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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plotinus ENNEADS - THE SIXTH ENNEAD, Part III, Complete

Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

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Page 35

Come thus to soul — which brings all to unity, making, moulding, shaping, ranging to order — there is a temptation to say “Soul is the bestower of unity; soul therefore is the unity.” But soul bestows other characteristics upon material things and yet remains distinct from its gift: shape, Ideal-Form and the rest are all distinct from the giving soul; so, clearly, with this gift of unity; soul to make things unities looks out upon the unity just as it makes man by looking upon Man, realizing in the man the unity belonging to Man.

Anything that can be described as a unity is so in the precise degree in which it holds a characteristic being; the less or more the degree of the being, the less or more the unity. Soul, while distinct from unity’s very self, is a thing of the greater unity in proportion as it is of the greater, the authentic, being. Absolute unity it is not: it is soul and one soul, the unity in some sense a concomitant; there are two things, soul and soul’s unity as there is body with body’s unity. The looser aggregates, such as a choir, are furthest from unity, the more compact are the nearer; soul is nearer yet but still a participant.

Is soul to be identified with unity on the ground that unless it were one thing it could not be soul? No; unity is equally necessary to every other thing, yet unity stands distinct from them; body and unity are not identical; body, too; is still a participant.

Besides, the soul, even the collective soul for all its absence of part, is a manifold: it has diverse powers — reasoning, desiring, perceiving — all held together by this chain of unity. Itself a unity, soul confers unity, but also accepts it.

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