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Plotino - Tratado 40,6 (II, 1, 6) — A composição material do céu: natureza ígnea

Enéada II, 1, 6

terça-feira 31 de maio de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Capítulos 6-7: A composição material do céu.

  • Cap 6: Justificação da natureza puramente ígnea do céu
  • Cap 7: Apelo à autoridade platônica por uma nova interpretação de Timeu   31b

Míguez

6. Volvamos a la consideración de antes: ¿el cielo contiene solamente fuego o hay algo, además, que fluya de él, por lo cual necesite de alimento? Para Timeo el cuerpo del universo está compuesto primordialmente de tierra y de fuego; de fuego para hacerse visible, y de tierra para aparecer sólido. Concluye de aquí que los astros están compuestos en gran parte de fuego, pero no enteramente, ya que semejan tener solidez. Esto quizá sea verdad, dado que Platón   cuenta para ello con una razón positiva. De acuerdo con lo que nos dicen nuestros sentidos, y en especial la vista y el tacto, los astros parecen estar hechos en su mayor parte, si no completamente, de fuego; de acuerdo, en cambio, con la consideración de la razón como lo que es sólido no podría existir sin tierra, semejan estar formados de tierra. Pero, ¿necesitarían todavía de agua y de aire? Absurdo resulta que pueda haber agua en medio de tanto fuego; y en lo que concierne al aire, si realmente lo hubiese, se cambiaría a la naturaleza del fuego. Si (en matemáticas) dos números sólidos que son como extremos tienen necesidad de dos medios, podremos preguntarnos si no ocurre lo mismo en física; porque es claro que se puede mezclar tierra con agua sin necesidad de término intermedio. ¿Se argüirá acaso que "los demás elementos se encuentran ya en la tierra y en el agua"? Tal vez expondríamos con ello alguna razón, pero podría objetarse "que no son adecuados para enlazar las dos cosas". Diremos sin embargo, que el agua y la tierra se encuentran ya enlazadas porque tanto la una como la otra comprenden todos los elementos. Convendrá examinar, con todo, si la tierra no se muestra visible sin el fuego, y si el fuego no es sólido sin la tierra. Si fuese así, ningún elemento tendría esencia propia por si mismo, sino que todos los elementos aparecerían mezclados y cada uno seria llamado por el elemento que domina en él. Decimos, así, qué la tierra carece de consistencia sin humedad, siendo la humedad para ella como una especie de cola. Aun dando esto por supuesto, resultaría absurdo hablar de cada elemento como si fuese una realidad independiente y no concederle una determinada disposición, limitándola a la unión con los demás y no admitiéndola cuando aquél se halla solo. ¿Cómo explicaríamos una naturaleza o una esencia de la tierra si no hay en ella ninguna parte de tierra que sea tierra, caso de que no comprenda en si esa agua que la aglutine? ¿Qué ligazón podría hacer el agua de no existir algo con cierta magnitud que el agua misma se encargaría de unir a otra cosa y de modo continuo? Porque si se da alguna parte de tierra, sea la que sea; es claro que existe y posee su propia naturaleza sin necesidad del agua; pues, de otro modo, el agua no tendría nada que reunir. Y, por añadidura, ¿en qué grado necesita una masa de tierra del aire para existir, quiere decirse de un aire que persistiese en sí mismo antes de verificar su transformación? En cuanto al fuego, no se afirma naturalmente que la tierra necesite de él para existir, sino que por él se hacen visibles la tierra y todo lo demás. Porque es indudable que lo oscuro no es visible, sino al contrario, invisible, al igual que no se escucha el silencio. Pero no se necesita que el fuego se halle presente en la tierra, porque basta con la luz; y así, la nieve y los cuerpos más fríos son realmente brillantes, aun sin haber fuego en ellos. Aunque podría argüirse que el fuego ya ha venido con anterioridad a ellos y los ha dotado de color antes de abandonarlos.

