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Section 37

37. Those ascribing Intellection to the First have not supposed him to know the lesser, the emanant- though, indeed, some have thought it impossible that he should not know everything. But those denying his knowing of the lesser have still attributed self-knowing to him, because they find nothing nobler; we are to suppose that so he is the more august, as if Intellection were something nobler than his own manner of being not something whose value derives from him.

But we ask in what must his grandeur lie, in his Intellection or in himself. If in the Intellection, he has no worth or the less worth; if in himself, he is perfect before the Intellection, not perfected by it. We may be told that he must have Intellection because he is an Act, not a potentiality. Now if this means that he is an essence eternally intellective, he is represented as a duality- essence and Intellective Act- he ceases to be a simplex; an external has been added: it is just as the eyes are not the same as their sight, though the two are inseparable. If on the other hand by this actualization it is meant that he is Act and Intellection, then as being Intellection he does not exercise it, just as movement is not itself in motion.

But do not we ourselves assert that the Beings There are essence and Act?

The Beings, yes, but they are to us manifold and differentiated: the First we make a simplex; to us Intellection begins with the emanant in its seeking of its essence, of itself, of its author; bent inward for this vision and having a present thing to know, there is every reason why it should be a principle of Intellection; but that which, never coming into being, has no prior but is ever what it is, how could that have motive to Intellection? As Plato rightly says, it is above Intellect.

An Intelligence not exercising Intellection would be unintelligent; where the nature demands knowing, not to know is to fail of intelligence; but where there is no function, why import one and declare a defect because it is not performed? We might as well complain because the Supreme does not act as a physician. He has no task, we hold, because nothing can present itself to him to be done; he is sufficient; he need seek nothing beyond himself, he who is over all; to himself and to all he suffices by simply being what he is.

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