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Plotino - Tratado 33,14 (II, 9, 14) — Contra suas práticas mágicas e contra a arrogância de sua filosofia

Enéada II, 9, 14

domingo 19 de junho de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Capítulo 14: Contra suas práticas mágicas e contra a arrogância de sua filosofia.

  • 1-11. Por suas encantações mágicas, os gnósticos rebaixam as realidades inteligíveis.
  • 11-34. Eles creem equivocadamente que demônios causam as doenças.
  • 34-45. A arrogante filosofia deles se opõe à nossa, que digna e prudente.

Míguez

14. Suponen, además, y más que nadie, que los seres inteligibles no son puros. Porque cuando formulan conjuros que dirigen a estos seres, y no solamente al alma, sino a los seres que están por encima de ella, ¿qué otra cosa hacen sino emplear palabras que les hechicen, les encanten y les convenzan de que deben obedecerles y seguirles? Esto supuesto que conozcamos el arte de encantar según lo ordenado a tal fin, de modo que podamos gritar, aspirar, silbar y emitir cualesquiera sonidos con los que hechicemos a los seres inteligibles. Si no quieren admitir esto, ¿cómo justificar que los seres incorpóreos les obedezcan? Ciertamente, con todas estas cosas que, a su juicio, parecen hacer más dignas sus razones, privan a éstas de seriedad sin que ellos mismos se den cuenta de ello.

Dicen asimismo que liberan a sus cuerpos de las enfermedades. Si lo hiciesen como los filósofos, con moderación y un régimen de vida ordenado, es posible que tuviesen razón. Pero he aquí que para ellos las enfermedades son seres demoníacos, pues se llenan de decir que son capaces de dominarlas con sus palabras. Naturalmente, con esto parecerán más dignos ante la multitud, que mira siempre con admiración las potencias mágicas; pero, sin embargo, no llegarán a convencer a los hombres de buen sentido que las enfermedades no tienen por causa el cansancio, la saciedad, la vacuidad, la corrupción y, en general, las transformaciones que se originan dentro y fuera de nosotros.

Los cuidados de las enfermedades nos aclaran todo esto. Porque una purga, la administración de un medicamento o una sangría atacan la enfermedad y la expulsan. La dieta es también un remedio para ella, pero no será porque el demonio esté hambriento o porque el medicamento administrado le haga corromperse; el demonio, en estos casos, unas veces sale con la enfermedad, otras, en cambio, permanece dentro del cuerpo. Si permanece, ¿cómo, no estando el cuerpo malo, sigue dentro de él? Y si sale, ¿cómo se va del cuerpo? ¿Qué mal ha podido sufrir el demonio? Dícese que era alimentado por la enfermedad, pero la enfermedad es algo muy distinto del demonio. Además, si penetra en el cuerpo no existiendo un él causa de enfermedad, ¿por qué no se está siempre malo? Y si penetra existiendo una causa, ¿qué tiene entonces que ver el demonio con la enfermedad? Porque la causa de que hablamos resulta suficiente para producir la fiebre. Es ridículo afirmar que, con la causa de la enfermedad, se presenta también inmediatamente un demonio que está dispuesto a acompañarla.

Pero se ve claro con qué fin y por qué causa es dicho todo esto; y no menos hemos recordado por ello lo que dicen de los demonios. En cuanto a lo demás, dejo que se reconozca considerando y observando su obra, puesto que la filosofía que nosotros perseguimos nos da a conocer, con todos los demás bienes, la sencillez de las costumbres y la pureza de los pensamientos. Esta filosofía persigue un fin respetable y en modo alguno presuntuoso; la confianza que inspira viene acompañada de la razón, de una gran seguridad y de la más alta circunspección. La doctrina de los otros se establece en total oposición con la nuestra y, a mi entender, convendría que no los nombrase más.

Bouillet

[14] Une autre erreur des Gnostiques, c’est d’enseigner que les êtres intelligibles ne sont pas en dehors de toute atteinte. Quand les Gnostiques prononcent des paroles magiques (ἐπαοιδαί), et qu’ils les adressent à ces êtres, non seulement à l’Âme, mais encore aux principes qui lui sont supérieurs, que veulent-ils faire? les enchanter (γοητείαι), les charmer (θέλξεις), les toucher (πέισεις), répondront-ils (141). Ils croient donc que les êtres divins nous prêtent l’oreille, et qu’ils obéissent à celui qui sait habilement prononcer ces chants (μέλη), ces cris (ἦχοι), ces aspirations (προσπνεύσεις), ces sifflements (σιγμοὶ τῆς φωνῆς), tous ces sons auxquels ils attribuent une puissance magique (142). Si ce l’est pas là leur pensée, s’ils prétendent seulement exprimer par des sons des choses qui ne tombent pas sous les sens, alors, en voulant rendre leur art plus respectable, ils lui ôtent eux-mêmes, sans y prendre garde, tout titre à notre respect.

