Hellenism as Dialectic

Earlier models of theology did theology “by century,” or a list of pithy sayings on a topic.  I doubt I will get to a hundred, but it is a good guideline.  When I attack Hellenism, in this context I mean the matrix in which the church found itself.  I do not deny that the Fathers and NT used “substance” language.  I think it is good that they did.  I simply deny that reading the Greek philosophers as if they are the next best thing is a good idea. Unless I note otherwise, the following are theses that define dialectical Hellenism. D = Dialectic.

  1. Basil notes, contra Hellenism, that terms referring to the divine essence aren’t de facto conferring material limitations to it (McGuckin 2017: 318).
  2. D: The One and the Many are mutually correlative.
  3. D: Deity is defined by self-origination
  4. D: Distinction is opposition: two contrary attributes cannot coinhere in the same subject at the same time.  This rules out the Incarnation.  It also rules out dyotheletism.
  5. D: Definition = limit.
  6. Contra Hellenism, God has no opposite (St Maximus, Cap. Char. 3.28) . If he had an opposite, then that opposite would define him.
  7. D: Things are distinguished by their opposites (Plato, Phaedo103d; same logic is use in Thomist Trinitarianism).
  8. D: The “infinite” implies “boundary markers” (Barnes, Early Greek  Philosophy 216).
  9. St Paul said we are no longer under the stoichea of the age (Galatians 3-4).
  10. D: Democritus says it’s stupid to want children (Barnes 280) and sex is irrational.
  11. “When Socrates was seized by a problem, he remained immobile for an interminable period of time in deep thought; when Holy Scripture is read aloud the Hebrew moves his whole body ceaselessly in deep devotion and adoration.”
  12. The hero for the Greek was Hercules.  The hero for the Hebrew is David, who served the covenant people.

Outline of Maximus’ Cosmology

maximus

Chapter 3: The Logos, logoi, and created beings

  1. Key to Maximus’s cosmology is the mystery of Christ (64).
    1. The logoi are all contained in the divine wisdom, not just his thoughts but his acts of will.
    2. Logoi are ideas through which the creative will of God manifests itself (66).
    3. The logoi are divine intentions for created beings.
  2. Logos as Centre of all Logoi
    1. The logoi are pre-existent.
      1. They are divine ideas through which the essences of such beings are instituted by the creative act (71).
      2. Dialectic as tearing apart. The fall represents an opposite movement, where man no longer moves in accordance with the logos of his being.
    2. Expansion and Contraction
      1. Expansion roughly corresponds with the Neoplatonic procession, but for Maximus it is God’s distributing the essence from highest (genera) to lowest (species).
      2. “The one logos in creative act should not be considerd an empty name for a sum of logoi….It seems rather that the One Logos holds the logoi together” (79).
      3. Principles of being: the means by which the Logos of God extends to the end of the world of creatures (sort of like the radii to the periphery of hte circle).
  3. The Logoi as Principles of a Porphyrian Tree
    1. Division of Being (Amb. 41).  The “subject” in question refers to particular beings of which accidents are predicates.  Somewhat equivalent to Aristotle’s substance.
    2. Maximus’s division of beings is in accordance with the divine logoi.  “The logoi are principles that are institutive of the essences of creatures” (85).
    3. God’s eternal wisdom is identical with the sum total of the logoi (87).
      1. What God has defined eternally and what he wills at the moment of creation is conceived in the logoi as a system of essence with internal differentiations (87).
      2. However, the logoi cannot be seen as a reservoir of Ideas or Forms.
    4. Universals: the logoi aren’t really universals in themselves, but are rather principles of immanent universal arrangements (91).
      1. The divine Logos manifests from Himself a logos of being as universal category, logoi of genera and species, logoi of individuals (91).
  4. The Ordering of Essential Being–Expansion and Contraction
    1. Maximus’ basic category is essence/ousia (93).
    2. There are two aspects of Maximus’ view of essence: common nature and particular nature.
      1. Common nature: location in particular beings; collects particulars into wholes.
        1. For Maximus created beings are comprised by their logoi.
        2. Essence and nature are said to be common and universal (Amb. 14).
      2. Difference: it is the effect of a logos of creation (98).
        1. The divide the genus but function constitutively  on the level of species.
        2. These are dynamic relations in the real world.
      3. Particular nature:
    3. Universals: the universals consist of particulars. If a particular perishes, the universal perishes.  Yet, the logoi cannot perish.
        1. For Maximus essence contracts and expands (Amb. 10). It is moved from the generic to the specific.
        2. It’s movement is the process of expansion.
    4. The movement of expansion is the ontological constitution of the cosmos (108).
      1. This moves from most genus (ousia) to most specific species, yet this isn’t an ontological scale with non-being at the bottom, for:
      2. God has no opposite (De Char. 3.28).
    5. The contractive movement is what unites the beings.
  5. Ontological Constitution of Created Beings
    1. Triad of origin –Middle — End
      Triad of essence — potentiality (power) — activity (actuality)
      Logos of being–logos of well-being–logos of eternal well-being
    2. These triads are constitutive of all created beings.
    3. An essence has in itself a limit (horos).  This limit is essential determination.
      1. This limit is due to the presence of a logos.
      2. The preconditioning essence makes present a potentiality which is to be actualized (119).
    4. What is a person?
      1. Greek philosophers: an individual is a collection of properties and this “bundle” cannot be contemplated in another.
      2. Fathers: a hypostasis is an essence with properties.
      3. A hypostasis does not exist separate from nature, but is always present
      4. The being of a hypostasis is in tension between the logos of nature and the mode of existence.
        1. A nature must always have a hypostasis, but not necessarily a hypostasis of its own kind.
        2. This is why Christ doesn’t have a human hypostasis.
      5. In the tropos (en men to tropo) the changeability of persons is know in in their activity, in the logos in the inalterability of natural operation (Th. Pol. 10).
      6. The mode of fallen man is dialectical, pulling in two different directions, since it doesn’t orient itself to the logos of its being.

