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The Enneads of Plotinus
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Fifth ennead:

  1. That the principle transcending being has no intellectual act: what being has intellection primally and what being has it secondarily
  2. Is there an" ideal archetype of particular beings
  3. On the intellectual beauty
  4. The intellectual-principle, the" ideas, and the authentic existence

Sixth tractate: That the principle transcending being has no intellectual act. What being has intellection primally and what being has it secondarily


There is a principle having intellection of the external and another having self-intellection and thus further removed from duality.

Even the first mentioned is not without an effort towards the pure unity of which it is not so capable: It does actually contain its object, though as something other than itself.

In the self-intellective, there is not even this distinction of being: Self-conversing, the subject is its own object, and thus takes the double form while remaining essentially a unity. The intellection is the more profound for this internal possession of the object.

This principle is the primally intellective since there can be no intellection without duality in unity. If there is no unity, perceiving principle and perceived object will be different, and the intellection, therefore, not primal: A principle concerned with something external cannot be the primally intellective since it does not possess the object as integrally its own or as itself; if it does possess the object as itself – the condition of true intellection – the two are one. Thus [in order to primal intellection] there must be a unity in duality, while a pure unity with no counterbalancing duality can have no object for its intellection and ceases to be intellective: In other words the primally intellective must be at once simplex and something else.

But the surest way of realizing that its nature demands this combination of unity and duality is to proceed upwards from the soul, where the distinction can be made more dearly since the duality is exhibited more obviously.

We can imagine the soul as a double light, a lesser corresponding to the soul proper, a purer representing its intellective phase; if now we suppose this intellective light equal to the light which is to be its object, we no longer distinguish between them; the two are recognised as one: We know, indeed, that there are two, but as we see them they have become one: This gives us the relation between the intellective subject and the object of intellection [in the duality and unity required by that primal intellection]: In our thought we have made the two into one; but on the other hand the one thing has become two, making itself into a duality at the moment of intellection, or, to be more exact, being dual by the fact of intellection and single by the fact that its intellectual object is itself.


Thus there is the primally intellective and there is that in which intellection has taken another mode; but this indicates that what transcends the primarily intellective has no intellection; for, to have intellection, it must become an intellectual-principle, and, if it is to become that, it must possess an intellectual object and, as primarily intellective, it must possess that intellectual object as something within itself.

But it is not inevitable that every intellectual object should both possess the intellective principle in itself and exercise intellection: At that, it would be not merely object but subject as well and, besides, being thus dual, could not be primal: Further, the intellectual principle that is to possess the intellectual object could not cohere unless there existed an essence purely intellectual, something which, while standing as intellectual object to the intellectual principle, is in its own essence neither an agent nor an object of intellection. The intellectual object points to something beyond itself [to a percipient]; and the intellectual agent has its intellection in vain unless by seizing and holding an object – since, failing that, it can have no intellection but is consummated only when it possesses itself of its natural term.

There must have been something standing consummate independently of any intellectual act, something perfect in its own essence: Thus that in which this completion is inherent must exist before intellection; in other words it has no need of intellection, having been always self-sufficing: This, then, will have no intellectual act.

Thus we arrive at: A principle having no intellection, a principle having intellection primarily, a principle having it secondarily.

It may be added that, supposing the first to be intellective, it thereby possesses something [some object, some attribute]: At once it ceases to be a first; it is a secondary, and not even a unity; it is a many; it is all of which it takes intellectual possession; even though its intellection fell solely on its own content, it must still be a manifold.


We may be told that nothing prevents an identity being thus multiple. But there must be a unity underlying the aggregate: A manifold is impossible without a unity for its source or ground, or at least, failing some unity, related or unrelated. This unity must be numbered as first before all and can be apprehended only as solitary and self-existent.

When we recognize it, resident among the mass of things, our business is to see it for what it is – present to the items but essentially distinguished from them – and, while not denying it there, to seek this underly of all no longer as it appears in those other things but as it stands in its pure identity by itself. The identity resident in the rest of things is no doubt close to authentic identity but cannot be it; and, if the identity of unity is to be displayed beyond itself, it must also exist within itself alone.

It may be suggested that its existence takes substantial form only by its being resident among outside things: But, at this, it is itself no longer simplex nor could any coherence of manifolds occur. On the one hand things could take substantial existence only if they were in their own virtue simplex. On the other hand, failing a simplex, the aggregate of multiples is itself impossible: For the simplex individual thing could not exist if there were no simplex unity independent of the individual, [a principle of identity] and, not existing, much less could it enter into composition with any other such: It becomes impossible then for the compound universe, the aggregate of all, to exist; it would be the coming together of things that are not, things not merely lacking an identity of their own but utterly non- existent.

Once there is any manifold, there must be a precedent unity: Since any intellection implies multiplicity in the intellective subject, the non-multiple must be without intellection; that non- multiple will be the first: Intellection and the intellectual- principle must be characteristic of beings coming later.


Another consideration is that if the good [and first] is simplex and without need, it can neither need the intellective act nor possess what it does not need: It will therefore not have intellection. (interpolation or corruption: It is without intellection because, also, it contains no duality.)

Again; an intellectual-principle is distinct from the good and takes a certain goodness only by its intellection of the good.

Yet again: In any dual object there is the unity [the principle of identity] side by side with the rest of the thing; an associated member cannot be the unity of the two and there must be a self- standing unity [within the duality] before this unity of members can exist: By the same reasoning there must be also the supreme unity entering into no association whatever, something which is unity-simplex by its very being, utterly devoid of all that belongs to the thing capable of association.

How could anything be present in anything else unless in virtue of a source existing independently of association? The simplex [or absolute] requires no derivation; but any manifold, or any dual, must be dependent.

We may use the figure of, first, light; then, following it, the sun; as a third, the orb of the moon taking its light from the sun: Soul carries the intellectual-principle as something imparted and lending the light which makes it essentially intellective; intellectual- principle carries the light as its own though it is not purely the light but is the being into whose very essence the light has been received; highest is that which, giving forth the light to its sequent, is no other than the pure light itself by whose power the intellectual-principle takes character.

How can this highest have need of any other? It is not to be identified with any of the things that enter into association; the self-standing is of a very different order.


And again: The multiple must be always seeking its identity, desiring self-accord and self-awareness: But what scope is there within what is an absolute unity in which to move towards its identity or at what term may it hope for self-knowing? It holds its identity in its very essence and is above consciousness and all intellective act. Intellection is not a primal either in the fact of being or in the value of being; it is secondary and derived: For there exists the good; and this moves towards itself while its sequent is moved and by that movement has its characteristic vision. The intellective act may be defined as a movement towards the good in some being that aspires towards it; the effort produces the fact; the two are coincident; to see is to have desired to see: Hence again the authentic good has no need of intellection since itself and nothing else is its good.

The intellective act is a movement towards the unmoved good: Thus the self-intellection in all save the absolute good is the working of the imaged good within them: The intellectual principle recognises the likeness, sees itself as a good to itself, an object of attraction: It grasps at that manifestation of the good and, in holding that, holds self-vision: If the state of goodness is constant, it remains constantly self-attractive and self- intellective. The self-intellection is not deliberate: It sees itself as an incident in its contemplation of the good; for it sees itself in virtue of its act; and, in all that exists, the act is towards the good.


