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Plotino - Tratado 12,11 (II, 4, 11) — Aporias relativas à noção de uma matéria sem grandeza

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terça-feira 7 de junho de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

    

Míguez

11. ¿De qué otra cosa hay, sin embargo, necesidad, además de la magnitud y de todas las demás cualidades, para la constitución de los cuerpos? Se necesitará, al menos (un sujeto) que las reciba a todas. Ese sujeto poseerá una masa y, por supuesto, una magnitud determinada; sin ella, no tendría dónde recibirlas. Siendo, por otra parte, inextenso, ¿qué utilidad podría prestar de no servir de asiento a la forma, a la cualidad, a la extensión y a la magnitud, cosas éstas que van bien con los cuerpos de la materia? En modo alguno, se dice, las acciones, producciones, espacios de tiempo y movimientos, que son cosas que se dan en los seres, tienen necesidad de substrato   material. No es necesario, ciertamente, que los primeros cuerpos tengan una materia; cada uno de ellos constituye un todo en el que la variedad proviene de la mezcla de muchas formas. He aquí, pues, que la materia carente de magnitud es un nombre sin sentido.

No se necesita, por tanto, que todo receptáculo   de formas sea una masa, caso de que la magnitud no le corresponda ya por otro motivo. El alma  , por ejemplo, lo recibe todo y lo posee todo a la vez; si la magnitud fuese uno de sus atributos, es claro que poseería cada uno de los objetos en la magnitud. Si las formas que recibe la materia las recibe realmente en la extensión es porque se muestra capaz de recibir la extensión; como ocurre en los animales y en las plantas susceptibles de agrandarse, cuyas cualidades marchan en parangón con la cantidad, disminuyendo también si el animal   o la planta   disminuye. Estos seres cuentan de antemano con una cierta magnitud que es el sujeto de las formas; pero, ¿es la materia la que la exige? De ningún modo; la materia de que aquí se habla no es la materia en general, sino la propia de dichos seres; convendrá, desde luego, que la materia en general tenga algo más que la magnitud. El sujeto que recibe las formas no conviene que sea una masa, sino que la masa viene a él con todas las otras cualidades; si tiene verdaderamente esa apariencia es por su disposición para recibir la magnitud antes que ninguna otra cosa. Pero sería, en todo caso, una masa vacía, de dónde la afirmación de algunos, que consideran a la materia lo mismo que el vacío. Yo digo que esa apariencia de volumen proviene de que el alma no tiene nada que determinar cuando toma relación con la materia, lo cual la empuja a lo indeterminado  ; no cuenta entonces con nada que la limite, ni puede dirigirse a ningún lado, porque esto ya sería para ella una cierta limitación. No deberá decirse que lo indeterminado es, separadamente, grande o pequeño, sino que es grande y pequeño. Se trata de una masa inextensa, o mejor de una materia de esa masa que se reduce de lo grande a lo pequeño, pero que luego pasa también de lo pequeño a lo grande. La indeterminación de la materia es esa misma masa, y constituye en ella el receptáculo de la magnitud.

Estamos aquí en el terreno de la imagen material. Porque, en lo que atañe a los otros seres inextensos, esto es, a las formas definidas, no nos proporcionan la idea   de la masa. Existe, sin embargo, la materia indeterminada, que no es estable por sí misma y se mueve hacia toda forma, dejándose conducir fácilmente hacia ella. Esta materia se hace múltiple al verse llevada a todas partes en una generación incesante; tiene, por eso, de algún modo, la naturaleza misma de la masa.

Bouillet

XI. Pour composer les corps, nous dira-t-on, faut-il autre chose que l’étendue et toutes les qualités (39)? — Oui : il faut un sujet qui les reçoive. Ce sujet n’est pas une masse : car si c’était une masse, ce serait une étendue. —Si ce sujet n’a pas d’étendue [objectera-t-on encore], comment est-il un réceptacle? Sans étendue, à quoi sert-il, s’il ne contribue ni à la forme et aux qualités, ni à la grandeur et à l’étendue? Il semble que l’étendue, quelque part qu’elle soit, est donnée aux corps par la mati  ère. De même que les actions, les effets, les temps, les mouvements, quoiqu’ils n’impliquent aucune matière, sont cependant des êtres, il semble que les corps élémentaires n’impliquent pas nécessairement une matière [sans étendue], mais qu’ils sont des êtres individuels, dont la substance diverse est constituée par le mélange de plusieurs formes. Cette matière sans étendue paraît donc n’être qu’un mot vide de sens.

