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Matéria: princípio do mal

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

(Armstrong   Selection and Translation from the Enneads  )

[The principle of evil is absolute formlessness as opposed to form, non-being as opposed to being, i.e. Matter.]

If being is of this kind, and also That beyond being, evil can be neither in being nor That beyond being, for they are good. It remains then that, granted that there is evil, it must be in the class of non-beings, existing as a sort of form of non-existence, and it must be found in one of the things which are mingled with non-being or have some sort of share in it. ’Non-being’ here of course does not mean 1 that which is absolutely non-existent’ but only that which is other than being; not, however, non-being in the sense of a movement or position with regard to being, but in the sense of an image of being or even something still less real. This is either the world of sense as a whole and all that is experienced in it or something which comes later than this and is in a way incidental to it, or else its source or one of the things which help to complete its distinctive nature.

One might arrive at a conception of it by considering it as measurelessness opposed to measure, the unlimited as opposed to limit, formlessness as opposed to a forming principle, that which is always in need as opposed to self-sufficiency ; as something always indefinite, nowhere at rest, affected by everything, insatiable, utter poverty: and by thinking that all this is not incidental to it but in a sort of way its substance, and that any part of it you see is by itself all this; and any other things which participate in it and are made like it become evil, though not essentially evil. What existence, then, has these characteristics, not as something distinct from it but as its very self? For if evil occurs incidentally in something else, it must first have some independent existence, even ’ it is not any sort of substance. For just as there is Absolute Good and good as a quality, there must be absolute evil and evil which occurs incidentally in something else as the result of the existence of absolute evil. But then how can measurelessness exist except in something unmeasured? Or measure except in something measured? But just as there does exist a measure which is not in something measured, so there exists too a measurelessness which is not in the unmeasured. For if it exists in something else it must be in something unmeasured — but this will not need measurelessness if it is itself unmeasured — or in something measured: but that which is measured, in so far as it is measured, cannot contain measurelessness. So there must be something absolutely unlimited in itself, and formless, and with all the other distinguishing marks of the nature of evil mentioned before: and if there is anything evil besides this, either it has some of this in it or it is evil by regarding this or is a cause of evil. So that which underlies figures and forms and shapes and measures and limits and is decorated with ornaments that do not belong to it and has nothing good of its own, but is a phantasm as compared with reality and the substance of evil, if there really can be a substance of evil, has been discovered by our argument to be primal and absolute evil.