Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.
» Contents of this Ennead
This Part: 52 Pages
41. Intellection seems to have been given as an aid to the diviner but weaker beings, an eye to the blind. But the eye itself need not see Being since it is itself the light; what must take the light through the eye needs the light because of its darkness. If, then, intellection is the light and light does not need the light, surely that brilliance (The First) which does not need light can have no need of intellection, will not add this to its nature.
What could it do with intellection? What could even intellection need and add to itself for the purpose of its act? It has no self-awareness; there is no need. It is no duality but, rather, a manifold, consisting of itself, its intellective act, distinct from itself, and the inevitable third, the object of intellection. No doubt since knower, knowing, and known, are identical, all merges into a unity: but the distinction has existed and, once more, such a unity cannot be the First; we must put away all otherness from the Supreme which can need no such support; anything we add is so much lessening of what lacks nothing.
To us intellection is a boon since the soul needs it; to the Intellectual-Principle it is appropriate as being one thing with the very essence of the principle constituted by the intellectual Act so that principle and act coincide in a continuous self-consciousness carrying the assurance of identity, of the unity of the two. But pure unity must be independent, in need of no such assurance.
“Know yourself” is a precept for those who, being manifold, have the task of appraising themselves so as to become aware of the number and nature of their constituents, some or all of which they ignore as they ignore their very principle and their manner of being. The First on the contrary if it have content must exist in a way too great to have any knowledge, intellection, perception of it. To itself it is nothing; accepting nothing, self-sufficing, it is not even a good to itself: to others it is good for they have need of it; but it could not lack itself: it would be absurd to suppose The Good standing in need of goodness.
It does not see itself: seeing aims at acquisition: all this it abandons to the subsequent: in fact nothing found elsewhere can be There; even Being cannot be There. Nor therefore has it intellection which is a thing of the lower sphere where the first intellection, the only true, is identical with Being. Reason, perception, intelligence, none of these can have place in that Principle in which no presence can be affirmed.
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