The Six Enneads
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The Six Enneads
Written 250 A.C.E.
Translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page
THE ANIMATE AND THE MAN.
1. Pleasure and distress, fear and courage, desire and aversion,
where have these affections and experiences their seat?
Clearly, either in the Soul alone, or in the Soul as employing
the body, or in some third entity deriving from both. And for this third
entity, again, there are two possible modes: it might be either a blend
or a distinct form due to the blending.
And what applies to the affections applies also to whatsoever acts,
physical or mental, spring from them.
We have, therefore, to examine discursive-reason and the ordinary
mental action upon objects of sense, and enquire whether these have the
one seat with the affections and experiences, or perhaps sometimes the
one seat, sometimes another.
And we must consider also our acts of Intellection, their mode
and their seat.
And this very examining principle, which investigates and decides
in these matters, must be brought to light.
Firstly, what is the seat of Sense-Perception? This is the obvious
beginning since the affections and experiences either are sensations of
some kind or at least never occur apart from sensation.
2. This first enquiry obliges us to consider at the outset
the nature of the Soul- that is whether a distinction is to be made between
Soul and Essential Soul [between an individual Soul and the Soul-Kind in
* All matter shown in brackets is added by the translator for clearness'
sake and, therefore, is not canonical. S.M.
If such a distinction holds, then the Soul [in man] is some sort
of a composite and at once we may agree that it is a recipient and- if
only reason allows- that all the affections and experiences really have
their seat in the Soul, and with the affections every state and mood, good
and bad alike.
But if Soul [in man] and Essential Soul are one and the same, then
the Soul will be an Ideal-Form unreceptive of all those activities which
it imparts to another Kind but possessing within itself that native Act
of its own which Reason manifests.
If this be so, then, indeed, we may think of the Soul as an immortal-
if the immortal, the imperishable, must be impassive, giving out something
of itself but itself taking nothing from without except for what it receives
from the Existents prior to itself from which Existents, in that they are
the nobler, it cannot be sundered.
Now what could bring fear to a nature thus unreceptive of all the
outer? Fear demands feeling. Nor is there place for courage: courage implies
the presence of danger. And such desires as are satisfied by the filling
or voiding of the body, must be proper to something very different from
the Soul, to that only which admits of replenishment and
And how could the Soul lend itself to any admixture? An essential
is not mixed. Or of the intrusion of anything alien? If it did, it would
be seeking the destruction of its own nature. Pain must be equally far
from it. And Grief- how or for what could it grieve? Whatever possesses
Existence is supremely free, dwelling, unchangeable, within its own peculiar
nature. And can any increase bring joy, where nothing, not even anything
good, can accrue? What such an Existent is, it is unchangeably.
Thus assuredly Sense-Perception, Discursive-Reasoning; and all
our ordinary mentation are foreign to the Soul: for sensation is a receiving-
whether of an Ideal-Form or of an impassive body- and reasoning and all
ordinary mental action deal with sensation.
The question still remains to be examined in the matter of the
intellections- whether these are to be assigned to the Soul- and as to
Pure-Pleasure, whether this belongs to the Soul in its solitary
3. We may treat of the Soul as in the body- whether it be
set above it or actually within it- since the association of the two constitutes
the one thing called the living organism, the Animate.
Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an instrument,
it does not follow that the Soul must share the body's experiences: a man
does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is
It may be objected that the Soul must however, have Sense-Perception
since its use of its instrument must acquaint it with the external conditions,
and such knowledge comes by way of sense. Thus, it will be argued, the
eyes are the instrument of seeing, and seeing may bring distress to the
soul: hence the Soul may feel sorrow and pain and every other affection
that belongs to the body; and from this again will spring desire, the Soul
seeking the mending of its instrument.
But, we ask, how, possibly, can these affections pass from body
to Soul? Body may communicate qualities or conditions to another body:
but- body to Soul? Something happens to A; does that make it happen to
B? As long as we have agent and instrument, there are two distinct entities;
if the Soul uses the body it is separate from it.
But apart from the philosophical separation how does Soul stand
Clearly there is a combination. And for this several modes are
possible. There might be a complete coalescence: Soul might be interwoven
through the body: or it might be an Ideal-Form detached or an Ideal-Form
in governing contact like a pilot: or there might be part of the Soul detached
and another part in contact, the disjoined part being the agent or user,
the conjoined part ranking with the instrument or thing
In this last case it will be the double task of philosophy to direct
this lower Soul towards the higher, the agent, and except in so far as
the conjunction is absolutely necessary, to sever the agent from the instrument,
the body, so that it need not forever have its Act upon or through this
4. Let us consider, then, the hypothesis of a
Now if there is a coalescence, the lower is ennobled, the nobler degraded;
the body is raised in the scale of being as made participant in life; the
Soul, as associated with death and unreason, is brought lower. How can
a lessening of the life-quality produce an increase such as
No: the body has acquired life, it is the body that will acquire,
with life, sensation and the affections coming by sensation. Desire, then,
will belong to the body, as the objects of desire are to be enjoyed by
the body. And fear, too, will belong to the body alone; for it is the body's
doom to fail of its joys and to perish.
Then again we should have to examine how such a coalescence could
be conceived: we might find it impossible: perhaps all this is like announcing
the coalescence of things utterly incongruous in kind, let us say of a
line and whiteness.
Next for the suggestion that the Soul is interwoven through the
body: such a relation would not give woof and warp community of sensation:
the interwoven element might very well suffer no change: the permeating
soul might remain entirely untouched by what affects the body- as light
goes always free of all it floods- and all the more so, since, precisely,
we are asked to consider it as diffused throughout the entire
Under such an interweaving, then, the Soul would not be subjected
to the body's affections and experiences: it would be present rather as
Ideal-Form in Matter.
Let us then suppose Soul to be in body as Ideal-Form in Matter.
Now if- the first possibility- the Soul is an essence, a self-existent,
it can be present only as separable form and will therefore all the more
decidedly be the Using-Principle [and therefore unaffected].
Suppose, next, the Soul to be present like axe-form on iron: here,
no doubt, the form is all important but it is still the axe, the complement
of iron and form, that effects whatever is effected by the iron thus modified:
on this analogy, therefore, we are even more strictly compelled to assign
all the experiences of the combination to the body: their natural seat
is the material member, the instrument, the potential recipient of
Compare the passage where we read* that "it is absurd to suppose
that the Soul weaves"; equally absurd to think of it as desiring, grieving.
All this is rather in the province of something which we may call the
* "We read" translates "he says" of the text, and always indicates
a reference to Plato, whose name does not appear in the translation except
where it was written by Plotinus. S.M.
5. Now this Animate might be merely the body as having life:
it might be the Couplement of Soul and body: it might be a third and different
entity formed from both.
The Soul in turn- apart from the nature of the Animate- must be
either impassive, merely causing Sense-Perception in its yoke-fellow, or
sympathetic; and, if sympathetic, it may have identical experiences with
its fellow or merely correspondent experiences: desire for example in the
Animate may be something quite distinct from the accompanying movement
or state in the desiring faculty.
