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The Six Enneads

By Plotinus
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The Six Enneads

By Plotinus

Written 250 A.C.E.

Translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page

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The Fifth Ennead
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First Tractate


1. What can it be that has brought the souls to forget the father, God, and, though members of the Divine and entirely of that world, to ignore at once themselves and It?

The evil that has overtaken them has its source in self-will, in the entry into the sphere of process, and in the primal differentiation with the desire for self ownership. They conceived a pleasure in this freedom and largely indulged their own motion; thus they were hurried down the wrong path, and in the end, drifting further and further, they came to lose even the thought of their origin in the Divine. A child wrenched young from home and brought up during many years at a distance will fail in knowledge of its father and of itself: the souls, in the same way, no longer discern either the divinity or their own nature; ignorance of their rank brings self-depreciation; they misplace their respect, honouring everything more than themselves; all their awe and admiration is for the alien, and, clinging to this, they have broken apart, as far as a soul may, and they make light of what they have deserted; their regard for the mundane and their disregard of themselves bring about their utter ignoring of the divine.

Admiring pursuit of the external is a confession of inferiority; and nothing thus holding itself inferior to things that rise and perish, nothing counting itself less honourable and less enduring than all else it admires could ever form any notion of either the nature or the power of God.

A double discipline must be applied if human beings in this pass are to be reclaimed, and brought back to their origins, lifted once more towards the Supreme and One and First.

There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere, declaring the dishonour of the objects which the Soul holds here in honour; the second teaches or recalls to the soul its race and worth; this latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out, is the evidence of the other.

It must occupy us now for it bears closely upon our enquiry to which it is the natural preliminary: the seeker is soul and it must start from a true notion of the nature and quality by which soul may undertake the search; it must study itself in order to learn whether it has the faculty for the enquiry, the eye for the object proposed, whether in fact we ought to seek; for if the object is alien the search must be futile, while if there is relationship the solution of our problem is at once desirable and possible.

2. Let every soul recall, then, at the outset the truth that soul is the author of all living things, that it has breathed the life into them all, whatever is nourished by earth and sea, all the creatures of the air, the divine stars in the sky; it is the maker of the sun; itself formed and ordered this vast heaven and conducts all that rhythmic motion; and it is a principle distinct from all these to which it gives law and movement and life, and it must of necessity be more honourable than they, for they gather or dissolve as soul brings them life or abandons them, but soul, since it never can abandon itself, is of eternal being.

How life was purveyed to the universe of things and to the separate beings in it may be thus conceived:

That great soul must stand pictured before another soul, one not mean, a soul that has become worthy to look, emancipate from the lure, from all that binds its fellows in bewitchment, holding itself in quietude. Let not merely the enveloping body be at peace, body's turmoil stilled, but all that lies around, earth at peace, and sea at peace, and air and the very heavens. Into that heaven, all at rest, let the great soul be conceived to roll inward at every point, penetrating, permeating, from all sides pouring in its light. As the rays of the sun throwing their brilliance upon a lowering cloud make it gleam all gold, so the soul entering the material expanse of the heavens has given life, has given immortality: what was abject it has lifted up; and the heavenly system, moved now in endless motion by the soul that leads it in wisdom, has become a living and a blessed thing; the soul domiciled within, it takes worth where, before the soul, it was stark body- clay and water- or, rather, the blankness of Matter, the absence of Being, and, as an author says, "the execration of the Gods."

The Soul's nature and power will be brought out more clearly, more brilliantly, if we consider next how it envelops the heavenly system and guides all to its purposes: for it has bestowed itself upon all that huge expanse so that every interval, small and great alike, all has been ensouled.

The material body is made up of parts, each holding its own place, some in mutual opposition and others variously interdependent; the soul is in no such condition; it is not whittled down so that life tells of a part of the soul and springs where some such separate portion impinges; each separate life lives by the soul entire, omnipresent in the likeness of the engendering father, entire in unity and entire in diffused variety. By the power of the soul the manifold and diverse heavenly system is a unit: through soul this universe is a God: and the sun is a God because it is ensouled; so too the stars: and whatsoever we ourselves may be, it is all in virtue of soul; for "dead is viler than dung."

This, by which the gods are divine, must be the oldest God of them all: and our own soul is of that same Ideal nature, so that to consider it, purified, freed from all accruement, is to recognise in ourselves that same value which we have found soul to be, honourable above all that is bodily. For what is body but earth, and, taking fire itself, what [but soul] is its burning power? So it is with all the compounds of earth and fire, even with water and air added to them?

If, then, it is the presence of soul that brings worth, how can a man slight himself and run after other things? You honour the Soul elsewhere; honour then yourself.

3. The Soul once seen to be thus precious, thus divine, you may hold the faith that by its possession you are already nearing God: in the strength of this power make upwards towards Him: at no great distance you must attain: there is not much between.

But over this divine, there is still a diviner: grasp the upward neighbour of the soul, its prior and source.

Soul, for all the worth we have shown to belong to it, is yet a secondary, an image of the Intellectual-Principle: reason uttered is an image of the reason stored within the soul, and in the same way soul is an utterance of the Intellectual-Principle: it is even the total of its activity, the entire stream of life sent forth by that Principle to the production of further being; it is the forthgoing heat of a fire which has also heat essentially inherent. But within the Supreme we must see energy not as an overflow but in the double aspect of integral inherence with the establishment of a new being. Sprung, in other words, from the Intellectual-Principle, Soul is intellective, but with an intellection operation by the method of reasonings: for its perfecting it must look to that Divine Mind, which may be thought of as a father watching over the development of his child born imperfect in comparison with himself.

Thus its substantial existence comes from the Intellectual-Principle; and the Reason within it becomes Act in virtue of its contemplation of that prior; for its thought and act are its own intimate possession when it looks to the Supreme Intelligence; those only are soul-acts which are of this intellective nature and are determined by its own character; all that is less noble is foreign [traceable to Matter] and is accidental to the soul in the course of its peculiar task.

In two ways, then, the Intellectual-Principle enhances the divine quality of the soul, as father and as immanent presence; nothing separates them but the fact that they are not one and the same, that there is succession, that over against a recipient there stands the ideal-form received; but this recipient, Matter to the Supreme Intelligence, is also noble as being at once informed by divine intellect and uncompounded.

What the Intellectual-Principle must be is carried in the single word that Soul, itself so great, is still inferior.

4. But there is yet another way to this knowledge:
Admiring the world of sense as we look out upon its vastness and beauty and the order of its eternal march, thinking of the gods within it, seen and hidden, and the celestial spirits and all the life of animal and plant, let us mount to its archetype, to the yet more authentic sphere: there we are to contemplate all things as members of the Intellectual- eternal in their own right, vested with a self-springing consciousness and life- and, presiding over all these, the unsoiled Intelligence and the unapproachable wisdom.

