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Plotino - Tratado 6,5 (IV, 8, 5) — A descida da alma é ao mesmo tempo voluntária e necessária

Enéada IV, 8, 5

domingo 15 de maio de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Capítulo 5. A descida da alma é ao mesmo tempo voluntária e necessária.

  • 1-10. Retomada das expressões de Platão, Empédocles e Heráclito: não há contradição entre os caracteres necessários e voluntários da descida da alma.
  • 10-24. A falta da alma e seu castigo.
  • 25-37. A alma é de natureza divina; desce no corpo para exercer sua potência e manifestar aquilo que é.

Míguez

5. Ninguna diferencia existe entre estas expresiones: la siembra de las almas para la generación, su descenso para la conclusión del universo, el castigo, la caverna, la necesidad y la libertad, puesto que la una exige a la otra, el ser en el cuerpo como en algo malo, con todo lo que dice Empédocles   cuando habla de la huida que la aparta de Dios, de su vagabundaje o de su falta, o incluso con las fórmulas de Heráclito   como el descenso en su huida, o, en general, con la libertad de su descenso, que no se contradice con la necesidad. Porque todo marcha de manera involuntaria hacia lo peor, aunque sea llevado por su movimiento propio y esto mismo nos haga decir que se sufre el castigo por lo que se ha hecho. Y además, cuando todo se sufre y se hace necesariamente por una ley eterna de la naturaleza y el ser que se une al cuerpo, descendiendo para ello de la región superior, viene con su mismo avance a prestar un servicio a otro ser, nadie podrá mostrarse disconforme ni con la verdad ni consigo mismo si afirma que es Dios el que la ha enviado. Pues todo lo que proviene de un principio se refiere siempre al principio del que salió, incluso en el caso de que existan muchos intermediarios. La falta del alma es en este sentido doble, ya que, por una parte, se la acusa de su descenso, y por otra, de las malas acciones que comete en este mundo. En el primer caso, cuenta la realidad de su descenso, pero en el otro, si realmente profundizó menos en el cuerpo y se retiró antes de él, habrá que enjuiciarla según sus méritos — entendiendo con la palabra juicio que todo esto depende de una ley divina — , haciéndose acreedor el vicio desmedido a un castigo mucho mayor, que habrá de estar al cuidado de los demonios vengadores.

Así se explica que el alma, que es realmente un ser divino, penetre en el interior de un cuerpo. Ella constituye la última de las divinidades, que viene a este mundo por una inclinación voluntaria, para hacer valer su poder y ordenar igualmente todo lo que la sigue. Si su huida ha sido más rápida, en nada la habrá dañado el conocimiento mismo del mal, ni el conocer la naturaleza del vicio o el haber hecho manifiesto su poder produciendo actos y acciones. Todo lo cual, caso de permanecer inactivo en el mundo incorpóreo, carecería de razón de ser si no pasase al acto, y el alma desconocería incluso que posee tales fuerzas al no hacerse éstas manifiestas ni mostrar su punto de origen. Porque el acto da a conocer siempre una potencia oculta y como invisible, que no existe en sí misma ni constituye una verdadera realidad. Cada uno, pues, se maravilla de la riqueza interior de un ser al ver la variedad de su apariencia exterior, tal como se declara en sus obras más sinuosas.

Bouillet

[V] On peut donc, sans se contredire, soutenir également, soit [comme le fait Platon   (35)] que les âmes sont semées dans la génération, qu’elles descendent ici-bas pour la perfection de l’univers, soit qu’elles sont renfermées dans une caverne par suite d’une punition divine, que leur chute est à la fois un effet de leur volonté et de la nécessité (car la nécessité n’exclut pas la volonté), qu’elles sont dans le mal tant qu’elles sont dans des corps; soit, comme le fait Empédocle  , qu’elles se sont éloignées de Dieu et égarées, qu’elles ont commis une faute qu’elles expient; soit, comme le fait Héraclite  , que le repos consiste dans la fuite (36), que la descente des âmes n’est ni tout à fait volontaire, ni tout à fait involontaire. En effet, ce n’est jamais volontairement qu’un être déchoit; mais, comme c’est par son mouvement propre qu’il s’abaisse aux choses inférieures et qu’il arrive à une condition moins heureuse, on dit qu’il porte la peine de sa conduite. D’ailleurs, comme c’est par une loi éternelle de la nature que cet être agit et pâtit de cette manière, on peut, sans se contredire ni s’éloigner de la vérité, avancer que l’être qui descend de son rang pour assister une chose inférieure est envoyé par Dieu (37). On peut en effet rapporter au principe d’un être sa partie inférieure elle-même, malgré le nombre des parties intermédiaires [qui la séparent du principe] (38).

Il y a ici pour l’âme deux fautes possibles : la première consiste dans le motif qui la détermine à descendre ; la seconde, dans le mal qu’elle commet quand elle est descendue ici-bas. La première faute est expiée par l’état même où s’est trouvée l’âme en descendant ici-bas. La punition de la seconde faute, quand elle est légère, c’est de passer dans d’autres corps plus ou moins promptement d’après le jugement porté sur ce qu’elle mérite (on dit jugement, pour montrer que c’est la conséquence de la loi divine) ; mais, quand l’âme a une perversité qui dépasse toute mesure, elle subit, sous la garde des démons préposés à son châtiment, les peines sévères qu’elle a encourues.