Ils se glorifient encore de chasser les maladies. Si c’était par la tempérance, par une vie bien réglée, comme les philosophes, ils auraient une prétention raisonnable. Mais ils affirment que les maladies sont des démons (δαιμόνια) (143), qu’ils peuvent les chasser par leurs paroles, et ils s’en vantent afin de passer pour des hommes vénérables auprès du vulgaire, toujours porté à admirer la puissance de la magie. Ils ne sauraient persuader à des hommes raisonnables que nos maladies n’ont pas des causes appréciables, comme la fatigue, la plénitude, la vacuité, la corruption, en un mot une altération qui a un principe intérieur ou extérieur. On le voit par la nature même des remèdes : souvent on chasse la maladie en dégageant les intestins, ou en donnant une potion; souvent aussi on a recours à la diète et à une saignée. Est-ce parce que le démon a faim, ou que la potion le fait dépérir? Quand une personne est guérie immédiatement, le démon reste ou sort. S’il reste, comment sa présence n’empêche-t-elle pas la guérison ? S’il sort, pourquoi? Que lui est-il arrivé? Est-ce qu’il était nourri par la maladie? En ce cas, la maladie était autre chose que le démon. S’il entre sans qu’il y ait de cause de maladie, pourquoi celui dans le corps duquel il entre n’est-il pas toujours malade? S’il. entre dans un corps quand il y a déjà une cause naturelle de maladie, en quoi contribue-t-il à cette maladie? Cette cause suffit pour produire la fièvre. Il est ridicule d’admettre que la maladie ait une cause, et que, dès que cette cause agit, il y ait un démon tout prêt à venir la seconder.

On doit maintenant voir clairement quelle est la nature des assertions que débitent les Gnostiques et dans quel but ils les soutiennent. C’est pour faire connaître leurs prétentions que nous avons mentionné ce qu’ils disent des démons. Je vous laisse à critiquer vous-mêmes les autres opinions des Gnostiques en lisant leurs livres. Rappelez-vous toujours que notre système de philosophie comprend, outre les autres biens, la simplicité des moeurs, la pureté de l’intelligence, et qu’il recommande, au lieu d’une vaine jactance (144), le soin de sa dignité, une confiance en soi-même pleine de raison, de prudence, de retenue, de circonspection. Je vous laisse à comparer le reste [de la doctrine des Gnostiques] avec notre philosophie. Pour nous, comme tout ce qui est professé par les Gnostiques est fort différent [de ce que nous enseignons], nous ne saurions tirer aucun profit de cette comparaison ; or c’est pour ce motif seul que nous pourrions nous occuper d’eux (145).

Guthrie

GNOSTICS WRONGLY IMAGINE INTELLIGIBLE ENTITIES CAN BE BEWITCHED.

14. Another error of the (Gnostics) is their teaching that intelligible beings are not beyond the reach of being affected by human beings. When the (Gnostics) utter magic incantations, addressing them to (intelligible beings), not only to the Soul, but to the Principles superior thereto, what are they really trying to do? To bewitch them? To charm them? Or, to influence them" ? They therefore believe that divine beings listen to us, and that they obey him who skilfully pronounces these songs, cries, aspirations and whistlings, to all of which they ascribe magic power. If they do not really mean this, if they by sounds only claim to express things which do not fall under the senses, then, through their effort to make their art more worthy of respect, they unconsciously rob it of all claim to respect, in our estimation.

THEIR EXPLANATION OF DISEASE AS DEMONIACAL POSSESSION IS WRONG.

They also pride themselves on expelling diseases. If this were done through temperance, by a well regulated life, as do the philosophers, this claim might be respected. But they insist that diseases are demons, which they can expel by their words, and they boast of this in order to achieve reputation among the common people, that is always inclined to stand in awe of magic. They could not persuade rational individuals that diseases do not have natural causes, such as fatigue, satiety, lack of food, corruption, or some change depending on an interior or exterior principle. This is proved by the nature of diseases. Sometimes a disease is expelled by moving the bowels, or by the administration of some potion; diet and bleeding are also often resorted to. Is this because the demon is hungry, or the potion destroys him? When a person is healed on the spot, the demon either remains or departs. If he remain, how does his presence not hinder recovery? If he depart, why? What has happened to him? Was he fed by the disease? In this case, the disease was something different from the demon. If he enter without any cause for the disease, why is the individual into whose body he enters not always sick? If he enter into a body that contains already a natural cause of disease, how far does he contribute to the disease? The natural cause is sufficient to produce the disease. It would be ridiculous to suppose that the disease would have a cause, but that, as soon as this cause is active there would be a demon ready to come and assist it.

THE GENUINE VALUE OF GNOSTICISM SEEN IN ITS LOW MORAL ASPECTS.

The reader must now clearly see the kind of assertions given out by the (Gnostics), and what their purpose must be. What they say about demons (or guardians) has here been mentioned only as a commentary on their vain pretenses. Other opinions of the (Gnostics) may best be judged by a perusal of their books, by each individual for himself. Remember always that our system of philosophy contains, beside the other good (reasons), the simplicity of moral habits, the purity of intelligence, and that instead of vain boasting it recommends the care of personal dignity, rational self-confidence, prudence, reserve, and circumspection. The remainder (of Gnostic philosophy) may well be contrasted with ours. As all that is taught by the Gnostics is very different (from our teachings), we would have no advantage in a further detailed contrast; and it would be unworthy of us to pursue the matter (?).