The body, the live-body as we know it, we will consider
Let us take first the Couplement of body and Soul. How could suffering,
for example, be seated in this Couplement?
It may be suggested that some unwelcome state of the body produces
a distress which reaches to a Sensitive-Faculty which in turn merges into
Soul. But this account still leaves the origin of the sensation
Another suggestion might be that all is due to an opinion or judgement:
some evil seems to have befallen the man or his belongings and this conviction
sets up a state of trouble in the body and in the entire Animate. But this
account leaves still a question as to the source and seat of the judgement:
does it belong to the Soul or to the Couplement? Besides, the judgement
that evil is present does not involve the feeling of grief: the judgement
might very well arise and the grief by no means follow: one may think oneself
slighted and yet not be angry; and the appetite is not necessarily excited
by the thought of a pleasure. We are, thus, no nearer than before to any
warrant for assigning these affections to the Couplement.
Is it any explanation to say that desire is vested in a Faculty-of-desire
and anger in the Irascible-Faculty and, collectively, that all tendency
is seated in the Appetitive-Faculty? Such a statement of the facts does
not help towards making the affections common to the Couplement; they might
still be seated either in the Soul alone or in the body alone. On the one
hand if the appetite is to be stirred, as in the carnal passion, there
must be a heating of the blood and the bile, a well-defined state of the
body; on the other hand, the impulse towards The Good cannot be a joint
affection, but, like certain others too, it would belong necessarily to
the Soul alone.
Reason, then, does not permit us to assign all the affections to
In the case of carnal desire, it will certainly be the Man that
desires, and yet, on the other hand, there must be desire in the Desiring-Faculty
as well. How can this be? Are we to suppose that, when the man originates
the desire, the Desiring-Faculty moves to the order? How could the Man
have come to desire at all unless through a prior activity in the Desiring-Faculty?
Then it is the Desiring-Faculty that takes the lead? Yet how, unless the
body be first in the appropriate condition?
6. It may seem reasonable to lay down as a law that when
any powers are contained by a recipient, every action or state expressive
of them must be the action or state of that recipient, they themselves
remaining unaffected as merely furnishing efficiency.
But if this were so, then, since the Animate is the recipient of
the Causing-Principle [i.e., the Soul] which brings life to the Couplement,
this Cause must itself remain unaffected, all the experiences and expressive
activities of the life being vested in the recipient, the
But this would mean that life itself belongs not to the Soul but
to the Couplement; or at least the life of the Couplement would not be
the life of the Soul; Sense-Perception would belong not to the Sensitive-Faculty
but to the container of the faculty.
But if sensation is a movement traversing the body and culminating
in Soul, how the soul lack sensation? The very presence of the Sensitive-Faculty
must assure sensation to the Soul.
Once again, where is Sense-Perception seated?
In the Couplement.
Yet how can the Couplement have sensation independently of action in
the Sensitive-Faculty, the Soul left out of count and the
7. The truth lies in the Consideration that the Couplement
subsists by virtue of the Soul's presence.
This, however, is not to say that the Soul gives itself as it is
in itself to form either the Couplement or the body.
No; from the organized body and something else, let us say a light,
which the Soul gives forth from itself, it forms a distinct Principle,
the Animate; and in this Principle are vested Sense-Perception and all
the other experiences found to belong to the Animate.
But the "We"? How have We Sense-Perception?
By the fact that We are not separate from the Animate so constituted,
even though certainly other and nobler elements go to make up the entire
many-sided nature of Man.
The faculty of perception in the Soul cannot act by the immediate
grasping of sensible objects, but only by the discerning of impressions
printed upon the Animate by sensation: these impressions are already Intelligibles
while the outer sensation is a mere phantom of the other [of that in the
Soul] which is nearer to Authentic-Existence as being an impassive reading
And by means of these Ideal-Forms, by which the Soul wields single
lordship over the Animate, we have Discursive-Reasoning, Sense-Knowledge
and Intellection. From this moment we have peculiarly the We: before this
there was only the "Ours"; but at this stage stands the WE [the authentic
Human-Principle] loftily presiding over the Animate.
There is no reason why the entire compound entity should not be
described as the Animate or Living-Being- mingled in a lower phase, but
above that point the beginning of the veritable man, distinct from all
that is kin to the lion, all that is of the order of the multiple brute.
And since The Man, so understood, is essentially the associate of the reasoning
Soul, in our reasoning it is this "We" that reasons, in that the use and
act of reason is a characteristic Act of the Soul.
8. And towards the Intellectual-Principle what is our relation?
By this I mean, not that faculty in the soul which is one of the emanations
from the Intellectual-Principle, but The Intellectual-Principle itself
This also we possess as the summit of our being. And we have It
either as common to all or as our own immediate possession: or again we
may possess It in both degrees, that is in common, since It is indivisible-
one, everywhere and always Its entire self- and severally in that each
personality possesses It entire in the First-Soul [i.e. in the Intellectual
as distinguished from the lower phase of the Soul].
Hence we possess the Ideal-Forms also after two modes: in the Soul,
as it were unrolled and separate; in the Intellectual-Principle, concentrated,
And how do we possess the Divinity?
In that the Divinity is contained in the Intellectual-Principle and
Authentic-Existence; and We come third in order after these two, for the
We is constituted by a union of the supreme, the undivided Soul- we read-
and that Soul which is divided among [living] bodies. For, note, we inevitably
think of the Soul, though one undivided in the All, as being present to
bodies in division: in so far as any bodies are Animates, the Soul has
given itself to each of the separate material masses; or rather it appears
to be present in the bodies by the fact that it shines into them: it makes
them living beings not by merging into body but by giving forth, without
any change in itself, images or likenesses of itself like one face caught
by many mirrors.
The first of these images is Sense-Perception seated in the Couplement;
and from this downwards all the successive images are to be recognized
as phases of the Soul in lessening succession from one another, until the
series ends in the faculties of generation and growth and of all production
of offspring- offspring efficient in its turn, in contradistinction to
the engendering Soul which [has no direct action within matter but] produces
by mere inclination towards what it fashions.
9. That Soul, then, in us, will in its nature stand apart
from all that can cause any of the evils which man does or suffers; for
all such evil, as we have seen, belongs only to the Animate, the
But there is a difficulty in understanding how the Soul can go
guiltless if our mentation and reasoning are vested in it: for all this
lower kind of knowledge is delusion and is the cause of much of what is
When we have done evil it is because we have been worsted by our
baser side- for a man is many- by desire or rage or some evil image: the
misnamed reasoning that takes up with the false, in reality fancy, has
not stayed for the judgement of the Reasoning-Principle: we have acted
at the call of the less worthy, just as in matters of the sense-sphere
we sometimes see falsely because we credit only the lower perception, that
of the Couplement, without applying the tests of the
The Intellectual-Principle has held aloof from the act and so is
guiltless; or, as we may state it, all depends on whether we ourselves
have or have not put ourselves in touch with the Intellectual-Realm either
in the Intellectual-Principle or within ourselves; for it is possible at
once to possess and not to use.
