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Psyche, Nous; Faith and Reason: The Classic View
self | May 29. 2013 | Jean F. Drew

Posted on 05/29/2013 3:16:41 PM PDT by betty boop

Psyche, Nous; Faith and Reason: The Classic View

By “classic view” we mean to denote the epochal legacy of ancient Greek philosophy, and the epochal genius of thinkers who could and did “isolate” psyche as a bona fide constituent of Reality.

Instantly, there seems to be two problems.

How is “Reality” to be defined?
Who’s doing the “defining?”

For answers to such questions, we must have access to Nous. This incredibly compact Greek word is usually translated into English as Reason. But the Greek nous carries other meanings as well: c.f., reason; mind; intellect; self-reflective consciousness; logic; creative will; truth.

NOUS. Mind. Nowadays it has become customary to translate this word as Reason. And yet such translation seems to falsify Reality in a certain sense. For Aristotle’s noun zoon echon [very roughly, “the living being/animal who thinks”] was translated into Latin as animal rationale. That is to say the concept of the “man-in-full” was reduced to one of man’s natural faculties, which involves translating Man as “the rational animal and Reason the nature of man,” as Eric Voegelin points out. And this understanding really caught on from there, surviving to our present day.

But I doubt Plato would have had much sympathy for this understanding; nor his student and colleague of some 27 years, Aristotle, either: For both men, psyche is prior to Mind — Psyche is the basic, one has to note living, condition that must obtain before Mind can occur. Thus Mind, the rational part of Man, is an attribute or consequence of psyche, not the entirety of psyche.

In short, the tendency of making Reason “the nature of Man” leads to the unfortunate consequence of abetting the idea of “Man is the measure of all things.” If Reason is made the measure of Man, thus Man effectively the measure of the World, then it seems this consequence unavoidably follows.

For the great classic philosophers, however, Nous whether divine or human was not a “measuring device,” which is what “instrumental reason” — the sort of reason of the maths and sciences nowadays, with all their prestige — seems to boil down to. Rather, it denoted the fitness of psyche — the individual (and immortal) human soul — to align itself with the Logos one and common to all men, which is at the very root of the universal physical and moral laws, which ever manifest divine Reason from Alpha to Omega, in perpetual service of the divine Agathon, in this world and the next.

I have a splendid example of a thinker who contracts Nous to fit the size of his ideological commitment — in this case metaphysical materialism — and thereby utterly deforms Truth. He is definitely not a classical thinker. His name is Pitirim Sorokin and he is said to be an “existential psychologist.” I met him in the pages of Voegelin’s “The Eclipse of Reality,” a late unpublished article of Voegelin’s [1901–1985]. Sorokin wrote these lines:

A man is … “both a mechanical system … and a semantic self.“

The mind of man is … “an organism’s selection of particular kinds of material operations to perform upon particular kinds of matter-energy in order to minimize the organism’s own probable work.“

Consciousness is … “a complex integration and succession of bodily activities which are closely related to or involve the verbal and gestural mechanisms, and most frequently come to social expression.”

Finally and roundly … “Consciousness is an electron-proton aggregation.”

Oh goody! This is all so good to know!!! NOT!!!

Is anybody out there laughing as hard as I am at this stupid, pointless, unverifiable claim from an author who does not even bother to define his terms? It tells us absolutely nothing at all!

Jeepers, on this analysis, where did Man “go?” — as himself and also as a participant in society and history? He just seems to have been totally eliminated, “disappeared.” And somehow Sorokin seems glad for this.

Question: What, if anything, do Sorokin’s words tell us about actual human experience and/or human nature itself?

Answer: Absolutely NOTHING. Because Man’s entire spiritual dimension has been entirely wiped out by his operation in the first place.

Sorokin’s “method” forbids non-material elements of “the big picture” from being presented to public judgment in principle. Which simply erases the accounts of actual historical human beings transmitted intergenerationally over millennia of human experience, recorded in myth, theology, the musical and plastic arts, including poetry and the drama; history; and, especially in the modern age, the natural sciences.

The evidence of Man’s spiritual dimension — which it seems Sorokin is trying to erase — is all too obvious in man’s creations, which, if aided by the Spirit, are sublime — man’s noetic ability to the resonate with divine sublimity symbolized by the Agathon pretty much points to the “existential content” we’re looking for here.

If one were a Platonist, one would say:

“Reason … is not merely an operational algorithm but has existential content.”

It’s the “existential content” that is getting lopped off by Sorokin’s method — whatever refuses to conform to the requirements of his selected operational algorithm is a priori sacrificed.

As the great mathematician David Hilbert found out, by actually testing this sort of thing, semantics is irreducible to syntax in mathematics.

So what is this “existential content” that the classical thinkers regarded as essential to the proper understanding of Man?

It seems their broad term for this “existential content” is psyche, or self, soul. (Another compact Greek word.)

To the great classical thinkers — Socrates/Plato, Aristotle, not to mention their great forebears Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxegoras, et al. (and even Democritus/Leucippus, “fathers” of the first atomic theory) — psyche is the only “type” of “entity” (for lack of better words) in living Nature that is capable of self-direction. All else that happens in created Nature “changes” only according to the laws of cause and effect as they play out in time.

They further understood that Psyche is the fundamental “field” in which human existence plays out, in the “between” Reality of God and man; of birth and death; of time and timelessness; of mortality and immortality — in short, all the questions that man qua man has been asking about his “human condition” since Day One.

Mind — Nous — is a quality of “existence.” (I have to put “existence” in quotes, because Being and Existence are not the same things, one being a “fact” of God, the other being the “fact” of man in his relations with God upon which the truthfulness of his own existence depends.)

