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Section 6

6. the Intellectual Essence, wholly of the order of Ideal-form, must be taken as impassive has been already established.

But Matter also is an incorporeal, though after a mode of its own; we must examine, therefore, how this stands, whether it is passive, as is commonly held, a thing that can be twisted to every shape and Kind, or whether it too must be considered impassive and in what sense and fashion so. But in engaging this question and defining the nature of matter we must correct certain prevailing errors about the nature of the Authentic Existent, about Essence, about Being.

The Existent- rightly so called- is that which has authentic existence, that, therefore, which is existent completely, and therefore, again, that which at no point fails in existence. Having existence perfectly, it needs nothing to preserve it in being; it is, on the contrary, the source and cause from which all that appears to exist derives that appearance. This admitted, it must of necessity be in life, in a perfect life: if it failed it would be more nearly the nonexistent than the existent. But: The Being thus indicated is Intellect, is wisdom unalloyed. It is, therefore, determined and rounded off; it is nothing potentially that is not of the same determined order, otherwise it would be in default.

Hence its eternity, its identity, its utter irreceptivity and impermeability. If it took in anything, it must be taking in something outside itself, that is to say, Existence would at last include non-existence. But it must be Authentic Existence all through; it must, therefore, present itself equipped from its own stores with all that makes up Existence so that all stands together and all is one thing. The Existent [Real Being] must have thus much of determination: if it had not, then it could not be the source of the Intellectual Principle and of Life which would be importations into it originating in the sphere of non-Being; and Real Being would be lifeless and mindless; but mindlessness and lifelessness are the characteristics of non-being and must belong to the lower order, to the outer borders of the existent; for Intellect and Life rise from the Beyond-Existence [the Indefinable Supreme]- though Itself has no need of them- and are conveyed from It into the Authentic Existent.

If we have thus rightly described the Authentic Existent, we see that it cannot be any kind of body nor the under-stuff of body; in such entities the Being is simply the existing of things outside of Being.

But body, a non-existence? Matter, on which all this universe rises, a non-existence? Mountain and rock, the wide solid earth, all that resists, all that can be struck and driven, surely all proclaims the real existence of the corporeal? And how, it will be asked, can we, on the contrary, attribute Being, and the only Authentic Being, to entities like Soul and Intellect, things having no weight or pressure, yielding to no force, offering no resistance, things not even visible?

Yet even the corporeal realm witnesses for us; the resting earth has certainly a scantier share in Being than belongs to what has more motion and less solidity- and less than belongs to its own most upward element, for fire begins, already, to flit up and away outside of the body-kind.

In fact, it appears to be precisely the most self-sufficing that bear least hardly, least painfully, on other things, while the heaviest and earthiest bodies- deficient, falling, unable to bear themselves upward- these, by the very down-thrust due to their feebleness, offer the resistance which belongs to the falling habit and to the lack of buoyancy. It is lifeless objects that deal the severest blows; they hit hardest and hurt most; where there is life- that is to say participation in Being- there is beneficence towards the environment, all the greater as the measure of Being is fuller.

Again, Movement, which is a sort of life within bodies, an imitation of true Life, is the more decided where there is the least of body a sign that the waning of Being makes the object affected more distinctly corporeal.

The changes known as affections show even more clearly that where the bodily quality is most pronounced susceptibility is at its intensest- earth more susceptible than other elements, and these others again more or less so in the degree of their corporeality: sever the other elements and, failing some preventive force, they join again; but earthy matter divided remains apart indefinitely. Things whose nature represents a diminishment have no power of recuperation after even a slight disturbance and they perish; thus what has most definitely become body, having most closely approximated to non-being lacks the strength to reknit its unity: the heavy and violent crash of body against body works destruction, and weak is powerful against weak, non-being against its like.

Thus far we have been meeting those who, on the evidence of thrust and resistance, identify body with real being and find assurance of truth in the phantasms that reach us through the senses, those, in a word, who, like dreamers, take for actualities the figments of their sleeping vision. The sphere of sense, the Soul in its slumber; for all of the Soul that is in body is asleep and the true getting-up is not bodily but from the body: in any movement that takes the body with it there is no more than a passage from sleep to sleep, from bed to bed; the veritable waking or rising is from corporeal things; for these, belonging to the Kind directly opposed to Soul, present to it what is directly opposed to its essential existence: their origin, their flux, and their perishing are the warning of their exclusion from the Kind whose Being is Authentic.

Next: Section 7