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[personal profile] endymions_bower
Elements of Theology, prop. 13: “Every good is unific [henôtikon] of what participates it, and all unification [henôsis] is a good, and the good is identical with the one. For if it belongs to the good to conserve all beings (and it is for no other reason than that all things desire it); and if likewise that which conserves and holds together the substance of each several thing [tês hekastôn ousias] is unity (since by unity each is sustained, but by dispersion displaced from being): then the Good, wherever it is present, makes the participant one, and holds it together in virtue of this unification. And secondly, if it belongs to unity to bring and keep each thing together, by its presence it makes each thing complete [hekaston teleioi]. In this way, then, the state of unification is good for all things,” (trans. Dodds, modified).

We can see from this entire passage how the goodness of unity for Proclus is a matter of individuation. Note the repeated uses of the term hekastos, “each”, for example. “Unity” is what makes each thing one, and this is why unity is the good of each thing. Nor is Proclus doing anything revolutionary here; he is simply speaking of “unity” in the sense the Platonic tradition has done since its beginning, and which is rooted in the ordinary language sense of “one”, hen, in Greek, which is the property of a thing being one thing, what we in English term individuality or individuation.

Now, as I always take care to point out, the individuation of beings does also require, for its perfection or completion (teleiotês), the participation in forms which, because they too have the unities appropriate to them, takes beings also out of themselves, and hence the essential and unavoidable ontological importance of individuation does not mean that the system promotes the mindless, egotistical self-assertion of the empirical self.

April 2019


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