Página inicial > Antiguidade > SYLLABUS OF LECTURES IX, X, XI — THE SOUL


quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022


The Orphics were the first to teach that the Soul of man is ’fallen ’ — ’an exile from God and a wanderer.’ Their doctrine of a multitude of immortal souls broke up the older doctrine that Soul generically is the active manifestation of one spiritual Being. The Orphic doctrine involved a theodicy. Plotinus   thus inherited a double tradition — that which regarded Soul as analogous to the ’ Wisdom ’ of later Jewish literature, and that which thought not of Soul, but of souls on pilgrimage. He attempts to combine the best of both.

The Soul is in the centre, not at the summit, of being. It binds extremes together. It is in vital connexion with both the spiritual and the phenomenal worlds. There is no limit to its possible expansion. It may rise into the realm of Spirit, where it will see God and itself and the ail. It will be unable to find a stopping-place, to fix its own limits and determine where it ceases to be itself ; it will give up the attempt to distinguish itself from the universal Being. It is a stranger among the tilings of sense, which are only the shadow of Soul cast by the sun of Spirit. It is an energy thrown out by Spirit ; it is eternal and timeless. It is indivisible even when divided ; for it is all in all and all in every part. "From the desire of Soul to create after the pattern of Spirit, the whole world which we know arose and took its shapes."

The World-Soul is not in the world ; rather the world is in it. "There is nothing between Soul and Spirit except that Spirit imparts and Soul receives. But even the Matter of Spirit is beautiful and of spiritual form." The World-Soul is the creator and the providence of the world. Its energy descends as low as vegetable hyle, and slumbers even in inorganic nature. Omnia sunt diversis gradibus animata. The World-Soul directs the world from above ; it is not involved in it. The creative Logoi of the World-Soul are "an activity of contemplation." Like Leibnitz and Fechner, Plotinus   believes that the heavenly bodies have souls. The ancient opinion that ’There are in the universe many things more divine than man’ seems to me entirely reasonable, and far more respectable than the arrogant anthropocentrism of Hegel   and others.

Individual Souls are not parts into which the anima mundi is divided : Soul cannot be divided quantitatively. Individual Souls are Logoi of Spirits. But their division from each other is an affection (pathema) of bodies, not of Soul itself. In the spiritual world there is distinction without separation. ’All Souls are one.’ Individuality is a fact, but unity is also a fact. Plotinus   is anxious to preserve individuality. Each Soul is an ’ original cause.’ Human sympathy proves our common life in the 4 undivided Soul ’: ’ we have a fellow-feeling with each other and with the All, so that when I suffer the All feels it too.’ But on earth this sympathy is ’ dull ’ (amyora).

The true being of each individual consists in its raison d’être (to dia ti). Soul, as we know it, is a teleological category, though its home is in the realm of achieved purposes.

Faculties of the Soul. Sensation. This is not a passive impression, but an energy, a kind of force. Perception itself is largely the work of imagination. Berkeley  ’s doctrine is very similar. The fact of sensation is due to a ’faint sympathy,’ and is evidence of the living unity of nature. But there is no purely sensational experience : consciousness always involves perception.

Pleasure and pain belong neither to the Body nor to the Soul, but to the ’compound’ of them. They are not pure sensations, nor yet affections of the Soul. The soul can conquer them by living upon its own highest level.

Memory and Imagination are closely connected ; they belong to the Discursive Reason (dianoia). Recollection (anamnesis) is the power of active search or recall ; it demands a higher kind of volitional and rational activity than Memory. Memory in a sense constitutes the empirical ego. It is of images only ; Spirit needs it not ; we do not remember noeta — we possess them, or they us.

Imagination, Opinion, and Reasoning have their places in an ascending scale between Sensation and Spiritual Perception (noesis). Plotinus  , for whom phantasia is rather Vorstellung than Imagination in the higher sense, does not give it such an exalted place as (e.g.) Wordsworth does. Wordsworth, Ruskin, J. C. Shairp on Imagination.

Reason (dianoia) is the proper activity of the Soul, in which it discharges its characteristic function. Self-consciousness belongs to the reasoning faculty. But in the psychic life, ’we see ourselves as another Soul knows itself truly only when it knows itself as Spirit. Consciousness is aroused most sharply by what is alien and hostile; ’when we are well, we are not conscious of our organs,’ We do things best when we are not thinking of ourselves as doing them. Thus what we usually call self-consciousness is consciousness of externality. R. L. Nettleship quoted. Strictly, there is no such thing as self-consciousness ; every cognitive state has for its object something other than itself. There is a kind of unconsciousness in the highest states of the Soul, the ’waking state,’ as Plotinus   calls it. Discursive thought contains within itself neither the material nor the formal, nor the final causes of its own thinking. It is, in fact, never separated from vdyo-is at one end, and creativeness (poiesis) at the other. Soul is the immediate experience of an organic individual ; it is conscious and self-conscious in various degrees. Its ideal perfection is such an all-embracing experience as will break down the barriers between the individual Soul and universal Soul-life.

Plotinus  ’ doctrine of consciousness illustrated from Leibnitz, Ferrier, Bain, Lewes. Drews attempts unsuccessfully to connect it with Hartmann  ’s doctrine of the Unconscious.

Bergson  ’s doctrine, in spite of superficial likeness, is incompatible with that of Plotinus  , since Bergson   makes the spontaneity of life reveal itself in motiveless diversity, while regularity is for him a proof of thraldom to blind mechanism. This is far removed from the Plotinian doctrine, which does not triumph in introducing the unpredictable into the predetermined, but rather rejoices in the harmonious working of what has been called cosmic consciousness.

’Each man’s Self is determined by the principle of his activity’ ; we choose our own rank in the scale of Being. The Self is not given to start with.

In what sense is finite selfhood an illusion ? Lotze’s doctrine of personality. Royce’s doctrine. The self is a teleological category.

’The Descent of the Soul.’ The universe is a living chain of Being, a ’harmony ’ in the Greek sense of the word. The divine life overflows in an incessant stream of creative activity, so that every possible manifestation of divine energy, in degree as well as in kind, is somewhere represented. There is a corresponding centripetal movement of all created things back to the divine: such is the systole and diastole of universal life. There should then be no blame attaching to the Soul which has been ’sent down’ to earth. But too often the Soul does not try to return, and the question arises, ’Would it not have been better if it had not come down ?’ Was it pride or curiosity, or wilfulness that, brought it down ? Plotinus   is manifestly perplexed, and unable to find clear guidance in Plato  . There is a want of firmness and consistency in his discussion of this subject. The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation — of the Divine voluntarily ’coming down,’ impelled by love, might have helped him greatly. The human soul also, though it did not choose its lot, may have its share in redemptive work.

The question whether the Soul ’ comes down ’ entire, or only the lower part of it, is discussed at length by Plotinus  . We shall understand it better if we ask instead, ’ Can the soul itself sin ? ’ Is there, aa the medieval mystics taught, a Soul-centre which can never consent to evil ? Plotinus   says there is : most of his followers in the school differ from him. Proclus   asks, ’ If the will sins, how can we call the Soul impeccable ? ’ Proclus   also says definitely, that the Soul comes down * to imitate the divine providence.’ The inmost life and being of the Soul are safe, because the Soul is the child of God, but the Soul cannot remain always on the mount of vision, and it may miss its way back thither.