The Divine Activity

Thesis: Maximus presupposes a distinction between essence, energy, logoi, and created beings.

  1. In earlier philosophy:
    1. Aristotle: distinction between potentiality and actuality is what explains change.
      1. An energeia is an action which includes the end (Metaph. Theta, 3.1047a30ff.).
  2. God’s essence and activities according to St Gregory Palamas.
    1. If man is to be deified by participation in God, and if the essence of God is imparticipable, then man must be deified by some other ‘aspect’ of God than His essence (140).
    2. The activity/energy is contemplated in God but God is not a matter for composition.
      1. When we say ‘God’ we do not mean the trihypostatic essence separately, but the essence with the activity.
      2. The energy is not separated from the essence because it is always from it (ex ekeines ousan)
    3. God’s energies are not an accident (Palamas Capita 127 and 135:
      1. Accidents come into being and pass away, which does not apply to God.
    4. The primary sense of energy is activity.
      1. It is the essential motion of nature (Capita 150, 143).
      2. The capacity of activity belongs to the nature from which it proceeds.
      3. The activities are certain powers which are deifying, life-giving, causing being, granting wisdom (quoted in Dionysius DN 2.7).
    5. The energies aren’t hypostases.
      1. They are natural manifestations and processions of the Spirit.
      2. They are proper to God’s essence before God relates himself to anything ‘other’ through them (144).
    6. The divine essence is One but the activities are plural; hence, they are distinguished from the essence.
      1. The divine will is the principle of distribution (similar to Maximus’s logoi).
      2. An energy is never a quasi-hypostasis that is a go-between the essence and the creature.
      3. It does not follow the essence in an external fashion.
    7. Dionysius
      1. Through the processions God is the cause of being, life, wisdom, etc.
      2. The divine names are divine activities (Goodness, Being, Life, Wisdom).
  3. Essence and Activity according to St Maximus.
    1. Two kinds of divine works: that which he began to create, and that which he did not begin to create (Cap. Gnost. 1.48).
    2. If something participates in a certain quality, then it participates in hierarchical order in more and more inclusive qualities (162).
  4. The Energies and the Logoi
    1. The logoi are God’s intention through which all creatures receive their generic, specific, and individual essences.  The logoi are acts of will instituting essence.
      1. They are the principles by which creatures participate in God (174). Cf. De Char. 3.23-25.
      2. By his logos of being man is constituted a essence which joins in the triadic structure of essence–potentiality–activity.
      3. Essence is the origin of potentiality.
    2. The divine energy is the manifestation of God’s power as Being, Goodness, etc.

Concept of Participation

  1. Basic idea
    1. God transcends every relation.
    2. As the cause of creatures God is immanent.
    3. Incarnation is the ontological condition of participation.
  2. The problem of participation.
    1. How do the many participate in the One without the One being divided up (since God is simple)?
    2. Plotinus: procession is the activity out of the essence
  3. The Logic of Participation
    1. When different hypostases have the same essence, there is a unity according to essence.
    2. For Aristotle, separateness is characteristic of ousia (Metaphysics M, 9.1058b34ff).  This means separate entities will exist independently of each other.  This is fatal to the hypostatic union.