If this reasoning is valid, the good has no scope whatever for intellection which demands something attractive from outside. The good, then, is without act. What act indeed, could be vested in activity's self? No activity has yet again an activity; and whatever we may add to such activities as depend from something else, at least we must leave the first activity of them all, that from which all depend, as an uncontaminated identity, one to which no such addition can be made.

That primal activity, then, is not an intellection, for there is nothing on which it could exercise intellection since it is the first; besides, intellection itself does not exercise the intellective act; this belongs to some principle in which intellection is vested. There is, we repeat, duality in any thinking being; and the first is wholly above the dual.

But all this may be made more evident by a clearer recognition of the twofold principle at work wherever there is intellection:

When we affirm the reality of the real beings and their individual identity of being and declare that these real beings exist in the intellectual realm, we do not mean merely that they remain unchangeably self-identical by their very essence, as contrasted with the fluidity and instability of the sense-realm; the sense-realm itself may contain the enduring. No; we mean rather that these principles possess, as by their own virtue, the consummate fulness of being. The essence described as the primally existent cannot be a shadow cast by being, but must possess being entire; and being is entire when it holds the form and idea of intellection and of life. In a being, then, the existence, the intellection, the life are present as an aggregate. When a thing is a being, it is also an intellectual-principle, when it is an intellectual-principle it is a being; intellection and being are co- existents. Therefore intellection is a multiple not a unitary and that which does not belong to this order can have no intellection. And if we turn to the partial and particular, there is the intellectual form of man, and there is man, there is the intellectual form of horse and there is horse, the intellectual form of justice, and justice.

Thus all is dual: The unit is a duality and yet again the dual reverts to unity.

That, however, which stands outside all this category can be neither an individual unity nor an aggregate of all the duals or in any way a duality. How the duals rose from the One is treated elsewhere.

What stands above being stands above intellection: It is no weakness in it not to know itself, since as pure unity it contains nothing which it needs to explore. But it need not even spend any knowing on things outside itself: This which was always the good of all gives them something greater and better than its knowledge of them in giving them in their own identity to cling, in whatever measure be possible, to a principle thus lofty.


Seventh tractate: Is there an ideal archetype of particular beings?


We have to examine the question whether there exists an ideal archetype of individuals, in other words whether I and every other human being go back to the intellectual, every [living] thing having origin and principle there.

If socrates, socrates' soul, is external then the authentic socrates – to adapt the term – must be there; that is to say, the individual soul has an existence in the supreme as well as in this world. If there is no such permanent endurance and what was socrates may with change of time become another soul and be pythagoras or someone else – then the individual socrates has not that existence in the divine.

But if the soul of the individual contains the reason- principles of all that it traverses, once more all men have their [archetypic] existence there: And it is our doctrine that every soul contains all the reason-principles that exist in the cosmos: Since then the cosmos contains the reason-principles not merely of man, but also of all individual living things, so must the soul. Its content of reason-principles, then, must be limitless, unless there be a periodical renovation bounding the boundlessness by the return of a former series.

But if [in virtue of this periodic return] each archetype may be reproduced by numerous existents, what need is there that there be distinct reason-principles and archetypes for each existent in any one period? Might not one [archetypal] man suffice for all, and similarly a limited number of souls produce a limitless number of men?

No: One reason-principle cannot account for distinct and differing individuals: One human being does not suffice as the exemplar for many distinct each from the other not merely in material constituents but by innumerable variations of ideal type: This is no question of various pictures or images reproducing an original socrates; the beings produced differ so greatly as to demand distinct reason-principles. The entire soul-period conveys with it all the requisite reason-principles, and so too the same existents appear once more under their action.

There is no need to baulk at this limitlessness in the intellectual; it is an infinitude having nothing to do with number or part; what we may think of it as its outgoing is no other than its characteristic act.


But individuals are brought into being by the union of the reason-principles of the parents, male and female: This seems to do away with a definite reason-principle for each of the offspring: One of the parents – the male let us say – is the source; and the offspring is determined not by reason- principles differing from child to child but by one only, the father's or that of the father's father.

No: A distinct reason-principle may be the determinant for the child since the parent contains all: They would become effective at different times.

And so of the differences among children of the same parents: It is a matter of varying dominance: Either the offspring – whether it so appears or not – has been mainly determined by, now, the male, now, the female or, while each principle has given itself entire and lies there within, yet it effectively moulds one portion of the bodily substance rather than another.

And how [by the theory of a divine archetype of each individual] are the differences caused by place to be explained?

Is the differentiating element to be found in the varying resistance of the material of the body?

No: If this were so, all men with the exception of one only would be untrue to nature.

Difference everywhere is a good, and so there must be differing archetypes, though only to evil could be attribute any power in matter to thwart nature by overmastering the perfect reason-principles, hidden but given, all.

Still, admitting the diversity of the reason-principles, why need there by as many as there are men born in each period, once it is granted that different beings may take external manifestation under the presence of the same principles?

Under the presence of all; agreed: But with the dominance of the very same? That is still open to question.

May we not take it that there may be identical reproduction from one period to another but not in the same period?


In the case of twin birth among human beings how can we make out the reason-principles to be different; and still more when we turn to the animals and especially those with litters?

Where the young are precisely alike, there is one reason- principle.

But this would mean that after all there are not as many reason principles as separate beings?

As many as there are of differing beings, differing by something more than a mere failure in complete reproduction of their idea.

And why may not this [sharing of archetype] occur also in beings untouched by differentiation, if indeed there be any such?

A craftsman even in constructing an object identical with a model must envisage that identity in a mental differentiation enabling him to make a second thing by bringing in some difference side by side with the identity: Similarly in nature, where the thing comes about not by reasoning but in sole virtue of reason-principles, that differentiation must be included in the archetypal idea, though it is not in our power to perceive the difference.

The consideration of Quantity brings the same result:

If production is undetermined in regard to Quantity, each thing has its distinct reason-principle: If there is a measured system the Quantity has been determined by the unrolling and unfolding of the reason-principles of all the existences.

Thus when the universe has reached its term, there will be a fresh beginning, since the entire Quantity which the cosmos is to exhibit, every item that is to emerge in its course, all is laid up from the first in the being that contains the reason- principles.

Are we, then, looking to the brute realm, to hold that there are as many reason-principles as distinct creatures born in a litter?

Why not? There is nothing alarming about such limitlessness in generative forces and in reason-principles, when soul is there to sustain all.

As in soul [principle of life] so in divine mind [principle of idea] there is this infinitude of recurring generative powers; the beings there are unfailing.


Eighth tractate: On the intellectual beauty


It is a principle with us that one who has attained to the vision of the intellectual beauty and grasped the beauty of the authentic intellect will be able also to come to understand the father and transcendent of that divine being. It concerns us, then, to try to see and say, for ourselves and as far as such matters may be told, how the beauty of the divine intellect and of the intellectual cosmos may be revealed to contemplation.

Let us go to the realm of magnitudes: Suppose two blocks of stone lying side by side: One is unpatterned, quite untouched by art; the other has been minutely wrought by the craftsman's hands into some statue of god or man, a Grace or a muse, or if a human being, not a portrait but a creation in which the sculptor's art has concentrated all loveliness.