The great Greeks say that Nous is divine, and is shared by Creator and creature, by God and Man. According to the great Greeks, the site and sensorium of divine–human communication that this arrangement facilitates is the Psyche; it is the Nous — call it a “domain” of Psyche — that God and man have in common, as revealed in the Order of Creation — that makes such divine–human correspondence possible in the first place; i.e., from the Beginning.

The implications of this insight are far-reaching. As much as I would like to pursue these lines of thinking further here, I find myself out of space and time, so must stop for now.

Maybe someday we can get to “stuff” I’d like to have gotten to here, such as Plato’s Metaxy as the site and sensorium of divine–human communications. Not to mention the soundness, the “reason” of the Divine Plan for this Kosmos and all that is in it, and man’s seemingly innate ability to detect it; and the immortality of the soul that Socrates found so plainly evident in his quest of the Truth of Reality.

All such understandings having occurred roughly four hundred years before Christ, Who — as St. Justin Martyr noted — was the fulfillment not only of the Patriarchs and the Prophets, but also of Classical Philosophy. And the great Saint and Doctor Augustine took it to the next level....

Questions and comments most welcome! Thanks to all who have labored along with me so far!!!


TOPICS: History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: bettyboop; christianity; faith; faithandphilosophy; nous; psyche; reason; vanity
Obviously this piece will not be everybody's cup of tea. But it might be useful to some.

Thanks!

1 posted on 05/29/2013 3:16:41 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; TXnMA; MHGinTN; YHAOS; xzins; metmom; hosepipe; thouworm; spirited irish; ...
FYI!!!

I won't even begin to "characterize" this piece.... :^)

Though I was glad to write it!

God bless!

2 posted on 05/29/2013 3:23:37 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
“Reason … is not merely an operational algorithm but has existential content.”

Hence, mind.

Good piece.

The interaction between the divine and the material, and man's role in this, is precisely what intrigues me.

3 posted on 05/29/2013 3:52:36 PM PDT by marron
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To: betty boop

Sorokin: “Consciousness is an electron-proton aggregation.”

Spirited: Sorokin’s proposition is an instance of metaphysical nihilism, that is, all that exists is perhaps a void or abyss (or chaos, primordial matter, prakriti matter) and energies that act on it. Reality is unreality and as ‘self’ does not exist, nor do you.


4 posted on 05/29/2013 4:15:31 PM PDT by spirited irish
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To: betty boop

5 posted on 05/29/2013 4:27:57 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: betty boop

Thanks for the ping and for writing this article. I’ll bookmark this for later reading.


6 posted on 05/29/2013 4:51:14 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: betty boop
Setting aside the presuppositionalism which is found on the side of those who agree with the author and disagree with Sorkin, it seems this is the age old conflict of worldviews of the metaphysical materialists, both ancient and modern and those of modern intelligent design.

On a physical plane, materialists argue that what we see is deceiving, or if we could look below the surface, below the appearances, we would discover the ultimate, completely material source of the visible world. On the temporal plane, materialists argue that while it may seem that such beautifully contrived things as we see every day in nature could not have been brought about by unintelligent matter shuffling through random possibilities, that is because we cannot see the infinite stretches of time wshich brought it all about. Chance cannot do what intelligence can in a short amount of time, but given an infinte length of time, anything is possible (materialist presuppositionalism-not provable by any scientific method). As tangentially mentioned these were the musings of the ascetic Demicritis, Epicurus, and later propagated in modernity by Lucretious, Galileo, Newton, Hobbs,Locke, and many others (many unwitting, some wittingly), and of course we move up through time to Dawkins, Simpson, Gould, and many others propagating their faith of materialism today. It has always been a war of worldviews. Epicureanism is the root of Darwinsm, but Darwinism was the flower, or better the vine which growing from the root, entangles nearly every aspect of our contemporary lives. The argument is that ancient materialist Epicurus/Demicritis/Lucretius provided an approach to nature-a paradigm. The goal of Epicurus was to exclude the Devine from the Universe through the atomistic theory. Having exluded the Divine it was the end to being liberated from the immortal soul, and in the afterlife, to propagate living for this life. It is a Godless, soulless universe of Epicurus and Sorkin.

7 posted on 05/29/2013 5:11:49 PM PDT by Texas Songwriter (')
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To: betty boop

I’ve dug back up my Biblical studies on epistemology recently.

One comparison of Christian anthropology maintains the believer is trichotomous, in Body, Soul, and Spirit.

Each having its own system of perception. The body has the 5 physical senses of perception. The Soul, comprised of the mind and the heart, has a perception called rationalism. Faith is the system of perception in the human spirit.

Each is able to influence the others, without direct attribution.

The body may influence the soul. The spirit also is able to influence physical force. The soul may influence the spirit. The soul may influence the body. The human spirit is able to influence the soul.

Prior to faith in Christ, all humans are dichotomous, with body and soul. Our souls though, have been scarred while dead to God in spirit. Our memory or recall mechanisms are also scarred from pre-salvation thinking, where we tended to either be soulish, carnal, or worldly.

There are several other significant components in this system of epistemology:

Knowledge; Gnosis ; Epignosis; Pistis; Gracis; Charis; Believe / Belief; Faith; Psychological certainty; Naming ; Meaning ; Necessity; Logic; Validity; Truth; Trust; Justification; Intuition (deduction); Insight; Perception; Experience (induction); Ego; Ideas; Imagination; Passion; Emotion; Memory; Judgment; Volition; Will; Image; Understanding; Comprehension; Synthetic (Kantian, new knowledge); Analytic (deduced from self)


8 posted on 05/29/2013 6:50:28 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: betty boop; marron; spirited irish; Texas Songwriter; Cvengr; Kevmo
Thank you oh so very much for this illuminating essay, dearest sister in Christ!