Nos preguntaremos también si es que no existe el agua caso de no contar con algo de tierra. ¿Y cómo podríamos decir que el aire, siendo tan sutil, participa de la tierra? ¿O es que el fuego, si tiene necesidad de la tierra, no posee por sí mismo una extensión continua de tres dimensiones? ¿No ha de corresponderle la solidez, no ya por ser extenso y poseer tres dimensiones, sino por contar con la resistencia, propia en verdad de un cuerpo físico? Sólo la dureza conviene a la tierra; y la consistencia compacta del oro, que es agua, no le pertenece porque se le añade tierra, sino por su característica densidad y solidificación. En cuanto al fuego, ¿no poseerá por si mismo, y en virtud de la presencia del alma, consistencia suficiente para que ésta le manifieste su poder? Es muy cierto que hay entre los demonios seres animados de naturaleza ígnea. Mas, ¿alteramos con ello el principio de que todo ser animado contiene la pluralidad de los elementos? Podrá afirmarse esto de los seres de la tierra, pero es contrario a su naturaleza y a su misma disposición el colocar la tierra a la altura del cielo. Y no parece presumible que los cuerpos terrestres lleven consigo el movimiento circular más rápido, porque la tierra serviría entonces de estorbo al resplandor y al brillo del fuego celeste.

Bouillet

[6] Il nous reste à considérer si le ciel est uniquement composé de feu, si le feu laisse écouler quelque chose de sa substance, et a par conséquent besoin d’aliments. Platon  , dans le Timée   (19), compose d’abord de terre et de feu le corps de l’univers de feu pour qu’il soit visible, de terre pour qu’il soit. tangible. Il semble en résulter que les astres ne sont pas composés de feu dans leur totalité, mais seulement dans leur plus grande partie, puisqu’ils paraissent posséder un élément tangible. Cette opinion est admissible parce que Platon   l’appuie de motifs raisonnables : A consulter les sens, soit celui de la vue, soit celui du tact, le ciel semble composé de feu pour la plus grande partie ou même pour la totalité. Mais si nous interrogeons la raison, le ciel nous paraîtra contenir aussi de la terre, parce que sans terre il ne saurait être tangible (20). A-t-il besoin de contenir aussi de l’eau et de l’air ? Non : d’abord, il serait absurde que l’eau pût subsister dans un si grand feu; ensuite l’air ne saurait s’y trouver sans être aussitôt changé en feu. Mais si deux solides qui dans une proportion jouent le rôle d’extrêmes ne peuvent être unis sans deux moyens (21), on demandera s’il en est ainsi dans les choses naturelles : car on peut mêler de la terre et de l’eau sans aucun intermédiaire. Nous répondrons à cette objection que la terre et l’eau contiennent déjà les autres éléments. Mais ceux-ci, nous dira-t-on encore, ne sauraient servir à unir la terre et l’eau. Nous affirmerons néanmoins que la terre et l’eau sont liées parce que chacun de ces deux éléments renferme tous les autres.

Au reste, nous avons à examiner si la terre est invisible sans le feu, et le feu intangible sans la terre. S’il en était ainsi, rien n’aurait une essence propre. Toutes les choses seraient mêlées ; chacune d’elles ne devrait son nom qu’à l’élément qui prédominerait en elle : car on prétend que la terre ne saurait subsister sans l’humidité de l’eau, qui seule en tient les parties unies. En accordant que cela soit vrai, il n’en resterait pas moins absurde de dire que chacun des éléments est quelque chose, tout en prétendant qu’il ne possède pas de constitution propre par lui-même, mais seulement par son union avec les autres éléments, qui cependant, chacun en particulier, ne seraient rien non plus par eux-mêmes. Quelle réalité aurait en effet la nature ou l’essence de la terre, si aucune de ses parties n’était terre que parce que l’eau lui servirait de lien? D’ailleurs que pourra unir l’eau s’il n’y a préalablement une étendue dont elle ait à lier les parties entre elles pour en former un tout continu? S’il y a une étendue, quelque petite qu’elle soit, la terre existera par elle-même sans le secours de l’eau : sinon, il n’y aura rien que l’eau puisse lier. Quant à l’air, quel besoin la terre pourrait-elle en avoir, puisque l’air subsiste avant qu’on observe en elle aucun changement? Le feu n’est pas non plus nécessaire à la constitution de la terre : il ne sert qu’à la rendre visible comme les autres objets. En effet, il est raisonnable d’admettre que c’est le feu qui rend les objets visibles : on ne saurait dire qu’on voit les ténèbres (22) ; on ne peut pas plus les voir qu’on ne peut entendre le silence. Au reste, il n’est point nécessaire qu’il y ait du feu dans la terre; il suffit de la lumière [pour la rendre visible] : la neige et beaucoup d’autres substances très froides sont brillantes sans feu, à moins qu’on ne dise que le feu s’en est approché et les a colorées avant de s’en éloigner.

