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Plotino - Tratado 33,15 (II, 9, 15) — Os gnósticos negligenciam a virtude

Enéada II, 9, 15

domingo 19 de junho de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Capítulo 15: Os gnósticos negligenciam a virtude,

  • 1-3. Sua doutrina incita as pessoas a desprezar o mundo e o que ele contém.
  • 4-21. Sua doutrina se classifica entre aquelas que favorizam os prazeres pessoais e egoístas.
  • 21-27. Eles nada acham de belo aqui em baixo.
  • 27-34. Eles nada escreveram sobre a virtude.
  • 34-40. Eles não podem se entregar aos prazeres e às paixões ao mesmo tempo contemplando deus.

Míguez

5. Sin embargo, convendría también que no olvidásemos el efecto que producen sus discursos sobre las almas de quienes les escuchan y sobre aquellos a quienes convencen para que desprecien el mundo y todo lo que el mundo contiene. Dos doctrinas hemos de distinguir sobre el fin de los bienes: una postula como fin el placer del cuerpo; otra demuestra preferencia por la belleza y la virtud. El deseo que nosotros tenemos de estas cosas se manifiesta como dependiente de Dios y nos lleva también hacia Él — ¿cómo?, esto es lo que conviene investigar — . Epicuro   prescinde de la providencia y espera que nos sintamos a gusto en el placer, lo único que realmente nos queda. Pero la doctrina que comentamos nos anima a perseguir algo más y es una razón aún más temeraria: desdeña al maestro de la providencia e incluso a la misma providencia, difama todas las leyes   que rigen nuestro mundo y toma a chacota la virtud manifiesta desde siempre, como la prudencia. Para que no se observe belleza alguna en nuestro mundo, se ven obligados a destruir la prudencia e igualmente la justicia innata en los corazones, que culmina en la razón y en el ejercicio; no perdonan, en absoluto, todo lo que podría hacer el hombre bueno. De modo que lo que les resta es la búsqueda del placer, el preocuparse de sí mismos, el evitar la vida de relación con los demás hombres y el mirar tan sólo en su provecho, si no cuentan con una naturaleza que se imponga a estas razones; porque lo que ellos persiguen no es ningún bien, sino algo muy diferente. Sin embargo, dado que poseen el conocimiento, era necesario que partiesen de aquí y que, persiguiéndolas, alcanzasen verdaderamente las realidades primeras, por proceder de una naturaleza divina. Lo propio de esa naturaleza es comprender lo que es bello, con desprecio de los placeres del cuerpo.

Para quienes no participan de la virtud, nada hay en modo alguno que les mueva hacia los seres inteligibles. Lo prueba en ellos el que no consideren razón alguna en lo que atañe a la virtud; al contrario, han terminado por dar de lado todo esto y no dicen ya ni lo que es ni cuántas virtudes hay, desconociendo a este respecto las muchas y hermosas cosas que han examinado los antiguos. Nada nos advierten sobre la adquisición y la posesión de la virtud, ni sobre el cuidado y la purificación del alma. No se nos alcanza la utilidad de afirmar "Mira hacia Dios", si no se enseña cómo ha de mirársele. Porque, ¿qué impide, podría decir alguno, tender la mirada hacia Dios, sin abstenerse a la vez de ningún placer o sin ser dueño de la propia cólera? ¿Qué impide, en efecto, recordar el nombre de Dios, pero forzado por todas las pasiones y sin intentar nada para liberarse de ellas? Digamos que es la virtud que camina hacia un fin, la virtud radicada en el alma y acompañada de la prudencia, la que nos hace manifiesto a Dios; sin la virtud verdadera, Dios no es más que un nombre.

Bouillet

[15] Remarquons surtout quel effet produisent dans l’âme de leurs auditeurs les discours de ces hommes qui leur enseignent à mépriser le monde et ce qu’il contient.