Now it must be seen that the stone thus brought under the artist's hand to the beauty of form is beautiful not as stone – for so the crude block would be as pleasant – but in virtue of the form or idea introduced by the art. This form is not in the material; it is in the designer before ever it enters the stone; and the artificer holds it not by his equipment of eyes and hands but by his participation in his art. The beauty, therefore, exists in a far higher state in the art; for it does not come over integrally into the work; that original beauty is not transferred; what comes over is a derivative and a minor: And even that shows itself on the statue not integrally and with entire realization of intention but only in so far as it has subdued the resistance of the material.

Art, then, creating in the image of its own nature and content, and working by the idea or reason-principle of the beautiful object it is to produce, must itself be beautiful in a far higher and purer degree since it is the seat and source of that beauty, indwelling in the art, which must naturally be more complete than any comeliness of the external. In the degree in which the beauty is diffused by entering into matter, it is so much the weaker than that concentrated in unity; everything that reaches outwards is the less for it, strength less strong, heat less hot, every power less potent, and so beauty less beautiful.

Then again every prime cause must be, within itself, more powerful than its effect can be: The musical does not derive from an unmusical source but from music; and so the art exhibited in the material work derives from an art yet higher.

Still the arts are not to be slighted on the ground that they create by imitation of natural objects; for, to begin with, these natural objects are themselves imitations; then, we must recognise that they give no bare reproduction of the thing seen but go back to the ideas from which nature itself derives, and, furthermore, that much of their work is all their own; they are holders of beauty and add where nature is lacking. Thus pheidias wrought the Zeus on no model among things of sense but by apprehending what form Zeus must take if he chose to become manifest to sight.


But let us leave the arts and consider those works produced by nature and admitted to be naturally beautiful which the creations of art are charged with imitating, all reasoning life and unreasoning things alike, but especially the consummate among them, where the moulder and maker has subdued the material and given the form he desired. Now what is the beauty here? It has nothing to do with the blood or the menstrual process: Either there is also a colour and form apart from all this, or there is nothing unless sheer ugliness or a bare recipient, as it were the mere matter of beauty.

Whence shone forth the beauty of helen, battle-sought; or of all those women like in loveliness to aphrodite; or of aphrodite herself; or of any human being that has been perfect in beauty; or of any of these gods manifest to sight, or unseen but carrying what would be beauty if we saw?

In all these is it not the idea, something of that realm but communicated to the produced from within the producer just as in works of art, we held, it is communicated from the arts to their creations? Now we can surely not believe that, while the made thing and the idea thus impressed on matter are beautiful, yet the idea not so alloyed but resting still with the creator – the idea primal, immaterial, firmly a unity – is not beauty.

If material extension were in itself the ground of beauty, then the creating principle, being without extension, could not be beautiful: But beauty cannot be made to depend on magnitude since, whether in a large object or a small, the one idea equally moves and forms the mind by its inherent power. A further indication is that as long as the object remains outside us we know nothing of it; it affects us by entry; but only as an idea can it enter through the eyes which are not of scope to take an extended mass: We are, no doubt, simultaneously possessed of the magnitude which, however, we take in not as mass but by an elaboration on the presented form.

Then again the principle producing the beauty must be, itself, ugly, neutral or beautiful: Ugly, it could not produce the opposite; neutral, why should its product be the one rather than the other? The nature, then, which creates things so lovely must be itself of a far earlier beauty; we, undisciplined in discernment of the inward, knowing nothing of it, run after the outer, never understanding that it is the inner which stirs us; we are in the case of one who sees his own reflection but not realizing whence it comes goes in pursuit of it.

But that the thing we are pursuing is something different and that the beauty is not in the concrete object is manifest from the beauty there is in matters of study, in conduct and custom; briefly in soul or mind. And it is precisely here that the greater beauty lies, perceived whenever you look to the wisdom in a man and delight in it, not wasting attention on the face, which may be hideous, but passing all appearance by and catching only at the inner comeliness, the truly personal; if you are still unmoved and cannot acknowledge beauty under such conditions, then looking to your own inner being you will find no beauty to delight you and it will be futile in that state to seek the greater vision, for you will be questing it through the ugly and impure.

This is why such matters are not spoken of to everyone; you, if you are conscious of beauty within, remember.


Thus there is in the nature-principle itself an ideal archetype of the beauty that is found in material forms and, of that archetype again, the still more beautiful archetype in soul, source of that in nature. In the proficient soul this is brighter and of more advanced loveliness: Adorning the soul and bringing to it a light from that greater light which is beauty primally, its immediate presence sets the soul reflecting on the quality of this prior, the archetype which has no such entries, and is present nowhere but remains in itself alone, and thus is not even to be called a reason-principle but is the creative source of the very first reason-principle which is the beauty to which soul serves as matter.

This prior, then, is the intellectual-principle, the veritable, abiding and not fluctuant since not taking intellectual quality from outside itself. By what image thus, can we represent it? We have nowhere to go but to what is less. Only from itself can we take an image of it; that is, there can be no representation of it, except in the sense that we represent gold by some portion of gold – purified, either actually or mentally, if it be impure – insisting at the same time that this is not the total thing-gold, but merely the particular gold of a particular parcel. In the same way we learn in this matter from the purified intellect in ourselves or, if you like, from the gods and the glory of the intellect in them.

For assuredly all the gods are august and beautiful in a beauty beyond our speech. And what makes them so? Intellect; and especially intellect operating within them [the divine sun and stars] to visibility. It is not through the loveliness of their corporeal forms: Even those that have body are not gods by that beauty; it is in virtue of intellect that they, too, are gods, and as gods beautiful. They do not veer between wisdom and folly: In the immunity of intellect unmoving and pure, they are wise always, all-knowing, taking cognisance not of the human but of their own being and of all that lies within the contemplation of intellect. Those of them whose dwelling is in the heavens, are ever in this meditation – what task prevents them? – and from afar they look, too, into that further heaven by a lifting of the head. The gods belonging to that higher heaven itself, they whose station is on it and in it, see and know in virtue of their omnipresence to it. For all there is heaven; earth is heaven, and sea heaven; and animal and plant and man; all is the heavenly content of that heaven: And the gods in it, despising neither men nor anything else that is there where all is of the heavenly order, traverse all that country and all space in peace.


To "live at ease" is there; and, to these divine beings, verity is mother and nurse, existence and sustenance; all that is not of process but of authentic being they see, and themselves in all: For all is transparent, nothing dark, nothing resistant; every being is lucid to every other, in breadth and depth; light runs through light. And each of them contains all within itself, and at the same time sees all in every other, so that everywhere there is all, and all is all and each all, and infinite the glory. Each of them is great; the small is great; the sun, there, is all the stars; and every star, again, is all the stars and sun. While some one manner of being is dominant in each, all are mirrored in every other.

Movement there is pure [as self-caused] for the moving principle is not a separate thing to complicate it as it speeds.

So, too, repose is not troubled, for there is no admixture of the unstable; and the beauty is all beauty since it is not merely resident [as an attribute or addition] in some beautiful object. Each there walks on no alien soil; its place is its essential self; and, as each moves, so to speak, towards what is above, it is attended by the very ground from which it starts: There is no distinguishing between the being and the place; all is intellect, the principle and the ground on which it stands, alike. Thus we might think that our visible sky [the ground or place of the stars], lit, as it is, produces the light which reaches us from it, though of course this is really produced by the stars [as it were, by the principles of light alone, not also by the ground as the analogy would require].

