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Ascensão — Três Tipos de Homens

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

I. 3. 1-3
(Armstrong   Selection and Translation)

[The three types of men most fitted for the ascent and their different ways of rising to the level of Nous.]

First of all we must define the characteristics of these men: we will begin by describing the nature of the musician. We must consider him as easily moved and excited by beauty, but not quite capable of being moved by absolute beauty; he is, however, quick to respond to its images when he comes upon them, and just as nervous people react readily to noises, so does he to articulate sounds and the beauty in them; and he always avoids what is inharmonious and not a unity in songs and verses and seeks eagerly after what is rhythmical and shapely. So in leading him on these sounds and rhythms and forms perceived by the senses must be made the starting-point. He must be led and taught to make abstraction of the material element in them and come to the principles from which their proportions and ordering forces derive and to the beauty which is in these principles, and learn that this was what excited him, the intelligible harmony and the beauty in it, and beauty universal, not just a particular beauty, and he must have the doctrines of philosophy implanted in him; by these he must be brought to firm confidence in what he possesses without knowing it. We shall explain later what these doctrines are.

The lover (into whom the musician may turn, and then either stay at that stage or go on farther), has a kind of memory of beauty. But he cannot grasp it in its separateness, but he is overwhelmingly amazed and excited by visible beauties. So he must be taught not to cling round one body and be excited by that, but must be led by the course of reasoning to consider all bodies and shown the beauty that is the same in all of them, and that it is something other than the bodies and must be said to come from elsewhere, and that it is better manifested in other things, by showing him, for instance, the beauty of ways of life and of laws   — this will accustom him to loveliness in things which are not bodies — and that there is beauty in arts and sciences and virtues.2 Then all these beauties must be reduced to unity, and he must be shown their origin. But from virtues he can at once ascend to Nous, to Being: and There he must go the higher way.

The philosopher is naturally ready to respond and ’winged’, we may say, and in no need of separation like the others. He has begun to move to the higher world, and is only at a loss for someone to show him the way. So he must be shown and set free, with his own good will, he who has long been free by nature. He must be given mathematical studies to train him in philosophical thought and accustom him to firm confidence in the existence of the immaterial — he will take to them easily, being naturally disposed to learning: he is by nature virtuous, and must be brought to perfect his virtue, and after his mathematical studies instructed in dialectic, and made a complete dialectician.