That archetypal world is the true Golden Age, age of Kronos, who is the Intellectual-Principle as being the offspring or exuberance of God. For here is contained all that is immortal: nothing here but is Divine Mind; all is God; this is the place of every soul. Here is rest unbroken: for how can that seek change, in which all is well; what need that reach to, which holds all within itself; what increase can that desire, which stands utterly achieved? All its content, thus, is perfect, that itself may be perfect throughout, as holding nothing that is less than the divine, nothing that is less than intellective. Its knowing is not by search but by possession, its blessedness inherent, not acquired; for all belongs to it eternally and it holds the authentic Eternity imitated by Time which, circling round the Soul, makes towards the new thing and passes by the old. Soul deals with thing after thing- now Socrates; now a horse: always some one entity from among beings- but the Intellectual-Principle is all and therefore its entire content is simultaneously present in that identity: this is pure being in eternal actuality; nowhere is there any future, for every then is a now; nor is there any past, for nothing there has ever ceased to be; everything has taken its stand for ever, an identity well pleased, we might say, to be as it is; and everything, in that entire content, is Intellectual-Principle and Authentic Existence; and the total of all is Intellectual-Principle entire and Being entire. Intellectual-Principle by its intellective act establishes Being, which in turn, as the object of intellection, becomes the cause of intellection and of existence to the Intellectual-Principle- though, of course, there is another cause of intellection which is also a cause to Being, both rising in a source distinct from either.

Now while these two are coalescents, having their existence in common, and are never apart, still the unity they form is two-sided; there is Intellectual-Principle as against Being, the intellectual agent as against the object of intellection; we consider the intellective act and we have the Intellectual-Principle; we think of the object of that act and we have Being.

Such difference there must be if there is to be any intellection; but similarly there must also be identity [since, in perfect knowing, subject and object are identical.]

Thus the Primals [the first "Categories"] are seen to be: Intellectual-Principle; Existence; Difference; Identity: we must include also Motion and Rest: Motion provides for the intellectual act, Rest preserves identity as Difference gives at once a Knower and a Known, for, failing this, all is one, and silent.

So too the objects of intellection [the ideal content of the Divine Mind]- identical in virtue of the self-concentration of the principle which is their common ground- must still be distinct each from another; this distinction constitutes Difference.

The Intellectual Kosmos thus a manifold, Number and Quantity arise: Quality is the specific character of each of these ideas which stand as the principles from which all else derives.

5. As a manifold, then, this God, the Intellectual-Principle, exists within the Soul here, the Soul which once for all stands linked a member of the divine, unless by a deliberate apostasy.

Bringing itself close to the divine Intellect, becoming, as it were, one with this, it seeks still further: What Being, now, has engendered this God, what is the Simplex preceding this multiple; what the cause at once of its existence and of its existing as a manifold; what the source of this Number, this Quantity?

Number, Quantity, is not primal: obviously before even duality, there must stand the unity.

The Dyad is a secondary; deriving from unity, it finds in unity the determinant needed by its native indetermination: once there is any determination, there is Number, in the sense, of course, of the real [the archetypal] Number. And the soul is such a number or quantity. For the Primals are not masses or magnitudes; all of that gross order is later, real only to the sense-thought; even in seed the effective reality is not the moist substance but the unseen- that is to say Number [as the determinant of individual being] and the Reason-Principle [of the product to be].

Thus by what we call the Number and the Dyad of that higher realm, we mean Reason Principles and the Intellectual-Principle: but while the Dyad is, as regards that sphere, undetermined- representing, as it were, the underly [or Matter] of The One- the later Number [or Quantity]- that which rises from the Dyad [Intellectual-Principle] and The One- is not Matter to the later existents but is their forming-Idea, for all of them take shape, so to speak, from the ideas rising within this. The determination of the Dyad is brought about partly from its object- The One- and partly from itself, as is the case with all vision in the act of sight: intellection [the Act of the Dyad] is vision occupied upon The One.

6. But how and what does the Intellectual-Principle see and, especially, how has it sprung from that which is to become the object of its vision?

The mind demands the existence of these Beings, but it is still in trouble over the problem endlessly debated by the most ancient philosophers: from such a unity as we have declared The One to be, how does anything at all come into substantial existence, any multiplicity, dyad, or number? Why has the Primal not remained self-gathered so that there be none of this profusion of the manifold which we observe in existence and yet are compelled to trace to that absolute unity?

In venturing an answer, we first invoke God Himself, not in loud word but in that way of prayer which is always within our power, leaning in soul towards Him by aspiration, alone towards the alone. But if we seek the vision of that great Being within the Inner Sanctuary- self-gathered, tranquilly remote above all else- we begin by considering the images stationed at the outer precincts, or, more exactly to the moment, the first image that appears. How the Divine Mind comes into being must be explained:

Everything moving has necessarily an object towards which it advances; but since the Supreme can have no such object, we may not ascribe motion to it: anything that comes into being after it can be produced only as a consequence of its unfailing self-intention; and, of course, we dare not talk of generation in time, dealing as we are with eternal Beings: where we speak of origin in such reference, it is in the sense, merely, of cause and subordination: origin from the Supreme must not be taken to imply any movement in it: that would make the Being resulting from the movement not a second principle but a third: the Movement would be the second hypostasis.

Given this immobility in the Supreme, it can neither have yielded assent nor uttered decree nor stirred in any way towards the existence of a secondary.

What happened then? What are we to conceive as rising in the neighbourhood of that immobility?

It must be a circumradiation- produced from the Supreme but from the Supreme unaltering- and may be compared to the brilliant light encircling the sun and ceaselessly generated from that unchanging substance.

All existences, as long as they retain their character, produce- about themselves, from their essence, in virtue of the power which must be in them- some necessary, outward-facing hypostasis continuously attached to them and representing in image the engendering archetypes: thus fire gives out its heat; snow is cold not merely to itself; fragrant substances are a notable instance; for, as long as they last, something is diffused from them and perceived wherever they are present.

Again, all that is fully achieved engenders: therefore the eternally achieved engenders eternally an eternal being. At the same time, the offspring is always minor: what then are we to think of the All-Perfect but that it can produce nothing less than the very greatest that is later than itself. The greatest, later than the divine unity, must be the Divine Mind, and it must be the second of all existence, for it is that which sees The One on which alone it leans while the First has no need whatever of it. The offspring of the prior to Divine Mind can be no other than that Mind itself and thus is the loftiest being in the universe, all else following upon it- the soul, for example, being an utterance and act of the Intellectual-Principle as that is an utterance and act of The One. But in soul the utterance is obscured, for soul is an image and must look to its own original: that Principle, on the contrary, looks to the First without mediation- thus becoming what it is- and has that vision not as from a distance but as the immediate next with nothing intervening, close to the One as Soul to it.

The offspring must seek and love the begetter; and especially so when begetter and begotten are alone in their sphere; when, in addition, the begetter is the highest good, the offspring [inevitably seeking its Good] is attached by a bond of sheer necessity, separated only in being distinct.

