With regard to the universal soul of Nature, there is, indeed, no difficulty at all. In giving a sensible realisation to the noetic ideas, she suffers no degradation or pollution by contact with the lower elements of matter. Enthroned on the outer verge of the cosmos, she governs the whole course of Nature by a simple exercise of volition, and in the enjoyment of a felicity which remains undisturbed by passion or desire. But just as we have seen the supreme Nous resolving itself into a multitude of individual intelligences, so also does the cosmic soul produce many lesser or partial souls of which our own is one. Now these derivative souls cannot all be equal, for that would be to defeat the purpose of creation, which is to realise all the possibilities of creation from the highest to the lowest. Thus each has an office corresponding to her place in the scale of perfection.452 We may say of the human soul that she stoops to conquer. Her mission is to cope with the more recalcitrant forms of matter. It is to the struggle with their impurities that the troubles and passions of our life are due. By yielding to earthly temptations, we suffer a second fall, and one much more real than the first; by overcoming them, as is perfectly in our power to do, we give scope and exercise to faculties which would otherwise307 have remained dormant and unknown. Moreover, our soul retains the privilege of returning to her former abode, enriched by the experience acquired in this world, and with that clearer perception of good which the knowledge of its opposite alone can supply. Nay, paradoxical as the assertion may seem, she has not entirely descended to earth, but remains in partial communication with the noetic world by virtue of her reasoning faculty; that is to say, when its intuitions are not darkened and disturbed by the triumph of sensuous impressions over the lower soul. On this and on many other occasions, Plotinus betrays a glimmering consciousness that his philosophy is purely subjective, and that its attempted transcendentalism is, in truth, a projection of psychological distinctions into the external world. Starting with the familiar division of human nature into body, soul, and spirit (or reason), he endeavours to find an objective counterpart for each. Body is represented by the material universe, soul by the animating principle of Nature, reason by the extramundane Nous. Under these three heads is comprised the totality of real existence; but existence itself has to be accounted for by a principle lying above and beyond it, which has still to be obtained by an effort of abstraction from the data that self-consciousness supplies.453.