Il y a deux doctrines principales sur la destinée de l’homme: l’une nous assigne pour fin les plaisirs du corps; l’autre, l’honnêteté et la vertu, dont l’amour vient de Dieu et conduit à Dieu, comme nous le démontrons ailleurs (146). Épicure, qui nie la Providence divine, nous conseille de rechercher la seule chose qui reste, les jouissances de la volupté. Eh bien ! les Gnostiques ont une doctrine plus pernicieuse encore : ils blâment la manière dont s’exerce la puissance de la Providence et ils accusent la Providence elle-même ; ils refusent tout respect aux lois   établies ici-bas et à la vertu qui a été honorée par tous les siècles (147); pour ne laisser subsister aucune honnêteté, ils détruisent la tempérance en la raillant, ils attaquent la justice soit naturelle, soit acquise par la raison ou par l’exercice ; en un mot, ils anéantissent tout ce qui peut conduire à la vertu (148). Il ne reste donc qu’à rechercher la volupté, qu’à professer l’égoïsme, qu’à renoncer à toute société avec les hommes, qu’à songer uniquement à son intérêt personnel, à moins qu’on n’ait un naturel assez bon par soi-même pour résister à leurs pernicieuses leçons. Ils n’estiment rien de-ce que nous regardons comme bon, et ils recherchent toute autre chose (149)Cependant, ceux qui connaissent la divinité devraient s’y attacher même ici-bas, et, s’attachant aux premiers principes, corriger les choses de la terre en y appliquant leur nature divine : car c’est à la nature qui dédaigne la volupté corporelle qu’il appartient de comprendre en quoi consiste l’honnêteté ; quiconque n’a point de vertu ne saurait s’élever aux choses intelligibles. Ce qui prouve la justesse de nos critiques,- c’est que les Gnostiques ne parlent pas de la vertu, ne s’en occupent jamais, n’en donnent aucune définition, n’en déterminent pas les espèces, ne rapportent rien de tant de belles discussions que les anciens nous ont laissées sur ce sujet; ne disent pas comment on peut acquérir ni conserver les qualités morales, comment on doit cultiver et purifier l’âme (150). Leur précepte : « Contemple Dieu (151), » est inutile si l’on n’enseigne aussi comment œ doit contempler Dieu. Qu’est-ce qui empêche, pourrait-on dire aux Gnostiques, de contempler Dieu, sans pour cela s’abstenir d’aucune volupté, sans réprimer sa colère? Qu’est-ce qui empêche de répéter le nom de Dieu, tout en se laissant dominer par ses passions et en ne faisant rien pour les réprimer ? La vertu, portée à sa perfection, établie solidement dans l’âme par la sagesse, voilà ce qui nous montre Dieu. Sans la véritable vertu, Dieu n’est qu’un mot (152).

Guthrie

THE GNOSTIC DESTINY OF MAN IS DEMORALIZING.

15. We should however observe the moral effect produced in the soul of those who listen to the speeches of these men who teach scorn of the world and its contents. About the destiny of man there are two principal doctrines. The one assigns as our end the pleasures of the body, the other suggests honesty and virtue, the love of which comes from the divinity, and leads back to the Divinity, as we have shown elsewhere. Epicurus  , who denies divine Providence, advises us to seek the only thing that remains, the enjoyments of pleasure. Well, the (Gnostics) hold a still more pernicious doctrine; they blame the manner in which divine Providence operates, and they accuse Providence itself; they refuse respect to laws   established here below, and the virtue which has been honored by all centuries. To destroy the last vestiges of honor, they destroy temperance by joking at it; they attack justice, whether natural, or acquired by reason or exercise; in one word, they annihilate everything that could lead to virtue. Nothing remains but to seek out pleasure, to profess selfishness, to renounce all social relations with men, to think only of one’s personal interest, unless indeed one’s own innate disposition be good enough to resist their pernicious doctrines. Nothing that we regard as good is by them esteemed, for they seek entirely different objects.

THE GNOSTICS IGNORE VIRTUE WITHOUT WHICH GOD IS A MERE WORD.

Nevertheless, those who know the Divinity should attach themselves to Him even here below, and by devoting themselves to His first principles, correct earthly things by applying their divine nature thereto. Only a nature that disdains physical pleasure can understand that of which honor consists; those who have no virtue could never rise to intelligible entities. Our criticism of the (Gnostics) is justified by this that they never speak of virtue, never study it, give no definition of it, do not make out its kinds, and never repeat anything of the beautiful discussions thereof left to us by the ancient sages. The (Gnostics) never tell how one could acquire or preserve moral qualities, how one should cultivate or purify the soul. Their precept, "Contemplate the divinity," is useless if one does not also teach how this contemplation is to take place. One might ask the (Gnostics) if such contemplation of the divinity would be hindered by any lust or anger ? What would hinder one from repeating the name of the divinity, while yielding to the domination of the passions, and doing nothing to repress them? Virtue, when perfected, and by wisdom solidly established in the soul, is what shows us the divinity. Without real virtue, God is no more than a name.

