic Virtues, on which we have touched above, are a principle
or order and beauty in us as long as we remain passing our life
here: they ennoble us by setting bound and measure to our desires
and to our entire sensibility, and dispelling false judgement- and
this by sheer efficacy of the better, by the very setting of the
bounds, by the fact that the measured is lifted outside of the
sphere of the unmeasured and lawless.
    And, further, these Civic Virtues- measured and ordered themselves
and acting as a principle of measure to the Soul which is as Matter to
their forming- are like to the measure reigning in the over-world, and
they carry a trace of that Highest Good in the Supreme; for, while
utter measurelessness is brute Matter and wholly outside of
Likeness, any participation in Ideal-Form produces some
corresponding degree of Likeness to the formless Being There. And
participation goes by nearness: the Soul nearer than the body,
therefore closer akin, participates more fully and shows a godlike
presence, almost cheating us into the delusion that in the Soul we see
God entire.
    This is the way in which men of the Civic Virtues attain Likeness.
    3. We come now to that other mode of Likeness which, we read, is
the fruit of the loftier virtues: discussing this we shall penetrate
more deeply into the essence of the Civic Virtue and be able to define
the nature of the higher kind whose existence we shall establish
beyond doubt.
    To Plato, unmistakably, there are two distinct orders of virtue,
and the civic does not suffice for Likeness: "Likeness to God," he
says, "is a flight from this world's ways and things": in dealing with
the qualities of good citizenship he does not use the simple term
Virtue but adds the distinguishing word civic: and elsewhere he
declares all the virtues without exception to be purifications.
    But in what sense can we call the virtues purifications, and how
does purification issue in Likeness?
    As the Soul is evil by being interfused with the body, and by
coming to share the body's states and to think the body's thoughts, so
it would be good, it would be possessed of virtue, if it threw off the
body's moods and devoted itself to its own Act- the state of
Intellection and Wisdom- never allowed the passions of the body to
affect it- the virtue of Sophrosyne- knew no fear at the parting
from the body- the virtue of Fortitude- and if reason and the
Intellectual-Principle ruled- in which state is Righteousness. Such
a disposition in the Soul, become thus intellective and immune to
passion, it would not be wrong to call Likeness to God; for the
Divine, too, is pure and the Divine-Act is such that Likeness to it is
    But would not this make virtue a state of the Divine also?
    No: the Divine has no states; the state is in the Soul. The Act of
Intellection in the Soul is not the same as in the Divine: of things
in the Supreme, Soul grasps some after a mode of its own, some not
at all.
    Then yet again, the one word Intellection covers two distinct
    Rather there is primal Intellection and there is Intellection
deriving from the Primal and of other scope.
    As speech is the echo of the thought in the Soul, so thought in
the Soul is an echo from elsewhere: that is to say, as the uttered
thought is an image of the soul-thought, so the soul-thought images
a thought above itself and is the interpreter of the higher sphere.
    Virtue, in the same way, is a thing of the Soul: it does not
belong to the Intellectual-Principle or to the Transcendence.
    4. We come, so, to the question whether Purification is the
whole of this human quality, virtue, or merely the forerunner upon
which virtue follows? Does virtue imply the achieved state of
purification or does the mere process suffice to it, Virtue being
something of less perfection than the accomplished pureness which is
almost the Term?
    To have been purified is to have cleansed away everything alien:
but Goodness is something more.
    If before the impurity entered there was Goodness, the Goodness
suffices; but even so, not the act of cleansing but the cleansed thing
that emerges will be The Good. And it remains to establish what this
emergent is.
    It can scarcely prove to be The Good: The Absolute Good cannot
be thought to have taken up its abode with Evil. We can think of it
only as something of the nature of good but paying a double allegiance
and unable to rest in the Authentic Good.
    The Soul's true Good is in devotion to the Intellectual-Principle,
its kin; evil to the Soul lies in frequenting strangers. There is no
other way for it than to purify itself and so enter into relation with
its own; the new phase begins by a new orientation.
    After the Purification, then, there is still this orientation to
be made? No: by the purification the true alignment stands
    The Soul's virtue, then, is this alignment? No: it is what the
alignment brings about within.
    And this is...?
    That it sees; that, like sight affected by the thing seen, the
soul admits the imprint, graven upon it and working within it, of
the vision it has come to.
    But was not the Soul possessed of all this always, or had it
    What it now sees, it certainly always possessed, but as lying away
in the dark, not as acting within it: to dispel the darkness, and thus
come to knowledge of its inner content, it must thrust towards the
    Besides, it possessed not the originals but images, pictures;
and these it must bring into closer accord with the verities they
represent. And, further, if the Intellectual-Principle is said to be a
possession of the Soul, this is only in the sense that It is not alien
and that the link becomes very close when the Soul's sight is turned
towards It: otherwise, ever-present though It be, It remains
foreign, just as our knowledge, if it does not determine action, is
dead to us.
    5. So we come to the scope of the purification: that understood,
the nature of Likeness becomes clear. Likeness to what Principle?
Identity with what God?
    The question is substantially this: how far does purification
dispel the two orders of passion- anger, desire and the like, with
grief and its kin- and in what degree the disengagement from the
body is possible.
    Disengagement means simply that the soul withdraws to its own
    It will hold itself above all passions and affections. Necessary
pleasures and all the activity of the senses it will employ only for
medicament and assuagement lest its work be impeded. Pain it may
combat, but, failing the cure, it will bear meekly and ease it by
refusing assent to it. All passionate action it will check: the
suppression will be complete if that be possible, but at worst the
Soul will never itself take fire but will keep the involuntary and
uncontrolled outside its precincts and rare and weak at that. The Soul
has nothing to dread, though no doubt the involuntary has some power
here too: fear therefore must cease, except so far as it is purely
monitory. What desire there may be can never be for the vile; even the
food and drink necessary for restoration will lie outside of the
Soul's attention, and not less the sexual appetite: or if such
desire there must be, it will turn upon the actual needs of the nature
and be entirely under control; or if any uncontrolled motion takes
place, it will reach no further than the imagination, be no more
than a fleeting fancy.
    The Soul itself will be inviolately free and will be working to
set the irrational part of the nature above all attack, or if that may
not be, then at least to preserve it from violent assault, so that any
wound it takes may be slight and be healed at once by virtue of the
Soul's presence, just as a man living next door to a Sage would profit
by the neighbourhood, either in becoming wise and good himself or, for
sheer shame, never venturing any act which the nobler mind would
    There will be no battling in the Soul: the mere intervention of
Reason is enough: the lower nature will stand in such awe of Reason
that for any slightest movement it has made it will grieve, and
censure its own weakness, in not having kept low and still in the
presence of its lord.
    6. In all this there is no sin- there is only matter of
discipline- but our concern is not merely to be sinless but to be God.
    As long as there is any such involuntary action, the nature is
twofold, God and Demi-God, or rather God in association with a
nature of a lower power: when all the involuntary is suppressed, there
is God unmingled, a Divine Being of those that follow upon The First.
    For, at this height, the man is the very being that came from
the Supreme. The primal excellence restored, the essential man is
There: entering this sphere, he has associated himself with the
reasoning phase of his nature and this he will lead up into likeness
with his highest self, as far as earthly mind is capable, so that if
possible it shall never be inclined to, and at the least never
adopt, any course displeasing to its overlord.
    What form, then, does virtue take in one so lofty?
    It appears as Wisdom, which consists in the contemplation of all
that exists in the Intellectual-Principle, and as the immediate
presence of the Intellectual-Principle itself.
    And each of these has two modes or aspects: there is Wisdom as
it is in the Intellectual-Principle and as in the Soul; and there is
the Intellectual-Principle as it is present to itself and as it is
present to the Soul: this gives what in the Soul is Virtue, in the
Supreme not Virtue.
    In the Supreme, then, what is it?
    Its proper Act and Its Essence.
    That Act and Essence of the Supreme, manifested in a new form,
constitute the virtue of this sphere. For the Supreme is not
self-existent justice, or the Absolute of any defined virtue: it is,
so to speak, an exemplar, the source of what in the soul becomes
virtue: for virtue is dependent, seated in something not itself; the
Supreme is self-standing, independent.
    But taking Rectitude to be the due ordering of faculty, does it
not always imply the existence of diverse parts?
    No: There is a Rectitude of Diversity appropriate to what has
parts, but there is another, not less Rectitude than the former though
it resides in a Unity. And the authentic Absolute-Rectitude is the Act
of a Unity upon itself, of a Unity in which there is no this and
that and the other.
    On this principle, the supreme Rectitude of the Soul is that it
direct its Act towards the Intellectual-Principle: its Restraint
(Sophrosyne) is its inward bending towards the Intellectual-Principle;
its Fortitude is its being impassive in the likeness of That towards
which its gaze is set, Whose nature comports an impassivity which
the Soul acquires by virtue and must acquire if it is not to be at the
mercy of every state arising in its less noble companion.
    7. The virtues in the Soul run in a sequence correspondent to that
existing in the over-world, that is among their exemplars in the
    In the Supreme, Intellection constitutes Knowledge and Wisdom;
self-concentration is Sophrosyne; Its proper Act is Its Dutifulness;
Its Immateriality, by which It remains inviolate within Itself is
the equivalent of Fortitude.
    In the Soul, the direction of vision towards the
Intellectual-Principle is Wisdom and Prudence, soul-virtues not
appropriate to the Supreme where Thinker and Thought are identical.
All the other virtues have similar correspondences.
    And if the term of purification is the production of a pure being,
then the purification of the Soul must produce all the virtues; if any
are lacking, then not one of them is perfect.
    And to possess the greater is potentially to possess the minor,
though the minor need not carry the greater with them.
    Thus we have indicated the dominant note in the life of the
Sage; but whether his possession of the minor virtues be actual as
well as potential, whether even the greater are in Act in him or yield
to qualities higher still, must be decided afresh in each several
    Take, for example, Contemplative-Wisdom. If other guides of
conduct must be called in to meet a given need, can this virtue hold
its ground even in mere potentiality?
    And what happens when the virtues in their very nature differ in
scope and province? Where, for example, Sophrosyne would allow certain
acts or emotions under due restraint and another virtue would cut them
off altogether? And is it not clear that all may have to yield, once
Contemplative-Wisdom comes into action?
    The solution is in understanding the virtues and what each has
to give: thus the man will learn to work with this or that as every
several need demands. And as he reaches to loftier principles and
other standards these in turn will define his conduct: for example,
Restraint in its earlier form will no longer satisfy him; he will work
for the final Disengagement; he will live, no longer, the human life
of the good man- such as Civic Virtue commends- but, leaving this
beneath him, will take up instead another life, that of the Gods.
    For it is to the Gods, not to the Good, that our Likeness must
look: to model ourselves upon good men is to produce an image of an
image: we have to fix our gaze above the image and attain Likeness
to the Supreme Exemplar.
                        THIRD TRACTATE.

                 ON DIALECTIC [THE UPWARD WAY].

    1. What art is there, what method, what discipline to bring us
there where we must go?
    The Term at which we must arrive we may take as agreed: we have
established elsewhere, by many considerations, that our journey is
to the Good, to the Primal-Principle; and, indeed, the very
reasoning which discovered the Term was itself something like an
    But what order of beings will attain the Term?
    Surely, as we read, those that have already seen all or most
things, those who at their first birth have entered into the life-germ
from which is to spring a metaphysician, a musician or a born lover,
the metaphysician taking to the path by instinct, the musician and the
nature peculiarly susceptible to love needing outside guidance.
    But how lies the course? Is it alike for all, or is there a
distinct method for each class of temperament?
    For all there are two stages of the path, as they are making
upwards or have already gained the upper sphere.
    The first degree is the conversion from the lower life; the
second- held by those that have already made their way to the sphere
of the Intelligibles, have set as it were a footprint there but must
still advance within the realm- lasts until they reach the extreme
hold of the place, the Term attained when the topmost peak of the
Intellectual realm is won.
    But this highest degree must bide its time: let us first try to
speak of the initial process of conversion.
    We must begin by distinguishing the three types. Let us take the
musician first and indicate his temperamental equipment for the task.
    The musician we may think of as being exceedingly quick to beauty,
drawn in a very rapture to it: somewhat slow to stir of his own
impulse, he answers at once to the outer stimulus: as the timid are
sensitive to noise so he to tones and the beauty they convey; all that
offends against unison or harmony in melodies and rhythms repels
him; he longs for measure and shapely pattern.
    This natural tendency must be made the starting-point to such a
man; he must be drawn by the tone, rhythm and design in things of
sense: he must learn to distinguish the material forms from the
Authentic-Existent which is the source of all these correspondences
and of the entire reasoned scheme in the work of art: he must be led
to the Beauty that manifests itself through these forms; he must be
shown that what ravished him was no other than the Harmony of the
Intellectual world and the Beauty in that sphere, not some one shape
of beauty but the All-Beauty, the Absolute Beauty; and the truths of
philosophy must be implanted in him to lead him to faith in that
which, unknowing it, he possesses within himself. What these truths
are we will show later.
    2. The born lover, to whose degree the musician also may attain-
and then either come to a stand or pass beyond- has a certain memory
of beauty but, severed from it now, he no longer comprehends it:
spellbound by visible loveliness he clings amazed about that. His
lesson must be to fall down no longer in bewildered delight before
some, one embodied form; he must be led, under a system of mental
discipline, to beauty everywhere and made to discern the One Principle
underlying all, a Principle apart from the material forms, springing
from another source, and elsewhere more truly present. The beauty, for
example, in a noble course of life and in an admirably organized
social system may be pointed out to him- a first training this in
the loveliness of the immaterial- he must learn to recognise the
beauty in the arts, sciences, virtues; then these severed and
particular forms must be brought under the one principle by the
explanation of their origin. From the virtues he is to be led to the
Intellectual-Principle, to the Authentic-Existent; thence onward, he
treads the upward way.
    3. The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged
already and not like those others, in need of disengagement,
stirring of himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way,
needs only a guide. He must be shown, then, and instructed, a
willing wayfarer by his very temperament, all but self-directed.
    Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very
easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to
faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he
must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he
must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the
    4. But this science, this Dialectic essential to all the three
classes alike, what, in sum, is it?
    It is the Method, or Discipline, that brings with it the power
of pronouncing with final truth upon the nature and relation of
things- what each is, how it differs from others, what common
quality all have, to what Kind each belongs and in what rank each
stands in its Kind and whether its Being is Real-Being, and how many
Beings there are, and how many non-Beings to be distinguished from
    Dialectic treats also of the Good and the not-Good, and of the
particulars that fall under each, and of what is the Eternal and
what the not Eternal- and of these, it must be understood, not by
seeming-knowledge ["sense-knowledge"] but with authentic science.
    All this accomplished, it gives up its touring of the realm of
sense and settles down in the Intellectual Kosmos and there plies
its own peculiar Act: it has abandoned all the realm of deceit and
falsity, and pastures the Soul in the "Meadows of Truth": it employs
the Platonic division to the discernment of the Ideal-Forms, of the
Authentic-Existence and of the First-Kinds [or Categories of Being]:
it establishes, in the light of Intellection, the unity there is in
all that issues from these Firsts, until it has traversed the entire
Intellectual Realm: then, resolving the unity into the particulars
once more, it returns to the point from which it starts.
    Now rests: instructed and satisfied as to the Being in that
sphere, it is no longer busy about many things: it has arrived at
Unity and it contemplates: it leaves to another science all that
coil of premisses and conclusions called the art of reasoning, much as
it leaves the art of writing: some of the matter of logic, no doubt,
it considers necessary- to clear the ground- but it makes itself the
judge, here as in everything else; where it sees use, it uses;
anything it finds superfluous, it leaves to whatever department of
learning or practice may turn that matter to account.
    5. But whence does this science derive its own initial laws?
    The Intellectual-Principle furnishes standards, the most certain
for any soul that is able to apply them. What else is necessary,
Dialectic puts together for itself, combining and dividing, until it
has reached perfect Intellection. "For," we read, "it is the purest
[perfection] of Intellection and Contemplative-Wisdom." And, being the
noblest method and science that exists it must needs deal with
Authentic-Existence, The Highest there is: as Contemplative-Wisdom [or
true-knowing] it deals with Being, as Intellection with what
transcends Being.
    What, then, is Philosophy?
    Philosophy is the supremely precious.
    Is Dialectic, then, the same as Philosophy?
    It is the precious part of Philosophy. We must not think of it
as the mere tool of the metaphysician: Dialectic does not consist of
bare theories and rules: it deals with verities; Existences are, as it
were, Matter to it, or at least it proceeds methodically towards
Existences, and possesses itself, at the one step, of the notions
and of the realities.
    Untruth and sophism it knows, not directly, not of its own nature,
but merely as something produced outside itself, something which it
recognises to be foreign to the verities laid up in itself; in the
falsity presented to it, it perceives a clash with its own canon of
truth. Dialectic, that is to say, has no knowledge of propositions-
collections of words- but it knows the truth, and, in that
knowledge, knows what the schools call their propositions: it knows
above all, the operation of the soul, and, by virtue of this
knowing, it knows, too, what is affirmed and what is denied, whether
the denial is of what was asserted or of something else, and whether
propositions agree or differ; all that is submitted to it, it
attacks with the directness of sense-perception and it leaves petty
precisions of process to what other science may care for such
    6. Philosophy has other provinces, but Dialectic is its precious
part: in its study of the laws of the universe, Philosophy draws on
Dialectic much as other studies and crafts use Arithmetic, though,
of course, the alliance between Philosophy and Dialectic is closer.
    And in Morals, too, Philosophy uses Dialectic: by Dialectic it
comes to contemplation, though it originates of itself the moral state
or rather the discipline from which the moral state develops.
    Our reasoning faculties employ the data of Dialectic almost as
their proper possession for they are mainly concerned about Matter
[whose place and worth Dialectic establishes].
    And while the other virtues bring the reason to bear upon
particular experiences and acts, the virtue of Wisdom [i.e., the
virtue peculiarly induced by Dialectic] is a certain super-reasoning
much closer to the Universal; for it deals with correspondence and
sequence, the choice of time for action and inaction, the adoption
of this course, the rejection of that other: Wisdom and Dialectic have
the task of presenting all things as Universals and stripped of matter
for treatment by the Understanding.
    But can these inferior kinds of virtue exist without Dialectic and
    Yes- but imperfectly, inadequately.
    And is it possible to be a Sage, Master in Dialectic, without
these lower virtues?
    It would not happen: the lower will spring either before or
together with the higher. And it is likely that everyone normally
possesses the natural virtues from which, when Wisdom steps in, the
perfected virtue develops. After the natural virtues, then, Wisdom
and, so the perfecting of the moral nature. Once the natural virtues
exist, both orders, the natural and the higher, ripen side by side
to their final excellence: or as the one advances it carries forward
the other towards perfection.
    But, ever, the natural virtue is imperfect in vision and in
strength- and to both orders of virtue the essential matter is from
what principles we derive them.
                        FOURTH TRACTATE.

                       ON TRUE HAPPINESS.

    1. Are we to make True Happiness one and the same thing with
Welfare or Prosperity and therefore within the reach of the other
living beings as well as ourselves?
    There is certainly no reason to deny well-being to any of them
as long as their lot allows them to flourish unhindered after their
    Whether we make Welfare consist in pleasant conditions of life, or
in the accomplishment of some appropriate task, by either account it
may fall to them as to us. For certainly they may at once be
pleasantly placed and engaged about some function that lies in their
nature: take for an instance such living beings as have the gift of
music; finding themselves well-off in other ways, they sing, too, as
their nature is, and so their day is pleasant to them.
    And if, even, we set Happiness in some ultimate Term pursued by
inborn tendency, then on this head, too, we must allow it to animals
from the moment of their attaining this Ultimate: the nature in them
comes to a halt, having fulfilled its vital course from a beginning to
an end.
    It may be a distasteful notion, this bringing-down of happiness so
low as to the animal world- making it over, as then we must, even to
the vilest of them and not withholding it even from the plants, living
they too and having a life unfolding to a Term.
    But, to begin with, it is surely unsound to deny that good of life
to animals only because they do not appear to man to be of great
account. And as for plants, we need not necessarily allow to them what
we accord to the other forms of life, since they have no feeling. It
is true people might be found to declare prosperity possible to the
very plants: they have life, and life may bring good or evil; the
plants may thrive or wither, bear or be barren.
    No: if Pleasure be the Term, if here be the good of life, it is
impossible to deny the good of life to any order of living things;
if the Term be inner-peace, equally impossible; impossible, too, if
the good of life be to live in accordance with the purpose of nature.
    2. Those that deny the happy life to the plants on the ground that
they lack sensation are really denying it to all living things.
    By sensation can be meant only perception of state, and the
state of well-being must be Good in itself quite apart from the
perception: to be a part of the natural plan is good whether knowingly
or without knowledge: there is good in the appropriate state even
though there be no recognition of its fitness or desirable quality-
for it must be in itself desirable.
    This Good exists, then; is present: that in which it is present
has well-being without more ado: what need then to ask for sensation
into the bargain?
    Perhaps, however, the theory is that the good of any state
consists not in the condition itself but in the knowledge and
perception of it.
    But at this rate the Good is nothing but the mere sensation, the
bare activity of the sentient life. And so it will be possessed by all
that feel, no matter what. Perhaps it will be said that two
constituents are needed to make up the Good, that there must be both
feeling and a given state felt: but how can it be maintained that
the bringing together of two neutrals can produce the Good?
    They will explain, possibly, that the state must be a state of
Good and that such a condition constitutes well-being on the
discernment of that present good; but then they invite the question
whether the well-being comes by discerning the presence of the Good
that is there, or whether there must further be the double recognition
that the state is agreeable and that the agreeable state constitutes
the Good.
    If well-being demands this recognition, it depends no longer
upon sensation but upon another, a higher faculty; and well-being is
vested not in a faculty receptive of pleasure but in one competent
to discern that pleasure is the Good.
    Then the cause of the well-being is no longer pleasure but the
faculty competent to pronounce as to pleasure's value. Now a judging
entity is nobler than one that merely accepts a state: it is a
principle of Reason or of Intellection: pleasure is a state: the
reasonless can never be closer to the Good than reason is. How can
reason abdicate and declare nearer to good than itself something lying
in a contrary order?
    No: those denying the good of life to the vegetable world, and
those that make it consist in some precise quality of sensation, are
in reality seeking a loftier well-being than they are aware of, and
setting their highest in a more luminous phase of life.
    Perhaps, then, those are in the right who found happiness not on
the bare living or even on sensitive life but on the life of Reason?
    But they must tell us it should be thus restricted and why
precisely they make Reason an essential to the happiness in a living
    "When you insist on Reason, is it because Reason is resourceful,
swift to discern and compass the primal needs of nature; or would
you demand it, even though it were powerless in that domain?"
    If you call it in as a provider, then the reasonless, equally with
the reasoning, may possess happiness after their kind, as long as,
without any thought of theirs, nature supplies their wants: Reason
becomes a servant; there is no longer any worth in it for itself and
no worth in that consummation of reason which, we hold, is virtue.
    If you say that reason is to be cherished for its own sake and not
as supplying these human needs, you must tell us what other services
it renders, what is its proper nature and what makes it the perfect
thing it is.
    For, on this admission, its perfection cannot reside in any such
planning and providing: its perfection will be something quite
different, something of quite another class: Reason cannot be itself
one of those first needs of nature; it cannot even be a cause of those
first needs of nature or at all belong to that order: it must be
nobler than any and all of such things: otherwise it is not easy to
see how we can be asked to rate it so highly.
    Until these people light upon some nobler principle than any at
which they still halt, they must be left where they are and where they
choose to be, never understanding what the Good of Life is to those
that can make it theirs, never knowing to what kind of beings it is
    What then is happiness? Let us try basing it upon Life.
    3. Now if we draw no distinction as to kinds of life, everything
that lives will be capable of happiness, and those will be effectively
happy who possess that one common gift of which every living thing
is by nature receptive. We could not deny it to the irrational
whilst allowing it to the rational. If happiness were inherent in
the bare being-alive, the common ground in which the cause of
happiness could always take root would be simply life.
    Those, then, that set happiness not in the mere living but in
the reasoning life seem to overlook the fact that they are not
really making it depend upon life at all: they admit that this
reasoning faculty, round which they centre happiness, is a property
[not the subject of a property]: the subject, to them, must be the
Reasoning-Life since it is in this double term that they find the
basis of the happiness: so that they are making it consist not in life
but in a particular kind of life- not, of course, a species formally
opposite but, in terminology, standing as an "earlier" to a "later" in
the one Kind.
    Now in common use this word "Life" embraces many forms which shade
down from primal to secondary and so on, all massed under the common
term- life of plant and life of animal- each phase brighter or
dimmer than its next: and so it evidently must be with the
Good-of-Life. And if thing is ever the image of thing, so every Good
must always be the image of a higher Good.
    If mere Being is insufficient, if happiness demands fulness of
life, and exists, therefore, where nothing is lacking of all that
belongs to the idea of life, then happiness can exist only in a
being that lives fully.
    And such a one will possess not merely the good, but the Supreme
Good if, that is to say, in the realm of existents the Supreme Good
can be no other than the authentically living, no other than Life in
its greatest plenitude, life in which the good is present as something
essential not as something brought from without, a life needing no
foreign substance called in from a foreign realm, to establish it in
    For what could be added to the fullest life to make it the best
life? If anyone should answer, "The nature of Good" [The Good, as a
Divine Hypostasis], the reply would certainly be near our thought, but
we are not seeking the Cause but the main constituent.
    It has been said more than once that the perfect life and the true
life, the essential life, is in the Intellectual Nature beyond this
sphere, and that all other forms of life are incomplete, are
phantoms of life, imperfect, not pure, not more truly life than they
are its contrary: here let it be said succinctly that since all living
things proceed from the one principle but possess life in different
degrees, this principle must be the first life and the most complete.
    4. If, then, the perfect life is within human reach, the man
attaining it attains happiness: if not, happiness must be made over to
the gods, for the perfect life is for them alone.
    But since we hold that happiness is for human beings too, we
must consider what this perfect life is. The matter may be stated
    It has been shown elsewhere that man, when he commands not
merely the life of sensation but also Reason and Authentic
Intellection, has realised the perfect life.
    But are we to picture this kind of life as something foreign
imported into his nature?
    No: there exists no single human being that does not either
potentially or effectively possess this thing which we hold to
constitute happiness.
    But are we to think of man as including this form of life, the
perfect, after the manner of a partial constituent of his entire
    We say, rather, that while in some men it is present as a mere
portion of their total being- in those, namely, that have it
potentially- there is, too, the man, already in possession of true
felicity, who is this perfection realized, who has passed over into
actual identification with it. All else is now mere clothing about the
man, not to be called part of him since it lies about him unsought,
not his because not appropriated to himself by any act of the will.
    To the man in this state, what is the Good?
    He himself by what he has and is.
    And the author and principle of what he is and holds is the
Supreme, which within Itself is the Good but manifests Itself within
the human being after this other mode.
    The sign that this state has been achieved is that the man seeks
nothing else.
    What indeed could he be seeking? Certainly none of the less worthy
things; and the Best he carries always within him.
    He that has such a life as this has all he needs in life.
    Once the man is a Sage, the means of happiness, the way to good,
are within, for nothing is good that lies outside him. Anything he
desires further than this he seeks as a necessity, and not for himself
but for a subordinate, for the body bound to him, to which since it
has life he must minister the needs of life, not needs, however, to
the true man of this degree. He knows himself to stand above all
such things, and what he gives to the lower he so gives as to leave
his true life undiminished.
    Adverse fortune does not shake his felicity: the life so founded
is stable ever. Suppose death strikes at his household or at his
friends; he knows what death is, as the victims, if they are among the
wise, know too. And if death taking from him his familiars and
intimates does bring grief, it is not to him, not to the true man, but
to that in him which stands apart from the Supreme, to that lower
man in whose distress he takes no part.
    5. But what of sorrows, illnesses and all else that inhibit the
native activity?
    What of the suspension of consciousness which drugs or disease may
bring about? Could either welfare or happiness be present under such
conditions? And this is to say nothing of misery and disgrace, which
will certainly be urged against us, with undoubtedly also those
never-failing "Miseries of Priam."
    "The Sage," we shall be told, "may bear such afflictions and
even take them lightly but they could never be his choice, and the
happy life must be one that would be chosen. The Sage, that is, cannot
be thought of as simply a sage soul, no count being taken of the
bodily-principle in the total of the being: he will, no doubt, take
all bravely... until the body's appeals come up before him, and
longings and loathings penetrate through the body to the inner man.
And since pleasure must be counted in towards the happy life, how
can one that, thus, knows the misery of ill-fortune or pain be
happy, however sage he be? Such a state, of bliss self-contained, is
for the Gods; men, because of the less noble part subjoined in them,
must needs seek happiness throughout all their being and not merely in
some one part; if the one constituent be troubled, the other,
answering to its associate's distress, must perforce suffer
hindrance in its own activity. There is nothing but to cut away the
body or the body's sensitive life and so secure that self-contained
unity essential to happiness."
    6. Now if happiness did indeed require freedom from pain,
sickness, misfortune, disaster, it would be utterly denied to anyone
confronted by such trials: but if it lies in the fruition of the
Authentic Good, why turn away from this Term and look to means,
imagining that to be happy a man must need a variety of things none of
which enter into happiness? If, in fact, felicity were made up by
heaping together all that is at once desirable and necessary we must
bid for these also. But if the Term must be one and not many; if in
other words our quest is of a Term and not of Terms; that only can
be elected which is ultimate and noblest, that which calls to the
tenderest longings of the soul.
    The quest and will of the Soul are not pointed directly towards
freedom from this sphere: the reason which disciplines away our
concern about this life has no fundamental quarrel with things of this
order; it merely resents their interference; sometimes, even, it
must seek them; essentially all the aspiration is not so much away
from evil as towards the Soul's own highest and noblest: this
attained, all is won and there is rest- and this is the veritably
willed state of life.
    There can be no such thing as "willing" the acquirement of
necessaries, if Will is to be taken in its strict sense, and not
misapplied to the mere recognition of need.
    It is certain that we shrink from the unpleasant, and such
shrinking is assuredly not what we should have willed; to have no
occasion for any such shrinking would be much nearer to our taste; but
the things we seek tell the story as soon as they are ours. For
instance, health and freedom from pain; which of these has any great
charm? As long as we possess them, we set no store upon them.
    Anything which, present, has no charm and adds nothing to
happiness, which when lacking is desired because of the presence of an
annoying opposite, may reasonably be called a necessity but not a
    Such things can never make part of our final object: our Term must
be such that though these pleasanter conditions be absent and their
contraries present, it shall remain, still, intact.
    7. Then why are these conditions sought and their contraries
repelled by the man established in happiness?
    Here is our answer:
    These more pleasant conditions cannot, it is true, add any
particle towards the Sage's felicity: but they do serve towards the
integrity of his being, while the presence of the contraries tends
against his Being or complicates the Term: it is not that the Sage can
be so easily deprived of the Term achieved but simply that he that
holds the highest good desires to have that alone, not something
else at the same time, something which, though it cannot banish the
Good by its incoming, does yet take place by its side.
    In any case if the man that has attained felicity meets some
turn of fortune that he would not have chosen, there is not the
slightest lessening of his happiness for that. If there were, his
felicity would be veering or falling from day to day; the death of a
child would bring him down, or the loss of some trivial possession.
No: a thousand mischances and disappointments may befall him and leave
him still in the tranquil possession of the Term.
    But, they cry, great disasters, not the petty daily chances!
    What human thing, then, is great, so as not to be despised by
one who has mounted above all we know here, and is bound now no longer
to anything below?
    If the Sage thinks all fortunate events, however momentous, to
be no great matter- kingdom and the rule over cities and peoples,
colonisations and the founding of states, even though all be his own
handiwork- how can he take any great account of the vacillations of
power or the ruin of his fatherland? Certainly if he thought any
such event a great disaster, or any disaster at all, he must be of a
very strange way of thinking. One that sets great store by wood and
stones, or... Zeus... by mortality among mortals cannot yet be the
Sage, whose estimate of death, we hold, must be that it is better than
life in the body.
    But suppose that he himself is offered a victim in sacrifice?
    Can he think it an evil to die beside the altars?
    But if he go unburied?
    Wheresoever it lie, under earth or over earth, his body will
always rot.
    But if he has been hidden away, not with costly ceremony but in an
unnamed grave, not counted worthy of a towering monument?
    The littleness of it!
    But if he falls into his enemies' hands, into prison?
    There is always the way towards escape, if none towards
    But if his nearest be taken from him, his sons and daughters
dragged away to captivity?
    What then, we ask, if he had died without witnessing the wrong?
Could he have quitted the world in the calm conviction that nothing of
all this could happen? He must be very shallow. Can he fail to see
that it is possible for such calamities to overtake his household, and
does he cease to be a happy man for the knowledge of what may occur?
In the knowledge of the possibility he may be at ease; so, too, when
the evil has come about.
    He would reflect that the nature of this All is such as brings
these things to pass and man must bow the head.
    Besides in many cases captivity will certainly prove an advantage;
and those that suffer have their freedom in their hands: if they stay,
either there is reason in their staying, and then they have no real
grievance, or they stay against reason, when they should not, and then
they have themselves to blame. Clearly the absurdities of his
neighbours, however near, cannot plunge the Sage into evil: his
state cannot hang upon the fortunes good or bad of any other men.
    8. As for violent personal sufferings, he will carry them off as
well as he can; if they overpass his endurance they will carry him
    And so in all his pain he asks no pity: there is always the
radiance in the inner soul of the man, untroubled like the light in
a lantern when fierce gusts beat about it in a wild turmoil of wind
and tempest.
    But what if he be put beyond himself? What if pain grow so intense
and so torture him that the agony all but kills? Well, when he is
put to torture he will plan what is to be done: he retains his freedom
of action.
    Besides we must remember that the Sage sees things very
differently from the average man; neither ordinary experiences nor
pains and sorrows, whether touching himself or others, pierce to the
inner hold. To allow them any such passage would be a weakness in
our soul.
    And it is a sign of weakness, too, if we should think it gain
not to hear of miseries, gain to die before they come: this is not
concern for others' welfare but for our own peace of mind. Here we see
our imperfection: we must not indulge it, we must put it from us and
cease to tremble over what perhaps may be.
    Anyone that says that it is in human nature to grieve over
misfortune to our household must learn that this is not so with all,
and that, precisely, it is virtue's use to raise the general level
of nature towards the better and finer, above the mass of men. And the
finer is to set at nought what terrifies the common mind.
    We cannot be indolent: this is an arena for the powerful combatant
holding his ground against the blows of fortune, and knowing that,
sore though they be to some natures, they are little to his, nothing
dreadful, nursery terrors.
    So, the Sage would have desired misfortune?
    It is precisely to meet the undesired when it appears that he
has the virtue which gives him, to confront it, his passionless and
unshakeable soul.
    9. But when he is out of himself, reason quenched by sickness or
by magic arts?
    If it be allowed that in this state, resting as it were in a
slumber, he remains a Sage, why should he not equally remain happy? No
one rules him out of felicity in the hours of sleep; no one counts
up that time and so denies that he has been happy all his life.
    If they say that, failing consciousness, he is no longer the Sage,
then they are no longer reasoning about the Sage: but we do suppose
a Sage, and are enquiring whether, as long as he is the Sage, he is in
the state of felicity.
    "Well, a Sage let him remain," they say, "still, having no
sensation and not expressing his virtue in act, how can he be happy?"
    But a man unconscious of his health may be, none the less,
healthy: a man may not be aware of his personal attraction, but he
remains handsome none the less: if he has no sense of his wisdom,
shall he be any the less wise?
    It may perhaps be urged that sensation and consciousness are
essential to wisdom and that happiness is only wisdom brought to act.
    Now, this argument might have weight if prudence, wisdom, were
something fetched in from outside: but this is not so: wisdom is, in
its essential nature, an Authentic-Existence, or rather is The
Authentic-Existent- and this Existent does not perish in one asleep
or, to take the particular case presented to us, in the man out of his
mind: the Act of this Existent is continuous within him; and is a
sleepless activity: the Sage, therefore, even unconscious, is still
the Sage in Act.
    This activity is screened not from the man entire but merely
from one part of him: we have here a parallel to what happens in the
activity of the physical or vegetative life in us which is not made
known by the sensitive faculty to the rest of the man: if our physical
life really constituted the "We," its Act would be our Act: but, in
the fact, this physical life is not the "We"; the "We" is the activity
of the Intellectual-Principle so that when the Intellective is in
Act we are in Act.
    10. Perhaps the reason this continuous activity remains
unperceived is that it has no touch whatever with things of sense.
No doubt action upon material things, or action dictated by them, must
proceed through the sensitive faculty which exists for that use: but
why should there not be an immediate activity of the
Intellectual-Principle and of the soul that attends it, the soul
that antedates sensation or any perception? For, if Intellection and
Authentic-Existence are identical, this "Earlier-than-perception" must
be a thing having Act.
    Let us explain the conditions under which we become conscious of
this Intellective-Act.
    When the Intellect is in upward orientation that [lower part of
it] which contains [or, corresponds to] the life of the Soul, is, so
to speak, flung down again and becomes like the reflection resting
on the smooth and shining surface of a mirror; in this illustration,
when the mirror is in place the image appears but, though the mirror
be absent or out of gear, all that would have acted and produced an
image still exists; so in the case of the Soul; when there is peace in
that within us which is capable of reflecting the images of the
Rational and Intellectual-Principles these images appear. Then, side
by side with the primal knowledge of the activity of the Rational
and the Intellectual-Principles, we have also as it were a
sense-perception of their operation.
    When, on the contrary, the mirror within is shattered through some
disturbance of the harmony of the body, Reason and the
Intellectual-Principle act unpictured: Intellection is unattended by
    In sum we may safely gather that while the Intellective-Act may be
attended by the Imaging Principle, it is not to be confounded with it.
    And even in our conscious life we can point to many noble
activities, of mind and of hand alike, which at the time in no way
compel our consciousness. A reader will often be quite unconscious
when he is most intent: in a feat of courage there can be no sense
either of the brave action or of the fact that all that is done
conforms to the rules of courage. And so in cases beyond number.
    So that it would even seem that consciousness tends to blunt the
activities upon which it is exercised, and that in the degree in which
these pass unobserved they are purer and have more effect, more
vitality, and that, consequently, the Sage arrived at this state has
the truer fulness of life, life not spilled out in sensation but
gathered closely within itself.
    11. We shall perhaps be told that in such a state the man is no
longer alive: we answer that these people show themselves equally
unable to understand his inner life and his happiness.
    If this does not satisfy them, we must ask them to keep in mind
a living Sage and, under these terms, to enquire whether the man is in
happiness: they must not whittle away his life and then ask whether he
has the happy life; they must not take away man and then look for
the happiness of a man: once they allow that the Sage lives within,
they must not seek him among the outer activities, still less look
to the outer world for the object of his desires. To consider the
outer world to be a field to his desire, to fancy the Sage desiring
any good external, would be to deny Substantial-Existence to
happiness; for the Sage would like to see all men prosperous and no
evil befalling anyone; but though it prove otherwise, he is still
    If it be admitted that such a desire would be against reason,
since evil cannot cease to be, there is no escape from agreeing with
us that the Sage's will is set always and only inward.
    12. The pleasure demanded for the life cannot be in the enjoyments
of the licentious or in any gratifications of the body- there is no
place for these, and they stifle happiness- nor in any violent
emotions- what could so move the Sage?- it can be only such pleasure
as there must be where Good is, pleasure that does not rise from
movement and is not a thing of process, for all that is good is
immediately present to the Sage and the Sage is present to himself:
his pleasure, his contentment, stands, immovable.
    Thus he is ever cheerful, the order of his life ever untroubled:
his state is fixedly happy and nothing whatever of all that is known
as evil can set it awry- given only that he is and remains a Sage.
    If anyone seeks for some other kind of pleasure in the life of the
Sage, it is not the life of the Sage he is looking for.
    13. The characteristic activities are not hindered by outer events
but merely adapt themselves, remaining always fine, and perhaps all
the finer for dealing with the actual. When he has to handle
particular cases and things, he may not be able to put his vision into
act without searching and thinking, but the one greatest principle
is ever present to him, like a part of his being- most of all present,
should he be even a victim in the much-talked-of Bull of Phalaris.
No doubt, despite all that has been said, it is idle to pretend that
this is an agreeable lodging; but what cries in the Bull is the
thing that feels the torture; in the Sage there is something else as
well, The Self-Gathered which, as long as it holds itself by main
force within itself, can never be robbed of the vision of the
    14. For man, and especially the Sage, is not the Couplement of
soul and body: the proof is that man can be disengaged from the body
and disdain its nominal goods.
    It would be absurd to think that happiness begins and ends with
the living-body: happiness is the possession of the good of life: it
is centred therefore in Soul, is an Act of the Soul- and not of all
the Soul at that: for it certainly is not characteristic of the
vegetative soul, the soul of growth; that would at once connect it
with the body.
    A powerful frame, a healthy constitution, even a happy balance
of temperament, these surely do not make felicity; in the excess of
these advantages there is, even, the danger that the man be crushed
down and forced more and more within their power. There must be a sort
of counter-pressure in the other direction, towards the noblest: the
body must be lessened, reduced, that the veritable man may show forth,
the man behind the appearances.
    Let the earth-bound man be handsome and powerful and rich, and
so apt to this world that he may rule the entire human race: still
there can be no envying him, the fool of such lures. Perhaps such
splendours could not, from the beginning even, have gathered to the
Sage; but if it should happen so, he of his own action will lower
his state, if he has any care for his true life; the tyranny of the
body he will work down or wear away by inattention to its claims;
the rulership he will lay aside. While he will safeguard his bodily
health, he will not wish to be wholly untried in sickness, still
less never to feel pain: if such troubles should not come to him of
themselves, he will wish to know them, during youth at least: in old
age, it is true, he will desire neither pains nor pleasures to
hamper him; he will desire nothing of this world, pleasant or painful;
his one desire will be to know nothing of the body. If he should
meet with pain he will pit against it the powers he holds to meet
it; but pleasure and health and ease of life will not mean any
increase of happiness to him nor will their contraries destroy or
lessen it.
    When in the one subject, a positive can add nothing, how can the
negative take away?
    15. But suppose two wise men, one of them possessing all that is
supposed to be naturally welcome, while the other meets only with
the very reverse: do we assert that they have an equal happiness?
    We do, if they are equally wise.
    What though the one be favoured in body and in all else that
does not help towards wisdom, still less towards virtue, towards the
vision of the noblest, towards being the highest, what does all that
amount to? The man commanding all such practical advantages cannot
flatter himself that he is more truly happy than the man without them:
the utmost profusion of such boons would not help even to make a
    We discuss the happy man after our own feebleness; we count
alarming and grave what his felicity takes lightly: he would be
neither wise nor in the state of happiness if he had not quitted all
trifling with such things and become as it were another being,
having confidence in his own nature, faith that evil can never touch
him. In such a spirit he can be fearless through and through; where
there is dread, there is not perfect virtue; the man is some sort of a
    As for any involuntary fear rising in him and taking the judgement
by surprise, while his thoughts perhaps are elsewhere, the Sage will
attack it and drive it out; he will, so to speak, calm the refractory
child within him, whether by reason or by menace, but without passion,
as an infant might feel itself rebuked by a glance of severity.
    This does not make the Sage unfriendly or harsh: it is to
himself and in his own great concern that he is the Sage: giving
freely to his intimates of all he has to give, he will be the best
of friends by his very union with the Intellectual-Principle.
    16. Those that refuse to place the Sage aloft in the
Intellectual Realm but drag him down to the accidental, dreading
accident for him, have substituted for the Sage we have in mind
another person altogether; they offer us a tolerable sort of man and
they assign to him a life of mingled good and ill, a case, after
all, not easy to conceive. But admitting the possibility of such a
mixed state, it could not be deserved to be called a life of
happiness; it misses the Great, both in the dignity of Wisdom and in
the integrity of Good. The life of true happiness is not a thing of
mixture. And Plato rightly taught that he who is to be wise and to
possess happiness draws his good from the Supreme, fixing his gaze
on That, becoming like to That, living by That.
    He can care for no other Term than That: all else he will attend
to only as he might change his residence, not in expectation of any
increase to his settled felicity, but simply in a reasonable attention
to the differing conditions surrounding him as he lives here or there.
    He will give to the body all that he sees to be useful and
possible, but he himself remains a member of another order, not
prevented from abandoning the body, necessarily leaving it at nature's
hour, he himself always the master to decide in its regard.
    Thus some part of his life considers exclusively the Soul's
satisfaction; the rest is not immediately for the Term's sake and
not for his own sake, but for the thing bound up with him, the thing
which he tends and bears with as the musician cares for his lyre, as
long as it can serve him: when the lyre fails him, he will change
it, or will give up lyre and lyring, as having another craft now,
one that needs no lyre, and then he will let it rest unregarded at his
side while he sings on without an instrument. But it was not idly that
the instrument was given him in the beginning: he has found it
useful until now, many a time.
                        FIFTH TRACTATE.


    1. Is it possible to think that Happiness increases with Time,
Happiness which is always taken as a present thing?
    The memory of former felicity may surely be ruled out of count,
for Happiness is not a thing of words, but a definite condition
which must be actually present like the very fact and act of life.
    2. It may be objected that our will towards living and towards
expressive activity is constant, and that each attainment of such
expression is an increase in Happiness.
    But in the first place, by this reckoning every to-morrow's
well-being will be greater than to-day's, every later instalment
successively larger that an earlier; at once time supplants moral
excellence as the measure of felicity.
    Then again the Gods to-day must be happier than of old: and
their bliss, too, is not perfect, will never be perfect. Further, when
the will attains what it was seeking, it attains something present:
the quest is always for something to be actually present until a
standing felicity is definitely achieved. The will to life which is
will to Existence aims at something present, since Existence must be a
stably present thing. Even when the act of the will is directed
towards the future, and the furthest future, its object is an actually
present having and being: there is no concern about what is passed
or to come: the future state a man seeks is to be a now to him; he
does not care about the forever: he asks that an actual present be
actually present.
    3. Yes, but if the well-being has lasted a long time, if that
present spectacle has been a longer time before the eyes?
    If in the greater length of time the man has seen more deeply,
time has certainly done something for him, but if all the process
has brought him no further vision, then one glance would give all he
has had.
    4. Still the one life has known pleasure longer than the other?
    But pleasure cannot be fairly reckoned in with Happiness- unless
indeed by pleasure is meant the unhindered Act [of the true man], in
which case this pleasure is simply our "Happiness." And even pleasure,
though it exist continuously, has never anything but the present;
its past is over and done with.
    5. We are asked to believe, then, it will be objected, that if one
man has been happy from first to last, another only at the last, and a
third, beginning with happiness, has lost it, their shares are equal?
    This is straying from the question: we were comparing the happy
among themselves: now we are asked to compare the not-happy at the
time when they are out of happiness with those in actual possession of
happiness. If these last are better off, they are so as men in
possession of happiness against men without it and their advantage
is always by something in the present.
    6. Well, but take the unhappy man: must not increase of time bring
an increase of his unhappiness? Do not all troubles- long-lasting
pains, sorrows, and everything of that type- yield a greater sum of
misery in the longer time? And if thus in misery the evil is augmented
by time why should not time equally augment happiness when all is
    In the matter of sorrows and pains there is, no doubt, ground
for saying that time brings increase: for example, in a lingering
malady the evil hardens into a state, and as time goes on the body
is brought lower and lower. But if the constitution did not
deteriorate, if the mischief grew no worse, then, here too, there
would be no trouble but that of the present moment: we cannot tell the
past into the tale of unhappiness except in the sense that it has gone
to make up an actually existing state- in the sense that, the evil
in the sufferer's condition having been extended over a longer time,
the mischief has gained ground. The increase of ill-being then is
due to the aggravation of the malady not to the extension of time.
    It may be pointed out also that this greater length of time is not
a thing existent at any given moment; and surely a "more" is not to be
made out by adding to something actually present something that has
passed away.
    No: true happiness is not vague and fluid: it is an unchanging
    If there is in this matter any increase besides that of mere time,
it is in the sense that a greater happiness is the reward of a
higher virtue: this is not counting up to the credit of happiness
the years of its continuance; it is simply noting the high-water
mark once for all attained.
    7. But if we are to consider only the present and may not call
in the past to make the total, why do we not reckon so in the case
of time itself, where, in fact, we do not hesitate to add the past
to the present and call the total greater? Why not suppose a
quantity of happiness equivalent to a quantity of time? This would
be no more than taking it lap by lap to correspond with time-laps
instead of choosing to consider it as an indivisible, measurable
only by the content of a given instant.
    There is no absurdity in taking count of time which has ceased
to be: we are merely counting what is past and finished, as we might
count the dead: but to treat past happiness as actually existent and
as outweighing present happiness, that is an absurdity. For
Happiness must be an achieved and existent state, whereas any time
over and apart from the present is nonexistent: all progress of time
means the extinction of all the time that has been.
    Hence time is aptly described as a mimic of eternity that seeks to
break up in its fragmentary flight the permanence of its exemplar.
Thus whatever time seizes and seals to itself of what stands permanent
in eternity is annihilated- saved only in so far as in some degree
it still belongs to eternity, but wholly destroyed if it be
unreservedly absorbed into time.
    If Happiness demands the possession of the good of life, it
clearly has to do with the life of Authentic-Existence for that life
is the Best. Now the life of Authentic-Existence is measurable not
by time but by eternity; and eternity is not a more or a less or a
thing of any magnitude but is the unchangeable, the indivisible, is
timeless Being.
    We must not muddle together Being and Non-Being, time and
eternity, not even everlasting time with the eternal; we cannot make
laps and stages of an absolute unity; all must be taken together,
wheresoever and howsoever we handle it; and it must be taken at
that, not even as an undivided block of time but as the Life of
Eternity, a stretch not made up of periods but completely rounded,
outside of all notion of time.
    8. It may be urged that the actual presence of past experiences,
kept present by Memory, gives the advantage to the man of the longer
    But, Memory of what sort of experiences?
    Memory either of formerly attained wisdom and virtue- in which
case we have a better man and the argument from memory is given up- or
memory of past pleasures, as if the man that has arrived at felicity
must roam far and wide in search of gratifications and is not
contented by the bliss actually within him.
    And what is there pleasant in the memory of pleasure? What is it
to recall yesterday's excellent dinner? Still more ridiculous, one
of ten years ago. So, too, of last year's morality.
    9. But is there not something to be said for the memory of the
various forms of beauty?
    That is the resource of a man whose life is without beauty in
the present, so that, for lack of it now, he grasps at the memory of
what has been.
    10. But, it may be said, length of time produces an abundance of
good actions missed by the man whose attainment of the happy state
is recent- if indeed we can think at all of a state of happiness where
good actions have been few.
    Now to make multiplicity, whether in time or in action,
essential to Happiness is to put it together by combining
non-existents, represented by the past, with some one thing that
actually is. This consideration it was that led us at the very
beginning to place Happiness in the actually existent and on that
basis to launch our enquiry as to whether the higher degree was
determined by the longer time. It might be thought that the
Happiness of longer date must surpass the shorter by virtue of the
greater number of acts it included.
    But, to begin with, men quite outside of the active life may
attain the state of felicity, and not in a less but in a greater
degree than men of affairs.
    Secondly, the good does not derive from the act itself but from
the inner disposition which prompts the noble conduct: the wise and
good man in his very action harvests the good not by what he does
but by what he is.
    A wicked man no less than a Sage may save the country, and the
good of the act is for all alike, no matter whose was the saving hand.
The contentment of the Sage does not hang upon such actions and
events: it is his own inner habit that creates at once his felicity
and whatever pleasure may accompany it.
    To put Happiness in actions is to put it in things that are
outside virtue and outside the Soul; for the Soul's expression is
not in action but in wisdom, in a contemplative operation within
itself; and this, this alone, is Happiness.
                        SIXTH TRACTATE.


    1. Beauty addresses itself chiefly to sight; but there is a beauty
for the hearing too, as in certain combinations of words and in all
kinds of music, for melodies and cadences are beautiful; and minds
that lift themselves above the realm of sense to a higher order are
aware of beauty in the conduct of life, in actions, in character, in
the pursuits of the intellect; and there is the beauty of the virtues.
What loftier beauty there may be, yet, our argument will bring to
    What, then, is it that gives comeliness to material forms and
draws the ear to the sweetness perceived in sounds, and what is the
secret of the beauty there is in all that derives from Soul?
    Is there some One Principle from which all take their grace, or is
there a beauty peculiar to the embodied and another for the
bodiless? Finally, one or many, what would such a Principle be?
    Consider that some things, material shapes for instance, are
gracious not by anything inherent but by something communicated, while
others are lovely of themselves, as, for example, Virtue.
    The same bodies appear sometimes beautiful, sometimes not; so that
there is a good deal between being body and being beautiful.
    What, then, is this something that shows itself in certain
material forms? This is the natural beginning of our enquiry.
    What is it that attracts the eyes of those to whom a beautiful
object is presented, and calls them, lures them, towards it, and fills
them with joy at the sight? If we possess ourselves of this, we have
at once a standpoint for the wider survey.
    Almost everyone declares that the symmetry of parts towards each
other and towards a whole, with, besides, a certain charm of colour,
constitutes the beauty recognized by the eye, that in visible
things, as indeed in all else, universally, the beautiful thing is
essentially symmetrical, patterned.
    But think what this means.
    Only a compound can be beautiful, never anything devoid of
parts; and only a whole; the several parts will have beauty, not in
themselves, but only as working together to give a comely total. Yet
beauty in an aggregate demands beauty in details; it cannot be
constructed out of ugliness; its law must run throughout.
    All the loveliness of colour and even the light of the sun,
being devoid of parts and so not beautiful by symmetry, must be
ruled out of the realm of beauty. And how comes gold to be a beautiful
thing? And lightning by night, and the stars, why are these so fair?
    In sounds also the simple must be proscribed, though often in a
whole noble composition each several tone is delicious in itself.
    Again since the one face, constant in symmetry, appears
sometimes fair and sometimes not, can we doubt that beauty is
something more than symmetry, that symmetry itself owes its beauty
to a remoter principle?
    Turn to what is attractive in methods of life or in the expression
of thought; are we to call in symmetry here? What symmetry is to be
found in noble conduct, or excellent laws, in any form of mental
    What symmetry can there be in points of abstract thought?
    The symmetry of being accordant with each other? But there may
be accordance or entire identity where there is nothing but
ugliness: the proposition that honesty is merely a generous
artlessness chimes in the most perfect harmony with the proposition
that morality means weakness of will; the accordance is complete.
    Then again, all the virtues are a beauty of the soul, a beauty
authentic beyond any of these others; but how does symmetry enter
here? The soul, it is true, is not a simple unity, but still its
virtue cannot have the symmetry of size or of number: what standard of
measurement could preside over the compromise or the coalescence of
the soul's faculties or purposes?
    Finally, how by this theory would there be beauty in the
Intellectual-Principle, essentially the solitary?
    2. Let us, then, go back to the source, and indicate at once the
Principle that bestows beauty on material things.
    Undoubtedly this Principle exists; it is something that is
perceived at the first glance, something which the soul names as
from an ancient knowledge and, recognising, welcomes it, enters into
unison with it.
    But let the soul fall in with the Ugly and at once it shrinks
within itself, denies the thing, turns away from it, not accordant,
resenting it.
    Our interpretation is that the soul- by the very truth of its
nature, by its affiliation to the noblest Existents in the hierarchy
of Being- when it sees anything of that kin, or any trace of that
kinship, thrills with an immediate delight, takes its own to itself,
and thus stirs anew to the sense of its nature and of all its
    But, is there any such likeness between the loveliness of this
world and the splendours in the Supreme? Such a likeness in the
particulars would make the two orders alike: but what is there in
common between beauty here and beauty There?
    We hold that all the loveliness of this world comes by communion
in Ideal-Form.
    All shapelessness whose kind admits of pattern and form, as long
as it remains outside of Reason and Idea, is ugly by that very
isolation from the Divine-Thought. And this is the Absolute Ugly: an
ugly thing is something that has not been entirely mastered by
pattern, that is by Reason, the Matter not yielding at all points
and in all respects to Ideal-Form.
    But where the Ideal-Form has entered, it has grouped and
coordinated what from a diversity of parts was to become a unity: it
has rallied confusion into co-operation: it has made the sum one
harmonious coherence: for the Idea is a unity and what it moulds
must come to unity as far as multiplicity may.
    And on what has thus been compacted to unity, Beauty enthrones
itself, giving itself to the parts as to the sum: when it lights on
some natural unity, a thing of like parts, then it gives itself to
that whole. Thus, for an illustration, there is the beauty,
conferred by craftsmanship, of all a house with all its parts, and the
beauty which some natural quality may give to a single stone.
    This, then, is how the material thing becomes beautiful- by
communicating in the thought that flows from the Divine.
    3. And the soul includes a faculty peculiarly addressed to Beauty-
one incomparably sure in the appreciation of its own, never in doubt
whenever any lovely thing presents itself for judgement.
    Or perhaps the soul itself acts immediately, affirming the
Beautiful where it finds something accordant with the Ideal-Form
within itself, using this Idea as a canon of accuracy in its decision.
    But what accordance is there between the material and that which
antedates all Matter?
    On what principle does the architect, when he finds the house
standing before him correspondent with his inner ideal of a house,
pronounce it beautiful? Is it not that the house before him, the
stones apart, is the inner idea stamped upon the mass of exterior
matter, the indivisible exhibited in diversity?
    So with the perceptive faculty: discerning in certain objects
the Ideal-Form which has bound and controlled shapeless matter,
opposed in nature to Idea, seeing further stamped upon the common
shapes some shape excellent above the common, it gathers into unity
what still remains fragmentary, catches it up and carries it within,
no longer a thing of parts, and presents it to the Ideal-Principle
as something concordant and congenial, a natural friend: the joy
here is like that of a good man who discerns in a youth the early
signs of a virtue consonant with the achieved perfection within his
own soul.
    The beauty of colour is also the outcome of a unification: it
derives from shape, from the conquest of the darkness inherent in
Matter by the pouring-in of light, the unembodied, which is a
Rational-Principle and an Ideal-Form.
    Hence it is that Fire itself is splendid beyond all material
bodies, holding the rank of Ideal-Principle to the other elements,
making ever upwards, the subtlest and sprightliest of all bodies, as
very near to the unembodied; itself alone admitting no other, all
the others penetrated by it: for they take warmth but this is never
cold; it has colour primally; they receive the Form of colour from it:
hence the splendour of its light, the splendour that belongs to the
Idea. And all that has resisted and is but uncertainly held by its
light remains outside of beauty, as not having absorbed the
plenitude of the Form of colour.
    And harmonies unheard in sound create the harmonies we hear, and
wake the soul to the consciousness of beauty, showing it the one
essence in another kind: for the measures of our sensible music are
not arbitrary but are determined by the Principle whose labour is to
dominate Matter and bring pattern into being.
    Thus far of the beauties of the realm of sense, images and
shadow-pictures, fugitives that have entered into Matter- to adorn,
and to ravish, where they are seen.
    4. But there are earlier and loftier beauties than these. In the
sense-bound life we are no longer granted to know them, but the
soul, taking no help from the organs, sees and proclaims them. To
the vision of these we must mount, leaving sense to its own low place.
    As it is not for those to speak of the graceful forms of the
material world who have never seen them or known their grace- men born
blind, let us suppose- in the same way those must be silent upon the
beauty of noble conduct and of learning and all that order who have
never cared for such things, nor may those tell of the splendour of
virtue who have never known the face of Justice and of Moral-Wisdom
beautiful beyond the beauty of Evening and of dawn.
    Such vision is for those only who see with the Soul's sight- and
at the vision, they will rejoice, and awe will fall upon them and a
trouble deeper than all the rest could ever stir, for now they are
moving in the realm of Truth.
    This is the spirit that Beauty must ever induce, wonderment and
a delicious trouble, longing and love and a trembling that is all
delight. For the unseen all this may be felt as for the seen; and this
the Souls feel for it, every soul in some degree, but those the more
deeply that are the more truly apt to this higher love- just as all
take delight in the beauty of the body but all are not stung as
sharply, and those only that feel the keener wound are known as
    5. These Lovers, then, lovers of the beauty outside of sense, must
be made to declare themselves.
    What do you feel in presence of the grace you discern in
actions, in manners, in sound morality, in all the works and fruits of
virtue, in the beauty of souls? When you see that you yourselves are
beautiful within, what do you feel? What is this Dionysiac
exultation that thrills through your being, this straining upwards
of all your Soul, this longing to break away from the body and live
sunken within the veritable self?
    These are no other than the emotions of Souls under the spell of
    But what is it that awakens all this passion? No shape, no colour,
no grandeur of mass: all is for a Soul, something whose beauty rests
upon no colour, for the moral wisdom the Soul enshrines and all the
other hueless splendour of the virtues. It is that you find in
yourself, or admire in another, loftiness of spirit; righteousness
of life; disciplined purity; courage of the majestic face; gravity;
modesty that goes fearless and tranquil and passionless; and,
shining down upon all, the light of god-like Intellection.
    All these noble qualities are to be reverenced and loved, no
doubt, but what entitles them to be called beautiful?
    They exist: they manifest themselves to us: anyone that sees
them must admit that they have reality of Being; and is not
Real-Being, really beautiful?
    But we have not yet shown by what property in them they have
wrought the Soul to loveliness: what is this grace, this splendour
as of Light, resting upon all the virtues?
    Let us take the contrary, the ugliness of the Soul, and set that
against its beauty: to understand, at once, what this ugliness is
and how it comes to appear in the Soul will certainly open our way
before us.
    Let us then suppose an ugly Soul, dissolute, unrighteous:
teeming with all the lusts; torn by internal discord; beset by the
fears of its cowardice and the envies of its pettiness; thinking, in
the little thought it has, only of the perish able and the base;
perverse in all its the friend of unclean pleasures; living the life
of abandonment to bodily sensation and delighting in its deformity.
    What must we think but that all this shame is something that has
gathered about the Soul, some foreign bane outraging it, soiling it,
so that, encumbered with all manner of turpitude, it has no longer a
clean activity or a clean sensation, but commands only a life
smouldering dully under the crust of evil; that, sunk in manifold
death, it no longer sees what a Soul should see, may no longer rest in
its own being, dragged ever as it is towards the outer, the lower, the
    An unclean thing, I dare to say; flickering hither and thither
at the call of objects of sense, deeply infected with the taint of
body, occupied always in Matter, and absorbing Matter into itself;
in its commerce with the Ignoble it has trafficked away for an alien
nature its own essential Idea.
    If a man has been immersed in filth or daubed with mud his
native comeliness disappears and all that is seen is the foul stuff
besmearing him: his ugly condition is due to alien matter that has
encrusted him, and if he is to win back his grace it must be his
business to scour and purify himself and make himself what he was.
    So, we may justly say, a Soul becomes ugly- by something foisted
upon it, by sinking itself into the alien, by a fall, a descent into
body, into Matter. The dishonour of the Soul is in its ceasing to be
clean and apart. Gold is degraded when it is mixed with earthy
particles; if these be worked out, the gold is left and is
beautiful, isolated from all that is foreign, gold with gold alone.
And so the Soul; let it be but cleared of the desires that come by its
too intimate converse with the body, emancipated from all the
passions, purged of all that embodiment has thrust upon it, withdrawn,
a solitary, to itself again- in that moment the ugliness that came
only from the alien is stripped away.
    6. For, as the ancient teaching was, moral-discipline and
courage and every virtue, not even excepting Wisdom itself, all is
    Hence the Mysteries with good reason adumbrate the immersion of
the unpurified in filth, even in the Nether-World, since the unclean
loves filth for its very filthiness, and swine foul of body find their
joy in foulness.
    What else is Sophrosyne, rightly so-called, but to take no part in
the pleasures of the body, to break away from them as unclean and
unworthy of the clean? So too, Courage is but being fearless of the
death which is but the parting of the Soul from the body, an event
which no one can dread whose delight is to be his unmingled self.
And Magnanimity is but disregard for the lure of things here. And
Wisdom is but the Act of the Intellectual-Principle withdrawn from the
lower places and leading the Soul to the Above.
    The Soul thus cleansed is all Idea and Reason, wholly free of
body, intellective, entirely of that divine order from which the
wellspring of Beauty rises and all the race of Beauty.
    Hence the Soul heightened to the Intellectual-Principle is
beautiful to all its power. For Intellection and all that proceeds
from Intellection are the Soul's beauty, a graciousness native to it
and not foreign, for only with these is it truly Soul. And it is
just to say that in the Soul's becoming a good and beautiful thing
is its becoming like to God, for from the Divine comes all the
Beauty and all the Good in beings.
    We may even say that Beauty is the Authentic-Existents and
Ugliness is the Principle contrary to Existence: and the Ugly is
also the primal evil; therefore its contrary is at once good and
beautiful, or is Good and Beauty: and hence the one method will
discover to us the Beauty-Good and the Ugliness-Evil.
    And Beauty, this Beauty which is also The Good, must be posed as
The First: directly deriving from this First is the
Intellectual-Principle which is pre-eminently the manifestation of
Beauty; through the Intellectual-Principle Soul is beautiful. The
beauty in things of a lower order-actions and pursuits for instance-
comes by operation of the shaping Soul which is also the author of the
beauty found in the world of sense. For the Soul, a divine thing, a
fragment as it were of the Primal Beauty, makes beautiful to the
fulness of their capacity all things whatsoever that it grasps and
    7. Therefore we must ascend again towards the Good, the desired of
every Soul. Anyone that has seen This, knows what I intend when I
say that it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as
a Good. To attain it is for those that will take the upward path,
who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves
of all that we have put on in our descent:- so, to those that approach
the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed
purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and
the entry in nakedness- until, passing, on the upward way, all that is
other than the God, each in the solitude of himself shall behold
that solitary-dwelling Existence, the Apart, the Unmingled, the
Pure, that from Which all things depend, for Which all look and live
and act and know, the Source of Life and of Intellection and of Being.
    And one that shall know this vision- with what passion of love
shall he not be seized, with what pang of desire, what longing to be
molten into one with This, what wondering delight! If he that has
never seen this Being must hunger for It as for all his welfare, he
that has known must love and reverence It as the very Beauty; he
will be flooded with awe and gladness, stricken by a salutary
terror; he loves with a veritable love, with sharp desire; all other
loves than this he must despise, and disdain all that once seemed
    This, indeed, is the mood even of those who, having witnessed
the manifestation of Gods or Supernals, can never again feel the old
delight in the comeliness of material forms: what then are we to think
of one that contemplates Absolute Beauty in Its essential integrity,
no accumulation of flesh and matter, no dweller on earth or in the
heavens- so perfect Its purity- far above all such things in that they
are non-essential, composite, not primal but descending from This?
    Beholding this Being- the Choragos of all Existence, the
Self-Intent that ever gives forth and never takes- resting, rapt, in
the vision and possession of so lofty a loveliness, growing to Its
likeness, what Beauty can the soul yet lack? For This, the Beauty
supreme, the absolute, and the primal, fashions Its lovers to Beauty
and makes them also worthy of love.
    And for This, the sternest and the uttermost combat is set
before the Souls; all our labour is for This, lest we be left
without part in this noblest vision, which to attain is to be
blessed in the blissful sight, which to fail of is to fail utterly.
    For not he that has failed of the joy that is in colour or in
visible forms, not he that has failed of power or of honours or of
kingdom has failed, but only he that has failed of only This, for
Whose winning he should renounce kingdoms and command over earth and
ocean and sky, if only, spurning the world of sense from beneath his
feet, and straining to This, he may see.
    8. But what must we do? How lies the path? How come to vision of
the inaccessible Beauty, dwelling as if in consecrated precincts,
apart from the common ways where all may see, even the profane?
    He that has the strength, let him arise and withdraw into himself,
foregoing all that is known by the eyes, turning away for ever from
the material beauty that once made his joy. When he perceives those
shapes of grace that show in body, let him not pursue: he must know
them for copies, vestiges, shadows, and hasten away towards That
they tell of. For if anyone follow what is like a beautiful shape
playing over water- is there not a myth telling in symbol of such a
dupe, how he sank into the depths of the current and was swept away to
nothingness? So too, one that is held by material beauty and will
not break free shall be precipitated, not in body but in Soul, down to
the dark depths loathed of the Intellective-Being, where, blind even
in the Lower-World, he shall have commerce only with shadows, there as
    "Let us flee then to the beloved Fatherland": this is the soundest
counsel. But what is this flight? How are we to gain the open sea? For
Odysseus is surely a parable to us when he commands the flight from
the sorceries of Circe or Calypso- not content to linger for all the
pleasure offered to his eyes and all the delight of sense filling
his days.
    The Fatherland to us is There whence we have come, and There is
The Father.
    What then is our course, what the manner of our flight? This is
not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to
land; nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away; all
this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see: you must
close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be
waked within you, a vision, the birth-right of all, which few turn
to use.
    9. And this inner vision, what is its operation?
    Newly awakened it is all too feeble to bear the ultimate
splendour. Therefore the Soul must be trained- to the habit of
remarking, first, all noble pursuits, then the works of beauty
produced not by the labour of the arts but by the virtue of men
known for their goodness: lastly, you must search the souls of those
that have shaped these beautiful forms.
    But how are you to see into a virtuous soul and know its
    Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself
beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be
made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this
line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his
work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all
that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make
all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until
there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of
virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in
the stainless shrine.
    When you know that you have become this perfect work, when you are
self-gathered in the purity of your being, nothing now remaining
that can shatter that inner unity, nothing from without clinging to
the authentic man, when you find yourself wholly true to your
essential nature, wholly that only veritable Light which is not
measured by space, not narrowed to any circumscribed form nor again
diffused as a thing void of term, but ever unmeasurable as something
greater than all measure and more than all quantity- when you perceive
that you have grown to this, you are now become very vision: now
call up all your confidence, strike forward yet a step- you need a
guide no longer- strain, and see.
    This is the only eye that sees the mighty Beauty. If the eye
that adventures the vision be dimmed by vice, impure, or weak, and
unable in its cowardly blenching to see the uttermost brightness, then
it sees nothing even though another point to what lies plain to
sight before it. To any vision must be brought an eye adapted to
what is to be seen, and having some likeness to it. Never did eye
see the sun unless it had first become sunlike, and never can the soul
have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.
    Therefore, first let each become godlike and each beautiful who
cares to see God and Beauty. So, mounting, the Soul will come first to
the Intellectual-Principle and survey all the beautiful Ideas in the
Supreme and will avow that this is Beauty, that the Ideas are
Beauty. For by their efficacy comes all Beauty else, but the offspring
and essence of the Intellectual-Being. What is beyond the
Intellectual-Principle we affirm to be the nature of Good radiating
Beauty before it. So that, treating the Intellectual-Kosmos as one,
the first is the Beautiful: if we make distinction there, the Realm of
Ideas constitutes the Beauty of the Intellectual Sphere; and The Good,
which lies beyond, is the Fountain at once and Principle of Beauty:
the Primal Good and the Primal Beauty have the one dwelling-place and,
thus, always, Beauty's seat is There.
                        SEVENTH TRACTATE.

                    [OTHERWISE, "ON HAPPINESS"].

    1. We can scarcely conceive that for any entity the Good can be
other than the natural Act expressing its life-force, or in the case
of an entity made up of parts the Act, appropriate, natural and
complete, expressive of that in it which is best.
    For the Soul, then, the Good is its own natural Act.
    But the Soul itself is natively a "Best"; if, further, its act
be directed towards the Best, the achievement is not merely the
"Soul's good" but "The Good" without qualification.
    Now, given an Existent which- as being itself the best of
existences and even transcending the existences- directs its Act
towards no other, but is the object to which the Act of all else is
directed, it is clear that this must be at once the Good and the means
through which all else may participate in Good.
    This Absolute Good other entities may possess in two ways- by
becoming like to It and by directing the Act of their being towards
    Now, if all aspiration and Act whatsoever are directed towards the
Good, it follows that the Essential-Good neither need nor can look
outside itself or aspire to anything other than itself: it can but
remain unmoved, as being, in the constitution of things, the
wellspring and firstcause of all Act: whatsoever in other entities
is of the nature of Good cannot be due to any Act of the
Essential-Good upon them; it is for them on the contrary to act
towards their source and cause. The Good must, then, be the Good not
by any Act, not even by virtue of its Intellection, but by its very
rest within Itself.
    Existing beyond and above Being, it must be beyond and above the
Intellectual-Principle and all Intellection.
    For, again, that only can be named the Good to which all is
bound and itself to none: for only thus is it veritably the object
of all aspiration. It must be unmoved, while all circles around it, as
a circumference around a centre from which all the radii proceed.
Another example would be the sun, central to the light which streams
from it and is yet linked to it, or at least is always about it,
irremoveably; try all you will to separate the light from the sun,
or the sun from its light, for ever the light is in the sun.
    2. But the Universe outside; how is it aligned towards the Good?
    The soulless by direction toward Soul: Soul towards the Good
itself, through the Intellectual-Principle.
    Everything has something of the Good, by virtue of possessing a
certain degree of unity and a certain degree of Existence and by
participation in Ideal-Form: to the extent of the Unity, Being, and
Form which are present, there is a sharing in an image, for the
Unity and Existence in which there is participation are no more than
images of the Ideal-Form.
    With Soul it is different; the First-Soul, that which follows upon
the Intellectual-Principle, possesses a life nearer to the Verity
and through that Principle is of the nature of good; it will
actually possess the Good if it orientate itself towards the
Intellectual-Principle, since this follows immediately upon the Good.
    In sum, then, life is the Good to the living, and the
Intellectual-Principle to what is intellective; so that where there is
life with intellection there is a double contact with the Good.
    3. But if life is a good, is there good for all that lives?
    No: in the vile, life limps: it is like the eye to the
dim-sighted; it fails of its task.
    But if the mingled strand of life is to us, though entwined with
evil, still in the total a good, must not death be an evil?
    Evil to What? There must be a subject for the evil: but if the
possible subject is no longer among beings, or, still among beings, is
devoid of life... why, a stone is not more immune.
    If, on the contrary, after death life and soul continue, then
death will be no evil but a good; Soul, disembodied, is the freer to
ply its own Act.
    If it be taken into the All-Soul- what evil can reach it There?
And as the Gods are possessed of Good and untouched by evil- so,
certainly is the Soul that has preserved its essential character.
And if it should lose its purity, the evil it experiences is not in
its death but in its life. Suppose it to be under punishment in the
lower world, even there the evil thing is its life and not its
death; the misfortune is still life, a life of a definite character.
    Life is a partnership of a Soul and body; death is the
dissolution; in either life or death, then, the Soul will feel
itself at home.
    But, again, if life is good, how can death be anything but evil?
    Remember that the good of life, where it has any good at all, is
not due to anything in the partnership but to the repelling of evil by
virtue; death, then, must be the greater good.
    In a word, life in the body is of itself an evil but the Soul
enters its Good through Virtue, not living the life of the
Couplement but holding itself apart, even here.
                        EIGHTH TRACTATE.