Review: Cosmic Mystery

I’ve read this book six or eight times.  It’s probably the most important theological piece ever written on cosmology.Maximus_Confessor

Ambiguum 7

  1. All created being is in motion since it aims toward some end.

This combats Origenism.  Origen (de Principis I.2) and his disciples said the order of things’ existence was stability (stasis), motion (kinesis), and becoming (genesis).  This means a fall before the fall.  It raises questions of how one could fall from enjoying the Beautiful.  Maximus countered with the following:

(2) Becoming (Genesis), Motion (Kinesis), and Stability (stasis).

(2a) Motion is always directed towards an End.

Passibility (pathos):  does not refer to a change or corruption of one’s power.  It is that which exists by nature in beings.  For that which comes into being is susceptible to movement.   

The Logos of being:  participation in god as good and is the principle of being.

On willing

(3) When one is firmly attached to a good there is a voluntary transcending of oneself, a willing surrender.

(3a) Gnomic willing is a non-natural volition.  

Maximus then moves away from discussing a fall from Origen’s henad.

(4) The One Logos is the Many Logoi (p. 54 = [1077C]).

This statement is the perfection of what all ancient philosophy tried to be.  Each thing remains distinct (Gk. asunchtos) from everything else.  Yet Maximus also wants to say they are the one Logos.  How does he do that?

(4*) The logoi are anchored within the Logos (55; Col. 1:15-17; Rom. 11:36)

(4’) The Logos multiplies the logoi after himself (and the logos of a thing precedes its existence).

(5) The Logos recapitulates all things in himself (Eph. 1:10).

Does this mean all things return back to the Logos?  In so brilliantly cutting off Origenism has Maximus allowed Origen a return via apocastasis?  

(5’) Since all things participate in God, and they participate proportionally, not all will have the same ending.

(5*) Thus, Maximus doesn’t posit an Origenist apocastasis.

The logos of our being pre-exists in God [1080C].  

(6) All created things develop and are defined and limited by their logoi.

Ambiguum 8

Thesis:  Bodily existence is within the realm of flux and chaos and needs the Creator to order it.  God changes the atakton into the eutakton..

Logos/Tropos distinction.  The logos is the principle of a thing.  The tropos is the mode of existence.  The Logos has innovated human nature not in its natural principle (logos phuseos) but in its post-lapsarian existential mode (tropos huparchos).

Is it fair, then, to see Logos/Tropos as akin to the Nature/Person distinction?  This would make it:

(7) There is one logos in the trinity but three tropoi huparchoi?

Unfortunately, this creates problems.  We would then have two persons of Jesus but only one nature!

(7*) Logos could perhaps stay as nature (or natural principle) but tropos refers not to person, but to the mode of the person’s existing.

(7a*) Every Logos has its own telos (1).  There is no temporal hiatus (diastema) of any kind within the logos.  Nature is already graced because it is intrinsically open to transformation.

Ad Thalassium 2: On God’s Preservation and Integration of the Universe

The logos of a thing is already established, but its development is ongoing..  

(8) God “works” through the latent potentialities within the logoi.  

Christ unites within himself the logoi of universals and particulars.  

Ad Thalassium 22: At the End of the Ages

(9) God divided the “ages” between those before he became human and those afterwards
(9a) This is God’s “oikonomia.”

(10) Jesus is the beginning (arche), middle (mesotes), and end (telos) of all ages.

(10*) The end of the ages has come upon  his in potency through faith.

Ad Thalassium 60: On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ

(11) The mystery is the preconceived goal for which everything exists (p. 124).

(11a) The Logos is the goal for which creatures received their beginning existence and to which they move [(1), (10)].

(11b) Time itself is rooted in Christ [=CCSG 22:76]

(12) Christ’s incarnation (economy) was the object of God’s foreknowledge.

EXCURSUS ON GNOMIC WILL

(a)   It is discursive [1104A]

(b)  It is deliberate [Ad Thal. 21).

(c)  It is vacillating and sin perpetuates itself not via the natural volitions but through the gnomic will
(d) Earlier in his career Maximus said Jesus had a gnomic fear of death, but he stabilized his gnomic will.  Later, he would deny Jesus had a gnomic will (Blowers 112 n7).

 

Review: Orthodoxy and Esotericism (Kelley)

My friend James Kelley gave me a complimentary copy.kelley

It is common parlance to say, “We should apply our faith to culture.”  In such slogans the words “faith” and “culture” are never defined and always used in the most abstract categories.   Kelley does us a service by bringing an advanced level of Patristic theology to such wide-ranging topics as history and esoterism.  One can go a step further: Kelley’s insights regarding (Joseph Farrell’s usage) of Sts Maximus the Confessor and Athanasius can provide us a useful compass in witnessing to those trapped in the occult.  I don’t know if Kelley himself holds that view, but it is something that came to my mind.