Thus we have marked off what belongs to the Couplement from what
stands by itself: the one group has the character of body and never exists
apart from body, while all that has no need of body for its manifestation
belongs peculiarly to Soul: and the Understanding, as passing judgement
upon Sense-Impressions, is at the point of the vision of Ideal-Forms, seeing
them as it were with an answering sensation (i.e, with consciousness) this
last is at any rate true of the Understanding in the Veritable Soul. For
Understanding, the true, is the Act of the Intellections: in many of its
manifestations it is the assimilation and reconciliation of the outer to
Thus in spite of all, the Soul is at peace as to itself and within
itself: all the changes and all the turmoil we experience are the issue
of what is subjoined to the Soul, and are, as have said, the states and
experiences of this elusive "Couplement."
10. It will be objected, that if the Soul constitutes the
We [the personality] and We are subject to these states then the Soul must
be subject to them, and similarly that what We do must be done by the
But it has been observed that the Couplement, too- especially before
our emancipation- is a member of this total We, and in fact what the body
experiences we say We experience. This then covers two distinct notions;
sometimes it includes the brute-part, sometimes it transcends the brute.
The body is brute touched to life; the true man is the other, going pure
of the body, natively endowed with the virtues which belong to the Intellectual-Activity,
virtues whose seat is the Separate Soul, the Soul which even in its dwelling
here may be kept apart. [This Soul constitutes the human being] for when
it has wholly withdrawn, that other Soul which is a radiation [or emanation]
from it withdraws also, drawn after it.
Those virtues, on the other hand, which spring not from contemplative
wisdom but from custom or practical discipline belong to the Couplement:
to the Couplement, too, belong the vices; they are its repugnances, desires,
This emotion belongs sometimes to the lower part, sometimes to the
11. In childhood the main activity is in the Couplement
and there is but little irradiation from the higher principles of our being:
but when these higher principles act but feebly or rarely upon us their
action is directed towards the Supreme; they work upon us only when they
stand at the mid-point.
But does not the include that phase of our being which stands above
It does, but on condition that we lay hold of it: our entire nature
is not ours at all times but only as we direct the mid-point upwards or
downwards, or lead some particular phase of our nature from potentiality
or native character into act.
And the animals, in what way or degree do they possess the
If there be in them, as the opinion goes, human Souls that have
sinned, then the Animating-Principle in its separable phase does not enter
directly into the brute; it is there but not there to them; they are aware
only of the image of the Soul [only of the lower Soul] and of that only
by being aware of the body organised and determined by that
If there be no human Soul in them, the Animate is constituted for
them by a radiation from the All-Soul.
12. But if Soul is sinless, how come the expiations? Here
surely is a contradiction; on the one side the Soul is above all guilt;
on the other, we hear of its sin, its purification, its expiation; it is
doomed to the lower world, it passes from body to body.
We may take either view at will: they are easily
When we tell of the sinless Soul, we make Soul and Essential-Soul one
and the same: it is the simple unbroken Unity.
By the Soul subject to sin we indicate a groupment, we include
that other, that phase of the Soul which knows all the states and passions:
the Soul in this sense is compound, all-inclusive: it falls under the conditions
of the entire living experience: this compound it is that sins; it is this,
and not the other, that pays penalty.
It is in this sense that we read of the Soul: "We saw it as those
others saw the sea-god Glaukos." "And," reading on, "if we mean to discern
the nature of the Soul we must strip it free of all that has gathered about
it, must see into the philosophy of it, examine with what Existences it
has touch and by kinship to what Existences it is what it
Thus the Life is one thing, the Act is another and the Expiator
yet another. The retreat and sundering, then, must be not from this body
only, but from every alien accruement. Such accruement takes place at birth;
or rather birth is the coming-into-being of that other [lower] phase of
the Soul. For the meaning of birth has been indicated elsewhere; it is
brought about by a descent of the Soul, something being given off by the
Soul other than that actually coming down in the declension.
Then the Soul has let this image fall? And this declension is it
not certainly sin?
If the declension is no more than the illuminating of an object
beneath, it constitutes no sin: the shadow is to be attributed not to the
luminary but to the object illuminated; if the object were not there, the
light could cause no shadow.
And the Soul is said to go down, to decline, only in that the object
it illuminates lives by its life. And it lets the image fall only if there
be nothing near to take it up; and it lets it fall, not as a thing cut
off, but as a thing that ceases to be: the image has no further being when
the whole Soul is looking toward the Supreme.
The poet, too, in the story of Hercules, seems to give this image
separate existence; he puts the shade of Hercules in the lower world and
Hercules himself among the gods: treating the hero as existing in the two
realms at once, he gives us a twofold Hercules.
It is not difficult to explain this distinction. Hercules was a
hero of practical virtue. By his noble serviceableness he was worthy to
be a God. On the other hand, his merit was action and not the Contemplation
which would place him unreservedly in the higher realm. Therefore while
he has place above, something of him remains below.
13. And the principle that reasons out these matters? Is
it We or the Soul?
We, but by the Soul.
But how "by the Soul"? Does this mean that the Soul reasons by possession
[by contact with the matters of enquiry]?
No; by the fact of being Soul. Its Act subsists without movement;
or any movement that can be ascribed to it must be utterly distinct from
all corporal movement and be simply the Soul's own life.
And Intellection in us is twofold: since the Soul is intellective,
and Intellection is the highest phase of life, we have Intellection both
by the characteristic Act of our Soul and by the Act of the Intellectual-Principle
upon us- for this Intellectual-Principle is part of us no less than the
Soul, and towards it we are ever rising.
1. Since Evil is here, "haunting this world by necessary
law," and it is the Soul's design to escape from Evil, we must escape
But what is this escape?
"In attaining Likeness to God," we read. And this is explained as "becoming
just and holy, living by wisdom," the entire nature grounded in
But does not Likeness by way of Virtue imply Likeness to some being
that has Virtue? To what Divine Being, then, would our Likeness be? To
the Being- must we not think?- in Which, above all, such excellence seems
to inhere, that is to the Soul of the Kosmos and to the Principle ruling
within it, the Principle endowed with a wisdom most wonderful. What could
be more fitting than that we, living in this world, should become Like
to its ruler?
But, at the beginning, we are met by the doubt whether even in
this Divine-Being all the virtues find place- Moral-Balance [Sophrosyne],
for example; or Fortitude where there can be no danger since nothing is
alien; where there can be nothing alluring whose lack could induce the
desire of possession.
If, indeed, that aspiration towards the Intelligible which is in
our nature exists also in this Ruling-Power, then need not look elsewhere
for the source of order and of the virtues in ourselves.
But does this Power possess the Virtues?
We cannot expect to find There what are called the Civic Virtues, the
Prudence which belongs to the reasoning faculty; the Fortitude which conducts
the emotional and passionate nature; the Sophrosyne which consists in a
certain pact, in a concord between the passionate faculty and the reason;
or Rectitude which is the due application of all the other virtues as each
in turn should command or obey.