7. We must be more explicit:
The Intellectual-Principle stands as the image of The One, firstly because there is a certain necessity that the first should have its offspring, carrying onward much of its quality, in other words that there be something in its likeness as the sun's rays tell of the sun. Yet The One is not an Intellectual-Principle; how then does it engender an Intellectual-Principle?

Simply by the fact that in its self-quest it has vision: this very seeing is the Intellectual-Principle. Any perception of the external indicates either sensation or intellection, sensation symbolized by a line, intellection by a circle... [corrupt passage].

Of course the divisibility belonging to the circle does not apply to the Intellectual-Principle; all, there too, is a unity, though a unity which is the potentiality of all existence.

The items of this potentiality the divine intellection brings out, so to speak, from the unity and knows them in detail, as it must if it is to be an intellectual principle.

It has besides a consciousness, as it were, within itself of this same potentiality; it knows that it can of itself beget an hypostasis and can determine its own Being by the virtue emanating from its prior; it knows that its nature is in some sense a definite part of the content of that First; that it thence derives its essence, that its strength lies there and that its Being takes perfection as a derivative and a recipient from the First. It sees that, as a member of the realm of division and part, it receives life and intellection and all else it has and is, from the undivided and partless, since that First is no member of existence, but can be the source of all on condition only of being held down by no one distinctive shape but remaining the undeflected unity.

[(CORRUPT)- Thus it would be the entire universe but that...]
And so the First is not a thing among the things contained by the Intellectual-Principle though the source of all. In virtue of this source, things of the later order are essential beings; for from that fact there is determination; each has its form: what has being cannot be envisaged as outside of limit; the nature must be held fast by boundary and fixity; though to the Intellectual Beings this fixity is no more than determination and form, the foundations of their substantial existence.

A being of this quality, like the Intellectual-Principle, must be felt to be worthy of the all-pure: it could not derive from any other than from the first principle of all; as it comes into existence, all other beings must be simultaneously engendered- all the beauty of the Ideas, all the Gods of the Intellectual realm. And it still remains pregnant with this offspring; for it has, so to speak, drawn all within itself again, holding them lest they fall away towards Matter to be "brought up in the House of Rhea" [in the realm of flux]. This is the meaning hidden in the Mysteries, and in the Myths of the gods: Kronos, as the wisest, exists before Zeus; he must absorb his offspring that, full within himself, he may be also an Intellectual-Principle manifest in some product of his plenty; afterwards, the myth proceeds, Kronos engenders Zeus, who already exists as the [necessary and eternal] outcome of the plenty there; in other words the offspring of the Divine Intellect, perfect within itself, is Soul [the life-principle carrying forward the Ideas in the Divine Mind].

Now, even in the Divine the engendered could not be the very highest; it must be a lesser, an image; it will be undetermined, as the Divine is, but will receive determination, and, so to speak, its shaping idea, from the progenitor.

Yet any offspring of the Intellectual-Principle must be a Reason-Principle; the thought of the Divine Mind must be a substantial existence: such then is that [Soul] which circles about the Divine Mind, its light, its image inseparably attached to it: on the upper level united with it, filled from it, enjoying it, participant in its nature, intellective with it, but on the lower level in contact with the realm beneath itself, or, rather, generating in turn an offspring which must lie beneath; of this lower we will treat later; so far we deal still with the Divine.

8. This is the explanation of Plato's Triplicity, in the passage where he names as the Primals the Beings gathered about the King of All, and establishes a Secondary containing the Secondaries, and a Third containing the Tertiaries.

He teaches, also, that there is an author of the Cause, that is of the Intellectual-Principle, which to him is the Creator who made the Soul, as he tells us, in the famous mixing bowl. This author of the causing principle, of the divine mind, is to him the Good, that which transcends the Intellectual-Principle and transcends Being: often too he uses the term "The Idea" to indicate Being and the Divine Mind. Thus Plato knows the order of generation- from the Good, the Intellectual-Principle; from the Intellectual-Principle, the Soul. These teachings are, therefore, no novelties, no inventions of today, but long since stated, if not stressed; our doctrine here is the explanation of an earlier and can show the antiquity of these opinions on the testimony of Plato himself.

Earlier, Parmenides made some approach to the doctrine in identifying Being with Intellectual-Principle while separating Real Being from the realm of sense.

"Knowing and Being are one thing he says, and this unity is to him motionless in spite of the intellection he attributes to it: to preserve its unchanging identity he excludes all bodily movement from it; and he compares it to a huge sphere in that it holds and envelops all existence and that its intellection is not an outgoing act but internal. Still, with all his affirmation of unity, his own writings lay him open to the reproach that his unity turns out to be a multiplicity.

The Platonic Parmenides is more exact; the distinction is made between the Primal One, a strictly pure Unity, and a secondary One which is a One-Many and a third which is a One-and-many; thus he too is in accordance with our thesis of the Three Kinds.

9. Anaxagoras, again, in his assertion of a Mind pure and unmixed, affirms a simplex First and a sundered One, though writing long ago he failed in precision.

Heraclitus, with his sense of bodily forms as things of ceaseless process and passage, knows the One as eternal and intellectual.

In Empedocles, similarly, we have a dividing principle, "Strife," set against "Friendship"- which is The One and is to him bodiless, while the elements represent Matter.

Later there is Aristotle; he begins by making the First transcendent and intellective but cancels that primacy by supposing it to have self-intellection. Further he affirms a multitude of other intellective beings- as many indeed as there are orbs in the heavens; one such principle as in- over to every orb- and thus his account of the Intellectual Realm differs from Plato's and, failing reason, he brings in necessity; though whatever reasons he had alleged there would always have been the objection that it would be more reasonable that all the spheres, as contributory to one system, should look to a unity, to the First.

We are obliged also to ask whether to Aristotle's mind all Intellectual Beings spring from one, and that one their First; or whether the Principles in the Intellectual are many.

If from one, then clearly the Intellectual system will be analogous to that of the universe of sense-sphere encircling sphere, with one, the outermost, dominating all- the First [in the Intellectual] will envelop the entire scheme and will be an Intellectual [or Archetypal] Kosmos; and as in our universe the spheres are not empty but the first sphere is thick with stars and none without them, so, in the Intellectual Kosmos, those principles of Movement will envelop a multitude of Beings, and that world will be the realm of the greater reality.

If on the contrary each is a principle, then the effective powers become a matter of chance; under what compulsion are they to hold together and act with one mind towards that work of unity, the harmony of the entire heavenly system? Again what can make it necessary that the material bodies of the heavenly system be equal in number to the Intellectual moving principles, and how can these incorporeal Beings be numerically many when there is no Matter to serve as the basis of difference?

For these reasons the ancient philosophers that ranged themselves most closely to the school of Pythagoras and of his later followers and to that of Pherekudes, have insisted upon this Nature, some developing the subject in their writings while others treated of it merely in unwritten discourses, some no doubt ignoring it entirely.

