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Plotino - Tratado 12,13 (II, 4, 13) — A matéria versus a qualidade

Enéada II, 4, 13

quarta-feira 8 de junho de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Míguez

13. Si se dice que el sujeto es una cualidad común que existe en cada uno de los elementos, habrá que decir primero qué clase de cualidad es. Podríamos preguntamos además: ¿cómo una cualidad puede ser sujeto? Y, por añadidura, ¿cómo la observaríamos en algo que carece de magnitud, si ella no tiene materia ni extensión? Por otra parte, si se trata de una cualidad determinada, ¿cómo hermanarla con la materia? Y si es algo indeterminado, es claro que ya no es una cualidad, sino el sujeto y la materia que andamos buscando. Y si la materia no posee cualidad porque, por su misma naturaleza, no participa en ninguna cualidad de las demás cosas, ¿qué impide el que esta no participación en la cualidad sea para la materia algo particularmente característico, que la distingue ya de las otras cosas por su misma privación de la cualidad? Pues estar privado de una cosa es poseer una cualidad, como ocurre con el que no ve. Por tanto, si la materia tiene privación de algo, ¿cómo no ha de poseer una cualidad? Y si la privación es general, todavía con mucha más razón, siempre que la privación sea realmente una cualidad. Diciendo esto, ¿qué otra cosa se produce sino cualidades y calificaciones? De este modo la cantidad se convierte en cualidad y lo mismo la sustancia. Si una cosa cuenta con alguna cualidad es porque la cualidad le pertenece; pues sería ridículo calificar a un ser por algo distinto de la cualidad y por lo que no posee la cualidad. Si ese ser es otro distinto, posee indudablemente la cualidad; y. si es la diversidad misma, entonces no posee la cualidad, puesto que la cualidad no se entiende como calificada. Si sólo es otro, no lo será realmente por sí mismo, sino debido a la diversidad, al igual que es idéntico en razón de la identidad. Por lo demás, la privación no consiste en una cualidad o en una calificación, sino que es la carencia de una cualidad, cualquiera que sea ésta; y así, el silencio no es otra cosa que la ausencia de ruido o de toda otra cualidad. Porque la privación viene a ser una negación, en tanto la cualidad es una afirmación.

Lo característico de la materia es el no contar con la ’forma; porque si la materia no posee cualidades, tampoco posee forma alguna. Resulta ilógico, por tanto, considerar como calificado a lo que ciertamente no posee cualidades; de manera semejante, y por carecer de magnitud, diríamos que es algo extenso. Lo propio de la materia no es otra cosa que su mismo ser, y este ser no descansa en una particularidad sino más bien en una disposición de la materia hacia las demás cosas; esto es, aparece como distinto de ellas. Por lo demás, las otras cosas no son tan sólo otras cosas, sino que cuentan por separado con una cierta forma; en tanto se dice adecuada y solamente de la materia que es otra cosa, y aun mejor otras cosas, para no determinarla de una manera singular e indicar, en cambio, su propia determinación de una manera plural.

Bouillet

XIII. Si l’on veut que le sujet des choses soit une qualité commune à tous les éléments, il faut expliquer d’abord quelle est cette qualité, puis comment une qualité sert de sujet, comment une qualité inétendue, immatérielle (47) est perçue dans une chose inétendue; enfin comment, si cette qualité est déterminée, elle est la matière : car si elle est quelque chose d’indéterminé, elle n’est plus une qualité, elle est la matière même que nous cherchons. Mais, pourra-t-on dire, si la matière n’a aucune qualité, parce qu’en vertu de sa nature elle ne participe à aucune qualité des autres choses, qui empêche que cette propriété de ne participer à aucune qualité ne soit elle-même dans la matière une qualification, un caractère particulier et distinctif, qui consiste dans la privation de toutes les autres choses (48)? Dans l’homme, la privation de quelque chose est une qualité : la privation de la vue, par exemple, est la cécité. S’il y a dans la matière la privation de certaines choses, cette privation est aussi pour elle une qualification. S’il y a dans la matière une privation absolue de toutes choses, notre assertion est encore mieux fondée : car la privation est une qualification. — Élever une pareille objection, c’est faire de tout des qualités et des choses qualifiées. Dans ce cas, la quantité est une qualité aussi bien que l’essence. Chaque chose qualifiée doit posséder une qualité. Il est ridicule de prétendre qu’une chose qualifiée est qualifiée par ce qui n’a pas de qualité soi-même, par ce qui est autre que la qualité.

