10 FIFTH ENNEAD, BOOK THREE. Of the Hypostases that Mediate Knowledge, and of the Superior Principle.



31. (1) When one being subsists by dependence on any other, and not by self-dependence and withdrawal from any other, it could not turn itself towards itself to know itself by separating from (the substrate) by which it subsists. By withdrawing from its own existence it would alter and perish. But when one being cognizes itself by withdrawal from that to which it is united, when it grasps itself as independent of that being, and succeeds in doing so without exposing itself to destruction, it evidently does not derive its “being” or nature from the being from which it can, without perishing, withdraw, to face itself, and know itself independently. If sight, and in general ¿11 sensation do not feel itself, nor perceive itself on separating from the body, and do not subsist by itself; if, on the contrary, intelligence think better by separating from the body, and can be converted to itself without perishing, evidently sense-faculties are actualized only by help of the body, while intelligence actualizes and exists by itself, and not by the body.


32. (3, 5-7) There is a difference between intelligence and the intelligible, between sensation and that which can be sensed. The intelligible is united to intelligence as that which can be sensed is connected with sensation. But sensation cannot perceive itself …. As the intelligible is united to Intelligence-it is grasped by intelligence and not by sensation. But intelligence is intelligible for intelligence. Since then intelligence is intelligible for intelligence, intelligence Is its own object. If intelligence be intelligible, but not “sensible,” it is an intelligible object. Being intelligible by intelligence, but not by sensation, it will be intelligent. Intelligence, therefore, is simultaneously thinker and thought, all that thinks and all that is thought. Its operation, besides, is not that of an object that rubs and is rubbed: “It is not a subject in some one part of itself, and in some other, object of thought; it is simple, it is entirely intelligible for itself as a whole.” The whole of intelligence excludes any idea of unintelli-gence. It does not contain one part that thinks, while another would not think; for then, in so far as it would not think, “it would be unintelligent.” It does not abandon one object to think of another; for it would cease to think the object it abandoned. If, therefore, intelligence do not successively pass from one object to another, it thinks simultaneously; it does not think first one (thought) and then another; it thinks everything as in the present, and as always…..

If intelligence think everything as at present, if it know no past nor future, its thought is a simple actualization, which excludes every interval of time. It, therefore, contains everything together, in respect to time. Intelligence, therefore, thinks, all things according to unity, and in unity, without anything falling in in time or in space. If so, intelligence is not discursive, and is not (like the soul) in motion; it is an actualization, which is according to unity, and in unity, which shuns all chance development and every discursive operation. If, in intelligence, manifoldness be reduced to unity, and if the intellectual actualization be indivisible, and fall not within time, we shall have to attribute to such a “being” eternal existence in unity. Now that happens to be “aeonial” or everlasting existence.16 Therefore, eternity constitutes the very “being” (or nature) of intelligence. The other kind of intelligence, that does not think according to unity, and in unity, which falls into change, and into movement, which abandons one object to think another, which divides, and gives itself up to a discursive action, has time as “being” (or nature).

The distinction of past and future suits its action. When passing from one object to another, the soul changes thoughts; not indeed that the former perish, or that the latter suddenly issue from some other source; but the former, while seeming to have disappeared, remain in the soul; and the latter, while seeming to come from somewhere else, do not really do so, but are born from within the soul, which moves only from one object to another, and which successively directs her gaze from one to another part of what she possesses. She resembles a spring which, instead of flowing outside, flows back into itself in a circle. It is this (circular) movement of the soul that constitutes time, just as the permanence of intelligence in itself constitutes (aeonial) eternity. Intelligence is not separated from eternity, any more than the soul is from time. Intelligence and eternity form but a single hypostatic form of existence. That which moves simulates eternity by the indefinite perpetuity of its movement, and that which remains immovable, simulates time by seeming to multiply its continual present, in the measure that time passes. That is why some have believed that time manifested in rest as well as in movement, and that eternity was no more than the infinity of time. To each of these two (different things) the attributes of the other were mistakenly attributed. The reason of this is that anything that ever persists in an identical movement gives a good illustration of eternity by the continuousness of its movement; while that which persists in an identical actualization represents time by the permanence of its actualization. Besides, in sense-objects, duration differs according to each of them. There is a difference between the duration of the course of the sun, and that of the moon, as well as that of Venus, and so on. There is a difference between the solar year, and the year of each of these stars. Different, further, is the year that embraces all the other years, and which conforms to the movement of the soul, according to which the stars regulate their movements. As the movement of the soul differs from the movement of the stars, so also does its time differ from that of the stars; for the divisions of this latter kind of time correspond to the spaces travelled by each star, and by its successive passages in different places.