    1. Those enquiring whence Evil enters into beings, or rather
into a certain order of beings, would be making the best beginning
if they established, first of all, what precisely Evil is, what
constitutes its Nature. At once we should know whence it comes,
where it has its native seat and where it is present merely as an
accident; and there would be no further question as to whether it
has Authentic-Existence.
    But a difficulty arises. By what faculty in us could we possibly
know Evil?
    All knowing comes by likeness. The Intellectual-Principle and
the Soul, being Ideal-Forms, would know Ideal-Forms and would have a
natural tendency towards them; but who could imagine Evil to be an
Ideal-Form, seeing that it manifests itself as the very absence of
    If the solution is that the one act of knowing covers
contraries, and that as Evil is the contrary to Good the one act would
grasp Good and Evil together, then to know Evil there must be first
a clear perception and understanding of Good, since the nobler
existences precede the baser and are Ideal-Forms while the less good
hold no such standing, are nearer to Non-Being.
    No doubt there is a question in what precise way Good is
contrary to Evil- whether it is as First-Principle to last of things
or as Ideal-Form to utter Lack: but this subject we postpone.
    2. For the moment let us define the nature of the Good as far as
the immediate purpose demands.
    The Good is that on which all else depends, towards which all
Existences aspire as to their source and their need, while Itself is
without need, sufficient to Itself, aspiring to no other, the
measure and Term of all, giving out from itself the
Intellectual-Principle and Existence and Soul and Life and all
    All until The Good is reached is beautiful; The Good is
beyond-beautiful, beyond the Highest, holding kingly state in the
Intellectual-Kosmos, that sphere constituted by a Principle wholly
unlike what is known as Intelligence in us. Our intelligence is
nourished on the propositions of logic, is skilled in following
discussions, works by reasonings, examines links of demonstration, and
comes to know the world of Being also by the steps of logical process,
having no prior grasp of Reality but remaining empty, all Intelligence
though it be, until it has put itself to school.
    The Intellectual-Principle we are discussing is not of such a
kind: It possesses all: It is all: It is present to all by Its
self-presence: It has all by other means than having, for what It
possesses is still Itself, nor does any particular of all within It
stand apart; for every such particular is the whole and in all
respects all, while yet not confused in the mass but still distinct,
apart to the extent that any participant in the Intellectual-Principle
participates not in the entire as one thing but in whatsoever lies
within its own reach.
    And the First Act is the Act of The Good stationary within Itself,
and the First Existence is the self-contained Existence of The Good;
but there is also an Act upon It, that of the Intellectual-Principle
which, as it were, lives about It.
    And the Soul, outside, circles around the
Intellectual-Principle, and by gazing upon it, seeing into the
depths of It, through It sees God.
    Such is the untroubled, the blissful, life of divine beings, and
Evil has no place in it; if this were all, there would be no Evil
but Good only, the first, the second and the third Good. All, thus
far, is with the King of All, unfailing Cause of Good and Beauty and
controller of all; and what is Good in the second degree depends
upon the Second-Principle and tertiary Good upon the Third.
    3. If such be the Nature of Beings and of That which transcends
all the realm of Being, Evil cannot have place among Beings or in
the Beyond-Being; these are good.
    There remains, only, if Evil exist at all, that it be situate in
the realm of Non-Being, that it be some mode, as it were, of the
Non-Being, that it have its seat in something in touch with
Non-Being or to a certain degree communicate in Non-Being.
    By this Non-Being, of course, we are not to understand something
that simply does not exist, but only something of an utterly different
order from Authentic-Being: there is no question here of movement or
position with regard to Being; the Non-Being we are thinking of is,
rather, an image of Being or perhaps something still further removed
than even an image.
    Now this [the required faint image of Being] might be the sensible
universe with all the impressions it engenders, or it might be
something of even later derivation, accidental to the realm of
sense, or again, it might be the source of the sense-world or
something of the same order entering into it to complete it.
    Some conception of it would be reached by thinking of
measurelessness as opposed to measure, of the unbounded against bound,
the unshaped against a principle of shape, the ever-needy against
the self-sufficing: think of the ever-undefined, the never at rest,
the all-accepting but never sated, utter dearth; and make all this
character not mere accident in it but its equivalent for
essential-being, so that, whatsoever fragment of it be taken, that
part is all lawless void, while whatever participates in it and
resembles it becomes evil, though not of course to the point of being,
as itself is, Evil-Absolute.
    In what substantial-form [hypostasis] then is all this to be
found- not as accident but as the very substance itself?
    For if Evil can enter into other things, it must have in a certain
sense a prior existence, even though it may not be an essence. As
there is Good, the Absolute, as well as Good, the quality, so,
together with the derived evil entering into something not itself,
there must be the Absolute Evil.
    But how? Can there be Unmeasure apart from an unmeasured object?
    Does not Measure exist apart from unmeasured things? Precisely
as there is Measure apart from anything measured, so there is
Unmeasure apart from the unmeasured. If Unmeasure could not exist
independently, it must exist either in an unmeasured object or in
something measured; but the unmeasured could not need Unmeasure and
the measured could not contain it.
    There must, then, be some Undetermination-Absolute, some
Absolute Formlessness; all the qualities cited as characterizing the
Nature of Evil must be summed under an Absolute Evil; and every evil
thing outside of this must either contain this Absolute by
saturation or have taken the character of evil and become a cause of
evil by consecration to this Absolute.
    What will this be?
    That Kind whose place is below all the patterns, forms, shapes,
measurements and limits, that which has no trace of good by any
title of its own, but [at best] takes order and grace from some
Principle outside itself, a mere image as regards Absolute-Being but
the Authentic Essence of Evil- in so far as Evil can have Authentic
Being. In such a Kind, Reason recognizes the Primal Evil, Evil
    4. The bodily Kind, in that it partakes of Matter is an evil
thing. What form is in bodies is an untrue-form: they are without
life: by their own natural disorderly movement they make away with
each other; they are hindrances to the soul in its proper Act; in
their ceaseless flux they are always slipping away from Being.
    Soul, on the contrary, since not every Soul is evil, is not an
evil Kind.
    What, then, is the evil Soul?
    It is, we read, the Soul that has entered into the service of that
in which soul-evil is implanted by nature, in whose service the
unreasoning phase of the Soul accepts evil- unmeasure, excess and
shortcoming, which bring forth licentiousness, cowardice and all other
flaws of the Soul, all the states, foreign to the true nature, which
set up false judgements, so that the Soul comes to name things good or
evil not by their true value but by the mere test of like and dislike.
    But what is the root of this evil state? how can it be brought
under the causing principle indicated?
    Firstly, such a Soul is not apart from Matter, is not purely
itself. That is to say, it is touched with Unmeasure, it is shut out
from the Forming-Idea that orders and brings to measure, and this
because it is merged into a body made of Matter.
    Then if the Reasoning-Faculty too has taken hurt, the Soul's
seeing is baulked by the passions and by the darkening that Matter
brings to it, by its decline into Matter, by its very attention no
longer to Essence but to Process- whose principle or source is, again,
Matter, the Kind so evil as to saturate with its own  pravity even
that which is not in it but merely looks towards it.
    For, wholly without part in Good, the negation of Good,
unmingled Lack, this Matter-Kind makes over to its own likeness
whatsoever comes in touch with it.
    The Soul wrought to perfection, addressed towards the
Intellectual-Principle, is steadfastly pure: it has turned away from
Matter; all that is undetermined, that is outside of measure, that
is evil, it neither sees nor draws near; it endures in its purity,
only, and wholly, determined by the Intellectual-Principle.
    The Soul that breaks away from this source of its reality to the
non-perfect and non-primal is, as it were, a secondary, an image, to
the loyal Soul. By its falling-away- and to the extent of the fall- it
is stripped of Determination, becomes wholly indeterminate, sees
darkness. Looking to what repels vision, as we look when we are said
to see darkness, it has taken Matter into itself.
    5. But, it will be objected, if this seeing and frequenting of the
darkness is due to the lack of good, the Soul's evil has its source in
that very lack; the darkness will be merely a secondary cause- and
at once the Principle of Evil is removed from Matter, is made anterior
to Matter.
    No: Evil is not in any and every lack; it is in absolute lack.
What falls in some degree short of the Good is not Evil; considered in
its own kind it might even be perfect, but where there is utter
dearth, there we have Essential Evil, void of all share in Good;
this is the case with Matter.
    Matter has not even existence whereby to have some part in Good:
Being is attributed to it by an accident of words: the truth would
be that it has Non-Being.
    Mere lack brings merely Not-Goodness: Evil demands the absolute
lack- though, of course, any very considerable shortcoming makes the
ultimate fall possible and is already, in itself, an evil.
    In fine we are not to think of Evil as some particular bad
thing- injustice, for example, or any other ugly trait- but as a
principle distinct from any of the particular forms in which, by the
addition of certain elements, it becomes manifest. Thus there may be
wickedness in the Soul; the forms this general wickedness is to take
will be determined by the environing Matter, by the faculties of the
Soul that operate and by the nature of their operation, whether
seeing, acting, or merely admitting impression.
    But supposing things external to the Soul are to be counted
Evil- sickness, poverty and so forth- how can they be referred to
the principle we have described?
    Well, sickness is excess or defect in the body, which as a
material organism rebels against order and measure; ugliness is but
matter not mastered by Ideal-Form; poverty consists in our need and
lack of goods made necessary to us by our association with Matter
whose very nature is to be one long want.
    If all this be true, we cannot be, ourselves, the source of
Evil, we are not evil in ourselves; Evil was before we came to be; the
Evil which holds men down binds them against their will; and for those
that have the strength- not found in all men, it is true- there is a
deliverance from the evils that have found lodgement in the soul.
    In a word since Matter belongs only to the sensible world, vice in
men is not the Absolute Evil; not all men are vicious; some overcome
vice, some, the better sort, are never attacked by it; and those who
master it win by means of that in them which is not material.
    6. If this be so, how do we explain the teaching that evils can
never pass away but "exist of necessity," that "while evil has no
place in the divine order, it haunts mortal nature and this place
for ever"?
    Does this mean that heaven is clear of evil, ever moving its
orderly way, spinning on the appointed path, no injustice There or any
flaw, no wrong done by any power to any other but all true to the
settled plan, while injustice and disorder prevail on earth,
designated as "the Mortal Kind and this Place"?
    Not quite so: for the precept to "flee hence" does not refer to
earth and earthly life. The flight we read of consists not in quitting
earth but in living our earth-life "with justice and piety in the
light of philosophy"; it is vice we are to flee, so that clearly to
the writer Evil is simply vice with the sequels of vice. And when
the disputant in that dialogue says that, if men could be convinced of
the doctrine advanced, there would be an end of Evil, he is
answered, "That can never be: Evil is of necessity, for there must
be a contrary to good."
    Still we may reasonably ask how can vice in man be a contrary to
The Good in the Supernal: for vice is the contrary to virtue and
virtue is not The Good but merely the good thing by which Matter is
brought to order.
    How can there any contrary to the Absolute Good, when the absolute
has no quality?
    Besides, is there any universal necessity that the existence of
one of two contraries should entail the existence of the other?
Admit that the existence of one is often accompanied by the
existence of the other- sickness and health, for example- yet there is
no universal compulsion.
    Perhaps, however, our author did not mean that this was
universally true; he is speaking only of The Good.
    But then, if The Good is an essence, and still more, if It is that
which transcends all existence, how can It have any contrary?
    That there is nothing contrary to essence is certain in the case
of particular existences- established by practical proof- but not in
the quite different case of the Universal.
    But of what nature would this contrary be, the contrary to
universal existence and in general to the Primals?
    To essential existence would be opposed the non-existence; to
the nature of Good, some principle and source of evil. Both these will
be sources, the one of what is good, the other of what is evil; and
all within the domain of the one principle is opposed, as contrary, to
the entire domain of the other, and this in a contrariety more violent
than any existing between secondary things.
    For these last are opposed as members of one species or of one
genus, and, within that common ground, they participate in some common
    In the case of the Primals or Universals there is such complete
separation that what is the exact negation of one group constitutes
the very nature of the other; we have diametric contrariety if by
contrariety we mean the extreme of remoteness.
    Now to the content of the divine order, the fixed quality, the
measuredness and so forth- there is opposed the content of the evil
principle, its unfixedness, measurelessness and so forth: total is
opposed to total. The existence of the one genus is a falsity,
primarily, essentially, a falseness: the other genus has
Essence-Authentic: the opposition is of truth to lie; essence is
opposed to essence.
    Thus we see that it is not universally true that an Essence can
have no contrary.
    In the case of fire and water we would admit contrariety if it
were not for their common element, the Matter, about which are
gathered the warmth and dryness of one and the dampness and cold of
the other: if there were only present what constitutes their
distinct kinds, the common ground being absent, there would be, here
also, essence contrary to essence.
    In sum, things utterly sundered, having nothing in common,
standing at the remotest poles, are opposites in nature: the
contrariety does not depend upon quality or upon the existence of a
distinct genus of beings, but upon the utmost difference, clash in
content, clash in effect.
    7. But why does the existence of the Principle of Good necessarily
comport the existence of a Principle of Evil? Is it because the All
necessarily comports the existence of Matter? Yes: for necessarily
this All is made up of contraries: it could not exist if Matter did
not. The Nature of this Kosmos is, therefore, a blend; it is blended
from the Intellectual-Principle and Necessity: what comes into it from
God is good; evil is from the Ancient Kind which, we read, is the
underlying Matter not yet brought to order by the Ideal-Form.
    But, since the expression "this place" must be taken to mean the
All, how explain the words "mortal nature"?
    The answer is in the passage [in which the Father of Gods
addresses the Divinities of the lower sphere], "Since you possess only
a derivative being, you are not immortals... but by my power you shall
escape dissolution."
    The escape, we read, is not a matter of place, but of acquiring
virtue, of disengaging the self from the body; this is the escape from
Matter. Plato explains somewhere how a man frees himself and how he
remains bound; and the phrase "to live among the gods" means to live
among the Intelligible-Existents, for these are the Immortals.
    There is another consideration establishing the necessary
existence of Evil.
    Given that The Good is not the only existent thing, it is
inevitable that, by the outgoing from it or, if the phrase be
preferred, the continuous down-going or away-going from it, there
should be produced a Last, something after which nothing more can be
produced: this will be Evil.
    As necessarily as there is Something after the First, so
necessarily there is a Last: this Last is Matter, the thing which
has no residue of good in it: here is the necessity of Evil.
    8. But there will still be some to deny that it is through this
Matter that we ourselves become evil.
    They will say that neither ignorance nor wicked desires arise in
Matter. Even if they admit that the unhappy condition within us is due
to the  pravity inherent in body, they will urge that still the
blame lies not in the Matter itself but with the Form present in it-
such Form as heat, cold, bitterness, saltness and all other conditions
perceptible to sense, or again such states as being full or void-
not in the concrete signification but in the presence or absence of
just such forms. In a word, they will argue, all particularity in
desires and even in perverted judgements upon things, can be
referred to such causes, so that Evil lies in this Form much more than
in the mere Matter.
    Yet, even with all this, they can be compelled to admit that
Matter is the Evil.
    For, the quality [form] that has entered into Matter does not
act as an entity apart from the Matter, any more than axe-shape will
cut apart from iron. Further, Forms lodged in Matter are not the
same as they would be if they remained within themselves; they are
Reason-Principles Materialized, they are corrupted in the Matter, they
have absorbed its nature: essential fire does not burn, nor do any
of the essential entities effect, of themselves alone, the operation
which, once they have entered into Matter, is traced to their action.
    Matter becomes mistress of what is manifested through it: it
corrupts and destroys the incomer, it substitutes its own opposite
character and kind, not in the sense of opposing, for example,
concrete cold to concrete warmth, but by setting its own
formlessness against the Form of heat, shapelessness to shape,
excess and defect to the duly ordered. Thus, in sum, what enters
into Matter ceases to belong to itself, comes to belong to Matter,
just as, in the nourishment of living beings, what is taken in does
not remain as it came, but is turned into, say, dog's blood and all
that goes to make a dog, becomes, in fact, any of the humours of any
    No, if body is the cause of Evil, then there is no escape; the
cause of Evil is Matter.
    Still, it will be urged, the incoming Idea should have been able
to conquer the Matter.
    The difficulty is that Matter's master cannot remain pure itself
except by avoidance of Matter.
    Besides, the constitution determines both the desires and their
violence so that there are bodies in which the incoming idea cannot
hold sway: there is a vicious constitution which chills and clogs
the activity and inhibits choice; a contrary bodily habit produces
frivolity, lack of balance. The same fact is indicated by our
successive variations of mood: in times of stress, we are not the same
either in desires or in ideas- as when we are at peace, and we
differ again with every several object that brings us satisfaction.
    To resume: the Measureless is evil primarily; whatever, either
by resemblance or participation, exists in the state of unmeasure,
is evil secondarily, by force of its dealing with the Primal-
primarily, the darkness; secondarily, the darkened. Now, Vice, being
an ignorance and a lack of measure in the Soul, is secondarily evil,
not the Essential Evil, just as Virtue is not the Primal Good but is
Likeness to The Good, or participation in it.
    9. But what approach have we to the knowing of Good and Evil?
    And first of the Evil of soul: Virtue, we may know by the
Intellectual-Principle and by means of the philosophic habit; but
    A a ruler marks off straight from crooked, so Vice is known by its
divergence from the line of Virtue.
    But are we able to affirm Vice by any vision we can have of it, or
is there some other way of knowing it?
    Utter viciousness, certainly not by any vision, for it is
utterly outside of bound and measure; this thing which is nowhere
can be seized only by abstraction; but any degree of evil falling
short of The Absolute is knowable by the extent of that falling short.
    We see partial wrong; from what is before us we divine that
which is lacking to the entire form [or Kind] thus indicated; we see
that the completed Kind would be the Indeterminate; by this process we
are able to identify and affirm Evil. In the same way when we
observe what we feel to be an ugly appearance in Matter- left there
because the Reason-Principle has not become so completely the master
as to cover over the unseemliness- we  recognise Ugliness by the
falling-short from Ideal-Form.
    But how can we identify what has never had any touch of Form?
    We utterly eliminate every kind of Form; and the object in which
there is none whatever we call Matter: if we are to see Matter we must
so completely abolish Form that we take shapelessness into our very
    In fact it is another Intellectual-Principle, not the true, this
which ventures a vision so uncongenial.
    To see darkness the eye withdraws from the light; it is striving
to cease from seeing, therefore it abandons the light which would make
the darkness invisible; away from the light its power is rather that
of not-seeing than of seeing and this not-seeing is its nearest
approach to seeing Darkness. So the Intellectual-Principle, in order
to see its contrary [Matter], must leave its own light locked up
within itself, and as it were go forth from itself into an outside
realm, it must ignore its native brightness and submit itself to the
very contradition of its being.
    10. But if Matter is devoid of quality how can it be evil?
    It is described as being devoid of quality in the sense only
that it does not essentially possess any of the qualities which it
admits and which enter into it as into a substratum. No one says
that it has no nature; and if it has any nature at all, why may not
that nature be evil though not in the sense of quality?
    Quality qualifies something not itself: it is therefore an
accidental; it resides in some other object. Matter does not exist
in some other object but is the substratum in which the accidental
resides. Matter, then, is said to be devoid of Quality in that it does
not in itself possess this thing which is by nature an accidental. If,
moreover, Quality itself be devoid of Quality, how can Matter, which
is the unqualified, be said to have it?
    Thus, it is quite correct to say at once that Matter is without
Quality and that it is evil: it is Evil not in the sense of having
Quality but, precisely, in not having it; give it Quality and in its
very Evil it would almost be a Form, whereas in Truth it is a Kind
contrary to Form.
    "But," it may be said, "the Kind opposed to all Form is
Privation or Negation, and this necessarily refers to something
other than itself, it is no Substantial-Existence: therefore if Evil
is Privation or Negation it must be lodged in some Negation of Form:
there will be no Self-Existent Evil."
    This objection may be answered by applying the principle to the
case of Evil in the Soul; the Evil, the Vice, will be a Negation and
not anything having a separate existence; we come to the doctrine
which denies Matter or, admitting it, denies its Evil; we need not
seek elsewhere; we may at once place Evil in the Soul, recognising
it as the mere absence of Good. But if the negation is the negation of
something that ought to become present, if it is a denial of the
Good by the Soul, then the Soul produces vice within itself by the
operation of its own Nature, and is devoid of good and, therefore,
Soul though it be, devoid of life: the Soul, if it has no life, is
soulless; the Soul is no Soul.
    No; the Soul has life by its own nature and therefore does not, of
its own nature, contain this negation of The Good: it has much good in
it; it carries a happy trace of the Intellectual-Principle and is
not essentially evil: neither is it  primally evil nor is that
Primal Evil present in it even as an accidental, for the Soul is not
wholly apart from the Good.
    Perhaps Vice and Evil as in the Soul should be described not as an
entire, but as a partial, negation of good.
    But if this were so, part of the Soul must possess The Good,
part be without it; the Soul will have a mingled nature and the Evil
within it will not be unblended: we have not yet lighted on the
Primal, Unmingled Evil. The Soul would possess the Good as its
Essence, the Evil as an Accidental.
    Perhaps Evil is merely an impediment to the Soul like something
affecting the eye and so hindering sight.
    But such an evil in the eyes is no more than an occasion of
evil, the Absolute Evil is something quite different. If then Vice
is an impediment to the Soul, Vice is an occasion of evil but not
Evil-Absolute. Virtue is not the Absolute Good, but a co-operator with
it; and if Virtue is not the Absolute Good neither is Vice the
Absolute Evil. Virtue is not the Absolute Beauty or the Absolute Good;
neither, therefore, is Vice the Essential Ugliness or the Essential
    We teach that Virtue is not the Absolute Good and Beauty,
because we know that These are earlier than Virtue and transcend it,
and that it is good and beautiful by some participation in them. Now
as, going upward from virtue, we come to the Beautiful and to the
Good, so, going downward from Vice, we reach Essential Evil: from Vice
as the starting-point we come to vision of Evil, as far as such vision
is possible, and we become evil to the extent of our participation
in it. We are become dwellers in the Place of Unlikeness, where,
fallen from all our resemblance to the Divine, we lie in gloom and
mud: for if the Soul abandons itself unreservedly to the extreme of
viciousness, it is no longer a vicious Soul merely, for mere vice is
still human, still carries some trace of good: it has taken to
itself another nature, the Evil, and as far as Soul can die it is
dead. And the death of Soul is twofold: while still sunk in body to
lie down in Matter and drench itself with it; when it has left the
body, to lie in the other world until, somehow, it stirs again and
lifts its sight from the mud: and this is our "going down to Hades and
slumbering there."
    11. It may be suggested that Vice is feebleness in the Soul.
    We shall be reminded that the Vicious Soul is unstable, swept
along from every ill to every other, quickly stirred by appetites,
headlong to anger, as hasty to compromises, yielding at once to
obscure imaginations, as weak, in fact, as the weakest thing made by
man or nature, blown about by every breeze, burned away by every heat.
    Still the question must be faced what constitutes this weakness in
the Soul, whence it comes.
    For weakness in the body is not like that in the Soul: the word
weakness, which covers the incapacity for work and the lack of
resistance in the body, is applied to the Soul merely by analogy-
unless, indeed, in the one case as in the other, the cause of the
weakness is Matter.
    But we must go more thoroughly into the source of this weakness,
as we call it, in the Soul, which is certainly not made weak as the
result of any density or rarity, or by any thickening or thinning or
anything like a disease, like a fever.
    Now this weakness must be seated either in Souls utterly
disengaged or in Souls bound to Matter or in both.
    It cannot exist in those apart from Matter, for all these are pure
and, as we read, winged and perfect and unimpeded in their task: there
remains only that the weakness be in the fallen Souls, neither
cleansed nor clean; and in them the weakness will be, not in any
privation but in some hostile presence, like that of phlegm or bile in
the organs of the body.
    If we form an acute and accurate notion of the cause of the fall
we shall understand the weakness that comes by it.
    Matter exists; Soul exists; and they occupy, so to speak, one
place. There is not one place for Matter and another for
Soul-Matter, for instance, kept to earth, Soul in the air: the
soul's "separate place" is simply its not being in Matter; that is,
its not being united with it; that is that there be no compound unit
consisting of Soul and Matter; that is that Soul be not moulded in
Matter as in a matrix; this is the Soul's apartness.
    But the faculties of the Soul are many, and it has its
beginning, its intermediate phases, its final fringe. Matter
appears, importunes, raises disorders, seeks to force its way
within; but all the ground is holy, nothing there without part in
Soul. Matter therefore submits, and takes light: but the source of its
illumination it cannot attain to, for the Soul cannot lift up this
foreign thing close by, since the evil of it makes it invisible. On
the contrary the illumination, the light streaming from the Soul, is
dulled, is weakened, as it mixes with Matter which offers Birth to the
Soul, providing the means by which it enters into generation,
impossible to it if no recipient were at hand.
    This is the fall of the Soul, this entry into Matter: thence its
weakness: not all the faculties of its being retain free play, for
Matter hinders their manifestation; it encroaches upon the Soul's
territory and, as it were, crushes the Soul back; and it turns to evil
all that it has stolen, until the Soul finds strength to advance
    Thus the cause, at once, of the weakness of Soul and of all its
evil is Matter.
    The evil of Matter precedes the weakness, the vice; it is Primal
Evil. Even though the Soul itself submits to Matter and engenders to
it; if it becomes evil within itself by its commerce with Matter,
the cause is still the presence of Matter: the Soul would never have
approached Matter but that the presence of Matter is the occasion of
its earth-life.
    12. If the existence of Matter be denied, the necessity of this
Principle must be demonstrated from the treatises "On Matter" where
the question is copiously treated.
    To deny Evil a place among realities is necessarily to do away
with the Good as well, and even to deny the existence of anything
desirable; it is to deny desire, avoidance and all intellectual act;
for desire has Good for its object, aversion looks to Evil; all
intellectual act, all Wisdom, deals with Good and Bad, and is itself
one of the things that are good.
    There must then be The Good- good unmixed- and the Mingled Good
and Bad, and the Rather Bad than Good, this last ending with the
Utterly Bad we have been seeking, just as that in which Evil
constitutes the lesser part tends, by that lessening, towards the
    What, then, must Evil be to the Soul?
    What Soul could contain Evil unless by contact with the lower
Kind? There could be no desire, no sorrow, no rage, no fear: fear
touches the compounded dreading its dissolution; pain and sorrow are
the accompaniments of the dissolution; desires spring from something
troubling the grouped being or are a provision against trouble
threatened; all impression is the stroke of something unreasonable
outside the Soul, accepted only because the Soul is not devoid of
parts or phases; the Soul takes up false notions through having gone
outside of its own truth by ceasing to be purely itself.
    One desire or appetite there is which does not fall under this
condemnation; it is the aspiration towards the Intellectual-Principle:
this demands only that the Soul dwell alone enshrined within that
place of its choice, never lapsing towards the lower.
    Evil is not alone: by virtue of the nature of Good, the power of
Good, it is not Evil only: it appears, necessarily, bound around
with bonds of Beauty, like some captive bound in fetters of gold;
and beneath these it is hidden so that, while it must exist, it may
not be seen by the gods, and that men need not always have evil before
their eyes, but that when it comes before them they may still be not
destitute of Images of the Good and Beautiful for their Remembrance.
                        NINTH TRACTATE.

                    "THE REASONED DISMISSAL".

    "You will not dismiss your Soul lest it go forth..." [taking
something with it].
    For wheresoever it go, it will be in some definite condition,
and its going forth is to some new place. The Soul will wait for the
body to be completely severed from it; then it makes no departure;
it simply finds itself free.
    But how does the body come to be separated?
    The separation takes place when nothing of Soul remains bound up
with it: the harmony within the body, by virtue of which the Soul
was retained, is broken and it can no longer hold its guest.
    But when a man contrives the dissolution of the body, it is he
that has used violence and torn himself away, not the body that has
let the Soul slip from it. And in loosing the bond he has not been
without passion; there has been revolt or grief or anger, movements
which it is unlawful to indulge.
    But if a man feel himself to be losing his reason?
    That is not likely in the Sage, but if it should occur, it must be
classed with the inevitable, to be welcome at the bidding of the
fact though not for its own sake. To call upon drugs to the release of
the Soul seems a strange way of assisting its purposes.
    And if there be a period allotted to all by fate, to anticipate
the hour could not be a happy act, unless, as we have indicated, under
stern necessity.
    If everyone is to hold in the other world a standing determined by
the state in which he quitted this, there must be no withdrawal as
long as there is any hope of progress.
                       THE SECOND ENNEAD.

                        FIRST TRACTATE.


    1. We hold that the ordered universe, in its material mass, has
existed for ever and will for ever endure: but simply to refer this
perdurance to the Will of God, however true an explanation, is utterly
    The elements of this sphere change; the living beings of earth
pass away; only the Ideal-form [the species] persists: possibly a
similar process obtains in the All.
    The Will of God is able to cope with the ceaseless flux and escape
of body stuff by ceaselessly reintroducing the known forms in new
substances, thus ensuring perpetuity not to the particular item but to
the unity of idea: now, seeing that objects of this realm possess no
more than duration of form, why should celestial objects, and the
celestial system itself, be distinguished by duration of the
particular entity?
    Let us suppose this persistence to be the result of the
all-inclusiveness of the celestial and universal- with its
consequence, the absence of any outlying matter into which change
could take place or which could break in and destroy.
    This explanation would, no doubt, safeguard the integrity of the
Whole, of the All; but our sun and the individual being of the other
heavenly bodies would not on these terms be secured in perpetuity:
they are parts; no one of them is in itself the whole, the all; it
would still be probable that theirs is no more than that duration in
form which belongs to fire and such entities.
    This would apply even to the entire ordered universe itself. For
it is very possible that this too, though not in process of
destruction from outside, might have only formal duration; its parts
may be so wearing each other down as to keep it in a continuous
decay while, amid the ceaseless flux of the Kind constituting its
base, an outside power ceaselessly restores the form: in this way
the living All may lie under the same conditions as man and horse
and the rest man and horse persisting but not the individual of the
    With this, we would have no longer the distinction of one order,
the heavenly system, stable for ever, and another, the earthly, in
process of decay: all would be alike except in the point of time;
the celestial would merely be longer lasting. If, then, we accepted
this duration of type alone as a true account of the All equally
with its partial members, our difficulties would be eased- or indeed
we should have no further problem- once the Will of God were shown
to be capable, under these conditions and by such communication, of
sustaining the Universe.
    But if we are obliged to allow individual persistence to any
definite entity within the Kosmos then, firstly, we must show that the
Divine Will is adequate to make it so; secondly, we have to face the
question, What accounts for some things having individual
persistence and others only the persistence of type? and, thirdly,
we ask how the partial entities of the celestial system hold a real
duration which would thus appear possible to all partial things.
    2. Supposing we accept this view and hold that, while things below
the moon's orb have merely type-persistence, the celestial realm and
all its several members possess individual eternity; it remains to
show how this strict permanence of the individual identity- the actual
item eternally unchangeable- can belong to what is certainly
corporeal, seeing that bodily substance is characteristically a
thing of flux.
    The theory of bodily flux is held by Plato no less than by the
other philosophers who have dealt with physical matters, and is
applied not only to ordinary bodies but to those, also, of the
heavenly sphere.
    "How," he asks, "can these corporeal and visible entities continue
eternally unchanged in identity?"- evidently agreeing, in this
matter also, with Herakleitos who maintained that even the sun is
perpetually coming anew into being. To Aristotle there would be no
problem; it is only accepting his theories of a fifth-substance.
    But to those who reject Aristotle's Quintessence and hold the
material mass of the heavens to consist of the elements underlying the
living things of this sphere, how is individual permanence possible?
And the difficulty is still greater for the parts, for the sun and the
heavenly bodies.
    Every living thing is a combination of soul and body-kind: the
celestial sphere, therefore, if it is to be everlasting as an
individual entity must be so in virtue either of both these
constituents or of one of them, by the combination of soul and body or
by soul only or by body only.
    Of course anyone that holds body to be incorruptible secures the
desired permanence at once; no need, then, to call on a soul or on any
perdurable conjunction to account for the continued maintenance of a
living being.
    But the case is different when one holds that body is, of
itself, perishable and that Soul is the principle of permanence:
this view obliges us to the proof that the character of body is not in
itself fatal either to the coherence or to the lasting stability which
are imperative: it must be shown that the two elements of the union
envisaged are not inevitably hostile, but that on the contrary [in the
heavens] even Matter must conduce to the scheme of the standing
    3. We have to ask, that is, how Matter, this entity of ceaseless
flux constituting the physical mass of the universe, could serve
towards the immortality of the Kosmos.
    And our answer is "Because the flux is not outgoing": where
there is motion within but not outwards and the total remains
unchanged, there is neither growth nor decline, and thus the Kosmos
never ages.
    We have a parallel in our earth, constant from eternity to pattern
and to mass; the air, too, never fails; and there is always water: all
the changes of these elements leave unchanged the Principle of the
total living thing, our world. In our own constitution, again, there
is a ceaseless shifting of particles- and that with outgoing loss- and
yet the individual persists for a long time: where there is no
question of an outside region, the body-principle cannot clash with
soul as against the identity and endless duration of the living thing.
    Of these material elements- for example- fire, the keen and swift,
cooperates by its upward tendency as earth by its lingering below; for
we must not imagine that the fire, once it finds itself at the point
where its ascent must stop, settles down as in its appropriate
place, no longer seeking, like all the rest, to expand in both
directions. No: but higher is not possible; lower is repugnant to
its Kind; all that remains for it is to be tractable and, answering to
a need of its nature, to be drawn by the Soul to the activity of life,
and so to move to in a glorious place, in the Soul. Anyone that dreads
its falling may take heart; the circuit of the Soul provides against
any declination, embracing, sustaining; and since fire has of itself
no downward tendency it accepts that guiding without resistance. The
partial elements constituting our persons do not suffice for their own
cohesion; once they are brought to human shape, they must borrow
elsewhere if the organism is to be maintained: but in the upper
spheres since there can be no loss by flux no such replenishment is
    Suppose such loss, suppose fire extinguished there, then a new
fire must be kindled; so also if such loss by flux could occur in some
of the superiors from which the celestial fire depends, that too
must be replaced: but with such transmutations, while there might be
something continuously similar, there would be, no longer, a Living
All abidingly self-identical.
    4. But matters are involved here which demand specific
investigation and cannot be treated as incidental merely to our
present problem. We are faced with several questions: Is the
heavenly system exposed to any such flux as would occasion the need of
some restoration corresponding to nourishment; or do its members, once
set in their due places, suffer no loss of substance, permanent by
Kind? Does it consist of fire only, or is it mainly of fire with the
other elements, as well, taken up and carried in the circuit by the
dominant Principle?
    Our doctrine of the immortality of the heavenly system rests on
the firmest foundation once we have cited the sovereign agent, the
soul, and considered, besides, the peculiar excellence of the bodily
substance constituting the stars, a material so pure, so entirely
the noblest, and chosen by the soul as, in all living beings, the
determining principle appropriates to itself the choicest among
their characteristic parts. No doubt Aristotle is right in speaking of
flame as a turmoil, fire insolently rioting; but the celestial fire is
equable, placid, docile to the purposes of the stars.
    Still, the great argument remains, the Soul, moving in its
marvellous might second only to the very loftiest Existents: how could
anything once placed within this Soul break away from it into
non-being? No one that understands this principle, the support of
all things, can fail to see that, sprung from God, it is a stronger
stay than any bonds.
    And is it conceivable that the Soul, valid to sustain for a
certain space of time, could not so sustain for ever? This would be to
assume that it holds things together by violence; that there is a
"natural course" at variance with what actually exists in the nature
of the universe and in these exquisitely ordered beings; and that
there is some power able to storm the established system and destroy
its ordered coherence, some kingdom or dominion that may shatter the
order founded by the Soul.
    Further: The Kosmos has had no beginning- the impossibility has
been shown elsewhere- and this is warrant for its continued existence.
Why should there be in the future a change that has not yet
occurred? The elements there are not worn away like beams and rafters:
they hold sound for ever, and so the All holds sound. And even
supposing these elements to be in ceaseless transmutation, yet the All
persists: the ground of all the change must itself be changeless.
    As to any alteration of purpose in the Soul we have already
shown the emptiness of that fancy: the administration of the
universe entails neither labour nor loss; and, even supposing the
possibility of annihilating all that is material, the Soul would be no
whit the better or the worse.
    5. But how explain the permanence There, while the content of this
sphere- its elements and its living things alike- are passing?
    The reason is given by Plato: the celestial order is from God, the
living things of earth from the gods sprung from God; and it is law
that the offspring of God endures.
    In other words, the celestial soul- and our souls with it- springs
directly next from the Creator, while the animal life of this earth is
produced by an image which goes forth from that celestial soul and may
be said to flow downwards from it.
    A soul, then, of the minor degree- reproducing, indeed, that of
the Divine sphere but lacking in power inasmuch as it must exercise
its creative act upon inferior stuff in an inferior region- the
substances taken up into the fabric being of themselves repugnant to
duration; with such an origin the living things of this realm cannot
be of strength to last for ever; the material constituents are not
as firmly held and controlled as if they were ruled immediately by a
Principle of higher potency.
    The heavens, on the contrary, must have persistence as a whole,
and this entails the persistence of the parts, of the stars they
contain: we could not imagine that whole to endure with the parts in
flux- though, of course, we must distinguish things sub-celestial from
the heavens themselves whose region does not in fact extend so low
as to the moon.
    Our own case is different: physically we are formed by that
[inferior] soul, given forth [not directly from God but] from the
divine beings in the heavens and from the heavens themselves; it is by
way of that inferior soul that we are associated with the body
[which therefore will not be persistent]; for the higher soul which
constitutes the We is the principle not of our existence but of our
excellence or, if also of our existence, then only in the sense
that, when the body is already constituted, it enters, bringing with
it some effluence from the Divine Reason in support of the existence.
    6. We may now consider the question whether fire is the sole
element existing in that celestial realm and whether there is any
outgoing thence with the consequent need of renewal.
    Timaeus pronounced the material frame of the All to consist
primarily of earth and fire for visibility, earth for solidity- and
deduced that the stars must be mainly composed of fire, but not solely
since there is no doubt they are solid.
    And this is probably a true account. Plato accepts it as indicated
by all the appearances. And, in fact, to all our perception- as we see
them and derive from them the impression of illumination- the stars
appear to be mostly, if not exclusively, fire: but on reasoning into
the matter we judge that since solidity cannot exist apart from
earth-matter, they must contain earth as well.
    But what place could there be for the other elements? It is
impossible to imagine water amid so vast a conflagration; and if air
were present it would be continually changing into fire.
    Admitting [with Timaeus; as a logical truth] that two
self-contained entities, standing as extremes to each other need for
their coherence two intermediaries; we may still question whether this
holds good with regard to physical bodies. Certainly water and earth
can be mixed without any such intermediate. It might seem valid to
object that the intermediates are already present in the earth and the
water; but a possible answer would be, "Yes, but not as agents whose
meeting is necessary to the coherence of those extremes."
    None the less we will take it that the coherence of extremes is
produced by virtue of each possessing all the intermediates. It is
still not proven that fire is necessary to the visibility of earth and
earth to the solidarity of fire.
    On this principle, nothing possesses an essential-nature of its
very own; every several thing is a blend, and its name is merely an
indication of the dominant constituent.
    Thus we are told that earth cannot have concrete existence without
the help of some moist element- the moisture in water being the
necessary adhesive- but admitting that we so find it, there is still a
contradiction in pretending that any one element has a being of its
own and in the same breath denying its self-coherence, making its
subsistence depend upon others, and so, in reality, reducing the
specific element to nothing. How can we talk of the existence of the
definite Kind, earth- earth essential- if there exists no single
particle of earth which actually is earth without any need of water to
secure its self-cohesion? What has such an adhesive to act upon if
there is absolutely no given magnitude of real earth to which it may
bind particle after particle in its business of producing the
continuous mass? If there is any such given magnitude, large or small,
of pure earth, then earth can exist in its own nature, independently
of water: if there is no such primary particle of pure earth, then
there is nothing whatever for the water to bind. As for air- air
unchanged, retaining its distinctive quality- how could it conduce
to the subsistence of a dense material like earth?
    Similarly with fire. No doubt Timaeus speaks of it as necessary
not to the existence but to the visibility of earth and the other
elements; and certainly light is essential to all visibility- we
cannot say that we see darkness, which implies, precisely, that
nothing is seen, as silence means nothing being heard.
    But all this does not assure us that the earth to be visible
must contain fire: light is sufficient: snow, for example, and other
extremely cold substances gleam without the presence of fire- though
of course it might be said that fire was once there and communicated
colour before disappearing.
    As to the composition of water, we must leave it an open
question whether there can be such a thing as water without a
certain proportion of earth.
    But how can air, the yielding element, contain earth?
    Fire, again: is earth perhaps necessary there since fire is by its
own nature devoid of continuity and not a thing of three dimensions?
    Supposing it does not possess the solidity of the three
dimensions, it has that of its thrust; now, cannot this belong to it
by the mere right and fact of its being one of the corporeal
entities in nature? Hardness is another matter, a property confined to
earth-stuff. Remember that gold- which is water- becomes dense by
the accession not of earth but of denseness or consolidation: in the
same way fire, with Soul present within it, may consolidate itself
upon the power of the Soul; and there are living beings of fire
among the Celestials.
    But, in sum, do we abandon the teaching that all the elements
enter into the composition of every living thing?
    For this sphere, no; but to lift clay into the heavens is
against nature, contrary to the laws of her ordaining: it is
difficult, too, to think of that swiftest of circuits bearing along
earthly bodies in its course nor could such material conduce to the
splendour and white glint of the celestial fire.
    7. We can scarcely do better, in fine, than follow Plato.
    In the universe as a whole there must necessarily be such a degree
of solidity, that is to say, of resistance, as will ensure that the
earth, set in the centre, be a sure footing and support to the
living beings moving over it, and inevitably communicate something
of its own density to them: the earth will possess coherence by its
own unaided quality, but visibility by the presence of fire: it will
contain water against the dryness which would prevent the cohesion
of its particles; it will hold air to lighten its bulky matters; it
will be in contact with the celestial fire- not as being a member of
the sidereal system but by the simple fact that the fire there and our
earth both belong to the ordered universe so that something of the
earth is taken up by the fire as something of the fire by the earth
and something of everything by everything else.
    This borrowing, however, does not mean that the one thing
taking-up from the other enters into a composition, becoming an
element in a total of both: it is simply a consequence of the kosmic
fellowship; the participant retains its own being and takes over not
the thing itself but some property of the thing, not air but air's
yielding softness, not fire but fire's incandescence: mixing is
another process, a complete surrender with a resultant compound not,
as in this case, earth- remaining earth, the solidity and density we
know- with something of fire's qualities superadded.
    We have authority for this where we read:
    "At the second circuit from the earth, God kindled a light": he is
speaking of the sun which, elsewhere, he calls the all-glowing and,
again, the all-gleaming: thus he prevents us imagining it to be
anything else but fire, though of a peculiar kind; in other words it
is light, which he distinguishes from flame as being only modestly
warm: this light is a corporeal substance but from it there shines
forth that other "light" which, though it carries the same name, we
pronounce incorporeal, given forth from the first as its flower and
radiance, the veritable "incandescent body." Plato's word earthy is
commonly taken in too depreciatory a sense: he is thinking of earth as
the principle of solidity; we are apt to ignore his distinctions and
think of the concrete clay.
    Fire of this order, giving forth this purest light, belongs to the
upper realm, and there its seat is fixed by nature; but we must not,
on that account, suppose the flame of earth to be associated with
the beings of that higher sphere.
    No: the flame of this world, once it has attained a certain
height, is extinguished by the currents of air opposed to it.
Moreover, as it carries an earthy element on its upward path, it is
weighed downwards and cannot reach those loftier regions. It comes
to a stand somewhere below the moon- making the air at that point
subtler- and its flame, if any flame can persist, is subdued and
softened, and no longer retains its first intensity, but gives out
only what radiance it reflects from the light above.
    And it is that loftier light- falling variously upon the stars; to
each in a certain proportion- that gives them their characteristic
differences, as well in magnitude as in colour; just such light
constitutes also the still higher heavenly bodies which, however, like
clear air, are invisible because of the subtle texture and unresisting
transparency of their material substance and also by their very
    8. Now: given a light of this degree, remaining in the upper
sphere at its appointed station, pure light in purest place, what mode
of outflow from it can be conceived possible?
    Such a Kind is not so constituted as to flow downwards of its
own accord; and there exists in those regions no power to force it
down. Again, body in contact with soul must always be very different
from body left to itself; the bodily substance of the heavens has that
contact and will show that difference.
    Besides, the corporeal substance nearest to the heavens would be
air or fire: air has no destructive quality; fire would be powerless
there since it could not enter into effective contact: in its very
rush it would change before its attack could be felt; and, apart
from that, it is of the lesser order, no match for what it would be
opposing in those higher regions.
    Again, fire acts by imparting heat: now it cannot be the source of
heat to what is already hot by nature; and anything it is to destroy
must as a first condition be heated by it, must be brought to a
pitch of heat fatal to the nature concerned.
    In sum, then, no outside body is necessary to the heavens to
ensure their permanence- or to produce their circular movement, for
it has never been shown that their natural path would be the straight
line; on the contrary the heavens, by their nature, will either be
motionless or move by circle; all other movement indicates outside
compulsion. We cannot think, therefore, that the heavenly bodies
stand in need of replenishment; we must not argue from earthly
frames to those of the celestial system whose sustaining soul is not
the same, whose space is not the same, whose conditions are not
those which make restoration necessary in this realm of composite
bodies always in flux: we must recognise that the changes that take
place in bodies here represent a slipping-away from the being
[a phenomenon not incident to the celestial sphere] and take place
at the dictate of a Principle not dwelling in the higher regions, one
not powerful enough to ensure the permanence of the existences in
which it is exhibited, one which in its coming into being and in
its generative act is but an imitation of an antecedent Kind, and,
as we have shown, cannot at every point possess the unchangeable
identity of the Intellectual Realm.
                        SECOND TRACTATE.

                      THE HEAVENLY CIRCUIT.

    1. But whence that circular movement?
    In imitation of the Intellectual-Principle.
    And does this movement belong to the material part or to the Soul?
Can we account for it on the ground that the Soul has itself at once
for centre and for the goal to which it must be ceaselessly moving; or
that, being self-centred it is not of unlimited extension [and
consequently must move ceaselessly to be omnipresent], and that its
revolution carries the material mass with it?
    If the Soul had been the moving power [by any such semi-physical
action] it would be so no longer; it would have accomplished the act
of moving and have brought the universe to rest; there would be an end
of this endless revolution.
    In fact the Soul must be in repose or at least cannot have spatial
movement; how then, having itself a movement of quite another order,
could it communicate spatial movement?
    But perhaps the circular movement [of the Kosmos as soul and body]
is not spatial or is spatial not primarily but only incidentally.
    What, by this explanation, would be the essential movement of
the kosmic soul?
    A movement towards itself, the movement of self-awareness, of
self-intellection, of the living of its life, the movement of its
reaching to all things so that nothing shall lie outside of it,
nothing anywhere but within its scope.
    The dominant in a living thing is what compasses it entirely and
makes it a unity.
    If the Soul has no motion of any kind, it would not vitally
compass the Kosmos nor would the Kosmos, a thing of body, keep its
content alive, for the life of body is movement.
    Any spatial motion there is will be limited; it will be not that
of Soul untrammelled but that of a material frame ensouled, an
animated organism; the movement will be partly of body, partly of
Soul, the body tending to the straight line which its nature
imposes, the Soul restraining it; the resultant will be the compromise
movement of a thing at once carried forward and at rest.
    But supposing that the circular movement is to be attributed to
the body, how is it to be explained, since all body, including fire
[which constitutes the heavens] has straightforward motion?
    The answer is that forthright movement is maintained only
pending arrival at the place for which the moving thing is destined:
where a thing is ordained to be, there it seeks, of its nature, to
come for its rest; its motion is its tendence to its appointed place.
    Then, since the fire of the sidereal system has attained its goal,
why does it not stay at rest?
    Evidently because the very nature of fire is to be mobile: if it
did not take the curve, its straight line would finally fling it
outside the universe: the circular course, then, is imperative.
    But this would imply an act of providence?
    Not quite: rather its own act under providence; attaining to
that realm, it must still take the circular course by its indwelling
nature; for it seeks the straight path onwards but finds no further
space and is driven back so that it recoils on the only course left to
it: there is nothing beyond; it has reached the ultimate; it runs
its course in the regions it occupies, itself its own sphere, not
destined to come to rest there, existing to move.
    Further, the centre of a circle [and therefore of the Kosmos] is
distinctively a point of rest: if the circumference outside were not
in motion, the universe would be no more than one vast centre. And
movement around the centre is all the more to be expected in the
case of a living thing whose nature binds it within a body. Such
motion alone can constitute its impulse towards its centre: it
cannot coincide with the centre, for then there would be no circle;
since this may not be, it whirls about it; so only can it indulge
its tendence.
    If, on the other hand, the Kosmic circuit is due to the Soul, we
are not to think of a painful driving [wearing it down at last]; the
soul does not use violence or in any way thwart nature, for "Nature"
is no other than the custom the All-Soul has established.
Omnipresent in its entirety, incapable of division, the Soul of the
universe communicates that quality of universal presence to the
heavens, too, in their degree, the degree, that is, of pursuing
universality and advancing towards it.
    If the Soul halted anywhere, there the Kosmos, too, brought so
far, would halt: but the Soul encompasses all, and so the Kosmos
moves, seeking everything.
    Yet never to attain?
    On the contrary this very motion is its eternal attainment.
    Or, better; the Soul is ceaselessly leading the Kosmos towards
itself: the continuous attraction communicates a continuous
movement- not to some outside space but towards the Soul and in the
one sphere with it, not in the straight line [which would ultimately
bring the moving body outside and below the Soul], but in the
curving course in which the moving body at every stage possesses the
Soul that is attracting it and bestowing itself upon it.
    If the soul were stationary, that is if [instead of presiding over
a Kosmos] it dwelt wholly and solely in the realm in which every
member is at rest, motion would be unknown; but, since the Soul is not
fixed in some one station There, the Kosmos must travel to every point
in quest of it, and never outside it: in a circle, therefore.
    2. And what of lower things? [Why have they not this motion?]
    [Their case is very different]: the single thing here is not an
all but a part and limited to a given segment of space; that other
realm is all, is space, so to speak, and is subject to no hindrance or
control, for in itself it is all that is.
    And men?
    As a self, each is a personal whole, no doubt; but as member of
the universe, each is a partial thing.
    But if, wherever the circling body be, it possesses the Soul, what
need of the circling?
    Because everywhere it finds something else besides the Soul [which
it desires to possess alone].
    The circular movement would be explained, too, if the Soul's power
may be taken as resident at its centre.
    Here, however, we must distinguish between a centre in reference
to the two different natures, body and Soul.
    In body, centre is a point of place; in Soul it is a source, the
source of some other nature. The word, which without qualification
would mean the midpoint of a spheric mass, may serve in the double
reference; and, as in a material mass so in the Soul, there must be
a centre, that around which the object, Soul or material mass,
    The Soul exists in revolution around God to whom it clings in
love, holding itself to the utmost of its power near to Him as the
Being on which all depends; and since it cannot coincide with God it
circles about Him.
    Why then do not all souls [i.e., the lower, also, as those of
men and animals] thus circle about the Godhead?
    Every Soul does in its own rank and place.
    And why not our very bodies, also?
    Because the forward path is characteristic of body and because all
the body's impulses are to other ends and because what in us is of
this circling nature is hampered in its motion by the clay it bears
with it, while in the higher realm everything flows on its course,
lightly and easily, with nothing to check it, once there is any
principle of motion in it at all.
    And it may very well be that even in us the Spirit which dwells
with the Soul does thus circle about the divinity. For since God is
omnipresent the Soul desiring perfect union must take the circular
course: God is not stationed.
    Similarly Plato attributes to the stars not only the spheric
movement belonging to the universe as a whole but also to each a
revolution around their common centre; each- not by way of thought but
by links of natural necessity- has in its own place taken hold of
God and exults.
    3. The truth may be resumed in this way:
    There is a lowest power of the Soul, a nearest to earth, and
this is interwoven throughout the entire universe: another phase
possesses sensation, while yet another includes the Reason which is
concerned with the objects of sensation: this higher phase holds
itself to the spheres, poised towards the Above but hovering over
the lesser Soul and giving forth to it an effluence which makes it
more intensely vital.
    The lower Soul is moved by the higher which, besides encircling
and supporting it, actually resides in whatsoever part of it has
thrust upwards and attained the spheres. The lower then, ringed
round by the higher and answering its call, turns and tends towards
it; and this upward tension communicates motion to the material
frame in which it is involved: for if a single point in a spheric mass
is in any degree moved, without being drawn away from the rest, it
moves the whole, and the sphere is set in motion. Something of the
same kind happens in the case of our bodies: the unspatial movement of
the Soul- in happiness, for instance, or at the idea of some
pleasant event- sets up a spatial movement in the body: the Soul,
attaining in its own region some good which increases its sense of
life, moves towards what pleases it; and so, by force of the union
established in the order of nature, it moves the body, in the body's
region, that is in space.
    As for that phase of the Soul in which sensation is vested, it,
too, takes its good from the Supreme above itself and moves,
rejoicingly, in quest of it: and since the object of its desire is
everywhere, it too ranges always through the entire scope of the
    The Intellectual-Principle has no such progress in any region; its
movement is a stationary act, for it turns upon itself.
    And this is why the All, circling as it does, is at the same
time at rest.
                        THIRD TRACTATE.

                      ARE THE STARS CAUSES?

    1. That the circuit of the stars indicates definite events to come
but without being the cause direct of all that happens, has been
elsewhere affirmed, and proved by some modicum of argument: but the
subject demands more precise and detailed investigation for to take
the one view rather than the other is of no small moment.
    The belief is that the planets in their courses actually produce
not merely such conditions as poverty, wealth, health and sickness but
even ugliness and beauty and, gravest of all, vices and virtue and the
very acts that spring from these qualities, the definite doings of
each moment of virtue or vice. We are to suppose the stars to be
annoyed with men- and upon matters in which men, moulded to what
they are by the stars themselves, can surely do them no wrong.
    They will be distributing what pass for their good gifts, not
out of kindness towards the recipients but as they themselves are
affected pleasantly or disagreeably at the various points of their
course; so that they must be supposed to change their plans as they
stand at their zeniths or are declining.
    More absurdly still, some of them are supposed to be malicious and
others to be helpful, and yet the evil stars will bestow favours and
the benevolent act harshly: further, their action alters as they see
each other or not, so that, after all, they possess no definite nature
but vary according to their angles of aspect; a star is kindly when it
sees one of its fellows but changes at sight of another: and there
is even a distinction to be made in the seeing as it occurs in this
figure or in that. Lastly, all acting together, the fused influence is
different again from that of each single star, just as the blending of
distinct fluids gives a mixture unlike any of them.
    Since these opinions and others of the same order are prevalent,
it will be well to examine them carefully one by one, beginning with
the fundamental question:
    2. Are these planets to be thought of as soulless or unsouled?
    Suppose them, first, to be without Soul.
    In that case they can purvey only heat or cold- if cold from the
stars can be thought of- that is to say, any communication from them
will affect only our bodily nature, since all they have to communicate
to us is merely corporeal. This implies that no considerable change
can be caused in the bodies affected since emanations merely corporeal
cannot differ greatly from star to star, and must, moreover, blend
upon earth into one collective resultant: at most the differences
would be such as depend upon local position, upon nearness or
farness with regard to the centre of influence. This reasoning, of
course, is as valid of any cold emanation there may be as of the warm.
    Now, what is there in such corporeal action to account for the
various classes and kinds of men, learned and illiterate, scholars
as against orators, musicians as against people of other
professions? Can a power merely physical make rich or poor? Can it
bring about such conditions as in no sense depend upon the interaction
of corporeal elements? Could it, for example, bring a man such and
such a brother, father, son, or wife, give him a stroke of good
fortune at a particular moment, or make him generalissimo or king?
    Next, suppose the stars to have life and mind and to be
effective by deliberate purpose.
    In that case, what have they suffered from us that they should, in
free will, do us hurt, they who are established in a divine place,
themselves divine? There is nothing in their nature of what makes
men base, nor can our weal or woe bring them the slightest good or
    3. Possibly, however, they act not by choice but under stress of
their several positions and collective figures?
    But if position and figure determined their action each several
one would necessarily cause identical effects with every other on
entering any given place or pattern.
    And that raises the question what effect for good or bad can be
produced upon any one of them by its transit in the parallel of this
or that section of the Zodiac circle- for they are not in the Zodiacal
figure itself but considerably beneath it especially since, whatever
point they touch, they are always in the heavens.
    It is absurd to think that the particular grouping under which a
star passes can modify either its character or its earthward
influences. And can we imagine it altered by its own progression as it
rises, stands at centre, declines? Exultant when at centre; dejected
or enfeebled in declension; some raging as they rise and growing
benignant as they set, while declension brings out the best in one
among them; surely this cannot be?
    We must not forget that invariably every star, considered in
itself, is at centre with regard to some one given group and in
decline with regard to another and vice versa; and, very certainly, it
is not at once happy and sad, angry and kindly. There is no reasonable
escape in representing some of them as glad in their setting, others
in their rising: they would still be grieving and glad at one and
the same time.
    Further, why should any distress of theirs work harm to us?
    No: we cannot think of them as grieving at all or as being
cheerful upon occasions: they must be continuously serene, happy in
the good they enjoy and the Vision before them. Each lives its own
free life; each finds its Good in its own Act; and this Act is not
directed towards us.
    Like the birds of augury, the living beings of the heavens, having
no lot or part with us, may serve incidentally to foreshow the future,
but they have absolutely no main function in our regard.
    4. It is again not in reason that a particular star should be
gladdened by seeing this or that other while, in a second couple, such
an aspect is distressing: what enmities can affect such beings? what
causes of enmity can there be among them?
    And why should there be any difference as a given star sees
certain others from the corner of a triangle or in opposition or at
the angle of a square?
    Why, again, should it see its fellow from some one given
position and yet, in the next Zodiacal figure, not see it, though
the two are actually nearer?
    And, the cardinal question; by what conceivable process could they
affect what is attributed to them? How explain either the action of
any single star independently or, still more perplexing, the effect of
their combined intentions?
    We cannot think of them entering into compromises, each renouncing
something of its efficiency and their final action in our regard
amounting to a concerted plan.
    No one star would suppress the contribution of another, nor
would star yield to star and shape its conduct under suasion.
    As for the fancy that while one is glad when it enters another's
region, the second is vexed when in its turn it occupies the place
of the first, surely this is like starting with the supposition of two
friends and then going on to talk of one being attracted to the
other who, however, abhors the first.
    5. When they tell us that a certain cold star is more benevolent
to us in proportion as it is further away, they clearly make its
harmful influence depend upon the coldness of its nature; and yet it
ought to be beneficent to us when it is in the opposed Zodiacal
    When the cold planet, we are told, is in opposition to the cold,
both become meanacing: but the natural effect would be a compromise.
    And we are asked to believe that one of them is happy by day and
grows kindly under the warmth, while another, of a fiery nature, is
most cheerful by night- as if it were not always day to them, light to
them, and as if the first one could be darkened by night at that great
distance above the earth's shadow.
    Then there is the notion that the moon, in conjunction with a
certain star, is softened at her full but is malignant in the same
conjunction when her light has waned; yet, if anything of this order
could be admitted, the very opposite would be the case. For when she
is full to us she must be dark on the further hemisphere, that is to
that star which stands above her; and when dark to us she is full to
that other star, upon which only then, on the contrary, does she
look with her light. To the moon itself, in fact, it can make no
difference in what aspect she stands, for she is always lit on the
upper or on the under half: to the other star, the warmth from the
moon, of which they speak, might make a difference; but that warmth
would reach it precisely when the moon is without light to us; at
its darkest to us it is full to that other, and therefore
beneficent. The darkness of the moon to us is of moment to the
earth, but brings no trouble to the planet above. That planet, it is
alleged, can give no help on account of its remoteness and therefore
seems less well disposed; but the moon at its full suffices to the
lower realm so that the distance of the other is of no importance.
When the moon, though dark to us, is in aspect with the Fiery Star she
is held to be favourable: the reason alleged is that the force of Mars
is all-sufficient since it contains more fire than it needs.
    The truth is that while the material emanations from the living
beings of the heavenly system are of various degrees of warmth- planet
differing from planet in this respect- no cold comes from them: the
nature of the space in which they have their being is voucher for
    The star known as Jupiter includes a due measure of fire [and
warmth], in this resembling the Morning-star and therefore seeming
to be in alliance with it. In aspect with what is known as the Fiery
Star, Jupiter is beneficent by virtue of the mixing of influences:
in aspect with Saturn unfriendly by dint of distance. Mercury, it
would seem, is indifferent whatever stars it be in aspect with; for it
adopts any and every character.
    But all the stars are serviceable to the Universe, and therefore
can stand to each other only as the service of the Universe demands,
in a harmony like that observed in the members of any one animal form.
They exist essentially for the purpose of the Universe, just as the
gall exists for the purposes of the body as a whole not less than
for its own immediate function: it is to be the inciter of the
animal spirits but without allowing the entire organism and its own
especial region to run riot. Some such balance of function was
indispensable in the All- bitter with sweet. There must be
differentiation- eyes and so forth- but all the members will be in
sympathy with the entire animal frame to which they belong. Only so
can there be a unity and a total harmony.
    And in such a total, analogy will make every part a Sign.
    6. But that this same Mars, or Aphrodite, in certain aspects
should cause adulteries- as if they could thus, through the agency
of human incontinence, satisfy their own mutual desires- is not such a
notion the height of unreason? And who could accept the fancy that
their happiness comes from their seeing each other in this or that
relative position and not from their own settled nature?
    Again: countless myriads of living beings are born and continue to
be: to minister continuously to every separate one of these; to make
them famous, rich, poor, lascivious; to shape the active tendencies of
every single one- what kind of life is this for the stars, how could
they possibly handle a task so huge?
    They are to watch, we must suppose, the rising of each several
constellation and upon that signal to act; such a one, they see, has
risen by so many degrees, representing so many of the periods of its
upward path; they reckon on their fingers at what moment they must
take the action which, executed prematurely, would be out of order:
and in the sum, there is no One Being controlling the entire scheme;
all is made over to the stars singly, as if there were no Sovereign
Unity, standing as source of all the forms of Being in subordinate
association with it, and delegating to the separate members, in
their appropriate Kinds, the task of accomplishing its purposes and
bringing its latent potentiality into act.
    This is a separatist theory, tenable only by minds ignorant of the
nature of a Universe which has a ruling principle and a first cause
operative downwards through every member.
    7. But, if the stars announce the future- as we hold of many other
things also- what explanation of the cause have we to offer? What
explains the purposeful arrangement thus implied? Obviously, unless
the particular is included under some general principle of order,
there can be no signification.
    We may think of the stars as letters perpetually being inscribed
on the heavens or inscribed once for all and yet moving as they pursue
the other tasks allotted to them: upon these main tasks will follow
the quality of signifying, just as the one principle underlying any
living unit enables us to reason from member to member, so that for
example we may judge of character and even of perils and safeguards by
indications in the eyes or in some other part of the body. If these
parts of us are members of a whole, so are we: in different ways the
one law applies.
    All teems with symbol; the wise man is the man who in any one
thing can read another, a process familiar to all of us in not a few
examples of everyday experience.
    But what is the comprehensive principle of co-ordination?
Establish this and we have a reasonable basis for the divination,
not only by stars but also by birds and other animals, from which we
derive guidance in our varied concerns.
    All things must be enchained; and the sympathy and
correspondence obtaining in any one closely knit organism must
exist, first, and most intensely, in the All. There must be one
principle constituting this unit of many forms of life and enclosing
the several members within the unity, while at the same time,
precisely as in each thing of detail the parts too have each a
definite function, so in the All each several member must have its own
task- but more markedly so since in this case the parts are not merely
members but themselves Alls, members of the loftier Kind.
    Thus each entity takes its origin from one Principle and,
therefore, while executing its own function, works in with every other
member of that All from which its distinct task has by no means cut it
off: each performs its act, each receives something from the others,
every one at its own moment bringing its touch of sweet or bitter. And
there is nothing undesigned, nothing of chance, in all the process:
all is one scheme of differentiation, starting from the Firsts and
working itself out in a continuous progression of Kinds.
    8. Soul, then, in the same way, is intent upon a task of its
own; alike in its direct course and in its divagation it is the
cause of all by its possession of the Thought of the First
Principle: thus a Law of Justice goes with all that exists in the
Universe which, otherwise, would be dissolved, and is perdurable
because the entire fabric is guided as much by the orderliness as by
the power of the controlling force. And in this order the stars, as
being no minor members of the heavenly system, are co-operators
contributing at once to its stately beauty and to its symbolic
quality. Their symbolic power extends to the entire realm of sense,
their efficacy only to what they patently do.
    For our part, nature keeps us upon the work of the Soul as long as
we are not wrecked in the multiplicity of the Universe: once thus sunk
and held we pay the penalty, which consists both in the fall itself
and in the lower rank thus entailed upon us: riches and poverty are
caused by the combinations of external fact.
    And what of virtue and vice?
    That question has been amply discussed elsewhere: in a word,
virtue is ours by the ancient staple of the Soul; vice is due to the
commerce of a Soul with the outer world.
    9. This brings us to the Spindle-destiny, spun according to the
ancients by the Fates. To Plato the Spindle represents the
co-operation of the moving and the stable elements of the kosmic
circuit: the Fates with Necessity, Mother of the Fates, manipulate
it and spin at the birth of every being, so that all comes into
existence through Necessity.
    In the Timaeus, the creating God bestows the essential of the
Soul, but it is the divinities moving in the kosmos [the stars] that
infuse the powerful affections holding from Necessity our impulse
and our desire, our sense of pleasure and of pain- and that lower
phase of the Soul in which such experiences originate. By this
statement our personality is bound up with the stars, whence our
Soul [as total of Principle and affections] takes shape; and we are
set under necessity at our very entrance into the world: our
temperament will be of the stars' ordering, and so, therefore, the
actions which derive from temperament, and all the experiences of a
nature shaped to impressions.
    What, after all this, remains to stand for the "We"?
    The "We" is the actual resultant of a Being whose nature includes,
with certain sensibilities, the power of governing them. Cut off as we
are by the nature of the body, God has yet given us, in the midst of
all this evil, virtue the unconquerable, meaningless in a state of
tranquil safety but everything where its absence would be peril of
    Our task, then, is to work for our liberation from this sphere,
severing ourselves from all that has gathered about us; the total
man is to be something better than a body ensouled- the bodily element
dominant with a trace of Soul running through it and a resultant
life-course mainly of the body- for in such a combination all is, in
fact, bodily. There is another life, emancipated, whose quality is
progression towards the higher realm, towards the good and divine,
towards that Principle which no one possesses except by deliberate
usage but so may appropriate, becoming, each personally, the higher,
the beautiful, the Godlike, and living, remote, in and by It- unless
one choose to go bereaved of that higher Soul and therefore, to live
fate-bound, no longer profiting, merely, by the significance of the
sidereal system but becoming as it were a part sunken in it and
dragged along with the whole thus adopted.
    For every human Being is of twofold character; there is that
compromise-total and there is the Authentic Man: and it is so with the
Kosmos as a whole; it is in the one phase a conjunction of body with a
certain form of the Soul bound up in body; in the other phase it is
the Universal Soul, that which is not itself embodied but flashes down
its rays into the embodied Soul: and the same twofold quality
belongs to the Sun and the other members of the heavenly system.
    To the remoter Soul, the pure, sun and stars communicate no
baseness. In their efficacy upon the [material] All, they act as parts
of it, as ensouled bodies within it; and they act only upon what is
partial; body is the agent while, at the same time, it becomes the
vehicle through which is transmitted something of the star's will
and of that authentic Soul in it which is steadfastly in contemplation
of the Highest.
    But [with every allowance to the lower forces] all follows
either upon that Highest or rather upon the Beings about It- we may
think of the Divine as a fire whose outgoing warmth pervades the
Universe- or upon whatsoever is transmitted by the one Soul [the
divine first Soul] to the other, its Kin [the Soul of any particular
being]. All that is graceless is admixture. For the Universe is in
truth a thing of blend, and if we separate from it that separable
Soul, the residue is little. The All is a God when the divine Soul
is counted in with it; "the rest," we read, "is a mighty spirit and
its ways are subdivine."
    10. If all this be true, we must at once admit signification,
though, neither singly nor collectively, can we ascribe to the stars
any efficacy except in what concerns the [material] All and in what is
of their own function.
    We must admit that the Soul before entering into birth presents
itself bearing with it something of its own, for it could never
touch body except under stress of a powerful inner impulse; we must
admit some element of chance around it from its very entry, since
the moment and conditions are determined by the kosmic circuit: and we
must admit some effective power in that circuit itself; it is
co-operative, and completes of its own act the task that belongs to
the All of which everything in the circuit takes the rank and function
of a part.
    11. And we must remember that what comes from the supernals does
not enter into the recipients as it left the source; fire, for
instance, will be duller; the loving instinct will degenerate and
issue in ugly forms of the passion; the vital energy in a subject
not so balanced as to display the mean of manly courage, will come out
as either ferocity or faint-heartedness; and ambition... in love...;
and the instinct towards good sets up the pursuit of semblant
beauty; intellectual power at its lowest produces the extreme of
wickedness, for wickedness is a miscalculating effort towards
    Any such quality, modified at best from its supreme form,
deteriorates again within itself: things of any kind that approach
from above, altered by merely leaving their source change further
still by their blending with bodies, with Matter, with each other.
    12. All that thus proceeds from the supernal combines into a unity
and every existing entity takes something from this blended infusion
so that the result is the thing itself plus some quality. The
effluence does not make the horse but adds something to it; for
horse comes by horse, and man by man: the sun plays its part no
doubt in the shaping, but the man has his origin in the
Human-Principle. Outer things have their effect, sometimes to hurt and
sometimes to help; like a father, they often contribute to good but
sometimes also to harm; but they do not wrench the human being from
the foundations of its nature; though sometimes Matter is the
dominant, and the human principle takes the second place so that there
is a failure to achieve perfection; the Ideal has been attenuated.
    13. Of phenomena of this sphere some derive from the Kosmic
Circuit and some not: we must take them singly and mark them off,
assigning to each its origin.
    The gist of the whole matter lies in the consideration that Soul
governs this All by the plan contained in the Reason-Principle and
plays in the All exactly the part of the particular principle which in
every living-thing forms the members of the organism and adjusts
them to the unity of which they are portions; the entire force of
the Soul is represented in the All, but, in the parts, Soul is present
only in proportion to the degree of essential reality held by each
of such partial objects. Surrounding every separate entity there are
other entities, whose approach will sometimes be hostile and sometimes
helpful to the purpose of its nature; but to the All taken in its
length and breadth each and every separate existent is an adjusted
part, holding its own characteristic and yet contributing by its own
native tendency to the entire life-history of the Universe.
    The soulless parts of the All are merely instruments; all their
action is effected, so to speak, under a compulsion from outside
    The ensouled fall into two classes. The one kind has a motion of
its own, but haphazard like that of horses between the shafts but
before their driver sets the course; they are set right by the whip.
In the Living-Being possessed of Reason, the nature-principle includes
the driver; where the driver is intelligent, it takes in the main a
straight path to a set end. But both classes are members of the All
and co-operate towards the general purpose.
    The greater and most valuable among them have an important
operation over a wide range: their contribution towards the life of
the whole consists in acting, not in being acted upon; others, but
feebly equipped for action, are almost wholly passive; there is an
intermediate order whose members contain within themselves a principle
of productivity and activity and make themselves very effective in
many spheres or ways and yet serve also by their passivity.
    Thus the All stands as one all-complete Life, whose members, to
the measure in which each contains within itself the Highest, effect
all that is high and noble: and the entire scheme must be
subordinate to its Dirigeant as an army to its general, "following
upon Zeus"- it has been said- "as he proceeds towards the Intelligible
    Secondary in the All are those of its parts which possess a less
exalted nature just as in us the members rank lower than the Soul; and
so all through, there is a general analogy between the things of the
All and our own members- none of quite equal rank.
    All living things, then- all in the heavens and all elsewhere-
fall under the general Reason-Principle of the All- they have been
made parts with a view to the whole: not one of these parts, however
exalted, has power to effect any alteration of these Reason-Principles
or of things shaped by them and to them; some modification one part
may work upon another, whether for better or for worse; but there is
no power that can wrest anything outside of its distinct nature.
    The part effecting such a modification for the worse may act in
several ways.
    It may set up some weakness restricted to the material frame. Or
it may carry the weakness through to the sympathetic Soul which by the
medium of the material frame, become a power to debasement, has been
delivered over, though never in its essence, to the inferior order
of being. Or, in the case of a material frame ill-organized, it may
check all such action [of the Soul] upon the material frame as demands
a certain collaboration in the part acted upon: thus a lyre may be
so ill-strung as to be incapable of the melodic exactitude necessary
to musical effect.
    14. What of poverty and riches, glory and power?
    In the case of inherited fortune, the stars merely announce a rich
man, exactly as they announce the high social standing of the child
born to a distinguished house.
    Wealth may be due to personal activity: in this case if the body
has contributed, part of the effect is due to whatever has contributed
towards the physical powers, first the parents and then, if place
has had its influence, sky and earth; if the body has borne no part of
the burden, then the success, and all the splendid accompaniments
added by the Recompensers, must be attributed to virtue exclusively.
If fortune has come by gift from the good, then the source of the
wealth is, again, virtue: if by gift from the evil, but to a
meritorious recipient, then the credit must be given to the action
of the best in them: if the recipient is himself unprincipled, the
wealth must be attributed primarily to the very wickedness and to
whatsoever is responsible for the wickedness, while the givers bear an
equal share in the wrong.
    When the success is due to labour, tillage for example, it must be
put down to the tiller, with all his environment as contributory. In
the case of treasure-trove, something from the All has entered into
action; and if this be so, it will be foreshown- since all things make
a chain, so that we can speak of things universally. Money is lost: if
by robbery, the blame lies with the robber and the native principle
guiding him: if by shipwreck, the cause is the chain of events. As for
good fame, it is either deserved and then is due to the services
done and to the merit of those appraising them, or it is undeserved,
and then must be attributed to the injustice of those making the
award. And the same principle holds is regards power- for this also
may be rightly or unrightly placed- it depends either upon the merit
of the dispensers of place or upon the man himself who has effected
his purpose by the organization of supporters or in many other
possible ways. Marriages, similarly, are brought about either by
choice or by chance interplay of circumstance. And births are
determined by marriages: the child is moulded true to type when all
goes well; otherwise it is marred by some inner detriment, something
due to the mother personally or to an environment unfavourable to that
particular conception.
    15. According to Plato, lots and choice play a part [in the
determination of human conditions] before the Spindle of Necessity
is turned; that once done, only the Spindle-destiny is valid; it fixes
the chosen conditions irretrievably since the elected
guardian-spirit becomes accessory to their accomplishment.
    But what is the significance of the Lots?
    By the Lots we are to understand birth into the conditions
actually existent in the All at the particular moment of each entry
into body, birth into such and such a physical frame, from such and
such parents, in this or that place, and generally all that in our
phraseology is the External.
    For Particulars and Universals alike it is established that to the
first of those known as the Fates, to Clotho the Spinner, must be
due the unity and as it were interweaving of all that exists: Lachesis
presides over the Lots: to Atropos must necessarily belong the conduct
of mundane events.
    Of men, some enter into life as fragments of the All, bound to
that which is external to themselves: they are victims of a sort of
fascination, and are hardly, or not at all, themselves: but others
mastering all this- straining, so to speak, by the head towards the
Higher, to what is outside even the Soul- preserve still the
nobility and the ancient privilege of the Soul's essential being.
    For certainly we cannot think of the Soul as a thing whose
nature is just a sum of impressions from outside- as if it, alone,
of all that exists, had no native character.
    No: much more than all else, the Soul, possessing the Idea which
belongs to a Principle, must have as its native wealth many powers
serving to the activities of its Kind. It is an Essential-Existent and
with this Existence must go desire and act and the tendency towards
some good.
    While body and soul stand one combined thing, there is a joint
nature, a definite entity having definite functions and employments;
but as soon as any Soul is detached, its employments are kept apart,
its very own: it ceases to take the body's concerns to itself: it
has vision now: body and soul stand widely apart.
    16. The question arises what phase of the Soul enters into the
union for the period of embodiment and what phase remains distinct,
what is separable and what necessarily interlinked, and in general
what the Living-Being is.
    On all this there has been a conflict of teaching: the matter must
be examined later on from quite other considerations than occupy us
here. For the present let us explain in what sense we have described
the All as the expressed idea of the Governing Soul.
    One theory might be that the Soul creates the particular
entities in succession- man followed by horse and other animals
domestic or wild: fire and earth, though, first of all- that it
watches these creations acting upon each other whether to help or to
harm, observes, and no more, the tangled web formed of all these
strands, and their unfailing sequences; and that it makes no concern
of the result beyond securing the reproduction of the primal
living-beings, leaving them for the rest to act upon each other
according to their definite natures.
    Another view makes the soul answerable for all that thus comes
about, since its first creations have set up the entire enchainment.
    No doubt the Reason-Principle [conveyed by the Soul] covers all
the action and experience of this realm: nothing happens, even here,
by any form of haphazard; all follows a necessary order.
    Is everything, then, to be attributed to the act of the
    To their existence, no doubt, but not to their effective action;
they exist and they know; or better, the Soul, which contains the
engendering Reason-Principle, knows the results of all it has
brought to pass. For whensoever similar factors meet and act in
relation to each other, similar consequences must inevitably ensue:
the Soul adopting or foreplanning the given conditions accomplishes
the due outcome and links all into a total.
    All, then, is antecedent and resultant, each sequent becoming in
turn an antecedent once it has taken its place among things. And
perhaps this is a cause of progressive deterioration: men, for
instance, are not as they were of old; by dint of interval and of
the inevitable law, the Reason-Principles have ceded something to
the characteristics of the Matter.
    The Soul watches the ceaselessly changing universe and follows all
the fate of all its works: this is its life, and it knows no respite
from this care, but is ever labouring to bring about perfection,
planning to lead all to an unending state of excellence- like a
farmer, first sowing and planting and then constantly setting to
rights where rainstorms and long frosts and high gales have played
    If such a conception of Soul be rejected as untenable, we are
obliged to think that the Reason-Principles themselves foreknew or
even contained the ruin and all the consequences of flaw.
    But then we would be imputing the creation of evil to the
Reason-Principles, though the arts and their guiding principle do
not include blundering, do not cover the inartistic, the destruction
of the work of art.
    And here it will be objected that in All there is nothing contrary
to nature, nothing evil.
    Still, by the side of the better there exists also what is less
    Well, perhaps even the less good has its contributory value in the
All. Perhaps there is no need that everything be good. Contraries
may co-operate; and without opposites there could be no ordered
Universe: all living beings of the partial realm include contraries.
The better elements are compelled into existence and moulded to
their function by the Reason-Principle directly; the less good are
potentially present in the Reason-Principles, actually present in
the phenomena themselves; the Soul's power had reached its limit,
and failed to bring the Reason-Principles into complete actuality
since, amid the clash of these antecedent Principles, Matter had
already from its own stock produced the less good.
    Yet, with all this, Matter is continuously overruled towards the
better; so that out of the total of things- modified by Soul on the
one hand and by Matter on the other hand, and on neither hand as sound
as in the Reason-Principles- there is, in the end, a Unity.
    17. But these Reason-Principles, contained in the Soul, are they
    And if so, by what process does the Soul create in accordance with
these Thoughts?
    It is upon Matter that this act of the Reason is exercised; and
what acts physically is not an intellectual operation or a vision, but
a power modifying matter, not conscious of it but merely acting upon
it: the Reason-Principle, in other words, acts much like a force
producing a figure or pattern upon water- that of a circle, suppose,
where the formation of the ring is conditioned by something distinct
from that force itself.
    If this is so, the prior puissance of the Soul [that which conveys
the Reason-Principles] must act by manipulating the other Soul, that
which is united with Matter and has the generative function.
    But is this handling the result of calculation?
    Calculation implies reference. Reference, then, to something
outside or to something contained within itself? If to its own
content, there is no need of reasoning, which could not itself perform
the act of creation; creation is the operation of that phase of the
Soul which contains Ideal-Principles; for that is its stronger
puissance, its creative part.
    It creates, then, on the model of the Ideas; for, what it has
received from the Intellectual-Principle it must pass on in turn.
    In sum, then, the Intellectual-Principle gives from itself to
the Soul of the All which follows immediately upon it: this again
gives forth from itself to its next, illuminated and imprinted by
it; and that secondary Soul at once begins to create, as under
order, unhindered in some of its creations, striving in others against
the repugnance of Matter.
    It has a creative power, derived; it is stored with
Reason-Principles not the very originals: therefore it creates, but
not in full accordance with the Principles from which it has been
endowed: something enters from itself; and, plainly, this is inferior.
The issue then is something living, yes; but imperfect, hindering
its own life, something very poor and reluctant and crude, formed in a
Matter that is the fallen sediment of the Higher Order, bitter and
embittering. This is the Soul's contribution to the All.
    18. Are the evils in the Universe necessary because it is of later
origin than the Higher Sphere?
    Perhaps rather because without evil the All would be incomplete.
For most or even all forms of evil serve the Universe- much as the
poisonous snake has its use- though in most cases their function is
unknown. Vice itself has many useful sides: it brings about much
that is beautiful, in artistic creations for example, and it stirs
us to thoughtful living, not allowing us to drowse in security.
    If all this is so, then [the secret of creation is that] the
Soul of the All abides in contemplation of the Highest and Best,
ceaselessly striving towards the Intelligible Kind and towards God:
but, thus absorbing and filled full, it overflows- so to speak- and
the image it gives forth, its last utterance towards the lower, will
be the creative puissance.
    This ultimate phase, then, is the Maker, secondary to that
aspect of the Soul which is primarily saturated from the Divine
Intelligence. But the Creator above all is the Intellectual-Principle,
as giver, to the Soul that follows it, of those gifts whose traces
exist in the Third Kind.
    Rightly, therefore, is this Kosmos described as an image
continuously being imaged, the First and the Second Principles
immobile, the Third, too, immobile essentially, but, accidentally
and in Matter, having motion.
    For as long as divine Mind and Soul exist, the divine
Thought-Forms will pour forth into that phase of the Soul: as long as
there is a sun, all that streams from it will be some form of Light.
                        FOURTH TRACTATE.

                    MATTER IN ITS TWO KINDS.

