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Soul in its Relation to Nous (III)

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

V. 3. 3-4
(Armstrong   Selections from the Enneads  )

(We are not strictly speaking Nous, but soul, which is midway between Nous and sense-perception; in our normal life we are more closely connected with sense-perception; but we can become perfectly conformed to Nous by its own power, transcending our merely human nature, and then we do actually become Nous in a way.]

We are not Nous; we are conformed to it by our primary reasoning power which receives it. Still, we perceive through sense-perception, and it is we who perceive; surely we reason in the same way? It is certainly we ourselves who reason, and we ourselves who think the thoughts which are in our discursive understanding, for this is what we are. But the activities of Nous come from above, just as those proceeding from sense-perception come from below. We are the chief part of the soul, in the middle between two powers, a worse and a better, the worse being that of sense-perception and the better that of Nous. But it is generally agreed that sense-perception is continually our own possession; for we perceive continually: there is doubt about Nous, both because we are not always in touch with it and because it is separable. It is separable because it does not incline to us, but rather we to it when we look upwards. Sense-perception is our messenger: Nous is our king.

Yet we are kings too when we are conformed to it. We are conformed to it in two ways, either by a sort of inscription, as if its laws   were written in us, or by being filled with it and able to see it and be aware of its presence. And we know that we ourselves come to know other things by means of this vision of Nous. We either come to know the power which knows it by that power itself, or we ourselves become that vision. So the man who knows himself is double: there is the one who knows the nature of discursive reasoning, which belongs to soul, and there is the other who transcends the first one and knows himself according to Nous by becoming it: by it he thinks himself, not as man any longer, but as having become something completely different and as having carried himself off to the heights, bringing along with him only the better part of the soul, which alone can take wing to intuitive intellect, so that he can establish There what he saw. Does not the discursive reason know that it is discursive reason, that it gains understanding of things outside, and makes its judgments by the rules in itself which it has from Nous, and that there is something better than itself, which it does not seek but altogether possesses? But is there anything which it does not know when it knows what sort of a thing it is, and what its effects are like? If then discursive reason says that it comes from Nous and is second after Nous and the image of Nous, and has in itself all the characters which Nous has written and continues to write in it, will someone who knows himself like this stop at this point? Is it by using another extra power that we have the vision of Nous which knows itself, or do we share in Nous, since it is ours and we belong to it, and so know Nous and ourselves? This last must be the way if we are to know whatever it is in Nous that knows itself. A man becomes a Nous when he puts away all the rest of himself and sees only this by means of this, himself by means of himself. Then he sees himself as Nous sees itself.