Something seems very clear to me now, but perhaps I am misunderstanding.

If I understand this correctly, the Greek philosophers were describing a cascade as follows:

Logos > nous > pysche > mind (reason) > animal (physical man)

Or perhaps it was Logos > nous > psyche and also Logos > nous > mind?

If it is former, then there was an extremely close parallel to Scripture. Namely, while the great Greek philosophers were developing that cascade, elsewhere on the planet, Israelis were learning from Scripture this cascade:

Creator > neshama (breath of God) > ruach (choosing) > nephesh (animal soul) > physical

And after Christ's ascension, Christians would learn, and see in the full Scripture, this new cascade:

Logos/Creator> Ruach Elohim (Holy Spirit indwelling)+neshama > ruach > nephesh > physical

Most all of the metaphysical materialists would truncate the whole thing to physical as the only reality and mind/pysche/soul/spirit considered an "epiphenomenon."

Lurkers: an epiphenomenon is a secondary phenomenon that cannot cause anything to happen.


9 posted on 05/29/2013 8:53:16 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl; Whosoever

What an adventure human life is.. a definite “testing”..

The human body tests ability to be distracted, subtle tests of human inter-action, and compassion..

The human mind tests lazyness, and honesty, and search for truth..

The human spirit tests identity.. who we think we are, versus who we really are..
It even allows for “masks” to perform Masquerades..

We are always trying to get “there” when we mostly do not know where “there” is..
We suspect it is “here”, or “there”, or “somewhere” but are not completely sure..

A real “testing” human life is.. a testing of the human spirit..
What you’re made of.... will prove itself.. absolutely..

After a human life you have thoroughly proven what you’re made of..
I wonder if all this testing is not to prepare “us” for some future tasks..

Maybe a “quantifying” event for a “qualifying” human life is..
To show whether strengths are honed and “gifts” are polished..

If SO, what a wonderful future set of tasks must be in store..
To go to all this trouble to provide tested and proven resources(personnel) to handle them..

Could be this planet is the Universal University..
the Academy of Universal Hard Knocks.. and Eternal Treasures..


10 posted on 05/30/2013 12:43:23 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: hosepipe
I wonder if all this testing is not to prepare “us” for some future tasks..

I think so, dear hosepipe! Thank you for sharing your insights.

11 posted on 05/30/2013 7:43:18 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; spirited irish; Texas Songwriter; Cvengr; Kevmo; hosepipe
If I understand this correctly, the Greek philosophers were describing a cascade as follows:

Logos > nous > pysche > mind (reason) > animal (physical man)

I’m not sure it is all as straightforward as that. Let’s try to define these terms as the classical philosophers understood them.

Logos, which is divine Logos. Paul Tillich writes beautifully on this complicated subject:

“The idea of the divine Logos breaking the silence of God is very profound. It means that the divine abyss in itself is without word, form, object, and voice. It is the infinite silence of the eternal. But out of this divine silence, the Logos breaks forth and opens up what is hidden in this silence. He reveals the divine ground.”

“Between God and man there are angels and powers, some good and some evil. But their mediating power is insufficient. The Logos is the real mediator. It is difficult to explain what the word ‘logos’ means, especially to those who are nominalists from birth. It is difficult because this concept is not the description of an individual being, but of a universal principle. If one is not used to thinking in terms of universals as powers of being, such a concept as Logos remains impossible to understand. The concept of the Logos can be explained best against the background of Platonism or medieval realism.

Logos is the principle of the self-manifestation of God. The Logos is God manifest to himself in himself. Therefore, whenever God appears, either to himself or to others outside himself, it is the Logos which appears...

“The Word is not the same thing of which it is the Word. On the other hand, the Word cannot be separated from that of which it is the Word. The Word of god is not identical with God; it is the self-manifestation of God.… The Logos is then a word that is spoken toward the outside, toward the creature, through the prophets and the wise men. Logos means both word and reason. If one thinks in Old Testament terms, one would prefer to translate logos by ‘word’; if one thinks in Greek terms,...then one would translate logos by ‘reason’ [nous]. ‘Reason’ here does not mean ‘reasoning’, but refers to the meaningful structure of reality.” [A History of Christian Thought, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1968; 22: 30-31. Emphasis added.]

Nous. As Ellis Sandoz observes, at the very core of the classical philosophers’ theophany is “the revelation of God as the Nous common to both the cosmos and man.” Or we might put it another way: Nous is the divine reason which orders the cosmos and all things in it according to the divine Logos, especially including man — who alone among all the “being things” possesses nous — by which he is able to understand the order within himself and in society and in the cosmos at large.

For Plato, cosmos is “the whole of ordered reality including animate and inanimate nature and the gods.” Please note that “the gods” referred to here are the intracosmic gods, not the utterly transcendent extra-cosmic God of the Beyond whose Logos orders the world of creation and of the human soul [psyche]. Also please note that “cosmos” must not be understood in the modern sense of “astrophysical universe,” which conception utterly de-divinizes the world and man’s experiences in and of it.

