Friday, 17 May 2019

Alexandros Chouliaras: ‘Αἴσθησις νοερὰ καὶ θεία’ (Intellectual and Divine Perception): a Major Notion in St Gregory Palamas’ Anthropology

There are some aspects of Palamas’ anthropology which await an in-depth examination and analysis. One of them is his notionαἴσθησις νοερὰ καὶ θεία (intellectual and divine perception). This paper is an effort to fill this gap. What is the background ofthis notion? Does it have a patristic precedent or is it of Palamas’ coinage? Why the term ‘νοερά’ (intellectual) and why ‘αἴσθησις’ (perception)?Aren’t they, somehow, contradictory? What are the eyes of the soul and the experience of God? How can the coordination of the physical and the spiritual senses be made?Τhe papershows that theαἴσθησιςνοερὰcombines in itself both the spiritual and the bodily: although it is beyond natural sense-perception (αἴσθησις), it touches both the soul and the body. However, the latter has to be transformed so that it may participate in the spiritual realities.Moreover, the paperstresses the central place that ‘experience’ (πείρα) has in the spiritual struggle, according to Palamas: it is this experience—which is different from discursive reasoning (διάνοια), the power of thinking—that permits man to discern the reality of his communion with the divine life, that he sees God and not a lesser light or trick of the evil one. Furthermore, Palamas speaks about the coordination of the physical and the spiritual senses, as well as the ‘implanted’ (ἐγγεγενημένην) spiritual power in the eyes of those who see the divine light. Finally, the presuppositions of seeing the light are mentioned: ascesis, detachment, and purification of the heart.

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