Outline of Maximus’ Cosmology

maximus

Chapter 3: The Logos, logoi, and created beings

  1. Key to Maximus’s cosmology is the mystery of Christ (64).
    1. The logoi are all contained in the divine wisdom, not just his thoughts but his acts of will.
    2. Logoi are ideas through which the creative will of God manifests itself (66).
    3. The logoi are divine intentions for created beings.
  2. Logos as Centre of all Logoi
    1. The logoi are pre-existent.
      1. They are divine ideas through which the essences of such beings are instituted by the creative act (71).
      2. Dialectic as tearing apart. The fall represents an opposite movement, where man no longer moves in accordance with the logos of his being.
    2. Expansion and Contraction
      1. Expansion roughly corresponds with the Neoplatonic procession, but for Maximus it is God’s distributing the essence from highest (genera) to lowest (species).
      2. “The one logos in creative act should not be considerd an empty name for a sum of logoi….It seems rather that the One Logos holds the logoi together” (79).
      3. Principles of being: the means by which the Logos of God extends to the end of the world of creatures (sort of like the radii to the periphery of hte circle).
  3. The Logoi as Principles of a Porphyrian Tree
    1. Division of Being (Amb. 41).  The “subject” in question refers to particular beings of which accidents are predicates.  Somewhat equivalent to Aristotle’s substance.
    2. Maximus’s division of beings is in accordance with the divine logoi.  “The logoi are principles that are institutive of the essences of creatures” (85).
    3. God’s eternal wisdom is identical with the sum total of the logoi (87).
      1. What God has defined eternally and what he wills at the moment of creation is conceived in the logoi as a system of essence with internal differentiations (87).
      2. However, the logoi cannot be seen as a reservoir of Ideas or Forms.
    4. Universals: the logoi aren’t really universals in themselves, but are rather principles of immanent universal arrangements (91).
      1. The divine Logos manifests from Himself a logos of being as universal category, logoi of genera and species, logoi of individuals (91).
  4. The Ordering of Essential Being–Expansion and Contraction
    1. Maximus’ basic category is essence/ousia (93).
    2. There are two aspects of Maximus’ view of essence: common nature and particular nature.
      1. Common nature: location in particular beings; collects particulars into wholes.
        1. For Maximus created beings are comprised by their logoi.
        2. Essence and nature are said to be common and universal (Amb. 14).
      2. Difference: it is the effect of a logos of creation (98).
        1. The divide the genus but function constitutively  on the level of species.
        2. These are dynamic relations in the real world.
      3. Particular nature:
    3. Universals: the universals consist of particulars. If a particular perishes, the universal perishes.  Yet, the logoi cannot perish.
        1. For Maximus essence contracts and expands (Amb. 10). It is moved from the generic to the specific.
        2. It’s movement is the process of expansion.
    4. The movement of expansion is the ontological constitution of the cosmos (108).
      1. This moves from most genus (ousia) to most specific species, yet this isn’t an ontological scale with non-being at the bottom, for:
      2. God has no opposite (De Char. 3.28).
    5. The contractive movement is what unites the beings.
  5. Ontological Constitution of Created Beings
    1. Triad of origin –Middle — End
      Triad of essence — potentiality (power) — activity (actuality)
      Logos of being–logos of well-being–logos of eternal well-being
    2. These triads are constitutive of all created beings.
    3. An essence has in itself a limit (horos).  This limit is essential determination.
      1. This limit is due to the presence of a logos.
      2. The preconditioning essence makes present a potentiality which is to be actualized (119).
    4. What is a person?
      1. Greek philosophers: an individual is a collection of properties and this “bundle” cannot be contemplated in another.
      2. Fathers: a hypostasis is an essence with properties.
      3. A hypostasis does not exist separate from nature, but is always present
      4. The being of a hypostasis is in tension between the logos of nature and the mode of existence.
        1. A nature must always have a hypostasis, but not necessarily a hypostasis of its own kind.
        2. This is why Christ doesn’t have a human hypostasis.
      5. In the tropos (en men to tropo) the changeability of persons is know in in their activity, in the logos in the inalterability of natural operation (Th. Pol. 10).
      6. The mode of fallen man is dialectical, pulling in two different directions, since it doesn’t orient itself to the logos of its being.

The Divine Activity

Thesis: Maximus presupposes a distinction between essence, energy, logoi, and created beings.

  1. In earlier philosophy:
    1. Aristotle: distinction between potentiality and actuality is what explains change.
      1. An energeia is an action which includes the end (Metaph. Theta, 3.1047a30ff.).
  2. God’s essence and activities according to St Gregory Palamas.
    1. If man is to be deified by participation in God, and if the essence of God is imparticipable, then man must be deified by some other ‘aspect’ of God than His essence (140).
    2. The activity/energy is contemplated in God but God is not a matter for composition.
      1. When we say ‘God’ we do not mean the trihypostatic essence separately, but the essence with the activity.
      2. The energy is not separated from the essence because it is always from it (ex ekeines ousan)
    3. God’s energies are not an accident (Palamas Capita 127 and 135:
      1. Accidents come into being and pass away, which does not apply to God.
    4. The primary sense of energy is activity.
      1. It is the essential motion of nature (Capita 150, 143).
      2. The capacity of activity belongs to the nature from which it proceeds.
      3. The activities are certain powers which are deifying, life-giving, causing being, granting wisdom (quoted in Dionysius DN 2.7).
    5. The energies aren’t hypostases.
      1. They are natural manifestations and processions of the Spirit.
      2. They are proper to God’s essence before God relates himself to anything ‘other’ through them (144).
    6. The divine essence is One but the activities are plural; hence, they are distinguished from the essence.
      1. The divine will is the principle of distribution (similar to Maximus’s logoi).
      2. An energy is never a quasi-hypostasis that is a go-between the essence and the creature.
      3. It does not follow the essence in an external fashion.
    7. Dionysius
      1. Through the processions God is the cause of being, life, wisdom, etc.
      2. The divine names are divine activities (Goodness, Being, Life, Wisdom).
  3. Essence and Activity according to St Maximus.
    1. Two kinds of divine works: that which he began to create, and that which he did not begin to create (Cap. Gnost. 1.48).
    2. If something participates in a certain quality, then it participates in hierarchical order in more and more inclusive qualities (162).
  4. The Energies and the Logoi
    1. The logoi are God’s intention through which all creatures receive their generic, specific, and individual essences.  The logoi are acts of will instituting essence.
      1. They are the principles by which creatures participate in God (174). Cf. De Char. 3.23-25.
      2. By his logos of being man is constituted a essence which joins in the triadic structure of essence–potentiality–activity.
      3. Essence is the origin of potentiality.
    2. The divine energy is the manifestation of God’s power as Being, Goodness, etc.

Concept of Participation

  1. Basic idea
    1. God transcends every relation.
    2. As the cause of creatures God is immanent.
    3. Incarnation is the ontological condition of participation.
  2. The problem of participation.
    1. How do the many participate in the One without the One being divided up (since God is simple)?
    2. Plotinus: procession is the activity out of the essence
  3. The Logic of Participation
    1. When different hypostases have the same essence, there is a unity according to essence.
    2. For Aristotle, separateness is characteristic of ousia (Metaphysics M, 9.1058b34ff).  This means separate entities will exist independently of each other.  This is fatal to the hypostatic union.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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