St. Maximus On Deification
(02-02-2012, 02:15 PM)Graham Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 01:12 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: Lastly, here is an interesting passage on Maximus's view of our knowledge of God:
Quote:On the other hand, there is that truly authentic knowledge, gained only by actual experience, apart from reason and ideas, which provides a total perception of the known object through a participation by grace. By this latter knowledge, we attain, in the future state, the supernatural deification that remains unceasingly in effect. THey say that the relative knowledge based on reason and ideas can motivate our desire for the participative knowledge acquired by active engagement. They say, moreover, that this active, experiential knowledge which, by participation, furnishes the direct perception of the object known, can supplant the relative knowledge based on reason and ideas.

. . .

By "experience" I mean that knowledge, based on active engagement, which surpasses all reason. By "perception" I mean that participation in the known object which manifests itself beyond all conceptualization.

I find it puzzling that the outcome of deification would be 'perception' of God as an 'object'. There's something terribly confused about that, and I'm not sure if it's the lack of context for this quotation, a faulty translation, or just the limits of his expression.

That is what St. Thomas Aquinas says; the Beatific Vision is the eternal perception of God.  You have to know that, for Platonic-Aristotelian epistemology, perceiving something in the soul is to in a certain manner become the perceived object.  From Wiki:

Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the human being's "final end" in which one attains to a perfect happiness. Thomas reasons that one is perfectly happy only when all one's desires are perfectly satisfied, to the degree that happiness could not increase and could not be lost. "Man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek."STh I-II, q., 3, a. 8. But this kind of perfect happiness cannot be found in any physical pleasure, any amount of worldly power, any degree of temporal fame or honor, or indeed in any finite reality. It can only be found in something that is infinite and perfect -- and this is God. STh I-II, q. 2, a. 8. And since God is not a material thing but is pure spirit, we are united to God by knowing and loving him. Consequently, the most perfect union with God is the most perfect human happiness and the goal of the whole of the human life. But we cannot attain to this happiness by our own natural powers; it is a gift that must be given to us by God, who strengthens us by the "light of glory" so that we can see him as he is, without any intermediary. (Thomas quotes Psalm 35:10 on this point: "In your light we shall see light.")STh I, q. 12, a. 4. Further, since every created image or likeness of God (including even the most perfect "ideas" or "images" of God we might generate in our minds) is necessarily finite, it would thus be infinitely less than God himself.STh I, q. 12, a. 2. The only perfect and infinite good, therefore is God himself, which is why Aquinas argues that our perfect happiness and final end can only be the direct union with God himself and not with any created image of him. This union comes about by a kind of "seeing" perfectly the divine essence itself, a gift given to our intellects when God joins them directly to himself without any intermediary. And since in seeing this perfect vision of what (and who) God is, we grasp also his perfect goodness, this act of "seeing" is at the same time a perfect act of loving God as the highest and infinite goodness. [Summa Theologiae, I-II, qq. 2-5.]
Amazing things to read, but how incredibly unworthy we are.
According to St Thomas: Because we have intellectual souls when we know God (perceive, see), we do not lose ourselves in knowing Him, but we become one with Him. So for instance, when I see the form of a cat, I become one with that cat, even though I still exist separately -- we possess its form in our souls. He distinguished two forms of knowledge. One is natural, such as the sensation of heat which in the sensation it heats something else, like being burned, i.e., there is a physical alteration, I become heated when I sense heat. But when we spiritually know something with our souls we retain our own existence, but there is a spiritual alteration, which actually in itself makes sensation possible. In this case we would add mental perception of "pain" over and above the natural heating of our skin. Otherwise it would be tantamount to heating a dead limb laying on the ground. The skin knows nothing in itself. In the case of God, in knowing Him we are united with Him, but we still exist. In this life there is the material body making this union incomplete, but in the next life our bodies are spiritual, and the union can be complete. The Church says we will never fully comprehend Him, but it says quite clearly that we are united to Him in heaven. Now the task is stripping away delusion concerning God, and knowing Him with a clean heart, as our Lord says in the beatitudes. We've got to make it so that when the day of death comes, there is nothing weighing our souls down, nor any spot in our eyes.

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