    1. By common agreement of all that have arrived at the
conception of such a Kind, what is known as Matter is understood to be
a certain base, a recipient of Form-Ideas. Thus far all go the same
way. But departure begins with the attempt to establish what this
basic Kind is in itself, and how it is a recipient and of what.
    To a certain school, body-forms exclusively are the Real Beings;
existence is limited to bodies; there is one only Matter, the stuff
underlying the primal-constituents of the Universe: existence is
nothing but this Matter: everything is some modification of this;
the elements of the Universe are simply this Matter in a certain
    The school has even the audacity to foist Matter upon the divine
beings so that, finally, God himself becomes a mode of Matter- and
this though they make it corporeal, describing it as a body void of
quality, but a magnitude.
    Another school makes it incorporeal: among these, not all hold the
theory of one only Matter; some of them while they maintain the one
Matter, in which the first school believes, the foundation of bodily
forms, admit another, a prior, existing in the divine-sphere, the base
of the Ideas there and of the unembodied Beings.
    2. We are obliged, therefore, at the start, both to establish
the existence of this other Kind and to examine its nature and the
mode of its Being.
    Now if Matter must characteristically be undetermined, void of
shape, while in that sphere of the Highest there can be nothing that
lacks determination, nothing shapeless, there can be no Matter
there. Further, if all that order is simplex, there can be no need
of Matter, whose function is to join with some other element to form a
compound: it will be found of necessity in things of derived existence
and shifting nature- the signs which lead us to the notion of
Matter- but it is unnecessary to the primal.
    And again, where could it have come from? whence did it take its
being? If it is derived, it has a source: if it is eternal, then the
Primal-Principles are more numerous than we thought, the Firsts are
a meeting-ground. Lastly, if that Matter has been entered by Idea, the
union constitutes a body; and, so, there is Body in the Supreme.
    3. Now it may be observed, first of all, that we cannot hold
utterly cheap either the indeterminate, or even a Kind whose very idea
implies absence of form, provided only that it offer itself to its
Priors and [through them] to the Highest Beings. We have the
parallel of the Soul itself in its relation to the
Intellectual-Principle and the Divine Reason, taking shape by these
and led so to a nobler principle of form.
    Further, a compound in the Intellectual order is not to be
confounded with a compound in the realm of Matter; the Divine
Reasons are compounds and their Act is to produce a compound, namely
that [lower] Nature which works towards Idea. And there is not only
a difference of function; there is a still more notable difference
of source. Then, too, the Matter of the realm of process ceaselessly
changes its form: in the eternal, Matter is immutably one and the
same, so that the two are diametrically opposites. The Matter of
this realm is all things in turn, a new entity in every separate case,
so that nothing is permanent and one thing ceaselessly pushes
another out of being: Matter has no identity here. In the Intellectual
it is all things at once: and therefore has nothing to change into: it
already and ever contains all. This means that not even in its own
Sphere is the Matter there at any moment shapeless: no doubt that is
true of the Matter here as well; but shape is held by a very different
right in the two orders of Matter.
    As to whether Matter is eternal or a thing of process, this will
be clear when we are sure of its precise nature.
    4. The present existence of the Ideal-Forms has been
demonstrated elsewhere: we take up our argument from that point.
    If, then, there is more than one of such forming Ideas, there must
of necessity be some character common to all and equally some peculiar
character in each keeping them distinct.
    This peculiar characteristic, this distinguishing difference, is
the individual shape. But if shape, then there is the shaped, that
in which the difference is lodged.
    There is, therefore, a Matter accepting the shape, a permanent
    Further, admitting that there is an Intelligible Realm beyond,
of which this world is an image, then, since this world-compound is
based on Matter, there must be Matter there also.
    And how can you predicate an ordered system without thinking of
form, and how think of form apart from the notion of something in
which the form is lodged?
    No doubt that Realm is, in the strict fact, utterly without parts,
but in some sense there is part there too. And in so far as these
parts are really separate from each other, any such division and
difference can be no other than a condition of Matter, of a
something divided and differentiated: in so far as that realm,
though without parts, yet consists of a variety of entities, these
diverse entities, residing in a unity of which they are variations,
reside in a Matter; for this unity, since it is also a diversity, must
be conceived of as varied and multiform; it must have been shapeless
before it took the form in which variation occurs. For if we
abstract from the Intellectual-Principle the variety and the
particular shapes, the Reason-Principles and the Thoughts, what
precedes these was something shapeless and undetermined, nothing of
what is actually present there.
    5. It may be objected that the Intellectual-Principle possesses
its content in an eternal conjunction so that the two make a perfect
unity, and that thus there is no Matter there.
    But that argument would equally cancel the Matter present in the
bodily forms of this realm: body without shape has never existed,
always body achieved and yet always the two constituents. We
discover these two- Matter and Idea- by sheer force of our reasoning
which distinguishes continually in pursuit of the simplex, the
irreducible, working on, until it can go no further, towards the
ultimate in the subject of enquiry. And the ultimate of every
partial-thing is its Matter, which, therefore, must be all darkness
since light is a Reason-Principle. The Mind, too, as also a
Reason-Principle, sees only in each particular object the
Reason-Principle lodging there; anything lying below that it
declares to lie below the light, to be therefore a thing of
darkness, just as the eye, a thing of light, seeks light and colours
which are modes of light, and dismisses all that is below the
colours and hidden by them, as belonging to the order of the darkness,
which is the order of Matter.
    The dark element in the Intelligible, however, differs from that
in the sense-world: so therefore does the Matter- as much as the
forming-Idea presiding in each of the two realms. The Divine Matter,
though it is the object of determination has, of its own nature, a
life defined and intellectual; the Matter of this sphere while it does
accept determination is not living or intellective, but a dead thing
decorated: any shape it takes is an image, exactly as the Base is an
image. There on the contrary the shape is a real-existent as is the
Base. Those that ascribe Real Being to Matter must be admitted to be
right as long as they keep to the Matter of the Intelligible Realm:
for the Base there is Being, or even, taken as an entirety with the
higher that accompanies it, is illuminated Being.
    But does this Base, of the Intellectual Realm, possess eternal
    The solution of that question is the same as for the Ideas.
    Both are engendered, in the sense that they have had a
beginning, but unengendered in that this beginning is not in Time:
they have a derived being but by an eternal derivation: they are
not, like the Kosmos, always in process but, in the character of the
Supernal, have their Being permanently. For that differentiation
within the Intelligible which produces Matter has always existed and
it is this cleavage which produces the Matter there: it is the first
movement; and movement and differentiation are convertible terms since
the two things arose as one: this motion, this cleavage, away from the
first is indetermination [= Matter], needing The First to its
determination which it achieves by its Return, remaining, until
then, an Alienism, still lacking good; unlit by the Supernal. It is
from the Divine that all light comes, and, until this be absorbed,
no light in any recipient of light can be authentic; any light from
elsewhere is of another order than the true.
    6. We are led thus to the question of receptivity in things of
    An additional proof that bodies must have some substratum
different from themselves is found in the changing of the
basic-constituents into one another. Notice that the destruction of
the elements passing over is not complete- if it were we would have
a Principle of Being wrecked in Non-being- nor does an engendered
thing pass from utter non-being into Being: what happens is that a new
form takes the place of an old. There is, then, a stable element, that
which puts off one form to receive the form of the incoming entity.
    The same fact is clearly established by decay, a process
implying a compound object; where there is decay there is a
distinction between Matter and Form.
    And the reasoning which shows the destructible to be a compound is
borne out by practical examples of reduction: a drinking vessel is
reduced to its gold, the gold to liquid; analogy forces us to
believe that the liquid too is reducible.
    The basic-constituents of things must be either their Form-Idea or
that Primal Matter [of the Intelligible] or a compound of the Form and
    Form-Idea, pure and simple, they cannot be: for without Matter how
could things stand in their mass and magnitude?
    Neither can they be that Primal Matter, for they are not
    They must, therefore, consist of Matter and Form-Idea- Form for
quality and shape, Matter for the base, indeterminate as being other
than Idea.
    7. Empedokles in identifying his "elements" with Matter is refuted
by their decay.
    Anaxagoras, in identifying his "primal-combination" with Matter-
to which he allots no mere aptness to any and every nature or
quality but the effective possession of all- withdraws in this way the
very Intellectual-Principle he had introduced; for this Mind is not to
him the bestower of shape, of Forming Idea; and it is co-aeval with
Matter, not its prior. But this simultaneous existence is
impossible: for if the combination derives Being by participation,
Being is the prior; if both are Authentic Existents, then an
additional Principle, a third, is imperative [a ground of
unification]. And if this Creator, Mind, must pre-exist, why need
Matter contain the Forming-Ideas parcel-wise for the Mind, with
unending labour, to assort and allot? Surely the undetermined could be
brought to quality and pattern in the one comprehensive act?
    As for the notion that all is in all, this clearly is impossible.
    Those who make the base to be "the infinite" must define the term.
    If this "infinite" means "of endless extension" there is no
infinite among beings; there is neither an infinity-in-itself
[Infinity Abstract] nor an infinity as an attribute to some body;
for in the first case every part of that infinity would be infinite
and in the second an object in which the infinity was present as an
attribute could not be infinite apart from that attribute, could not
be simplex, could not therefore be Matter.
    Atoms again cannot meet the need of a base.
    There are no atoms; all body is divisible endlessly: besides
neither the continuity nor the ductility of corporeal things is
explicable apart from Mind, or apart from the Soul which cannot be
made up of atoms; and, again, out of atoms creation could produce
nothing but atoms: a creative power could produce nothing from a
material devoid of continuity. Any number of reasons might be brought,
and have been brought, against this hypothesis and it need detain us
no longer.
    8. What, then, is this Kind, this Matter, described as one
stuff, continuous and without quality?
    Clearly since it is without quality it is incorporeal;
bodiliness would be quality.
    It must be the basic stuff of all the entities of the
sense-world and not merely base to some while being to others achieved
    Clay, for example, is matter to the potter but is not Matter
pure and simple. Nothing of this sort is our object: we are seeking
the stuff which underlies all alike. We must therefore refuse to it
all that we find in things of sense- not merely such attributes as
colour, heat or cold, but weight or weightlessness, thickness or
thinness, shape and therefore magnitude; though notice that to be
present within magnitude and shape is very different from possessing
these qualities.
    It cannot be a compound, it must be a simplex, one distinct
thing in its nature; only so can it be void of all quality. The
Principle which gives it form gives this as something alien: so with
magnitude and all really-existent things bestowed upon it. If, for
example, it possessed a magnitude of its own, the Principle giving
it form would be at the mercy of that magnitude and must produce not
at will, but only within the limit of the Matter's capacity: to
imagine that Will keeping step with its material is fantastic.
    The Matter must be of later origin than the forming-power, and
therefore must be at its disposition throughout, ready to become
anything, ready therefore to any bulk; besides, if it possessed
magnitude, it would necessarily possess shape also: it would be doubly
    No: all that ever appears upon it is brought in by the Idea: the
Idea alone possesses: to it belongs the magnitude and all else that
goes with the Reason-Principle or follows upon it. Quantity is given
with the Ideal-Form in all the particular species- man, bird, and
particular kind of bird.
    The imaging of Quantity upon Matter by an outside power is not
more surprising than the imaging of Quality; Quality is no doubt a
Reason-Principle, but Quantity also- being measure, number- is equally
    9. But how can we conceive a thing having existence without having
    We have only to think of things whose identity does not depend
on their quantity- for certainly magnitude can be distinguished from
existence as can many other forms and attributes.
    In a word, every unembodied Kind must be classed as without
quantity, and Matter is unembodied.
    Besides quantitativeness itself [the Absolute-Principle] does
not possess quantity, which belongs only to things participating in
it, a consideration which shows that Quantitativeness is an
Idea-Principle. A white object becomes white by the presence of
whiteness; what makes an organism white or of any other variety of
colour is not itself a specific colour but, so to speak, a specific
Reason-Principle: in the same way what gives an organism a certain
bulk is not itself a thing of magnitude but is Magnitude itself, the
abstract Absolute, or the Reason-Principle.
    This Magnitude-Absolute, then, enters and beats the Matter out
into Magnitude?
    Not at all: the Matter was not previously shrunken small: there
was no littleness or bigness: the Idea gives Magnitude exactly as it
gives every quality not previously present.
    10. But how can I form the conception of the sizelessness of
    How do you form the concept of any absence of quality? What is the
Act of the Intellect, what is the mental approach, in such a case?
    The secret is Indetermination.
    Likeness knows its like: the indeterminate knows the
indeterminate. Around this indefinite a definite conception will be
realized, but the way lies through indefiniteness.
    All knowledge comes by Reason and the Intellectual Act; in this
case Reason conveys information in any account it gives, but the act
which aims at being intellectual is, here, not intellection but rather
its failure: therefore the representation of Matter must be
spurious, unreal, something sprung of the Alien, of the unreal, and
bound up with the alien reason.
    This is Plato's meaning where he says that Matter is apprehended
by a sort of spurious reasoning.
    What, then, is this indetermination in the Soul? Does it amount to
an utter absence of Knowledge, as if the Soul or Mind had withdrawn?
    No: the indeterminate has some footing in the sphere of
affirmation. The eye is aware of darkness as a base capable of
receiving any colour not yet seen against it: so the Mind, putting
aside all attributes perceptible to sense- all that corresponds to
light- comes upon a residuum which it cannot bring under
determination: it is thus in the state of the eye which, when directed
towards darkness, has become in some way identical with the object
of its spurious vision.
    There is vision, then, in this approach of the Mind towards
    Some vision, yes; of shapelessness, of colourlessness, of the
unlit, and therefore of the sizeless. More than this would mean that
the Soul is already bestowing Form.
    But is not such a void precisely what the Soul experiences when it
has no intellection whatever?
    No: in that case it affirms nothing, or rather has no
experience: but in knowing Matter, it has an experience, what may be
described as the impact of the shapeless; for in its very
consciousness of objects that have taken shape and size it knows
them as compounds [i.e., as possessing with these forms a formless
base] for they appear as things that have accepted colour and other
    It knows, therefore, a whole which includes two components; it has
a clear Knowledge or perception of the overlie [the Ideas] but only
a dim awareness of the underlie, the shapeless which is not an
    With what is perceptible to it there is presented something
else: what it can directly apprehend it sets on one side as its own;
but the something else which Reason rejects, this, the dim, it knows
dimly, this, the dark, it knows darkly, this it knows in a sort of
    And just as even Matter itself is not stably shapeless but, in
things, is always shaped, the Soul also is eager to throw over it
the thing-form; for the Soul recoils from the indefinite, dreads,
almost, to be outside of reality, does not endure to linger about
    11. "But, given Magnitude and the properties we know, what else
can be necessary to the existence of body?"
    Some base to be the container of all the rest.
    "A certain mass then; and if mass, then Magnitude? Obviously if
your Base has no Magnitude it offers no footing to any entrant. And
suppose it sizeless; then, what end does it serve? It never helped
Idea or quality; now it ceases to account for differentiation or for
magnitude, though the last, wheresoever it resides, seems to find
its way into embodied entities by way of Matter."
    "Or, taking a larger view, observe that actions, productive
operations, periods of time, movements, none of these have any such
substratum and yet are real things; in the same way the most
elementary body has no need of Matter; things may be, all, what they
are, each after its own kind, in their great variety, deriving the
coherence of their being from the blending of the various Ideal-Forms.
This Matter with its sizelessness seems, then, to be a name without
a content."
    Now, to begin with: extension is not an imperative condition of
being a recipient; it is necessary only where it happens to be a
property inherent to the recipient's peculiar mode of being. The Soul,
for example, contains all things but holds them all in an unextended
unity; if magnitude were one of its attributes it would contain things
in extension. Matter does actually contain in spatial extension what
it takes in; but this is because itself is a potential recipient of
spatial extension: animals and plants, in the same way, as they
increase in size, take quality in parallel development with
quantity, and they lose in the one as the other lessens.
    No doubt in the case of things as we know them there is a
certain mass lying ready beforehand to the shaping power: but that
is no reason for expecting bulk in Matter strictly so called; for in
such cases Matter is not the absolute; it is that of some definite
object; the Absolute Matter must take its magnitude, as every other
property, from outside itself.
    A thing then need not have magnitude in order to receive form:
it may receive mass with everything else that comes to it at the
moment of becoming what it is to be: a phantasm of mass is enough, a
primary aptness for extension, a magnitude of no content- whence the
identification that has been made of Matter with The Void.
    But I prefer to use the word phantasm as hinting the
indefiniteness into which the Soul spills itself when it seeks to
communicate with Matter, finding no possibility of delimiting it,
neither encompassing it nor able to penetrate to any fixed point of
it, either of which achievements would be an act of delimitation.
    In other words, we have something which is to be described not
as small or great but as the great-and-small: for it is at once a mass
and a thing without magnitude, in the sense that it is the Matter on
which Mass is based and that, as it changes from great to small and
small to great, it traverses magnitude. Its very undeterminateness
is a mass in the same sense that of being a recipient of Magnitude-
though of course only in the visible object.
    In the order of things without Mass, all that is Ideal-Principle
possesses delimitation, each entity for itself, so that the conception
of Mass has no place in them: Matter, not delimited, having in its own
nature no stability, swept into any or every form by turns, ready to
go here, there and everywhere, becomes a thing of multiplicity: driven
into all shapes, becoming all things, it has that much of the
character of mass.
    12. It is the corporeal, then, that demands magnitude: the
Ideal-Forms of body are Ideas installed in Mass.
    But these Ideas enter, not into Magnitude itself but into some
subject that has been brought to Magnitude. For to suppose them
entering into Magnitude and not into Matter- is to represent them as
being either without Magnitude and without Real-Existence [and
therefore undistinguishable from the Matter] or not Ideal-Forms [apt
to body] but Reason-Principles [utterly removed] whose sphere could
only be Soul; at this, there would be no such thing as body [i.e.,
instead of Ideal-Forms shaping Matter and so producing body, there
would be merely Reason-Principles dwelling remote in Soul.]
    The multiplicity here must be based upon some unity which, since
it has been brought to Magnitude, must be, itself, distinct from
Magnitude. Matter is the base of Identity to all that is composite:
once each of the constituents comes bringing its own Matter with it,
there is no need of any other base. No doubt there must be a
container, as it were a place, to receive what is to enter, but Matter
and even body precede place and space; the primal necessity, in
order to the existence of body, is Matter.
    There is no force in the suggestion that, since production and act
are immaterial, corporeal entities also must be immaterial.
    Bodies are compound, actions not. Further, Matter does in some
sense underlie action; it supplies the substratum to the doer: it is
permanently within him though it does not enter as a constituent
into the act where, indeed, it would be a hindrance. Doubtless, one
act does not change into another- as would be the case if there were a
specific Matter of actions- but the doer directs himself from one
act to another so that he is the Matter, himself, to his varying
    Matter, in sum, is necessary to quality and to quantity, and,
therefore, to body.
    It is, thus, no name void of content; we know there is such a
base, invisible and without bulk though it be.
    If we reject it, we must by the same reasoning reject qualities
and mass: for quality, or mass, or any such entity, taken by itself
apart, might be said not to exist. But these do exist, though in an
obscure existence: there is much less ground for rejecting Matter,
however it lurk, discerned by none of the senses.
    It eludes the eye, for it is utterly outside of colour: it is
not heard, for it is no sound: it is no flavour or savour for nostrils
or palate: can it, perhaps, be known to touch? No: for neither is it
corporeal; and touch deals with body, which is known by being solid,
fragile, soft, hard, moist, dry- all properties utterly lacking in
    It is grasped only by a mental process, though that not an act
of the intellective mind but a reasoning that finds no subject; and so
it stands revealed as the spurious thing it has been called. No
bodiliness belongs to it; bodiliness is itself a phase of
Reason-Principle and so is something different from Matter, as Matter,
therefore, from it: bodiliness already operative and so to speak
made concrete would be body manifest and not Matter unelaborated.
    13. Are we asked to accept as the substratum some attribute or
quality present to all the elements in common?
    Then, first, we must be told what precise attribute this is and,
next, how an attribute can be a substratum.
    The elements are sizeless, and how conceive an attribute where
there is neither base nor bulk?
    Again, if the quality possesses determination, it is not Matter
the undetermined; and anything without determination is not a
quality but is the substratum- the very Matter we are seeking.
    It may be suggested that perhaps this absence of quality means
simply that, of its own nature, it has no participation in any of
the set and familiar properties, but takes quality by this very
non-participation, holding thus an absolutely individual character,
marked off from everything else, being as it were the negation of
those others. Deprivation, we will be told, comports quality: a
blind man has the quality of his lack of sight. If then- it will be
urged- Matter exhibits such a negation, surely it has a quality, all
the more so, assuming any deprivation to be a quality, in that here
the deprivation is all comprehensive.
    But this notion reduces all existence to qualified things or
qualities: Quantity itself becomes a Quality and so does even
Existence. Now this cannot be: if such things as Quantity and
Existence are qualified, they are, by that very fact, not qualities:
Quality is an addition to them; we must not commit the absurdity of
giving the name Quality to something distinguishable from Quality,
something therefore that is not Quality.
    Is it suggested that its mere Alienism is a quality in Matter?
    If this Alienism is difference-absolute [the abstract entity] it
possesses no Quality: absolute Quality cannot be itself a qualified
    If the Alienism is to be understood as meaning only that Matter is
differentiated, then it is different not by itself [since it is
certainly not an absolute] but by this Difference, just as all
identical objects are so by virtue of Identicalness [the Absolute
principle of Identity].
    An absence is neither a Quality nor a qualified entity; it is
the negation of a Quality or of something else, as noiselessness is
the negation of noise and so on. A lack is negative; Quality demands
something positive. The distinctive character of Matter is unshape,
the lack of qualification and of form; surely then it is absurd to
pretend that it has Quality in not being qualified; that is like
saying that sizelessness constitutes a certain size.
    The distinctive character of Matter, then, is simply its manner of
being- not something definite inserted in it but, rather a relation
towards other things, the relation of being distinct from them.
    Other things possess something besides this relation of
Alienism: their form makes each an entity. Matter may with propriety
be described as merely alien; perhaps, even, we might describe it as
"The Aliens," for the singular suggests a certain definiteness while
the plural would indicate the absence of any determination.
    14. But is Absence this privation itself, or something in which
this Privation is lodged?
    Anyone maintaining that Matter and Privation are one and the
same in substratum but stand separable in reason cannot be excused
from assigning to each the precise principle which distinguishes it in
reason from the other: that which defines Matter must be kept quite
apart from that defining the Privation and vice versa.
    There are three possibilities: Matter is not in Privation and
Privation is not in Matter; or each is in each; or each is in itself
    Now if they should stand quite apart, neither calling for the
other, they are two distinct things: Matter is something other than
Privation even though Privation always goes with it: into the
principle of the one, the other cannot enter even potentially.
    If their relation to each other is that of a snubnose to snubness,
here also there is a double concept; we have two things.
    If they stand to each other as fire to heat- heat in fire, but
fire not included in the concept of heat- if Matter is Privation in
the way in which fire is heat, then the Privation is a form under
which Matter appears but there remains a base distinct from the
Privation and this base must be the Matter. Here, too, they are not
one thing.
    Perhaps the identity in substance with differentiation in reason
will be defended on the ground that Privation does not point to
something present but precisely to an absence, to something absent, to
the negation or lack of Real-being: the case would be like that of the
affirmation of non-existence, where there is no real predication but
simply a denial.
    Is, then, this Privation simply a non-existence?
    If a non-existence in the sense that it is not a thing of
Real-being, but belongs to some other Kind of existent, we have
still two Principles, one referring directly to the substratum, the
other merely exhibiting the relation of the Privation to other things.
    Or we might say that the one concept defines the relation of
substratum to what is not substratum, while that of Privation, in
bringing out the indeterminateness of Matter, applies to the Matter in
itself: but this still makes Privation and Matter two in reason though
one in substratum.
    Now if Matter possesses an identity- though only the identity of
being indeterminate, unfixed and without quality- how can we bring
it so under two principles?
    15. The further question, therefore, is raised whether
boundlessness and indetermination are things lodging in something
other than themselves as a sort of attribute and whether Privation [or
Negation of quality] is also an attribute residing in some separate
    Now all that is Number and Reason-Principle is outside of
boundlessness: these bestow bound and settlement and order in
general upon all else: neither anything that has been brought under
order nor any Order-Absolute is needed to bring them under order.
The thing that has to be brought under order [e.g., Matter] is other
than the Ordering Principle which is Limit and Definiteness and
Reason-Principle. Therefore, necessarily, the thing to be brought
under order and to definiteness must be in itself a thing lacking
    Now Matter is a thing that is brought under order- like all that
shares its nature by participation or by possessing the same
principle- therefore, necessarily, Matter is The Undelimited and not
merely the recipient of a nonessential quality of Indefiniteness
entering as an attribute.
    For, first, any attribute to any subject must be a
Reason-Principle; and Indefiniteness is not a Reason-Principle.
    Secondly, what must a thing be to take Indefiniteness as an
attribute? Obviously it must, beforehand, be either Definiteness or
a defined thing. But Matter is neither.
    Then again Indefiniteness entering as an attribute into the
definite must cease to be indefinite: but Indefiniteness has not
entered as an attribute into Matter: that is, Matter is essentially
    The Matter even of the Intellectual Realm is the Indefinite,
[the undelimited]; it must be a thing generated by the undefined
nature, the illimitable nature, of the Eternal Being, The One
illimitableness, however, not possessing native existence There but
engendered by The One.
    But how can Matter be common to both spheres, be here and be
    Because even Indefiniteness has two phases.
    But what difference can there be between phase and phase of
    The difference of archetype and image.
    So that Matter here [as only an image of Indefiniteness] would
be less indefinite?
    On the contrary, more indefinite as an Image-thing remote from
true being. Indefiniteness is the greater in the less ordered
object; the less deep in good, the deeper in evil. The Indeterminate
in the Intellectual Realm, where there is truer being, might almost be
called merely an Image of Indefiniteness: in this lower Sphere where
there is less Being, where there is a refusal of the Authentic, and an
adoption of the Image-Kind, Indefiniteness is more authentically
    But this argument seems to make no difference between the
indefinite object and Indefiniteness-essential. Is there none?
    In any object in which Reason and Matter co-exist we distinguish
between Indeterminateness and the Indeterminate subject: but where
Matter stands alone we make them identical, or, better, we would say
right out that in that case essential Indeterminateness is not
present; for it is a Reason-Principle and could not lodge in the
indeterminate object without at once annulling the indeterminateness.
    Matter, then, must be described as Indefinite of itself, by its
natural opposition to Reason-Principle. Reason is Reason and nothing
else; just so Matter, opposed by its indeterminateness to Reason, is
Indeterminateness and nothing else.
    16. Then Matter is simply Alienism [the Principle of Difference]?
    No: it is merely that part of Alienism which stands in
contradiction with the Authentic Existents which are
Reason-Principles. So understood, this non-existent has a certain
measure of existence; for it is identical with Privation, which also
is a thing standing in opposition to the things that exist in Reason.
    But must not Privation cease to have existence, when what has been
lacking is present at last?
    By no means: the recipient of a state or character is not a
state but the Privation of the state; and that into which
determination enters is neither a determined object nor
determination itself, but simply the wholly or partly undetermined.
    Still, must not the nature of this Undetermined be annulled by the
entry of Determination, especially where this is no mere attribute?
    No doubt to introduce quantitative determination into an
undetermined object would annul the original state; but in the
particular case, the introduction of determination only confirms the
original state, bringing it into actuality, into full effect, as
sowing brings out the natural quality of land or as a female
organism impregnated by the male is not defeminized but becomes more
decidedly of its sex; the thing becomes more emphatically itself.
    But on this reasoning must not Matter owe its evil to having in
some degree participated in good?
    No: its evil is in its first lack: it was not a possessor (of some
specific character).
    To lack one thing and to possess another, in something like
equal proportions, is to hold a middle state of good and evil: but
whatsoever possesses nothing and so is in destitution- and
especially what is essentially destitution- must be evil in its own
    For in Matter we have no mere absence of means or of strength;
it is utter destitution- of sense, of virtue, of beauty, of pattern,
of Ideal principle, of quality. This is surely ugliness, utter
disgracefulness, unredeemed evil.
    The Matter in the Intellectual Realm is an Existent, for there
is nothing previous to it except the Beyond-Existence; but what
precedes the Matter of this sphere is Existence; by its alienism in
regard to the beauty and good of Existence, Matter is therefore a
                        FIFTH TRACTATE.


    1. A distinction is made between things existing actually and
things existing potentially; a certain Actuality, also, is spoken of
as a really existent entity. We must consider what content there is in
these terms.
    Can we distinguish between Actuality [an absolute, abstract
Principle] and the state of being-in-act? And if there is such an
Actuality, is this itself in Act, or are the two quite distinct so
that this actually existent thing need not be, itself, an Act?
    It is indubitable that Potentiality exists in the Realm of
Sense: but does the Intellectual Realm similarly include the potential
or only the actual? and if the potential exists there, does it
remain merely potential for ever? And, if so, is this resistance to
actualization due to its being precluded [as a member of the Divine or
Intellectual world] from time-processes?
    First we must make clear what potentiality is.
    We cannot think of potentiality as standing by itself; there can
be no potentiality apart from something which a given thing may be
or become. Thus bronze is the potentiality of a statue: but if nothing
could be made out of the bronze, nothing wrought upon it, if it
could never be anything as a future to what it has been, if it
rejected all change, it would be bronze and nothing else: its own
character it holds already as a present thing, and that would be the
full of its capacity: it would be destitute of potentiality.
Whatsoever has a potentiality must first have a character of its
own; and its potentiality will consist in its having a reach beyond
that character to some other.
    Sometimes after it has turned its potentiality into actuality it
will remain what it was; sometimes it will sink itself to the
fullest extent in the new form and itself disappear: these two
different modes are exemplified in (1) bronze as potentially a
statue and (2) water [= primal-liquid] as potentially bronze or,
again, air as potentially fire.
    But if this be the significance of potentiality, may we describe
it as a Power towards the thing that is to be? Is the Bronze a power
towards a statue?
    Not in the sense of an effectively productive force: such a
power could not be called a potentiality. Of course Potentiality may
be a power, as, for instance, when we are referring not merely to a
thing which may be brought into actualization but to Actuality
itself [the Principle or Abstract in which potentiality and the
power of realizing potentiality may be thought of as identical]: but
it is better, as more conducive to clarity, to use "Potentiality" in
regard to the process of Actualization and "Power" in regard to the
Principle, Actuality.
    Potentiality may be thought of as a Substratum to states and
shapes- and forms which are to be received, which it welcomes by its
nature and even strives for- sometimes in gain but sometimes, also, to
loss, to the annulling of some distinctive manner of Being already
actually achieved.
    2. Then the question rises whether Matter- potentially what it
becomes by receiving shape- is actually something else or whether it
has no actuality at all. In general terms: When a potentiality has
taken a definite form, does it retain its being? Is the
potentiality, itself, in actualization? The alternative is that,
when we speak of the "Actual Statue" and of the "Potential Statue,"
the Actuality is not predicated of the same subject as the
"Potentiality." If we have really two different subjects, then the
potential does not really become the actual: all that happens is
that an actual entity takes the place of a potential.
    The actualized entity is not the Matter [the Potentiality, merely]
but a combination, including the Form-Idea upon the Matter.
    This is certainly the case when a quite different thing results
from the actualization-statue, for example, the combination, is
distinctly different from the bronze, the base; where the resultant is
something quite new, the Potentiality has clearly not, itself,
become what is now actualized. But take the case where a person with a
capacity for education becomes in fact educated: is not
potentiality, here, identical with actualization? Is not the
potentially wise Socrates the same man as the Socrates actually wise?
    But is an ignorant man a being of knowledge because he is so
potentially? Is he, in virtue of his non-essential ignorance,
potentially an instructed being?
    It is not because of his accidental ignorance that he is a being
of Knowledge: it is because, ignorant though he be by accident, his
mind, apt to knowledge, is the potentiality through which he may
become so. Thus, in the case of the potentially instructed who have
become so in fact, the potentiality is taken up into the actual; or,
if we prefer to put it so, there is on the one side the potentiality
while, on the other, there is the power in actual possession of the
    If, then, the Potentiality is the Substratum while the thing in
actualization- the Statue for example a combination, how are we to
describe the form that has entered the bronze?
    There will be nothing unsound in describing this shape, this
Form which has brought the entity from potentiality to actuality, as
the actualization; but of course as the actualization of the
definite particular entity, not as Actuality the abstract: we must not
confuse it with the other actualization, strictly so called, that
which is contrasted with the power producing actualization. The
potential is led out into realization by something other than
itself; power accomplishes, of itself, what is within its scope, but
by virtue of Actuality [the abstract]: the relation is that existing
between a temperament and its expression in act, between courage and
courageous conduct. So far so good:
    3. We come now to the purpose of all this discussion; to make
clear in what sense or to what degree Actualization is predicable in
the Intellectual Realm and whether all is in Actualization there, each
and every member of that realm being an Act, or whether Potentiality
also has place there.
    Now: if there is no Matter there to harbour potentiality: if
nothing there has any future apart from its actual mode: if nothing
there generates, whether by changes or in the permanence of its
identity; if nothing goes outside of itself to give being to what is
other than itself; then, potentiality has no place there: the Beings
there possess actuality as belonging to eternity, not to time.
    Those, however, who assert Matter in the Intellectual Realm will
be asked whether the existence of that Matter does not imply the
potential there too; for even if Matter there exists in another mode
than here, every Being there will have its Matter, its form and the
union of the two [and therefore the potential, separable from the
actual]. What answer is to be made?
    Simply, that even the Matter there is Idea, just as the Soul, an
Idea, is Matter to another [a higher] Being.
    But relatively to that higher, the Soul is a potentiality?
    No: for the Idea [to which it is Matter] is integral to the Soul
and does not look to a future; the distinction between the Soul and
its Idea is purely mental: the Idea and the Matter it includes are
conceived as a conjunction but are essentially one Kind: remember that
Aristotle makes his Fifth Body immaterial.
    But surely Potentiality exists in the Soul? Surely the Soul is
potentially the living-being of this world before it has become so? Is
it not potentially musical, and everything else that it has not been
and becomes? Does not this imply potentiality even in the Intellectual
    No: the Soul is not potentially these things; it is a Power
towards them.
    But after what mode does Actualization exist in the Intellectual
    Is it the Actualization of a statue, where the combination is
realized because the Form-Idea has mastered each separate
constituent of the total?
    No: it is that every constituent there is a Form-Idea and, thus,
is perfect in its Being.
    There is in the Intellectual Principle no progression from some
power capable of intellection to the Actuality of intellection: such a
progression would send us in search of a Prior Principle not
progressing from Power to Act; there all stands ever realized.
Potentiality requires an intervention from outside itself to bring
it to the actualization which otherwise cannot be; but what possesses,
of itself, identity unchangeable for ever is an actualization: all the
Firsts then are actualizations, simply because eternally and of
themselves they possess all that is necessary to their completion.
    This applies equally to the Soul, not to that in Matter but to
that in the Intellectual Sphere; and even that in Matter, the Soul
of Growth, is an actualization in its difference; it possesses
actually [and not, like material things, merely in image] the Being
that belongs to it.
    Then, everything, in the intellectual is in actualization and so
all There is Actuality?
    Why not? If that Nature is rightly said to be "Sleepless," and
to be Life and the noblest mode of Life, the noblest Activities must
be there; all then is actualization there, everything is an Actuality,
for everything is a Life, and all Place there is the Place of Life, in
the true sense the ground and spring of Soul and of the Intellectual
    4. Now, in general anything that has a potentiality is actually
something else, and this potentiality of the future mode of being is
an existing mode.
    But what we think of as Matter, what we assert to be the
potentiality of all things, cannot be said to be actually any one
being among beings: if it were of itself any definite being, it
could not be potentially all.
    If, then, it is not among existences, it must necessarily be
without existence.
    How, therefore, can it be actually anything?
    The answer is that while Matter can not be any of the things which
are founded upon it, it may quite well be something else, admitting
that all existences are not rooted in Matter.
    But once more, if it is excluded from the entities founded upon it
and all these are Beings, it must itself be a Non-Being.
    It is, further, by definition, formless and therefore not an Idea:
it cannot then be classed among things of the Intellectual Realm,
and so is, once more, a Non-Being. Falling, as regards both worlds,
under Non-Being, it is all the more decidedly the Non-Being.
    It has eluded the Nature of the Authentic Existences; it has
even failed to come up with the things to which a spurious existence
can be attributed- for it is not even a phantasm of Reason as these
are- how is it possible to include it under any mode of Being?
    And if it falls under no mode of Being, what can it actually be?
    5. How can we talk of it? How can it be the Matter of real things?
    It is talked of, and it serves, precisely, as a Potentiality.
    And, as being a Potentiality, it is not of the order of the
thing it is to become: its existence is no more than an announcement
of a future, as it were a thrust forward to what is to come into
    As Potentiality then, it is not any definite thing but the
potentiality of everything: being nothing in itself- beyond what being
Matter amounts to- it is not in actualization. For if it were actually
something, that actualized something would not be Matter, or at
least not Matter out and out, but merely Matter in the limited sense
in which bronze is the matter of the statue.
    And its Non-Being must be no mere difference from Being.
    Motion, for example, is different from Being, but plays about
it, springing from it and living within it: Matter is, so to speak,
the outcast of Being, it is utterly removed, irredeemably what it
was from the beginning: in origin it was Non-Being and so it remains.
    Nor are we to imagine that, standing away at the very beginning
from the universal circle of Beings, it was thus necessarily an active
Something or that it became a Something. It has never been able to
annex for itself even a visible outline from all the forms under which
it has sought to creep: it has always pursued something other than
itself; it was never more than a Potentiality towards its next:
where all the circle of Being ends, there only is it manifest;
discerned underneath things produced after it, it is remoter [from
Real-Being] even than they.
    Grasped, then, as an underlie in each order of Being, it can be no
actualization of either: all that is allowed to it is to be a
Potentiality, a weak and blurred phantasm, a thing incapable of a
Shape of its own.
    Its actuality is that of being a phantasm, the actuality of
being a falsity; and the false in actualization is the veritably
false, which again is Authentic Non-Existence.
    So that Matter, as the Actualization of Non-Being, is all the more
decidedly Non-Being, is Authentic Non-Existence.
    Thus, since the very reality of its Nature is situated in
Non-Being, it is in no degree the Actualization of any definite Being.
    If it is to be present at all, it cannot be an Actualization,
for then it would not be the stray from Authentic Being which it is,
the thing having its Being in Non-Beingness: for, note, in the case of
things whose Being is a falsity, to take away the falsity is to take
away what Being they have, and if we introduce actualization into
things whose Being and Essence is Potentiality, we destroy the
foundation of their nature since their Being is Potentiality.
    If Matter is to be kept as the unchanging substratum, we must keep
it as Matter: that means- does it not?- that we must define it as a
Potentiality and nothing more- or refute these considerations.
                        SIXTH TRACTATE.

                      QUALITY AND FORM-IDEA.

    1. Are not Being and Reality (to on and he ousia) distinct;
must we not envisage Being as the substance stripped of all else,
while Reality is this same thing, Being, accompanied by the others-
Movement, Rest, Identity, Difference- so that these are the specific
constituents of Reality?
    The universal fabric, then, is Reality in which Being, Movement,
and so on are separate constituents.
    Now Movement has Being as an accident and therefore should have
Reality as an accident; or is it something serving to the completion
of Reality?
    No: Movement is a Reality; everything in the Supreme is a Reality.
    Why, then, does not Reality reside, equally, in this sphere?
    In the Supreme there is Reality because all things are one; ours
is the sphere of images whose separation produces grades of
difference. Thus in the spermatic unity all the human members are
present undistinguishably; there is no separation of head and hand:
their distinct existence begins in the life here, whose content is
image, not Authentic Existence.
    And are the distinct Qualities in the Authentic Realm to be
explained in the same way? Are they differing Realities centred in one
Reality or gathered round Being- differences which constitute
Realities distinct from each other within the common fact of Reality?
    This is sound enough; but it does not apply to all the qualities
of this sphere, some of which, no doubt, are differentiations of
Reality- such as the quality of two-footedness or four-footedness- but
others are not such differentiations of Reality and, because they
are not so, must be called qualities and nothing more.
    On the other hand, one and the same thing may be sometimes a
differentiation of Reality and sometimes not- a differentiation when
it is a constitutive element, and no differentiation in some other
thing, where it is not a constitutive element but an accidental. The
distinction may be seen in the [constitutive] whiteness of a swan or
of ceruse and the whiteness which in a man is an accidental.
    Where whiteness belongs to the very Reason-Form of the thing it is
a constitutive element and not a quality; where it is a superficial
appearance it is a quality.
    In other words, qualification may be distinguished. We may think
of a qualification that is of the very substance of the thing,
something exclusively belonging to it. And there is a qualifying
that is nothing more, [not constituting but simply] giving some
particular character to the real thing; in this second case the
qualification does not produce any alteration towards Reality or
away from it; the Reality has existed fully constituted before the
incoming of the qualification which- whether in soul or body- merely
introduces some state from outside, and by this addition elaborates
the Reality into the particular thing.
    But what if [the superficial appearance such as] the visible
whiteness in ceruse is constitutive? In the swan the whiteness is not
constitutive since a swan need not be white: it is constitutive in
ceruse, just as warmth is constitutive of the Reality, fire.
    No doubt we may be told that the Reality in fire is [not warmth
but] fieriness and in ceruse an analogous abstraction: yet the fact
remains that in visible fire warmth or fieriness is constitutive and
in the ceruse whiteness.
    Thus the same entities are represented at once as being not
qualities but constituents of Reality and not constituents but
    Now it is absurd to talk as if one identical thing changed its own
nature according to whether it is present as a constituent or as an
    The truth is that while the Reason-Principles producing these
entities contain nothing but what is of the nature of Reality, yet
only in the Intellectual Realm do the produced things possess real
existence: here they are not real; they are qualified.
    And this is the starting-point of an error we constantly make:
in our enquiries into things we let realities escape us and fasten
on what is mere quality. Thus fire is not the thing we so name from
the observation of certain qualities present; fire is a Reality [not a
combination of material phenomena]; the phenomena observed here and
leading us to name fire call us away from the authentic thing; a
quality is erected into the very matter of definition- a procedure,
however, reasonable enough in regard to things of the realm of sense
which are in no case realities but accidents of Reality.
    And this raises the question how Reality can ever spring from what
are not Realities.
    It has been shown that a thing coming into being cannot be
identical with its origins: it must here be added that nothing thus
coming into being [no "thing of process"] can be a Reality.
    Then how do we assert the rising in the Supreme of what we have
called Reality from what is not Reality [i.e., from the pure Being
which is above Reality]?
    The Reality there- possessing Authentic Being in the strictest
sense, with the least admixture- is Reality by existing among the
differentiations of the Authentic Being; or, better, Reality is
affirmed in the sense that with the existence of the Supreme is
included its Act so that Reality seems to be a perfectionment of the
Authentic Being, though in the truth it is a diminution; the
produced thing is deficient by the very addition, by being less
simplex, by standing one step away from the Authentic.
    2. But we must enquire into Quality in itself: to know its
nature is certainly the way to settle our general question.
    The first point is to assure ourselves whether or not one and
the same thing may be held to be sometimes a mere qualification and
sometimes a constituent of Reality- not staying on the point that
qualification could not be constitutive of a Reality but of a
qualified Reality only.
    Now in a Reality possessing a determined quality, the Reality
and the fact of existence precede the qualified Reality.
    What, then, in the case of fire is the Reality which precedes
the qualified Reality?
    Its mere body, perhaps? If so, body being the Reality, fire is a
warmed body; and the total thing is not the Reality; and the fire
has warmth as a man might have a snub nose.
    Rejecting its warmth, its glow, its lightness- all which certainly
do seem to be qualities- and its resistance, there is left only its
extension by three dimensions: in other words, its Matter is its
    But that cannot be held: surely the form is much more likely
than the Matter to be the Reality.
    But is not the Form of Quality?
    No, the Form is not a Quality: it is a Reason-Principle.
    And the outcome of this Reason-Principle entering into the
underlying Matter, what is that?
    Certainly not what is seen and burns, for that is the something in
which these qualities inhere.
    We might define the burning as an Act springing from the
Reason-Principle: then the warming and lighting and other effects of
fire will be its Acts and we still have found no foothold for its
    Such completions of a Reality cannot be called qualities since
they are its Acts emanating from the Reason-Principles and from the
essential powers. A quality is something persistently outside Reality;
it cannot appear as Reality in one place after having figured in
another as quality; its function is to bring in the something more
after the Reality is established, such additions as virtue, vice,
ugliness, beauty, health, a certain shape. On this last, however, it
may be remarked that triangularity and quadrangularity are not in
themselves qualities, but there is quality when a thing is
triangular by having been brought to that shape; the quality is not
the triangularity but the patterning to it. The case is the same
with the arts and avocations.
    Thus: Quality is a condition superadded to a Reality whose
existence does not depend upon it, whether this something more be a
later acquirement or an accompaniment from the first; it is
something in whose absence the Reality would still be complete. It
will sometimes come and go, sometimes be inextricably attached, so
that there are two forms of Quality, the moveable and the fixed.
    3. The Whiteness, therefore, in a human being is, clearly, to be
classed not as a quality but as an activity- the act of a power
which can make white; and similarly what we think of as qualities in
the Intellectual Realm should be known as activities; they are
activities which to our minds take the appearance of quality from
the fact that, differing in character among themselves, each of them
is a particularity which, so to speak, distinguishes those Realities
from each other.
    What, then, distinguishes Quality in the Intellectual Realm from
that here, if both are Acts?
    The difference is that these ["Quality-Activities"] in the Supreme
do not indicate the very nature of the Reality [as do the
corresponding Activities here] nor do they indicate variations of
substance or of [essential] character; they merely indicate what we
think of as Quality but in the Intellectual Realm must still be
    In other words this thing, considered in its aspect as
possessing the characteristic property of Reality is by that alone
recognised as no mere Quality. But when our reason separates what is
distinctive in these ["Quality-Activities"]- not in the sense of
abolishing them but rather as taking them to itself and making
something new of them- this new something is Quality: reason has, so
to speak, appropriated a portion of Reality, that portion manifest
to it on the surface.
    By this analogy, warmth, as a concomitant of the specific nature
of fire, may very well be no quality in fire but an Idea-Form
belonging to it, one of its activities, while being merely a Quality
in other things than fire: as it is manifested in any warm object,
it is not a mode of Reality but merely a trace, a shadow, an image,
something that has gone forth from its own Reality- where it was an
Act- and in the warm object is a quality.
    All, then, that is accident and not Act; all but what is Idea-form
of the Reality; all that merely confers pattern; all this is
Quality: qualities are characteristics and modes other than those
constituting the substratum of a thing.
    But the Archetypes of all such qualities, the foundation in
which they exist primarily, these are Activities of the Intellectual
    And; one and the same thing cannot be both Quality and
non-quality: the thing void of Real-Existence is Quality; but the
thing accompanying Reality is either Form or Activity: there is no
longer self-identity when, from having its being in itself, anything
comes to be in something else with a fall from its standing as Form
and Activity.
    Finally, anything which is never Form but always accidental to
something else is Quality unmixed and nothing more.
                        SEVENTH TRACTATE.

                     ON COMPLETE TRANSFUSION.

    1. Some enquiry must be made into what is known as the complete
transfusion of material substances.
    Is it possible that fluid be blended with fluid in such a way that
each penetrate the other through and through? or- a difference of no
importance if any such penetration occurs- that one of them pass
completely through the other?
    Those that admit only contact need not detain us. They are dealing
with mixture, not with the coalescence which makes the total a thing
of like parts, each minutest particle being composed of all the
combined elements.
    But there are those who, admitting coalescence, confine it to
the qualities: to them the material substances of two bodies are in
contact merely, but in this contact of the matter they find footing
for the qualities of each.
    Their view is plausible because it rejects the notion of total
admixture and because it recognizes that the masses of the mixing
bodies must be whittled away if there is to be mixture without any
gap, if, that is to say, each substance must be divided within
itself through and through for complete interpenetration with the
other. Their theory is confirmed by the cases in which two mixed
substances occupy a greater space than either singly, especially a
space equal to the conjoined extent of each: for, as they point out,
in an absolute interpenetration the infusion of the one into the other
would leave the occupied space exactly what it was before and, where
the space occupied is not increased by the juxtaposition, they explain
that some expulsion of air has made room for the incoming substance.
They ask further, how a minor quantity of one substance can be
spread out so as to interpenetrate a major quantity of another. In
fact they have a multitude of arguments.
    Those, on the other hand, that accept "complete transfusion,"
might object that it does not require the reduction of the mixed
things to fragments, a certain cleavage being sufficient: thus, for
instance, sweat does not split up the body or even pierce holes in it.
And if it is answered that this may well be a special decree of Nature
to allow of the sweat exuding, there is the case of those manufactured
articles, slender but without puncture, in which we can see a liquid
wetting them through and through so that it runs down from the upper
to the under surface. How can this fact be explained, since both the
liquid and the solid are bodily substances? Interpenetration without
disintegration is difficult to conceive, and if there is such mutual
disintegration the two must obviously destroy each other.
    When they urge that often there is a mixing without augmentation
their adversaries can counter at once with the exit of air.
    When there is an increase in the space occupied, nothing refutes
the explanation- however unsatisfying- that this is a necessary
consequence of two bodies bringing to a common stock their magnitude
equally with their other attributes: size is as permanent as any other
property; and, exactly as from the blending of qualities there results
a new form of thing, the combination of the two, so we find a new
magnitude; the blending gives us a magnitude representing each of
the two. But at this point the others will answer, "If you mean that
substance lies side by side with substance and mass with mass, each
carrying its quantum of magnitude, you are at one with us: if there
were complete transfusion, one substance sinking its original
magnitude in the other, we would have no longer the case of two
lines joined end to end by their terminal points and thus producing an
increased extension; we would have line superimposed upon line with,
therefore, no increase."
    But a lesser quantity permeates the entire extent of a larger; the
smallest is sunk in the greatest; transfusion is exhibited
unmistakably. In certain cases it is possible to pretend that there is
no total penetration but there are manifest examples leaving no room
for the pretence. In what they say of the spreading out of masses they
cannot be thought very plausible; the extension would have to be
considerable indeed in the case of a very small quantity [to be in
true mixture with a very large mass]; for they do not suggest any such
extension by change as that of water into air.
    2. This, however, raises a problem deserving investigation in
itself: what has happened when a definite magnitude of water becomes
air, and how do we explain the increase of volume? But for the present
we must be content with the matter thus far discussed out of all the
varied controversy accumulated on either side.
    It remains for us to make out on our own account the true
explanation of the phenomenon of mixing, without regard to the
agreement or disagreement of that theory with any of the current
opinions mentioned.
    When water runs through wool or when papyrus-pulp gives up its
moisture why is not the moist content expressed to the very last
drop or even, without question of outflow, how can we possibly think
that in a mixture the relation of matter with matter, mass with
mass, is contact and that only the qualities are fused? The pulp is
not merely in touch with water outside it or even in its pores; it
is wet through and through so that every particle of its matter is
drenched in that quality. Now if the matter is soaked all through with
the quality, then the water is everywhere in the pulp.
    "Not the water; the quality of the water."
    But then, where is the water? and [if only a quality has
entered] why is there a change of volume? The pulp has been expanded
by the addition: that is to say it has received magnitude from the
incoming substance but if it has received the magnitude, magnitude has
been added; and a magnitude added has not been absorbed; therefore the
combined matter must occupy two several places. And as the two
mixing substances communicate quality and receive matter in mutual
give and take so they may give and take magnitude. Indeed when a
quality meets another quality it suffers some change; it is mixed, and
by that admixture it is no longer pure and therefore no longer
itself but a blunter thing, whereas magnitude joining magnitude
retains its full strength.
    But let it be understood how we came to say that body passing
through and through another body must produce disintegration, while we
make qualities pervade their substances without producing
disintegration: the bodilessness of qualities is the reason. Matter,
too, is bodiless: it may, then, be supposed that as Matter pervades
everything so the bodiless qualities associated with it- as long as
they are few- have the power of penetration without disintegration.
Anything solid would be stopped either in virtue of the fact that a
solid has the precise quality which forbids it to penetrate or in that
the mere coexistence of too many qualities in Matter [constitutes
density and so] produces the same inhibition.
    If, then, what we call a dense body is so by reason of the
presence of many qualities, that plenitude of qualities will be the
cause [of the inhibition].
    If on the other hand density is itself a quality like what they
call corporeity, then the cause will be that particular quality.
    This would mean that the qualities of two substances do not
bring about the mixing by merely being qualities but by being apt to
mixture; nor does Matter refuse to enter into a mixing as Matter but
as being associated with a quality repugnant to mixture; and this
all the more since it has no magnitude of its own but only does not
reject magnitude.
    3. We have thus covered our main ground, but since corporeity has
been mentioned, we must consider its nature: is it the conjunction
of all the qualities or is it an Idea, or Reason-Principle, whose
presence in Matter constitutes a body?
    Now if body is the compound, the thing made up of all the required
qualities plus Matter, then corporeity is nothing more than their
    And if it is a Reason-Principle, one whose incoming constitutes
the body, then clearly this Principle contains embraced within
itself all the qualities. If this Reason-Principle is to be no mere
principle of definition exhibiting the nature of a thing but a
veritable Reason constituting the thing, then it cannot itself contain
Matter but must encircle Matter, and by being present to Matter
elaborate the body: thus the body will be Matter associated with an
indwelling Reason-Principle which will be in itself immaterial, pure
Idea, even though irremoveably attached to the body. It is not to be
confounded with that other Principle in man- treated elsewhere-
which dwells in the Intellectual World by right of being itself an
Intellectual Principle.
                        EIGHTH TRACTATE.


    1. Seen from a distance, objects appear reduced and close
together, however far apart they be: within easy range, their sizes
and the distances that separate them are observed correctly.
    Distant objects show in this reduction because they must be
drawn together for vision and the light must be concentrated to suit
the size of the pupil; besides, as we are placed farther and farther
away from the material mass under observation, it is more and more the
bare form that reaches us, stripped, so to speak, of magnitude as of
all other quality.
    Or it may be that we appreciate the magnitude of an object by
observing the salience and recession of its several parts, so that
to perceive its true size we must have it close at hand.
    Or again, it may be that magnitude is known incidentally [as a
deduction] from the observation of colour. With an object at hand we
know how much space is covered by the colour; at a distance, only that
something is coloured, for the parts, quantitatively distinct among
themselves, do not give us the precise knowledge of that quantity, the
colours themselves reaching us only in a blurred impression.
    What wonder, then, if size be like sound- reduced when the form
reaches us but faintly- for in sound the hearing is concerned only
about the form; magnitude is not discerned except incidentally.
    Well, in hearing magnitude is known incidentally; but how? Touch
conveys a direct impression of a visible object; what gives us the
same direct impression of an object of hearing?
    The magnitude of a sound is known not by actual quantity but by
degree of impact, by intensity- and this in no indirect knowledge; the
ear appreciates a certain degree of force, exactly as the palate
perceives by no indirect knowledge, a certain degree of sweetness. But
the true magnitude of a sound is its extension; this the hearing may
define to itself incidentally by deduction from the degree of
intensity but not to the point of precision. The intensity is merely
the definite effect at a particular spot; the magnitude is a matter of
totality, the sum of space occupied.
    Still the colours seen from a distance are faint; but they are not
small as the masses are.
    True; but there is the common fact of diminution. There is
colour with its diminution, faintness; there is magnitude with its
diminution, smallness; and magnitude follows colour diminishing
stage by stage with it.
    But, the phenomenon is more easily explained by the example of
things of wide variety. Take mountains dotted with houses, woods and
other land-marks; the observation of each detail gives us the means of
calculating, by the single objects noted, the total extent covered:
but, where no such detail of form reaches us, our vision, which
deals with detail, has not the means towards the knowledge of the
whole by measurement of any one clearly discerned magnitude. This
applies even to objects of vision close at hand: where there is
variety and the eye sweeps over all at one glance so that the forms
are not all caught, the total appears the less in proportion to the
detail which has escaped the eye; observe each single point and then
you can estimate the volume precisely. Again, magnitudes of one colour
and unbroken form trick the sense of quantity: the vision can no
longer estimate by the particular; it slips away, not finding the
stand-by of the difference between part and part.
    It was the detail that prevented a near object deceiving our sense
of magnitude: in the case of the distant object, because the eye
does not pass stage by stage through the stretch of intervening
space so as to note its forms, therefore it cannot report the
magnitude of that space.
    2. The explanation by lesser angle of vision has been elsewhere
dismissed; one point, however, we may urge here.
    Those attributing the reduced appearance to the lesser angle
occupied allow by their very theory that the unoccupied portion of the
eye still sees something beyond or something quite apart from the
object of vision, if only air-space.
    Now consider some very large object of vision, that mountain for
example. No part of the eye is unoccupied; the mountain adequately
fills it so that it can take in nothing beyond, for the mountain as
seen either corresponds exactly to the eye-space or stretches away out
of range to right and to left. How does the explanation by lesser
angle of vision hold good in this case, where the object still appears
smaller, far, than it is and yet occupies the eye entire?
    Or look up to the sky and no hesitation can remain. Of course we
cannot take in the entire hemisphere at one glance; the eye directed
to it could not cover so vast an expanse. But suppose the possibility:
the entire eye, then, embraces the hemisphere entire; but the
expanse of the heavens is far greater than it appears; how can its
appearing far less than it is be explained by a lessening of the angle
of vision?
                        NINTH TRACTATE.

                   AS "AGAINST THE GNOSTICS"].

    1. We have seen elsewhere that the Good, the Principle, is
simplex, and, correspondingly, primal- for the secondary can never
be simplex- that it contains nothing: that it is an integral Unity.
    Now the same Nature belongs to the Principle we know as The One.
just as the goodness of The Good is essential and not the outgrowth of
some prior substance so the Unity of The One is its essential.
    When we speak of The One and when we speak of The Good we must
recognize an Identical Nature; we must affirm that they are the
same- not, it is true, as venturing any predication with regard to
that [unknowable] Hypostasis but simply as indicating it to ourselves
in the best terms we find.
    Even in calling it "The First" we mean no more than to express
that it is the most absolutely simplex: it is the Self-Sufficing
only in the sense that it is not of that compound nature which would
make it dependent upon any constituent; it is "the Self-Contained"
because everything contained in something alien must also exist by
that alien.
    Deriving, then, from nothing alien, entering into nothing alien,
in no way a made-up thing, there can be nothing above it.
    We need not, then, go seeking any other Principles; this- the
One and the Good- is our First; next to it follows the Intellectual
Principle, the Primal Thinker; and upon this follows Soul. Such is the
order in nature. The Intellectual Realm allows no more than these
and no fewer.
    Those who hold to fewer Principles must hold the identity of
either Intellectual-Principle and Soul or of Intellectual-Principle
and The First; but we have abundantly shown that these are distinct.
    It remains for us to consider whether there are more than these
    Now what other [Divine] Kinds could there be? No Principles of the
universe could be found at once simpler and more transcendent than
this whose existence we have affirmed and described.
    They will scarcely urge upon us the doubling of the Principle in
Act by a Principle in Potentiality. It is absurd to seek such a
plurality by distinguishing between potentiality and actuality in
the case of immaterial beings whose existence is in Act- even in lower
forms no such division can be made and we cannot conceive a duality in
the Intellectual-Principle, one phase in some vague calm, another
all astir. Under what form can we think of repose in the
Intellectual Principle as contrasted with its movement or utterance?
What would the quiescence of the one phase be as against the energy of
the others?
    No: the Intellectual-Principle is continuously itself,
unchangeably constituted in stable Act. With movement- towards it or
within it- we are in the realm of the Soul's operation: such act is
a Reason-Principle emanating from it and entering into Soul, thus made
an Intellectual Soul, but in no sense creating an intermediate
Principle to stand between the two.
    Nor are we warranted in affirming a plurality of Intellectual
Principles on the ground that there is one that knows and thinks and
another knowing that it knows and thinks. For whatever distinction
be possible in the Divine between its Intellectual Act and its
Consciousness of that Act, still all must be one projection not
unaware of its own operation: it would be absurd to imagine any such
unconsciousness in the Authentic Intelligence; the knowing principle
must be one and the selfsame with that which knows of the knowing.
    The contrary supposition would give us two beings, one that merely
knows, and another separate being that knows of the act of knowing.
    If we are answered that the distinction is merely a process of our
thought, then, at once, the theory of a plurality in the Divine
Hypostasis is abandoned: further, the question is opened whether our
thought can entertain a knowing principle so narrowed to its knowing
as not to know that it knows- a limitation which would be charged as
imbecility even in ourselves, who if but of very ordinary moral
force are always master of our emotions and mental processes.
    No: The Divine Mind in its mentation thinks itself; the object
of the thought is nothing external: Thinker and Thought are one;
therefore in its thinking and knowing it possesses itself, observes
itself and sees itself not as something unconscious but as knowing: in
this Primal Knowing it must include, as one and the same Act, the
knowledge of the knowing; and even the logical distinction mentioned
above cannot be made in the case of the Divine; the very eternity of
its self-thinking precludes any such separation between that
intellective act and the consciousness of the act.
    The absurdity becomes still more blatant if we introduce yet a
further distinction- after that which affirms the knowledge of the
knowing, a third distinction affirming the knowing of the knowledge of
the knowing: yet there is no reason against carrying on the division
for ever and ever.
    To increase the Primals by making the Supreme Mind engender the
Reason-Principle, and this again engender in the Soul a distinct power
to act as mediator between Soul and the Supreme Mind, this is to
deny intellection to the Soul, which would no longer derive its Reason
from the Intellectual-Principle but from an intermediate: the Soul
then would possess not the Reason-Principle but an image of it: the
Soul could not know the Intellectual-Principle; it could have no
    2. Therefore we must affirm no more than these three Primals: we
are not to introduce superfluous distinctions which their nature
rejects. We are to proclaim one Intellectual-Principle unchangeably
the same, in no way subject to decline, acting in imitation, as true
as its nature allows, of the Father.
    And as to our own Soul we are to hold that it stands, in part,
always in the presence of The Divine Beings, while in part it is
concerned with the things of this sphere and in part occupies a middle
ground. It is one nature in graded powers; and sometimes the Soul in
its entirety is borne along by the loftiest in itself and in the
Authentic Existent; sometimes, the less noble part is dragged down and
drags the mid-soul with it, though the law is that the Soul may
never succumb entire.
    The Soul's disaster falls upon it when it ceases to dwell in the
perfect Beauty- the appropriate dwelling-place of that Soul which is
no part and of which we too are no part- thence to pour forth into the
frame of the All whatsoever the All can hold of good and beauty. There
that Soul rests, free from all solicitude, not ruling by plan or
policy, not redressing, but establishing order by the marvellous
efficacy of its contemplation of the things above it.
    For the measure of its absorption in that vision is the measure of
its grace and power, and what it draws from this contemplation it
communicates to the lower sphere, illuminated and illuminating always.
    3. Ever illuminated, receiving light unfailing, the All-Soul
imparts it to the entire series of later Being which by this light
is sustained and fostered and endowed with the fullest measure of life
that each can absorb. It may be compared with a central fire warming
every receptive body within range.
    Our fire, however, is a thing of limited scope: given powers
that have no limitation and are never cut off from the Authentic
Existences, how imagine anything existing and yet failing to receive
from them?
    It is of the essence of things that each gives of its being to
another: without this communication, The Good would not be Good, nor
the Intellectual-Principle an Intellective Principle, nor would Soul
itself be what it is: the law is, "some life after the Primal Life,
a second where there is a first; all linked in one unbroken chain; all
eternal; divergent types being engendered only in the sense of being
    In other words, things commonly described as generated have
never known a beginning: all has been and will be. Nor can anything
disappear unless where a later form is possible: without such a future
there can be no dissolution.
    If we are told that there is always Matter as a possible term,
we ask why then should not Matter itself come to nothingness. If we
are told it may, then we ask why it should ever have been generated.
If the answer comes that it had its necessary place as the ultimate of
the series, we return that the necessity still holds.
    With Matter left aside as wholly isolated, the Divine Beings are
not everywhere but in some bounded place, walled off, so to speak;
if that is not possible, Matter itself must receive the Divine light
[and so cannot be annihilated].
    4. To those who assert that creation is the work of the Soul after
the failing of its wings, we answer that no such disgrace could
overtake the Soul of the All. If they tell us of its falling, they
must tell us also what caused the fall. And when did it take place? If
from eternity, then the Soul must be essentially a fallen thing: if at
some one moment, why not before that?
    We assert its creative act to be a proof not of decline but rather
of its steadfast hold. Its decline could consist only in its
forgetting the Divine: but if it forgot, how could it create? Whence
does it create but from the things it knew in the Divine? If it
creates from the memory of that vision, it never fell. Even
supposing it to be in some dim intermediate state, it need not be
supposed more likely to decline: any inclination would be towards
its Prior, in an effort to the clearer vision. If any memory at all
remained, what other desire could it have than to retrace the way?
    What could it have been planning to gain by world-creating? Glory?
That would be absurd- a motive borrowed from the sculptors of our
    Finally, if the Soul created by policy and not by sheer need of
its nature, by being characteristically the creative power- how
explain the making of this universe?
    And when will it destroy the work? If it repents of its work, what
is it waiting for? If it has not yet repented, then it will never
repent: it must be already accustomed to the world, must be growing
more tender towards it with the passing of time.
    Can it be waiting for certain souls still here? Long since would
these have ceased returning for such re-birth, having known in
former life the evils of this sphere; long since would they have
foreborne to come.
    Nor may we grant that this world is of unhappy origin because
there are many jarring things in it. Such a judgement would rate it
too high, treating it as the same with the Intelligible Realm and
not merely its reflection.
    And yet- what reflection of that world could be conceived more
beautiful than this of ours? What fire could be a nobler reflection of
the fire there than the fire we know here? Or what other earth than
this could have been modelled after that earth? And what globe more
minutely perfect than this, or more admirably ordered in its course
could have been conceived in the image of the self-centred circling of
the World of Intelligibles? And for a sun figuring the Divine
sphere, if it is to be more splendid than the sun visible to us,
what a sun it must be.
    5. Still more unreasonably:
    There are men, bound to human bodies and subject to desire, grief,
anger, who think so generously of their own faculty that they
declare themselves in contact with the Intelligible World, but deny
that the sun possesses a similar faculty less subject to influence, to
disorder, to change; they deny that it is any wiser than we, the
late born, hindered by so many cheats on the way towards truth.
    Their own soul, the soul of the least of mankind, they declare
deathless, divine; but the entire heavens and the stars within the
heavens have had no communion with the Immortal Principle, though
these are far purer and lovelier than their own souls- yet they are
not blind to the order, the shapely pattern, the discipline prevailing
in the heavens, since they are the loudest in complaint of the
disorder that troubles our earth. We are to imagine the deathless Soul
choosing of design the less worthy place, and preferring to abandon
the nobler to the Soul that is to die.
    Equally unreasonable is their introduction of that other Soul
which they piece together from the elements.
    How could any form or degree of life come about by a blend of
the elements? Their conjunction could produce only a warm or cold or
an intermediate substance, something dry or wet or intermediate.
    Besides, how could such a soul be a bond holding the four elements
together when it is a later thing and rises from them? And this
element- soul is described as possessing consciousness and will and
the rest- what can we think?
    Furthermore, these teachers, in their contempt for this creation
and this earth, proclaim that another earth has been made for them
into which they are to enter when they depart. Now this new earth is
the Reason-Form [the Logos] of our world. Why should they desire to
live in the archetype of a world abhorrent to them?
    Then again, what is the origin of that pattern world? It would
appear, from the theory, that the Maker had already declined towards
the things of this sphere before that pattern came into being.
    Now let us suppose the Maker craving to construct such an
Intermediate World- though what motive could He have?- in addition
to the Intellectual world which He eternally possesses. If He made the
mid-world first, what end was it to serve?
    To be a dwelling-place for Souls?
    How then did they ever fall from it? It exists in vain.
    If He made it later than this world- abstracting the formal-idea
of this world and leaving the Matter out- the Souls that have come
to know that intermediate sphere would have experienced enough to keep
them from entering this. If the meaning is simply that Souls exhibit
the Ideal-Form of the Universe, what is there distinctive in the
    6. And, what are we to think of the new forms of being they
introduce- their "Exiles" and "Impressions" and "Repentings"?
    If all comes to states of the Soul- "Repentance" when it has
undergone a change of purpose; "Impressions" when it contemplates
not the Authentic Existences but their simulacra- there is nothing
here but a jargon invented to make a case for their school: all this
terminology is piled up only to conceal their debt to the ancient
Greek philosophy which taught, clearly and without bombast, the ascent
from the cave and the gradual advance of souls to a truer and truer
    For, in sum, a part of their doctrine comes from Plato; all the
novelties through which they seek to establish a philosophy of their
own have been picked up outside of the truth.
    From Plato come their punishments, their rivers of the
underworld and the changing from body to body; as for the plurality
they assert in the Intellectual Realm- the Authentic Existent, the
Intellectual-Principle, the Second Creator and the Soul- all this is
taken over from the Timaeus, where we read:
    "As many Ideal-Forms as the Divine Mind beheld dwelling within the
Veritably Living Being, so many the Maker resolved should be contained
in this All."
    Misunderstanding their text, they conceived one Mind passively
including within itself all that has being, another mind, a distinct
existence, having vision, and a third planning the Universe- though
often they substitute Soul for this planning Mind as the creating
Principle- and they think that this third being is the Creator
according to Plato.
    They are in fact quite outside of the truth in their
identification of the Creator.
    In every way they misrepresent Plato's theory as to the method
of creation as in many other respects they dishonour his teaching:
they, we are to understand, have penetrated the Intellectual Nature,
while Plato and all those other illustrious teachers have failed.
    They hope to get the credit of minute and exact identification
by setting up a plurality of intellectual Essences; but in reality
this multiplication lowers the Intellectual Nature to the level of the
Sense-Kind: their true course is to seek to reduce number to the least
possible in the Supreme, simply referring all things to the Second
Hypostasis- which is all that exists as it is Primal Intellect and
Reality and is the only thing that is good except only for the first
Nature- and to recognize Soul as the third Principle, accounting for
the difference among souls merely by diversity of experience and
character. Instead of insulting those venerable teachers they should
receive their doctrine with the respect due to the older thought and
honour all that noble system- an immortal soul, an Intellectual and
Intelligible Realm, the Supreme God, the Soul's need of emancipation
from all intercourse with the body, the fact of separation from it,
the escape from the world of process to the world of
essential-being. These doctrines, all emphatically asserted by
Plato, they do well to adopt: where they differ, they are at full
liberty to speak their minds, but not to procure assent for their
own theories by flaying and flouting the Greeks: where they have a
divergent theory to maintain they must establish it by its own merits,
declaring their own opinions with courtesy and with philosophical
method and stating the controverted opinion fairly; they must point
their minds towards the truth and not hunt fame by insult, reviling
and seeking in their own persons to replace men honoured by the fine
intelligences of ages past.
    As a matter of fact the ancient doctrine of the Divine Essences
was far the sounder and more instructed, and must be accepted by all
not caught in the delusions that beset humanity: it is easy also to
identify what has been conveyed in these later times from the ancients
with incongruous novelties- how for example, where they must set up
a contradictory doctrine, they introduce a medley of generation and
destruction, how they cavil at the Universe, how they make the Soul
blameable for the association with body, how they revile the
Administrator of this All, how they ascribe to the Creator, identified
with the Soul, the character and experiences appropriate to partial be
    7. That this world has neither beginning nor end but exists for
ever as long as the Supreme stands is certainly no novel teaching. And
before this school rose it had been urged that commerce with the
body is no gain to a Soul.
    But to treat the human Soul as a fair presentment of the Soul of
the Universe is like picking out potters and blacksmiths and making
them warrant for discrediting an entire well-ordered city.
    We must recognize how different is the governance exercised by the
All-Soul; the relation is not the same: it is not in fetters. Among
the very great number of differences it should not have been
overlooked that the We [the human Soul] lies under fetter; and this in
a second limitation, for the Body-Kind, already fettered within the
All-Soul, imprisons all that it grasps.
    But the Soul of the Universe cannot be in bond to what itself
has bound: it is sovereign and therefore immune of the lower things,
over which we on the contrary are not masters. That in it which is
directed to the Divine and Transcendent is ever unmingled, knows no
encumbering; that in it which imparts life to the body admits
nothing bodily to itself. It is the general fact that an inset [as the
Body], necessarily shares the conditions of its containing principle
[as the Soul], and does not communicate its own conditions where
that principle has an independent life: thus a graft will die if the
stock dies, but the stock will live on by its proper life though the
graft wither. The fire within your own self may be quenched, but the
thing, fire, will exist still; and if fire itself were annihilated
that would make no difference to the Soul, the Soul in the Supreme,
but only to the plan of the material world; and if the other
elements sufficed to maintain a Kosmos, the Soul in the Supreme
would be unconcerned.
    The constitution of the All is very different from that of the
single, separate forms of life: there, the established rule commanding
to permanence is sovereign; here things are like deserters kept to
their own place and duty by a double bond; there is no outlet from the
All, and therefore no need of restraining or of driving errants back
to bounds: all remains where from the beginning the Soul's nature
    The natural movement within the plan will be injurious to anything
whose natural tendency it opposes: one group will sweep bravely onward
with the great total to which it is adapted; the others, not able to
comply with the larger order, are destroyed. A great choral is
moving to its concerted plan; midway in the march, a tortoise is
intercepted; unable to get away from the choral line it is trampled
under foot; but if it could only range itself within the greater
movement it too would suffer nothing.
    8. To ask why the Soul has created the Kosmos, is to ask why there
is a Soul and why a Creator creates. The question, also, implies a
beginning in the eternal and, further, represents creation as the
act of a changeful Being who turns from this to that.
    Those that so think must be instructed- if they would but bear
with correction- in the nature of the Supernals, and brought to desist
from that blasphemy of majestic powers which comes so easily to
them, where all should be reverent scruple.
    Even in the administration of the Universe there is no ground
for such attack, for it affords manifest proof of the greatness of the
Intellectual Kind.
    This All that has emerged into life is no amorphous structure-
like those lesser forms within it which are born night and day out
of the lavishness of its vitality- the Universe is a life organized,
effective, complex, all-comprehensive, displaying an unfathomable
wisdom. How, then, can anyone deny that it is a clear image,
beautifully formed, of the Intellectual Divinities? No doubt it is
copy, not original; but that is its very nature; it cannot be at
once symbol and reality. But to say that it is an inadequate copy is
false; nothing has been left out which a beautiful representation
within the physical order could include.
    Such a reproduction there must necessarily be- though not by
deliberation and contrivance- for the Intellectual could not be the
last of things, but must have a double Act, one within itself and
one outgoing; there must, then, be something later than the Divine;
for only the thing with which all power ends fails to pass downwards
something of itself. In the Supreme there flourishes a marvellous
vigour, and therefore it produces.
    Since there is no Universe nobler than this, is it not clear
what this must be? A representation carrying down the features of
the Intellectual Realm is necessary; there is no other Kosmos than
this; therefore this is such a representation.
    This earth of ours is full of varied life-forms and of immortal
beings; to the very heavens it is crowded. And the stars, those of the
upper and the under spheres, moving in their ordered path,
fellow-travellers with the universe, how can they be less than gods?
Surely they must be morally good: what could prevent them? All that
occasions vice here below is unknown there evil of body, perturbed and
    Knowledge, too; in their unbroken peace, what hinders them from
the intellectual grasp of the God-Head and the Intellectual Gods? What
can be imagined to give us a wisdom higher than belongs to the
Supernals? Could anyone, not fallen to utter folly, bear with such
an idea?
    Admitting that human Souls have descended under constraint of
the All-Soul, are we to think the constrained the nobler? Among Souls,
what commands must be higher than what obeys. And if the coming was
unconstrained, why find fault with a world you have chosen and can
quit if you dislike it?
    And further, if the order of this Universe is such that we are
able, within it, to practise wisdom and to live our earthly course
by the Supernal, does not that prove it a dependency of the Divine?
    9. Wealth and poverty, and all inequalities of that order, are
made ground of complaint. But this is to ignore that the Sage
demands no equality in such matters: he cannot think that to own
many things is to be richer or that the powerful have the better of
the simple; he leaves all such preoccupations to another kind of
man. He has learned that life on earth has two distinct forms, the way
of the Sage and the way of the mass, the Sage intent upon the
sublimest, upon the realm above, while those of the more strictly
human type fall, again, under two classes, the one reminiscent of
virtue and therefore not without touch with good, the other mere
populace, serving to provide necessaries to the better sort.
    But what of murder? What of the feebleness that brings men under
slavery to the passions?
    Is it any wonder that there should be failing and error, not in
the highest, the intellectual, Principle but in Souls that are like
undeveloped children? And is not life justified even so if it is a
training ground with its victors and its vanquished?
    You are wronged; need that trouble an immortal? You are put to
death; you have attained your desire. And from the moment your
citizenship of the world becomes irksome you are not bound to it.
    Our adversaries do not deny that even here there is a system of
law and penalty: and surely we cannot in justice blame a dominion
which awards to every one his due, where virtue has its honour, and
vice comes to its fitting shame, in which there are not merely
representations of the gods, but the gods themselves, watchers from
above, and- as we read- easily rebutting human reproaches, since
they lead all things in order from a beginning to an end, allotting to
each human being, as life follows life, a fortune shaped to all that
has preceded- the destiny which, to those that do not penetrate it,
becomes the matter of boorish insolence upon things divine.
    A man's one task is to strive towards making himself perfect-
though not in the idea- really fatal to perfection- that to be perfect
is possible to himself alone.
    We must recognize that other men have attained the heights of
goodness; we must admit the goodness of the celestial spirits, and
above all of the gods- those whose presence is here but their
contemplation in the Supreme, and loftiest of them, the lord of this
All, the most blessed Soul. Rising still higher, we hymn the
divinities of the Intellectual Sphere, and, above all these, the
mighty King of that dominion, whose majesty is made patent in the very
multitude of the gods.
    It is not by crushing the divine unto a unity but by displaying
its exuberance- as the Supreme himself has displayed it- that we
show knowledge of the might of God, who, abidingly what He is, yet
creates that multitude, all dependent on Him, existing by Him and from
    This Universe, too, exists by Him and looks to Him- the Universe
as a whole and every God within it- and tells of Him to men, all alike
revealing the plan and will of the Supreme.
    These, in the nature of things, cannot be what He is, but that
does not justify you in contempt of them, in pushing yourself
forward as not inferior to them.
    The more perfect the man, the more compliant he is, even towards
his fellows; we must temper our importance, not thrusting insolently
beyond what our nature warrants; we must allow other beings, also,
their place in the presence of the Godhead; we may not set ourselves
alone next after the First in a dream-flight which deprives us of
our power of attaining identity with the Godhead in the measure
possible to the human Soul, that is to say, to the point of likeness
to which the Intellectual-Principle leads us; to exalt ourselves above
the Intellectual-Principle is to fall from it.
    Yet imbeciles are found to accept such teaching at the mere
sound of the words "You, yourself, are to be nobler than all else,
nobler than men, nobler than even gods." Human audacity is very great:
a man once modest, restrained and simple hears, "You, yourself, are
the child of God; those men whom you used to venerate, those beings
whose worship they inherit from antiquity, none of these are His
children; you without lifting a hand are nobler than the very
heavens"; others take up the cry: the issue will be much as if in a
crowd all equally ignorant of figures, one man were told that he
stands a thousand cubic feet; he will naturally accept his thousand
cubits even though the others present are said to measure only five
cubits; he will merely tell himself that the thousand indicates a
considerable figure.
    Another point: God has care for you; how then can He be
indifferent to the entire Universe in which you exist?
    We may be told that He is too much occupied to look upon the
Universe, and that it would not be right for Him to do so; yet, when
He looks down and upon these people, is He not looking outside Himself
and upon the Universe in which they exist? If He cannot look outside
Himself so as to survey the Kosmos, then neither does He look upon
    But they have no need of Him?
    The Universe has need of Him, and He knows its ordering and its
indwellers and how far they belong to it and how far to the Supreme,
and which of the men upon it are friends of God, mildly acquiescing
with the Kosmic dispensation when in the total course of things some
pain must be brought to them- for we are to look not to the single
will of any man but to the universe entire, regarding every one
according to worth but not stopping for such things where all that may
is hastening onward.
    Not one only kind of being is bent upon this quest, which brings
bliss to whatsoever achieves, and earns for the others a future
destiny in accord with their power. No man, therefore, may flatter
himself that he alone is competent; a pretension is not a
possession; many boast though fully conscious of their lack and many
imagine themselves to possess what was never theirs and even to be
alone in possessing what they alone of men never had.
    10. Under detailed investigation, many other tenets of this
school- indeed we might say all- could be corrected with an
abundance of proof. But I am withheld by regard for some of our own
friends who fell in with this doctrine before joining our circle
and, strangely, still cling to it.
    The school, no doubt, is free-spoken enough- whether in the set
purpose of giving its opinions a plausible colour of verity or in
honest belief- but we are addressing here our own acquaintances, not
those people with whom we could make no way. We have spoken in the
hope of preventing our friends from being perturbed by a party which
brings, not proof- how could it?- but arbitrary, tyrannical assertion;
another style of address would be applicable to such as have the
audacity to flout the noble and true doctrines of the august
teachers of antiquity.
    That method we will not apply; anyone that has fully grasped the
preceding discussion will know how to meet every point in the system.
    Only one other tenet of theirs will be mentioned before passing
the matter; it is one which surpasses all the rest in sheer folly,
if that is the word.
    They first maintain that the Soul and a certain "Wisdom"
[Sophia] declined and entered this lower sphere though they leave us
in doubt of whether the movement originated in Soul or in this
Sophia of theirs, or whether the two are the same to them- then they
tell us that the other Souls came down in the descent and that these
members of Sophia took to themselves bodies, human bodies, for
    Yet in the same breath, that very Soul which was the occasion of
descent to the others is declared not to have descended. "It knew no
decline," but merely illuminated the darkness in such a way that an
image of it was formed upon the Matter. Then, they shape an image of
that image somewhere below- through the medium of Matter or of
Materiality or whatever else of many names they choose to give it in
their frequent change of terms, invented to darken their doctrine- and
so they bring into being what they call the Creator or Demiurge,
then this lower is severed from his Mother [Sophia] and becomes the
author of the Kosmos down to the latest of the succession of images
constituting it.
    Such is the blasphemy of one of their writers.
    11. Now, in the first place, if the Soul has not actually come
down but has illuminated the darkness, how can it truly be said to
have declined? The outflow from it of something in the nature of light
does not justify the assertion of its decline; for that, it must
make an actual movement towards the object lying in the lower realm
and illuminate it by contact.
    If, on the other hand, the Soul keeps to its own place and
illuminates the lower without directing any act towards that end,
why should it alone be the illuminant? Why should not the Kosmos
draw light also from the yet greater powers contained in the total
of existence?
    Again, if the Soul possesses the plan of a Universe, and by virtue
of this plan illuminates it, why do not that illumination and the
creating of the world take place simultaneously? Why must the Soul
wait till the representations of the plan be made actual?
    Then again this Plan- the "Far Country" of their terminology-
brought into being, as they hold, by the greater powers, could not
have been the occasion of decline to the creators.
    Further, how explain that under this illumination the Matter of
the Kosmos produces images of the order of Soul instead of mere
bodily-nature? An image of Soul could not demand darkness or Matter,
but wherever formed it would exhibit the character of the producing
element and remain in close union with it.
    Next, is this image a real-being, or, as they say, an
    If it is a reality, in what way does it differ from its
original? By being a distinct form of the Soul? But then, since the
original is the reasoning Soul, this secondary form must be the
vegetative and generative Soul; and then, what becomes of the theory
that it is produced for glory's sake, what becomes of the creation
in arrogance and self-assertion? The theory puts an end also to
creation by representation and, still more decidedly, to any
thinking in the act; and what need is left for a creator creating by
way of Matter and Image?
    If it is an Intellection, then we ask first "What justifies the
name?" and next, "How does anything come into being unless the Soul
give this Intellection creative power and how, after all, can creative
power reside in a created thing?" Are we to be told that it is a
question of a first Image followed by a second?
    But this is quite arbitrary.
    And why is fire the first creation?
    12. And how does this image set to its task immediately after it
comes into being?
    By memory of what it has seen?
    But it was utterly non-existent, it could have no vision, either
it or the Mother they bestow upon it.
    Another difficulty: These people come upon earth not as
Soul-Images but as veritable Souls; yet, by great stress and strain,
one or two of them are able to stir beyond the limits of the world,
and when they do attain Reminiscence barely carry with them some
slight recollection of the Sphere they once knew: on the other hand,
this Image, a new-comer into being, is able, they tell us- as also
is its Mother- to form at least some dim representation of the
celestial world. It is an Image, stamped in Matter, yet it not
merely has the conception of the Supreme and adopts from that world
the plan of this, but knows what elements serve the purpose. How,
for instance, did it come to make fire before anything else? What made
it judge fire a better first than some other object?
    Again, if it created the fire of the Universe by thinking of fire,
why did it not make the Universe at a stroke by thinking of the
Universe? It must have conceived the product complete from the
first; the constituent elements would be embraced in that general
    The creation must have been in all respects more according to
the way of Nature than to that of the arts- for the arts are of
later origin than Nature and the Universe, and even at the present
stage the partial things brought into being by the natural Kinds do
not follow any such order- first fire, then the several other
elements, then the various blends of these- on the contrary the living
organism entire is encompassed and rounded off within the uterine
germ. Why should not the material of the Universe be similarly
embraced in a Kosmic Type in which earth, fire and the rest would be
included? We can only suppose that these people themselves, acting
by their more authentic Soul, would have produced the world by such
a process, but that the Creator had not wit to do so.
    And yet to conceive the vast span of the Heavens- to be great in
that degree- to devise the obliquity of the Zodiac and the circling
path of all the celestial bodies beneath it, and this earth of ours-
and all in such a way that reason can be given for the plan- this
could never be the work of an Image; it tells of that Power [the
All-Soul] next to the very Highest Beings.
    Against their will, they themselves admit this: their
"outshining upon the darkness," if the doctrine is sifted, makes it
impossible to deny the true origins of the Kosmos.
    Why should this down-shining take place unless such a process
belonged to a universal law?
    Either the process is in the order of Nature or against that
order. If it is in the nature of things, it must have taken place from
eternity; if it is against the nature of things, then the breach of
natural right exists in the Supreme also; evil antedates this world;
the cause of evil is not the world; on the contrary the Supreme is the
evil to us; instead of the Soul's harm coming from this sphere, we
have this Sphere harmed by the Soul.
    In fine, the theory amounts to making the world one of the
Primals, and with it the Matter from which it emerges.
    The Soul that declined, they tell us, saw and illuminated the
already existent Darkness. Now whence came that Darkness?
    If they tell us that the Soul created the Darkness by its Decline,
then, obviously, there was nowhere for the Soul to decline to; the
cause of the decline was not the Darkness but the very nature of the
Soul. The theory, therefore, refers the entire process to pre-existing
compulsions: the guilt inheres in the Primal Beings.
    13. Those, then, that censure the constitution of the Kosmos do
not understand what they are doing or where this audacity leads
them. They do not understand that there is a successive order of
Primals, Secondaries, Tertiaries and so on continuously to the
Ultimates; that nothing is to be blamed for being inferior to the
First; that we can but accept, meekly, the constitution of the
total, and make our best way towards the Primals, withdrawing from the
tragic spectacle, as they see it, of the Kosmic spheres- which in
reality are all suave graciousness.
    And what, after all, is there so terrible in these Spheres with
which it is sought to frighten people unaccustomed to thinking,
never trained in an instructive and coherent gnosis?
    Even the fact that their material frame is of fire does not make
them dreadful; their Movements are in keeping with the All and with
the Earth: but what we must consider in them is the Soul, that on
which these people base their own title to honour.
    And, yet, again, their material frames are pre-eminent in vastness
and beauty, as they cooperate in act and in influence with the
entire order of Nature, and can never cease to exist as long as the
Primals stand; they enter into the completion of the All of which they
are major Parts.
    If men rank highly among other living Beings, much more do
these, whose office in the All is not to play the tyrant but to
serve towards beauty and order. The action attributed to them must
be understood as a foretelling of coming events, while the causing
of all the variety is due, in part to diverse destinies- for there
cannot be one lot for the entire body of men- in part to the birth
moment, in part to wide divergencies of place, in part to states of
the Souls.
    Once more, we have no right to ask that all men shall be good,
or to rush into censure because such universal virtue is not possible:
this would be repeating the error of confusing our sphere with the
Supreme and treating evil as a nearly negligible failure in wisdom- as
good lessened and dwindling continuously, a continuous fading out;
it would be like calling the Nature-Principle evil because it is not
Sense-Perception and the thing of sense evil for not being a
Reason-Principle. If evil is no more than that, we will be obliged
to admit evil in the Supreme also, for there, too, Soul is less
exalted than the Intellectual-Principle, and That too has its
    14. In yet another way they infringe still more gravely upon the
inviolability of the Supreme.
    In the sacred formulas they inscribe, purporting to address the
Supernal Beings- not merely the Soul but even the Transcendents-
they are simply uttering spells and appeasements and evocations in the
idea that these Powers will obey a call and be led about by a word
from any of us who is in some degree trained to use the appropriate
forms in the appropriate way- certain melodies, certain sounds,
specially directed breathings, sibilant cries, and all else to which
is ascribed magic potency upon the Supreme. Perhaps they would
repudiate any such intention: still they must explain how these things
act upon the unembodied: they do not see that the power they attribute
to their own words is so much taken away from the majesty of the
    They tell us they can free themselves of diseases.
    If they meant, by temperate living and an appropriate regime, they
would be right and in accordance with all sound knowledge. But they
assert diseases to be Spirit-Beings and boast of being able to expel
them by formula: this pretension may enhance their importance with the
crowd, gaping upon the powers of magicians; but they can never
persuade the intelligent that disease arises otherwise than from
such causes as overstrain, excess, deficiency, putrid decay; in a
word, some variation whether from within or from without.
    The nature of illness is indicated by its very cure. A motion, a
medicine, the letting of blood, and the disease shifts down and
away; sometimes scantiness of nourishment restores the system:
presumably the Spiritual power gets hungry or is debilitated by the
purge. Either this Spirit makes a hasty exit or it remains within.
If it stays, how does the disease disappear, with the cause still
present? If it quits the place, what has driven it out? Has anything
happened to it? Are we to suppose it throve on the disease? In that
case the disease existed as something distinct from the
Spirit-Power. Then again, if it steps in where no cause of sickness
exists, why should there be anything else but illness? If there must
be such a cause, the Spirit is unnecessary: that cause is sufficient
to produce that fever. As for the notion, that just when the cause
presents itself, the watchful Spirit leaps to incorporate itself
with it, this is simply amusing.
    But the manner and motive of their teaching have been sufficiently
exhibited; and this was the main purpose of the discussion here upon
their Spirit-Powers. I leave it to yourselves to read the books and
examine the rest of the doctrine: you will note all through how our
form of philosophy inculcates simplicity of character and honest
thinking in addition to all other good qualities, how it cultivates
reverence and not arrogant self-assertion, how its boldness is
balanced by reason, by careful proof, by cautious progression, by
the utmost circumspection- and you will compare those other systems to
one proceeding by this method. You will find that the tenets of
their school have been huddled together under a very different plan:
they do not deserve any further examination here.
    15. There is, however, one matter which we must on no account
overlook- the effect of these teachings upon the hearers led by them
into despising the world and all that is in it.
    There are two theories as to the attainment of the End of life.
The one proposes pleasure, bodily pleasure, as the term; the other
pronounces for good and virtue, the desire of which comes from God and
moves, by ways to be studied elsewhere, towards God.
    Epicurus denies a Providence and recommends pleasure and its
enjoyment, all that is left to us: but the doctrine under discussion
is still more wanton; it carps at Providence and the Lord of
Providence; it scorns every law known to us; immemorial virtue and all
restraint it makes into a laughing stock, lest any loveliness be
seen on earth; it cuts at the root of all orderly living, and of the
righteousness which, innate in the moral sense, is made perfect by
thought and by self-discipline: all that would give us a noble human
being is gone. What is left for them except where the pupil by his own
character betters the teaching- comes to pleasure, self-seeking, the
grudge of any share with one's fellows, the pursuit of advantage.
    Their error is that they know nothing good here: all they care for
is something else to which they will at some future time apply
themselves: yet, this world, to those that have known it once, must be
the starting-point of the pursuit: arrived here from out of the divine
nature, they must inaugurate their effort by some earthly
correction. The understanding of beauty is not given except to a
nature scorning the delight of the body, and those that have no part
in well-doing can make no step towards the Supernal.
    This school, in fact, is convicted by its neglect of all mention
of virtue: any discussion of such matters is missing utterly: we are
not told what virtue is or under what different kinds it appears;
there is no word of all the numerous and noble reflections upon it
that have come down to us from the ancients; we do not learn what
constitutes it or how it is acquired, how the Soul is tended, how it
is cleaned. For to say "Look to God" is not helpful without some
instruction as to what this looking imports: it might very well be
said that one can "look" and still sacrifice no pleasure, still be the
slave of impulse, repeating the word God but held in the grip of every
passion and making no effort to master any. Virtue, advancing
towards the Term and, linked with thought, occupying a Soul makes
God manifest: God on the lips, without a good conduct of life, is a
    16. On the other hand, to despise this Sphere, and the Gods within
it or anything else that is lovely, is not the way to goodness.
    Every evil-doer began by despising the Gods; and one not
previously corrupt, taking to this contempt, even though in other
respects not wholly bad, becomes an evil-doer by the very fact.
    Besides, in this slighting of the Mundane Gods and the world,
the honour they profess for the gods of the Intellectual Sphere
becomes an inconsistency; Where we love, our hearts are warm also to
the Kin of the beloved; we are not indifferent to the children of
our friend. Now every Soul is a child of that Father; but in the
heavenly bodies there are Souls, intellective, holy, much closer to
the Supernal Beings than are ours; for how can this Kosmos be a
thing cut off from That and how imagine the gods in it to stand apart?
    But of this matter we have treated elsewhere: here we urge that
where there is contempt for the Kin of the Supreme the knowledge of
the Supreme itself is merely verbal.
    What sort of piety can make Providence stop short of earthly
concerns or set any limit whatsoever to it?
    And what consistency is there in this school when they proceed
to assert that Providence cares for them, though for them alone?
    And is this Providence over them to be understood of their
existence in that other world only or of their lives here as well?
If in the other world, how came they to this? If in this world, why
are they not already raised from it?
    Again, how can they deny that the Lord of Providence is here?
How else can He know either that they are here, or that in their
sojourn here they have not forgotten Him and fallen away? And if He is
aware of the goodness of some, He must know of the wickedness of
others, to distinguish good from bad. That means that He is present to
all, is, by whatever mode, within this Universe. The Universe,
therefore, must be participant in Him.
    If He is absent from the Universe, He is absent from yourselves,
and you can have nothing to tell about Him or about the powers that
come after Him.
    But, allowing that a Providence reaches to you from the world
beyond- making any concession to your liking- it remains none the less
certain that this world holds from the Supernal and is not deserted
and will not be: a Providence watching entires is even more likely
than one over fragments only; and similarly, Participation is more
perfect in the case of the All-Soul- as is shown, further, by the very
existence of things and the wisdom manifest in their existence. Of
those that advance these wild pretensions, who is so well ordered,
so wise, as the Universe? The comparison is laughable, utterly out
of place; to make it, except as a help towards truth, would be
    The very question can be entertained by no intelligent being but
only by one so blind, so utterly devoid of perception and thought,
so far from any vision of the Intellectual Universe as not even to see
this world of our own.
    For who that truly perceives the harmony of the Intellectual Realm
could fail, if he has any bent towards music, to answer to the harmony
in sensible sounds? What geometrician or arithmetician could fail to
take pleasure in the symmetries, correspondences and principles of
order observed in visible things? Consider, even, the case of
pictures: those seeing by the bodily sense the productions of the
art of painting do not see the one thing in the one only way; they are
deeply stirred by recognizing in the objects depicted to the eyes
the presentation of what lies in the idea, and so are called to
recollection of the truth- the very experience out of which Love
rises. Now, if the sight of Beauty excellently reproduced upon a
face hurries the mind to that other Sphere, surely no one seeing the
loveliness lavish in the world of sense- this vast orderliness, the
Form which the stars even in their remoteness display- no one could be
so dull-witted, so immoveable, as not to be carried by all this to
recollection, and gripped by reverent awe in the thought of all
this, so great, sprung from that greatness. Not to answer thus could
only be to have neither fathomed this world nor had any vision of that
    17. Perhaps the hate of this school for the corporeal is due to
their reading of Plato who inveighs against body as a grave
hindrance to Soul and pronounces the corporeal to be
characteristically the inferior.
    Then let them for the moment pass over the corporeal element in
the Universe and study all that still remains.
    They will think of the Intellectual Sphere which includes within
itself the Ideal-Form realized in the Kosmos. They will think of the
Souls, in their ordered rank, that produce incorporeal magnitude and
lead the Intelligible out towards spatial extension, so that finally
the thing of process becomes, by its magnitude, as adequate a
representation as possible of the principle void of parts which is its
model- the greatness of power there being translated here into
greatness of bulk. Then whether they think of the Kosmic Sphere [the
All-Soul] as already in movement under the guidance of that power of
God which holds it through and through, beginning and middle and
end, or whether they consider it as in rest and exercising as yet no
outer governance: either approach will lead to a true appreciation
of the Soul that conducts this Universe.
    Now let them set body within it- not in the sense that Soul
suffers any change but that, since "In the Gods there can be no
grudging," it gives to its inferior all that any partial thing has
strength to receive and at once their conception of the Kosmos must be
revised; they cannot deny that the Soul of the Kosmos has exercised
such a weight of power as to have brought the corporeal-principle,
in itself unlovely, to partake of good and beauty to the utmost of its
receptivity- and to a pitch which stirs Souls, beings of the divine
    These people may no doubt say that they themselves feel no such
stirring, and that they see no difference between beautiful and ugly
forms of body; but, at that, they can make no distinction between
the ugly and the beautiful in conduct; sciences can have no beauty;
there can be none in thought; and none, therefore, in God. This
world descends from the Firsts: if this world has no beauty, neither
has its Source; springing thence, this world, too, must have its
beautiful things. And while they proclaim their contempt for earthly
beauty, they would do well to ignore that of youths and women so as
not to be overcome by incontinence.
    In fine, we must consider that their self-satisfaction could not
turn upon a contempt for anything indisputably base; theirs is the
perverse pride of despising what was once admired.
    We must always keep in mind that the beauty in a partial thing
cannot be identical with that in a whole; nor can any several
objects be as stately as the total.
    And we must recognize, that, even in the world of sense and
part, there are things of a loveliness comparable to that of the
Celestials- forms whose beauty must fill us with veneration for
their creator and convince us of their origin in the divine, forms
which show how ineffable is the beauty of the Supreme since they
cannot hold us but we must, though in all admiration, leave these
for those. Further, wherever there is interior beauty, we may be
sure that inner and outer correspond; where the interior is vile,
all is brought low by that flaw in the dominants.
    Nothing base within can be beautiful without- at least not with an
authentic beauty, for there are examples of a good exterior not sprung
from a beauty dominant within; people passing as handsome but
essentially base have that, a spurious and superficial beauty: if
anyone tells me he has seen people really fine-looking but
interiorly vile, I can only deny it; we have here simply a false
notion of personal beauty; unless, indeed, the inner vileness were
an accident in a nature essentially fine; in this Sphere there are
many obstacles to self-realization.
    In any case the All is beautiful, and there can be no obstacle
to its inner goodness: where the nature of a thing does not comport
perfection from the beginning, there may be a failure in complete
expression; there may even be a fall to vileness, but the All never
knew a childlike immaturity; it never experienced a progress
bringing novelty into it; it never had bodily growth: there was
nowhere from whence it could take such increment; it was always the
    And even for its Soul no one could imagine any such a path of
process: or, if this were conceded, certainly it could not be
towards evil.
    18. But perhaps this school will maintain that, while their
teaching leads to a hate and utter abandonment of the body, ours binds
the Soul down in it.
    In other words: two people inhabit the one stately house; one of
them declaims against its plan and against its Architect, but none the
less maintains his residence in it; the other makes no complaint,
asserts the entire competency of the Architect and waits cheerfully
for the day when he may leave it, having no further need of a house:
the malcontent imagines himself to be the wiser and to be the
readier to leave because he has learned to repeat that the walls are
of soulless stone and timber and that the place falls far short of a
true home; he does not see that his only distinction is in not being
able to bear with necessity assuming that his conduct, his
grumbling, does not cover a secret admiration for the beauty of
those same "stones." As long as we have bodies we must inhabit the
dwellings prepared for us by our good sister the Soul in her vast
power of labourless creation.
    Or would this school reject the word Sister? They are willing to
address the lowest of men as brothers; are they capable of such raving
as to disown the tie with the Sun and the powers of the Heavens and
the very Soul of the Kosmos? Such kinship, it is true, is not for
the vile; it may be asserted only of those that have become good and
are no longer body but embodied Soul and of a quality to inhabit the
body in a mode very closely resembling the indwelling. of the All-Soul
in the universal frame. And this means continence, self-restraint,
holding staunch against outside pleasure and against outer
spectacle, allowing no hardship to disturb the mind. The All-Soul is
immune from shock; there is nothing that can affect it: but we, in our
passage here, must call on virtue in repelling these assaults, reduced
for us from the beginning by a great conception of life, annulled by
matured strength.
    Attaining to something of this immunity, we begin to reproduce
within ourselves the Soul of the vast All and of the heavenly
bodies: when we are come to the very closest resemblance, all the
effort of our fervid pursuit will be towards that goal to which they
also tend; their contemplative vision becomes ours, prepared as we
are, first by natural disposition and afterwards by all this training,
for that state which is theirs by the Principle of their Being.
    This school may lay claim to vision as a dignity reserved to
themselves, but they are not any the nearer to vision by the claim- or
by the boast that while the celestial powers, bound for ever to the
ordering of the Heavens, can never stand outside the material
universe, they themselves have their freedom in their death. This is a
failure to grasp the very notion of "standing outside," a failure to
appreciate the mode in which the All-Soul cares for the unensouled.
    No: it is possible to go free of love for the body; to be
clean-living, to disregard death; to know the Highest and aim at
that other world; not to slander, as negligent in the quest, others
who are able for it and faithful to it; and not to err with those that
deny vital motion to the stars because to our sense they stand
still- the error which in another form leads this school to deny outer
vision to the Star-Nature, only because they do not see the
Star-Soul in outer manifestation.
                       THE THIRD ENNEAD.