Ordo Theologiae

The first part deals with rather esoteric thinkers like Paul Virilio, Joseph P. Farrell, and Phillip Sherrard.  Special interest goes to Farrell.  

Here is the problem: In order for the Plotinian one to account for creation, it must already contain within himself all plurality.  Therefore, epistemology and ontology had to proceed by dialectics.  We know something by defining it by its opposite.

How was the Church to respond to this?  The best way was by simply breaking its back.  Kelley shows this by examining Athanasius’s response to Arius and Maximus’s response to monotheletism.  

For Athanasius there are three primary categories that should not be confused: nature, will, and person (Kelley 35).  The person of the Father generates the Son according to essence (since the hypostasis of the Father is the font of essence).  Creation, by contrast, is according to the will.  This leads later fathers (such as Basil) to identify three categories:

(1) Who is doing it?

(2) What is it they are doing? (energies)

(3) What are they? (essence)

The key point, however, is that Person, Nature, and Energy are not to be identified, or we have something like Plotinianism or Arianism.  

Maximus is even more interesting:  the human will cannot be passive nor defined by its contrary, the divine will.  That would mean because the divine nature/will is good, then the human nature must be evil (41). If we define something by its opposite, then we are also saying that said something (God) needs its opposite.  

I must stop the analysis at this point.  But know that the section on Joseph Farrell is a crash course in advanced theology.

Esoteric Studies

Kelley places the Nation of Islam’s cosmogony within the earlier Gnostic myths (89).  He has a fascinating section on Jim Jones.  It almost reads like a novel or a news article.  His larger point is that in these cults (NOI, Scientology, etc) there is a dialectic of a “life-force creating (or self-creating) within a primordial darkness.”

His chapter on Anaximander’s apeiron is worth the price of the book.  But what makes it interesting is Kelley’s tying Anaximander’s apeiron with Tillich’s Ungrund and Barth’s unknowable God.  The problem:  How can this “god” have any contact with creation?  Anaximander gives us a dialectically unstable answer:  this apeiron already contains within it the coincidence of opposites.

Conclusions and Analysis

Like all of Kelley’s works, this cannot help but be interesting.  How often do you read a theology book and you ask yourself, “I can’t wait to turn the page to see what happens next”?  But normally that level of excitement is for fluff.  This it most certainly is not.  Some chapters are very advanced theology, while others, like the one on Paul Virilio, are probably out of my league.

My only quibble is he set up a great dismantling of Karl Barth’s theology and then didn’t do it.  I understand that could be for space reasons.  Is Barth’s Unknowable God the same as Anaximander’s apeiron?  Maybe.  If they are, then one has at his fingertips a very destructive critique.

Aside from that, this book is most highly recommended.

Note: I received this as a complimentary copy and was under no obligation to post a positive review.

Analytic Outline, Balthasar’s Cosmic Liturgy

This isn’t an outline of the whole book–only the first half.  That is where Balthasar’s discussion on Person and Nature is.  I first read this book in 2010 when I was new to Maximus the Confessor.  Those were heady days. Maximus_Confessor

  1. the Free mind
    1. Opening up tradition: Maximus undercut Origenism by interpreting Gregory of Nazianzus in Origenist language (35).
    2. Between Emperor and Pope: tore the Greek tradition away from the destructive claws of the Empire.  
  1. Between East and West
    1. Religion and revelation
        1. Asiatic view of One and Many; seeking the Absolute which exists in a state of formlessness
        2. Biblical religion: man and God stand in confrontation, not emanation and decline.
      1. Polarities and Synthesis
        1. Maximus held to the Western view of phusis and logos, which grounds the existence of things.  Western thought also added “personal categories.”
        2. He held to the Eastern religious passion.
      2. Three bodies of material to be synthesized
        1. Origen: subordination is metaphysical; problem for Christology.  Falling away from spirits in a collective unity of God; apakatastis.
        2. Evagrius: silence sensible images and conceptual thought; eliminate form from realm of the spirit.
        3. Alexandrian Christology:
    2. Scholasticism and Mysticism
  2. The synthesis
  3. Divine Unknowing
    1. Lack of knowledge:
    2. The light of God enfolds one beyond the distinction of subject and object (94).
  4. Ideas in God
    1. “The idea of a thing is its truth” (Maximus PG 91, 1085AB).
    2. God’s ideas are not identical with his essence (otherwise I, as an idea of God, would be infinite) nor are they identical with the existence of created entities (HuvB, 118).
    3. Epistemology
      1. Maximus reworks some of Ps. Dionysius’ concepts.  When we approach an idea, or rather, when an idea comes across our consciousness, we first have a general impression of reality (pragma) and gradually grow clearer unity reaches the full knowledge of the individual object.  
      2. “What flashes upon us ‘in an undivided way’ (ameristos) in the first encounter () is not some empty general concept of being–a contradiction in terms–but a revelation concerning the Monad (), the unity of that being that truly is one: a logos that instructs the thinking mind that God and the world are undivided and so makes possible all thought of things different from God (123, see PG 91, 1260D).  
  5. Ideas in the World: A Critique of Origenism
    1. Maximus filtered Origenist spirituality and removed its fangs.
    2. Origen: there once existed an original Henad of beings.  It is a metaphysics of “peira,” of painful necessity (129).

