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Sixth ennead:

  1. On numbers
  2. How the multiplicity of the ideal-forms came into being: and on the good
  3. On free-will and the will of the One
  4. On the good, or the One

Sixth tractate: On numbers


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

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

But what is there so grievous in magnitude?

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

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

Yet the universe has at once extension and beauty?

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


What, then, of the "number of the infinite"?

To begin with, how is number consistent with infinity?

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

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

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

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


And there is the question how can the infinite have existence and remain unlimited: Whatever is in actual existence is by that very fact determined numerically.

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

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

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

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

No; any such poising, with or without side motion, could be known only by place [which matter precedes].

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

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

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


We have to enquire into the existence of the numbers in the intellectual. Are they ideas added to the other ideas? Or are they no more than necessary concomitants to the ideas?

In the latter case, being, as the first [in the intellectual] would give us the conception of the monad; then since being produces motion and rest, three exists; and so on for all the other members of the realm of being. Or perhaps there is one monad for each member, or a monad for the first, with a dyad for its next, since there exists a series, and a corresponding number for every successive total, decad for ten, and so on.

If, on the contrary, number is a direct production of the intellectual-principle [an idea in itself], there is the question whether it preceded or followed the other ideas.

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


What then is the veritable nature of number?

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

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

But how then can number, observed on things, rank among real beings?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


As then there is a life-form primal – which therefore is the life-form absolute – and there is intellectual-principle or being, authentic being, these, we affirm, contain all living things and all number, and absolute justice and beauty and all of that order; for we ascribe an existence of their own to absolute man, absolute number, absolute justice. It remains to discover, in so far as such knowledge is possible, how these distinct entities come to be and what is the manner of their being.

At the outset we must lay aside all sense-perception; by intellectual-principle we know intellectual-principle. We reflect within ourselves there is life, there is intellect, not in extension but as power without magnitude, issue of authentic being which is power self- existing, no vacuity but a thing most living and intellective – nothing more living, more intelligent, more real – and producing its effect by contact and in the ratio of the contact, closely to the close, more remotely to the remote. If being is to be sought, then most be sought is being at its intensest; so too the intensest of intellect if the intellectual act has worth; and so, too, of life.

First, then, we take being as first in order; then intellectual- principle; then the living-form considered as containing all things: Intellectual-principle, as the act of real being, is a second.

Thus it is clear that number cannot be dependent on the living-form since unity and duality existed before that; nor does it rise in the intellectual-principle since before that there existed real being which is both one and numerous.


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

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

But could it precede being itself?

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

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

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

But if number thus preceded the beings, then it is not included among them?

The truth is that it existed within the authentic being but not as applying to it, for being was still unparted; the potentiality of number existed and so produced the division within being, put in travail with multiplicity; number must be either the substance of being or its activity; the life-form as such and the intellectual- principle must be number. Clearly being is to be, thought of as number collective, while the beings are number unfolded: The intellectual-principle is number moving within itself, while the living-form is number container of the universe. Even being is the outcome of the unity, and, since the prior is unity, the secondary must be number.

Hence it is that the forms have been described as henads and numbers. This is the authentic number; the other, the "monadic" is its image. The authentic is that made manifest in the forms and helping to bring them to be; primally it is the number in the authentic being, inherent to it and preceding the beings, serving to them as root, fount, first principle.

For the unity is source to being; being's being is stayed on the unity as its safeguard from dissolution; the unity cannot rest on being which at that would be a unity before possessing unity; and so with the decad before possessing decadhood.


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

Here with us a man will say "I wish I had such and such a quantity of gold" – or "such and such a number of houses." Gold is one thing: The wish is not to bring the numerical quantity into gold but to bring the gold to quantity; the quantity, already present in the mind, is to be passed on to the gold so that it acquire that numerical value.

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

Number then pre-exists and is the cause by which produced things participate in quantity.

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

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

How does the mind pronounce?

By being able to enumerate; that is by knowing number: But in order to this, number must be in existence, and that that principle should not know its own total content is absurd, impossible.

It is with number as with good. When we pronounce things to be good either we mean that they are in their own nature so or we affirm goodness as an accidental in them. Dealing with the primals, the goodness we have in mind is that first hypostasis; where the goodness is an accidental we imply the existence of a principle of good as a necessary condition of the accidental presence; there must be some source of that good which is observed elsewhere, whether this source be an absolute good or something that of its own nature produces the good. Similarly with number; in attributing the decad to things we affirm either the truly existent decad or, where the decadhood is accidental, we necessarily posit the self-subsistent decad, decad not associated; if things are to be described as forming a decad, then either they must be of themselves the decad or be preceded by that which has no other being than that of decadhood.

It must be urged as a general truth that anything affirmed of a subject not itself either found its way in from outside or is the characteristic act of that subject; and supposing the predicated attribute to show no variation of presence and absence but to be always present, then, if the subject is a real being so also is the accidental in an equal degree; or, failing real being, it at least belongs to the existents, it exists. In the case when the subject can be thought of as remaining without its act, yet that act is inbound with it even though to our minds it appears as a later; when on the contrary the subject cannot be conceived without the attribute-man, for example, without unity – then the attribute is either not later but concomitant or, being essential to the existence, is precedent. In our view, unity and number are precedent.


It may be suggested that the decad is nothing more than so many henads; admitting the one henad why should we reject the ten? As the one is a real existence why not the rest? We are certainly not compelled to attach that one henad to some one thing and so deprive all the rest of the means to unity: Since every existent must be one thing, the unity is obviously common to all. This means one principle applying to many, the principle whose existence within itself we affirmed to be presupposed by its manifestation outside.

But if a henad exists in some given object and further is observed in something else, then that first henad being real, there cannot be only one henad in existence; there must be a multiplicity of henads.

Supposing that first henad alone to exist, it must obviously be lodged either in the thing of completest being or at all events in the thing most completely a unity. If in the thing of completest being, then the other henads are but nominal and cannot be ranked with the first henad, or else number becomes a collection of unlike monads and there are differences among monads [an impossibility]. If that first henad is to be taken as lodged in the thing of completest unity, there is the question why that most perfect unity should require the first henad to give it unity.

Since all this is impossible, then, before any particular can be thought of as a unit, there must exist a unity bare, unrelated by very essence. If in that realm also there must be a unity apart from anything that can be called one thing, why should there not exist another unity as well?

Each particular, considered in itself, would be a manifold of monads, totalling to a collective unity. If however nature produces continuously – or rather has produced once for all – not halting at the first production but bringing a sort of continuous unity into being, then it produces the minor numbers by the sheer fact of setting an early limit to its advance: Outgoing to a greater extent – not in the sense of moving from point to point but in its inner changes – it would produce the larger numbers; to each number so emerging it would attach the due quantities and the appropriate thing, knowing that without this adaptation to number the thing could not exist or would be a stray, something outside, at once, of both number and reason.


We may be told that unity and monad have no real existence, that the only unity is some definite object that is one thing, so that all comes to an attitude of the mind towards things considered singly.

But, to begin with, why at this should not the affirmation of being pass equally as an attitude of mind so that being too must disappear? No doubt being strikes and stings and gives the impression of reality; but we find ourselves just as vividly struck and impressed in the presence of unity. Besides, is this attitude, this concept itself, a unity or a manifold? When we deny the unity of an object, clearly the unity mentioned is not supplied by the object, since we are saying it has none; the unity therefore is within ourselves, something latent in our minds independently of any concrete one thing.

[an objector speaks-] "but the unity we thus possess comes by our acceptance of a certain idea or impression from things external; it is a notion derived from an object. Those that take the notion of numbers and of unity to be but one species of the notions held to be inherent in the mind must allow to numbers and to unity the reality they ascribe to any of the others, and on occasion they must be met; but no such real existence can be posited when the concept is taken to be an attitude or notion rising in us as a by-product of the objects; this happens when we say "this," "What," and still more obviously in the affirmations "crowd," "festival," "army," "multiplicity." as multiplicity is nothing apart from certain constituent items and the festival nothing apart from the people gathered happily at the rites, so when we affirm unity we are not thinking of some Oneness self- standing, unrelated. And there are many other such cases; for instance "on the right," "above" and their opposites; what is there of reality about this "On-the-right-ness" but the fact that two different positions are occupied? So with "above": "above" and "below" are a mere matter of position and have no significance outside of this sphere.

Now in answer to this series of objections our first remark is that there does exist an actuality implicit in each one of the relations cited; though this is not the same for all or the same for correlatives or the same for every reference to unity.

But these objections must be taken singly.


It cannot reasonably be thought that the notion of unity is derived from the object since this is physical – man, animal, even stone, a presentation of that order is something very different from unity [which must be a thing of the intellectual]; if that presentation were unity, the mind could never affirm unity unless of that given thing, man, for example.

Then again, just as in the case of "On the right" or other such affirmation of relation, the mind does not affirm in some caprice but from observation of contrasted position, so here it affirms unity in virtue of perceiving something real; assuredly the assertion of unity is not a bare attitude towards something non- existent. It is not enough that a thing be alone and be itself and not something else: And that very "something else" tells of another unity. Besides Otherness and difference are later; unless the mind has first rested on unity it cannot affirm Otherness or difference; when it affirms aloneness it affirms unity-with- aloneness; thus unity is presupposed in aloneness.

Besides, that in us which asserts unity of some object is first a unity, itself; and the object is a unity before any outside affirmation or conception.

A thing must be either one thing or more than one, manifold: And if there is to be a manifold there must be a precedent unity. To talk of a manifold is to talk of what has something added to unity; to think of an army is to think of a multitude under arms and brought to unity. In refusing to allow the manifold to remain manifold, the mind makes the truth clear; it draws a separate many into one, either supplying a unity not present or keen to perceive the unity brought about by the ordering of the parts; in an army, even, the unity is not a fiction but as real as that of a building erected from many stones, though of course the unity of the house is more compact.

If, then, unity is more pronounced in the continuous, and more again where there is no separation by part, this is clearly because there exists, in real existence, something which is a nature or principle of unity. There cannot be a greater and less in the non-existent: As we predicate substance of everything in sense, but predicate it also of the intellectual order and more strictly there – since we hold that the greater and more sovereign substantiality belongs to the real beings and that being is more marked in substance, even sensible substance, than in the other kinds – so, finding unity to exhibit degree of more and less, differing in sense-things as well as in the intellectual, we must similarly admit that unity exists under all forms though still by reference, only, to that primal unity.

As substance and real being, despite the participation of the sensible, are still of the intellectual and not the sensible order, so too the unity observed present in things of sense by participation remains still an intellectual and to be grasped by an intellectual act. The mind, from a thing present to it, comes to knowledge of something else, a thing not presented; that is, it has a prior knowledge. By this prior knowledge it recognises being in a particular being; similarly when a thing is one it can affirm unity as it can affirm also duality and multiplicity.

It is impossible to name or conceive anything not making one or two or some number; equally impossible that the thing should not exist without which nothing can possibly be named or conceived; impossible to deny the reality of that whose existence is a necessary condition of naming or affirming anything; what is a first need, universally, to the formation of every concept and every proposition must exist before reasoning and thinking; only as an existent can it be cited to account for the stirring of thought. If unity is necessary to the substantial existence of all that really is – and nothing exists which is not one – unity must precede reality and be its author. It is therefore, an existent unity, not an existent that develops unity; considered as being-with-unity it would be a manifold, whereas in the pure unity there is no being save in so far as unity attends to producing it. As regards the word "this," it is nat a bare word; it affirms an indicated existence without using the name, it tells of a certain presence, whether a substance or some other existent; any this must be significant; it is no attitude of the mind applying itself to a non-existent; the this shows a thing present, as much as if we used the strict name of the object.


To the argument touching relation we have an answer surely legitimate:

The unity is not of a nature to lose its own manner of being only because something else stands in a state which it does not itself share; to stray from its unity it must itself suffer division into duality or the still wider plurality.

If by division the one identical mass can become a duality without loss of quantity, clearly the unity it possessed and by this destructive division lost was something distinct. What may be alternatively present and absent to the same subject must be classed among real- beings, regardless of position; an accidental elsewhere, it must have reality in itself whether it be manifested in things of sense or in the intellectual – an accidental in the laters but self-existent in the higher, especially in the first in its aspect of unity developing into being. We may be told that unity may lose that character without change in itself, becoming duality by association with something else; but this is not true; unity does not become two things; neither the added nor what takes the addition becomes two; each remains the one thing it was; the duality is predicable of the group only, the unity remaining unchanged in each of those unchanged constituents.

Two and the dyad are not essentially relative: If the only condition to the construction of duality were meeting and association such a relation might perhaps constitute twoness and duality; but in fact we see duality produced by the very opposite process, by the splitting apart of a unity. This shows that duality – or any other such numerical form – is no relation produced either by scission or association. If one configuration produces a certain thing it is impossible that the opposite should produce the same so that the thing may be identified with the relation.

What then is the actual cause?

Unity is due to the presence of unity; duality to that of duality; it is precisely as things are white by Whiteness, just by justice, beautiful by beauty. Otherwise we must reject these universals and call in relation here also: Justice would arise from a certain attitude in a given situation, beauty from a certain pattern of the person with nothing present able to produce the beauty, nothing coming from without to effect that agreeable appearance.

You see something which you pronounce to be a unity; that thing possesses also size, form, and a host of other characteristics you might name; size, bulk, sweetness, bitterness and other ideas are actually present in the thing; it surely cannot be thought that, while every conceivable quality has real-being, quantity [number] has not and that while continuous quantity exists, discrete quantity does not and this though continuous quantity is measured by the discrete. No: As size by the presence of magnitude, and Oneness by the presence of unity, so with duality and all the other numerical modes.

As to the how of participation, the enquiry is that of all participation in ideal forms; we must note, however, that the presence of the decad in the looser totals is different from its presence in the continuous; there is difference again in its presence within many powers where multiplicity is concentred in unity; arrived at the intellectuals, there too we discover number, the authentic number, no longer entering the alien, decad- absolute not decad of some particular intellectual group.


We must repeat: The collective being, the authentic, there, is at once being and intellectual-principle and the complete living form; thus it includes the total of living things; the unity there is reproduced by the unity of this living universe in the degree possible to it – for the sense-nature as such cannot compass that transcendental unity – thus that living-all is inevitably number-entire: If the number were not complete, the all would be deficient to the extent of some number, and if every number applicable to living things were not contained in it, it would not be the all-comprehending life-form. Therefore, number exists before every living thing, before the collective life- form.

Again: Man exists in the intellectual and with him all other living things, both by possession of real-being and because that is the life-form complete. Even the man of this sphere is a member of the intellectual since that is the life-form complete; every living thing by virtue of having life, is there, there in the life- form, and man is there also, in the intellectual, in so far as he is intellect, for all intelligences are severally members of that. Now all this means number there. Yet even in intellect number is not present primally; its presence there is the reckoning of the acts of intellectual-principle; it tallies with the justice in intellectual- principle, its moral wisdom, its virtues, its knowledge, all whose possession makes that principle what it is.

But knowledge – must not this imply presence to the alien? No; knowledge, known and knower are an identity; so with all the rest; every member of intellectual-principle is therefore present to it primally; justice, for example, is not accidental to it as to soul in its character as soul, where these virtues are mainly potential becoming actual by the intention towards intellectual-principle and association with it.

Next we come to being, fully realized, and this is the seat of number; by number, being brings forth the beings; its movement is planned to number; it establishes the numbers of its offspring before bringing them to be, in the same way as it establishes its own unity by linking pure being to the first: The numbers do not link the lower to the first; it suffices that being is so linked; for being, in taking form as number, binds its members to itself. As a unity, it suffers no division, remaining self-constant; as a thing of division, containing its chosen total of members, it knows that total and so brings forth number, a phase therefore of its content: Its development of part is ruled by the powers of number, and the beings it produces sum to that number. Thus number, the primal and true, is principle and source of actuality to the beings.

Hence it is that in our sphere, also, number accompanies the coming to be of particular things and to suppose another number than the actual is to suppose the production of something else or of nothing.

These then are the primal numbers; they are numerable; the numbers of the other order are of a double character; as derived from the first numbers they are themselves numerable but as acting for those first they are measures of the rest of things, numbering numbers and numerables. For how could they declare a decad save in the light of numbers within themselves?


But here we may be questioned about these numbers which we describe as the primal and authentic:

"Where do you place these numbers, in what genus among beings? To everyone they seem to come under Quantity and you have certainly brought Quantity in, where you say that discrete Quantity equally with the continuous holds place among beings; but you go on to say that there are the numbers belonging to the firsts and then talk of other numbers quite distinct, those of reckoning; tell us how you arrange all this, for there is difficulty here. And then, the unity in sense-things – is that a quantity or is quantity here just so many units brought together, the unity being the starting-point of quantity but not quantity itself? And, if the starting-point, is it a kindred thing or of another genus? All this you owe it to us to make clear."

Be it so; we begin by pointing out a distinction:

You take one thing with another – for we must first deal with objects of sense – a dog and a man, or two men; or you take a group and affirm ten, a decad of men: In this case the number affirmed is not a reality, even as reality goes in the sphere of sense, but is purely Quantity: Similarly when you resolve into units, breaking up the decad, those units are your principle of Quantity since the single individual is not a unity absolute.

But the case is different when you consider one man in himself and affirm a certain number, duality, for example, in that he is at once living and reasoning.

By this analysis and totalling, you get quantity; but there are two objects under consideration and each of these is one; each of the unities contributes to the complete being and the oneness is inherent in each; this is another kind of number; number essential; even the duality so formed is no posterior; it does not signify a quantity apart from the thing but the quantity in the essence which holds the thing together. The number here is no mere result of your detailing; the things exist of themselves and are not brought together by your reckoning, but what has it to do with essential reality that you count one man in with another? There is here no resultant unity such as that of a choir – the decad is real only to you who count the ten; in the ten of your reckoning there cannot be a decad without a unitary basis; it is you that make the ten by your counting, by fixing that tenness down to quantity; in choir and army there is something more than that, something not of your placing.

But how do you come to have a number to place?

The number inherent apart from any enumeration has its own manner of being, but the other, that resulting on the appearance of an external to be appraised by the number within yourself, is either an act of these inherent numbers or an act in accordance with them; in counting we produce number and so bring quantity into being just as in walking we bring a certain movement into being.

But what of that "number within us having its own manner of being"?

It is the number of our essence. "Our essence" we read "partakes of number and harmony and, also, is number and harmony." "neither body nor magnitude," someone says: Soul, then, is number since it is essence. The number belonging to body is an essence of the order of body; the number belonging to soul constitutes the essences of souls.

In the intellectuals, all, if the absolute living-form, there is a multiple – a triad, let us say – that triad of the living- form is of the nature of essence: And the triad prior to any living thing, triad in the realm of being, is a principle of essence.

When you enumerate two things – say, animal and beauty – each of these remains one thing; the number is your production; it lay within yourself; it is you that elaborate quantity, here the dyad. But when you declare virtue to be a tetrad, you are affirming a tetrad which does actually exist; the parts, so to speak, make one thing; you are taking as the object of your act a unity – tetrad to which you accommodate the tetrad within yourself.


But what of the infinite number we hear of; does not all this reasoning set it under limit?

And rightly so if the thing is to be a number; limitlessness and number are in contradiction.

How, then, do we come to use the term? Is it that we think of number as we think of an infinite line, not with the idea that any such lire exists but that even the very greatest – that of the [path of the] universe, for example – may be thought of as still greater? So it might be with number; let it be fixed, yet we still are free to think of its double, though not of course to produce the doubled quantity since it is impossible to join to the actual what is no more than a conception, a phantasm, private to ourselves.

It is our view that there does exist an infinite line, among the intellectual beings: For there a line would not be quantitative and being without quantity could be numerically infinite. This however would be in another mode than that of limitless extension. In what mode then? In that the conception of the absolute line does not include the conception of limit.

But what sort of thing is the line in the intellectual and what place does it hold?

It is later than number since unity is observed in it; it rises at one point and traverses one course and simply lacks the quantity that would be the measure of the distance.

But where does this thing lie? Is it existent only in the defining thought, so to speak?

