Página inicial > Antiguidade > Neoplatonismo (245-529 dC) > Plotino (204-270 dC) – Tratados Enéadas > Plotino - Tratado 51,9 (I, 8, 9) — O conhecimento do mal


Plotino - Tratado 51,9 (I, 8, 9) — O conhecimento do mal

Enéada I, 8, 9

quarta-feira 9 de fevereiro de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

9: O conhecimento do mal

  • 1-14: Vício absoluto e vício parcial
  • 14-26: O pensamento do informe


9 ¿Y con qué conocimos esos males? Y primero el vicio, ¿con qué lo conocimos? Porque la virtud sí la conocemos con la inteligencia misma y con la sabiduría, pues se conoce a sí misma. Pero el vicio, ¿cómo?

Pues del mismo modo que con una regla conocemos lo que es rectilíneo y lo que no, así también con la virtud conocemos lo que no se ajusta.

¿Viéndolo o sin verlo? Me refiero al vicio.

El vicio completo sin verlo, pues es indefinido. Lo que de ningún modo se ajusta, lo conocemos, pues, por abstracción, mientras que el vicio incompleto lo conocemos por ser deficiente en eso. Cuando vemos, pues, una parte, por la parte presente concebimos la ausente, que está, sí, en la forma total, pero que en aquel caso está ausente; y, de ese modo, a la parte que vemos la llamamos vicio, dejando la parte desprovista en la indeterminación. Y así también, cuando algún rostro aparece a nuestra vista sobre la materia como feo, porque la razón no ha dominado en él hasta el punto de encubrir la fealdad de la materia, nos lo representamos feo por su deficiencia en forma. Y lo totalmente desprovisto de forma, ¿cómo?

Abstrayendo de toda forma, decimos que aquello en lo que no están presentes las formas es materia, no sin que antes nosotros mismos hayamos tomado informidad dentro de nosotros en el proceso de abstracción de toda forma, so pena de no lograr una visión de la materia. Y por eso es ésta una inteligencia distinta — una ininteligencia —, porque tuvo la audacia de ver lo que no es su propio objeto. Del mismo modo que el ojo se aparta de la luz a fin de ver la tiniebla sin verla (el abandonar la luz, es para ver la tiniebla; con luz no podría verla; pero tampoco podría verla, sino no verla, sin algo de luz), para llegar a ver la tiniebla tal como le es posible, pues así también la inteligencia, dejando dentro de sí su propia luz y como saliendo de sí misma y acercándose al que no es su propio objeto, al no traer consigo su propia luz, experimenta algo contrario a su ser, a fin de ver lo que le es contrario.


Comment connaissons-nous le vice et la vertu [1] ?Pour la vertu, nous la connaissons par l’intelligence même et par la sagesse : car la sagesse se connaît elle–même. Mais le vice, comment pouvons-nous le connaître? Le voici : De même que nous nous apercevons qu’un objet n’est pas droit en lui appliquant une règle, nous discernons le vice à ce caractère qu’il n’est pas d’accord avec la vertu. Mais en avons-nous ou non l’intuition directe? Nous n’avons pas l’intuition du vice absolu parce qu’il est infini. Nous le connaissons donc par une sorte d’abstraction (ἀφαιρέσει), en remarquant que la vertu manque tout à fait; et nous connaissons le vice relatif, en remarquant qu’il manque quelque partie de la vertu : voyant une partie de la vertu et jugeant, par cette partie, de ce qui manque pour constituer complètement la forme [de la vertu), nous appelons vice ce qu’il en manque, laissant dans l’indéterminé [le mal] ce qui est privé de la vertu. Il en est de même de la matière : si nous apercevons, par exemple, une figure qui est laide parce que la raison [séminale], faute de dominer la matière, n’a pu en cacher la difformité, nous nous représentons la laideur par ce qui manque de la forme.

Mais comment connaissons-nous ce qui est absolument sans forme? Nous faisons abstraction de toute espèce de forme, et nous appelons matière ce qui reste; nous laissons pénétrer ainsi en nous une sorte de manque de forme (ἀμορφία), par cela seul que nous faisons abstraction de toute forme pour nous représenter la matière [2]. Aussi, l’intelligence devient-elle autre, cesse-t-elle d’être la véritable intelligence quand elle ose regarder de cette façon ce qui n’est pas de son domaine. Elle ressemble à l’oeil qui s’éloigne de la lumière pour voir les ténèbres, et qui par cela même ne voit pas : car il ne peut voir les ténèbres avec la lumière, et cependant sans elle il ne voit pas; de cette manière, en ne voyant pas, il voit les ténèbres autant qu’il est naturellement capable de les voir. Ainsi l’intelligence qui cache dans son sein sa lumière et qui sort d’elle-même pour ainsi dire, en s’avançant vers des choses étrangères à sa nature sans emporter sa lumière avec elle, se place dans un état contraire à son essence pour connaître une nature contraire à la sienne.



