Proclus Elements of Theology: Proposition 1-10

Translated by Juan Balboa

Editor’s note: the original translation by the great Juan Balboa includes the original Greek version of Proclus Elements of Theology alongside Juan’s translation. It also includes illustrations by Juan as well as discussions regarding Greek/English words.  For ease of reading online, I’ve omitted the Greek. 

If you’d like a PDF copy of Juan’s translation, which includes the missing material, please email

The-Academy-of-AthensTo better understand the vocabulary of this translation, please read Pierre Grimes’ Introduction.

Proposition 1

All Multitude Participates, in a certain way, of The One.

For if It Participates, in no way (of The One), neither would The Whole be One, nor each of the many of which the multitude consists; but from each of these multitudes, even more multitudes would arise, and this will be the case into infinity, and each of these infinities, would in turn be, an infinite multitude.

For by participating in no way at all of The One; neither according to The Whole Itself, nor according to each of the multitude contained in Itself, thus it will be infinite, according to every particular, and according to all.

For each of the many, which you may take up, would be either One, or Not-one, and if Not-one, then either many or nothing.

But if, on the one hand, each is nothing, that also which consists of these would be nothing; And if, on the other hand, each is many, each will consist of an infinite number of infinities: but this, is impossible.

For neither are any of The Real-Beings composed of an infinite number of infinities (for there could not be more than that which is infinite; but That which consists of All, is more than each.) Nor is it possible for anything to be composed from that which in no way exists.

Accordingly then, All Multitude, Participates in a certain way of The One.


Proposition 2

All that Participate of The One, are both One and Not-one.

For if It is not The One-Itself (for It Partakes of The One, by Being something else besides The One), It has undergone that Participation according to The One, and sustains having-become One.

If then, on the one hand, It is nothing besides The One, It “is” Simply One: and does not Participate of The One, but It “would be” The One-Itself.

But if, on the other hand, It is something besides That which is Not-one, (but That which Participates of The One, It is both, Not-one and One, not The Very One-Itself, but One-Being, by Participating of The One).

Accordingly then, by this, It is Not-one, nor The Very One: But One-Being, and at the same time, Participates of The One, and because of this, It is Not-one, According to Its Own Hyparxis, Being both One and Not-one, by Being something else besides The One; on the one hand, insofar as, It Abounds, It is Not-one; but on the other hand, insofar as, It has received (The One) from without, It is One.

Accordingly then, All that Participates of The One, is both One and Not-one.


Proposition 3

All that becomes One, becomes One by Participating of The One.

For if, on the one hand, It is Itself Not-one, then on the other hand, It is One, insofar as It has received from without Its Participation of The One, for if Those which are not In-Themselves One, were to become One, then surely They would Unite and Commune with each other in order to become One, and Abide in The Presence of The One, but not be The Very One Itself.

Accordingly then, this One Participates of The One insofar as, this One undergoes becoming One; For if on the one hand It “is” already One, then It will not become One: For by “being” That OneIt cannot become That which It “is” already.

But if They become One, from that which was formerly Not-one, then that certain One that has been generated in Them has come forth as One.


Proposition 4

All that is United is Other than The One Itself.

For if It is United, This should in a certain way Participate of The One, insofar as It is also said to be United. 

However, That which Participates of The One, is One and Not-one. But The One Itself is not both One and Not-one.

For if This were also One and Not-one, then The One in Itself would also have both of These, and this would proceed to infinity, if there were no One-Itself which would enable it to stop, but All would be One and Not-one.

Accordingly then, there is Something that Is United which is Other than The One.

For if The One were The Same with The United, then an infinite multitude would result, and so also for Each of Those Beings of which The United consists.

Continue reading Proclus Elements of Theology: Proposition 1-10

Learning to do Philosophy

© 1998 by Pierre Grimes, Ph.D.

Philosophy has often been said to have similar goals with some religions in that it seeks knowledge of the divine and so provides us with an ideal for our lives.

However, what separates philosophy from religion is the means it uses to achieve those goals, for, in philosophy understanding is cultivated as the primary condition for reaching knowledge and wisdom.

But this path of understanding doesn’t just jump into view spontaneously; it must be cultivated by the use of models and many examples. The movement from understanding to knowledge requires the mastery of the art of contemplation because there, too, understanding plays a leading role.

The models our philosophy follows are those of Plato because within his dialogues are the models we need to master for the pursuit of our study. We will, of course, include other thinkers in the Platonic tradition as well as those who complement the Platonic vision.

Those seeking to master Philosophical Midiwifery will quickly learn that the kind of problems they experience can be identified as blocks to their goals and as such they can become fit objects for a Philosophical Midiwifery exploration.

If one were to add to one’s goal the study of ancient Greek, the Greek tragedies, Homer, and Euclid one would be able to see more deeply into what it is to be a Hellene.

Those who desire to study Platonic thought more deeply will be asked to answer a series of questions on Plato’s dialogues, Plotinus’ Enneads, Proclus’ Elements of Theology, and other works.

Since deeper study of Platonic thought, by its nature, will surface more intense philosophical problems, those who desire deeper study will be expected to practice midwifery in both roles: pregnant with a problem as well as midwife.

It is expected that they will also agree to have their Philosophical Midiwifery sessions reviewed. With continued application to this learning it is expected that they will be willing to demonstrate their competence in the art before those who have already been tested and have gained recognition for their own practice of Philosophical Midiwifery.

It is also expected that these candidates will attend work shops, seminars, and contemplative retreats at specific times and places to be announced. It is expected that they will be able to engage in Platonic dialogues on such topics as Excellence, Justice, Beauty, Art, the Idea of the Good, and the Good, or the One.

Our program is as rigorous a program as it is a profound challenge, and we certify only those who have met our standards of excellence. Any person who has been denied certification can appeal the decision, and if additional evidence is given, a change in decision is possible.

However, this does not mean that those who have been denied certification will be unable to participate in other aspects of our program; it only means certification will be delayed until deficiencies are made up and corrected.

It is expected that those who encounter difficulties and fail to achieve the degree of excellence required in our program will take these difficulties and failures as their object of exploration in their Philosophical Midwife sessions.