Plotinus: 1st Ennead, 1st Tractate
Translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page
THE ANIMATE AND THE MAN
We may treat of the Soul as in the body – whether it be set above it or actually within it – since the association of the two constitutes the one thing called the living organism, the Animate.
Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.
It may be objected that the Soul must however, have Sense Perception since its use of its instrument must acquaint it with the external conditions, and such knowledge comes by way of sense. Thus, it will be argued, the eyes are the instrument of seeing, and seeing may bring distress to the soul: hence the Soul may feel sorrow and pain and every other affection that belongs to the body; and from this again will spring desire, the Soul seeking the mending of its instrument.
But, we ask, how, possibly, can these affections pass from body to Soul? Body may communicate qualities or conditions to another body: but – body to Soul? Something happens to A; does that make it happen to B? As long as we have agent and instrument, there are two distinct entities; if the Soul uses the body it is separate from it.
But apart from the philosophical separation how does Soul stand to body?
Clearly there is a combination. And for this several modes are possible. There might be a complete coalescence: Soul might be interwoven through the body: or it might be an Ideal-Form detached or an Ideal-Form in governing contact like a pilot: or there might be part of the Soul detached and another part in contact, the disjoined part being the agent or user, the conjoined part ranking with the instrument or thing used.
In this last case it will be the double task of philosophy to direct this lower Soul towards the higher, the agent, and except in so far as the conjunction is absolutely necessary, to sever the agent from the instrument, the body, so that it need not forever have its Act upon or through this inferior.