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Section 21

21. How then does the universal Intellect produce the particulars while, in virtue of its Reason-Principle, remaining a unity? In other words, how do the various grades of Being, as we call them, arise from the four primaries? Here is this great, this infinite Intellect, not given to idle utterance but to sheer intellection, all-embracing, integral, no part, no individual: how, we ask, can it possibly be the source of all this plurality?

Number at all events it possesses in the objects of its contemplation: it is thus one and many, and the many are powers, wonderful powers, not weak but, being pure, supremely great and, so to speak, full to overflowing powers in very truth, knowing no limit, so that they are infinite, infinity, Magnitude-Absolute.

As we survey this Magnitude with the beauty of Being within it and the glory and light around it, all contained in Intellect, we see, simultaneously, Quality already in bloom, and along with the continuity of its Act we catch a glimpse of Magnitude at Rest. Then, with one, two and three in Intellect, Magnitude appears as of three dimensions, with Quantity entire. Quantity thus given and Quality, both merging into one and, we may almost say, becoming one, there is at once shape. Difference slips in to divide both Quantity and Quality, and so we have variations in shape and differences of Quality. Identity, coming in with Difference, creates equality, Difference meanwhile introducing into Quantity inequality, whether in number or in magnitude: thus are produced circles and squares, and irregular figures, with number like and unlike, odd and even.

The life of Intellect is intelligent, and its activity [Act] has no failing-point: hence it excludes none of the constituents we have discovered within it, each one of which we now see as an intellectual function, and all of them possessed by virtue of its distinctive power and in the mode appropriate to Intellect.

But though Intellect possesses them all by way of thought, this is not discursive thought: nothing it lacks that is capable of serving as Reason-Principle, while it may itself be regarded as one great and perfect Reason-Principle, holding all the Principles as one and proceeding from its own Primaries, or rather having eternally proceeded, so that "proceeding" is never true of it. It is a universal rule that whatever reasoning discovers to exist in Nature is to be found in Intellect apart from all ratiocination: we conclude that Being has so created Intellect that its reasoning is after a mode similar to that of the Principles which produce living beings; for the Reason-Principles, prior to reasoning though they are, act invariably in the manner which the most careful reasoning would adopt in order to attain the best results.

What conditions, then, are we to think of as existing in that realm which is prior to Nature and transcends the Principles of Nature? In a sphere in which Substance is not distinct from Intellect, and neither Being nor Intellect is of alien origin, it is obvious that Being is best served by the domination of Intellect, so that Being is what Intellect wills and is: thus alone can it be authentic and primary Being; for if Being is to be in any sense derived, its derivation must be from Intellect.

Being, thus, exhibits every shape and every quality; it is not seen as a thing determined by some one particular quality; there could not be one only, since the principle of Difference is there; and since Identity is equally there, it must be simultaneously one and many. And so Being is; such it always was: unity-with-plurality appears in all its species, as witness all the variations of magnitude, shape and quality. Clearly nothing may legitimately be excluded [from Being], for the whole must be complete in the higher sphere which, otherwise, would not be the whole.

Life, too, burst upon Being, or rather was inseparably bound up with it; and thus it was that all living things of necessity came to be. Body too was there, since Matter and Quality were present.

Everything exists forever, unfailing, involved by very existence in eternity. Individuals have their separate entities, but are at one in the [total] unity. The complex, so to speak, of them all, thus combined, is Intellect; and Intellect, holding all existence within itself, is a complete living being, and the essential Idea of Living Being. In so far as Intellect submits to contemplation by its derivative, becoming an Intelligible, it gives that derivative the right also to be called "living being."

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