The Six Enneads
Commentary: Many comments have been posted about
The Six Enneads.
text-only version is available for download.
The Six Enneads
Written 250 A.C.E.
Translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page
ON THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL (1).
1. In the Intellectual Kosmos dwells Authentic Essence,
with the Intellectual-Principle [Divine Mind] as the noblest of its content,
but containing also souls, since every soul in this lower sphere has come
thence: that is the world of unembodied spirits while to our world belong
those that have entered body and undergone bodily division.
There the Intellectual-Principle is a concentrated all- nothing
of it distinguished or divided- and in that kosmos of unity all souls are
concentrated also, with no spatial discrimination.
But there is a difference:
The Intellectual-Principle is for ever repugnant to distinction and
to partition. Soul, there without distinction and partition, has yet a
nature lending itself to divisional existence: its division is secession,
entry into body.
In view of this seceding and the ensuing partition we may legitimately
speak of it as a partible thing.
But if so, how can it still be described as
In that the secession is not of the soul entire; something of it holds
its ground, that in it which recoils from separate existence.
The entity, therefore, described as "consisting of the undivided
soul and of the soul divided among bodies," contains a soul which is at
once above and below, attached to the Supreme and yet reaching down to
this sphere, like a radius from a centre.
Thus it is that, entering this realm, it possesses still the vision
inherent to that superior phase in virtue of which it unchangingly maintains
its integral nature. Even here it is not exclusively the partible soul:
it is still the impartible as well: what in it knows partition is parted
without partibility; undivided as giving itself to the entire body, a whole
to a whole, it is divided as being effective in every
ON THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL (2).
1. In our attempt to elucidate the Essence of the soul,
we show it to be neither a material fabric nor, among immaterial things,
a harmony. The theory that it is some final development, some entelechy,
we pass by, holding this to be neither true as presented nor practically
No doubt we make a very positive statement about it when we declare
it to belong to the Intellectual Kind, to be of the divine order; but a
deeper penetration of its nature is demanded.
In that allocation we were distinguishing things as they fall under
the Intellectual or the sensible, and we placed the soul in the former
class; now, taking its membership of the Intellectual for granted, we must
investigate by another path the more specific characteristics of its
There are, we hold, things primarily apt to partition, tending
by sheer nature towards separate existence: they are things in which no
part is identical either with another part or with the whole, while, also
their part is necessarily less than the total and whole: these are magnitudes
of the realm of sense, masses, each of which has a station of its own so
that none can be identically present in entirety at more than one point
at one time.
But to that order is opposed Essence [Real-Being]; this is in no
degree susceptible of partition; it is unparted and impartible; interval
is foreign to it, cannot enter into our idea of it: it has no need of place
and is not, in diffusion or as an entirety, situated within any other being:
it is poised over all beings at once, and this is not in the sense of using
them as a base but in their being neither capable nor desirous of existing
independently of it; it is an essence eternally unvaried: it is common
to all that follows upon it: it is like the circle's centre to which all
the radii are attached while leaving it unbrokenly in possession of itself,
the starting point of their course and of their essential being, the ground
in which they all participate: thus the indivisible is the principle of
these divided existences and in their very outgoing they remain enduringly
in contact with that stationary essence.
So far we have the primarily indivisible- supreme among the Intellectual
and Authentically Existent- and we have its contrary, the Kind definitely
divisible in things of sense; but there is also another Kind, of earlier
rank than the sensible yet near to it and resident within it- an order,
not, like body, primarily a thing of part, but becoming so upon incorporation.
The bodies are separate, and the ideal form which enters them is correspondingly
sundered while, still, it is present as one whole in each of its severed
parts, since amid that multiplicity in which complete individuality has
entailed complete partition, there is a permanent identity; we may think
of colour, qualities of all kinds, some particular shape, which can be
present in many unrelated objects at the one moment, each entire and yet
with no community of experience among the various manifestations. In the
case of such ideal-forms we may affirm complete partibility.
But, on the other hand, that first utterly indivisible Kind must
be accompanied by a subsequent Essence, engendered by it and holding indivisibility
from it but, in virtue of the necessary outgo from source, tending firmly
towards the contrary, the wholly partible; this secondary Essence will
take an intermediate Place between the first substance, the undivided,
and that which is divisible in material things and resides in them. Its
presence, however, will differ in one respect from that of colour and quantity;
these, no doubt, are present identically and entire throughout diverse
material masses, but each several manifestation of them is as distinct
from every other as the mass is from the mass.
The magnitude present in any mass is definitely one thing, yet
its identity from part to part does not imply any such community as would
entail common experience; within that identity there is diversity, for
it is a condition only, not the actual Essence.
The Essence, very near to the impartible, which we assert to belong
to the Kind we are now dealing with, is at once an Essence and an entrant
into body; upon embodiment, it experiences a partition unknown before it
thus bestowed itself.
In whatsoever bodies it occupies- even the vastest of all, that
in which the entire universe is included- it gives itself to the whole
without abdicating its unity.
This unity of an Essence is not like that of body, which is a unit
by the mode of continuous extension, the mode of distinct parts each occupying
its own space. Nor is it such a unity as we have dealt with in the case
The nature, at once divisible and indivisible, which we affirm
to be soul has not the unity of an extended thing: it does not consist
of separate sections; its divisibility lies in its presence at every point
of the recipient, but it is indivisible as dwelling entire in the total
and entire in any part.
To have penetrated this idea is to know the greatness of the soul
and its power, the divinity and wonder of its being, as a nature transcending
the sphere of Things.
Itself devoid of mass, it is present to all mass: it exists here
and yet is There, and this not in distinct phases but with unsundered identity:
thus it is "parted and not parted," or, better, it has never known partition,
never become a parted thing, but remains a self-gathered integral, and
is "parted among bodies" merely in the sense that bodies, in virtue of
their own sundered existence, cannot receive it unless in some partitive
mode; the partition, in other words, is an occurrence in body not in
2. It can be demonstrated that soul must, necessarily, be
of just this nature and that there can be no other soul than such a being,
one neither wholly partible but both at once.
If it had the nature of body it would consist of isolated members
each unaware of the conditions of every other; there would be a particular
soul- say a soul of the finger- answering as a distinct and independent
entity to every local experience; in general terms, there would be a multiplicity
of souls administering each individual; and, moreover, the universe would
be governed not by one soul but by an incalculable number, each standing
apart to itself. But, without a dominant unity, continuity is
The theory that "Impressions reach the leading-principle by progressive
stages" must be dismissed as mere illusion.
In the first place, it affirms without investigation a "leading"
phase of the soul.
What can justify this assigning of parts to the soul, the distinguishing
one part from another? What quantity, or what difference of quality, can
apply to a thing defined as a self-consistent whole of unbroken
Again, would perception be vested in that leading principle alone,
or in the other phases as well?
If a given experience bears only on that "leading principle," it
would not be felt as lodged in any particular members of the organism;
if, on the other hand, it fastens on some other phase of the soul- one
not constituted for sensation- that phase cannot transmit any experience
to the leading principle, and there can be no sensation.