No; it is also a thing, though a thing of the intellectual. All that belongs to that order is at once an intellectual and in some degree the concrete thing. There is a position, as well as a manner of being, for all configurations, for surface, for solid. And certainly the configurations are not of our devising; for example, the configurations of the universe are obviously antecedent to ourselves; so it must be with all the configurations of the things of nature; before the bodily reproductions all must exist there, without configuration, primal configurations. For these primals are not shapes in something; self-belonging, they are perfect without extension; only the extended needs the external. In the sphere of real-being the configuration is always a unity; it becomes discrete either in the living-form or immediately before: I say "becomes discrete" not in the sense that it takes magnitude there but that it is broken apart for the purpose of the living-form and is allotted to the bodies within that form – for instance, to fire there, the intellectual pyramid. And because the ideal-form is there, the fire of this sphere seeks to produce that configuration against the check of matter: And so of all the rest as we read in the account of the realm of sense.

But does the life-form contain the configurations by the mere fact of its life?

They are in the intellectual-principle previously but they also exist in the living-form; if this be considered as including the intellectual-principle, then they are primally in the life-form, but if that principle comes first then they are previously in that. And if the life-form entire contains also souls, it must certainly be subsequent to the intellectual-principle.

No doubt there is the passage "Whatever intellect sees in the entire life-form"; thus seeing, must not the intellectual-principle be the later?

No; the seeing may imply merely that the reality comes into being by the fact of that seeing; the intellectual-principle is not external to the life-form; all is one; the act of the intellectual- principle possesses itself of bare sphere, while the life-form holds the sphere as sphere of a living total.


It appears then that number in that realm is definite; it is we that can conceive the "more than is present"; the infinity lies in our counting: In the real is no conceiving more than has been conceived; all stands entire; no number has been or could be omitted to make addition possible. It might be described as infinite in the sense that it has not been measured – who is there to measure it? – but it is solely its own, a concentrated unit, entire, not ringed round by any boundary; its manner of being is settled for it by itself alone. None of the real- beings is under limit; what is limited, measured, is what needs measure to prevent it running away into the unbounded. There every being is measure; and therefore it is that all is beautiful. Because that is a living thing it is beautiful, holding the highest life, the complete, a life not tainted towards death, nothing mortal there, nothing dying. Nor is the life of that absolute living-form some feeble flickering; it is primal, the brightest, holding all that life has of radiance; it is that first light which the souls there draw on for their life and bring with them when they come here. It knows for what purpose it lives, towards What it lives, from Whence it lives; for the Whence of its life is the Whither... And close above it stands the wisdom of all, the collective intellectual-principle, knit into it, one with it, colouring it to a higher goodness, by kneading wisdom into it, making its beauty still more august. Even here the august and veritably beautiful life is the life in wisdom, here dimly seen, there purely. For there wisdom gives sight to the seer and power for the fuller living and in that tenser life both to see and to become what is seen.

Here attention is set for the most part on the unliving and, in the living, on what is lifeless in them; the inner life is taken only with alloy: There, all are living beings, living wholly, unalloyed; however you may choose to study one of them apart from its life, in a moment that life is flashed out on you: Once you have known the essence that pervades them, conferring that unchangeable life on them, once you perceive the judgement and wisdom and knowledge that are theirs, you can but smile at all the lower nature with its pretention to reality.

In virtue of this essence it is that life endures, that the intellectual-principle endures, that the beings stand in their eternity; nothing alters it, turns it, moves it; nothing, indeed, is in being besides it to touch it; anything that is must be its product; anything opposed to it could not affect it. Being itself could not make such an opposite into being; that would require a prior to both and that prior would then be being; so that parmenides was right when he taught the identity of being and unity. Being is thus beyond contact not because it stands alone but because it is being. For being alone has being in its own right.

How then can we deny to it either being or anything at all that may exist effectively, anything that may derive from it?

As long as it exists it produces: But it exists for ever; so, therefore, do its products. And so great is it in power and beauty that it remains the allurer, all things of the universe depending from it and rejoicing to hold their trace of it and through that to seek their good. To us, existence is before the good; all this world desires life and wisdom in order to being; every soul and every intellect seeks to be its being, but being is sufficient to itself.


Seventh tractate: How the multiplicity of the ideal-forms came into being and on the good


God, or some one of the gods, in sending the souls to their birth, placed eyes in the face to catch the light and allotted to each sense the appropriate organ, providing thus for the safety which comes by seeing and hearing in time and, seeking or avoiding under guidance of touch.

But what led to this provision?

It cannot be that other forms of being were produced first and that, these perishing in the absence of the senses, the maker at last supplied the means by which men and other living beings might avert disaster.

We may be told that it lay within the divine knowledge that animal life would be exposed to heat and cold and other such experiences incident to body and that in this knowledge he provided the senses and the organs apt to their activity in order that the living total might not fall an easy prey.

Now, either he gave these organs to souls already possessing the sensitive powers or he gave senses and organs alike.

But if the souls were given the powers as well as the organs, then, souls though they were, they had no sensation before that giving. If they possessed these powers from the moment of being souls and became souls in order to their entry into process, then it is of their very nature to belong to process, unnatural to them to be outside of process and within the intellectual: They were made in the intent that they should belong to the alien and have their being amid evil; the divine provision would consist in holding them to their disaster; this is God's reasoned purpose, this the plan entire.

Now what is the foundation of reasoned plan?

Precedent planning, it may be; but still we are forced back to some thing or things determining it. What would these be here?

Either sense-perception or intellect. But sense-perception it cannot in this case be: Intellect is left; yet, starting from intellect, the conclusion will be knowledge, not therefore the handling of the sensible; what begins with the intellectual and proceeds to the intellectual can certainly not end in dealings with the sensible. Providence, then, whether over living beings or over any part of the universe was never the outcome of plan.

There is in fact no planning there; we speak of reasoned purpose in the world of things only to convey that the universe is of the character which in the later order would point to a wise purposing; providence implies that things are as, in the later order, a competent foreplanning would produce them. Reasoning serves, in beings not of the order above that need, to supply for the higher power; foresight is necessary in the lack of power which could dispense with it; it labours towards some one occurrence in preference to another and it goes in a sort of dread of the unfitting; where only the fitting can occur, there is no foreseeing. So with planning; where one only of two things can be, what place is there for plan? The alone and one and utterly simplex cannot involve a "this to avert that": If the "this" could not be, the "that" must; the serviceable thing appeared and at once approved itself so.

But surely this is foreseeing, deliberating: Are we not back at what was said at the beginning, that God did to this end give both the senses and the powers, however perplexing that giving be?

No: All turns on the necessary completeness of act; we cannot think anything belonging to God to be other than a whole and all and therefore in anything of God's that all must be contained; God therefore must take in the future, present beforehand. Certainly there is no later in the divine; what is there as present is future for elsewhere. If then the future is present, it must be present as having been foreconceived for later coming to be; at that divine stage therefore it lacks nothing and therefore can never lack; all existed, eternally and in such a way that at the later stage any particular thing may be said to exist for this or that purpose; the all, in its extension and so to speak unfolding, is able to present succession while yet it is simultaneous; this is because it contains the cause of all as inherent to itself.


Thus we have even here the means of knowing the nature of the intellectual-principle, though, seeing it more closely than anything else, we still see it at less than its worth. We know that it exists but its cause we do not see, or, if we do, we see that cause as something apart. We see a man – or an eye, if you like – but this is an image or part of an image; what is in that principle is at once man and the reason of his being; for there man – or eye – must be, itself, an intellective thing and a cause of its being; it could not exist at all unless it were that cause, whereas here, everything partial is separate and so is the cause of each. In the intellectual, all is at one so that the thing is identical with the cause.

Even here the thing and its cause are often identical – an eclipse furnishes an example – what then is there to prevent other things too being identical with their cause and this cause being the essence of the thing? It must be so; and by this search after the cause the thing's essence is reached, for the essence of a thing is its cause. I am not here saying that the informing idea is the cause of the thing – though this is true – but that the idea itself, unfolded, reveals the cause inherent in it.

A thing of inactivity, even though alive, cannot include its own cause; but where could a forming-idea, a member of the intellectual-principle, turn in quest of its cause? We may be answered "in the intellectual-principle"; but the two are not distinct; the idea is the intellectual-principle; and if that principle must contain the ideas complete, their cause must be contained in them. The intellectual-principle itself contains every cause of the things of its content; but these of its content are identically intellectual- principle, each of them intellectual-principle; none of them, thus, can lack its own cause; each springs into being carrying with it the reason of its being. No result of chance, each must rise complete with its cause; it is an integral and so includes the excellence bound up with the cause. This is how all participants in the idea are put into possession of their cause.

In our universe, a coherent total of multiplicity, the several items are linked each to the other, and by the fact that it is an all every cause is included in it: Even in the particular thing the part is discernibly related to the whole, for the parts do not come into being separately and successively but are mutually cause and caused at one and the same moment. Much more in the higher realm must all the singles exist for the whole and each for itself: If then that world is the conjoint reality of all, of an all not chance-ruled and not sectional, the cause there must include the causes: Every item must hold, in its very nature, the uncaused possession of its cause; uncaused, independent and standing apart from cause, they must be self-contained, cause and all.

Further, since nothing there is chance-sprung, and the multiplicity in each comprehends the entire content, then the cause of every member can be named; the cause was present from the beginning, inherent, not a cause but a fact of the being; or, rather, cause and manner of being were one. What could an idea have, as cause, over and above the intellectual-principle? It is a thought of that principle and cannot, at that, be considered as anything but a perfect product. If it is thus perfect we cannot speak of anything in which it is lacking nor cite any reason for such lack. That thing must be present, and we can say why. The why is inherent, therefore, in the entity, that is to say in every thought and activity of the intellectual-principle. Take for example the idea of man; man entire is found to contribute to it; he is in that idea in all his fulness including everything that from the beginning belonged to man. If man were not complete there, so that there were something to be added to the idea, that additional must belong to a derivative; but man exists from eternity and must therefore be complete; the man born is the derivative.


What then is there to prevent man having been the object of planning there?

No: All stands in that likeness, nothing to be added or taken away; this planning and reasoning is based only on an assumption; things are taken to be in process and this suggests planning and reasoning; insist on the eternity of the process and planning falls to the ground. There can be no planning over the eternal; that would imply forgetfulness of a first state; further, if the second state were better, things stood ill at first; if they stood well, so they must remain.

Only in conjunction with their causes are things good; even in this sphere a thing is good in virtue of being complete; form means that the thing is complete, the matter duly controlled; this control means that nothing has been left crude; but something is so left if anything belonging to the shape be missing-eye, or other part. Thus to state cause is to state the thing complete. Why eyes or eyebrows? for completion: If you say "for preservation," you affirm an indwelling safeguard of the essence, something contributory to the being: The essence, then, preceded the safeguard and the cause was inbound with the essence; distinct, this cause is in its nature a part of the essence.

All parts, thus, exist in regard to each other: The essence is all-embracing, complete, entire; the excellency is inbound with the cause and embraced by it; the being, the essence, the cause, all are one.

But, at this, sense-perception – even in its particular modes – is involved in the idea by eternal necessity, in virtue of the completeness of the idea; intellectual-principle, as all-inclusive, contains in itself all by which we are brought, later, to recognise this perfection in its nature; the cause, there, was one total, all- inclusive; thus man in the intellectual was not purely intellect, sense- perception being an addition made on his entry into birth: All this would seem to imply a tendance in that great principle towards the lower, towards this sphere.

But how could that principle have such perception, be aware of things of sense? Surely it is untenable on the one hand that sense-perception should exist there, from eternity, and on the other that only on the debasement of the soul should there be sense- perception here and the accomplishment in this realm of the act of what was always a power in that?


To meet the difficulty we must make a close examination of the nature of man in the intellectual; perhaps, though, it is better to begin with the man of this plane lest we be reasoning to man there from a misconception of man here. There may even be some who deny the difference.

We ask first whether man as here is a reason-principle different to that soul which produces him as here and gives him life and thought; or is he that very soul or, again, the [yet lower] soul using the human body?

Now if man is a reasonable living being and by "living being" is meant a conjoint of soul and body, the reason-principle of man is not identical with soul. But if the conjoint of soul and body is the reason-principle of man, how can man be an eternal reality, seeing that it is only when soul and body have come together that the reason- principle so constituted appears?

The reason-principle will be the foreteller of the man to be, not the man absolute with which we are dealing but more like his definition, and not at that indicating his nature since what is indicated is not the idea that is to enter matter but only that of the known thing, the conjoint. We have not yet found the man we are seeking, the equivalent of the reason-principle.

But – it may be said – the reason-principle of such beings must be some conjoint, one element in another.

This does not define the principle of either. If we are to state with entire accuracy the reason-principles of the forms in matter and associated with matter, we cannot pass over the generative reason-principle, in this case that of man, especially since we hold that a complete definition must cover the essential manner of being.

What, then, is this essential of man? What is the indwelling, inseparable something which constitutes man as here? Is the reason-principle itself a reasoning living being or merely a maker of that reasoning life-form? And what is it apart from that act of making?

The living being corresponds to a reasoning life in the reason-principle; man therefore is a reasoning life: But there is no life without soul; either, then, the soul supplies the reasoning life – and man therefore is not an essence but simply an activity of the soul – or the soul is the man.

But if reasoning soul is the man, why does it not constitute man on its entry into some other animal form?


Man, thus, must be some reason-principle other than soul. But why should he not be some conjoint – a soul in a certain reason-principle – the reason-principle being, as it were, a definite activity which however could not exist without that which acts?

This is the case with the reason-principles in seed which are neither soulless nor entirely soul. For these productive principles cannot be devoid of soul and there is nothing surprising in such essences being reason-principles.

But these principles producing other forms than man, of what phase of soul are they activities? Of the vegetal soul? Rather of that which produces animal life, a brighter soul and therefore one more intensely living.

The soul of that order, the soul that has entered into matter of that order, is man by having, apart from body, a certain disposition; within body it shapes all to its own fashion, producing another form of man, man reduced to what body admits, just as an artist may make a reduced image of that again.

It is soul, then, that holds the pattern and reason-principles of man, the natural tendencies, the dispositions and powers – all feeble since this is not the primal man – and it contains also the ideal-forms of other senses, forms which themselves are senses, bright to all seeming but images, and dim in comparison with those of the earlier order.

The higher man, above this sphere, rises from the more godlike soul, a soul possessed of a nobler humanity and brighter perceptions. This must be the man of Plato's definition ["man is soul"], where the addition "soul as using body" marks the distinction between the soul which uses body directly and the soul, poised above, which touches body only through that intermediary.

The man of the realm of birth has sense-perception: The higher soul enters to bestow a brighter life, or rather does not so much enter as simply impart itself; for soul does not leave the intellectual but, maintaining that contact, holds the lower life as pendant from it, blending with it by the natural link of reason- principle to reason-principle: And man, the dimmer, brightens under that illumination.


But how can that higher soul have sense- perception?

It is the perception of what falls under perception there, sensation in the mode of that realm: It is the source of the soul's perception of the sense-realm in its correspondence with the intellectual. Man as sense-percipient becomes aware of that correspondence and accommodates the sense-realm to the lowest extremity of its counterpart there, proceeding from the fire intellectual to the fire here which becomes perceptible by its analogy with that of the higher sphere. If material things existed there, the soul would perceive them; man in the intellectual, man as intellectual soul, would be aware of the terrestrial. This is how the secondary man, copy of man in the intellectual, contains the reason-principles in copy; and man in the intellectual- principle contained the man that existed before any man. The diviner shines out on the secondary and the secondary on the tertiary; and even the latest possesses them all – not in the sense of actually living by them all but as standing in under-parallel to them. Some of us act by this lowest; in another rank there is a double activity, a trace of the higher being included; in yet another there is a blending of the third grade with the others: Each is that man by which he acts while each too contains all the grades, though in some sense not so. On the separation of the third life and third man from the body, then if the second also departs – of course not losing hold on the above – the two, as we are told, will occupy the same place. No doubt it seems strange that a soul which has been the reason-principle of a man should come to occupy the body of an animal: But the soul has always been all, and will at different times be this and that.

Pure, not yet fallen to evil, the soul chooses man and is man, for this is the higher, and it produces the higher. It produces also the still loftier beings, the celestials [daimons], who are of one form with the soul that makes man: Higher still stands that man more entirely of the celestial rank, almost a god, reproducing God, a celestial closely bound to God as a man is to man. For that being into which man develops is not to be called a god; there remains the difference which distinguishes souls, all of the same race though they be. This is taking "celestial" ["daimon"] in the sense of Plato.

When a soul which in the human state has been thus attached chooses animal nature and descends to that, it is giving forth the reason-principle – necessarily in it – of that particular animal: This lower it contained and the activity has been to the lower.


But if it is by becoming evil and inferior that the soul produces the animal nature, the making of ox or horse was not at the outset in its character; the reason-principle of the animal, and the animal itself, must lie outside of the natural plan?

Inferior, yes; but outside of nature, no. The thing there [soul in the intellectual] was in some sense horse and dog from the beginning; given the condition, it produces the higher kind; let the condition fail, then, since produce it must, it produces what it may: It is like a skillful craftsman competent to create all kinds of works of art but reduced to making what is ordered and what the aptitude of his material indicates.

The power of the all-soul, as reason-principle of the universe, may be considered as laying down a pattern before the effective separate powers go forth from it: This plan would be something like a tentative illumining of matter; the elaborating soul would give minute articulation to these representations of itself; every separate effective soul would become that towards which it tended, assuming that particular form as the choral dancer adapts himself to the action set down for him.

But this is to anticipate: Our enquiry was how there can be sense-perception in man without the implication that the divine addresses itself to the realm of process. We maintained, and proved, that the divine does not look to this realm but that things here are dependent on those and represent them and that man here, holding his powers from thence, is directed thither, so that, while sense makes the environment of what is of sense in him, the intellectual in him is linked to the intellectual.

What we have called the perceptibles of that realm enter into cognisance in a way of their own, since they are not material, while the sensible sense here – so distinguished as dealing with corporeal objects – is fainter than the perception belonging to that higher world; the man of this sphere has sense- perception because existing in a less true degree and taking only enfeebled images of things there – perceptions here are intellections of the dimmer order, and the intellections there are vivid perceptions.


So much for the thing of sense; but it would appear that the prototype there of the living form, the universal horse, must look deliberately towards this sphere; and, that being so, the idea of horse must have been worked out in order there be a horse here?

Yet what was that there to present the idea of the horse it was desired to produce? Obviously the idea of horse must exist before there was any planning to make a horse; it could not be thought of in order to be made; there must have been horse unproduced before that which was later to come into being. If, then, the thing existed before it was produced – if it cannot have been thought of in order to its production – the being that held the horse as there held it in presence without any looking to this sphere; it was not with intent to set horse and the rest in being here that they were contained there; it is that, the universal existing, the reproduction followed of necessity since the total of things was not to halt at the intellectual. Who was there to call a halt to a power capable at once of self- concentration and of outflow?

But how come these animals of earth to be there? What have they to do within God? Reasoning beings, all very well; but this host of the unreasoning, what is there august in them? Surely the very contrary?

The answer is that obviously the unity of our universe must be that of a manifold since it is subsequent to that unity-absolute; otherwise it would be not next to that but the very same thing. As a next it could not hold the higher rank of being more perfectly a unity; it must fall short: Since the best is a unity, inevitably there must be something more than unity, for deficiency involves plurality.

But why should it not be simply a dyad?

Because neither of the constituents could ever be a pure unity, but at the very least a duality and so progressively [in an endless dualization]. Besides, in that first duality of the hypothesis there would be also movement and rest, intellect and the life included in intellect, all-embracing intellect and life complete. That means that it could not be one intellect; it must be intellect agglomerate including all the particular intellects, a thing therefore as multiple as all the intellects and more so; and the life in it would nat be that of one soul but of all the souls with the further power of producing the single souls: It would be the entire living universe containing much besides man; for if it contained only man, man would be alone here.


Admitted, then – it will be said – for the nobler forms of life; but how can the divine contain the mean, the unreasoning? The mean is the unreasoning, since value depends on reason and the worth of the intellective implies worthlessness where intellection is lacking. Yet how can there be question of the unreasoning or unintellective when all particulars exist in the divine and come forth from it?