10. We have shown the inevitability of certain convictions as to the scheme of things:

There exists a Principle which transcends Being; this is The One, whose nature we have sought to establish in so far as such matters lend themselves to proof. Upon The One follows immediately the Principle which is at once Being and the Intellectual-Principle. Third comes the Principle, Soul.

Now just as these three exist for the system of Nature, so, we must hold, they exist for ourselves. I am not speaking of the material order- all that is separable- but of what lies beyond the sense realm in the same way as the Primals are beyond all the heavens; I mean the corresponding aspect of man, what Plato calls the Interior Man.

Thus our soul, too, is a divine thing, belonging to another order than sense; such is all that holds the rank of soul, but [above the life-principle] there is the soul perfected as containing Intellectual-Principle with its double phase, reasoning and giving the power to reason. The reasoning phase of the soul, needing no bodily organ for its thinking but maintaining, in purity, its distinctive Act that its thought may be uncontaminated- this we cannot err in placing, separate and not mingled into body, within the first Intellectual. We may not seek any point of space in which to seat it; it must be set outside of all space: its distinct quality, its separateness, its immateriality, demand that it be a thing alone, untouched by all of the bodily order. This is why we read of the universe that the Demiurge cast the soul around it from without- understand that phase of soul which is permanently seated in the Intellectual- and of ourselves that the charioteer's head reaches upwards towards the heights.

The admonition to sever soul from body is not, of course, to be understood spatially- that separation stands made in Nature- the reference is to holding our rank, to use of our thinking, to an attitude of alienation from the body in the effort to lead up and attach to the over-world, equally with the other, that phase of soul seated here and, alone, having to do with body, creating, moulding, spending its care upon it.

11. Since there is a Soul which reasons upon the right and good- for reasoning is an enquiry into the rightness and goodness of this rather than that- there must exist some permanent Right, the source and foundation of this reasoning in our soul; how, else, could any such discussion be held? Further, since the soul's attention to these matters is intermittent, there must be within us an Intellectual-Principle acquainted with that Right not by momentary act but in permanent possession. Similarly there must be also the principle of this principle, its cause, God. This Highest cannot be divided and allotted, must remain intangible but not bound to space, it may be present at many points, wheresoever there is anything capable of accepting one of its manifestations; thus a centre is an independent unity; everything within the circle has its term at the centre; and to the centre the radii bring each their own. Within our nature is such a centre by which we grasp and are linked and held; and those of us are firmly in the Supreme whose collective tendency is There.

12. Possessed of such powers, how does it happen that we do not lay hold of them, but for the most part, let these high activities go idle- some, even, of us never bringing them in any degree to effect?

The answer is that all the Divine Beings are unceasingly about their own act, the Intellectual-Principle and its Prior always self-intent; and so, too, the soul maintains its unfailing movement; for not all that passes in the soul is, by that fact, perceptible; we know just as much as impinges upon the faculty of sense. Any activity not transmitted to the sensitive faculty has not traversed the entire soul: we remain unaware because the human being includes sense-perception; man is not merely a part [the higher part] of the soul but the total.

None the less every being of the order of soul is in continuous activity as long as life holds, continuously executing to itself its characteristic act: knowledge of the act depends upon transmission and perception. If there is to be perception of what is thus present, we must turn the perceptive faculty inward and hold it to attention there. Hoping to hear a desired voice, we let all others pass and are alert for the coming at last of that most welcome of sounds: so here, we must let the hearings of sense go by, save for sheer necessity, and keep the soul's perception bright and quick to the sounds from above.

Second Tractate


1. The One is all things and no one of them; the source of all things is not all things; all things are its possession- running back, so to speak, to it- or, more correctly, not yet so, they will be.

But a universe from an unbroken unity, in which there appears no diversity, not even duality?

It is precisely because that is nothing within the One that all things are from it: in order that Being may be brought about, the source must be no Being but Being's generator, in what is to be thought of as the primal act of generation. Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, the One is perfect and, in our metaphor, has overflowed, and its exuberance has produced the new: this product has turned again to its begetter and been filled and has become its contemplator and so an Intellectual-Principle.

That station towards the one [the fact that something exists in presence of the One] establishes Being; that vision directed upon the One establishes the Intellectual-Principle; standing towards the One to the end of vision, it is simultaneously Intellectual-Principle and Being; and, attaining resemblance in virtue of this vision, it repeats the act of the One in pouring forth a vast power.

This second outflow is a Form or Idea representing the Divine Intellect as the Divine Intellect represented its own prior, The One.

This active power sprung from essence [from the Intellectual-Principle considered as Being] is Soul.

Soul arises as the idea and act of the motionless Intellectual-Principle- which itself sprang from its own motionless prior- but the soul's operation is not similarly motionless; its image is generated from its movement. It takes fulness by looking to its source; but it generates its image by adopting another, a downward, movement.

This image of Soul is Sense and Nature, the vegetal principle.
Nothing, however, is completely severed from its prior. Thus the human Soul appears to reach away as far down as to the vegetal order: in some sense it does, since the life of growing things is within its province; but it is not present entire; when it has reached the vegetal order it is there in the sense that having moved thus far downwards it produces- by its outgoing and its tendency towards the less good- another hypostasis or form of being just as its prior (the loftier phase of the Soul) is produced from the Intellectual-Principle which yet remains in untroubled self-possession.

2. To resume: there is from the first principle to ultimate an outgoing in which unfailingly each principle retains its own seat while its offshoot takes another rank, a lower, though on the other hand every being is in identity with its prior as long as it holds that contact.

In the case of soul entering some vegetal form, what is there is one phase, the more rebellious and less intellectual, outgone to that extreme; in a soul entering an animal, the faculty of sensation has been dominant and brought it there; in soul entering man, the movement outward has either been wholly of its reasoning part or has come from the Intellectual-Principle in the sense that the soul, possessing that principle as immanent to its being, has an inborn desire of intellectual activity and of movement in general.

But, looking more minutely into the matter, when shoots or topmost boughs are lopped from some growing thing, where goes the soul that was present in them? Simply, whence it came: soul never knew spatial separation and therefore is always within the source. If you cut the root to pieces, or burn it, where is the life that was present there? In the soul, which never went outside of itself.

No doubt, despite this permanence, the soul must have been in something if it reascends; and if it does not, it is still somewhere; it is in some other vegetal soul: but all this means merely that it is not crushed into some one spot; if a Soul-power reascends, it is within the Soul-power preceding it; that in turn can be only in the soul-power prior again, the phase reaching upwards to the Intellectual-Principle. Of course nothing here must be understood spatially: Soul never was in space; and the Divine Intellect, again, is distinguished from soul as being still more free.

Soul thus is nowhere but in the Principle which has that characteristic existence at once nowhere and everywhere.

If the soul on its upward path has halted midway before wholly achieving the supreme heights, it has a mid-rank life and has centred itself upon the mid-phase of its being. All in that mid-region is Intellectual-Principle not wholly itself- nothing else because deriving thence [and therefore of that name and rank], yet not that because the Intellectual-Principle in giving it forth is not merged into it.

