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Section 17

17. But what of the Infinite Number we hear of; does not all this reasoning set it under limit?

And rightly so if the thing is to be a number; limitlessness and number are in contradiction.

How, then, do we come to use the term? Is it that we think of Number as we think of an infinite line, not with the idea that any such lire exists but that even the very greatest- that of the [path of the] universe, for example- may be thought of as still greater? So it might be with number; let it be fixed, yet we still are free to think of its double, though not of course to produce the doubled quantity since it is impossible to join to the actual what is no more than a conception, a phantasm, private to ourselves.

It is our view that there does exist an infinite line, among the Intellectual Beings: for There a line would not be quantitative and being without quantity could be numerically infinite. This however would be in another mode than that of limitless extension. In what mode then? In that the conception of the Absolute Line does not include the conception of limit.

But what sort of thing is the Line in the Intellectual and what place does it hold?

It is later than Number since unity is observed in it; it rises at one point and traverses one course and simply lacks the quantity that would be the measure of the distance.

But where does this thing lie? Is it existent only in the defining thought, so to speak?

No; it is also a thing, though a thing of the Intellectual. All that belongs to that order is at once an Intellectual and in some degree the concrete thing. There is a position, as well as a manner of being, for all configurations, for surface, for solid. And certainly the configurations are not of our devising; for example, the configurations of the universe are obviously antecedent to ourselves; so it must be with all the configurations of the things of nature; before the bodily reproductions all must exist There, without configuration, primal configurations. For these primals are not shapes in something; self-belonging, they are perfect without extension; only the extended needs the external. In the sphere of Real-Being the configuration is always a unity; it becomes discrete either in the Living-Form or immediately before: I say "becomes discrete" not in the sense that it takes magnitude There but that it is broken apart for the purpose of the Living-Form and is allotted to the bodies within that Form- for instance, to Fire There, the Intellectual Pyramid. And because the Ideal-Form is There, the fire of this sphere seeks to produce that configuration against the check of Matter: and so of all the rest as we read in the account of the realm of sense.

But does the Life-Form contain the configurations by the mere fact of its life?

They are in the Intellectual-Principle previously but they also exist in the Living-Form; if this be considered as including the Intellectual-Principle, then they are primally in the Life-Form, but if that Principle comes first then they are previously in that. And if the Life-Form entire contains also souls, it must certainly be subsequent to the Intellectual-Principle.

No doubt there is the passage "Whatever Intellect sees in the entire Life-Form"; thus seeing, must not the Intellectual-Principle be the later?

No; the seeing may imply merely that the reality comes into being by the fact of that seeing; the Intellectual-Principle is not external to the Life-Form; all is one; the Act of the Intellectual-Principle possesses itself of bare sphere, while the Life-Form holds the sphere as sphere of a living total.

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