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Plotino - Tratado 44,20 (VI, 3, 20) — Certas qualidades não têm contrário

Enéada VI, 3, 20

sábado 18 de junho de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

Igal

20 Hay que considerar si no a toda cualidad le corresponde alguna otra que le sea contraria. Porque en la virtud y el vicio aun el intermedio parece ser contrario a los extremos; pero en los colores los intermedios no lo son. Pues bien, si no lo son porque los intermedios son combinaciones de los extremos, no habría que contradistinguir más que dos especies: blanco y negro; los restantes serían combinaciones. Pero, de hecho, contraponemos los colores basándonos en que en los intermedios se observa una nueva cualidad, aunque sea resultado de una combinación.

—Pero eso es porque los contrarios no sólo son diferentes, sino que lo son en sumo grado.

—Pero me temo que esta diferencia máxima no la percibamos sino una vez establecida ya la gama de intermedios. Porque si suprimiéramos esta gama, ¿con qué determinaríamos la diferencia máxima? En la realidad, que el gris está más cerca del blanco que el negro, aun esto nos lo notifica la vista. Y en los sabores sucede lo mismo: lo que no es ni lo uno ni lo otro, es intermedio.

—Que nos hemos acostumbrado a pensar así, está claro. Pero bien puede ser que alguien no esté de acuerdo en esto: dirá que el color blanco y el amarillo y cualquier otro comparado con cualquier otro son por igual totalmente distintos el uno del otro, y que, siendo distintos, son cualidades contrarias, pues que su oposición no se debe a que haya intermedios, sino a que son distintos. Es un hecho, al menos, que, entre salud y enfermedad, no se interpone intermedio alguno, y sin embargo son contrarios.

—Pero eso es porque los efectos de una y otra difieren en sumo grado.

—Pero ¿cómo podemos hablar de diferencia máxima si no hay otros, entre los intermedios, que sean menos diferentes? No se puede, pues, hablar de diferencia máxima en el caso de la salud y enfermedad. Por lo tanto, lo contrario debe ser determinado por otro criterio, no por el de la diferencia máxima. ¿Acaso por el de mucha? Si se toma «mucha» en vez de «mayor» comparada con «menor», de nuevo los inmediatos pasarán desapercibidos. Pero si se toma «mucha» sin más, me temo que al concedérsenos que cada contrario es por naturaleza «muy» distante de su contrario, se nos concede que medimos la distancia por un «más».

Mas examinemos ya en qué consiste lo contrario. ¿No será tal vez que las cosas que son más o menos semejantes (pero no quiero decir semejantes en género ni, en absoluto, porque estén mezcladas con una especie de formas distintas de ellas), no son contrarias, mientras que las que no tienen nada idéntico en su especie son contrarias? Hay que añadir dentro del género «cualidad». Así se explica que hay contrarios sin intermedios, sin nada que contribuya a su mutua semejanza, al no haber otros que sean como ambiguos y guarden semejanza mutua, habiendo sólo algunos que no la tengan. Y si esto es así, los colores que tengan algo en común no pueden ser contrarios. Pero no hay dificultad en que no todo color sea contrario a todo color, mientras que haya alguno que sea contrario a otro del modo dicho. Y lo mismo sucede con los sabores. Con esto, demos por recorridas las dificultades.

