We’re having productive discussions about how relationship with God works, and I don’t want to disrupt that. However, we do have a little unfinished business with the moribund corpse of Platonic anthropology, and I’d like to plant a stake in its heart. I’ve already argued that having the intellect hermetically sealed off from emotion and will is bankrupt — and that intellect-emotion-will isn’t a sound ‘anatomy of the soul’ anyhow. I’d like to extend that argument a bit further.
To that end, let’s consider another ‘anatomy of the soul’ that might compete with the intellect-emotion-will model.
Being a deep anatomist of the soul, St. Gregory [Palamas] teaches that man’s soul is divided into the nous, fantasy, opinion and intellect. The nous is the center of the soul, the eye of the soul. The sense is the non-rational power of the soul, which knows and feels the physical things. Fantasy is the offspring of the sense; it originates from the sense. Fantasy receives its images from the sense and keeps them even when the actual things are not present, Opinion — the idea we have about various things, including people and objects — is begotten from fantasy. Intellect is the rational power of the soul, which formulated the opinion we have about every issue. It is evident, therefore, that the nous is the core of man’s spiritual world — the eye of the soul — whereas all the rest of the powers, that is, fantasy, opinion and intellect, depend on the sense. Thus when one wishes to reach God and acquire the knowledge of God, he must do it only through his nous, and not through his fantasy, opinion and intellect. They all originate from the sense, which is associated with the external bodily senses.*
My point here is not to advocate for this anthropology; in fact, I think it’s unbiblical in a couple of key respects.
But here’s the challenge: how would you refute it?
Go on, think it over for a second. I’ll wait.
Got a few ideas? Good.
How many of your arguments apply equally well to the intellect-emotion-will model?
*Hierotheos Vlachos, The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition. Translated by Effie Mavromichali. 119.