Examinons les autres éléments. L’eau ne saurait-elle exister sans participer de la terre? Pour l’air, comment prétendre qu’il participe de la terre, étant aussi pénétrable qu’il l’est? Quant au feu, il est douteux qu’il doive contenir de la terre, parce qu’il paraît n’être point continu et ne point posséder par lui-même les trois dimensions ; la solidité se trouve en lui, il est vrai : c’est qu’elle y consiste, non dans les trois dimensions, mais dans une espèce de résistance (elle ne s’y trouvera donc pas en tant que c’est une nature corporelle) (23). La dureté ne convient qu’à la terre : en effet, l’or à l’état liquide est dense (24), non parce qu’il est terre, mais parce qu’il possède de la densité et qu’il est solidifié. Pourquoi donc le feu pris en lui-même ne saurait-il subsister par la puissance de l’Âme qui le soutient par sa présence? Les corps des démons sont de feu (25).

Rejetterons-nous cette proposition que l’animal universel est composé des éléments universels? On peut accorder que les animaux terrestres sont composés de cette manière ; mais faire entrer l’élément terrestre dans la composition du ciel, ce serait admettre une chose contraire à la nature et à l’ordre qu’elle a établi . On ne salirait prouver que les astres entraînent dans leur mouvement si rapide des corps terrestres (26). En outre, la présence de la terre serait un obstacle à l’éclat et à la splendeur du feu céleste.

Guthrie

THE STARS CONTAIN NOT ONLY FIRE. BUT TANGIBLE EARTH.

6. Is the heaven composed exclusively of fire? Does the fire allow any of its substance to flow off, or escape? Does it, therefore, need being fed? (Plato  ) thinks the body of the universe is composed of earth and fire; fire to explain its being visible, and earth to explain its being tangible. This would lead us to suppose that the stars are composed of fire not exclusively, but predominatingly, since they seem to possess a tangible element. This opinion is plausible because Plato   supports it with reasonable grounds. [Sense, sight and touch would lead us to believe that ithe greater part, if not the whole, of the heaven, is fire. But reason suggests that the heaven also contains earth, because without earth it could not be tangible. This however does not imply that it contains also air and water. It would seem absurd to think that water could subsist in so great a fire; nor could air survive itherein without immediately being transformed to steam. It might be objected that two solids which play the parts of extremes in a proportion, cannot be united without two means. This objection, however, might have no cogency, for this mathematical relation might not apply to natural things, as indeed we are led to isurmise by the possibility of mingling earth and water without any intermediary. To this it may be answered that earth and water already contain the other ele-Iments. Some persons might think that the latter could not effectually unite earth and water; but this would not disturb our contention that the earth and water are [related because each of these two elements contains all the others.

EARTH CONTAINS ALL THE OTHER ELEMENTS.

Besides, we shall have to examine whether the earth be invisible without fire, and the fire intangible without the earth. Were this the case, nothing would possess its own proper being. All things would be mixed; each would reclaim its name only by the element preponderating in it; for it has been claimed that the earth could not exist without the humidity of water, which alone keeps all its parts united. Even were this granted, it would, none the less, remain absurd to say that each of these elements is something, while claiming that it does not possess any characteristically individual constitution, except by its union with the other elements, which, nevertheless, would not, any the more, exist individually, each in itself. What reality, indeed, would inhere in the nature or being of the earth, if none of its parts were earth except because the water that operated as a bond? Besides, with what could water unite without the preliminary existence of an extension whose parts were to be bound together for the formation of a continuous whole? The existence of an extension, however small it be, will imply the self-existence of earth, without the assistance of water; otherwise, there would be nothing for water to bind together. Nor would the earth have any need of air, since the air exists before the observation of any change within it. Nor is fire any more necessary to the constitution of the earth; fire only serves in making it visible, like all other objects. It is indeed reasonable to assert that it is fire which renders objects visible, and it is a mistake to state that "one sees darkness,’ which cannot be seen any more than silence can be heard. Besides, there is no necessity for fire to be in earth; light suffices (to make is visible). Snow, and many other very cold substances are, without any fire, very brilliant—that is, unless we say that the fire approached them, and colored them before leaving them.

ELEMENTS ARE NEVERTHELESS INDIVIDUAL.

As to the other elements, could not water exist without participating in the earth? Air could certainly not be said to participate in earth, because of its penetrability. It is very -doubtful that the fire contains any earth, because it does not seem continuous, and does not, by itself, seem to be tri-dimensional. True, fire does seem to contain solidity, but not of a tri-dimensional kind; it seems rather to be a sort of resistance corporeal nature). Only of earth may hardness be predicated; indeed, gold, in liquid state, is dense; not because it is earth, but because it possesses density, and is solidified. It would therefore not be unreasonable that fire, apart by itself, could subsist by the power of the Soul which sustains it by her presence. The bodies of (certain among) the guardian spirits consist of fire.