“In the texts of Plato and Aristotle, nous refers to the faculty that thinks, that grasps meaning or intelligibility. But it is not only a capacity for apprehending intelligible patterns or structures in reality; it is also the source of order in the soul, the force whose reasoning and judgments allow the soul to resist disordering influences from the surrounding society. Within the context of human action, then, nous is conceived as both the power to apprehend intelligible order and the force that creates intelligible order. Now, in Greek culture, side by side with the emergence of this understanding of nous, there unfolded the search, beginning with the Ionians, for a unifying primal element or cause from which to explain the order of the material cosmos. In the course of this search it became clear, eventually, that what was needed was an explanatory principle in the nature of a single, formative intelligence that ordered and moved reality; and in the thought of Anaxagoras one sees for the first time the suggestion that it is [divine] Nous that guides all things. This is a conception that analogically unites human consciousness, understood as intelligence or reason, with the ground of reality understood as divine ordering intelligence. Thus it is a conception that bridges, at least implicitly, the radical separation between human and divine, mortal and immortal. And it is this insight and conception that is carried forward into much more explicit formulation and analysis in the words of Plato and Aristotle, according to Voegelin, in a manner he explains in the following way: ‘By nous [Aristotle] understands both the human capacity for knowing questioning about the ground and also the ground of being itself, which is experienced as the directing mover of questions.’ And: ‘In the Platonic-Aristotelian experience ... man is moved to his search of the ground by the divine ground of which he is in search.’ What is evident in these encapsulating sentences is that Voegelin insists the synonymous application of nous by Plato and Aristotle is to be taken seriously in an ontological sense: the tension of consciousness is not drawn toward the ground as a mere object of possible, or hoped for, knowledge. The ground is consciousness’ own identity; human consciousness participates in the ground; the ground is a Thinking or Intelligence that is the fullness of human thinking and intelligence.” [Glenn Hughes, Mystery and Myth in the Philosophy of Eric Voegelin, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1993, 26–27]

And this is why we said in the article that, for Plato and Aristotle, nous, “reason,” is not “…merely an operational algorithm but has existential content.” It is not the “instrumental reason” of a hypostasizing consciousness that reduces the understanding of natural phenomena to the intending subject–object model based on direct observation. In short, there is more to “physicality” in nature than physics can explain; there is the matter of origin and order, of universal laws that are not themselves physical. It is by means of nous that human beings can understand their own existential structure, and that of “the All” which the classical Greeks called Kosmos.

Dearest sister, in the above model [Logos > nous > pysche > mind (reason) > animal (physical man)] you distinguish nous as separate from mind (reason). Yet I think that nous encompasses both mind and reason. The English language is relentlessly denotative: There seems always a one-to-one correspondence between a word and the object it denotes. Not so in ancient Greek, where words are often more like complexes of closely-related meanings, a condition Voegelin calls “compactness.” To say that this causes complications for the modern reader is an understatement….

So now on we go to Psyche, which in your model interposes itself between nous and mind (reason). Psyche means breath, vital principle, soul. (I note its close resemblance to neshama.] Yet as Voegelin notes,

Perhaps the first thing we can say about psyche, what makes it unique, is that it is the only phenomenon in nature that is “self-moving.” It is not the captive of cause-and-effect, but can initiate its own activity.

"The Hellenic thinkers have transformed the older term into the symbol for a site or matrix of experience that surrounds and comprehends the area of conscious experience. In its new symbolic meaning, the psyche has depth and its depth is unbounded; one can descend into the depth and explore it; like a diver man can drag up from the depth a truth about reality that hitherto had not been articulate insight; the exploration will result in an augmentation of meaning in conscious experience; but the awareness of continuity between consciousness and depth will also permit the language of an augmentation of meaning in the psyche.” [Voegelin, “Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History” in The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol. 12, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 1990: 124–125] …

“The experience of divine reality ... occurs in the psyche of a man who is solidly rooted by his body in the external world, but the psyche itself exists in the Metaxy, in the tension toward the divine ground of being. It is the sensorium for divine reality and the site of its luminous presence. Even more, it is the site in which the comprehensive reality becomes luminous to itself and engenders the language in which we speak of a reality that comprehends both an external world and the mystery of its Beginning and Beyond, as well as the metaleptic psyche in which the experience occurs and engenders its language. In the experience, not only the truth of divine reality becomes luminous but, at the same time, the truth of the world in which the experience occurs.” [Voegelin, “The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth” in The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol. 28, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 1990: 184–185]

The Logos runs all through the Cosmos, giving it its order that, because man has nous also, is intelligible to man. Also the Logos runs all through man, we might say. According to Plato, man is made in the image of the cosmos: What constitutes the cosmos constitutes man also; the entire cosmos at all its levels is recapitulated in man.

There are seven hierarchical levels constituting the Cosmos and the Microcosm, man:

(1) Divine NousEpekeina. The “unknown god” — the god of the Beyond; the utterly transcendent, eternal god beyond the Cosmos. The entire Cosmos itself is a “creature” of, and is ordered by, Divine Nous “enacting,” as it were, divine Logos.

(2) PsycheNous. The human psyche or soul regarded under the aspect of reason (nous — variously known by its related concepts of reason; mind; intellect; self-reflective consciousness; logic; creative will; truth).

(3) Psyche — Passions. Where nous is the “active pole” of the psyche (soul), the “Passions” aspect of psyche is the “passive pole.” By this statement we recognize a central fact of human existence: that human beings often suffer (experience) things that we do not and even cannot control. We live as “ones among many other ones,” whose movements impinge on, and thus often constrain, our own. Because the outcome of a contingent process rarely can be fully anticipated in advance of its occurrence, and thus its outcome cannot be fully pre-cognized, oftentimes man is exposed to experiences of “not being in control” of his own existence. Often, this is the source of experiences that are registered in consciousness as “feelings” and “emotions.” Indeed, by Psyche — Passions, Plato expressly means to denote man’s emotional life. (Notwithstanding that noetic experiences can have an “emotional charge,” and often do.)