Is Likeness, then, attained, perhaps, not by these virtues of the
social order but by those greater qualities known by the same general name?
And if so do the Civic Virtues give us no help at all?
It is against reason, utterly to deny Likeness by these while admitting
it by the greater: tradition at least recognizes certain men of the civic
excellence as divine, and we must believe that these too had in some sort
attained Likeness: on both levels there is virtue for us, though not the
Now, if it be admitted that Likeness is possible, though by a varying
use of different virtues and though the civic virtues do not suffice, there
is no reason why we should not, by virtues peculiar to our state, attain
Likeness to a model in which virtue has no place.
But is that conceivable?
When warmth comes in to make anything warm, must there needs be something
to warm the source of the warmth?
If a fire is to warm something else, must there be a fire to warm
Against the first illustration it may be retorted that the source
of the warmth does already contain warmth, not by an infusion but as an
essential phase of its nature, so that, if the analogy is to hold, the
argument would make Virtue something communicated to the Soul but an essential
constituent of the Principle from which the Soul attaining Likeness absorbs
Against the illustration drawn from the fire, it may be urged that
the analogy would make that Principle identical with virtue, whereas we
hold it to be something higher.
The objection would be valid if what the soul takes in were one
and the same with the source, but in fact virtue is one thing, the source
of virtue quite another. The material house is not identical with the house
conceived in the intellect, and yet stands in its likeness: the material
house has distribution and order while the pure idea is not constituted
by any such elements; distribution, order, symmetry are not parts of an
So with us: it is from the Supreme that we derive order and distribution
and harmony, which are virtues in this sphere: the Existences There, having
no need of harmony, order or distribution, have nothing to do with virtue;
and, none the less, it is by our possession of virtue that we become like
Thus much to show that the principle that we attain Likeness by
virtue in no way involves the existence of virtue in the Supreme. But we
have not merely to make a formal demonstration: we must persuade as well
2. First, then, let us examine those good qualities by which
we hold Likeness comes, and seek to establish what is this thing which,
as we possess it, in transcription, is virtue but as the Supreme possesses
it, is in the nature of an exemplar or archetype and is not
We must first distinguish two modes of Likeness.
There is the likeness demanding an identical nature in the objects
which, further, must draw their likeness from a common principle: and there
is the case in which B resembles A, but A is a Primal, not concerned about
B and not said to resemble B. In this second case, likeness is understood
in a distinct sense: we no longer look for identity of nature, but, on
the contrary, for divergence since the likeness has come about by the mode
What, then, precisely is Virtue, collectively and in the particular?
The clearer method will be to begin with the particular, for so the common
element by which all the forms hold the general name will readily
The Civic Virtues, on which we have touched above, are a principle
or order and beauty in us as long as we remain passing our life here: they
ennoble us by setting bound and measure to our desires and to our entire
sensibility, and dispelling false judgement- and this by sheer efficacy
of the better, by the very setting of the bounds, by the fact that the
measured is lifted outside of the sphere of the unmeasured and
And, further, these Civic Virtues- measured and ordered themselves
and acting as a principle of measure to the Soul which is as Matter to
their forming- are like to the measure reigning in the over-world, and
they carry a trace of that Highest Good in the Supreme; for, while utter
measurelessness is brute Matter and wholly outside of Likeness, any participation
in Ideal-Form produces some corresponding degree of Likeness to the formless
Being There. And participation goes by nearness: the Soul nearer than the
body, therefore closer akin, participates more fully and shows a godlike
presence, almost cheating us into the delusion that in the Soul we see
This is the way in which men of the Civic Virtues attain
3. We come now to that other mode of Likeness which, we read,
is the fruit of the loftier virtues: discussing this we shall penetrate
more deeply into the essence of the Civic Virtue and be able to define
the nature of the higher kind whose existence we shall establish beyond
To Plato, unmistakably, there are two distinct orders of virtue,
and the civic does not suffice for Likeness: "Likeness to God," he says,
"is a flight from this world's ways and things": in dealing with the qualities
of good citizenship he does not use the simple term Virtue but adds the
distinguishing word civic: and elsewhere he declares all the virtues without
exception to be purifications.
But in what sense can we call the virtues purifications, and how
does purification issue in Likeness?
As the Soul is evil by being interfused with the body, and by coming
to share the body's states and to think the body's thoughts, so it would
be good, it would be possessed of virtue, if it threw off the body's moods
and devoted itself to its own Act- the state of Intellection and Wisdom-
never allowed the passions of the body to affect it- the virtue of Sophrosyne-
knew no fear at the parting from the body- the virtue of Fortitude- and
if reason and the Intellectual-Principle ruled- in which state is Righteousness.
Such a disposition in the Soul, become thus intellective and immune to
passion, it would not be wrong to call Likeness to God; for the Divine,
too, is pure and the Divine-Act is such that Likeness to it is
But would not this make virtue a state of the Divine
No: the Divine has no states; the state is in the Soul. The Act of
Intellection in the Soul is not the same as in the Divine: of things in
the Supreme, Soul grasps some after a mode of its own, some not at
Then yet again, the one word Intellection covers two distinct
Rather there is primal Intellection and there is Intellection deriving
from the Primal and of other scope.
As speech is the echo of the thought in the Soul, so thought in
the Soul is an echo from elsewhere: that is to say, as the uttered thought
is an image of the soul-thought, so the soul-thought images a thought above
itself and is the interpreter of the higher sphere.
Virtue, in the same way, is a thing of the Soul: it does not belong
to the Intellectual-Principle or to the Transcendence.
4. We come, so, to the question whether Purification is
the whole of this human quality, virtue, or merely the forerunner upon
which virtue follows? Does virtue imply the achieved state of purification
or does the mere process suffice to it, Virtue being something of less
perfection than the accomplished pureness which is almost the
To have been purified is to have cleansed away everything alien:
but Goodness is something more.
If before the impurity entered there was Goodness, the Goodness
suffices; but even so, not the act of cleansing but the cleansed thing
that emerges will be The Good. And it remains to establish what this emergent
It can scarcely prove to be The Good: The Absolute Good cannot
be thought to have taken up its abode with Evil. We can think of it only
as something of the nature of good but paying a double allegiance and unable
to rest in the Authentic Good.
The Soul's true Good is in devotion to the Intellectual-Principle,
its kin; evil to the Soul lies in frequenting strangers. There is no other
way for it than to purify itself and so enter into relation with its own;
the new phase begins by a new orientation.
After the Purification, then, there is still this orientation to
be made? No: by the purification the true alignment stands
The Soul's virtue, then, is this alignment? No: it is what the
alignment brings about within.
And this is...?
That it sees; that, like sight affected by the thing seen, the soul
admits the imprint, graven upon it and working within it, of the vision
it has come to.
But was not the Soul possessed of all this always, or had it
What it now sees, it certainly always possessed, but as lying away
in the dark, not as acting within it: to dispel the darkness, and thus
come to knowledge of its inner content, it must thrust towards the
Besides, it possessed not the originals but images, pictures; and
these it must bring into closer accord with the verities they represent.
