Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

Plotinus Resources OnLine and in Print


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Ennead

118 pages - You are on Page 56

But if something comes to being within an entity which in no way looks outside itself — and especially within a being which is the sum of being — that entity must be the source of the new thing: stable in its own identity, it produces; but the product is that of an unchanged being: the producer is unchangeably the intellectual object, the product is produced as the Intellectual Act, an Act taking intellection of its source — the only object that exists for it — and so becoming Intellectual-Principle, that is to say, becoming another intellectual being, resembling its source, a reproduction and image of that.

But how from amid perfect rest can an Act arise?

There is in everything the Act of the Essence and the Act going out from the Essence: the first Act is the thing itself in its realized identity, the second Act is an inevitably following outgo from the first, an emanation distinct from the thing itself.

Thus even in fire there is the warmth comported by its essential nature and there is the warmth going instantaneously outward from that characterizing heat by the fact that the fire, remaining unchangeably fire, utters the Act native to its essential reality.

So it is in the divine also: or rather we have there the earlier form of the double act: the divine remains in its own unchanging being, but from its perfection and from the Act included in its nature there emanates the secondary or issuing Act which — as the output of a mighty power, the mightiest there is — attains to Real Being as second to that which stands above all Being. That transcendent was the potentiality of the All; this secondary is the All made actual.

And if this is all things, that must be above and outside of all, so, must transcend real being. And again, if that secondary is all things, and if above its multiplicity there is a unity not ranking among those things, once more this unity transcends Real Being and therefore transcends the Intellectual-Principle as well. There is thus something transcending Intellectual-Principle, for we must remember that real being is no corpse, the negation of life and of intellection, but is in fact identical with the Intellectual-Principle. The Intellectual-Principle is not something taking cognisance of things as sensation deals with sense objects existing independently of sense: on the contrary, it actually is the things it knows: the ideas constituting them it has not borrowed: whence could it have taken them? No: it exists here together with the things of the universe, identical with them, making a unity with them; and the collective knowledge [in the divine mind] of the immaterial is the universe of things.

Previous Page / First / Next Page of Plotinus - FIFTH ENNEAD

Plotinus Home Page / Enneads Contents

Plato Home Page ||| Elpenor's Free Greek Lessons
Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

  Plotinus Home Page
Plotinus in Print

Elpenor's Greek Forum : Post a question / Start a discussion

Learned Freeware


Reference address :