Guthrie: Tratado 30,5 (III, 8, 5) — THE PROCESSION OF THE WORLD-SOUL


5. (4). After having spoken of nature, and having explained how generation is a sort of contemplation, let us pass to the Soul that occupies a rank superior to nature. This is what we have to say about her. By her contemplative action, by her ardent desire to learn and to discover, by the fruitfulness of her knowledge, and her resulting need to produce, the Soul, her totality having become an object of contemplation, gave birth to some other object; just as science, on fructifying, by instruction begets a lesser science in the soul of the young disciple who possesses the images of all things, but only in the state of obscure theories, of feeble speculations, which are incapable of self-sufficiency. The higher and rational part of the Soul ever dwells in the higher region of the intelligible world, and is, by this intelligible world, ever illuminated and fructified; while the lower (“natural and generative power”) participates in what the superior part has received, by immediately participating in the intelligible ; for life ever proceeds from life, and its actualization extends to everything, and is present everywhere. In her procession, the universal Soul allows her superior part to remain in the intelligible world; for, if she detached herself from this superior part, she would no longer be present everywhere; she would subsist only in her lower extremities. Besides, the part of the Soul that thus proceeds out of the intelligible world is inferior to what remains within it. Therefore, if the Soul must be present and must assert her sphere of activity everywhere, and if !Hat which occupies the superior rank differs from that which occupies the inferior; if, besides, her activity proceeds either from contemplation or action — though indeed originally from contemplation — because contemplation precedes the action which could not exist without contemplation; in this state of affairs, though one actualization would be weaker than another, yet it would ever remain a contemplation, so that the action derived from contemplation seems to be no more than a weakened contemplation; for that which is begotten must always remain consubstantial with its generating principle, though weaker, since of lower rank. All things therefore silently proceed from the Soul, because they stand in no need of either contemplation or exterior visible action. Thus the Soul contemplates, and the contemplating part of the Soul, being somehow located outside of the superior part, and being different therefrom, produces what is below it; thus it is that contemplation begets contemplation. No more than its object is contemplation limited below; that is why it extends to everything. Where is it not? Every soul contains the same object of contemplation. This object, without being circumscribed as a magnitude, does not equally inhere in all beings; consequently, it is not present in the same way to all parts of the Soul. That is why Plato says that the charioteer of the soul communicates to his horses what he has seen. The latter receive something from him only because they desire to possess what he has seen; for they have not received the entire intelligible (world). Though they act because of a desire, they act only in view of what they desire; that is, in view of contemplation, and of its object.

GUTHRIE, K. S. Plotinus: Complete Works: In Chronological Order, Grouped in Four Periods. [single Volume, Unabridged]. [s.l.] CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.