                        FIRST TRACTATE.


    1. In the two orders of things- those whose existence is that of
process and those in whom it is Authentic Being- there is a variety of
possible relation to Cause.
    Cause might conceivably underly all the entities in both orders or
none in either. It might underly some, only, in each order, the others
being causeless. It might, again, underly the Realm of Process
universally while in the Realm of Authentic Existence some things were
caused, others not, or all were causeless. Conceivably, on the other
hand, the Authentic Existents are all caused while in the Realm of
Process some things are caused and others not, or all are causeless.
    Now, to begin with the Eternal Existents:
    The Firsts among these, by the fact that they are Firsts, cannot
be referred to outside Causes; but all such as depend upon those
Firsts may be admitted to derive their Being from them.
    And in all cases the Act may be referred to the Essence [as its
cause], for their Essence consists, precisely, in giving forth an
appropriate Act.
    As for Things of Process- or for Eternal Existents whose Act is
not eternally invariable- we must hold that these are due to Cause;
Causelessness is quite inadmissible; we can make no place here for
unwarranted "slantings," for sudden movement of bodies apart from
any initiating power, for precipitate spurts in a soul with nothing to
drive it into the new course of action. Such causelessness would
bind the Soul under an even sterner compulsion, no longer master of
itself, but at the mercy of movements apart from will and cause.
Something willed- within itself or without- something desired, must
lead it to action; without motive it can have no motion.
    On the assumption that all happens by Cause, it is easy to
discover the nearest determinants of any particular act or state and
to trace it plainly to them.
    The cause of a visit to the centre of affairs will be that one
thinks it necessary to see some person or to receive a debt, or, in
a word, that one has some definite motive or impulse confirmed by a
judgement of expediency. Sometimes a condition may be referred to
the arts, the recovery of health for instance to medical science and
the doctor. Wealth has for its cause the discovery of a treasure or
the receipt of a gift, or the earning of money by manual or
intellectual labour. The child is traced to the father as its Cause
and perhaps to a chain of favourable outside circumstances such as a
particular diet or, more immediately, a special organic aptitude or
a wife apt to childbirth.
    And the general cause of all is Nature.
    2. But to halt at these nearest determinants, not to be willing to
penetrate deeper, indicates a sluggish mind, a dullness to all that
calls us towards the primal and transcendent causes.
    How comes it that the same surface causes produce different
results? There is moonshine, and one man steals and the other does
not: under the influence of exactly similar surroundings one man falls
sick and the other keeps well; an identical set of operations makes
one rich and leaves another poor. The differences amongst us in
manners, in characters, in success, force us to go still further back.
    Men therefore have never been able to rest at the surface causes.
    One school postulates material principles, such as atoms; from the
movement, from the collisions and combinations of these, it derives
the existence and the mode of being of all particular phenomena,
supposing that all depends upon how these atoms are agglomerated,
how they act, how they are affected; our own impulses and states,
even, are supposed to be determined by these principles.
    Such teaching, then, obtrudes this compulsion, an atomic Anagke,
even upon Real Being. Substitute, for the atoms, any other material
entities as principles and the cause of all things, and at once Real
Being becomes servile to the determination set up by them.
    Others rise to the first-principle of all that exists and from
it derive all they tell of a cause penetrating all things, not
merely moving all but making each and everything; but they pose this
as a fate and a supremely dominating cause; not merely all else that
comes into being, but even our own thinking and thoughts would
spring from its movement, just as the several members of an animal
move not at their own choice but at the dictation of the leading
principle which animal life presupposes.
    Yet another school fastens on the universal Circuit as embracing
all things and producing all by its motion and by the positions and
mutual aspect of the planets and fixed stars in whose power of
foretelling they find warrant for the belief that this Circuit is
the universal determinant.
    Finally, there are those that dwell on the interconnection of
the causative forces and on their linked descent- every later
phenomenon following upon an earlier, one always leading back to
others by which it arose and without which it could not be, and the
latest always subservient to what went before them- but this is
obviously to bring in fate by another path. This school may be
fairly distinguished into two branches; a section which makes all
depend upon some one principle and a section which ignores such a
    Of this last opinion we will have something to say, but for the
moment we will deal with the former, taking the others in their turn.
    3. "Atoms" or "elements"- it is in either case an absurdity, an
impossibility, to hand over the universe and its contents to
material entities, and out of the disorderly swirl thus occasioned
to call order, reasoning, and the governing soul into being; but the
atomic origin is, if we may use the phrase, the most impossible.
    A good deal of truth has resulted from the discussion of this
subject; but, even to admit such principles does not compel us to
admit universal compulsion or any kind of "fate."
    Suppose the atoms to exist:
    These atoms are to move, one downwards- admitting a down and an
up- another slant-wise, all at haphazard, in a confused conflict.
Nothing here is orderly; order has not come into being, though the
outcome, this Universe, when it achieves existence, is all order;
and thus prediction and divination are utterly impossible, whether
by the laws of the science- what science can operate where there is no
order?- or by divine possession and inspiration, which no less require
that the future be something regulated.
    Material entities exposed to all this onslaught may very well be
under compulsion to yield to whatsoever the atoms may bring: but would
anyone pretend that the acts and states of a soul or mind could be
explained by any atomic movements? How can we imagine that the
onslaught of an atom, striking downwards or dashing in from any
direction, could force the soul to definite and necessary reasonings
or impulses or into any reasonings, impulses or thoughts at all,
necessary or otherwise? And what of the soul's resistance to bodily
states? What movement of atoms could compel one man to be a
geometrician, set another studying arithmetic or astronomy, lead a
third to the philosophic life? In a word, if we must go, like soulless
bodies, wherever bodies push and drive us, there is an end to our
personal act and to our very existence as living beings.
    The School that erects other material forces into universal causes
is met by the same reasoning: we say that while these can warm us
and chill us, and destroy weaker forms of existence, they can be
causes of nothing that is done in the sphere of mind or soul: all this
must be traceable to quite another kind of Principle.
    4. Another theory:
    The Universe is permeated by one Soul, Cause of all things and
events; every separate phenomenon as a member of a whole moves in
its place with the general movement; all the various causes spring
into action from one source: therefore, it is argued, the entire
descending claim of causes and all their interaction must follow
inevitably and so constitute a universal determination. A plant
rises from a root, and we are asked on that account to reason that not
only the interconnection linking the root to all the members and every
member to every other but the entire activity and experience of the
plant, as well, must be one organized overruling, a "destiny" of the
    But such an extremity of determination, a destiny so
all-pervasive, does away with the very destiny that is affirmed: it
shatters the sequence and co-operation of causes.
    It would be unreasonable to attribute to destiny the movement of
our limbs dictated by the mind and will: this is no case of
something outside bestowing motion while another thing accepts it
and is thus set into action; the mind itself is the prime mover.
    Similarly in the case of the universal system; if all that
performs act and is subject to experience constitutes one substance,
if one thing does not really produce another thing under causes
leading back continuously one to another, then it is not a truth
that all happens by causes, there is nothing but a rigid unity. We are
no "We": nothing is our act; our thought is not ours; our decisions
are the reasoning of something outside ourselves; we are no more
agents than our feet are kickers when we use them to kick with.
    No; each several thing must be a separate thing; there must be
acts and thoughts that are our own; the good and evil done by each
human being must be his own; and it is quite certain that we must
not lay any vileness to the charge of the All.
    5. But perhaps the explanation of every particular act or event is
rather that they are determined by the spheric movement- the Phora-
and by the changing position of the heavenly bodies as these stand
at setting or rising or in mid-course and in various aspects with each
    Augury, it is urged, is able from these indications to foretell
what is to happen not merely to the universe as a whole, but even to
individuals, and this not merely as regards external conditions of
fortune but even as to the events of the mind. We observe, too, how
growth or check in other orders of beings- animals and Plants- is
determined by their sympathetic relations with the heavenly bodies and
how widely they are influenced by them, how, for example, the
various countries show a different produce according to their
situation on the earth and especially their lie towards the sun. And
the effect of place is not limited to plants and animals; it rules
human beings too, determining their appearance, their height and
colour, their mentality and their desires, their pursuits and their
moral habit. Thus the universal circuit would seem to be the monarch
of the All.
    Now a first answer to this theory is that its advocates have
merely devised another shift to immolate to the heavenly bodies all
that is ours, our acts of will and our states, all the evil in us, our
entire personality; nothing is allowed to us; we are left to be stones
set rolling, not men, not beings whose nature implies a task.
    But we must be allowed our own- with the understanding that to
what is primarily ours, our personal holding, there is added some
influx from the All- the distinction must be made between our
individual act and what is thrust upon us: we are not to be
immolated to the stars.
    Place and climate, no doubt, produce constitutions warmer or
colder; and the parents tell on the offspring, as is seen in the
resemblance between them, very general in personal appearance and
noted also in some of the unreflecting states of the mind.
    None the less, in spite of physical resemblance and similar
environment, we observe the greatest difference in temperament and
in ideas: this side of the human being, then, derives from some
quite other Principle [than any external causation or destiny]. A
further confirmation is found in the efforts we make to correct both
bodily constitution and mental aspirations.
    If the stars are held to be causing principles on the ground of
the possibility of foretelling individual fate or fortune from
observation of their positions, then the birds and all the other
things which the soothsayer observes for divination must equally be
taken as causing what they indicate.
    Some further considerations will help to clarify this matter:
    The heavens are observed at the moment of a birth and the
individual fate is thence predicted in the idea that the stars are
no mere indications, but active causes, of the future events.
Sometimes the Astrologers tell of noble birth; "the child is born of
highly placed parents"; yet how is it possible to make out the stars
to be causes of a condition which existed in the father and mother
previously to that star pattern on which the prediction is based?
    And consider still further:
    They are really announcing the fortunes of parents from the
birth of children; the character and career of children are included
in the predictions as to the parents- they predict for the yet
unborn!- in the lot of one brother they are foretelling the death of
another; a girl's fate includes that of a future husband, a boy's that
of a wife.
    Now, can we think that the star-grouping over any particular birth
can be the cause of what stands already announced in the facts about
the parents? Either the previous star-groupings were the
determinants of the child's future career or, if they were not, then
neither is the immediate grouping. And notice further that physical
likeness to the parents- the Astrologers hold- is of purely domestic
origin: this implies that ugliness and beauty are so caused and not by
astral movements.
    Again, there must at one and the same time be a widespread
coming to birth- men, and the most varied forms of animal life at
the same moment- and these should all be under the one destiny since
the one pattern rules at the moment; how explain that identical
star-groupings give here the human form, there the animal?
    6. But in fact everything follows its own Kind; the birth is a
horse because it comes from the Horse Kind, a man by springing from
the Human Kind; offspring answers to species. Allow the kosmic circuit
its part, a very powerful influence upon the thing brought into being:
allow the stars a wide material action upon the bodily part of the
man, producing heat and cold and their natural resultants in the
physical constitution; still does such action explain character,
vocation and especially all that seems quite independent of material
elements, a man taking to letters, to geometry, to gambling, and
becoming an originator in any of these pursuits? And can we imagine
the stars, divine beings, bestowing wickedness? And what of a doctrine
that makes them wreak vengeance, as for a wrong, because they are in
their decline or are being carried to a position beneath the earth- as
if a decline from our point of view brought any change to
themselves, as if they ever ceased to traverse the heavenly spheres
and to make the same figure around the earth.
    Nor may we think that these divine beings lose or gain in goodness
as they see this one or another of the company in various aspects, and
that in their happier position they are benignant to us and, less
pleasantly situated, turn maleficent. We can but believe that their
circuit is for the protection of the entirety of things while they
furnish the incidental service of being letters on which the augur,
acquainted with that alphabet, may look and read the future from their
pattern- arriving at the thing signified by such analogies as that a
soaring bird tells of some lofty event.
    7. It remains to notice the theory of the one Causing-Principle
alleged to interweave everything with everything else, to make
things into a chain, to determine the nature and condition of each
phenomenon- a Principle which, acting through seminal Reason-Forms-
Logoi Spermatikoi- elaborates all that exists and happens.
    The doctrine is close to that which makes the Soul of the Universe
the source and cause of all condition and of all movement whether
without or- supposing that we are allowed as individuals some little
power towards personal act- within ourselves.
    But it is the theory of the most rigid and universal Necessity:
all the causative forces enter into the system, and so every several
phenomenon rises necessarily; where nothing escapes Destiny, nothing
has power to check or to change. Such forces beating upon us, as it
were, from one general cause leave us no resource but to go where they
drive. All our ideas will be determined by a chain of previous causes;
our doings will be determined by those ideas; personal action
becomes a mere word. That we are the agents does not save our
freedom when our action is prescribed by those causes; we have
precisely what belongs to everything that lives, to infants guided
by blind impulses, to lunatics; all these act; why, even fire acts;
there is act in everything that follows the plan of its being,
    No one that sees the implications of this theory can hesitate:
unable to halt at such a determinant principle, we seek for other
explanations of our action.
    8. What can this other cause be; one standing above those
treated of; one that leaves nothing causeless, that preserves sequence
and order in the Universe and yet allows ourselves some reality and
leaves room for prediction and augury?
    Soul: we must place at the crest of the world of beings, this
other Principle, not merely the Soul of the Universe but, included
in it, the Soul of the individual: this, no mean Principle, is
needed to be the bond of union in the total of things, not, itself,
a thing sprung like things from life-seeds, but a first-hand Cause,
bodiless and therefore supreme over itself, free, beyond the reach
of kosmic Cause: for, brought into body, it would not be
unrestrictedly sovereign; it would hold rank in a series.
    Now the environment into which this independent principle
enters, when it comes to this midpoint, will be largely led by
secondary causes [or, by chance-causes]: there will therefore be a
compromise; the action of the Soul will be in part guided by this
environment while in other matters it will be sovereign, leading the
way where it will. The nobler Soul will have the greater power; the
poorer Soul, the lesser. A soul which defers to the bodily temperament
cannot escape desire and rage and is abject in poverty, overbearing in
wealth, arbitrary in power. The soul of nobler nature holds good
against its surroundings; it is more apt to change them than to be
changed, so that often it improves the environment and, where it
must make concession, at least keeps its innocence.
    9. We admit, then, a Necessity in all that is brought about by
this compromise between evil and accidental circumstance: what room
was there for anything else than the thing that is? Given all the
causes, all must happen beyond aye or nay- that is, all the external
and whatever may be due to the sidereal circuit- therefore when the
Soul has been modified by outer forces and acts under that pressure so
that what it does is no more than an unreflecting acceptance of
stimulus, neither the act nor the state can be described as voluntary:
so, too, when even from within itself, it falls at times below its
best and ignores the true, the highest, laws of action.
    But when our Soul holds to its Reason-Principle, to the guide,
pure and detached and native to itself, only then can we speak of
personal operation, of voluntary act. Things so done may truly be
described as our doing, for they have no other source; they are the
issue of the unmingled Soul, a Principle that is a First, a leader,
a sovereign not subject to the errors of ignorance, not to be
overthrown by the tyranny of the desires which, where they can break
in, drive and drag, so as to allow of no act of ours, but mere
answer to stimulus.
    10. To sum the results of our argument: All things and events
are foreshown and brought into being by causes; but the causation is
of two Kinds; there are results originating from the Soul and
results due to other causes, those of the environment.
    In the action of our Souls all that is done of their own motion in
the light of sound reason is the Soul's work, while what is done where
they are hindered from their own action is not so much done as
suffered. Unwisdom, then, is not due to the Soul, and, in general-
if we mean by Fate a compulsion outside ourselves- an act is fated
when it is contrary to wisdom.
    But all our best is of our own doing: such is our nature as long
as we remain detached. The wise and good do perform acts; their
right action is the expression of their own power: in the others it
comes in the breathing spaces when the passions are in abeyance; but
it is not that they draw this occasional wisdom from outside
themselves; simply, they are for the time being unhindered.
                        SECOND TRACTATE.

                        ON PROVIDENCE (1).

    1. To make the existence and coherent structure of this Universe
depend upon automatic activity and upon chance is against all good
    Such a notion could be entertained only where there is neither
intelligence nor even ordinary perception; and reason enough has
been urged against it, though none is really necessary.
    But there is still the question as to the process by which the
individual things of this sphere have come into being, how they were
    Some of them seem so undesirable as to cast doubts upon a
Universal Providence; and we find, on the one hand, the denial of
any controlling power, on the other the belief that the Kosmos is
the work of an evil creator.
    This matter must be examined through and through from the very
first principles. We may, however, omit for the present any
consideration of the particular providence, that beforehand decision
which accomplishes or holds things in abeyance to some good purpose
and gives or withholds in our own regard: when we have established the
Universal Providence which we affirm, we can link the secondary with
    Of course the belief that after a certain lapse of time a Kosmos
previously non-existent came into being would imply a foreseeing and a
reasoned plan on the part of God providing for the production of the
Universe and securing all possible perfection in it- a guidance and
partial providence, therefore, such as is indicated. But since we hold
the eternal existence of the Universe, the utter absence of a
beginning to it, we are forced, in sound and sequent reasoning, to
explain the providence ruling in the Universe as a universal
consonance with the divine Intelligence to which the Kosmos is
subsequent not in time but in the fact of derivation, in the fact that
the Divine Intelligence, preceding it in Kind, is its cause as being
the Archetype and Model which it merely images, the primal by which,
from all eternity, it has its existence and subsistence.
    The relationship may be presented thus:
    The authentic and primal Kosmos is the Being of the Intellectual
Principle and of the Veritable Existent. This contains within itself
no spatial distinction, and has none of the feebleness of division,
and even its parts bring no incompleteness to it since here the
individual is not severed from the entire. In this Nature inheres
all life and all intellect, a life living and having intellection as
one act within a unity: every part that it gives forth is a whole; all
its content is its very own, for there is here no separation of
thing from thing, no part standing in isolated existence estranged
from the rest, and therefore nowhere is there any wronging of any
other, any opposition. Everywhere one and complete, it is at rest
throughout and shows difference at no point; it does not make over any
of its content into any new form; there can be no reason for
changing what is everywhere perfect.
    Why should Reason elaborate yet another Reason, or Intelligence
another Intelligence? An indwelling power of making things is in the
character of a being not at all points as it should be but making,
moving, by reason of some failure in quality. Those whose nature is
all blessedness have no more to do than to repose in themselves and be
their being.
    A widespread activity is dangerous to those who must go out from
themselves to act. But such is the blessedness of this Being that in
its very non-action it magnificently operates and in its self-dwelling
it produces mightily.
    2. By derivation from that Authentic Kosmos, one within itself,
there subsists this lower kosmos, no longer a true unity.
    It is multiple, divided into various elements, thing standing
apart from thing in a new estrangement. No longer is there concord
unbroken; hostility, too, has entered as the result of difference
and distance; imperfection has inevitably introduced discord; for a
part is not self-sufficient, it must pursue something outside itself
for its fulfillment, and so it becomes the enemy to what it needs.
    This Kosmos of parts has come into being not as the result of a
judgement establishing its desirability, but by the sheer necessity of
a secondary Kind.
    The Intellectual Realm was not of a nature to be the ultimate of
existents. It was the First and it held great power, all there is of
power; this means that it is productive without seeking to produce;
for if effort and search were incumbent upon it, the Act would not
be its own, would not spring from its essential nature; it would be,
like a craftsman, producing by a power not inherent but acquired,
mastered by dint of study.
    The Intellectual Principle, then, in its unperturbed serenity
has brought the universe into being, by communicating from its own
store to Matter: and this gift is the Reason-Form flowing from it. For
the Emanation of the Intellectual Principle is Reason, an emanation
unfailing as long as the Intellectual Principle continues to have
place among beings.
    The Reason-Principle within a seed contains all the parts and
qualities concentrated in identity; there is no distinction, no
jarring, no internal hindering; then there comes a pushing out into
bulk, part rises in distinction with part, and at once the members
of the organism stand in each other's way and begin to wear each other
    So from this, the One Intellectual Principle, and the
Reason-Form emanating from it, our Universe rises and develops part,
and inevitably are formed groups concordant and helpful in contrast
with groups discordant and combative; sometimes of choice and
sometimes incidentally, the parts maltreat each other; engendering
proceeds by destruction.
    Yet: Amid all that they effect and accept, the divine Realm
imposes the one harmonious act; each utters its own voice, but all
is brought into accord, into an ordered system, for the universal
purpose, by the ruling Reason-Principle. This Universe is not
Intelligence and Reason, like the Supernal, but participant in
Intelligence and Reason: it stands in need of the harmonizing
because it is the meeting ground of Necessity and divine
Reason-Necessity pulling towards the lower, towards the unreason which
is its own characteristic, while yet the Intellectual Principle
remains sovereign over it.
    The Intellectual Sphere [the Divine] alone is Reason, and there
can never be another Sphere that is Reason and nothing else; so
that, given some other system, it cannot be as noble as that first; it
cannot be Reason: yet since such a system cannot be merely Matter,
which is the utterly unordered, it must be a mixed thing. Its two
extremes are Matter and the Divine Reason; its governing principle
is Soul, presiding over the conjunction of the two, and to be
thought of not as labouring in the task but as administering
serenely by little more than an act of presence.
    3. Nor would it be sound to condemn this Kosmos as less than
beautiful, as less than the noblest possible in the corporeal; and
neither can any charge be laid against its source.
    The world, we must reflect, is a product of Necessity, not of
deliberate purpose: it is due to a higher Kind engendering in its
own likeness by a natural process. And none the less, a second
consideration, if a considered plan brought it into being it would
still be no disgrace to its maker- for it stands a stately whole,
complete within itself, serving at once its own purpose and that of
all its parts which, leading and lesser alike, are of such a nature as
to further the interests of the total. It is, therefore, impossible to
condemn the whole on the merits of the parts which, besides, must be
judged only as they enter harmoniously or not into the whole, the main
consideration, quite overpassing the members which thus cease to
have importance. To linger about the parts is to condemn not the
Kosmos but some isolated appendage of it; in the entire living Being
we fasten our eyes on a hair or a toe neglecting the marvellous
spectacle of the complete Man; we ignore all the tribes and kinds of
animals except for the meanest; we pass over an entire race, humanity,
and bring forward- Thersites.
    No: this thing that has come into Being is the Kosmos complete: do
but survey it, and surely this is the pleading you will hear:

    I am made by a God: from that God I came perfect above all forms
of life, adequate to my function, self-sufficing, lacking nothing: for
I am the container of all, that is, of every plant and every animal,
of all the Kinds of created things, and many Gods and nations of
Spirit-Beings and lofty souls and men happy in their goodness.
    And do not think that, while earth is ornate with all its
growths and with living things of every race, and while the very sea
has answered to the power of Soul, do not think that the great air and
the ether and the far-spread heavens remain void of it: there it is
that all good Souls dwell, infusing life into the stars and into
that orderly eternal circuit of the heavens which in its conscious
movement ever about the one Centre, seeking nothing beyond, is a
faithful copy of the divine Mind. And all that is within me strives
towards the Good; and each, to the measure of its faculty, attains.
For from that Good all the heavens depend, with all my own Soul and
the Gods that dwell in my every part, and all that lives and grows,
and even all in me that you may judge inanimate.

    But there are degrees of participation: here no more than
Existence, elsewhere Life; and, in Life, sometimes mainly that of
Sensation, higher again that of Reason, finally Life in all its
fullness. We have no right to demand equal powers in the unequal:
the finger is not to be asked to see; there is the eye for that; a
finger has its own business- to be finger and have finger power.
    4. That water extinguishes fire and fire consumes other things
should not astonish us. The thing destroyed derived its being from
outside itself: this is no case of a self-originating substance
being annihilated by an external; it rose on the ruin of something
else, and thus in its own ruin it suffers nothing strange; and for
every fire quenched, another is kindled.
    In the immaterial heaven every member is unchangeably itself for
ever; in the heavens of our universe, while the whole has life
eternally and so too all the nobler and lordlier components, the Souls
pass from body to body entering into varied forms- and, when it may, a
Soul will rise outside of the realm of birth and dwell with the one
Soul of all. For the embodied lives by virtue of a Form or Idea:
individual or partial things exist by virtue of Universals; from these
priors they derive their life and maintenance, for life here is a
thing of change; only in that prior realm is it unmoving. From that
unchangingness, change had to emerge, and from that self-cloistered
Life its derivative, this which breathes and stirs, the respiration of
the still life of the divine.
    The conflict and destruction that reign among living beings are
inevitable, since things here are derived, brought into existence
because the Divine Reason which contains all of them in the upper
Heavens- how could they come here unless they were There?- must
outflow over the whole extent of Matter.
    Similarly, the very wronging of man by man may be derived from
an effort towards the Good; foiled, in their weakness, of their true
desire, they turn against each other: still, when they do wrong,
they pay the penalty- that of having hurt their Souls by their evil
conduct and of degradation to a lower place- for nothing can ever
escape what stands decreed in the law of the Universe.
    This is not to accept the idea, sometimes urged, that order is
an outcome of disorder and law of lawlessness, as if evil were a
necessary preliminary to their existence or their manifestation: on
the contrary order is the original and enters this sphere as imposed
from without: it is because order, law and reason exist that there can
be disorder; breach of law and unreason exist because Reason exists-
not that these better things are directly the causes of the bad but
simply that what ought to absorb the Best is prevented by its own
nature, or by some accident, or by foreign interference. An entity
which must look outside itself for a law, may be foiled of its purpose
by either an internal or an external cause; there will be some flaw in
its own nature, or it will be hurt by some alien influence, for
often harm follows, unintended, upon the action of others in the
pursuit of quite unrelated aims. Such living beings, on the other
hand, as have freedom of motion under their own will sometimes take
the right turn, sometimes the wrong.
    Why the wrong course is followed is scarcely worth enquiring: a
slight deviation at the beginning develops with every advance into a
continuously wider and graver error- especially since there is the
attached body with its inevitable concomitant of desire- and the first
step, the hasty movement not previously considered and not immediately
corrected, ends by establishing a set habit where there was at first
only a fall.
    Punishment naturally follows: there is no injustice in a man
suffering what belongs to the condition in which he is; nor can we ask
to be happy when our actions have not earned us happiness; the good,
only, are happy; divine beings are happy only because they are good.
    5. Now, once Happiness is possible at all to Souls in this
Universe, if some fail of it, the blame must fall not upon the place
but upon the feebleness insufficient to the staunch combat in the
one arena where the rewards of excellence are offered. Men are not
born divine; what wonder that they do not enjoy a divine life. And
poverty and sickness mean nothing to the good- only to the evil are
they disastrous- and where there is body there must be ill health.
    Besides, these accidents are not without their service in the
co-ordination and completion of the Universal system.
    One thing perishes, and the Kosmic Reason- whose control nothing
anywhere eludes- employs that ending to the beginning of something
new; and, so, when the body suffers and the Soul, under the
affliction, loses power, all that has been bound under illness and
evil is brought into a new set of relations, into another class or
order. Some of these troubles are helpful to the very sufferers-
poverty and sickness, for example- and as for vice, even this brings
something to the general service: it acts as a lesson in right
doing, and, in many ways even, produces good; thus, by setting men
face to face with the ways and consequences of iniquity, it calls them
from lethargy, stirs the deeper mind and sets the understanding to
work; by the contrast of the evil under which wrong-doers labour it
displays the worth of the right. Not that evil exists for this
purpose; but, as we have indicated, once the wrong has come to be, the
Reason of the Kosmos employs it to good ends; and, precisely, the
proof of the mightiest power is to be able to use the ignoble nobly
and, given formlessness, to make it the material of unknown forms.
    The principle is that evil by definition is a falling short in
good, and good cannot be at full strength in this Sphere where it is
lodged in the alien: the good here is in something else, in
something distinct from the Good, and this something else
constitutes the falling short for it is not good. And this is why evil
is ineradicable: there is, first, the fact that in relation to this
principle of Good, thing will always stand less than thing, and,
besides, all things come into being through it and are what they are
by standing away from it.
    6. As for the disregard of desert- the good afflicted, the
unworthy thriving- it is a sound explanation no doubt that to the good
nothing is evil and to the evil nothing can be good: still the
question remains why should what essentially offends our nature fall
to the good while the wicked enjoy all it demands? How can such an
allotment be approved?
    No doubt since pleasant conditions add nothing to true happiness
and the unpleasant do not lessen the evil in the wicked, the
conditions matter little: as well complain that a good man happens
to be ugly and a bad man handsome.
    Still, under such a dispensation, there would surely be a
propriety, a reasonableness, a regard to merit which, as things are,
do not appear, though this would certainly be in keeping with the
noblest Providence: even though external conditions do not affect a
man's hold upon good or evil, none the less it would seem utterly
unfitting that the bad should be the masters, be sovereign in the
state, while honourable men are slaves: a wicked ruler may commit
the most lawless acts; and in war the worst men have a free hand and
perpetrate every kind of crime against their prisoners.
    We are forced to ask how such things can be, under a Providence.
Certainly a maker must consider his work as a whole, but none the less
he should see to the due ordering of all the parts, especially when
these parts have Soul, that is, are Living and Reasoning Beings: the
Providence must reach to all the details; its functioning must consist
in neglecting no point.
    Holding, therefore, as we do, despite all, that the Universe
lies under an Intellectual Principle whose power has touched every
existent, we cannot be absolved from the attempt to show in what way
the detail of this sphere is just.
    7. A preliminary observation: in looking for excellence in this
thing of mixture, the Kosmos, we cannot require all that is implied in
the excellence of the unmingled; it is folly to ask for Firsts in
the Secondary, and since this Universe contains body, we must allow
for some bodily influence upon the total and be thankful if the
mingled existent lack nothing of what its nature allowed it to receive
from the Divine Reason.
    Thus, supposing we were enquiring for the finest type of the human
being as known here, we would certainly not demand that he prove
identical with Man as in the Divine Intellect; we would think it
enough in the Creator to have so brought this thing of flesh and nerve
and bone under Reason as to give grace to these corporeal elements and
to have made it possible for Reason to have contact with Matter.
    Our progress towards the object of our investigation must begin
from this principle of gradation which will open to us the wonder of
the Providence and of the power by which our universe holds its being.
    We begin with evil acts entirely dependent upon the Souls which
perpetrate them- the harm, for example, which perverted Souls do to
the good and to each other. Unless the foreplanning power alone is
to be charged with the vice in such Souls, we have no ground of
accusation, no claim to redress: the blame lies on the Soul exercising
its choice. Even a Soul, we have seen, must have its individual
movement; it is not abstract Spirit; the first step towards animal
life has been taken and the conduct will naturally be in keeping
with that character.
    It is not because the world existed that Souls are here: before
the world was, they had it in them to be of the world, to concern
themselves with it, to presuppose it, to administer it: it was in
their nature to produce it- by whatever method, whether by giving
forth some emanation while they themselves remained above, or by an
actual descent, or in both ways together, some presiding from above,
others descending; some for we are not at the moment concerned about
the mode of creation but are simply urging that, however the world was
produced, no blame falls on Providence for what exists within it.
    There remains the other phase of the question- the distribution of
evil to the opposite classes of men: the good go bare while the wicked
are rich: all that human need demands, the least deserving have in
abundance; it is they that rule; peoples and states are at their
disposal. Would not all this imply that the divine power does not
reach to earth?
    That it does is sufficiently established by the fact that Reason
rules in the lower things: animals and plants have their share in
Reason, Soul and Life.
    Perhaps, then, it reaches to earth but is not master over all?
    We answer that the universe is one living organism: as well
maintain that while human head and face are the work of nature and
of the ruling reason-principle, the rest of the frame is due to
other agencies- accident or sheer necessity- and owes its
inferiority to this origin, or to the incompetence of unaided
Nature. And even granting that those less noble members are not in
themselves admirable it would still be neither pious nor even reverent
to censure the entire structure.
    8. Thus we come to our enquiry as to the degree of excellence
found in things of this Sphere, and how far they belong to an
ordered system or in what degree they are, at least, not evil.
    Now in every living being the upper parts- head, face- are the
most beautiful, the mid and lower members inferior. In the Universe
the middle and lower members are human beings; above them, the Heavens
and the Gods that dwell there; these Gods with the entire circling
expanse of the heavens constitute the greater part of the Kosmos:
the earth is but a central point, and may be considered as simply
one among the stars. Yet human wrong-doing is made a matter of wonder;
we are evidently asked to take humanity as the choice member of the
Universe, nothing wiser existent!
    But humanity, in reality, is poised midway between gods and
beasts, and inclines now to the one order, now to the other; some
men grow like to the divine, others to the brute, the greater number
stand neutral. But those that are corrupted to the point of
approximating to irrational animals and wild beasts pull the
mid-folk about and inflict wrong upon them; the victims are no doubt
better than the wrongdoers, but are at the mercy of their inferiors in
the field in which they themselves are inferior, where, that is,
they cannot be classed among the good since they have not trained
themselves in self-defence.
    A gang of lads, morally neglected, and in that respect inferior to
the intermediate class, but in good physical training, attack and
throw another set, trained neither physically nor morally, and make
off with their food and their dainty clothes. What more is called
for than a laugh?
    And surely even the lawgiver would be right in allowing the second
group to suffer this treatment, the penalty of their sloth and
self-indulgence: the gymnasium lies there before them, and they, in
laziness and luxury and listlessness, have allowed themselves to
fall like fat-loaded sheep, a prey to the wolves.
    But the evil-doers also have their punishment: first they pay in
that very wolfishness, in the disaster to their human quality: and
next there is laid up for them the due of their Kind: living ill here,
they will not get off by death; on every precedent through all the
line there waits its sequent, reasonable and natural- worse to the
bad, better to the good.
    This at once brings us outside the gymnasium with its fun for
boys; they must grow up, both kinds, amid their childishness and
both one day stand girt and armed. Then there is a finer spectacle
than is ever seen by those that train in the ring. But at this stage
some have not armed themselves- and the duly armed win the day.
    Not even a God would have the right to deal a blow for the
unwarlike: the law decrees that to come safe out of battle is for
fighting men, not for those that pray. The harvest comes home not
for praying but for tilling; healthy days are not for those that
neglect their health: we have no right to complain of the ignoble
getting the richer harvest if they are the only workers in the fields,
or the best.
    Again: it is childish, while we carry on all the affairs of our
life to our own taste and not as the Gods would have us, to expect
them to keep all well for us in spite of a life that is lived
without regard to the conditions which the Gods have prescribed for
our well-being. Yet death would be better for us than to go on
living lives condemned by the laws of the Universe. If things took the
contrary course, if all the modes of folly and wickedness brought no
trouble in life- then indeed we might complain of the indifference
of a Providence leaving the victory to evil.
    Bad men rule by the feebleness of the ruled: and this is just; the
triumph of weaklings would not be just.
    9. It would not be just, because Providence cannot be a
something reducing us to nothingness: to think of Providence as
everything, with no other thing in existence, is to annihilate the
Universe; such a providence could have no field of action; nothing
would exist except the Divine. As things are, the Divine, of course,
exists, but has reached forth to something other- not to reduce that
to nothingness but to preside over it; thus in the case of Man, for
instance, the Divine presides as the Providence, preserving the
character of human nature, that is the character of a being under
the providential law, which, again, implies subjection to what that
law may enjoin.
    And that law enjoins that those who have made themselves good
shall know the best of life, here and later, the bad the reverse.
But the law does not warrant the wicked in expecting that their
prayers should bring others to sacrifice themselves for their sakes;
or that the gods should lay aside the divine life in order to direct
their daily concerns; or that good men, who have chosen a path
nobler than all earthly rule, should become their rulers. The perverse
have never made a single effort to bring the good into authority,
nor do they take any steps to improve themselves; they are all spite
against anyone that becomes good of his own motion, though if good men
were placed in authority the total of goodness would be increased.
    In sum: Man has come into existence, a living being but not a
member of the noblest order; he occupies by choice an intermediate
rank; still, in that place in which he exists, Providence does not
allow him to be reduced to nothing; on the contrary he is ever being
led upwards by all those varied devices which the Divine employs in
its labour to increase the dominance of moral value. The human race,
therefore, is not deprived by Providence of its rational being; it
retains its share, though necessarily limited, in wisdom,
intelligence, executive power and right doing, the right doing, at
least, of individuals to each other- and even in wronging others
people think they are doing right and only paying what is due.
    Man is, therefore, a noble creation, as perfect as the scheme
allows; a part, no doubt, in the fabric of the All, he yet holds a lot
higher than that of all the other living things of earth.
    Now, no one of any intelligence complains of these others, man's
inferiors, which serve to the adornment of the world; it would be
feeble indeed to complain of animals biting man, as if we were to pass
our days asleep. No: the animal, too, exists of necessity, and is
serviceable in many ways, some obvious and many progressively
discovered- so that not one lives without profit to itself and even to
humanity. It is ridiculous, also, to complain that many of them are
dangerous- there are dangerous men abroad as well- and if they
distrust us, and in their distrust attack, is that anything to
wonder at?
    10. But: if the evil in men is involuntary, if their own will
has not made them what they are, how can we either blame wrong-doers
or even reproach their victims with suffering through their own fault?
    If there is a Necessity, bringing about human wickedness either by
force of the celestial movement or by a rigorous sequence set up by
the First Cause, is not the evil a thin rooted in Nature? And if
thus the Reason-Principle of the universe is the creator of evil,
surely all is injustice?
    No: Men are no doubt involuntary sinners in the sense that they do
not actually desire to sin; but this does not alter the fact that
wrongdoers, of their own choice, are, themselves, the agents; it is
because they themselves act that the sin is in their own; if they were
not agents they could not sin.
    The Necessity [held to underlie human wickedness] is not an
outer force [actually compelling the individual], but exists only in
the sense of a universal relationship.
    Nor is the force of the celestial Movement such as to leave us
powerless: if the universe were something outside and apart from us it
would stand as its makers willed so that, once the gods had done their
part, no man, however impious, could introduce anything contrary to
their intention. But, as things are, efficient act does come from men:
given the starting Principle, the secondary line, no doubt, is
inevitably completed; but each and every principle contributes towards
the sequence. Now Men are Principles, or, at least, they are moved
by their characteristic nature towards all that is good, and that
nature is a Principle, a freely acting cause.
    11. Are we, then, to conclude that particular things are
determined by Necessities rooted in Nature and by the sequence of
causes, and that everything is as good as anything can be?
    No: the Reason-Principle is the sovereign, making all: it wills
things as they are and, in its reasonable act, it produces even what
we know as evil: it cannot desire all to be good: an artist would
not make an animal all eyes; and in the same way, the Reason-Principle
would not make all divine; it makes Gods but also celestial spirits,
the intermediate order, then men, then the animals; all is graded
succession, and this in no spirit of grudging but in the expression of
a Reason teeming with intellectual variety.
    We are like people ignorant of painting who complain that the
colours are not beautiful everywhere in the picture: but the Artist
has laid on the appropriate tint to every spot. Or we are censuring
a drama because the persons are not all heroes but include a servant
and a rustic and some scurrilous clown; yet take away the low
characters and the power of the drama is gone; these are part and
parcel of it.
    12. Suppose this Universe were the direct creation of the
Reason-Principle applying itself, quite unchanged, to Matter,
retaining, that is, the hostility to partition which it derives from
its Prior, the Intellectual Principle- then, this its product, so
produced, would be of supreme and unparalleled excellence. But the
Reason-Principle could not be a thing of entire identity or even of
closely compact diversity; and the mode in which it is here manifested
is no matter of censure since its function is to be all things, each
single thing in some distinctive way.
    But has it not, besides itself entering Matter, brought other
beings down? Has it not for example brought Souls into Matter and,
in adapting them to its creation, twisted them against their own
nature and been the ruin of many of them? And can this be right?
    The answer is that the Souls are, in a fair sense, members of this
Reason-Principle and that it has not adapted them to the creation by
perverting them, but has set them in the place here to which their
quality entitles them.
    13. And we must not despise the familiar observation that there is
something more to be considered than the present. There are the
periods of the past and, again, those in the future; and these have
everything to do with fixing worth of place.
    Thus a man, once a ruler, will be made a slave because he abused
his power and because the fall is to his future good. Those that
have money will be made poor- and to the good poverty is no hindrance.
Those that have unjustly killed, are killed in turn, unjustly as
regards the murderer but justly as regards the victim, and those
that are to suffer are thrown into the path of those that administer
the merited treatment.
    It is not an accident that makes a man a slave; no one is a
prisoner by chance; every bodily outrage has its due cause. The man
once did what he now suffers. A man that murders his mother will
become a woman and be murdered by a son; a man that wrongs a woman
will become a woman, to be wronged.
    Hence arises that awesome word "Adrasteia" [the Inevadable
Retribution]; for in very truth this ordinance is an Adrasteia,
justice itself and a wonderful wisdom.
    We cannot but recognize from what we observe in this universe that
some such principle of order prevails throughout the entire of
existence- the minutest of things a tributary to the vast total; the
marvellous art shown not merely in the mightiest works and sublimest
members of the All, but even amid such littleness as one would think
Providence must disdain: the varied workmanship of wonder in any and
every animal form; the world of vegetation, too; the grace of fruits
and even of leaves, the lavishness, the delicacy, the diversity of
exquisite bloom; and all this not issuing once, and then to die out,
but made ever and ever anew as the Transcendent Beings move
variously over this earth.
    In all the changing, there is no change by chance: there is no
taking of new forms but to desirable ends and in ways worthy of Divine
Powers. All that is Divine executes the Act of its quality; its
quality is the expression of its essential Being: and this essential
Being in the Divine is the Being whose activities produce as one thing
the desirable and the just- for if the good and the just are not
produced there, where, then, have they their being?
    14. The ordinance of the Kosmos, then, is in keeping with the
Intellectual Principle. True, no reasoning went to its creation, but
it so stands that the keenest reasoning must wonder- since no
reasoning could be able to make it otherwise- at the spectacle
before it, a product which, even in the Kinds of the partial and
particular Sphere, displays the Divine Intelligence to a degree in
which no arranging by reason could express it. Every one of the
ceaselessly recurrent types of being manifests a creating
Reason-Principle above all censure. No fault is to be found unless
on the assumption that everything ought to come into being with all
the perfection of those that have never known such a coming, the
Eternals. In that case, things of the Intellectual realm and things of
the realm of sense must remain one unbroken identity for ever.
    In this demand for more good than exists, there is implied a
failure to recognize that the form allotted to each entity is
sufficient in itself; it is like complaining because one kind of
animal lacks horns. We ought to understand both that the
Reason-Principle must extend to every possible existent and, at the
same time, that every greater must include lesser things, that to
every whole belong its parts, and that all cannot be equality unless
all part is to be absent.
    This is why in the Over-World each entity is all, while here,
below, the single thing is not all [is not the Universe but a "Self"].
Thus too, a man, an individual, in so far as he is a part, is not
Humanity complete: but wheresoever there is associated with the
parts something that is no part [but a Divine, an Intellectual Being],
this makes a whole of that in which it dwells. Man, man as partial
thing, cannot be required to have attained to the very summit of
goodness: if he had, he would have ceased to be of the partial
order. Not that there is any grudging in the whole towards the part
that grows in goodness and dignity; such an increase in value is a
gain to the beauty of the whole; the lesser grows by being made over
in the likeness of the greater, by being admitted, as it were, to
something of that greatness, by sharing in that rank, and thus even
from this place of man, from man's own self, something gleams forth,
as the stars shine in the divine firmament, so that all appears one
great and lovely figure- living or wrought in the furnaces of
craftsmanship- with stars radiant not only in the ears and on the brow
but on the breasts too, and wherever else they may be displayed in
    15. These considerations apply very well to things considered as
standing alone: but there is a stumbling-block, a new problem, when we
think of all these forms, permanent and ceaselessly produced, in
mutual relationship.
    The animals devour each other: men attack each other: all is war
without rest, without truce: this gives new force to the question
how Reason can be author of the plan and how all can be declared
well done.
    This new difficulty is not met by the former answer; that all
stands as well as the nature of things allows; that the blame for
their condition falls on Matter dragging them down; that, given the
plan as we know it, evil cannot be eliminated and should not be;
that the Matter making its presence felt is still not supreme but
remains an element taken in from outside to contribute to a definite
total, or rather to be itself brought to order by Reason.
    The Divine Reason is the beginning and the end; all that comes
into being must be rational and fall at its coming into an ordered
scheme reasonable at every point. Where, then, is the necessity of
this bandit war of man and beast?
    This devouring of Kind by Kind is necessary as the means to the
transmutation of living things which could not keep form for ever even
though no other killed them: what grievance is it that when they
must go their despatch is so planned as to be serviceable to others?
    Still more, what does it matter when they are devoured only to
return in some new form? It comes to no more than the murder of one of
the personages in a play; the actor alters his make-up and enters in a
new role. The actor, of course, was not really killed; but if dying is
but changing a body as the actor changes a costume, or even an exit
from the body like the exit of the actor from the boards when he has
no more to say or do, what is there so very dreadful in this
transformation of living beings one into another?
    Surely it is much better so than if they had never existed: that
way would mean the bleak quenching of life, precluded from passing
outside itself; as the plan holds, life is poured copiously throughout
a Universe, engendering the universal things and weaving variety
into their being, never at rest from producing an endless sequence
of comeliness and shapeliness, a living pastime.
    Men directing their weapons against each other- under doom of
death yet neatly lined up to fight as in the pyrrhic sword-dances of
their sport- this is enough to tell us that all human intentions are
but play, that death is nothing terrible, that to die in a war or in a
fight is but to taste a little beforehand what old age has in store,
to go away earlier and come back the sooner. So for misfortunes that
may accompany life, the loss of property, for instance; the loser will
see that there was a time when it was not his, that its possession
is but a mock boon to the robbers, who will in their turn lose it to
others, and even that to retain property is a greater loss than to
forfeit it.
    Murders, death in all its guises, the reduction and sacking of
cities, all must be to us just such a spectacle as the changing scenes
of a play; all is but the varied incident of a plot, costume on and
off, acted grief and lament. For on earth, in all the succession of
life, it is not the Soul within but the Shadow outside of the
authentic man, that grieves and complains and acts out the plot on
this world stage which men have dotted with stages of their own
constructing. All this is the doing of man knowing no more than to
live the lower and outer life, and never perceiving that, in his
weeping and in his graver doings alike, he is but at play; to handle
austere matters austerely is reserved for the thoughtful: the other
kind of man is himself a futility. Those incapable of thinking gravely
read gravity into frivolities which correspond to their own
frivolous Nature. Anyone that joins in their trifling and so comes
to look on life with their eyes must understand that by lending
himself to such idleness he has laid aside his own character. If
Socrates himself takes part in the trifling, he trifles in the outer
    We must remember, too, that we cannot take tears and laments as
proof that anything is wrong; children cry and whimper where there
is nothing amiss.
    16. But if all this is true, what room is left for evil? Where are
we to place wrong-doing and sin?
    How explain that in a world organized in good, the efficient
agents [human beings] behave unjustly, commit sin? And how comes
misery if neither sin nor injustice exists?
    Again, if all our action is determined by a natural process, how
can the distinction be maintained between behaviour in accordance with
nature and behaviour in conflict with it?
    And what becomes of blasphemy against the divine? The blasphemer
is made what he is: a dramatist has written a part insulting and
maligning himself and given it to an actor to play.
    These considerations oblige us to state the Logos [the
Reason-Principle of the Universe] once again, and more clearly, and to
justify its nature.
    This Reason-Principle, then- let us dare the definition in the
hope of conveying the truth- this Logos is not the Intellectual
Principle unmingled, not the Absolute Divine Intellect; nor does it
descend from the pure Soul alone; it is a dependent of that Soul
while, in a sense, it is a radiation from both those divine
Hypostases; the Intellectual Principle and the Soul- the Soul as
conditioned by the Intellectual Principle engender this Logos which is
a Life holding restfully a certain measure of Reason.
    Now all life, even the least valuable, is an activity, and not a
blind activity like that of flame; even where there is not sensation
the activity of life is no mere haphazard play of Movement: any object
in which life is present, and object which participates in Life, is at
once enreasoned in the sense that the activity peculiar to life is
formative, shaping as it moves.
    Life, then, aims at pattern as does the pantomimic dancer with his
set movements; the mime, in himself, represents life, and, besides,
his movements proceed in obedience to a pattern designed to
symbolize life.
    Thus far to give us some idea of the nature of Life in general.
    But this Reason-Principle which emanates from the complete
unity, divine Mind, and the complete unity Life [= Soul]- is neither a
uniate complete Life nor a uniate complete divine Mind, nor does it
give itself whole and all-including to its subject. [By an imperfect
communication] it sets up a conflict of part against part: it produces
imperfect things and so engenders and maintains war and attack, and
thus its unity can be that only of a sum-total not of a thing
undivided. At war with itself in the parts which it now exhibits, it
has the unity, or harmony, of a drama torn with struggle. The drama,
of course, brings the conflicting elements to one final harmony,
weaving the entire story of the clashing characters into one thing;
while in the Logos the conflict of the divergent elements rises within
the one element, the Reason-Principle: the comparison therefore is
rather with a harmony emerging directly from the conflicting
elements themselves, and the question becomes what introduces clashing
elements among these Reason-Principles.
    Now in the case of music, tones high and low are the product of
Reason-Principles which, by the fact that they are Principles of
harmony, meet in the unit of Harmony, the absolute Harmony, a more
comprehensive Principle, greater than they and including them as its
parts. Similarly in the Universe at large we find contraries- white
and black, hot and cold, winged and wingless, footed and footless,
reasoning and unreasoning- but all these elements are members of one
living body, their sum-total; the Universe is a self-accordant entity,
its members everywhere clashing but the total being the
manifestation of a Reason-Principle. That one Reason-Principle,
then, must be the unification of conflicting Reason-Principles whose
very opposition is the support of its coherence and, almost, of its
    And indeed, if it were not multiple, it could not be a Universal
Principle, it could not even be at all a Reason-Principle; in the fact
of its being a Reason-Principle is contained the fact of interior
difference. Now the maximum of difference is contrariety; admitting
that this differentiation exists and creates, it will create
difference in the greatest and not in the least degree; in other
words, the Reason-Principle, bringing about differentiation to the
uttermost degree, will of necessity create contrarieties: it will be
complete only by producing itself not in merely diverse things but
in contrary things.
    17. The nature of the Reason-Principle is adequately expressed
in its Act and, therefore, the wider its extension the nearer will its
productions approach to full contrariety: hence the world of sense
is less a unity than is its Reason-Principle; it contains a wider
multiplicity and contrariety: its partial members will, therefore,
be urged by a closer intention towards fullness of life, a warmer
desire for unification.
    But desire often destroys the desired; it seeks its own good, and,
if the desired object is perishable, the ruin follows: and the partial
thing straining towards its completing principle draws towards
itself all it possibly can.
    Thus, with the good we have the bad: we have the opposed movements
of a dancer guided by one artistic plan; we recognize in his steps the
good as against the bad, and see that in the opposition lies the merit
of the design.
    But, thus, the wicked disappear?
    No: their wickedness remains; simply, their role is not of their
own planning.
    But, surely, this excuses them?
    No; excuse lies with the Reason-Principle- and the
Reason-Principle does not excuse them.
    No doubt all are members of this Principle but one is a good
man, another is bad- the larger class, this- and it goes as in a play;
the poet while he gives each actor a part is also using them as they
are in their own persons: he does not himself rank the men as
leading actor, second, third; he simply gives suitable words to
each, and by that assignment fixes each man's standing.
    Thus, every man has his place, a place that fits the good man, a
place that fits the bad: each within the two orders of them makes
his way, naturally, reasonably, to the place, good or bad, that
suits him, and takes the position he has made his own. There he
talks and acts, in blasphemy and crime or in all goodness: for the
actors bring to this play what they were before it was ever staged.
    In the dramas of human art, the poet provides the words but the
actors add their own quality, good or bad- for they have more to do
than merely repeat the author's words- in the truer drama which
dramatic genius imitates in its degree, the Soul displays itself in
a part assigned by the creator of the piece.
    As the actors of our stages get their masks and their costume,
robes of state or rags, so a Soul is allotted its fortunes, and not at
haphazard but always under a Reason: it adapts itself to the
fortunes assigned to it, attunes itself, ranges itself rightly to
the drama, to the whole Principle of the piece: then it speaks out its
business, exhibiting at the same time all that a Soul can express of
its own quality, as a singer in a song. A voice, a bearing,
naturally fine or vulgar, may increase the charm of a piece; on the
other hand, an actor with his ugly voice may make a sorry exhibition
of himself, yet the drama stands as good a work as ever: the
dramatist, taking the action which a sound criticism suggests,
disgraces one, taking his part from him, with perfect justice: another
man he promotes to more serious roles or to any more important play he
may have, while the first is cast for whatever minor work there may
    Just so the Soul, entering this drama of the Universe, making
itself a part of the Play, bringing to its acting its personal
excellence or defect, set in a definite place at the entry and
accepting from the author its entire role- superimposed upon its own
character and conduct- just so, it receives in the end its
punishment and reward.
    But these actors, Souls, hold a peculiar dignity: they act in a
vaster place than any stage: the Author has made them masters of all
this world; they have a wide choice of place; they themselves
determine the honour or discredit in which they are agents since their
place and part are in keeping with their quality: they therefore fit
into the Reason-Principle of the Universe, each adjusted, most
legitimately, to the appropriate environment, as every string of the
lyre is set in the precisely right position, determined by the
Principle directing musical utterance, for the due production of the
tones within its capacity. All is just and good in the Universe in
which every actor is set in his own quite appropriate place, though it
be to utter in the Darkness and in Tartarus the dreadful sounds
whose utterance there is well.
    This Universe is good not when the individual is a stone, but when
everyone throws in his own voice towards a total harmony, singing
out a life- thin, harsh, imperfect, though it be. The Syrinx does
not utter merely one pure note; there is a thin obscure sound which
blends in to make the harmony of Syrinx music: the harmony is made
up from tones of various grades, all the tones differing, but the
resultant of all forming one sound.
    Similarly the Reason-Principle entire is One, but it is broken
into unequal parts: hence the difference of place found in the
Universe, better spots and worse; and hence the inequality of Souls,
finding their appropriate surroundings amid this local inequality. The
diverse places of this sphere, the Souls of unequal grade and unlike
conduct, are wen exemplified by the distinction of parts in the Syrinx
or any other instrument: there is local difference, but from every
position every string gives forth its own tone, the sound appropriate,
at once, to its particular place and to the entire plan.
    What is evil in the single Soul will stand a good thing in the
universal system; what in the unit offends nature will serve nature in
the total event- and still remains the weak and wrong tone it is,
though its sounding takes nothing from the worth of the whole, just
as, in another order of image, the executioner's ugly office does
not mar the well-governed state: such an officer is a civic necessity;
and the corresponding moral type is often serviceable; thus, even as
things are, all is well.
    18. Souls vary in worth; and the difference is due, among other
causes, to an almost initial inequality; it is in reason that,
standing to the Reason-Principle, as parts, they should be unequal
by the fact of becoming separate.
    We must also remember that every Soul has its second grade and its
third, and that, therefore, its expression may take any one of three
main forms. But this point must be dealt with here again: the matter
requires all possible elucidation.
    We may perhaps think of actors having the right to add something
to the poet's words: the drama as it stands is not perfectly filled
in, and they are to supply where the Author has left blank spaces here
and there; the actors are to be something else as well; they become
parts of the poet, who on his side has a foreknowledge of the word
they will add, and so is able to bind into one story what the actors
bring in and what is to follow.
    For, in the All, the sequences, including what follows upon
wickedness, become Reason-Principles, and therefore in right reason.
Thus: from adultery and the violation of prisoners the process of
nature will produce fine children, to grow, perhaps, into fine men;
and where wicked violence has destroyed cities, other and nobler
cities may rise in their place.
    But does not this make it absurd to introduce Souls as responsible
causes, some acting for good and some for evil? If we thus exonerate
the Reason-Principle from any part in wickedness do we not also cancel
its credit for the good? Why not simply take the doings of these
actors for representative parts of the Reason-Principle as the
doings of stage-actors are representative parts of the stage-drama?
Why not admit that the Reason-Principle itself includes evil action as
much as good action, and inspires the precise conduct of all its
representatives? Would not this be all the more Plausible in that
the universal drama is the completer creation and that the
Reason-Principle is the source of all that exists?
    But this raises the question: "What motive could lead the Logos to
produce evil?"
    The explanation, also, would take away all power in the Universe
from Souls, even those nearest to the divine; they would all be mere
parts of a Reason-Principle.
    And, further- unless all Reason-Principles are Souls- why should
some be souls and others exclusively Reason-Principles when the All is
itself a Soul?
                        THIRD TRACTATE.

                       ON PROVIDENCE (2).

    1. What is our answer?
    All events and things, good and evil alike, are included under the
Universal Reason-Principle of which they are parts- strictly
"included" for this Universal Idea does not engender them but
encompasses them.
    The Reason-Principles are acts or expressions of a Universal Soul;
its parts [i.e., events good and evil] are expressions of these
    This unity, Soul, has different parts; the Reason-Principles,
correspondingly, will also have their parts, and so, too, will the
ultimates of the system, all that they bring into being.
    The Souls are in harmony with each other and so, too, are their
acts and effects; but it is harmony in the sense of a resultant
unity built out of contraries. All things, as they rise from a
unity, come back to unity by a sheer need of nature; differences
unfold themselves, contraries are produced, but all is drawn into
one organized system by the unity at the source.
    The principle may be illustrated from the different classes of
animal life: there is one genus, horse, though horses among themselves
fight and bite and show malice and angry envy: so all the others
within the unity of their Kind; and so humanity.
    All these types, again, can be ranged under the one Kind, that
of living things; objects without life can be thought of under their
specific types and then be resumed under the one Kind of the
"non-living"; if we choose to go further yet, living and non-living
may be included under the one Kind, "Beings," and, further still,
under the Source of Being.
    Having attached all to this source, we turn to move down again
in continuous division: we see the Unity fissuring, as it reaches
out into Universality, and yet embracing all in one system so that
with all its differentiation it is one multiple living thing- an
organism in which each member executes the function of its own
nature while it still has its being in that One Whole; fire burns;
horse does horse work; men give, each the appropriate act of the
peculiar personal quality- and upon the several particular Kinds to
which each belongs follow the acts, and the good or evil of the life.
    2. Circumstances are not sovereign over the good of life, for they
are themselves moulded by their priors and come in as members of a
sequence. The Leading-Principle holds all the threads while the
minor agents, the individuals, serve according to their own
capacities, as in a war the generalissimo lays down the plan and his
subordinates do their best to its furtherance. The Universe has been
ordered by a Providence that may be compared to a general; he has
considered operations, conditions and such practical needs as food and
drink, arms and engines of war; all the problem of reconciling these
complex elements has been worked out beforehand so as to make it
probable that the final event may be success. The entire scheme
emerges from the general's mind with a certain plausible promise,
though it cannot cover the enemy's operations, and there is no power
over the disposition of the enemy's forces: but where the mighty
general is in question whose power extends over all that is, what
can pass unordered, what can fail to fit into the plan?
    3. For, even though the I is sovereign in choosing, yet by the
fact of the choice the thing done takes its place in the ordered
total. Your personality does not come from outside into the
universal scheme; you are a part of it, you and your personal
    But what is the cause of this initial personality?
    This question resolves itself into two: are we to make the
Creator, if Creator there is, the cause of the moral quality of the
individual or does the responsibility lie with the creature?
    Or is there, perhaps, no responsibility? After all, none is
charged in the case of plants brought into being without the
perceptive faculties; no one is blamed because animals are not all
that men are- which would be like complaining that men are not all
that gods are. Reason acquits plant and animal and, their maker; how
can it complain because men do not stand above humanity?
    If the reproach simply means that Man might improve by bringing
from his own stock something towards his betterment we must allow that
the man failing in this is answerable for his own inferiority: but
if the betterment must come not from within the man but from
without, from his Author, it is folly to ask more than has been given,
as foolish in the case of man as in plant and animal.
    The question is not whether a thing is inferior to something
else but whether in its own Kind it suffices to its own part;
universal equality there cannot be.
    Then the Reason-Principle has measured things out with the set
purpose of inequality?
    Certainly not: the inequality is inevitable by the nature of
things: the Reason-Principle of this Universe follows upon a phase
of the Soul; the Soul itself follows upon an Intellectual Principle,
and this Intellectual Principle is not one among the things of the
Universe but is all things; in all things, there is implied variety of
things; where there is variety and not identity there must be primals,
secondaries, tertiaries and every grade downward. Forms of life, then,
there must be that are not pure Soul but the dwindling of Souls
enfeebled stage by stage of the process. There is, of course, a Soul
in the Reason-Principle constituting a living being, but it is another
Soul [a lesser phase], not that [the Supreme Soul] from which the
Reason-Principle itself derives; and this combined vehicle of life
weakens as it proceeds towards matter, and what it engenders is
still more deficient. Consider how far the engendered stands from
its origin and yet, what a marvel!
    In sum nothing can secure to a thing of process the quality of the
prior order, loftier than all that is product and amenable to no
charge in regard to it: the wonder is, only, that it reaches and gives
to the lower at all, and that the traces of its presence should be
so noble. And if its outgiving is greater than the lower can
appropriate, the debt is the heavier; all the blame must fall upon the
unreceptive creature, and Providence be the more exalted.
    4. If man were all of one piece- I mean, if he were nothing more
than a made thing, acting and acted upon according to a fixed
nature- he could be no more subject to reproach and punishment than
the mere animals. But as the scheme holds, man is singled out for
condemnation when he does evil; and this with justice. For he is no
mere thing made to rigid plan; his nature contains a Principle apart
and free.
    This does not, however, stand outside of Providence or of the
Reason of the All; the Over-World cannot be dependent upon the World
of Sense. The higher shines down upon the lower, and this illumination
is Providence in its highest aspect: The Reason-Principle has two
phases, one which creates the things of process and another which
links them with the higher beings: these higher beings constitute
the over-providence on which depends that lower providence which is
the secondary Reason-Principle inseparably united with its primal: the
two- the Major and Minor Providence- acting together produce the
universal woof, the one all-comprehensive Providence.
    Men possess, then, a distinctive Principle: but not all men turn
to account all that is in their Nature; there are men that live by one
Principle and men that live by another or, rather, by several
others, the least noble. For all these Principles are present even
when not acting upon the man- though we cannot think of them as
lying idle; everything performs its function.
    "But," it will be said, "what reason can there be for their not
acting upon the man once they are present; inaction must mean
    We maintain their presence always, nothing void of them.
    But surely not where they exercise no action? If they
necessarily reside in all men, surely they must be operative in all-
this Principle of free action, especially.
    First of all, this free Principle is not an absolute possession of
the animal Kinds and is not even an absolute possession to all men.
    So this Principle is not the only effective force in all men?
    There is no reason why it should not be. There are men in whom
it alone acts, giving its character to the life while all else is
but Necessity [and therefore outside of blame].
    For [in the case of an evil life] whether it is that the
constitution of the man is such as to drive him down the troubled
paths or whether [the fault is mental or spiritual in that] the
desires have gained control, we are compelled to attribute the guilt
to the substratum [something inferior to the highest principle in
Man]. We would be naturally inclined to say that this substratum
[the responsible source of evil] must be Matter and not, as our
argument implies, the Reason-Principle; it would appear that not the
Reason-Principle but Matter were the dominant, crude Matter at the
extreme and then Matter as shaped in the realized man: but we must
remember that to this free Principle in man [which is a phase of the
All Soul] the Substratum [the direct inferior to be moulded] is [not
Matter but] the Reason-Principle itself with whatever that produces
and moulds to its own form, so that neither crude Matter nor Matter
organized in our human total is sovereign within us.
    The quality now manifested may be probably referred to the conduct
of a former life; we may suppose that previous actions have made the
Reason-Principle now governing within us inferior in radiance to
that which ruled before; the Soul which later will shine out again
is for the present at a feebler power.
    And any Reason-Principle may be said to include within itself
the Reason-Principle of Matter which therefore it is able to elaborate
to its own purposes, either finding it consonant with itself or
bestowing upon it the quality which makes it so. The
Reason-Principle of an ox does not occur except in connection with the
Matter appropriate to the ox-Kind. It must be by such a process that
the transmigration, of which we read takes place; the Soul must lose
its nature, the Reason-Principle be transformed; thus there comes
the ox-soul which once was Man.
    The degradation, then, is just.
    Still, how did the inferior Principle ever come into being, and
how does the higher fall to it?
    Once more- not all things are Firsts; there are Secondaries and
Tertiaries, of a nature inferior to that of their Priors; and a slight
tilt is enough to determine the departure from the straight course.
Further, the linking of any one being with any other amounts to a
blending such as to produce a distinct entity, a compound of the
two; it is not that the greater and prior suffers any diminution of
its own nature; the lesser and secondary is such from its very
beginning; it is in its own nature the lesser thing it becomes, and if
it suffers the consequences, such suffering is merited: all our
reasonings on these questions must take account of previous living
as the source from which the present takes its rise.
    5. There is, then a Providence, which permeates the Kosmos from
first to last, not everywhere equal, as in a numerical distribution,
but proportioned, differing, according to the grades of place- just as
in some one animal, linked from first to last, each member has its own
function, the nobler organ the higher activity while others
successively concern the lower degrees of the life, each part acting
of itself, and experiencing what belongs to its own nature and what
comes from its relation with every other. Strike, and what is designed
for utterance gives forth the appropriate volume of sound while
other parts take the blow in silence but react in their own especial
movement; the total of all the utterance and action and receptivity
constitutes what we may call the personal voice, life and history of
the living form. The parts, distinct in Kind, have distinct functions:
the feet have their work and the eyes theirs; the understanding serves
to one end, the Intellectual Principle to another.
    But all sums to a unity, a comprehensive Providence. From the
inferior grade downwards is Fate: the upper is Providence alone: for
in the Intellectual Kosmos all is Reason-Principle or its
Priors-Divine Mind and unmingled Soul-and immediately upon these
follows Providence which rises from Divine Mind, is the content of the
Unmingled Soul, and, through this Soul, is communicated to the
Sphere of living things.
    This Reason-Principle comes as a thing of unequal parts, and
therefore its creations are unequal, as, for example, the several
members of one Living Being. But after this allotment of rank and
function, all act consonant with the will of the gods keeps the
sequence and is included under the providential government, for the
Reason-Principle of providence is god-serving.
    All such right-doing, then, is linked to Providence; but it is not
therefore performed by it: men or other agents, living or lifeless,
are causes of certain things happening, and any good that may result
is taken up again by Providence. In the total, then, the right rules
and what has happened amiss is transformed and corrected. Thus, to
take an example from a single body, the Providence of a living
organism implies its health; let it be gashed or otherwise wounded,
and that Reason-Principle which governs it sets to work to draw it
together, knit it anew, heal it, and put the affected part to rights.
    In sum, evil belongs to the sequence of things, but it comes
from necessity. It originates in ourselves; it has its causes no
doubt, but we are not, therefore, forced to it by Providence: some
of these causes we adapt to the operation of Providence and of its
subordinates, but with others we fail to make the connection; the
act instead of being ranged under the will of Providence consults
the desire of the agent alone or of some other element in the
Universe, something which is either itself at variance with Providence
or has set up some such state of variance in ourselves.
    The one circumstance does not produce the same result wherever
it acts; the normal operation will be modified from case to case:
Helen's beauty told very differently on Paris and on Idomeneus;
bring together two handsome people of loose character and two living
honourably and the resulting conduct is very different; a good man
meeting a libertine exhibits a distinct phase of his nature and,
similarly, the dissolute answer to the society of their betters.
    The act of the libertine is not done by Providence or in
accordance with Providence; neither is the action of the good done
by Providence- it is done by the man- but it is done in accordance
with Providence, for it is an act consonant with the Reason-Principle.
Thus a patient following his treatment is himself an agent and yet
is acting in accordance with the doctor's method inspired by the art
concerned with the causes of health and sickness: what one does
against the laws of health is one's act, but an act conflicting with
the Providence of medicine.
    6. But, if all this be true, how can evil fall within the scope of
seership? The predictions of the seers are based on observation of the
Universal Circuit: how can this indicate the evil with the good?
    Clearly the reason is that all contraries coalesce. Take, for
example, Shape and Matter: the living being [of the lower order] is
a coalescence of these two; so that to be aware of the Shape and the
Reason-Principle is to be aware of the Matter on which the Shape has
been imposed.
    The living-being of the compound order is not present [as pure and
simple Idea] like the living being of the Intellectual order: in the
compound entity, we are aware, at once, of the Reason-Principle and of
the inferior element brought under form. Now the Universe is such a
compound living thing: to observe, therefore, its content is to be
aware not less of its lower elements than of the Providence which
operates within it.
    This Providence reaches to all that comes into being; its scope
therefore includes living things with their actions and states, the
total of their history at once overruled by the Reason-Principle and
yet subject in some degree to Necessity.
    These, then, are presented as mingled both by their initial nature
and by the continuous process of their existence; and the Seer is
not able to make a perfect discrimination setting on the one side
Providence with all that happens under Providence and on the other
side what the substrate communicates to its product. Such
discrimination is not for a man, not for a wise man or a divine man:
one may say it is the prerogative of a god. Not causes but facts lie
in the Seer's province; his art is the reading of the scriptures of
Nature which tell of the ordered and never condescend to the
disorderly; the movement of the Universe utters its testimony to him
and, before men and things reveal themselves, brings to light what
severally and collectively they are.
    Here conspires with There and There with Here, elaborating
together the consistency and eternity of a Kosmos and by their
correspondences revealing the sequence of things to the trained
observer- for every form of divination turns upon correspondences.
Universal interdependence, there could not be, but universal
resemblance there must. This probably is the meaning of the saying
that Correspondences maintain the Universe.
    This is a correspondence of inferior with inferior, of superior
with superior, eye with eye, foot with foot, everything with its
fellow and, in another order, virtue with right action and vice with
unrighteousness. Admit such correspondence in the All and we have
the possibility of prediction. If the one order acts on the other, the
relation is not that of maker to thing made- the two are coeval- it is
the interplay of members of one living being; each in its own place
and way moves as its own nature demands; to every organ its grade
and task, and to every grade and task its effective organ.
    7. And since the higher exists, there must be the lower as well.
The Universe is a thing of variety, and how could there be an inferior
without a superior or a superior without an inferior? We cannot
complain about the lower in the higher; rather, we must be grateful to
the higher for giving something of itself to the lower.
    In a word, those that would like evil driven out from the All
would drive out Providence itself.
    What would Providence have to provide for? Certainly not for
itself or for the Good: when we speak of a Providence above, we mean
an act upon something below.
    That which resumes all under a unity is a Principle in which all
things exist together and the single thing is All. From this
Principle, which remains internally unmoved, particular things push
forth as from a single root which never itself emerges. They are a
branching into part, into multiplicity, each single outgrowth
bearing its trace of the common source. Thus, phase by phase, there in
finally the production into this world; some things close still to the
root, others widely separate in the continuous progression until we
have, in our metaphor, bough and crest, foliage and fruit. At the
one side all is one point of unbroken rest, on the other is the
ceaseless process, leaf and fruit, all the things of process
carrying ever within themselves the Reason-Principles of the Upper
Sphere, and striving to become trees in their own minor order and
producing, if at all, only what is in strict gradation from
    As for the abandoned spaces in what corresponds to the branches
these two draw upon the root, from which, despite all their
variance, they also derive; and the branches again operate upon
their own furthest extremities: operation is to be traced only from
point to next point, but, in the fact, there has been both inflow
and outgo [of creative or modifying force] at the very root which,
itself again, has its priors.
    The things that act upon each other are branchings from a
far-off beginning and so stand distinct; but they derive initially
from the one source: all interaction is like that of brothers,
resemblant as drawing life from the same parents.
                        FOURTH TRACTATE.