In taking up the refutation of these objections, we must insist on the consideration that neither man nor animals here can be thought of as identical with the counterparts in the higher realm; those ideal forms must be taken in a larger way. And again the reasoning thing is not of that realm: Here the reasoning, there the pre- reasoning.

Why then does man alone reason here, the others remaining reasonless?

Degrees of reasoning here correspond to degrees of intellection in that other sphere, as between man and the other living beings there; and those others do in some measure act by understanding.

But why are they not at man's level of reason: Why also the difference from man to man?

We must reflect that, since the many forms of lives are movements – and so with the intellections – they cannot be identical: There must be different lives, distinct intellections, degrees of lightsomeness and clarity: There must be firsts, seconds, thirds, determined by nearness to the firsts. This is how some of the intellections are gods, others of a secondary order having what is here known as reason, while others again belong to the so-called unreasoning: But what we know here as unreasoning was there a reason- principle; the unintelligent was an intellect; the thinker of horse was intellect and the thought, horse, was an intellect.

But [it will be objected] if this were a matter of mere thinking we might well admit that the intellectual concept, remaining concept, should take in the unintellectual, but where concept is identical with thing how can the one be an intellection and the other without intelligence? Would not this be intellect making itself unintelligent?

No: The thing is not unintelligent; it is intelligence in a particular mode, corresponding to a particular aspect of life; and just as life in whatever form it may appear remains always life, so intellect is not annulled by appearing in a certain mode. Intellectual- principle adapted to some particular living being does not cease to be the intellectual-principle of all, including man: Take it where you will, every manifestation is the whole, though in some special mode; the particular is produced but the possibility is of all. In the particular we see the intellectual- principle in realization; the realized is its latest phase; in one case the last aspect is "horse"; at "horse" ended the progressive outgoing towards the lesser forms of life, as in another case it will end at something lower still. The unfolding of the powers of this principle is always attended by some abandonment in regard to the highest; the outgoing is by loss, and by this loss the powers become one thing or another according to the deficiency of the life-form produced by the failing principle; it is then that they find the means of adding various requisites; the safeguards of the life becoming inadequate there appear nail, talon, fang, horn. Thus the intellectual-principle by its very descent is directed towards the perfect sufficiency of the natural constitution, finding there within itself the remedy of the failure.


But failure there? What can defensive horns serve to there? To sufficiency as living form, to completeness. That principle must be complete as living form, complete as intellect, complete as life, so that if it is not to be one thing it may be another. Its characteristic difference is in this power of being now this, now that, so that, summing all, it may be the completest life-form, intelligence complete, life in greatest fulness with each of the particulars complete in its degree while yet, over all that multiplicity, unity reigns.

If all were one identity, the total could not contain this variety of forms; there would be nothing but a self-sufficing unity. Like every compound it must consist of things progressively differing in form and safeguarded in that form. This is in the very nature of shape and reason-principle; a shape, that of man let us suppose, must include a certain number of differences of part but all dominated by a unity; there will be the noble and the inferior, eye and finger, but all within a unity; the part will be inferior in comparison with the total but best in its place. The reason-principle, too, is at once the living form and something else, something distinct from the being of that form. It is so with virtue also; it contains at once the universal and the particular; and the total is good because the universal is not differentiated.


The very heavens, patently multiple, cannot be thought to disdain any form of life since this universe holds everything. Now how do these things come to be here? does the higher realm contain all of the lower?

All that has been shaped by reason-principle and conforms to idea.

But, having fire [warmth] and water, it will certainly have vegetation; how does vegetation exist there? Earth, too? Either these are alive or they are there as dead things and then not everything there has life. How in sum can the things of this realm be also there?

Vegetal life we can well admit, for the plant is a reason- principle established in life. If in the plant the reason-principle, entering matter and constituting the plant, is a certain form of life, a definite soul, then, since every reason-principle is a unity, then either this of plant-life is the primal or before it there is a primal plant, source of its being: That first plant would be a unity; those here, being multiple, must derive from a unity. This being so, that primal must have much the truer life and be the veritable plant, the plants here deriving from it in the secondary and tertiary degree and living by a vestige of its life.

But earth; how is there earth there: What is the being of earth and how are we to represent to ourselves the living earth of that realm?

First, what is it, what the mode of its being?

Earth, here and there alike, must possess shape and a reason- principle. Now in the case of the vegetal, the reason-principle of the plant here was found to be living in that higher realm: Is there such a reason-principle in our earth?

Take the most earthy of things found shaped in earth and they exhibit, even they, the indwelling earth-principle. The growing and shaping of stones, the internal moulding of mountains as they rise, reveal the working of an ensouled reason- principle fashioning them from within and bringing them to that shape: This, we must take it, is the creative earth-principle corresponding to what we call the specific principle of a tree; what we know as earth is like the wood of the tree; to cut out a stone is like lopping a twig from a tree, except of course that there is no hurt done, the stone remaining a member of the earth as the twig, uncut, of the tree.

Realizing thus that the creative force inherent in our earth is life within a reason-principle, we are easily convinced that the earth there is much more primally alive, that it is a reasoned earth- livingness, the earth of real-being, earth primally, the source of ours.

Fire, similarly, with other such things, must be a reason- principle established in matter: Fire certainly does not originate in the friction to which it may be traced; the friction merely brings out a fire already existent in the scheme and contained in the materials rubbed together. Matter does not in its own character possess this fire- power: The true cause is something informing the matter, that is to say, a reason-principle, obviously therefore a soul having the power of bringing fire into being; that is, a life and a reason-principle in one.

It is with this in mind that Plato says there is soul in everything of this sphere. That soul is the cause of the fire of the sense-world; the cause of fire here is a certain life of fiery character, the more authentic fire. That transcendent fire being more truly fire will be more veritably alive; the fire absolute possesses life. And the same principles apply to the other elements, water and air.

Why, then, are water and air not ensouled as earth is?

Now, it is quite certain that these are equally within the living total, parts of the living all; life does not appear visibly in them; but neither does it in the case of the earth where its presence is inferred by what earth produces: But there are living things in fire and still more manifestly in water and there are systems of life in the air. The particular fire, rising only to be quenched, eludes the soul animating the universe; it slips away from the magnitude which would manifest the soul within it; so with air and water. If these kinds could somehow be fastened down to magnitude they would exhibit the soul within them, now concealed by the fact that their function requires them to be loose or flowing. It is much as in the case of the fluids within ourselves; the flesh and all that is formed out of the blood into flesh show the soul within, but the blood itself, not bringing us any sensation, seems not to have soul; yet it must; the blood is not subject to blind force; its nature obliges it to abstain from the soul which nonetheless is indwelling in it. This must be the case with the three elements; it is the fact that the living beings formed from the close conglomeration of air [the stars] are not susceptible to suffering. But just as air, so long as it remains itself, eludes the light which is and remains unyielding, so too, by the effect of its circular movement, it eludes soul – and, in another sense, does not. And so with fire and water.


Or take it another way: Since in our view this universe stands to that as copy to original, the living total must exist there beforehand; that is the realm of complete being and everything must exist there.

The sky there must be living and therefore not bare of stars, here known as the heavens – for stars are included in the very meaning of the word. Earth too will be there, and not void but even more intensely living and containing all that lives and moves on our earth and the plants obviously rooted in life; sea will be there and all waters with the movement of their unending life and all the living things of the water; air too must be a member of that universe with the living things of air as here.

The content of that living thing must surely be alive – as in this sphere – and all that lives must of necessity be there. The nature of the major parts determines that of the living forms they comprise; by the being and content of the heaven there are determined all the heavenly forms of life; if those lesser forms were not there, that heaven itself would not be.

To ask how those forms of life come to be there is simply asking how that heaven came to be; it is asking whence comes life, whence the all-life, whence the all-soul, whence collective intellect: And the answer is that there no indigence or impotence can exist but all must be teeming, seething, with life. All flows, so to speak, from one fount not to be thought of as one breath or warmth but rather as one quality englobing and safeguarding all qualities – sweetness with fragrance, wine – quality and the savours of everything that may be tasted, all colours seen, everything known to touch, all that ear may hear, all melodies, every rhythm.


For intellectual-principle is not a simplex, nor is the soul that proceeds from it: On the contrary things include variety in the degree of their simplicity, that is to say in so far as they are not compounds but principles and activities; – the activity of the lowest is simple in the sense of being a fading-out, that of the first as the total of all activity. Intellectual-principle is moved in a movement unfailingly true to one course, but its unity and identity are not those of the partial; they are those of its universality; and indeed the partial itself is not a unity but divides to infinity.

We know that intellectual-principle has a source and advances to some term as its ultimate; now, is the intermediate between source and term to thought of as a line or as some distinct kind of body uniform and unvaried?

Where at that would be its worth? It had no change, if no differentiation woke it into life, it would not be a force; that condition would in no way differ from mere absence of power and, even calling it movement, it would still be the movement of a life not all-varied but indiscriminate; now it is of necessity that life be all-embracing, covering all the realms, and that nothing fail of life. Intellectual-principle, therefore, must move in every direction on all, or more precisely must ever have so moved.

A simplex moving retains its character; either there is no change, movement has been null, or if there has been advance it still remains a simplex and at once there is a permanent duality: If the one member of this duality is identical with the other, then it is still as it was, there has been no advance; if one member differs from the other, it has advanced with differentiation, and, out of a certain identity and difference, it has produced a third unity. This production, based on identity and difference, must be in its nature identical and different; it will be not some particular different thing but collective difference, as its identity is collective identity.

Being, thus, at once collective identity and collective difference, intellectual-principle must reach over all different things; its very nature then is to modify into a universe. If the realm of different things existed before it, these different things must have modified it from the beginning; if they did not, this intellectual-principle produced all, or, rather, was all.

Beings could not exist save by the activity of intellectual- principle; wandering down every way it produces thing after thing, but wandering always within itself in such self-bound wandering as authentic intellect may know; this wandering permitted to its nature is among real beings which keep pace with its movement; but it is always itself; this is a stationary wandering, a wandering within the meadow of truth from which it does not stray.

It holds and covers the universe which it has made the space, so to speak, of its movement, itself being also that universe which is space to it. And this meadow of truth is varied so that movement through it may be possible; suppose it not always and everywhere varied, the failing of diversity is a failure of movement; failure in movement would mean a failing of the intellectual act; halting, it has ceased to exercise its intellectual act; this ceasing, it ceases to be.

The intellectual-principle is the intellectual act; its movement is complete, filling being complete; and the entire of being is the intellectual act entire, comprehending all life and the unfailing succession of things. Because this principle contains identity and difference its division is ceaselessly bringing the different things to light. Its entire movement is through life and among living things. To a traveller over land, all is earth but earth abounding in difference: So in this journey the life through which intellectual-principle passes is one life but, in its ceaseless changing, a varied life.

Throughout this endless variation it maintains the one course because it is not, itself, subject to change but on the contrary is present as identical and unvarying being to the rest of things. For if there be no such principle of unchanging identity to things, all is dead, activity and actuality exist nowhere. These "other things" through which it passes are also intellectual-principle itself; otherwise it is not the all-comprehending principle: If it is to be itself, it must be all-embracing; failing that, it is not itself. If it is complete in itself, complete because all-embracing, and there is nothing which does not find place in this total, then there can be nothing belonging to it which is not different; only by difference can there be such co- operation towards a total. If it knew no otherness but was pure identity its essential being would be the less for that failure to fulfil the specific nature which its completion requires.


On the nature of the intellectual-principle we get light from its manifestations; they show that it demands such diversity as is compatible with its being a monad. Take what principle you will, that of plant or animal: If this principle were a pure unity and not a specifically varied thing, it could not so serve as principle; its product would be matter, the principle not having taken all those forms necessary if matter is to be permeated and utterly transformed. A face is not one mass; there are nose and eyes; and the nose is not a unity but has the differences which make it a nose; as bare unity it would be mere mass.

There is infinity in intellectual-principle since, of its very nature, it is a multiple unity, not with the unity of a house but with that of a reason-principle, multiple in itself: In the one intellectual design it includes within itself, as it were in outline, all the outlines, all the patterns. All is within it, all the powers and intellections; the division is not determined by a boundary but goes ever inward; this content is held as the living universe holds the natural forms of the living creatures in it from the greatest to the least, down even to the minutest powers where there is a halt at the individual form. The discrimination is not of items huddled within a sort of unity; this is what is known as the universal sympathy, not of course the sympathy known here which is a copy and prevails amongst things in separation; that authentic sympathy consists in all being a unity and never discriminate.


That life, the various, the all-including, the primal and one, who can consider it without longing to be of it, disdaining all the other?

All other life is darkness, petty and dim and poor; it is unclean and polluting the clean for if you do but look on it you no longer see nor live this life which includes all living, in which there is nothing that does not live and live in a life of purity void of all that is ill. For evil is here where life is in copy and intellect in copy; there is the archetype, that which is good in the very idea – we read – as holding the good in the pure idea. That archetype is good; intellectual-principle is good as holding its life by contemplation of the archetype; and it sees also as good the objects of its contemplation because it holds them in its act of contemplating the principle of good. But these objects come to it not as they are there but in accord with its own condition, for it is their source; they spring thence to be here, and intellectual-principle it is that has produced them by its vision there. In the very law, never, looking to that, could it fail of intellectual act; never, on the other hand, could it produce what is there; of itself it could not produce; thence it must draw its power to bring forth, to teem with offspring of itself; from the good it takes what itself did not possess. From that unity came multiplicity to intellectual- principle; it could not sustain the power poured on it and therefore broke it up; it turned that one power into variety so as to carry it piecemeal.

All its production, effected in the power of the good, contains goodness; it is good, itself, since it is constituted by these things of good; it is good made diverse. It might be likened to a living sphere teeming with variety, to a globe of faces radiant with faces all living, to a unity of souls, all the pure souls, not faulty but the perfect, with intellect enthroned over all so that the place entire glows with intellectual splendour.

But this would be to see it from without, one thing seeing another; the true way is to become intellectual-principle and be, our very selves, what we are to see.


But even there we are not to remain always, in that beauty of the multiple; we must make haste yet higher, above this heaven of ours and even that; leaving all else aside we ask in awe "Who produced that realm and how?" everything there is a single idea in an individual impression and, informed by the good, possesses the universal good transcendent over all. Each possessing that being above, possesses also the total living-form in virtue of that transcendent life, possesses, no doubt, much else as well.

But what is the nature of this transcendent in view of which and by way of which the ideas are good?

The best way of putting the question is to ask whether, when intellectual-principle looked towards the good, it had intellection of that unity as a multiplicity and, itself a unity, plied its act by breaking into parts what it was too feeble to know as a whole.

No: That would not be intellection looking on the good; it would be a looking void of intellection. We must think of it not as looking but as living; dependent on that, it kept itself turned thither; all the tendance taking place there and on that must be a movement teeming with life and must so fill the looking principle; there is no longer bare act, there is a filling to saturation. Forthwith intellectual-principle becomes all things, knows that fact in virtue of its self-knowing and at once becomes intellectual-principle, filled so as to hold within itself that object of its vision, seeing all by the light from the Giver and bearing that Giver with it.

In this way the supreme may be understood to be the cause at once of essential reality and of the knowing of reality. The sun, cause of the existence of sense-things and of their being seen, is indirectly the cause of sight, without being either the faculty or the object: Similarly this principle, the good, cause of being and intellectual-principle, is a light appropriate to what is to be seen there and to their seer; neither the beings nor the intellectual- principle, it is their source and by the light it sheds on both makes them objects of intellection. This filling procures the existence; after the filling, the being; the existence achieved, the seeing followed: The beginning is that state of not yet having been filled, though there is, also, the beginning which means that the filling principle was outside and by that act of filling gave shape to the filled.


But in what mode are these secondaries, and intellectual- principle itself, within the first? They are not in the filling principle; they are not in the filled since before that moment it did not contain them.

Giving need not comport possessing; in this order we are to think of a giver as a greater and of a gift as a lower; this is the meaning of origin among real beings. First there must be an actualized thing; its laters must be potentially their own priors; a first must transcend its derivatives; the giver transcends the given, as a superior. If therefore there is a prior to actuality, that prior transcends activity and so transcends life. Our sphere containing life, there is a Giver of life, a principle of greater good, of greater worth than life; this possessed life and had no need to look for it to any giver in possession of life's variety.

But the life was a vestige of that primal not a life lived by it; life, then, as it looked towards that was undetermined; having looked it had determination though that had none. Life looks to unity and is determined by it, taking bound, limit, form. But this form is in the shaped, the shaper had none; the limit was not external as something drawn about a magnitude; the limit was that of the multiplicity of the life there, limitless itself as radiated from its great prior; the life itself was not that of some determined being, or it would be no more than the life of an individual. Yet it is defined; it must then have been defined as the life of a unity including multiplicity; certainly too each item of the multiplicity is determined, determined as multiple by the multiplicity of life but as a unity by the fact of limit.

As what, then, is its unity determined?

As intellectual-principle: Determined life is intellectual- principle. And the multiplicity?

As the multiplicity of intellectual-principles: All its multiplicity resolves itself into intellectual-principles – on the one hand the collective principle, on the other the particular principles.

But does this collective intellectual-principle include each of the particular principles as identical with itself?

No: It would be thus the container of only the one thing; since there are many intellectual-principles within the collective, there must be differentiation.

Once more, how does the particular intellect come to this differentiation?

It takes its characteristic difference by becoming entirely a unity within the collective whose totality could not be identical with any particular.

Thus the life in the supreme was the collectivity of power; the vision taking place there was the potentiality of all; intellectual-principle, thus arising, is manifested as this universe of being. It stands over the beings not as itself requiring base but that it may serve as base to the form of the firsts, the formless form. And it takes position towards the soul, becoming a light to the soul as itself finds its light in the first; whenever intellectual- principle becomes the determinant of soul it shapes it into reasoning soul, by communicating a trace of what itself has come to possess.

Thus intellectual-principle is a vestige of the supreme; but since the vestige is a form going out into extension, into plurality, that prior, as the source of form, must be itself without shape and form: If the prior were a form, the intellectual- principle itself could be only a reason-principle. It was necessary that the first be utterly without multiplicity, for otherwise it must be again referred to a prior.


But in what way is the content of intellectual-principle participant in good? Is it because each member of it is an idea or because of their beauty or how?

Anything coming from the good carries the image and type belonging to that original or deriving from it, as anything going back to warmth or sweetness carries the memory of those originals: Life entered into intellectual-principle from the supreme, for its origin is in the activity streaming thence; intellectual-principle springs from the supreme, and with it the beauty of the ideas; at once all these, life, intellectual-principle, idea, must inevitably have goodness.

But what is the common element in them? derivation from the first is not enough to procure identical quality; there must be some element held in common by the things derived: One source may produce many differing things as also one outgoing thing may take difference in various recipients: What enters into the first act is different from what that act transmits and there is difference, again, in the effect here. Nonetheless every item may be good in a degree of its own. To what, then, is the highest degree due?

But first we must ask whether life is a good, bare life, or only the life streaming thence, very different from the life known here? Once more, then, what constitutes the goodness of life?

The life of the good, or rather not its life but that given forth from it.

But if in that higher life there must be something from that, something which is the authentic life, we must admit that since nothing worthless can come thence life in itself is good; so too we must admit, in the case of authentic intellectual-principle, that its life because good derives from that first; thus it becomes clear that every idea is good and informed by the good. The ideas must have something of good, whether as a common property or as a distinct attribution or as held in some distinct measure.

Thus it is established that the particular idea contains in its essence something of good and thereby becomes a good thing; for life we found to be good not in the bare being but in its derivation from the authentic, the supreme whence it sprung: And the same is true of intellectual-principle: We are forced therefore admit a certain identity.

When, with all their differences, things may be affirmed to have a measure of identity, the matter of the identity may very well be established in their very essence and yet be mentally abstracted; thus life in man or horse yields the notion of animal; from water or fire we may get that of warmth; the first case is a definition of kind, the other two cite qualities, primary and secondary respectively. Both or one part of intellect, then, would be called by the one term good.

Is the good, then, inherent in the ideas essentially? Each of them is good but the goodness is not that of the unity-good. How, then, is it present?

By the mode of parts.

But the good is without parts?