There exists, thus, a life, as it were, of huge extension, a total in which each several part differs from its next, all making a self-continuous whole under a law of discrimination by which the various forms of things arise with no effacement of any prior in its secondary.

But does this Soul-phase in the vegetal order, produce nothing?
It engenders precisely the Kind in which it is thus present: how, is a question to be handled from another starting-point.

Third Tractate


1. Are we to think that a being knowing itself must contain diversity, that self-knowledge can be affirmed only when some one phase of the self perceives other phases, and that therefore an absolutely simplex entity would be equally incapable of introversion and of self-awareness?

No: a being that has no parts or phases may have this consciousness; in fact there would be no real self-knowing in an entity presented as knowing itself in virtue of being a compound- some single element in it perceiving other elements- as we may know our own form and entire bodily organism by sense-perception: such knowing does not cover the whole field; the knowing element has not had the required cognisance at once of its associates and of itself; this is not the self-knower asked for; it is merely something that knows something else.

Either we must exhibit the self-knowing of an uncompounded being- and show how that is possible- or abandon the belief that any being can possess veritable self-cognition.

To abandon the belief is not possible in view of the many absurdities thus entailed.

It would be already absurd enough to deny this power to the soul or mind, but the very height of absurdity to deny it to the nature of the Intellectual-Principle, presented thus as knowing the rest of things but not attaining to knowledge, or even awareness, of itself.

It is the province of sense and in some degree of understanding and judgement, but not of the Intellectual-Principle, to handle the external, though whether the Intellectual-Principle holds the knowledge of these things is a question to be examined, but it is obvious that the Intellectual-Principle must have knowledge of the Intellectual objects. Now, can it know those objects alone or must it not simultaneously know itself, the being whose function it is to know just those things? Can it have self-knowledge in the sense [dismissed above as inadequate] of knowing its content while it ignores itself? Can it be aware of knowing its members and yet remain in ignorance of its own knowing self? Self and content must be simultaneously present: the method and degree of this knowledge we must now consider.

2. We begin with the soul, asking whether it is to be allowed self-knowledge and what the knowing principle in it would be and how operating.

The sense-principle in it we may at once decide, takes cognisance only of the external; even in any awareness of events within the body it occupies, this is still the perception of something external to a principle dealing with those bodily conditions not as within but as beneath itself.

The reasoning-principle in the Soul acts upon the representations standing before it as the result of sense-perception; these it judges, combining, distinguishing: or it may also observe the impressions, so to speak, rising from the Intellectual-Principle, and has the same power of handling these; and reasoning will develop to wisdom where it recognizes the new and late-coming impressions [those of sense] and adapts them, so to speak, to those it holds from long before- the act which may be described as the soul's Reminiscence.

So far as this, the efficacy of the Intellectual-Principle in the Soul certainly reaches; but is there also introversion and self-cognition or is that power to be reserved strictly for the Divine Mind?

If we accord self-knowing to this phase of the soul we make it an Intellectual-Principle and will have to show what distinguishes it from its prior; if we refuse it self-knowing, all our thought brings us step by step to some principle which has this power, and we must discover what such self-knowing consists in. If, again, we do allow self-knowledge in the lower we must examine the question of degree; for if there is no difference of degree, then the reasoning principle in soul is the Intellectual-Principle unalloyed.

We ask, then, whether the understanding principle in the soul has equally the power of turning inwards upon itself or whether it has no more than that of comprehending the impressions, superior and inferior, which it receives.

The first stage is to discover what this comprehension is.
3. Sense sees a man and transmits the impression to the understanding. What does the understanding say? It has nothing to say as yet; it accepts and waits; unless, rather, it questions within itself "Who is this?"- someone it has met before- and then, drawing on memory, says, "Socrates."

If it should go on to develop the impression received, it distinguishes various elements in what the representative faculty has set before it; supposing it to say "Socrates, if the man is good," then, while it has spoken upon information from the senses, its total pronouncement is its own; it contains within itself a standard of good.

But how does it thus contain the good within itself?
It is, itself, of the nature of the good and it has been strengthened still towards the perception of all that is good by the irradiation of the Intellectual-Principle upon it; for this pure phase of the soul welcomes to itself the images implanted from its prior.

But why may we not distinguish this understanding phase as Intellectual-Principle and take soul to consist of the later phases from the sensitive downwards?

Because all the activities mentioned are within the scope of a reasoning faculty, and reasoning is characteristically the function of soul.

Why not, however, absolve the question by assigning self-cognisance to this phase?

Because we have allotted to soul the function of dealing- in thought and in multiform action- with the external, and we hold that observation of self and of the content of self must belong to Intellectual-Principle.

If any one says, "Still; what precludes the reasoning soul from observing its own content by some special faculty?" he is no longer posting a principle of understanding or of reasoning but, simply, bringing in the Intellectual-Principle unalloyed.

But what precludes the Intellectual-Principle from being present, unalloyed, within the soul? Nothing, we admit; but are we entitled therefore to think of it as a phase of soul?

We cannot describe it as belonging to the soul though we do describe it as our Intellectual-Principle, something distinct from the understanding, advanced above it, and yet ours even though we cannot include it among soul-phases: it is ours and not ours; and therefore we use it sometimes and sometimes not, whereas we always have use of the understanding; the Intellectual-Principle is ours when we act by it, not ours when we neglect it.

But what is this acting by it? Does it mean that we become the Intellectual-Principle so that our utterance is the utterance of the Intellectual-Principle, or that we represent it?

We are not the Intellectual-Principle; we represent it in virtue of that highest reasoning faculty which draws upon it.

Still; we perceive by means of the perceptive faculty and are, ourselves, the percipients: may we not say the same of the intellective act?

No: our reasoning is our own; we ourselves think the thoughts that occupy the understanding- for this is actually the We- but the operation of the Intellectual-Principle enters from above us as that of the sensitive faculty from below; the We is the soul at its highest, the mid-point between two powers, between the sensitive principle, inferior to us, and the intellectual principle superior. We think of the perceptive act as integral to ourselves because our sense-perception is uninterrupted; we hesitate as to the Intellectual-Principle both because we are not always occupied with it and because it exists apart, not a principle inclining to us but one to which we incline when we choose to look upwards.

The sensitive principle is our scout; the Intellectual-Principle our King.

4. But we, too, are king when we are moulded to the Intellectual-Principle.

That correspondence may be brought about in two ways: either the radii from that centre are traced upon us to be our law or we are filled full of the Divine Mind, which again may have become to us a thing seen and felt as a presence.

Hence our self-knowing comes to the knowing of all the rest of our being in virtue of this thing patently present; or by that power itself communicating to us its own power of self-knowing; or by our becoming identical with that principle of knowledge.