                       OUR TUTELARY SPIRIT.

    1. Some Existents [Absolute Unity and Intellectual-Principle]
remain at rest while their Hypostases, or Expressed-Idea, come into
being; but, in our view, the Soul generates by its motion, to which is
due the sensitive faculty- that in any of its expression-forms- Nature
and all forms of life down to the vegetable order. Even as it is
present in human beings the Soul carries its Expression-form
[Hypostasis] with it, but is not the dominant since it is not the
whole man (humanity including the Intellectual Principal, as well): in
the vegetable order it is the highest since there is nothing to
rival it; but at this phase it is no longer reproductive, or, at
least, what it produces is of quite another order; here life ceases;
all later production is lifeless.
    What does this imply?
    Everything the Soul engenders down to this point comes into
being shapeless, and takes form by orientation towards its author
and supporter: therefore the thing engendered on the further side
can be no image of the Soul, since it is not even alive; it must be an
utter Indetermination. No doubt even in things of the nearer order
there was indetermination, but within a form; they were undetermined
not utterly but only in contrast with their perfect state: at this
extreme point we have the utter lack of determination. Let it be
raised to its highest degree and it becomes body by taking such
shape as serves its scope; then it becomes the recipient of its author
and sustainer: this presence in body is the only example of the
boundaries of Higher Existents running into the boundary of the Lower.
    2. It is of this Soul especially that we read "All Soul has care
for the Soulless"- though the several Souls thus care in their own
degree and way. The passage continues- "Soul passes through the entire
heavens in forms varying with the variety of place"- the sensitive
form, the reasoning form, even the vegetative form- and this means
that in each "place" the phase of the soul there dominant carries
out its own ends while the rest, not present there, is idle.
    Now, in humanity the lower is not supreme; it is an accompaniment;
but neither does the better rule unfailingly; the lower element also
has a footing, and Man, therefore, lives in part under sensation,
for he has the organs of sensation, and in large part even by the
merely vegetative principle, for the body grows and propagates: all
the graded phases are in a collaboration, but the entire form, man,
takes rank by the dominant, and when the life-principle leaves the
body it is what it is, what it most intensely lived.
    This is why we must break away towards the High: we dare not
keep ourselves set towards the sensuous principle, following the
images of sense, or towards the merely vegetative, intent upon the
gratifications of eating and procreation; our life must be pointed
towards the Intellective, towards the Intellectual-Principle,
towards God.
    Those that have maintained the human level are men once more.
Those that have lived wholly to sense become animals- corresponding in
species to the particular temper of the life- ferocious animals
where the sensuality has been accompanied by a certain measure of
spirit, gluttonous and lascivious animals where all has been
appetite and satiation of appetite. Those who in their pleasures
have not even lived by sensation, but have gone their way in a
torpid grossness become mere growing things, for this lethargy is
the entire act of the vegetative, and such men have been busy
be-treeing themselves. Those, we read, that, otherwise untainted,
have loved song become vocal animals; kings ruling unreasonably but
with no other vice are eagles; futile and flighty visionaries ever
soaring skyward, become highflying birds; observance of civic and
secular virtue makes man again, or where the merit is less marked, one
of the animals of communal tendency, a bee or the like.
    3. What, then, is the spirit [guiding the present life and
determining the future]?
    The Spirit of here and now.
    And the God?
    The God of here and now.
    Spirit, God; This in act within us, conducts every life; for, even
here and now, it is the dominant of our Nature.
    That is to say that the dominant is the spirit which takes
possession of the human being at birth?
    No: the dominant is the Prior of the individual spirit; it
presides inoperative while its secondary acts: so that if the acting
force is that of men of the sense-life, the tutelary spirit is the
Rational Being, while if we live by that Rational Being, our
tutelary Spirit is the still higher Being, not directly operative
but assenting to the working principle. The words "You shall
yourselves choose" are true, then; for by our life we elect our own
    But how does this spirit come to be the determinant of our fate?
    It is not when the life is ended that it conducts us here or
there; it operates during the lifetime; when we cease to live, our
death hands over to another principle this energy of our own
personal career.
    That principle [of the new birth] strives to gain control, and
if it succeeds it also lives and itself, in turn, possesses a
guiding spirit [its next higher]: if on the contrary it is weighed
down by the developed evil in the character, the spirit of the
previous life pays the penalty: the evil-liver loses grade because
during his life the active principle of his being took the tilt
towards the brute by force of affinity. If, on the contrary, the Man
is able to follow the leading of his higher Spirit, he rises: he lives
that Spirit; that noblest part of himself to which he is being led
becomes sovereign in his life; this made his own, he works for the
next above until he has attained the height.
    For the Soul is many things, is all, is the Above and the
Beneath to the totality of life: and each of us is an Intellectual
Kosmos, linked to this world by what is lowest in us, but, by what
is the highest, to the Divine Intellect: by all that is intellective
we are permanently in that higher realm, but at the fringe of the
Intellectual we are fettered to the lower; it is as if we gave forth
from it some emanation towards that lower, or, rather some Act,
which however leaves our diviner part not in itself diminished.
    4. But is this lower extremity of our intellective phase
fettered to body for ever?
    No: if we turn, this turns by the same act.
    And the Soul of the All- are we to think that when it turns from
this sphere its lower phase similarly withdraws?
    No: for it never accompanied that lower phase of itself; it
never knew any coming, and therefore never came down; it remains
unmoved above, and the material frame of the Universe draws close to
it, and, as it were, takes light from it, no hindrance to it, in no
way troubling it, simply lying unmoved before it.
    But has the Universe, then, no sensation? "It has no Sight," we
read, since it has no eyes, and obviously it has not ears, nostrils,
or tongue. Then has it perhaps such a consciousness as we have of
our own inner conditions?
    No: where all is the working out of one nature, there is nothing
but still rest; there is not even enjoyment. Sensibility is present as
the quality of growth is, unrecognized. But the Nature of the World
will be found treated elsewhere; what stands here is all that the
question of the moment demands.
    5. But if the presiding Spirit and the conditions of life are
chosen by the Soul in the overworld, how can anything be left to
our independent action here?
    The answer is that very choice in the over-world is merely an
allegorical statement of the Soul's tendency and temperament, a
total character which it must express wherever it operates.
    But if the tendency of the Soul is the master-force and, in the
Soul, the dominant is that phase which has been brought to the fore by
a previous history, then the body stands acquitted of any bad
influence upon it? The Soul's quality exists before any bodily life;
it has exactly what it chose to have; and, we read, it never changes
its chosen spirit; therefore neither the good man nor the bad is the
product of this life?
    Is the solution, perhaps, that man is potentially both good and
bad but becomes the one or the other by force of act?
    But what if a man temperamentally good happens to enter a
disordered body, or if a perfect body falls to a man naturally
    The answer is that the Soul, to whichever side it inclines, has in
some varying degree the power of working the forms of body over to its
own temper, since outlying and accidental circumstances cannot
overrule the entire decision of a Soul. Where we read that, after
the casting of lots, the sample lives are exhibited with the casual
circumstances attending them and that the choice is made upon
vision, in accordance with the individual temperament, we are given to
understand that the real determination lies with the Souls, who
adapt the allotted conditions to their own particular quality.
    The Timaeus indicates the relation of this guiding spirit to
ourselves: it is not entirely outside of ourselves; is not bound up
with our nature; is not the agent in our action; it belongs to us as
belonging to our Soul, but not in so far as we are particular human
beings living a life to which it is superior: take the passage in this
sense and it is consistent; understand this Spirit otherwise and there
is contradiction. And the description of the Spirit, moreover, as "the
power which consummates the chosen life," is, also, in agreement
with this interpretation; for while its presidency saves us from
falling much deeper into evil, the only direct agent within us is some
thing neither above it nor equal to it but under it: Man cannot
cease to be characteristically Man.
    6. What, then, is the achieved Sage?
    One whose Act is determined by the higher phase of the Soul.
    It does not suffice to perfect virtue to have only this Spirit
[equivalent in all men] as cooperator in the life: the acting force in
the Sage is the Intellective Principle [the diviner phase of the human
Soul] which therefore is itself his presiding spirit or is guided by a
presiding spirit of its own, no other than the very Divinity.
    But this exalts the Sage above the Intellectual Principle as
possessing for presiding spirit the Prior to the Intellectual
Principle: how then does it come about that he was not, from the
very beginning, all that he now is?
    The failure is due to the disturbance caused by birth- though,
before all reasoning, there exists the instinctive movement reaching
out towards its own.
    On instinct which the Sage finally rectifies in every respect?
    Not in every respect: the Soul is so constituted that its
life-history and its general tendency will answer not merely to its
own nature but also to the conditions among which it acts.
    The presiding Spirit, as we read, conducting a Soul to the
Underworld ceases to be its guardian- except when the Soul resumes [in
its later choice] the former state of life.
    But, meanwhile, what happens to it?
    From the passage [in the Phaedo] which tells how it presents the
Soul to judgement we gather that after the death it resumes the form
it had before the birth, but that then, beginning again, it is present
to the Souls in their punishment during the period of their renewed
life- a time not so much of living as of expiation.
    But the Souls that enter into brute bodies, are they controlled by
some thing less than this presiding Spirit? No: theirs is still a
Spirit, but an evil or a foolish one.
    And the Souls that attain to the highest?
    Of these higher Souls some live in the world of Sense, some
above it: and those in the world of Sense inhabit the Sun or another
of the planetary bodies; the others occupy the fixed Sphere [above the
planetary] holding the place they have merited through having lived
here the superior life of reason.
    We must understand that, while our Souls do contain an
Intellectual Kosmos they also contain a subordination of various forms
like that of the Kosmic Soul. The world Soul is distributed so as to
produce the fixed sphere and the planetary circuits corresponding to
its graded powers: so with our Souls; they must have their provinces
according to their different powers, parallel to those of the World
Soul: each must give out its own special act; released, each will
inhabit there a star consonant with the temperament and faculty in act
within and constituting the principle of the life; and this star or
the next highest power will stand to them as God or more exactly as
tutelary spirit.
    But here some further precision is needed.
    Emancipated Souls, for the whole period of their sojourn there
above, have transcended the Spirit-nature and the entire fatality of
birth and all that belongs to this visible world, for they have
taken up with them that Hypostasis of the Soul in which the desire
of earthly life is vested. This Hypostasis may be described as the
distributable Soul, for it is what enters bodily forms and
multiplies itself by this division among them. But its distribution is
not a matter of magnitudes; wherever it is present, there is the
same thing present entire; its unity can always be reconstructed: when
living things- animal or vegetal- produce their constant succession of
new forms, they do so in virtue of the self-distribution of this phase
of the Soul, for it must be as much distributed among the new forms as
the propagating originals are. In some cases it communicates its force
by permanent presence the life principle in plants for instance- in
other cases it withdraws after imparting its virtue- for instance
where from the putridity of dead animal or vegetable matter a
multitudinous birth is produced from one organism.
    A power corresponding to this in the All must reach down and
co-operate in the life of our world- in fact the very same power.
    If the Soul returns to this Sphere it finds itself under the
same Spirit or a new, according to the life it is to live. With this
Spirit it embarks in the skiff of the universe: the "spindle of
Necessity" then takes control and appoints the seat for the voyage,
the seat of the lot in life.
    The Universal circuit is like a breeze, and the voyager, still
or stirring, is carried forward by it. He has a hundred varied
experiences, fresh sights, changing circumstances, all sorts of
events. The vessel itself furnishes incident, tossing as it drives on.
And the voyager also acts of himself in virtue of that individuality
which he retains because he is on the vessel in his own person and
character. Under identical circumstances individuals answer very
differently in their movements and acts: hence it comes about that, be
the occurrences and conditions of life similar or dissimilar, the
result may differ from man to man, as on the other hand a similar
result may be produced by dissimilar conditions: this (personal answer
to incident) it is that constitutes destiny.
                        FIFTH TRACTATE.

                           ON LOVE.

    1. What is Love? A God, a Celestial Spirit, a state of mind? Or is
it, perhaps, sometimes to be thought of as a God or Spirit and
sometimes merely as an experience? And what is it essentially in
each of these respects?
    These important questions make it desirable to review prevailing
opinions on the matter, the philosophical treatment it has received
and, especially, the theories of the great Plato who has many passages
dealing with Love, from a point of view entirely his own.
    Plato does not treat of it as simply a state observed in Souls; he
also makes it a Spirit-being so that we read of the birth of Eros,
under definite circumstances and by a certain parentage.
    Now everyone recognizes that the emotional state for which we make
this "Love" responsible rises in souls aspiring to be knit in the
closest union with some beautiful object, and that this aspiration
takes two forms, that of the good whose devotion is for beauty itself,
and that other which seeks its consummation in some vile act. But this
generally admitted distinction opens a new question: we need a
philosophical investigation into the origin of the two phases.
    It is sound, I think, to find the primal source of Love in a
tendency of the Soul towards pure beauty, in a recognition, in a
kinship, in an unreasoned consciousness of friendly relation. The vile
and ugly is in clash, at once, with Nature and with God: Nature
produces by looking to the Good, for it looks towards Order- which has
its being in the consistent total of the good, while the unordered
is ugly, a member of the system of evil- and besides Nature itself,
clearly, springs from the divine realm, from Good and Beauty; and when
anything brings delight and the sense of kinship, its very image
    Reject this explanation, and no one can tell how the mental
state rises and where are its causes: it is the explanation of even
copulative love which is the will to beget in beauty; Nature seeks
to produce the beautiful and therefore by all reason cannot desire
to procreate in the ugly.
    Those that desire earthly procreation are satisfied with the
beauty found on earth, the beauty of image and of body; it is
because they are strangers to the Archetype, the source of even the
attraction they feel towards what is lovely here. There are Souls to
whom earthly beauty is a leading to the memory of that in the higher
realm and these love the earthly as an image; those that have not
attained to this memory do not understand what is happening within
them, and take the image for the reality. Once there is perfect
self-control, it is no fault to enjoy the beauty of earth; where
appreciation degenerates into carnality, there is sin.
    Pure Love seeks the beauty alone, whether there is Reminiscence or
not; but there are those that feel, also, a desire of such immortality
as lies within mortal reach; and these are seeking Beauty in their
demand for perpetuity, the desire of the eternal; Nature teaches
them to sow the seed and to beget in beauty, to sow towards
eternity, but in beauty through their own kinship with the
beautiful. And indeed the eternal is of the one stock with the
beautiful, the Eternal-Nature is the first shaping of beauty and makes
beautiful all that rises from it.
    The less the desire for procreation, the greater is the
contentment with beauty alone, yet procreation aims at the engendering
of beauty; it is the expression of a lack; the subject is conscious of
insufficiency and, wishing to produce beauty, feels that the way is to
beget in a beautiful form. Where the procreative desire is lawless
or against the purposes of nature, the first inspiration has been
natural, but they have diverged from the way, they have slipped and
fallen, and they grovel; they neither understand whither Love sought
to lead them nor have they any instinct to production; they have not
mastered the right use of the images of beauty; they do not know
what the Authentic Beauty is.
    Those that love beauty of person without carnal desire love for
beauty's sake; those that have- for women, of course- the copulative
love, have the further purpose of self-perpetuation: as long as they
are led by these motives, both are on the right path, though the first
have taken the nobler way. But, even in the right, there is the
difference that the one set, worshipping the beauty of earth, look
no further, while the others, those of recollection, venerate also the
beauty of the other world while they, still, have no contempt for this
in which they recognize, as it were, a last outgrowth, an
attenuation of the higher. These, in sum, are innocent frequenters
of beauty, not to be confused with the class to whom it becomes an
occasion of fall into the ugly- for the aspiration towards a good
degenerates into an evil often.
    So much for love, the state.
    Now we have to consider Love, the God.
    2. The existence of such a being is no demand of the ordinary man,
merely; it is supported by Theologians and, over and over again, by
Plato to whom Eros is child of Aphrodite, minister of beautiful
children, inciter of human souls towards the supernal beauty or
quickener of an already existing impulse thither. All this requires
philosophical examination. A cardinal passage is that in the Symposium
where we are told Eros was not a child of Aphrodite but born on the
day of Aphrodite's birth, Penia, Poverty, being the mother, and Poros,
Possession, the father.
    The matter seems to demand some discussion of Aphrodite, since
in any case Eros is described as being either her son or in some
association with her. Who then is Aphrodite, and in what sense is Love
either her child or born with her or in some way both her child and
her birth-fellow?
    To us Aphrodite is twofold; there is the heavenly Aphrodite,
daughter of Ouranos or Heaven: and there is the other the daughter of
Zeus and Dione, this is the Aphrodite who presides over earthly
unions; the higher was not born of a mother and has no part in
marriages for in Heaven there is no marrying.
    The Heavenly Aphrodite, daughter of Kronos who is no other than
the Intellectual Principle- must be the Soul at its divinest:
unmingled as the immediate emanation of the unmingled; remaining
ever Above, as neither desirous nor capable of descending to this
sphere, never having developed the downward tendency, a divine
Hypostasis essentially aloof, so unreservedly an Authentic Being as to
have no part with Matter- and therefore mythically "the unmothered"
justly called not Celestial Spirit but God, as knowing no admixture,
gathered cleanly within itself.
    Any Nature springing directly from the Intellectual Principle must
be itself also a clean thing: it will derive a resistance of its own
from its nearness to the Highest, for all its tendency, no less than
its fixity, centres upon its author whose power is certainly
sufficient to maintain it Above.
    Soul then could never fall from its sphere; it is closer held to
the divine Mind than the very sun could hold the light it gives
forth to radiate about it, an outpouring from itself held firmly to
it, still.
    But following upon Kronos- or, if you will, upon Heaven, the
father of Kronos- the Soul directs its Act towards him and holds
closely to him and in that love brings forth the Eros through whom
it continues to look towards him. This Act of the Soul has produced an
Hypostasis, a Real-Being; and the mother and this Hypostasis- her
offspring, noble Love gaze together upon Divine Mind. Love, thus, is
ever intent upon that other loveliness, and exists to be the medium
between desire and that object of desire. It is the eye of the
desirer; by its power what loves is enabled to see the loved thing.
But it is first; before it becomes the vehicle of vision, it is itself
filled with the sight; it is first, therefore, and not even in the
same order- for desire attains to vision only through the efficacy
of Love, while Love, in its own Act, harvests the spectacle of
beauty playing immediately above it.
    3. That Love is a Hypostasis [a "Person"] a Real-Being sprung from
a Real-Being- lower than the parent but authentically existent- is
beyond doubt.
    For the parent-Soul was a Real-Being sprung directly from the
Act of the Hypostasis that ranks before it: it had life; it was a
constituent in the Real-Being of all that authentically is- in the
Real-Being which looks, rapt, towards the very Highest. That was the
first object of its vision; it looked towards it as towards its
good, and it rejoiced in the looking; and the quality of what it saw
was such that the contemplation could not be void of effect; in virtue
of that rapture, of its position in regard to its object, of the
intensity of its gaze, the Soul conceived and brought forth an
offspring worthy of itself and of the vision. Thus; there is a
strenuous activity of contemplation in the Soul; there is an emanation
towards it from the object contemplated; and Eros is born, the Love
which is an eye filled with its vision, a seeing that bears its
image with it; Eros taking its name, probably, from the fact that
its essential being is due to this horasis, this seeing. Of course
Love, as an emotion, will take its name from Love, the Person, since a
Real-Being cannot but be prior to what lacks this reality. The
mental state will be designated as Love, like the Hypostasis, though
it is no more than a particular act directed towards a particular
object; but it must not be confused with the Absolute Love, the Divine
Being. The Eros that belongs to the supernal Soul must be of one
temper with it; it must itself look aloft as being of the household of
that Soul, dependent upon that Soul, its very offspring; and therefore
caring for nothing but the contemplation of the Gods.
    Once that Soul which is the primal source of light to the
heavens is recognized as an Hypostasis standing distinct and aloof
it must be admitted that Love too is distinct and aloof though not,
perhaps, so loftily celestial a being as the Soul. Our own best we
conceive as inside ourselves and yet something apart; so, we must
think of this Love- as essentially resident where the unmingling
Soul inhabits.
    But besides this purest Soul, there must be also a Soul of the
All: at once there is another Love- the eye with which this second
Soul looks upwards- like the supernal Eros engendered by force of
desire. This Aphrodite, the secondary Soul, is of this Universe- not
Soul unmingled alone, not Soul, the Absolute, giving birth, therefore,
to the Love concerned with the universal life; no, this is the Love
presiding over marriages; but it, also, has its touch of the upward
desire; and, in the degree of that striving, it stirs and leads
upwards the Souls of the young and every Soul with which it is
incorporated in so far as there is a natural tendency to remembrance
of the divine. For every Soul is striving towards The Good, even the
mingling Soul and that of particular beings, for each holds directly
from the divine Soul, and is its offspring.
    4. Does each individual Soul, then, contain within itself such a
Love in essence and substantial reality?
    Since not only the pure All-Soul but also that of the Universe
contain such a Love, it would be difficult to explain why our personal
Soul should not. It must be so, even, with all that has life.
    This indwelling love is no other than the Spirit which, as we
are told, walks with every being, the affection dominant in each
several nature. It implants the characteristic desire; the
particular Soul, strained towards its own natural objects, brings
forth its own Eros, the guiding spirit realizing its worth and the
quality of its Being.
    As the All-Soul contains the Universal Love, so must the single
Soul be allowed its own single Love: and as closely as the single Soul
holds to the All-Soul, never cut off but embraced within it, the two
together constituting one principle of life, so the single separate
Love holds to the All-Love. Similarly, the individual love keeps
with the individual Soul as that other, the great Love, goes with
the All-Soul; and the Love within the All permeates it throughout so
that the one Love becomes many, showing itself where it chooses at any
moment of the Universe, taking definite shape in these its partial
phases and revealing itself at its will.
    In the same way we must conceive many Aphrodites in the All,
Spirits entering it together with Love, all emanating from an
Aphrodite of the All, a train of particular Aphrodites dependent
upon the first, and each with the particular Love in attendance:
this multiplicity cannot be denied, if Soul be the mother of Love, and
Aphrodite mean Soul, and Love be an act of a Soul seeking good.
    This Love, then, leader of particular Souls to The Good, is
twofold: the Love in the loftier Soul would be a god ever linking
the Soul to the divine; the Love in the mingling Soul will be a
celestial spirit.
    5. But what is the Nature of this Spirit- of the Supernals in
    The Spirit-Kind is treated in the Symposium where, with much about
the others, we learn of Eros- Love- born to Penia- Poverty- and Poros-
Possession- who is son of Metis- Resource- at Aphrodite's birth feast.
    But to take Plato as meaning, by Eros, this Universe- and not
simply the Love native within it- involves much that is
    For one thing, the universe is described as a blissful god and
as self-sufficing, while this "Love" is confessedly neither divine nor
self-sufficing but in ceaseless need.
    Again, this Kosmos is a compound of body and soul; but Aphrodite
to Plato is the Soul itself, therefore Aphrodite would necessarily- he
a constituent part of Eros, dominant member! A man is the man's
Soul, if the world is, similarly, the world's Soul, then Aphrodite,
the Soul, is identical with Love, the Kosmos! And why should this
one spirit, Love, be the Universe to the exclusion of all the
others, which certainly are sprung from the same Essential-Being?
Our only escape would be to make the Kosmos a complex of Supernals.
    Love, again, is called the Dispenser of beautiful children: does
this apply to the Universe? Love is represented as homeless, bedless
and barefooted: would not that be a shabby description of the Kosmos
and quite out of the truth?
    6. What then, in sum, is to be thought of Love and of his
"birth" as we are told of it?
    Clearly we have to establish the significance, here, of Poverty
and Possession, and show in what way the parentage is appropriate:
we have also to bring these two into line with the other Supernals
since one spirit nature, one spirit essence, must characterize all
unless they are to have merely a name in common.
    We must, therefore, lay down the grounds on which we distinguish
the Gods from the Celestials- that is, when we emphasize the
separate nature of the two orders and are not, as often in practice,
including these Spirits under the common name of Gods.
    It is our teaching and conviction that the Gods are immune to
all passion while we attribute experience and emotion to the
Celestials which, though eternal Beings and directly next to the Gods,
are already a step towards ourselves and stand between the divine
and the human.
    But by what process was the immunity lost? What in their nature
led them downwards to the inferior?
    And other questions present themselves.
    Does the Intellectual Realm include no member of this spirit
order, not even one? And does the Kosmos contain only these spirits,
God being confined to the Intellectual? Or are there Gods in the
sub-celestial too, the Kosmos itself being a God, the third, as is
commonly said, and the Powers down to the Moon being all Gods as well?
    It is best not to use the word "Celestial" of any Being of that
Realm; the word "God" may be applied to the Essential-Celestial- the
autodaimon- and even to the Visible Powers of the Universe of Sense
down to the Moon; Gods, these too, visible, secondary, sequent upon
the Gods of the Intellectual Realm, consonant with Them, held about
Them, as the radiance about the star.
    What, then, are these spirits?
    A Celestial is the representative generated by each Soul when it
enters the Kosmos.
    And why, by a Soul entering the Kosmos?
    Because Soul pure of the Kosmos generates not a Celestial Spirit
but a God; hence it is that we have spoken of Love, offspring of
Aphrodite the Pure Soul, as a God.
    But, first what prevents every one of the Celestials from being an
Eros, a Love? And why are they not untouched by Matter like the Gods?
    On the first question: Every Celestial born in the striving of the
Soul towards the good and beautiful is an Eros; and all the Souls
within the Kosmos do engender this Celestial; but other Spirit-Beings,
equally born from the Soul of the All, but by other faculties of
that Soul, have other functions: they are for the direct service of
the All, and administer particular things to the purpose of the
Universe entire. The Soul of the All must be adequate to all that is
and therefore must bring into being spirit powers serviceable not
merely in one function but to its entire charge.
    But what participation can the Celestials have in Matter, and in
what Matter?
    Certainly none in bodily Matter; that would make them simply
living things of the order of sense. And if, even, they are to
invest themselves in bodies of air or of fire, the nature must have
already been altered before they could have any contact with the
corporeal. The Pure does not mix, unmediated, with body- though many
think that the Celestial-Kind, of its very essence, comports a body
aerial or of fire.
    But why should one order of Celestial descend to body and
another not? The difference implies the existence of some cause or
medium working upon such as thus descend. What would constitute such a
    We are forced to assume that there is a Matter of the Intellectual
Order, and that Beings partaking of it are thereby enabled to enter
into the lower Matter, the corporeal.
    7. This is the significance of Plato's account of the birth of
    The drunkenness of the father Poros or Possession is caused by
Nectar, "wine yet not existing"; Love is born before the realm of
sense has come into being: Penia had participation in the Intellectual
before the lower image of that divine Realm had appeared; she dwelt in
that Sphere, but as a mingled being consisting partly of Form but
partly also of that indetermination which belongs to the Soul before
she attains the Good and when all her knowledge of Reality is a
fore-intimation veiled by the indeterminate and unordered: in this
state Poverty brings forth the Hypostasis, Love.
    This, then, is a union of Reason with something that is not Reason
but a mere indeterminate striving in a being not yet illuminated:
the offspring Love, therefore, is not perfect, not self-sufficient,
but unfinished, bearing the signs of its parentage, the undirected
striving and the self-sufficient Reason. This offspring is a
Reason-Principle but not purely so; for it includes within itself an
aspiration ill-defined, unreasoned, unlimited- it can never be sated
as long as it contains within itself that element of the
Indeterminate. Love, then, clings to the Soul, from which it sprung as
from the principle of its Being, but it is lessened by including an
element of the Reason-Principle which did not remain self-concentrated
but blended with the indeterminate, not, it is true, by immediate
contact but through its emanation. Love, therefore, is like a goad; it
is without resource in itself; even winning its end, it is poor again.
    It cannot be satisfied because a thing of mixture never can be so:
true satisfaction is only for what has its plenitude in its own being;
where craving is due to an inborn deficiency, there may be
satisfaction at some given moment but it does not last. Love, then,
has on the one side the powerlessness of its native inadequacy, on the
other the resource inherited from the Reason-Kind.
    Such must be the nature and such the origin of the entire Spirit
Order, each- like its fellow, Love- has its appointed sphere, is
powerful there, and wholly devoted to it, and, like Love, none is ever
complete of itself but always straining towards some good which it
sees in things of the partial sphere.
    We understand, now, why good men have no other Love other Eros
of life- than that for the Absolute and Authentic Good, and never
follow the random attractions known to those ranged under the lower
Spirit Kind.
    Each human being is set under his own Spirit-Guides, but this is
mere blank possession when they ignore their own and live by some
other spirit adopted by them as more closely attuned to the
operative part of the Soul in them. Those that go after evil are
natures that have merged all the Love-Principles within them in the
evil desires springing in their hearts and allowed the right reason,
which belongs to our kind, to fall under the spell of false ideas from
another source.
    All the natural Loves, all that serve the ends of Nature, are
good; in a lesser Soul, inferior in rank and in scope; in the
greater Soul, superior; but all belong to the order of Being. Those
forms of Love that do not serve the purposes of Nature are merely
accidents attending on perversion: in no sense are they Real-Beings or
even manifestations of any Reality; for they are no true issue of
Soul; they are merely accompaniments of a spiritual flaw which the
Soul automatically exhibits in the total of disposition and conduct.
    In a word; all that is truly good in a Soul acting to the purposes
of nature and within its appointed order, all this is Real-Being:
anything else is alien, no act of the Soul, but merely something
that happens to it: a parallel may be found in false mentation,
notions behind which there is no reality as there is in the case of
authentic ideas, the eternal, the strictly defined, in which there
is at once an act of true knowing, a truly knowable object and
authentic existence- and this not merely in the Absolute, but also
in the particular being that is occupied by the authentically knowable
and by the Intellectual-Principle manifest in every several form.
    In each particular human being we must admit the existence of
the authentic Intellective Act and of the authentically knowable
object- though not as wholly merged into our being, since we are not
these in the absolute and not exclusively these- and hence our longing
for absolute things: it is the expression of our intellective
activities: if we sometimes care for the partial, that affection is
not direct but accidental, like our knowledge that a given
triangular figure is made up of two right angles because the
absolute triangle is so.
    8. But what are we to understand by this Zeus with the garden into
which, we are told, Poros or Wealth entered? And what is the garden?
    We have seen that the Aphrodite of the Myth is the Soul and that
Poros, Wealth, is the Reason-Principle of the Universe: we have
still to explain Zeus and his garden.
    We cannot take Zeus to be the Soul, which we have agreed is
represented by Aphrodite.
    Plato, who must be our guide in this question, speaks in the
Phaedrus of this God, Zeus, as the Great Leader- though elsewhere he
seems to rank him as one of three- but in the Philebus he speaks
more plainly when he says that there is in Zeus not only a royal Soul,
but also a royal Intellect.
    As a mighty Intellect and Soul, he must be a principle of Cause;
he must be the highest for several reasons but especially because to
be King and Leader is to be the chief cause: Zeus then is the
Intellectual Principle. Aphrodite, his daughter, issue of him,
dwelling with him, will be Soul, her very name Aphrodite [= the habra,
delicate] indicating the beauty and gleam and innocence and delicate
grace of the Soul.
    And if we take the male gods to represent the Intellectual
Powers and the female gods to be their souls- to every Intellectual
Principle its companion Soul- we are forced, thus also, to make
Aphrodite the Soul of Zeus; and the identification is confirmed by
Priests and Theologians who consider Aphrodite and Hera one and the
same and call Aphrodite's star the star of Hera.
    9. This Poros, Possession, then, is the Reason-Principle of all
that exists in the Intellectual Realm and in the supreme Intellect;
but being more diffused, kneaded out as it were, it must touch Soul,
be in Soul, [as the next lower principle].
    For, all that lies gathered in the Intellect is native to it:
nothing enters from without; but "Poros intoxicated" is some Power
deriving satisfaction outside itself: what, then, can we understand by
this member of the Supreme filled with Nectar but a Reason-Principle
falling from a loftier essence to a lower? This means that the
Reason-Principle upon "the birth of Aphrodite" left the Intellectual
for the Soul, breaking into the garden of Zeus.
    A garden is a place of beauty and a glory of wealth: all the
loveliness that Zeus maintains takes its splendour from the
Reason-Principle within him; for all this beauty is the radiation of
the Divine Intellect upon the Divine Soul, which it has penetrated.
What could the Garden of Zeus indicate but the images of his Being and
the splendours of his glory? And what could these divine splendours
and beauties be but the Ideas streaming from him?
    These Reason-Principles- this Poros who is the lavishness, the
abundance of Beauty- are at one and are made manifest; this is the
Nectar-drunkenness. For the Nectar of the gods can be no other than
what the god-nature essentially demands; and this is the Reason
pouring down from the divine Mind.
    The Intellectual Principle possesses Itself to satiety, but
there is no "drunken" abandonment in this possession which brings
nothing alien to it. But the Reason-Principle- as its offspring, a
later hypostasis- is already a separate Being and established in
another Realm, and so is said to lie in the garden of this Zeus who is
divine Mind; and this lying in the garden takes place at the moment
when, in our way of speaking, Aphrodite enters the realm of Being.
    10. "Our way of speaking"- for myths, if they are to serve their
purpose, must necessarily import time-distinctions into their
subject and will often present as separate, Powers which exist in
unity but differ in rank and faculty; they will relate the births of
the unbegotten and discriminate where all is one substance; the
truth is conveyed in the only manner possible, it is left to our
good sense to bring all together again.
    On this principle we have, here, Soul dwelling with the divine
Intelligence, breaking away from it, and yet again being filled to
satiety with the divine Ideas- the beautiful abounding in all
plenty, so that every splendour become manifest in it with the
images of whatever is lovely- Soul which, taken as one all, is
Aphrodite, while in it may be distinguished the Reason-Principles
summed under the names of Plenty and Possession, produced by the
downflow of the Nectar of the over realm. The splendours contained
in Soul are thought of as the garden of Zeus with reference to their
existing within Life; and Poros sleeps in this garden in the sense
of being sated and heavy with its produce. Life is eternally manifest,
an eternal existent among the existences, and the banqueting of the
gods means no more than that they have their Being in that vital
blessedness. And Love- "born at the banquet of the gods"- has of
necessity been eternally in existence, for it springs from the
intention of the Soul towards its Best, towards the Good; as long as
Soul has been, Love has been.
    Still this Love is of mixed quality. On the one hand there is in
it the lack which keeps it craving: on the other, it is not entirely
destitute; the deficient seeks more of what it has, and certainly
nothing absolutely void of good would ever go seeking the good.
    It is said then to spring from Poverty and Possession in the sense
that Lack and Aspiration and the Memory of the Ideal Principles, all
present together in the Soul, produce that Act towards The Good
which is Love. Its Mother is Poverty, since striving is for the needy;
and this Poverty is Matter, for Matter is the wholly poor: the very
ambition towards the good is a sign of existing indetermination; there
is a lack of shape and of Reason in that which must aspire towards the
Good, and the greater degree of effort implies the lower depth of
materiality. A thing aspiring towards the Good is an Ideal-principle
only when the striving [with attainment] will leave it still unchanged
in Kind: when it must take in something other than itself, its
aspiration is the presentment of Matter to the incoming power.
    Thus Love is at once, in some degree a thing of Matter and at
the same time a Celestial, sprung of the Soul; for Love lacks its Good
but, from its very birth, strives towards It.
                        SIXTH TRACTATE.


    1. In our theory, feelings are not states; they are action upon
experience, action accompanied by judgement: the states, we hold,
are seated elsewhere; they may be referred to the vitalized body;
the judgement resides in the Soul, and is distinct from the state-
for, if it is not distinct, another judgement is demanded, one that is
distinct, and, so, we may be sent back for ever.
    Still, this leaves it undecided whether in the act of judgement
the judging faculty does or does not take to itself something of its
    If the judging faculty does actually receive an imprint, then it
partakes of the state- though what are called the Impressions may be
of quite another nature than is supposed; they may be like Thought,
that is to say they may be acts rather than states; there may be, here
too, awareness without participation.
    For ourselves, it could never be in our system- or in our
liking- to bring the Soul down to participation in such modes and
modifications as the warmth and cold of material frames.
    What is known as the Impressionable faculty of the soul- to
pathetikon- would need to be identified: we must satisfy ourselves
as to whether this too, like the Soul as a unity, is to be classed
as immune or, on the contrary, as precisely the only part
susceptible of being affected; this question, however, may be held
over; we proceed to examine its preliminaries.
    Even in the superior phase of the Soul- that which precedes the
impressionable faculty and any sensation- how can we reconcile
immunity with the indwelling of vice, false notions, ignorance?
Inviolability; and yet likings and dislikings, the Soul enjoying,
grieving, angry, grudging, envying, desiring, never at peace but
stirring and shifting with everything that confronts it!
    If the Soul were material and had magnitude, it would be
difficult, indeed quite impossible, to make it appear to be immune,
unchangeable, when any of such emotions lodge in it. And even
considering it as an Authentic Being, devoid of magnitude and
necessarily indestructible, we must be very careful how we attribute
any such experiences to it or we will find ourselves unconsciously
making it subject to dissolution. If its essence is a Number or as
we hold a Reason-Principle, under neither head could it be susceptible
of feeling. We can think, only, that it entertains unreasoned
reasons and experiences unexperienced, all transmuted from the
material frames, foreign and recognized only by parallel, so that it
possesses in a kind of non-possession and knows affection without
being affected. How this can be demands enquiry.
    2. Let us begin with virtue and vice in the Soul. What has
really occurred when, as we say, vice is present? In speaking of
extirpating evil and implanting goodness, of introducing order and
beauty to replace a former ugliness, we talk in terms of real things
in the Soul.
    Now when we make virtue a harmony, and vice a breach of harmony,
we accept an opinion approved by the ancients; and the theory helps us
decidedly to our solution. For if virtue is simply a natural
concordance among the phases of the Soul, and vice simply a discord,
then there is no further question of any foreign presence; harmony
would be the result of every distinct phase or faculty joining in,
true to itself; discord would mean that not all chimed in at their
best and truest. Consider, for example, the performers in a choral
dance; they sing together though each one has his particular part, and
sometimes one voice is heard while the others are silent; and each
brings to the chorus something of his own; it is not enough that all
lift their voices together; each must sing, choicely, his own part
to the music set for him. Exactly so in the case of the Soul; there
will be harmony when each faculty performs its appropriate part.
    Yes: but this very harmony constituting the virtue of the Soul
must depend upon a previous virtue, that of each several faculty
within itself; and before there can be the vice of discord there
must be the vice of the single parts, and these can be bad only by the
actual presence of vice as they can be good only by the presence of
virtue. It is true that no presence is affirmed when vice is
identified with ignorance in the reasoning faculty of the Soul;
ignorance is not a positive thing; but in the presence of false
judgements- the main cause of vice- must it not be admitted that
something positive has entered into the Soul, something perverting the
reasoning faculty? So, the initiative faculty; is it not, itself,
altered as one varies between timidity and boldness? And the
desiring faculty, similarly, as it runs wild or accepts control?
    Our teaching is that when the particular faculty is sound it
performs the reasonable act of its essential nature, obeying the
reasoning faculty in it which derives from the Intellectual
Principle and communicates to the rest. And this following of reason
is not the acceptance of an imposed shape; it is like using the
eyes; the Soul sees by its act, that of looking towards reason. The
faculty of sight in the performance of its act is essentially what
it was when it lay latent; its act is not a change in it, but simply
its entering into the relation that belongs to its essential
character; it knows- that is, sees- without suffering any change:
so, precisely, the reasoning phase of the Soul stands towards the
Intellectual Principle; this it sees by its very essence; this
vision is its knowing faculty; it takes in no stamp, no impression;
all that enters it is the object of vision- possessed, once more,
without possession; it possesses by the fact of knowing but "without
possession" in the sense that there is no incorporation of anything
left behind by the object of vision, like the impression of the seal
on sealing-wax.
    And note that we do not appeal to stored-up impressions to account
for memory: we think of the mind awakening its powers in such a way as
to possess something not present to it.
    Very good: but is it not different before and after acquiring
the memory?
    Be it so; but it has suffered no change- unless we are to think of
the mere progress from latency to actuality as change- nothing has
been introduced into the mind; it has simply achieved the Act dictated
by its nature.
    It is universally true that the characteristic Act of immaterial
entities is performed without any change in them- otherwise they would
at last be worn away- theirs is the Act of the unmoving; where act
means suffering change, there is Matter: an immaterial Being would
have no ground of permanence if its very Act changed it.
    Thus in the case of Sight, the seeing faculty is in act but the
material organ alone suffers change: judgements are similar to
visual experiences.
    But how explain the alternation of timidity and daring in the
initiative faculty?
    Timidity would come by the failure to look towards the
Reason-Principle or by looking towards some inferior phase of it or by
some defect in the organs of action- some lack or flaw in the bodily
equipment- or by outside prevention of the natural act or by the
mere absence of adequate stimulus: boldness would arise from the
reverse conditions: neither implies any change, or even any
experience, in the Soul.
    So with the faculty of desire: what we call loose living is caused
by its acting unaccompanied; it has done all of itself; the other
faculties, whose business it is to make their presence felt in control
and to point the right way, have lain in abeyance; the Seer in the
Soul was occupied elsewhere, for, though not always at least
sometimes, it has leisure for a certain degree of contemplation of
other concerns.
    Often, moreover, the vice of the desiring faculty will be merely
some ill condition of the body, and its virtue, bodily soundness; thus
there would again be no question of anything imported into the Soul.
    3. But how do we explain likings and aversions? Sorrow, too, and
anger and pleasure, desire and fear- are these not changes,
affectings, present and stirring within the Soul?
    This question cannot be ignored. To deny that changes take place
and are intensely felt is in sharp contradiction to obvious facts.
But, while we recognize this, we must make very sure what it is that
changes. To represent the Soul or Mind as being the seat of these
emotions is not far removed from making it blush or turn pale; it is
to forget that while the Soul or Mind is the means, the effect takes
place in the distinct organism, the animated body.
    At the idea of disgrace, the shame is in the Soul; but the body is
occupied by the Soul- not to trouble about words- is, at any rate,
close to it and very different from soulless matter; and so, is
affected in the blood, mobile in its nature. Fear begins in the
mind; the pallor is simply the withdrawal of the blood inwards. So
in pleasure, the elation is mental, but makes itself felt in the body;
the purely mental phase has not reached the point of sensation: the
same is true of pain. So desire is ignored in the Soul where the
impulse takes its rise; what comes outward thence, the Sensibility
    When we speak of the Soul or Mind being moved- as in desire,
reasoning, judging- we do not mean that it is driven into its act;
these movements are its own acts.
    In the same way when we call Life a movement we have no idea of
a changing substance; the naturally appropriate act of each member
of the living thing makes up the Life, which is, therefore, not a
shifting thing.
    To bring the matter to the point: put it that life, tendency,
are no changements; that memories are not forms stamped upon the mind,
that notions are not of the nature of impressions on sealing-wax; we
thence draw the general conclusion that in all such states and
movements the Soul, or Mind, is unchanged in substance and in essence,
that virtue and vice are not something imported into the Soul- as heat
and cold, blackness or whiteness are importations into body- but that,
in all this relation, matter and spirit are exactly and
comprehensively contraries.
    4. We have, however, still to examine what is called the affective
phase of the Soul. This has, no doubt, been touched upon above where
we dealt with the passions in general as grouped about the
initiative phase of the Soul and the desiring faculty in its effort to
shape things to its choice: but more is required; we must begin by
forming a clear idea of what is meant by this affective faculty of the
    In general terms it means the centre about which we recognize
the affections to be grouped; and by affections we mean those states
upon which follow pleasure and pain.
    Now among these affections we must distinguish. Some are pivoted
upon judgements; thus, a Man judging his death to be at hand may
feel fear; foreseeing some fortunate turn of events, he is happy:
the opinion lies in one sphere; the affection is stirred in another.
Sometimes the affections take the lead and automatically bring in
the notion which thus becomes present to the appropriate faculty:
but as we have explained, an act of opinion does not introduce any
change into the Soul or Mind: what happens is that from the notion
of some impending evil is produced the quite separate thing, fear, and
this fear, in turn, becomes known in that part of the Mind which is
said under such circumstances to harbour fear.
    But what is the action of this fear upon the Mind?
    The general answer is that it sets up trouble and confusion before
an evil anticipated. It should, however, be quite clear that the
Soul or Mind is the seat of all imaginative representation- both the
higher representation known as opinion or judgement and the lower
representation which is not so much a judgement as a vague notion
unattended by discrimination, something resembling the action by
which, as is believed, the "Nature" of common speech produces,
unconsciously, the objects of the partial sphere. It is equally
certain that in all that follows upon the mental act or state, the
disturbance, confined to the body, belongs to the sense-order;
trembling, pallor, inability to speak, have obviously nothing to do
with the spiritual portion of the being. The Soul, in fact, would have
to be described as corporeal if it were the seat of such symptoms:
besides, in that case the trouble would not even reach the body
since the only transmitting principle, oppressed by sensation,
jarred out of itself, would be inhibited.
    None the less, there is an affective phase of the Soul or Mind and
this is not corporeal; it can be, only, some kind of Ideal-form.
    Now Matter is the one field of the desiring faculty, as of the
principles of nutrition growth and engendering, which are root and
spring to desire and to every other affection known to this
Ideal-form. No Ideal-form can be the victim of disturbance or be in
any way affected: it remains in tranquillity; only the Matter
associated with it can be affected by any state or experience
induced by the movement which its mere presence suffices to set up.
Thus the vegetal Principle induces vegetal life but it does not,
itself, pass through the processes of vegetation; it gives growth
but it does not grow; in no movement which it originates is it moved
with the motion it induces; it is in perfect repose, or, at least, its
movement, really its act, is utterly different from what it causes
    The nature of an Ideal-form is to be, of itself, an activity; it
operates by its mere presence: it is as if Melody itself plucked the
strings. The affective phase of the Soul or Mind will be the operative
cause of all affection; it originates the movement either under the
stimulus of some sense-presentment or independently- and it is a
question to be examined whether the judgement leading to the
movement operates from above or not- but the affective phase itself
remains unmoved like Melody dictating music. The causes originating
the movement may be likened to the musician; what is moved is like the
strings of his instrument, and once more, the Melodic Principle itself
is not affected, but only the strings, though, however much the
musician desired it, he could not pluck the strings except under
dictation from the principle of Melody.
    5. But why have we to call in Philosophy to make the Soul immune
if it is thus immune from the beginning?
    Because representations attack it at what we call the affective
phase and cause a resulting experience, a disturbance, to which
disturbance is joined the image of threatened evil: this amounts to an
affection and Reason seeks to extinguish it, to ban it as
destructive to the well-being of the Soul which by the mere absence of
such a condition is immune, the one possible cause of affection not
being present.
    Take it that some such affections have engendered appearances
presented before the Soul or Mind from without but taken [for
practical purposes] to be actual experiences within it- then
Philosophy's task is like that of a man who wishes to throw off the
shapes presented in dreams, and to this end recalls to waking
condition the mind that is breeding them.
    But what can be meant by the purification of a Soul that has never
been stained and by the separation of the Soul from a body to which it
is essentially a stranger?
    The purification of the Soul is simply to allow it to be alone; it
is pure when it keeps no company; when it looks to nothing without
itself; when it entertains no alien thoughts- be the mode or origin of
such notions or affections what they may, a subject on which we have
already touched- when it no longer sees in the world of image, much
less elaborates images into veritable affections. Is it not a true
purification to turn away towards the exact contrary of earthly
    Separation, in the same way, is the condition of a soul no
longer entering into the body to lie at its mercy; it is to stand as a
light, set in the midst of trouble but unperturbed through all.
    In the particular case of the affective phase of the Soul,
purification is its awakening from the baseless visions which beset
it, the refusal to see them; its separation consists in limiting its
descent towards the lower and accepting no picture thence, and of
course in the banning for its part too of all which the higher Soul
ignores when it has arisen from the trouble storm and is no longer
bound to the flesh by the chains of sensuality and of multiplicity but
has subdued to itself the body and its entire surrounding so that it
holds sovereignty, tranquilly, over all.
    6. the Intellectual Essence, wholly of the order of Ideal-form,
must be taken as impassive has been already established.
    But Matter also is an incorporeal, though after a mode of its own;
we must examine, therefore, how this stands, whether it is passive, as
is commonly held, a thing that can be twisted to every shape and Kind,
or whether it too must be considered impassive and in what sense and
fashion so. But in engaging this question and defining the nature of
matter we must correct certain prevailing errors about the nature of
the Authentic Existent, about Essence, about Being.
    The Existent- rightly so called- is that which has authentic
existence, that, therefore, which is existent completely, and
therefore, again, that which at no point fails in existence. Having
existence perfectly, it needs nothing to preserve it in being; it
is, on the contrary, the source and cause from which all that
appears to exist derives that appearance. This admitted, it must of
necessity be in life, in a perfect life: if it failed it would be more
nearly the nonexistent than the existent. But: The Being thus
indicated is Intellect, is wisdom unalloyed. It is, therefore,
determined and rounded off; it is nothing potentially that is not of
the same determined order, otherwise it would be in default.
    Hence its eternity, its identity, its utter irreceptivity and
impermeability. If it took in anything, it must be taking in something
outside itself, that is to say, Existence would at last include
non-existence. But it must be Authentic Existence all through; it
must, therefore, present itself equipped from its own stores with
all that makes up Existence so that all stands together and all is one
thing. The Existent [Real Being] must have thus much of determination:
if it had not, then it could not be the source of the Intellectual
Principle and of Life which would be importations into it
originating in the sphere of non-Being; and Real Being would be
lifeless and mindless; but mindlessness and lifelessness are the
characteristics of non-being and must belong to the lower order, to
the outer borders of the existent; for Intellect and Life rise from
the Beyond-Existence [the Indefinable Supreme]- though Itself has no
need of them- and are conveyed from It into the Authentic Existent.
    If we have thus rightly described the Authentic Existent, we see
that it cannot be any kind of body nor the under-stuff of body; in
such entities the Being is simply the existing of things outside of
    But body, a non-existence? Matter, on which all this universe
rises, a non-existence? Mountain and rock, the wide solid earth, all
that resists, all that can be struck and driven, surely all
proclaims the real existence of the corporeal? And how, it will be
asked, can we, on the contrary, attribute Being, and the only
Authentic Being, to entities like Soul and Intellect, things having no
weight or pressure, yielding to no force, offering no resistance,
things not even visible?
    Yet even the corporeal realm witnesses for us; the resting earth
has certainly a scantier share in Being than belongs to what has
more motion and less solidity- and less than belongs to its own most
upward element, for fire begins, already, to flit up and away
outside of the body-kind.
    In fact, it appears to be precisely the most self-sufficing that
bear least hardly, least painfully, on other things, while the
heaviest and earthiest bodies- deficient, falling, unable to bear
themselves upward- these, by the very down-thrust due to their
feebleness, offer the resistance which belongs to the falling habit
and to the lack of buoyancy. It is lifeless objects that deal the
severest blows; they hit hardest and hurt most; where there is life-
that is to say participation in Being- there is beneficence towards
the environment, all the greater as the measure of Being is fuller.
    Again, Movement, which is a sort of life within bodies, an
imitation of true Life, is the more decided where there is the least
of body a sign that the waning of Being makes the object affected more
distinctly corporeal.
    The changes known as affections show even more clearly that
where the bodily quality is most pronounced susceptibility is at its
intensest- earth more susceptible than other elements, and these
others again more or less so in the degree of their corporeality:
sever the other elements and, failing some preventive force, they join
again; but earthy matter divided remains apart indefinitely. Things
whose nature represents a diminishment have no power of recuperation
after even a slight disturbance and they perish; thus what has most
definitely become body, having most closely approximated to
non-being lacks the strength to reknit its unity: the heavy and
violent crash of body against body works destruction, and weak is
powerful against weak, non-being against its like.
    Thus far we have been meeting those who, on the evidence of thrust
and resistance, identify body with real being and find assurance of
truth in the phantasms that reach us through the senses, those, in a
word, who, like dreamers, take for actualities the figments of their
sleeping vision. The sphere of sense, the Soul in its slumber; for all
of the Soul that is in body is asleep and the true getting-up is not
bodily but from the body: in any movement that takes the body with
it there is no more than a passage from sleep to sleep, from bed to
bed; the veritable waking or rising is from corporeal things; for
these, belonging to the Kind directly opposed to Soul, present to it
what is directly opposed to its essential existence: their origin,
their flux, and their perishing are the warning of their exclusion
from the Kind whose Being is Authentic.
    7. We are thus brought back to the nature of that underlying
matter and the things believed to be based upon it; investigation will
show us that Matter has no reality and is not capable of being
    Matter must be bodiless- for body is a later production, a
compound made by Matter in conjunction with some other entity. Thus it
is included among incorporeal things in the sense that body is
something that is neither Real-Being nor Matter.
    Matter is no Soul; it is not Intellect, is not Life, is no
Ideal-Principle, no Reason-Principle; it is no limit or bound, for
it is mere indetermination; it is not a power, for what does it
    It lives on the farther side of all these categories and so has no
tide to the name of Being. It will be more plausibly called a
non-being, and this in the sense not of movement [away from Being]
or station (in Not-Being) but of veritable Not-Being, so that it is no
more than the image and phantasm of Mass, a bare aspiration towards
substantial existence; it is stationary but not in the sense of having
position, it is in itself invisible, eluding all effort to observe it,
present where no one can look, unseen for all our gazing,
ceaselessly presenting contraries in the things based upon it; it is
large and small, more and less, deficient and excessive; a phantasm
unabiding and yet unable to withdraw- not even strong enough to
withdraw, so utterly has it failed to accept strength from the
Intellectual Principle, so absolute its lack of all Being.
    Its every utterance, therefore, is a lie; it pretends to be
great and it is little, to be more and it is less; and the Existence
with which it masks itself is no Existence, but a passing trick making
trickery of all that seems to be present in it, phantasms within a
phantasm; it is like a mirror showing things as in itself when they
are really elsewhere, filled in appearance but actually empty,
containing nothing, pretending everything. Into it and out of it
move mimicries of the Authentic Existents, images playing upon an
image devoid of Form, visible against it by its very formlessness;
they seem to modify it but in reality effect nothing, for they are
ghostly and feeble, have no thrust and meet none in Matter either;
they pass through it leaving no cleavage, as through water; or they
might be compared to shapes projected so as to make some appearance
upon what we can know only as the Void.
    Further: if visible objects were of the rank of the originals from
which they have entered into Matter we might believe Matter to be
really affected by them, for we might credit them with some share of
the power inherent in their Senders: but the objects of our
experiences are of very different virtue than the realities they
represent, and we deduce that the seeming modification of matter by
visible things is unreal since the visible thing itself is unreal,
having at no point any similarity with its source and cause. Feeble,
in itself, a false thing and projected upon a falsity, like an image
in dream or against water or on a mirror, it can but leave Matter
unaffected; and even this is saying too little, for water and mirror
do give back a faithful image of what presents itself before them.
    8. It is a general principle that, to be modified, an object
must be opposed in faculty, and in quality to the forces that enter
and act upon it.
    Thus where heat is present, the change comes by something that
chills, where damp by some drying agency: we say a subject is modified
when from warm it becomes cold, from dry wet.
    A further evidence is in our speaking of a fire being burned
out, when it has passed over into another element; we do not say
that the Matter has been burned out: in other words, modification
affects what is subject to dissolution; the acceptance of modification
is the path towards dissolution; susceptibility to modification and
susceptibility to dissolution go necessarily together. But Matter
can never be dissolved. What into? By what process?
    Still: Matter harbours heat, cold, qualities beyond all count;
by these it is differentiated; it holds them as if they were of its
very substance and they blend within it- since no quality is found
isolated to itself- Matter lies there as the meeting ground of all
these qualities with their changes as they act and react in the blend:
how, then, can it fail to be modified in keeping? The only escape
would be to declare Matter utterly and for ever apart from the
qualities it exhibits; but the very notion of Substance implies that
any and every thing present in it has some action upon it.
    9. In answer: It must, first, be noted that there are a variety of
modes in which an object may be said to be present to another or to
exist in another. There is a "presence" which acts by changing the
object- for good or for ill- as we see in the case of bodies,
especially where there is life. But there is also a "presence" which
acts, towards good or ill, with no modification of the object, as we
have indicated in the case of the Soul. Then there is the case
represented by the stamping of a design upon wax, where the "presence"
of the added pattern causes no modification in the substance nor
does its obliteration diminish it. And there is the example of Light
whose presence does not even bring change of pattern to the object
illuminated. A stone becoming cold does not change its nature in the
process; it remains the stone it was. A drawing does not cease to be a
drawing for being coloured.
    The intermediary mass on which these surface changes appear is
certainly not transmuted by them; but might there not be a
modification of the underlying Matter?
    No: it is impossible to think of Matter being modified by, for
instance, colour- for, of course we must not talk of modification when
there is no more than a presence, or at most a presenting of shape.
    Mirrors and transparent objects, even more, offer a close
parallel; they are quite unaffected by what is seen in or through
them: material things are reflections, and the Matter on which they
appear is further from being affected than is a mirror. Heat and
cold are present in Matter, but the Matter itself suffers no change of
temperature: growing hot and growing cold have to do only with
quality; a quality enters and brings the impassible Substance under
a new state- though, by the way, research into nature may show that
cold is nothing positive but an absence, a mere negation. The
qualities come together into Matter, but in most cases they can have
no action upon each other; certainly there can be none between those
of unlike scope: what effect, for example, could fragrance have on
sweetness or the colour-quality on the quality of form, any quality on
another of some unrelated order? The illustration of the mirror may
well indicate to us that a given substratum may contain something
quite distinct from itself- even something standing to it as a
direct contrary- and yet remain entirely unaffected by what is thus
present to it or merged into it.
    A thing can be hurt only by something related to it, and similarly
things are not changed or modified by any chance presence:
modification comes by contrary acting upon contrary; things merely
different leave each other as they were. Such modification by a direct
contrary can obviously not occur in an order of things to which
there is no contrary: Matter, therefore [the mere absence of
Reality] cannot be modified: any modification that takes place can
occur only in some compound of Matter and reality, or, speaking
generally, in some agglomeration of actual things. The Matter
itself- isolated, quite apart from all else, utterly simplex- must
remain immune, untouched in the midst of all the interacting agencies;
just as when people fight within their four walls, the house and the
air in it remain without part in the turmoil.
    We may take it, then, that while all the qualities and entities
that appear upon Matter group to produce each the effect belonging
to its nature, yet Matter itself remains immune, even more
definitely immune than any of those qualities entering into it
which, not being contraries, are not affected by each other.
    10. Further: If Matter were susceptible of modification, it must
acquire something by the incoming of the new state; it will either
adopt that state, or, at least, it will be in some way different
from what it was. Now upon this first incoming quality suppose a
second to supervene; the recipient is no longer Matter but a
modification of Matter: this second quality, perhaps, departs, but
it has acted and therefore leaves something of itself after it; the
substratum is still further altered. This process proceeding, the
substratum ends by becoming something quite different from Matter;
it becomes a thing settled in many modes and many shapes; at once it
is debarred from being the all-recipient; it will have closed the
entry against many incomers. In other words, the Matter is no longer
there: Matter is destructible.
    No: if there is to be a Matter at all, it must be always
identically as it has been from the beginning: to speak of Matter as
changing is to speak of it as not being Matter.
    Another consideration: it is a general principle that a thing
changing must remain within its constitutive Idea so that the
alteration is only in the accidents and not in the essential thing;
the changing object must retain this fundamental permanence, and the
permanent substance cannot be the member of it which accepts
    Therefore there are only two possibilities: the first, that Matter
itself changes and so ceases to be itself, the second that it never
ceases to be itself and therefore never changes.
    We may be answered that it does not change in its character as
Matter: but no one could tell us in what other character it changes;
and we have the admission that the Matter in itself is not subject
to change.
    Just as the Ideal Principles stand immutably in their essence-
which consists precisely in their permanence- so, since the essence of
Matter consists in its being Matter [the substratum to all material
things] it must be permanent in this character; because it is
Matter, it is immutable. In the Intellectual realm we have the
immutable Idea; here we have Matter, itself similarly immutable.
    11. I think, in fact, that Plato had this in mind where he
justly speaks of the Images of Real Existents "entering and passing
out": these particular words are not used idly: he wishes us to
grasp the precise nature of the relation between Matter and the Ideas.
    The difficulty on this point is not really that which presented
itself to most of our predecessors- how the Ideas enter into Matter-
it is rather the mode of their presence in it.
    It is in fact strange at sight that Matter should remain itself
intact, unaffected by Ideal-forms present within it, especially seeing
that these are affected by each other. It is surprising, too, that the
entrant Forms should regularly expel preceding shapes and qualities,
and that the modification [which cannot touch Matter] should affect
what is a compound [of Idea with Matter] and this, again, not a
haphazard but precisely where there is need of the incoming or
outgoing of some certain Ideal-form, the compound being deficient
through the absence of a particular principle whose presence will
complete it.
    But the reason is that the fundamental nature of Matter can take
no increase by anything entering it, and no decrease by any
withdrawal: what from the beginning it was, it remains. It is not like
those things whose lack is merely that of arrangement and order
which can be supplied without change of substance as when we dress
or decorate something bare or ugly.
    But where the bringing to order must cut through to the very
nature, the base original must be transmuted: it can leave ugliness
for beauty only by a change of substance. Matter, then, thus brought
to order must lose its own nature in the supreme degree unless its
baseness is an accidental: if it is base in the sense of being
Baseness the Absolute, it could never participate in order, and, if
evil in the sense of being Evil the Absolute, it could never
participate in good.
    We conclude that Matter's participation in Idea is not by way of
modification within itself: the process is very different; it is a
bare seeming. Perhaps we have here the solution of the difficulty as
to how Matter, essentially evil, can be reaching towards The Good:
there would be no such participation as would destroy its essential
nature. Given this mode of pseudo-participation- in which Matter
would, as we say, retain its nature, unchanged, always being what it
has essentially been- there is no longer any reason to wonder as to
how while essentially evil, it yet participates in Idea: for, by
this mode, it does not abandon its own character: participation is the
law, but it participates only just so far as its essence allows. Under
a mode of participation which allows it to remain on its own
footing, its essential nature stands none the less, whatsoever the
Idea, within that limit, may communicate to it: it is by no means
the less evil for remaining immutably in its own order. If it had
authentic participation in The Good and were veritably changed, it
would not be essentially evil.
    In a word, when we call Matter evil we are right only if we mean
that it is not amenable to modification by The Good; but that means
simply that it is subject to no modification whatever.
    12. This is Plato's conception: to him participation does not,
in the case of Matter, comport any such presence of an Ideal-form in a
Substance to be shaped by it as would produce one compound thing
made up of the two elements changing at the same moment, merging
into one another, modified each by the other.
    In his haste to his purpose he raises many difficult questions,
but he is determined to disown that view; he labours to indicate in
what mode Matter can receive the Ideal-forms without being, itself,
modified. The direct way is debarred since it is not easy to point
to things actually present in a base and yet leaving that base
unaffected: he therefore devises a metaphor for participation
without modification, one which supports, also, his thesis that all
appearing to the senses is void of substantial existence and that
the region of mere seeming is vast.
    Holding, as he does, that it is the patterns displayed upon Matter
that cause all experience in living bodies while the Matter itself
remains unaffected, he chooses this way of stating its immutability,
leaving us to make out for ourselves that those very patterns
impressed upon it do not comport any experience, any modification,
in itself.
    In the case, no doubt, of the living bodies that take one
pattern or shape after having borne another, it might be said that
there was a change, the variation of shape being made verbally
equivalent to a real change: but since Matter is essentially without
shape or magnitude, the appearing of shape upon it can by no freedom
of phrase be described as a change within it. On this point one must
have "a rule for thick and thin" one may safely say that the
underlying Kind contains nothing whatever in the mode commonly
    But if we reject even the idea of its really containing at least
the patterns upon it, how is it, in any sense, a recipient?
    The answer is that in the metaphor cited we have some reasonably
adequate indication of the impassibility of Matter coupled with the
presence upon it of what may be described as images of things not
    But we cannot leave the point of its impassibility without a
warning against allowing ourselves to be deluded by sheer custom of
    Plato speaks of Matter as becoming dry, wet, inflamed, but we must
remember the words that follow: "and taking the shape of air and of
water": this blunts the expressions "becoming wet, becoming inflamed";
once we have Matter thus admitting these shapes, we learn that it
has not itself become a shaped thing but that the shapes remain
distinct as they entered. We see, further, that the expression
"becoming inflamed" is not to be taken strictly: it is rather a case
of becoming fire. Becoming fire is very different from becoming
inflamed, which implies an outside agency and, therefore,
susceptibility to modification. Matter, being itself a portion of
fire, cannot be said to catch fire. To suggest that the fire not
merely permeates the matter, but actually sets it on fire is like
saying that a statue permeates its bronze.
    Further, if what enters must be an Ideal-Principle how could it
set Matter aflame? But what if it is a pattern or condition? No: the
object set aflame is so in virtue of the combination of Matter and
    But how can this follow on the conjunction when no unity has
been produced by the two?
    Even if such a unity had been produced, it would be a unity of
things not mutually sharing experiences but acting upon each other.
And the question would then arise whether each was effective upon
the other or whether the sole action was not that of one (the form)
preventing the other [the Matter] from slipping away?
    But when any material thing is severed, must not the Matter be
divided with it? Surely the bodily modification and other experience
that have accompanied the sundering, must have occurred,
identically, within the Matter?
    This reasoning would force the destructibility of Matter upon
us: "the body is dissolved; then the Matter is dissolved." We would
have to allow Matter to be a thing of quantity, a magnitude. But since
it is not a magnitude it could not have the experiences that belong to
magnitude and, on the larger scale, since it is not body it cannot
know the experiences of body.
    In fact those that declare Matter subject to modification may as
well declare it body right out.
    13. Further, they must explain in what sense they hold that Matter
tends to slip away from its form [the Idea]. Can we conceive it
stealing out from stones and rocks or whatever else envelops it?
    And of course they cannot pretend that Matter in some cases rebels
and sometimes not. For if once it makes away of its own will, why
should it not always escape? If it is fixed despite itself, it must be
enveloped by some Ideal-Form for good and all. This, however, leaves
still the question why a given portion of Matter does not remain
constant to any one given form: the reason lies mainly in the fact
that the Ideas are constantly passing into it.
    In what sense, then, is it said to elude form?
    By very nature and for ever?
    But does not this precisely mean that it never ceases to be
itself, in other words that its one form is an invincible
formlessness? In no other sense has Plato's dictum any value to
those that invoke it.
    Matter [we read] is "the receptacle and nurse of all generation."
    Now if Matter is such a receptacle and nurse, all generation is
distinct from it; and since all the changeable lies in the realm of
generation, Matter, existing before all generation, must exist
before all change.
    "Receptacle" and "nurse"; then it "retains its identity; it is not
subject to modification. Similarly if it is" [as again we read] "the
ground on which individual things appear and disappear," and so,
too, if it is a "place, a base." Where Plato describes and
identifies it as "a ground to the ideas" he is not attributing any
state to it; he is probing after its distinctive manner of being.
    And what is that?
    This which we think of as a Nature-Kind cannot be included among
Existents but must utterly rebel from the Essence of Real Beings and
be therefore wholly something other than they- for they are
Reason-Principles and possess Authentic Existence- it must inevitably,
by virtue of that difference, retain its integrity to the point of
being permanently closed against them and, more, of rejecting close
participation in any image of them.
    Only on these terms can it be completely different: once it took
any Idea to hearth and home, it would become a new thing, for it would
cease to be the thing apart, the ground of all else, the receptacle of
absolutely any and every form. If there is to be a ceaseless coming
into it and going out from it, itself must be unmoved and immune in
all the come and go. The entrant Idea will enter as an image, the
untrue entering the untruth.
    But, at least, in a true entry?
    No: How could there be a true entry into that which, by being
falsity, is banned from ever touching truth?
    Is this then a pseudo-entry into a pseudo-entity- something merely
brought near, as faces enter the mirror, there to remain just as
long as the people look into it?
    Yes: if we eliminated the Authentic Existents from this Sphere
nothing of all now seen in sense would appear one moment longer.
    Here the mirror itself is seen, for it is itself an Ideal-Form
of a Kind [has some degree of Real Being]; but bare Matter, which is
no Idea, is not a visible thing; if it were, it would have been
visible in its own character before anything else appeared upon it.
The condition of Matter may be illustrated by that of air penetrated
by light and remaining, even so, unseen because it is invisible
whatever happens.
    The reflections in the mirror are not taken to be real, all the
less since the appliance on which they appear is seen and remains
while the images disappear, but Matter is not seen either with the
images or without them. But suppose the reflections on the mirror
remaining and the mirror itself not seen, we would never doubt the
solid reality of all that appears.
    If, then, there is, really, something in a mirror, we may
suppose objects of sense to be in Matter in precisely that way: if
in the mirror there is nothing, if there is only a seeming of
something, then we may judge that in Matter there is the same delusion
and that the seeming is to be traced to the Substantial-Existence of
the Real-Beings, that Substantial-Existence in which the Authentic has
the real participation while only an unreal participation can belong
to the unauthentic since their condition must differ from that which
they would know if the parts were reversed, if the Authentic Existents
were not and they were.
    14. But would this mean that if there were no Matter nothing would
    Precisely as in the absence of a mirror, or something of similar
power, there would be no reflection.
    A thing whose very nature is to be lodged in something else cannot
exist where the base is lacking- and it is the character of a
reflection to appear in something not itself.
    Of course supposing anything to desert from the Authentic
Beings, this would not need an alien base: but these Beings are not
subject to flux, and therefore any outside manifestation of them
implies something other than themselves, something offering a base
to what never enters, something which by its presence, in its
insistence, by its cry for help, in its beggardom, strives as it
were by violence to acquire and is always disappointed, so that its
poverty is enduring, its cry unceasing.
    This alien base exists and the myth represents it as a pauper to
exhibit its nature, to show that Matter is destitute of The Good.
The claimant does not ask for all the Giver's store, but it welcomes
whatever it can get; in other words, what appears in Matter is not
    The name, too [Poverty], conveys that Matter's need is never
met. The union with Poros, Possession, is designed to show that Matter
does not attain to Reality, to Plenitude, but to some bare
sufficiency- in point of fact to imaging skill.
    It is, of course, impossible that an outside thing belonging in
any degree to Real-Being- whose Nature is to engender Real-Beings-
should utterly fail of participation in Reality: but here we have
something perplexing; we are dealing with utter Non-Being,
absolutely without part in Reality; what is this participation by
the non-participant, and how does mere neighbouring confer anything on
that which by its own nature is precluded from any association?
    The answer is that all that impinges upon this Non-Being is
flung back as from a repelling substance; we may think of an Echo
returned from a repercussive plane surface; it is precisely because of
the lack of retention that the phenomenon is supposed to belong to
that particular place and even to arise there.
    If Matter were participant and received Reality to the extent
which we are apt to imagine, it would be penetrated by a Reality
thus sucked into its constitution. But we know that the Entrant is not
thus absorbed: Matter remains as it was, taking nothing to itself:
it is the check to the forthwelling of Authentic Existence; it is a
ground that repels; it is a mere receptacle to the Realities as they
take their common path and here meet and mingle. It resembles those
reflecting vessels, filled with water, which are often set against the
sun to produce fire: the heat rays- prevented, by their contrary
within, from being absorbed- are flung out as one mass.
    It is in this sense and way that Matter becomes the cause of the
generated realm; the combinations within it hold together only after
some such reflective mode.
    15. Now the objects attracting the sun-rays to themselves-
illuminated by a fire of the sense-order- are necessarily of the
sense-order; there is perceptibility because there has been a union of
things at once external to each other and continuous, contiguous, in
direct contact, two extremes in one line. But the Reason-Principle
operating upon Matter is external to it only in a very different
mode and sense: exteriority in this case is amply supplied by
contrariety of essence and can dispense with any opposite ends [any
question of lineal position]; or, rather, the difference is one that
actually debars any local extremity; sheer incongruity of essence, the
utter failure in relationship, inhibits admixture [between Matter
and any form of Being].
    The reason, then, of the immutability of Matter is that the
entrant principle neither possesses it nor is possessed by it.
Consider, as an example, the mode in which an opinion or
representation is present in the mind; there is no admixture; the
notion that came goes in its time, still integrally itself alone,
taking nothing with it, leaving nothing after it, because it has not
been blended with the mind; there is no "outside" in the sense of
contact broken, and the distinction between base and entrant is patent
not to the senses but to the reason.
    In that example, no doubt, the mental representation- though it
seems to have a wide and unchecked control- is an image, while the
Soul [Mind] is in its nature not an image [but a Reality]: none the
less the Soul or Mind certainly stands to the concept as Matter, or in
some analogous relation. The representation, however, does not cover
the Mind over; on the contrary it is often expelled by some activity
there; however urgently it presses in, it never effects such an
obliteration as to be taken for the Soul; it is confronted there by
indwelling powers, by Reason-Principles, which repel all such attack.
    Matter- feebler far than the Soul for any exercise of power, and
possessing no phase of the Authentic Existents, not even in possession
of its own falsity- lacks the very means of manifesting itself,
utter void as it is; it becomes the means by which other things
appear, but it cannot announce its own presence. Penetrating thought
may arrive at it, discriminating it from Authentic Existence; then, it
is discerned as something abandoned by all that really is, by even the
dimmest semblants of being, as a thing dragged towards every shape and
property and appearing to follow- yet in fact not even following.
    16. An Ideal-Principle approaches and leads Matter towards some
desired dimension, investing this non-existent underlie with a
magnitude from itself which never becomes incorporate- for Matter,
if it really incorporated magnitude, would be a mass.
    Eliminate this Ideal-Form and the substratum ceases to be a
thing of magnitude, or to appear so: the mass produced by the Idea
was, let us suppose, a man or a horse; the horse-magnitude came upon
the Matter when a horse was produced upon it; when the horse ceases to
exist upon the Matter, the magnitude of the horse departs also. If
we are told that the horse implies a certain determined bulk and
that this bulk is a permanent thing, we answer that what is
permanent in this case is not the magnitude of the horse but the
magnitude of mass in general. That same Magnitude might be fire or
earth; on their disappearance their particular magnitudes would
disappear with them. Matter, then, can never take to itself either
pattern or magnitude; if it did, it would no longer be able to turn
from being fire, let us say, into being something else; it would
become and be fire once for all.
    In a word, though Matter is far extended- so vastly as to appear
co-extensive with all this sense-known Universe- yet if the Heavens
and their content came to an end, all magnitude would simultaneously
pass from Matter with, beyond a doubt, all its other properties; it
would be abandoned to its own Kind, retaining nothing of all that
which, in its own peculiar mode, it had hitherto exhibited.
    Where an entrant force can effect modification it will
inevitably leave some trace upon its withdrawal; but where there can
be no modification, nothing can be retained; light comes and goes, and
the air is as it always was.
    That a thing essentially devoid of magnitude should come to a
certain size is no more astonishing than that a thing essentially
devoid of heat should become warm: Matter's essential existence is
quite separate from its existing in bulk, since, of course,
magnitude is an immaterial principle as pattern is. Besides, if we are
not to reduce Matter to nothing, it must be all things by way of
participation, and Magnitude is one of those all things.
    In bodies, necessarily compounds, Magnitude though not a
determined Magnitude must be present as one of the constituents; it is
implied in the very notion of body; but Matter- not a Body- excludes
even undetermined Magnitude.
    17. Nor can we, on the other hand, think that matter is simply
Absolute Magnitude.
    Magnitude is not, like Matter, a receptacle; it is an
Ideal-Principle: it is a thing standing apart to itself, not some
definite Mass. The fact is that the self-gathered content of the
Intellectual Principle or of the All-Soul, desires expansion [and
thereby engenders secondaries]: in its images- aspiring and moving
towards it and eagerly imitating its act- is vested a similar power of
reproducing their states in their own derivatives. The Magnitude
latent in the expansive tendency of the Image-making phase [of
Intellect or All-Soul] runs forth into the Absolute Magnitude of the
Universe; this in turn enlists into the process the spurious magnitude
of Matter: the content of the Supreme, thus, in virtue of its own
prior extension enables Matter- which never possesses a content- to
exhibit the appearance of Magnitude. It must be understood that
spurious Magnitude consists in the fact that a thing [Matter] not
possessing actual Magnitude strains towards it and has the extension
of that straining. All that is Real Being gives forth a reflection
of itself upon all else; every Reality, therefore, has Magnitude which
by this process is communicated to the Universe.
    The Magnitude inherent in each Ideal-Principle- that of a horse or
of anything else- combines with Magnitude the Absolute with the result
that, irradiated by that Absolute, Matter entire takes Magnitude and
every particle of it becomes a mass; in this way, by virtue at once of
the totality of Idea with its inherent magnitude and of each several
specific Idea, all things appear under mass; Matter takes on what we
conceive as extension; it is compelled to assume a relation to the All
and, gathered under this Idea and under Mass, to be all things- in the
degree in which the operating power can lead the really nothing to
become all.
    By the conditions of Manifestation, colour rises from non-colour
[= from the colourless prototype of colour in the Ideal Realm].
Quality, known by the one name with its parallel in the sphere of
Primals, rises, similarly, from non-quality: in precisely the same
mode, the Magnitude appearing upon Matter rises from non-Magnitude
or from that Primal which is known to us by the same name; so that
material things become visible through standing midway between bare
underlie and Pure Idea. All is perceptible by virtue of this origin in
the Intellectual Sphere but all is falsity since the base in which the
manifestation takes place is a non-existent.
    Particular entities thus attain their Magnitude through being
drawn out by the power of the Existents which mirror themselves and
make space for themselves in them. And no violence is required to draw
them into all the diversity of Shapes and Kinds because the phenomenal
All exists by Matter [by Matter's essential all-receptivity] and
because each several Idea, moreover, draws Matter its own way by the
power stored within itself, the power it holds from the Intellectual
Realm. Matter is manifested in this sphere as Mass by the fact that it
mirrors the Absolute Magnitude; Magnitude here is the reflection in
the mirror. The Ideas meet all of necessity in Matter [the Ultimate of
the emanatory progress]: and Matter, both as one total thing and in
its entire scope, must submit itself, since it is the Material of
the entire Here, not of any one determined thing: what is, in its
own character, no determined thing may become determined by an outside
force- though, in becoming thus determined, it does not become the
definite thing in question, for thus it would lose its own
characteristic indetermination.
    18. The Ideal Principle possessing the Intellection [= Idea,
Noesis] of Magnitude- assuming that this Intellection is of such power
as not merely to subsist within itself but to be urged outward as it
were by the intensity of its life- will necessarily realize itself
in a Kind [= Matter] not having its being in the Intellective
Principle, not previously possessing the Idea of Magnitude or any
trace of that Idea or any other.
    What then will it produce [in this Matter] by virtue of that
    Not horse or cow: these are the product of other Ideas.
    No: this Principle comes from the source of Magnitude [= is primal
"Magnitude"] and therefore Matter can have no extension, in which to
harbour the Magnitude of the Principle, but can take in only its
reflected appearance.
    To the thing which does not enjoy Magnitude in the sense of having
mass-extension in its own substance and parts, the only possibility is
that it present some partial semblance of Magnitude, such as being
continuous, not here and there and everywhere, that its parts be
related within it and ungapped. An adequate reflection of a great mass
cannot be produced in a small space- mere size prevents- but the
greater, pursuing the hope of that full self-presentment, makes
progress towards it and brings about a nearer approach to adequate
mirroring in the parallel from which it can never withhold its
radiation: thus it confers Magnitude upon that [= Matter] which has
none and cannot even muster up the appearance of having any, and the
visible resultant exhibits the Magnitude of mass.
    Matter, then, wears Magnitude as a dress thrown about it by its
association with that Absolute Magnitude to whose movement it must
answer; but it does not, for that, change its Kind; if the Idea
which has clothed it were to withdraw, it would once again be what
it permanently is, what it is by its own strength, or it would have
precisely the Magnitude lent to it by any other form that happens to
be present in it.
    The [Universal] Soul- containing the Ideal Principles of
Real-Beings, and itself an Ideal Principle- includes all in
concentration within itself, just as the Ideal Principle of each
particular entity is complete and self-contained: it, therefore,
sees these principles of sensible things because they are turned, as
it were, towards it and advancing to it: but it cannot harbour them in
their plurality, for it cannot depart from its Kind; it sees them,
therefore, stripped of Mass. Matter, on the contrary, destitute of
resisting power since it has no Act of its own and is a mere shadow,
can but accept all that an active power may choose to send. In what is
thus sent, from the Reason-Principle in the Intellectual Realm,
there is already contained a degree of the partial object that is to
be formed: in the image-making impulse within the Reason-Principle
there is already a step [towards the lower manifestation] or we may
put it that the downward movement from the Reason-Principle is a first
form of the partial: utter absence of partition would mean no movement
but [sterile] repose. Matter cannot be the home of all things in
concentration as the Soul is: if it were so, it would belong to the
Intellective Sphere. It must be all-recipient but not in that partless
mode. It is to be the Place of all things, and it must therefore
extend universally, offer itself to all things, serve to all interval:
thus it will be a thing unconfined to any moment [of space or time]
but laid out in submission to all that is to be.
    But would we not expect that some one particularized form should
occupy Matter [at once] and so exclude such others as are not able
to enter into combination?
    No: for there is no first Idea except the Ideal Principle of the
Universe- and, by this Idea, Matter is [the seat of] all things at
once and of the particular thing in its parts- for the Matter of a
living being is disparted according to the specific parts of the
organism: if there were no such partition nothing would exist but
the Reason-Principle.
    19. The Ideal Principles entering into Matter as to a Mother [to
be "born into the Universe"] affect it neither for better nor for
    Their action is not upon Matter but upon each other; these
powers conflict with their opponent principles, not with their
substrata- which it would be foolish to confuse with the entrant
forms- Heat [the Principle] annuls Cold, and Blackness annuls
Whiteness; or, the opponents blend to form an intermediate quality.
Only that is affected which enters into combinations: being affected
is losing something of self-identity.
    In beings of soul and body, the affection occurs in the body,
modified according to the qualities and powers presiding at the act of
change: in all such dissolution of constituent parts, in the new
combinations, in all variation from the original structure, the
affection is bodily, the Soul or Mind having no more than an
accompanying knowledge of the more drastic changes, or perhaps not
even that. [Body is modified: Mind knows] but the Matter concerned
remains unaffected; heat enters, cold leaves it, and it is unchanged
because neither Principle is associated with it as friend or enemy.
    So the appellation "Recipient and Nurse" is the better
description: Matter is the mother only in the sense indicated; it
has no begetting power. But probably the term Mother is used by
those who think of a Mother as Matter to the offspring, as a container
only, giving nothing to them, the entire bodily frame of the child
being formed out of food. But if this Mother does give anything to the
offspring it does so not in its quality as Matter but as being an
Ideal-Form; for only the Idea is generative; the contrary Kind is
    This, I think, is why the doctors of old, teaching through symbols
and mystic representations, exhibit the ancient Hermes with the
generative organ always in active posture; this is to convey that
the generator of things of sense is the Intellectual Reason Principle:
the sterility of Matter, eternally unmoved, is indicated by the
eunuchs surrounding it in its representation as the All-Mother.
    This too exalting title is conferred upon it in order to
indicate that it is the source of things in the sense of being their
underlie: it is an approximate name chosen for a general conception;
there is no intention of suggesting a complete parallel with
motherhood to those not satisfied with a surface impression but
needing a precisely true presentment; by a remote symbolism, the
nearest they could find, they indicate that Matter is sterile, not
female to full effect, female in receptivity only, not in pregnancy:
this they accomplish by exhibiting Matter as approached by what is
neither female nor effectively male, but castrated of that
impregnating power which belongs only to the unchangeably masculine.
                        SEVENTH TRACTATE.

