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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Nature of Man is Invisible

Patrologia Graeca 44.153-6  * Greek Fonts


HAT then is, in its own nature, this mind that distributes itself into faculties of sensation, and duly receives, by means of each, the knowledge of things? That it is something else besides the senses, I suppose no reasonable man doubts; for if it were identical with sense, it would reduce the proper character of the operations carried on by sense to one, on the the ground that it is itself simple, and that in what is simple no diversity is to be found. Now however, as all agree that touch is one thing and smell another, and as the rest of the senses are in like manner so situated with regard to each other as to exclude intercommunion or mixture, we must surely suppose, since the mind is duly present in each case, that it is something else besides the sensitive nature, so that no variation may attach to a thing intelligible.

"Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" the apostle asks; and I ask further, who has understood his own mind? Let those tell us who consider the nature of God to be within their comprehension, whether they understand themselves-if they know the nature of their own mind. "It is manifold and much compounded." How then can that which is intelligible be composite? or what is the mode of mixture of things that differ in kind? Or, "It is simple, and incomposite." How then is it dispersed into the manifold divisions of the senses? how is there diversity in unity? how is unity maintained in diversity?

Ὅτι ἀθεώρητος ἡ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φύσις

Τί τοίνυν ἐστὶ κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ φύσιν ὁ νοῦς͵ ὁ ἐν αἰσθητικαῖς δυνάμεσιν ἑαυτὸν ἐπιμερίζων καὶ δι' ἑκάστης καταλλήλως τὴν τῶν ὄντων γνῶσιν ἀναλαμβάνων; Ὅτι γὰρ ἄλλο τι παρὰ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ἐστίν͵ οὐκ ἂν οἶμαί τινα τῶν ἐμφρόνων ἀμφιβάλλειν. Εἰ γὰρ ταὐτὸν ἦν τῇ αἰσθήσει͵ πρὸς ἓν πάντως εἶχε τῶν κατ' αἴσθησιν ἐνεργουμένων τὴν οἰκειότητα͵ διὰ τὸ ἁπλοῦν μὲν αὐτὸν εἶναι͵ μηδὲν δὲ ποικίλον ἐν τῷ ἀπλῷ θεωρεῖσθαι. Νυνὶ δὲ πάντων συντιθεμένων͵ ἄλλο μέν τι τὴν ἁφὴν εἶναι͵ ἄλλο δὲ τὴν ὄσφρησιν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὡσαύτως ἀκοινωνήτως τε καὶ ἀμίκτως πρὸς ἄλληλα διακειμένων͵ ἐπειδὴ κατὰ τὸ ἴσον ἑκάστῃ καταλλήλως πάρεστιν͵ ἕτερόν τινα πάντως αὐτὸν χρὴ παρὰ τὴν αἰσθητὴν ὑποτίθεσθαι φύσιν͵ ὡς ἂν μή τις ποικιλία τῷ νοητῷ συμμιχθείη.

Τίς ἔγνω νοῦν Κυρίου, φησὶν ὁ Ἀπόστολος. Ἐγὼ δὲ παρὰ τοῦτό φημι͵ Τίς τὸν ἴδιον νοῦν κατενόησεν; Εἰπάτωσαν οἱ τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν φύσιν ἐντὸς ποιούμενοι τῆς ἑαυτῶν [156] καταλήψεως͵ εἰ ἑαυτοὺς κατενόησαν, εἰ τοῦ ἰδίου νοῦ τὴν φύσιν ἐπέγνωσαν. Πολυμερής τίς ἐστι καὶ πολυσύνθετος. Καὶ πῶς τὸ νοητὸν ἐν συνθέσει ἢ τίς ὁ τῆς τῶν ἑτερογενῶν ἀνακράσεως τρόπος; Ἀλλ' ἁπλοῦς καὶ ἀσύνθετος, καὶ πῶς εἰς τὴν πολυμέρειαν τὴν αἰσθητικὴν διασπείρεται, πῶς ἐν μονότητι τὸ ποικίλον, πῶς ἐν ποικιλίᾳ τὸ ἕν;

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