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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Mind Works by Means of the Senses

Patrologia Graeca 44.152-3  * Greek Fonts


Page 2

That point as to our internal faculties which seems to me to be even in a special degree matter for wonder, is this:-what is the extent of that inner receptacle into which flows everything that is poured in by our hearing? who are the recorders of the sayings that are brought in by it? what sort of storehouses are there for the concepts that are being put in by our hearing? and how is it, that when many of them, of varied kinds, are pressing one upon another, there arises no confusion and error in the relative position of the things that are laid up there? And one may have the like feeling of wonder also with regard to the operation of sight; for by it also in like manner the mind apprehends those things which are external to the body, and draws to itself the images of phenomena, marking in itself the impressions of the things which are seen.

And just as if there were some extensive city receiving all comers by different entrances, all will not congregate at any particular place, but some will go to the market, some to the houses, others to the churches, or the streets, or lanes, or the theatres, each according to his own inclination,-some such city of our mind I seem to discern established in us, which the different entrances through the senses keep filling, while the mind, distinguishing and examining each of the things that enters, ranks them in their proper departments of knowledge.

ὅ μοι δοκεῖ καὶ μάλιστα τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν ἄξιον εἶναι καὶ θαυμάζεσθαι· τί τὸ πλάτος ἐκείνου τοῦ ἔνδοθεν χωρήματος͵ εἰς ὃ πάντα συῤῥεῖ τὰ διὰ τῆς ἀκοῆς εἰσχεόμενα; τίνες οἱ ὑπομνηματογράφοι τῶν εἰσαγομένων ἐν αὐτῇ λόγων καὶ ποῖα δοχεῖα τῶν ἐντιθεμένων τῇ ἀκοῇ νοημάτων καὶ πῶς͵ πολλῶν καὶ παντοδαπῶν ἀλλήλοις ἐπεμβαλλομένων͵ σύγχυσις καὶ πλάνη κατὰ τὴν ἐπάλληλον θέσιν τῶν ἐγκειμένων οὐ γίνεται; Τὸ ἴσον δ' ἄν τις καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς τῶν ὄφεων ἐνεργείας θαυμάσειεν. Ὁμοίως γὰρ καὶ διὰ τούτων ὁ νοῦς τῶν ἔξω τοῦ σώματος ἐπιδράσσεται καὶ πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ἕλκει τῶν φαινομένων τὰ εἴδωλα͵ τοὺς χαρακτῆρας τῶν ὁρατῶν ἐν ἑαυτῷ καταγράφων.


Καὶ ὥσπερ εἴ τις πολύχωρος εἴη πόλις ἐκ διαφόρων εἰσόδων τοὺς πρὸς αὐτὴν συμφοιτῶντας εἰσδεχομένη͵ οὐκ ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ κατά τι τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει συνδραμόντες οἱ πάντες͵ ἀλλ' οἱ μὲν κατὰ τὴν ἀγοράν͵ οἱ δὲ κατὰ οἰκήσεις͵ ἄλλοι κατὰ τὰς ἐκκλησίας ἢ τὰς πλατείας ἢ τοὺς στενωποὺς ἢ τὰ θέατρα͵ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν ἕκαστος γνώμην μεταχωροῦσι· τοιαύτην τινὰ βλέπω καὶ τὴν τοῦ νοῦ πόλιν τὴν ἔνδοθεν ἐν ἡμῖν συνῳκισμένην͵ ἢν διάφοροι μὲν αἱ διὰ τῶν αἰσθήσεων εἴσοδοι καταπληροῦσιν· ἕκαστον δὲ τῶν εἰσιόντων φιλοκρινῶν τε καὶ διεξετάζων ὁ νοῦς͵ τοῖς καταλλήλοις τῆς γνώσεως τόποις ἐναποτίθεται.

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Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Creation of the World (Hexaemeron)

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