Syntheses of the Cosmos

  1. Being and Movement
    1. The Age.  Finite being is characterized by spatial intervals (diastema), and thereby motion.  
      “To have a beginning, middle, and end is characteristic of things extended in time. One would also be right in adding to this ‘things caught p in the age (aiown).’ For time, whose motion can be measured, is limited by number; the age, however, whose existence is expressed by the category of ‘when,’ also undergoes extension (diastasis), in that its being has a beginning.  But if time and the age are not without beginning, then surely neither ar ethe things that are involved in them” (Centuries on Knowledge, 1.5).
    2. In short, for Origen motion is connected with the fall, while for Maximus it was an ontological expression of created existence (HuvB 141).
    3. Extension:
    4. The definition of every nature is given with the concept of its essential activity (energeia, Ambigua PG 91, 1057B).
      1. The essence of a thing is only truly indicated through the potential for activity that is constitutive of its nature.
      2. A nature is nothing else than organized motion….It is a capacity or plan, a field or system of motion (HuvB 146).
    5. Nature and the Supernatural:
  2. Generality and Particularity
    1. Being in Motion.
    2. The motion of a being is its way of establishing itself as a particular, existent thing (155).
      1. The whole structure of existent things, which are not God, is polar (duas). It is a dynamic relationship between the unity of individuality and the unity of generality (157).
    3. Essence in motion. The essence of all created things is motion–in the manner of expansion (diastole) and contraction (systole).
    4. Balance of contrary motions.

Christ the Synthesis

  1. Synthesis, not confusion, is the first structural principle of all created being (207).
    1. There is no contradiction between divine and finite life.
    2. We do not look for a synthesis on the level of nature and describe it as a synthesis of natural powers (Nestorius) or a natural union (Eutyches).
  2. The terminology
    1. Aristotle: ousia is the highest and most comprehensie of being (216).
      1. The Cappadocians used this as “universal concept
      2. And because Maximus didn’t want to identify God with a universal concept, he places God outside being (Ambigua PG 91, 1036B).
    2. Maximus at times wants to distinguish ousia from this-ousia.
    3. Being (einai). The existential aspect of Being (HuvB 218).
      1. Christ united in his own person “two distinct intelligible structures of being” (logoi tou einai) of his parts.”
    4. Hypokeimenon.  Underlying subject.  Maximus seldom uses this. It denotes the concrete, existent bearer of qualities that determine whata thing is.
      1. It does not mean the same thing as hypostasis. It is more of a point of reference for logical predicates than an existential reality.
    5. Hyparxis. Existence. Used to mean the Being of the Persons of God (tropos tes huparxeos; Cappadocians used this, as did Karl Barth).
    6. Hypostasis. Leontius refined it to mean “being-for-oneself.”  It is what distinguishes a concrete being from others of the same genus (HuvB 223). It is the ontological subject of the ascription of an essence, not the consciousness of such a subject.  
      1. It isn’t merely the contraction (systole) of universal being; it also suggests the “having” of such a being. When the Cappadocian Fathers defined hypostasis as the manner in which each person has his origin, it was to show the reality his having the Godhead.
      2. A nature is the hypostasis’s property (224).
      3. Maximus even suggests that nature is what is according to the image, whereas hypostasis is according to the likeness.  No doubt the Hebrew doesn’t sustain such a reading, but it is interesting that a Greek father would suggest it.
    7. Synthesis
      1. Union (henosis).
      2. Synthetic person.  
    8. Christology of essence.  The act of being is distinct from the actual being of Christ’s human nature. The act of being comes from the divine person, which is why the human nature of Christ isn’t a human person.
  3. Healing as Preservation
    1. The exchange of properties

Terminology:

First Substance (Aristotle): the irreducibleness of a thing.  It has an inner field of meaning and power defined in terms of potency (49).  