And, further, if the Intellectual-Principle is said to be a possession
of the Soul, this is only in the sense that It is not alien and that the
link becomes very close when the Soul's sight is turned towards It: otherwise,
ever-present though It be, It remains foreign, just as our knowledge, if
it does not determine action, is dead to us.
5. So we come to the scope of the purification: that understood,
the nature of Likeness becomes clear. Likeness to what Principle? Identity
with what God?
The question is substantially this: how far does purification dispel
the two orders of passion- anger, desire and the like, with grief and its
kin- and in what degree the disengagement from the body is
Disengagement means simply that the soul withdraws to its own
It will hold itself above all passions and affections. Necessary
pleasures and all the activity of the senses it will employ only for medicament
and assuagement lest its work be impeded. Pain it may combat, but, failing
the cure, it will bear meekly and ease it by refusing assent to it. All
passionate action it will check: the suppression will be complete if that
be possible, but at worst the Soul will never itself take fire but will
keep the involuntary and uncontrolled outside its precincts and rare and
weak at that. The Soul has nothing to dread, though no doubt the involuntary
has some power here too: fear therefore must cease, except so far as it
is purely monitory. What desire there may be can never be for the vile;
even the food and drink necessary for restoration will lie outside of the
Soul's attention, and not less the sexual appetite: or if such desire there
must be, it will turn upon the actual needs of the nature and be entirely
under control; or if any uncontrolled motion takes place, it will reach
no further than the imagination, be no more than a fleeting
The Soul itself will be inviolately free and will be working to
set the irrational part of the nature above all attack, or if that may
not be, then at least to preserve it from violent assault, so that any
wound it takes may be slight and be healed at once by virtue of the Soul's
presence, just as a man living next door to a Sage would profit by the
neighbourhood, either in becoming wise and good himself or, for sheer shame,
never venturing any act which the nobler mind would
There will be no battling in the Soul: the mere intervention of
Reason is enough: the lower nature will stand in such awe of Reason that
for any slightest movement it has made it will grieve, and censure its
own weakness, in not having kept low and still in the presence of its
6. In all this there is no sin- there is only matter of
discipline- but our concern is not merely to be sinless but to be
As long as there is any such involuntary action, the nature is
twofold, God and Demi-God, or rather God in association with a nature of
a lower power: when all the involuntary is suppressed, there is God unmingled,
a Divine Being of those that follow upon The First.
For, at this height, the man is the very being that came from the
Supreme. The primal excellence restored, the essential man is There: entering
this sphere, he has associated himself with the reasoning phase of his
nature and this he will lead up into likeness with his highest self, as
far as earthly mind is capable, so that if possible it shall never be inclined
to, and at the least never adopt, any course displeasing to its
What form, then, does virtue take in one so
It appears as Wisdom, which consists in the contemplation of all that
exists in the Intellectual-Principle, and as the immediate presence of
the Intellectual-Principle itself.
And each of these has two modes or aspects: there is Wisdom as
it is in the Intellectual-Principle and as in the Soul; and there is the
Intellectual-Principle as it is present to itself and as it is present
to the Soul: this gives what in the Soul is Virtue, in the Supreme not
In the Supreme, then, what is it?
Its proper Act and Its Essence.
That Act and Essence of the Supreme, manifested in a new form, constitute
the virtue of this sphere. For the Supreme is not self-existent justice,
or the Absolute of any defined virtue: it is, so to speak, an exemplar,
the source of what in the soul becomes virtue: for virtue is dependent,
seated in something not itself; the Supreme is self-standing,
But taking Rectitude to be the due ordering of faculty, does it
not always imply the existence of diverse parts?
No: There is a Rectitude of Diversity appropriate to what has parts,
but there is another, not less Rectitude than the former though it resides
in a Unity. And the authentic Absolute-Rectitude is the Act of a Unity
upon itself, of a Unity in which there is no this and that and the
On this principle, the supreme Rectitude of the Soul is that it
direct its Act towards the Intellectual-Principle: its Restraint (Sophrosyne)
is its inward bending towards the Intellectual-Principle; its Fortitude
is its being impassive in the likeness of That towards which its gaze is
set, Whose nature comports an impassivity which the Soul acquires by virtue
and must acquire if it is not to be at the mercy of every state arising
in its less noble companion.
7. The virtues in the Soul run in a sequence correspondent
to that existing in the over-world, that is among their exemplars in the
In the Supreme, Intellection constitutes Knowledge and Wisdom;
self-concentration is Sophrosyne; Its proper Act is Its Dutifulness; Its
Immateriality, by which It remains inviolate within Itself is the equivalent
In the Soul, the direction of vision towards the Intellectual-Principle
is Wisdom and Prudence, soul-virtues not appropriate to the Supreme where
Thinker and Thought are identical. All the other virtues have similar
And if the term of purification is the production of a pure being,
then the purification of the Soul must produce all the virtues; if any
are lacking, then not one of them is perfect.
And to possess the greater is potentially to possess the minor,
though the minor need not carry the greater with them.
Thus we have indicated the dominant note in the life of the Sage;
but whether his possession of the minor virtues be actual as well as potential,
whether even the greater are in Act in him or yield to qualities higher
still, must be decided afresh in each several case.
Take, for example, Contemplative-Wisdom. If other guides of conduct
must be called in to meet a given need, can this virtue hold its ground
even in mere potentiality?
And what happens when the virtues in their very nature differ in
scope and province? Where, for example, Sophrosyne would allow certain
acts or emotions under due restraint and another virtue would cut them
off altogether? And is it not clear that all may have to yield, once Contemplative-Wisdom
comes into action?
The solution is in understanding the virtues and what each has
to give: thus the man will learn to work with this or that as every several
need demands. And as he reaches to loftier principles and other standards
these in turn will define his conduct: for example, Restraint in its earlier
form will no longer satisfy him; he will work for the final Disengagement;
he will live, no longer, the human life of the good man- such as Civic
Virtue commends- but, leaving this beneath him, will take up instead another
life, that of the Gods.
For it is to the Gods, not to the Good, that our Likeness must
look: to model ourselves upon good men is to produce an image of an image:
we have to fix our gaze above the image and attain Likeness to the Supreme
ON DIALECTIC [THE UPWARD WAY].
1. What art is there, what method, what discipline to bring
us there where we must go?
The Term at which we must arrive we may take as agreed: we have
established elsewhere, by many considerations, that our journey is to the
Good, to the Primal-Principle; and, indeed, the very reasoning which discovered
the Term was itself something like an initiation.
But what order of beings will attain the Term?
Surely, as we read, those that have already seen all or most things,
those who at their first birth have entered into the life-germ from which
is to spring a metaphysician, a musician or a born lover, the metaphysician
taking to the path by instinct, the musician and the nature peculiarly
susceptible to love needing outside guidance.
But how lies the course? Is it alike for all, or is there a distinct
method for each class of temperament?
For all there are two stages of the path, as they are making upwards
or have already gained the upper sphere.