Dira-t-on que cela est possible parce que être autre est une qualité? Nous demanderons alors si la chose qui est autre est l’altérité même (αὐτοετερότης)(49). Si elle est altérité même, ce n’est pas comme chose qualifiée, parce que la qualité n’est pas une chose qualifiée. Si cette chose est autre seulement, elle ne l’est point par elle-même, elle ne l’est que par l’altérité, comme une chose est identique par l’identité. La privation n’est donc pas une qualité, ni une chose qualifiée, mais l’absence de qualité ou d’autre chose, comme le silence est l’absence du son. La privation est une chose négative; la qualification est une chose positive. La propriété de la matière n’est pas une forme : car sa propriété consiste précisément à n’avoir point de qualification ni de forme. Il est absurde de prétendre qu’elle est qualifiée parce qu’elle n’a point de qualité ; c’est comme si l’on avançait qu’elle est étendue par cela même qu’elle n’a pas d’étendue. La propriété (ἰδιότης) delà matière n’est donc pas autre chose que d’être ce qu’elle est. Sa propriété n’est pas un attribut : elle consiste dans une disposition à devenir les autres choses (ἐν σχέσει τῇ πρὸς τὰ ἄλλα), parce qu’elle est autre qu’elles. Non seulement ces autres choses sont autres que la matière, mais encore chacune d’elles a une forme individuelle. Le seul nom qui convienne à la matière, c’est autre, ἄλλο, ou plutôt autres, ἄλλα, parce que le singulier est encore trop déterminatif, et que le pluriel exprime mieux l’indétermination.

Guthrie

THE SUBSTRATE IS NOT A QUALITY COMMON TO ALL ELEMENTS; FOR THUS IT WOULD NOT BE INDETERMINATE.

13. Those who insist that the substrate of things is a quality common to all elements are bound to explain first the nature of this quality; then, how a quality could serve as substrate; how an unextended, immaterial (?) quality could be perceived in something that lacked extension; further, how, if this quality be determinate, it can be matter; for if it be something indeterminate, it is no longer a quality, but matter itself that we seek.

EVEN THIS PRIVATION MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A QUALITY; BUT SUCH A USE OF THE TERM WOULD DESTROY ALL COHERENT REASONING.

Let us grant that matter has no quality, because, by virtue of its nature, it does not participate in a quality of any other thing. What, however, would hinder this property, because it is a qualification in matter, from participating in some quality? This would be a particular and distinctive characteristic, which consists of the privation of all other things (referring to Aristotle  ) ? In man, the privation of something may be considered a quality; as, for instance, the privation of sight is blindness. If the privation of certain things inhere in matter, this privation is also a qualification for matter. If further the privation in matter extend to all things, absolutely, our objection is still better grounded, for privation is a qualification. Such an objection, however, amounts to making qualities and qualified things of everything. In this case quantity, as well as "being," would be a quality. Every qualified thing must possess some quality. It is ridiculous to suppose that something qualified is qualified by what itself has no quality, being other than quality.

BY A PUN BETWEEN "DIFFERENCE" AND "OTHER-NESS/ PLOTINOS   DEFINES THE CHARACTERISTIC OF MATTER AS BEING A DISPOSITION TO BECOME SOMETHING ELSE.

Some one may object that that is possible, because "being something else" is a quality. We would then have to ask whether the thing that is other be otherness-in-itself? If it be otherness-in-itself, it is so not because it is something qualified, because quality is not something qualified. If this thing be only other, it is not such by itself, it is so only by otherness, as a thing that is identical by identity. Privation, therefore, is not a quality, nor anything qualified, but the absence of quality or of something else, as silence is the absence of sound. Privation is something negative; qualification is something positive. The property of matter is not a form ; for its property consists precisely in having neither qualification nor form. It is absurd to insist that it is qualified, just because it has no quality; this would be tantamount to saying that it possessed extension by the very fact of its possessing no extension. The individuality (or, property) of matter is to be what it is. Its characteristic is not an attribute; it consists in a disposition to become other things. Not only are these other things other than matter, but besides each of them possesses an individual form. The only name that suits matter is "other," or rather, "others," because the singular is too determinative, and the plural better expresses indetermination.

