Real distinction without composition?

ArmyMatt

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If that's true, then that makes even less sense, and I have no idea how it could possibly work in a coherent way. If the essence is not one, then do you believe it is many? I know the essence is beyond all things, so you could say it is beyond even numbers, but then wouldn't it still be one in the sense of a singular concrete identity, since the Essence of God isn't also the Not-Essence of God? That would be a contradiction and/or monism. In looking up quotes of Saints on this topic, I found that St Basil of Caesarea says "The distinction between ousia and hypostases is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man. Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear."

How can you say that Gods essence is not one, or that it is not the general way in which God is defined?

concepts are created things. since God’s essence is uncreated and known only to God, anything you use to conceptualize His essence is wrong. His essence is neither one nor many.

you can say His nature is one, since that includes His energies which is how we know of His oneness.
 
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Platina

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To my understanding, "essence" is what we cannot know of God; this is what is outside of the limitations of our human experience.

His uncreated "energies" are part of how he is revealed to us. It is what are able to see, know, and experience of Him in everyday existence. Grace is an energy. Without God's energies we would not have sacraments or theosis.
Dr. Christopher Veniamin had an interesting way of putting it: "The energies are God Himself, but the essence is God WITHIN Himself."
 
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Nathaniel Red

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concepts are created things. since God’s essence is uncreated and known only to God, anything you use to conceptualize His essence is wrong. His essence is neither one nor many.

you can say His nature is one, since that includes His energies which is how we know of His oneness.

I think I misunderstood you earlier, I agree that gods oneness is an energy. But I think you've misunderstood me as well. If you cannot energetically speak of the essence as being one, and being the way that God is defined, as Saint Basil says "so as not to give variant definition of existence" then you end up with variant definition of existence, that God and not-God are the same, and you have monism. The essence seems to have to be how God is defined, or how is it even monotheism?

I reread your earlier comments and you said:

because every nature has energies which are natural to it. so the divine nature naturally has divine energies.

Were you saying that there is something called the "divine nature" which is composed of both essence and energy, and that that is how the energies are still divine, by being part of this composite "divine nature"?

Is that also your explanation for how God is defined, and is one? That there is an overarching "divine nature" containing the energy of God that is 'oneness'? Or is this divine nature one?
 
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ArmyMatt

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I think I misunderstood you earlier, I agree that gods oneness is an energy. But I think you've misunderstood me as well. If you cannot energetically speak of the essence as being one, and being the way that God is defined, as Saint Basil says "so as not to give variant definition of existence" then you end up with variant definition of existence, that God and not-God are the same, and you have monism. The essence seems to have to be how God is defined, or how is it even monotheism?

yes, if the essence of God is beyond any concept, then it is both not God and God, and it’s neither of those either, and also fully contains both. as soon as you affirm anything about God’s essence, you are wrong. God’s essence is only known to the Persons of the Trinity.

and sometimes early on, nature and essence were defined and translated as synonymous. they can be, but nature is a broader term.

Were you saying that there is something called the "divine nature" which is composed of both essence and energy, and that that is how the energies are still divine, by being part of this composite "divine nature"?

sort of, although I would not say composite. the one divine nature is both fully essence (forever unknown), and fully energy (fully known).

Is that also your explanation for how God is defined, and is one? That there is an overarching "divine nature" containing the energy of God that is 'oneness'? Or is this divine nature one?

the divine nature is one because God being one is an energy which is natural to God.
 
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Nathaniel Red

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yes, if the essence of God is beyond any concept, then it is both not God and God, and it’s neither of those either, and also fully contains both. as soon as you affirm anything about God’s essence, you are wrong. God’s essence is only known to the Persons of the Trinity.

So, could it be described (energetically) in some sense as containing every category and all of reality within it? Is there not any non-existing thing, outside of God, or does God encapsulate nothingness as well as somethingness?

sort of, although I would not say composite. the one divine nature is both fully essence (forever unknown), and fully energy (fully known).