Ainsi, quoique l’âme ait une essence divine, qu’elle soit originaire du monde intelligible, elle entre dans un corps. Étant un dieu inférieur, elle descend ici-bas par une inclination volontaire, dans le but de développer sa puissance et d’orner ce qui est au-dessous d’elle. Si elle fuit promptement d’ici-bas, elle n’a pas à regretter d’avoir pris connaissance du mal et de savoir quelle est la nature du vice [sans s’y être livrée], ni d’avoir eu l’occasion de manifester ses facultés et de faire voir ses actes et ses œuvres. En effet, les facultés de l’âme seraient inutiles si elles sommeillaient toujours dans l’essence incorporelle sans passer à l’acte. L’âme ignorerait elle-même ce qu’elle possède si ses facultés ne se manifestaient pas par la procession : car c’est l’acte qui partout manifeste la puissance ; celle-ci, sans cela, serait complètement cachée et obscure, ou plutôt elle n’existerait pas véritablement et ne posséderait pas de réalité. C’est la variété des effets sensibles qui fait admirer la grandeur du principe intelligible, dont la nature se fait ainsi connaître par la beauté de ses œuvres.

Guthrie

SOULS DESCENDING TO HELP ARE SENT BY GOD.

5. Without any inherent contradiction it may therefore be asserted either, that the souls are sowed into generation, that they descend here below for the perfection of the universe, or that they are shut up in a cavern as the result of a divine punishment, that their fall is simultaneously an effect of their will and of necessity — as necessity does not exclude voluntariness — and that they are in evil so long as they are incarnate in bodies. Again, as Empedocles   says, they may have withdrawn from the divinity, and have lost their way, and have committed some fault that they are expiating; or, as says Heraclitus  , that rest consists in flight (from heaven, and descent here below), and that the descent of souls is neither entirely voluntary, nor involuntary. Indeed, no being ever falls voluntarily; but as it is by his own motion that he descends to lower things, and reaches a less happy condition, it may be said that he bears the punishment of his conduct. Besides, as it is by an eternal law of nature that this being acts and suffers in that manner, we may, without contradiction or violence to the truth, assert that the being who descends from his rank to assist some lower thing is sent by the divinity. In spite of any number of intermediate parts (which separate) a principle from its lower part, the latter may still be ascribed to the former.

THE TWO POSSIBLE FAULTS OF THE SOUL.

Here there are two possible faults for the soul. The first consists in the motive that determines her to descend. The second is the evil she commits after having descended here below. The first fault is expiated by the very condition of the soul after she has descended here below. The punishment of the latter fault, if not too serious, is to pass into other bodies more or less promptly according to the judgment delivered about her deserts — and we speak of a "judgment" to show that it is the consequence of the divine law. If however the perversity of the soul passes all measure, she undergoes, under the charge of guardians in charge of her chastisement, the severe punishments she has incurred.

PROMPT FLIGHT HERE BELOW LEAVES THE SOUL UNHARMED BY HER STAY HERE.

Thus, although the soul have a divine nature (or "being"), though she originate in the intelligible world, she enters into a body. Being a lower divinity, she descends here below by a voluntary inclination, for the purpose of developing her power, and to adorn what is below her. If she flee promptly from here below, she does not need to regret having become acquainted with evil, and knowing the nature of vice, nor having had the opportunity of manifesting her faculties, and to manifest her activities and deeds. Indeed, the faculties of the soul would be useless if they slumbered continuously in incorporeal being without ever becoming actualized. The soul herself would ignore what she possesses if her faculties did not manifest by procession, for everywhere it is the actualization that manifests the potentiality. Otherwise, the latter would be completely hidden and obscured; or rather, it would not really exist, and would not possess any reality. It is the variety of sense-effects which illustrates the greatness of the intelligible principle, whose nature publishes itself by the beauty of its works.

MacKenna

5. It is possible to reconcile all these apparent contradictions - the divine sowing to birth, as opposed to a voluntary descent aiming at the completion of the universe; the judgement and the cave; necessity and free choice - in fact the necessity includes the choice-embodiment as an evil; the Empedoclean teaching of a flight from God, a wandering away, a sin bringing its punishment; the "solace by flight" of Heraclitus  ; in a word a voluntary descent which is also voluntary.

All degeneration is no doubt involuntary, yet when it has been brought about by an inherent tendency, that submission to the inferior may be described as the penalty of an act.

On the other hand these experiences and actions are determined by an external law of nature, and they are due to the movement of a being which in abandoning its superior is running out to serve the needs of another: hence there is no inconsistency or untruth in saying that the soul is sent down by God; final results are always to be referred to the starting point even across many intervening stages.

Still there is a twofold flaw: the first lies in the motive of the Soul’s descent [its audacity, its Tolma], and the second in the evil it does when actually here: the first is punished by what the soul has suffered by its descent: for the faults committed here, the lesser penalty is to enter into body after body - and soon to return - by judgement according to desert, the word judgement indicating a divine ordinance; but any outrageous form of ill-doing incurs a proportionately greater punishment administered under the surveillance of chastising daimons.

Thus, in sum, the soul, a divine being and a dweller in the loftier realms, has entered body; it is a god, a later phase of the divine: but, under stress of its powers and of its tendency to bring order to its next lower, it penetrates to this sphere in a voluntary plunge: if it turns back quickly, all is well; it will have taken no hurt by acquiring the knowledge of evil and coming to understand what sin is, by bringing its forces into manifest play, by exhibiting those activities and productions which, remaining merely potential in the unembodied, might as well never have been even there, if destined never to come into actuality, so that the soul itself would never have known that suppressed and inhibited total.

The act reveals the power, a power hidden, and we might almost say obliterated or nonexistent, unless at some moment it became effective: in the world as it is, the richness of the outer stirs us all to the wonder of the inner whose greatness is displayed in acts so splendid.