We finally get to the question of morality and real magic.
1 We must further inquire what this intellectual nature is, by whose power such operations are done.
2 First of all, it appears not to be good and praiseworthy. To offer patronage to things that are contrary to virtue is not the act of a well-disposed understanding. But this is done in these arts, for they are often used for purposes of adultery, theft, homicide, and other kinds of wrongdoing. As a result, the practitioners of these arts are called malefics. So, the intellectual nature on whose assistance these arts depend is not well disposed in relation to virtue.
Notes Rock and roll.
3 Again, a morally well-disposed intellect should not be the associate of, and provide protection for, scoundrels, while having nothing to do with the best men. Now, evil men often make use of these arts. Therefore, the intellectual nature from whose help these arts get their efficacy is not well disposed in relation to virtue.
4 Besides, it pertains to a well-disposed intellect to bring men back to things that are proper goods for men, namely, the goods of reason. Consequently, to lead them away from these goods, by diverting them to the least important goods, is the mark of an improperly disposed intellect.
Men do not make any progress by means of these arts in the goods of reason which are the sciences and the virtues, but, rather, in certain least important things, such as the finding of stolen goods and the catching of thieves, and such things. Therefore, the intellectual substances with whose aid these arts are exercised are not well disposed in relation to virtue.
Notes He does not mean detectives engaged in their duty. But in psychics (we’d say) who help find hidden bodies.
5 Moreover, some deception and irrationality are observable in the practices of these arts. In fact, arts of this kind need a man who is not engrossed in sexual matters, yet they often are used to arrange illicit affairs. But, in the workings of a well-disposed intellect nothing unreasonable or out of keeping with its nature is apparent. Therefore, these arts do not employ the patronage of an intellect that is well disposed in relation to virtue.
6 Furthermore, he who feels called upon to help another by the committing of a crime is not well disposed in his intellect. But this is done in these arts, for we read about some people who, in their practice, have killed innocent children. Therefore, those by whose help such things are done are not good intellects.
7 Again, the proper good of an intellect is truth. So, since to attract to the good is proper to a good being, it seems to be the function of every well-disposed intellect to bring others to the truth. But in the practices of the magicians many things are done whereby men are made sport of and are deceived. So, the intellect whose help they use is not well disposed morally.
8 Besides, a well-disposed intellect is attracted by truth, takes pleasure in it and not in lies. But the magicians use certain lies in their invocations, by which they entice those whose help they employ. They also make certain impossible threats, such as, unless he who is being invoked provides help, the magician who is asking it will shatter the sky, or displace the stars, as Porphyry relates in his Letter to Anebontes. Therefore, these intellectual substances with whose help the works of the magicians are accomplished do not seem to be well disposed in their intellect.
9 Moreover, it does not seem the attribute of a possessor of a well-disposed intellect for it, if it be superior, to submit like an inferior to the one who commands it, or, if it is inferior, to permit itself to be invoked as if it were a superior. But the magicians humbly invoke as their superiors those whose assistance they employ, but when they appear the magicians command them like inferiors. So, in no way do they seem well disposed in relation to intellect.
10 By these considerations the error of the pagans is set aside, for they attributed such works to the gods.
Notes We still haven’t got to the how; that’s next time.