Again, suppose sensation vested in the "leading-principle" itself:
then, a first alternative, it will be felt in some one part of that [some
specifically sensitive phase], the other part excluding a perception which
could serve no purpose; or, in the second alternative, there will be many
distinct sensitive phases, an infinite number, with difference from one
to another. In that second case, one sensitive phase will declare "I had
this sensation primarily"; others will have to say "I felt the sensation
that rose elsewhere"; but either the site of the experience will be a matter
of doubt to every phase except the first, or each of the parts of the soul
will be deceived into allocating the occurrence within its own particular
If, on the contrary, the sensation is vested not merely in the
"leading principle," but in any and every part of the soul, what special
function raises the one rather than the other into that leading rank, or
why is the sensation to be referred to it rather than elsewhere? And how,
at this, account for the unity of the knowledge brought in by diverse senses,
by eyes, by ears?
On the other hand, if the soul is a perfect unity- utterly strange
to part, a self-gathered whole- if it continuously eludes all touch of
multiplicity and divisibility- then, no whole taken up into it can ever
be ensouled; soul will stand as circle-centre to every object [remote on
the circumference], and the entire mass of a living being is soulless
There is, therefore, no escape: soul is, in the degree indicated,
one and many, parted and impartible. We cannot question the possibility
of a thing being at once a unity and multi-present, since to deny this
would be to abolish the principle which sustains and administers the universe;
there must be a Kind which encircles and supports all and conducts all
with wisdom, a principle which is multiple since existence is multiple,
and yet is one soul always since a container must be a unity: by the multiple
unity of its nature, it will furnish life to the multiplicity of the series
of an all; by its impartible unity, it will conduct a total to wise
In the case of things not endowed with intelligence, the "leading-principle"
is their mere unity- a lower reproduction of the soul's
This is the deeper meaning of the profound passage [in the Timaeus],
where we read "By blending the impartible, eternally unchanging essence
with that in division among bodies, he produced a third form of essence
partaking of both qualities."
Soul, therefore, is, in this definite sense, one and many; the
Ideal-Form resident in body is many and one; bodies themselves are exclusively
many; the Supreme is exclusively one.
PROBLEMS OF THE SOUL (1).
1. The soul: what dubious questions concerning it admit
of solution, or where we must abide our doubt- with, at least, the gain
of recognizing the problem that confronts us- this is matter well worth
attention. On what subject can we more reasonably expend the time required
by minute discussion and investigation? Apart from much else, it is enough
that such an enquiry illuminates two grave questions: of what sphere the
soul is the principle, and whence the soul itself springs. Moreover, we
will be only obeying the ordinance of the God who bade us know
Our general instinct to seek and learn, our longing to possess
ourselves of whatsoever is lovely in the vision will, in all reason, set
us enquiring into the nature of the instrument with which we
Now even in the universal Intellect [Divine Mind] there was duality,
so that we would expect differences of condition in things of part: how
some things rather than others come to be receptacles of the divine beings
will need to be examined; but all this we may leave aside until we are
considering the mode in which soul comes to occupy body. For the moment
we return to our argument against those who maintain our souls to be offshoots
from the soul of the universe [parts and an identity modally
Our opponents will probably deny the validity of our arguments
against the theory that the human soul is a mere segment of the All-Soul-
the considerations, namely, that it is of identical scope, and that it
is intellective in the same degree, supposing them, even, to admit that
equality of intellection.
They will object that parts must necessarily fall under one ideal-form
with their wholes. And they will adduce Plato as expressing their view
where, in demonstrating that the All is ensouled, he says "As our body
is a portion of the body of the All, so our soul is a portion of the soul
of the All." It is admitted on clear evidence that we are borne along by
the Circuit of the All; we will be told that- taking character and destiny
from it, strictly inbound with it- we must derive our souls, also, from
what thus bears us up, and that as within ourselves every part absorbs
from our soul so, analogically, we, standing as parts to the universe,
absorb from the Soul of the All as parts of it. They will urge also that
the dictum "The collective soul cares for all the unensouled," carries
the same implication and could be uttered only in the belief that nothing
whatever of later origin stands outside the soul of the universe, the only
soul there can be there to concern itself with the unensouled.
2. To this our first answer is that to place certain things
under one identical class- by admitting an identical range of operation-
is to make them of one common species, and puts an end to all mention of
part; the reasonable conclusion would be, on the contrary, that there is
one identical soul, every separate manifestation being that soul
Our opponents after first admitting the unity go on to make our
soul dependent on something else, something in which we have no longer
the soul of this or that, even of the universe, but a soul of nowhere,
a soul belonging neither to the kosmos, nor to anything else, and yet vested
with all the function inherent to the kosmic soul and to that of every
The soul considered as an entirety cannot be a soul of any one
given thing- since it is an Essence [a divine Real-Being]- or, at least,
there must be a soul which is not exclusively the soul of any particular
thing, and those attached to particulars must so belong merely in some
mode of accident.
In such questions as this it is important to clarify the significance
Part, as understood of body- uniform or varied- need not detain
us; it is enough to indicate that, when part is mentioned in respect of
things whose members are alike, it refers to mass and not to ideal-form
[specific idea]: take for example, whiteness: the whiteness in a portion
of milk is not a part of the whiteness of milk in general: we have the
whiteness of a portion not a portion of whiteness; for whiteness is utterly
without magnitude; has nothing whatever to do with quantity.
That is all we need say with regard to part in material things;
but part in the unembodied may be taken in various ways. We may think of
it in the sense familiar in numbers, "two" a part of the standard "ten"-
in abstract numbers of course- or as we think of a segment of a circle,
or line [abstractly considered], or, again, of a section or branch of
In the case of the units of reckoning and of geometrical figure,
exactly as in that of corporeal masses, partition must diminish the total;
the part must be less than the whole; for these are things of quantity,
and have their being as things of quantity; and- since they are not the
ideal-form Quantity- they are subject to increase and
Now in such a sense as this, part cannot be affirmed of the
The soul is not a thing of quantity; we are not to conceive of the
All-Soul as some standard ten with particular souls as its constituent
Such a conception would entail many absurdities:
The Ten could not be [essentially] a unity [the Soul would be an aggregation,
not a self-standing Real-Being] and, further- unless every one of the single
constituents were itself an All-Soul- the All-Soul would be formed of
Again, it is admitted that the particular soul- this "part of the
All-Soul- is of one ideal-form with it, but this does not entail the relation
of part to whole, since in objects formed of continuous parts there is
nothing inevitably making any portion uniform with the total: take, for
example, the parts of a circle or square; we may divide it in different
ways so as to get our part; a triangle need not be divided into triangles;
all sorts of different figures are possible: yet an absolute uniformity
is admitted to reign throughout soul.
In a line, no doubt, the part is inevitably a line; but even here
there is a necessary difference in size; and if, in the case of the soul
we similarly called upon magnitude as the distinction between constituents
and collective soul, then soul, thus classed by magnitude becomes quantitative,
and is simply body.