Bouillet

XX. Toute qualité a-t-elle un contraire (86)? — Pour le vice et la vertu, il y a entre les extrêmes une qualité intermédiaire qui est le contraire de chacun d’eux (87) ; mais, pour les couleurs, les intermédiaires ne constituent pas des contraires. Si l’on dit que cela a lieu parce que les couleurs intermédiaires sont des mélanges des couleurs extrêmes, il ne fallait pas diviser les couleurs en extrêmes et en intermédiaires et les opposer les unes aux autres, mais plutôt diviser le genre de la couleur en noir et en blanc, puis montrer que les autres couleurs sont composées de ces deux-là, ou bien distinguer une autre couleur qui fut intermédiaire, quoique composée. Si l’on dit que les couleurs intermédiaires ne sont pas contraires aux extrêmes parce que, pour que deux choses soient contraires, il ne suffit pas d’une simple différence, mais il faut une différence aussi grande que possible (88), nous objecterons que cette différence aussi grande que possible résulte de ce qu’on a déjà interposé des intermédiaires; si l’on faisait abstraction de ceux-ci, on ne saurait plus en quoi faire consister cette différence aussi grande que possible. — Répondra-t-on que le jaune se rapproche plus du blanc que le noir, que le sens de la vue nous l’apprend, qu’il en est de même pour les liquides où le chaud et le froid n’ont pas d’intermédiaire? Nous ne disons pas autre chose évidemment et l’on ne saurait refuser d’accorder ce point-là. Hais nous ajouterons que le blanc et le jaune et d’autres couleurs comparées l’une à l’autre de la même façon diffèrent également d’une manière complète, et sont, par suite de leur différence, des qualités contraires; et elles sont contraires, non parce qu’elles ont des intermédiaires, mais en vertu de leur nature propre. Ainsi la santé et la maladie sont contraires quoiqu’elles n’aient point d’intermédiaires. Dira-t-on qu’elles sont contraires parce que leurs effets diffèrent le plus possible? Mais comment reconnaître que cette différence est aussi grande que possible puisqu’il n’y a pas d’intermédiaires qui offrent les mêmes caractères à un moindre degré? On ne saurait donc affirmer que la différence de la santé et de la maladie est aussi grande que possible. Il s’ensuit qu’il faut faire consister la contrariété dans autre chose que dans une différence aussi grande que possible. Veut-on dire par là une grande différence? Nous demanderons alors si grande signifie ici plus grande par opposition à plus petite, ou grande absolument : dans le premier cas, les choses qui n’ont point d’intermédiaire ne sauraient être contraires; dans le second, comme on accorde facilement qu’il y a une grande distance entre une nature et une autre, et que l’on n’a rien de plus grand pour servir de mesure à cette distance, il faut examiner à quoi on reconnaît la contrariété.

D’abord, les choses qui ont de la ressemblance (je ne dis pas seulement parce qu’elles appartiennent au même genre, ni parce qu’elles se confondent par des caractères plus ou moins nombreux, par leurs formes par exemple), ne sont pas des contraires. On ne doit en effet regarder comme contraires que les choses qui n’ont rien d’identique sous le rapport de l’espèce (89) : ajoutons qu’elles doivent en outre appartenir au même genre de qualité. De cette manière nous pouvons mettre au nombre des contraires, bien qu’elles n’aient point d’intermédiaires, les choses qui n’offrent aucune ressemblance entre elles, dans lesquelles on ne trouve que des caractères qui ne se rapprochent pas l’un de l’autre et n’ont aucune espèce d’analogie. En conséquence, les objets qui ont quelque chose de commun sous le rapport des couleurs ne sauraient être des contraires (90). D’ailleurs, toute chose n’est pas le contraire de toute autre chose, mais une chose est seulement le contraire d’une autre ; et il en est sous ce rapport des saveurs comme des couleurs. En voici assez sur ce sujet.

On demande encore si une qualité admet ou non le plus et le moins (91). Il est évident que les objets qui participent aux qualités y participent plus ou moins. Hais il s’agit de savoir si la justice et la santé admettent des degrés. Si ces habitudes possèdent une certaine latitude, elles ont des degrés. Si elles n’ont point de latitude, elles ne sont point susceptibles de plus et de moins (92).

Guthrie

CONTRARINESS IS NOT THE GREATEST POSSIBLE DIFFERENCE.

20. Does every quality have an opposite? As to vice and virtue, there is, between the extremes, an intermediary quality which is the opposite of both, but, with colors, the intermediaries are not contraries. This might be explained away on the ground that the intermediary colors are blends of the extreme colors. However, we ought not to have divided colors in extremes and intermediaries, and opposed them to each other; but rather have divided the genus of color into black and white, and then have shown that other colors are composed of these two, or differentiated another color that would be intermediate, even though composite. If it be said that intermediary colors are not opposite to the extremes because opposition is not composed of a simple difference, but of a maximal difference, it will have to be answered that this maximal difference results from having interposed intermediaries; if these were removed, the maximal difference would have no scale of comparison. To the objection that yellow approximates white more than black, and that the sense of sight supports this contention; that it is the same with liquids where there is no intermediary between cold and hot; it must be answered that white and yellow and other colors compared to each other similarly likewise differ completely; and, because of this their difference, constitute contrary qualities; they are contrary, not because they have intermediaries, but because of their characteristic nature. Thus health and sickness are contraries, though they have no intermediaries. Could it be said that they are contraries because their effects differ maximally? But how could this difference be recognized as maximal since there are no intermediaries which show the same characteristics at a less degree? The difference between health and sickness could not therefore be demonstrated to be maximal. Consequently, oppositeness will have to be analyzed as something else than maximal difference. Does this mean only a great difference? Then we must in return ask whether this “great” mean “greater by opposition to something smaller,” or “great absolutely”? In the first case, the things which have no intermediary could not be opposites; in the second, as it is easily granted that there is a great difference between one nature and another, and as we have nothing greater to serve as measure for this distance, we shall have to examine by what characteristics oppositeness might be recognized.