                        TIME AND ETERNITY.

    1. Eternity and Time; two entirely separate things, we explain
"the one having its being in the everlasting Kind, the other in the
realm of Process, in our own Universe"; and, by continually using
the words and assigning every phenomenon to the one or the other
category, we come to think that, both by instinct and by the more
detailed attack of thought, we hold an adequate experience of them
in our minds without more ado.
    When, perhaps, we make the effort to clarify our ideas and close
into the heart of the matter we are at once unsettled: our doubts
throw us back upon ancient explanations; we choose among the various
theories, or among the various interpretations of some one theory, and
so we come to rest, satisfied, if only we can counter a question
with an approved answer, and glad to be absolved from further enquiry.
    Now, we must believe that some of the venerable philosophers of
old discovered the truth; but it is important to examine which of them
really hit the mark and by what guiding principle we can ourselves
attain to certitude.
    What, then, does Eternity really mean to those who describe it
as something different from Time? We begin with Eternity, since when
the standing Exemplar is known, its representation in image- which
Time is understood to be- will be clearly apprehended- though it is of
course equally true, admitting this relationship to Time as image to
Eternity the original, that if we chose to begin by identifying Time
we could thence proceed upwards by Recognition [the Platonic
Anamnesis] and become aware of the Kind which it images.
    2. What definition are we to give to Eternity?
    Can it be identified with the [divine or] Intellectual Substance
    This would be like identifying Time with the Universe of Heavens
and Earth- an opinion, it is true, which appears to have had its
adherents. No doubt we conceive, we know, Eternity as something most
august; most august, too, is the Intellectual Kind; and there is no
possibility of saying that the one is more majestic than the other,
since no such degrees can be asserted in the Above-World; there is
therefore a certain excuse for the identification- all the more
since the Intellectual Substance and Eternity have the one scope and
    Still; by the fact of representing the one as contained within the
other, by making Eternity a predicate to the Intellectual Existents-
"the Nature of the Exemplar," we read, "is eternal"- we cancel the
identification; Eternity becomes a separate thing, something
surrounding that Nature or lying within it or present to it. And the
majestic quality of both does not prove them identical: it might be
transmitted from the one to the other. So, too, Eternity and the
Divine Nature envelop the same entities, yes; but not in the same way:
the Divine may be thought of as enveloping parts, Eternity as
embracing its content in an unbroken whole, with no implication of
part, but merely from the fact that all eternal things are so by
conforming to it.
    May we, perhaps, identify Eternity with Repose-There as Time has
been identified with Movement-Here?
    This would bring on the counter-question whether Eternity is
presented to us as Repose in the general sense or as the Repose that
envelops the Intellectual Essence.
    On the first supposition we can no more talk of Repose being
eternal than of Eternity being eternal: to be eternal is to
participate in an outside thing, Eternity.
    Further, if Eternity is Repose, what becomes of Eternal
Movement, which, by this identification, would become a thing of
    Again, the conception of Repose scarcely seems to include that
of perpetuity- I am speaking of course not of perpetuity in the
time-order (which might follow on absence of movement) but of that
which we have in mind when we speak of Eternity.
    If, on the other hand, Eternity is identified with the Repose of
the divine Essence, all species outside of the divine are put
outside of Eternity.
    Besides, the conception of Eternity requires not merely Repose but
also unity- and, in order to keep it distinct from Time, a unity
including interval- but neither that unity nor that absence of
interval enters into the conception of Repose as such.
    Lastly, this unchangeable Repose in unity is a predicate
asserted of Eternity, which, therefore, is not itself Repose, the
absolute, but a participant in Repose.
    3. What, then, can this be, this something in virtue of which we
declare the entire divine Realm to be Eternal, everlasting? We must
come to some understanding of this perpetuity with which Eternity is
either identical or in conformity.
    It must at once, be at once something in the nature of unity and
yet a notion compact of diversity, or a Kind, a Nature, that waits
upon the Existents of that Other World, either associated with them or
known in and upon them, they collectively being this Nature which,
with all its unity, is yet diverse in power and essence. Considering
this multifarious power, we declare it to be Essence in its relation
to this sphere which is substratum or underlie to it; where we see
life we think of it as Movement; where all is unvaried self-identity
we call it Repose; and we know it as, at once, Difference and Identity
when we recognize that all is unity with variety.
    Then we reconstruct; we sum all into a collected unity once
more, a sole Life in the Supreme; we concentrate Diversity and all the
endless production of act: thus we know Identity, a concept or,
rather, a Life never varying, not becoming what previously it was not,
the thing immutably itself, broken by no interval; and knowing this,
we know Eternity.
    We know it as a Life changelessly motionless and ever holding
the Universal content [time, space, and phenomena] in actual presence;
not this now and now that other, but always all; not existing now in
one mode and now in another, but a consummation without part or
interval. All its content is in immediate concentration as at one
point; nothing in it ever knows development: all remains identical
within itself, knowing nothing of change, for ever in a Now since
nothing of it has passed away or will come into being, but what it
is now, that it is ever.
    Eternity, therefore- while not the Substratum [not the essential
foundation of the Divine or Intellectual Principle]- may be considered
as the radiation of this Substratum: it exists as the announcement
of the Identity in the Divine, of that state- of being thus and not
otherwise- which characterizes what has no futurity but eternally is.
    What future, in fact, could bring to that Being anything which
it now does not possess; and could it come to be anything which it
is not once for all?
    There exists no source or ground from which anything could make
its way into that standing present; any imagined entrant will prove to
be not alien but already integral. And as it can never come to be
anything at present outside it, so, necessarily, it cannot include any
past; what can there be that once was in it and now is gone? Futurity,
similarly, is banned; nothing could be yet to come to it. Thus no
ground is left for its existence but that it be what it is.
    That which neither has been nor will be, but simply possesses
being; that which enjoys stable existence as neither in process of
change nor having ever changed- that is Eternity. Thus we come to
the definition: the Life- instantaneously entire, complete, at no
point broken into period or part- which belongs to the Authentic
Existent by its very existence, this is the thing we were probing for-
this is Eternity.
    4. We must, however, avoid thinking of it as an accidental from
outside grafted upon that Nature: it is native to it, integral to it.
    It is discerned as present essentially in that Nature like
everything else that we can predicate There- all immanent, springing
from that Essence and inherent to that Essence. For whatsoever has
primal Being must be immanent to the Firsts and be a First-Eternity
equally with The Good that is among them and of them and equally
with the truth that is among them.
    In one aspect, no doubt, Eternity resides in a partial phase of
the All-Being; but in another aspect it is inherent in the All taken
as a totality, since that Authentic All is not a thing patched up
out of external parts, but is authentically an all because its parts
are engendered by itself. It is like the truthfulness in the Supreme
which is not an agreement with some outside fact or being but is
inherent in each member about which it is the truth. To an authentic
All it is not enough that it be everything that exists: it must
possess allness in the full sense that nothing whatever is absent from
it. Then nothing is in store for it: if anything were to come, that
thing must have been lacking to it, and it was, therefore, not All.
And what, of a Nature contrary to its own, could enter into it when it
is [the Supreme and therefore] immune? Since nothing can accrue to it,
it cannot seek change or be changed or ever have made its way into
    Engendered things are in continuous process of acquisition;
eliminate futurity, therefore, and at once they lose their being; if
the non-engendered are made amenable to futurity they are thrown
down from the seat of their existence, for, clearly, existence is
not theirs by their nature if it appears only as a being about to
be, a becoming, an advancing from stage to stage.
    The essential existence of generated things seems to lie in
their existing from the time of their generation to the ultimate of
time after which they cease to be: but such an existence is compact of
futurity, and the annulment of that futurity means the stopping of the
life and therefore of the essential existence.
    Such a stoppage would be true, also, of the [generated] All in
so far as it is a thing of process and change: for this reason it
keeps hastening towards its future, dreading to rest, seeking to
draw Being to itself by a perpetual variety of production and action
and by its circling in a sort of ambition after Essential Existence.
    And here we have, incidentally, lighted upon the cause of the
Circuit of the All; it is a movement which seeks perpetuity by way
of futurity.
    The Primals, on the contrary, in their state of blessedness have
no such aspiration towards anything to come: they are the whole,
now; what life may be thought of as their due, they possess entire;
they, therefore, seek nothing, since there is nothing future to
them, nothing external to them in which any futurity could find
    Thus the perfect and all-comprehensive essence of the Authentic
Existent does not consist merely in the completeness inherent in its
members; its essence includes, further, its established immunity
from all lack with the exclusion, also, of all that is without
Being- for not only must all things be contained in the All and Whole,
but it can contain nothing that is, or was ever, non-existent- and
this State and Nature of the Authentic Existent is Eternity: in our
very word, Eternity means Ever-Being.
    5. This Ever-Being is realized when upon examination of an
object I am able to say- or rather, to know- that in its very Nature
it is incapable of increment or change; anything that fails by that
test is no Ever-Existent or, at least, no Ever-All-Existent.
    But is perpetuity enough in itself to constitute an Eternal?
    No: the object must, farther, include such a Nature-Principle as
to give the assurance that the actual state excludes all future
change, so that it is found at every observation as it always was.
    Imagine, then, the state of a being which cannot fall away from
the vision of this but is for ever caught to it, held by the spell
of its grandeur, kept to it by virtue of a nature itself unfailing- or
even the state of one that must labour towards Eternity by directed
effort, but then to rest in it, immoveable at any point assimilated to
it, co-eternal with it, contemplating Eternity and the Eternal by what
is Eternal within the self.
    Accepting this as a true account of an eternal, a perdurable
Existent- one which never turns to any Kind outside itself, that
possesses life complete once for all, that has never received any
accession, that is now receiving none and will never receive any- we
have, with the statement of a perduring Being, the statement also of
perdurance and of Eternity: perdurance is the corresponding state
arising from the [divine] substratum and inherent in it; Eternity [the
Principle as distinguished from the property of everlastingness] is
that substratum carrying that state in manifestation.
    Eternity, thus, is of the order of the supremely great; it
proves on investigation to be identical with God: it may fitly be
described as God made manifest, as God declaring what He is, as
existence without jolt or change, and therefore as also the firmly
    And it should be no shock that we find plurality in it; each of
the Beings of the Supreme is multiple by virtue of unlimited force;
for to be limitless implies failing at no point, and Eternity is
pre-eminently the limitless since (having no past or future) it spends
nothing of its own substance.
    Thus a close enough definition of Eternity would be that it is a
life limitless in the full sense of being all the life there is and
a life which, knowing nothing of past or future to shatter its
completeness, possesses itself intact for ever. To the notion of a
Life (a Living-Principle) all-comprehensive add that it never spends
itself, and we have the statement of a Life instantaneously infinite.
    6. Now the Principle this stated, all good and beauty, and
everlasting, is centred in The One, sprung from It, and pointed
towards It, never straying from It, but ever holding about It and in
It and living by Its law; and it is in this reference, as I judge,
that Plato- finely, and by no means inadvertently but with profound
intention- wrote those words of his, "Eternity stable in Unity"; he
wishes to convey that Eternity is not merely something circling on its
traces into a final unity but has [instantaneous] Being about The
One as the unchanging Life of the Authentic Existent. This is
certainly what we have been seeking: this Principle, at rest within
rest with the One, is Eternity; possessing this stable quality,
being itself at once the absolute self-identical and none the less the
active manifestation of an unchanging Life set towards the Divine
and dwelling within It, untrue, therefore, neither on the side of
Being nor on the side of Life- this will be Eternity [the Real-Being
we have sought].
    Truly to be comports never lacking existence and never knowing
variety in the mode of existence: Being is, therefore,
self-identical throughout, and, therefore, again is one
undistinguishable thing. Being can have no this and that; it cannot be
treated in terms of intervals, unfoldings, progression, extension;
there is no grasping any first or last in it.
    If, then, there is no first or last in this Principle, if
existence is its most authentic possession and its very self, and this
in the sense that its existence is Essence or Life- then, once
again, we meet here what we have been discussing, Eternity.
    Observe that such words as "always," "never," "sometimes" must
be taken as mere conveniences of exposition: thus "always- used in the
sense not of time but of incorruptibility and endlessly complete
scope- might set up the false notion of stage and interval. We might
perhaps prefer to speak of "Being," without any attribute; but since
this term is applicable to Essence and some writers have used the word
"Essence" for things of process, we cannot convey our meaning to
them without introducing some word carrying the notion of perdurance.
    There is, of course, no difference between Being and Everlasting
Being; just as there is none between a philosopher and a true
philosopher: the attribute "true" came into use because there arose
what masqueraded as philosophy; and for similar reasons
"everlasting" was adjoined to "Being," and "Being" to "everlasting,"
and we have [the tautology of] "Everlasting Being." We must take
this "Everlasting" as expressing no more than Authentic Being: it is
merely a partial expression of a potency which ignores all interval or
term and can look forward to nothing by way of addition to the All
which it possesses. The Principle of which this is the statement
will be the All-Existent, and, as being all, can have no failing or
deficiency, cannot be at some one point complete and at some other
    Things and Beings in the Time order- even when to all appearance
complete, as a body is when fit to harbour a soul- are still bound
to sequence; they are deficient to the extent of that thing, Time,
which they need: let them have it, present to them and running side by
side with them, and they are by that very fact incomplete;
completeness is attributed to them only by an accident of language.
    But the conception of Eternity demands something which is in its
nature complete without sequence; it is not satisfied by something
measured out to any remoter time or even by something limitless,
but, in its limitless reach, still having the progression of futurity:
it requires something immediately possessed of the due fullness of
Being, something whose Being does not depend upon any quantity [such
as instalments of time] but subsists before all quantity.
    Itself having no quantity, it can have no contact with anything
quantitative since its Life cannot be made a thing of fragments, in
contradiction to the partlessness which is its character; it must be
without parts in the Life as in the essence.
    The phrase "He was good" [used by Plato of the Demiurge] refers to
the Idea of the All; and its very indefiniteness signifies the utter
absense of relation to Time: so that even this Universe has had no
temporal beginning; and if we speak of something "before" it, that
is only in the sense of the Cause from which it takes its Eternal
Existence. Plato used the word merely for the convenience of
exposition, and immediately corrects it as inappropriate to the
order vested with the Eternity he conceives and affirms.
    7. Now comes the question whether, in all this discussion, we
are not merely helping to make out a case for some other order of
Beings and talking of matters alien to ourselves.
    But how could that be? What understanding can there be failing
some point of contact? And what contact could there be with the
utterly alien?
    We must then have, ourselves, some part or share in Eternity.
    Still, how is this possible to us who exist in Time?
    The whole question turns on the distinction between being in
Time and being in Eternity, and this will be best realized by
probing to the Nature of Time. We must, therefore, descend from
Eternity to the investigation of Time, to the realm of Time: till
now we have been taking the upward way; we must now take the downward-
not to the lowest levels but within the degree in which Time itself is
a descent from Eternity.
    If the venerable sages of former days had not treated of Time, our
method would be to begin by linking to [the idea of] Eternity [the
idea of] its Next [its inevitable downward or outgoing subsequent in
the same order], then setting forth the probable nature of such a Next
and proceeding to show how the conception thus formed tallies with our
own doctrine.
    But, as things are, our best beginning is to range over the most
noteworthy of the ancient opinions and see whether any of them
accord with ours.
    Existing explanations of Time seem to fall into three classes:
    Time is variously identified with what we know as Movement, with a
moved object, and with some phenomenon of Movement: obviously it
cannot be Rest or a resting object or any phenomenon of rest, since,
in its characteristic idea, it is concerned with change.
    Of those that explain it as Movement, some identify it with
Absolute Movement [or with the total of Movement], others with that of
the All. Those that make it a moved object would identify it with
the orb of the All. Those that conceive it as some phenomenon, or some
period, of Movement treat it, severally, either as a standard of
measure or as something inevitably accompanying Movement, abstract
or definite.
    8. Movement Time cannot be- whether a definite act of moving is
meant or a united total made up of all such acts- since movement, in
either sense, takes place in Time. And, of course, if there is any
movement not in Time, the identification with Time becomes all the
less tenable.
    In a word, Movement must be distinct from the medium in which it
takes place.
    And, with all that has been said or is still said, one
consideration is decisive: Movement can come to rest, can be
intermittent; Time is continuous.
    We will be told that the Movement of the All is continuous [and so
may be identical with Time].
    But, if the reference is to the Circuit of the heavenly system [it
is not strictly continuous, or equable, since] the time taken in the
return path is not that of the outgoing movement; the one is twice
as long as the other: this Movement of the All proceeds, therefore, by
two different degrees; the rate of the entire journey is not that of
the first half.
    Further, the fact that we hear of the Movement of the outermost
sphere being the swiftest confirms our theory. Obviously, it is the
swiftest of movements by taking the lesser time to traverse the
greater space the very greatest- all other moving things are slower by
taking a longer time to traverse a mere segment of the same extension:
in other words, Time is not this movement.
    And, if Time is not even the movement of the Kosmic Sphere much
less is it the sphere itself though that has been identified with Time
on the ground of its being in motion.
    Is it, then, some phenomenon or connection of Movement?
    Let us, tentatively, suppose it to be extent, or duration, of
    Now, to begin with, Movement, even continuous, has no unchanging
extent [as Time the equable has], since, even in space, it may be
faster or slower; there must, therefore, be some unit of standard
outside it, by which these differences are measurable, and this
outside standard would more properly be called Time. And failing
such a measure, which extent would be Time, that of the fast or of the
slow- or rather which of them all, since these speed-differences are
    Is it the extent of the subordinate Movement [= movement of things
of earth]?
    Again, this gives us no unit since the movement is infinitely
variable; we would have, thus, not Time but Times.
    The extent of the Movement of the All, then?
    The Celestial Circuit may, no doubt, be thought of in terms of
quantity. It answers to measure- in two ways. First there is space;
the movement is commensurate with the area it passes through, and this
area is its extent. But this gives us, still, space only, not Time.
Secondly, the circuit, considered apart from distance traversed, has
the extent of its continuity, of its tendency not to stop but to
proceed indefinitely: but this is merely amplitude of Movement; search
it, tell its vastness, and, still, Time has no more appeared, no
more enters into the matter, than when one certifies a high pitch of
heat; all we have discovered is Motion in ceaseless succession, like
water flowing ceaselessly, motion and extent of motion.
    Succession or repetition gives us Number- dyad, triad, etc.- and
the extent traversed is a matter of Magnitude; thus we have Quantity
of Movement- in the form of number, dyad, triad, decade, or in the
form of extent apprehended in what we may call the amount of the
Movement: but, the idea of Time we have not. That definite Quantity is
merely something occurring within Time, for, otherwise Time is not
everywhere but is something belonging to Movement which thus would
be its substratum or basic-stuff: once more, then, we would be
making Time identical with Movement; for the extent of Movement is not
something outside it but is simply its continuousness, and we need not
halt upon the difference between the momentary and the continuous,
which is simply one of manner and degree. The extended movement and
its extent are not Time; they are in Time. Those that explain Time
as extent of Movement must mean not the extent of the movement
itself but something which determines its extension, something with
which the movement keeps pace in its course. But what this something
is, we are not told; yet it is, clearly, Time, that in which all
Movement proceeds. This is what our discussion has aimed at from the
first: "What, essentially, is Time?" It comes to this: we ask "What is
Time?" and we are answered, "Time is the extension of Movement in
    On the one hand Time is said to be an extension apart from and
outside that of Movement; and we are left to guess what this extension
may be: on the other hand, it is represented as the extension of
Movement; and this leaves the difficulty what to make of the extension
of Rest- though one thing may continue as long in repose as another in
motion, so that we are obliged to think of one thing Time that
covers both Rest and Movements, and, therefore, stands distinct from
    What then is this thing of extension? To what order of beings does
it belong?
    It obviously is not spatial, for place, too, is something
outside it.
    9. "A Number, a Measure, belonging to Movement?"
    This, at least, is plausible since Movement is a continuous
thin; but let us consider.
    To begin with, we have the doubt which met us when we probed its
identification with extent of Movement: is Time the measure of any and
every Movement?
    Have we any means of calculating disconnected and lawless
Movement? What number or measure would apply? What would be the
principle of such a Measure?
    One Measure for movement slow and fast, for any and every
movement: then that number and measure would be like the decade, by
which we reckon horses and cows, or like some common standard for
liquids and solids. If Time is this Kind of Measure, we learn, no
doubt, of what objects it is a Measure- of Movements- but we are no
nearer understanding what it is in itself.
    Or: we may take the decade and think of it, apart from the
horses or cows, as a pure number; this gives us a measure which,
even though not actually applied, has a definite nature. Is Time,
perhaps, a Measure in this sense?
    No: to tell us no more of Time in itself than that it is such a
number is merely to bring us back to the decade we have already
rejected, or to some similar collective figure.
    If, on the other hand, Time is [not such an abstraction but] a
Measure possessing a continuous extent of its own, it must have
quantity, like a foot-rule; it must have magnitude: it will,
clearly, be in the nature of a line traversing the path of Movement.
But, itself thus sharing in the movement, how can it be a Measure of
Movement? Why should the one of the two be the measure rather than the
other? Besides an accompanying measure is more plausibly considered as
a measure of the particular movement it accompanies than of Movement
in general. Further, this entire discussion assumes continuous
movement, since the accompanying principle; Time, is itself unbroken
[but a full explanation implies justification of Time in repose].
    The fact is that we are not to think of a measure outside and
apart, but of a combined thing, a measured Movement, and we are to
discover what measures it.
    Given a Movement measured, are we to suppose the measure to be a
    If so, which of these two would be Time, the measured movement
or the measuring magnitude? For Time [as measure] must be either the
movement measured by magnitude, or the measuring magnitude itself or
something using the magnitude like a yard-stick to appraise the
movement. In all three cases, as we have indicated, the application is
scarcely plausible except where continuous movement is assumed: unless
the Movement proceeds smoothly, and even unintermittently and as
embracing the entire content of the moving object, great
difficulties arise in the identification of Time with any kind of
    Let us, then, suppose Time to be this "measured Movement,"
measured by quantity. Now the Movement if it is to be measured
requires a measure outside itself; this was the only reason for
raising the question of the accompanying measure. In exactly the
same way the measuring magnitude, in turn, will require a measure,
because only when the standard shows such and such an extension can
the degree of movement be appraised. Time then will be, not the
magnitude accompanying the Movement, but that numerical value by which
the magnitude accompanying the Movement is estimated. But that
number can be only the abstract figure which represents the magnitude,
and it is difficult to see how an abstract figure can perform the
act of measuring.
    And, supposing that we discover a way in which it can, we still
have not Time, the measure, but a particular quantity of Time, not
at all the same thing: Time means something very different from any
definite period: before all question as to quantity is the question as
to the thing of which a certain quantity is present.
    Time, we are told, is the number outside Movement and measuring
it, like the tens applied to the reckoning of the horses and cows
but not inherent in them: we are not told what this Number is; yet,
applied or not, it must, like that decade, have some nature of its
    Or "it is that which accompanies a Movement and measures it by its
successive stages"; but we are still left asking what this thing
recording the stages may be.
    In any case, once a thing- whether by point or standard or any
other means- measures succession, it must measure according to time:
this number appraising movement degree by degree must, therefore, if
it is to serve as a measure at all, be something dependent upon time
and in contact with it: for, either, degree is spatial, merely- the
beginning and end of the Stadium, for example- or in the only
alternative, it is a pure matter of Time: the succession of early
and late is stage of Time, Time ending upon a certain Now or Time
beginning from a Now.
    Time, therefore, is something other than the mere number measuring
Movement, whether Movement in general or any particular tract of
    Further: Why should the mere presence of a number give us Time-
a number measuring or measured; for the same number may be either-
if Time is not given us by the fact of Movement itself, the Movement
which inevitably contains in itself a succession of stages? To make
the number essential to Time is like saying that magnitude has not its
full quantity unless we can estimate that quantity.
    Again, if Time is, admittedly, endless, how can number apply to
    Are we to take some portion of Time and find its numerical
statement? That simply means that Time existed before number was
applied to it.
    We may, therefore, very well think that it existed before the Soul
or Mind that estimates it- if, indeed, it is not to be thought to take
its origin from the Soul- for no measurement by anything is
necessary to its existence; measured or not, it has the full extent of
its being.
    And suppose it to be true that the Soul is the appraiser, using
Magnitude as the measuring standard, how does this help us to the
conception of Time?
    10. Time, again, has been described as some sort of a sequence
upon Movement, but we learn nothing from this, nothing is said,
until we know what it is that produces this sequential thing: probably
the cause and not the result would turn out to be Time.
    And, admitting such a thing, there would still remain the question
whether it came into being before the movement, with it, or after
it; and, whether we say before or with or after, we are speaking of
order in Time: and thus our definition is "Time is a sequence upon
movement in Time!"
    Enough: Our main purpose is to show what Time is, not to refute
false definition. To traverse point by point the many opinions of
our many predecessors would mean a history rather than an
identification; we have treated the various theories as fully as is
possible in a cursory review: and, notice, that which makes Time the
Measure of the All-Movement is refuted by our entire discussion and,
especially, by the observations upon the Measurement of Movement in
general, for all the argument- except, of course, that from
irregularity- applies to the All as much as to particular Movement.
    We are, thus, at the stage where we are to state what Time
really is.
    11. To this end we must go back to the state we affirmed of
Eternity, unwavering Life, undivided totality, limitless, knowing no
divagation, at rest in unity and intent upon it. Time was not yet:
or at least it did not exist for the Eternal Beings, though its
being was implicit in the Idea and Principle of progressive
    But from the Divine Beings thus at rest within themselves, how did
this Time first emerge?
    We can scarcely call upon the Muses to recount its origin since
they were not in existence then- perhaps not even if they had been.
The engendered thing, Time, itself, can best tell us how it rose and
became manifest; something thus its story would run:
    Time at first- in reality before that "first" was produced by
desire of succession- Time lay, self-concentrated, at rest within
the Authentic Existent: it was not yet Time; it was merged in the
Authentic and motionless with it. But there was an active principle
there, one set on governing itself and realizing itself [= the
All-Soul], and it chose to aim at something more than its present:
it stirred from its rest, and Time stirred with it. And we, stirring
to a ceaseless succession, to a next, to the discrimination of
identity and the establishment of ever-new difference, traversed a
portion of the outgoing path and produced an image of Eternity,
produced Time.
    For the Soul contained an unquiet faculty, always desirous of
translating elsewhere what it saw in the Authentic Realm, and it could
not bear to retain within itself all the dense fullness of its
    A Seed is at rest; the nature-principle within, uncoiling
outwards, makes way towards what seems to it a large life; but by that
partition it loses; it was a unity self-gathered, and now, in going
forth from itself, it fritters its unity away; it advances into a
weaker greatness. It is so with this faculty of the Soul, when it
produces the Kosmos known to sense- the mimic of the Divine Sphere,
moving not in the very movement of the Divine but in its similitude,
in an effort to reproduce that of the Divine. To bring this Kosmos
into being, the Soul first laid aside its eternity and clothed
itself with Time; this world of its fashioning it then gave over to be
a servant to Time, making it at every point a thing of Time, setting
all its progressions within the bournes of Time. For the Kosmos
moves only in Soul- the only Space within the range of the All open to
it to move in- and therefore its Movement has always been in the
Time which inheres in Soul.
    Putting forth its energy in act after act, in a constant
progress of novelty, the Soul produces succession as well as act;
taking up new purposes added to the old it brings thus into being what
had not existed in that former period when its purpose was still
dormant and its life was not as it since became: the life is changed
and that change carries with it a change of Time. Time, then, is
contained in differentiation of Life; the ceaseless forward movement
of Life brings with it unending Time; and Life as it achieves its
stages constitutes past Time.
    Would it, then, be sound to define Time as the Life of the Soul in
movement as it passes from one stage of act or experience to another?
    Yes; for Eternity, we have said, is Life in repose, unchanging,
self-identical, always endlessly complete; and there is to be an image
of Eternity-Time- such an image as this lower All presents of the
Higher Sphere. Therefore over against that higher life there must be
another life, known by the same name as the more veritable life of the
Soul; over against that movement of the Intellectual Soul there must
be the movement of some partial phase; over against that identity,
unchangeableness and stability there must be that which is not
constant in the one hold but puts forth multitudinous acts; over
against that oneness without extent or interval there must be an image
of oneness, a unity of link and succession; over against the
immediately infinite and all-comprehending, that which tends, yes,
to infinity but by tending to a perpetual futurity; over against the
Whole in concentration, there must be that which is to be a Whole by
stages never final. The lesser must always be working towards the
increase of its Being, this will be its imitation of what is
immediately complete, self-realized, endless without stage: only
thus can its Being reproduce that of the Higher.
    Time, however, is not to be conceived as outside of Soul; Eternity
is not outside of the Authentic Existent: nor is it to be taken as a
sequence or succession to Soul, any more than Eternity is to the
Divine. It is a thing seen upon Soul, inherent, coeval to it, as
Eternity to the Intellectual Realm.
    12. We are brought thus to the conception of a
Natural-Principle- Time- a certain expanse [a quantitative phase] of
the Life of the Soul, a principle moving forward by smooth and uniform
changes following silently upon each other- a Principle, then, whose
Act is sequent.
    But let us conceive this power of the Soul to turn back and
withdraw from the life-course which it now maintains, from the
continuous and unending activity of an ever-existent soul not
self-contained or self-intent but concerned about doing and
engendering: imagine it no longer accomplishing any Act, setting a
pause to this work it has inaugurated; let this outgoing phase of
the Soul become once more, equally with the rest, turned to the
Supreme, to Eternal Being, to the tranquilly stable.
    What would then exist but Eternity?
    All would remain in unity; how could there be any diversity of
things? What Earlier or Later would there be, what long-lasting or
short-lasting? What ground would lie ready to the Soul's operation but
the Supreme in which it has its Being? Or, indeed, what operative
tendency could it have even to That since a prior separation is the
necessary condition of tendency?
    The very sphere of the Universe would not exist; for it cannot
antedate Time: it, too, has its Being and its Movement in Time; and if
it ceased to move, the Soul-Act [which is the essence of Time]
continuing, we could measure the period of its Repose by that standard
outside it.
    If, then, the Soul withdrew, sinking itself again into its
primal unity, Time would disappear: the origin of Time, clearly, is to
be traced to the first stir of the Soul's tendency towards the
production of the sensible universe with the consecutive act
ensuing. This is how "Time"- as we read- "came into Being
simultaneously" with this All: the Soul begot at once the Universe and
Time; in that activity of the Soul this Universe sprang into being;
the activity is Time, the Universe is a content of Time. No doubt it
will be urged that we read also of the orbit of the Stars being
Times": but do not forget what follows; "the stars exist," we are
told, "for the display and delimitation of Time," and "that there
may be a manifest Measure." No indication of Time could be derived
from [observation of] the Soul; no portion of it can be seen or
handled, so it could not be measured in itself, especially when
there was as yet no knowledge of counting; therefore the Soul brings
into being night and day; in their difference is given Duality- from
which, we read, arises the concept of Number.
    We observe the tract between a sunrise and its return and, as
the movement is uniform, we thus obtain a Time-interval upon which
to measure ourselves, and we use this as a standard. We have thus a
measure of Time. Time itself is not a measure. How would it set to
work? And what kind of thing is there of which it could say, "I find
the extent of this equal to such and such a stretch of my own extent?"
What is this "I"? Obviously something by which measurement is known.
Time, then, serves towards measurement but is not itself the
Measure: the Movement of the All will be measured according to Time,
but Time will not, of its own Nature, be a Measure of Movement:
primarily a Kind to itself, it will incidentally exhibit the
magnitudes of that movement.
    And the reiterated observation of Movement- the same extent
found to be traversed in such and such a period- will lead to the
conception of a definite quantity of Time past.
    This brings us to the fact that, in a certain sense, the Movement,
the orbit of the universe, may legitimately be said to measure Time-
in so far as that is possible at all- since any definite stretch of
that circuit occupies a certain quantity of Time, and this is the only
grasp we have of Time, our only understanding of it: what that circuit
measures- by indication, that is- will be Time, manifested by the
Movement but not brought into being by it.
    This means that the measure of the Spheric Movement has itself
been measured by a definite stretch of that Movement and therefore
is something different; as measure, it is one thing and, as the
measured, it is another; [its being measure or] its being measured
cannot be of its essence.
    We are no nearer knowledge than if we said that the foot-rule
measures Magnitude while we left the concept Magnitude undefined;
or, again, we might as well define Movement- whose limitlessness
puts it out of our reach- as the thing measured by Space; the
definition would be parallel since we can mark off a certain space
which the Movement has traversed and say the one is equivalent to
the other.
    13. The Spheral Circuit, then, performed in Time, indicates it:
but when we come to Time itself there is no question of its being
"within" something else: it must be primary, a thing "within
itself." It is that in which all the rest happens, in which all
movement and rest exist smoothly and under order; something
following a definite order is necessary to exhibit it and to make it a
subject of knowledge- though not to produce it- it is known by order
whether in rest or in motion; in motion especially, for Movement
better moves Time into our ken than rest can, and it is easier to
estimate distance traversed than repose maintained.
   This last fact has led to Time being called a measure of Movement
when it should have been described as something measured by Movement
and then defined in its essential nature; it is an error to define
it by a mere accidental concomitant and so to reverse the actual order
of things. Possibly, however, this reversal was not intended by the
authors of the explanation: but, at any rate, we do not understand
them; they plainly apply the term Measure to what is in reality the
measured and leave us unable to grasp their meaning: our perplexity
may be due to the fact that their writings- addressed to disciples
acquainted with their teaching- do not explain what this thing,
measure, or measured object, is in itself.
    Plato does not make the essence of Time consist in its being
either a measure or a thing measured by something else.
    Upon the point of the means by which it is known, he remarks
that the Circuit advances an infinitesimal distance for every
infinitesimal segment of Time so that from that observation it is
possible to estimate what the Time is, how much it amounts to: but
when his purpose is to explain its essential nature he tells us that
it sprang into Being simultaneously with the Heavenly system, a
reproduction of Eternity, its image in motion, Time necessarily
unresting as the Life with which it must keep pace: and "coeval with
the Heavens" because it is this same Life [of the Divine Soul] which
brings the Heavens also into being; Time and the Heavens are the
work of the one Life.
    Suppose that Life, then, to revert- an impossibility- to perfect
unity: Time, whose existence is in that Life, and the Heavens, no
longer maintained by that Life, would end at once.
    It is the height of absurdity to fasten on the succession of
earlier and later occurring in the life and movement of this sphere of
ours, to declare that it must be some definite thing and to call it
Time, while denying the reality of the more truly existent Movement,
that of the Soul, which has also its earlier and later: it cannot be
reasonable to recognize succession in the case of the Soulless
Movement- and so to associate Time with that- while ignoring
succession and the reality of Time in the Movement from which the
other takes its imitative existence; to ignore, that is, the very
Movement in which succession first appears, a self-actuated movement
which, engendering its own every operation, is the source of all
that follows upon itself, to all which, it is the cause of
existence, at once, and of every consequent.
    But:- we treat the Kosmic Movement as overarched by that of the
Soul and bring it under Time; yet we do not set under Time that
Soul-Movement itself with all its endless progression: what is our
explanation of this paradox?
    Simply, that the Soul-Movement has for its Prior Eternity which
knows neither its progression nor its extension. The descent towards
Time begins with this Soul-Movement; it made Time and harbours Time as
a concomitant to its Act.
    And this is how Time is omnipresent: that Soul is absent from no
fragment of the Kosmos just as our Soul is absent from no particle
of ourselves. As for those who pronounce Time a thing of no
substantial existence, of no reality, they clearly belie God Himself
whenever they say "He was" or "He will be": for the existence
indicated by the "was and will be" can have only such reality as
belongs to that in which it is said to be situated:- but this school
demands another type of argument.
    Meanwhile we have a supplementary observation to make.
    Take a man walking and observe the advance he has made; that
advance gives you the quantity of movement he is employing: and when
you know that quantity- represented by the ground traversed by his
feet, for, of course, we are supposing the bodily movement to
correspond with the pace he has set within himself- you know also
the movement that exists in the man himself before the feet move.
    You must relate the body, carried forward during a given period of
Time, to a certain quantity of Movement causing the progress and to
the Time it takes, and that again to the Movement, equal in extension,
within the man's soul.
    But the Movement within the Soul- to what are you to (relate)
refer that?
    Let your choice fall where it may, from this point there is
nothing but the unextended: and this is the primarily existent, the
container to all else, having itself no container, brooking none.
    And, as with Man's Soul, so with the Soul of the All.
    "Is Time, then, within ourselves as well?"
    Time in every Soul of the order of the All-Soul, present in like
form in all; for all the Souls are the one Soul.
    And this is why Time can never be broken apart, any more than
Eternity which, similarly, under diverse manifestations, has its Being
as an integral constituent of all the eternal Existences.
                        EIGHTH TRACTATE.


    1. Supposing we played a little before entering upon our serious
concern and maintained that all things are striving after
Contemplation, looking to Vision as their one end- and this, not
merely beings endowed with reason but even the unreasoning animals,
the Principle that rules in growing things, and the Earth that
produces these- and that all achieve their purpose in the measure
possible to their kind, each attaining Vision and possessing itself of
the End in its own way and degree, some things in entire reality,
others in mimicry and in image- we would scarcely find anyone to
endure so strange a thesis. But in a discussion entirely among
ourselves there is no risk in a light handling of our own ideas.
    Well- in the play of this very moment am I engaged in the act of
    Yes; I and all that enter this play are in Contemplation: our play
aims at Vision; and there is every reason to believe that child or
man, in sport or earnest, is playing or working only towards Vision,
that every act is an effort towards Vision; the compulsory act,
which tends rather to bring the Vision down to outward things, and the
act thought of as voluntary, less concerned with the outer,
originate alike in the effort towards Vision.
    The case of Man will be treated later on; let us speak, first,
of the earth and of the trees and vegetation in general, asking
ourselves what is the nature of Contemplation in them, how we relate
to any Contemplative activity the labour and productiveness of the
earth, how Nature, held to be devoid of reason and even of conscious
representation, can either harbour Contemplation or produce by means
of the Contemplation which it does not possess.
    2. There is, obviously, no question here of hands or feet, of
any implement borrowed or inherent: Nature needs simply the Matter
which it is to work upon and bring under Form; its productivity cannot
depend upon mechanical operation. What driving or hoisting goes to
produce all that variety of colour and pattern?
    The wax-workers, whose methods have been cited as parallel to
the creative act of Nature, are unable to make colours; all they can
do to impose upon their handicraft colours taken from elsewhere.
None the less there is a parallel which demands attention: in the case
of workers in such arts there must be something locked within
themselves, an efficacy not going out from them and yet guiding
their hands in all their creation; and this observation should have
indicated a similar phenomenon in Nature; it should be clear that this
indwelling efficacy, which makes without hands, must exist in
Nature, no less than in the craftsman- but, there, as a thing
completely inbound. Nature need possess no outgoing force as against
that remaining within; the only moved thing is Matter; there can be no
moved phase in this Nature-Principle; any such moved phase could not
be the primal mover; this Nature-Principle is no such moved entity; it
is the unmoved Principle operating in the Kosmos.
    We may be answered that the Reason-Principle is, no doubt,
unmoved, but that the Nature-Principle, another being, operates by
    But, if Nature entire is in question here, it is identical with
the Reason-Principle; and any part of it that is unmoved is the
Reason-Principle. The Nature-Principle must be an Ideal-Form, not a
compound of Form and Matter; there is no need for it to possess
Matter, hot and cold: the Matter that underlies it, on which it
exercises its creative act, brings all that with it, or, natively
without quality, becomes hot and cold, and all the rest, when
brought under Reason: Matter, to become fire, demands the approach not
of fire but of a Reason-Principle.
    This is no slight evidence that in the animal and vegetable realms
the Reason-Principles are the makers and that Nature is a
Reason-Principle producing a second Reason-Principle, its offspring,
which, in turn, while itself, still, remaining intact, communicates
something to the underlie, Matter.
    The Reason-Principle presiding over visible Shape is the very
ultimate of its order, a dead thing unable to produce further: that
which produces in the created realm is the living Reason-Principle-
brother no doubt, to that which gives mere shape, but having
life-giving power.
    3. But if this Reason-Principle [Nature] is in act- and produces
by the process indicated- how can it have any part in Contemplation?
    To begin with, since in all its production it is stationary and
intact, a Reason-Principle self-indwelling, it is in its own nature
a Contemplative act. All doing must be guided by an Idea, and will
therefore be distinct from that Idea: the Reason-Principle then, as
accompanying and guiding the work, will be distinct from the work; not
being action but Reason-Principle it is, necessarily, Contemplation.
Taking the Reason-Principle, the Logos, in all its phases, the
lowest and last springs from a mental act [in the higher Logos] and is
itself a contemplation, though only in the sense of being
contemplated, but above it stands the total Logos with its two
distinguishable phases, first, that identified not as Nature but as
All-Soul and, next, that operating in Nature and being itself the
    And does this Reason-Principle, Nature, spring from a
    Wholly and solely?
    From self-contemplation, then? Or what are we to think? It derives
from a Contemplation and some contemplating Being; how are we to
suppose it to have Contemplation itself?
    The Contemplation springing from the reasoning faculty- that, I
mean, of planning its own content, it does not possess.
    But why not, since it is a phase of Life, a Reason-Principle and a
creative Power?
    Because to plan for a thing is to lack it: Nature does not lack;
it creates because it possesses. Its creative act is simply its
possession of it own characteristic Essence; now its Essence, since it
is a Reason-Principle, is to be at once an act of contemplation and an
object of contemplation. In other words, the, Nature-Principle
produces by virtue of being an act of contemplation, an object of
contemplation and a Reason-Principle; on this triple character depends
its creative efficacy.
    Thus the act of production is seen to be in Nature an act of
contemplation, for creation is the outcome of a contemplation which
never becomes anything else, which never does anything else, but
creates by simply being a contemplation.
    4. And Nature, asked why it brings forth its works, might answer
if it cared to listen and to speak:

    "It would have been more becoming to put no question but to
learn in silence just as I myself am silent and make no habit of
talking. And what is your lesson? This; that whatsoever comes into
being is my is my vision, seen in my silence, the vision that
belongs to my character who, sprung from vision, am vision-loving
and create vision by the vision-seeing faculty within me. The
mathematicians from their vision draw their figures: but I draw
nothing: I gaze and the figures of the material world take being as if
they fell from my contemplation. As with my Mother (the All-Soul]
and the Beings that begot me so it is with me: they are born of a
Contemplation and my birth is from them, not by their Act but by their
Being; they are the loftier Reason-Principles, they contemplate
themselves and I am born."

    Now what does this tell us?
    It tells: that what we know as Nature is a Soul, offspring of a
yet earlier Soul of more powerful life; that it possesses,
therefore, in its repose, a vision within itself; that it has no
tendency upward nor even downward but is at peace, steadfast, in its
own Essence; that, in this immutability accompanied by what may be
called Self-Consciousness, it possesses- within the measure of its
possibility- a knowledge of the realm of subsequent things perceived
in virtue of that understanding and consciousness; and, achieving thus
a resplendent and delicious spectacle, has no further aim.
    Of course, while it may be convenient to speak of
"understanding" or "perception" in the Nature-Principle, this is not
in the full sense applicable to other beings; we are applying to sleep
a word borrowed from the wake.
    For the Vision on which Nature broods, inactive, is a
self-intuition, a spectacle laid before it by virtue of its
unaccompanied self-concentration and by the fact that in itself it
belongs to the order of intuition. It is a Vision silent but
somewhat blurred, for there exists another a clearer of which Nature
is the image: hence all that Nature produces is weak; the weaker act
of intuition produces the weaker object.
    In the same way, human beings, when weak on the side of
contemplation, find in action their trace of vision and of reason:
their spiritual feebleness unfits them for contemplation; they are
left with a void, because they cannot adequately seize the vision; yet
they long for it; they are hurried into action as their way to the
vision which they cannot attain by intellection. They act from the
desire of seeing their action, and of making it visible and sensible
to others when the result shall prove fairly well equal to the plan.
Everywhere, doing and making will be found to be either an attenuation
or a complement of vision-attenuation if the doer was aiming only at
the thing done; complement if he is to possess something nobler to
gaze upon than the mere work produced.
    Given the power to contemplate the Authentic, who would run, of
choice, after its image?
    The relation of action to contemplation is indicated in the way
duller children, inapt to study and speculation, take to crafts and
manual labour.
    5. This discussion of Nature has shown us how the origin of things
is a Contemplation: we may now take the matter up to the higher
Soul; we find that the Contemplation pursued by this, its instinct
towards knowing and enquiring, the birth pangs set up by the knowledge
it attains, its teeming fullness, have caused it- in itself, all one
object of Vision- to produce another Vision [that of the Kosmos]: it
is just as a given science, complete in itself, becomes the source and
cause of what might be called a minor science in the student who
attains to some partial knowledge of all its divisions. But the
visible objects and the objects of intellectual contemplation of
this later creation are dim and helpless by the side of the content of
the Soul.
    The primal phase of the Soul- inhabitant of the Supreme and, by
its participation in the Supreme, filled and illuminated- remains
unchangeably There; but in virtue of that first participation, that of
the primal participant, a secondary phase also participates in the
Supreme, and this secondary goes forth ceaselessly as Life streaming
from Life; for energy runs through the Universe and there is no
extremity at which it dwindles out. But, travel as far as it may, it
never draws that first part of itself from the place whence the
outgoing began: if it did, it would no longer be everywhere [its
continuous Being would be broken and] it would be present at the
end, only, of its course.
    None the less that which goes forth cannot be equal to that
which remains.
    In sum, then:
    The Soul is to extend throughout the Universe, no spot void of its
energy: but, a prior is always different from its secondary, and
energy is a secondary, rising as it must from contemplation or act;
act, however, is not at this stage existent since it depends upon
contemplation: therefore the Soul, while its phases differ, must, in
all of them, remain a contemplation and what seems to be an act done
under contemplation must be in reality that weakened contemplation
of which we have spoken: the engendered must respect the Kind, but
in weaker form, dwindled in the descent.
    All goes softly since nothing here demands the parade of thought
or act upon external things: it is a Soul in vision and, by this
vision, creating its own subsequent- this Principle [of Nature],
itself also contemplative but in the feebler degree since it lies
further away and cannot reproduce the quality or experiences of its
prior- a Vision creates the Vision.
    [Such creative contemplation is not inexplicable] for no limit
exists either to contemplation or to its possible objects, and this
explains how the Soul is universal: where can this thing fail to be,
which is one identical thing in every Soul; Vision is not cabined
within the bournes of magnitude.
    This, of course, does not mean that the Soul is present at the
same strength in each and every place and thing- any more than that it
is at the same strength in each of its own phases.
    The Charioteer [the Leading Principle of the Soul, in the Phaedrus
Myth] gives the two horses [its two dissonant faculties] what he has
seen and they, taking that gift, showed that they were hungry for what
made that vision; there was something lacking to them: if in their
desire they acted, their action aimed at what they craved for- and
that was vision, and an object of vision.
    6. Action, thus, is set towards contemplation and an object of
contemplation, so that even those whose life is in doing have seeing
as their object; what they have not been able to achieve by the direct
path, they hope to come at by the circuit.
    Further: suppose they succeed; they desired a certain thing to
come about, not in order to be unaware of it but to know it, to see it
present before the mind: their success is the laying up of a vision.
We act for the sake of some good; this means not for something to
remain outside ourselves, not in order that we possess nothing but
that we may hold the good of the action. And hold it, where? Where but
in the mind?
    Thus once more, action is brought back to contemplation: for [mind
or] Soul is a Reason-Principle and anything that one lays up in the
Soul can be no other than a Reason-Principle, a silent thing, the more
certainly such a principle as the impression made is the deeper.
    This vision achieved, the acting instinct pauses; the mind is
satisfied and seeks nothing further; the contemplation, in one so
conditioned, remains absorbed within as having acquired certainty to
rest upon. The brighter the certainty, the more tranquil is the
contemplation as having acquired the more perfect unity; and- for
now we come to the serious treatment of the subject-
    In proportion to the truth with which the knowing faculty knows,
it comes to identification with the object of its knowledge.
    As long as duality persists, the two lie apart, parallel as it
were to each other; there is a pair in which the two elements remain
strange to one another, as when Ideal-Principles laid up in the mind
or Soul remain idle.
    Hence the Idea must not be left to lie outside but must be made
one identical thing with the soul of the novice so that he finds it
really his own.
    The Soul, once domiciled within that Idea and brought to
likeness with it, becomes productive, active; what it always held by
its primary nature it now grasps with knowledge and applies in deed,
so becoming, as it were, a new thing and, informed as it now is by the
purely intellectual, it sees [in its outgoing act] as a stranger
looking upon a strange world. It was, no doubt, essentially a
Reason-Principle, even an Intellectual Principle; but its function
is to see a [lower] realm which these do not see.
    For, it is a not a complete thing: it has a lack; it is incomplete
in regard to its Prior; yet it, also, has a tranquil vision of what it
produces. What it has once brought into being it produces no more, for
all its productiveness is determined by this lack: it produces for the
purpose of Contemplation, in the desire of knowing all its content:
when there is question of practical things it adapts its content to
the outside order.
    The Soul has a greater content than Nature has and therefore it is
more tranquil; it is more nearly complete and therefore more
contemplative. It is, however, not perfect, and is all the more
eager to penetrate the object of contemplation, and it seeks the
vision that comes by observation. It leaves its native realm and
busies itself elsewhere; then it returns, and it possesses its
vision by means of that phase of itself from which it had parted.
The self-indwelling Soul inclines less to such experiences.
    The Sage, then, is the man made over into a Reason-Principle: to
others he shows his act but in himself he is Vision: such a man is
already set, not merely in regard to exterior things but also within
himself, towards what is one and at rest: all his faculty and life are
    7. Certain Principles, then, we may take to be established- some
self-evident, others brought out by our treatment above:
    All the forms of Authentic Existence spring from vision and are
a vision. Everything that springs from these Authentic Existences in
their vision is an object of vision-manifest to sensation or to true
knowledge or to surface-awareness. All act aims at this knowing; all
impulse is towards knowledge, all that springs from vision exists to
produce Ideal-Form, that is a fresh object of vision, so that
universally, as images of their engendering principles, they all
produce objects of vision, Ideal-forms. In the engendering of these
sub-existences, imitations of the Authentic, it is made manifest
that the creating powers operate not for the sake of creation and
action but in order to produce an object of vision. This same vision
is the ultimate purpose of all the acts of the mind and, even
further downward, of all sensation, since sensation also is an
effort towards knowledge; lower still, Nature, producing similarly its
subsequent principle, brings into being the vision and Idea that we
know in it. It is certain, also, that as the Firsts exist in vision
all other things must be straining towards the same condition; the
starting point is, universally, the goal.
    When living things reproduce their Kind, it is that the
Reason-Principles within stir them; the procreative act is the
expression of a contemplation, a travail towards the creation of
many forms, many objects of contemplation, so that the universe may be
filled full with Reason-Principles and that contemplation may be, as
nearly as possible, endless: to bring anything into being is to
produce an Idea-Form and that again is to enrich the universe with
contemplation: all the failures, alike in being and in doing, are
but the swerving of visionaries from the object of vision: in the
end the sorriest craftsman is still a maker of forms, ungracefully. So
Love, too, is vision with the pursuit of Ideal-Form.
    8. From this basis we proceed:
    In the advancing stages of Contemplation rising from that in
Nature, to that in the Soul and thence again to that in the
Intellectual-Principle itself- the object contemplated becomes
progressively a more and more intimate possession of the Contemplating
Beings, more and more one thing with them; and in the advanced Soul
the objects of knowledge, well on the way towards the
Intellectual-Principle, are close to identity with their container.
    Hence we may conclude that, in the Intellectual-Principle
Itself, there is complete identity of Knower and Known, and this not
by way of domiciliation, as in the case of even the highest soul,
but by Essence, by the fact that, there, no distinction exists between
Being and Knowing; we cannot stop at a principle containing separate
parts; there must always be a yet higher, a principle above all such
    The Supreme must be an entity in which the two are one; it will,
therefore, be a Seeing that lives, not an object of vision like things
existing in something other than themselves: what exists in an outside
element is some mode of living-thing; it is not the Self-Living.
    Now admitting the existence of a living thing that is at once a
Thought and its object, it must be a Life distinct from the vegetative
or sensitive life or any other life determined by Soul.
    In a certain sense no doubt all lives are thoughts- but
qualified as thought vegetative, thought sensitive and thought
    What, then, makes them thoughts?
    The fact that they are Reason-Principles. Every life is some
form of thought, but of a dwindling clearness like the degrees of life
itself. The first and clearest Life and the first Intelligence are one
Being. The First Life, then, is an Intellection and the next form of
Life is the next Intellection and the last form of Life is the last
form of Intellection. Thus every Life, of the order strictly so
called, is an Intellection.
    But while men may recognize grades in life they reject grade in
thought; to them there are thoughts [full and perfect] and anything
else is no thought.
    This is simply because they do not seek to establish what Life is.
    The essential is to observe that, here again, all reasoning
shows that whatever exists is a bye-work of visioning: if, then, the
truest Life is such by virtue of an Intellection and is identical with
the truest Intellection, then the truest Intellection is a living
being; Contemplation and its object constitute a living thing, a Life,
two inextricably one.
    The duality, thus, is a unity; but how is this unity also a
    The explanation is that in a unity there can be no seeing [a
pure unity has no room for vision and an object]; and in its
Contemplation the One is not acting as a Unity; if it were, the
Intellectual-Principle cannot exist. The Highest began as a unity
but did not remain as it began; all unknown to itself, it became
manifold; it grew, as it were, pregnant: desiring universal
possession, it flung itself outward, though it were better had it
never known the desire by which a Secondary came into being: it is
like a Circle [in the Idea] which in projection becomes a figure, a
surface, a circumference, a centre, a system of radii, of upper and
lower segments. The Whence is the better; the Whither is less good:
the Whence is not the same as the Whence-followed-by-a-Whither; the
Whence all alone is greater than with the Whither added to it.
    The Intellectual-Principle on the other hand was never merely
the Principle of an inviolable unity; it was a universal as well
and, being so, was the Intellectual-Principle of all things. Being,
thus, all things and the Principle of all, it must essentially include
this part of itself [this element-of-plurality] which is universal and
is all things: otherwise, it contains a part which is not
Intellectual-Principle: it will be a juxtaposition of
non-Intellectuals, a huddled heap waiting to be made over from the
mass of things into the Intellectual-Principle!
    We conclude that this Being is limitless and that, in all the
outflow from it, there is no lessening either in its emanation,
since this also is the entire universe, nor in itself, the starting
point, since it is no assemblage of parts [to be diminished by any
    9. Clearly a Being of this nature is not the primal existent;
there must exist that which transcends it, that Being [the
Absolute], to which all our discussion has been leading.
    In the first place, Plurality is later than Unity. The
Intellectual-Principle is a number [= the expression of a
plurality]; and number derives from unity: the source of a number such
as this must be the authentically One. Further, it is the sum of an
Intellectual-Being with the object of its Intellection, so that it
is a duality; and, given this duality, we must find what exists before
    What is this?
    The Intellectual-Principle taken separately, perhaps?
    No: an Intellect is always inseparable from an intelligible
object; eliminate the intelligible, and the Intellectual-Principle
disappears with it. If, then, what we are seeking cannot be the
Intellectual-Principle but must be something that rejects the
duality there present, then the Prior demanded by that duality must be
something on the further side of the Intellectual-Principle.
    But might it not be the Intelligible object itself?
    No: for the Intelligible makes an equally inseparable duality with
the Intellectual-Principle.
    If, then, neither the Intellectual-Principle nor the
Intelligible Object can be the First Existent, what is?
    Our answer can only be:
    The source of both.
    What will This be; under what character can we picture It?
    It must be either Intellective or without Intellection: if
Intellective it is the Intellectual-Principle; if not, it will be
without even knowledge of itself- so that, either way, what is there
so august about it?
    If we define it as The Good and the wholly simplex, we will, no
doubt, be telling the truth, but we will not be giving any certain and
lucid account of it as long as we have in mind no entity in which to
lodge the conception by which we define it.
    Yet: our knowledge of everything else comes by way of our
intelligence; our power is that of knowing the intelligible by means
of the intelligence: but this Entity transcends all of the
intellectual nature; by what direct intuition, then, can it be brought
within our grasp?
    To this question the answer is that we can know it only in the
degree of human faculty: we indicate it by virtue of what in ourselves
is like it.
    For in us, also, there is something of that Being; nay, nothing,
ripe for that participation, can be void of it.
    Wherever you be, you have only to range over against this
omnipresent Being that in you which is capable of drawing from It, and
you have your share in it: imagine a voice sounding over a vast
waste of land, and not only over the emptiness alone but over human
beings; wherever you be in that great space you have but to listen and
you take the voice entire- entire though yet with a difference.
    And what do we take when we thus point the Intelligence?
    The Intellectual-Principle in us must mount to its origins:
essentially a thing facing two ways, it must deliver itself over to
those powers within it which tend upward; if it seeks the vision of
that Being, it must become something more than Intellect.
    For the Intellectual-Principle is the earliest form of Life: it is
the Activity presiding over the outflowing of the universal Order- the
outflow, that is, of the first moment, not that of the continuous
    In its character as Life, as emanation, as containing all things
in their precise forms and not merely in the agglomerate mass- for
this would be to contain them imperfectly and inarticulately- it
must of necessity derive from some other Being, from one that does not
emanate but is the Principle of Emanation, of Life, of Intellect and
of the Universe.
    For the Universe is not a Principle and Source: it springs from
a source, and that source cannot be the All or anything belonging to
the All, since it is to generate the All, and must be not a
plurality but the Source of plurality, since universally a begetting
power is less complex than the begotten. Thus the Being that has
engendered the Intellectual-Principle must be more simplex than the
    We may be told that this engendering Principle is the One-and-All.
    But, at that, it must be either each separate entity from among
all or it will be all things in the one mass.
    Now if it were the massed total of all, it must be of later origin
than any of the things of which it is the sum; if it precedes the
total, it differs from the things that make up the total and they from
it: if it and the total of things constitute a co-existence, it is not
a Source. But what we are probing for must be a Source; it must
exist before all, that all may be fashioned as sequel to it.
    As for the notion that it may be each separate entity of the
All, this would make a self-Identity into a what you like, where you
like, indifferently, and would, besides, abolish all distinction in
things themselves.
    Once more we see that this can be no thing among things but must
be prior to all things.
    10. And what will such a Principle essentially be?
    The potentiality of the Universe: the potentiality whose
non-existence would mean the non-existence of all the Universe and
even of the Intellectual-Principle which is the primal Life and all
    This Principle on the thither side of Life is the cause of Life-
for that Manifestation of Life which is the Universe of things is
not the First Activity; it is itself poured forth, so to speak, like
water from a spring.
    Imagine a spring that has no source outside itself; it gives
itself to all the rivers, yet is never exhausted by what they take,
but remains always integrally as it was; the tides that proceed from
it are at one within it before they run their several ways, yet all,
in some sense, know beforehand down what channels they will pour their
    Or: think of the Life coursing throughout some mighty tree while
yet it is the stationary Principle of the whole, in no sense scattered
over all that extent but, as it were, vested in the root: it is the
giver of the entire and manifold life of the tree, but remains unmoved
itself, not manifold but the Principle of that manifold life.
    And this surprises no one: though it is in fact astonishing how
all that varied vitality springs from the unvarying, and how that very
manifoldness could not be unless before the multiplicity there were
something all singleness; for, the Principle is not broken into
parts to make the total; on the contrary, such partition would destroy
both; nothing would come into being if its cause, thus broken up,
changed character.
    Thus we are always brought back to The One.
    Every particular thing has a One of its own to which it may be
traced; the All has its One, its Prior but not yet the Absolute One;
through this we reach that Absolute One, where all such reference
comes to an end.
    Now when we reach a One- the stationary Principle- in the tree, in
the animal, in Soul, in the All- we have in every case the most
powerful, the precious element: when we come to the One in the
Authentically Existent Beings- their Principle and source and
potentiality- shall we lose confidence and suspect it of
    Certainly this Absolute is none of the things of which it is the
source- its nature is that nothing can be affirmed of it- not
existence, not essence, not life- since it is That which transcends
all these. But possess yourself of it by the very elimination of Being
and you hold a marvel. Thrusting forward to This, attaining, and
resting in its content, seek to grasp it more and more-
understanding it by that intuitive thrust alone, but knowing its
greatness by the Beings that follow upon it and exist by its power.
    Another approach:
    The Intellectual-Principle is a Seeing, and a Seeing which
itself sees; therefore it is a potentiality which has become
    This implies the distinction of Matter and Form in it- as there
must be in all actual seeing- the Matter in this case being the
Intelligibles which the Intellectual-Principle contains and sees.
All actual seeing implies duality; before the seeing takes place there
is the pure unity [of the power of seeing]. That unity [of
principle] acquires duality [in the act of seeing], and the duality is
[always to be traced back to] a unity.
    Now as our sight requires the world of sense for its
satisfaction and realization, so the vision in the
Intellectual-Principle demands, for its completion, The Good.
    It cannot be, itself, The Good, since then it would not need to
see or to perform any other Act; for The Good is the centre of all
else, and it is by means of The Good that every thing has Act, while
the Good is in need of nothing and therefore possesses nothing
beyond itself.
    Once you have uttered "The Good," add no further thought: by any
addition, and in proportion to that addition, you introduce a
    Do not even say that it has Intellection; you would be dividing
it; it would become a duality, Intellect and the Good. The Good has no
need of the Intellectual-Principle which, on the contrary, needs it,
and, attaining it, is shaped into Goodness and becomes perfect by
it: the Form thus received, sprung from the Good, brings it to
likeness with the Good.
    Thus the traces of the Good discerned upon it must be taken as
indication of the nature of that Archetype: we form a conception of
its Authentic Being from its image playing upon the
Intellectual-Principle. This image of itself, it has communicated to
the Intellect that contemplates it: thus all the striving is on the
side of the Intellect, which is the eternal striver and eternally
the attainer. The Being beyond neither strives, since it feels no
lack, nor attains, since it has no striving. And this marks it off
from the Intellectual-Principle, to which characteristically belongs
the striving, the concentrated strain towards its Form.
    Yet: The Intellectual-Principle; beautiful; the most beautiful
of all; lying lapped in pure light and in clear radiance;
circumscribing the Nature of the Authentic Existents; the original
of which this beautiful world is a shadow and an image; tranquil in
the fullness of glory since in it there is nothing devoid of
intellect, nothing dark or out of rule; a living thing in a life of
blessedness: this, too, must overwhelm with awe any that has seen
it, and penetrated it, to become a unit of its Being.
    But: As one that looks up to the heavens and sees the splendour of
the stars thinks of the Maker and searches, so whoever has
contemplated the Intellectual Universe and known it and wondered for
it must search after its Maker too. What Being has raised so noble a
fabric? And where? And how? Who has begotten such a child, this
Intellectual-Principle, this lovely abundance so abundantly endowed?
    The Source of all this cannot be an Intellect; nor can it be an
abundant power: it must have been before Intellect and abundance were;
these are later and things of lack; abundance had to be made
abundant and Intellection needed to know.
    These are very near to the un-needing, to that which has no
need of Knowing, they have abundance and intellection authentically,
as being the first to possess. But, there is that before them which
neither needs nor possesses anything, since, needing or possessing
anything else, it would not be what it is- the Good.
                        NINTH TRACTATE.

                    DETACHED CONSIDERATIONS.

    1. "The Intellectual-Principle" [= the Divine Mind]- we read [in
the Timaeus]- "looks upon the Ideas indwelling in that Being which
is the Essentially Living [= according to Plotinus, the Intellectual
Realm], "and then"- the text proceeds- "the Creator judged that all
the content of that essentially living Being must find place in this
lower universe also."
    Are we meant to gather that the Ideas came into being before the
Intellectual-Principle so that it "sees them" as previously existent?
    The first step is to make sure whether the "Living Being" of the
text is to be distinguished from the Intellectual-Principle as another
thing than it.
    It might be argued that the Intellectual-Principle is the
Contemplator and therefore that the Living-Being contemplated is not
the Intellectual-Principle but must be described as the Intellectual
Object so that the Intellectual-Principle must possess the Ideal realm
as something outside of itself.
    But this would mean that it possesses images and not the
realities, since the realities are in the Intellectual Realm which
it contemplates: Reality- we read- is in the Authentic Existent
which contains the essential form of particular things.
    No: even though the Intellectual-Principle and the Intellectual
Object are distinct, they are not apart except for just that
    Nothing in the statement cited is inconsistent with the conception
that these two constitute one substance- though, in a unity, admitting
that distinction, of the intellectual act [as against passivity],
without which there can be no question of an Intellectual-Principle
and an Intellectual Object: what is meant is not that the
contemplatory Being possesses its vision as in some other principle,
but that it contains the Intellectual Realm within itself.
    The Intelligible Object is the Intellectual-Principle itself in
its repose, unity, immobility: the Intellectual-Principle,
contemplator of that object- of the Intellectual-Principle thus in
repose is an active manifestation of the same Being, an Act which
contemplates its unmoved phase and, as thus contemplating, stands as
Intellectual-Principle to that of which it has the intellection: it is
Intellectual-Principle in virtue of having that intellection, and at
the same time is Intellectual Object, by assimilation.
    This, then, is the Being which planned to create in the lower
Universe what it saw existing in the Supreme, the four orders of
living beings.
    No doubt the passage: [of the Timaeus] seems to imply tacitly that
this planning Principle is distinct from the other two: but the three-
the Essentially-Living, the Intellectual-Principle and this planning
Principle will, to others, be manifestly one: the truth is that, by
a common accident, a particular trend of thought has occasioned the
    We have dealt with the first two; but the third- this Principle
which decides to work upon the objects [the Ideas] contemplated by the
Intellectual-Principle within the Essentially-Living, to create
them, to establish them in their partial existence- what is this
    It is possible that in one aspect the Intellectual-Principle is
the principle of partial existence, while in another aspect it is not.
    The entities thus particularized from the unity are products of
the Intellectual-Principle which thus would be, to that extent, the
separating agent. On the other hand it remains in itself, indivisible;
division begins with its offspring which, of course, means with Souls:
and thus a Soul- with its particular Souls- may be the separative
    This is what is conveyed where we are told that the separation
is the work of the third Principle and begins within the Third: for to
this Third belongs the discursive reasoning which is no function of
the Intellectual-Principle but characteristic of its secondary, of
Soul, to which precisely, divided by its own Kind, belongs the Act
of division.
    2.... For in any one science the reduction of the total of
knowledge into its separate propositions does not shatter its unity,
chipping it into unrelated fragments; in each distinct item is
talent the entire body of the science, an integral thing in its
highest Principle and its last detail: and similarly a man must so
discipline himself that the first Principles of his Being are also his
completions, are totals, that all be pointed towards the loftiest
phase of the Nature: when a man has become this unity in the best,
he is in that other realm; for it is by this highest within himself,
made his own, that he holds to the Supreme.
    At no point did the All-Soul come into Being: it never arrived,
for it never knew place; what happens is that body, neighbouring
with it, participates in it: hence Plato does not place Soul in body
but body in Soul. The others, the secondary Souls, have a point of
departure- they come from the All-Soul- and they have a Place into
which to descend and in which to change to and fro, a place,
therefore, from which to ascend: but this All-Soul is for ever
Above, resting in that Being in which it holds its existence as Soul
and followed, as next, by the Universe or, at least, by all beneath
the sun.
    The partial Soul is illuminated by moving towards the Soul above
it; for on that path it meets Authentic Existence. Movement towards
the lower is towards non-Being: and this is the step it takes when
it is set on self; for by willing towards itself it produces its
lower, an image of itself- a non-Being- and so is wandering, as it
were, into the void, stripping itself of its own determined form.
And this image, this undetermined thing, is blank darkness, for it
is utterly without reason, untouched by the Intellectual-Principle,
far removed from Authentic Being.
    As long as it remains at the mid-stage it is in its own peculiar
region; but when, by a sort of inferior orientation, it looks
downward, it shapes that lower image and flings itself joyfully
    3. (A)... How, then, does Unity give rise to Multiplicity?
    By its omnipresence: there is nowhere where it is not; it
occupies, therefore, all that is; at once, it is manifold- or, rather,
it is all things.
    If it were simply and solely everywhere, all would be this one
thing alone: but it is, also, in no place, and this gives, in the
final result, that, while all exists by means of it, in virtue of
its omnipresence, all is distinct from it in virtue of its being
    But why is it not merely present everywhere but in addition
    Because, universality demands a previous unity. It must,
therefore, pervade all things and make all, but not be the universe
which it makes.
    (B) The Soul itself must exist as Seeing- with the
Intellectual-Principle as the object of its vision- it is undetermined
before it sees but is naturally apt to see: in other words, Soul is
Matter to [its determinant] the Intellectual-Principle.
    (C) When we exercise intellection upon ourselves, we are,
obviously, observing an intellective nature, for otherwise we would
not be able to have that intellection.
    We know, and it is ourselves that we know; therefore we know the
reality of a knowing nature: therefore, before that intellection in
Act, there is another intellection, one at rest, so to speak.
    Similarly, that self-intellection is an act upon a reality and
upon a life; therefore, before the Life and Real-Being concerned in
the intellection, there must be another Being and Life. In a word,
intellection is vested in the activities themselves: since, then,
the activities of self-intellection are intellective-forms, We, the
Authentic We, are the Intelligibles and self-intellection conveys
the Image of the Intellectual Sphere.
    (D) The Primal is a potentiality of Movement and of Repose- and so
is above and beyond both- its next subsequent has rest and movement
about the Primal. Now this subsequent is the Intellectual-Principle-
so characterized by having intellection of something not identical
with itself whereas the Primal is without intellection. A knowing
principle has duality [that entailed by being the knower of something)
and, moreover, it knows itself as deficient since its virtue
consists in this knowing and not in its own bare Being.
    (E) In the case of everything which has developed from possibility
to actuality the actual is that which remains self-identical for its
entire duration- and this it is which makes perfection possible even
in things of the corporeal order, as for instance in fire but the
actual of this kind cannot be everlasting since [by the fact of
their having once existed only in potentiality] Matter has its place
in them. In anything, on the contrary, not composite [= never
touched by Matter or potentiality] and possessing actuality, that
actual existence is eternal... There is, however, the case, also in
which a thing, itself existing in actuality, stands as potentiality to
some other form of Being.
    (F)... But the First is not to be envisaged as made up from Gods
of a transcendent order: no; the Authentic Existents constitute the
Intellectual-Principle with Which motion and rest begin. The Primal
touches nothing, but is the centre round which those other Beings
lie in repose and in movement. For Movement is aiming, and the
Primal aims at nothing; what could the Summit aspire to?
    Has It, even, no Intellection of Itself?
    It possesses Itself and therefore is said in general terms to know
itself... But intellection does not mean self-ownership; it means
turning the gaze towards the Primal: now the act of intellection is
itself the Primal Act, and there is therefore no place for any earlier
one. The Being projecting this Act transcends the Act so that
Intellection is secondary to the Being in which it resides.
Intellection is not the transcendently venerable thing- neither
Intellection in general nor even the Intellection of The Good. Apart
from and over any Intellection stands The Good itself.
    The Good therefore needs no consciousness.
    What sort of consciousness can be conceived in it?
    Consciousness of the Good as existent or non-existent?
    If of existent Good, that Good exists before and without any
such consciousness: if the act of consciousness produces that Good,
then The Good was not previously in existence- and, at once, the
very consciousness falls to the ground since it is, no longer
consciousness of The Good.
    But would not all this mean that the First does not even live?
    The First cannot be said to live since it is the source of Life.
    All that has self-consciousness and self-intellection is
derivative; it observes itself in order, by that activity, to become
master of its Being: and if it study itself this can mean only that
ignorance inheres in it and that it is of its own nature lacking and
to be made perfect by Intellection.
    All thinking and knowing must, here, be eliminated: the addition
introduces deprivation and deficiency.
                       THE FOURTH ENNEAD.

                        FIRST TRACTATE.

                 ON THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL (1).

    1. In the Intellectual Kosmos dwells Authentic Essence, with the
Intellectual-Principle [Divine Mind] as the noblest of its content,
but containing also souls, since every soul in this lower sphere has
come thence: that is the world of unembodied spirits while to our
world belong those that have entered body and undergone bodily
    There the Intellectual-Principle is a concentrated all- nothing of
it distinguished or divided- and in that kosmos of unity all souls are
concentrated also, with no spatial discrimination.
    But there is a difference:
    The Intellectual-Principle is for ever repugnant to distinction
and to partition. Soul, there without distinction and partition, has
yet a nature lending itself to divisional existence: its division is
secession, entry into body.
    In view of this seceding and the ensuing partition we may
legitimately speak of it as a partible thing.
    But if so, how can it still be described as indivisible?
    In that the secession is not of the soul entire; something of it
holds its ground, that in it which recoils from separate existence.
    The entity, therefore, described as "consisting of the undivided
soul and of the soul divided among bodies," contains a soul which is
at once above and below, attached to the Supreme and yet reaching down
to this sphere, like a radius from a centre.
    Thus it is that, entering this realm, it possesses still the
vision inherent to that superior phase in virtue of which it
unchangingly maintains its integral nature. Even here it is not
exclusively the partible soul: it is still the impartible as well:
what in it knows partition is parted without partibility; undivided as
giving itself to the entire body, a whole to a whole, it is divided as
being effective in every part.
                        SECOND TRACTATE.

                  ON THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL (2).

    1. In our attempt to elucidate the Essence of the soul, we show it
to be neither a material fabric nor, among immaterial things, a
harmony. The theory that it is some final development, some
entelechy, we pass by, holding this to be neither true as presented
nor practically definitive.
    No doubt we make a very positive statement about it when we
declare it to belong to the Intellectual Kind, to be of the divine
order; but a deeper penetration of its nature is demanded.
    In that allocation we were distinguishing things as they fall
under the Intellectual or the sensible, and we placed the soul in
the former class; now, taking its membership of the Intellectual for
granted, we must investigate by another path the more specific
characteristics of its nature.
    There are, we hold, things primarily apt to partition, tending
by sheer nature towards separate existence: they are things in which
no part is identical either with another part or with the whole,
while, also their part is necessarily less than the total and whole:
these are magnitudes of the realm of sense, masses, each of which
has a station of its own so that none can be identically present in
entirety at more than one point at one time.
    But to that order is opposed Essence [Real-Being]; this is in no
degree susceptible of partition; it is unparted and impartible;
interval is foreign to it, cannot enter into our idea of it: it has no
need of place and is not, in diffusion or as an entirety, situated
within any other being: it is poised over all beings at once, and this
is not in the sense of using them as a base but in their being neither
capable nor desirous of existing independently of it; it is an essence
eternally unvaried: it is common to all that follows upon it: it is
like the circle's centre to which all the radii are attached while
leaving it unbrokenly in possession of itself, the starting point of
their course and of their essential being, the ground in which they
all participate: thus the indivisible is the principle of these
divided existences and in their very outgoing they remain enduringly
in contact with that stationary essence.
    So far we have the primarily indivisible- supreme among the
Intellectual and Authentically Existent- and we have its contrary, the
Kind definitely divisible in things of sense; but there is also
another Kind, of earlier rank than the sensible yet near to it and
resident within it- an order, not, like body, primarily a thing of
part, but becoming so upon incorporation. The bodies are separate, and
the ideal form which enters them is correspondingly sundered while,
still, it is present as one whole in each of its severed parts,
since amid that multiplicity in which complete individuality has
entailed complete partition, there is a permanent identity; we may
think of colour, qualities of all kinds, some particular shape,
which can be present in many unrelated objects at the one moment, each
entire and yet with no community of experience among the various
manifestations. In the case of such ideal-forms we may affirm complete
    But, on the other hand, that first utterly indivisible Kind must
be accompanied by a subsequent Essence, engendered by it and holding
indivisibility from it but, in virtue of the necessary outgo from
source, tending firmly towards the contrary, the wholly partible; this
secondary Essence will take an intermediate Place between the first
substance, the undivided, and that which is divisible in material
things and resides in them. Its presence, however, will differ in
one respect from that of colour and quantity; these, no doubt, are
present identically and entire throughout diverse material masses, but
each several manifestation of them is as distinct from every other
as the mass is from the mass.
    The magnitude present in any mass is definitely one thing, yet its
identity from part to part does not imply any such community as
would entail common experience; within that identity there is
diversity, for it is a condition only, not the actual Essence.
    The Essence, very near to the impartible, which we assert to
belong to the Kind we are now dealing with, is at once an Essence
and an entrant into body; upon embodiment, it experiences a
partition unknown before it thus bestowed itself.
    In whatsoever bodies it occupies- even the vastest of all, that in
which the entire universe is included- it gives itself to the whole
without abdicating its unity.
    This unity of an Essence is not like that of body, which is a unit
by the mode of continuous extension, the mode of distinct parts each
occupying its own space. Nor is it such a unity as we have dealt
with in the case of quality.
    The nature, at once divisible and indivisible, which we affirm
to be soul has not the unity of an extended thing: it does not consist
of separate sections; its divisibility lies in its presence at every
point of the recipient, but it is indivisible as dwelling entire in
the total and entire in any part.
    To have penetrated this idea is to know the greatness of the
soul and its power, the divinity and wonder of its being, as a
nature transcending the sphere of Things.
    Itself devoid of mass, it is present to all mass: it exists here
and yet is There, and this not in distinct phases but with
unsundered identity: thus it is "parted and not parted," or, better,
it has never known partition, never become a parted thing, but remains
a self-gathered integral, and is "parted among bodies" merely in the
sense that bodies, in virtue of their own sundered existence, cannot
receive it unless in some partitive mode; the partition, in other
words, is an occurrence in body not in soul.
    2. It can be demonstrated that soul must, necessarily, be of
just this nature and that there can be no other soul than such a
being, one neither wholly partible but both at once.
    If it had the nature of body it would consist of isolated
members each unaware of the conditions of every other; there would
be a particular soul- say a soul of the finger- answering as a
distinct and independent entity to every local experience; in
general terms, there would be a multiplicity of souls administering
each individual; and, moreover, the universe would be governed not
by one soul but by an incalculable number, each standing apart to
itself. But, without a dominant unity, continuity is meaningless.
    The theory that "Impressions reach the leading-principle by
progressive stages" must be dismissed as mere illusion.
    In the first place, it affirms without investigation a "leading"
phase of the soul.
    What can justify this assigning of parts to the soul, the
distinguishing one part from another? What quantity, or what
difference of quality, can apply to a thing defined as a
self-consistent whole of unbroken unity?
    Again, would perception be vested in that leading principle alone,
or in the other phases as well?
    If a given experience bears only on that "leading principle," it
would not be felt as lodged in any particular members of the organism;
if, on the other hand, it fastens on some other phase of the soul- one
not constituted for sensation- that phase cannot transmit any
experience to the leading principle, and there can be no sensation.
    Again, suppose sensation vested in the "leading-principle" itself:
then, a first alternative, it will be felt in some one part of that
[some specifically sensitive phase], the other part excluding a
perception which could serve no purpose; or, in the second
alternative, there will be many distinct sensitive phases, an infinite
number, with difference from one to another. In that second case,
one sensitive phase will declare "I had this sensation primarily";
others will have to say "I felt the sensation that rose elsewhere";
but either the site of the experience will be a matter of doubt to
every phase except the first, or each of the parts of the soul will be
deceived into allocating the occurrence within its own particular
    If, on the contrary, the sensation is vested not merely in the
"leading principle," but in any and every part of the soul, what
special function raises the one rather than the other into that
leading rank, or why is the sensation to be referred to it rather than
elsewhere? And how, at this, account for the unity of the knowledge
brought in by diverse senses, by eyes, by ears?
    On the other hand, if the soul is a perfect unity- utterly strange
to part, a self-gathered whole- if it continuously eludes all touch of
multiplicity and divisibility- then, no whole taken up into it can
ever be ensouled; soul will stand as circle-centre to every object
[remote on the circumference], and the entire mass of a living being
is soulless still.
    There is, therefore, no escape: soul is, in the degree
indicated, one and many, parted and impartible. We cannot question the
possibility of a thing being at once a unity and multi-present,
since to deny this would be to abolish the principle which sustains
and administers the universe; there must be a Kind which encircles and
supports all and conducts all with wisdom, a principle which is
multiple since existence is multiple, and yet is one soul always since
a container must be a unity: by the multiple unity of its nature, it
will furnish life to the multiplicity of the series of an all; by
its impartible unity, it will conduct a total to wise ends.
    In the case of things not endowed with intelligence, the
"leading-principle" is their mere unity- a lower reproduction of the
soul's efficiency.
    This is the deeper meaning of the profound passage [in the
Timaeus], where we read "By blending the impartible, eternally
unchanging essence with that in division among bodies, he produced a
third form of essence partaking of both qualities."
    Soul, therefore, is, in this definite sense, one and many; the
Ideal-Form resident in body is many and one; bodies themselves are
exclusively many; the Supreme is exclusively one.
                        THIRD TRACTATE.

