Edited by Omar K Neusser
To understand the doctrine of the multiplicity of the states of the being, it is necessary before considering anything else to return to the most primordial notion of all, that of metaphysical Infinity, envisaged in its relationship with universal Possibility.
The Infinite, according to the etymology of the term which designates it, is that which has no limits; and if we are to preserve this word in its strict sense we must rigorously limit its use to the designation of that which has absolutely no limits whatsoever, excluding here everything that only escapes from certain particular limiting conditions while remaining subject to other limitations by virtue of its very nature, in which these limitations are essentially inherent— as, from the logical point of view which simply translates in its fashion the point of view that can be called 'ontological', are those elements implicated in the very definition of the things in question.
As we have already mentioned on many occasions, these latter include number, space, and time, even in the most general and extended conceptions we can possibly form of them, which far exceed our ordinary notions;1 all of this can really only be in the domain of the indefinite. It is to this indefinitude, when it is of a quantitative order as in the examples just mentioned, that some people improperly apply the term 'mathematical infinity', as if adding a fixed epithet or qualification to the word 'infinity' did not itself imply a contradiction pure and simple.2
In fact, this indefinitude, proceeding from the finite of which it is merely an extension or a development (and therefore always reducible to the finite), has no common measure with the true Infinite, any more than an individuality, human or otherwise, even considered with the integrality of the indefinite prolongations of which it is capable, can ever be commensurate with the total being.3
Footnotes by the author René Guénon
1: It should be observed that we are careful to say ‘general' and not ‘universal for here it is nothing more than a question of the particular conditions of certain states of existence, which should suffice to show that there is no question of infinity since these conditions are obviously as limited as the states to which they apply, and which they help to define. ↩
2: If we sometimes speak of a ‘metaphysical Infinite’ in order to indicate more precisely that it is by no means a question of the so-called mathematical infinite, or other ‘counterfeits of the Infinite’ (if we may put it so), such an expression in no way falls under the objection just raised, because the metaphysical order is in fact unlimited, so that it contains no determination but is on the contrary the affirmation of that which surpasses all determination, whereas one who says ‘mathematical’ thereby restricts the conception in question to a particular and limited domain, that of quantity. ↩
3: See The Symbolism of the Cross , chaps. 26 and 30. ↩
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