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Soul in its Activity in the Sense-world (I)

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022


(Armstrong   Selections from the Enneads  )

[Soul’s ’entry’ into body. Universal   Soul does not really enter body, but timelessly illuminates and informs it, remaining itself unchanged and unmoved, at once immanent and transcendent. Body is really in Soul, not Soul in body.]

But we must inquire how soul comes to be in body, how and in what way. This too is a subject worth wondering about and inquiring into. There are two ways of soul entering body; one is when a soul is already in a body and changes bodies, or passes from a body of air or fire to one of earth (people do not call this change of body — metensomatosis — because the body from which entry is made is not apparent); and the other the passage from bodilessness to any kind of body, which is the first communication of soul with body. About this last it will be proper to investigate what it is that happens when a soul which is altogether pure and free from body takes upon itself a bodily nature. We should perhaps, or rather must, begin with the Soul   of the All: and when talking about the Soul of the All we must consider that the terms ’entry’ and ’ensoulment’ are used in the discussion for the sake of clear explanation. For there never was a time when this universe did not have a soul, or when body existed in the absence of soul, or when matter was not set in order: but in discussing these things one can consider them apart from each other. When one is reasoning about any kind of composite thing it is always legitimate to analyse it in thought into its parts.

The truth is as follows. If body did not exist, soul would not go forth, since there is no place other than body where it is natural   for it to be. But if it intends to go forth it will produce a place for itself, and so a body. Soul’s rest is, we may say, confirmed in Absolute Rest; a great light shines from it, and at the outermost edge of this firelight there is a darkness. Soul sees this darkness and informs it, since it is there as a substrate for form. For it was not lawful for that which borders on soul to be without its share of logos  , as far as that was capable of receiving it, of which the phrase was used ’dimly in dimness’. It is as if a fair and richly various house was built, which is not cut off from its architect, but he has not given it a share in himself either; he has considered it all, everywhere, worth a care which conduces to its very being and its excellence (as far as it can participate in being) but does him no harm in his presiding over it, for he rules it while abiding above. It is in this sort of way that it is ensouled; it has a soul which does not belong to it but is present to it; it is mastered, not the master, possessed, not possessor. The universe lies in soul which bears it up, and nothing is without a share of soul. It is like a net in the waters, immersed in life, unable to make its own that in which it is. The sea is already spread out and the net spreads with it, as far as it can; for no one of its parts can be anywhere else than where it lies. And soul’s nature is so great, just because it has no size, as to contain the whole of body in one and the same grasp; wherever body extends, there soul is. If body did not exist, it would make no difference to soul as regards size; for it is what it is. The universe extends as far as soul goes  ; its limit of extension is the point to which in going forth it has soul to keep it in being. The shadow is as large as the logos which comes from soul: and the logos is of such a kind as to make a size as large as the Form from which it derives wants to make.