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Plotinus ENNEADS - THE FIFTH ENNEAD Complete

Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

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2. We begin with the soul, asking whether it is to be allowed self-knowledge and what the knowing principle in it would be and how operating.

The sense-principle in it we may at once decide, takes cognisance only of the external; even in any awareness of events within the body it occupies, this is still the perception of something external to a principle dealing with those bodily conditions not as within but as beneath itself.

The reasoning-principle in the Soul acts upon the representations standing before it as the result of sense-perception; these it judges, combining, distinguishing: or it may also observe the impressions, so to speak, rising from the Intellectual-Principle, and has the same power of handling these; and reasoning will develop to wisdom where it recognizes the new and late-coming impressions [those of sense] and adapts them, so to speak, to those it holds from long before — the act which may be described as the soul’s Reminiscence.

So far as this, the efficacy of the Intellectual-Principle in the Soul certainly reaches; but is there also introversion and self-cognition or is that power to be reserved strictly for the Divine Mind?

If we accord self-knowing to this phase of the soul we make it an Intellectual-Principle and will have to show what distinguishes it from its prior; if we refuse it self-knowing, all our thought brings us step by step to some principle which has this power, and we must discover what such self-knowing consists in. If, again, we do allow self-knowledge in the lower we must examine the question of degree; for if there is no difference of degree, then the reasoning principle in soul is the Intellectual-Principle unalloyed.

We ask, then, whether the understanding principle in the soul has equally the power of turning inwards upon itself or whether it has no more than that of comprehending the impressions, superior and inferior, which it receives.

The first stage is to discover what this comprehension is.

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plotinus/enneads-5.asp?pg=23