In our realm all is part rising from part and nothing can be more than partial; but there each being is an eternal product of a whole and is at once a whole and an individual manifesting as part but, to the keen vision there, known for the whole it is.

The myth of lynceus seeing into the very deeps of the earth tells us of those eyes in the divine. No weariness overtakes this vision, which yet brings no such satiety as would call for its ending; for there never was a void to be filled so that, with the fulness and the attainment of purpose, the sense of sufficiency be induced: Nor is there any such incongruity within the divine that one being there could be repulsive to another: And of course all there are unchangeable. This absence of satisfaction means only a satisfaction leading to no distaste for that which produces it; to see is to look the more, since for them to continue in the contemplation of an infinite self and of infinite objects is but to acquiesce in the bidding of their nature.

Life, pure, is never a burden; how then could there be weariness there where the living is most noble? That very life is wisdom, not a wisdom built up by reasonings but complete from the beginning, suffering no lack which could set it enquiring, a wisdom primal, unborrowed, not something added to the being, but its very essence. No wisdom, thus, is greater; this is the authentic knowing, assessor to the divine intellect as projected into manifestation simultaneously with it; thus, in the symbolic saying, justice is assessor to Zeus.

[perfect wisdom] for all the principles of this order, dwelling there, are as it were visible images protected from themselves, so that all becomes an object of contemplation to contemPlators immeasurably blessed. The greatness and power of the wisdom there we may know from this, that is embraces all the real beings, and has made all, and all follow it, and yet that it is itself those beings, which sprang into being with it, so that all is one, and the essence there is wisdom. If we have failed to understand, it is that we have thought of knowledge as a mass of theorems and an accumulation of propositions, though that is false even for our sciences of the sense-realm. But in case this should be questioned, we may leave our own sciences for the present, and deal with the knowing in the supreme at which Plato glances where he speaks of "that knowledge which is not a stranger in something strange to it" – though in what sense, he leaves us to examine and declare, if we boast ourselves worthy of the discussion. This is probably our best starting- point.


All that comes to be, work of nature or of craft, some wisdom has made: Everywhere a wisdom presides at a making.

No doubt the wisdom of the artist may be the guide of the work; it is sufficient explanation of the wisdom exhibited in the arts; but the artist himself goes back, after all, to that wisdom in nature which is embodied in himself; and this is not a wisdom built up of theorems but one totality, not a wisdom consisting of manifold detail co-ordinated into a unity but rather a unity working out into detail.

Now, if we could think of this as the primal wisdom, we need look no further, since, at that, we have discovered a principle which is neither a derivative nor a "stranger in something strange to it." but if we are told that, while this reason-principle is in nature, yet nature itself is its source, we ask how nature came to possess it; and, if nature derived it from some other source, we ask what that other source may be; if, on the contrary, the principle is self-sprung, we need look no further: But if we are referred to the intellectual-principle we must make clear whether the intellectual-principle engendered the wisdom: If we learn that it did, we ask whence: If from itself, then inevitably, it is itself wisdom.

The true wisdom, then [found to be identical with the intellectual-principle] is real being; and real being is wisdom; it is wisdom that gives value to real being; and being is real in virtue of its origin in wisdom. It follows that all forms of existence not possessing wisdom are, indeed, beings in right of the wisdom which went to their forming but, as not in themselves possessing it, are not real beings.

We cannot therefore think that the divine beings of that sphere, or the other supremely blessed there, need look to our apparatus of science: All of that realm, all is noble image, such images as we may conceive to lie within the soul of the wise – but there not as inscription but as authentic existence. The ancients had this in mind when they declared the ideas to be beings, essentials.


Similarly, as it seems to me, the wise of egypt – whether in precise knowledge or by a prompting of nature – indicated the truth where, in their effort towards philosophical statement, they left aside the writing-forms that take in the detail of words and sentences – those characters that represent sounds and convey the propositions of reasoning – and drew pictures instead, engraving in the temple – inscriptions a separate image for every separate item: Thus they exhibited the mode in which the supreme goes forth.

For each manifestation of knowledge and wisdom is a distinct image, an object in itself, an immediate unity, not as aggregate of discursive reasoning and detailed willing. Later from this wisdom in unity there appears, in another form of being, an image, already less compact, which announces the original in an outward stage and seeks the causes by which things are such that the wonder rises how a generated world can be so excellent.

For, one who knows must declare his wonder that this wisdom, while not itself containing the causes by which being exists and takes such excellence, yet imparts them to the entities produced in being's realm. This excellence whose necessity is scarcely or not at all manifest to search, exists, if we could but find it out, before all searching and reasoning.

What I say may be considered in one chief thing, and thence applied to all the particular entities:


Consider the universe: We are agreed that its existence and its nature come to it from beyond itself; are we, now, to imagine that its maker first thought it out in detail – the earth, and its necessary situation in the middle; water and, again, its position as lying on the earth; all the other elements and objects up to the sky in due place and order; living beings with their appropriate forms as we know them, their inner organs and their outer limbs – and that having thus appointed every item beforehand, he then set about the execution?

Such designing was not even possible; how could the plan for a universe come to one that had never looked outward? Nor could he work on material gathered from elsewhere as our craftsmen do, using hands and tools; feet and hands are of the later order.

One way, only, remains: All things must exist in something else; of that prior – since there is no obstacle, all being continuous within the realm of reality – there has suddenly appeared a sign, an image, whether given forth directly or through the ministry of soul or of some phase of soul, matters nothing for the moment: Thus the entire aggregate of existence springs from the divine world, in greater beauty there because there unmingled but mingled here.

From the beginning to end all is gripped by the forms of the intellectual realm: Matter itself is held by the ideas of the elements and to these ideas are added other ideas and others again, so that it is hard to work down to crude matter beneath all that sheathing of idea. Indeed since matter itself is in its degree, an idea – the lowest – all this universe is idea and there is nothing that is not idea as the archetype was. And all is made silently, since nothing had part in the making but being and idea further reason why creation went without toil. The exemplar was the idea of an all, and so an all must come into being.

Thus nothing stood in the way of the idea, and even now it dominates, despite all the clash of things: The creation is not hindered on its way even now; it stands firm in virtue of being all. To me, moreover, it seems that if we ourselves were archetypes, ideas, veritable being, and the idea with which we construct here were our veritable essence, then our creative power too would toillessly effect its purpose: As man now stands, he does not produce in his work a true image of himself: Become man, he has ceased to be the all: Ceasing to be man – we read – "he soars aloft and administers the cosmos entire"; restored to the all he is maker of the all.

But – to our immediate purpose – it is possible to give a reason why the earth is set in the midst and why it is round and why the ecliptic runs precisely as it does, but, looking to the creating principle, we cannot say that because this was the way therefore things were so planned: We can say only that because the all is what it is, therefore there is a total of good; the causing principle, we might put it, reached the conclusion before all formal reasoning and not from any premises, not by sequence or plan but before either, since all of that order is later, all reason, demonstration, persuasion.

Since there is a source, all the created must spring from it and in accordance with it; and we are rightly told not to go seeking the causes impelling a source to produce, especially when this is the perfectly sufficient source and identical with the term: A source which is source and term must be the all-unity, complete in itself.