Thus the self-knower is a double person: there is the one that takes cognisance of the principle in virtue of which understanding occurs in the soul or mind; and there is the higher, knowing himself by the Intellectual-Principle with which he becomes identical: this latter knows the self as no longer man but as a being that has become something other through and through: he has thrown himself as one thing over into the superior order, taking with him only that better part of the soul which alone is winged for the Intellectual Act and gives the man, once established There, the power to appropriate what he has seen.

We can scarcely suppose this understanding faculty to be unaware that it has understanding; that it takes cognisance of things external; that in its judgements it decides by the rules and standards within itself held directly from the Intellectual-Principle; that there is something higher than itself, something which, moreover, it has no need to seek but fully possesses. What can we conceive to escape the self-knowledge of a principle which admittedly knows the place it holds and the work it has to do? It affirms that it springs from Intellectual-Principle whose second and image it is, that it holds all within itself, the universe of things, engraved, so to say, upon it as all is held There by the eternal engraver. Aware so far of itself, can it be supposed to halt at that? Are we to suppose that all we can do is to apply a distinct power of our nature and come thus to awareness of that Intellectual-Principle as aware of itself? Or may we not appropriate that principle- which belongs to us as we to it- and thus attain to awareness, at once, of it and of ourselves? Yes: this is the necessary way if we are to experience the self-knowledge vested in the Intellectual-Principle. And a man becomes Intellectual-Principle when, ignoring all other phases of his being, he sees through that only and sees only that and so knows himself by means of the self- in other words attains the self-knowledge which the Intellectual-Principle possesses.

5. Does it all come down, then, to one phase of the self knowing another phase?

That would be a case of knower distinguished from known, and would not be self-knowing.

What, then, if the total combination were supposed to be of one piece, knower quite undistinguished from known, so that, seeing any given part of itself as identical with itself, it sees itself by means of itself, knower and known thus being entirely without differentiation?

To begin with, the distinction in one self thus suggested is a strange phenomenon. How is the self to make the partition? The thing cannot happen of itself. And, again, which phase makes it? The phase that decides to be the knower or that which is to be the known? Then how can the knowing phase know itself in the known when it has chosen to be the knower and put itself apart from the known? In such self-knowledge by sundering it can be aware only of the object, not of the agent; it will not know its entire content, or itself as an integral whole; it knows the phase seen but not the seeing phase and thus has knowledge of something else, not self-knowledge.

In order to perfect self-knowing it must bring over from itself the knowing phase as well: seeing subject and seen objects must be present as one thing. Now if in this coalescence of seeing subject with seen objects, the objects were merely representations of the reality, the subject would not possess the realities: if it is to possess them it must do so not by seeing them as the result of any self-division but by knowing them, containing them, before any self-division occurs.

At that, the object known must be identical with the knowing act [or agent], the Intellectual-Principle, therefore, identical with the Intellectual Realm. And in fact, if this identity does not exist, neither does truth; the Principle that should contain realities is found to contain a transcript, something different from the realities; that constitutes non-Truth; Truth cannot apply to something conflicting with itself; what it affirms it must also be.

Thus we find that the Intellectual-Principle, the Intellectual Realm and Real Being constitute one thing, which is the Primal Being; the primal Intellectual-Principle is that which contains the realities or, rather, which is identical with them.

But taking Primal Intellection and its intellectual object to be a unity, how does that give an Intellective Being knowing itself? An intellection enveloping its object or identical with it is far from exhibiting the Intellectual-Principle as self-knowing.

All turns on the identity. The intellectual object is itself an activity, not a mere potentiality; it is not lifeless; nor are the life and intellection brought into it as into something naturally devoid of them, some stone or other dead matter; no, the intellectual object is essentially existent, the primal reality. As an active force, the first activity, it must be, also itself, the noblest intellection, intellection possessing real being since it is entirely true; and such an intellection, primal and primally existent, can be no other than the primal principle of Intellection: for that primal principle is no potentiality and cannot be an agent distinct from its act and thus, once more, possessing its essential being as a mere potentiality. As an act- and one whose very being is an act- it must be undistinguishably identical with its act: but Being and the Intellectual object are also identical with that act; therefore the Intellectual-Principle, its exercise of intellection and the object of intellection all are identical. Given its intellection identical with intellectual object and the object identical with the Principle itself, it cannot but have self-knowledge: its intellection operates by the intellectual act which is itself upon the intellectual object which similarly is itself. It possesses self-knowing, thus, on every count; the act is itself; and the object seen in that act- self, is itself.

6. Thus we have shown that there exists that which in the strictest sense possesses self-knowing.

This self-knowing agent, perfect in the Intellectual-Principle, is modified in the Soul.

The difference is that, while the soul knows itself as within something else, the Intellectual-Principle knows itself as self-depending, knows all its nature and character, and knows by right of its own being and by simple introversion. When it looks upon the authentic existences it is looking upon itself; its vision as its effective existence, and this efficacy is itself since the Intellectual-Principle and the Intellectual Act are one: this is an integral seeing itself by its entire being, not a part seeing by a part.

But has our discussion issued in an Intellectual-Principle having a persuasive activity [furnishing us with probability]?

No: it brings compulsion not persuasion; compulsion belongs to the Intellectual-Principle, persuasion to the soul or mind, and we seem to desire to be persuaded rather than to see the truth in the pure intellect.

As long as we were Above, collected within the Intellectual nature, we were satisfied; we were held in the intellectual act; we had vision because we drew all into unity- for the thinker in us was the Intellectual-Principle telling us of itself- and the soul or mind was motionless, assenting to that act of its prior. But now that we are once more here- living in the secondary, the soul- we seek for persuasive probabilities: it is through the image we desire to know the archetype.

Our way is to teach our soul how the Intellectual-Principle exercises self-vision; the phase thus to be taught is that which already touches the intellective order, that which we call the understanding or intelligent soul, indicating by the very name that it is already of itself in some degree an Intellectual-Principle or that it holds its peculiar power through and from that Principle. This phase must be brought to understand by what means it has knowledge of the thing it sees and warrant for what it affirms: if it became what it affirms, it would by that fact possess self-knowing. All its vision and affirmation being in the Supreme or deriving from it- There where itself also is- it will possess self-knowledge by its right as a Reason-Principle, claiming its kin and bringing all into accord with the divine imprint upon it.

The soul therefore [to attain self-knowledge] has only to set this image [that is to say, its highest phase] alongside the veritable Intellectual-Principle which we have found to be identical with the truths constituting the objects of intellection, the world of Primals and Reality: for this Intellectual-Principle, by very definition, cannot be outside of itself, the Intellectual Reality: self-gathered and unalloyed, it is Intellectual-Principle through all the range of its being- for unintelligent intelligence is not possible- and thus it possesses of necessity self-knowing, as a being immanent to itself and one having for function and essence to be purely and solely Intellectual-Principle. This is no doer; the doer, not self-intent but looking outward, will have knowledge, in some kind, of the external, but, if wholly of this practical order, need have no self-knowledge; where, on the contrary, there is no action- and of course the pure Intellectual-Principle cannot be straining after any absent good- the intention can be only towards the self; at once self-knowing becomes not merely plausible but inevitable; what else could living signify in a being immune from action and existing in Intellect?

