Superphysics Superphysics
Section 3

The Faculties of the Soul have External Origins and are not from the 4 Elements

by Avicenna
5 minutes  • 861 words
Table of contents

All the various things that are, however composite they may be, and whatever form may have come about in the compound, will be:

  1. Incline or not towards one of the forms of the simples

Examples are:

  • the bitterish taste on compounding aloe, which is overpoweringly bitter
  • honey, which is feebly sweet.

If these are produced, from simples whose forms are contrary not through mechanical mixture (commingling) but through blending (alloy, amalgam), then the overpowered contraries will no longer have an existence of their own, nor an existence of the effects peculiar to them. This is because of the impossibility of 2 contraries working together in one and the same carrier (medium).

The utmost effects they can exert will be to introduce a decrease in the strength of the overpowering constituent, and nothing more.

  1. Result from an aggregate (or mean) of the forms of the simples, according to the degree of disproportion and deviation of the constituents from equality, or else

An example is the color grey. It holds an equal relationship to both of the extremes (contrasts) blackness and whiteness, which results on compounding a white and a black opposite.

This imposes both passive and active reciprocity and equality. The manifold workings that the forms of the simples necessarily exert and the corresponding effects that these forms suffer mutually one from the other must of necessity be reciprocal, and in the ratio of their respective proportions and strengths.

  1. They will not be assimilated to any one of the simples, but there will be made (generated, produced) a form exceeding the requirement of the forms of the simples, both in regard to the measure of its simplicity and in regard to the measure of its complexity.

An example is the seal’s stamp (imprint) remaining in the clay (mortar, putty) which is composed of dry dust and liquid water on their being mixed up together.

The imprint remaining in the putty is not in pursuance to the requirement of the forms of the simples, neither whether they be considered in respect of the resultant compound, nor whether they be considered in respect of the simple constituents taken singly.

This kind, if it comes about, will not have resulted from the intrinsic (very) self of the compound, since it in no way at all belongs to it, neither in consideration of its simple nor of its composite form. Hence it is gained (got, acquired) from without.

The soul has only come forth [for us through the foregoing contemplations] in compound bodies whose forms are opposed and in none others; nor will its manifestation in them be devoid (divested) of one of the three divisions; but it is not of the first division; else it is heat or coldness, dryness or moisture (dampness), in any of which soever a decrease has more or less come about;

how shall any one of these powers be fit to put forth from itself multifarious psychical deeds, given the fact of the decrease (defect) occasioned in the very composition, and given also what it would have expended in that decrease out of its strength? nay, how shall any one of these powers cause motion save towards[Pg 34] one direction alone?

wherefore has it become necessary to effect mutual exclusion (displacement) among psychical movements so that their mutual exclusion (displacement) shall engender a dullness (or weariness), since in the effect (influence) of one identical thing there does not arise exclusion; nor is it of the second division, since the existence of the second division is an impossibility, and this because the elements, however much they may be compounded, under (proportionate) equality of the powers, this necessitates in them the stoppage (cessation) of all the effects attaching to each one of the two, and thus if the compound were left alone (abandoned to itself) it would never have to move, neither upwards—else the heat is the overpowerer and the cold is the one overpowered—nor downwards—else the cold is the overpowerer and the heat is the one overpowered—nay nor even would it remain at rest in one of the four spots of space (wherein dwell all the four elements)—else Nature which attracts towards itself is the overpowerer therein—whereas it has been asserted that all of them are equal both to overpower and to be overpowered, and this is a contradiction:

Therefore this body (such a body) is neither still nor moving.

Whereas, every body which is surrounded by another body is either still or moving,—and this too is a contradiction; and what leads to contradiction is itself a contradiction; so then our assertion that the elements may possibly be compounded under equality of the powers is a contradiction, and hence its opposite, to wit our saying that such is impossible, is true [reduction ad absurdam].

Wherefore the coming forth of the soul, i.e., its combination with body, occurs only after the method of the third division; and it has been already said that what is after the method of the third division is gained from outside: The soul then is got from without—which is what we wished to show.


[10]Mechanical mixture, blending, combination, etc.: compare the Greek mixis, krâsis, and synthesis.

Any Comments? Post them below!