(4) Animal Nature. With the term zoon enpsychon ennoun, Plato denotes man fundamentally as an animal — that is, a biological existent of a certain type (i.e., man is the ensouled animal who thinks). It is worth bearing in mind that animals of all descriptions possess some form of consciousness, be it basic “sensitivity,” or “reactivity,” or awareness, consciousness, or — in the case of the zoon enpsychon ennounself-consciousness.

(5) Vegetative Nature. Man recapitulates the simpler order of vegetative existence in his nature, though this level of being seemingly lies within the province of the unconscious mind. Unlike the animal nature, the vegetative does not seem to possess a form of consciousness itself: In general, it “follows the sun” quite routinely, automatically. But it has a law: “It follows the sun,” metaphorically speaking.

(6) Inorganic Nature. This is the physico-chemical basis of the human being — and also of the Cosmos itself and all things in it.

(7) Apeiron — Depth. This is the “unlimited, indefinite, unbounded…. In Anaximander, [it is] the ‘unlimited source of all particular things’ [i.e., pure nonexistent potentiality]. Because it transcends all limits, [the Apeiron] is in principle indefinable…. In the myth of the cosmos … the Apeiron of non-existence is not merely a negative dimension of the Whole but the reality that is the creative origin or Beginning of existent things, including life and the order of the ‘things’ called men’.”

[Somehow or other, the Apeiron recalls to my mind an analogy with the universal vacuum field of modern physics….]

Ordinary human experience is found to range from (2) to (6). Items (1) and (7) are exclusively divine. Yet the (2) to (6) are found to exist in a persistent state of tension “in between” (1) and (7). Man is “drawn” by the pull of noetic Epekeina, of the God Beyond whose Logos of perfect Goodness (Agathon) is the “blueprint” (so to speak) of creation and its order. On the other hand, man is also drawn by the “pulls” of his lower nature which, if heeded, will deform him. To heed the former is to be involved in a process of “immortalization.” To heed the latter is to condemn one’s self to sub-human status — for which one is accountable….

In conclusion, Plato sees man as constituted by psyche (soul), nous (mind, reason), and physical body. Psyche and nous are immortal, the divine part of man. The physical body is mortal, and utterly perishes at death; and is then returned to the Apeiron from which it was originally drawn….

As Plato notes [in Timaeus], “death is but the separation of body and soul; nothing more.” Plato also believed the soul — psyche is immortal; he also believed it is subject to Judgment beyond death….

Forgive me for running on so long dearest sister in Christ! Must STOP here! There’s an awful lot to “process”….

Just one more thought: There seem to me to be very strong connections between certain elements of Platonic thought and Christian theology. Of the Holy Trinity, we might say the Father recalls Plato’s God Beyond; the Son, the Logos manifesting divine Nous as the creative and ordering principle of the Creation God the Father made in the Beginning; and the Holy Spirit is the means by which human nous has the ability to resonate with divine reality in the site and sensorium of the psyche — the soul…. FWIW.

Thank you so very much for your thought-provoking essay/post! I'm working on the "connections" with the Hebrew scholars' insights.


12 posted on 05/31/2013 1:24:17 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
Thank you oh so very much for your thoroughgoing explanations/definitions, dearest sister in Christ!

It's taken me awhile to reply (and several passes at the essay) because a very inconsiderate bug stung or bit me just under my right eye causing swelling and itching. I look and sound like a pirate. LOLOL!

I look forward to the second installment correlating those terms to the Hebrew terms!

13 posted on 06/01/2013 9:06:05 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; spirited irish; Texas Songwriter; Cvengr; Kevmo; hosepipe; metmom
Yikes dearest sister! So sorry to hear about the bug sting! I hope and pray you are fully recovered!!!

I guess my “explanations/definitions” were pretty down in the weeds (jeepers, maybe that’s where that maleficent bug came from!).... The problem with understanding Plato (et al.) nowadays is that we no longer think in the same manner as did the great Greeks. Or the Patriarchs and the Prophets for that matter. For both, God was Present, not only “in” the world of Reason, but was thought to be its very Source and Order.

Yet for most of us post-Enlightenment mortals, God — Creator, Sustainer, Ground of Being (not to mention His eschatological plan for human souls, which bears on Justice and Mercy, according to divine Logos) — has been effectively extirpated, not only from human souls, but tellingly from both the natural world and the world of Reason.

Shucked of its ordering Source, Reason has become “instrumental.” It has become a “measuring device.” Supposedly this makes us humans [by blind “evolutionary” processes?] “better” thinkers than the ancient Greek and Hebrew scholars of the world as it was two or three millennia ago? …

It seems to me in “real-world terms,” it doesn't. All this type of “reason” does is to reduce the world we observe to the categories of our own preconceptions. This is operating out of a “closed” position, not an “open” one.

Henri Bergson has a lovely way of putting this problem of noetic “openness” vs. noetic “closure” with his terminology of l’ame ouvert and l’ame close: the “open” vs. the “closed” soul —“soul” being psyche, as we have been saying for a while on this public thread.

Also on this thread, we have tried to point to the problem of where Logos fits into the All [to pan], via the classical Greek thinkers. The Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel did nothing less. A soul “closed” to God evidently has opted for other subjectively-rated promising regions of self-activity — self-exploration, self-determination, self-fulfillment, eventually total self-gratification, — as Prime Directive; which inevitably entails moral relativism as the approved course for the attainment of the self-preferred social model in which one can live with impunity, no matter the impact on civil society.

