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Plotinus ENNEADS - THE SECOND ENNEAD Complete

Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

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126 pages - You are on Page 66

FIFTH TRACTATE.

ON POTENTIALITY AND ACTUALITY.

1. A distinction is made between things existing actually and things existing potentially; a certain Actuality, also, is spoken of as a really existent entity. We must consider what content there is in these terms.

Can we distinguish between Actuality [an absolute, abstract Principle] and the state of being-in-act? And if there is such an Actuality, is this itself in Act, or are the two quite distinct so that this actually existent thing need not be, itself, an Act?

It is indubitable that Potentiality exists in the Realm of Sense: but does the Intellectual Realm similarly include the potential or only the actual? and if the potential exists there, does it remain merely potential for ever? And, if so, is this resistance to actualization due to its being precluded [as a member of the Divine or Intellectual world] from time-processes?

First we must make clear what potentiality is.

We cannot think of potentiality as standing by itself; there can be no potentiality apart from something which a given thing may be or become. Thus bronze is the potentiality of a statue: but if nothing could be made out of the bronze, nothing wrought upon it, if it could never be anything as a future to what it has been, if it rejected all change, it would be bronze and nothing else: its own character it holds already as a present thing, and that would be the full of its capacity: it would be destitute of potentiality. Whatsoever has a potentiality must first have a character of its own; and its potentiality will consist in its having a reach beyond that character to some other.

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plotinus/enneads-2.asp?pg=66