7. The contemplating of God, we might answer.
But to admit its knowing God is to be compelled to admit its self-knowing. It will know what it holds from God, what God has given forth or may; with this knowledge, it knows itself at the stroke, for it is itself one of those given things- in fact is all of them. Knowing God and His power, then, it knows itself, since it comes from Him and carries His power upon it; if, because here the act of vision is identical with the object, it is unable to see God clearly, then all the more, by the equation of seeing and seen, we are driven back upon that self-seeing and self-knowing in which seeing and thing seen are undistinguishably one thing.

And what else is there to attribute to it?
Repose, no doubt; but, to an Intellectual-Principle, Repose is not an abdication from intellect; its Repose is an Act, the act of abstention from the alien: in all forms of existence repose from the alien leaves the characteristic activity intact, especially where the Being is not merely potential but fully realized.

In the Intellectual-Principle, the Being is an Act and in the absence of any other object it must be self-directed; by this self-intellection it holds its Act within itself and upon itself; all that can emanate from it is produced by this self-centering and self-intention; first- self-gathered, it then gives itself or gives something in its likeness; fire must first be self-centred and be fire, true to fire's natural Act; then it may reproduce itself elsewhere.

Once more, then; the Intellectual-Principle is a self-intent activity, but soul has the double phase, one inner, intent upon the Intellectual-Principle, the other outside it and facing to the external; by the one it holds the likeness to its source; by the other, even in its unlikeness, it still comes to likeness in this sphere, too, by virtue of action and production; in its action it still contemplates, and its production produces Ideal-forms- divine intellections perfectly wrought out- so that all its creations are representations of the divine Intellection and of the divine Intellect, moulded upon the archetype, of which all are emanations and images, the nearer more true, the very latest preserving some faint likeness of the source.

8. Now comes the question what sort of thing does the Intellectual-Principle see in seeing the Intellectual Realm and what in seeing itself?

We are not to look for an Intellectual realm reminding us of the colour or shape to be seen on material objects: the intellectual antedates all such things; and even in our sphere the production is very different from the Reason-Principle in the seeds from which it is produced. The seed principles are invisible and the beings of the Intellectual still more characteristically so; the Intellectuals are of one same nature with the Intellectual Realm which contains them, just as the Reason-Principle in the seed is identical with the soul, or life-principle, containing it.

But the Soul (considered as apart from the Intellectual-Principle) has no vision of what it thus contains, for it is not the producer but, like the Reason-Principles also, an image of its source: that source is the brilliant, the authentic, the primarily existent, the thing self-sprung and self-intent; but its image, soul, is a thing which can have no permanence except by attachment, by living in that other; the very nature of an image is that, as a secondary, it shall have its being in something else, if at all it exist apart from its original. Hence this image (soul) has not vision, for it has not the necessary light, and, if it should see, then, as finding its completion elsewhere, it sees another, not itself.

In the pure Intellectual there is nothing of this: the vision and the envisioned are a unity; the seen is as the seeing and seeing as seen.

What, then, is there that can pronounce upon the nature of this all-unity?

That which sees: and to see is the function of the Intellectual-Principle. Even in our own sphere [we have a parallel to this self-vision of a unity], our vision is light or rather becomes one with light, and it sees light for it sees colours. In the intellectual, the vision sees not through some medium but by and through itself alone, for its object is not external: by one light it sees another not through any intermediate agency; a light sees a light, that is to say a thing sees itself. This light shining within the soul enlightens it; that is, it makes the soul intellective, working it into likeness with itself, the light above.

Think of the traces of this light upon the soul, then say to yourself that such, and more beautiful and broader and more radiant, is the light itself; thus you will approach to the nature of the Intellectual-Principle and the Intellectual Realm, for it is this light, itself lit from above, which gives the soul its brighter life.

It is not the source of the generative life of the soul which, on the contrary, it draws inward, preserving it from such diffusion, holding it to the love of the splendour of its Prior.

Nor does it give the life of perception and sensation, for that looks to the external and to what acts most vigorously upon the senses whereas one accepting that light of truth may be said no longer to see the visible, but the very contrary.

This means in sum that the life the soul takes thence is an intellective life, a trace of the life in the [divine] Intellect, in which alone the authentic exists.

The life in the Divine Intellect is also an Act: it is the primal light outlamping to itself primarily, its own torch; light-giver and lit at once; the authentic intellectual object, knowing at once and known, seen to itself and needing no other than itself to see by, self-sufficing to the vision, since what it sees it is; known to us by that very same light, our knowledge of it attained through itself, for from nowhere else could we find the means of telling of it. By its nature, its self-vision is the clearer but, using it as our medium, we too may come to see by it.

In the strength of such considerations we lead up our own soul to the Divine, so that it poses itself as an image of that Being, its life becoming an imprint and a likeness of the Highest, its every act of thought making it over into the Divine and the Intellectual.

If the soul is questioned as to the nature of that Intellectual-Principle- the perfect and all-embracing, the primal self-knower- it has but to enter into that Principle, or to sink all its activity into that, and at once it shows itself to be in effective possession of those priors whose memory it never lost: thus, as an image of the Intellectual-Principle, it can make itself the medium by which to attain some vision of it; it draws upon that within itself which is most closely resemblant, as far as resemblance is possible between divine Intellect and any phase of soul.

9. In order, then, to know what the Divine Mind is, we must observe soul and especially its most God-like phase.

One certain way to this knowledge is to separate first, the man from the body- yourself, that is, from your body- next to put aside that soul which moulded the body, and, very earnestly, the system of sense with desires and impulses and every such futility, all setting definitely towards the mortal: what is left is the phase of the soul which we have declared to be an image of the Divine Intellect, retaining some light from that sun, while it pours downward upon the sphere of magnitudes [that is, of Matter] the light playing about itself which is generated from its own nature.

Of course we do not pretend that the sun's light [as the analogy might imply] remains a self-gathered and sun-centred thing: it is at once outrushing and indwelling; it strikes outward continuously, lap after lap, until it reaches us upon our earth: we must take it that all the light, including that which plays about the sun's orb, has travelled; otherwise we would have a void expanse, that of the space- which is material- next to the sun's orb. The Soul, on the contrary- a light springing from the Divine Mind and shining about it- is in closest touch with that source; it is not in transit but remains centred there, and, in likeness to that principle, it has no place: the light of the sun is actually in the air, but the soul is clean of all such contact so that its immunity is patent to itself and to any other of the same order.

And by its own characteristic act, though not without reasoning process, it knows the nature of the Intellectual-Principle which, on its side, knows itself without need of reasoning, for it is ever self-present whereas we become so by directing our soul towards it; our life is broken and there are many lives, but that principle needs no changings of life or of things; the lives it brings to being are for others not for itself: it cannot need the inferior; nor does it for itself produce the less when it possesses or is the all, nor the images when it possesses or is the prototype.