No doubt the good is a unity; but here it has become particularized. The first activity is good and anything determined in accord with it is good as also is any resultant. There is the good that is good by origin in the first, the good that is in an ordered system derived from that earlier, and the good that is in the actualization [in the thing participant]. Derived, then, not identical – like the speech and walk and other characteristics of one man, each playing its due part.

Here, it is obvious, goodness depends on order, rhythm, but what equivalent exists there?

We might answer that in the case of the sense-order, too, the good is imposed since the ordering is of things different from the Orderer but that there the very things are good.

But why are they thus good in themselves? We cannot be content with the conviction of their goodness on the ground of their origin in that realm: We do not deny that things deriving thence are good, but our subject demands that we discover the mode by which they come to possess that goodness.


Are we to rest all on pursuit and on the soul? Is it enough to put faith in the soul's choice and call that good which the soul pursues, never asking ourselves the motive of its choice? We marshal demonstration as to the nature of everything else; is the good to be dismissed as choice?

Several absurdities would be entailed. The good becomes a mere attribute of things; objects of pursuit are many and different so that mere choice gives no assurance that the thing chosen is the best; in fact, we cannot know the best until we know the good.

Are we to determine the good by the respective values of things?

This is to make idea and reason-principle the test: All very well; but arrived at these, what explanation have we to give as to why idea and reason-principle themselves are good? In the lower, we recognise goodness – in its less perfect form – by comparison with what is poorer still; we are without a standard there where no evil exists, the bests holding the field alone. Reason demands to know what constitutes goodness; those principles are good in their own nature and we are left in perplexity because cause and fact are identical: And even though we should state a cause, the doubt still remains until our reason claims its rights there. But we need not abandon the search; another path may lead to the light.


Since we are not entitled to make desire the test by which to decide on the nature and quality of the good, we may perhaps have recourse to judgement.

We would apply the opposition of things – order, disorder; symmetry, irregularity; health, illness; form, shapelessness; real- being, decay: In a word continuity against dissolution. The first in each pair, no one could doubt, belong to the concept of good and therefore whatever tends to produce them must be ranged on the good side.

Thus virtue and intellectual-principle and life and soul – reasoning soul, at least – belong to the idea of good and so therefore does all that a reasoned life aims at.

Why not halt, then – it will be asked – at intellectual-principle and make that the good? Soul and life are traces of intellectual-principle; that principle is the term of soul which on judgement sets itself towards intellectual-principle, pronouncing right preferable to wrong and virtue in every form to vice, and thus ranking by its choosing.

The soul aiming only at that principle would need a further lessoning; it must be taught that intellectual-principle is not the ultimate, that not all things look to that while all do look to the good. Not all that is outside of intellectual-principle seeks to attain it; what has attained it does not halt there but looks still towards good. Besides, intellectual-principle is sought on motives of reasoning, the good before all reason. And in any striving towards life and continuity of existence and activity, the object is aimed at not as intellectual-principle but as good, as rising from good and leading to it: Life itself is desirable only in view of good.


Now what in all these objects of desire is the fundamental making them good?

We must be bold:

Intellectual-principle and that life are of the order of good and hold their desirability, even they, in virtue of belonging to that order; they have their goodness, I mean, because life is an activity in the good, – Or rather, streaming from the good – while intellectual-principle is an activity already defined therein; both are of radiant beauty and, because they come thence and lead thither, they are sought after by the soul- sought, that is, as things congenial though not veritably good while yet, as belonging to that order not to be rejected; the related, if not good, is shunned in spite of that relationship, and even remote and ignobler things may at times prove attractive.

The intense love called forth by life and intellectual- principle is due not to what they are but to the consideration of their nature as something apart, received from above themselves.

Material forms, containing light incorporated in them, need still a light apart from them that their own light may be manifest; just so the beings of that sphere, all lightsome, need another and a lordlier light or even they would not be visible to themselves and beyond.


That light known, then indeed we are stirred towards those beings in longing and rejoicing over the radiance about them, just as earthly love is not for the material form but for the beauty manifested on it. Every one of those beings exists for itself but becomes an object of desire by the colour cast on it from the good, source of those graces and of the love they evoke. The soul taking that outflow from the divine is stirred; seized with a bacchic passion, goaded by these goads, it becomes love. Before that, even intellectual-principle with all its loveliness did not stir the soul; for that beauty is dead until it take the light of the good, and the soul lies supine, cold to all, unquickened even to intellectual-principle there before it. But when there enters into it a glow from the divine, it gathers strength, awakens, spreads true wings, and however urged by its nearer environing, speeds its buoyant way elsewhere, to something greater to its memory: So long as there exists anything loftier than the near, its very nature bears it upwards, lifted by the giver of that love. Beyond intellectual-principle it passes but beyond the good it cannot, for nothing stands above that. Let it remain in intellectual-principle and it sees the lovely and august, but it is not there possessed of all it sought; the face it sees is beautiful no doubt but not of power to hold its gaze because lacking in the radiant grace which is the bloom on beauty.

Even here we have to recognise that beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself and is that which truly calls out our love.

Why else is there more of the glory of beauty on the living and only some faint trace of it on the dead, though the face yet retains all its fulness and symmetry? Why are the most living portraits the most beautiful, even though the others happen to be more symmetric? Why is the living ugly more attractive than the sculptured handsome? It is that the one is more nearly what we are looking for, and this because there is soul there, because there is more of the idea of the good, because there is some glow of the light of the good and this illumination awakens and lifts the soul and all that goes with it so that the whole man is won over to goodness, and in the fullest measure stirred to life.


That which soul must quest, that which sheds its light on intellectual-principle, leaving its mark wherever it falls, surely we need not wonder that it be of power to draw to itself, calling back from every wandering to rest before it. From it came all, and so there is nothing mightier; all is feeble before it. Of all things the best, must it not be the good? If by the good we mean the principle most wholly self- sufficing, utterly without need of any other, what can it be but this? Before all the rest, it was what it was, when evil had yet no place in things.

If evil is a later, there found where there is no trace of this – among the very ultimates, so that on the downward side evil has no beyond – then to this evil stands full contrary with no linking intermediate: This therefore is the good: Either good there is none, or if there must be, this and no other is it.

And to deny the good would be to deny evil also; there can then be no difference in objects coming up for choice: But that is untenable.

To this looks all else that passes for good; this, to nothing.

What then does it effect out of its greatness?

It has produced intellectual-principle, it has produced life, the souls which intellectual-principle sends forth and everything else that partakes of reason, of intellectual-principle or of life. Source and spring of so much, how describe its goodness and greatness?

But what does it effect now?

Even now it is preserver of what it produced; by it the intellectual beings have their intellection and the living their life; it breathes intellect in breathes life in and, where life is impossible, existence.


But ourselves – how does it touch us?

We may recall what we have said of the nature of the light shining from it into intellectual-principle and so by participation into the soul. But for the moment let us leave that aside and put another question:

Does the good hold that nature and name because some outside thing finds it desirable? May we put it that a thing desirable to one is good to that one and that what is desirable to all is to be recognised as the good?

No doubt this universal questing would make the goodness evident but still there must be in the nature something to earn that name.

Further, is the questing determined by the hope of some acquisition or by sheer delight? If there is acquisition, what is it? If it is a matter of delight, why here rather than in something else?

The question comes to this: Is goodness in the appropriate or in something apart, and is the good good as regards itself also or good only as possessed?

Any good is such, necessarily, not for itself but for something outside.

But to what nature is this good? There is a nature to which nothing is good.

And we must not overlook what some surly critic will surely bring up against us:

What's all this: You scatter praises here, there and everywhere: Life is good, intellectual-principle is good: And yet the good is above them; how then can intellectual-principle itself be good? Or what do we gain by seeing the ideas themselves if we see only a particular idea and nothing else [nothing "substantial"]? If we are happy here we may be deceived into thinking life a good when it is merely pleasant; but suppose our lot unhappy, why should we speak of good? Is mere personal existence good? What profit is there in it? What is the advantage in existence over utter non-existence – unless goodness is to be founded on our love of self? It is the deception rooted in the nature of things and our dread of dissolution that lead to all the "goods" of your positing.


It is in view, probably, of this difficulty that Plato, in the philebus, makes pleasure an element in the term; the good is not defined as a simplex or set in intellectual-principle alone; while he rightly refrains from identifying the good with the pleasant, yet he does not allow intellectual-principle, foreign to pleasure, to be the good, since he sees no attractive power in it. He may also have had in mind that the good, to answer to its name, must be a thing of delight and that an object of pursuit must at least hold some pleasure for those that acquire and possess it, so that where there is no joy the good too is absent, further that pleasure, implying pursuit, cannot pertain to the first and that therefore good cannot.

All this was very well; there the enquiry was not as to the primal good but as to ours; the good dealt with in that passage pertains to very different beings and therefore is a different good; it is a good falling short of that higher; it is a mingled thing; we are to understand that good does not hold place in the One and alone whose being is too great and different for that.

The good must, no doubt, be a thing pursued, not, however, good because it is pursued but pursued because it is good.

The solution, it would seem, lies in priority:

To the lowest of things the good is its immediate higher; each step represents the good to what stands lower so long as the movement does not tend awry but advances continuously towards the superior: Thus there is a halt at the ultimate, beyond which no ascent is possible: That is the first good, the authentic, the supremely sovereign, the source of good to the rest of things.

Matter would have forming-idea for its good, since, were it conscious, it would welcome that; body would look to soul, without which it could not be or endure; soul must look to virtue; still higher stands intellectual-principle; above that again is the principle we call the primal. Each of these progressive priors must have act on those minors to which they are, respectively, the good: Some will confer order and place, others life, others wisdom and the good life: Intellectual- principle will draw on the authentic good which we hold to be coterminous with it, both as being an activity put forth from it and as even now taking light from it. This good we will define later.


Any conscious being, if the good come to him, will know the good and affirm his possession of it.

But what if one be deceived?

In that case there must be some resemblance to account for the error: The good will be the original which the delusion counterfeited and whenever the true presents itself we turn from the spurious.

All the striving, all the pain, show that to everything something is a good: The lifeless finds its share in something outside itself; where there is life the longing for good sets up pursuit; the very dead are cared for and mourned for by the living; the living plan for their own good. The witness of attainment is betterment, cleaving to state, satisfaction, settlement, suspension of pursuit. Here pleasure shows itself inadequate; its choice does not hold; repeated, it is no longer the same; it demands endless novelty. The good, worthy of the name, can be no such tasting of the casual; anyone that takes this kind of thing for the good goes empty, carrying away nothing but an emotion which the good might have produced. No one could be content to take his pleasure thus in an emotion over a thing not possessed any more than over a child not there; I cannot think that those setting their good in bodily satisfactions find table- pleasure without the meal, or love-pleasure without intercourse with their chosen, or any pleasure where nothing is done.


But what is that whose entry supplies every such need?

Some idea, we maintain. There is a form to which matter aspires: To soul, moral excellence is this form.

But is this form a good to the thing as being apt to it, does the striving aim at the apt?

No: The aptest would be the most resemblant to the thing itself, but that, however sought and welcomed, does not suffice for the good: The good must be something more: To be a good to another a thing must have something beyond aptness; that only can be adopted as the good which represents the apt in its better form and is best to what is best in the quester's self, to that which the quester tends potentially to be.

A thing is potentially that to which its nature looks; this, obviously, it lacks; what it lacks, of its better, is its good. Matter is of all that most in need; its next is the lowest form; form at lowest is just one grade higher than matter. If a thing is a good to itself, much more must its perfection, its form, its better, be a good to it; this better, good in its own nature, must be good also to the quester whose good it procures.

But why should the form which makes a thing good be a good to that thing? As being most appropriate?

No: But because it is, itself, a portion of the good. This is why the least alloyed and nearest to the good are most at peace within themselves.

It is surely out of place to ask why a thing good in its own nature should be a good; we can hardly suppose it dissatisfied with its own goodness so that it must strain outside its essential quality to the good which it effectually is.

There remains the question with regard to the simplex: Where there is utter absence of distinction does this self-aptness constitute the good to that simplex?

If thus far we have been right, the striving of the lower possesses itself of the good as of a thing resident in a certain kind, and it is not the striving that constitutes the good but the good that calls out the striving: Where the good is attained something is acquired and on this acquisition there follows pleasure. But the thing must be chosen even though no pleasure ensued; it must be desirable for its own sake.


Now to see what all this reasoning has established:

Universally, what approaches as a good is a form; matter itself contains this good which is form: Are we to conclude that, if matter had will, it would desire to be form unalloyed?

No: That would be desiring its own destruction, for the good seeks to subject everything to itself. But perhaps matter would not wish to remain at its own level but would prefer to attain being and, this acquired, to lay aside its evil.

If we are asked how the evil thing can have tendency towards the good, we answer that we have not attributed tendency to matter; our argument needed the hypothesis of sensation in matter – in so far as possible consistently with retention of its character – and we asserted that the entry of form, that dream of the good, must raise it to a nobler order. If then matter is evil, there is no more to be said; if it is something else – a wrong thing, let us say – then in the hypothesis that its essence acquire sensation would not the appropriate on the next or higher plane be its good, as in the other cases? But not what is evil in matter would be the quester of good but that element in it [lowest form] which in it is associated with evil.

But if matter by very essence is evil how could it choose the good?

This question implies that if evil were self-conscious it would admire itself: But how can the unadmirable be admired; and did we not discover that the good must be apt to the nature?

There that question may rest. But if universally the good is form and the higher the ascent the more there is of form-soul more truly form than body is and phases of soul progressively of higher form and intellectual-principle standing as form to soul collectively – then the good advances by the opposite of matter and, therefore, by a cleansing and casting away to the utmost possible at each stage: And the greatest good must be there where all that is of matter has disappeared. The principle of good rejecting matter entirely – or rather never having come near it at any point or in any way – must hold itself aloft with that formless in which primal form takes its origin. But we will return to this.


Suppose, however, that pleasure did not result from the good but there were something preceding pleasure and accounting for it, would not this be a thing to be embraced?

But when we say "to be embraced" we say "pleasure."

But what if accepting its existence, we think of that existence as leaving still the possibility that it were not a thing to be embraced?

This would mean the good being present and the sentient possessor failing, nonetheless, to perceive it.

It would seem possible, however, to perceive and yet be unmoved by the possession; this is quite likely in the case of the wiser and least dependent – and indeed it is so with the first, immune not merely because simplex, but because pleasure by acquisition implies lack.

But all this will become clear on the solution of our remaining difficulties and the rebuttal of the argument brought up against us. This takes the form of the question: "What gain is there in the good to one who, fully conscious, feels nothing when he hears of these things, whether because he has no grasp of them but takes merely the words or because he holds to false values, perhaps being all in search of sense, finding his good in money or such things?"

The answer is that even in his disregard of the good proposed he is with us in setting a good before him but fails to see how the good we define fits into his own conception. It is impossible to say "not that" if one is utterly without experience or conception of the "that"; there will generally have been, even, some inkling of the good beyond intellection. Besides, one attaining or approaching the good, but not recognising it, may assure himself in the light of its contraries; otherwise he will not even hold ignorance an evil though everyone prefers to know and is proud of knowing so that our very sensations seek to ripen into knowledge.

If the knowing principle – and specially primal intellectual-principle – is valuable and beautiful, what must be present to those of power to see the author and father of intellect? anyone thinking slightingly of this principle of life and being brings evidence against himself and all his state: Of course, distaste for the life that is mingled with death does not touch that life authentic.


Whether pleasure must enter into the good, so that life in the contemplation of the divine things and especially of their source remains still imperfect, is a question not to be ignored in any enquiry into the nature of the good.

Now to found the good on the intellect and on that state of soul or mind which springs from wisdom does not imply that the end or the absolute good is the conjunction [of intellect and state]: It would follow merely that intellect is the good and that we feel happy in possession of that good. That is one theory; another associates pleasure with intellect in the sense that the good is taken to be some one thing founded on both but depending on our attaining or at least contemplating an intellect so modified; this theory would maintain that the isolated and unrelated could be the good, could be an object of desire.

But how could intellect and pleasure combine into one mutually complementary nature?

Bodily pleasure no one, certainly, would think capable of blending in with intellect; the unreasoning satisfactions of soul [or lower mind] are equally incompatible with it.

Every activity, state, and life, will be followed and as it were escorted by the over-dwelling consciousness; sometimes as these take their natural course they will be met by hindrance and by intrusion of the conflicting so that the life is the less self-guided; sometimes the natural activity is unmixed, wholly free, and then the life goes brilliantly; this last state is judged the pleasantest, the most to be chosen; so, for lack of an accurate expression, we hear of "intellect in conjunction with pleasure." but this is no more than metaphor, like a hundred others drawn by the poets from our natural likings – "drunk with nectar," "to banquet and feast," "the father smiled." no: The veritably pleasant lies away in that other realm, the most to be loved and sought for, not something brought about and changing but the very principle of all the colour and radiance and brightness found here. This is why we read of "truth introduced into the mixture" and of the "measuring standard as a prior condition" and are told that the symmetry and beauty necessary to the mixture come thence into whatever has beauty; it is in this way that we have our share in beauty; but in another way, also, we achieve the truly desirable, that is by leading our selves up to what is best within us; this best is what is symmetry, beauty, collective idea, life clear, intellective and good.


But since thence come the beauty and light in all, it is thence that intellectual-principle took the brilliance of the intellectual energy which flashed nature into being; thence soul took power towards life, in virtue of that fuller life streaming into it. Intellectual-principle was raised thus to that supreme and remains with it, happy in that presence. Soul too, that soul which as possessing knowledge and vision was capable, clung to what it saw; and as its vision so its rapture; it saw and was stricken; but having in itself something of that principle it felt its kinship and was moved to longing like those stirred by the image of the beloved to desire of the veritable presence. Lovers here mould themselves to the beloved; they seek to increase their attraction of person and their likeness of mind; they are unwilling to fall short in moral quality or in other graces lest they be distasteful to those possessing such merit – and only among such can true love be. In the same way the soul loves the supreme good, from its very beginnings stirred by it to love. The soul which has never strayed from this love waits for no reminding from the beauty of our world: Holding that love – perhaps unawares – it is ever in quest, and, in its longing to be borne thither, passes over what is lovely here and with one glance at the beauty of the universe dismisses all; for it sees that all is put together of flesh and matter, befouled by its housing, made fragmentary by corporal extension, not the authentic beauty which could never venture into the mud of body to be soiled, annulled.

By only noting the flux of things it knows at once that from elsewhere comes the beauty that floats on them and so it is urged thither, passionate in pursuit of what it loves: Never – unless someone robs it of that love – never giving up till it attain.

There indeed all it saw was beautiful and veritable; it grew in strength by being thus filled with the life of the true; itself becoming veritable being and attaining veritable knowledge, it enters by that neighbouring into conscious possession of what it has long been seeking.


Where, then? Where exists the author of this beauty and life, the begetter of the veritable?

You see the splendour over the things of the universe with all the variety begotten of the ideas; well might we linger here: But amid all these things of beauty we cannot but ask whence they come and whence the beauty. This source can be none of the beautiful objects; were it so, it too would be a thing of parts. It can be no shape, no power, nor the total of powers and shapes that have had the becoming that has set them here; it must stand above all the powers, all the patterns. The origin of all this must be the formless – formless not as lacking shape but as the very source of even shape intellectual.

In the realm of process anything coming to be must come to be something; to every thing its distinctive shape: But what shape can that have which no one has shaped? It can be none of existing things; yet it is all: None, in that beings are later; all, as the wellspring from which they flow. That which can make all can have, itself, no extension; it must be limitless and so without magnitude; magnitude itself is of the later and cannot be an element in that which is to bring it into being. The greatness of the authentic cannot be a greatness of quantity; all extension must belong to the subsequent: The supreme is great in the sense only that there can be nothing mightier, nothing to equal it, nothing with anything in common with it: How then could anything be equal to any part of its content? Its eternity and universal reach entail neither measure nor measurelessness; given either, how could it be the measure of things? So with shape: granted beauty, the absence of shape or form to be grasped is but enhancement of desire and love; the love will be limitless as the object is, an infinite love.