But it is admitted that all souls are alike and are entireties;
clearly, soul is not subject to part in the sense in which magnitudes are:
our opponents themselves would not consent to the notion of the All-Soul
being whittled down into fragments, yet this is what they would be doing,
annulling the All-Soul- if any collective soul existed at all- making it
a mere piece of terminology, thinking of it like wine separated into many
portions, each portion, in its jar, being described as a portion of the
total thing, wine.
Next there is the conception of the individual soul as a part in
the sense in which we speak of some single proposition as a part of the
The theorem is separate, but the science stands as one undivided
thing, the expression and summed efficiency [energy] of each constituent
notion: this is partition without severance; each item potentially includes
the whole science, which itself remains an unbroken
Is this the appropriate parallel?
No; in such a relationship the All-Soul, of which the particular souls
are to be a part, would not be the soul of any definite thing, but an entity
standing aloof; that means that it would not even be the soul of the Kosmos;
it would, in fact, be, itself, one of those partial souls; thus all alike
would be partial and of one nature; and, at that, there would be no reason
for making any such distinction.
3. Is it a question of part in the sense that, taking one
living being, the soul in a finger might be called a part of the soul
This would carry the alternative that either there is no soul outside
of body, or that- no soul being within body- the thing described as the
soul of the universe is, none the less, outside the body of the universe.
That is a point to be investigated, but for the present we must consider
what kind of soul this parallel would give us.
If the particular soul is a part of the All-Soul only in the sense
that this bestows itself upon all living things of the partial sphere,
such a self-bestowal does not imply division; on the contrary, it is the
identical soul that is present everywhere, the one complete thing, multi-present
at the one moment: there is no longer question of a soul that is a part
against a soul that is an all- especially where an identical power is present.
Even difference of function, as in eyes and ears, cannot warrant the assertion
of distinct parts concerned in each separate act- with other parts again
making allotment of faculty- all is met by the notion of one identical
thing, but a thing in which a distinct power operates in each separate
function. All the powers are present either in seeing or in hearing; the
difference in impression received is due to the difference in the organs
concerned; all the varying impressions are our various responses to Ideal-forms
that can be taken in a variety of modes.
A further proof [of the unity of Soul] is that perception demands
a common gathering place; every organ has its distinct function, and is
competent only upon its own material, and must interpret each several experience
in its own fashion; the judgement upon these impressions must, then, be
vested in some one principle, a judge informed upon all that is said and
But again: "Everywhere, Unity": in the variety of functions if
each "part of the soul" were as distinct as are the entrant sensations,
none of those parts could have knowledge; awareness would belong only to
that judging faculty- or, if local, every such act of awareness would stand
quite unrelated to any other. But since the soul is a rational soul, by
the very same title by which it is an All-Soul, and is called the rational
soul, in the sense of being a whole [and so not merely "reasoning locally"],
then what is thought of as a part must in reality be no part but the identity
of an unparted thing.
4. But if this is the true account of the unity of soul,
we must be able to meet the problems that ensue: firstly, the difficulty
of one thing being present at the same moment in all things; and, secondly,
the difficulty of soul in body as against soul not embodied.
We might be led to think that all soul must always inhabit body;
this would seem especially plausible in the case of the soul of the universe,
not thought of as ever leaving its body as the human soul does: there exists,
no doubt, an opinion that even the human soul, while it must leave the
body, cannot become an utterly disembodied thing; but assuming its complete
disembodiment, how comes it that the human soul can go free of the body
but the All-Soul not, though they are one and the same?
There is no such difficulty in the case of the Intellectual-Principle;
by the primal differentiation, this separates, no doubt, into partial things
of widely varying nature, but eternal unity is secured by virtue of the
eternal identity of that Essence: it is not so easy to explain how, in
the case of the soul described as separate among bodies, such differentiated
souls can remain one thing.
A possible solution may be offered:
The unit soul holds aloof, not actually falling into body; the differentiated
souls- the All-Soul, with the others- issue from the unity while still
constituting, within certain limits, an association. They are one soul
by the fact that they do not belong unreservedly to any particular being;
they meet, so to speak, fringe to fringe; they strike out here and there,
but are held together at the source much as light is a divided thing upon
earth, shining in this house, and that, and yet remains uninterruptedly
one identical substance.
The All-Soul would always remain above, since essentially it has
nothing to do with descent or with the lower, or with any tendency towards
this sphere: the other souls would become ours [become "partial," individual
in us] because their lot is cast for this sphere, and because they are
solicited by a thing [the body] which invites their
The one- the lowest soul in the to the All-Soul- would correspond
to that in some great growth, silently, unlaboriously conducting the whole;
our own lowest soul might be compared to the insect life in some rotted
part of the growth- for this is the ratio of the animated body to the universe-
while the other soul in us, of one ideal nature with the higher parts of
the All-Soul, may be imaged as the gardener concerned about the insects
lodged in the tree and anxiously working to amend what is wrong; or we
may contrast a healthy man living with the healthy and, by his thought
or by his act, lending himself to the service of those about him, with,
on the other side, a sick man intent upon his own care and cure, and so
living for the body, body-bound.
5. But what place is left for the particular souls, yours
and mine and another's?
May we suppose the Soul to be appropriated on the lower ranges
to some individual, but to belong on the higher to that other
At this there would be a Socrates as long as Socrates' soul remained
in body; but Socrates ceases to exist, precisely on attainment of the
Now nothing of Real Being is ever annulled.
In the Supreme, the Intellectual-Principles are not annulled, for in
their differentiation there is no bodily partition, no passing of each
separate phase into a distinct unity; every such phase remains in full
possession of that identical being. It is exactly so with the
By their succession they are linked to the several Intellectual-Principles,
for they are the expression, the Logos, of the Intellectual-Principles,
of which they are the unfolding; brevity has opened out to multiplicity;
by that point of their being which least belongs to the partial order,
they are attached each to its own Intellectual original: they have already
chosen the way of division; but to the extreme they cannot go; thus they
keep, at once, identification and difference; each soul is permanently
a unity [a self] and yet all are, in their total, one
Thus the gist of the matter is established: one soul the source
of all; those others, as a many founded in that one, are, on the analogy
of the Intellectual-Principle, at once divided and undivided; that Soul
which abides in the Supreme is the one expression or Logos of the Intellectual-Principle,
and from it spring other Reason-Principles, partial but immaterial, exactly
as in the differentiation of the Supreme.
6. But how comes it that while the All-Soul has produced
a kosmos, the soul of the particular has not, though it is of the one ideal
Kind and contains, it too, all things in itself?
We have indicated that a thing may enter and dwell at the same
time in various places; this ought to be explained, and the enquiry would
show how an identity resident simultaneously here and there may, in its
separate appearances, act or react- or both- after distinct modes; but
the matter deserves to be examined in a special discussion.
To return, then: how and why has the All-Soul produced a kosmos,
while the particular souls simply administer some one part of
In the first place, we are not surprised when men of identical
knowledge differ greatly in effective power.
But the reason, we will be asked.