The first degree is the conversion from the lower life; the second-
held by those that have already made their way to the sphere of the Intelligibles,
have set as it were a footprint there but must still advance within the
realm- lasts until they reach the extreme hold of the place, the Term attained
when the topmost peak of the Intellectual realm is won.
But this highest degree must bide its time: let us first try to
speak of the initial process of conversion.
We must begin by distinguishing the three types. Let us take the
musician first and indicate his temperamental equipment for the
The musician we may think of as being exceedingly quick to beauty,
drawn in a very rapture to it: somewhat slow to stir of his own impulse,
he answers at once to the outer stimulus: as the timid are sensitive to
noise so he to tones and the beauty they convey; all that offends against
unison or harmony in melodies and rhythms repels him; he longs for measure
and shapely pattern.
This natural tendency must be made the starting-point to such a
man; he must be drawn by the tone, rhythm and design in things of sense:
he must learn to distinguish the material forms from the Authentic-Existent
which is the source of all these correspondences and of the entire reasoned
scheme in the work of art: he must be led to the Beauty that manifests
itself through these forms; he must be shown that what ravished him was
no other than the Harmony of the Intellectual world and the Beauty in that
sphere, not some one shape of beauty but the All-Beauty, the Absolute Beauty;
and the truths of philosophy must be implanted in him to lead him to faith
in that which, unknowing it, he possesses within himself. What these truths
are we will show later.
2. The born lover, to whose degree the musician also may
attain- and then either come to a stand or pass beyond- has a certain memory
of beauty but, severed from it now, he no longer comprehends it: spellbound
by visible loveliness he clings amazed about that. His lesson must be to
fall down no longer in bewildered delight before some, one embodied form;
he must be led, under a system of mental discipline, to beauty everywhere
and made to discern the One Principle underlying all, a Principle apart
from the material forms, springing from another source, and elsewhere more
truly present. The beauty, for example, in a noble course of life and in
an admirably organized social system may be pointed out to him- a first
training this in the loveliness of the immaterial- he must learn to recognise
the beauty in the arts, sciences, virtues; then these severed and particular
forms must be brought under the one principle by the explanation of their
origin. From the virtues he is to be led to the Intellectual-Principle,
to the Authentic-Existent; thence onward, he treads the upward
3. The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged
already and not like those others, in need of disengagement, stirring of
himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way, needs only a guide.
He must be shown, then, and instructed, a willing wayfarer by his very
temperament, all but self-directed.
Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily,
will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the
unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make
his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course
in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.
4. But this science, this Dialectic essential to all the
three classes alike, what, in sum, is it?
It is the Method, or Discipline, that brings with it the power
of pronouncing with final truth upon the nature and relation of things-
what each is, how it differs from others, what common quality all have,
to what Kind each belongs and in what rank each stands in its Kind and
whether its Being is Real-Being, and how many Beings there are, and how
many non-Beings to be distinguished from Beings.
Dialectic treats also of the Good and the not-Good, and of the
particulars that fall under each, and of what is the Eternal and what the
not Eternal- and of these, it must be understood, not by seeming-knowledge
["sense-knowledge"] but with authentic science.
All this accomplished, it gives up its touring of the realm of
sense and settles down in the Intellectual Kosmos and there plies its own
peculiar Act: it has abandoned all the realm of deceit and falsity, and
pastures the Soul in the "Meadows of Truth": it employs the Platonic division
to the discernment of the Ideal-Forms, of the Authentic-Existence and of
the First-Kinds [or Categories of Being]: it establishes, in the light
of Intellection, the unity there is in all that issues from these Firsts,
until it has traversed the entire Intellectual Realm: then, resolving the
unity into the particulars once more, it returns to the point from which
Now rests: instructed and satisfied as to the Being in that sphere,
it is no longer busy about many things: it has arrived at Unity and it
contemplates: it leaves to another science all that coil of premisses and
conclusions called the art of reasoning, much as it leaves the art of writing:
some of the matter of logic, no doubt, it considers necessary- to clear
the ground- but it makes itself the judge, here as in everything else;
where it sees use, it uses; anything it finds superfluous, it leaves to
whatever department of learning or practice may turn that matter to
5. But whence does this science derive its own initial
The Intellectual-Principle furnishes standards, the most certain for
any soul that is able to apply them. What else is necessary, Dialectic
puts together for itself, combining and dividing, until it has reached
perfect Intellection. "For," we read, "it is the purest [perfection] of
Intellection and Contemplative-Wisdom." And, being the noblest method and
science that exists it must needs deal with Authentic-Existence, The Highest
there is: as Contemplative-Wisdom [or true-knowing] it deals with Being,
as Intellection with what transcends Being.
What, then, is Philosophy?
Philosophy is the supremely precious.
Is Dialectic, then, the same as Philosophy?
It is the precious part of Philosophy. We must not think of it as the
mere tool of the metaphysician: Dialectic does not consist of bare theories
and rules: it deals with verities; Existences are, as it were, Matter to
it, or at least it proceeds methodically towards Existences, and possesses
itself, at the one step, of the notions and of the realities.
Untruth and sophism it knows, not directly, not of its own nature,
but merely as something produced outside itself, something which it recognises
to be foreign to the verities laid up in itself; in the falsity presented
to it, it perceives a clash with its own canon of truth. Dialectic, that
is to say, has no knowledge of propositions- collections of words- but
it knows the truth, and, in that knowledge, knows what the schools call
their propositions: it knows above all, the operation of the soul, and,
by virtue of this knowing, it knows, too, what is affirmed and what is
denied, whether the denial is of what was asserted or of something else,
and whether propositions agree or differ; all that is submitted to it,
it attacks with the directness of sense-perception and it leaves petty
precisions of process to what other science may care for such
6. Philosophy has other provinces, but Dialectic is its
precious part: in its study of the laws of the universe, Philosophy draws
on Dialectic much as other studies and crafts use Arithmetic, though, of
course, the alliance between Philosophy and Dialectic is
And in Morals, too, Philosophy uses Dialectic: by Dialectic it
comes to contemplation, though it originates of itself the moral state
or rather the discipline from which the moral state
Our reasoning faculties employ the data of Dialectic almost as
their proper possession for they are mainly concerned about Matter [whose
place and worth Dialectic establishes].
And while the other virtues bring the reason to bear upon particular
experiences and acts, the virtue of Wisdom [i.e., the virtue peculiarly
induced by Dialectic] is a certain super-reasoning much closer to the Universal;
for it deals with correspondence and sequence, the choice of time for action
and inaction, the adoption of this course, the rejection of that other:
Wisdom and Dialectic have the task of presenting all things as Universals
and stripped of matter for treatment by the Understanding.
But can these inferior kinds of virtue exist without Dialectic
Yes- but imperfectly, inadequately.
And is it possible to be a Sage, Master in Dialectic, without these
It would not happen: the lower will spring either before or together
with the higher. And it is likely that everyone normally possesses the
natural virtues from which, when Wisdom steps in, the perfected virtue
develops. After the natural virtues, then, Wisdom and, so the perfecting
of the moral nature. Once the natural virtues exist, both orders, the natural
and the higher, ripen side by side to their final excellence: or as the
one advances it carries forward the other towards perfection.