Anyone not of the strength to lay hold of the first soul, that possessing pure intellection, must grasp that which has to do with our ordinary thinking and thence ascend: if even this prove too hard, let him turn to account the sensitive phase which carries the ideal forms of the less fine degree, that phase which, too, with its powers, is immaterial and lies just within the realm of Ideal-principles.

One may even, if it seem necessary, begin as low as the reproductive soul and its very production and thence make the ascent, mounting from those ultimate ideal principles to the ultimates in the higher sense, that is to the primals.

10. This matter need not be elaborated at present: it suffices to say that if the created were all, these ultimates [the higher] need not exist: but the Supreme does include primals, the primals because the producers. In other words, there must be, with the made, the making source; and, unless these are to be identical, there will be need of some link between them. Similarly, this link which is the Intellectual-Principle demands yet a Transcendent. If we are asked why this Transcendent also should not have self-vision, our answer is that it has no need of vision; but this we will discuss later: for the moment we go back, since the question at issue is gravely important.

We repeat that the Intellectual-Principle must have, actually has, self-vision, firstly because it has multiplicity, next because it exists for the external and therefore must be a seeing power, one seeing that external; in fact its very essence is vision. Given some external, there must be vision; and if there be nothing external the Intellectual-Principle [Divine Mind] exists in vain. Unless there is something beyond bare unity, there can be no vision: vision must converge with a visible object. And this which the seer is to see can be only a multiple, no undistinguishable unity; nor could a universal unity find anything upon which to exercise any act; all, one and desolate, would be utter stagnation; in so far as there is action, there is diversity. If there be no distinctions, what is there to do, what direction in which to move? An agent must either act upon the extern or be a multiple and so able to act upon itself: making no advance towards anything other than itself, it is motionless and where it could know only blank fixity it can know nothing.

The intellective power, therefore, when occupied with the intellectual act, must be in a state of duality, whether one of the two elements stand actually outside or both lie within: the intellectual act will always comport diversity as well as the necessary identity, and in the same way its characteristic objects [the Ideas] must stand to the Intellectual-Principle as at once distinct and identical. This applies equally to the single object; there can be no intellection except of something containing separable detail and, since the object is a Reason-principle [a discriminated Idea] it has the necessary element of multiplicity. The Intellectual-Principle, thus, is informed of itself by the fact of being a multiple organ of vision, an eye receptive of many illuminated objects. If it had to direct itself to a memberless unity, it would be dereasoned: what could it say or know of such an object? The self-affirmation of [even] a memberless unity implies the repudiation of all that does not enter into the character: in other words, it must be multiple as a preliminary to being itself.

Then, again, in the assertion "I am this particular thing," either the "particular thing" is distinct from the assertor- and there is a false statement- or it is included within it, and, at once, multiplicity is asserted: otherwise the assertion is "I am what I am," or "I am I."

If it be no more than a simple duality able to say "I and that other phase," there is already multiplicity, for there is distinction and ground of distinction, there is number with all its train of separate things.

In sum, then, a knowing principle must handle distinct items: its object must, at the moment of cognition, contain diversity; otherwise the thing remains unknown; there is mere conjunction, such a contact, without affirmation or comprehension, as would precede knowledge, the intellect not yet in being, the impinging agent not percipient.

Similarly the knowing principle itself cannot remain simplex, especially in the act of self-knowing: all silent though its self-perception be, it is dual to itself. Of course it has no need of minute self-handling since it has nothing to learn by its intellective act; before it is [effectively] Intellect, it holds knowledge of its own content. Knowledge implies desire, for it is, so to speak, discovery crowning a search; the utterly undifferentiated remains self-centred and makes no enquiry about that self: anything capable of analysing its content, must be a manifold.

11. Thus the Intellectual-Principle, in the act of knowing the Transcendent, is a manifold. It knows the Transcendent in very essence but, with all its effort to grasp that prior as a pure unity, it goes forth amassing successive impressions, so that, to it, the object becomes multiple: thus in its outgoing to its object it is not [fully realised] Intellectual-Principle; it is an eye that has not yet seen; in its return it is an eye possessed of the multiplicity which it has itself conferred: it sought something of which it found the vague presentment within itself; it returned with something else, the manifold quality with which it has of its own act invested the simplex.

If it had not possessed a previous impression of the Transcendent, it could never have grasped it, but this impression, originally of unity, becomes an impression of multiplicity; and the Intellectual-Principle, in taking cognisance of that multiplicity, knows the Transcendent and so is realized as an eye possessed of its vision.

It is now Intellectual-Principle since it actually holds its object, and holds it by the act of intellection: before, it was no more than a tendance, an eye blank of impression: it was in motion towards the transcendental; now that it has attained, it has become Intellectual-Principle henceforth absorbed; in virtue of this intellection it holds the character of Intellectual-Principle, of Essential Existence and of Intellectual Act where, previously, not possessing the Intellectual Object, it was not Intellectual Perception, and, not yet having exercised the Intellectual Act, it was not Intellectual-Principle.

The Principle before all these principles is no doubt the first principle of the universe, but not as immanent: immanence is not for primal sources but for engendering secondaries; that which stands as primal source of everything is not a thing but is distinct from all things: it is not, then, a member of the total but earlier than all, earlier, thus, than the Intellectual-Principle- which in fact envelops the entire train of things.

Thus we come, once more, to a Being above the Intellectual-Principle and, since the sequent amounts to no less than the All, we recognise, again, a Being above the All. This assuredly cannot be one of the things to which it is prior. We may not call it "Intellect"; therefore, too, we may not call it "the Good," if "the Good" is to be taken in the sense of some one member of the universe; if we mean that which precedes the universe of things, the name may be allowed.

The Intellectual-Principle is established in multiplicity; its intellection, self-sprung though it be, is in the nature of something added to it [some accidental dualism] and makes it multiple: the utterly simplex, and therefore first of all beings, must, then, transcend the Intellectual-Principle; and, obviously, if this had intellection it would no longer transcend the Intellectual-Principle but be it, and at once be a multiple.

12. But why, after all, should it not be such a manifold as long as it remains one substantial existence, having the multiplicity not of a compound being but of a unity with a variety of activities?

Now, no doubt, if these various activities are not themselves substantial existences- but merely manifestations of latent potentiality- there is no compound; but, on the other hand, it remains incomplete until its substantial existence be expressed in act. If its substantial existence consists in its Act, and this Act constitutes multiplicity, then its substantial existence will be strictly proportioned to the extent of the multiplicity.

We allow this to be true for the Intellectual-Principle to which we have allotted [the multiplicity of] self-knowing; but for the first principle of all, never. Before the manifold, there must be The One, that from which the manifold rises: in all numerical series, the unit is the first.

But- we will be answered- for number, well and good, since the suite makes a compound; but in the real beings why must there be a unit from which the multiplicity of entities shall proceed?

Because [failing such a unity] the multiplicity would consist of disjointed items, each starting at its own distinct place and moving acciden