A soul closed to/bereft of God has no place else to go, but to be thrown back onto its own puny resources. Seems to me this is the atheist position.

But at least atheists are somewhat engaged in the problem, if only by refusing to say that God “exists.” [Which when you come to think about it, is the most solid “ontological proof of the existence of God” there is. For in order for God to be “denied,” He must first be posited as “existing”; otherwise, why would He be in need of denial?]

What to say to/about the Agnostics, I dunno. Maybe: They are just sheer, plain intellectually (i.e., noetically) LAZY??? That the whole earth could burn down around them before their very eyes, and they would still be saying (if still existing), like Sgt. Schultz: “I know nothing!!!!!!????????”

Anyhoot, I digress. I wanted to say a word or two about an extraordinarily gripping book I have been reading lately — thanks to you, dearest sister of Christ, on the occasion of my recent birthday. I refer to “The Great One” Mark R. Levin’s Ameritopia.

I have long been an avid fan of Mark Levin. I resonate strongly to his libertarian philosophy, which I imagine is founded in John Locke. I am still an avid fan of Mark Levin.

However, I would just like to mention that both Levin and I purport to have read Plato’s Republic [Politeia]. And yet he gives me the strange impression that we had not read the same book.

I will try to be as brief as possible. Let me open by citing Levin’s last paragraph of his Chapter Two, “Plato’s Republic and the Perfect Society”:

One profound lesson Plato teaches, albeit not by design, is that Plato himself, considered by many the greatest of all philosophers, could not construct the perfect society. He sought to avoid the disintegration of society and the onset of tyranny, but his solution was a totalitarian City destructive of human nature. Regrettably, Plato provided a philosophical and intellectual brew for a utopian society that would influence tyrannies for centuries to come. [Ameritopia , 2012, p. 36]

What to say to such allegations?

(1) The business of the Republic — Plato’s reason for writing — had absolutely zero to do with the construction of a “perfect society.”

(2) The entire point of the Republic was the elucidation of human nature; it is not at all a meditation re: desirable political blueprints, let alone utopian ones. Putting it crudely, for Plato, a “perfect society” is impossible in principle, because there are no “perfect human beings” to constitute it.

(3) Plato does not start with politics in any way shape or form. He tells us plainly enough that any political state is only as good as the generally prevailing human political (read: moral) capital composing it. If the people are mainly “disordered,” there is no political state that can make them “orderly, or “better.” Rather the political state will express as the sum of the “badness” of its citizens.

Plato himself is telling us here there is no “utopian” answer for this problem. If the citizenry is “bad,” the State will be “bad” also.

And of course Levin mentions that Plato dislikes “democracy” intensely. So do I. It is the short road to the Tyranny of the Majority: Once a citizenry can vote itself benefits, democratic institutions cannot protect it from self-immolating outcomes.

(4) But Plato never says that the “cure” for this tendency of people to vote themselves benefits at others’ expense can be remedied by any imposition-by-force of a Philosopher/King, the “perfect” lawgiver. Indeed, I gather he thinks that sort of thing is preposterous in principle: For only God is manifestly Perfect. Plus there’s another very mundane human reason: Who would want to accept the rule of a philosopher?

(5) Not only that, but Levin himself says that Plato is acute enough to notice that the self-described “Philosopher King” might just as well be the “great champion” of “the people” who Plato himself warns us about. Clearly there is no way that Plato conceives of this “philosopher king/great champion,” holding office via “democratic processes,” as helpful to the advance of mankind in liberty and justice…. He’s just “in it for himself,” his friends, and his Party….

(6) If modern-day people want to abuse Plato, evidently they can get away with it with impunity. Ayn Rand has demonstrated this well enough by now. Of course, she was a self-declared atheist, and thus of “closed-soul” orientation in the quest for the truths of human existence, personal and social. Certainly she had some sort of visceral animus towards Plato for whatever reason.…

But I digress. Time to stop griping and get back to business.

The real challenge for the so-called “modern” (post-modern?) thinker would be to try to understand these classical + theophanic thinkers — Greek and Jewish — as they understood themselves and what they thought they were doing, in their common day and age of ~600–300 B.C.

But we almost never do that nowadays. Instead we hypostasize the world to our measurement/description/categories of it; and then the resulting hypostasization is used to eclipse the very reality that we (and especially these ancients) were attempting to describe in the first place.

[To hypostasize: To ascribe material existence to {a concept}; to attribute real identity to {a concept}; to think of {a concept, abstraction, etc.} as having real, objective existence]

I wanted to get into the ways in which the Greek terms are correlated with the Hebrew terms in the two respective “cascades” — both of which strike me as dealing with exactly the same subject matter. On both sides, this “opens” the perennial, bleeding question of man’s existential place in the Great Hierarchy of Being — God–Man–World (i.e., Nature)–Society.

Both the great Greeks and the great founders of Israel were oriented to this basic view of Reality. The interesting thing is both were doing this sort of thing contemporaneously, at culturally disconnected geographic locations….Their respective insights, though "common" in the most important matters, are reflected in language that reflects cultural differences obtaining between the two contemporaneous peoples.

Voegelin describes the essential difference as pneumatic vs. noetic consciousness.

Voegelin ascribes "pneumatic consciousness" to the Patriarchs and the Prophets of Israel. "Pneumatic" probably sounds like a really bad word. But I strongly doubt it was Voegelin's intention to denote a "bad word." He was simply pointing to a universal human response to non-phenomenal reality that is fundamentally rooted in Spirit.

The classical philosophers of Greece, on the other hand, were not exemplars of folks who much dally with Spirit, the Third Person. Their interest ever lay in disclosing the nature of the Second Person, known to them as Logos.

