I just have to ask, as it relates the above distinction, is this your model or someone else's that you are borrowing?
Rick, I’m sure that someone somewhere has contrasted “autonomous intellect” and “critical intellect” whether or not they use those terms. In fact I think a number of posts on this thread are doing just that, and that’s partly why the idea came to me this morning as a helpful distinction to draw. But I’m not consciously borrowing a particular kind of terminology from any thinker or theologian that comes to mind.
I was trying to find some words to express (mostly for my own benefit) how one could have a pious and humble spirit without abandoning critical thinking. (I sometimes get the feeling people think piety demands intellectual “suicide.”) If one “seeks first” the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” if one drinks deeply and spiritually (not “intellectually”) from the living and spirit-filled waters of the Scriptures, the Patristic “consensus” and the sacraments of the Church then it seems to me it isn’t necessary to suppress all questions that might arise about this or that individual father’s teaching, especially in areas of science. Often the questions simply lead us into deeper understanding.
It’s kind of a variation on Blessed Augustine’s “love God and do what you please.” If you love God you may (in a sense) think as you please, because the love of God will draw your intellect towards Himself. (Again, this is not a vague sentimental love of God, but an obedient love from those who know themselves to be sons and daughters of the Church.)
And this leads to something Fr. Raphael says:
when we speak of the intellect, nous, critical faculty, etc,. . . we do not mean (or at least should not mean) that man has more than one organ of apprehension. . . . . that because man has noetic and critical faculties or manners of knowledge, that his being is divided up into what is 'rational' and what is 'spiritual'. Here I think that we have to be very careful for the discussions at times tend in this direction, which ironically end up portraying man in a similar 'divided up' fashion, as modern thinking does.
This is the “home base” to which we always have to return (and which we fell from). The fact that our language requires making certain distinctions doesn’t mean that those distinctions exist in reality. In fact the linguistic division into “rational” and “spiritual” reflects the divisions introduced by the fall. I wonder if unfallen humans would even understand what we’re talking about!