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Armstrong: Virtude

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

I. 2. 2-3
(Armstrong   Selection and Translation)

[The two kinds of virtue, ’civic’ and ’purifying’.]

The civic virtues, which we mentioned above, do genuinely set us in order and make us better by giving limit and measure to our desires, and putting measure into all our experience; and they abolish false opinions, by what is altogether better and by the fact of limitation, and by the exclusion of the unlimited and indefinite and the existence of the measured; and they are themselves limited and clearly defined. And by acting as a measure which forms the matter of the soul, they are made like the measure There and have a trace in them of the Best There. That which is altogether unmeasured is matter, and so altogether unlike: but in so far as it participates in form it becomes like That Good, Which is formless. Things which are near participate more. Soul is nearer and more akin to It than body; so it participates more, to the point of deceiving us into imagining that it is a god, and that all divinity is comprised in this likeness.

But since this mode of likeness indicates another, of a greater degree of virtue, we must speak of that other. In this discussion the real nature of civic virtue will become clear, and we shall also understand what is the virtue which is greater than it in its real nature, and that it is different from civic virtue. Plato  , when he speaks of ’likeness’ as a ’flight to God’ from existence here below, and does not call the virtues which come into play in civic life just ’virtues’, but adds the qualification ’civic’, and elsewhere calls all the virtues ’purifications’, makes clear that he postulates two kinds of virtues and does not regard the civic ones as producing likeness. What then do we mean when we call these other virtues ’purifications’, and how are we made really like by being purified? Since the soul is evil when it is thoroughly mixed with the body and shares its experiences and has all the same opinions, it will be good and possess virtue when it no longer has the same opinions but acts alone — this is intelligence and wisdom — and does not share the body’s experiences — this is temperance — and is not afraid of departing from the body — this is courage — and is ruled by reason and Noûs, without opposition — and this is justice. One would not be wrong in calling this state of the soul likeness to God, in which its activity is intellectual, and it is free in this way from bodily affections. For the Divine too is pure, and its activity is of such a kind that that which imitates it has wisdom. Well, then, why is the Divine itself not in this state? It has no states at all; states belong to the soul. The soul’s intellectual activity is different: some of the realities There it thinks differently, and some it does not think at all. Another question then: is ’ intellectual activity’ just a common term covering two different things? Not at all. It is used primarily of the Divine, and secondarily of that which derives from it. As the spoken word (logos) is an imitation of that in the soul, so the word in the soul is an imitation of that in something else: as the uttered word, then, is broken up into parts as compared with that in the soul, so is that in the soul as compared with that before it, which it interprets. And virtue belongs to the soul, but not to Noûs or That which is beyond it.