What is it besides composite? Is there a philosophical term for this? I'm struggling to understand the boundary between God and reality.

the divine nature is one because God being one is an energy which is natural to God.

I think I'm starting to understand this... If the essence is like the inner mind, God only as he is known to God, and the energies are outer actions and attributes known to us... would it be like saying that the composite-like "nature" of essence and energy is one, similar to saying that a human "nature" is one because our body is only one? But our mind cannot be said to be singular, since it is made up of different things like imagination, reason, nous, and is more fluid? Does that analogy of body and mind work?

This seems to make sense to me, but then I bring in the idea of personhood and It all seems to fall apart, since there are three personhoods in God.
 
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ArmyMatt

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So, could it be described (energetically) in some sense as containing every category and all of reality within it? Is there not any non-existing thing, outside of God, or does God encapsulate nothingness as well as somethingness?

God contains within Himself the fullness of somethingness and nothingness, and is beyond both categories.

What is it besides composite? Is there a philosophical term for this? I'm struggling to understand the boundary between God and reality.

there is no boundary for God, since He is boundless.

I think I'm starting to understand this... If the essence is like the inner mind, God only as he is known to God, and the energies are outer actions and attributes known to us... would it be like saying that the composite-like "nature" of essence and energy is one, similar to saying that a human "nature" is one because our body is only one? But our mind cannot be said to be singular, since it is made up of different things like imagination, reason, nous, and is more fluid? Does that analogy of body and mind work?

yeah, in a way.

This seems to make sense to me, but then I bring in the idea of personhood and It all seems to fall apart, since there are three personhoods in God.

how so?
 
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Nathaniel Red

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there is no boundary for God, since He is boundless.

But isn't the Essence Energy distinction different from Catholics because there is a real distinction? Why does that not entail composition or separation and boundaries? Isn't the hypostasis of Christ composite? What is the difference? Why can a hypostasis be composite but not the nature of God?


If personhood is above the energies and essence, then wouldn't it also be above numbers and not able to be described as a trinity, just as you say essence cannot be described as one? Yet from the previous thread it was said that personhood is not an energy or relation, so it isn't on that same level.

You said the body-mind analogy works, so where is personhood in that analogy? I've heard some saints mention that the soul has three aspects to it rather than three persons like God does. I don't understand how to relate these two ideas. If the three aspects of the human soul are analogous to the three persons of God, what is the human personhood analogous to? I still don't understand what a person even is.
 
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ArmyMatt

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But isn't the Essence Energy distinction different from Catholics because there is a real distinction?

yes.

Why does that not entail composition or separation and boundaries?

because boundaries mean space, and God’s beyond space.

Isn't the hypostasis of Christ composite?

yes.

What is the difference?

Christ has two natures united in His Person.

Why can a hypostasis be composite but not the nature of God?

because the Divine nature didn’t take on flesh, the Person of the Son did.

If personhood is above the energies and essence, then wouldn't it also be above numbers and not able to be described as a trinity, just as you say essence cannot be described as one?

I don’t think I ever said Personhood is above the energies and the essence.

You said the body-mind analogy works, so where is personhood in that analogy?

I said it sort of works. you analogy breaks down because you were not speaking of multiple persons.

If the three aspects of the human soul are analogous to the three persons of God, what is the human personhood analogous to?

why does the human person have to be analogous to anything in this conversation?
 
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Nathaniel Red

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because boundaries mean space, and God’s beyond space.

Im sorry, I don't understand this explanation. Why do boundaries necessitate space?

What about something like the sorietes heap paradox? There is a boundary between what is and isn't a heap of sand that isn't physical.

Christ has two natures united in His Person.

If nature is something united under personhood, doesn't that show that personhood is above nature in the same way that essence is above energies or mind is above body?

because the Divine nature didn’t take on flesh, the Person of the Son did.

