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Plotino - Tratado 47,9 (III, 2, 9) — A providência não dirige tudo

Enéada III, 2, 9

sexta-feira 27 de maio de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Cap. 9: A providência não dirige tudo e os vivos daqui não existem em vão

Míguez

9- Pero la providencia no debe ser considerada así hasta el punto de que nosotros no seamos nada. Porque si la providencia lo fuese todo y ella misma fuese sola, ninguna cosa tendría que hacer. ¿De qué debería, en efecto, preocuparse? Porque entonces sólo existiría el ser divino. Mas ahora, si decimos que existe ese ser, no es menos cierto que su acción se dirige a otro ser y no para destruirlo; y así se acerca a algún ser, como por ejemplo el hombre, para conservarle lo que es propio de él, esto es, una vida conforme a la ley de la providencia, que se adapta en todo a la norma que ella dicta.

Esa ley significa para los hombres de bien que gozarán de una vida buena, incluso en el más allá, y para los hombres malvados que tendrán todo lo contrario. No permite, por otra parte, la ley divina que, si nos hemos vuelto malos, pidamos a otros que se olviden de sí mismos para salvarnos. Pues los dioses no deben desdeñar su propia vida para atender nuestras cosas, al igual que no corresponde a los hombres de bien, que viven una vida mejor que la vida de los poderosos, tomar sobre sí el gobierno de los hombres malos. Por lo demás, los mismos hombres malos no se han preocupado nunca de tener buenos gobernantes, ni de encontrar quienes se encarguen de ellos; sólo sienten envidia de aquellos que, precisamente, son buenos por naturaleza. ¡Más abundarían los buenos si ellos les tomasen por sus guías!

No es el hombre, en verdad, el mejor de los seres vivos, sino que está situado en un rango intermedio, pero escogido por él. La providencia no permite que se pierda y hace, al contrario, que se eleve el hombre hacia lo alto por todos los medios de que dispone el ser divino para que la virtud resalte más; con esto, el linaje humano no ve destruido su carácter racional y, si no lo mantiene en el más alto grado, participa al menos de la sabiduría, de la inteligencia, del arte y de la justicia en las relaciones que unos hombres sostienen con otros —pues es claro que, cuando se trata injustamente a alguno, se cree en realidad obrar bien y según lo que es justo—. El hombre es, así, una hermosa creación [1], tan hermosa como es posible. Tiene también, en la trama del universo, una parte mejor que los demás animales que habitan sobre la tierra.

Nadie, por lo demás, con buen sentido censuraría a la providencia por el hecho de que existan en la tierra animales inferiores al hombre. Son ciertamente el ornamento de ella, y sería cosa de risa que alguien reprochase a los dioses que ofenden a los hombres, en la idea de que éstos no han de hacer otra cosa que pasar la vida en un sueño. Esos animales habrán de existir necesariamente; algunos, incluso, prestan una manifiesta utilidad, en tanto la que otros puedan ofrecer sólo se descubre con el tiempo. Ninguno de ellos, pues, es inútil para el hombre. Ridículo sería hablar de bestias salvajes cuando hay hombres de esta misma condición. ¿Y por qué considerar sorprendente que estas bestias desconfíen de los hombres y se defiendan contra ellos?

Bouillet

IX. Il ne faut pas en effet étendre l’action de la Providence au point de supprimer notre propre action (71). Car si la Providence faisait tout, s’il n’y avait qu’elle, elle serait anéantie: A quoi s’appliquerait-elle en effet? Il n’y aurait plus que la Divinité. Assurément, il est incontestable que la Divinité existe et qu’elle étend son action sur les autres êtres ; mais elle ne les supprime pas. Elle s’approche de l’homme, par exemple, et elle conserve en lui ce qui le constitue, c’est-à-dire qu’elle le fait vivre conformément la loi de la Providence, elle lui fait accomplir ce que cette loi ordonne. Or cette loi ordonne que la vie des hommes qui sont devenus vertueux soit bonne ici-bas et après leur mort, que les méchants aient un sort contraire (72). Il n’est pas permis de demander qu’il y ait des hommes qui s’oublient eux mêmes pour venir sauver les méchants, lors même que tes derniers adresseraient des voeux à la Divinité. Il ne faut pas admettre non plus que les dieux renoncent à leur existence bienheureuse pour venir administrer nos affaires, ni que les hommes vertueux, dont la vie est sainte et supérieure à la condition humaine, veuillent gouverner les méchants : car ceux–ci ne se sont jamais occupés de faire parvenir les bons au gouvernement des autres hommes et d’être bons eux-mêmes (73) : ils sont même jaloux de l’homme qui est bon par lui-même ; il y aurait en effet plus de gens de bien, si l’on prenait pour chefs les hommes vertueux.

L’homme n’est donc pas l’être le meilleur de l’univers : il occupe, conformément à son choix, un rang intermédiaire. Cependant, dans la place qu’il occupe, il n’est pas abandonné de la Providence ; elle le ramène toujours aux choses divines par les mille moyens dont elle dispose pour faire prévaloir la vertu (74). Aussi les hommes n’ont-ils jamais perdu la qualité d’êtres raisonnables et participent-ils toujours en quelque degré à la sagesse, à l’intelligence, à l’art, à la justice qui règle leurs rapports mutuels. Même quand on fait tort à un autre, on croit encore qu’on agit justement à son égard et qu’on le traite selon son mérite (75). L’homme est du reste une belle créature, aussi belle qu’il pouvait l’être, et, par le rôle qu’il joue dans l’univers, il est supérieur à tous les animaux qui vivent ici-bas.