The answer might be that there is an even greater difference among
these souls, the one never having fallen away from the All-Soul, but dwelling
within it and assuming body therein, while the others received their allotted
spheres when the body was already in existence, when their sister soul
was already in rule and, as it were, had already prepared habitations for
them. Again, the reason may be that the one [the creative All-Soul] looks
towards the universal Intellectual-Principle [the exemplar of all that
can be], while the others are more occupied with the Intellectual within
themselves, that which is already of the sphere of part; perhaps, too,
these also could have created, but that they were anticipated by that originator-
the work accomplished before them- an impediment inevitable whichsoever
of the souls were first to operate.
But it is safer to account for the creative act by nearer connection
with the over-world; the souls whose tendency is exercised within the Supreme
have the greater power; immune in that pure seat they create securely;
for the greater power takes the least hurt from the material within which
it operates; and this power remains enduringly attached to the over-world:
it creates, therefore, self gathered and the created things gather round
it; the other souls, on the contrary, themselves go forth; that can mean
only that they have deserted towards the abyss; a main phase in them is
drawn downward and pulls them with it in the desire towards the
The "secondary and tertiary souls," of which we hear, must be understood
in the sense of closer or remoter position: it is much as in ourselves
the relation to the Supreme is not identical from soul to soul; some of
us are capable of becoming Uniate, others of striving and almost attaining,
while a third rank is much less apt; it is a matter of the degree or powers
of the soul by which our expression is determined- the first degree dominant
in the one person, the second, the third [the merely animal life] in others
while, still, all of us contain all the powers.
7. So far, so good: but what of the passage in the Philebus
taken to imply that the other souls are parts of the
The statement there made does not bear the meaning read into it;
it expresses only, what the author was then concerned with, that the heavens
are ensouled- a teaching which he maintains in the observation that it
is preposterous to make the heavens soulless when we, who contain a part
of the body of the All, have a soul; how, he asks, could there be soul
in the part and none in the total.
He makes his teaching quite clear in the Timaeus, where he shows
us the other souls brought into existence after the All-Soul, but compounded
from the same mixing bowl"; secondary and tertiary are duly marked off
from the primal but every form of soul is presented as being of identical
ideal-nature with the All-Soul.
As for saying of the Phaedrus. "All that is soul cares for all
that is soulless," this simply tells us that the corporeal kind cannot
be controlled- fashioned, set in place or brought into being- by anything
but the Soul. And we cannot think that there is one soul whose nature includes
this power and another without it. "The perfect soul, that of the All,"
we read, "going its lofty journey, operates upon the kosmos not by sinking
into it, but, as it were, by brooding over it"; and "every perfect soul
exercises this governance"; he distinguishes the other, the soul in this
sphere as "the soul when its wing is broken."
As for our souls being entrained in the kosmic circuit, and taking
character and condition thence; this is no indication that they are parts:
soul-nature may very well take some tincture from even the qualities of
place, from water and from air; residence in this city or in that, and
the varying make-up of the body may have their influence [upon our human
souls which, yet, are no parts of place or of body].
We have always admitted that as members of the universe we take
over something from the All-Soul; we do not deny the influence of the Kosmic
Circuit; but against all this we oppose another soul in us [the Intellectual
as distinguished from the merely vitalizing] proven to be distinct by that
power of opposition.
As for our being begotten children of the kosmos, we answer that
in motherhood the entrant soul is distinct, is not the
8. These considerations, amounting to the settlement of
the question, are not countered by the phenomenon of sympathy; the response
between soul and soul is due to the mere fact that all spring from that
self-same soul [the next to Divine Mind] from which springs the Soul of
We have already stated that the one soul is also multiple; and
we have dealt with the different forms of relationship between part and
whole: we have investigated the different degrees existing within soul;
we may now add, briefly, that differences might be induced, also, by the
bodies with which the soul has to do, and, even more, by the character
and mental operations carried over from the conduct of the previous lives.
"The life-choice made by a soul has a correspondence"- we read- "with its
As regards the nature of soul in general, the differences have
been defined in the passage in which we mentioned the secondary and tertiary
orders and laid down that, while all souls are all-comprehensive, each
ranks according to its operative phase- one becoming Uniate in the achieved
fact, another in knowledge, another in desire, according to the distinct
orientation by which each is, or tends to become, what it looks upon. The
very fulfillment and perfectionment attainable by souls cannot but be
But, if in the total the organization in which they have their
being is compact of variety- as it must be since every Reason-Principle
is a unity of multiplicity and variety, and may be thought of as a psychic
animated organism having many shapes at its command- if this is so and
all constitutes a system in which being is not cut adrift from being, if
there is nothing chance- borne among beings as there is none even in bodily
organisms, then it follows that Number must enter into the scheme; for,
once again, Being must be stable; the members of the Intellectual must
possess identity, each numerically one; this is the condition of individuality.
Where, as in bodily masses, the Idea is not essentially native, and the
individuality is therefore in flux, existence under ideal form can rise
only out of imitation of the Authentic Existences; these last, on the contrary,
not rising out of any such conjunction [as the duality of Idea and dead
Matter] have their being in that which is numerically one, that which was
from the beginning, and neither becomes what it has not been nor can cease
to be what it is.
Even supposing Real-Beings [such as soul] to be produced by some
other principle, they are certainly not made from Matter; or, if they were,
the creating principle must infuse into them, from within itself, something
of the nature of Real-Being; but, at this, it would itself suffer change,
as it created more or less. And, after all, why should it thus produce
at any given moment rather than remain for ever stationary?
Moreover the produced total, variable from more to less, could
not be an eternal: yet the soul, it stands agreed, is
But what becomes of the soul's infinity if it is thus
The infinity is a matter of power: there is question, not of the soul's
being divisible into an infinite number of parts, but of an infinite possible
effectiveness: it is infinity in the sense in which the Supreme God, also,
is free of all bound.
This means that it is no external limit that defines the individual
being or the extension of souls any more than of God; on the contrary each
in right of its own power is all that it chooses to be: and we are not
to think of it as going forth from itself [losing its unity by any partition]:
the fact is simply that the element within it, which is apt to entrance
into body, has the power of immediate projection any whither: the soul
is certainly not wrenched asunder by its presence at once in foot and in
finger. Its presence in the All is similarly unbroken; over its entire
range it exists in every several part of everything having even vegetal
life, even in a part cut off from the main; in any possible segment it
is as it is at its source. For the body of the All is a unit, and soul
is everywhere present to it as to one thing.
When some animal rots and a multitude of others spring from it,
the Life-Principle now present is not the particular soul that was in the
larger body; that body has ceased to be receptive of soul, or there would
have been no death; what happens is that whatsoever in the product of the
decay is apt material for animal existence of one kind or another becomes
ensouled by the fact that soul is nowhere lacking, though a recipient of
soul may be. This new ensouling does not mean, however, an increase in
the number of souls: all depend from the one or, rather, all remains one:
it is as with ourselves; some elements are shed, others grow in their place;
the soul abandons the discarded and flows into the newcoming as long as
the one soul of the man holds its ground; in the All the one soul holds
its ground for ever; its distinct contents now retain soul and now reject
it, but the total of spiritual beings is unaffected.
