I'm not sure I necessarily follow how all your comments in your recent post fit into the other elements of the discussion; but I did enjoy reading them, and the references to a few of the fathers.
Just a few things caught my attention. Firstly, you replied to a comment I had made previously. I reproduce here the exchange:
But there is also some nuance in St Athanasius' writings to temper even these statements. Firstly, the heavenly kingdom and eternity are no more akin to the soul than the body, since the whole human person, body as well as soul, has been created for both.
St Diodochos of Photiki wrote, "Just as the senses of the body impel us almost violently towards what attracts them, so the perceptive faculty of the intellect, once it tastes the divine goodness, leads us towards invisable blessings. Everything longs for what is akin to itself: the soul, since it is bodiless, desires heavenly goods, while the body, being dust, seeks earthly nourishment. So we shall surely come to experience immaterial perception if by our labours we refine our material nature."
It is interesting to note the difference in what St Diadochos identifies in this passage as the objects of the body's desires, and those which you identified in an earlier posting. You had noted 'food; comfort; pleasure; rest...', and Diodochos notes 'earthly nourishment'. On the one hand, these lists are interwoven, but on another it is worth noting that Diodochus here makes mention only of the natural needs of a physical ('earthly') creation requiring physical goods / sustainment, and seeking after them. The soul, as immaterial ('heavenly' rather than 'earthly') requires heavenly / immaterial goods, and so seeks after them. However, in your earlier list, you identified the soul's objects as 'prayer; contemplation of God, the heavenly kingdom, eternity; purity; wisdom...'. Again, there is clear overlap; but what strikes me immediately about the difference in Diodochus' identifications and yours is that his identify simply the immaterial / material needs and related desires of the soul and body, while yours identify quite divergent soteriological aims. The body seeks 'pleasure' and 'comfort' while the soul seeks 'the heavenly kingdom', 'purity', 'wisdom', etc.
I don't discount what you are saying about the tendencies of the body and soul, but it is important to note that you are dwelling on the tendencies of habituation in each, as effects of the division wrought by sin (which Antonios has discussed in a recent post), and not the natural reality of each. It is not possible to understand something like the sensory powers of the soul, which are the subject of this thread, if one only focuses on the divided nature of sensory abilities resulting from sin.
Later in your post, you again quoted me and offered a response:
So while compared with the flesh, the soul appears 'eternal' (and Athanasius calls it this from time to time), nonetheless in an ultimate sense, the soul is as finite as the body, since it is a created thing, brought into being and thus bound to pass out of being unless sustained by something greater (i.e. the eternity of God).
This is true, however the soul can also operate quite freely from the body's influence. St Symeon The New Theologian says, "It is not always both the soul and the mind that are perturbed by the body. Sometimes it is the soul alone that suffers, while the mind says to it, 'What is wrong with you?' and comforts it. At other times the mind is blinded and covered with a veil, while the soul remains free and by the power of the divine fire expels the darkness, removes the veil, and makes the soul see clearly."
I'll admit I'm not quite sure how A (my comment) leads into B (your reply) in this instance, since I wasn't speaking about the soul's operation freely from or together with the body, but rather the question of its finitude as created being. But your point is very valid in its own right, and the subject of discussion of many fathers and writers. From what text is the passage you quoted from St Symeon?
You also wrote:
I agree that the soul is not eternal because it had a beginning when it was created, but it is immortal, since it has no end. The body we have in this earthly life is mortal.
Here the fathers provide careful nuance. It is true that the soul has no end, but this is because it is sustained by participation in God. Of its own created stature, the soul is finite, and passes into non-being. St Athanasius repeats this point over and over again in the CG-DI, as in many other places; and it is a consistent refrain in the fathers.
With respect to the ascetical relationship of the soul to body, the soul's infinity makes it quite a different aspect of human existence than the obviously decaying human body; and so in the ascetical writings of the Church, its non-decaying nature is consistently contrasted to the corruptibility of the flesh, as part of the struggle of the ascetic life. But in the end, the body, too, will have no end.
INXC, Dcn Matthew