Nul esprit sensé ne saurait se plaindre de l’existence des animaux inférieurs à l’homme, s’ils contribuent d’ailleurs à embellir l’univers. Ne serait-il pas ridicule de se plaindre de ce que quelqu’un d’entre eux mord les hommes, comme si ceux-ci devaient vivre dans une complète sécurité (76) ? L’existence de ces animaux est nécessaire : elle nous procure des avantages, soit évidents, soit inconnus encore, mais que le temps. fait découvrir. Ainsi, il n’y a rien d’inutile dans les animaux, soit par rapport à eux, soit par rapport à l’homme (77). Il est encore ridicule de se plaindre que beaucoup d’animaux soient sauvages, quand il y a des hommes même qui le sont ; si beaucoup d’animaux ne sont pas soumis à l’homme, s’ils se défendent contre lui, qu’y a-t-il là d’étonnant (78) ?

Guthrie

PROVIDENCE SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED TO THE POINT OF SUPPRESSING OUR OWN INITIATIVE.

9. Nor should the sphere of Providence be extended to the point of suppressing our own action. For if Providence did everything, and Providence alone existed, it would thereby be annihilated. To what, indeed, would it apply? There would be nothing but divinity! It is indeed incontestable that divinity exists, and that its sphere extends over other beings — but divinity does not suppress the latter. For instance, divinity approaches man, and preserves in him what constitutes humanity; that is, divinity makes him live in conformity to the law of Providence, and makes him fulfil the commandments of that law. Now, this law decrees that the life of men who have become virtuous should be good both here below and after their death; and that the evil should meet an opposite fate. It would be unreasonable to expect the existence of men who forget themselves to come and save the evil, even if the latter addressed prayers to the divinity. Neither should we expect the divinities to renounce their blissful existence to come and administer our affairs; nor that the virtuous men, whose life is holy and superior to human conditions, should be willing to govern the wicked. The latter never busy themselves with promoting the good to the governing of other men, and themselves to be good (as thought Plato  ). They are even jealous of the man who is good by himself; there would indeed be more good people if virtuous men were chosen as chiefs.

THOUGH MEN ARE ONLY MEDIOCRE THEY ARE NEVER ABANDONED BY PROVIDENCE.

Man is therefore not the best being in the universe; according to his choice he occupies an intermediate rank. In the place he occupies, however, he is not abandoned by Providence, which ever leads him back to divine things by the numerous means it possesses to cause the triumph of virtue. That is the reason why men have never lost rationality, and why, to some degree, they always participate in wisdom, intelligence, art, and the justice that regulates their mutual relations. Even when one wrongs another, he is still given credit for acting in justice to himself, and he is treated according to his deserts. Besides, man, as a creature, is handsome, as handsome as possible, and, by the part he plays in the universe, he is superior to all the animals that dwell here below.

IT IS RIDICULOUS TO COMPLAIN OF THE LOWER NATURE OF ANIMALS.

No one in his senses would complain of the existence of animals inferior to man, if, besides, they contribute towards the embellishment of the universe. Would it not be ridiculous to complain that some of them bite men, as if the latter had an imprescriptible right to complete security? The existence of these animals is necessary; it procures us advantages both evident and still unknown, but which will be revealed in the course of time. Thus there is nothing useless in animals, either in respect to themselves, or to man. It is, besides, ridiculous to complain because many animals are wild, when there are even men who are such; what should surprise us most is that many animals are not submissive to man, and defend themselves against him.

MacKenna

9. It would not be just, because Providence cannot be a something reducing us to nothingness: to think of Providence as everything, with no other thing in existence, is to annihilate the Universe; such a providence could have no field of action; nothing would exist except the Divine. As things are, the Divine, of course, exists, but has reached forth to something other - not to reduce that to nothingness but to preside over it; thus in the case of Man, for instance, the Divine presides as the Providence, preserving the character of human nature, that is the character of a being under the providential law, which, again, implies subjection to what that law may enjoin.

And that law enjoins that those who have made themselves good shall know the best of life, here and later, the bad the reverse. But the law does not warrant the wicked in expecting that their prayers should bring others to sacrifice themselves for their sakes; or that the gods should lay aside the divine life in order to direct their daily concerns; or that good men, who have chosen a path nobler than all earthly rule, should become their rulers. The perverse have never made a single effort to bring the good into authority, nor do they take any steps to improve themselves; they are all spite against anyone that becomes good of his own motion, though if good men were placed in authority the total of goodness would be increased.

In sum: Man has come into existence, a living being but not a member of the noblest order; he occupies by choice an intermediate rank; still, in that place in which he exists, Providence does not allow him to be reduced to nothing; on the contrary he is ever being led upwards by all those varied devices which the Divine employs in its labour to increase the dominance of moral value. The human race, therefore, is not deprived by Providence of its rational being; it retains its share, though necessarily limited, in wisdom, intelligence, executive power and right doing, the right doing, at least, of individuals to each other - and even in wronging others people think they are doing right and only paying what is due.

Man is, therefore, a noble creation, as perfect as the scheme allows; a part, no doubt, in the fabric of the All, he yet holds a lot higher than that of all the other living things of earth.

Now, no one of any intelligence complains of these others, man’s inferiors, which serve to the adornment of the world; it would be feeble indeed to complain of animals biting man, as if we were to pass our days asleep. No: the animal, too, exists of necessity, and is serviceable in many ways, some obvious and many progressively discovered - so that not one lives without profit to itself and even to humanity. It is ridiculous, also, to complain that many of them are dangerous - there are dangerous men abroad as well - and if they distrust us, and in their distrust attack, is that anything to wonder at?


[1Se sirve, pues, Plotino de una palabra griega, poiema, para referirse al hombre; con ella podría entenderse el hombre como creación del espíritu divino.