9. But we must examine how soul comes to inhabit the body-
the manner and the process- a question certainly of no minor
The entry of soul into body takes place under two
Firstly, there is the entry- metensomatosis- of a soul present in body
by change from one [wholly material] frame to another or the entry- not
known as metensomatosis, since the nature of the earlier habitacle is not
certainly definable- of a soul leaving an aerial or fiery body for one
Secondly, there is the entry from the wholly bodiless into any
kind of body; this is the earliest form of any dealing between body and
soul, and this entry especially demands investigation.
What then can be thought to have happened when soul, utterly clean
from body, first comes into commerce with the bodily
It is reasonable, necessary even, to begin with the Soul of the
All. Notice that if we are to explain and to be clear, we are obliged to
use such words as "entry" and "ensoulment," though never was this All unensouled,
never did body subsist with soul away, never was there Matter unelaborate;
we separate, the better to understand; there is nothing illegitimate in
the verbal and mental sundering of things which must in fact be
The true doctrine may be stated as follows:
In the absence of body, soul could not have gone forth, since there
is no other place to which its nature would allow it to descend. Since
go forth it must, it will generate a place for itself; at once body, also,
While the Soul [as an eternal, a Divine Being] is at rest- in rest
firmly based on Repose, the Absolute- yet, as we may put it, that huge
illumination of the Supreme pouring outwards comes at last to the extreme
bourne of its light and dwindles to darkness; this darkness, now lying
there beneath, the soul sees and by seeing brings to shape; for in the
law of things this ultimate depth, neighbouring with soul, may not go void
of whatsoever degree of that Reason-Principle it can absorb, the dimmed
reason of reality at its faintest.
Imagine that a stately and varied mansion has been built; it has
never been abandoned by its Architect, who, yet, is not tied down to it;
he has judged it worthy in all its length and breadth of all the care that
can serve to its Being- as far as it can share in Being- or to its beauty,
but a care without burden to its director, who never descends, but presides
over it from above: this gives the degree in which the kosmos is ensouled,
not by a soul belonging to it, but by one present to it; it is mastered
not master; not possessor but possessed. The soul bears it up, and it lies
within, no fragment of it unsharing.
The kosmos is like a net which takes all its life, as far as ever
it stretches, from being wet in the water, and has no act of its own; the
sea rolls away and the net with it, precisely to the full of its scope,
for no mesh of it can strain beyond its set place: the soul is of so far-reaching
a nature- a thing unbounded- as to embrace the entire body of the All in
the one extension; so far as the universe extends, there soul is; and if
the universe had no existence, the extent of soul would be the same; it
is eternally what it is. The universe spreads as broad as the presence
of soul; the bound of its expansion is the point at which, in its downward
egression from the Supreme, it still has soul to bind it in one: it is
a shadow as broad as the Reason-Principle proceeding from soul; and that
Reason-Principle is of scope to generate a kosmic bulk as vast as lay in
the purposes of the Idea [the Divine forming power] which it
10. In view of all this we must now work back from the items
to the unit, and consider the entire scheme as one enduring
We ascend from air, light, sun- or, moon and light and sun- in
detail, to these things as constituting a total- though a total of degrees,
primary, secondary, tertiary. Thence we come to the [kosmic] Soul, always
the one undiscriminated entity. At this point in our survey we have before
us the over-world and all that follows upon it. That suite [the lower and
material world] we take to be the very last effect that has penetrated
to its furthest reach.
Our knowledge of the first is gained from the ultimate of all,
from the very shadow cast by the fire, because this ultimate [the material
world] itself receives its share of the general light, something of the
nature of the Forming-Idea hovering over the outcast that at first lay
in blank obscurity. It is brought under the scheme of reason by the efficacy
of soul whose entire extension latently holds this rationalizing power.
As we know, the Reason-Principles carried in animal seed fashion and shape
living beings into so many universes in the small. For whatsoever touches
soul is moulded to the nature of soul's own Real-Being.
We are not to think that the Soul acts upon the object by conformity
to any external judgement; there is no pause for willing or planning: any
such procedure would not be an act of sheer nature, but one of applied
art: but art is of later origin than soul; it is an imitator, producing
dim and feeble copies- toys, things of no great worth- and it is dependent
upon all sorts of mechanism by which alone its images can be produced.
The soul, on the contrary, is sovereign over material things by might of
Real-Being; their quality is determined by its lead, and those elementary
things cannot stand against its will. On the later level, things are hindered
one by the other, and thus often fall short of the characteristic shape
at which their unextended Reason-Principle must be aiming; in that other
world [under the soul but above the material] the entire shape [as well
as the idea] comes from soul, and all that is produced takes and keeps
its appointed place in a unity, so that the engendered thing, without labour
as without clash, becomes all that it should be. In that world the soul
has elaborated its creation, the images of the gods, dwellings for men,
each existing to some peculiar purpose.
Soul could produce none but the things which truly represent its
powers: fire produces warmth; another source produces cold; soul has a
double efficacy, its act within itself, and its act from within outwards
towards the new production.
In soulless entities, the outgo [natural to everything] remains
dormant, and any efficiency they have is to bring to their own likeness
whatever is amenable to their act. All existence has this tendency to bring
other things to likeness; but the soul has the distinction of possessing
at once an action of conscious attention within itself, and an action towards
the outer. It has thus the function of giving life to all that does not
live by prior right, and the life it gives is commensurate with its own;
that is to say, living in reason, it communicates reason to the body- an
image of the reason within itself, just as the life given to the body is
an image of Real-Being- and it bestows, also, upon that material the appropriate
shapes of which it contains the Reason-Forms.
The content of the creative soul includes the Ideal shapes of gods
and of all else: and hence it is that the kosmos contains
11. I think, therefore, that those ancient sages, who sought
to secure the presence of divine beings by the erection of shrines and
statues, showed insight into the nature of the All; they perceived that,
though this Soul is everywhere tractable, its presence will be secured
all the more readily when an appropriate receptacle is elaborated, a place
especially capable of receiving some portion or phase of it, something
reproducing it, or representing it, and serving like a mirror to catch
an image of it.
It belongs to the nature of the All to make its entire content
reproduce, most felicitously, the Reason-Principles in which it participates;
every particular thing is the image within matter of a Reason-Principle
which itself images a pre-material Reason-Principle: thus every particular
entity is linked to that Divine Being in whose likeness it is made, the
divine principle which the soul contemplated and contained in the act of
each creation. Such mediation and representation there must have been since
it was equally impossible for the created to be without share in the Supreme,
and for the Supreme to descend into the created.
The Intellectual-Principle in the Supreme has ever been the sun
of that sphere- let us accept that as the type of the creative Logos- and
immediately upon it follows the Soul depending from it, stationary Soul
from stationary Intelligence. But the Soul borders also upon the sun of
this sphere, and it becomes the medium by which all is linked to the overworld;
it plays the part of an interpreter between what emanates from that sphere
down to this lower universe, and what rises- as far as, through soul, anything
can- from the lower to the highest.
