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Proclus – About ‘Intellect, Imagination, and Opinion’ & ‘Human Intellect’

 Artwork: ‘The Olympian Gods’ by Giulio Romano

’64. ‘The essential Intellect contains as a whole, all together and in actuality the true understanding of reality. The intellect of the philosopher, however, since it is not essential but an illumination of the Intellect and, as it were, an image of the Intellect, thinks on the particular level and comprehends the truth only intermittently.’

65. ‘Among men there are five conditions of knowing or not knowing: Double ignorance, simple ignorance, desire (to know), inquiry and discovery.’

66. ‘The man of knowledge demonstrates the methods of discovery to the learner, thereby imitating Hermes the Guide.’

67. (In the ‘Cratylus’ dialogue) Socrates is analogous to the intellect, Hermogenes to irrational opinion desiring the Goods and Callias to corporeal and material imagination. This is why the sophists cheat him (i.e. Callias) like a slave. But opinion and imagination are pretty much sister faculties, like next-door neighbours.’


133. ‘The intellect in us is Dionysian and truly an image of Dionysius. Therefore, anyone that transgresses against it, and, like the Titans, scatters its undivided nature by fragmented falsehood, this person clearly sins against Dionysius himself, even more than those who transgress against external images of the God, to the extent that the intellect more than other things is akin to the God.’

134.’We are better able to know the more universal genera of the gods, than the more particular ones. For by reason of the universal quality of their substance, that quality extending to all things, we attain a clearer understanding of the leading and ruling gods than of the independent gods. And we learn more easily that the supreme Zeus is Conductor of living for all creatures and Demiurge than that he offers living to the celestial beings alone. It is clear to all that the universal Demiurge is one, but troublesome to grasp that the more particular demiurges are three.’

135.’ To the extent that he knows himself and all the other divine genera together, partakes of them all, and is distinguished by his own particular substance, each of the gods supplies subsistence to the divine names, which are incomprehensible and ineffable to us, inasmuch as all of the intellectual and the divine entities exist in us spiritually. Yet, if intellections exist in the soul not in a mode corresponding to the intellect, but like an image and in subordination, the soul will become all the dizzier by thinking purely about gods, but it is only on the level of imaging that it can entertain its intuitions about the essence and about the nomenclature of God’.

136.’ Just as the one that directs all the encosmic light from himself is called Helios, so too the one that directs the truth from himself is called Apollo.’

From Proclus’ ‘Commentary on the Cratylus’. Translation by Brian Duvick with guest editor Harold Tarrant. Bloomsbury, 2007. Pages 36-37 and 78.
Proclus – About ‘Intellect, Imagination, and Opinion’ & ‘Human Intellect’

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