This then is beauty primally: It is entire and omnipresent as an entirety; and therefore in none of its parts or members lacking in beauty; beautiful thus beyond denial. Certainly it cannot be anything [be, for example, beauty] without being wholly that thing; it can be nothing which it is to possess partially or in which it utterly fails [and therefore it must entirely be beauty entire].

If this principle were not beautiful, what other could be? Its prior does not deign to be beautiful; that which is the first to manifest itself – form and object of vision to the intellect – cannot but be lovely to see. It is to indicate this that Plato, drawing on something well within our observation, represents the creator as approving the work he has achieved: The intention is to make us feel the lovable beauty of the autotype and of the divine idea; for to admire a representation is to admire the original on which it was made.

It is not surprising if we fail to recognise what is passing within us: Lovers, and those in general that admire beauty here, do not stay to reflect that it is to be traced, as of course it must be, to the beauty there. That the admiration of the demiurge is to be referred to the ideal exemplar is deliberately made evident by the rest of the passage: "he admired; and determined to bring the work into still closer likeness with the exemplar": He makes us feel the magnificent beauty of the exemplar by telling us that the beauty sprung from this world is, itself, a copy from that.

And indeed if the divine did not exist, the transcendently beautiful, in a beauty beyond all thought, what could be lovelier than the things we see? certainly no reproach can rightly be brought against this world save only that it is not that.


Let us, then, make a mental picture of our universe: Each member shall remain what it is, distinctly apart; yet all is to form, as far as possible, a complete unity so that whatever comes into view shall show as if it were the surface of the orb over all, bringing immediately with it the vision, on the one plane, of the sun and of all the stars with earth and sea and all living things as if exhibited on a transparent globe.

Bring this vision actually before your sight, so that there shall be in your mind the gleaming representation of a sphere, a picture holding sprung, themselves, of that universe and repose or some at rest, some in motion. Keep this sphere before you, and from it imagine another, a sphere stripped of magnitude and of spatial differences; cast out your inborn sense of matter, taking care not merely to attenuate it: Call on God, maker of the sphere whose image you now hold, and pray him to enter. And may he come bringing his own universe with all the gods that dwell in it – he who is the one god and all the gods, where each is all, blending into a unity, distinct in powers but all one god in virtue of that one divine power of many facets.

More truly, this is the one god who is all the gods; for, in the coming to be of all those, this, the one, has suffered no diminishing. He and all have one existence while each again is distinct. It is distinction by state without interval: There is no outward form to set one here and another there and to prevent any from being an entire identity; yet there is no sharing of parts from one to another. Nor is each of those divine wholes a power in fragment, a power totalling to the sum of the measurable segments: The divine is one all-power, reaching out to infinity, powerful to infinity; and so great is God that his very members are infinites. What place can be named to which he does not reach?

Great, too, is this firmament of ours and all the powers constellated within it, but it would be greater still, unspeakably, but that there is inbound in it something of the petty power of body; no doubt the powers of fire and other bodily substances might themselves be thought very great, but in fact, it is through their failure in the true power that we see them burning, destroying, wearing things away, and slaving towards the production of life; they destroy because they are themselves in process of destruction, and they produce because they belong to the realm of the produced.

The power in that other world has merely being and beauty of being. Beauty without being could not be, nor being voided of beauty: Abandoned of beauty, being loses something of its essence. Being is desirable because it is identical with beauty; and beauty is loved because it is being. How then can we debate which is the cause of the other, where the nature is one? The very figment of being needs some imposed image of beauty to make it passable and even to ensure its existence; it exists to the degree in which it has taken some share in the beauty of idea; and the more deeply it has drawn on this, the less imperfect it is, precisely because the nature which is essentially the beautiful has entered into it the more intimately.


This is why Zeus, although the oldest of the gods and their sovereign, advances first [in the phaidros myth] towards that vision, followed by gods and demigods and such souls as are of strength to see. That being appears before them from some unseen place and rising loftily over them pours its light on all things, so that all gleams in its radiance; it upholds some beings, and they see; the lower are dazzled and turn away, unfit to gaze on that sun, the trouble falling the more heavily on those most remote.

Of those looking on that being and its content, and able to see, all take something but not all the same vision always: Intently gazing, one sees the fount and principle of justice, another is filled with the sight of moral wisdom, the original of that quality as found, sometimes at least, among men, copied by them in their degree from the divine virtue which, covering all the expanse, so to speak, of the intellectual realm is seen, last attainment of all, by those who have known already many splendid visions.

The gods see, each singly and all as one. So, too, the souls; they see all there in right of being sprung, themselves, of that universe and therefore including all from beginning to end and having their existence there if only by that phase which belongs inherently to the divine, though often too they are there entire, those of them that have not incurred separation.

This vision Zeus takes, and it is for such of us, also, as share his love and appropriate our part in the beauty there, the final object of all seeing, the entire beauty on all things; for all there sheds radiance, and floods those that have found their way thither so that they too become beautiful; thus it will often happen that men climbing heights where the soil has taken a yellow glow will themselves appear so, borrowing colour from the place on which they move. The colour flowering on that other height we speak of is beauty; or rather all there is light and beauty, through and through, for the beauty is no mere bloom on the surface.

To those that do not see entire, the immediate impression is alone taken into account; but those drunken with this wine, filled with the nectar, all their soul penetrated by this beauty, cannot remain mere gazers: No longer is there a spectator outside gazing on an outside spectacle; the clear-eyed hold the vision within themselves, though, for the most part, they have no idea that it is within but look towards it as to something beyond them and see it as an object of vision caught by a direction of the will.

All that one sees as a spectacle is still external; one must bring the vision within and see no longer in that mode of separation but as we know ourselves; thus a man filled with a god – possessed by apollo or by one of the muses – need no longer look outside for his vision of the divine being; it is but finding the strength to see divinity within.


Similarly any one, unable to see himself, but possessed by that God, has but to bring that divine – within before his consciousness and at once he sees an image of himself, himself lifted to a better beauty: Now let him ignore that image, lovely though it is, and sink into a perfect self-identity, no such separation remaining; at once he forms a multiple unity with the god silently present; in the degree of his power and will, the two become one; should he turn back to the former duality, still he is pure and remains very near to the god; he has but to look again and the same presence is there.

This conversion brings gain: At the first stage, that of separation, a man is aware of self; but, retreating inwards, he becomes possessor of all; he puts sense away behind him in dread of the separated life and becomes one in the divine; if he plans to see in separation, he sets himself outside.

The novice must hold himself constantly under some image of the divine being and seek in the light of a clear conception; knowing thus, in a deep conviction, whither he is going – into what a sublimity he penetrates – he must give himself forthwith to the inner and, radiant with the divine intellections [with which he is now one], be no longer the seer but, as that place has made him, the seen.

Still, we will be told, one cannot be in beauty and yet fail to see it. The very contrary: To see the divine as something external is to be outside of it; to become it is to be most truly in beauty: Since sight deals with the external, there can here be no vision unless in the sense of identification with the object.

And this identification amounts to a self-knowing, a self- consciousness, guarded by the fear of losing the self in the desire of a too wide awareness.

It must be remembered that sensations of the ugly and evil impress us more violently than those of what is agreeable and yet leave less knowledge as the residue of the shock: Sickness makes the rougher mark, but health, tranquilly present, explains itself better; it takes the first place, it is the natural thing, it belongs to our being; illness is alien, unnatural and thus makes itself felt by its very incongruity, while the other conditions are native and we take no notice. Such being our nature, we are most completely aware of ourselves when we are most completely identified with the object of our knowledge.