Union and Distinction in Maximus (Review)

Melchisidec Toronen gives us a useful snapshot and handbook for Maximus the Confessor. While the back has some drawbacks, it is clear and to the point (almost to a fault). Toronen gives a lucid summary of his own argument: “The greatness of the notion of ‘union without confusion’ lies in the fact that it can accommodate at once both unity and differentiation within one being. ‘No’ to confusion means ‘yes’ to difference, and hence to natural integrity; ‘yes’ to union means ‘no’ to separation, and hence also ‘yes’ to personal integrity” (Toronen 120).

He begins surveying the literature and notes several problems with von Balthasar’s account and those following in his footsteps: Toronen acknowledges, with von Balthasar and Thunberg, that Maximus was a Chalcedonian. He simply denies that Chalcedon was the frame for everything Maximus said. “Yes to Chalcedon, no to pan-Chalcedonianism.”

Toronen nicely suggests that Maximus used Porphryry’s Tree as a conceptual model to discuss created reality (not uncreated, though!). This, among other things, allows Maximus to speak of “difference,” not division relative to Christ.

We get a decent discussion of hypostasis, logos, and tropos. One’s “logos” is its principle of essence (Maximus, Ep. 15). Toronen explains that “The principle of essence is what is common to all the particulars but the particulars have some characteristic features of their own which individuate them in relation to one another” (Toronen 53). Further, he nicely distances Maximus’s use of “person” from modern personalism, both in theology and philosophy. The latter two relegate the actions of person to the hypostasis, not the nature.

He gives a good, if frustratingly short account of Monad and Triad. Monad and Triad are both on the side of the uncreated. Going back to the Porphyryan tree, accidents do not apply on the side of the uncreated. And the “generic” is something substantial in God, not abstracted from particulars (64). The Triad is a Monad by virtue of the logos of its essence, and the Monad is a Triad according to the logos of its existence.

Some Criticisms

At times it appears Toronen merely lists arguments from Maximus without actually analyzing them or taking them beyond surface level (see his talk on Circle and Radii, pp. 39). Further, his section “Today” begins by explaining differences between the Fathers and modern personalist theologians, but then just stops (66-68). I grant that “union and distinction” are important for Maximus. I’m just not sure they carry all the weight Toronen wants them to. Nonetheless, this is a fine book and can serve as a good introduction to Maximus.

Notes on person and will

The Two Energies of Christ

Person operates by will. Will is a property of nature and energy is operation proper to that nature. So in Christ Incarnate there are two will and two operations proper to each nature, but the divine energeia deifies the human will and energy.

 

The raising of the dead was a willed operation proper to the divine energy, while eating food was a willed operation proper to the human energy, albeit both are willed by one divine Person – the Logos.

The Notion of Will in Saint Maximus

 

Thelesis–basic term for “will.” Extremely loaded lexical background.
Gnome and proaerisis–a mode of willing bringing to mind sinful and post-lapsarian man.
Maximus makes the important distinction between willing and “mode of willing.” We can take the distinction even further to see the capacity of willing and the object of willing (119).
The “mode of willing” is the particular way in which a will is actualized.
More on Proaerisis–closely linked to the English words “choice” and “decision.”
Gnome is a disposition of the appetite: Maximus uses these words to refer to the sinful state. Maximus excludes these modes of willing from Christ firstly, because it would introduce a human person in Christ. Why? While will is a faculty of nature, natures qua natures do not will. Persons do. If Christ had a deliberative will per gnome, and this was part of his human nature, he would now have a human person as well as a divine person (152). Further, as Joseph Farrell notes, gnome is a sub-category of “the mode of willing,” it is not identical with the mode of willing. Excluding the former does not negate the latter.
The Willing of the Saints in Heaven
Can saints have free-will in heaven? Sort of. Obviously, they will not sin, but neither will they be robots. How? The wills of the saints in heaven will be one according to the logos of nature, but varied insofar as the mode of movement of the wills is concerned, for each saint will participate in God in a manner proportionate to his desire (157; Farrell also scores huge points on this, Free Choice in St. Maximus the Confessor, 124).
Nature
Nature exists in a “mode of existence,” which is the hypostasis (Loudonikos 93ff).
Every nature has an energy, and the energy is constituted by the principle of nature itself.  Each energy reveals God in his entirety in each entity in accordance with the logos of its existence.  Thus, the doctrine of the uncreated energies imply the doctrine of the logoi.  The distinction between essence and energy (this time with Palamas) promotes the distinction between essence and will in God made by Athanasius and the Cappadocians.
Having will by nature is not the same as the act of “willing.”  The former is a natural; the latter is modal and hypostatic.  The distinction between natural and gnomic is analogous to the distinction between logos and tropos.   However, we should not press the distinction too far:   Christ has two natural wills but he does not have a gnomic will (or more precisely, he does not “will” (verb) in a gnomic way, since the latter implies uncertainty.

