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Section 16

16. The question arises what phase of the Soul enters into the union for the period of embodiment and what phase remains distinct, what is separable and what necessarily interlinked, and in general what the Living-Being is.

On all this there has been a conflict of teaching: the matter must be examined later on from quite other considerations than occupy us here. For the present let us explain in what sense we have described the All as the expressed idea of the Governing Soul.

One theory might be that the Soul creates the particular entities in succession- man followed by horse and other animals domestic or wild: fire and earth, though, first of all- that it watches these creations acting upon each other whether to help or to harm, observes, and no more, the tangled web formed of all these strands, and their unfailing sequences; and that it makes no concern of the result beyond securing the reproduction of the primal living-beings, leaving them for the rest to act upon each other according to their definite natures.

Another view makes the soul answerable for all that thus comes about, since its first creations have set up the entire enchainment.

No doubt the Reason-Principle [conveyed by the Soul] covers all the action and experience of this realm: nothing happens, even here, by any form of haphazard; all follows a necessary order.

Is everything, then, to be attributed to the act of the Reason-Principles?

To their existence, no doubt, but not to their effective action; they exist and they know; or better, the Soul, which contains the engendering Reason-Principle, knows the results of all it has brought to pass. For whensoever similar factors meet and act in relation to each other, similar consequences must inevitably ensue: the Soul adopting or foreplanning the given conditions accomplishes the due outcome and links all into a total.

All, then, is antecedent and resultant, each sequent becoming in turn an antecedent once it has taken its place among things. And perhaps this is a cause of progressive deterioration: men, for instance, are not as they were of old; by dint of interval and of the inevitable law, the Reason-Principles have ceded something to the characteristics of the Matter.


The Soul watches the ceaselessly changing universe and follows all the fate of all its works: this is its life, and it knows no respite from this care, but is ever labouring to bring about perfection, planning to lead all to an unending state of excellence- like a farmer, first sowing and planting and then constantly setting to rights where rainstorms and long frosts and high gales have played havoc.

If such a conception of Soul be rejected as untenable, we are obliged to think that the Reason-Principles themselves foreknew or even contained the ruin and all the consequences of flaw.

But then we would be imputing the creation of evil to the Reason-Principles, though the arts and their guiding principle do not include blundering, do not cover the inartistic, the destruction of the work of art.

And here it will be objected that in All there is nothing contrary to nature, nothing evil.

Still, by the side of the better there exists also what is less good.

Well, perhaps even the less good has its contributory value in the All. Perhaps there is no need that everything be good. Contraries may co-operate; and without opposites there could be no ordered Universe: all living beings of the partial realm include contraries. The better elements are compelled into existence and moulded to their function by the Reason-Principle directly; the less good are potentially present in the Reason-Principles, actually present in the phenomena themselves; the Soul's power had reached its limit, and failed to bring the Reason-Principles into complete actuality since, amid the clash of these antecedent Principles, Matter had already from its own stock produced the less good.

Yet, with all this, Matter is continuously overruled towards the better; so that out of the total of things- modified by Soul on the one hand and by Matter on the other hand, and on neither hand as sound as in the Reason-Principles- there is, in the end, a Unity.

Next: Section 17