Its beauty, too, will be unique, a beauty above beauty: It cannot be beauty since it is not a thing among things. It is lovable and the author of beauty; as the power to all beautiful shape, it will be the ultimate of beauty, that which brings all loveliness to be; it begets beauty and makes it yet more beautiful by the excess of beauty streaming from itself, the source and height of beauty. As the source of beauty it makes beautiful whatever springs from it. And this conferred beauty is not itself in shape; the thing that comes to be is without shape, though in another sense shaped; what is denoted by shape is, in itself, an attribute of something else, shapeless at first. Not the beauty but its participant takes the shape.


When therefore we name beauty, all such shape must be dismissed; nothing visible is to be conceived, or at once we descend from beauty to what but bears the name in virtue of some faint participation. This formless form is beautiful as form, beautiful in proportion as we strip away all shape even that given in thought to mark difference, as for instance the difference between justice and sophrosyne, beautiful in their difference.

The intellectual-principle is the less for seeing things as distinct even in its act of grasping in unity the multiple content of its intellectual realm; in its knowing of the particular it possesses itself of one intellectual shape; but, even thus, in this dealing with variety as unity, it leaves us still with the question how we are to envisage that which stands beyond this all-lovely, beyond this principle at once multiple and above multiplicity, the supreme for which the soul hungers though unable to tell why such a being should stir its longing- reason, however, urging that this at last is the authentic term because the nature best and most to be loved may be found there only where there is no least touch of form. Bring something under form and present it so before the mind; immediately we ask what beyond imposed that shape; reason answers that while there exists the giver having shape to give – a giver that is shape, idea, an entirely measured thing – yet this is not alone, is not adequate in itself, is not beautiful in its own right but is a mingled thing. Shape and idea and measure will always be beautiful, but the authentic beauty and the beyond-beauty cannot be under measure and therefore cannot have admitted shape or be idea: The primal existent, the first, must be without form; the beauty in it must be, simply, the nature of the intellectual good.

Take an example from love: So long as the attention is on the visible form, love has not entered: When from that outward form the lover elaborates within himself, in his own partless soul, an immaterial image, then it is that love is born, then the lover longs for the sight of the beloved to make that fading image live again. If he could but learn to look elsewhere, to the more nearly formless, his longing would be for that: His first experience was loving a great luminary by way of some thin gleam from it.

Shape is an impress from the unshaped; it is the unshaped that produces shape, not shape the unshaped; and matter is needed for the producing; matter, in the nature of things, is the furthest away, since of itself it has not even the lowest degree of shape. Thus lovableness does not belong to matter but to that which draws on form: The form on matter comes by way of soul; soul is more nearly form and therefore more lovable; intellectual- principle, nearer still, is even more to be loved: By these steps we are led to know that the first principle, principle of beauty, must be formless.


No longer can we wonder that the principle evoking such longing should be utterly free from shape. The very soul, once it has conceived the straining love towards this, lays aside all the shape it has taken, even to the intellectual shape that has informed it. There is no vision, no union, for those handling or acting by any thing other; the soul must see before it neither evil nor good nor anything else, that alone it may receive the alone.

Suppose the soul to have attained: The highest has come to her, or rather has revealed its presence; she has turned away from all about her and made herself apt, beautiful to the utmost, brought into likeness with the divine by those preparings and adornings which come unbidden to those growing ready for the vision – she has seen that presence suddenly manifesting within her, for there is nothing between: Here is no longer a duality but a two in one; for, so long as the presence holds, all distinction fades: It is as lover and beloved here, in a copy of that union, long to blend; the soul has now no further awareness of being in body and will give herself no foreign name, not "man," not "living being," not "being," not "all"; any observation of such things falls away; the soul has neither time nor taste for them; this she sought and this she has found and on this she looks and not on herself; and who she is that looks she has not leisure to know. Once there she will barter for this nothing the universe holds; not though one would make over the heavens entire to her; than this there is nothing higher, nothing of more good; above this there is no passing; all the rest, however lofty, lies on the downgoing path: She is of perfect judgement and knows that this was her quest, that nothing higher is. Here can be no deceit; where could she come on truer than the truth? And the truth she affirms, that she is, herself; but all the affirmation is later and is silent. In this happiness she knows beyond delusion that she is happy; for this is no affirmation of an excited body but of a soul become again what she was in the time of her early joy. All that she had welcomed of old-office, power, wealth, beauty, knowledge of all she tells her scorn as she never could had she not found their better; linked to this she can fear no disaster nor even know it; let all about her fall to pieces, so she would have it that she may be wholly with this, so huge the happiness she has won to.


Such in this union is the soul's temper that even the act of intellect, once so intimately loved, she now dismisses; intellection is movement and she has no wish to move; she has nothing to say of this very intellectual-principle by means of which she has attained the vision, herself made over into intellectual-principle and becoming that principle so as to be able to take stand in that intellectual space. Entered there and making herself over to that, she at first contemplates that realm, but once she sees that higher still she leaves all else aside. Thus when a man enters a house rich in beauty he might gaze about and admire the varied splendour before the master appears; but, face to face with that great person – no thing of ornament but calling for the truest attention – he would ignore everything else and look only to the master. In this state of absorbed contemplation there is no longer question of holding an object: The vision is continuous so that seeing and seen are one thing; object and act of vision have become identical; of all that until then filled the eye no memory remains. And our comparison would be closer if instead of a man appearing to the visitor who had been admiring the house it were a god, and not a god manifesting to the eyes but one filling the soul.

Intellectual-principle, thus, has two powers, first that of grasping intellectively its own content, the second that of an advancing and receiving whereby to know its transcendent; at first it sees, later by that seeing it takes possession of intellectual- principle, becoming one only thing with that: The first seeing is that of intellect knowing, the second that of intellect loving; stripped of its wisdom in the intoxication of the nectar, it comes to love; by this excess it is made simplex and is happy; and to be drunken is better for it than to be too staid for these revels.

But is its vision parcelwise, thing here and thing there?

No: Reason unravelling gives process; intellectual-principle has unbroken knowledge and has, moreover, an act unattended by knowing, a vision by another approach. In this seeing of the supreme it becomes pregnant and at once knows what has come to be within it; its knowledge of its content is what is designated by its intellection; its knowing of the supreme is the virtue of that power within it by which, in a later [lower] stage it is to become "intellective."

As for soul, it attains that vision by – so to speak – confounding and annulling the intellectual- principle within it; or rather that principle immanent in soul sees first and thence the vision penetrates to soul and the two visions become one.

The good spreading out above them and adapting itself to that union which it hastens to confirm is present to them as giver of a blessed sense and sight; so high it lifts them that they are no longer in space or in that realm of difference where everything is root,ed in some other thing; for the good is not in place but is the container of the intellectual place; the good is in nothing but itself.

The soul now knows no movement since the supreme knows none; it is now not even soul since the supreme is not in life but above life; it is no longer intellectual-principle, for the supreme has not intellection and the likeness must be perfect; this grasping is not even by intellection, for the supreme is not known intellectively.


We need not carry this matter further; we turn to a question already touched but demanding still some brief consideration.

Knowledge of the good or contact with it, is the all- important: This – we read – is the grand learning, the learning we are to understand, not of looking towards it but attaining, first, some knowledge of it. We come to this learning by analogies, by abstractions, by our understanding of its subsequents, of all that is derived from the good, by the upward steps towards it. Purification has the good for goal; so the virtues, all right ordering, ascent within the intellectual, settlement therein, banqueting on the divine – by these methods one becomes, to self and to all else, at once seen and seer; identical with being and intellectual-principle and the entire living all, we no longer see the supreme as an external; we are near now, the next is that and it is close at hand, radiant above the intellectual.

Here, we put aside all the learning; disciplined to this pitch, established in beauty, the quester holds knowledge still of the ground he rests on but, suddenly, swept beyond it all by the very crest of the wave of intellect surging beneath, he is lifted and sees, never knowing how; the vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not a light showing some other object, the light is itself the vision. No longer is there thing seen and light to show it, no longer intellect and object of intellection; this is the very radiance that brought both intellect and intellectual object into being for the later use and allowed them to occupy the quester's mind. With this he himself becomes identical, with that radiance whose act is to engender intellectual-principle, not losing in that engendering but for ever unchanged, the engendered coming to be simply because that supreme exists. If there were no such principle above change, no derivative could rise.


Those ascribing intellection to the first have not supposed him to know the lesser, the emanant – though, indeed, some have thought it impossible that he should not know everything. But those denying his knowing of the lesser have still attributed self-knowing to him, because they find nothing nobler; we are to suppose that so he is the more august, as if intellection were something nobler than his own manner of being not something whose value derives from him.

But we ask in what must his grandeur lie, in his intellection or in himself. If in the intellection, he has no worth or the less worth; if in himself, he is perfect before the intellection, not perfected by it. We may be told that he must have intellection because he is an act, not a potentiality. Now if this means that he is an essence eternally intellective, he is represented as a duality – essence and intellective act – he ceases to be a simplex; an external has been added: It is just as the eyes are not the same as their sight, though the two are inseparable. If on the other hand by this actualization it is meant that he is act and intellection, then as being intellection he does not exercise it, just as movement is not itself in motion.

But do not we ourselves assert that the beings there are essence and act?

The beings, yes, but they are to us manifold and differentiated: The first we make a simplex; to us intellection begins with the emanant in its seeking of its essence, of itself, of its author; bent inward for this vision and having a present thing to know, there is every reason why it should be a principle of intellection; but that which, never coming into being, has no prior but is ever what it is, how could that have motive to intellection? As Plato rightly says, it is above intellect.

An intelligence not exercising intellection would be unintelligent; where the nature demands knowing, not to know is to fail of intelligence; but where there is no function, why import one and declare a defect because it is not performed? We might as well complain because the supreme does not act as a physician. He has no task, we hold, because nothing can present itself to him to be done; he is sufficient; he need seek nothing beyond himself, he who is over all; to himself and to all he suffices by simply being what he is.


And yet this "he is" does not truly apply: The supreme has no need of being: Even "he is good" does not apply since it indicates being: The "is" should not suggest something predicated of another thing; it is to state identity. The word "good" used of him is not a predicate asserting his possession of goodness; it conveys an identification. It is not that we think it exact to call him either good or the good: It is that sheer negation does not indicate; we use the term the good to assert identity without the affirmation of being.

But how admit a principle void of self-knowledge, self- awareness; surely the first must be able to say "I possess being?"

But he does not possess being.

Then, at least he must say "I am good?"

No: Once more, that would be an affirmation of being.

But surely he may affirm merely the goodness, adding nothing: The goodness would be taken without the being and all duality avoided?

No: Such self-awareness as good must inevitably carry the affirmation "I am the good"; otherwise there would be merely the unattached conception of goodness with no recognition of identity; any such intellection would inevitably include the affirmation "I am."

If that intellection were the good, then the intellection would not be self-intellection but intellection of the good; not the supreme but that intellection would be the good: If on the contrary that intellection of the good is distinct from the good, at once the good exists before its knowing; all-sufficiently good in itself, it needs none of that knowing of its own nature.

Thus the supreme does not know itself as good.

As what then?

No such foreign matter is present to it: It can have only an immediate intuition self-directed.


Since the supreme has no interval, no self-differentiation what can have this intuitional approach to it but itself? Therefore it quite naturally assumes difference at the point where intellectual- principle and being are differentiated.

Intellect, to act at all, must inevitably comport difference with identity; otherwise it could not distinguish itself from its object by standing apart from it, nor could it ever be aware of the realm of things whose existence demands otherness, nor could there be so much as a duality.

Again, if the supreme is to have intellection it cannot know only itself; that would not be intellection, for, if it did know itself, nothing could prevent it knowing all things; but this is impossible. With self-intellection it would no longer be simplex; any intellection, even in the supreme, must be aware of something distinct; as we have been saying, the inability to see the self as external is the negation of intellection. That act requires a manifold-agent, object, movement and all the other conditions of a thinking principle. Further we must remember what has been indicated elsewhere that, since every intellectual act in order to be what it must be requires variety, every movement simple and the same throughout, though it may comport some form of contact, is devoid of the intellective.

It follows that the supreme will know neither itself nor anything else but will hold an august repose. All the rest is later; before them all, this was what this was; any awareness of that other would be acquired, the shifting knowledge of the instable. Even in knowing the stable he would be manifold, for it is not possible that, while in the act of knowing the laters possess themselves of their object, the supreme should know only in some unpossessing observation.

As regards providence, that is sufficiently saved by the fact that this is the source from which all proceeds; the dependent he cannot know when he has no knowledge of himself but keeps that august repose. Plato dealing with essential being allows it intellection but not this august repose: Intellection then belongs to essential being; this august repose to the principle in which there is no intellection. Repose, of course, is used here for want of a fitter word; we are to understand that the most august, the truly so, is that which transcends [the movement of] intellection.


That there can be no intellection in the first will be patent to those that have had such contact; but some further confirmation is desirable, if indeed words can carry the matter; we need overwhelming persuasion.

It must be borne in mind that all intellection rises in some principle and takes cognisance of an object. But a distinction is to be made:

There is the intellection that remains within its place of origin; it has that source as substratum but becomes a sort of addition to it in that it is an activity of that source perfecting the potentiality there, not by producing anything but as being a completing power to the principle in which it inheres. There is also the intellection inbound with being – being's very author – and this could not remain confined to the source since there it could produce nothing; it is a power to production; it produces therefore of its own motion and its act is real-being and there it has its dwelling. In this mode the intellection is identical with being; even in its self-intellection no distinction is made save the logical distinction of thinker and thought with, as we have often observed, the implication of plurality.

This is a first activity and the substance it produces is essential being; it is an image, but of an original so great that the very copy stands a reality. If instead of moving outward it remained with the first, it would be no more than some appurtenance of that first, not a self-standing existent.

At the earliest activity and earliest intellection, it can be preceded by no act or intellection: If we pass beyond this being and this intellection we come not to more being and more intellection but to what overpasses both, to the wonderful which has neither, asking nothing of these products and standing its unaccompanied self.

That all-transcending cannot have had an activity by which to produce this activity – acting before act existed – or have had thought in order to produce thinking – applying thought before thought exists – all intellection, even of the good, is beneath it.

In sum, this intellection of the good is impossible: I do not mean that it is impossible to have intellection of the good – we may admit the possibility but there can be no intellection by the good itself, for this would be to include the inferior with the good.

If intellection is the lower, then it will be bound up with being; if intellection is the higher, its object is lower. Intellection, then, does not exist in the good; as a lesser, taking its worth through that good, it must stand apart from it, leaving the good unsoiled by it as by all else. Immune from intellection the good remains incontaminably what it is, not impeded by the presence of the intellectual act which would annul its purity and unity.

Anyone making the good at once thinker and thought identifies it with being and with the intellection vested in being so that it must perform that act of intellection: At once it becomes necessary to find another principle, one superior to that good: For either this act, this intellection, is a completing power of some such principle, serving as its ground, or it points, by that duality, to a prior principle having intellection as a characteristic. It is because there is something before it that it has an object of intellection; even in its self-intellection, it may be said to know its content by its vision of that prior.

What has no prior and no external accompaniment could have no intellection, either of itself or of anything else. What could it aim at, what desire? To essay its power of knowing? But this would make the power something outside itself; there would be, I mean, the power it grasped and the power by which it grasped: If there is but the one power, what is there to grasp at?



Intellection seems to have been given as an aid to the diviner but weaker beings, an eye to the blind. But the eye itself need not see being since it is itself the light; what must take the light through the eye needs the light because of its darkness. If, then, intellection is the light and light does not need the light, surely that brilliance (the first) which does not need light can have no need of intellection, will not add this to its nature.

What could it do with intellection? What could even intellection need and add to itself for the purpose of its act? It has no self-awareness; there is no need. It is no duality but, rather, a manifold, consisting of itself, its intellective act, distinct from itself, and the inevitable third, the object of intellection. No doubt since knower, knowing, and known, are identical, all merges into a unity: But the distinction has existed and, once more, such a unity cannot be the first; we must put away all otherness from the supreme which can need no such support; anything we add is so much lessening of what lacks nothing.

To us intellection is a boon since the soul needs it; to the intellectual-principle it is appropriate as being one thing with the very essence of the principle constituted by the intellectual act so that principle and act coincide in a continuous self-consciousness carrying the assurance of identity, of the unity of the two. But pure unity must be independent, in need of no such assurance.

"Know yourself" is a precept for those who, being manifold, have the task of appraising themselves so as to become aware of the number and nature of their constituents, some or all of which they ignore as they ignore their very principle and their manner of being. The first on the contrary if it have content must exist in a way too great to have any knowledge, intellection, perception of it. To itself it is nothing; accepting nothing, self-sufficing, it is not even a good to itself: To others it is good for they have need of it; but it could not lack itself: It would be absurd to suppose the good standing in need of goodness.

It does not see itself: Seeing aims at acquisition: All this it abandons to the subsequent: In fact nothing found elsewhere can be there; even being cannot be there. Nor therefore has it intellection which is a thing of the lower sphere where the first intellection, the only true, is identical with being. Reason, perception, intelligence, none of these can have place in that principle in which no presence can be affirmed.


Faced by the difficulty of placing these powers, you must in reason allocate to the secondaries what you count august: Secondaries must not be foisted on the first, or tertiaries on the secondaries. Secondaries are to be ranged under the first, tertiaries under the secondaries: This is giving everything its place, the later dependent on their priors, those priors free.

This is included in that true saying "about the king of all, all has being and in view of him all is": We are to understand from the attribution of all things to him, and from, the words "in view of him" that he is their cause and they reach to him as to something differing from them all and containing nothing that they contain: For certainly his very nature requires that nothing of the later be in him.

Thus, intellectual-principle, finding place in the universe, cannot have place in him. Where we read that he is the cause of all beauty we are clearly to understand that beauty depends on the forms, he being set above all that is beautiful here. The forms are in that passage secondaries, their sequels being attached to them as dependent thirds: It is clear thus that by "the products of the thirds" is meant this world, dependent on soul.

Soul dependent on intellectual-principle and intellectual- principle on the good, all is linked to the supreme by intermediaries, some close, some nearing those of the closer attachment, while the order of sense stands remotest, dependent on soul.


Eighth tractate: On free-will and the will of the One


Can there be question as to whether the gods have voluntary action? Or are we to take it that, while we may well enquire in the case of men with their combination of powerlessness and hesitating power, the gods must be declared omnipotent, not merely some things but all lying at their nod? Or is power entire, freedom of action in all things, to be reserved to one alone, of the rest some being powerful, others powerless, others again a blend of power and impotence?

All this must come to the test: We must dare it even of the firsts and of the all-transcendent and, if we find omnipotence possible, work out how far freedom extends. The very notion of power must be scrutinized lest in this ascription we be really making power identical with essential act, and even with act not yet achieved.

But for the moment we may pass over these questions to deal with the traditional problem of freedom of action in ourselves.

To begin with, what must be intended when we assert that something is in our power; what is the conception here?

To establish this will help to show whether we are to ascribe freedom to the gods and still more to God, or to refuse it, or again, while asserting it, to question still, in regard both to the higher and lower – the mode of its presence.

What then do we mean when we speak of freedom in ourselves and why do we question it?

My own reading is that, moving as we do amid adverse fortunes, compulsions, violent assaults of passion crushing the soul, feeling ourselves mastered by these experiences, playing slave to them, going where they lead, we have been brought by all this to doubt whether we are anything at all and dispose of ourselves in any particular.

This would indicate that we think of our free act as one which we execute of our own choice, in no servitude to chance or necessity or overmastering passion, nothing thwarting our will; the voluntary is conceived as an event amenable to will and occurring or not as our will dictates. Everything will be voluntary that is produced under no compulsion and with knowledge; our free act is what we are masters to perform.

Differing conceptually, the two conditions will often coincide but sometimes will clash. Thus a man would be master to kill, but the act will not be voluntary if in the victim he had failed to recognise his own father. Perhaps however that ignorance is not compatible with real freedom: For the knowledge necessary to a voluntary act cannot be limited to certain particulars but must cover the entire field. Why, for example, should killing be involuntary in the failure to recognise a father and not so in the failure to recognise the wickedness of murder? If because the killer ought to have learned, still ignorance of the duty of learning and the cause of that ignorance remain alike involuntary.


A cardinal question is where we are to place the freedom of action ascribed to us.