Nothing, in fact, is far away from anything; things are not remote:
there is, no doubt, the aloofness of difference and of mingled natures
as against the unmingled; but selfhood has nothing to do with spatial position,
and in unity itself there may still be distinction.
These Beings [the Reason-Principles of this sphere] are divine
in virtue of cleaving to the Supreme, because, by the medium of the Soul
thought of as descending they remain linked with the Primal Soul, and through
it are veritably what they are called and possess the vision of the Intellectual
Principle, the single object of contemplation to that soul in which they
have their being.
12. The souls of men, seeing their images in the mirror
of Dionysus as it were, have entered into that realm in a leap downward
from the Supreme: yet even they are not cut off from their origin, from
the divine Intellect; it is not that they have come bringing the Intellectual
Principle down in their fall; it is that though they have descended even
to earth, yet their higher part holds for ever above the
Their initial descent is deepened since that mid-part of theirs
is compelled to labour in care of the care-needing thing into which they
have entered. But Zeus, the father, takes pity on their toils and makes
the bonds in which they labour soluble by death and gives respite in due
time, freeing them from the body, that they too may come to dwell there
where the Universal Soul, unconcerned with earthly needs, has ever
For the container of the total of things must be a self-sufficing
entity and remain so: in its periods it is wrought out to purpose under
its Reason-Principles which are perdurably valid; by these periods it reverts
unfailingly, in the measured stages of defined life-duration, to its established
character; it is leading the things of this realm to be of one voice and
plan with the Supreme. And thus the kosmic content is carried forward to
its purpose, everything in its co-ordinate place, under one only Reason-Principle
operating alike in the descent and return of souls and to every purpose
of the system.
We may know this also by the concordance of the Souls with the
ordered scheme of the kosmos; they are not independent, but, by their descent,
they have put themselves in contact, and they stand henceforth in harmonious
association with kosmic circuit- to the extent that their fortunes, their
life experiences, their choosing and refusing, are announced by the patterns
of the stars- and out of this concordance rises as it were one musical
utterance: the music, the harmony, by which all is described is the best
witness to this truth.
Such a consonance can have been procured in one only
The All must, in every detail of act and experience, be an expression
of the Supreme, which must dominate alike its periods and its stable ordering
and the life-careers varying with the movement of the souls as they are
sometimes absorbed in that highest, sometimes in the heavens, sometimes
turned to the things and places of our earth. All that is Divine Intellect
will rest eternally above, and could never fall from its sphere but, poised
entire in its own high place, will communicate to things here through the
channel of Soul. Soul in virtue of neighbourhood is more closely modelled
upon the Idea uttered by the Divine Intellect, and thus is able to produce
order in the movement of the lower realm, one phase [the World-Soul] maintaining
the unvarying march [of the kosmic circuit] the other [the soul of the
Individual] adopting itself to times and season.
The depth of the descent, also, will differ- sometimes lower, sometimes
less low- and this even in its entry into any given Kind: all that is fixed
is that each several soul descends to a recipient indicated by affinity
of condition; it moves towards the thing which it There resembled, and
enters, accordingly, into the body of man or animal.
13. The Ineluctable, the Kosmic Law is, thus, rooted in
a natural principle under which each several entity is overruled to go,
duly and in order, towards that place and Kind to which it characteristically
tends, that is towards the image of its primal choice and
In that archetypal world every form of soul is near to the image
[the thing in the world of copy] to which its individual constitution inclines
it; there is therefore no need of a sender or leader acting at the right
moment to bring it at the right moment whether into body or into a definitely
appropriate body: of its own motion it descends at the precisely true time
and enters where it must. To every Soul its own hour; when that strikes
it descends and enters the body suitable to it as at the cry of a herald;
thus all is set stirring and advancing as by a magician's power or by some
mighty traction; it is much as, in any living thing, the soul itself effects
the fulfillment of the natural career, stirring and bringing forth, in
due season, every element- beard, horn, and all the successive stages of
tendency and of output- or, as it leads a tree through its normal course
within set periods.
The Souls go forth neither under compulsion nor of freewill; or,
at least, freedom, here, is not to be regarded as action upon preference;
it is more like such a leap of the nature as moves men to the instinctive
desire of sexual union, or, in the case of some, to fine conduct; the motive
lies elsewhere than in the reason: like is destined unfailingly to like,
and each moves hither or thither at its fixed moment.
Even the Intellectual-Principle, which is before all the kosmos,
has, it also, its destiny, that of abiding intact above, and of giving
downwards: what it sends down is the particular whose existence is implied
in the law of the universal; for the universal broods closely over the
particular; it is not from without that the law derives the power by which
it is executed; on the contrary the law is given in the entities upon whom
it falls; these bear it about with them. Let but the moment arrive, and
what it decrees will be brought to act by those beings in whom it resides;
they fulfil it because they contain it; it prevails because it is within
them; it becomes like a heavy burden, and sets up in them a painful longing
to enter the realm to which they are bidden from within.
14. Thus it comes about that this kosmos, lit with many
lights, gleaming in its souls, receives still further graces, gifts from
here and from there, from the gods of the Supreme, and from those other
Intellectual-Principles whose nature it is to ensoul. This is probably
the secret of the myth in which, after Prometheus had moulded woman, the
other gods heaped gifts upon her, Hephaistos "blending the clay with moisture
and bestowing the human voice and the form of a goddess"; Aphrodite bringing
her gifts, and the Graces theirs, and other gods other gifts, and finally
calling her by the name [Pandora] which tells of gift and of all giving-
for all have added something to this formation brought to being by a Promethean,
a fore-thinking power. As for the rejection of Prometheus' gift by after-thought,
Epimetheus, what can this signify but that the wiser choice is to remain
in the Intellectual realm? Pandora's creator is fettered, to signify that
he is in some sense held by his own creation; such a fettering is external
and the release by Hercules tells that there is power in Prometheus, so
that he need not remain in bonds.
Take the myth as we may, it is certainly such an account of the
bestowal of gifts upon the kosmos as harmonizes with our explanation of
the universal system.
15. The souls peering forth from the Intellectual Realm
descend first to the heavens and there put on a body; this becomes at once
the medium by which as they reach out more and more towards magnitude [physical
extension] they proceed to bodies progressively more earthy. Some even
plunge from heaven to the very lowest of corporeal forms; others pass,
stage by stage, too feeble to lift towards the higher the burden they carry,
weighed downwards by their heaviness and forgetfulness.
As for the differences among them, these are due to variation in
the bodies entered, or to the accidents of life, or to upbringing, or to
inherent peculiarities of temperament, or to all these influences together,
or to specific combinations of them.