Taylor

XV. What these assertions, however, effect in the souls of those that hear them, persuading them to despise the world, and the things that are in it, ought not by any means to be concealed from us. For there are two sects of philosophers with respect to the attainment of the end of life, one of which places the pleasure of the body as the end ; but the other chooses the beautiful and virtue, the desire of which is derived and suspended from God. The manner, however, in which this is accomplished, must be elsewhere discussed. And Epicurus  , indeed, taking away providence, exhorts us to pursue pleasure and delight, as the only things which then remain. But the doctrine of the Gnostics, as still more juvenile than this, blames the domination of providence, and providence itself, despises all human laws  , and virtue which has existed in every age, and considers temperance. as ridiculous, in order that nothing beautiful and good may be seen to subsist among men. Together with temperance also it subverts justice which is connascent with it in manners, and which derives its perfection from reason and exercise ; and in short, it subverts every thing by which a man may become a worthy character. Hence, nothing else is left for them to pursue but pleasure, and their own concerns and utility, and not that which is common to other men ; unless some one among them happens to be superior to these assertions. For. none of the above-mentioned particulars are considered as beautiful by them, but something else whatever it may be which they pursue ; though they ought to endeavour to correct those with whom they are well acquainted, applying themselves from a divine nature to human concerns. For it is the province of this nature which despises the pleasure of the body, to know what is beautiful, and good. But those who are destitute of virtue, are not at all excited to supernal natures. This is testified by their never saying any thing about virtue, and by their entirely omitting the discussion of things pertaining to it. Nor do they say what virtue is, or how many virtues there are, or direct their attention to the numerous and beautiful assertions which may he surveyed in the writings of the ancients, or to the means of acquiring and possessing virtue, and of cultivating and purifying the soul. For it is to no purpose to say, look to God, unless you also teach how we are to look to him. For what hinders, some one may say, but that a man may look to God who does not abstain from any one pleasure, and who suffers his anger to be without any restraint; such a one recollecting indeed the name of God, but being held in bondage by all the passions, and not at all endeavouring to ex-pel them ? Virtue, therefore, indeed proceeding to the end [i.e. to its perfection, and, being ingenerated in the soul in conjunction with wisdom, will present God to the view. But to speak of God without true virtue, is to utter nothing but a name.

MacKenna

15. There is, however, one matter which we must on no account overlook - the effect of these teachings upon the hearers led by them into despising the world and all that is in it.

There are two theories as to the attainment of the End of life. The one proposes pleasure, bodily pleasure, as the term; the other pronounces for good and virtue, the desire of which comes from God and moves, by ways to be studied elsewhere, towards God.

Epicurus   denies a Providence and recommends pleasure and its enjoyment, all that is left to us: but the doctrine under discussion is still more wanton; it carps at Providence and the Lord of Providence; it scorns every law known to us; immemorial virtue and all restraint it makes into a laughing stock, lest any loveliness be seen on earth; it cuts at the root of all orderly living, and of the righteousness which, innate in the moral sense, is made perfect by thought and by self-discipline: all that would give us a noble human being is gone. What is left for them except where the pupil by his own character betters the teaching - comes to pleasure, self-seeking, the grudge of any share with one’s fellows, the pursuit of advantage.

Their error is that they know nothing good here: all they care for is something else to which they will at some future time apply themselves: yet, this world, to those that have known it once, must be the starting-point of the pursuit: arrived here from out of the divine nature, they must inaugurate their effort by some earthly correction. The understanding of beauty is not given except to a nature scorning the delight of the body, and those that have no part in well-doing can make no step towards the Supernal.

This school, in fact, is convicted by its neglect of all mention of virtue: any discussion of such matters is missing utterly: we are not told what virtue is or under what different kinds it appears; there is no word of all the numerous and noble reflections upon it that have come down to us from the ancients; we do not learn what constitutes it or how it is acquired, how the Soul is tended, how it is cleaned. For to say "Look to God" is not helpful without some instruction as to what this looking imports: it might very well be said that one can "look" and still sacrifice no pleasure, still be the slave of impulse, repeating the word God but held in the grip of every passion and making no effort to master any. Virtue, advancing towards the Term and, linked with thought, occupying a Soul makes God manifest: God on the lips, without a good conduct of life, is a word.