                    PROBLEMS OF THE SOUL (1).

    1. The soul: what dubious questions concerning it admit of
solution, or where we must abide our doubt- with, at least, the gain
of recognizing the problem that confronts us- this is matter well
worth attention. On what subject can we more reasonably expend the
time required by minute discussion and investigation? Apart from
much else, it is enough that such an enquiry illuminates two grave
questions: of what sphere the soul is the principle, and whence the
soul itself springs. Moreover, we will be only obeying the ordinance
of the God who bade us know ourselves.
    Our general instinct to seek and learn, our longing to possess
ourselves of whatsoever is lovely in the vision will, in all reason,
set us enquiring into the nature of the instrument with which we
    Now even in the universal Intellect [Divine Mind] there was
duality, so that we would expect differences of condition in things of
part: how some things rather than others come to be receptacles of the
divine beings will need to be examined; but all this we may leave
aside until we are considering the mode in which soul comes to
occupy body. For the moment we return to our argument against those
who maintain our souls to be offshoots from the soul of the universe
[parts and an identity modally parted].
    Our opponents will probably deny the validity of our arguments
against the theory that the human soul is a mere segment of the
All-Soul- the considerations, namely, that it is of identical scope,
and that it is intellective in the same degree, supposing them,
even, to admit that equality of intellection.
    They will object that parts must necessarily fall under one
ideal-form with their wholes. And they will adduce Plato as expressing
their view where, in demonstrating that the All is ensouled, he says
"As our body is a portion of the body of the All, so our soul is a
portion of the soul of the All." It is admitted on clear evidence that
we are borne along by the Circuit of the All; we will be told that-
taking character and destiny from it, strictly inbound with it- we
must derive our souls, also, from what thus bears us up, and that as
within ourselves every part absorbs from our soul so, analogically,
we, standing as parts to the universe, absorb from the Soul of the All
as parts of it. They will urge also that the dictum "The collective
soul cares for all the unensouled," carries the same implication and
could be uttered only in the belief that nothing whatever of later
origin stands outside the soul of the universe, the only soul there
can be there to concern itself with the unensouled.
    2. To this our first answer is that to place certain things
under one identical class- by admitting an identical range of
operation- is to make them of one common species, and puts an end to
all mention of part; the reasonable conclusion would be, on the
contrary, that there is one identical soul, every separate
manifestation being that soul complete.
    Our opponents after first admitting the unity go on to make our
soul dependent on something else, something in which we have no longer
the soul of this or that, even of the universe, but a soul of nowhere,
a soul belonging neither to the kosmos, nor to anything else, and
yet vested with all the function inherent to the kosmic soul and to
that of every ensouled thing.
    The soul considered as an entirety cannot be a soul of any one
given thing- since it is an Essence [a divine Real-Being]- or, at
least, there must be a soul which is not exclusively the soul of any
particular thing, and those attached to particulars must so belong
merely in some mode of accident.
    In such questions as this it is important to clarify the
significance of "part."
    Part, as understood of body- uniform or varied- need not detain
us; it is enough to indicate that, when part is mentioned in respect
of things whose members are alike, it refers to mass and not to
ideal-form [specific idea]: take for example, whiteness: the whiteness
in a portion of milk is not a part of the whiteness of milk in
general: we have the whiteness of a portion not a portion of
whiteness; for whiteness is utterly without magnitude; has nothing
whatever to do with quantity.
    That is all we need say with regard to part in material things;
but part in the unembodied may be taken in various ways. We may
think of it in the sense familiar in numbers, "two" a part of the
standard "ten"- in abstract numbers of course- or as we think of a
segment of a circle, or line [abstractly considered], or, again, of
a section or branch of knowledge.
    In the case of the units of reckoning and of geometrical figure,
exactly as in that of corporeal masses, partition must diminish the
total; the part must be less than the whole; for these are things of
quantity, and have their being as things of quantity; and- since
they are not the ideal-form Quantity- they are subject to increase and
    Now in such a sense as this, part cannot be affirmed of the soul.
    The soul is not a thing of quantity; we are not to conceive of the
All-Soul as some standard ten with particular souls as its constituent
    Such a conception would entail many absurdities:
    The Ten could not be [essentially] a unity [the Soul would be an
aggregation, not a self-standing Real-Being] and, further- unless
every one of the single constituents were itself an All-Soul- the
All-Soul would be formed of non-souls.
    Again, it is admitted that the particular soul- this "part of
the All-Soul- is of one ideal-form with it, but this does not entail
the relation of part to whole, since in objects formed of continuous
parts there is nothing inevitably making any portion uniform with
the total: take, for example, the parts of a circle or square; we
may divide it in different ways so as to get our part; a triangle need
not be divided into triangles; all sorts of different figures are
possible: yet an absolute uniformity is admitted to reign throughout
    In a line, no doubt, the part is inevitably a line; but even
here there is a necessary difference in size; and if, in the case of
the soul we similarly called upon magnitude as the distinction between
constituents and collective soul, then soul, thus classed by magnitude
becomes quantitative, and is simply body.
    But it is admitted that all souls are alike and are entireties;
clearly, soul is not subject to part in the sense in which
magnitudes are: our opponents themselves would not consent to the
notion of the All-Soul being whittled down into fragments, yet this is
what they would be doing, annulling the All-Soul- if any collective
soul existed at all- making it a mere piece of terminology, thinking
of it like wine separated into many portions, each portion, in its
jar, being described as a portion of the total thing, wine.
    Next there is the conception of the individual soul as a part in
the sense in which we speak of some single proposition as a part of
the science entire.
    The theorem is separate, but the science stands as one undivided
thing, the expression and summed efficiency [energy] of each
constituent notion: this is partition without severance; each item
potentially includes the whole science, which itself remains an
unbroken total.
    Is this the appropriate parallel?
    No; in such a relationship the All-Soul, of which the particular
souls are to be a part, would not be the soul of any definite thing,
but an entity standing aloof; that means that it would not even be the
soul of the Kosmos; it would, in fact, be, itself, one of those
partial souls; thus all alike would be partial and of one nature; and,
at that, there would be no reason for making any such distinction.
    3. Is it a question of part in the sense that, taking one living
being, the soul in a finger might be called a part of the soul entire?
    This would carry the alternative that either there is no soul
outside of body, or that- no soul being within body- the thing
described as the soul of the universe is, none the less, outside the
body of the universe. That is a point to be investigated, but for
the present we must consider what kind of soul this parallel would
give us.
    If the particular soul is a part of the All-Soul only in the sense
that this bestows itself upon all living things of the partial sphere,
such a self-bestowal does not imply division; on the contrary, it is
the identical soul that is present everywhere, the one complete thing,
multi-present at the one moment: there is no longer question of a soul
that is a part against a soul that is an all- especially where an
identical power is present. Even difference of function, as in eyes
and ears, cannot warrant the assertion of distinct parts concerned
in each separate act- with other parts again making allotment of
faculty- all is met by the notion of one identical thing, but a
thing in which a distinct power operates in each separate function.
All the powers are present either in seeing or in hearing; the
difference in impression received is due to the difference in the
organs concerned; all the varying impressions are our various
responses to Ideal-forms that can be taken in a variety of modes.
    A further proof [of the unity of Soul] is that perception
demands a common gathering place; every organ has its distinct
function, and is competent only upon its own material, and must
interpret each several experience in its own fashion; the judgement
upon these impressions must, then, be vested in some one principle,
a judge informed upon all that is said and done.
    But again: "Everywhere, Unity": in the variety of functions if
each "part of the soul" were as distinct as are the entrant
sensations, none of those parts could have knowledge; awareness
would belong only to that judging faculty- or, if local, every such
act of awareness would stand quite unrelated to any other. But since
the soul is a rational soul, by the very same title by which it is
an All-Soul, and is called the rational soul, in the sense of being
a whole [and so not merely "reasoning locally"], then what is
thought of as a part must in reality be no part but the identity of an
unparted thing.
    4. But if this is the true account of the unity of soul, we must
be able to meet the problems that ensue: firstly, the difficulty of
one thing being present at the same moment in all things; and,
secondly, the difficulty of soul in body as against soul not embodied.
    We might be led to think that all soul must always inhabit body;
this would seem especially plausible in the case of the soul of the
universe, not thought of as ever leaving its body as the human soul
does: there exists, no doubt, an opinion that even the human soul,
while it must leave the body, cannot become an utterly disembodied
thing; but assuming its complete disembodiment, how comes it that
the human soul can go free of the body but the All-Soul not, though
they are one and the same?
    There is no such difficulty in the case of the
Intellectual-Principle; by the primal differentiation, this separates,
no doubt, into partial things of widely varying nature, but eternal
unity is secured by virtue of the eternal identity of that Essence: it
is not so easy to explain how, in the case of the soul described as
separate among bodies, such differentiated souls can remain one thing.
    A possible solution may be offered:
    The unit soul holds aloof, not actually falling into body; the
differentiated souls- the All-Soul, with the others- issue from the
unity while still constituting, within certain limits, an association.
They are one soul by the fact that they do not belong unreservedly
to any particular being; they meet, so to speak, fringe to fringe;
they strike out here and there, but are held together at the source
much as light is a divided thing upon earth, shining in this house,
and that, and yet remains uninterruptedly one identical substance.
    The All-Soul would always remain above, since essentially it has
nothing to do with descent or with the lower, or with any tendency
towards this sphere: the other souls would become ours [become
"partial," individual in us] because their lot is cast for this
sphere, and because they are solicited by a thing [the body] which
invites their care.
    The one- the lowest soul in the to the All-Soul- would correspond
to that in some great growth, silently, unlaboriously conducting the
whole; our own lowest soul might be compared to the insect life in
some rotted part of the growth- for this is the ratio of the animated
body to the universe- while the other soul in us, of one ideal nature
with the higher parts of the All-Soul, may be imaged as the gardener
concerned about the insects lodged in the tree and anxiously working
to amend what is wrong; or we may contrast a healthy man living with
the healthy and, by his thought or by his act, lending himself to the
service of those about him, with, on the other side, a sick man intent
upon his own care and cure, and so living for the body, body-bound.
    5. But what place is left for the particular souls, yours and mine
and another's?
    May we suppose the Soul to be appropriated on the lower ranges
to some individual, but to belong on the higher to that other sphere?
    At this there would be a Socrates as long as Socrates' soul
remained in body; but Socrates ceases to exist, precisely on
attainment of the highest.
    Now nothing of Real Being is ever annulled.
    In the Supreme, the Intellectual-Principles are not annulled,
for in their differentiation there is no bodily partition, no
passing of each separate phase into a distinct unity; every such phase
remains in full possession of that identical being. It is exactly so
with the souls.
    By their succession they are linked to the several
Intellectual-Principles, for they are the expression, the Logos, of
the Intellectual-Principles, of which they are the unfolding;
brevity has opened out to multiplicity; by that point of their being
which least belongs to the partial order, they are attached each to
its own Intellectual original: they have already chosen the way of
division; but to the extreme they cannot go; thus they keep, at
once, identification and difference; each soul is permanently a
unity [a self] and yet all are, in their total, one being.
    Thus the gist of the matter is established: one soul the source of
all; those others, as a many founded in that one, are, on the
analogy of the Intellectual-Principle, at once divided and
undivided; that Soul which abides in the Supreme is the one expression
or Logos of the Intellectual-Principle, and from it spring other
Reason-Principles, partial but immaterial, exactly as in the
differentiation of the Supreme.
    6. But how comes it that while the All-Soul has produced a kosmos,
the soul of the particular has not, though it is of the one ideal Kind
and contains, it too, all things in itself?
    We have indicated that a thing may enter and dwell at the same
time in various places; this ought to be explained, and the enquiry
would show how an identity resident simultaneously here and there may,
in its separate appearances, act or react- or both- after distinct
modes; but the matter deserves to be examined in a special discussion.
    To return, then: how and why has the All-Soul produced a kosmos,
while the particular souls simply administer some one part of it?
    In the first place, we are not surprised when men of identical
knowledge differ greatly in effective power.
    But the reason, we will be asked.
    The answer might be that there is an even greater difference among
these souls, the one never having fallen away from the All-Soul, but
dwelling within it and assuming body therein, while the others
received their allotted spheres when the body was already in
existence, when their sister soul was already in rule and, as it were,
had already prepared habitations for them. Again, the reason may be
that the one [the creative All-Soul] looks towards the universal
Intellectual-Principle [the exemplar of all that can be], while the
others are more occupied with the Intellectual within themselves, that
which is already of the sphere of part; perhaps, too, these also could
have created, but that they were anticipated by that originator- the
work accomplished before them- an impediment inevitable whichsoever of
the souls were first to operate.
    But it is safer to account for the creative act by nearer
connection with the over-world; the souls whose tendency is
exercised within the Supreme have the greater power; immune in that
pure seat they create securely; for the greater power takes the
least hurt from the material within which it operates; and this
power remains enduringly attached to the over-world: it creates,
therefore, self gathered and the created things gather round it; the
other souls, on the contrary, themselves go forth; that can mean
only that they have deserted towards the abyss; a main phase in them
is drawn downward and pulls them with it in the desire towards the
    The "secondary and tertiary souls," of which we hear, must be
understood in the sense of closer or remoter position: it is much as
in ourselves the relation to the Supreme is not identical from soul to
soul; some of us are capable of becoming Uniate, others of striving
and almost attaining, while a third rank is much less apt; it is a
matter of the degree or powers of the soul by which our expression
is determined- the first degree dominant in the one person, the
second, the third [the merely animal life] in others while, still, all
of us contain all the powers.
    7. So far, so good: but what of the passage in the Philebus
taken to imply that the other souls are parts of the All-Soul?
    The statement there made does not bear the meaning read into it;
it expresses only, what the author was then concerned with, that the
heavens are ensouled- a teaching which he maintains in the observation
that it is preposterous to make the heavens soulless when we, who
contain a part of the body of the All, have a soul; how, he asks,
could there be soul in the part and none in the total.
    He makes his teaching quite clear in the Timaeus, where he shows
us the other souls brought into existence after the All-Soul, but
compounded from the same mixing bowl"; secondary and tertiary are duly
marked off from the primal but every form of soul is presented as
being of identical ideal-nature with the All-Soul.
    As for saying of the Phaedrus. "All that is soul cares for all
that is soulless," this simply tells us that the corporeal kind cannot
be controlled- fashioned, set in place or brought into being- by
anything but the Soul. And we cannot think that there is one soul
whose nature includes this power and another without it. "The
perfect soul, that of the All," we read, "going its lofty journey,
operates upon the kosmos not by sinking into it, but, as it were, by
brooding over it"; and "every perfect soul exercises this governance";
he distinguishes the other, the soul in this sphere as "the soul
when its wing is broken."
    As for our souls being entrained in the kosmic circuit, and taking
character and condition thence; this is no indication that they are
parts: soul-nature may very well take some tincture from even the
qualities of place, from water and from air; residence in this city or
in that, and the varying make-up of the body may have their
influence [upon our human souls which, yet, are no parts of place or
of body].
    We have always admitted that as members of the universe we take
over something from the All-Soul; we do not deny the influence of
the Kosmic Circuit; but against all this we oppose another soul in
us [the Intellectual as distinguished from the merely vitalizing]
proven to be distinct by that power of opposition.
    As for our being begotten children of the kosmos, we answer that
in motherhood the entrant soul is distinct, is not the mother's.
    8. These considerations, amounting to the settlement of the
question, are not countered by the phenomenon of sympathy; the
response between soul and soul is due to the mere fact that all spring
from that self-same soul [the next to Divine Mind] from which
springs the Soul of the All.
    We have already stated that the one soul is also multiple; and
we have dealt with the different forms of relationship between part
and whole: we have investigated the different degrees existing
within soul; we may now add, briefly, that differences might be
induced, also, by the bodies with which the soul has to do, and,
even more, by the character and mental operations carried over from
the conduct of the previous lives. "The life-choice made by a soul has
a correspondence"- we read- "with its former lives."
    As regards the nature of soul in general, the differences have
been defined in the passage in which we mentioned the secondary and
tertiary orders and laid down that, while all souls are
all-comprehensive, each ranks according to its operative phase- one
becoming Uniate in the achieved fact, another in knowledge, another in
desire, according to the distinct orientation by which each is, or
tends to become, what it looks upon. The very fulfillment and
perfectionment attainable by souls cannot but be different.
    But, if in the total the organization in which they have their
being is compact of variety- as it must be since every
Reason-Principle is a unity of multiplicity and variety, and may be
thought of as a psychic animated organism having many shapes at its
command- if this is so and all constitutes a system in which being
is not cut adrift from being, if there is nothing chance- borne
among beings as there is none even in bodily organisms, then it
follows that Number must enter into the scheme; for, once again, Being
must be stable; the members of the Intellectual must possess identity,
each numerically one; this is the condition of individuality. Where,
as in bodily masses, the Idea is not essentially native, and the
individuality is therefore in flux, existence under ideal form can
rise only out of imitation of the Authentic Existences; these last, on
the contrary, not rising out of any such conjunction [as the duality
of Idea and dead Matter] have their being in that which is numerically
one, that which was from the beginning, and neither becomes what it
has not been nor can cease to be what it is.
    Even supposing Real-Beings [such as soul] to be produced by some
other principle, they are certainly not made from Matter; or, if
they were, the creating principle must infuse into them, from within
itself, something of the nature of Real-Being; but, at this, it
would itself suffer change, as it created more or less. And, after
all, why should it thus produce at any given moment rather than remain
for ever stationary?
    Moreover the produced total, variable from more to less, could not
be an eternal: yet the soul, it stands agreed, is eternal.
    But what becomes of the soul's infinity if it is thus fixed?
    The infinity is a matter of power: there is question, not of the
soul's being divisible into an infinite number of parts, but of an
infinite possible effectiveness: it is infinity in the sense in
which the Supreme God, also, is free of all bound.
    This means that it is no external limit that defines the
individual being or the extension of souls any more than of God; on
the contrary each in right of its own power is all that it chooses
to be: and we are not to think of it as going forth from itself
[losing its unity by any partition]: the fact is simply that the
element within it, which is apt to entrance into body, has the power
of immediate projection any whither: the soul is certainly not
wrenched asunder by its presence at once in foot and in finger. Its
presence in the All is similarly unbroken; over its entire range it
exists in every several part of everything having even vegetal life,
even in a part cut off from the main; in any possible segment it is as
it is at its source. For the body of the All is a unit, and soul is
everywhere present to it as to one thing.
    When some animal rots and a multitude of others spring from it,
the Life-Principle now present is not the particular soul that was
in the larger body; that body has ceased to be receptive of soul, or
there would have been no death; what happens is that whatsoever in the
product of the decay is apt material for animal existence of one
kind or another becomes ensouled by the fact that soul is nowhere
lacking, though a recipient of soul may be. This new ensouling does
not mean, however, an increase in the number of souls: all depend from
the one or, rather, all remains one: it is as with ourselves; some
elements are shed, others grow in their place; the soul abandons the
discarded and flows into the newcoming as long as the one soul of
the man holds its ground; in the All the one soul holds its ground for
ever; its distinct contents now retain soul and now reject it, but the
total of spiritual beings is unaffected.
    9. But we must examine how soul comes to inhabit the body- the
manner and the process- a question certainly of no minor interest.
    The entry of soul into body takes place under two forms.
    Firstly, there is the entry- metensomatosis- of a soul present
in body by change from one [wholly material] frame to another or the
entry- not known as metensomatosis, since the nature of the earlier
habitacle is not certainly definable- of a soul leaving an aerial
or fiery body for one of earth.
    Secondly, there is the entry from the wholly bodiless into any
kind of body; this is the earliest form of any dealing between body
and soul, and this entry especially demands investigation.
    What then can be thought to have happened when soul, utterly clean
from body, first comes into commerce with the bodily nature?
    It is reasonable, necessary even, to begin with the Soul of the
All. Notice that if we are to explain and to be clear, we are
obliged to use such words as "entry" and "ensoulment," though never
was this All unensouled, never did body subsist with soul away,
never was there Matter unelaborate; we separate, the better to
understand; there is nothing illegitimate in the verbal and mental
sundering of things which must in fact be co-existent.
    The true doctrine may be stated as follows:
    In the absence of body, soul could not have gone forth, since
there is no other place to which its nature would allow it to descend.
Since go forth it must, it will generate a place for itself; at once
body, also, exists.
    While the Soul [as an eternal, a Divine Being] is at rest- in rest
firmly based on Repose, the Absolute- yet, as we may put it, that huge
illumination of the Supreme pouring outwards comes at last to the
extreme bourne of its light and dwindles to darkness; this darkness,
now lying there beneath, the soul sees and by seeing brings to
shape; for in the law of things this ultimate depth, neighbouring with
soul, may not go void of whatsoever degree of that Reason-Principle it
can absorb, the dimmed reason of reality at its faintest.
    Imagine that a stately and varied mansion has been built; it has
never been abandoned by its Architect, who, yet, is not tied down to
it; he has judged it worthy in all its length and breadth of all the
care that can serve to its Being- as far as it can share in Being-
or to its beauty, but a care without burden to its director, who never
descends, but presides over it from above: this gives the degree in
which the kosmos is ensouled, not by a soul belonging to it, but by
one present to it; it is mastered not master; not possessor but
possessed. The soul bears it up, and it lies within, no fragment of it
    The kosmos is like a net which takes all its life, as far as
ever it stretches, from being wet in the water, and has no act of
its own; the sea rolls away and the net with it, precisely to the full
of its scope, for no mesh of it can strain beyond its set place: the
soul is of so far-reaching a nature- a thing unbounded- as to
embrace the entire body of the All in the one extension; so far as the
universe extends, there soul is; and if the universe had no existence,
the extent of soul would be the same; it is eternally what it is.
The universe spreads as broad as the presence of soul; the bound of
its expansion is the point at which, in its downward egression from
the Supreme, it still has soul to bind it in one: it is a shadow as
broad as the Reason-Principle proceeding from soul; and that
Reason-Principle is of scope to generate a kosmic bulk as vast as
lay in the purposes of the Idea [the Divine forming power] which it
    10. In view of all this we must now work back from the items to
the unit, and consider the entire scheme as one enduring thing.
    We ascend from air, light, sun- or, moon and light and sun- in
detail, to these things as constituting a total- though a total of
degrees, primary, secondary, tertiary. Thence we come to the
[kosmic] Soul, always the one undiscriminated entity. At this point in
our survey we have before us the over-world and all that follows
upon it. That suite [the lower and material world] we take to be the
very last effect that has penetrated to its furthest reach.
    Our knowledge of the first is gained from the ultimate of all,
from the very shadow cast by the fire, because this ultimate [the
material world] itself receives its share of the general light,
something of the nature of the Forming-Idea hovering over the
outcast that at first lay in blank obscurity. It is brought under
the scheme of reason by the efficacy of soul whose entire extension
latently holds this rationalizing power. As we know, the
Reason-Principles carried in animal seed fashion and shape living
beings into so many universes in the small. For whatsoever touches
soul is moulded to the nature of soul's own Real-Being.
    We are not to think that the Soul acts upon the object by
conformity to any external judgement; there is no pause for willing or
planning: any such procedure would not be an act of sheer nature,
but one of applied art: but art is of later origin than soul; it is an
imitator, producing dim and feeble copies- toys, things of no great
worth- and it is dependent upon all sorts of mechanism by which
alone its images can be produced. The soul, on the contrary, is
sovereign over material things by might of Real-Being; their quality
is determined by its lead, and those elementary things cannot stand
against its will. On the later level, things are hindered one by the
other, and thus often fall short of the characteristic shape at
which their unextended Reason-Principle must be aiming; in that
other world [under the soul but above the material] the entire shape
[as well as the idea] comes from soul, and all that is produced
takes and keeps its appointed place in a unity, so that the engendered
thing, without labour as without clash, becomes all that it should be.
In that world the soul has elaborated its creation, the images of
the gods, dwellings for men, each existing to some peculiar purpose.
    Soul could produce none but the things which truly represent its
powers: fire produces warmth; another source produces cold; soul has a
double efficacy, its act within itself, and its act from within
outwards towards the new production.
    In soulless entities, the outgo [natural to everything] remains
dormant, and any efficiency they have is to bring to their own
likeness whatever is amenable to their act. All existence has this
tendency to bring other things to likeness; but the soul has the
distinction of possessing at once an action of conscious attention
within itself, and an action towards the outer. It has thus the
function of giving life to all that does not live by prior right,
and the life it gives is commensurate with its own; that is to say,
living in reason, it communicates reason to the body- an image of
the reason within itself, just as the life given to the body is an
image of Real-Being- and it bestows, also, upon that material the
appropriate shapes of which it contains the Reason-Forms.
    The content of the creative soul includes the Ideal shapes of gods
and of all else: and hence it is that the kosmos contains all.
    11. I think, therefore, that those ancient sages, who sought to
secure the presence of divine beings by the erection of shrines and
statues, showed insight into the nature of the All; they perceived
that, though this Soul is everywhere tractable, its presence will be
secured all the more readily when an appropriate receptacle is
elaborated, a place especially capable of receiving some portion or
phase of it, something reproducing it, or representing it, and serving
like a mirror to catch an image of it.
    It belongs to the nature of the All to make its entire content
reproduce, most felicitously, the Reason-Principles in which it
participates; every particular thing is the image within matter of a
Reason-Principle which itself images a pre-material
Reason-Principle: thus every particular entity is linked to that
Divine Being in whose likeness it is made, the divine principle
which the soul contemplated and contained in the act of each creation.
Such mediation and representation there must have been since it was
equally impossible for the created to be without share in the Supreme,
and for the Supreme to descend into the created.
    The Intellectual-Principle in the Supreme has ever been the sun of
that sphere- let us accept that as the type of the creative Logos- and
immediately upon it follows the Soul depending from it, stationary
Soul from stationary Intelligence. But the Soul borders also upon
the sun of this sphere, and it becomes the medium by which all is
linked to the overworld; it plays the part of an interpreter
between what emanates from that sphere down to this lower universe,
and what rises- as far as, through soul, anything can- from the
lower to the highest.
    Nothing, in fact, is far away from anything; things are not
remote: there is, no doubt, the aloofness of difference and of mingled
natures as against the unmingled; but selfhood has nothing to do
with spatial position, and in unity itself there may still be
    These Beings [the Reason-Principles of this sphere] are divine
in virtue of cleaving to the Supreme, because, by the medium of the
Soul thought of as descending they remain linked with the Primal Soul,
and through it are veritably what they are called and possess the
vision of the Intellectual Principle, the single object of
contemplation to that soul in which they have their being.
    12. The souls of men, seeing their images in the mirror of
Dionysus as it were, have entered into that realm in a leap downward
from the Supreme: yet even they are not cut off from their origin,
from the divine Intellect; it is not that they have come bringing
the Intellectual Principle down in their fall; it is that though
they have descended even to earth, yet their higher part holds for
ever above the heavens.
    Their initial descent is deepened since that mid-part of theirs is
compelled to labour in care of the care-needing thing into which
they have entered. But Zeus, the father, takes pity on their toils and
makes the bonds in which they labour soluble by death and gives
respite in due time, freeing them from the body, that they too may
come to dwell there where the Universal Soul, unconcerned with earthly
needs, has ever dwelt.
    For the container of the total of things must be a
self-sufficing entity and remain so: in its periods it is wrought
out to purpose under its Reason-Principles which are perdurably valid;
by these periods it reverts unfailingly, in the measured stages of
defined life-duration, to its established character; it is leading the
things of this realm to be of one voice and plan with the Supreme. And
thus the kosmic content is carried forward to its purpose,
everything in its co-ordinate place, under one only Reason-Principle
operating alike in the descent and return of souls and to every
purpose of the system.
    We may know this also by the concordance of the Souls with the
ordered scheme of the kosmos; they are not independent, but, by
their descent, they have put themselves in contact, and they stand
henceforth in harmonious association with kosmic circuit- to the
extent that their fortunes, their life experiences, their choosing and
refusing, are announced by the patterns of the stars- and out of
this concordance rises as it were one musical utterance: the music,
the harmony, by which all is described is the best witness to this
    Such a consonance can have been procured in one only way:
    The All must, in every detail of act and experience, be an
expression of the Supreme, which must dominate alike its periods and
its stable ordering and the life-careers varying with the movement
of the souls as they are sometimes absorbed in that highest, sometimes
in the heavens, sometimes turned to the things and places of our
earth. All that is Divine Intellect will rest eternally above, and
could never fall from its sphere but, poised entire in its own high
place, will communicate to things here through the channel of Soul.
Soul in virtue of neighbourhood is more closely modelled upon the Idea
uttered by the Divine Intellect, and thus is able to produce order
in the movement of the lower realm, one phase [the World-Soul]
maintaining the unvarying march [of the kosmic circuit] the other [the
soul of the Individual] adopting itself to times and season.
    The depth of the descent, also, will differ- sometimes lower,
sometimes less low- and this even in its entry into any given Kind:
all that is fixed is that each several soul descends to a recipient
indicated by affinity of condition; it moves towards the thing which
it There resembled, and enters, accordingly, into the body of man or
    13. The Ineluctable, the Kosmic Law is, thus, rooted in a
natural principle under which each several entity is overruled to
go, duly and in order, towards that place and Kind to which it
characteristically tends, that is towards the image of its primal
choice and constitution.
    In that archetypal world every form of soul is near to the image
[the thing in the world of copy] to which its individual
constitution inclines it; there is therefore no need of a sender or
leader acting at the right moment to bring it at the right moment
whether into body or into a definitely appropriate body: of its own
motion it descends at the precisely true time and enters where it
must. To every Soul its own hour; when that strikes it descends and
enters the body suitable to it as at the cry of a herald; thus all
is set stirring and advancing as by a magician's power or by some
mighty traction; it is much as, in any living thing, the soul itself
effects the fulfillment of the natural career, stirring and bringing
forth, in due season, every element- beard, horn, and all the
successive stages of tendency and of output- or, as it leads a tree
through its normal course within set periods.
    The Souls go forth neither under compulsion nor of freewill; or,
at least, freedom, here, is not to be regarded as action upon
preference; it is more like such a leap of the nature as moves men
to the instinctive desire of sexual union, or, in the case of some, to
fine conduct; the motive lies elsewhere than in the reason: like is
destined unfailingly to like, and each moves hither or thither at
its fixed moment.
    Even the Intellectual-Principle, which is before all the kosmos,
has, it also, its destiny, that of abiding intact above, and of giving
downwards: what it sends down is the particular whose existence is
implied in the law of the universal; for the universal broods
closely over the particular; it is not from without that the law
derives the power by which it is executed; on the contrary the law
is given in the entities upon whom it falls; these bear it about
with them. Let but the moment arrive, and what it decrees will be
brought to act by those beings in whom it resides; they fulfil it
because they contain it; it prevails because it is within them; it
becomes like a heavy burden, and sets up in them a painful longing
to enter the realm to which they are bidden from within.
    14. Thus it comes about that this kosmos, lit with many lights,
gleaming in its souls, receives still further graces, gifts from
here and from there, from the gods of the Supreme, and from those
other Intellectual-Principles whose nature it is to ensoul. This is
probably the secret of the myth in which, after Prometheus had moulded
woman, the other gods heaped gifts upon her, Hephaistos "blending
the clay with moisture and bestowing the human voice and the form of a
goddess"; Aphrodite bringing her gifts, and the Graces theirs, and
other gods other gifts, and finally calling her by the name
[Pandora] which tells of gift and of all giving- for all have added
something to this formation brought to being by a Promethean, a
fore-thinking power. As for the rejection of Prometheus' gift by
after-thought, Epimetheus, what can this signify but that the wiser
choice is to remain in the Intellectual realm? Pandora's creator is
fettered, to signify that he is in some sense held by his own
creation; such a fettering is external and the release by Hercules
tells that there is power in Prometheus, so that he need not remain in
    Take the myth as we may, it is certainly such an account of the
bestowal of gifts upon the kosmos as harmonizes with our explanation
of the universal system.
    15. The souls peering forth from the Intellectual Realm descend
first to the heavens and there put on a body; this becomes at once the
medium by which as they reach out more and more towards magnitude
[physical extension] they proceed to bodies progressively more earthy.
Some even plunge from heaven to the very lowest of corporeal forms;
others pass, stage by stage, too feeble to lift towards the higher the
burden they carry, weighed downwards by their heaviness and
    As for the differences among them, these are due to variation in
the bodies entered, or to the accidents of life, or to upbringing,
or to inherent peculiarities of temperament, or to all these
influences together, or to specific combinations of them.
    Then again some have fallen unreservedly into the power of the
destiny ruling here: some yielding betimes are betimes too their
own: there are those who, while they accept what must be borne, have
the strength of self-mastery in all that is left to their own act;
they have given themselves to another dispensation: they live by the
code of the aggregate of beings, the code which is woven out of the
Reason-Principles and all the other causes ruling in the kosmos, out
of soul-movements and out of laws springing in the Supreme; a code,
therefore, consonant with those higher existences, founded upon
them, linking their sequents back to them, keeping unshakeably true
all that is capable of holding itself set towards the divine nature,
and leading round by all appropriate means whatsoever is less
natively apt.
    In fine all diversity of condition in the lower spheres is
determined by the descendent beings themselves.
    16. The punishment justly overtaking the wicked must therefore
be ascribed to the kosmic order which leads all in accordance with the
    But what of chastisements, poverty, illness, falling upon the good
outside of all justice? These events, we will be told, are equally
interwoven into the world order and fall under prediction, and must
consequently have a cause in the general reason: are they therefore to
be charged to past misdoing?
    No: such misfortunes do not answer to reasons established in the
nature of things; they are not laid up in the master-facts of the
universe, but were merely accidental sequents: a house falls, and
anyone that chances to be underneath is killed, no matter what sort of
man he be: two objects are moving in perfect order- or one if you
like- but anything getting in the way is wounded or trampled down.
Or we may reason that the undeserved stroke can be no evil to the
sufferer in view of the beneficent interweaving of the All or again,
no doubt, that nothing is unjust that finds justification in a past
    We may not think of some things being fitted into a system with
others abandoned to the capricious; if things must happen by cause, by
natural sequences, under one Reason-Principle and a single set scheme,
we must admit that the minor equally with the major is fitted into
that order and pattern.
    Wrong-doing from man to man is wrong in the doer and must be
imputed, but, as belonging to the established order of the universe is
not a wrong even as regards the innocent sufferer; it is a thing
that had to be, and, if the sufferer is good, the issue is to his
gain. For we cannot think that this ordered combination proceeds
without God and justice; we must take it to be precise in the
distribution of due, while, yet, the reasons of things elude us, and
to our ignorance the scheme presents matter of censure.
    17. Various considerations explain why the Souls going forth
from the Intellectual proceed first to the heavenly regions. The
heavens, as the noblest portion of sensible space, would border with
the least exalted of the Intellectual, and will, therefore, be first
ensouled first to participate as most apt; while what is of earth is
at the very extremity of progression, least endowed towards
participation, remotest from the unembodied.
    All the souls, then, shine down upon the heavens and spend there
the main of themselves and the best; only their lower phases
illuminate the lower realms; and those souls which descend deepest
show their light furthest down- not themselves the better for the
depth to which they have penetrated.
    There is, we may put it, something that is centre; about it, a
circle of light shed from it; round centre and first circle alike,
another circle, light from light; outside that again, not another
circle of light but one which, lacking light of its own, must borrow.
    The last we may figure to ourselves as a revolving circle, or
rather a sphere, of a nature to receive light from that third realm,
its next higher, in proportion to the light which that itself
receives. Thus all begins with the great light, shining
self-centred; in accordance with the reigning plan [that of emanation]
this gives forth its brilliance; the later [divine] existents
[souls] add their radiation- some of them remaining above, while there
are some that are drawn further downward, attracted by the splendour
of the object they illuminate. These last find that their charges need
more and more care: the steersman of a storm-tossed ship is so
intent on saving it that he forgets his own interest and never
thinks that he is recurrently in peril of being dragged down with
the vessel; similarly the souls are intent upon contriving for their
charges and finally come to be pulled down by them; they are
fettered in bonds of sorcery, gripped and held by their concern for
the realm of Nature.
    If every living being were of the character of the All-perfect,
self-sufficing, in peril from no outside influence the soul now spoken
of as indwelling would not occupy the body; it would infuse life while
clinging, entire, within the Supreme.
    18. There remains still something to be said on the question
whether the soul uses deliberate reason before its descent and again
when it has left the body.
    Reasoning is for this sphere; it is the act of the soul fallen
into perplexity, distracted with cares, diminished in strength: the
need of deliberation goes with the less self-sufficing intelligence;
craftsmen faced by a difficulty stop to consider; where there is no
problem their art works on by its own forthright power.
    But if souls in the Supreme operate without reasoning, how can
they be called reasoning souls?
    One answer might be that they have the power of deliberating to
happy issue, should occasion arise: but all is met by repudiating
the particular kind of reasoning intended [the earthly and
discursive type]; we may represent to ourselves a reasoning that flows
uninterruptedly from the Intellectual-Principle in them, an inherent
state, an enduring activity, an assertion that is real; in this way
they would be users of reason even when in that overworld. We
certainly cannot think of them, it seems to me, as employing words
when, though they may occupy bodies in the heavenly region, they are
essentially in the Intellectual: and very surely the deliberation of
doubt and difficulty which they practise here must be unknown to
them There; all their act must fall into place by sheer force of their
nature; there can be no question of commanding or of taking counsel;
they will know, each, what is to be communicated from another, by
present consciousness. Even in our own case here, eyes often know what
is not spoken; and There all is pure, every being is, as it were, an
eye, nothing is concealed or sophisticated, there is no need of
speech, everything is seen and known. As for the Celestials [the
Daimones] and souls in the air, they may well use speech; for all
such are simply Animate [= Beings].
    19. Are we to think of the indivisible phase of the soul and the
divided as making one thing in a coalescence; or is the indivisible in
a place of its own and under conditions of its own, the divisible
being a sequent upon it, a separate part of it, as distinct as the
reasoning phase is from the unreasoning?
    The answer to this question will emerge when we make plain the
nature and function to be attributed to each.
    The indivisible phase is mentioned [in the passage of Plato]
without further qualification; but not so the divisible; "that soul"
we read "which becomes divisible in bodies"- and even this last is
presented as becoming partible, not as being so once for all.
    "In bodies": we must then, satisfy ourselves as to what form of
soul is required to produce life in the corporeal, and what there must
be of soul present throughout such a body, such a completed organism.
    Now, every sensitive power- by the fact of being sensitive
throughout- tends to become a thing of parts: present at every
distinct point of sensitiveness, it may be thought of as divided. In
the sense, however, that it is present as a whole at every such point,
it cannot be said to be wholly divided; it "becomes divisible in
body." We may be told that no such partition is implied in any
sensations but those of touch; but this is not so; where the
participant is body [of itself insensitive and non-transmitting]
that divisibility in the sensitive agent will be a condition of all
other sensations, though in less degree than in the case of touch.
Similarly the vegetative function in the soul, with that of growth,
indicates divisibility; and, admitting such locations as that of
desire at the liver and emotional activity at the heart, we have the
same result. It is to be noted, however, as regards these [the less
corporeal] sensations, that the body may possibly not experience
them as a fact of the conjoint thing but in another mode, as rising
within some one of the elements of which it has been participant
[as inherent, purely, in some phase of the associated soul]:
reasoning and the act of the intellect, for instance, are not vested
in the body; their task is not accomplished by means of the body which
in fact is detrimental to any thinking on which it is allowed to
    Thus the indivisible phase of the soul stands distinct from the
divisible; they do not form a unity, but, on the contrary, a whole
consisting of parts, each part a self-standing thing having its own
peculiar virtue. None the less, if that phase which becomes
divisible in body holds indivisibility by communication from the
superior power, then this one same thing [the soul in body] may be
at once indivisible and divisible; it will be, as it were, a blend,
a thing made up of its own divisible self with, in addition, the
quality that it derives from above itself.
    20. Here a question rises to which we must find an answer: whether
these and the other powers which we call "parts" of the Soul are
situated, all, in place; or whether some have place and standpoint,
others not; or whether again none are situated in place.
    The matter is difficult: if we do not allot to each of the parts
of the Soul some form of Place, but leave all unallocated- no more
within the body than outside it- we leave the body soulless, and are
at a loss to explain plausibly the origin of acts performed by means
of the bodily organs: if, on the other hand, we suppose some of
those phases to be [capable of situation] in place but others not
so, we will be supposing that those parts to which we deny place are
ineffective in us, or, in other words, that we do not possess our
entire soul.
    This simply shows that neither the soul entire nor any part of
it may be considered to be within the body as in a space: space is a
container, a container of body; it is the home of such things as
consist of isolated parts, things, therefore, in which at no point
is there an entirety; now, the soul is not a body and is no more
contained than containing.
    Neither is it in body as in some vessel: whether as vessel or as
place of location, the body would remain, in itself, unensouled. If we
are to think of some passing-over from the soul- that self-gathered
thing- to the containing vessel, then soul is diminished by just as
much as the vessel takes.
    Space, again, in the strict sense is unembodied, and is not,
itself, body; why, then, should it need soul?
    Besides [if the soul were contained as in space] contact would
be only at the surface of the body, not throughout the entire mass.
    Many other considerations equally refute the notion that the
soul is in body as [an object] in space; for example, this space would
be shifted with every movement, and a thing itself would carry its own
space about.
    Of course if by space we understand the interval separating
objects, it is still less possible that the soul be in body as in
space: such a separating interval must be a void; but body is not a
void; the void must be that in which body is placed; body [not soul]
will be in the void.
    Nor can it be in the body as in some substratum: anything in a
substratum is a condition affecting that- a colour, a form- but the
soul is a separate existence.
    Nor is it present as a part in the whole; soul is no part of body.
If we are asked to think of soul as a part in the living total we
are faced with the old difficulty: How it is in that whole. It is
certainly not there as the wine is in the wine jar, or as the jar in
the jar, or as some absolute is self-present.
    Nor can the presence be that of a whole in its part: It would be
absurd to think of the soul as a total of which the body should
represent the parts.
    It is not present as Form is in Matter; for the Form as in
Matter is inseparable and, further, is something superimposed upon
an already existent thing; soul, on the contrary, is that which
engenders the Form residing within the Matter and therefore is not the
Form. If the reference is not to the Form actually present, but to
Form as a thing existing apart from all formed objects, it is hard
to see how such an entity has found its way into body, and at any rate
this makes the soul separable.
    How comes it then that everyone speaks of soul as being in body?
    Because the soul is not seen and the body is: we perceive the
body, and by its movement and sensation we understand that it is
ensouled, and we say that it possesses a soul; to speak of residence
is a natural sequence. If the soul were visible, an object of the
senses, radiating throughout the entire life, if it were manifest in
full force to the very outermost surface, we would no longer speak
of soul as in body; we would say the minor was within the major, the
contained within the container, the fleeting within the perdurable.
    21. What does all this come to? What answer do we give to him who,
with no opinion of his own to assert, asks us to explain this
presence? And what do we say to the question whether there is one only
mode of presence of the entire soul or different modes, phase and
    Of the modes currently accepted for the presence of one thing in
another, none really meets the case of the soul's relation to the
body. Thus we are given as a parallel the steersman in the ship;
this serves adequately to indicate that the soul is potentially
separable, but the mode of presence, which is what we are seeking,
it does not exhibit.
    We can imagine it within the body in some incidental way- for
example, as a voyager in a ship- but scarcely as the steersman: and,
of course, too, the steersman is not omnipresent to the ship as the
soul is to the body.
    May we, perhaps, compare it to the science or skill that acts
through its appropriate instruments- through a helm, let us say, which
should happen to be a live thing- so that the soul effecting the
movements dictated by seamanship is an indwelling directive force?
    No: the comparison breaks down, since the science is something
outside of helm and ship.
    Is it any help to adopt the illustration of the steersman taking
the helm, and to station the soul within the body as the steersman may
be thought to be within the material instrument through which he
works? Soul, whenever and wherever it chooses to operate, does in much
that way move the body.
    No; even in this parallel we have no explanation of the mode of
presence within the instrument; we cannot be satisfied without further
search, a closer approach.
    22. May we think that the mode of the soul's presence to body is
that of the presence of light to the air?
    This certainly is presence with distinction: the light
penetrates through and through, but nowhere coalesces; the light is
the stable thing, the air flows in and out; when the air passes beyond
the lit area it is dark; under the light it is lit: we have a true
parallel to what we have been saying of body and soul, for the air
is in the light quite as much as the light in the air.
    Plato therefore is wise when, in treating of the All, he puts
the body in its soul, and not its soul in the body, and says that,
while there is a region of that soul which contains body, there is
another region to which body does not enter- certain powers, that
is, with which body has no concern. And what is true of the All-Soul
is true of the others.
    There are, therefore, certain soul-powers whose presence to body
must be denied.
    The phases present are those which the nature of body demands:
they are present without being resident- either in any parts of the
body or in the body as a whole.
    For the purposes of sensation the sensitive phase of the soul is
present to the entire sensitive being: for the purposes of act,
differentiation begins; every soul phase operates at a point
peculiar to itself.
    23. I explain: A living body is illuminated by soul: each organ
and member participates in soul after some manner peculiar to
itself; the organ is adapted to a certain function, and this fitness
is the vehicle of the soul-faculty under which the function is
performed; thus the seeing faculty acts through the eyes, the
hearing faculty through the ears, the tasting faculty through the
tongue, the faculty of smelling through the nostrils, and the
faculty of sentient touch is present throughout, since in this
particular form of perception the entire body is an instrument in
the soul's service.
    The vehicles of touch are mainly centred in the nerves- which
moreover are vehicles of the faculty by which the movements of the
living being are affected- in them the soul-faculty concerned makes
itself present; the nerves start from the brain. The brain therefore
has been considered as the centre and seat of the principle which
determines feeling and impulse and the entire act of the organism as a
living thing; where the instruments are found to be linked, there
the operating faculty is assumed to be situated. But it would be wiser
to say only that there is situated the first activity of the operating
faculty: the power to be exercised by the operator- in keeping with
the particular instrument- must be considered as concentrated at the
point at which the instrument is to be first applied; or, since the
soul's faculty is of universal scope the sounder statement is that the
point of origin of the instrument is the point of origin of the act.
    Now, the faculty presiding over sensation and impulse is vested in
the sensitive and representative soul; it draws upon the
Reason-Principle immediately above itself; downward, it is in
contact with an inferior of its own: on this analogy the uppermost
member of the living being was taken by the ancients to be obviously
its seat; they lodged it in the brain, or not exactly in the brain but
in that sensitive part which is the medium through which the
Reason-Principle impinges upon the brain. They saw that something must
be definitely allocated to body- at the point most receptive of the
act of reason- while something, utterly isolated from body must be
in contact with that superior thing which is a form of soul [and not
merely of the vegetative or other quasi-corporeal forms but] of that
soul apt to the appropriation of the perceptions originating in the
    Such a linking there must be, since in perception there is some
element of judging, in representation something intuitional, and since
impulse and appetite derive from representation and reason. The
reasoning faculty, therefore, is present where these experiences
occur, present not as in a place but in the fact that what is there
draws upon it. As regards perception we have already explained in what
sense it is local.
    But every living being includes the vegetal principle, that
principle of growth and nourishment which maintains the organism by
means of the blood; this nourishing medium is contained in the
veins; the veins and blood have their origin in the liver: from
observation of these facts the power concerned was assigned a place;
the phase of the soul which has to do with desire was allocated to the
liver. Certainly what brings to birth and nourishes and gives growth
must have the desire of these functions. Blood- subtle, light,
swift, pure- is the vehicle most apt to animal spirit: the heart,
then, its well-spring, the place where such blood is sifted into
being, is taken as the fixed centre of the ebullition of the
passionate nature.
    24. Now comes the question of the soul leaving the body; where
does it go?
    It cannot remain in this world where there is no natural recipient
for it; and it cannot remain attached to anything not of a character
to hold it: it can be held here when only it is less than wise,
containing within itself something of that which lures it.
    If it does contain any such alien element it gives itself, with
increasing attachment, to the sphere to which that element naturally
belongs and tends.
    The space open to the soul's resort is vast and diverse; the
difference will come by the double force of the individual condition
and of the justice reigning in things. No one can ever escape the
suffering entailed by ill deeds done: the divine law is ineluctable,
carrying bound up, as one with it, the fore-ordained execution of
its doom. The sufferer, all unaware, is swept onward towards his
due, hurried always by the restless driving of his errors, until at
last wearied out by that against which he struggled, he falls into his
fit place and, by self-chosen movement, is brought to the lot he never
chose. And the law decrees, also, the intensity and the duration of
the suffering while it carries with it, too, the lifting of
chastisement and the faculty of rising from those places of pain-
all by power of the harmony that maintains the universal scheme.
    Souls, body-bound, are apt to body-punishment; clean souls no
longer drawing to themselves at any point any vestige of body are,
by their very being, outside the bodily sphere; body-free,
containing nothing of body- there where Essence is, and Being, and the
Divine within the Divinity, among Those, within That, such a soul must
    If you still ask Where, you must ask where those Beings are- and
in your seeking, seek otherwise than with the sight, and not as one
seeking for body.
    25. Now comes the question, equally calling for an answer, whether
those souls that have quitted the places of earth retain memory of
their lives- all souls or some, of all things, or of some things, and,
again, for ever or merely for some period not very long after their
    A true investigation of this matter requires us to establish first
what a remembering principle must be- I do not mean what memory is,
but in what order of beings it can occur. The nature of memory has
been indicated, laboured even, elsewhere; we still must try to
understand more clearly what characteristics are present where
memory exists.
    Now a memory has to do with something brought into ken from
without, something learned or something experienced; the
Memory-Principle, therefore, cannot belong to such beings as are
immune from experience and from time.
    No memory, therefore, can be ascribed to any divine being, or to
the Authentic-Existent or the Intellectual-Principle: these are
intangibly immune; time does not approach them; they possess
eternity centred around Being; they know nothing of past and
sequent; all is an unbroken state of identity, not receptive of
change. Now a being rooted in unchanging identity cannot entertain
memory, since it has not and never had a state differing from any
previous state, or any new intellection following upon a former one,
so as to be aware of contrast between a present perception and one
remembered from before.
    But what prevents such a being [from possessing memory in the
sense of] perceiving, without variation in itself, such outside
changes as, for example, the kosmic periods?
    Simply the fact that following the changes of the revolving kosmos
it would have perception of earlier and later: intuition and memory
are distinct.
    We cannot hold its self-intellections to be acts of memory; this
is no question of something entering from without, to be grasped and
held in fear of an escape; if its intellections could slip away from
it [as a memory might] its very Essence [as the Hypostasis of inherent
Intellection] would be in peril.
    For the same reason memory, in the current sense, cannot be
attributed to the soul in connection with the ideas inherent in its
essence: these it holds not as a memory but as a possession, though,
by its very entrance into this sphere, they are no longer the mainstay
of its Act.
    The Soul-action which is to be observed seems to have induced
the Ancients to ascribe memory, and "Recollection," [the Platonic
Anamnesis] to souls bringing into outward manifestation the ideas they
contain: we see at once that the memory here indicated is another
kind; it is a memory outside of time.
    But, perhaps, this is treating too summarily a matter which
demands minute investigation. It might be doubted whether that
recollection, that memory, really belongs to the highest soul and
not rather to another, a dimmer, or even to the Couplement, the
Living-Being. And if to that dimmer soul, when and how has it come
to be present; if to the Couplement, again when and how?
    We are driven thus to enquire into these several points: in
which of the constituents of our nature is memory vested- the question
with which we started- if in the soul, then in what power or part;
if in the Animate or Couplement- which has been supposed, similarly to
be the seat of sensation- then by what mode it is present, and how
we are to define the Couplement; finally whether sensation and
intellectual acts may be ascribed to one and the same agent, or
imply two distinct principles.
    26. Now if sensations of the active order depend upon the
Couplement of soul and body, sensation must be of that double
nature. Hence it is classed as one of the shared acts: the soul, in
the feeling, may be compared to the workman in such operations as
boring or weaving, the body to the tool employed: the body is
passive and menial; the soul is active, reading such impressions as
are made upon the body or discerned by means of the body, perhaps
entertaining only a judgement formed as the result of the bodily
    In such a process it is at once clear that the sensation is a
shared task; but the memory is not thus made over to the Couplement,
since the soul has from the first taken over the impression, either to
retain or to reject.
    It might be ventured that memory, no less than sensation, is a
function of the Couplement, on the ground that bodily constitution
determines our memories good or bad; but the answer would come that,
whether the body happens or not to be a hindrance, the act of
remembering would still be an act of the soul. And in the case of
matters learned [and not merely felt, as corporeal experiences], how
can we think of the Couplement of soul and body as the remembering
principle? Here, surely, it must be soul alone?
    We may be told that the living-being is a Couplement in the
sense of something entirely distinct formed from the two elements
[so that it might have memory though neither soul nor body had it].
But, to begin with, it is absurd to class the living-being as
neither body nor soul; these two things cannot so change as to make
a distinct third, nor can they blend so utterly that the soul shall
become a mere faculty of the animate whole. And, further, supposing
they could so blend, memory would still be due to the soul just as
in honey-wine all the sweetness will be due to the honey.
    It may be suggested the while the soul is perhaps not in itself
a remembering principle, yet that, having lost its purity and acquired
some degree of modification by its presence in body, it becomes
capable of reproducing the imprints of sensible objects and
experiences, and that, seated, as roughly speaking it is, within the
body, it may reasonably be thought capable of accepting such
impressions, and in such a manner as to retain them [thus in some
sense possessing memory].
    But, to begin with, these imprints are not magnitudes [are not
of corporeal nature at all]; there is no resemblance to seal
impressions, no stamping of a resistant matter, for there is neither
the down-thrust [as of the seal] nor [the acceptance] as in the wax:
the process is entirely of the intellect, though exercised upon things
of sense; and what kind of resistance [or other physical action] can
be affirmed in matters of the intellectual order, or what need can
there be of body or bodily quality as a means?
    Further there is one order of which the memory must obviously
belong to the soul; it alone can remember its own movements, for
example its desires and those frustrations of desire in which the
coveted thing never came to the body: the body can have nothing to
tell about things which never approached it, and the soul cannot use
the body as a means to the remembrance of what the body by its
nature cannot know.
    If the soul is to have any significance- to be a definite
principle with a function of its own- we are forced to recognize two
orders of fact, an order in which the body is a means but all
culminates in soul, and an order which is of the soul alone. This
being admitted, aspiration will belong to soul, and so, as a
consequence, will that memory of the aspiration and of its
attainment or frustration, without which the soul's nature would
fall into the category of the unstable [that is to say of the
undivine, unreal]. Deny this character of the soul and at once we
refuse it perception, consciousness, any power of comparison, almost
any understanding. Yet these powers of which, embodied it becomes
the source cannot be absent from its own nature. On the contrary; it
possesses certain activities to be expressed in various functions
whose accomplishment demands bodily organs; at its entry it brings
with it [as vested in itself alone] the powers necessary for some of
these functions, while in the case of others it brings the very
activities themselves.
    Memory, in point of fact, is impeded by the body: even as things
are, addition often brings forgetfulness; with thinning and dearing
away, memory will often revive. The soul is a stability; the
shifting and fleeting thing which body is can be a cause only of its
forgetting not of its remembering- Lethe stream may be understood
in this sense- and memory is a fact of the soul.
    27. But of what soul; of that which we envisage as the more
divine, by which we are human beings, or that other which springs from
the All?
    Memory must be admitted in both of these, personal memories and
shared memories; and when the two souls are together, the memories
also are as one; when they stand apart, assuming that both exist and
endure, each soon for gets the other's affairs, retaining for a longer
time its own. Thus it is that the Shade of Hercules in the lower
regions- this "Shade," as I take it, being the characteristically
human part- remembers all the action and experience of the life, since
that career was mainly of the hero's personal shaping; the other souls
[soulphases] going to constitute the joint-being could, for all
their different standing, have nothing to recount but the events of
that same life, doings which they knew from the time of their
association: perhaps they would add also some moral judgement.
    What the Hercules standing outside the Shade spoke of we are not
told: what can we think that other, the freed and isolated, soul would
    The soul, still a dragged captive, will tell of all the man did
and felt; but upon death there will appear, as time passes, memories
of the lives lived before, some of the events of the most recent
life being dismissed as trivial. As it grows away from the body, it
will revive things forgotten in the corporeal state, and if it
passes in and out of one body after another, it will tell over the
events of the discarded life, it will treat as present that which it
has just left, and it will remember much from the former existence.
But with lapse of time it will come to forgetfulness of many things
that were mere accretion.
    Then free and alone at last, what will it have to remember?
    The answer to that question depends on our discovering in what
faculty of the soul memory resides.
    28. Is memory vested in the faculty by which we perceive and
learn? Or does it reside in the faculty by which we set things
before our minds as objects of desire or of anger, the passionate
    This will be maintained on the ground that there could scarcely be
both a first faculty in direct action and a second to remember what
that first experiences. It is certain that the desiring faculty is apt
to be stirred by what it has once enjoyed; the object presents
itself again; evidently, memory is at work; why else, the same
object with the same attraction?
    But, at that, we might reasonably ascribe to the desiring
faculty the very perception of the desired objects and then the desire
itself to the perceptive faculty, and so on all through, and in the
end conclude that the distinctive names merely indicate the function
which happens to be uppermost.
    Yet the perception is very different from faculty to faculty;
certainly it is sight and not desire that sees the object; desire is
stirred merely as a result of the seeing, by a transmission; its act
is not in the nature of an identification of an object seen; all is
simply blind response [automatic reaction]. Similarly with rage; sight
reveals the offender and the passion leaps; we may think of a shepherd
seeing a wolf at his flock, and a dog, seeing nothing, who springs to
the scent or the sound.
    In other words the desiring faculty has had the emotion, but the
trace it keeps of the event is not a memory; it is a condition,
something passively accepted: there is another faculty that was
aware of the enjoyment and retains the memory of what has happened.
This is confirmed by the fact that many satisfactions which the
desiring faculty has enjoyed are not retained in the memory: if memory
resided in the desiring faculty, such forgetfulness could not be.
    29. Are we, then, to refer memory to the perceptive faculty and so
make one principle of our nature the seat of both awareness and
    Now supposing the very Shade, as we were saying in the case of
Hercules, has memory, then the perceptive faculty is twofold.
    [(And if (on the same supposition) the faculty that remembers is
not the faculty that perceives, but some other thing, then the
remembering faculty is twofold.]
    And further if the perceptive faculty [= the memory] deals with
matters learned [as well as with matters of observation and feeling]
it will be the faculty for the processes of reason also: but these two
orders certainly require two separate faculties.
    Must we then suppose a common faculty of apprehension [one
covering both sense perceptions and ideas] and assign memory in both
orders to this?
    The solution might serve if there were one and the same percipient
for objects of sense and objects of the Intellectual-Kind; but if
these stand in definite duality, then, for all we can say or do, we
are left with two separate principles of memory; and, supposing each
of the two orders of soul to possess both principles, then we have
    And, on general grounds, what compelling reason is there that
the principle by which we perceive should be the principle by which we
remember, that these two acts should be vested in the one faculty? Why
must the seat of our intellectual action be also the seat of our
remembrance of that action? The most powerful thought does not
always go with the readiest memory; people of equal perception are not
equally good at remembering; some are especially gifted in perception,
others, never swift to grasp, are strong to retain.
    But, once more, admitting two distinct principles, something quite
separate remembering what sense-perception has first known- still this
something must have felt what it is required to remember?
    No; we may well conceive that where there is to be memory of a
sense-perception, this perception becomes a mere presentment, and that
to this image-grasping power, a distinct thing, belongs the memory,
the retention of the object: for in this imaging faculty the
perception culminates; the impression passes away but the vision
remains present to the imagination.
    By the fact of harbouring the presentment of an object that has
disappeared, the imagination is, at once, a seat of memory: where
the persistence of the image is brief, the memory is poor; people of
powerful memory are those in whom the image-holding power is firmer,
not easily allowing the record to be jostled out of its grip.
    Remembrance, thus, is vested in the imaging faculty; and memory
deals with images. Its differing quality or degree from man to man, we
would explain by difference or similarity in the strength of the
individual powers, by conduct like or unlike, by bodily conditions
present or absent, producing change and disorder or not- a point this,
however, which need not detain us here.
    30. But what of the memory of mental acts: do these also fall
under the imaging faculty?
    If every mental act is accompanied by an image we may well believe
that this image, fixed and like a picture of the thought, would
explain how we remember the object of knowledge once entertained.
But if there is no such necessary image, another solution must be
sought. Perhaps memory would be the reception, into the image-taking
faculty, of the Reason-Principle which accompanies the mental
conception: this mental conception- an indivisible thing, and one that
never rises to the exterior of the consciousness- lies unknown
below; the Reason-Principle the revealer, the bridge between the
concept and the image-taking faculty exhibits the concept as in a
mirror; the apprehension by the image-taking faculty would thus
constitute the enduring presence of the concept, would be our memory
of it.
    This explains, also, another fact: the soul is unfailingly
intent upon intellection; only when it acts upon this image-taking
faculty does its intellection become a human perception:
intellection is one thing, the perception of an intellection is
another: we are continuously intuitive but we are not unbrokenly
aware: the reason is that the recipient in us receives from both
sides, absorbing not merely intellections but also sense-perceptions.
    31. But if each of the two phases of the soul, as we have said,
possesses memory, and memory is vested in the imaging faculty, there
must be two such faculties. Now that is all very well as long as the
two souls stand apart; but, when they are at one in us, what becomes
of the two faculties, and in which of them is the imaging faculty
    If each soul has its own imaging faculty the images must in all
cases be duplicated, since we cannot think that one faculty deals only
with intellectual objects, and the other with objects of sense, a
distinction which inevitably implies the co-existence in man of two
life-principles utterly unrelated.
    And if both orders of image act upon both orders of soul, what
difference is there in the souls; and how does the fact escape our
    The answer is that, when the two souls chime each with each, the
two imaging faculties no longer stand apart; the union is dominated by
the more powerful of the faculties of the soul, and thus the image
perceived is as one: the less powerful is like a shadow attending upon
the dominant, like a minor light merging into a greater: when they are
in conflict, in discord, the minor is distinctly apart, a
self-standing thing- though its isolation is not perceived, for the
simple reason that the separate being of the two souls escapes
    The two have run into a unity in which, yet, one is the loftier:
this loftier knows all; when it breaks from the union, it retains some
of the experiences of its companion, but dismisses others; thus we
accept the talk of our less valued associates, but, on a change of
company, we remember little from the first set and more from those
in whom we recognize a higher quality.
    32. But the memory of friends, children, wife? Country too, and
all that the better sort of man may reasonably remember?
    All these, the one [the lower man] retains with emotion, the
authentic man passively: for the experience, certainly, was first felt
in that lower phase from which, however, the best of such
impressions pass over to the graver soul in the degree in which the
two are in communication.
    The lower soul must be always striving to attain to memory of
the activities of the higher: this will be especially so when it is
itself of a fine quality, for there will always be some that are
better from the beginning and bettered here by the guidance of the
    The loftier, on the contrary, must desire to come to a happy
forgetfulness of all that has reached it through the lower: for one
reason, there is always the possibility that the very excellence of
the lower prove detrimental to the higher, tending to keep it down
by sheer force of vitality. In any case the more urgent the
intention towards the Supreme, the more extensive will be the soul's
forgetfulness, unless indeed, when the entire living has, even here,
been such that memory has nothing but the noblest to deal with: in
this world itself, all is best when human interests have been held
aloof; so, therefore, it must be with the memory of them. In this
sense we may truly say that the good soul is the forgetful. It flees
multiplicity; it seeks to escape the unbounded by drawing all to
unity, for only thus is it free from entanglement, light-footed,
self-conducted. Thus it is that even in this world the soul which
has the desire of the other is putting away, amid its actual life, all
that is foreign to that order. It brings there very little of what
it has gathered here; as long as it is in the heavenly regions only,
it will have more than it can retain.
    The Hercules of the heavenly regions would still tell of his
feats: but there is the other man to whom all of that is trivial; he
has been translated to a holier place; he has won his way to the
Intellectual Realm; he is more than Hercules, proven in the combats in
which the combatants are the wise.
                        FOURTH TRACTATE.

                     PROBLEMS OF THE SOUL (2).

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

                     PROBLEMS OF THE SOUL (3).
                    [ALSO ENTITLED "ON SIGHT"].

    1. We undertook to discuss the question whether sight is
possible in the absence of any intervening medium, such as air or some
other form of what is known as transparent body: this is the time
and place.
    It has been explained that seeing and all sense-perception can
occur only through the medium of some bodily substance, since in the
absence of body the soul is utterly absorbed in the Intellectual
Sphere. Sense-perception being the gripping not of the Intellectual
but of the sensible alone, the soul, if it is to form any relationship
of knowledge, or of impression, with objects of sense, must be brought
in some kind of contact with them by means of whatever may bridge
the gap.
    The knowledge, then, is realized by means of bodily organs:
through these, which [in the embodied soul] are almost of one growth
with it, being at least its continuations, it comes into something
like unity with the alien, since this mutual approach brings about a
certain degree of identity [which is the basis of knowledge].
    Admitting, then, that some contact with an object is necessary for
knowing it, the question of a medium falls to the ground in the case
of things identified by any form of touch; but in the case of sight-
we leave hearing over for the present- we are still in doubt; is there
need of some bodily substance between the eye and the illumined
    No: such an intervening material may be a favouring
circumstance, but essentially it adds nothing to seeing power.
!    Dense bodies, such as clay, actually prevent sight; the less
material the intervening substance is, the more clearly we see; the
intervening substance, then, is a hindrance, or, if not that, at least
not a help.
    It will be objected that vision implies that whatever intervenes
between seen and seer must first [and progressively] experience the
object and be, as it were, shaped to it; we will be reminded that
[vision is not a direct and single relation between agent and
object, but is the perception of something radiated since] anyone
facing to the object from the side opposite to ourselves sees it
equally; we will be asked to deduce that if all the space
intervening between seen and seer did not carry the impression of
the object we could not receive it.
    But all the need is met when the impression reaches that which
is adapted to receive it; there is no need for the intervening space
to be impressed. If it is, the impression will be of quite another
order: the rod between the fisher's hand and the torpedo fish is not
affected in the same way as the hand that feels the shock. And yet
there too, if rod and line did not intervene, the hand would not be
affected- though even that may be questioned, since after all the
fisherman, we are told, is numbed if the torpedo merely lies in his
    The whole matter seems to bring us back to that sympathy of
which we have treated. If a certain thing is of a nature to be
sympathetically affected by another in virtue of some similitude
between them, then anything intervening, not sharing in that
similitude, will not be affected, or at least not similarly. If this
be so, anything naturally disposed to be affected will take the
impression more vividly in the absence of intervening substance,
even of some substance capable, itself, of being affected.
    2. If sight depends upon the linking of the light of vision with
the light leading progressively to the illumined object, then, by
the very hypothesis, one intervening substance, the light, is
indispensable: but if the illuminated body, which is the object of
vision, serves as an agent operating certain changes, some such change
might very well impinge immediately upon the eye, requiring no medium;
this all the more, since as things are the intervening substance,
which actually does exist, is in some degree changed at the point of
contact with the eye [and so cannot be in itself a requisite to
    Those who have made vision a forth-going act [and not an in-coming
from the object] need not postulate an intervening substance-
unless, indeed, to provide against the ray from the eye failing on its
path- but this is a ray of light and light flies straight. Those who
make vision depend upon resistance are obliged to postulate an
intervening substance.
    The champions of the image, with its transit through a void, are
seeking the way of least resistance; but since the entire absence of
intervenient gives a still easier path they will not oppose that
    So, too, those that explain vision by sympathy must recognize that
an intervening substance will be a hindrance as tending to check or
block or enfeeble that sympathy; this theory, especially, requires the
admission that any intervenient, and particularly one of kindred
nature, must blunt the perception by itself absorbing part of the
activity. Apply fire to a body continuous through and through, and
no doubt the core will be less affected than the surface: but where we
are dealing with the sympathetic parts of one living being, there will
scarcely be less sensation because of the intervening substance, or,
if there should be, the degree of sensation will still be
proportionate to the nature of the separate part, with the
intervenient acting merely as a certain limitation; this, though, will
not be the case where the element introduced is of a kind to
overleap the bridge.
    But this is saying that the sympathetic quality of the universe
depends upon its being one living thing, and that our amenability to
experience depends upon our belonging integrally to that unity;
would it not follow that continuity is a condition of any perception
of a remote object?
    The explanation is that continuity and its concomitant, the
bridging substance, come into play because a living being must be a
continuous thing, but that, none the less, the receiving of impression
is not an essentially necessary result of continuity; if it were,
everything would receive such impression from everything else, and
if thing is affected by thing in various separate orders, there can be
no further question of any universal need of intervening substance.
    Why it should be especially requisite in the act of seeing would
have to be explained: in general, an object passing through the air
does not affect it beyond dividing it; when a stone falls, the air
simply yields; nor is it reasonable to explain the natural direction
of movement by resistance; to do so would bring us to the absurdity
that resistance accounts for the upward movement of fire, which on the
contrary, overcomes the resistance of the air by its own essentially
quick energy. If we are told that the resistance is brought more
swiftly into play by the very swiftness of the ascending body, that
would be a mere accidental circumstance, not a cause of the upward
motion: in trees the upthrust from the root depends on no such
external propulsion; we, too, in our movements cleave the air and
are in no wise forwarded by its resistance; it simply flows in from
behind to fill the void we make.
    If the severance of the air by such bodies leaves it unaffected,
why must there be any severance before the images of sight can reach
    And, further, once we reject the theory that these images reach us
by way of some outstreaming from the objects seen, there is no
reason to think of the air being affected and passing on to us, in a
progression of impression, what has been impressed upon itself.
    If our perception is to depend upon previous impressions made upon
the air, then we have no direct knowledge of the object of vision, but
know it only as through an intermediary, in the same way as we are
aware of warmth where it is not the distant fire itself that warms us,
but the warmed intervening air. That is a matter of contact; but sight
is not produced by contact: the application of an object to the eye
would not produce sight; what is required is the illumination of the
intervening medium; for the air in itself is a dark substance: If it
were not for this dark substance there would probably be no reason for
the existence of light: the dark intervening matter is a barrier,
and vision requires that it be overcome by light. Perhaps also the
reason why an object brought close to the eye cannot be seen is that
it confronts us with a double obscuration, its own and that of the
    3. For the most convincing proof that vision does not depend
upon the transmission of impressions of any kind made upon the air, we
have only to consider that in the darkness of night we can see a
fire and the stars and their very shapes.
    No one will pretend that these forms are reproduced upon the
darkness and come to us in linked progression; if the fire thus
rayed out its own form, there would be an end to the darkness. In
the blackest night, when the very stars are hidden and show no gleam
of their light, we can see the fire of the beacon-stations and of
maritime signal-towers.
    Now if, in defiance of all that the senses tell us, we are to
believe that in these examples the fire [as light] traverses the
air, then, in so far as anything is visible, it must be that dimmed
reproduction in the air, not the fire itself. But if an object can
be seen on the other side of some intervening darkness, much more
would it be visible with nothing intervening.
    We may hold one thing certain: the impossibility of vision without
an intervening substance does not depend upon that absence in
itself: the sole reason is that, with the absence, there would be an
end to the sympathy reigning in the living whole and relating the
parts to each other in an existent unity.
    Perception of every kind seems to depend on the fact that our
universe is a whole sympathetic to itself: that it is so, appears from
the universal participation in power from member to member, and
especially in remote power.
    No doubt it would be worth enquiry- though we pass it for the
present- what would take place if there were another kosmos, another
living whole having no contact with this one, and the far ridges of
our heavens had sight: would our sphere see that other as from a
mutually present distance, or could there be no dealing at all from
this to that?
    To return; there is a further consideration showing that sight
is not brought about by this alleged modification of the intervenient.
    Any modification of the air substance would necessarily be
corporeal: there must be such an impression as is made upon sealing
wax. But this would require that each part of the object of vision
be impressed on some corresponding portion of the intervenient: the
intervenient, however, in actual contact with the eye would be just
that portion whose dimensions the pupil is capable of receiving. But
as a matter of fact the entire object appears before the pupil; and it
is seen entire by all within that air space for a great extent, in
front, sideways, close at hand, from the back, as long as the line
of vision is not blocked. This shows that any given portion of the air
contains the object of vision, in face view so to speak, and, at once,
we are confronted by no merely corporeal phenomena; the facts are
explicable only as depending upon the greater laws, the spiritual,
of a living being one and self-sensitive.
    4. But there is the question of the linked light that must
relate the visual organ to its object.
    Now, firstly: since the intervening air is not necessary- unless
in the purely accidental sense that air may be necessary to light- the
light that acts as intermediate in vision will be unmodified: vision
depends upon no modification whatever. This one intermediate, light,
would seem to be necessary, but, unless light is corporeal, no
intervening body is requisite: and we must remember that
intervenient and borrowed light is essential not to seeing in
general but to distant vision; the question whether light absolutely
requires the presence of air we will discuss later. For the present
one matter must occupy us:
    If, in the act of vision, that linked light becomes ensouled, if
the soul or mind permeates it and enters into union with it, as it
does in its more inward acts such as understanding- which is what
vision really is- then the intervening light is not a necessity: the
process of seeing will be like that of touch; the visual faculty of
the soul will perceive by the fact of having entered into the light;
all that intervenes remains unaffected, serving simply as the field
over which the vision ranges.
    This brings up the question whether the sight is made active
over its field by the sheer presence of a distance spread before it,
or by the presence of a body of some kind within that distance.
    If by the presence of such a body, then there will be vision
though there be no intervenient; if the intervenient is the sole
attractive agent, then we are forced to think of the visible object as
being a Kind utterly without energy, performing no act. But so
inactive a body cannot be: touch tells us that, for it does not merely
announce that something is by and is touched: it is acted upon by
the object so that it reports distinguishing qualities in it,
qualities so effective that even at a distance touch itself would
register them but for the accidental that it demands proximity.
    We catch the heat of a fire just as soon as the intervening air
does; no need to wait for it to be warmed: the denser body, in fact,
takes in more warmth than the air has to give; in other words, the air
transmits the heat but is not the source of our warmth.
    When on the one side, that of the object, there is the power in
any degree of an outgoing act, and on the other, that of the sight,
the capability of being acted upon, surely the object needs no
medium through which to be effective upon what it is fully equipped to
affect: this would be needing not a help but a hindrance.
    Or, again, consider the Dawn: there is no need that the light
first flood the air and then come to us; the event is simultaneous
to both: often, in fact, we see [in the distance] when the light is
not as yet round our eyes at all but very far off, before, that is,
the air has been acted upon: here we have vision without any
modified intervenient, vision before the organ has received the
light with which it is to be linked.
    It is difficult to reconcile with this theory the fact of seeing
stars or any fire by night.
    If [as by the theory of an intervenient] the percipient mind or
soul remains within itself and needs the light only as one might
need a stick in the hand to touch something at a distance, then the
perception will be a sort of tussle: the light must be conceived as
something thrusting, something aimed at a mark, and similarly, the
object, considered as an illuminated thing, must be conceived to be
resistant; for this is the normal process in the case of contact by
the agency of an intervenient.
    Besides, even on this explanation, the mind must have previously
been in contact with the object in the entire absence of intervenient;
only if that has happened could contact through an intervenient
bring knowledge, a knowledge by way of memory, and, even more
emphatically, by way of reasoned comparison [ending in
identification]: but this process of memory and comparison is excluded
by the theory of first knowledge through the agency of a medium.
    Finally, we may be told that the impinging light is modified by
the thing to be seen and so becomes able to present something
perceptible before the visual organ; but this simply brings us back to
the theory of an intervenient changed midway by the object, an
explanation whose difficulties we have already indicated.
    5. But some doubt arises when we consider the phenomena of
    Perhaps we are to understand the process thus: the air is modified
by the first movement; layer by layer it is successively acted upon by
the object causing the sound: it finally impinges in that modified
form upon the sense, the entire progression being governed by the fact
that all the air from starting point to hearing point is similarly
    Perhaps, on the other hand, the intervenient is modified only by
the accident of its midway position, so that, failing any
intervenient, whatsoever sound two bodies in clash might make would
impinge without medium upon our sense?
    Still air is necessary; there could be no sound in the absence
of the air set vibrating in the first movement, however different be
the case with the intervenient from that onwards to the perception
    The air would thus appear to be the dominant in the production
of sound: two bodies would clash without even an incipient sound,
but that the air, struck in their rapid meeting and hurled outward,
passes on the movement successively till it reaches the ears and the
sense of hearing.
    But if the determinant is the air, and the impression is simply of
air-movements, what accounts for the differences among voices and
other sounds? The sound of bronze against bronze is different from
that of bronze against some other substance: and so on; the air and
its vibration remain the one thing, yet the difference in sounds is
much more than a matter of greater or less intensity.
    If we decide that sound is caused by a percussion upon the air,
then obviously nothing turning upon the distinctive nature of air is
in question: it sounds at a moment in which it is simply a solid body,
until [by its distinctive character] it is sent pulsing outwards: thus
air in itself is not essential to the production of sound; all is done
by clashing solids as they meet and that percussion, reaching the
sense, is the sound. This is shown also by the sounds formed within
living beings not in air but by the friction of parts; for example,
the grinding of teeth and the crunching of bones against each other in
the bending of the body, cases in which the air does not intervene.
    But all this may now be left over; we are brought to the same
conclusion as in the case of sight; the phenomena of hearing arise
similarly in a certain co-sensitiveness inherent in a living whole.
    6. We return, then, to the question whether there could be light
if there were no air, the sun illuminating corporeal surfaces across
an intermediate void which, as things are, takes the light
accidentally by the mere fact of being in the path. Supposing air to
be the cause of the rest of things being thus affected, the
substantial existence of light is due to the air; light becomes a
modification of the air, and of course if the thing to be modified did
not exist neither could be modification.
    The fact is that primarily light is no appanage of air, and does
not depend upon the existence of air: it belongs to every fiery and
shining body, it constitutes even the gleaming surface of certain
    Now if, thus, it enters into other substances from something
gleaming, could it exist in the absence of its container?
    There is a distinction to be made: if it is a quality, some
quality of some substance, then light, equally with other qualities,
will need a body in which to lodge: if, on the contrary, it is an
activity rising from something else, we can surely conceive it
existing, though there be no neighbouring body but, if that is
possible, a blank void which it will overleap and so appear on the
further side: it is powerful, and may very well pass over unhelped. If
it were of a nature to fall, nothing would keep it up, certainly not
the air or anything that takes its light; there is no reason why
they should draw the light from its source and speed it onwards.
    Light is not an accidental to something else, requiring
therefore to be lodged in a base; nor is it a modification,
demanding a base in which the modification occurs: if this were so, it
would vanish when the object or substance disappeared; but it does
not; it strikes onward; so, too [requiring neither air nor object]
it would always have its movement.
    But movement, where?
    Is space, pure and simple, all that is necessary?
    With unchecked motion of the light outward, the material sun
will be losing its energy, for the light is its expression.
    Perhaps; and [from this untenable consequence] we may gather
that the light never was an appanage of anything, but is the
expressive Act proceeding from a base [the sun] but not seeking to
enter into a base, though having some operation upon any base that may
be present.
    Life is also an Act, the Act of the soul, and it remains so when
anything- the human body, for instance- comes in its path to be
affected by it; and it is equally an Act though there be nothing for
it to modify: surely this may be true of light, one of the Acts of
whatever luminary source there be [i.e., light, affecting things,
may be quite independent of them and require no medium, air or other].
Certainly light is not brought into being by the dark thing, air,
which on the contrary tends to gloom it over with some touch of
earth so that it is no longer the brilliant reality: as reasonable
to talk of some substance being sweet because it is mixed with
something bitter.
    If we are told that light is a mode of the air, we answer that
this would necessarily imply that the air itself is changed to produce
the new mode; in other words, its characteristic darkness must
change into non-darkness; but we know that the air maintains its
character, in no wise affected: the modification of a thing is an
experience within that thing itself: light therefore is not a
modification of the air, but a self-existent in whose path the air
happens to be present.
    On this point we need dwell no longer; but there remains still a
    7. Our investigation may be furthered by enquiring: Whether
light finally perishes or simply returns to its source.
    If it be a thing requiring to be caught and kept, domiciled within
a recipient, we might think of it finally passing out of existence: if
it be an Act not flowing out and away- but in circuit, with more of it
within than is in outward progress from the luminary of which it is
the Act- then it will not cease to exist as long as that centre is
in being. And as the luminary moves, the light will reach new
points- not in virtue of any change of course in or out or around, but
simply because the act of the luminary exists and where there is no
impediment is effective. Even if the distance of the sun from us
were far greater than it is, the light would be continuous all that
further way, as long as nothing checked or blocked it in the interval.
    We distinguish two forms of activity; one is gathered within the
luminary and is comparable to the life of the shining body; this is
the vaster and is, as it were, the foundation or wellspring of all the
act; the other lies next to the surface, the outer image of the
inner content, a secondary activity though inseparable from the
former. For every existent has an Act which is in its likeness: as
long as the one exists, so does the other; yet while the original is
stationary the activity reaches forth, in some things over a wide
range, in others less far. There are weak and faint activities, and
there are some, even, that do not appear; but there are also things
whose activities are great and far-going; in the case of these the
activity must be thought of as being lodged, both in the active and
powerful source and in the point at which it settles. This may be
observed in the case of an animal's eyes where the pupils gleam:
they have a light which shows outside the orbs. Again there are living
things which have an inner fire that in darkness shines out when
they expand themselves and ceases to ray outward when they contract:
the fire has not perished; it is a mere matter of it being rayed out
or not.
    But has the light gone inward?
    No: it is simply no longer on the outside because the fire [of
which it is the activity] is no longer outward going but has withdrawn
towards the centre.
    But surely the light has gone inward too?
    No: only the fire, and when that goes inward the surface
consists only of the non-luminous body; the fire can no longer act
towards the outer.
    The light, then, raying from bodies is an outgoing activity of a
luminous body; the light within luminous bodies- understand; such as
are primarily luminous- is the essential being embraced under the idea
of that body. When such a body is brought into association with
Matter, its activity produces colour: when there is no such
association, it does not give colour- it gives merely an incipient
on which colour might be formed- for it belongs to another being
[primal light] with which it retains its link, unable to desert from
it, or from its [inner] activity.
    And light is incorporeal even when it is the light of a body;
there is therefore no question, strictly speaking, of its withdrawal
or of its being present- these terms do not apply to its modes- and
its essential existence is to be an activity. As an example: the image
upon a mirror may be described as an activity exercised by the
reflected object upon the potential recipient: there is no outgoing
from the object [or ingoing into the reflecting body]; it is simply
that, as long as the object stands there, the image also is visible,
in the form of colour shaped to a certain pattern, and when the object
is not there, the reflecting surface no longer holds what it held when
the conditions were favourable.
    So it is with the soul considered as the activity of another and
prior soul: as long as that prior retains its place, its next, which
is its activity, abides.
    But what of a soul which is not an activity but the derivative
of an activity- as we maintained the life-principle domiciled in the
body to be- is its presence similar to that of the light caught and
held in material things?
    No; for in those things the colour is due to an actual
intermixture of the active element [the light being alloyed with
Matter]; whereas the life-principle of the body is something that
holds from another soul closely present to it.
    But when the body perishes- by the fact that nothing without
part in soul can continue in being- when the body is perishing, no
longer supported by that primal life-giving soul, or by the presence
of any secondary phase of it, it is clear that the life-principle
can no longer remain; but does this mean that the life perishes?
    No; not even it; for it, too, is an image of that first
out-shining; it is merely no longer where it was.
    8. Imagine that beyond the heavenly system there existed some
solid mass, and that from this sphere there was directed to it a
vision utterly unimpeded and unrestricted: it is a question whether
that solid form could be perceived by what has no sympathetic relation
with it, since we have held that sympathetic relation comes about in
virtue of the nature inherent in some one living being.
    Obviously, if the sympathetic relationship depends upon the fact
that percipients and things perceived are all members of one living
being, no acts of perception could take place: that far body could
be known only if it were a member of this living universe of ours-
which condition being met, it certainly would be. But what if, without
being thus in membership, it were a corporeal entity, exhibiting light
and colour and the qualities by which we perceive things, and
belonging to the same ideal category as the organ of vision?
    If our supposition [of perception by sympathy] is true, there
would still be no perception- though we may be told that the
hypothesis is clearly untenable since there is absurdity in
supposing that sight can fail in grasping an illuminated object
lying before it, and that the other senses in the presence of their
particular objects remain unresponsive.
    [The following passage, to nearly the end, is offered
tentatively as a possible help to the interpretation of an obscure and
corrupt place.]
    [But why does such a failing appear impossible to us? We answer,
because here and now in all the act and experience of our senses, we
are within a unity, and members of it. What the conditions would be
otherwise, remains to be considered: if living sympathy suffices the
theory is established; if not, there are other considerations to
support it.
    That every living being is self-sensitive allows of no doubt; if
the universe is a living being, no more need be said; and what is true
of the total must be true of the members, as inbound in that one life.
    But what if we are invited to accept the theory of knowledge by
likeness (rejecting knowledge by the self-sensitiveness of a living
    Awareness must be determined by the nature and character of the
living being in which it occurs; perception, then, means that the
likeness demanded by the hypothesis is within this self-identical
living being (and not in the object)- for the organ by which the
perception takes place is in the likeness of the living being (is
merely the agent adequately expressing the nature of the living
being): thus perception is reduced to a mental awareness by means of
organs akin to the object.
    If, then, something that is a living whole perceives not its own
content but things like to its content, it must perceive them under
the conditions of that living whole; this means that, in so far as
it has perception, the objects appear not as its content but as
related to its content.
    And the objects are thus perceived as related because the mind
itself has related them in order to make them amenable to its
handling: in other words the causative soul or mind in that other
sphere is utterly alien, and the things there, supposed to be
related to the content of this living whole, can be nothing to our
    This absurdity shows that the hypothesis contains a
contradiction which naturally leads to untenable results. In fact,
under one and the same heading, it presents mind and no mind, it makes
things kin and no kin, it confuses similar and dissimilar:
containing these irreconcilable elements, it amounts to no
hypothesis at all. At one and the same moment it postulates and denies
a soul, it tells of an All that is partial, of a something which is at
once distinct and not distinct, of a nothingness which is no
nothingness, of a complete thing that is incomplete: the hypothesis
therefore must be dismissed; no deduction is possible where a thesis
cancels its own propositions.
                        SIXTH TRACTATE.