33. (10-12) Intelligence is not the principle of all things; for it is manifold. Now the manifold presupposes the One. Evidently, it is intelligence that is manifold; the intelligibles that it thinks do not form unity, but manifoldness, and they are identical therewith. Therefore, since intelligence and the intelligible entities are identical, and as the intelligible entities form a manifoldness, intelligence itself is manifold.

The identity of intelligence and of intelligible entities may be demonstrated as follows. The object that intelligence contemplates must be in it, or exist outside of itself. It is, besides, evident, that intelligence contemplates; since, for intelligence, to think is to be intelligence, therefore, to abstract its thought would be to deprive it of its “being.” This being granted, we must determine in what manner intelligence contemplates its object. We shall accomplish this by examining the different faculties by which we acquire various kinds of knowledge, namely, sensation, imagination and intelligence.

The principle which makes use of the senses contemplates only by grasping exterior things, and far from uniting itself to the objects of its contemplation, from this perception it gathers no more than an image. Therefore when the eye sees the visible object, it cannot identify itself with this object; for it would not see it, unless it were at a certain distance therefrom. Likewise if the object of touch confused itself with the organ that touches it, it would disappear. Therefore the senses, and the principle that makes use of the senses, apply themselves to what is outside of tliem to perceive this sense-object.

Likewise imagination applies its attention to what is outside of it to form for itself an image of it; it is by this very attention to what is outside of it that it represents to itself the object of which it forms an image as exterior.

That is how sensation and imagination perceive their objects. Neither of these two faculties folds itself back on itself, nor concentrates on itself, whether the object of their perception be a corporeal or incorporeal form.

Not in this manner is intelligence perceived; this can occur only by turning towards itself, and by contemplating itself. If it left the contemplation of its own actualizations, if it ceased to be their contemplation (or, intuition), it would no longer think anything. Intelligence perceives the intelligible entity as sensation perceives the sense-object, by intuition. But in order to contemplate the sense-object, sensation applies to what is outside of it, because its object is material. On the contrary, in order to contemplate the intelligible entity, intelligence concentrates in itself, instead of applying itself to what is outside of it. That is why some philosophers have thought that there was only a nominal difference between intelligence and imagination; for they believed that intelligence was the imagination of the reasonable animal; as they insisted that everything should depend on matter and on corporeal nature, they naturally had to make intelligence also depend therefrom. But our intelligence contemplates natures (or, “beings”). Therefore, (according to the hypothesis of these philosophers) our intelligence will contemplate these natures as located in some place. But these natures are outside of matter; consequently, they could not be located in any place. It is therefore evident that the intelligible entities had to be posited as within intelligence.

If the intelligible entities be within intelligence, intelligence will contemplate intelligible entities and will contemplate itself while contemplating them; by understanding itself, it will think, because it will understand intelligible entities. Now intelligible entities form a multitude, for18 intelligence thinks a multitude of intelligible entities, and not a unity; therefore, intelligence is manifold. But manifoldness presupposes unity; consequently, above intelligence, the existence of unity will be necessary.

34. (5) Intellectual being is composed of similar parts, so that existing beings exist both in individual intelligence, and in universal Intelligence. But, in universal Intelligence, individual (entities) are themselves conceived universally; while in individual intelligence, universal beings as well as individual beings are conceived individually.