TERRESTRIAL ELEMENTS, HOWEVER. DO NOT DEGRADE THE HEAVEN.

It is unlikely that the universal Organism is composed of universal elements. That terrestrial animals are thus composed is certain; but to introduce the terrestrial element into the composition of the heaven would be to admit something contrary to nature, and to the order thereby established. (Epicurus  ’s opinion that) the stars carry terrestrial bodies along in their rapid flight is undemonstrable. Besides, the presence of the earth would be an obstacle to the shine and splendor of the celestial fire.

MacKenna

6. We may now consider the question whether fire is the sole element existing in that celestial realm and whether there is any outgoing thence with the consequent need of renewal.

Timaeus   pronounced the material frame of the All to consist primarily of earth and fire for visibility, earth for solidity - and deduced that the stars must be mainly composed of fire, but not solely since there is no doubt they are solid.

And this is probably a true account. Plato   accepts it as indicated by all the appearances. And, in fact, to all our perception - as we see them and derive from them the impression of illumination - the stars appear to be mostly, if not exclusively, fire: but on reasoning into the matter we judge that since solidity cannot exist apart from earth-matter, they must contain earth as well.

But what place could there be for the other elements? It is impossible to imagine water amid so vast a conflagration; and if air were present it would be continually changing into fire.

Admitting [with Timaeus  ; as a logical truth] that two self-contained entities, standing as extremes to each other need for their coherence two intermediaries; we may still question whether this holds good with regard to physical bodies. Certainly water and earth can be mixed without any such intermediate. It might seem valid to object that the intermediates are already present in the earth and the water; but a possible answer would be, "Yes, but not as agents whose meeting is necessary to the coherence of those extremes."

None the less we will take it that the coherence of extremes is produced by virtue of each possessing all the intermediates. It is still not proven that fire is necessary to the visibility of earth and earth to the solidarity of fire.

On this principle, nothing possesses an essential-nature of its very own; every several thing is a blend, and its name is merely an indication of the dominant constituent.

Thus we are told that earth cannot have concrete existence without the help of some moist element - the moisture in water being the necessary adhesive - but admitting that we so find it, there is still a contradiction in pretending that any one element has a being of its own and in the same breath denying its self-coherence, making its subsistence depend upon others, and so, in reality, reducing the specific element to nothing. How can we talk of the existence of the definite Kind, earth - earth essential - if there exists no single particle of earth which actually is earth without any need of water to secure its self-cohesion? What has such an adhesive to act upon if there is absolutely no given magnitude of real earth to which it may bind particle after particle in its business of producing the continuous mass? If there is any such given magnitude, large or small, of pure earth, then earth can exist in its own nature, independently of water: if there is no such primary particle of pure earth, then there is nothing whatever for the water to bind. As for air - air unchanged, retaining its distinctive quality - how could it conduce to the subsistence of a dense material like earth?

Similarly with fire. No doubt Timaeus   speaks of it as necessary not to the existence but to the visibility of earth and the other elements; and certainly light is essential to all visibility - we cannot say that we see darkness, which implies, precisely, that nothing is seen, as silence means nothing being heard.

But all this does not assure us that the earth to be visible must contain fire: light is sufficient: snow, for example, and other extremely cold substances gleam without the presence of fire - though of course it might be said that fire was once there and communicated colour before disappearing.

As to the composition of water, we must leave it an open question whether there can be such a thing as water without a certain proportion of earth.

But how can air, the yielding element, contain earth?

Fire, again: is earth perhaps necessary there since fire is by its own nature devoid of continuity and not a thing of three dimensions?

Supposing it does not possess the solidity of the three dimensions, it has that of its thrust; now, cannot this belong to it by the mere right and fact of its being one of the corporeal entities in nature? Hardness is another matter, a property confined to earth-stuff. Remember that gold - which is water - becomes dense by the accession not of earth but of denseness or consolidation: in the same way fire, with Soul present within it, may consolidate itself upon the power of the Soul; and there are living beings of fire among the Celestials.

But, in sum, do we abandon the teaching that all the elements enter into the composition of every living thing?

For this sphere, no; but to lift clay into the heavens is against nature, contrary to the laws   of her ordaining: it is difficult, too, to think of that swiftest of circuits bearing along earthly bodies in its course nor could such material conduce to the splendour and white glint of the celestial fire.