[Voici la réponse que nous ferons à cette objection] : D’abord tout réceptacle n’est pas de toute nécessité une masse, à moins qu’il n’ait déjà reçu l’étendue. L’âme, qui possède toutes choses, les contient toutes à la fois. Si elle était étendue, elle posséderait toutes choses dans l’étendue. Aussi la matière reçoit-elle dans l’étendue tout ce qu’elle contient, parce qu’elle est susceptible d’étendue. De même, dans les animaux et les végétaux, à l’accroissement et à la diminution de la grandeur correspondent un accroissement et une diminution de la qualité. On aurait tort de prétendre que la grandeur est nécessaire à la matière parce que, dans les objets sensibles, il existe préalablement une grandeur sur laquelle s’exerce l’action du principe qui les forme: caria matière de ces objets n’est pas la matière pure, mais telle ou telle matière (40). La matière pure et simple doit recevoir d’un autre principe son étendue. Donc le réceptacle de la forme ne saurait être une masse; en recevant l’étendue, il reçoit encore les autres qualités. La matière est l’image de l’étendue, parce qu’étant matière première elle possède l’aptitude à devenir étendue. On se représente la matière comme une étendue vide ; aussi quelques philosophes ont-ils avancé que la matière est la même chose que le vide. Je le répète donc : la matière est l’image de l’étendue, parce que l’âme, ne pouvant rien déterminer quand elle considère la matière, se répand dans l’indétermination, sans pouvoir rien circonscrire, ni rien marquer; sinon, elle déterminerait quelque chose. Ce sujet ne saurait être appelé exclusivement grand ou petit; il est à la fois grand et petit (41). Il est à la fois étendu et inétendu parce qu’il est la matière de l’étendue. S’il est agrandi et rapetissé, il parcourt en quelque sorte l’étendue. Son indétermination est une étendue qui consiste à être le réceptacle même de l’étendue, mais à n’être véritablement que l’étendue imaginaire, comme nous l’avons expliqué plus haut. Les autres êtres, qui n’ont pas d’étendue, mais qui sont des formes, sont chacun déterminés, et, par conséquent, n’impliquent aucune idée d’étendue. La matière au contraire, étant indéterminée, incapable de rester en elle-même, étant portée à recevoir partout toutes les formes, étant toujours docile, devient multiple par sa docilité et par la génération [à laquelle elle se prête]. C’est de cette manière qu’elle paraît avoir pour nature l’étendue.

Guthrie

THE COMPOSITION OF A BODY NEEDS A SUBSTRATE.

11. (Following the ideas of Aristotle  , Plotinos   wonders whether some objector) will ask whether the composition of a body requires anything beyond extension and all the other qualities? Yes: it demands a substrate to receive them (as a residence). This substrate is not a mass; for in this case, it would be an extension. But if this substrate have no extension, how can it be a residence (for form) ? Without extension, it could be of no service, contributing neither to form nor qualities, to magnitude nor extension. It seems that extension, wherever it be, is given to bodies by matter. Just as actions, effects, times and movements, though they do not imply any matter, nevertheless are beings, it would seem that the elementary bodies do not necessarily imply matter (without extension), being individual beings, whose diverse substance is constituted by the mingling of several forms. Matter without extension, therefore, seems to be no more than a meaningless name.

MATTER AS THE IMAGE OF EXTENSION. CAN YET BE RESIDENCE OF FORM.

(Our answer to the above objection is this:) To begin with, not every residence is necessarily a mass, unless it have already received extension. The soul, which possesses all things, contains them all simultaneously. If it possessed extension, it would possess all things in extension. Consequently matter receives all it contains in extension, because it is capable thereof. Likewise in animals and plants there is a correspondence between the growth and diminution of their magnitude, with that of their quality. It would be wrong to claim that magnitude is necessary to matter because, in sense  -objects, there exists a previous magnitude, on which is exerted the action of the forming principle; for the matter of these objects is not pure matter, but individual matter (as said Aristotle). Matter pure and simple must receive its extension from some other principle. Therefore the residence of form could not be a mass; for in receiving extension, it would also receive the other qualities. Matter therefore, is the image of extension, because as it is primary matter, it possesses the ability to become extended. People often imagine matter as empty extension; consequently several philosophers have claimed that matter is identical with emptiness. I repeat: matter is the image of extension because the soul, when considering matter, is unable to determine anything, spreads into indetermination, without being able to circumscribe or mark anything; otherwise, matter would determine something. This substrate could not properly be called big or little; it is simultaneously big and little (as said Aristotle). It is simultaneously extended and non-extended, because it is the matter of extension. If it were enlarged or made smaller, it would somehow move in extension. Its indetermination is an extension which consists in being the very residence of extension, but really in being only imaginary extension, as has been explained above. Other beings, that have no extension, but which are forms, are each of them determinate, and consequently imply no other idea of extension. On the contrary, matter, being indeterminate, and incapable of remaining within itself, being moved to receive all forms everywhere, ever being docile, by this very docility, and by the generation (to which it adapts itself), becomes manifold. It is in this way its nature seems to be extension.