It must be founded in impulse or in some appetite, as when we act or omit in lust or rage or on some calculation of advantage accompanied by desire.

But if rage or desire implied freedom we must allow freedom to animals, infants, maniacs, the distraught, the victims of malpractice producing incontrollable delusions. And if freedom turns on calculation with desire, does this include faulty calculation? Sound calculation, no doubt, and sound desire; but then comes the question whether the appetite stirs the calculation or the calculation the appetite.

Where the appetites are dictated by the very nature they are the desires of the conjoint of soul and body and then soul lies under physical compulsions: If they spring in the soul as an independent, then much that we take to be voluntary is in reality outside of our free act. Further, every emotion is preceded by some meagre reasoning; how then can a compelling imagination, an appetite drawing us where it will, be supposed to leave us masters in the ensuing act? Need, inexorably craving satisfaction, is not free in face of that to which it is forced: And how at all can a thing have efficiency of its own when it rises from an extern, has an extern for very principle, thence taking its being as it stands? It lives by that extern, lives as it has been moulded: If this be freedom, there is freedom in even the soulless; fire acts in accordance with its characteristic being.

We may be reminded that the living form and the soul know what they do. But, if this is knowledge by perception, it does not help towards the freedom of the act; perception gives awareness, not mastery: If true knowing is meant, either this is the knowing of something happening – once more awareness – with the motive – force still to seek, or the reasoning and knowledge have acted to quell the appetite; then we have to ask to what this repression is to be referred and where it has taken place. If it is that the mental process sets up an opposing desire we must assure ourselves how; if it merely stills the appetite with no further efficiency and this is our freedom, then freedom does not depend on act but is a thing of the mind – and in truth all that has to do with act, the very most reasonable, is still of mixed value and cannot carry freedom.


All this calls for examination; the enquiry must bring us close to the solution as regards the gods.

We have traced self-disposal to will, will to reasoning and, next step, to right reasoning; perhaps to right reasoning we must add knowledge, for however sound opinion and act may be they do not yield true freedom when the adoption of the right course is the result of hazard or of some presentment from the fancy with no knowledge of the foundations of that rightness.

Taking it that the presentment of fancy is not a matter of our will and choice, how can we think those acting at its dictation to be free agents? fancy strictly, in our use, takes it rise from conditions of the body; lack of food and drink sets up presentments, and so does the meeting of these needs; similarly with seminal abundance and other humours of the body. We refuse to range under the principle of freedom those whose conduct is directed by such fancy: The baser sort, therefore, mainly so guided, cannot be credited with self-disposal or voluntary act. Self-disposal, to us, belongs to those who, through the activities of the intellectual-principle, live above the states of the body. The spring of freedom is the activity of intellectual- principle, the highest in our being; the proposals emanating thence are freedom; such desires as are formed in the exercise of the intellectual act cannot be classed as involuntary; the gods, therefore, that live in this state, living by intellectual-principle and by desire conformed to it, possess freedom.


It will be asked how act rising from desire can be voluntary, since desire pulls outward and implies need; to desire is still to be drawn, even though towards the good.

Intellectual-principle itself comes under the doubt; having a certain nature and acting by that nature can it be said to have freedom and self-disposal – in an act which it cannot leave unenacted? It may be asked, also, whether freedom may strictly be affirmed of such beings as are not engaged in action.

However that may be, where there is such act there is compulsion from without, since, failing motive, act will not be performed. These higher beings, too, obey their own nature; where then is their freedom?

But, on the other hand, can there be talk of constraint where there is no compulsion to obey an extern; and how can any movement towards a good be counted compulsion? Effort is free once it is towards a fully recognised good; the involuntary is, precisely, motion away from a good and towards the enforced, towards something not recognised as a good; servitude lies in being powerless to move towards one's good, being debarred from the preferred path in a menial obedience. Hence the shame of slavedom is incurred not when one is held from the hurtful but when the personal good must be yielded in favour of another's.

Further, this objected obedience to the characteristic nature would imply a duality, master and mastered; but an undivided principle, a simplex activity, where there can be no difference of potentiality and act, must be free; there can be no thought of "action according to the nature," in the sense of any distinction between the being and its efficiency, there where being and act are identical. Where act is performed neither because of another nor at another's will, there surely is freedom. Freedom may of course be an inappropriate term: There is something greater here: It is self-disposal in the sense, only, that there is no disposal by the extern, no outside master over the act.

In a principle, act and essence must be free. No doubt intellectual-principle itself is to be referred to a yet higher; but this higher is not extern to it; intellectual-principle is within the good; possessing its own good in virtue of that indwelling, much more will it possess freedom and self-disposal which are sought only for the sake of the good. Acting towards the good, it must all the more possess self-disposal for by that act it is directed towards the principle from which it proceeds, and this its act is self-centred and must entail its very greatest good.


Are we, however, to make freedom and self-disposal exclusive to intellectual-principle as engaged in its characteristic act, intellectual-principle unassociated, or do they belong also to soul acting under that guidance and performing act of virtue?

If freedom is to be allowed to soul in its act, it certainly cannot be allowed in regard to issue, for we are not master of events: If in regard to fine conduct and all inspired by intellectual- principle, that may very well be freedom; but is the freedom ours?

Because there is war, we perform some brave feat; how is that our free act since had there been no war it could not have been performed? So in all cases of fine conduct; there is always some impinging event leading out our quality to show itself in this or that act. And suppose virtue itself given the choice whether to find occasion for its exercise – war evoking courage; wrong, so that it may establish justice and good order; poverty that it may show independence – or to remain inactive, everything going well, it would choose the peace of inaction, nothing calling for its intervention, just as a physician like hippocrates would prefer no one to stand in need of his skill.

If thus virtue whose manifestation requires action becomes inevitably a collaborator under compulsion, how can it have untrammelled self-disposal?

Should we, perhaps, distinguish between compulsion in the act and freedom in the preceding will and reasoning?

But in setting freedom in those preceding functions, we imply that virtue has a freedom and self-disposal apart from all act; then we must state what is the reality of the self-disposal attributed to virtue as state or disposition. Are we to put it that virtue comes in to restore the disordered soul, taming passions and appetites? In what sense, at that, can we hold our goodness to be our own free act, our fine conduct to be uncompelled? In that we will and adopt, in that this entry of virtue prepares freedom and self-disposal, ending our slavery to the masters we have been obeying. If then virtue is, as it were, a second intellectual-principle, and heightens the soul to intellectual quality, then, once more, our freedom is found to lie not in act but in intellectual-principle immune from act.


How then did we come to place freedom in the will when we made out free action to be that produced – or as we also indicated, suppressed – at the dictate of will?

If what we have been saying is true and our former statement is consistent with it, the case must stand thus:

Virtue and intellectual-principle are sovereign and must be held the sole foundation of our self-disposal and freedom; both then are free; intellectual-principle is self-confined: Virtue, in its government of the soul which it seeks to lift into goodness, would wish to be free; in so far as it does so it is free and confers freedom; but inevitably experiences and actions are forced on it by its governance: These it has not planned for, yet when they do arise it will watch still for its sovereignty calling these also to judgement. Virtue does not follow on occurrences as a saver of the emperilled; at its discretion it sacrifices a man; it may decree the jettison of life, means, children, country even; it looks to its own high aim and not to the safeguarding of anything lower. Thus our freedom of act, our self-disposal, must be referred not to the doing, not to the external thing done but to the inner activity, to the intellection, to virtue's own vision.

So understood, virtue is a mode of intellectual-principle, a mode not involving any of the emotions or passions controlled by its reasonings, since such experiences, amenable to morality and discipline, touch closely – we read – on body.

This makes it all the more evident that the unembodied is the free; to this our self-disposal is to be referred; herein lies our will which remains free and self-disposing in spite of any orders which it may necessarily utter to meet the external. All then that issues from will and is the effect of will is our free action; and in the highest degree all that lies outside of the corporeal is purely within the scope of will, all that will adopts and brings, unimpeded, into existence.

The contemplating intellect, the first or highest, has self- disposal to the point that its operation is utterly independent; it turns wholly on itself; its very action is itself; at rest in its good it is without need, complete, and may be said to live to its will; there the will is intellection: It is called will because it expresses the intellectual-principle in the willing-phase and, besides, what we know as will imitates this operation taking place within the intellectual-principle. Will strives towards the good which the act of intellectual-principle realizes. Thus that principle holds what will seeks, that good whose attainment makes will identical with intellection.

But if self-disposal is founded thus on the will aiming at the good, how can it possibly be denied to that principle permanently possessing the good, sole object of the aim?

Any one scrupulous about setting self-disposal so high may find some loftier word.


Soul becomes free when it moves, through intellectual- principle, towards the good; what it does in that spirit is its free act; intellectual-principle is free in its own right. That principle of good is the sole object of desire and the source of self-disposal to the rest, to soul when it fully attains, to intellectual-principle by connate possession.

How then can the sovereign of all that august sequence – the first in place, that to which all else strives to mount, all dependent on it and taking from it their powers even to this power of self-disposal – how can this be brought under the freedom belonging to you and me, a conception applicable only by violence to intellectual-principle itself?

It is rash thinking drawn from another order that would imagine a first principle to be chance – made what it is, controlled by a manner of being imposed from without, void therefore of freedom or self-disposal, acting or refraining under compulsion. Such a statement is untrue to its subject and introduces much difficulty; it utterly annuls the principle of freewill with the very conception of our own voluntary action, so that there is no longer any sense in discussion on these terms, empty names for the non-existent. Anyone upholding this opinion would be obliged to say not merely that free act exists nowhere but that the very word conveys nothing to him. To admit understanding the word is to be easily brought to confess that the conception of freedom does apply where it is denied. No doubt a concept leaves the reality untouched and unappropriated, for nothing can produce itself, bring itself into being; but thought insists on distinguishing between what is subject to others and what is independent, bound under no allegiance, lord of its own act.

This state of freedom belongs in the absolute degree to the eternals in right of that eternity and to other beings in so far as without hindrance they possess or pursue the good which, standing above them all, must manifestly be the only good they can reasonably seek.

To say that the good exists by chance must be false; chance belongs to the later, to the multiple; since the first has never come to be, we cannot speak of it either as coming by chance into being or as not master of its being. Absurd also the objection that it acts in accordance with its being if this is to suggest that freedom demands act or other expression against the nature. Neither does its nature as the unique annul its freedom when this is the result of no compulsion but means only that the good is no other than itself, is self-complete and has no higher.

The objection would imply that where there is most good there is least freedom. If this is absurd, still more absurd to deny freedom to the good on the ground that it is good and self- concentred, not needing to lean on anything else but actually being the term to which all tends, itself moving to none.

Where – since we must use such words – the essential act is identical with the being – and this identity must obtain in the good since it holds even in intellectual- principle – there the act is no more determined by the being than the being by the act. Thus "acting according to its nature" does not apply; the act, the life, so to speak, cannot be held to issue from the being; the being accompanies the act in an eternal association: From the two [being and act] it forms itself into the good, self-springing and unspringing.


But it is not, in our view, as an attribute that this freedom is present in the first. In the light of free acts, from which we eliminate the contraries, we recognise there self-determination, self- directed and, failing more suitable terms, we apply to it the lesser terms brought over from lesser things and so tell it as best we may: No words could ever be adequate or even applicable to that from which all else – the noble, the august – is derived. For this is principle of all, or, more strictly, unrelated to all and, in this consideration, cannot be made to possess such laters as even freedom and self-disposal, which in fact indicate manifestation on the extern – unhindered but implying the existence of other beings whose opposition proves ineffective.

We cannot think of the first as moving towards any other; he holds his own manner of being before any other was; even being we withhold and therefore all relation to beings.

Nor may we speak of any "conforming to the nature"; this again is of the later; if the term be applicable at all in that realm it applies only to the secondaries – primally to essential existence as next to this first. And if a "nature" belongs only to things of time, this conformity to nature does not apply even to essential existence. On the other hand, we are not to deny that it is derived from essential existence for that would be to take away its existence and would imply derivation from something else.

Does this mean that the first is to be described as happening to be?

No; that would be just as false; nothing "happens" to the first; it stands in no such relationship; happening belongs only to the multiple where, first, existence is given and then something is added. And how could the source "happen to be"? There has been no coming so that you can put it to the question "how does this come to be? What chance brought it here, gave it being?" chance did not yet exist; there was no "automatic action": These imply something before themselves and occur in the realm of process.


If we cannot but speak of happening we must not halt at the word but look to the intention. And what is that? That the supreme by possession of a certain nature and power is the principle. Obviously if its nature were other it would be that other and if the difference were for the worse it would manifest itself as that lesser being. But we must add in correction that, as principle of all, it could not be some chance product; it is not enough to say that it could not be inferior; it could not even be in some way good, for instance in some less perfect degree; the principle of all must be of higher quality than anything that follows it. It is therefore in a sense determined – determined, I mean, by its uniqueness and not in any sense of being under compulsion; compulsion did not co- exist with the supreme but has place only among secondaries and even there can exercise no tyranny; this uniqueness is not from outside.

This, then, it is; this and no other; simply what it must be; it has not "happened" but is what by a necessity prior to all necessities it must be. We cannot think of it as a chance existence; it is not what it chanced to be but what it must be – and yet without a "must."

All the rest waits for the appearing of the king to hail him for himself, not a being of accident and happening but authentically king, authentically principle, the good authentically, not a being that acts in conformity with goodness – and so, recognisably, a secondary – but the total unity that he is, no moulding on goodness but the very good itself.

Even being is exempt from happening: Of course, anything happening happens to being, but being itself has not happened nor is the manner of its being a thing of happening, of derivation; it is the very nature of being to be; how then can we think that this happening can attach to the transcendent of being, that in whose power lay the very engendering of being?

Certainly this transcendent never happened to be what it is; it is so, just as being exists in complete identity with its own essential nature and that of intellectual-principle. Certainly that which has never passed outside of its own orbit, unbendingly what it is, its own unchangeably, is that which may most strictly be said to possess its own being: What then are we to say when we mount and contemplate that which stands yet higher; can we conceivably say "thus, as we see it, thus has it happened to be"? Neither thus nor in any mode did it happen to be; there is no happening; there is only a "thus and no Otherwise than thus." and even "thus" is false; it would imply limit, a defined form: To know this is to be able to reject both the "thus" and the "not- thus," either of which classes among beings to which alone manner of being can attach.

A "thus" is something that attaches to everything in the world of things: Standing before the indefinable you may name any of these sequents but you must say this is none of them: At most it is to be conceived as the total power towards things, supremely self-concentred, being what it wills to be or rather projecting into existence what it wills, itself higher than all will, will a thing beneath it. In a word it neither willed its own "thus" – as something to conform to – nor did any other make it "thus."


The upholder of happening must be asked how this false happening can be supposed to have come about, taking it that it did, and haw the happening, then, is not universally prevalent. If there is to be a natural scheme at all, it must be admitted that this happening does not and cannot exist: For if we attribute to chance the principle which is to eliminate chance from all the rest, how can there ever be anything independent of chance? And this nature does take away the chanced from the rest, bringing in form and limit and shape. In the case of things thus conformed to reason the cause cannot be identified with chance but must lie in that very reason; chance must be kept for what occurs apart from choice and sequence and is purely concurrent. When we come to the source of all reason, order and limit, how can we attribute the reality there to chance? chance is no doubt master of many things but is not master of intellectual-principle, of reason, of order, so as to bring them into being. How could chance, recognised as the very opposite of reason, be its author? And if it does not produce intellectual-principle, then certainly not that which precedes and surpasses that principle. Chance, besides, has no means of producing, has no being at all, and, assuredly, none in the eternal.

Since there is nothing before him who is the first, we must call a halt; there is nothing to say; we may enquire into the origin of his sequents but not of himself who has no origin.

But perhaps, never having come to be but being as he is, he is still not master of his own essence: Not master of his essence but being as he is, not self-originating but acting out of his nature as he finds it, must he not be of necessity what he is, inhibited from being otherwise?

No: What he is, he is not because he could not be otherwise but because so is best. Not everything has power to move towards the better though nothing is prevented by any external from moving towards the worse. But that the supreme has not so moved is its own doing: There has been no inhibition; it has not moved simply because it is that which does not move; in this stability the inability to degenerate is not powerlessness; here permanence is very act, a self-determination. This absence of declination comports the fulness of power; it is not the yielding of a being held and controlled but the act of one who is necessity, law, to all.

Does this indicate a necessity which has brought itself into existence? No: There has been no coming into being in any degree; this is that by which being is brought to all the rest, its sequents. Above all origins, this can owe being neither to an extern nor to itself.


But this unoriginating, what is it?

We can but withdraw, silent, hopeless, and search no further. What can we look for when we have reached the furthest? Every enquiry aims at a first and, that attained, rests.

Besides, we must remember that all questioning deals with the nature of a thing, its quality, its cause or its essential being. In this case the being – in so far as we can use the word – is knowable only by its sequents: The question as to cause asks for a principle beyond, but the principle of all has no principle; the question as to quality would be looking for an attribute in that which has none: The question as to nature shows only that we must ask nothing about it but merely take it into the mind if we may, with the knowledge gained that nothing can be permissibly connected with it.

The difficulty this principle presents to our mind in so far as we can approach to conception of it may be exhibited thus:

We begin by posing space, a place, a chaos; into this existing container, real or fancied, we introduce god and proceed to enquire: We ask, for example, whence and how he comes to be there: We investigate the presence and quality of this new-comer projected into the midst of things here from some height or depth. But the difficulty disappears if we eliminate all space before we attempt to conceive god: He must not be set in anything either as enthroned in eternal immanence or as having made some entry into things: He is to be conceived as existing alone, in that existence which the necessity of discussion forces us to attribute to him, with space and all the rest as later than him – space latest of all. Thus we conceive as far as we may, the spaceless; we abolish the notion of any environment: We circumscribe him within no limit; we attribute no extension to him; he has no quality since no shape, even shape intellectual; he holds no relationship but exists in and for himself before anything is.

How can we think any longer of that "thus he happened to be"? How make this one assertion of him of whom all other assertion can be no more than negation? It is on the contrary nearer the truth to say "thus he has happened not to be": That contains at least the utter denial of his happening.


Yet, is not God what he is? can he, then, be master of being what he is or master to stand above being? The mind utterly reluctant returns to its doubt: Some further considerations, therefore, must be offered:

In us the individual, viewed as body, is far from reality; by soul which especially constitutes the being we participate in reality, are in some degree real. This is a compound state, a mingling of reality and difference, not, therefore reality in the strictest sense, not reality pure. Thus far we are not masters of our being; in some sense the reality in us is one thing and we another. We are not masters of our being; the real in us is the master, since that is the principle establishing our characteristic difference; yet we are again in some sense that which is sovereign in us and so even on this level might in spite of all be described as self-disposing.

But in that which is wholly what it is – self-existing reality, without distinction between the total thing and its essence – the being is a unit and is sovereign over itself; neither the being nor the essence is to be referred to any extern. Besides, the very question as to self. Disposal falls in the case of what is first in reality; if it can be raised at all, we must declare that there can be no subjection whatever in that to which reality owes its freedom, that in whose nature the conferring of freedom must clearly be vested, preeminently to be known as the liberator.

Still, is not this principle subject to its essential being? On the contrary, it is the source of freedom to being.

Even if there be act in the supreme – an act with which it is to be identified – this is not enough to set up a duality within it and prevent it being entirely master of that self from which the act springs; for the act is not distinct from that self. If we utterly deny act in it – holding that act begins with others moving about it – we are all the less able to allow either self-mastery or subjection in it: Even self-mastery is absent here, not that anything else is master over it but that self-mastery begins with being while the supreme is to be set in a higher order.

But what can there be higher than that which is its own master?

Where we speak of self-mastery there is a certain duality, act against essence; from the exercise of the act arises the conception of the mastering principle – though one identical with the essence – hence arises the separate idea of mastery, and the being concerned is said to possess self-mastery. Where there is no such duality joining to unity but solely a unity pure – either because the act is the whole being or because there is no act at all – then we cannot strictly say that the being has this mastery of self.


Our enquiry obliges us to use terms not strictly applicable: We insist, once more, that not even for the purpose of forming the concept of the supreme may we make it a duality; if now we do, it is merely for the sake of conveying conviction, at the cost of verbal accuracy.