But, ever, the natural virtue is imperfect in vision and in strength-
and to both orders of virtue the essential matter is from what principles
we derive them.
ON TRUE HAPPINESS.
1. Are we to make True Happiness one and the same thing
with Welfare or Prosperity and therefore within the reach of the other
living beings as well as ourselves?
There is certainly no reason to deny well-being to any of them
as long as their lot allows them to flourish unhindered after their
Whether we make Welfare consist in pleasant conditions of life,
or in the accomplishment of some appropriate task, by either account it
may fall to them as to us. For certainly they may at once be pleasantly
placed and engaged about some function that lies in their nature: take
for an instance such living beings as have the gift of music; finding themselves
well-off in other ways, they sing, too, as their nature is, and so their
day is pleasant to them.
And if, even, we set Happiness in some ultimate Term pursued by
inborn tendency, then on this head, too, we must allow it to animals from
the moment of their attaining this Ultimate: the nature in them comes to
a halt, having fulfilled its vital course from a beginning to an
It may be a distasteful notion, this bringing-down of happiness
so low as to the animal world- making it over, as then we must, even to
the vilest of them and not withholding it even from the plants, living
they too and having a life unfolding to a Term.
But, to begin with, it is surely unsound to deny that good of life
to animals only because they do not appear to man to be of great account.
And as for plants, we need not necessarily allow to them what we accord
to the other forms of life, since they have no feeling. It is true people
might be found to declare prosperity possible to the very plants: they
have life, and life may bring good or evil; the plants may thrive or wither,
bear or be barren.
No: if Pleasure be the Term, if here be the good of life, it is
impossible to deny the good of life to any order of living things; if the
Term be inner-peace, equally impossible; impossible, too, if the good of
life be to live in accordance with the purpose of nature.
2. Those that deny the happy life to the plants on the ground
that they lack sensation are really denying it to all living
By sensation can be meant only perception of state, and the state
of well-being must be Good in itself quite apart from the perception: to
be a part of the natural plan is good whether knowingly or without knowledge:
there is good in the appropriate state even though there be no recognition
of its fitness or desirable quality- for it must be in itself
This Good exists, then; is present: that in which it is present
has well-being without more ado: what need then to ask for sensation into
Perhaps, however, the theory is that the good of any state consists
not in the condition itself but in the knowledge and perception of
But at this rate the Good is nothing but the mere sensation, the
bare activity of the sentient life. And so it will be possessed by all
that feel, no matter what. Perhaps it will be said that two constituents
are needed to make up the Good, that there must be both feeling and a given
state felt: but how can it be maintained that the bringing together of
two neutrals can produce the Good?
They will explain, possibly, that the state must be a state of
Good and that such a condition constitutes well-being on the discernment
of that present good; but then they invite the question whether the well-being
comes by discerning the presence of the Good that is there, or whether
there must further be the double recognition that the state is agreeable
and that the agreeable state constitutes the Good.
If well-being demands this recognition, it depends no longer upon
sensation but upon another, a higher faculty; and well-being is vested
not in a faculty receptive of pleasure but in one competent to discern
that pleasure is the Good.
Then the cause of the well-being is no longer pleasure but the
faculty competent to pronounce as to pleasure's value. Now a judging entity
is nobler than one that merely accepts a state: it is a principle of Reason
or of Intellection: pleasure is a state: the reasonless can never be closer
to the Good than reason is. How can reason abdicate and declare nearer
to good than itself something lying in a contrary order?
No: those denying the good of life to the vegetable world, and
those that make it consist in some precise quality of sensation, are in
reality seeking a loftier well-being than they are aware of, and setting
their highest in a more luminous phase of life.
Perhaps, then, those are in the right who found happiness not on
the bare living or even on sensitive life but on the life of
But they must tell us it should be thus restricted and why precisely
they make Reason an essential to the happiness in a living
"When you insist on Reason, is it because Reason is resourceful,
swift to discern and compass the primal needs of nature; or would you demand
it, even though it were powerless in that domain?"
If you call it in as a provider, then the reasonless, equally with
the reasoning, may possess happiness after their kind, as long as, without
any thought of theirs, nature supplies their wants: Reason becomes a servant;
there is no longer any worth in it for itself and no worth in that consummation
of reason which, we hold, is virtue.
If you say that reason is to be cherished for its own sake and
not as supplying these human needs, you must tell us what other services
it renders, what is its proper nature and what makes it the perfect thing
For, on this admission, its perfection cannot reside in any such
planning and providing: its perfection will be something quite different,
something of quite another class: Reason cannot be itself one of those
first needs of nature; it cannot even be a cause of those first needs of
nature or at all belong to that order: it must be nobler than any and all
of such things: otherwise it is not easy to see how we can be asked to
rate it so highly.
Until these people light upon some nobler principle than any at
which they still halt, they must be left where they are and where they
choose to be, never understanding what the Good of Life is to those that
can make it theirs, never knowing to what kind of beings it is
What then is happiness? Let us try basing it upon
3. Now if we draw no distinction as to kinds of life, everything
that lives will be capable of happiness, and those will be effectively
happy who possess that one common gift of which every living thing is by
nature receptive. We could not deny it to the irrational whilst allowing
it to the rational. If happiness were inherent in the bare being-alive,
the common ground in which the cause of happiness could always take root
would be simply life.
Those, then, that set happiness not in the mere living but in the
reasoning life seem to overlook the fact that they are not really making
it depend upon life at all: they admit that this reasoning faculty, round
which they centre happiness, is a property [not the subject of a property]:
the subject, to them, must be the Reasoning-Life since it is in this double
term that they find the basis of the happiness: so that they are making
it consist not in life but in a particular kind of life- not, of course,
a species formally opposite but, in terminology, standing as an "earlier"
to a "later" in the one Kind.
Now in common use this word "Life" embraces many forms which shade
down from primal to secondary and so on, all massed under the common term-
life of plant and life of animal- each phase brighter or dimmer than its
next: and so it evidently must be with the Good-of-Life. And if thing is
ever the image of thing, so every Good must always be the image of a higher
If mere Being is insufficient, if happiness demands fulness of
life, and exists, therefore, where nothing is lacking of all that belongs
to the idea of life, then happiness can exist only in a being that lives
And such a one will possess not merely the good, but the Supreme
Good if, that is to say, in the realm of existents the Supreme Good can
be no other than the authentically living, no other than Life in its greatest
plenitude, life in which the good is present as something essential not
as something brought from without, a life needing no foreign substance
called in from a foreign realm, to establish it in good.
For what could be added to the fullest life to make it the best
life? If anyone should answer, "The nature of Good" [The Good, as a Divine
Hypostasis], the reply would certainly be near our thought, but we are
not seeking the Cause but the main constituent.