Taylor

XI. But why is it requisite there should be something else besides magnitude and all qualities/to the composition of bodies? Or is it not necessary there should be that which is the recipient of all things ? It will not therefore be bulk. For if it were bulk, it would also be magnitude. But if it is without magnitude, it will not have a place where it may receive [all other things]. For being void of magnitude, what advantage would it derive from place, if it neither contributes to form and quality, nor to interval and magnitude ? the two latter of which appear to be derived to bodies from matter, wherever it may be. In short, as actions and productions, times and motions, though they have no substratum of matter in them, yet rank among beings; thus, also, neither is it necessary that the first bodies should have a matter [which is without magnitude], but that each of them should be wholly that which it is, being more various by the mixture with things that have their composition from many forms. So that this matter which is without magnitude, is a vain name. In the first place, therefore, it is not necessary that whatever receives any thing should have bulk, if magnitude is not now present with it; since soul, likewise, which receives all things, has all things at once. But if it happened to have magnitude, it would possess every thing that it contains, in magnitude. Matter, however, on this account, receives the things which it receives, in interval, because it is the recipient of interval; just as animals and plants, while they are extended with magnitude, receive at the same time the production of quality; and quantity being contracted, quality also is contracted. If, however, because a certain magnitude pre-exists in things of this kind, as a subject to the formator, some one should also require this in matter, he will not conceive rightly. For in the formation of these, not matter simply considered, is employed, but matter of a certain kind. But it is necessary that matter simply considered, should possess magnitude from something else. Hence, it is not necessary that the recipient of form should be bulk, but that at the same time it becomes bulk, it should receive another quality; and that it should have indeed the phantasm of bulk, because, as being the first matter, it is an aptitude to the reception of it. It is, however, a void bulk; and hence some assert that matter and a vacuum are the same. For the soul having nothing which it can bound, when it associates with matter, diffuses itself into the indefinite, neither circumscribing it, nor being able to arrive at any fixed point [of survey ;] since otherwise it would define it. Hence, neither is it to be separately called great, nor again small; but it must be denominated both small and great. And thus it is bulk, and thus is without magnitude, because it is the matter of bulk. Being also contracted from the great to the small, and extended from the small to the great, it rims as it were through bulk. The indefi-niteness of it, likewise, is a bulk of this kind, being the receptacle of magnitude in itself; but in imagination in the way before explained. For with respect to such other things without magnitude as are forms, each of them is definite; so that they bring with them no conception whatever of bulk. But matter being indefinite, and never at rest with itself, and being borne along to every form, in every direction, and easily led every where, becomes multitudinous by its generation and transition to all things. And after this manner it possesses the nature of bulk.

MacKenna

11. «But, given Magnitude and the properties we know, what else can be necessary to the existence of body?»

Some base to be the container of all the rest.

«A certain mass then; and if mass, then Magnitude? Obviously if your Base has no Magnitude it offers no footing to any entrant. And suppose it sizeless; then, what end does it serve? It never helped Idea or quality; now it ceases to account for differentiation or for magnitude, though the last, wheresoever it resides, seems to find its way into embodied entities by way of Matter.»

«Or, taking a larger view, observe that actions, productive operations, periods of time, movements, none of these have any such substratum and yet are real things; in the same way the most elementary body has no need of Matter; things may be, all, what they are, each after its own kind, in their great variety, deriving the coherence of their being from the blending of the various Ideal-Forms. This Matter with its sizelessness seems, then, to be a name without a content.»

Now, to begin with: extension is not an imperative condition of being a recipient; it is necessary only where it happens to be a property inherent to the recipient’s peculiar mode of being. The Soul, for example, contains all things but holds them all in an unextended unity; if magnitude were one of its attributes it would contain things in extension. Matter does actually contain in spatial extension what it takes in; but this is because itself is a potential recipient of spatial extension: animals and plants, in the same way, as they increase in size, take quality in parallel development with quantity, and they lose in the one as the other lessens.

No doubt in the case of things as we know them there is a certain mass lying ready beforehand to the shaping power: but that is no reason for expecting bulk in Matter strictly so called; for in such cases Matter is not the absolute; it is that of some definite object; the Absolute Matter must take its magnitude, as every other property, from outside itself.

A thing then need not have magnitude in order to receive form: it may receive mass with everything else that comes to it at the moment of becoming what it is to be: a phantasm of mass is enough, a primary aptness for extension, a magnitude of no content - whence the identification that has been made of Matter with The Void.

But I prefer to use the word phantasm as hinting the indefiniteness into which the Soul spills itself when it seeks to communicate with Matter, finding no possibility of delimiting it, neither encompassing it nor able to penetrate to any fixed point of it, either of which achievements would be an act of delimitation.

In other words, we have something which is to be described not as small or great but as the great-and-small: for it is at once a mass and a thing without magnitude, in the sense that it is the Matter on which Mass is based and that, as it changes from great to small and small to great, it traverses magnitude. Its very undeterminateness is a mass in the same sense that of being a recipient of Magnitude - though of course only in the visible object.

In the order of things without Mass, all that is Ideal-Principle possesses delimitation, each entity for itself, so that the conception of Mass has no place in them: Matter, not delimited, having in its own nature no stability, swept into any or every form by turns, ready to go here, there and everywhere, becomes a thing of multiplicity: driven into all shapes, becoming all things, it has that much of the character of mass.