                     PERCEPTION AND MEMORY.

    1. Perceptions are no imprints, we have said, are not to be
thought of as seal-impressions on soul or mind: accepting this
statement, there is one theory of memory which must be definitely
    Memory is not to be explained as the retaining of information in
virtue of the lingering of an impression which in fact was never made;
the two things stand or fall together; either an impression is made
upon the mind and lingers when there is remembrance, or, denying the
impression, we cannot hold that memory is its lingering. Since we
reject equally the impression and the retention we are obliged to seek
for another explanation of perception and memory, one excluding the
notions that the sensible object striking upon soul or mind makes a
mark upon it, and that the retention of this mark is memory.
    If we study what occurs in the case of the most vivid form of
perception, we can transfer our results to the other cases, and so
solve our problem.
    In any perception we attain by sight, the object is grasped
there where it lies in the direct line of vision; it is there that
we attack it; there, then, the perception is formed; the mind looks
outward; this is ample proof that it has taken and takes no inner
imprint, and does not see in virtue of some mark made upon it like
that of the ring on the wax; it need not look outward at all if,
even as it looked, it already held the image of the object, seeing by
virtue of an impression made upon itself. It includes with the
object the interval, for it tells at what distance the vision takes
place: how could it see as outlying an impression within itself,
separated by no interval from itself? Then, the point of magnitude:
how could the mind, on this hypothesis, define the external size of
the object or perceive that it has any- the magnitude of the sky,
for instance, whose stamped imprint would be too vast for it to
contain? And, most convincing of all, if to see is to accept
imprints of the objects of our vision, we can never see these
objects themselves; we see only vestiges they leave within us,
shadows: the things themselves would be very different from our vision
of them. And, for a conclusive consideration, we cannot see if the
living object is in contact with the eye, we must look from a
certain distance; this must be more applicable to the mind;
supposing the mind to be stamped with an imprint of the object, it
could not grasp as an object of vision what is stamped upon itself.
For vision demands a duality, of seen and seeing: the seeing agent
must be distinct and act upon an impression outside it, not upon one
occupying the same point with it: sight can deal only with an object
not inset but outlying.
    2. But if perception does not go by impression, what is the
    The mind affirms something not contained within it: this is
precisely the characteristic of a power- not to accept impression but,
within its allotted sphere, to act.
    Besides, the very condition of the mind being able to exercise
discrimination upon what it is to see and hear is not, of course, that
these objects be equally impressions made upon it; on the contrary,
there must be no impressions, nothing to which the mind is passive;
there can be only acts of that in which the objects become known.
    Our tendency is to think of any of the faculties as unable to know
its appropriate object by its own uncompelled act; to us it seems to
submit to its environment rather than simply to perceive it, though in
reality it is the master, not the victim.
    As with sight, so with hearing. It is the air which takes the
impression, a kind of articulated stroke which may be compared to
letters traced upon it by the object causing the sound; but it belongs
to the faculty, and the soul-essence, to read the imprints thus
appearing before it, as they reach the point at which they become
matter of its knowledge.
    In taste and smell also we distinguish between the impressions
received and the sensations and judgements; these last are mental
acts, and belong to an order apart from the experiences upon which
they are exercised.
    The knowing of the things belonging to the Intellectual is not
in any such degree attended by impact or impression: they come
forward, on the contrary, as from within, unlike the sense-objects
known as from without: they have more emphatically the character of
acts; they are acts in the stricter sense, for their origin is in
the soul, and every concept of this Intellectual order is the soul
about its Act.
    Whether, in this self-vision, the soul is a duality and views
itself as from the outside- while seeing the Intellectual-Principal as
a unity, and itself with the Intellectual-Principle as a unity- this
question is investigated elsewhere.
    3. With this prologue we come to our discussion of Memory.
    That the soul, or mind, having taken no imprint, yet achieves
perception of what it in no way contains need not surprise us; or
rather, surprising though it is, we cannot refuse to believe in this
remarkable power.
    The Soul is the Reason-Principle of the universe, ultimate among
the Intellectual Beings- its own essential Nature is one of the Beings
of the Intellectual Realm- but it is the primal Reason-Principle of
the entire realm of sense.
    Thus it has dealings with both orders- benefited and quickened
by the one, but by the other beguiled, falling before resemblances,
and so led downwards as under spell. Poised midway, it is aware of
both spheres.
    Of the Intellectual it is said to have intuition by memory upon
approach, for it knows them by a certain natural identity with them;
its knowledge is not attained by besetting them, so to speak, but by
in a definite degree possessing them; they are its natural vision;
they are itself in a more radiant mode, and it rises from its duller
pitch to that greater brilliance in a sort of awakening, a progress
from its latency to its act.
    To the sense-order it stands in a similar nearness and to such
things it gives a radiance out of its own store and, as it were,
elaborates them to visibility: the power is always ripe and, so to
say, in travail towards them, so that, whenever it puts out its
strength in the direction of what has once been present in it, it sees
that object as present still; and the more intent its effort the
more durable is the presence. This is why, it is agreed, children have
long memory; the things presented to them are not constantly withdrawn
but remain in sight; in their case the attention is limited but not
scattered: those whose faculty and mental activity are busied upon a
multitude of subjects pass quickly over all, lingering on none.
    Now, if memory were a matter of seal-impressions retained, the
multiplicity of objects would have no weakening effect on the
memory. Further, on the same hypothesis, we would have no need of
thinking back to revive remembrance; nor would we be subject to
forgetting and recalling; all would lie engraved within.
    The very fact that we train ourselves to remember shows that
what we get by the process is a strengthening of the mind: just so,
exercises for feet and hands enable us to do easily acts which in no
sense contained or laid up in those members, but to which they may
be fitted by persevering effort.
    How else can it be explained that we forget a thing heard once
or twice but remember what is often repeated, and that we recall a
long time afterwards what at first hearing we failed to hold?
    It is no answer to say that the parts present themselves sooner
than the entire imprint- why should they too be forgotten?- [there
is no question of parts, for] the last hearing, or our effort to
remember, brings the thing back to us in a flash.
    All these considerations testify to an evocation of that faculty
of the soul, or mind, in which remembrance is vested: the mind is
strengthened, either generally or to this particular purpose.
    Observe these facts: memory follows upon attention; those who have
memorized much, by dint of their training in the use of leading
indications [suggestive words and the like], reach the point of
being easily able to retain without such aid: must we not conclude
that the basis of memory is the soul-power brought to full strength?
    The lingering imprints of the other explanation would tell of
weakness rather than power; for to take imprint easily is to be
yielding. An impression is something received passively; the strongest
memory, then, would go with the least active nature. But what
happens is the very reverse: in no pursuit to technical exercises tend
to make a man less the master of his acts and states. It is as with
sense-perception; the advantage is not to the weak, the weak eye for
example, but to that which has the fullest power towards its exercise.
In the old, it is significant, the senses are dulled and so is the
    Sensation and memory, then, are not passivity but power.
    And, once it is admitted that sensations are not impressions,
the memory of a sensation cannot consist in the retention of an
impression that was never made.
    Yes: but if it is an active power of the mind, a fitness towards
its particular purpose, why does it not come at once- and not with
delay- to the recollection of its unchanging objects?
    Simply because the power needs to be poised and prepared: in
this it is only like all the others, which have to be readied for
the task to which their power reaches, some operating very swiftly,
others only after a certain self-concentration.
    Quick memory does not in general go with quick wit: the two do not
fall under the same mental faculty; runner and boxer are not often
united in one person; the dominant idea differs from man to man.
    Yet there could be nothing to prevent men of superior faculty from
reading impressions on the mind; why should one thus gifted be
incapable of what would be no more than a passive taking and holding?
    That memory is a power of the Soul [not a capacity for taking
imprint] is established at a stroke by the consideration that the soul
is without magnitude.
    And- one general reflection- it is not extraordinary that
everything concerning soul should proceed in quite other ways than
appears to people who either have never enquired, or have hastily
adopted delusive analogies from the phenomena of sense, and persist in
thinking of perception and remembrance in terms of characters
inscribed on plates or tablets; the impossibilities that beset this
theory escape those that make the soul incorporeal equally with
those to whom it is corporeal.
                        SEVENTH TRACTATE.

                    THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.

    1. Whether every human being is immortal or we are wholly
destroyed, or whether something of us passes over to dissolution and
destruction, while something else, that which is the true man, endures
for ever- this question will be answered here for those willing to
investigate our nature.
    We know that man is not a thing of one only element; he has a soul
and he has, whether instrument or adjunct in some other mode, a
body: this is the first distinction; it remains to investigate the
nature and essential being of these two constituents.
    Reason tells us that the body as, itself too, a composite,
cannot for ever hold together; and our senses show us it breaking
up, wearing out, the victim of destructive agents of many kinds,
each of its constituents going its own way, one part working against
another, perverting, wrecking, and this especially when the material
masses are no longer presided over by the reconciling soul.
    And when each single constituent is taken as a thing apart, it
is still not a unity; for it is divisible into shape and matter, the
duality without which bodies at their very simplest cannot cohere.
    The mere fact that, as material forms, they have bulk means that
they can be lopped and crushed and so come to destruction.
    If this body, then, is really a part of us, we are not wholly
immortal; if it is an instrument of ours, then, as a thing put at
our service for a certain time, it must be in its nature passing.
    The sovereign principle, the authentic man, will be as Form to
this Matter or as agent to this instrument, and thus, whatever that
relation be, the soul is the man.
    2. But of what nature is this sovereign principle?
    If material, then definitely it must fall apart; for every
material entity, at least, is something put together.
    If it is not material but belongs to some other Kind, that new
substance must be investigated in the same way or by some more
suitable method.
    But our first need is to discover into what this material form,
since such the soul is to be, can dissolve.
    Now: of necessity life is inherent to soul: this material
entity, then, which we call soul must have life ingrained within it;
but [being a composite as by hypothesis, material] it must be made
up of two or more bodies; that life, then, will be vested, either in
each and all of those bodies or in one of them to the exclusion of the
other or others; if this be not so, then there is no life present
    If any one of them contains this ingrained life, that one is the
soul. But what sort of an entity have we there; what is this body
which of its own nature possesses soul?
    Fire, air, water, earth, are in themselves soulless- whenever soul
is in any of them, that life is borrowed- and there are no other forms
of body than these four: even the school that believes there are has
always held them to be bodies, not souls, and to be without life.
    None of these, then, having life, it would be extraordinary if
life came about by bringing them together; it is impossible, in
fact, that the collocation of material entities should produce life,
or mindless entities mind.
    No one, moreover, would pretend that a mere chance mixing could
give such results: some regulating principle would be necessary,
some Cause directing the admixture: that guiding principle would be-
    Body- not merely because it is a composite, but even were it
simplex- could not exist unless there were soul in the universe, for
body owes its being to the entrance of a Reason-Principle into Matter,
and only from soul can a Reason-Principle come.
    3. Anyone who rejects this view, and holds that either atoms or
some entities void of part coming together produce soul, is refuted by
the very unity of soul and by the prevailing sympathy as much as by
the very coherence of the constituents. Bodily materials, in nature
repugnant to unification and to sensation, could never produce unity
or self-sensitiveness, and soul is self-sensitive. And, again,
constituents void of part could never produce body or bulk.
    Perhaps we will be asked to consider body as a simple entity
[disregarding the question of any constituent elements]: they will
tell us, then, that no doubt, as purely material, it cannot have a
self-springing life- since matter is without quality- but that life is
introduced by the fact that the Matter is brought to order under
Forming-Idea. But if by this Forming-Idea they mean an essential, a
real being, then it is not the conjoint of body and idea that
constitutes soul: it must be one of the two items and that one,
being [by hypothesis] outside of the Matter, cannot be body: to make
it body would simply force us to repeat our former analysis.
    If on the contrary they do not mean by this Forming-Idea a real
being, but some condition or modification of the Matter, they must
tell us how and whence this modification, with resultant life, can
have found the way into the Matter: for very certainly Matter does not
mould itself to pattern or bring itself to life.
    It becomes clear that since neither Matter nor body in any mode
has this power, life must be brought upon the stage by some
directing principle external and transcendent to all that is
    In fact, body itself could not exist in any form if soul-power did
not: body passes; dissolution is in its very nature; all would
disappear in a twinkling if all were body. It is no help to erect some
one mode of body into soul; made of the same Matter as the rest,
this soul body would fall under the same fate: of course it could
never really exist: the universe of things would halt at the material,
failing something to bring Matter to shape.
    Nay more: Matter itself could not exist: the totality of things in
this sphere is dissolved if it be made to depend upon the coherence of
a body which, though elevated to the nominal rank of "soul," remains
air, fleeting breath [the Stoic pneuma, rarefied matter, "spirit" in
the lower sense], whose very unity is not drawn from itself.
    All bodies are in ceaseless process of dissolution; how can the
kosmos be made over to any one of them without being turned into a
senseless haphazard drift? This pneuma- orderless except under soul-
how can it contain order, reason, intelligence? But: given soul, all
these material things become its collaborators towards the coherence
of the kosmos and of every living being, all the qualities of all
the separate objects converging to the purposes of the universe:
failing soul in the things of the universe, they could not even exist,
much less play their ordered parts.
    4. Our opponents themselves are driven by stress of fact to
admit the necessity of a prior to body, a higher thing, some phase
or form of soul; their "pneuma" [finer-body or spirit] is intelligent,
and they speak of an "intellectual fire"; this "fire" and "spirit"
they imagine to be necessary to the existence of the higher order
which they conceive as demanding some base, though the real
difficulty, under their theory, is to find a base for material
things whose only possible base is, precisely, the powers of soul.
    Besides, if they make life and soul no more than this "pneuma,"
what is the import of that repeated qualification of theirs "in a
certain state," their refuge when they are compelled to recognize some
acting principle apart from body? If not every pneuma is a soul, but
thousands of them soulless, and only the pneuma in this "certain
state" is soul, what follows? Either this "certain state," this
shaping or configuration of things, is a real being or it is nothing.
    If it is nothing, only the pneuma exists, the "certain state"
being no more than a word; this leads imperatively to the assertion
that Matter alone exists, Soul and God mere words, the lowest alone
    If on the contrary this "configuration" is really existent-
something distinct from the underlie or Matter, something residing
in Matter but itself immaterial as not constructed out of Matter, then
it must be a Reason-Principle, incorporeal, a separate Nature.
    There are other equally cogent proofs that the soul cannot be
any form of body.
    Body is either warm or cold, hard or soft, liquid or solid,
black or white, and so on through all the qualities by which one is
different from another; and, again, if a body is warm it diffuses only
warmth, if cold it can only chill, if light its presence tells against
the total weight which if heavy it increases; black, it darkens;
white, it lightens; fire has not the property of chilling or a cold
body that of warming.
    Soul, on the contrary, operates diversely in different living
beings, and has quite contrary effects in any one: its productions
contain the solid and the soft, the dense and the sparse, bright and
dark, heavy and light. If it were material, its quality- and the
colour it must have- would produce one invariable effect and not the
variety actually observed.
    5. Again, there is movement: all bodily movement is uniform;
failing an incorporeal soul, how account for diversity of movement?
Predilections, reasons, they will say; that is all very well, but
these already contain that variety and therefore cannot belong to body
which is one and simplex, and, besides, is not participant in
reason- that is, not in the sense here meant, but only as it is
influenced by some principle which confers upon it the qualities of,
for instance, being warm or cold.
    Then there is growth under a time-law, and within a definite
limit: how can this belong strictly to body? Body can indeed be
brought to growth, but does not itself grow except in the sense that
in the material mass a capacity for growing is included as an
accessory to some principle whose action upon the body causes growth.
    Supposing the soul to be at once a body and the cause of growth,
then, if it is to keep pace with the substance it augments, it too
must grow; that means it must add to itself a similar bodily material.
For the added material must be either soul or soulless body: if
soul, whence and how does it enter, and by what process is it adjoined
[to the soul which by hypothesis is body]; if soulless, how does
such an addition become soul, falling into accord with its
precedent, making one thing with it, sharing the stored impressions
and notions of that initial soul instead, rather, of remaining an
alien ignoring all the knowledge laid up before?
    Would not such a soulless addition be subject to just such loss
and gain of substance, in fact to the non-identity, which marks the
rest of our material mass?
    And, if this were so, how explain our memories or our
recognition of familiar things when we have no stably identical soul?
    Assume soul to be a body: now in the nature of body,
characteristically divisible, no one of the parts can be identical
with the entire being; soul, then, is a thing of defined size, and
if curtailed must cease to be what it is; in the nature of a
quantitative entity this must be so, for, if a thing of magnitude on
diminution retains its identity in virtue of its quality, this is only
saying that bodily and quantitatively it is different even if its
identity consists in a quality quite independent of quantity.
    What answer can be made by those declaring soul to be corporeal?
Is every part of the soul, in any one body, soul entire, soul
perfectly true to its essential being? and may the same be said of
every part of the part? If so, the magnitude makes no contribution
to the soul's essential nature, as it must if soul [as corporeal] were
a definite magnitude: it is, as body cannot be, an "all-everywhere," a
complete identity present at each and every point, the part all that
the whole is.
    To deny that every part is soul is to make soul a compound from
soulless elements. Further, if a definite magnitude, the double
limit of larger or smaller, is to be imposed upon each separate
soul, then anything outside those limits is no soul.
    Now, a single coition and a single sperm suffice to a twin
birth or in the animal order to a litter; there is a splitting and
diverging of the seed, every diverging part being obviously a whole:
surely no honest mind can fail to gather that a thing in which part is
identical with whole has a nature which transcends quantity, and
must of necessity be without quantity: only so could it remain
identical when quantity is filched from it, only by being
indifferent to amount or extension, by being in essence something
apart. Thus the Soul and the Reason-Principles are without quantity.
    6. It is easy to show that if the Soul were a corporeal entity,
there could be no sense-perception, no mental act, no knowledge, no
moral excellence, nothing of all that is noble.
    There can be no perception without a unitary percipient whose
identity enables it to grasp an object as an entirety.
    The several senses will each be the entrance point of many diverse
perceptions; in any one object there may be many characteristics;
any one organ may be the channel of a group of objects, as for
instance a face is known not by a special sense for separate features,
nose, eyes; etc., but by one sense observing all in one act.
    When sight and hearing gather their varying information, there
must be some central unity to which both report. How could there be
any statement of difference unless all sense-impressions appeared
before a common identity able to take the sum of all?
    This there must be, as there is a centre to a circle; the
sense-impressions converging from every point of occurrence will be as
lines striking from a circumference to what will be a true centre of
perception as being a veritable unity.
    If this centre were to break into separate points- so that the
sense-impressions fell upon the two ends of a line- then, either it
must reknit itself to unity and identity, perhaps at the mid-point
of the line, or all remains unrelated, every end receiving the
report of its particular field exactly as you and I have our
distinct sense experiences.
    Suppose the sense-object be such a unity as a face: all the points
of observation must be brought together in one visual total, as is
obvious since there could be no panorama of great expanses unless
the detail were compressed to the capacity of the pupils.
    Much more must this be true in the case of thoughts, partless
entities as they are, impinging upon the centre of consciousness which
[to receive them] must itself be void of part.
    Either this or, supposing the centre of consciousness to be a
thing of quantity and extension, the sensible object will coincide
with it point by point of their co-expansion so that any given point
in the faculty will perceive solely what coincides with it in the
object: and thus nothing in us could perceive any thing as a whole.
    This cannot be: the faculty entire must be a unity; no such
dividing is possible; this is no matter in which we can think of equal
sections coinciding; the centre of consciousness has no such
relation of equality with any sensible object. The only possible ratio
of divisibility would be that of the number of diverse elements in the
impinging sensation: are we then to suppose that each part of the
soul, and every part of each part, will have perception? Or will the
part of the parts have none? That is impossible: every part, then, has
perception; the [hypothetical] magnitude, of soul and each part of
soul, is infinitely divisible; there will therefore be in each part an
infinite number of perceptions of the object, and therefore an
infinitude of representations of it at our centre of consciousness.
    If the sentient be a material entity sensation could only be of
the order of seal-impressions struck by a ring on wax, in this case by
sensible objects on the blood or on the intervenient air.
    If, at this, the impression is like one made in liquids- as
would be reasonable- it will be confused and wavering as upon water,
and there can be no memory. If the impressions are permanent, then
either no fresh ones can be stamped upon the occupied ground- and
there can be no change of sensations- or, others being made, the
former will be obliterated; and all record of the past is done away
    If memory implies fresh sensations imposed upon former ones, the
earlier not barring their way, the soul cannot be a material entity.
    7. We come to the same result by examining the sense of pain. We
say there is pain in the finger: the trouble is doubtless in the
finger, but our opponents must admit that the sensation of the pain is
in the centre of consciousness. The suffering member is one thing, the
sense of suffering is another: how does this happen?
    By transmission, they will say: the psychic pneuma [= the
semi-material principle of life] stationed at the finger suffers
first; and stage by stage the trouble is passed on until at last it
reaches the centre of consciousness.
    But on this theory, there must be a sensation in the spot first
suffering pain, and another sensation at a second point of the line of
transmission, another in the third and so on; many sensations, in fact
an unlimited series, to deal with one pain; and at the last moment the
centre of consciousness has the sensation of all these sensations
and of its own sensation to boot. Or to be exact, these serial
sensations will not be of the pain in the finger: the sensation next
in succession to the suffering finger will be of pain at the joint,
a third will tell of a pain still higher up: there will be a series of
separate pains: The centre of consciousness will not feel the pain
seated at the finger, but only that impinging upon itself: it will
know this alone, ignore the rest and so have no notion that the finger
is in pain.
    Thus: Transmission would not give sensation of the actual
condition at the affected spot: it is not in the nature of body that
where one part suffers there should be knowledge in another part;
for body is a magnitude, and the parts of every magnitude are distinct
parts; therefore we need, as the sentient, something of a nature to be
identical to itself at any and every spot; this property can belong
only to some other form of being than body.
    8. It can be shown also that the intellectual act would
similarly be impossible if the soul were any form of body.
    If sensation is apprehension by means of the soul's employment
of the body, intellection cannot be a similar use of the body or it
would be identical with sensation. If then intellection is
apprehension apart from body, much more must there be a distinction
between the body and the intellective principle: sensation for objects
of sense, intellection for the intellectual object. And even if this
be rejected, it must still be admitted that there do exist
intellections of intellectual objects and perceptions of objects not
possessing magnitude: how, we may then ask, can a thing of magnitude
know a thing that has no magnitude, or how can the partless be known
by means of what has parts? We will be told "By some partless part."
But, at this, the intellective will not be body: for contact does
not need a whole; one point suffices. If then it be conceded- and it
cannot be denied- that the primal intellections deal with objects
completely incorporeal, the principle of intellection itself must know
by virtue of being, or becoming, free from body. Even if they hold
that all intellection deals with the ideal forms in Matter, still it
always takes place by abstraction from the bodies [in which these
forms appear] and the separating agent is the
Intellectual-Principle. For assuredly the process by which we abstract
circle, triangle, line or point, is not carried through by the aid
of flesh or Matter of any kind; in all such acts the soul or mind must
separate itself from the material: at once we see that it cannot be
itself material. Similarly it will be agreed that, as beauty and
justice are things without magnitude, so must be the intellective
act that grasps them.
    When such non-magnitudes come before the soul, it receives them by
means of its partless phase and they will take position there in
partless wise.
    Again: if the Soul is a body, how can we account for its
virtues- moral excellence [Sophrosyne], justice, courage and so forth?
All these could be only some kind of rarefied body [pneuma], or
blood in some form; or we might see courage as a certain resisting
power in that pneuma; moral quality would be its happy blending;
beauty would lie wholly in the agreeable form of impressions received,
such comeliness as leads us to describe people as attractive and
beautiful from their bodily appearance. No doubt strength and grace of
form go well enough with the idea of rarefied body; but what can
this rarefied body want with moral excellence? On the contrary its
interest would lie in being comfortable in its environments and
contacts, in being warmed or pleasantly cool, in bringing everything
smooth and caressing and soft around it: what could it care about a
just distribution?
    Then consider the objects of the soul's contemplation, virtue
and the other Intellectual forms with which it is occupied; are
these eternal or are we to think that virtue rises here or there,
helps, then perishes? These things must have an author and a source
and there, again, we are confronted by something perdurable: the
soul's contemplation, then, must be of the eternal and unchanging,
like the concepts of geometry: if eternal and unchanging, these
objects are not bodies: and that which is to receive them must be of
equivalent nature: it cannot therefore be body, since all
body-nature lacks permanence, is a thing of flux.
    8. A. [sometimes appearing as 9] There are those who insist on the
activities observed in bodies- warming, chilling, thrusting, pressing-
and class soul with body, as it were to assure its efficacy. This
ignores the double fact that the very bodies themselves exercise
such efficiency by means of the incorporeal powers operating in
them, and that these are not the powers we attribute to soul:
intellection, perception, reasoning, desire, wise and effective action
in all regards, these point to a very different form of being.
    In transferring to bodies the powers of the unembodied, this
school leaves nothing to that higher order. And yet that it is
precisely in virtue of bodiless powers that bodies possess their
efficiency is clear from certain reflections:
    It will be admitted that quality and quantity are two different
things, that body is always a thing of quantity but not always a thing
of quality: matter is not qualified. This admitted, it will not be
denied that quality, being a different thing from quantity, is a
different thing from body. Obviously quality could not be body when it
has not quantity as all body must; and, again, as we have said,
body, any thing of mass, on being reduced to fragments, ceases to be
what it was, but the quality it possessed remains intact in every
particle- for instance the sweetness of honey is still sweetness in
each speck- this shows that sweetness and all other qualities are
not body.
    Further: if the powers in question were bodies, then necessarily
the stronger powers would be large masses and those less efficient
small masses: but if there are large masses with small while not a few
of the smaller masses manifest great powers, then the efficiency
must be vested in something other than magnitude; efficacy, thus,
belongs to non-magnitude. Again; Matter, they tell us, remains
unchanged as long as it is body, but produces variety upon accepting
qualities; is not this proof enough that the entrants [with whose
arrival the changes happen] are Reason-Principles and not of the
bodily order?
    They must not remind us that when pneuma and blood are no longer
present, animals die: these are necessary no doubt to life, but so are
many other things of which none could possibly be soul: and neither
pneuma nor blood is present throughout the entire being; but soul is.
    8. B. (10) If the soul is body and permeates the entire body-mass,
still even in this entire permeation the blending must be in accord
with what occurs in all cases of bodily admixing.
    Now: if in the admixing of bodies neither constituent can retain
its efficacy, the soul too could no longer be effective within the
bodies; it could but be latent; it will have lost that by which it
is soul, just as in an admixture of sweet and bitter the sweet
disappears: we have, thus, no soul.
    Two bodies [i.e., by hypothesis, the soul and the human body]
are blended, each entire through the entirety of the other; where
the one is, the other is also; each occupies an equal extension and
each the whole extension; no increase of size has been caused by the
juncture: the one body thus inblended can have left in the other
nothing undivided. This is no case of mixing in the sense of
considerable portions alternating; that would be described as
collocation; no; the incoming entity goes through the other to the
very minutest point- an impossibility, of course; the less becoming
equal to the greater; still, all is traversed throughout and divided
throughout. Now if, thus, the inblending is to occur point by point,
leaving no undivided material anywhere, the division of the body
concerned must have been a division into (geometrical) points: an
impossibility. The division is an infinite series- any material
particle may be cut in two- and the infinities are not merely
potential, they are actual.
    Therefore body cannot traverse anything as a whole traversing a
whole. But soul does this. It is therefore incorporeal.
    8. C. (11) We come to the theory that this pneuma is an earlier
form, one which on entering the cold and being tempered by it develops
into soul by growing finer under that new condition. This is absurd at
the start, since many living beings rise in warmth and have a soul
that has been tempered by cold: still that is the theory- the soul has
an earlier form, and develops its true nature by force of external
accidents. Thus these teachers make the inferior precede the higher,
and before that inferior they put something still lower, their
"Habitude." It is obvious that the Intellectual-Principle is last
and has sprung from the soul, for, if it were first of all, the
order of the series must be, second the soul, then the
nature-principle, and always the later inferior, as the system
actually stands.
    If they treat God as they do the Intellectual-Principle- as later,
engendered and deriving intellection from without- soul and
intellect and God may prove to have no existence: this would follow if
a potentiality could not come to existence, or does not become actual,
unless the corresponding actuality exists. And what could lead it
onward if there were no separate being in previous actuality? Even
on the absurd supposition that the potentially existent brings
itself to actuality, it must be looking to some Term, and that must be
no potentiality but actual.
    No doubt the eternally self-identical may have potentiality and be
self-led to self-realization, but even in this case the being
considered as actualized is of higher order than the being
considered as merely capable of actualization and moving towards a
desired Term.
    Thus the higher is the earlier, and it has a nature other than
body, and it exists always in actuality: Intellectual-Principle and
Soul precede Nature: thus, Soul does not stand at the level of
pneuma or of body.
    These arguments are sufficient in themselves, though many others
have been framed, to show that the soul is not to be thought of as a
    8. D. (12) Soul belongs, then, to another Nature: What is this? Is
it something which, while distinct from body, still belongs to it, for
example a harmony or accord?
    The Pythagorean school holds this view thinking that the soul
is, with some difference, comparable to the accord in the strings of a
lyre. When the lyre is strung a certain condition is produced upon the
strings, and this is known as accord: in the same way our body is
formed of distinct constituents brought together, and the blend
produces at once life and that soul which is the condition existing
upon the bodily total.
    That this opinion is untenable has already been shown at length.
The soul is a prior [to body], the accord is a secondary to the
lyre. Soul rules, guides and often combats the body; as an accord of
body it could not do these things. Soul is a real being, accord is
not. That due blending [or accord] of the corporeal materials which
constitute our frame would be simply health. Each separate part of the
body, entering as a distinct entity into the total, would require a
distinct soul [its own accord or note], so that there would be many
souls to each person. Weightiest of all; before this soul there
would have to be another soul to bring about the accord as, in the
case of the musical instrument, there is the musician who produces the
accord upon the strings by his own possession of the principle on
which he tunes them: neither musical strings nor human bodies could
put themselves in tune.
    Briefly, the soulless is treated as ensouled, the unordered
becomes orderly by accident, and instead of order being due to soul,
soul itself owes its substantial existence to order- which is
self-caused. Neither in the sphere of the partial, nor in that of
Wholes could this be true. The soul, therefore, is not a harmony or
    8. E. (13) We come to the doctrine of the Entelechy, and must
enquire how it is applied to soul.
    It is thought that in the Conjoint of body and soul the soul holds
the rank of Form to the Matter which here is the ensouled body- not,
then, Form to every example of body or to body as merely such, but
to a natural organic body having the potentiality of life.
    Now; if the soul has been so injected as to be assimilated into
the body as the design of a statue is worked into the bronze, it
will follow that, upon any dividing of the body, the soul is divided
with it, and if any part of the body is cut away a fragment of soul
must go with it. Since an Entelechy must be inseparable from the
being of which it is the accomplished actuality, the withdrawal of the
soul in sleep cannot occur; in fact sleep itself cannot occur.
Moreover if the soul is an Entelechy, there is an end to the
resistance offered by reason to the desires; the total [of body and
Entelechy-Soul] must have one-uniform experience throughout, and be
aware of no internal contradiction. Sense-perception might occur;
but intellection would be impossible. The very upholders of the
Entelechy are thus compelled to introduce another soul, the
Intellect, to which they ascribe immortality. The reasoning soul,
then, must be an Entelechy- if the word is to be used at all- in some
other mode.
    Even the sense-perceiving soul, in its possession of the
impressions of absent objects, must hold these without aid from the
body; for otherwise the impression must be present in it like shape
and images, and that would mean that it could not take in fresh
impressions; the perceptive soul, then, cannot be described as this
Entelechy inseparable from the body. Similarly the desiring
principle, dealing not only with food and drink but with things
quite apart from body; this also is no inseparable Entelechy.
    There remains the vegetal principle which might seem to suggest
the possibility that, in this phase, the soul may be the inseparable
Entelechy of the doctrine. But it is not so. The principle of every
growth lies at the root; in many plants the new springing takes
place at the root or just above it: it is clear that the
life-principle, the vegetal soul, has abandoned the upper portions
to concentrate itself at that one spot: it was therefore not present
in the whole as an inseparable Entelechy. Again, before the plant's
development the life-principle is situated in that small beginning:
if, thus, it passes from large growth to small and from the small to
the entire growth, why should it not pass outside altogether?
    An Entelechy is not a thing of parts; how then could it be
present partwise in the partible body?
    An identical soul is now the soul of one living being now of
another: how could the soul of the first become the soul of the latter
if soul were the Entelechy of one particular being? Yet that this
transference does occur is evident from the facts of animal
    The substantial existence of the soul, then, does not depend
upon serving as Form to anything: it is an Essence which does not come
into being by finding a seat in body; it exists before it becomes also
the soul of some particular, for example, of a living being, whose
body would by this doctrine be the author of its soul.
    What, then, is the soul's Being? If it is neither body nor a state
or experience of body, but is act and creation: if it holds much and
gives much, and is an existence outside of body; of what order and
character must it be? Clearly it is what we describe as Veritable
Essence. The other order, the entire corporeal Kind, is process; it
appears and it perishes; in reality it never possesses Being, but is
merely protected, in so far as it has the capacity, by participating
in what authentically is.
    9. (14) Over against that body, stands the principle which is
self-caused, which is all that neither enters into being nor passes
away, the principle whose dissolution would mean the end of all things
never to be restored if once this had ceased to be, the sustaining
principle of things individually, and of this kosmos, which owes its
maintenance and its ordered system to the soul.
    This is the starting point of motion and becomes the leader and
provider of motion to all else: it moves by its own quality, and every
living material form owes life to this principle, which of itself
lives in a life that, being essentially innate, can never fail.
    Not all things can have a life merely at second hand; this would
give an infinite series: there must be some nature which, having
life primally, shall be of necessity indestructible, immortal, as
the source of life to all else that lives. This is the point at
which all that is divine and blessed must be situated, living and
having being of itself, possessing primal being and primal life, and
in its own essence rejecting all change, neither coming to be nor
passing away.
    Whence could such a being arise or into what could it disappear:
the very word, strictly used, means that the thing is perdurable.
Similarly white, the colour, cannot be now white and now not white: if
this "white" were a real being it would be eternal as well as being
white: the colour is merely white but whatsoever possesses being,
indwelling by nature and primal, will possess also eternal duration.
In such an entity this primal and eternal Being cannot be dead like
stone or plank: it must be alive, and that with a life unalloyed as
long as it remains self-gathered: when the primal Being blends with an
inferior principle, it is hampered in its relation to the highest, but
without suffering the loss of its own nature since it can always
recover its earliest state by turning its tendency back to its own.
    10. (15) That the soul is of the family of the diviner nature, the
eternal, is clear from our demonstration that it is not material:
besides it has neither shape or colour nor is it tangible. But there
are other proofs.
    Assuming that the divine and the authentically existent
possesses a life beneficent and wise, we take the next step and
begin with working out the nature of our own soul.
    Let us consider a soul, not one that has appropriated the
unreasoned desires and impulses of the bodily life, or any other
such emotion and experience, but one that has cast all this aside, and
as far as possible has no commerce with the bodily. Such a soul
demonstrates that all evil is accretion, alien, and that in the purged
soul the noble things are immanent, wisdom and all else that is
good, as its native store.
    If this is the soul once it has returned to its self, how deny
that it is the nature we have identified with all the divine and
eternal? Wisdom and authentic virtue are divine, and could not be
found in the chattel mean and mortal: what possesses these must be
divine by its very capacity of the divine, the token of kinship and of
identical substance.
    Hence, too, any one of us that exhibits these qualities will
differ but little as far as soul is concerned from the Supernals; he
will be less than they only to the extent in which the soul is, in
him, associated with body.
    This is so true that, if every human being were at that stage,
or if a great number lived by a soul of that degree, no one would be
so incredulous as to doubt that the soul in man is immortal. It is
because we see everywhere the spoiled souls of the great mass that
it becomes difficult to recognize their divinity and immortality.
    To know the nature of a thing we must observe it in its
unalloyed state, since any addition obscures the reality. Clear,
then look: or, rather, let a man first purify himself and then
observe: he will not doubt his immortality when he sees himself thus
entered into the pure, the Intellectual. For, what he sees is an
Intellectual-Principle looking on nothing of sense, nothing of this
mortality, but by its own eternity having intellection of the eternal:
he will see all things in this Intellectual substance, himself
having become an Intellectual Kosmos and all lightsome, illuminated by
the truth streaming from The Good, which radiates truth upon all
that stands within that realm of the divine.
    Thus he will often feel the beauty of that word "Farewell: I am to
you an immortal God," for he has ascended to the Supreme, and is all
one strain to enter into likeness with it.
    If the purification puts the human into knowledge of the
highest, then, too, the science latent within becomes manifest, the
only authentic knowing. For it is not by running hither and thither
outside of itself that the soul understands morality and right
conduct: it learns them of its own nature, in its contact with itself,
in its intellectual grasp of itself, seeing deeply impressed upon it
the images of its primal state; what was one mass of rust from long
neglect it has restored to purity.
    Imagine living gold: it files away all that is earthy about it,
all that kept it in self-ignorance preventing it from knowing itself
as gold; seen now unalloyed it is at once filled with admiration of
its worth and knows that it has no need of any other glory than its
own, triumphant if only it be allowed to remain purely to itself.
    11. (16) What intelligent mind can doubt the immortality of such a
value, one in which there is a life self-springing and therefore not
to be destroyed?
    This is at any rate a life not imported from without, not
present in the mode of the heat in fire- for if heat is characteristic
of the fire proper, it certainly is adventitious to the Matter
underlying the fire; or fire, too, would be everlasting- it is not
in any such mode that the soul has life: this is no case of a Matter
underlying and a life brought into that Matter and making it into soul
[as heat comes into matter and makes it fire].
    Either life is Essential Reality, and therefore self-living- the
very thing we have been seeking- and undeniably immortal: or it,
too, is a compound and must be traced back through all the
constituents until an immortal substance is reached, something
deriving movement from itself, and therefore debarred from accepting
    Even supposing life could be described as a condition imposed upon
Matter, still the source from which this condition entered the
Matter must necessarily be admitted to be immortal simply by being
unable to take into itself the opposite of the life which it conveys.
    Of course, life is no such mere condition, but an independent
principle, effectively living.
    12. (17) A further consideration is that if every soul is to be
held dissoluble the universe must long since have ceased to be: if
it is pretended that one kind of soul, our own for example, is mortal,
and another, that of the All, let us suppose, is immortal, we demand
to know the reason of the difference alleged.
    Each is a principle of motion, each is self-living, each touches
the same sphere by the same tentacles, each has intellection of the
celestial order and of the super-celestial, each is seeking to win
to what has essential being, each is moving upwards to the primal
    Again: the soul's understanding of the Absolute Forms by means
of the visions stored up in it is effected within itself; such
perception is reminiscence; the soul then must have its being before
embodiment, and drawing on an eternal science, must itself be eternal.
    Every dissoluble entity, that has come to be by way of
groupment, must in the nature of things be broken apart by that very
mode which brought it together: but the soul is one and simplex,
living not in the sense of potential reception of life but by its
own energy; and this can be no cause of dissolution.
    But, we will be told, it tends to destruction by having been
divided (in the body) and so becoming fragmentary.
    No: the soul, as we have shown, is not a mass, not a quantity.
    May not it change and so come to destruction?
    No: the change that destroys annuls the form but leaves the
underlying substance: and that could not happen to anything except a
    If it can be destroyed in no such ways, it is necessarily
    13. (18) But how does the soul enter into body from the
aloofness of the Intellectual?
    There is the Intellectual-Principle which remains among the
intellectual beings, living the purely intellective life; and this,
knowing no impulse or appetite, is for ever stationary in that
Realm. But immediately following upon it, there is that which has
acquired appetite and, by this accruement, has already taken a great
step outward; it has the desire of elaborating order on the model of
what it has seen in the Intellectual-Principle: pregnant by those
Beings, and in pain to the birth, it is eager to make, to create. In
this new zest it strains towards the realm of sense: thus, while
this primal soul in union with the Soul of the All transcends the
sphere administered, it is inevitably turned outward, and has added
the universe to its concern: yet in choosing to administer the partial
and exiling itself to enter the place in which it finds its
appropriate task, it still is not wholly and exclusively held by body:
it is still in possession of the unembodied; and the
Intellectual-Principle in it remains immune. As a whole it is partly
in body, partly outside: it has plunged from among the primals and
entered this sphere of tertiaries: the process has been an activity of
the Intellectual-Principle, which thus, while itself remaining in
its identity, operates throughout the soul to flood the universe
with beauty and penetrant order- immortal mind, eternal in its
unfailing energy, acting through immortal soul.
    14. (19) As for the souls of the other living beings, fallen to
the degree of entering brute bodies, these too must be immortal. And
if there is in the animal world any other phase of soul, its only
possible origin, since it is the life-giver, is, still, that one
principle of life: so too with the soul in the vegetal order.
    All have sprung from one source, all have life as their own, all
are incorporeal, indivisible, all are real-beings.
    If we are told that man's soul being tripartite must as a compound
entity be dissolved, our answer shall be that pure souls upon their
emancipation will put away all that has fastened to them at birth, all
that increment which the others will long retain.
    But even that inferior phase thus laid aside will not be destroyed
as long as its source continues to exist, for nothing from the realm
of real being shall pass away.
    15. (20) Thus far we have offered the considerations appropriate
to those asking for demonstration: those whose need is conviction by
evidence of the more material order are best met from the abundant
records relevant to the subject: there are also the oracles of the
Gods ordering the appeasing of wronged souls and the honouring of
the dead as still sentient, a practice common to all mankind: and
again, not a few souls, once among men, have continued to serve them
after quitting the body and by revelations, practically helpful,
make clear, as well, that the other souls, too, have not ceased to be.
                        EIGHTH TRACTATE.

                  THE SOUL'S DESCENT INTO BODY.

    1. Many times it has happened: Lifted out of the body into myself;
becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a
marvellous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the
loftiest order; enacting the noblest life, acquiring identity with the
divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity;
poised above whatsoever within the Intellectual is less than the
Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to
reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it
happens that I can now be descending, and how did the soul ever
enter into my body, the soul which, even within the body, is the
high thing it has shown itself to be.
    Heraclitus, who urges the examination of this matter, tells of
compulsory alternation from contrary to contrary, speaks of ascent and
descent, says that "change reposes," and that "it is weariness to keep
toiling at the same things and always beginning again"; but he seems
to teach by metaphor, not concerning himself about making his doctrine
clear to us, probably with the idea that it is for us to seek within
ourselves as he sought for himself and found.
    Empedocles- where he says that it is law for faulty souls to
descend to this sphere, and that he himself was here because he turned
a deserter, wandered from God, in slavery to a raving discord- reveals
neither more nor less than Pythagoras and his school seem to me to
convey on this as on many other matters; but in his case,
versification has some part in the obscurity.
    We have to fall back on the illustrious Plato, who uttered many
noble sayings about the soul, and has in many places dwelt upon its
entry into body so that we may well hope to get some light from him.
    What do we learn from this philosopher?
    We will not find him so consistent throughout that it is easy to
discover his mind.
    Everywhere, no doubt, he expresses contempt for all that is of
sense, blames the commerce of the soul with body as an enchainment, an
entombment, and upholds as a great truth the saying of the Mysteries
that the soul is here a prisoner. In the Cavern of Plato and in the
Cave of Empedocles, I discern this universe, where the breaking of the
fetters and the ascent from the depths are figures of the wayfaring
toward the Intellectual Realm.
    In the Phaedrus he makes a failing of the wings the cause of the
entry to this realm: and there are Periods which send back the soul
after it has risen; there are judgements and lots and fates and
necessities driving other souls down to this order.
    In all these explanations, he finds guilt in the arrival of the
soul at body, But treating, in the Timaeus, of our universe he
exalts the kosmos and entitles it a blessed god, and holds that the
soul was given by the goodness of the creator to the end that the
total of things might be possessed of intellect, for thus intellectual
it was planned to be, and thus it cannot be except through soul. There
is a reason, then, why the soul of this All should be sent into it
from God: in the same way the soul of each single one of us is sent,
that the universe may be complete; it was necessary that all beings of
the Intellectual should be tallied by just so many forms of living
creatures here in the realm of sense.
    2. Enquiring, then, of Plato as to our own soul, we find ourselves
forced to enquire into the nature of soul in general- to discover what
there can be in its character to bring it into partnership with
body, and, again, what this kosmos must be in which, willing unwilling
or in any way at all, soul has its activity.
    We have to face also the question as to whether the Creator has
planned well or ill...... like our souls, which it may be, are such
that governing their inferior, the body, they must sink deeper and
deeper into it if they are to control it.
    No doubt the individual body- though in all cases appropriately
placed within the universe- is of itself in a state of dissolution,
always on the way to its natural terminus, demanding much irksome
forethought to save it from every kind of outside assailant, always
gripped by need, requiring every help against constant difficulty: but
the body inhabited by the World-Soul- complete, competent,
self-sufficing, exposed to nothing contrary to its nature- this
needs no more than a brief word of command, while the governing soul
is undeviatingly what its nature makes it wish to be, and, amenable
neither to loss nor to addition, knows neither desire nor distress.
    This is how we come to read that our soul, entering into
association with that complete soul and itself thus made perfect,
walks the lofty ranges, administering the entire kosmos, and that as
long as it does not secede and is neither inbound to body nor held
in any sort of servitude, so long it tranquilly bears its part in
the governance of the All, exactly like the world-soul itself; for
in fact it suffers no hurt whatever by furnishing body with the
power to existence, since not every form of care for the inferior need
wrest the providing soul from its own sure standing in the highest.
    The soul's care for the universe takes two forms: there is the
supervising of the entire system, brought to order by deedless command
in a kindly presidence, and there is that over the individual,
implying direct action, the hand to the task, one might say, in
immediate contact: in the second kind of care the agent absorbs much
of the nature of its object.
    Now in its comprehensive government of the heavenly system, the
soul's method is that of an unbroken transcendence in its highest
phases, with penetration by its lower power: at this, God can no
longer be charged with lowering the All-Soul, which has not been
deprived of its natural standing and from eternity possesses and
will unchangeably possess that rank and habit which could never have
been intruded upon it against the course of nature but must be its
characteristic quality, neither failing ever nor ever beginning.
    Where we read that the souls or stars stand to their bodily
forms as the All to the material forms within it- for these starry
bodies are declared to be members of the soul's circuit- we are
given to understand that the star-souls also enjoy the blissful
condition of transcendence and immunity that becomes them.
    And so we might expect: commerce with the body is repudiated for
two only reasons, as hindering the soul's intellective act and as
filling with pleasure, desire, pain; but neither of these
misfortunes can befall a soul which has never deeply penetrated into
the body, is not a slave but a sovereign ruling a body of such an
order as to have no need and no shortcoming and therefore to give
ground for neither desire nor fear.
    There is no reason why it should be expectant of evil with
regard to such a body nor is there any such preoccupied concern,
bringing about a veritable descent, as to withdraw it from its noblest
and most blessed vision; it remains always intent upon the Supreme,
and its governance of this universe is effected by a power not calling
upon act.
    3. The Human Soul, next;
    Everywhere we hear of it as in bitter and miserable durance in
body, a victim to troubles and desires and fears and all forms of
evil, the body its prison or its tomb, the kosmos its cave or cavern.
    Now this does not clash with the first theory [that of the
impassivity of soul as in the All]; for the descent of the human
Soul has not been due to the same causes [as that of the All-Soul.]
    All that is Intellectual-Principle has its being- whole and all-
in the place of Intellection, what we call the Intellectual Kosmos:
but there exist, too, the intellective powers included in its being,
and the separate intelligences- for the Intellectual-Principle is
not merely one; it is one and many. In the same way there must be both
many souls and one, the one being the source of the differing many
just as from one genus there rise various species, better and worse,
some of the more intellectual order, others less effectively so.
    In the Intellectual-Principle a distinction is to be made: there
is the Intellectual-Principle itself, which like some huge living
organism contains potentially all the other forms; and there are the
forms thus potentially included now realized as individuals. We may
think of it as a city which itself has soul and life, and includes,
also, other forms of life; the living city is the more perfect and
powerful, but those lesser forms, in spite of all, share in the one
same living quality: or, another illustration, from fire, the
universal, proceed both the great fire and the minor fires; yet all
have the one common essence, that of fire the universal, or, more
exactly, participate in that from which the essence of the universal
fire proceeds.
    No doubt the task of the soul, in its more emphatically
reasoning phase, is intellection: but it must have another as well, or
it would be undistinguishable from the Intellectual-Principle. To
its quality of being intellective it adds the quality by which it
attains its particular manner of being: remaining, therefore, an
Intellectual-Principle, it has thenceforth its own task too, as
everything must that exists among real beings.
    It looks towards its higher and has intellection; towards itself
and conserves its peculiar being; towards its lower and orders,
administers, governs.
    The total of things could not have remained stationary in the
Intellectual Kosmos, once there was the possibility of continuous
variety, of beings inferior but as necessarily existent as their
    4. So it is with the individual souls; the appetite for the divine
Intellect urges them to return to their source, but they have, too,
a power apt to administration in this lower sphere; they may be
compared to the light attached upwards to the sun, but not grudging
its presidency to what lies beneath it. In the Intellectual, then,
they remain with soul-entire, and are immune from care and trouble; in
the heavenly sphere, absorbed in the soul-entire, they are
administrators with it just as kings, associated with the supreme
ruler and governing with him, do not descend from their kingly
stations: the souls indeed [as distinguished from the kosmos] are thus
far in the one place with their overlord; but there comes a stage at
which they descend from the universal to become partial and
self-centred; in a weary desire of standing apart they find their way,
each to a place of its very own. This state long maintained, the
soul is a deserter from the All; its differentiation has severed it;
its vision is no longer set in the Intellectual; it is a partial
thing, isolated, weakened, full of care, intent upon the fragment;
severed from the whole, it nestles in one form of being; for this,
it abandons all else, entering into and caring for only the one, for a
thing buffeted about by a worldful of things: thus it has drifted away
from the universal and, by an actual presence, it administers the
particular; it is caught into contact now, and tends to the outer to
which it has become present and into whose inner depths it
henceforth sinks far.
    With this comes what is known as the casting of the wings, the
enchaining in body: the soul has lost that innocency of conducting the
higher which it knew when it stood with the All-Soul, that earlier
state to which all its interest would bid it hasten back.
    It has fallen: it is at the chain: debarred from expressing itself
now through its intellectual phase, it operates through sense, it is a
captive; this is the burial, the encavernment, of the Soul.
    But in spite of all it has, for ever, something transcendent: by a
conversion towards the intellective act, it is loosed from the
shackles and soars- when only it makes its memories the starting point
of a new vision of essential being. Souls that take this way have
place in both spheres, living of necessity the life there and the life
here by turns, the upper life reigning in those able to consort more
continuously with the divine Intellect, the lower dominant where
character or circumstances are less favourable.
    All this is indicated by Plato, without emphasis, where he
distinguishes those of the second mixing-bowl, describes them as
"parts," and goes on to say that, having in this way become partial,
they must of necessity experience birth.
    Of course, where he speaks of God sowing them, he is to be
understood as when he tells of God speaking and delivering orations;
what is rooted in the nature of the All is figuratively treated as
coming into being by generation and creation: stage and sequence are
transferred, for clarity of exposition, to things whose being and
definite form are eternal.
    5. It is possible to reconcile all these apparent
contradictions- the divine sowing to birth, as opposed to a
voluntary descent aiming at the completion of the universe; the
judgement and the cave; necessity and free choice- in fact the
necessity includes the choice-embodiment as an evil; the Empedoclean
teaching of a flight from God, a wandering away, a sin bringing its
punishment; the "solace by flight" of Heraclitus; in a word a
voluntary descent which is also voluntary.
    All degeneration is no doubt involuntary, yet when it has been
brought about by an inherent tendency, that submission to the inferior
may be described as the penalty of an act.
    On the other hand these experiences and actions are determined
by an external law of nature, and they are due to the movement of a
being which in abandoning its superior is running out to serve the
needs of another: hence there is no inconsistency or untruth in saying
that the soul is sent down by God; final results are always to be
referred to the starting point even across many intervening stages.
    Still there is a twofold flaw: the first lies in the motive of the
Soul's descent [its audacity, its Tolma], and the second in the evil
it does when actually here: the first is punished by what the soul has
suffered by its descent: for the faults committed here, the lesser
penalty is to enter into body after body- and soon to return- by
judgement according to desert, the word judgement indicating a
divine ordinance; but any outrageous form of ill-doing incurs a
proportionately greater punishment administered under the surveillance
of chastising daimons.
    Thus, in sum, the soul, a divine being and a dweller in the
loftier realms, has entered body; it is a god, a later phase of the
divine: but, under stress of its powers and of its tendency to bring
order to its next lower, it penetrates to this sphere in a voluntary
plunge: if it turns back quickly, all is well; it will have taken no
hurt by acquiring the knowledge of evil and coming to understand
what sin is, by bringing its forces into manifest play, by
exhibiting those activities and productions which, remaining merely
potential in the unembodied, might as well never have been even there,
if destined never to come into actuality, so that the soul itself
would never have known that suppressed and inhibited total.
    The act reveals the power, a power hidden, and we might almost say
obliterated or nonexistent, unless at some moment it became effective:
in the world as it is, the richness of the outer stirs us all to the
wonder of the inner whose greatness is displayed in acts so splendid.
    6. Something besides a unity there must be or all would be
indiscernibly buried, shapeless within that unbroken whole: none of
the real beings [of the Intellectual Kosmos] would exist if that unity
remained at halt within itself: the plurality of these beings,
offspring of the unity, could not exist without their own nexts
taking the outward path; these are the beings holding the rank of
    In the same way the outgoing process could not end with the souls,
their issue stifled: every Kind must produce its next; it must
unfold from some concentrated central principle as from a seed, and so
advance to its term in the varied forms of sense. The prior in its
being will remain unalterably in the native seat; but there is the
lower phase, begotten to it by an ineffable faculty of its being,
native to soul as it exists in the Supreme.
    To this power we cannot impute any halt, any limit of jealous
grudging; it must move for ever outward until the universe stands
accomplished to the ultimate possibility. All, thus, is produced by an
inexhaustible power giving its gift to the universe, no part of
which it can endure to see without some share in its being.
    There is, besides, no principle that can prevent anything from
partaking, to the extent of its own individual receptivity in the
Nature of Good. If therefore Matter has always existed, that existence
is enough to ensure its participation in the being which, according to
each receptivity, communicates the supreme good universally: if on the
contrary, Matter has come into being as a necessary sequence of the
causes preceding it, that origin would similarly prevent it standing
apart from the scheme as though it were out of reach of the
principle to whose grace it owes its existence.
    In sum: The loveliness that is in the sense-realm is an index of
the nobleness of the Intellectual sphere, displaying its power and its
goodness alike: and all things are for ever linked; the one order
Intellectual in its being, the other of sense; one self-existent,
the other eternally taking its being by participation in that first,
and to the full of its power reproducing the Intellectual nature.
    7. The Kind, then, with which we are dealing is twofold, the
Intellectual against the sensible: better for the soul to dwell in the
Intellectual, but, given its proper nature, it is under compulsion
to participate in the sense-realm also. There is no grievance in its
not being, through and through, the highest; it holds mid-rank among
the authentic existences, being of divine station but at the lowest
extreme of the Intellectual and skirting the sense-known nature; thus,
while it communicates to this realm something of its own store, it
absorbs in turn whenever- instead of employing in its government
only its safeguarded phase- it plunges in an excessive zeal to the
very midst of its chosen sphere; then it abandons its status as
whole soul with whole soul, though even thus it is always able to
recover itself by turning to account the experience of what it has
seen and suffered here, learning, so, the greatness of rest in the
Supreme, and more clearly discerning the finer things by comparison
with what is almost their direct antithesis. Where the faculty is
incapable of knowing without contact, the experience of evil brings
the dearer perception of Good.
    The outgoing that takes place in the Intellectual-Principle is a
descent to its own downward ultimate: it cannot be a movement to the
transcendent; operating necessarily outwards from itself, wherein it
may not stay inclosed, the need and law of Nature bring it to its
extreme term, to soul- to which it entrusts all the later stages of
being while itself turns back on its course.
    The soul's operation is similar: its next lower act is this
universe: its immediate higher is the contemplation of the Authentic
Existences. To individual souls such divine operation takes place only
at one of their phases and by a temporal process when from the lower
in which they reside they turn towards the noblest; but that soul,
which we know as the All-Soul, has never entered the lower activity,
but, immune from evil, has the property of knowing its lower by
inspection, while it still cleaves continuously to the beings above
itself; thus its double task becomes possible; it takes thence and,
since as soul it cannot escape touching this sphere, it gives hither.
    8. And- if it is desirable to venture the more definite
statement of a personal conviction clashing with the general view-
even our human soul has not sunk entire; something of it is
continuously in the Intellectual Realm, though if that part, which
is in this sphere of sense, hold the mastery, or rather be mastered
here and troubled, it keeps us blind to what the upper phase holds
in contemplation.
    The object of the Intellectual Act comes within our ken only
when it reaches downward to the level of sensation: for not all that
occurs at any part of the soul is immediately known to us; a thing
must, for that knowledge, be present to the total soul; thus desire
locked up within the desiring faculty remains unknown except when we
make it fully ours by the central faculty of perception, or by the
individual choice or by both at once. Once more, every soul has
something of the lower on the body side and something of the higher on
the side of the Intellectual-Principle.
    The Soul of the All, as an entirety, governs the universe
through that part of it which leans to the body side, but since it
does not exercise a will based on calculation as we do- but proceeds
by purely intellectual act as in the execution of an artistic
conception- its ministrance is that of a labourless overpoising,
only its lowest phase being active upon the universe it embellishes.
    The souls that have gone into division and become appropriated
to some thing partial have also their transcendent phase, but are
preoccupied by sensation, and in the mere fact of exercising
perception they take in much that clashes with their nature and brings
distress and trouble since the object of their concern is partial,
deficient, exposed to many alien influences, filled with desires of
its own and taking its pleasure, that pleasure which is its lure.
    But there is always the other, that which finds no savour in
passing pleasure, but holds its own even way.
                        NINTH TRACTATE.

                       ARE ALL SOULS ONE?.

    1. That the Soul of every individual is one thing we deduce from
the fact that it is present entire at every point of the body- the
sign of veritable unity- not some part of it here and another part
there. In all sensitive beings the sensitive soul is an omnipresent
unity, and so in the forms of vegetal life the vegetal soul is
entire at each several point throughout the organism.
    Now are we to hold similarly that your soul and mine and all are
one, and that the same thing is true of the universe, the soul in
all the several forms of life being one soul, not parcelled out in
separate items, but an omnipresent identity?
    If the soul in me is a unity, why need that in the universe be
otherwise seeing that there is no longer any question of bulk or body?
And if that, too, is one soul and yours, and mine, belongs to it, then
yours and mine must also be one: and if, again, the soul of the
universe and mine depend from one soul, once more all must be one.
    What then in itself is this one soul?
    First we must assure ourselves of the possibility of all souls
being one as that of any given individual is.
    It must, no doubt, seem strange that my soul and that of any and
everybody else should be one thing only: it might mean my feelings
being felt by someone else, my goodness another's too, my desire,
his desire, all our experience shared with each other and with the
(one-souled) universe, so that the very universe itself would feel
whatever I felt.
    Besides how are we to reconcile this unity with the distinction of
reasoning soul and unreasoning, animal soul and vegetal?
    Yet if we reject that unity, the universe itself ceases to be
one thing and souls can no longer be included under any one principle.
    2. Now to begin with, the unity of soul, mine and another's, is
not enough to make the two totals of soul and body identical. An
identical thing in different recipients will have different
experiences; the identity Man, in me as I move and you at rest,
moves in me and is stationary in you: there is nothing stranger,
nothing impossible, in any other form of identity between you and
me; nor would it entail the transference of my emotion to any
outside point: when in any one body a hand is in pain, the distress is
felt not in the other but in the hand as represented in the
centralizing unity.
    In order that my feelings should of necessity be yours, the
unity would have to be corporeal: only if the two recipient bodies
made one, would the souls feel as one.
    We must keep in mind, moreover, that many things that happen
even in one same body escape the notice of the entire being,
especially when the bulk is large: thus in huge sea-beasts, it is
said, the animal as a whole will be quite unaffected by some
membral accident too slight to traverse the organism.
    Thus unity in the subject of any experience does not imply that
the resultant sensation will be necessarily felt with any force upon
the entire being and at every point of it: some transmission of the
experience may be expected, and is indeed undeniable, but a full
impression on the sense there need not be.
    That one identical soul should be virtuous in me and vicious in
someone else is not strange: it is only saying that an identical thing
may be active here and inactive there.
    We are not asserting the unity of soul in the sense of a
complete negation of multiplicity- only of the Supreme can that be
affirmed- we are thinking of soul as simultaneously one and many,
participant in the nature divided in body, but at the same time a
unity by virtue of belonging to that Order which suffers no division.
    In myself some experience occurring in a part of the body may take
no effect upon the entire man but anything occurring in the higher
reaches would tell upon the partial: in the same way any influx from
the All upon the individual will have manifest effect since the points
of sympathetic contact are numerous- but as to any operation from
ourselves upon the All there can be no certainty.
    3. Yet, looking at another set of facts, reflection tells us
that we are in sympathetic relation to each other, suffering,
overcome, at the sight of pain, naturally drawn to forming
attachments; and all this can be due only to some unity among us.
    Again, if spells and other forms of magic are efficient even at
a distance to attract us into sympathetic relations, the agency can be
no other than the one soul.
    A quiet word induces changes in a remote object, and makes
itself heard at vast distances- proof of the oneness of all things
within the one soul.
    But how reconcile this unity with the existence of a reasoning
soul, an unreasoning, even a vegetal soul?
    [It is a question of powers]: the indivisible phase is classed
as reasoning because it is not in division among bodies, but there
is the later phase, divided among bodies, but still one thing and
distinct only so as to secure sense-perception throughout; this is
to be classed as yet another power; and there is the forming and
making phase which again is a power. But a variety of powers does
not conflict with unity; seed contains many powers and yet it is one
thing, and from that unity rises, again, a variety which is also a
    But why are not all the powers of this unity present everywhere?
    The answer is that even in the case of the individual soul
described, similarly, as permeating its body, sensation is not equally
present in all the parts, reason does not operate at every point,
the principle of growth is at work where there is no sensation- and
yet all these powers join in the one soul when the body is laid aside.
    The nourishing faculty as dependent from the All belongs also to
the All-Soul: why then does it not come equally from ours?
    Because what is nourished by the action of this power is a
member of the All, which itself has sensation passively; but the
perception, which is an intellectual judgement, is individual and
has no need to create what already exists, though it would have done
so had the power not been previously included, of necessity, in
the nature of the All.
    4. These reflections should show that there is nothing strange
in that reduction of all souls to one. But it is still necessary to
enquire into the mode and conditions of the unity.
    Is it the unity of origin in a unity? And if so, is the one
divided or does it remain entire and yet produce variety? and how
can an essential being, while remaining its one self, bring forth
    Invoking God to become our helper, let us assert, that the very
existence of many souls makes certain that there is first one from
which the many rise.
    Let us suppose, even, the first soul to be corporeal.
    Then [by the nature of body] the many souls could result only from
the splitting up of that entity, each an entirely different substance:
if this body-soul be uniform in kind, each of the resultant souls must
be of the one kind; they will all carry the one Form undividedly and
will differ only in their volumes. Now, if their being souls
depended upon their volumes they would be distinct; but if it is
ideal-form that makes them souls, then all are, in virtue of this
Idea, one.
    But this is simply saying that there is one identical soul
dispersed among many bodies, and that, preceding this, there is yet
another not thus dispersed, the source of the soul in dispersion which
may be thought of as a widely repeated image of the soul in unity-
much as a multitude of seals bear the impression of one ring. By
that first mode the soul is a unit broken up into a variety of points:
in the second mode it is incorporeal. Similarly if the soul were a
condition or modification of body, we could not wonder that this
quality- this one thing from one source- should be present in many
objects. The same reasoning would apply if soul were an effect [or
manifestation] of the Conjoint.
    We, of course, hold it to be bodiless, an essential existence.
    5. How then can a multitude of essential beings be really one?
    Obviously either the one essence will be entire in all, or the
many will rise from a one which remains unaltered and yet includes the
one- many in virtue of giving itself, without self-abandonment, to its
own multiplication.
    It is competent thus to give and remain, because while it
penetrates all things it can never itself be sundered: this is an
identity in variety.
    There is no reason for dismissing this explanation: we may think
of a science with its constituents standing as one total, the source
of all those various elements: again, there is the seed, a whole,
producing those new parts in which it comes to its division; each of
the new growths is a whole while the whole remains undiminished:
only the material element is under the mode of part, and all the
multiplicity remains an entire identity still.
    It may be objected that in the case of science the constituents
are not each the whole.
    But even in the science, while the constituent selected for
handling to meet a particular need is present actually and takes the
lead, still all the other constituents accompany it in a potential
presence, so that the whole is in every part: only in this sense [of
particular attention] is the whole science distinguished from the
part: all, we may say, is here simultaneously effected: each part is
at your disposal as you choose to take it; the part invites the
immediate interest, but its value consists in its approach to the
    The detail cannot be considered as something separate from the
entire body of speculation: so treated it would have no technical or
scientific value; it would be childish divagation. The one detail,
when it is a matter of science, potentially includes all. Grasping one
such constituent of his science, the expert deduces the rest by
force of sequence.
    [As a further illustration of unity in plurality] the
geometrician, in his analysis, shows that the single proposition
includes all the items that go to constitute it and all the
propositions which can be developed from it.
    It is our feebleness that leads to doubt in these matters; the
body obscures the truth, but There all stands out clear and separate.
                       THE FIFTH ENNEAD.

                        FIRST TRACTATE.


    1. What can it be that has brought the souls to forget the father,
God, and, though members of the Divine and entirely of that world,
to ignore at once themselves and It?
    The evil that has overtaken them has its source in self-will, in
the entry into the sphere of process, and in the primal
differentiation with the desire for self ownership. They conceived a
pleasure in this freedom and largely indulged their own motion; thus
they were hurried down the wrong path, and in the end, drifting
further and further, they came to lose even the thought of their
origin in the Divine. A child wrenched young from home and brought
up during many years at a distance will fail in knowledge of its
father and of itself: the souls, in the same way, no longer discern
either the divinity or their own nature; ignorance of their rank
brings self-depreciation; they misplace their respect, honouring
everything more than themselves; all their awe and admiration is for
the alien, and, clinging to this, they have broken apart, as far as
a soul may, and they make light of what they have deserted; their
regard for the mundane and their disregard of themselves bring about
their utter ignoring of the divine.
    Admiring pursuit of the external is a confession of inferiority;
and nothing thus holding itself inferior to things that rise and
perish, nothing counting itself less honourable and less enduring than
all else it admires could ever form any notion of either the nature or
the power of God.
    A double discipline must be applied if human beings in this pass
are to be reclaimed, and brought back to their origins, lifted once
more towards the Supreme and One and First.
    There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere, declaring
the dishonour of the objects which the Soul holds here in honour;
the second teaches or recalls to the soul its race and worth; this
latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out, is the evidence
of the other.
    It must occupy us now for it bears closely upon our enquiry to
which it is the natural preliminary: the seeker is soul and it must
start from a true notion of the nature and quality by which soul may
undertake the search; it must study itself in order to learn whether
it has the faculty for the enquiry, the eye for the object proposed,
whether in fact we ought to seek; for if the object is alien the
search must be futile, while if there is relationship the solution
of our problem is at once desirable and possible.
    2. Let every soul recall, then, at the outset the truth that
soul is the author of all living things, that it has breathed the life
into them all, whatever is nourished by earth and sea, all the
creatures of the air, the divine stars in the sky; it is the maker
of the sun; itself formed and ordered this vast heaven and conducts
all that rhythmic motion; and it is a principle distinct from all
these to which it gives law and movement and life, and it must of
necessity be more honourable than they, for they gather or dissolve as
soul brings them life or abandons them, but soul, since it never can
abandon itself, is of eternal being.
    How life was purveyed to the universe of things and to the
separate beings in it may be thus conceived:
    That great soul must stand pictured before another soul, one not
mean, a soul that has become worthy to look, emancipate from the lure,
from all that binds its fellows in bewitchment, holding itself in
quietude. Let not merely the enveloping body be at peace, body's
turmoil stilled, but all that lies around, earth at peace, and sea
at peace, and air and the very heavens. Into that heaven, all at rest,
let the great soul be conceived to roll inward at every point,
penetrating, permeating, from all sides pouring in its light. As the
rays of the sun throwing their brilliance upon a lowering cloud make
it gleam all gold, so the soul entering the material expanse of the
heavens has given life, has given immortality: what was abject it
has lifted up; and the heavenly system, moved now in endless motion by
the soul that leads it in wisdom, has become a living and a blessed
thing; the soul domiciled within, it takes worth where, before the
soul, it was stark body- clay and water- or, rather, the blankness
of Matter, the absence of Being, and, as an author says, "the
execration of the Gods."
    The Soul's nature and power will be brought out more clearly, more
brilliantly, if we consider next how it envelops the heavenly system
and guides all to its purposes: for it has bestowed itself upon all
that huge expanse so that every interval, small and great alike, all
has been ensouled.
    The material body is made up of parts, each holding its own place,
some in mutual opposition and others variously interdependent; the
soul is in no such condition; it is not whittled down so that life
tells of a part of the soul and springs where some such separate
portion impinges; each separate life lives by the soul entire,
omnipresent in the likeness of the engendering father, entire in unity
and entire in diffused variety. By the power of the soul the
manifold and diverse heavenly system is a unit: through soul this
universe is a God: and the sun is a God because it is ensouled; so too
the stars: and whatsoever we ourselves may be, it is all in virtue
of soul; for "dead is viler than dung."
    This, by which the gods are divine, must be the oldest God of them
all: and our own soul is of that same Ideal nature, so that to
consider it, purified, freed from all accruement, is to recognise in
ourselves that same value which we have found soul to be, honourable
above all that is bodily. For what is body but earth, and, taking fire
itself, what [but soul] is its burning power? So it is with all the
compounds of earth and fire, even with water and air added to them?
    If, then, it is the presence of soul that brings worth, how can
a man slight himself and run after other things? You honour the Soul
elsewhere; honour then yourself.
    3. The Soul once seen to be thus precious, thus divine, you may
hold the faith that by its possession you are already nearing God:
in the strength of this power make upwards towards Him: at no great
distance you must attain: there is not much between.
    But over this divine, there is still a diviner: grasp the upward
neighbour of the soul, its prior and source.
    Soul, for all the worth we have shown to belong to it, is yet a
secondary, an image of the Intellectual-Principle: reason uttered is
an image of the reason stored within the soul, and in the same way
soul is an utterance of the Intellectual-Principle: it is even the
total of its activity, the entire stream of life sent forth by that
Principle to the production of further being; it is the forthgoing
heat of a fire which has also heat essentially inherent. But within
the Supreme we must see energy not as an overflow but in the double
aspect of integral inherence with the establishment of a new being.
Sprung, in other words, from the Intellectual-Principle, Soul is
intellective, but with an intellection operation by the method of
reasonings: for its perfecting it must look to that Divine Mind, which
may be thought of as a father watching over the development of his
child born imperfect in comparison with himself.
    Thus its substantial existence comes from the
Intellectual-Principle; and the Reason within it becomes Act in virtue
of its contemplation of that prior; for its thought and act are its
own intimate possession when it looks to the Supreme Intelligence;
those only are soul-acts which are of this intellective nature and are
determined by its own character; all that is less noble is foreign
[traceable to Matter] and is accidental to the soul in the course of
its peculiar task.
    In two ways, then, the Intellectual-Principle enhances the
divine quality of the soul, as father and as immanent presence;
nothing separates them but the fact that they are not one and the
same, that there is succession, that over against a recipient there
stands the ideal-form received; but this recipient, Matter to the
Supreme Intelligence, is also noble as being at once informed by
divine intellect and uncompounded.
    What the Intellectual-Principle must be is carried in the single
word that Soul, itself so great, is still inferior.
    4. But there is yet another way to this knowledge:
    Admiring the world of sense as we look out upon its vastness and
beauty and the order of its eternal march, thinking of the gods within
it, seen and hidden, and the celestial spirits and all the life of
animal and plant, let us mount to its archetype, to the yet more
authentic sphere: there we are to contemplate all things as members of
the Intellectual- eternal in their own right, vested with a
self-springing consciousness and life- and, presiding over all
these, the unsoiled Intelligence and the unapproachable wisdom.
    That archetypal world is the true Golden Age, age of Kronos, who
is the Intellectual-Principle as being the offspring or exuberance
of God. For here is contained all that is immortal: nothing here but
is Divine Mind; all is God; this is the place of every soul. Here is
rest unbroken: for how can that seek change, in which all is well;
what need that reach to, which holds all within itself; what
increase can that desire, which stands utterly achieved? All its
content, thus, is perfect, that itself may be perfect throughout, as
holding nothing that is less than the divine, nothing that is less
than intellective. Its knowing is not by search but by possession, its
blessedness inherent, not acquired; for all belongs to it eternally
and it holds the authentic Eternity imitated by Time which, circling
round the Soul, makes towards the new thing and passes by the old.
Soul deals with thing after thing- now Socrates; now a horse: always
some one entity from among beings- but the Intellectual-Principle is
all and therefore its entire content is simultaneously present in that
identity: this is pure being in eternal actuality; nowhere is there
any future, for every then is a now; nor is there any past, for
nothing there has ever ceased to be; everything has taken its stand
for ever, an identity well pleased, we might say, to be as it is;
and everything, in that entire content, is Intellectual-Principle
and Authentic Existence; and the total of all is
Intellectual-Principle entire and Being entire. Intellectual-Principle
by its intellective act establishes Being, which in turn, as the
object of intellection, becomes the cause of intellection and of
existence to the Intellectual-Principle- though, of course, there is
another cause of intellection which is also a cause to Being, both
rising in a source distinct from either.
    Now while these two are coalescents, having their existence in
common, and are never apart, still the unity they form is two-sided;
there is Intellectual-Principle as against Being, the intellectual
agent as against the object of intellection; we consider the
intellective act and we have the Intellectual-Principle; we think of
the object of that act and we have Being.
    Such difference there must be if there is to be any
intellection; but similarly there must also be identity [since, in
perfect knowing, subject and object are identical.]
    Thus the Primals [the first "Categories"] are seen to be:
Intellectual-Principle; Existence; Difference; Identity: we must
include also Motion and Rest: Motion provides for the intellectual
act, Rest preserves identity as Difference gives at once a Knower
and a Known, for, failing this, all is one, and silent.
    So too the objects of intellection [the ideal content of the
Divine Mind]- identical in virtue of the self-concentration of the
principle which is their common ground- must still be distinct each
from another; this distinction constitutes Difference.
    The Intellectual Kosmos thus a manifold, Number and Quantity
arise: Quality is the specific character of each of these ideas
which stand as the principles from which all else derives.
    5. As a manifold, then, this God, the Intellectual-Principle,
exists within the Soul here, the Soul which once for all stands linked
a member of the divine, unless by a deliberate apostasy.
    Bringing itself close to the divine Intellect, becoming, as it
were, one with this, it seeks still further: What Being, now, has
engendered this God, what is the Simplex preceding this multiple; what
the cause at once of its existence and of its existing as a
manifold; what the source of this Number, this Quantity?
    Number, Quantity, is not primal: obviously before even duality,
there must stand the unity.
    The Dyad is a secondary; deriving from unity, it finds in unity
the determinant needed by its native indetermination: once there is
any determination, there is Number, in the sense, of course, of the
real [the archetypal] Number. And the soul is such a number or
quantity. For the Primals are not masses or magnitudes; all of that
gross order is later, real only to the sense-thought; even in seed the
effective reality is not the moist substance but the unseen- that is
to say Number [as the determinant of individual being] and the
Reason-Principle [of the product to be].
    Thus by what we call the Number and the Dyad of that higher realm,
we mean Reason Principles and the Intellectual-Principle: but while
the Dyad is, as regards that sphere, undetermined- representing, as it
were, the underly [or Matter] of The One- the later Number [or
Quantity]- that which rises from the Dyad [Intellectual-Principle] and
The One- is not Matter to the later existents but is their
forming-Idea, for all of them take shape, so to speak, from the
ideas rising within this. The determination of the Dyad is brought
about partly from its object- The One- and partly from itself, as is
the case with all vision in the act of sight: intellection [the Act of
the Dyad] is vision occupied upon The One.
    6. But how and what does the Intellectual-Principle see and,
especially, how has it sprung from that which is to become the
object of its vision?
    The mind demands the existence of these Beings, but it is still in
trouble over the problem endlessly debated by the most ancient
philosophers: from such a unity as we have declared The One to be, how
does anything at all come into substantial existence, any
multiplicity, dyad, or number? Why has the Primal not remained
self-gathered so that there be none of this profusion of the
manifold which we observe in existence and yet are compelled to
trace to that absolute unity?
    In venturing an answer, we first invoke God Himself, not in loud
word but in that way of prayer which is always within our power,
leaning in soul towards Him by aspiration, alone towards the alone.
But if we seek the vision of that great Being within the Inner
Sanctuary- self-gathered, tranquilly remote above all else- we begin
by considering the images stationed at the outer precincts, or, more
exactly to the moment, the first image that appears. How the Divine
Mind comes into being must be explained:
    Everything moving has necessarily an object towards which it
advances; but since the Supreme can have no such object, we may not
ascribe motion to it: anything that comes into being after it can be
produced only as a consequence of its unfailing self-intention; and,
of course, we dare not talk of generation in time, dealing as we are
with eternal Beings: where we speak of origin in such reference, it is
in the sense, merely, of cause and subordination: origin from the
Supreme must not be taken to imply any movement in it: that would make
the Being resulting from the movement not a second principle but a
third: the Movement would be the second hypostasis.
    Given this immobility in the Supreme, it can neither have
yielded assent nor uttered decree nor stirred in any way towards the
existence of a secondary.
    What happened then? What are we to conceive as rising in the
neighbourhood of that immobility?
    It must be a circumradiation- produced from the Supreme but from
the Supreme unaltering- and may be compared to the brilliant light
encircling the sun and ceaselessly generated from that unchanging
    All existences, as long as they retain their character, produce-
about the