This is why in that other sphere, when we are deepest in that knowledge by intellection, we are aware of none; we are expecting some impression on sense, which has nothing to report since it has seen nothing and never could in that order see anything. The unbelieving element is sense; it is the other, the intellectual-principle, that sees; and if this too doubted, it could not even credit its own existence, for it can never stand away and with bodily eyes apprehend itself as a visible object.


We have told how this vision is to be procured, whether by the mode of separation or in identity: Now, seen in either way, what does it give to report?

The vision has been of God in travail of a beautiful offspring, God engendering a universe within himself in a painless labour and – rejoiced in what he has brought into being, proud of his children – keeping all closely by him, for pleasure he has in his radiance and in theirs.

Of this offspring – all beautiful, but most beautiful those that have remained within – only one has become manifest without; from him [Zeus, sovereign over the visible universe] the youngest born, we may gather, as from some image, the greatness of the father and of the brothers that remain within the father's house.

Still the manifested God cannot think that he has come forth in vain from the father; for through him another universe has arisen, beautiful as the image of beauty, and it could not be' lawful that beauty and being should fail of a beautiful image.

This second cosmos at every point copies the archetype: It has life and being in copy, and has beauty as springing from that diviner world. In its character of image it holds, too, that divine perpetuity without which it would only at times be truly representative and sometimes fail like a construction of art; for every image whose existence lies in the nature of things must stand during the entire existence of the archetype.

Hence it is false to put an end to the visible sphere as long as the intellectual endures, or to found it on a decision taken by its maker at some given moment.

That teaching shirks the penetration of such a making as is here involved: It fails to see that as long as the supreme is radiant there can be no failing of its sequel but, that existing, all exists. And – since the necessity of conveying our meaning compels such terms – the supreme has existed for ever and for ever will exist.


The god fettered [as in the kronos myth] to an unchanging identity leaves the ordering of this universe to his son (to Zeus), for it could not be in his character to neglect his rule within the divine sphere, and, as though sated with the authentic-beauty, seek a lordship too recent and too poor for his might. Ignoring this lower world, kronos [intellectual-principle] claims for his own father [Ouranoo, the absolute, or One] with all the upward- tending between them: And he counts all that tends to the inferior, beginning from his son [Zeus, the all-soul], as ranking beneath him. Thus he holds a mid position determined on the one side by the differentiation implied in the severance from the very highest and, on the other, by that which keeps him apart from the link between himself and the lower: He stands between a greater father and an inferior son. But since that father is too lofty to be thought of under the name of beauty, the second God remains the primally beautiful.

Soul also has beauty, but is less beautiful than intellect as being its image and therefore, though beautiful in nature, taking increase of beauty by looking to that original. Since then the all- soul – to use the more familiar term – since aphrodite herself is so beautiful, what name can we give to that other? If soul is so lovely in its own right, of what quality must that prior be? And since its being is derived, what must that power be from which the soul takes the double beauty, the borrowed and the inherent?

We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self- knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly.

Thus beauty is of the divine and comes thence only.

Do these considerations suffice to a clear understanding of the intellectual sphere, or must we make yet another attempt by another road?


Ninth tractate: The intellectual-principle, the ideas, and the authentic existence


All human beings from birth onward live to the realm of sense more than to the intellectual.

Forced of necessity to attend first to the material, some of them elect to abide by that order and, their life throughout, make its concerns their first and their last; the sweet and the bitter of sense are their good and evil; they feel they have done all if they live along pursuing the one and barring the doors to the other. And those of them that pretend to reasoning have adopted this as their philosophy; they are like the heavier birds which have incorporated much from the earth and are so weighted down that they cannot fly high for all the wings nature has given them.

Others do indeed lift themselves a little above the earth; the better in their soul urges them from the pleasant to the nobler, but they are not of power to see the highest and so, in despair of any surer ground, they fall back in virtue's name, on those actions and options of the lower from which they sought to escape.

But there is a third order – those godlike men who, in their mightier power, in the keenness of their sight, have clear vision of the splendour above and rise to it from among the cloud and fog of earth and hold firmly to that other world, looking beyond all here, delighted in the place of reality, their native land, like a man returning after long wanderings to the pleasant ways of his own country.


What is this other place and how it is accessible?

It is to be reached by those who, born with the nature of the lover, are also authentically philosophic by inherent temper; in pain of love towards beauty but not held by material loveliness, taking refuge from that in things whose beauty is of the soul – such things as virtue, knowledge, institutions, law and custom – and thence, rising still a step, reach to the source of this loveliness of the soul, thence to whatever be above that again, until the uttermost is reached. The first, the principle whose beauty is self-springing: This attained, there is an end to the pain inassuageable before.

But how is the ascent to be begun? Whence comes the power? In what thought is this love to find its guide?

The guiding thought is this: That the beauty perceived on material things is borrowed.

The pattern giving beauty to the corporeal rests on it as idea to its matter and the substrate may change and from being pleasant become distasteful, a sign, in all reason, that the beauty comes by participation.

Now, what is this that gives grace to the corporeal?

Two causes in their degree; the participation in beauty and the power of soul, the maker, which has imprinted that form.

We ask then is soul, of itself, a thing of beauty: We find it is not since differences are manifest, one soul wise and lovely, another foolish and ugly: Soul-beauty is constituted by wisdom.

The question thus becomes, "What principle is the giver of wisdom to the soul? And the only answer is "the intellectual- principle," the veritably intellectual, wise without intermission and therefore beautiful of itself.

But does even this suffice for our first?

No; we must look still inward beyond the intellectual, which, from our point of approach, stands before the supreme beginning, in whose forecourt, as it were, it announces in its own being the entire content of the good, that prior of all, locked in unity, of which this is the expression already touched by multiplicity.


We will have to examine this nature, the intellectual, which our reasoning identifies as the authentically existent and the veritable essential: But first we must take another path and make certain that such a principle does necessarily exist.

Perhaps it is ridiculous to set out enquiring whether an intellectual-principle has place in the total of being: But there may be some to hesitate even as to this and certainly there will be the question whether it is as we describe it, whether it is a separate existence, whether it actually is the real beings, whether it is the seat of the ideas; to this we now address ourselves.

All that we see, and describe as having existence, we know to be compound; hand-wrought or compacted by nature, nothing is simplex. Now the hand-wrought, with its metal or stone or wood, is not realized out of these materials until the appropriate craft has produced statue, house or bed, by imparting the particular idea from its own content. Similarly with natural forms of being; those including several constituents, compound bodies as we call them, may be analysed into the materials and the idea imposed on the total; the human being, for example, into soul and body; and the human body into the four elements. Finding everything to be a compound of matter and shaping principle – since the matter of the elements is of itself shapeless – you will enquire whence this forming idea comes; and you will ask whether in the soul we recognise a simplex or whether this also has constituents, something representing matter and something else – the intellectual- principle in it – representing idea, the one corresponding to the shape actually on the statue, the other to the artist giving the shape.

