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Section 9

9. It remains then to consider whether Being by its distinction produced Number or Number produced that distinction. It is certain that either Number was the cause of Being, movement, rest, identity and difference, or these the cause of Number.

The first question is whether Number can exist in and of itself or is dependent upon things- Two being something observed in two things, Three in three; and so of the arithmetical One, for if this could exist apart from numbered objects it could exist also before the divisions of Being.

But could it precede Being itself?

For the present we must take it that Being precedes Number, is its source. But if One means one being and the duality two beings, then unity precedes Being, and Number precedes the Beings.

Mentally, to our approach? Yes: and in reality of existence as well.

Let us consider: When we think of the existence and the fine appearance of a man as forming one thing, that unity is certainly thought of as subsequent to a precedent duality; when we group a horse with a dog, the duality is obviously the subsequent. But think of that which brings man or horse or dog into being or produces them, with full intention, from where they lie latent within itself: the producer must say "I begin with a first, I pass on to a second; that makes two; counting myself there are three." Of course there was no such numbering even of Beings for their production, since the due number was known from the very beginning; but this consideration serves to show that all Number precedes the very Beings themselves.

But if Number thus preceded the Beings, then it is not included among them?

The truth is that it existed within the Authentic Being but not as applying to it, for Being was still unparted; the potentiality of Number existed and so produced the division within Being, put in travail with multiplicity; Number must be either the substance of Being or its Activity; the Life-Form as such and the Intellectual-Principle must be Number. Clearly Being is to be, thought of as Number Collective, while the Beings are Number unfolded: the Intellectual-Principle is Number moving within itself, while the Living-Form is Number container of the universe. Even Being is the outcome of the Unity, and, since the prior is unity, the secondary must be Number.

Hence it is that the Forms have been described as Henads and Numbers. This is the authentic Number; the other, the "monadic" is its image. The Authentic is that made manifest in the Forms and helping to bring them to be; primally it is the Number in the Authentic Being, inherent to it and preceding the Beings, serving to them as root, fount, first principle.

For the Unity is source to Being; Being's Being is stayed upon the Unity as its safeguard from dissolution; the Unity cannot rest upon Being which at that would be a unity before possessing unity; and so with the decad before possessing decadhood.

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