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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: 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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