Applying the same method to the total of things, here too we discover the intellectual-principle and this we set down as veritably the maker and creator of the all. The underly has adopted, we see, certain shapes by which it becomes fire, water, air, earth; and these shapes have been imposed on it by something else. This other is soul which, hovering over the four [the elements], imparts the pattern of the cosmos, the ideas for which it has itself received from the intellectual-principle as the soul or mind of the craftsman draws on his craft for the plan of his work.

The intellectual-principle is in one phase the form of the soul, its shape; in another phase it is the giver of the shape – the sculptor, possessing inherently what is given – imparting to soul nearly the authentic reality while what body receives is but image and imitation.


But, soul reached, why need we look higher; why not make this the first?

A main reason is that the intellectual-principle is at once something other and something more powerful than soul and that the more powerful is in the nature of things the prior. For it is certainly not true, as people imagine, that the soul, brought to perfection, produces intellect. How could that potentiality come to actuality unless there be, first, an effective principle to induce the actualization which, left to chance, might never occur?

The firsts must be supposed to exist in actuality, looking to nothing else, self-complete. Anything incomplete must be sequent on these, and take its completion from the principles engendering it which, like fathers, labour in the improvement of an offspring born imperfect: The produced is a matter to the producing principle and is worked over by it into a shapely perfection.

And if, further, soul is passible while something impassible there must be or by the mere passage of time all wears away, here too we are led to something above soul.

Again there must be something prior to soul because soul is in the world and there must be something outside a world in which, all being corporeal and material, nothing has enduring reality: Failing such a prior, neither man nor the ideas would be eternal or have true identity.

These and many other considerations establish the necessary existence of an intellectual-principle prior to soul.


This intellectual-principle, if the term is to convey the truth, must be understood to be not a principle merely potential and not one maturing from unintelligence to intelligence – that would simply send us seeking, once more, a necessary prior – but a principle which is intelligence in actuality and in eternity.

Now a principle whose wisdom is not borrowed must derive from itself any intellection it may make; and anything it may possess within itself it can hold only from itself: It follows that, intellective by its own resource and on its own content, it is itself the very things on which its intellection acts.

For supposing its essence to be separable from its intellection and the objects of its intellection to be not itself, then its essence would be unintellectual; and it would be intellectual not actually but potentially. The intellection and its object must then be inseparable – however the habit induced by our conditions may tempt us to distinguish, there too, the thinker from the thought.

What then is its characteristic act and what the intellection which makes knower and known here identical?

Clearly, as authentic intellection, it has authentic intellection of the authentically existent, and establishes their existence. Therefore it is the authentic beings.

Consider: It must perceive them either somewhere else or within itself as its very self: The somewhere else is impossible – where could that be? – they are therefore itself and the content of itself.

Its objects certainly cannot be the things of sense, as people think; no first could be of the sense-known order; for in things of sense the idea is but an image of the authentic, and every idea thus derivative and exiled traces back to that original and is no more than an image of it.

Further, if the intellectual-principle is to be the maker of this all, it cannot make by looking outside itself to what does not yet exist. The authentic beings must, then, exist before this all, no copies made on a model but themselves archetypes, primals, and the essence of the intellectual-principle.

We may be told that reason-principles suffice [to the subsistence of the all]: But then these, clearly, must be eternal; and if eternal, if immune, then they must exist in an intellectual- principle such as we have indicated, a principle earlier than condition, than nature, than soul, than anything whose existence is potential for contingent].

The intellectual-principle, therefore, is itself the authentic existences, not a knower knowing them in some sphere foreign to it. The authentic beings, thus, exist neither before nor after it: It is the primal legislator to being or, rather, is itself the law of being. Thus it is true that "intellectual and being are identical"; in the immaterial the knowledge of the thing is the thing. And this is the meaning of the dictum "I sought myself," namely as one of the beings: It also bears on reminiscence.

For none of the beings is outside the intellectual-principle or in space; they remain for ever in themselves, accepting no change, no decay, and by that are the authentically existent. Things that arise and fall away draw on real being as something to borrow from; they are not of the real; the true being is that on which they draw.

It is by participation that the sense-known has the being we ascribe to it; the underlying nature has taken its shape from elsewhere; thus bronze and wood are shaped into what we see by means of an image introduced by sculpture or carpentry; the craft permeates the materials while remaining integrally apart from the material and containing in itself the reality of statue or couch. And it is so, of course, with all corporeal things.

This universe, characteristically participant in images, shows how the image differs from the authentic beings: Against the variability of the one order, there stands the unchanging quality of the other, self-situate, not needing space because having no magnitude, holding an existent intellective and self-sufficing. The body-kind seeks its endurance in another kind; the intellectual-principle, sustaining by its marvellous being, the things which of themselves must fall, does not itself need to look for a staying ground.


We take it, then, that the intellectual-principle is the authentic existences and contains them all – not as in a place but as possessing itself and being one thing with this its content. All are one there and yet are distinct: Similarly the mind holds many branches and items of knowledge simultaneously, yet none of them merged into any other, each acting its own part at call quite independently, every conception coming out from the inner total and working singly. It is after this way, though in a closer unity, that the intellectual-principle is all being in one total – and yet not in one, since each of these beings is a distinct power which, however, the total intellectual-principle includes as the species in a genus, as the parts in a whole. This relation may be illustrated by the powers in seed; all lies undistinguished in the unit, the formative ideas gathered as in one kernel; yet in that unit there is eye-principle, and there is hand-principle, each of which is revealed as a separate power by its distinct material product. Thus each of the powers in the seed is a reason-principle one and complete yet including all the parts over which it presides: There will be something bodily, the liquid, for example, carrying mere matter; but the principle itself is idea and nothing else, idea identical with the generative idea belonging to the lower soul, image of a higher. This power is sometimes designated as nature in the seed-life; its origin is in the divine; and, outgoing from its priors as light from fire, it converts and shapes the matter of things, not by push and pull and the lever work of which we hear so much, but by bestowal of the ideas.


Knowledge in the reasoning soul is on the one side concerned with objects of sense, though indeed this can scarcely be called knowledge and is better indicated as opinion or surface- knowing; it is of later origin than the objects since it is a reflection from them: But on the other hand there is the knowledge handling the intellectual objects and this is the authentic knowledge; it enters the reasoning soul from the intellectual-principle and has no dealing with anything in sense. Being true knowledge it actually is everything of which it takes cognisance; it carries as its own content the intellectual act and the intellectual object since it carries the intellectual-principle which actually is the primals and is always self-present and is in its nature an act, never by any want forced to seek, never acquiring or traversing the remote – for all such experience belongs to soul – but always self- gathered, the very being of the collective total, not an extern creating things by the act of knowing them.

Not by its thinking God does God come to be; not by its thinking movement does movement arise. Hence it is an error to call the ideas intellections in the sense that, on an intellectual act in this principle, one such idea or another is made to exist or exists. No: The object of this intellection must exist before the intellective act [must be the very content not the creation of the intellectual-principle]. How else could that principle come to know it: Certainly not [as an external] by luck or by haphazard search.


If, then, the intellection is an act on the inner content [of a perfect unity], that content is at once the idea [as object: Eidos] and the idea itself [as concept: Idea].

What, then, is that content?

An intellectual-principle and an intellective essence, no concept distinguishable from the intellectual-principle, each actually being that principle. The intellectual-principle entire is the total of the ideas, and each of them is the [entire] intellectual- principle in a special form. Thus a science entire is the total of the relevant considerations each of which, again, is a member of the entire science, a member not distinct in space yet having its individual efficacy in a total.

