Proclus’s First Axiom

Counting something requires deciding what to count and then enumerating the first instance. I decide to count cows and get four, pigs and get one, farm animals and get five.

Making involves the same process of deciding on what will count as a first instance and then setting about making it.

In truly creative making as opposed to the execution of a rote process, the endpoint might be vague and one negotiates the path towards it, often ending up in a very different place from where he initially thought he would go. For all that, the whole process still requires an original logos that might be tacit until close to the end, but without which we can neither get started nor know when to stop.

The logos behind the things made is the unified source of their existence. A multitude of lamps is unified by the knowledge that allows us either to count lamps or to make them. Given that nature is as countable as art, and makes individuals by a stepwise process that works with materials at hand, there is a logos of the pig as much as a logos of the lamp.

That said, this only explains a multitude of lamps or of pigs but not multitude or the enumerable as such. What explains the enumerable is known by analogy: what a lamp is to the knowledge needed to count one or make one, and a pig is to whatever logos is necessary to count or make pigs, so the enumerable as such is to The One. 

So we get Proclus’s first axiom Every multitude participates in The One. 

The One is the logos of the enumerable and so cannot be enumerable. A cognitive power repeats The One only out of its ignorance of an implicit contradiction.

The One is convertible with The Good since both are first absolutely and the one cannot be multiplied. The Good is first absolutely because any good that results from existence is not good absolutely. Oil changes are good for cars given the sort of things they are, but an oil change is not the sort of good that can account for why one would make a car in the first place. The logos of something is a source explaining existence and so it is either good absolutely or not good at all. If the latter, we have no explanation of what would motivate one to take its existence as a goal. So the logos of things is good primarily, and a fortiori The Good is convertible with The One.

The Good and The One do not explain the existence of things apart from power and agency and so a First Power and First Agency is either convertible with them or causally secondary to them. If secondary, there is an agency before the first agency, and so we can add to Proclus’s axiom ad say that Every multitude participates in The One, The Good, and The Power. 


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