Then again some have fallen unreservedly into the power of the
destiny ruling here: some yielding betimes are betimes too their own: there
are those who, while they accept what must be borne, have the strength
of self-mastery in all that is left to their own act; they have given themselves
to another dispensation: they live by the code of the aggregate of beings,
the code which is woven out of the Reason-Principles and all the other
causes ruling in the kosmos, out of soul-movements and out of laws springing
in the Supreme; a code, therefore, consonant with those higher existences,
founded upon them, linking their sequents back to them, keeping unshakeably
true all that is capable of holding itself set towards the divine nature,
and leading round by all appropriate means whatsoever is less natively
In fine all diversity of condition in the lower spheres is determined
by the descendent beings themselves.
16. The punishment justly overtaking the wicked must therefore
be ascribed to the kosmic order which leads all in accordance with the
But what of chastisements, poverty, illness, falling upon the good
outside of all justice? These events, we will be told, are equally interwoven
into the world order and fall under prediction, and must consequently have
a cause in the general reason: are they therefore to be charged to past
No: such misfortunes do not answer to reasons established in the
nature of things; they are not laid up in the master-facts of the universe,
but were merely accidental sequents: a house falls, and anyone that chances
to be underneath is killed, no matter what sort of man he be: two objects
are moving in perfect order- or one if you like- but anything getting in
the way is wounded or trampled down. Or we may reason that the undeserved
stroke can be no evil to the sufferer in view of the beneficent interweaving
of the All or again, no doubt, that nothing is unjust that finds justification
in a past history.
We may not think of some things being fitted into a system with
others abandoned to the capricious; if things must happen by cause, by
natural sequences, under one Reason-Principle and a single set scheme,
we must admit that the minor equally with the major is fitted into that
order and pattern.
Wrong-doing from man to man is wrong in the doer and must be imputed,
but, as belonging to the established order of the universe is not a wrong
even as regards the innocent sufferer; it is a thing that had to be, and,
if the sufferer is good, the issue is to his gain. For we cannot think
that this ordered combination proceeds without God and justice; we must
take it to be precise in the distribution of due, while, yet, the reasons
of things elude us, and to our ignorance the scheme presents matter of
17. Various considerations explain why the Souls going forth
from the Intellectual proceed first to the heavenly regions. The heavens,
as the noblest portion of sensible space, would border with the least exalted
of the Intellectual, and will, therefore, be first ensouled first to participate
as most apt; while what is of earth is at the very extremity of progression,
least endowed towards participation, remotest from the
All the souls, then, shine down upon the heavens and spend there
the main of themselves and the best; only their lower phases illuminate
the lower realms; and those souls which descend deepest show their light
furthest down- not themselves the better for the depth to which they have
There is, we may put it, something that is centre; about it, a
circle of light shed from it; round centre and first circle alike, another
circle, light from light; outside that again, not another circle of light
but one which, lacking light of its own, must borrow.
The last we may figure to ourselves as a revolving circle, or rather
a sphere, of a nature to receive light from that third realm, its next
higher, in proportion to the light which that itself receives. Thus all
begins with the great light, shining self-centred; in accordance with the
reigning plan [that of emanation] this gives forth its brilliance; the
later [divine] existents [souls] add their radiation- some of them remaining
above, while there are some that are drawn further downward, attracted
by the splendour of the object they illuminate. These last find that their
charges need more and more care: the steersman of a storm-tossed ship is
so intent on saving it that he forgets his own interest and never thinks
that he is recurrently in peril of being dragged down with the vessel;
similarly the souls are intent upon contriving for their charges and finally
come to be pulled down by them; they are fettered in bonds of sorcery,
gripped and held by their concern for the realm of Nature.
If every living being were of the character of the All-perfect,
self-sufficing, in peril from no outside influence the soul now spoken
of as indwelling would not occupy the body; it would infuse life while
clinging, entire, within the Supreme.
18. There remains still something to be said on the question
whether the soul uses deliberate reason before its descent and again when
it has left the body.
Reasoning is for this sphere; it is the act of the soul fallen
into perplexity, distracted with cares, diminished in strength: the need
of deliberation goes with the less self-sufficing intelligence; craftsmen
faced by a difficulty stop to consider; where there is no problem their
art works on by its own forthright power.
But if souls in the Supreme operate without reasoning, how can
they be called reasoning souls?
One answer might be that they have the power of deliberating to
happy issue, should occasion arise: but all is met by repudiating the particular
kind of reasoning intended [the earthly and discursive type]; we may represent
to ourselves a reasoning that flows uninterruptedly from the Intellectual-Principle
in them, an inherent state, an enduring activity, an assertion that is
real; in this way they would be users of reason even when in that overworld.
We certainly cannot think of them, it seems to me, as employing words when,
though they may occupy bodies in the heavenly region, they are essentially
in the Intellectual: and very surely the deliberation of doubt and difficulty
which they practise here must be unknown to them There; all their act must
fall into place by sheer force of their nature; there can be no question
of commanding or of taking counsel; they will know, each, what is to be
communicated from another, by present consciousness. Even in our own case
here, eyes often know what is not spoken; and There all is pure, every
being is, as it were, an eye, nothing is concealed or sophisticated, there
is no need of speech, everything is seen and known. As for the Celestials
[the Daimones] and souls in the air, they may well use speech; for all
such are simply Animate [= Beings].
19. Are we to think of the indivisible phase of the soul
and the divided as making one thing in a coalescence; or is the indivisible
in a place of its own and under conditions of its own, the divisible being
a sequent upon it, a separate part of it, as distinct as the reasoning
phase is from the unreasoning?
The answer to this question will emerge when we make plain the
nature and function to be attributed to each.
The indivisible phase is mentioned [in the passage of Plato] without
further qualification; but not so the divisible; "that soul" we read "which
becomes divisible in bodies"- and even this last is presented as becoming
partible, not as being so once for all.
"In bodies": we must then, satisfy ourselves as to what form of
soul is required to produce life in the corporeal, and what there must
be of soul present throughout such a body, such a completed
Now, every sensitive power- by the fact of being sensitive throughout-
tends to become a thing of parts: present at every distinct point of sensitiveness,
it may be thought of as divided. In the sense, however, that it is present
as a whole at every such point, it cannot be said to be wholly divided;
it "becomes divisible in body." We may be told that no such partition is
implied in any sensations but those of touch; but this is not so; where
the participant is body [of itself insensitive and non-transmitting] that
divisibility in the sensitive agent will be a condition of all other sensations,
though in less degree than in the case of touch. Similarly the vegetative
function in the soul, with that of growth, indicates divisibility; and,
admitting such locations as that of desire at the liver and emotional activity
at the heart, we have the same result. It is to be noted, however, as regards
these [the less corporeal] sensations, that the body may possibly not experience
them as a fact of the conjoint thing but in another mode, as rising within
some one of the elements of which it has been participant [as inherent,
purely, in some phase of the associated soul]: reasoning and the act of
the intellect, for instance, are not vested in the body; their task is
not accomplished by means of the body which in fact is detrimental to any
thinking on which it is allowed to intrude.
Thus the indivisible phase of the soul stands distinct from the
divisible; they do not form a unity, but, on the contrary, a whole consisting
of parts, each part a self-standing thing having its own peculiar virtue.