This intellectual-principle, therefore, is a unity while by that possession of itself it is, tranquilly, the eternal abundance.

If the intellectual-principle were envisaged as preceding being, it would at once become a principle whose expression, its intellectual act, achieves and engenders the beings: But, since we are compelled to think of existence as preceding that which knows it, we can but think that the beings are the actual content of the knowing principle and that the very act, the intellection, is inherent to the beings, as fire stands equipped from the beginning with fire-act; in this conception, the beings contain the intellectual-principle as one and the same with themselves, as their own activity. Thus, being is itself an activity: There is one activity, then, in both or, rather, both are one thing.

Being, therefore, and the intellectual-principle are one nature: The beings, and the act of that which is, and the intellectual- principle thus constituted, all are one: And the resultant intellections are the idea of being and its shape and its act.

It is our separating habit that sets the one order before the other: For there is a separating intellect, of another order than the true, distinct from the intellect, inseparable and unseparating, which is being and the universe of things.


What, then, is the content – inevitably separated by our minds – of this one intellectual-principle? for there is no resource but to represent the items in accessible form just as we study the various articles constituting one science.

This universe is a living thing capable of including every form of life; but its being and its modes are derived from elsewhere; that source is traced back to the intellectual-principle: It follows that the all-embracing archetype is in the intellectual- principle, which, therefore, must be an intellectual cosmos, that indicated by Plato in the phrase "the living existent."

Given the reason-principle [the outgoing divine idea] of a certain living thing and the matter to harbour this seed-principle, the living thing must come into being: In the same way once there exists – an intellective nature, all powerful, and with nothing to check it – since nothing intervenes between it and that which is of a nature to receive it – inevitably the higher imprints form and the lower accepts, it. The recipient holds the idea in division, here man, there sun, while in the giver all remains in unity.


All, then, that is present in the sense realm as idea comes from the supreme. But what is not present as idea, does not. Thus of things conflicting with nature, none is there: The inartistic is not contained in the arts; lameness is not in the seed; for a lame leg is either inborn through some thwarting of the reason- principle or is a marring of the achieved form by accident. To that intellectual cosmos belong qualities, accordant with nature, and quantities; number and mass; origins and conditions; all actions and experiences not against nature; movement and repose, both the universals and the particulars: But there time is replaced by eternity and space by its intellectual equivalent, mutual inclusiveness.

In that intellectual cosmos, where all is one total, every entity that can be singled out is an intellective essence and a participant in life: Thus, identity and difference, movement and rest with the object resting or moving, essence and quality, all have essential existence. For every real being must be in actuality not merely in potentiality and therefore the nature of each essence is inherent in it.

This suggests the question whether the intellectual cosmos contains the forms only of the things of sense or of other existents as well. But first we will consider how it stands with artistic creations: There is no question of an ideal archetype of evil: The evil of this world is begotten of need, privation, deficiency, and is a condition peculiar to matter distressed and to what has come into likeness with matter.


Now as to the arts and crafts and their productions:

The imitative arts – painting, sculpture, dancing, pantomimic gesturing – are, largely, earth-based; on an earthly base; they follow models found in sense, since they copy forms and movements and reproduce seen symmetries; they cannot therefore be referred to that higher sphere except indirectly, through the reason-principle in humanity.

On the other hand any skill which, beginning with the observation of the symmetry of living things, grows to the symmetry of all life, will be a portion of the power there which observes and meditates the symmetry reigning among all beings in the intellectual cosmos. Thus all music – since its thought is on melody and rhythm – must be the earthly representation of the music there is in the rhythm of the ideal realm.

The crafts, such as building and carpentry which give us matter in wrought forms, may be said, in that they draw on pattern, to take their principles from that realm and from the thinking there: But in that they bring these down into contact with the sense-order, they are not wholly in the intellectual: They are founded in man. So agriculture, dealing with material growths: So medicine watching over physical health; so the art which aims at corporeal strength and well-being: Power and well-being mean something else there, the fearlessness and self- sufficing quality of all that lives.

Oratory and generalship, administration and sovereignty – under any forms in which their activities are associated with good and when they look to that – possess something derived thence and building up their knowledge from the knowledge there.

Geometry, the science of the intellectual entities, holds place there: So, too, philosophy, whose high concern is being.

For the arts and products of art, these observations may suffice.


It should however be added that if the idea of man exists in the supreme, there must exist the idea of reasoning man and of man with his arts and crafts; such arts as are the offspring of intellect must be there.

It must be observed that the ideas will be of universals; not of socrates but of man: Though as to man we may enquire whether the individual may not also have place there. Under the heading of individuality there is to be considered the repetition of the same feature from man to man, the simian type, for example, and the aquiline: The aquiline and the simian must be taken to be differences in the idea of man as there are different types of the animal: But matter also has its effect in bringing about the degree of aquilinity. Similarly with difference of complexion, determined partly by the reason-principle, partly by matter and by diversity of place.


It remains to decide whether only what is known in sense exists there or whether, on the contrary, as absolute-man differs from individual man, so there is in the supreme an absolute-soul differing from soul and an absolute-intellect differing from intellectual- principle.

It must be stated at the outset that we cannot take all that is here to be image of archetype, or soul to be an image of absolute- soul: One soul, doubtless, ranks higher than another, but here too, though perhaps not as identified with this realm, is the absolute- soul.

Every soul, authentically a soul, has some form of rightness and moral wisdom; in the souls within ourselves there is true knowing: And these attributes are no images or copies from the supreme, as in the sense-world, but actually are those very originals in a mode peculiar to this sphere. For those beings are not set apart in some defined place; wherever there is a soul that has risen from body, there too these are: The world of sense is one – where, the intellectual cosmos is everywhere. Whatever the freed soul attains to here, that it is there.

Thus, if by the content of the sense-world we mean simply the visible objects, then the supreme contains not only what is in the realm of sense but more: If in the content of the cosmos we mean to include soul and the soul-things, then all is here that is there.


There is, thus, a nature comprehending in the intellectual all that exists, and this principle must be the source of all. But how, seeing that the veritable source must be a unity, simplex utterly?

The mode by which from the unity arises the multiple, how all this universe comes to be, why the intellectual-principle is all and whence it springs, these matters demand another approach.

But on the question as to whether the repulsive and the products of putridity have also their idea – whether there is an idea of filth and mud – it is to be observed that all that the intellectual- principle derived from the first is of the noblest; in those ideas the base is not included: These repulsive things point not to the intellectual- principle but to the soul which, drawing on the intellectual-principle, takes from matter certain other things, and among them these.

But all this will be more clearly brought out, when we turn to the problem of the production of multiplicity from unity. Compounds, we shall see – as owing existence to hazard and not to the intellectual-principle, having been fused into objects of sense by their own impulse – are not to be included under ideas.

The products of putrefaction are to be traced to the soul's inability to bring some other thing to being – something in the order of nature, which, else, it would – but producing where it may. In the matter of the arts and crafts, all that are to be traced to the needs of human nature are laid up in the absolute man.

And before the particular soul there is another soul, a universal, and, before that, an absolute-soul, which is the life existing in the intellectual-principle before soul came to be and therefore rightly called [as the life in the divine] the absolute- soul.



Harvesting the hay

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