CONTRARIES ARE THOSE THINGS THAT LACK RESEMBLANCE.

To begin with, resemblance does not mean only belonging to the same genus, nor mere confusion from more or less numerous characteristics, as, for instance, by their forms. Things that possess resemblance, therefore, are not opposites. Only things which have nothing identical in respect to species are opposites; though we must add that they must belong to the same genus of quality. Thus, though they have no intermediaries, we can classify as opposites the things which betray no resemblance to each other; in which are found only characteristics which do not approximate each other, and bear no kind of analogy to each other. Consequently, objects which have something in common in the respect of colors could not be contraries. Besides, not everything is the contrary of every other thing; but one thing is only the contrary of some other; and this is the case with tastes as well as with colors. But enough of all this.

QUALITIES ADMIT OF DEGREE.

Does a quality admit of more or less? Evidently the objects which participate in qualities participate therein more or less. But the chief question is whether there be degrees in virtue or justice? If these habits possess a certain latitude, they have degrees. If they have no latitude, they are not susceptible of more or less.

MacKenna

20. We have to ascertain whether there is not to every quality a contrary. In the case of virtue and vice, even the mean appears to be contrary to the extremes.

But when we turn to colours, we do not find the intermediates so related. If we regard the intermediates as blendings of the extremes, we must not posit any contrariety other than that between black and white, but must show that all other colours are combinations of these two. Contrariety however demands that there be some one distinct quality in the intermediates, though this quality may be seen to arise from a combination.

It may further be suggested that contraries not only differ from each other, but also entail the greatest possible difference. But "the greatest possible difference" would seem to presuppose that intermediates have already been established: eliminate the series, and how will you define "the greatest possible"? Sight, we may be told, will reveal to us that grey is nearer than black to white; and taste may be our judge when we have hot, cold and no intermediate.

That we are accustomed to act upon these assumptions is obvious enough; but the following considerations may perhaps commend themselves:

White and yellow are entirely different from each other - a statement which applies to any colour whatsoever as compared with any other; they are accordingly contrary qualities. Their contrariety is independent of the presence of intermediates: between health and disease no intermediate intrudes, and yet they are contraries.

It may be urged that the products of a contrariety exhibit the greatest diversity. But "the greatest diversity" is clearly meaningless, unless we can point to lower degrees of diversity in the means. Thus, we cannot speak of "the greatest diversity" in reference to health and disease. This definition of contrariety is therefore inadmissible.

Suppose that we say "great diversity" instead of "the greatest": if "great" is equivalent to greater and implies a less, immediate contraries will again escape us; if, on the other hand, we mean strictly "great" and assume that every quality shows a great divergence from every other, we must not suppose that the divergence can be measured by a comparative.

Nonetheless, we must endeavour to find a meaning for the term "contrary." Can we accept the principle that when things have a certain similarity which is not generic nor in any sense due to admixture, but a similarity residing in their forms - if the term be permitted - they differ in degree but are not contraries; contraries being rather those things which have no specific identity? It would be necessary to stipulate that they belong to the same genus, Quality, in order to cover those immediate contraries which [apparently] have nothing conducing to similarity, inasmuch as there are no intermediates looking both ways, as it were, and having a mutual similarity to each other; some contraries are precluded by their isolation from similarity.

If these observations be sound, colours which have a common ground will not be contraries. But there will be nothing to prevent, not indeed every colour from being contrary to every other, but any one colour from being contrary to any other; and similarly with tastes. This will serve as a statement of the problem.

As for Degree [subsisting in Quality], it was given as our opinion that it exists in the objects participating in Quality, though whether it enters into qualities as such - into health and justice - was left open to question. If indeed these qualities possess an extension quite apart from their participants, we must actually ascribe to them degrees: but in truth they belong to a sphere where each entity is the whole and does not admit of degree.