If, then, we are to allow activities in the supreme and make them depend on will – and certainly act cannot there be will-less and these activities are to be the very essence, then will and essence in the supreme must be identical. This admitted, as he willed to be so he is; it is no more true to say that he wills and acts as his nature determines than that his essence is as he wills and acts. Thus he is wholly master of himself and holds his very being at his will.

Consider also that every being in its pursuit of its good seeks to be that good rather than what it is it judges itself most truly to be when it partakes of its good: In so far as it thus draws on its good its being is its choice: Much more, then, must the very principle, the good, be desirable in itself when any fragment of it is very desirable to the extern and becomes the chosen essence promoting that extern's will and identical with the will that gave the existence?

As long as a thing is apart from its good it seeks outside itself; when it holds its good it itself as it is: And this is no matter of chance; the essence now is not outside of the will; by the good it is determined, by the good it is in self-possession.

If then this principle is the means of determination to everything else, we see at once that self-possession must belong primally to it, so that, through it, others in their turn may be self- belonging: What we must call its essence comports its will to possess such a manner of being; we can form no idea of it without including in it the will towards itself as it is. It must be a consistent self willing its being and being what it wills; its will and itself must be one thing, all the more one from the absence of distinction between a given nature and one which would be preferred. What could the good have wished to be other than what it is? Suppose it had the choice of being what it preferred, power to alter the nature, it could not prefer to be something else; it could have no fault to find with anything in its nature, as if that nature were imposed by force; the good is what from always it wished and wishes to be. For the really existent good is a willing towards itself, towards a good not gained by any wiles or even attracted to it by force of its nature; the good is what it chose to be and, in fact, there was never anything outside it to which it could be drawn.

It may be added that nothing else contains in its essence the principle of its own satisfaction; there will be inner discord: But this hypostasis of the good must necessarily have self-option, the will towards the self; if it had not, it could not bring satisfaction to the beings whose contentment demands participation in it or imagination of it.

Once more, we must be patient with language; we are forced to apply to the supreme terms which strictly are ruled out; everywhere we must read "so to speak." the good, then, exists; it holds its existence through choice and will, conditions of its very being: Yet it cannot be a manifold; therefore the will and the essential being must be taken as one identity; the act of the will must be self-determined and the being self-caused; thus reason shows the supreme to be its own author. For if the act of will springs from God himself and is as it were his operation and the same will is identical with his essence, he must be self- established. He is not, therefore, "what he has happened to be" but what he has willed to be.


Another approach: Everything to which existence may be attributed is either one with its essence or distinct from it. Thus any given man is distinct from essential man though belonging to the order man: A soul and a soul's essence are the same – that is, in case of soul pure and unmingled – man as type is the same as man's essence; where the thing, man, and the essence are different, the particular man may be considered as accidental; but man, the essence, cannot be so; the type, man, has real being. Now if the essence of man is real, not chanced or accidental, how can we think that to be accidental which transcends the order man, author of the type, source of all being, a principle more nearly simplex than man's being or being of any kind? As we approach the simplex, accident recedes; what is utterly simplex accident never touches at all.

Further we must remember what has been already said, that where there is true being, where things have been brought to reality by that principle – and this is true of whatever has determined condition within the order of sense – all that reality is brought about in virtue of something emanating from the divine. By things of determined condition I mean such as contain, inbound with their essence, the reason of their being as they are, so that, later, an observer can state the use for each of the constituent parts – why the eye, why feet of such and such a kind to such and such a being – and can recognise that the reason for the production of each organ is inherent in that particular being and that the parts exist for each other. Why feet of a certain length? Because another member is as it is: Because the face is as it is, therefore the feet are what they are: In a word the mutual determinant is mutual adaptation and the reason of each of the several forms is that such is the plan of man.

Thus the essence and its reason are one and the same. The constituent parts arise from the one source not because that source has so conceived each separately but because it has produced simultaneously the plan of the thing and its existence. This therefore is author at once of the existence of things and of their reasons, both produced at the one stroke. It is in correspondence with the things of process but far more nearly archetypal and authentic and in a closer relation with the better, their source, than they can be.

Of things carrying their causes within, none arises at hazard or without purpose; this "so it happened to be" is applicable to none. All that they have comes from the good; the supreme itself, then, as author of reason, of causation, and of causing essence – all certainly lying far outside of chance – must be the principle and as it were the examplar of things, thus independent of hazard: It is, the first, the authentic, immune from chance, from blind effect and happening: God is cause of himself; for himself and of himself he is what he is, the first self, transcendently the self.


Lovable, very love, the supreme is also self-love in that he is lovely no otherwise than from himself and in himself. Self- presence can hold only in the identity of associated with associating; since, in the supreme, associated and associating are one, seeker and sought one the sought serving as hypostasis and substrate of the seeker – once more God's being and his seeking are identical: Once more, then, the supreme is the self- producing, sovereign of himself, not happening to be as some extern willed but existing as he wills it.

And when we say that neither does he absorb anything nor anything absorb him, thus again we are setting him outside of all happening – not only because we declare him unique and untouched by all but in another way also. Suppose we found such a nature in ourselves; we are untouched by all that has gathered round us subjecting us to happening and chance; all that accruement was of the servile and lay exposed to chance: By this new state alone we acquire self-disposal and free act, the freedom of that light which belongs to the order of the good and is good in actuality, greater than anything intellectual-principle has to give, an actuality whose advantage over intellection is no adventitious superiority. When we attain to this state and become this alone, what can we say but that we are more than free, more than self-disposing? And who then could link us to chance, hazard, happening, when thus we are become veritable life, entered into that which contains no alloy but is purely itself?

Isolate anything else and the being is inadequate; the supreme in isolation is still what it was. The first cannot be in the soulless or in an unreasoning life; such a life is too feeble in being; it is reason dissipated, it is indetermination; only in the measure of approach towards reason is there liberation from happening; the rational is above chance. Ascending we come on the supreme, not as reason but as reason's better: Thus God is far removed from all happening: The root of reason is self- springing.

The supreme is the term of all; it is like the principle and ground of some vast tree of rational life; itself unchanging, it gives reasoned being to the growth into which it enters.


We maintain, and it is evident truth, that the supreme is everywhere and yet nowhere; keeping this constantly in mind let us see how it bears on our present enquiry.

If God is nowhere, then not anywhere has he "happened to be"; as also everywhere, he is everywhere in entirety: At once, he is that everywhere and everywise: He is not in the everywhere but is the everywhere as well as the giver to the rest of things of their being in that everywhere. Holding the supreme place – or rather no holder but himself the supreme – all lies subject to him; they have not brought him to be but happen, all, to him – or rather they stand there before him looking on him, not he on them. He is borne, so to speak, to the inmost of himself in love of that pure radiance which he is, he himself being that which he. Loves. That is to say, as self-dwelling act and intellectual-principle, the most to be loved, he has given himself existence. Intellectual-principle is the issue of act: God therefore is issue of act, but, since no other has generated him, he is what he made himself: He is not, therefore, "as he happened to be" but as he acted himself into being.

Again; if he preeminently is because he holds firmly, so to speak, towards himself, looking towards himself, so that what we must call his being is this self-looking, he must again, since the word is inevitable, make himself: Thus, not "as he happens to be" is he but as he himself wills to be. Nor is this will a hazard, a something happening; the will adopting the best is not a thing of chance.

That his being is constituted by this self-originating self- tendence – at once act and repose – becomes clear if we imagine the contrary; inclining towards something outside of himself, he would destroy the identity of his being. This self- directed act is, therefore, his peculiar being, one with himself. If, then, his act never came to be but is eternal – a waking without an awakener, an eternal wakening and a supra- intellection – he is as he waked himself to be. This awakening is before being, before intellectual-principle, before rational life, though he is these; he is thus an act before intellectual-principle and consciousness and life; these come from him and no other; his being, then, is a self-presence, issuing from himself. Thus not "as he happened to be" is he but as he willed to be.


Or consider it another way: We hold the universe, with its content entire, to be as all would be if the design of the maker had so willed it, elaborating it with purpose and prevision by reasonings amounting to a providence. All is always so and all is always so reproduced: Therefore the reason-principles of things must lie always within the producing powers in a still more perfect form; these beings of the divine realm must therefore be previous to providence and to preference; all that exists in the order of being must lie for ever there in their intellectual mode. If this regime is to be called providence it must be in the sense that before our universe there exists, not expressed in the outer, the intellectual-principle of all the all, its source and archetype.

Now if there is thus an intellectual-principle before all things, their founding principle, this cannot be a thing lying subject to chance – multiple, no doubt, but a concordance, ordered so to speak into oneness. Such a multiple – the co- ordination of all particulars and consisting of all the reason- principles of the universe gathered into the closest union – this cannot be a thing of chance, a thing "happening so to be." it must be of a very different nature, of the very contrary nature, separated from the other by all the difference between reason and reasonless chance. And if the source is precedent even to this, it must be continuous with this reasoned secondary so that the two be correspondent; the secondary must participate in the prior, be an expression of its will, be a power of it: That higher therefore [as above the ordering of reason] is without part or interval [implied by reasoned arrangement], is a one – all reason-principle, one number, a One greater than its product, more powerful, having no higher or better. Thus the supreme can derive neither its being nor the quality of its being. God himself, therefore, is what he is, self-related, self-tending; otherwise he becomes outward-tending, other- seeking – who cannot but be wholly self-poised.


Seeking him, seek nothing of him outside; within is to be sought what follows on him; himself do not attempt. He is, himself, that outer, he the encompassment and measure of all things; or rather he is within, at the innermost depth; the outer, circling round him, so to speak, and wholly dependent on him, is reason-principle and intellectual- principle-or becomes intellectual-principle by contact with him and in the degree of that contact and dependence; for from him it takes the being which makes it intellectual-principle.

A circle related in its path to a centre must be admitted to owe its scope to that centre: It has something of the nature of that centre in that the radial lines converging on that one central point assimilate their impinging ends to that point of convergence and of departure, the dominant of radii and terminals: The terminals are of one nature with the centre, separate reproductions of it, since the centre is, in a certain sense, the total of terminals and radii impinging at every point on it; these lines reveal the centre; they are the development of that undeveloped.

In the same way we are to take intellectual-principle and being. This combined power springs from the supreme, an outflow and as it were development from that and remaining dependent on that intellective nature, showing forth that which, in the purity of its oneness, is not intellectual-principle since it is no duality. No more than in the circle are the lines or circumference to be identified with that centre which is the source of both: Radii and circle are images given forth by indwelling power and, as products of a certain vigour in it, not cut off from it.

Thus the intellective power circles in its multiple unity around the supreme which stands to it as archetype to image; the image in its movement round about its prior has produced the multiplicity by which it is constituted intellectual-principle: That prior has no movement; it generates intellectual-principle by its sheer wealth.

Such a power, author of intellectual-principle, author of being – how does it lend itself to chance, to hazard, to any "so it happened"?

What is present in intellectual-principle is present, though in a far transcendent mode, in the One: So in a light diffused afar from one light shining within itself, the diffused is vestige, the source is the true light; but intellectual-principle, the diffused and image light, is not different in kind from its prior; and it is not a thing of chance but at every point is reason and cause.

The supreme is cause of the cause: It is cause preeminently, cause as containing cause in the deepest and truest mode; for in it lie the intellective causes which are to be unfolded from it, author as it is not of the chance – made but of what the divine willed: And this willing was not apart from reason, was not in the realm of hazard and of what happened to present itself.

Thus Plato, seeking the best account of the necessary and appropriate, says they are far removed from hazard and that what exists is what must exist: If thus the existence is as it must be it does not exist without reason: If its manner of being is the fitting, it is the utterly self-disposing in comparison with its sequents and, before that, in regard to itself: Thus it is not "as it happened to be" but as it willed to be: All this, on the assumption that God wills what should be and that it is impossible to separate right from realization and that this necessary is not to God an outside thing but is, itself, his first activity manifesting outwardly in the exactly representative form. Thus we must speak of God since we cannot tell him as we would.


Stirred to the supreme by what has been told, a man must strive to possess it directly; then he too will see, though still unable to tell it as he would wish.

One seeing that as it really is will lay aside all reasoning on it and simply state it as the self-existent; such that if it had essence that essence would be subject to it and, so to speak, derived from it; none that has seen would dare to talk of its "happening to be," or indeed be able to utter word. With all his courage he would stand astounded, unable at any venture to speak of this, with the vision everywhere before the eyes of the soul so that, look where one may, there it is seen unless one deliberately look away, ignoring God, thinking no more on him. So we are to understand the beyond-essence darkly indicated by the ancients: Is not merely that he generated essence but that he is subject neither to essence nor to himself; his essence is not his principle; he is principle to essence and not for himself did he make it; producing it he left it outside of himself: He had no need of being who brought it to be. Thus his making of being is no "action in accordance with his being."


The difficulty will be raised that God would seem to have existed before thus coming into existence; if he makes himself, then in regard to the self which he makes he is not yet in being and as maker he exists before this himself thus made.

The answer is that we utterly must not speak of him as made but sheerly as maker; the making must be taken as absolved from all else; no new existence is established; the act here is not directed to an achievement but is God himself unalloyed: Here is no duality but pure unity. Let no one suspect us of asserting that the first activity is without essence; on the contrary the activity is the very reality. To suppose a reality without activity would be to make the principle of all principles deficient; the supremely complete becomes incomplete. To make the activity something superadded to the essence is to shatter the unity. If then activity is a more perfect thing than essence and the first is all perfect, then the activity is the first.

By having acted, he is what he is and there is no question of "existing before bringing himself into existence"; when he acted he was not in some state that could be described as "before existing." he was already existent entirely.

Now assuredly an activity not subjected essence is utterly free; God's selfhood, then, is of his own act. If his being has to be ensured by something else, he is no longer the self-existent first: If it be true to say that he is his own container, then he inducts himself; for all that he contains is his own production from the beginning since from the beginning he caused the being of all that by nature he contains.

If there had been a moment from which he began to be, it would be possible assert his self-making in the literal sense; but, since what he is he is from before all time, his self-making is to be understood as simultaneous with himself; the being is one and the same with the making and eternal "coming into existence."

This is the source also of his self-disposal – strictly applicable if there were a duality, but conveying, in the case of a unity, a disposing without a disposed, an abstract disposing. But how a disposer with nothing to dispose? In that there is here a disposer looking to a prior when there is none: Since there is no prior, this is the first – but a first not in order but in sovereignty, in power purely self-controlled. Purely; then nothing can be there that is under any external disposition; all in God is self-willing. What then is there of his content that is not himself, what that is not in act, what not his work? Imagine in him anything not of his act and at once his existence ceases to be pure; he is not self-disposing, not all-powerful: In that at least of whose doing he is not master he would be impotent.


Could he then have made himself otherwise than as he did?

If he could we must deny him the power to produce goodness for he certainly cannot produce evil. Power, there, is no producer of the inapt; it is that steadfast constant which is most decidedly power by inability to depart from unity: Ability to produce the inapt inability to hold by the fitting; that self-making must be definite once for all since it is the right; besides, who could upset what is made by the will of God and is itself that will?

But whence does he draw that will seeing that essence, source of will, is inactive in him?

The will was included in the essence; they were identical: Or was there something, this will for instance, not existing in him? all was will, nothing unwilled in him. There is then nothing before that will: God and will were primally identical.

God, therefore, is what he willed, is such as he willed; and all that ensued on that willing was what that definite willing engendered: But it engendered nothing new; all existed from the first.

As for his "self-containing," this rightly understood can mean only that all the rest is maintained in virtue of him by means of a certain participation; all traces back to the supreme; God himself, self-existing always, needs no containing, no participating; all in him belongs to him or rather he needs nothing from them in order to being himself.

When therefore you seek to state or to conceive him, put all else aside; abstracting all, keep solely to him; see that you add nothing; be sure that your theory of God does not lessen him. Even you are able to take contact with something in which there is no more than that thing itself to affirm and know, something which lies away above all and is – it alone – veritably free, subject not even to its own law, solely and essentially that One thing, while all else is thing and something added.


Ninth tractate: On the good, or the One


It is in virtue of unity that beings are beings.

This is equally true of things whose existence is primal and of all that are in any degree to be numbered among beings. What could exist at all except as one thing? deprived of unity, a thing ceases to be what it is called: No army unless as a unity: A chorus, a flock, must be one thing. Even house and ship demand unity, one house, one ship; unity gone, neither remains thus even continuous magnitudes could not exist without an inherent unity; break them apart and their very being is altered in the measure of the breach of unity.

Take plant and animal; the material form stands a unity; fallen from that into a litter of fragments, the things have lost their being; what was is no longer there; it is replaced by quite other things – as many others, precisely, as possess unity.

Health, similarly, is the condition of a body acting as a co- ordinate unity. Beauty appears when limbs and features are controlled by this principle, unity. Moral excellence is of a soul acting as a concordant total, brought to unity.

Come thus to soul – which brings all to unity, making, moulding, shaping, ranging to order – there is a temptation to say "soul is the bestower of unity; soul therefore is the unity." but soul bestows other characteristics on material things and yet remains distinct from its gift: Shape, ideal-form and the rest are all distinct from the giving soul; so, clearly, with this gift of unity; soul to make things unities looks out on the unity just as it makes man by looking on man, realizing in the man the unity belonging to man.

Anything that can be described as a unity is so in the precise degree in which it holds a characteristic being; the less or more the degree of the being, the less or more the unity. Soul, while distinct from unity's very self, is a thing of the greater unity in proportion as it is of the greater, the authentic, being. Absolute unity it is not: It is soul and one soul, the unity in some sense a concomitant; there are two things, soul and soul's unity as there is body with body's unity. The looser aggregates, such as a choir, are furthest from unity, the more compact are the nearer; soul is nearer yet but still a participant.

Is soul to be identified with unity on the ground that unless it were one thing it could not be soul? No; unity is equally necessary to every other thing, yet unity stands distinct from them; body and unity are not identical; body, too; is still a participant.

Besides, the soul, even the collective soul for all its absence of part, is a manifold: It has diverse powers – reasoning, desiring, perceiving – all held together by this chain of unity. Itself a unity, soul confers unity, but also accepts it.


It may be suggested that, while in the unities of the partial order the essence and the unity are distinct, yet in collective existence, in real being, they are identical, so that when we have grasped being we hold unity; real being would coincide with unity. Thus, taking the intellectual-principle as essential being, that principle and the unity absolute would be at once primal being and pure unity, purveying, accordingly, to the rest of things something of being and something, in proportion, of the unity which is itself.

There is nothing with which the unity would be more plausibly identified than with being; either it is being as a given man is man or it will correspond to the number which rules in the realm of the particular; it will be a number applying to a certain unique thing as the number two applies to others.

Now if number is a thing among things, then clearly so this unity must be; we would have to discover what thing of things it is. If number is not a thing but an operation of the mind moving out to reckon, then the unity will not be a thing.

We found that anything losing unity loses its being; we are therefore obliged to enquire whether the unity in particulars is identical with the being, and unity absolute identical with collective being.

Now the being of the particular is a manifold; unity cannot be a manifold; there must therefore be a distinction between being and unity. Thus a man is at once a reasoning living being and a total of parts; his variety is held together by his unity; man therefore and unity are different – man a thing of parts against unity partless. Much more must collective being, as container of all existence, be a manifold and therefore distinct from the unity in which it is but participant.

Again, collective being contains life and intelligence – it is no dead thing – and so, once more, is a manifold.

If being is identical with intellectual-principle, even at that it is a manifold; all the more so when count is taken of the ideal forms in it; for the idea, particular or collective, is, after all, a numerable agglomeration whose unity is that of a cosmos.

Above all, unity is the first: But intellectual-principle, ideas and being, cannot be so; for any member of the realm of forms is an aggregation, a compound, and therefore – since components must precede their compound – is a later.

Other considerations also go to show that the intellectual- principle cannot be the first. Intellect must be above the intellectual act: At least in its higher phase, that not concerned with the outer universe, it must be intent on its prior; its introversion is a conversion on the principle.

Considered as at once thinker and Object of its thought, it is dual, not simplex, not the unity: Considered as looking beyond itself, it must look to a better, to a prior: Looking simultaneously on itself and on its transcendent, it is, once more, not a first.

