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The visible universe is not evil

quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022

II. 9. 8
(Armstrong   Selection and Translation from the Enneads  )

[The visible universe is not, as the Gnostics think, evil, an unfortunate mistake, the product of some sinful affection or arbitrary whim of a spiritual being; it is the perfect image of the Intelligible World of Noûs, and it is necessary that it should exist; and within it, as against both Gnostic and Orthodox Christian beliefs, the star-gods are more perfect and closer to the world of Noûs than human beings.]

For if this All has come into life in such a way that its life is not a disjointed one — like the smaller things in it which by its fullness of life it produces continually night and day — but coherent and vigorous, a great universal life showing infinite wisdom, how should one not call it a clear and fine image of the intelligible gods? If, being an image, it is not that intelligible world, this is precisely what is natural to it; if it was the intelligible world it would not be an image of it. But it is false to say that it is an image unlike the original; nothing has been left out which it was possible for a fine image in the order of nature to have. The image has to exist, necessarily, not as the result of thought and contrivance: the intelligible could not be the last, for it has to have a double activity, one in itself and one directed to something else. There must then be something after it, for only that which is the most powerless of all things has nothing below it. But There a wonderful power runs, and so besides its inward activity it produces.

If there is another universe better than this one, then what is this one? But if there must be a universe which preserves the image of the intelligible world, and there is no other, then this is that universe.

The whole earth is full of varied living creatures and immortal beings; everything up to the sky is full of them. Why, then, are not the stars, both those in the lower spheres and those in the highest, gods moving in order, circling the universe? Why should not they possess virtue? What hindrance prevents them from acquiring it? The causes are not present there which make people bad here below, and there is no badness of body, disturbed and disturbing. And why should they not have understanding, in their everlasting peace, and comprehend with their intellect God and the intelligible gods? Shall our wisdom be greater than theirs? Who, if he has not gone mad, could tolerate the idea?