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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

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17. But these Reason-Principles, contained in the Soul, are they Thoughts?

And if so, by what process does the Soul create in accordance with these Thoughts?

It is upon Matter that this act of the Reason is exercised; and what acts physically is not an intellectual operation or a vision, but a power modifying matter, not conscious of it but merely acting upon it: the Reason-Principle, in other words, acts much like a force producing a figure or pattern upon water — that of a circle, suppose, where the formation of the ring is conditioned by something distinct from that force itself.

If this is so, the prior puissance of the Soul [that which conveys the Reason-Principles] must act by manipulating the other Soul, that which is united with Matter and has the generative function.

But is this handling the result of calculation?

Calculation implies reference. Reference, then, to something outside or to something contained within itself? If to its own content, there is no need of reasoning, which could not itself perform the act of creation; creation is the operation of that phase of the Soul which contains Ideal-Principles; for that is its stronger puissance, its creative part.

It creates, then, on the model of the Ideas; for, what it has received from the Intellectual-Principle it must pass on in turn.

In sum, then, the Intellectual-Principle gives from itself to the Soul of the All which follows immediately upon it: this again gives forth from itself to its next, illuminated and imprinted by it; and that secondary Soul at once begins to create, as under order, unhindered in some of its creations, striving in others against the repugnance of Matter.

It has a creative power, derived; it is stored with Reason-Principles not the very originals: therefore it creates, but not in full accordance with the Principles from which it has been endowed: something enters from itself; and, plainly, this is inferior. The issue then is something living, yes; but imperfect, hindering its own life, something very poor and reluctant and crude, formed in a Matter that is the fallen sediment of the Higher Order, bitter and embittering. This is the Soul’s contribution to the All.

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