It has been said more than once that the perfect life and the true
life, the essential life, is in the Intellectual Nature beyond this sphere,
and that all other forms of life are incomplete, are phantoms of life,
imperfect, not pure, not more truly life than they are its contrary: here
let it be said succinctly that since all living things proceed from the
one principle but possess life in different degrees, this principle must
be the first life and the most complete.
4. If, then, the perfect life is within human reach, the
man attaining it attains happiness: if not, happiness must be made over
to the gods, for the perfect life is for them alone.
But since we hold that happiness is for human beings too, we must
consider what this perfect life is. The matter may be stated
It has been shown elsewhere that man, when he commands not merely
the life of sensation but also Reason and Authentic Intellection, has realised
the perfect life.
But are we to picture this kind of life as something foreign imported
into his nature?
No: there exists no single human being that does not either potentially
or effectively possess this thing which we hold to constitute
But are we to think of man as including this form of life, the
perfect, after the manner of a partial constituent of his entire
We say, rather, that while in some men it is present as a mere
portion of their total being- in those, namely, that have it potentially-
there is, too, the man, already in possession of true felicity, who is
this perfection realized, who has passed over into actual identification
with it. All else is now mere clothing about the man, not to be called
part of him since it lies about him unsought, not his because not appropriated
to himself by any act of the will.
To the man in this state, what is the Good?
He himself by what he has and is.
And the author and principle of what he is and holds is the Supreme,
which within Itself is the Good but manifests Itself within the human being
after this other mode.
The sign that this state has been achieved is that the man seeks
What indeed could he be seeking? Certainly none of the less worthy
things; and the Best he carries always within him.
He that has such a life as this has all he needs in
Once the man is a Sage, the means of happiness, the way to good, are
within, for nothing is good that lies outside him. Anything he desires
further than this he seeks as a necessity, and not for himself but for
a subordinate, for the body bound to him, to which since it has life he
must minister the needs of life, not needs, however, to the true man of
this degree. He knows himself to stand above all such things, and what
he gives to the lower he so gives as to leave his true life
Adverse fortune does not shake his felicity: the life so founded
is stable ever. Suppose death strikes at his household or at his friends;
he knows what death is, as the victims, if they are among the wise, know
too. And if death taking from him his familiars and intimates does bring
grief, it is not to him, not to the true man, but to that in him which
stands apart from the Supreme, to that lower man in whose distress he takes
5. But what of sorrows, illnesses and all else that inhibit
the native activity?
What of the suspension of consciousness which drugs or disease
may bring about? Could either welfare or happiness be present under such
conditions? And this is to say nothing of misery and disgrace, which will
certainly be urged against us, with undoubtedly also those never-failing
"Miseries of Priam."
"The Sage," we shall be told, "may bear such afflictions and even
take them lightly but they could never be his choice, and the happy life
must be one that would be chosen. The Sage, that is, cannot be thought
of as simply a sage soul, no count being taken of the bodily-principle
in the total of the being: he will, no doubt, take all bravely... until
the body's appeals come up before him, and longings and loathings penetrate
through the body to the inner man. And since pleasure must be counted in
towards the happy life, how can one that, thus, knows the misery of ill-fortune
or pain be happy, however sage he be? Such a state, of bliss self-contained,
is for the Gods; men, because of the less noble part subjoined in them,
must needs seek happiness throughout all their being and not merely in
some one part; if the one constituent be troubled, the other, answering
to its associate's distress, must perforce suffer hindrance in its own
activity. There is nothing but to cut away the body or the body's sensitive
life and so secure that self-contained unity essential to
6. Now if happiness did indeed require freedom from pain,
sickness, misfortune, disaster, it would be utterly denied to anyone confronted
by such trials: but if it lies in the fruition of the Authentic Good, why
turn away from this Term and look to means, imagining that to be happy
a man must need a variety of things none of which enter into happiness?
If, in fact, felicity were made up by heaping together all that is at once
desirable and necessary we must bid for these also. But if the Term must
be one and not many; if in other words our quest is of a Term and not of
Terms; that only can be elected which is ultimate and noblest, that which
calls to the tenderest longings of the soul.
The quest and will of the Soul are not pointed directly towards
freedom from this sphere: the reason which disciplines away our concern
about this life has no fundamental quarrel with things of this order; it
merely resents their interference; sometimes, even, it must seek them;
essentially all the aspiration is not so much away from evil as towards
the Soul's own highest and noblest: this attained, all is won and there
is rest- and this is the veritably willed state of life.
There can be no such thing as "willing" the acquirement of necessaries,
if Will is to be taken in its strict sense, and not misapplied to the mere
recognition of need.
It is certain that we shrink from the unpleasant, and such shrinking
is assuredly not what we should have willed; to have no occasion for any
such shrinking would be much nearer to our taste; but the things we seek
tell the story as soon as they are ours. For instance, health and freedom
from pain; which of these has any great charm? As long as we possess them,
we set no store upon them.
Anything which, present, has no charm and adds nothing to happiness,
which when lacking is desired because of the presence of an annoying opposite,
may reasonably be called a necessity but not a Good.
Such things can never make part of our final object: our Term must
be such that though these pleasanter conditions be absent and their contraries
present, it shall remain, still, intact.
7. Then why are these conditions sought and their contraries
repelled by the man established in happiness?
Here is our answer:
These more pleasant conditions cannot, it is true, add any particle
towards the Sage's felicity: but they do serve towards the integrity of
his being, while the presence of the contraries tends against his Being
or complicates the Term: it is not that the Sage can be so easily deprived
of the Term achieved but simply that he that holds the highest good desires
to have that alone, not something else at the same time, something which,
though it cannot banish the Good by its incoming, does yet take place by
In any case if the man that has attained felicity meets some turn
of fortune that he would not have chosen, there is not the slightest lessening
of his happiness for that. If there were, his felicity would be veering
or falling from day to day; the death of a child would bring him down,
or the loss of some trivial possession. No: a thousand mischances and disappointments
may befall him and leave him still in the tranquil possession of the
But, they cry, great disasters, not the petty daily
What human thing, then, is great, so as not to be despised by one who
has mounted above all we know here, and is bound now no longer to anything
If the Sage thinks all fortunate events, however momentous, to
be no great matter- kingdom and the rule over cities and peoples, colonisations
and the founding of states, even though all be his own handiwork- how can
he take any great account of the vacillations of power or the ruin of his
fatherland? Certainly if he thought any such event a great disaster, or
any disaster at all, he must be of a very strange way of thinking. One
that sets great store by wood and stones, or... Zeus... by mortality among
mortals cannot yet be the Sage, whose estimate of death, we hold, must
be that it is better than life in the body.
But suppose that he himself is offered a victim in
Can he think it an evil to die beside the altars?
But if he go unburied?
Wheresoever it lie, under earth or over earth, his body will always
But if he has been hidden away, not with costly ceremony but in
an unnamed grave, not counted worthy of a towering monument?
The littleness of it!
But if he falls into his enemies' hands, into prison?
There is always the way towards escape, if none towards
But if his nearest be taken from him, his sons and daughters dragged