8. But there will still be some to deny that it is through this Matter that we ourselves become evil.
They will say that neither ignorance nor wicked desires arise in Matter. Even if they admit that the unhappy condition within us is due to the pravity inherent in body, they will urge that still the blame lies not in the Matter itself but with the Form present in it- such Form as heat, cold, bitterness, saltness and all other conditions perceptible to sense, or again such states as being full or void- not in the concrete signification but in the presence or absence of just such forms. In a word, they will argue, all particularity in desires and even in perverted judgements upon things, can be referred to such causes, so that Evil lies in this Form much more than in the mere Matter.
Yet, even with all this, they can be compelled to admit that Matter is the Evil.
For, the quality [form] that has entered into Matter does not act as an entity apart from the Matter, any more than axe-shape will cut apart from iron. Further, Forms lodged in Matter are not the same as they would be if they remained within themselves; they are Reason-Principles Materialized, they are corrupted in the Matter, they have absorbed its nature: essential fire does not burn, nor do any of the essential entities effect, of themselves alone, the operation which, once they have entered into Matter, is traced to their action.
Matter becomes mistress of what is manifested through it: it corrupts and destroys the incomer, it substitutes its own opposite character and kind, not in the sense of opposing, for example, concrete cold to concrete warmth, but by setting its own formlessness against the Form of heat, shapelessness to shape, excess and defect to the duly ordered. Thus, in sum, what enters into Matter ceases to belong to itself, comes to belong to Matter, just as, in the nourishment of living beings, what is taken in does not remain as it came, but is turned into, say, dog's blood and all that goes to make a dog, becomes, in fact, any of the humours of any recipient.
No, if body is the cause of Evil, then there is no escape; the cause of Evil is Matter.
Still, it will be urged, the incoming Idea should have been able to conquer the Matter.
The difficulty is that Matter's master cannot remain pure itself except by avoidance of Matter.
Besides, the constitution determines both the desires and their violence so that there are bodies in which the incoming idea cannot hold sway: there is a vicious constitution which chills and clogs the activity and inhibits choice; a contrary bodily habit produces frivolity, lack of balance. The same fact is indicated by our successive variations of mood: in times of stress, we are not the same either in desires or in ideas- as when we are at peace, and we differ again with every several object that brings us satisfaction.
To resume: the Measureless is evil primarily; whatever, either by resemblance or participation, exists in the state of unmeasure, is evil secondarily, by force of its dealing with the Primal- primarily, the darkness; secondarily, the darkened. Now, Vice, being an ignorance and a lack of measure in the Soul, is secondarily evil, not the Essential Evil, just as Virtue is not the Primal Good but is Likeness to The Good, or participation in it.