Metaphysics of Symbol

Hans urs von Balthasar suggested that Letter is to be transformed into Spirit.  This isn’t necessarily a spirit-matter dualism (which I don’t think existed before the fall), though that is certainly true post-fall.  Man before the Fall saw the connection between the forms to the universal Form, or Logos.

sf._maxim_marturisitorul_1

St Maximus said that the one LOGOS is the many LOGOI (I am summarizing key parts from his Ambiguum 7). Collectively, the Forms are LOGOI, which is LOGOS, which is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Logos is revealed and multiplied in the Forms (logoi) which are then recapitulated back into the Logos (Ephesians 1:10). The Logos is the interconnecting cause that holds the Forms together. The Logoi, therefore, pre-exist in God.

The Logoi is the content of the manifestation of the Logos.  That manifestation is the Holy Spirit.

A florilegium of Maximus

Just some of my favorite quotes from Maximus the Confessor:

“The Confessor reworks the categories of time, extension, and aeonic existence in an effort to describe an indescribable state. This moving rest presupposes a kind of extension (diastema) that is beyond time (kronos), and yet short of God’s own utter timelessness: a temporal timelessness or aeon, a moving motionlessness. On this plane the creature enjoys “eternally moving repose” as a finite being open toward the infinite, and yet also knows an “immobile eternal movement” since the end of the finite being is infinite and unattainable  Thus the final stasis is thus a ‘dialectic vibration between time and timelessness, between creature and Creator.”  (Blowers, Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa and the Notion of Perpetual Progress)

HT to Jay Dyer on that one.  Actually, thanks to Jay on all these quotes.  Sure, I had read them before, since I’ve read almost everything Maximus has written that has been translated into English, but Jay did the hard work in getting the quotes online.

“The soul’s salvation is the consummation of faith. This consummation is the revelation of what has been believed. Revelation is the inexpressible interpénétration (τιεριχώρησις) of the believer with (or toward, προς) the object of belief and takes place according to each believer’s degree of faith. Through that interpénétration the believer finally returns to his origin. The return is the fulfillment of desire.

Fulfillment of desire is ever-active repose in the object of desire. Such repose is eternal uninterrupted enjoyment of this object. Enjoyment of this kind entails participation in supranatural divine realities. This participation consists in the participant becoming like that in which he participates. Such likeness involves, so far as this is possible, an identity with respect to energy between the participant and that in which he participates by virtue of the likeness. This identity with respect to energy constitutes the deification of the saints.”

-Cap. D. 4.19, PG 90.1312A-B = Ad Thal. 59, PG 90.608C-609B; G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, eds., and trans., The Philokalia. The Complete Text, 5 vols. (London, 1979-), 2:239-240.

Ambiguum 7

If by wisdom and a person has come to understand that what exists was brought out of non-being into being by God, he intelligently directs the soul’s imagination to the infinite differences and variety of things as they exist by nature and turns his questing eye with understanding towards the intelligible model (logos) according to which things have been made, would he now know that the one Logos is many logoi? This is evident in the many incomparable differences among created things. For each is unmistakably unique in itself and its identity remains distinct in relation to other things. He will also know that the many logoi are the one Logos to whom all things are related and who exists in himself without confusion, the essential and individually distinctive God, the Logos of God the Father. He is the beginning and cause of all things in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created from him and through him and for him(Col. 1:15-17, Rom. 11:36). Because he held together in himself the logoi before they came to be, by his gracious will he created things visible and invisible out of non-being. By his word and his wisdom he made all things (Wisdom 9:1-2) and is making all things, universals as well as particulars, at the proper time.