None the less, if that phase which becomes divisible in body holds indivisibility
by communication from the superior power, then this one same thing [the
soul in body] may be at once indivisible and divisible; it will be, as
it were, a blend, a thing made up of its own divisible self with, in addition,
the quality that it derives from above itself.
20. Here a question rises to which we must find an answer:
whether these and the other powers which we call "parts" of the Soul are
situated, all, in place; or whether some have place and standpoint, others
not; or whether again none are situated in place.
The matter is difficult: if we do not allot to each of the parts
of the Soul some form of Place, but leave all unallocated- no more within
the body than outside it- we leave the body soulless, and are at a loss
to explain plausibly the origin of acts performed by means of the bodily
organs: if, on the other hand, we suppose some of those phases to be [capable
of situation] in place but others not so, we will be supposing that those
parts to which we deny place are ineffective in us, or, in other words,
that we do not possess our entire soul.
This simply shows that neither the soul entire nor any part of
it may be considered to be within the body as in a space: space is a container,
a container of body; it is the home of such things as consist of isolated
parts, things, therefore, in which at no point is there an entirety; now,
the soul is not a body and is no more contained than
Neither is it in body as in some vessel: whether as vessel or as
place of location, the body would remain, in itself, unensouled. If we
are to think of some passing-over from the soul- that self-gathered thing-
to the containing vessel, then soul is diminished by just as much as the
Space, again, in the strict sense is unembodied, and is not, itself,
body; why, then, should it need soul?
Besides [if the soul were contained as in space] contact would
be only at the surface of the body, not throughout the entire
Many other considerations equally refute the notion that the soul
is in body as [an object] in space; for example, this space would be shifted
with every movement, and a thing itself would carry its own space
Of course if by space we understand the interval separating objects,
it is still less possible that the soul be in body as in space: such a
separating interval must be a void; but body is not a void; the void must
be that in which body is placed; body [not soul] will be in the
Nor can it be in the body as in some substratum: anything in a
substratum is a condition affecting that- a colour, a form- but the soul
is a separate existence.
Nor is it present as a part in the whole; soul is no part of body.
If we are asked to think of soul as a part in the living total we are faced
with the old difficulty: How it is in that whole. It is certainly not there
as the wine is in the wine jar, or as the jar in the jar, or as some absolute
Nor can the presence be that of a whole in its part: It would be
absurd to think of the soul as a total of which the body should represent
It is not present as Form is in Matter; for the Form as in Matter
is inseparable and, further, is something superimposed upon an already
existent thing; soul, on the contrary, is that which engenders the Form
residing within the Matter and therefore is not the Form. If the reference
is not to the Form actually present, but to Form as a thing existing apart
from all formed objects, it is hard to see how such an entity has found
its way into body, and at any rate this makes the soul
How comes it then that everyone speaks of soul as being in
Because the soul is not seen and the body is: we perceive the body,
and by its movement and sensation we understand that it is ensouled, and
we say that it possesses a soul; to speak of residence is a natural sequence.
If the soul were visible, an object of the senses, radiating throughout
the entire life, if it were manifest in full force to the very outermost
surface, we would no longer speak of soul as in body; we would say the
minor was within the major, the contained within the container, the fleeting
within the perdurable.
21. What does all this come to? What answer do we give to
him who, with no opinion of his own to assert, asks us to explain this
presence? And what do we say to the question whether there is one only
mode of presence of the entire soul or different modes, phase and
Of the modes currently accepted for the presence of one thing in
another, none really meets the case of the soul's relation to the body.
Thus we are given as a parallel the steersman in the ship; this serves
adequately to indicate that the soul is potentially separable, but the
mode of presence, which is what we are seeking, it does not
We can imagine it within the body in some incidental way- for example,
as a voyager in a ship- but scarcely as the steersman: and, of course,
too, the steersman is not omnipresent to the ship as the soul is to the
May we, perhaps, compare it to the science or skill that acts through
its appropriate instruments- through a helm, let us say, which should happen
to be a live thing- so that the soul effecting the movements dictated by
seamanship is an indwelling directive force?
No: the comparison breaks down, since the science is something
outside of helm and ship.
Is it any help to adopt the illustration of the steersman taking
the helm, and to station the soul within the body as the steersman may
be thought to be within the material instrument through which he works?
Soul, whenever and wherever it chooses to operate, does in much that way
move the body.
No; even in this parallel we have no explanation of the mode of
presence within the instrument; we cannot be satisfied without further
search, a closer approach.
22. May we think that the mode of the soul's presence to
body is that of the presence of light to the air?
This certainly is presence with distinction: the light penetrates
through and through, but nowhere coalesces; the light is the stable thing,
the air flows in and out; when the air passes beyond the lit area it is
dark; under the light it is lit: we have a true parallel to what we have
been saying of body and soul, for the air is in the light quite as much
as the light in the air.
Plato therefore is wise when, in treating of the All, he puts the
body in its soul, and not its soul in the body, and says that, while there
is a region of that soul which contains body, there is another region to
which body does not enter- certain powers, that is, with which body has
no concern. And what is true of the All-Soul is true of the
There are, therefore, certain soul-powers whose presence to body
must be denied.
The phases present are those which the nature of body demands:
they are present without being resident- either in any parts of the body
or in the body as a whole.
For the purposes of sensation the sensitive phase of the soul is
present to the entire sensitive being: for the purposes of act, differentiation
begins; every soul phase operates at a point peculiar to
23. I explain: A living body is illuminated by soul: each
organ and member participates in soul after some manner peculiar to itself;
the organ is adapted to a certain function, and this fitness is the vehicle
of the soul-faculty under which the function is performed; thus the seeing
faculty acts through the eyes, the hearing faculty through the ears, the
tasting faculty through the tongue, the faculty of smelling through the
nostrils, and the faculty of sentient touch is present throughout, since
in this particular form of perception the entire body is an instrument
in the soul's service.
The vehicles of touch are mainly centred in the nerves- which moreover
are vehicles of the faculty by which the movements of the living being
are affected- in them the soul-faculty concerned makes itself present;
the nerves start from the brain. The brain therefore has been considered
as the centre and seat of the principle which determines feeling and impulse
and the entire act of the organism as a living thing; where the instruments
are found to be linked, there the operating faculty is assumed to be situated.
But it would be wiser to say only that there is situated the first activity
of the operating faculty: the power to be exercised by the operator- in
keeping with the particular instrument- must be considered as concentrated
at the point at which the instrument is to be first applied; or, since
the soul's faculty is of universal scope the sounder statement is that
the point of origin of the instrument is the point of origin of the
Now, the faculty presiding over sensation and impulse is vested
in the sensitive and representative soul; it draws upon the Reason-Principle
immediately above itself; downward, it is in contact with an inferior of
its own: on this analogy the uppermost member of the living being was taken
by the ancients to be obviously its seat; they lodged it in the brain,
or not exactly in the brain but in that sensitive part which is the medium
through which the Reason-Principle impinges upon the brain. They saw that
something must be definitely allocated to body- at the point most receptive
of the act of reason- while s