But both the person of the son and the Divine nature are a twofold union. Does this mean that the union of the human nature of Christ with the Divine nature of christ is not as complete of a union as the union of essence and energy? Doesn't that make it lesser in some way?

why does the human person have to be analogous to anything in this conversation?

We were made in the image of God, and the analogy seems to work for our body and mind.
 
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ArmyMatt

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Why do boundaries necessitate space?

because they show where something is and is not. both essence and energies are beyond space or limitation.

What about something like the sorietes heap paradox? There is a boundary between what is and isn't a heap of sand that isn't physical.

like what?

If nature is something united under personhood, doesn't that show that personhood is above nature in the same way that essence is above energies or mind is above body?

no, and essence isn’t above energies,

But both the person of the son and the Divine nature are a twofold union. Does this mean that the union of the human nature of Christ with the Divine nature of christ is not as complete of a union as the union of essence and energy? Doesn't that make it lesser in some way?

no, He isn’t united to His Divine nature. He fully possesses it. just like how He fully possesses His human nature in a true union of natures.

We were made in the image of God, and the analogy seems to work for our body and mind.

but what do you want humanity to be analogous to?
 
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Nathaniel Red

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because they show where something is and is not.

That actually makes a lot of sense, and I suppose explains even the paradox I mentioned.

no, and essence isn’t above energies,

I'm not sure you're meaning the same thing with the word "above" as i am. I'm not trying to say that the energies are lesser than the essence in any way, but that the essence encompasses the energies completely. You seem to have said as much when you said that the essence encompasses all categories, both real and non-real. You also said that the Personhood of christ encompasses his "two natures united in His Person", which seems to imply that just as essence encompasses all categories and energies, personhood encompasses all of the Divine nature (or human nature for christ).

no, He isn’t united to His Divine nature. He fully possesses it. just like how He fully possesses His human nature in a true union of natures

I don't understand what this means at all... what is the difference between a union of possession and a union being united.

but what do you want humanity to be analogous to?

I've posted before about having trouble with solipsism and nihilism. I guess... I feel like I don't understand who or what I am, and realizing how I've misunderstood the Personhood and nature of God, and now how he relates to our body and mind, I feel like i need this analogy or I won't ever understand myself properly. When I'm asking how the Personhood of God works, or how his nature works, I'm also asking how I work, because I have no idea.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I'm not sure you're meaning the same thing with the word "above" as i am. I'm not trying to say that the energies are lesser than the essence in any way, but that the essence encompasses the energies completely. You seem to have said as much when you said that the essence encompasses all categories, both real and non-real. You also said that the Personhood of christ encompasses his "two natures united in His Person", which seems to imply that just as essence encompasses all categories and energies, personhood encompasses all of the Divine nature (or human nature for christ).

no, the essence is just that which is forever beyond us, the energies are that which is communicable. the essence doesn’t encompass the energies.

I don't understand what this means at all... what is the difference between a union of possession and a union being united.

there was never a time when Christ wasn’t divine. there was a time when He was not man.
 
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Nathaniel Red

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no, the essence is just that which is forever beyond us, the energies are that which is communicable. the essence doesn’t encompass the energies.

Are they equal?

Are they encompassed together in the Divine nature?

there was never a time when Christ wasn’t divine. there was a time when He was not man.

What is the exact relationship between the personhood and Divine nature? You called it possession and said the Personhood is not united to the Divine nature. Is it a real distinction without boundary as with the Divine nature? But you say it is different.

But you also say the Personhood doesn't encompass the Divine nature, and isn't equal to it, so I don't see where else to put it.
 
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ArmyMatt

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Are they equal?

yes, both infinite and eternal.

Are they encompassed together in the Divine nature?

no, they are the Divine nature.

What is the exact relationship between the personhood and Divine nature?

personhood is specific and particular, nature is common.

You called it possession and said the Personhood is not united to the Divine nature. Is it a real distinction without boundary as with the Divine nature?

it’s a real distinction.