9. How do we get to know vice and virtue? As to virtue, we know it by the very intelligence and by wisdom; for wisdom knows itself. But how can we know vice? Just as we observe that an object is not in itself straight, by applying a rule, so we discern vice by this characteristic, that it does not comport itself with virtue. But do we, or do we not have direct intuition thereof? We do not have the intuition of absolute vice, because it is indeterminate. We know it, therefore, by a kind of abstraction, observing that virtue is entirely lacking. We cognize relative vice by noticing that it lacks some part of virtue. We see a part of virtue, and, by this part, judging what is lacking in order completely to constitute the form (of successive dispositions. When we are gorged, we have appetites and thoughts that differ from those we experience when starved ; and our dispositions vary even according to the degrees of satiety.


In short, the primary Evil is that which by itself lacks measure. The secondary evil is that which accidentally becomes formless, either by assimilation or participation. In the front rank is the darkness; in the second that which has become obscured. Thus vice, being in the soul the result of ignorance and formlessness, is of secondary rank. It is not absolute Evil, because, on its side, virtue is not absolute Good; it is good only by its assimilation and participation with the Good.

virtue), we call vice what is lacking to it; defining as the indeterminate (evil) what is deprived of virtue. Similarly with matter. If, for instance, we notice a figure that is ugly because its ("seminal) reason," being unable to dominate matter, has been unable to hide its deformity, we notice ugliness by what is lacking to form.


But how do we know that which is absolutely formless (matter) ? We make abstraction of all kinds of form, and what remains we call matter. We allow ourselves to be penetrated by a kind of shapelessness by the mere fact that we make abstraction of all shape in order to be able to represent matter (by a "bastard reasoning"). Consequently, intelligence becomes altered, and ceases to be genuine intelligence when it dares in this way to look at what does not belong to its domain. It resembles the eye, which withdraws from light to see darkness, and which on that very account does not see. Thus, in not seeing, the eye sees darkness so far as it is naturally capable of seeing it. Thus intelligence which hides light within itself, and which, so to speak, issues from itself, by advancing towards things alien to its nature, without bringing along its own light, places itself in a state contrary to its being to cognize a nature contrary to its own. But enough of this.


9. But what approach have we to the knowing of Good and Evil?

And first of the Evil of soul: Virtue, we may know by the Intellectual-Principle and by means of the philosophic habit; but Vice?

A a ruler marks off straight from crooked, so Vice is known by its divergence from the line of Virtue.

But are we able to affirm Vice by any vision we can have of it, or is there some other way of knowing it?

Utter viciousness, certainly not by any vision, for it is utterly outside of bound and measure; this thing which is nowhere can be seized only by abstraction; but any degree of evil falling short of The Absolute is knowable by the extent of that falling short.

We see partial wrong; from what is before us we divine that which is lacking to the entire form [or Kind] thus indicated; we see that the completed Kind would be the Indeterminate; by this process we are able to identify and affirm Evil. In the same way when we observe what we feel to be an ugly appearance in Matter - left there because the Reason-Principle has not become so completely the master as to cover over the unseemliness - we recognise Ugliness by the falling-short from Ideal-Form.

But how can we identify what has never had any touch of Form?

We utterly eliminate every kind of Form; and the object in which there is none whatever we call Matter: if we are to see Matter we must so completely abolish Form that we take shapelessness into our very selves.

In fact it is another Intellectual-Principle, not the true, this which ventures a vision so uncongenial.

To see darkness the eye withdraws from the light; it is striving to cease from seeing, therefore it abandons the light which would make the darkness invisible; away from the light its power is rather that of not-seeing than of seeing and this not-seeing is its nearest approach to seeing Darkness. So the Intellectual-Principle, in order to see its contrary [Matter], must leave its own light locked up within itself, and as it were go forth from itself into an outside realm, it must ignore its native brightness and submit itself to the very contradition of its being.

Ver online : ENÉADAS I-II (Gredos)

[1Plotin revient à la deuxième des questions qu’il avait posées dans le § 1er de ce livre: « Par laquelle de nos facultés connaissons-nous la nature du mal? »

[2C’est cette opération que Platon nomme λογισμὸς νόθος, raisonnement bâtard. Voy. Enn. II, 4, § 12.