And they figured that, since nous is common to both God and Man, they just might get somewhere with that line of divine–human inquiry.

In closing, please allow me to restate the divine paradigm I attempted to describe in my last:

Of the Holy Trinity, we might say the Father recalls Plato’s God Beyond; the Son, the Logos manifesting divine as the creative and ordering principle of the Creation God the Father made in the Beginning; and the Holy Spirit is the means by which human nous has the ability to resonate with divine reality in the site and sensorium of the psyche — the soul….

RE: The Holy Spirit: I left out something tremendously important in the above passage — the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the revelation of “God with us.”

Translated to Plato, the human psyche — “soul” — is the “site and sensorium” of divine–human encounter under the “luminosity” of Nous. And it seems that Plato engages with this Third Person, in the “in-between reality” of God and man, the metaxy which psyche preeminently accommodates. And this Person — Nous — mediated the Logos to Plato’s mind; and Plato responded in Kind — that is to say, in Truth, insofar as he was able....

And all such "transactions" occurred in Psyche…. I.e., in the immortal Soul in response to the divine "pull" of Spirit….

Must stop for now, dearest sister in Christ! Thank you ever so much for your probing questions and insights! May God ever bless you and all your dear ones!

14 posted on 06/03/2013 5:29:12 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
Thank you so very much for your splendid essay-post, dearest sister in Christ! And I was able to read it tonight with both eyes wide open, the bug sting has healed. Yeehaw!

Your point about ancient concepts being lost when we try to read them biased by modern worldviews is extremely well made and very important. To understand any ancient manuscript, we must first do our best to "put ourselves in their shoes."

But concerning Plato and especially Scriptures, that would be impossible for the closed souls which probably explains why Ayn Rand stumbled all over Plato. I trust that was not the problem with Ameritopia - perhaps something was "lost in translation" by relying on a third party commentary?

At any rate, it was verrry helpful to read your response putting Plato's words onto the background where he deems mankind to be disordered, imperfect and therefore incapable of raising up either a philosopher king or effective democracy.

Voegelin ascribes "pneumatic consciousness" to the Patriarchs and the Prophets of Israel. "Pneumatic" probably sounds like a really bad word. But I strongly doubt it was Voegelin's intention to denote a "bad word." He was simply pointing to a universal human response to non-phenomenal reality that is fundamentally rooted in Spirit.

The classical philosophers of Greece, on the other hand, were not exemplars of folks who much dally with Spirit, the Third Person. Their interest ever lay in disclosing the nature of the Second Person, known to them as Logos.

The above was particularly helpful to me in visualizing where they agreed and disagreed in their concept of God, creation and men.

Since I first read Justin Martyr's testimony about his researching the Greek schools of philosophy and how strongly he was drawn to Plato before hearing the Gospel and becoming Christian - I knew there had to be some underlying truth in Plato's philosophy that was resonating with him, preparing him to become Christian.

Likewise, I believe the philosophy was preparing the open souls of the civilized world for the Gospel which was yet to come. And that I believe was no coincidence, but part of God's plan.

15 posted on 06/04/2013 9:45:17 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
But concerning Plato and especially Scriptures, that would be impossible for the closed souls which probably explains why Ayn Rand stumbled all over Plato. I trust that was not the problem with Ameritopia — perhaps something was "lost in translation" by relying on a third party commentary?

I think that may well be the case.

I am a huge fan of Mark Levin. He is my absolutely favorite Libertarian. I suspect he is also a student of Ayn Rand — who was herself a brilliant Libertarian of enormous influence in the spread of libertarian ideas in contemporary America.

The only problem I have ever had with Rand is her seeming total blindness WRT the works of the classical philosophers, preeminently Plato and Aristotle. And yet she was highly successful in promulgating the "myth" of: Plato = Idealist; Aristotle = Realist. Plato = constructor of the blueprint — in The Republic — of a tyrannical, "perfect" totalitarian state; Aristotle = the champion of Man and his Liberty (in some unspecified way. Rand does not seem to worry much about relevant details here).

I'll put this bluntly: Plato constructed no such blueprint. The RepublicPoliteia — is an extended meditation on the order of man, particularly focussing on his relations to/with divine Nous. And yet I hear The Great One say, in so many words, the great Plato was hell-bent on writing a treatise on how to construct the "perfect" society, with guardians and philosopher kings and what-not bullying and pillaging the sheep "for their own good"; but not even this great philosopher could succeed in doing this!!! [That sounds more like Islam than Plato's philosophy to me.]

Throughout The Republic, Plato is using the language of the myth, which as Eric Voegelin says "remains the legitimate language of movements of the soul [psyche]."

One gathers that neither Rand nor Levin has much use for "myths." In their lexicon, the word probably stands for some imaginative but ineluctably false "story" that the more dim-witted type of human being tells himself in order to assuage his own existential anxiety; i.e., fear of death, fear of being dominated by others, fear of being deprived of one's worldly goods, etc.

"Fear" is a psychic phenomenon as is, for example, the idea of Justice. Such things are "movements" in souls of which sometimes we are aware, and maybe even can subject to rational analysis in reflective consciousness. But it seems there aren't many moderns — post-moderns? — interested in doing this sort of thing. Rather, we just call "soul" an "epiphenomenon" of physico/chemical processes and have done with it....

An "epiphenomenon," further, is defined as something that cannot serve as a cause of anything. Plato would laugh at such a notion! For he says that psyche — soul — is the only "self-moving" entity (for lack of a better word) in the Cosmos.

