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On The Soul   

Book I


HOLDING as we do that, while knowledge of any kind is a thing to

be honoured and prized, one kind of it may, either by reason of its

greater exactness or of a higher dignity and greater wonderfulness

in its objects, be more honourable and precious than another, on

both accounts we should naturally be led to place in the front rank

the study of the soul. The knowledge of the soul admittedly

contributes greatly to the advance of truth in general, and, above

all, to our understanding of Nature, for the soul is in some sense the

principle of animal life. Our aim is to grasp and understand, first

its essential nature, and secondly its properties; of these some are

taught to be affections proper to the soul itself, while others are

considered to attach to the animal owing to the presence within it

of soul.

To attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most

difficult things in the world. As the form of question which here

presents itself, viz. the question 'What is it?', recurs in other

fields, it might be supposed that there was some single method of

inquiry applicable to all objects whose essential nature (as we are

endeavouring to ascertain there is for derived properties the single

method of demonstration); in that case what we should have to seek for

would be this unique method. But if there is no such single and

general method for solving the question of essence, our task becomes

still more difficult; in the case of each different subject we shall

have to determine the appropriate process of investigation. If to this

there be a clear answer, e.g. that the process is demonstration or

division, or some known method, difficulties and hesitations still

beset us-with what facts shall we begin the inquiry? For the facts

which form the starting-points in different subjects must be

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