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Section 21

21. How, then, are we to recognise Passivity, since clearly it is not to be found in the Act from outside which the recipient in turn makes his own? Surely we must look for it in cases where the patient remains without Act, the passivity pure.

Imagine a case where an agent improves, though its Act tends towards deterioration. Or, say, a a man's activity is guided by evil and is allowed to dominate another's without restraint. In these cases the Act is clearly wrong, the Passion blameless.

What then is the real distinction between Action and Passion? Is it that Action starts from within and is directed upon an outside object, while Passion is derived from without and fulfilled within? What, then, are we to say of such cases as thought and opinion which originate within but are not directed outwards? Again, the Passion "being heated" rises within the self, when that self is provoked by an opinion to reflection or to anger, without the intervention of any external. Still it remains true that Action, whether self-centred or with external tendency, is a motion rising in the self.

How then do we explain desire and other forms of aspiration? Aspiration must be a motion having its origin in the object aspired to, though some might disallow "origin" and be content with saying that the motion aroused is subsequent to the object; in what respect, then, does aspiring differ from taking a blow or being borne down by a thrust?

Perhaps, however, we should divide aspirations into two classes, those which follow intellect being described as Actions, the merely impulsive being Passions. Passivity now will not turn on origin, without or within- within there can only be deficiency; but whenever a thing, without itself assisting in the process, undergoes an alteration not directed to the creation of Being but changing the thing for the worse or not for the better, such an alteration will be regarded as a Passion and as entailing passivity.

If however "being heated" means "acquiring heat," and is sometimes found to contribute to the production of Being and sometimes not, passivity will be identical with impassivity: besides, "being heated" must then have a double significance [according as it does or does not contribute to Being].

The fact is, however, that "being heated," even when it contributes to Being, involves the presence of a patient [distinct from the being produced]. Take the case of the bronze which has to be heated and so is a patient; the being is a statue, which is not heated except accidentally [by the accident of being contained in the bronze]. If then the bronze becomes more beautiful as a result of being heated and in the same proportion, it certainly becomes so by passivity; for passivity must, clearly, take two forms: there is the passivity which tends to alteration for better or for worse, and there is the passivity which has neither tendency.

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