I gather that Rand, at least, did not have much use for "souls." For the idea of "soul" depends on the idea of God, and Rand was an atheist.

Thus we have "objectivist" reason: Reason construed exclusively from the human side; for there is no longer recognition of divine Logos as the validating source and ground of human reason. Which I gather is how the conception of reason (nous) gets reduced to an "algorithmic operation"....

Not to mention that Plato himself was not an atheist. He seemingly had direct experience of divine Presence in his meditations, though he never personalized this God. This God is so utterly transcendent that human concepts cannot touch him. But Plato averred this God is divine Nous, the creator who orders and sustains the Cosmos and all things in it. And of primary interest to Plato are the relations between this God and the human soul (psyche), as primarily mediated by Reason (nous) — which God and man have in common.

Plato says that man is "microcosmos," or the image of the Cosmos: Man recapituates all the orders of cosmic being in himself on his own scale, and exists in the tension of the divine Ground of Being and the God Beyond, in the "In-Between" reality (metaxy) of the human condition/human existence.

That is to say, Man is the Cosmos "writ small." Plato also says that the politeia — society in its political dimension — is Man "writ large."

A society is only as good as the human capital that forms it. If the citizens are disordered, so will be the society. And there is absolutely no "political fix" for this. No guardians or philosopher kings, no positive law, can do anything to fix the disorder; for the disorder is within men and cannot be touched on from "the outside," let alone "corrected" from "the outside."

Anyhoot, Rand read The Republic and found what I gather she expected to find: A blueprint for a state to effect global tyranny and extinguish the Rights of Man. (She doesn't seem to bother much about where rights "come from.")

And I gather Levin effectively agrees with Rand's reading of The Republic. And he seems to take some satisfaction from the perceived fact that Plato, on critical analysis, failed to construct a viable utopian, totalitarian state. [But nobody can do this!]

But that's blaming Plato for failing at something he was not even remotely trying to do....

Dearest sister, you wrote:

Since I first read Justin Martyr's testimony about his researching the Greek schools of philosophy and how strongly he was drawn to Plato before hearing the Gospel and becoming Christian — I knew there had to be some underlying truth in Plato's philosophy that was resonating with him, preparing him to become Christian.

Likewise, I believe the philosophy was preparing the open souls of the civilized world for the Gospel which was yet to come. And that I believe was no coincidence, but part of God's plan.

Oh, I so agree! St. Justin observes that Christ is the fulfillment, not only of the Patriarchs and the Prophets, but also of classical Greek philosophy.

I think of Socrates/Plato — I don't know how to separate them — was a sort of "forerunner" of Christ, in the same manner as St. John Baptist was (great) forerunner of Christ. The basic approach of the former is noetic, a sort of "faith in search of its reason." What is sought is the Logos — but this is still a depersonalized Logos, not the Logos of Christ Incarnate. The basic approach of John Baptist was pneumatic, in search of the longed-for Messiah by the Light of the Spirit. Both approaches are finally united and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Also, I so agree with this:

To understand any ancient manuscript, we must first do our best to "put ourselves in their shoes."

But then, deconstructionist literary theory holds that we needn't pay any attention to authors at all. The work must "speak for itself." [Which boils down to: The reader can read whatever he wants to into the work....]

Sigh.... What a crazed world we live in!

Thank you ever so much for writing, dearest sister in Christ! I'm so glad the "bug" is no longer of concern! Thank you so much for sharing your insights into these endlessly fascinating matters!

16 posted on 06/05/2013 4:42:14 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
Not to mention that Plato himself was not an atheist. He seemingly had direct experience of divine Presence in his meditations, though he never personalized this God. This God is so utterly transcendent that human concepts cannot touch him. But Plato averred this God is divine Nous, the creator who orders and sustains the Cosmos and all things in it. And of primary interest to Plato are the relations between this God and the human soul (psyche), as primarily mediated by Reason (nous) — which God and man have in common.

________

Also, remember that Socrates had his daimon (δαιμον), the "certain small voice" which Socrates said would turn him away when he was heading in a wrong direction?

:-)
17 posted on 06/05/2013 4:54:22 PM PDT by pax_et_bonum (Never Forget the Seals of Extortion 17 - and God Bless America)
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To: betty boop
What to say to/about the Agnostics . . . There are kinds of agnostics. I'm partial to the kind that see themselves and others blind enough not to be the measure of all. Of that kind there are more than a few that would be more than happy to say, "I don't know" when asked about what they don't know. Laziness might show right at that moment, almost like a virtue, or a "fine art", as Albert J. Nock put it. Laziness is not the only response. It is also the natural point for the religious heart to become a saint, ora et labora.


18 posted on 06/05/2013 5:39:49 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: pax_et_bonum; Alamo-Girl
Also, remember that Socrates had his daimon (δαιμον), the "certain small voice" which Socrates said would turn him away when he was heading in a wrong direction?

Yes I do remember, pax_et_bonum! The Daemon who never told Socrates "what to do," but would warn him if he was heading in the "wrong direction."

Thanks!!!

19 posted on 06/06/2013 5:09:15 AM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for your wonderful essay-post, dearest sister in Christ, and for your encouragements!

It occurs to me that a lot of people who are impressed with Ayn Rand's knowledge of economics and ability to turn a phrase probably also realize that she was clueless about God. Logically then they should take her commentary about the philosophers with a generous grain of salt.

But then, deconstructionist literary theory holds that we needn't pay any attention to authors at all. The work must "speak for itself." [Which boils down to: The reader can read whatever he wants to into the work....]

LOLOL! That explains a lot!

20 posted on 06/07/2013 10:26:54 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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