Taylor

XIII. If, however, the subject of things is a certain quality, being something common in each of the elements, in the first place indeed, it must be shown what it is. And, in the next place, how quality can be a subject must be explained. How, likewise, can a thing which has quality be surveyed in that which is without magnitude, and without matter ? Likewise, if the quality is defined, how can it be matter r But if it is something indefinite, it is not quality, but a subject, and matter which we are now investigating. - "What hinders, therefore, but that it may indeed be void of quality in consequence of not in its own nature participating any one of other things, and yet through not participating of any thing, it may be endued with quality, entirely possessing a certain peculiarity, and differing from other things, being as it were a certain privation of them r For he who suffers a privation of anything, as for instance, a blind man, is [it may be said] a participant of quality. If, therefore, there is a privation of these things about matter, how is it possible it should not be endued with quality? But if, in short, there is privation about it, it is in a still greater degree a participant of quality, if privation is a certain something that has quality. He, however, who thus objects, what else does he do than make all things to be qualities, and the participants of quality? So that quantity, and also essence, will be quality. And if each of these is such like, quality will be present with it. It is, however, ridiculous to make that which is different from the participant of quality, and which is not such like, to be endued with quality. But if it should be said, this is because a thing that is different is a participant of quality, Ave reply, if indeed it is difference itself, it will not subsist as a thing that is such like, since neither is quality the participant of quality. If, however, it is different alone, it is not alone different through itself, but through difference, and is the same through sameness. Neither, therefore, is }>rivation quality, nor the participant of quality, but is destitute of quality, or of something else, just as silence is the absence of sound or of some other thing. For privation is a negation. But a thing endued with quality consists in affirmation. The peculiarity, likewise, of matter is not morphe; for not to possess quality is not to possess a certain form. It is absurd, therefore, to call that thing quality, which is not a participant of quality, and is just as if it should be said that a thing without magnitude, in consequence of being without, possesses magnitude. The peculiarity, therefore, of matter, is not any thing else than that which matter is: nor is its peculiarity adjacent to it, but rather subsists in a habitude to other things, because matter is different from them. And other things, indeed, are not only others, but each of them is a certain thing as having form. Matter, however, may be aptly said to be alone that which is another. Perhaps, also, it may be appropriately denominated other things, lest by calling it in the singular number another, you should limit [its boundless nature;] but by denominating it others, you will indicate the indefiniteness of its subsistence.

MacKenna

13. Are we asked to accept as the substratum some attribute or quality present to all the elements in common?

Then, first, we must be told what precise attribute this is and, next, how an attribute can be a substratum.

The elements are sizeless, and how conceive an attribute where there is neither base nor bulk?

Again, if the quality possesses determination, it is not Matter the undetermined; and anything without determination is not a quality but is the substratum - the very Matter we are seeking.

It may be suggested that perhaps this absence of quality means simply that, of its own nature, it has no participation in any of the set and familiar properties, but takes quality by this very non-participation, holding thus an absolutely individual character, marked off from everything else, being as it were the negation of those others. Deprivation, we will be told, comports quality: a blind man has the quality of his lack of sight. If then - it will be urged - Matter exhibits such a negation, surely it has a quality, all the more so, assuming any deprivation to be a quality, in that here the deprivation is all comprehensive.

But this notion reduces all existence to qualified things or qualities: Quantity itself becomes a Quality and so does even Existence. Now this cannot be: if such things as Quantity and Existence are qualified, they are, by that very fact, not qualities: Quality is an addition to them; we must not commit the absurdity of giving the name Quality to something distinguishable from Quality, something therefore that is not Quality.

Is it suggested that its mere Alienism is a quality in Matter?

If this Alienism is difference-absolute [the abstract entity] it possesses no Quality: absolute Quality cannot be itself a qualified thing.

If the Alienism is to be understood as meaning only that Matter is differentiated, then it is different not by itself [since it is certainly not an absolute] but by this Difference, just as all identical objects are so by virtue of Identicalness [the Absolute principle of Identity].

An absence is neither a Quality nor a qualified entity; it is the negation of a Quality or of something else, as noiselessness is the negation of noise and so on. A lack is negative; Quality demands something positive. The distinctive character of Matter is unshape, the lack of qualification and of form; surely then it is absurd to pretend that it has Quality in not being qualified; that is like saying that sizelessness constitutes a certain size.

The distinctive character of Matter, then, is simply its manner of being - not something definite inserted in it but, rather a relation towards other things, the relation of being distinct from them.

Other things possess something besides this relation of Alienism: their form makes each an entity. Matter may with propriety be described as merely alien; perhaps, even, we might describe it as "The Aliens," for the singular suggests a certain definiteness while the plural would indicate the absence of any determination.