For we believe that a logos of angels preceded their creation, a logos preceded the creation of each of the beings and powers that fill the upper world, a logos preceded the creation of human beings, a logos preceded the creation of everything that proceeded from God, and so on. It is not necessary to mention them all. The Logos whose excellence is incomparable, ineffable and inconceivable in himself is exalted beyond all creation and even beyond the idea of difference and distinction. This same Logos whose goodness is revealed and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in him, with the degree of beauty appropriate to each being, recapitulates all things in himself(Eph. 1:10). Through his Logos there came to be both being and continuing to be, for from him the things that were made came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason, and by continuing to be and moving, they participate in God. For all things, in that they came to be from God, participate proportionally in God. For all things, whether by intellect, by reason, by sense-perception, by vital motion, or by some habitual fitness, as the great inspired Dionysius the Areopagite taught. Consequently, each of the intellectual and rational beings, whether angels or human beings, through the very Logos according to which each were created, who is in God and is with God (John 1:1), is called and indeed is a “portion of God,” through the Logos that preexisted in God as I already argued.

If someone is moved according to the Logos, he will come to be in God, in whom the logos of his being preexists and is his beginning and case. Furthermore, if he is moved by desire and wants to attain nothing more than his own beginning, he does not move away from God. Rather, by constant straining toward God, he becomes God and is called a “portion of God” because he has become fit to participate in God…he ascends to to the Logos by whom he was created and in whom all things will ultimately be restored (apokatastasis)…The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things.

We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for he cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth in goodness into individual being, creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover, the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all-powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together. In this way the many are one. Therefore we are called a portion of God because the logoi of our being pre-existed in God. Further, we are said to have slipped down from above because we do not move in accordance with the Logos (who pre-existed in God) through whom we came to be….

In such a person the apostolic word is fulfilled: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). For whoever does not violate the logosof his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he movesin God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously; and he lives in God according to the logosof his eternal being that pre-existed in God. On the one hand, insofar as he is already irrevocably one with himself in his dispositions, he is free of unruly passions. But in the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoi already mentioned that pre-existed in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded. In this way he becomes a “portion of God,” insofar as he exists through the logos of his being which is in God and insofar as he is good through the logos of his well-being which is in God; and insofar as he is God through the logos of his eternal being which is in God, he prizes the logoiand acts according to them. Through them he places himself wholly in God alone, wholly imprinting and forming God alone in himself, so that by grace he himself is God and is called God. By his gracious condescension God became man and is called man for the sake of man and by exchanging his condition for ours revealed the power that elevates man to God through his love for God and brings God down to man because of his love for man. By this blessed inversion, man is made God by divinization and God is made man by hominization. For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.

…The mystery hidden from the ages (Col 1:26) and from the nations is now revealed through the true and perfect incarnation of the Son and God. For he united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis, without division and without confusion, and joined us to himself as a kind of first fruits. This holy flesh with its intellectual and rational soul came from us and is ours. He deemed us worthy to be one and the same with himself according to his humanity. For we were predestined before the ages (cf Eph 1:11-12) to be in him as members of his body. He adapted us to himself and knitted us together in the Spirit as a soul to a body and brought us to the measure of spiritual maturity derived from his fullness. For this we were created; this was God’s good purpose for us before the ages. But this renewal did not come about through the normal course of things, it was only realized when a wholly new way of being human appeared. God had made us like himself and allowed us to participate in the very things that are most characteristic of his goodness. Before the ages he had intended that man’s end was to live in him, and to reach this blessed end he bestowed on us the good gift of our natural powers. But by misusing our natural powers we willingly rejected the way God had provided and we became estranged from God. For this reason another way was introduced, more marvelous and more befitting of God than the first, and as different from the former as what is above nature is different from what is according to nature. And this, as we all believe, is the mystery of the mystical sojourn of God with men. For if, says the divine apostle, the first covenant had been blameless, there would have been no occasion for a second (Heb 8:7). It is clear to all that the mystery accomplished in Christ at the end of the age (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that the sin of our forefather Adam at the beginning of the age has run its course.

(in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 58, 59, 70-71).

Maximus’s Epistemology

I read von Balthasar’s treatise on Maximus the Confessor in 2009.  I am going back over some notes.  The following is a summary from von Balthasar and my playing around on MS Paint.  Thanks to K. Johnson for finding Patrologia Graece for me.

      1. Maximus reworks some of Ps. Dionysius’ concepts.  When we approach an idea, or rather, when an idea comes across our consciousness, we first have a general impression of reality (pragma) and gradually grow clearer unity reaches the full knowledge of the individual object.  
      2. “What flashes upon us ‘in an undivided way’ (ameristos) in the first encounter (maximus en te prosbole) is not some empty general concept of being–a contradiction in terms–but a revelation concerning the Monad (maximus peri monas), the unity of that being that truly is one: a logos that instructs the thinking mind that God and the world are undivided and so makes possible all thought of things different from God (123, see PG 91, 1260D).