Taylor

XIV. After another manner, also, they especially make supernal natures not to be incorruptible. For when they write incantations, and utter them as to the stars, not only to [the bodies and] souls of these, but also to things superior to soul, what do they effect? They answer, charms, allurements, and persuasions, so that the stars hear the words addressed to them, and are drawn down; if any one of us knows how in a more artificial manner to utter these incantations, sounds, aspirations of the voice, and hissings, and such other particulars as in their writings are said to possess a magical power. If, however, they are not willing to assert this, but that sounds possess certain incorporeal powers, it will follow that while they wish to render their assertions more venerable, they ignorantly subvert their renown. They likewise pretend that they can expel disease. And if, indeed, they say that they effect this by temperance and an orderly mode of life, they speak rightly, and conformably to philosophers. But now when they assert that diseases are daemons, and that they are able to expel these by words, and proclaim that they possess this ability, they may appear to the multitude to be more venerable, who admire the powers of magicians; but they will not persuade intelligent men that diseases have not their causes either from labours, or satiety, or indigence, or putrefaction, and in short from mutations which either have an external or internal origin. This, however, is manifest from the cure of diseases. For disease is deduced downward, so as to pass away externally, either through a flux of the belly, or the operation of medicine. Disease, also, is cured by letting of blood, and fasting. Perhaps, however, [they will say] that the daemon is then hungry, and the medicine causes him to waste away; but that sometimes health is suddenly obtained, through the daemon departing, or remaining within the body. But if this is effected while the daemon still remains within, why, while he is within, is the person no longer diseased ? And if he departs, what is the cause of his departure ? For what did he suffer ? Is it because he was nourished by the disease ? The disease, therefore, was something different from the daemon. In the next place, if the daemon enters without any cause, why is not the body always diseased r But if he enters when the cause of the disease is present, why is the daemon necessary in order to the body becoming diseased ? For the cause is sufficient to produce the fever. At the same time, however, it is ridiculous, that as soon as the cause of the disease exists, the daemon should immediately be present, as if subsisting in conjunction with the cause. The manner, however, in which these things are asserted by the Gnostics, and on what account is evident; since for the sake of this, no less than of other things, we have mentioned these daemons. Other particulars, however, we shall leave to the consideration of the reader. And this must every where he considered, that he who pursues our form of philosophy, will, besides all other goods, genuinely exhibit simple and venerable manners, in conjunction with the possession of wisdom, and will not endeavour to become insolent and proud; but will possess confidence accompanied with reason, much security and caution, and great circumspection. [1]

MacKenna

14. In yet another way they infringe still more gravely upon the inviolability of the Supreme.

In the sacred formulas they inscribe, purporting to address the Supernal Beings - not merely the Soul but even the Transcendents - they are simply uttering spells and appeasements and evocations in the idea that these Powers will obey a call and be led about by a word from any of us who is in some degree trained to use the appropriate forms in the appropriate way - certain melodies, certain sounds, specially directed breathings, sibilant cries, and all else to which is ascribed magic potency upon the Supreme. Perhaps they would repudiate any such intention: still they must explain how these things act upon the unembodied: they do not see that the power they attribute to their own words is so much taken away from the majesty of the divine.

They tell us they can free themselves of diseases.

If they meant, by temperate living and an appropriate regime, they would be right and in accordance with all sound knowledge. But they assert diseases to be Spirit-Beings and boast of being able to expel them by formula: this pretension may enhance their importance with the crowd, gaping upon the powers of magicians; but they can never persuade the intelligent that disease arises otherwise than from such causes as overstrain, excess, deficiency, putrid decay; in a word, some variation whether from within or from without.

The nature of illness is indicated by its very cure. A motion, a medicine, the letting of blood, and the disease shifts down and away; sometimes scantiness of nourishment restores the system: presumably the Spiritual power gets hungry or is debilitated by the purge. Either this Spirit makes a hasty exit or it remains within. If it stays, how does the disease disappear, with the cause still present? If it quits the place, what has driven it out? Has anything happened to it? Are we to suppose it throve on the disease? In that case the disease existed as something distinct from the Spirit-Power. Then again, if it steps in where no cause of sickness exists, why should there be anything else but illness? If there must be such a cause, the Spirit is unnecessary: that cause is sufficient to produce that fever. As for the notion, that just when the cause presents itself, the watchful Spirit leaps to incorporate itself with it, this is simply amusing.

But the manner and motive of their teaching have been sufficiently exhibited; and this was the main purpose of the discussion here upon their Spirit-Powers. I leave it to yourselves to read the books and examine the rest of the doctrine: you will note all through how our form of philosophy inculcates simplicity of character and honest thinking in addition to all other good qualities, how it cultivates reverence and not arrogant self-assertion, how its boldness is balanced by reason, by careful proof, by cautious progression, by the utmost circumspection - and you will compare those other systems to one proceeding by this method. You will find that the tenets of their school have been huddled together under a very different plan: they do not deserve any further examination here.


[1There are four lines more in this section in the original ; but the meaning of them is so very obscure, that I have not attempted to translate them.