Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.
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2. We are obliged, therefore, at the start, both to establish the existence of this other Kind and to examine its nature and the mode of its Being.
Now if Matter must characteristically be undetermined, void of shape, while in that sphere of the Highest there can be nothing that lacks determination, nothing shapeless, there can be no Matter there. Further, if all that order is simplex, there can be no need of Matter, whose function is to join with some other element to form a compound: it will be found of necessity in things of derived existence and shifting nature — the signs which lead us to the notion of Matter — but it is unnecessary to the primal.
And again, where could it have come from? whence did it take its being? If it is derived, it has a source: if it is eternal, then the Primal-Principles are more numerous than we thought, the Firsts are a meeting-ground. Lastly, if that Matter has been entered by Idea, the union constitutes a body; and, so, there is Body in the Supreme.
3. Now it may be observed, first of all, that we cannot hold utterly cheap either the indeterminate, or even a Kind whose very idea implies absence of form, provided only that it offer itself to its Priors and [through them] to the Highest Beings. We have the parallel of the Soul itself in its relation to the Intellectual-Principle and the Divine Reason, taking shape by these and led so to a nobler principle of form.
Further, a compound in the Intellectual order is not to be confounded with a compound in the realm of Matter; the Divine Reasons are compounds and their Act is to produce a compound, namely that [lower] Nature which works towards Idea. And there is not only a difference of function; there is a still more notable difference of source. Then, too, the Matter of the realm of process ceaselessly changes its form: in the eternal, Matter is immutably one and the same, so that the two are diametrically opposites. The Matter of this realm is all things in turn, a new entity in every separate case, so that nothing is permanent and one thing ceaselessly pushes another out of being: Matter has no identity here. In the Intellectual it is all things at once: and therefore has nothing to change into: it already and ever contains all. This means that not even in its own Sphere is the Matter there at any moment shapeless: no doubt that is true of the Matter here as well; but shape is held by a very different right in the two orders of Matter.
As to whether Matter is eternal or a thing of process, this will be clear when we are sure of its precise nature.
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