But you also say the Personhood doesn't encompass the Divine nature, and isn't equal to it, so I don't see where else to put it.

I don’t think I ever said anything about personhood being equal or not to nature.
 
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Platina

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But isn't the Essence Energy distinction different from Catholics because there is a real distinction? Why does that not entail composition or separation and boundaries?
Here's from a paper I wrote in seminary:


St. Gregory Palamas’ opponents were concerned with preserving the unknowability of God, which of course St. Gregory agreed with to a point, but they were also concerned with preserving the traditional teaching of God as a simple and non-composite Being in Whom there are no distinctions other than that of the three Hypostases, thus excluding, as they believed, the possibility of eternal, uncreated energies in God. Archbishop Basil Krivosheine writes that this was the main concern of Akindynos and Gregoras,[14] and St. Gregory ascribes it to Barlaam as well in chapter 81 of his 150 Chapters.[15] Of these St. Gregory writes: “They are unaware that it is not acting and energy but being acted upon and the passivity which constitute composition. But God acts without being acted upon and without undergoing change. Therefore, he will not be composite on account of the energy,” and elsewhere “But how does the energy observed in God avoid composition? Because he alone possesses an energy completely void of passion, for by it he is active only but is not also acted upon, neither coming into being nor changing.”[16] Thus, as the three Hypostases in God do not introduce composition, neither does the distinction of the uncreated energies.

[16] 150 Chapters, Chapter 145; Chapter 128
 
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nutroll

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If you want an analogy to try to comprehend (knowing that every analogy has its limits), I would think of an iceberg. We know that the iceberg we see above the water is the same and continuous with the iceberg under the water. The distinction is really just in that we can see the one and not see the other, but there is no separation, and wherever the iceberg above the water goes, or whatever it does, we know there is the part that we do not see. Because (in the analogy anyway) we cannot go under the water to see and observe the submerged part, we can only know what is above the water, and if something is to be seen it needs to be above the water line.

We know that God is essence and energies but we don't see under the water so to speak, we see what is above the water, but we know it is all one. Even the greatest and deepest mysteries about God that we can speak of are analogous to the part of the iceberg above the water. So even the distinction of between the Persons of the Trinity is part of the known because it has been revealed to us, and can to a certain extent be experienced by us.

The problem then, is that when we seek to understand fully, we keep crashing into the surface of the water, smashing up against the unknowable. We keep trying to get under the water, but we can't get there. If something is revealed, it is God who revealed it, not our great and illustrious minds. We like to understand, we want to figure it all out, but there is a boundary there.

It's genuinely amazing to me to think that when Moses spoke to God He was not receiving something greater than what is available to each and every one of us when we commune of the Holy Mysteries. God is wholly present to us even if we only comprehend the smallest portion. It is nice to understand God, but it is far better to receive Him.
 
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Nathaniel Red

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I don’t think I ever said anything about personhood being equal or not to nature.

I didn't mean equal in the sense of how you answered "infinite and eternal" for essence and energies. I know all of God is equally infinite, and is the same reality. Equal in the sense of, is it on the same level of reality? Energies are the knowable things of God present in existence, while Essence is the unknowable things of God beyond all existence. Where does personhood fall in that? Personhood is something that we can experience through Gods energies, but we can never acquire what makes it itself, the essence or hypostatic properties. That makes it seem that personhood has properties of both essence and energy, encompassing both. So I know it is particular rather than generic like essence, but I don't understand what that means. How does it relate to me in my personhood? What is possessing a nature?
 
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ArmyMatt

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Nathaniel Red

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yes.



you are a specific human person, who possesses the fullness of the human nature (human essence and energies).

I don't really see how that has answered my questions. I think I'll end the conversation here, I could go on asking questions forever. Thank you, I do appreciate your answers father, I do have a better grasp of the essence energy distinction, though I think personhood is still difficult for me.
 
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