There is no other way of stating intellectual-principle than as that which, holding itself in the presence of the good and first and looking towards that, is self-present also, self-knowing and knowing itself as all-being: Thus manifold, it is far from being the unity.

In sum: The unity cannot be the total of beings, for so its oneness is annulled; it cannot be the intellectual-principle, for so it would be that total which the intellectual-principle is; nor is it being, for being is the manifold of things.


What then must the unity be, what nature is left for it?

No wonder that to state it is not easy; even being and form are not easy, though we have a way, an approach through the ideas.

The soul or mind reaching towards the formless finds itself incompetent to grasp where nothing bounds it or to take impression where the impinging reality is diffuse; in sheer dread of holding to nothingness, it slips away. The state is painful; often it seeks relief by retreating from all this vagueness to the region of sense, there to rest as on solid ground, just as the sight distressed by the minute rests with pleasure on the bold.

Soul must see in its own way; this is by coalescence, unification; but in seeking thus to know the unity it is prevented by that very unification from recognising that it has found; it cannot distinguish itself from the object of this intuition. Nonetheless, this is our one resource if our philosophy is to give us knowledge of the unity.

We are in search of unity; we are to come to know the principle of all, the good and first; therefore we may not stand away from the realm of firsts and lie prostrate among the lasts: We must strike for those firsts, rising from things of sense which are the lasts. Cleared of all evil in our intention towards the good, we must ascend to the principle within ourselves; from many, we must become one; only so do we attain to knowledge of that which is principle and unity. We shape ourselves into intellectual-principle; we make over our soul in trust to intellectual-principle and set it firmly in that; thus what that sees the soul will waken to see; it is through the intellectual-principle that we have this vision of the unity; it must be our care to bring over nothing whatever from sense, to allow nothing even of soul to enter into intellectual-principle: With intellect pure, and with the summit of intellect, we are to see the all-pure.

If quester has the impression of extension or shape or mass attaching to that nature he has not been led by intellectual- principle which is not of the order to see such things; the activity has been of sense and of the judgement following on sense: Only intellectual- principle can inform us of the things of its scope; its competence is on its priors, its content and its issue: But even its content is outside of sense; and still purer, still less touched by multiplicity, are its priors, or rather its prior.

The unity, then, is not intellectual-principle but something higher still: Intellectual-principle is still a being but that first is no being but precedent to all being; it cannot be a being, for a being has what we may call the shape of its reality but the unity is without shape, even shape intellectual.

Generative of all, the unity is none of all; neither thing nor quantity nor quality nor intellect nor soul; not in motion, not at rest, not in place, not in time: It is the self-defined, unique in form or, better, formless, existing before form was, or movement or rest, all of which are attachments of being and make being the manifold it is.

But how, if not in movement, can it be otherwise than at rest?

The answer is that movement and rest are states pertaining to being, which necessarily has one or the other or both. Besides, anything at rest must be so in virtue of rest as something distinct: Unity at rest becomes the ground of an attribute and at once ceases to be a simplex.

Note, similarly, that, when we speak of this first as cause, we are affirming something happening not to it but to us, the fact that we take from this self-enclosed: Strictly we should put neither a this nor a that to it; we hover, as it were, about it, seeking the statement of an experience of our own, sometimes nearing this reality, sometimes baffled by the enigma in which it dwells.


The main part of the difficulty is that awareness of this principle comes neither by knowing nor by the intellection that discovers the intellectual beings but by a presence overpassing all knowledge. In knowing, soul or mind abandons its unity; it cannot remain a simplex: Knowing is taking account of things; that accounting is multiple; the mind, thus plunging into number and multiplicity, departs from unity.

Our way then takes us beyond knowing; there may be no wandering from unity; knowing and knowable must all be left aside; every object of thought, even the highest, we must pass by, for all that is good is later than this and derives from this as from the sun all the light of the day.

"Not to be told; not to be written": In our writing and telling we are but urging towards it: Out of discussion we call to vision: To those desiring to see, we point the path; our teaching is of the road and the travelling; the seeing must be the very act of one that has made this choice.

There are those that have not attained to see. The soul has not come to know the splendour there; it has not felt and clutched to itself that love-passion of vision known to lover come to rest where he loves. Or struck perhaps by that authentic light, all the soul lit by the nearness gained, we have gone weighted from beneath; the vision is frustrate; we should go without burden and we go carrying that which can but keep us back; we are not yet made over into unity.

From none is that principle absent and yet from all: Present, it remains absent save to those fit to receive, disciplined into some accordance, able to touch it closely by their likeness and by that kindred power within themselves through which, remaining as it was when it came to them from the supreme, they are enabled to see in so far as God may at all be seen.

Failure to attain may be due to such impediment or to lack of the guiding thought that establishes trust; impediment we must charge against ourselves and strive by entire renunciation to become emancipate; where there is distrust for lack of convincing reason, further considerations may be applied:


Those to whom existence comes about by chance and automatic action and is held together by material forces have drifted far from God and from the concept of unity; we are not here addressing them but only such as accept another nature than body and have some conception of soul.

Soul must be sounded to the depths, understood as an emanation from intellectual-principle and as holding its value by a reason- principle thence infused. Next this intellect must be apprehended, an intellect other than the reasoning faculty known as the rational principle; with reasoning we are already in the region of separation and movement: Our sciences are reason- principles lodged in soul or mind, having manifestly acquired their character by the presence in the soul of intellectual- principle, source of all knowing.

Thus we come to see intellectual-principle almost as an object of sense: The intellectual cosmos is perceptible as standing above soul, father to soul: We know intellectual- principle as the motionless, not subject to change, containing, we must think, all things; a multiple but at once indivisible and comporting difference. It is not discriminate as are the reason- principles, which can in fact be known one by one: Yet its content is not a confusion; every item stands forth distinctly, just as in a science the entire content holds as an indivisible and yet each item is a self-standing verity.

Now a plurality thus concentrated like the intellectual cosmos is close on the first – and reason certifies its existence as surely as that of soul – yet, though of higher sovereignty than soul, it is not the first since it is not a unity, not simplex as unity, principle over all multiplicity, must be.

Before it there is that which must transcend the noblest of the things of being: There must be a prior to this principle which aiming towards unity is yet not unity but a thing in unity's likeness. >From this highest it is not sundered; it too is self- present: So close to the unity, it cannot be articulated: And yet it is a principle which in some measure has dared secession.

That awesome prior, the unity, is not a being, for so its unity would be vested in something else: Strictly no name is apt to it, but since name it we must there is a certain rough fitness in designating it as unity with the understanding that it is not the unity of some other thing.

Thus it eludes our knowledge, so that the nearer approach to it is through its offspring, being: We know it as cause of existence to intellectual-principle, as fount of all that is best, as the efficacy which, self-perduring and undiminishing, generates all beings and is not to be counted among these its derivatives, to all of which it must be prior.

This we can but name the unity, indicating it to each other by a designation that points to the concept of its partlessness while we are in reality striving to bring our own minds to unity. We are not to think of such unity and partlessness as belong to point or monad; the veritable unity is the source of all such quantity which could not exist unless first there existed being and being's prior: We are not, then, to think in the order of point and monad but to use these – in their rejection of magnitude and partition – as symbols for the higher concept.


In what sense, then, do we assert this unity, and how is it to be adjusted to our mental processes?

Its oneness must not be entitled to that of monad and point: For these the mind abstracts extension and numerical quantity and rests on the very minutest possible, ending no doubt in the partless but still in something that began as a partible and is always lodged in something other than itself. The unity was never in any other and never belonged to the partible: Nor is its impartibility that of extreme minuteness; on the contrary it is great beyond anything, great not in extension but in power, sizeless by its very greatness as even its immediate sequents are impartible not in mass but in might. We must therefore take the unity as infinite not in measureless extension or numerable quantity but in fathomless depths of power.

Think of the One as mind or as God, you think too meanly; use all the resources of understanding to conceive this unity and, again, it is more authentically one than God, even though you reach for God's unity beyond the unity the most perfect you can conceive. For this is utterly a self-existent, with no concomitant whatever. This self-sufficing is the essence of its unity. Something there must be supremely adequate, autonomous, all- transcending, most utterly without need.

Any manifold, anything beneath the unity, is dependent; combined from various constituents, its essential nature goes in need of unity; but unity cannot need itself; it stands unity accomplished. Again, a manifold depends on all its factors; and furthermore each of those factors in turn – as necessarily inbound with the rest and not self-standing – sets up a similar need both to its associates and to the total so constituted.

The sovranly self-sufficing principle will be unity-absolute, for only in this unity is there a nature above all need, whether within itself or in regard to the rest of things. Unity seeks nothing towards its being or its well-being or its safehold on existence; cause to all, how can it acquire its character outside of itself or know any good outside? The good of its being can be no borrowing: This is the good. Nor has it station; it needs no standing ground as if inadequate to its own sustaining; what calls for such underpropping is the soulless, some material mass that must be based or fall. This is base to all, cause of universal existence and of ordered station. All that demands place is in need; a first cannot go in need of its sequents: All need is effort towards a first principle; the first, principle to all, must be utterly without need. If the unity be seeking, it must inevitably be seeking to be something other than itself; it is seeking its own destroyer. Whatever may be said to be in need of a good is needing a preserver; nothing can be a good to the unity, therefore.

Neither can it have will to anything; it is a beyond-good, not even to itself a good but to such beings only as may be of quality to have part with it. Nor has it intellection; that would comport diversity: Nor movement; it is prior to movement as to intellection.

To what could its intellection be directed? To itself? But that would imply a previous ignorance; it would be dependent on that intellection in order to knowledge of itself; but it is the self- sufficing. Yet this absence of self-knowing does not comport ignorance; ignorance is of something outside – a knower ignorant of a knowable – but in the solitary there is neither knowing nor anything unknown. Unity, self-present, it has no need of self-intellection: Indeed this "self-presence" were better left out, the more surely to preserve the unity; we must eliminate all knowing and all association, all intellection whether internal or external. It is not to be though of as having but as being intellection; intellection does not itself perform the intellective act but is the cause of the act in something else, and cause is not to be identified with caused: Most assuredly the cause of all is not a thing within that all.

This principle is not, therefore, to be identified with the good of which it is the source; it is good in the unique mode of being the good above all that is good.


If the mind reels before something thus alien to all we know, we must take our stand on the things of this realm and strive thence to see. But, in the looking, beware of throwing outward; this principle does not lie away somewhere leaving the rest void; to those of power to reach, it is present; to the inapt, absent. In our daily affairs we cannot hold an object in mind if we have given ourselves elsewhere, occupied on some other matter; that very thing must be before us to be truly the object of observation. So here also; preoccupied by the impress of something else, we are withheld under that pressure from becoming aware of the unity; a mind gripped and fastened by some definite thing cannot take the print of the very contrary. As matter, it is agreed, must be void of quality in order to accept the types of the universe, so and much more must the soul be kept formless if there is to be no infixed impediment to prevent it being brimmed and lit by the primal principle.

In sum, we must withdraw from all the extern, pointed wholly inwards; no leaning to the outer; the total of things ignored, first in their relation to us and later in the very idea; the self put out of mind in the contemplation of the supreme; all the commerce so closely there that, if report were possible, one might become to others reporter of that communion.

Such converse, we may suppose, was that of minos, thence known as the familiar of Zeus; and in that memory he established the laws which report it, enlarged to that task by his vision there. Some, on the other hand, there will be to disdain such citizen service, choosing to remain in the higher: These will be those that have seen much.

God – we read – is outside of none, present unperceived to all; we break away from him, or rather from ourselves; what we turn from we cannot reach; astray ourselves, we cannot go in search of another; a child distraught will not recognise its father; to find ourselves is to know our source.


Every soul that knows its history is aware, also, that its movement, unthwarted, is not that of an outgoing line; its natural course may be likened to that in which a circle turns not on some external but on its own centre, the point to which it owes its rise. The soul's movement will be about its source; to this it will hold, poised intent towards that unity to which all souls should move and the divine souls always move, divine in virtue of that movement; for to be a god is to be integral with the supreme; what stands away is man still multiple, or beast.

Is then this "centre" of our souls the principle for which we are seeking?

We must look yet further: We must admit a principle in which all these centres coincide: It will be a centre by analogy with the centre of the circle we know. The soul is not a circle in the sense of the geometric figure but in that it at once contains the primal nature [as centre] and is contained by it [as circumference], that it owes its origin to such a centre and still more that the soul, uncontaminated, is a self- contained entity.

In our present state – part of our being weighed down by the body, as one might have the feet under water with all the rest untouched – we bear – ourselves aloft by that – intact part and, in that, hold through our own centre to the centre of all the centres, just as the centres of the great circles of a sphere coincide with that of the sphere to which all belong. Thus we are secure.

If these circles were material and not spiritual, the link with the centres would be local; they would lie round it where it lay at some distant point: Since the souls are of the intellectual, and the supreme still loftier, we understand that contact is otherwise procured, that is by those powers which connect intellectual agent with intellectual Object; this all the more, since the intellect grasps the intellectual object by the way of similarity, identity, in the sure link of kindred. Material mass cannot blend into other material mass: Unbodied beings are not under this bodily limitation; their separation is solely that of otherness, of differentiation; in the absence of otherness, it is similars mutually present.

Thus the supreme as containing no otherness is ever present with us; we with it when we put otherness away. It is not that the supreme reaches out to us seeking our communion: We reach towards the supreme; it is we that become present. We are always before it: But we do not always look: Thus a choir, singing set in due order about the conductor, may turn away from that centre to which all should attend: Let it but face aright and it sings with beauty, present effectively. We are ever before the supreme – cut off is utter dissolution; we can no longer be – but we do not always attend: When we look, our term is attained; this is rest; this is the end of singing ill; effectively before him, we lift a choral song full of God.


In this choiring, the soul looks on the wellspring of life, wellspring also of intellect, beginning of being, fount of good, root of soul. It is not that these are poured out from the supreme lessening it as if it were a thing of mass. At that the emanants would be perishable; but they are eternal; they spring from an eternal principle, which produces them not by its fragmentation but in virtue of its intact identity: Therefore they too hold firm; so long as the sun shines, so long there will be light.

We have not been cut away; we are not separate, what though the body-nature has closed about us to press us to itself; we breathe and hold our ground because the supreme does not give and pass but gives on for ever, so long as it remains what it is.

Our being is the fuller for our turning thither; this is our prosperity; to hold aloof is loneliness and lessening. Here is the soul's peace, outside of evil, refuge taken in the place clean of wrong; here it has its act, its true knowing; here it is immune. Here is living, the true; that of to-day, all living apart from him, is but a shadow, a mimicry. Life in the supreme is the native activity of intellect; in virtue of that converse it brings forth gods, brings forth beauty, brings forth righteousness, brings forth all moral good; for of all these the soul is pregnant when it has been filled with God. This state is its first and its final, because from God it comes, its good lies there, and, once turned to God again, it is what it was. Life here, with the things of earth, is a sinking, a defeat, a failing of the wing.

That our good is there is shown by the very love inborn with the soul; hence the constant linking of the love-god with the psyches in story and picture; the soul, other than God but sprung of him, must needs love. So long as it is there, it holds the heavenly love; here its love is the baser; there the soul is Aphrodite of the heavens; here, turned harlot, Aphrodite of the public ways: Yet the soul is always an Aphrodite. This is the intention of the myth which tells of Aphrodite's birth and Eros born with her.

The soul in its nature loves God and longs to be at one with him in the noble love of a daughter for a noble father; but coming to human birth and lured by the courtships of this sphere, she takes up with another love, a mortal, leaves her father and falls.

But one day coming to hate her shame, she puts away the evil of earth, once more seeks the father, and finds her peace.

Those to whom all this experience is strange may understand by way of our earthly longings and the joy we have in winning to what we most desire – remembering always that here what we love is perishable, hurtful, that our loving is of mimicries and turns awry because all was a mistake, our good was not here, this was not what we sought; there only is our veritable love and there we may hold it and be with it, possess it in its verity no longer submerged in alien flesh. Any that have seen know what I have in mind: The soul takes another life as it approaches God; thus restored it feels that the dispenser of true life is there to see, that now we have nothing to look for but, far otherwise, that we must put aside all else and rest in this alone, this become, this alone, all the earthly environment done away, in haste to be free, impatient of any bond holding us to the baser, so that with our being entire we may cling about this, no part in us remaining but through it we have touch with God.

Thus we have all the vision that may be of him and of ourselves; but it is of a self-wrought to splendour, brimmed with the intellectual light, become that very light, pure, buoyant, unburdened, raised to Godhood or, better, knowing its Godhood, all aflame then – but crushed out once more if it should take up the discarded burden.


But how comes the soul not to keep that ground?

Because it has not yet escaped wholly: But there will be the time of vision unbroken, the self hindered no longer by any hindrance of body. Not that those hindrances beset that in us which has veritably seen; it is the other phase of the soul that suffers and that only when we withdraw from vision and take to knowing by proof, by evidence, by the reasoning processes of the mental habit. Such logic is not to be confounded with that act of ours in the vision; it is not our reason that has seen; it is something greater than reason, reason's prior, as far above reason as the very object of that thought must be.

In our self-seeing there, the self is seen as belonging to that order, or rather we are merged into that self in us which has the quality of that order. It is a knowing of the self restored to its purity. No doubt we should not speak of seeing; but we cannot help talking in dualities, seen and seer, instead of, boldly, the achievement of unity. In this seeing, we neither hold an object nor trace distinction; there is no two. The man is changed, no longer himself nor self-belonging; he is merged with the supreme, sunken into it, one with it: Centre coincides with centre, for on this higher plane things that touch at all are one; only in separation is there duality; by our holding away, the supreme is set outside. This is why the vision baffles telling; we cannot detach the supreme to state it; if we have seen something thus detached we have failed of the supreme which is to be known only as one with ourselves.


This is the purport of that rule of our mysteries: Nothing divulged to the uninitiate: The supreme is not to be made a common story, the holy things may not be uncovered to the stranger, to any that has not himself attained to see. There were not two; beholder was one with beheld; it was not a vision compassed but a unity apprehended. The man formed by this mingling with the supreme must – if he only remember – carry its image impressed on him: He is become the unity, nothing within him or without inducing any diversity; no movement now, no passion, no outlooking desire, once this ascent is achieved; reasoning is in abeyance and all intellection and even, to dare the word, the very self; caught away, filled with God, he has in perfect stillness attained isolation; all the being calmed, he turns neither to this side nor to that, not even inwards to himself; utterly resting he has become very rest. He belongs no longer to the order of the beautiful; he has risen beyond beauty; he has overpassed even the choir of the virtues; he is like one who, having penetrated the inner sanctuary, leaves the temple images behind him – though these become once more first objects of regard when he leaves the holies; for there his converse was not with image, not with trace, but with the very truth in the view of which all the rest is but of secondary concern.

There, indeed, it was scarcely vision, unless of a mode unknown; it was a going forth from the self, a simplifying, a renunciation, a reach towards contact and at the same time a repose, a meditation towards adjustment. This is the only seeing of what lies within the holies: To look otherwise is to fail.

Things here are signs; they show therefore to the wiser teachers how the supreme god is known; the instructed priest reading the sign may enter the holy place and make real the vision of the inaccessible.

Even those that have never found entry must admit the existence of that invisible; they will know their source and principle since by principle they see principle and are linked with it, by like they have contact with like and so they grasp all of the divine that lies within the scope of mind. Until the seeing comes they are still craving something, that which only the vision can give; this term, attained only by those that have over-passed all, is the all-transcending.

It is not in the soul's nature to touch utter nothingness; the lowest descent is into evil and, so far, into non-being: But to utter nothing, never. When the soul begins again to mount, it comes not to something alien but to its very self; thus detached, it is not in nothingness but in itself; self-gathered it is no longer in the order of being; it is in the supreme.

There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows being, becomes identical with the transcendent of being. The self thus lifted, we are in the likeness of the supreme: If from that heightened self we pass still higher – image to archetype – we have won the term of all our journeying. Fallen back again, we awaken the virtue within until we know ourselves all order once more; once more we are lightened of the burden and move by virtue towards intellectual-principle and through the wisdom in that to the supreme.

This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary.



Harvesting the hay

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