The consequences of this conception of dianoia for Proclus' systematic philosophy cannot be ignored. Being and thought for Proclus are dynamic, from the highest to the lowest levels of Being. His system traces the motion of a single power which begins from absolute unity and divides itself in a dynamic remaining, procession, and return. In this process Being itself is articulated, and brought to birth. Each successive level is the same as its prior insofar as it is similar and an image, but it must be admitted that as image it is also different from and other than that of which it is an image.
This puts into question the status of the divided logoi which dianoia employs to construct a systematic philosophy that strives to embrace all levels of reality. Proclus is quite explicit that like is known by like. Sense knows the sensible, opinion the opinable, dianoia the dianoetic object, Nous the intelligible object, and it is by a one that we unify with the One (Proclus, Theologia Platonica 1.15.17—21). In many of his writings Proclus indicates that he thinks the partial soul can leave behind its divided activity and rise to the level of Nous, and even the One.19 Even if this is true, that which is known by dianoia is known in a divided manner. Further, any transcendent experience of Nous, if it is to be expressed to others or to oneself in a philosophical system, must be expressed in the language of dianoia—in one's own thinking, in speech, or in writing.2 So when we assess the writings of Proclus as philosophical system, we must not forget that they are a record of a thinking which is dianoia.
As we have seen from this study, Proclus thinks that dianoia is a circling around a centre which is its own participation in Nous. Thus it seems to have a number of characteristics which affect its status as systematic philosophy. The first is the fact that at any given time it is incomplete. The unity of the One-Being is present to the autozoon through the mediation of Eternity in a simple presence. But dianoia is always still on the way. The intelligible is present to it only through its own dividing circuit of Nous, and this circuit in fact is never finished on the level of dianoia. This circuit is never finished for dianoia because dianoia is a circumference which never touches the centre which it explicates. In like manner, the One-Being stands aloof from the intelligible multiplicity of the autozoon which reflects it. As long as the Soul persists in an activity which divides the unity of its participation in Nous, it produces for itself dianoetic logoi instead of intelligible eide. Thus the period of the Soul's activity will never be finished until the Soul leaves behind the dividing activity of dianoia, and flees multiplicity for the quiet unity of Nous. But then such a Soul would have ceased to engage at all in philosophy. Moreover, the dividing activity which is dianoia brings into existence a level of being which actually differs from its paradigm, even if it is an image of it. All that is in Time exists because of the declension in being to which the divided activity of Soul gives rise. So in a certain sense, dianoia is a discourse which in speaking brings the terms which it uses into being. This should make us wary of the status of systematic philosophy's claim to comprehend all of reality, as the terms in which it must necessarily deal exist only on the psychic level, and refer to what lies above them only as images refer to their paradigms.21
Thus any claim such as Lowry's, that Proclus' system seeks to be complete, comprehensive, or a totality, is a misreading of Proclus' system. Systematic philosophy, for Proclus, is in principle incomplete, because the logoi in which it is expressed will in principle never finish their explication of Nous. The articulation of points around the centre of a circle may never end, because there are a potential infinity of perspectives on the circumference from which to view the centre. Because systematic philosophy is in principle incomplete, each philosophical work must be thought of as a partial explication of Nous. Finally, the divided language in which systematic philosophy expresses itself is brought into existence by dianoia itself, so any set of principles or propositions which constitute a philosophical system must be thought of as a divided image of undivided Being, rather than a comprehensive account of the articulations of Being itself.
Let us take it as established, then, that Proclus thinks systematic philosophy speaks its own dianoetic language. He also thinks that this is not the only language in which one may speak of the gods. One may speak like the priests, who under divine inspiration name the gods according to the fashion of their sect; or one may speak symbolically or mythologically, naming the gods by their Greek mythological names; or one may use mathematical images of the gods, as do the Pythagoreans (Proclus, In Parmenidem 646647; Theologia Platonica 1.17.9-23.11). It must be granted that Proclus describes the dianoetic mode of exposition in certain places very much in the manner that Lowry puts forth (Proclus, Theologia Platonica 1.20.19-25). But it remains the case that dianoia divides its object and so in understanding what lies above it, dianoia makes it what in a certain sense it is not. If this were not the case, then there would be no need for the symbolic, enthusiastic, or mathematical modes of divine exposition. Further, the end of dianoia would be dianoia itself. And from Proclus it is fairly clear that the end of dianoia is Nous and unification with the One.
So it seems to be the case that Lowry is misreading Proclus. It remains possible that Proclus should take Lowry's advice by discarding the One and Nous, and embraced the All as dianoetic. Proclus would likely respond to this suggestion in the following manner. Dianoia is a dividing activity, which has as its end a comprehensive grasp of what it divides. But if there is no original unity from which dianoia takes its birth, then what is dianoia dividing? Dianoia cannot divide itself, as a dividing activity cannot itself be divided; it requires something other than itself on which to work. Further, dianoia is erotic. It is drawn towards its object. If its object is itself, is it not then already in possession of what it seeks? And if so, would not eros disappear? Finally, if dianoia makes its own world in thinking, upon what model is it basing its images? What measures its motion, and keeps it within the boundaries of the true, even if that truth is dianoetic truth?
I began with a preliminary taste of the extant Procline corpus. What should we make of its two systems, five Platonic commentaries, mathematical, physical, and moral works? I suggest that the corpus of Proclus is a projection which is underway. If we were to consider it complete, either in one of its parts or in toto, we would have to hold that Proclus himself was able to complete his periodic revolution around Nous, and moreover, that he was able to express this secret noetic content in dianoetic terms. Instead, the Procline characterisation of dianoia should make us realise that his philosophical corpus is a series of divided approaches to intelligible unity. Moreover, in bringing these works into being, the dividing thought which is dianoia simultaneously brings into being the philosophical terms which it employs. But this dividing activity can never exhaust its source. Philosophical reason in principle cannot cease to articulate anew the unity around which it circles. So the aim is not completion, if completion means finality. Rather, for Proclus philosophy as system should be thought of as a series of vectors, which point the dividing mind back towards the unity which it divides.
I finish with Jean Trouillard once again, on Plotinus.
We will always be stuck if we want to understand the Platonic or Plotinian Ideas as structures which we posit outside of us. Thrown before us in this way, they will lose the character of concrete presence which we can not deny them. They will be categories, postulates or myths. They can not be constructed, or given. It remains that they are norms which are "seen" and achieved, and are identical to the activity of Nous, which the whole life of the soul makes use of but never equals. This is why you could extend the list of the Ideas without end, but miss the essential point. Plato himself only gave examples. Those who today have wished to attempt it have produced a deceptive and empty result. 2
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