Thursday, 23 May 2019

Nevena Dimitrova: Sense Perception and Transfiguration of Vision in Maximus the Confessor

The aim of this presentation is to show the meaning of αἴσθησις according to Maximus the Confessor. The definition of sense perception that includes the perfection of soul capacities, penetrated by the unifying intelligible nous also leads to the question of transfiguration of vision: the visible and invisible in Maximus’ and patristic viewpoint on beauty will construct the second part of the presentation.Sense perception as transfiguration of vision, a “passing from flesh to spririt”.Sense perception is complex motion of the soul in comparison with the simplicity of rational and noetic realm. With its help, the soul “tears itself apart from the outside world and—as if they were symbols—turns toward the logoi of visible things.” Visible things are agents of a natural motion toward knowledge that transcends time and space. The composition of body and soul confirms the relationship between creation and the transcendental creator and between the material and spiritual worlds.In Maximus the Confessor the transition from ascetic practice to aesthetic contemplation is a process of transformation of vision – a notion that unifies both sensible and intelligible realms and is one of the main contributions of Maximus in 7th century language.The bond between the world and intelligible being is realized in beauty – they are identical in this and the very notion of beauty which becomes especially apparent in Cappadocians (the whole Byzantine aesthetics is connected to the Cappadocian apophatic theology) has an important place in Maximus’arguments against the “Origenists” of his day.

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