Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.
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13. The Supreme, as the Absolute Good and not merely a good being or thing, can contain nothing, since there is nothing that could be its good.
Anything it could contain must be either good to it or not good; but in the supremely and primally Good there can be nothing not good; nor can the Absolute Good be a container to the Good: containing, then, neither the good nor the not good it contains nothing and, containing nothing, it is alone: it is void of all but itself.
If the rest of being either is good — without being the absolute good — or is not good, while on the other hand the Supreme contains neither what is good nor what is not good, then, containing nothing, it is The Good by that very absence of content.
Thus we rob it of its very being as The Absolute Good if we ascribe anything to it, existence or intellect or goodness. The only way is to make every denial and no assertion, to feign no quality or content there but to permit only the “It is” in which we pretend to no affirmation of non-existent attribute: there is an ignorant praise which, missing the true description, drags in qualities beneath the real worth and so abases; philosophy must guard against attaching to the Supreme what is later and lower: moving above all that order, it is the cause and source of all these, and is none of them.
For, once more, the nature of the Good is not such as to make it all things or a thing among all: that would range it under the same classification with them all and it would differ, thus, only by its individual quality, some specialty, some addition. At once it becomes not a unity but a duality; there is one common element not good and another element that is good; but a combination so made up of good and not good cannot be the purely good, the primarily good; the primarily good must be that principle in which the better element has more effectively participated and so attained its goodness. Any good thing has become so by communion; but that in which it has communion is not a thing among the things of the all; therefore the Good is not a thing of the All.
Since there is this Good in any good thing — the specific difference by which the combination becomes good — it must enter from elsewhere than the world of things: that source must be a Good absolute and isolated. Thus is revealed to us the Primarily existent, the Good, above all that has being, good unalloyed, containing nothing in itself, utterly unmingling, all-transcending, cause of all.
Certainly neither Being nor Beauty springs from evil or from the neutral; the maker, as the more consummate, must surpass the made.
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