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Plotino - Tratado 51,11 (I, 8, 11) — Mal e privação

Enéada I, 8, 11

sábado 12 de fevereiro de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro


11: Mal e privação  

  • 1-9: Objeção: a privação não existe «em si», mas sempre «em outra coisa»
  • 10-19: Resposta  : a alma   não poderia possuir nela mesma a privação do bem


11 Pero la naturaleza contraria a toda forma es privación. Ahora bien, la privación está siempre en otro y en sí misma no es una realidad. En consecuencia, si el mal consiste en una privación, el mal existirá en el sujeto privado de forma; luego no existirá por sí mismo  . Si, pues, ha de haber mal en el alma  , la privación que hay en ella será el mal y el vicio, y no algo exterior. Y hay incluso otras teorías que pretenden abolir la materia enteramente, y otras que pretenden que, aun existiendo, no es mala en sí misma. No hay que buscar, pues, el mal en otra parte. Basta situarlo en el alma y definirlo así como ausencia de bien.

Pero si el mal es la privación de cierta forma destinada a estar presente  , si es privación del bien en el alma y produce en ella el vicio por su propia razón de ser, entonces el alma no tiene ningún bien. Por consiguiente, tampoco tiene vida, pese a que es alma; luego el alma será inanimada, puesto que ni siquiera tiene vida. Conque, siendo alma, no será alma.

La conclusión es que el alma posee vida por su propia razón de ser. Por consiguiente, la privación del bien no la tiene de por sí misma. Luego es boniforme, puesto que posee un bien, un vestigio de inteligencia, y no es cosa mala de sí misma. Luego tampoco será mala primariamente, y el mal primario no estará en ella como un accidente, porque tampoco está ausente de ella todo el bien.


Mais, objectera-t-on, la nature contraire à toute forme, c’est la privation (στέρησις). Or la privation est toujours l’attribut d’une substance, au lieu d’être soi-même une substance. Si donc le Mal consiste dans la privation, il est l’attribut du sujet privé de forme ; et dès lors, il ne saurait exister par lui-même. Si c’est dans l’âme que l’on considère le mal, la privation constituera en elle le vice, la méchanceté, et pour en rendre raison il ne sera nul besoin de recourir à rien d’extérieur. - On nous objecte ailleurs que la mati  ère n’existe pas; on veut nous prouver ici que, si elle existe, elle n’est pas mauvaise. [S’il en est ainsi], il ne faut pas chercher hors de l’âme l’origine du mal; il faut la placer dans lame même : le mal y consiste dans l’absence du bien. Mais si l’on admet que la privation de la forme soit un accident de l’être   qui désire recevoir la forme, que par conséquent la privation du bien soit un accident de l’âme, qu’enfin celle-ci produise en elle-même la méchanceté par sa raison [séminale], il en résulte qu’elle ne doit avoir rien de bien. II en résulte encore qu’elle n’aura pas de vie, qu’elle sera une âme inanimée; ce qui conduit à cette contradiction : l’âme n’est pas âme.

On se trouve ainsi forcé d’admettre que l’âme possède la vie en vertu de sa raison [séminale], de sorte qu’elle n’a pas par elle-même la privation du bien. Mais alors elle tient de l’intelligence une trace de bien, elle a la forme du bien; elle n’est donc pas le Mal par elle-même; ainsi elle n’est pas le premier Mal, et elle ne le renferme pas non plus comme accident, puisqu’elle n’est pas absolument privée du bien.



11. It may be further objected that nature, independent of all form, is deprivation. Now deprivation is always the attribute of some hypostatic substance, instead of itself being substance. If then evil consist in privation, it is the attribute of the substrate deprived of form; and on that account it could not exist by itself. If it be in the soul that we consider evil, privation in the soul will constitute vice and wickedness, and there will be no need to have recourse to anything external to explain it.


Elsewhere it is objected that matter does not exist; here the attempt is to show that matter is not evil in so far as it exists. (If this were the case), we should not seek the origin of evil outside of the soul, but it would be located within the soul herself; there evil consists in the absence of good. But, evidently, the soul would have nothing good on the hypothesis   that privation of form is an accident of the being, which desires to receive form; that, consequently, the privation of good is an accident of the soul; and that the latter produces within herself wickedness by her («seminal) reason.» Another result would be that the soul would have no life, and be inanimate; which would lead to the absurdity that the soul is no soul.


We are thus forced to assert, that the soul possesses life by virtue of her («seminal) reason,» so that she does not, by herself, possess privation of good, Then she must from intelligence derive a trace of good, and have the form of good. The soul, therefore, cannot by herself be evil. Consequently, she is not the first Evil, nor does she contain it as an accident, since she is not absolutely deprived of good.


11. It may be suggested that Vice is feebleness in the Soul.

We shall be reminded that the Vicious Soul is unstable, swept along from every ill to every other, quickly stirred by appetites, headlong to anger, as hasty to compromises, yielding at once to obscure imaginations, as weak, in fact, as the weakest thing made by man or nature, blown about by every breeze, burned away by every heat.

Still the question must be faced what constitutes this weakness in the Soul, whence it comes.

For weakness in the body is not like that in the Soul: the word weakness, which covers the incapacity for work and the lack of resistance in the body, is applied to the Soul merely by analogy - unless, indeed, in the one case as in the other, the cause of the weakness is Matter.

But we must go more thoroughly into the source of this weakness, as we call it, in the Soul, which is certainly not made weak as the result of any density or rarity, or by any thickening or thinning or anything like a disease, like a fever.

Now this weakness must be seated either in Souls utterly disengaged or in Souls bound to Matter or in both.

It cannot exist in those apart from Matter, for all these are pure and, as we read, winged and perfect and unimpeded in their task: there remains only that the weakness be in the fallen Souls, neither cleansed nor clean; and in them the weakness will be, not in any privation but in some hostile presence, like that of phlegm or bile in the organs of the body.

If we form an acute and accurate notion of the cause of the fall   we shall understand the weakness that comes by it.

Matter exists; Soul exists; and they occupy, so to speak, one place. There is not one place for Matter and another for Soul-Matter, for instance, kept to earth, Soul in the air: the soul’s «separate place» is simply its not being in Matter; that is, its not being united with it; that is that there be no compound unit consisting of Soul and Matter; that is that Soul be not moulded in Matter as in a matrix; this is the Soul’s apartness.

But the faculties of the Soul are many, and it has its beginning, its intermediate phases, its final fringe. Matter appears, importunes, raises disorders, seeks to force its way within; but all the ground is holy, nothing there without part in Soul. Matter therefore submits, and takes light: but the source of its illumination it cannot attain to, for the Soul cannot lift up this foreign thing close by, since the evil of it makes it invisible. On the contrary the illumination, the light   streaming from the Soul, is dulled, is weakened, as it mixes with Matter which offers Birth to the Soul, providing the means by which it enters into generation, impossible to it if no recipient were at hand.

This is the fall of the Soul, this entry into Matter: thence its weakness: not all the faculties of its being retain free play, for Matter hinders their manifestation; it encroaches upon the Soul’s territory and, as it were, crushes the Soul back; and it turns to evil all that it has stolen, until the Soul finds strength to advance again.

Thus the cause, at once, of the weakness of Soul and of all its evil is Matter.

The evil of Matter precedes the weakness, the vice; it is Primal   Evil. Even though the Soul itself submits to Matter and engenders to it; if it becomes evil within itself by its commerce with Matter, the cause is still the presence of Matter: the Soul would never have approached Matter but that the presence of Matter is the occasion of its earth-life.

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