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Section 5

5. This Intellectual-Principle, if the term is to convey the truth, must be understood to be not a principle merely potential and not one maturing from unintelligence to intelligence- that would simply send us seeking, once more, a necessary prior- but a principle which is intelligence in actuality and in eternity.

Now a principle whose wisdom is not borrowed must derive from itself any intellection it may make; and anything it may possess within itself it can hold only from itself: it follows that, intellective by its own resource and upon its own content, it is itself the very things on which its intellection acts.

For supposing its essence to be separable from its intellection and the objects of its intellection to be not itself, then its essence would be unintellectual; and it would be intellectual not actually but potentially. The intellection and its object must then be inseparable- however the habit induced by our conditions may tempt us to distinguish, There too, the thinker from the thought.

What then is its characteristic Act and what the intellection which makes knower and known here identical?

Clearly, as authentic Intellection, it has authentic intellection of the authentically existent, and establishes their existence. Therefore it is the Authentic Beings.

Consider: It must perceive them either somewhere else or within itself as its very self: the somewhere else is impossible- where could that be?- they are therefore itself and the content of itself.

Its objects certainly cannot be the things of sense, as people think; no First could be of the sense-known order; for in things of sense the Idea is but an image of the authentic, and every Idea thus derivative and exiled traces back to that original and is no more than an image of it.

Further, if the Intellectual-Principle is to be the maker of this All, it cannot make by looking outside itself to what does not yet exist. The Authentic Beings must, then, exist before this All, no copies made on a model but themselves archetypes, primals, and the essence of the Intellectual-Principle.

We may be told that Reason-Principles suffice [to the subsistence of the All]: but then these, clearly, must be eternal; and if eternal, if immune, then they must exist in an Intellectual-Principle such as we have indicated, a principle earlier than condition, than nature, than soul, than anything whose existence is potential for contingent].

The Intellectual-Principle, therefore, is itself the authentic existences, not a knower knowing them in some sphere foreign to it. The Authentic Beings, thus, exist neither before nor after it: it is the primal legislator to Being or, rather, is itself the law of Being. Thus it is true that "Intellectual and Being are identical"; in the immaterial the knowledge of the thing is the thing. And this is the meaning of the dictum "I sought myself," namely as one of the Beings: it also bears on reminiscence.

For none of the Beings is outside the Intellectual-Principle or in space; they remain for ever in themselves, accepting no change, no decay, and by that are the authentically existent. Things that arise and fall away draw on real being as something to borrow from; they are not of the real; the true being is that on which they draw.

It is by participation that the sense-known has the being we ascribe to it; the underlying nature has taken its shape from elsewhere; thus bronze and wood are shaped into what we see by means of an image introduced by sculpture or carpentry; the craft permeates the materials while remaining integrally apart from the material and containing in itself the reality of statue or couch. And it is so, of course, with all corporeal things.

This universe, characteristically participant in images, shows how the image differs from the authentic beings: against the variability of the one order, there stands the unchanging quality of the other, self-situate, not needing space because having no magnitude, holding an existent intellective and self-sufficing. The body-kind seeks its endurance in another kind; the Intellectual-Principle, sustaining by its marvellous Being, the things which of themselves must fall, does not itself need to look for a staying ground.

Next: Section 6