Sacred Texts  Classics  Index  Previous  Next 

Section 30

30. Whether pleasure must enter into the good, so that life in the contemplation of the divine things and especially of their source remains still imperfect, is a question not to be ignored in any enquiry into the nature of the good.

Now to found the good upon the Intellect and upon that state of soul or mind which springs from wisdom does not imply that the end or the absolute good is the conjunction [of Intellect and state]: it would follow merely that Intellect is the good and that we feel happy in possession of that good. That is one theory; another associates pleasure with Intellect in the sense that the Good is taken to be some one thing founded upon both but depending upon our attaining or at least contemplating an Intellect so modified; this theory would maintain that the isolated and unrelated could be the good, could be an object of desire.

But how could Intellect and pleasure combine into one mutually complementary nature?

Bodily pleasure no one, certainly, would think capable of blending in with Intellect; the unreasoning satisfactions of soul [or lower mind] are equally incompatible with it.

Every activity, state, and life, will be followed and as it were escorted by the over-dwelling consciousness; sometimes as these take their natural course they will be met by hindrance and by intrusion of the conflicting so that the life is the less self-guided; sometimes the natural activity is unmixed, wholly free, and then the life goes brilliantly; this last state is judged the pleasantest, the most to be chosen; so, for lack of an accurate expression, we hear of "Intellect in conjunction with pleasure." But this is no more than metaphor, like a hundred others drawn by the poets from our natural likings- "Drunk with nectar," "To banquet and feast," "The Father smiled." No: the veritably pleasant lies away in that other realm, the most to be loved and sought for, not something brought about and changing but the very principle of all the colour and radiance and brightness found here. This is why we read of "Truth introduced into the Mixture" and of the "measuring standard as a prior condition" and are told that the symmetry and beauty necessary to the Mixture come Thence into whatever has beauty; it is in this way that we have our share in Beauty; but in another way, also, we achieve the truly desirable, that is by leading our selves up to what is best within us; this best is what is symmetry, beauty, collective Idea, life clear, Intellective and good.

Next: Section 31