Guthrie: Tratado 30,9 (III, 8, 9) — THERE MUST BE A SUPREME


9. (8). Such is the nature of Intelligence. Therefore it does not occupy the first rank. Above it must be a Principle, whose discovery is the object of this discussion. Indeed, the manifold must be posterior to unity. Now intelligence is a number; and the principle of number is unity, and the principle of the number that constitutes unity is absolute Unity. Intelligence is simultaneously intelligence and the intelligible; it is therefore two things at once. If then it be composed of two things, we must seek what is prior to this duality. Could this principle be Intelligence alone? But Intelligence is always bound to the intelligible. If the Principle we seek cannot be bound to the intelligible, neither will it be Intelligence. If then it be not Intelligence, and transcend duality, it must be superior thereto, and thus be above Intelligence. Could it be the Intelligence alone ? But we have already seen that the intelligible is inseparable from Intelligence. If this Principle be neither Intelligence, nor the intelligible, what can it be? It must be the Principle from which are derived both Intelligence and its implied intelligible.


But what is this Principle, and how are we to conceive it? It must be either intelligent or not intelligent. If it be intelligent, it will also be Intelligence. If it be not intelligent, it will be unconscious of itself, and will not be in any way venerable. Though true, it would not be clear or perspicuous to say that it is the Good itself, since we do not yet have an object on which we could fasten our thought when we speak of it. Besides, since the knowledge of the other objects in all beings who can know something intelligent, occurs through Intelligence and lies in Intelligence, by what rapid intellection (or intuition) could we grasp this Principle that is superior to Intelligence? We may answer, by that part of us which resembles it; for there is in us something of it; or rather, it is in all things that participate in Him. Everywhere you approach the Good, that which in you can participate receives something of it. Take the illustration of a voice in a desert, and the human ears that may be located there. Wherever you listen to this voice, you will grasp it entirely in one sense, and not entirely in another sense. How then would we grasp something by approximating our intelligence (to the Good) ? To see up there the Principle it seeks, Intelligence must, so to speak, return backwards, and, forming a duality, it must somehow exceed itself; that means, it would have to cease being the Intelligence of all intelligible things. Indeed, intelligence is primary life, and penetration of all things, not (as the soul does) by a still actualizing movement, but by a movement which is ever already accomplished and past. Therefore, if Intelligence be life, which is the penetration of all things, if it possess all things distinctly, without confusion — for otherwise it would possess them in an imperfect and incomplete manner — it must necessarily proceed from a superior Principle which, instead of being in motion, is the principle of motion (by which Intelligence runs through all things), of life, of intelligence, and of all things. The Principle of all things could not be all things, it is only their origin. Itself is neither all things, nor any particular thing, because it begets everything; neither is it a multitude, for it is the principle of multitude. Indeed that which begets is always simpler than that which is begotten. Therefore if this principle beget Intelligence, it necessarily is simpler than Intelligence. On the theory that it is both one and all, we have an alternative, that it is all things because it is all things at once, or that it is everything individually. On the one hand, if it be all things at once, it will be posterior to all things; if on the contrary it be prior to all things, it will be different from all things. For if the One coexisted with all things, the One would not be a principle; but the One must be a principle, and must exist anteriorly to all things, if all things are to originate from it. On the other hand, if we say that the One is each particular thing, it will thereby be identical with every particular thing; later it will be all things at once, without being able to discern anything. Thus the One is none of these particular things, being prior to all things.

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