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How to convert the intellect


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#61 Rick H.

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

Of course there’s a problem in discerning at any given moment whether one (or others) is exercising the autonomous or humbly critical intellect. How does one cultivate the spirit of discernment?


At first I thought this would make an excellent new thread, but the more I think about this the more I realize this is very much related.

Also, as it relates to our topic I wonder how biblical verses about being "filled" with the Spirit and being "transformed" by the Spirit might be interpreted.

#62 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 02:18 PM

The word purify seems to me more appropriate than convert.

I wonder, if intellect is equated with nous then how does one label the faculty of many that just 'computes' vs, the faculty which apprehends.


I think that Rdr Brian's post #59 is very helpful in addressing your question. My own thoughts at this point is that when we speak of the intellect, nous, critical faculty, etc, that we do not mean (or at least should not mean) that man has more than one organ of apprehension. This I think is why in the earlier holy Fathers we only see references to the intellect/reason as where chiefly resides the image of God in man. This can be equated with soul or spirit for them. But only later under monastic influence do we see the distinction between the noetic and what we would call rational knowledge; something we must be very careful about if we are not to misunderstand the main focus of the Fathers on this issue.

The later Fathers, often in reaction to modern critical thinking (see Rdr Brian's post), mean by the noetic faculty, the spiritual faculty/the purified & illumined heart, whereby man most intimately knows God and divine reality. But this is not supposed to mean in consequence 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 though still leaves us in a fallen condition where we see ourselves as divided up into separate compartments, one for so called lower everything things, and the other for the so called higher spiritual things. Why I say 'so called' is because this sort of division, this way of seeing things and which pits spiritual man vs material man, is itself fallen and is in need of healing.

What I suggest then is adding what the earlier Fathers said about the intellect as man's overall faculty of apprehension, and making this the anchor of our understanding of the noetic and critical faculties. Then we begin to understand that we are not separated into two parts that can never meet (ie the spiritual and the material). Rather through spiritual activity, through the life of faith in Christ, the apprehensive faculty is purified for use in every type of activity. And from this point we begin to be unified creatures once again, being healed and healing in every circumstance we find ourselves.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#63 John Frangos

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 03:12 PM

Father, thanks for the great questions. I'm reading St Basil the Great's treatise on the Holy Spirit and your questions are a great way to approach the text. Based on chapter 1 here are some thoughts:

Dot point one (healthy / unhealthy use of intellect)
Healthy use of intellect is one that sincerely desires to discover truth where truth is defined as God. The seeker is one conscious that the goal is to 'realize that we are to become like God, as far as this is possible for human nature'.

dot point two (differing interpretations)

St Basil continues....
"Hunting truth is no easy task; we must look everywhere for it's tracks. Learning truth is like a trade; apprentices grow in experience little by little, provided they do not despise the opportunity to increase their knowledge. "

Refer to dot point one, assuming the deliberations are genuine then these should be tested within a community dedicate to the truth.




"

#64 Anna Stickles

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 05:18 PM

I wonder Anna, have you or do you and Mike now have access to some "protestant" theological dictionaries like Kittle's TDOTNT or Robertson's works or Lexicons such as BAGD?

With the way you are presenting this, it is jarring my memory of classic "protestant/evangelical" seminary teachings looking at the way such words as nous and pneumatikos and sarkikos and psuchikos are used in ancient (Hellenistic) and bibiblical literature. Do you have memory or exposure to this? Your presentation in your posts is looking very much like what I think I learned in the past.


I am sorry Rick, I have never heard of Kittle and don't know what TDOTNT nor BAGD are. I am not familiar with any of the technical terms you use here either.

#65 Brian McDonald

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 09:31 PM

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!

#66 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:59 PM

In thinking about this whole concept of the nous being the eye of the soul and the apprehending faculty, it bring new light to these verses in Matthew 6

...where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Another set of verses we might meditate on are these from Philip 3

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.


BTW - Rick, maybe you could bring the rest of us up to speed in reference to "looking at the way such words as nous and pneumatikos and sarkikos and psuchikos are used in ancient (Hellenistic) and bibiblical literature." Many of the later church fathers used the language of the pagan Greek philosophy, changing its context to meet their own needs, but certainly St Paul's Greek is reflective of the Septuagint and other Hebrew writings that came from the time of their sojourn under Hellenism.

#67 Rick H.

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:26 PM

BTW - Rick, maybe you could bring the rest of us up to speed in reference to "looking at the way such words as nous and pneumatikos and sarkikos and psuchikos are used in ancient (Hellenistic) and bibiblical literature." Many of the later church fathers used the language of the pagan Greek philosophy, changing its context to meet their own needs, but certainly St Paul's Greek is reflective of the Septuagint and other Hebrew writings that came from the time of their sojourn under Hellenism.


I seem to be short on time and energy lately, but if any have the time to look at the apostle's letter to the Cornithians (1st Cor. chapters two and three), I think there is some fruit there. What is Paul talking about there to the immature Christians in Corinth when he talks about the spiritual man, the natural man, etc. ? From what I have learned in this thread I am excited to look at this closer when I have time. It is very interesting to me to see the parallels in pagan literature and protestant teachings.




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